Grilled Pattypan Squash + Egg Bagel Sandwiches


Every morning in New York City, people are enjoying bagel sandwiches. Whether with cream cheese, lox, or bacon and eggs, you really can’t go wrong when layering things on a soft and chewy NYC bagel.

The only thing I found missing from these iconic breakfast staples were—


Lo and behold, just as I had that thought, I found a perfect, bagel-size, pattypan squash giving me the eye at the farmers’ market, and I knew it was meant to be married to a bagel.

If you think squash for breakfast is weird, just wait until you bite through the sweet, tender-crisp slices sitting on a throne of cheese and topped with eggs and bacon.

It’s going to be your new breakfast staple!

Grilled Pattypan Squash + Egg Bagel Sandwiches

makes: 2 open-face sandwiches; double the recipe as you wish


  • 1 pattypan squash
  • 1 bacon strip
  • 1 everything bagel
  • 4 tablespoons Boursin cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil, more if needed
  • 2 large eggs
  • Two ¼-inch-thick slices large tomato (same diameter as the bagel)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions


  1. Trim and discard the root and vine ends of the squash. Cut two ½-inch-thick slices crosswise from the middle section (save any scraps for another use).
  2. Heat a small nonstick skillet (but big enough to fry 2 eggs) over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp—6 to 7 minutes, turning once. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel to drain; set aside the skillet with the rendered bacon fat.
  3. Meanwhile, cut the bagel in half. Spread 2 tablespoons of the cheese onto the cut side of each half and set aside.
  4. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the squash slices on both sides with the salt and pepper and drizzle with the 1 teaspoon oil, dividing equally. Add the squash slices to the pan and cook, turning once, until grill marks form and the squash is tender—5 to 8 minutes.
  5. While squash cooks, heat the skillet that you cooked the bacon in over medium-low heat. If there is not enough fat in the skillet to fry the eggs, add a bit of oil. Crack the eggs into the skillet and cook to the desired doneness.
  6. To assemble each sandwich, place a squash slice on top of a cheese-spread bagel half. Top it with a tomato slice and then an egg. Crumble up the bacon and scatter half on top of each sandwich, along with half the scallions. Yum!

Keep It Simple:

  • Pattypan squash has a very similar taste and texture to zucchini and yellow squash, so feel free to substitute slices of those when pattypan squash is not in season.
  • Boursin is a fabulous soft cheese made with garlic and herbs; it tastes like whipped cream cheese—which you can use instead. Regular or flavored cream cheeses all work.
  • I like to use my grill pan for this recipe as it adds a little bit of a charred flavor, but a regular skillet works just as well. This is true for most of my recipes that call for a grill pan.


  • The bacon gives a nice salty flavor to the egg, so if you prefer a vegetarian version, simply leave off the bacon and add a sprinkle of salt on top of your eggs. And if you are doing one sandwich with bacon and one without, be sure to cook the second egg in a different pan. You’ll have one more pan to clean but you’ll also have a happy vegetarian.

Family Friendly:

  • The squash has such a delicate flavor that it really pairs well with the bacon and eggs. In truth, it adds more texture and bite than it adds flavor. But if your kids are not going to dig a large piece of squash on their sandwich, cut up the squash, and blend it into the cheese or scramble the eggs and fold it into them. It will be the same sandwich but with a kid-friendly twist.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking

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Hamburger Helper with Squash + Lentils

There is nothing wrong with classic comfort food, and Hamburger Helper was something that I grew up with and still has a special place in my heart.

I'm not trying to make the original super healthy or low-cal, I'm just making it from scratch and making smart choices so that it's as nutritious as possible while still tasting exactly how you remember.

Taste is always first in my book, the bonus is a little extra nutrition.

Nobody even needs to know that there is squash in the sauce and that you used half the meat because you added in lentils.

You'll be gobbling up this melty, meaty pasta dish only to remember at the end that you had a balanced meal.

Sounds kind of awesome right?!

