Brown Sugar-Butternut Squash Tart with Nutmeg Whipped Cream

Say what?

Have you never considered making a dessert from butternut squash? And why not? It’s just one step away from pumpkin, and let me tell you what an awesome, yummy success this tart was. Even without the luscious whipped cream the butternut squash was lightly sweet delicious, but all in all this tart was amazing! I am drooling just thinking about it and the 3 leftover pieces in my refrigerator right now……

While I go whip up some fresh nutmeg whipped cream you can look over the recipe 🙂

Brown Sugar-Butternut Squash Tart

1 package puff pastry

1/3 cup butter

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 tsp nutmeg, divided

2 lb. Butternut Squash, peeled, halved, seeded and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices

2 T sugar, divided

1/2 cup heavy cream

1. Allow the puff pastry to thaw on counter for about 45 minutes. Lightly spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and set the two pieces of puff pastry inside. Using your fingers, press lightly to seal the two pieces into one and to ease the pastry onto the bottom and slightly up the sides of the pan. Cover the tart with a double layer of foil and bake for 8 minutes at 450*. Remove foil and bake an additional 4 minutes as needed until the pastry is browned. Let cool and lower the oven to 400*.

2. In a 12-inch skillet melt butter over medium heat. Add brown sugar, salt, and 1/2 tsp nutmeg. Cook and stir until combined and bubbly. Add squash and cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Use tongs to remove squash from pan, arranging slices in rows over pastry. Spoon over and remaining sauce. Sprinkle with 1 T sugar. Bake, uncovered, 15 minutes at 400*.

3. For nutmeg whipped cream, in a chilled medium mixing bowl (or a mixmaster) combine whipping cream and remaining 1 T sugar and 1/4 tsp nutmeg (add more to taste). Beat on medium speed until soft peaks form.

4. Serve warm with whipped cream.


Beef & Barley Soup

Oh my goodness I love soup. And I love this season when soup abounds. Any night of the week you can throw things into a pot for a quick, easy, hearty, and delicious meal.

I actually know people who have never made soup before. Can you believe it? When it’s the simplest thing on earth to do?? Now, for sure I have a few recipes that are a bit involved, but for the most part I just look at what is in my freezer and refrigerator and begin from there. Usually I get a pretty darn good soup.

Beef & Barley Soup

1 lb. ground beef, browned and *drained

1/4 cup diced onion

1 T garlic powder, divided

1/2 cup frozen lima beans

1/2 cup frozen corn

1 (15 oz) can of diced tomatoes with juices

1/2 cup quick barley

1 (32 oz) carton chicken or beef broth

1/2 tsp thyme

salt & pepper

1. Brown ground meat with 1/2 T of the garlic powder. You can use ground turkey or chicken, but the beef gives off so much flavor. *Since I rarely use ground beef I completely forgot to drain the fat before I threw it all into the crock pot.  I have to admit it lent the soup some great extra flavor but most people don’t want the heartburn that goes along with it. Here’s a tip: I’m sure you already knew that adding a bit of baking soda will cut the acidity in tomato sauce, but did you know it also cuts the grease from meat drippings?? I kid you not!

2. Throw all the ingredients, except for the barley,  into a crock pot and set on low for several hours. Add the barley about an hour or so before meal time. It’s not a science. It won’t get yucky the way pasta does. Salt and pepper to taste.

3. Add any other seasonings or veggies you would like.

Enjoy 🙂

♥ Strawberry Crepes ♥

These were a favorite “special” breakfast when I was growing up. Even to this day these crepes bring back a certain taste of childhood for me. Perfect for any special day, you can’t go wrong by whipping up a batch of these for your family.

