For someone who doesn’t like to cook, my friend, Deb Overeynder, certainly knows the way around her kitchen. Whatever she makes, she goes big, at least doubling the recipe. That’s why I often get a text, “Mary, do you feel like chicken enchiladas tonight?” or “I mixed up a big batch of soup. Want some?” and “I baked challah today.”


Her Roasted Pear & Butternut Squash which she made recently tastes better than best. That’s why I’m sharing. I’ve also suggested variations for simple adaptions that won’t compromise its flavor.

I constantly suggest to Deb (as I’m picking up my dinner) that it appears she really does like cooking. Her quick firm reply, “No, I don’t, always shuts me down. What she does realize is that cooking from scratch, minimizing the amount of processed or pre-cooked food on the table, is healthier for her family.


I also make most of my meals. But, Loyal Readers, meal planning, grocery shopping, maintaining a well-stocked cupboard and preparation swallow up huge amounts of time. In today’s world, who has enough of that? I always try to offer and simplify recipes for you so they’re not time busters. That’s what this week’s post of four recipes is all about.

On the day of our first major, snow-stays-on-the-ground snowfall, I received this holiday wreath from my daughter, Melissa.


What sets this salmon recipe apart from all others? MISO.

The marinated salmon fillets (miso, lemon juice, soy sauce and honey) are ready for the oven.

With a tablespoon or two of store-bought miso paste made from fermented soybeans, you can transform any dish into something delicious. Light white or red in color, miso can be stored in the refrigerator forever. The best description I’ve heard about this wonder paste is from Dorie, herself. “Miso is the poster child for umami, the fifth flavor that includes sweet, salty, bitter and sour.”

This recipe is a no-brainer, salmon can be marinated in the fridge overnight if you wish (I did) and makes a great dinner the next day. I brushed 4 5-oz salmon fillets with a mixture of 3 Tbsp. miso paste (either color), 1 Tbsp. honey, 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice and 1 Tbsp. soy sauce. After lining a baking sheet with parchment paper, I put it in the oven at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Voila, love is a protein.

When the fillets are done, they will still be pinkish in the middle.


While you may be familiar with the summertime Classic Aperol Spritz (Prosecco, Aperol, Club Soda and orange slice), why not improvise with a Thanksgiving twist on the Classic by including apple cider. In Colorado I picked up a gallon of Big Bob’s at his orchard in Hotchkiss. Pick your favorite cider and enjoy.

With thanks to Jessica Merchant, How Sweet Eats

Serves One:
2 to 3 ounces apple cider
1 ounce Aperol
2 to 3 ounces Prosecco
Splash of soda
Sprinkle of cinnamon
Apple wedges and cinnamon stick for garnish

Fill a glass with ice and stir together the Apple Cider and Aperol.
Add the Prosecco and the club soda, along with a sprinkle of cinnamon and garnishes. Mmmmmm


Some of my favorite recipes are from the backs of name-brand boxes, bottles, cans and jars. My favorites include Quaker Oats Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies, Famous Chocolate Wafer Roll, Kellogg’s Best Bran Muffins and Kraft’s Fantasy Fudge.

After stumbling on to Hellmann’s® grilled sandwich recipe I went way out on a limb, giving it a Go. As promised, the crust was golden brown and extra crispy. Honestly, Readers, I know my grilled cheeses. This was darn tasty.

This is not your normal grilled cheese sandwich . It’s with mayo.

1 Tbsp. Mayonnaise
2 slices crusty country bread, sliced
2 ounces sliced white cheddar cheese or your choice

Spread one slice of bread with Mayonnaise. Place bread Mayonnaise-side-down onto hot skillet. Add cheese. Spread other slice of bread with Mayonnaise and place Mayonnaise-side-up on top of cheese. When bottom bread browns nicely, flip it over and brown other side until done.

I love jigsaw puzzles. A French Fridays with Dorie colleague, Tricia, sent me a puzzle of the cookbook, Around my French Table, that we cooked through together. What a nifty gift.


by Deb Overeynder and Beth Carter with adaptions by Mary Hirsch

The soup I served above with the sandwich is chunkier than this because I pureed it less. Smooth or chunky, to your taste.


4 firm but ripe pears, cored, quartered and peeled
4 lbs. butternut squash, about 2 medium squash, cut in half with seeds removed (Note:  A 2 lb. butternut squash yields about 3 cups)
1/1/2-2 quarts chicken broth
2 Cups + a few Tbsp. heavy cream (Deb used 1/2 & 1/2)
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
Chicken Bouillon, 1 cube or 1 Tbsp. (optional)
Grated nutmeg


Serves 8-12

Preheat the oven to 375

  1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or tin foil.
  2. Rinse the outside of your squash, carefully cut it in half from top to bottom and scoop out the seeds.
  3. Brush the inside of both pieces of squash with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
  4. Place the squash on the prepared pan, cut side down. Roast for 40-50 minutes until the squash is easily pierced with a fork or the tip of a knife.
  5. While the squash is roasting, peel, quarter and core the pear. Brush lightly with olive oil.
  6. After the squash has baked for 20 minutes, add the pears to the pan.
  7. When they are both easily pieced, remove and let cool.
  8. Scoop out the squash and put the squash and pears (divide batch in thirds) with 2 cups of broth in a blender and puree until smooth. Transfer to a large saucepan. Do the same with every batch and broth. Transfer to a large soup pot.*
  9. Add cream, syrup and chicken bouillon (optional) to pot, bring to a soft boil, lower burner to medium heat and cook for at least 10 minutes. Season according to taste.
  10. Serve with a tsp. of cream and dust with nutmeg. Or, if desired, just sprinkle 1-2 tbsp. of blue cheese on top.
  11. (*Tip: Since I am comfortable using an immersion blender, at Direction #8 I just put the 3 batches, one at a time, in the soup pot and pureed them. If you don’t have either, an electric mixer works also.)

As requested, a quiet celebration with a lovely dinner.