Homemade Hamburger Helper with Squash + Lentils

servings: 6


  • 1½ pounds butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 6-8 cups)
  • 1 cup cooked lentils (⅓ cup dried)
  • ⅔ pound ground beef
  • 2½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4-6 cups beef broth
  • 1 pound elbow pasta
  • ½ cup cream
  • 2½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1½ teaspoons smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ancho chili powder (or regular chili powder)
  • 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese (16 ounces)
  • 4 tablespoons chopped chives, plus more for a garnish
  • Pinch of ground black pepper


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the squash and cook it until it is easily pierced with a fork—about 10 minutes. Then puree the squash in a food processor (this should give you about 2 cups of puree) and set it aside.
  2. While the squash cooks, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Mash the cooked lentils with a fork and combine them with the ground beef. Using your hands, mush the lentils, beef, and 1 teaspoon of the salt together. Add the oil to the skillet and then the beef and lentil mixture. Cook the mixture, breaking it up with a spoon as it cooks, until the meat is brown—about 7 minutes.
  3. Add 4 cups of the beef broth, the pasta noodles, squash puree, cream, garlic powder, paprika, and chili powder to the meat. Stir this mixture to combine, and cook it until the noodles are al dente, 10-15 minutes. Add more broth as needed until the noodles are cooked through.
  4. Add the cheese, chives, remaining salt, and a pinch of pepper. Stir to combine, again adding more broth if the mixture is too thick. Serve hot topped with extra chives.


  • You can substitute ancho chili powder with regular chili powder. The smoked paprika can also be subbed out for regular paprika—or you can use more chili powder in its place. A packet of taco seasoning can be used here as well, but you may need more liquid as some seasoning packets will thicken up the mixture. Also if your looking to make this dish a bit leaner add 2 cups of cheese instead of 4, you will still find it cheesy and flavorful.
  • When reheating this dish as a leftover, add an extra splash of water or stock. This will help bring it back to the right consistency.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking
Hamburger Helper with Squash + Lentils Healthy

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Acorn Squash Bread


Banana bread.

Zucchini bread.

Pumpkin bread.

All delicious, easy-to-make, moist and flavorful breads, thanks to the fruits and veggies they incorporate.

So let’s keep the Veggie Bread Train in business!

It's time to talk about Acorn Squash Bread!


Prepared similarly to pumpkin bread, acorn squash bread uses the delicacy and sweetness of squash--along with spices like cinnamon and nutmeg--to make for a savory, but slightly sugary bread.


This bread is perfect for your Christmas Day table or a cozy treat for Christmas morning when you're sitting around the kitchen with out-of-town relatives over cups of coffee.


Just bake halves of acorns squash, scoop out the sweet flesh, mix with some pantry staples, and you’ve got an extremely addictive quick bread!


And to take it one step further, I drizzle mine with a little cider vanilla glaze--yummm.


Then sprinkle it with some granola for a sticky sweet and delightfully crunchy topping, and you've got a recipe your relatives won't stop asking you for!

Acorn Squash Bread

servings: 1 9 X 5-inch pan of bread (about 8 slices)


  • 1 small acorn squash (about 1 pound)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1⅔ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon cider
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • ⅓ cup granola


  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Use a soupspoon to scoop out the seeds and discard them. Arrange the squash cut-side-up on a rimmed baking sheet and rub its flesh with the olive oil and ½ teaspoon of the salt. Bake the squash until the flesh is fork tender—about 45 minutes.
  2. Scoop out the flesh of the squash, add it to the bowl of a food processor, and puree until smooth (this should give you about 1 cup of puree). Then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and grease a 9 X 5-inch bread loaf pan.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, and cloves. In a second large bowl, whisk together the squash puree, light brown sugar, canola oil, granulated sugar, ⅓ cup of the cider, eggs, vanilla, and remaining ½ teaspoon of salt.
  4. Fold the wet mixture into the dry mixture until just combined. Then pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake until the edges of the bread are brown and a toothpick inserted into its center comes out clean—about 60-65 minutes. Let the bread cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove it from the pan and cool completely.
  5. Next, whisk together the confectioner’s sugar and the remaining 1 tablespoon of cider until a smooth glaze forms. Drizzle over the cooled bread, sprinkle with granola, and serve.