Strawberry Crepes

2 eggs
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup water
1/2 t. vanilla
1/2 t. grated lemon rind
3/4 cup flour
1/2 t. salt
2 T. powdered sugar
1 pint strawberries, cleaned and sliced
Cinnamon and additional powdered sugar
1. Beat eggs and combine with milk, water, vanilla, and lemon rind. Sift dry ingredients into wet ones. Using a very few quick strokes, beat together. Batter should be lumpy.
2. Heat a 5 inch non-stick skillet over moderate heat. Put in one big tablespoon of batter. Swirl pan to spread batter over surface of skillet. Let cook for a couple of minutes. Lift the side of the pancake to see when bottom is light brown. Turn over by loosening side of pancake with a fork and then picking up with your fingers. Makes about 8 pancakes (4 servings).
3. Put 1 heaping tablespoon of berries in each pancake and roll up. Put rolled pancakes in a warm oven (lowest setting) to keep warm while preparing the rest.
4. Sift a little additional powdered sugar over the rolled pancakes, then sprinkle with cinnamon.
*Usually after cleaning and cutting up the strawberries, I toss and coat with a teaspoon of sugar and let sit while I prepare the crepes. This helps pull the juices and sweeten the berries if they are hard and not very sweet. Frozen berries can be used, but should be drained and tasted before adding any extra sugar.

Savory Skillet Veggies

I don’t know about you but that title alone would not suck me in. You’re just going to have to trust me.

One of my favorite side dish staples is my Skillet Corn. I put it on my monthly menus at least every other month. We rarely eat corn otherwise, unless it’s fresh off the cob or added to a recipe such as soup or chili. So the other night I prepared my new favorite Grilled Balsamic Chicken for dinner and thought the skillet corn would make a great side.

Well, it would have been I am sure….had I the proper ingredients. Instead I improvised and added a bit here and there and viola! I got something even better! So, it may not be completely honest to call this a new recipe when basically it’s a new and improved recipe! (I think I hear some fanfare- yay!)

Savory Skillet Veggies

4 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels

1 cup fresh or frozen lima beans

2 T butter

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

1/4 cup milk (plus more if necessary)

3 T parmesan cheese

3 T chopped fresh basil

1. Heat butter in a large nonstick skillet on medium heat. Add corn and lima beans (or whatever veggies you choose to add) and cook 6 minutes if fresh, 10+ minutes if using frozen. Stir frequently until the veggies are heated through and look a little browned.

2. In a separate bowl mix together the ricotta and milk to make it smooth. Add it to the skillet and cook, stirring for about 3 minutes. Add more milk as needed for consistency, but not too much as it will start to dull the flavors. You don’t want this dish runny.

3. Remove from heat and stir in the parmesan cheese and basil. Keep covered off heat until ready to serve.

*Remember you can never have too much fresh basil!  ENJOY!!

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Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

I do love a good macaroni and cheese. Last winter I made an awesome noodle-y, cheese-y, butternut squash casserole called Butternut Squash Bake, and let me tell you that it was soooooo good that I decided to try another one. I was not disappointed!

This recipe was super easy and quick. With the exception of the tediousness of peeling and dicing a squash, the rest was relatively quick work.

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

12 oz. dried rigatoni

1 & 1/2 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed (3 & 1/2 cups)

2 & 3/4 cups milk, divided

1/4 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour

8 oz. asiago cheese, divided

1/4 cup panko

2 T butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400*

1. Lightly butter or spray a 3-quart casserole dish and set aside.

2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain; transfer to a large bowl.

3. In a large saucepan combine the squash and 2 & 1/2 cups of milk over medium-high heat. Bring to boiling and reduce heat to medium, simmering until the squash is fork tender, 18 to 20 minutes. Stir together remaining milk and 1/4 cup flour; stir into squash mixture. Bring to boiling; cook until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in 6 oz. of the asiago* until melted.

4. Add squash mixture to pasta and toss well to combine. Transfer to the baking dish.

5. Combine the panko and butter with the remaining 2 oz. of asiago. With a fork, stir together until ingredients are well blended and there are no chunks. Sprinkle over the top of the butternut squash and pasta mixture.

6. Bake casserole at 400* for 20 minutes or until heated through and topping is browned.

*I buy asiago by the block (or triangle as it were) and shredded it myself. Much cheaper 🙂

Perfect as a side dish or a vegetarian meal by itself!

The Home Heart now offers a printer-friendly option- yay! Just click the Printer & PDF button at the bottom of each post and a page will pop up. You can even choose to turn off the images if you want to save ink, and print recipes with ease. Enjoy and thank you for reading!

