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Healthy Spiced Butternut Squash Crostini

Spiced Butternut Squash Crostini

“You must really like sauces,” said my sister as I aimed the ketchup onto my plate next to the Ranch, hot sauce and salsa. She was serving bean burgers that night, and while I’m sure only one condiment was really needed to moisten the buns, I just couldn’t help myself. I am known to be indecisive with the little things in life, especially when it comes to food.

Of course after the burger topping episode came a salad dressing decision. With a husband and three kids, my sister had FAR more dressing options than I ever keep in my fridge. I settled for balsamic on one half and a sun-dried tomato vinaigrette on the other. The looks I would’ve gotten for that one…luckily my sister already seated herself at the dinner table in the next room over.

I like options. And taste-testing. And creamy dips and sauces. Guacamole? Yes please. Hummus? I could easily eat it by the spoon. And peanut butter, too.

As I think about all of the different options, I’m pretty certain I’m not alone in holding this affinity. Which is why this past New Year’s Eve, it wasn’t hard for me to decide what I wanted to bring to my friends’ dinner party. I was going to bring some kind of dip – even if my boyfriend wasn’t all too sold on the idea. Fast forward to the taste-testing, and he didn’t question me again.

Spiced Butternut Squash Crostini

I chose to use up some roasted butternut squash and immediately thought to make this on the sweet and spiced side.  Given the occasion, NYE, I wanted to send a healthy option to dinner, hence where the beans and low-fat cream cheese came in. Combined with the butternut, they delivered a classic creamy dip with some surprising nutritional power behind it. Placed on lightly buttered, toasted baguette slices, this was a HUGE hit at the party.

Make sure to include the toasted pecans and drizzle of honey. It really completes the crostini. This recipe wouldn’t be the same without its toppings, so no indecision here

Click here for recipe…

White Beans with Eggplant and Roasted Pepper Pesto

Potato salad? Check. Deviled eggs? Check. Salad? Check.Veggie dogs/hot dogs? Check. Hummus? Check. Brownies? Check. Every other item of food needed for a picnic? Check.

In a family full of cooks, the basics are nearly always covered when it comes to throwing a party with the Dickinson crew. “Why don’t you just relax and not make anything this time,” my mom tells me. It’s the same thing she told me on Labor Day. And on Memorial Day. And probably the past five holidays before that.

“Because I WANT to make something.” Of all people, I’d think she’d understand this. But maybe not.

Regardless, I always end up making the experimental dish on the table that I typically give some long, made-up name no one could ever guess. More often than not, it’s also always the talk of the party. Not to be cocky, but generally the adventurous eaters are the people who enjoy talking about food, and when an innovative dish shows up on their plate, they come running with an eager bunch of questions. That leaves me to sweep in and run through the rhyme and reasoning of the ingredients. Rinse and repeat, and I end up sending a majority of the party home with a new recipe to make.

Luckily, it’s a process I can happily handle. Being told not to cook for a party on the other hand, well, that not so much.

This one came from the idea and desire of combining two of my favorite summer eats, pesto and roasted eggplant. With a lot of bell peppers on hand, I threw them into the mix too, bulking up the pesto with their flavor. If you have red bell peppers available—which sadly I did not—I presume this dish might turn out a tad prettier. Either way, top this dish off with a splash of tomatoes for a fresh finish. And be prepared to explain what other ingredients went in it.

Click here for recipe…

Smoked Salmon Sandwiches with Avocado Wasabi Spread

I very rarely eat salmon, but I’ve got to admit, it’s one of my favorites as a pescetarian.  I happen to love smoked salmon in almost any form.  One of my favorite ways to utilize it is by placing it on a sandwich.  The following recipe spruces up the classic smoked salmon and cream cheese, while adding in little heart healthy monounsaturated fat from some avocado and ditching the cholesterol, artery-clogging cheese.  With a little healthy crunch (lettuce), kick (wasabi) and a twist (avocado spread), all paired with my favorite wild Alaskan smoked salmon, what more could you ask for in a sandwich?

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Raw Spinach Dip

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I don’t tend to eat a lot of traditional Irish food. Meat and potatoes? No thanks. Cabbage and potatoes, that I’ll do once in awhile. But even that combo. is somewhat of a rarity in my everyday diet.

I do however consume a lot of green cuisine. So in light of today’s emerald-studded holiday, I bring you my next recipe. It’s a spinach dip so full of vibrant color, it might just give you a little extra bounce as you your trance around in your leprechaun shoes today.

If you plan on celebrating your Irish roots (whether you really have them or not) by sipping on some beer, balance it out by pairing your brew with this healthy, good-luck colored recipe. Spinach is packed with fiber, calcium, vitamin A, and even a considerable amount of iron. It’s also a vitamin C-heavy veggie, (particularly when kept raw like in this recipe) which will help the body absorb the iron it contains.

Serve this with crackers or pita. If you end up with any leftover, carry the green spirit into your lunch the next day by applying it as a wrap/sandwich spread. Cheers.

Raw Spinach Dip

(Makes 2-3 cups)

-1 clove garlic
-2 1/2 tsp. minced ginger
-2 1/2 cups spinach, tightly packed
-1-15 oz. can butter beans, drained
-2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1/2 Tbsp. red chili pepper flakes, optional

Pulse garlic and minced ginger in food processor. Add remaining ingredients, drizzling in olive oil last. Puree until smooth. Serve at room temperature with chips, crackers, or pita, or use as a sandwich spread.