Number Two’s Birthday

Today Number Two turns 11. My how the time flies.

It’s been a semi-busy week. Just the day before I had to travel back to the island to officiate a wedding. This made baking a cake difficult. I could have done it Tuesday, but I didn’t want it sitting around for two days going stale. So my best option was to order one and pick it up sometime today as I was returning from the beach.

Normally I’d make a family favorite: Yellow Cake with Caramel Frosting or just a chocolate cake. One and Two love anything chocolate.

However, I will not disappoint Two at dinner, as I will make his favorite meal (the one we pretty much only eat for birthdays): Hot Hamburger Plate!

If you’re looking to indulge, here’s the best way to do it. This is sinful. You can see why we only eat this meal maybe twice a year. So what if we eat salads for the next three days? It’s worth it 🙂

Happy Birthday to my little guy!!

Pesto Parmesan Green Beans

You will probably think that this does not qualify as a real recipe post and I am inclined to agree with you. However, ever since I stopped buying and feeding my family canned foods, it hasn’t been as easy to get Number Two to eat his vegetables. This is just a little blurb on what I did recently to jazz up some green beans. He kinda liked it. I loved it 🙂

Back in the old days I’d open a can of green beans, or peas, or what have you, pour the contents into a pot and heat it up with some chicken bullion. Sounds salty, right? It is tasty, I will admit, but very bad for you and completely sans of any nutrients at all.

Now I cook fresh or frozen veggies only. My favorite way to cook fresh is by tossing them in EVOO and salt and pepper and then roasting said veggies under 400* until done to my desire. I especially love asparagus this way, but green beans are awesome, too.

Frozen veggies go into a pot of chicken broth. Very simple. But the green beans I made this way came in a microwave steam pack and so I had to come up with a way to season them post cooking.

So, I looked into my fridge and I saw the always handy Parmesan cheese. But then I also saw the pesto 🙂

I love pesto. This particular pesto is homemade and delicious and wonderful, but unfortunately it was not made in my home or by my hands. BTW I am working on getting and sharing that recipe with you. But have you ever tried pesto on a veggie? It’s not just for pasta, you know. In fact, the first time I really started to step outside of the pesto box was only a few months ago when I was at a fundraiser dinner and pesto was served veggie-dip style as an appetizer. So it really didn’t seem all that crazy to me to stir some in with the green beans and top with Parmesan.

If you’re looking for a new way to serve the same old things, try this, it was super yummy!

Skillet Macaroni and Cheese

I love homemade macaroni and cheese. My boys prefer the good old-fashioned box kind, and by that I mean Trader Joes or Annie’s organic because I do not do the other stuff, which is why I don’t mind making it for them. But for me, perfect indulgence and comfort food is the homemade mac n cheese. Now, I’m not a crispy-breaded-topping kind of mac and cheese girl either. Just a good, hearty, cheesy, pasta bake that sticks to your ribs (and my thighs, unfortunately)- so I don’t do this often.

Here’s a new recipe I found months ago and have finally made it. It’s definitely not going in the healthy section of my recipe collection- but it was oh so good and super easy to make. In less than 20 minutes you can have an authentic homemade macaroni and cheese dish that even the box lovers will love. (It’s true. Number Two gobbled it up!)

Skillet Macaroni and Cheese

4 T butter

1 small onion, chopped

1/4 tsp oregano

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 T flour

3 & 1/2 cups half & half

8 oz. macaroni, or pasta of your choice (3 cups dry)

2 cups sharp cheddar (not the pre-shredded packaged kind. It doesn’t melt well)

Parmesan cheese for sprinkling on top

Melt the butter and cook the onion until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the oregano, salt, pepper and flour, and cook for one minute more.

Add the half & half and pasta and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes or until pasta is cooked through.

Add the cheese and stir until melted. Serve immediately.

*This macaroni and cheese tends to get really thick after sitting out. So refrigerate any leftovers and reheat with some milk to make it smooth and creamy again.


7-Layer Meatless Tortilla Pie

A Mexican and a meatless meal in one? How can this go wrong??

This simple dish, served with a salad and some guacamole on the side, makes a perfect meal for any night, meatless or otherwise. And just to give it a little extra something I mixed in 1/2 cup of my yummy hummus 🙂

7-Layer Meatless Tortilla Pie

2 (15 oz) cans pinto beans, drained

1 cup picante sauce, divided

1/4 tsp garlic powder

2 T chopped fresh cilantro

1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained

1 small tomato, chopped

7 (8 inch) flour tortillas

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

green onion for garnish

1. Mash pinto beans. Stir in 3/4 cup of the picante sauce and the garlic powder.

2. In a separate bowl, mix remaining picante sauce, cilantro, black beans, and tomato.

3. Place 1 tortilla in a pie dish or round baking dish. Spread 3/4 cup of the pinto bean mixture over tortilla to within 1/2-inch of the edges. Top with 1/4 cup cheese. Top with tortilla and 2/3 cup black bean mixture. Top that layer with 1/4 cup cheese. Repeat layers twice more. Finish topping with remaining tortilla and spread with last of the pinto bean mixture. Cover with foil.

4. Bake at {preheated} 400* oven for about 40 minutes or until hot. Uncover. Top with remaining cheese, tomato pieces, and green onion. Cut into wedges. Serve with additional picante sauce, guacamole, tortilla chips and salad.

*Ground cooked meat could easily be added to the mashed pinto bean mixture.

Apple Pie Bars

Welcome to another Fantabulous Friday where I share my fantabulous dessert recipe for the week! Today’s awesome recipe is from my party last weekend and was a success. By success I mean it was eaten all up and I only got a small taste. Oh well, I guess that means I will have to make another one (twist my arm, please!)

These bars truly do taste like the pie version, only this hand-held delight makes for easy nibbling and finger food. Also, if you’re like this family- when I make a pie sometimes after we’ve eaten our initial piece and then the pie plate just seems to be in the way in the fridge as we slowly work our way through it- because we normally don’t indulge in desserts on a daily basis. So the bars make a perfect alternative. They cut up nicely and store well in a covered container. And you can pack a piece for your lunch a lot easier than you could a piece of pie.



1 cup quick oats

1/2 cup plus 2 T all-purpose flour

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped


1 cup unsalted butter, room temp.

1/3 cup sugar

1 & 1/2 cups flour

1/4 tsp kosher salt


3 T unsalted butter

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

4 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced

2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 375* . Coat a 9×13-inch pan with cooking spray.

2. To make the crumb topping, stir together oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Scatter butter pieces on top, and using your fingers, combine ingredients to make uniform, coarse, sandy clumps. Stir in walnuts and refrigerate until ready to use.

3. To make the crust, add the butter and sugar to a large bowl and beat on high-speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low and beat in about 1/2 cup flour and the salt, then add the remaining flour gradually and beat until dough comes together in a soft ball. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and, using your hands, gently spread it out evenly over the bottom and slightly up the sides. Bake until the top is golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cook completely. Leave the oven on while you prepare the filling.

4. To make the filling, place butter and brown sugar in a large skillet over low heat. Using a wooden spoon, stir to melt sugar with butter and form a syrup. Add apples, toss to coat with the syrup, and raise the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring often, until apples have softened and begin to caramelize, 15 to 20 minutes. If the pan begins to burn, sprinkle in a little water, and reduce the heat. Generally, however, if you are using fresh apples they will release some natural liquids anyway, so burning should not be a problem. When apples are very soft, stir in cinnamon and nutmeg. Remove from heat and let cool completely.

5. Evenly spread the apple filling over the cooled, pre-baked crust. Sprinkle the topping over and press lightly into the filling. Bake until topping is golden, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into bars to serve. Yield: 18 bars.

I will admit that this recipe is a bit involved as opposed to just throwing a pie together. However, the convenience factors I listed above far outweigh the time you will put into preparing these bars. Generally the prep time should take about 25 minutes (I’m pretty sure it took me longer) and the cooking time is 50 – 60 minutes. Does not include the cooling time, so allow yourself plenty of time to get these done before you need to serve them. Good news is the crumb topping can be done up to two days in advance. Once the bars are cooked and served, the remainders will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.