  • To make muffins: Lower the oven temperature to 350 F after the squash is roasted. Make the batter and glaze as directed above. Divide the batter into 9 cups of a lined or greased muffin tin and bake until the edges are brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove muffins from the pan to cool completely. Drizzle cooled muffins with glaze, sprinkle with granola, and serve.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking

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Acorn Squash Pancakes

Acorn Squash Pancakes_SMALL(1).jpg

I’m not sure I've ever meet a kid who doesn’t like pancakes.

Acorn Squash Pancakes 1.jpg

What’s not to love?!

Soft on the inside, slightly crisp on the outside—and covered in maple syrup, of course.

Pancakes are pretty much a perfect food.

Acorn Squash Pancakes 2.jpg

But when the mom in me decided I wanted to make pancakes more nutritious, the chef in me knew I could use veggies.

Not only would these pancakes pack more of a nutritional punch, but I was sure the veggies would actually make them sweeter and more perfectly moist.

Acorn Squash Pancakes 3.jpg

As I thought about all of the possible veggies that could to the trick, it didn’t take long to realize that acorn squash was the perfect person for the job.

Acorn Squash Pancakes 4.jpg

Acorn squash's inherent sweetness and velvety texture make these pancakes something you will want to eat everyday—and because of their nutrition factor, something you actually should eat everyday.

Acorn Squash Pancakes 5.jpg

Now I’ll always tell it to you straight, so know that as-written these pancakes are very moist.

My daughter doesn’t mind at all, but if you have kids that are already into classic pancakes, you may want to use less of the acorn squash puree (look for details in the “notes” section of the recipe).

Acorn Squash Pancakes 6.jpg

If you do use a little less puree for a more traditional version, you'll find yourself with the perfect pancake—slightly sweet, warm, and soft yet crisp with a buttery warm yellow color.

And if you go for the more moist "toddler" version, you can truly count your pancake breakfast as a perfectly balanced meal.

Either way, I'd say we're all winners.

Acorn Squash Pancakes 7.jpg

Acorn Squash Pancakes

servings: 10 to 12 four- to five-inch pancakes


  • 1 large acorn squash (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter


  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Use a soupspoon to scoop out the seeds and discard them. Arrange the squash cut-side-up on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle the oil evenly over each piece and then bake the squash until the flesh is tender and can be easily pierced with the tines of a fork—30 to 40 minutes. Set aside until it is cool enough to handle.
  2. Scoop the flesh of the squash into a blender and puree it until it is smooth; this will give you about 2 cups of puree. Then add the flour, milk, eggs, baking powder, vanilla, and salt, and blend this mixture until just smooth.
  3. Add the butter to a large skillet over medium heat. Once the pan is hot and the butter is melted, pour about ½ cup of the batter into the pan; this will make one pancake, about 4 inches in diameter. Cook the batter until bubbles start to pop on its surface and the bottom is nicely browned. Then flip the pancake and cook it until the other side is also brown and the edges are dry—about 3 to 5 minutes per side. Repeat with the remainder of the batter.
  4. Serve with extra butter, syrup, fruit, or whatever you like!


  • You can decrease the amount of squash you use in the recipe, using a small squash—about 1 pounds (this will give you about 1 cup of squash puree after blending it). If you do so, also increase the amount of milk to 1 cup and the decrease the baking powder to 1½ teaspoons.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking
Acorn Squash Pancakes 8.jpg

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Veggie Queso + Homemade Doritos



Queso with Squash + Cauliflower

Makes 2 cups of queso


½ tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

½ large yellow onion, coarsely chopped (about ¾ cups)

2 garlic cloves, sliced

¼ medium head cauliflower, cut into large chunks, (about ½ pound or 1½ cups)

⅛ small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks (about ½ pound or 1¼ cups)

1 cup chicken stock

½ teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste

6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1½ cups)

4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)

½ cup jarred salsa

Chips, for dipping


1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan set over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the cauliflower, squash, chicken stock, and the ½ teaspoon salt. Bring this mixture to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook covered, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender—about 20 minutes. This should give you about ¼ cup liquid along with the veggies.


2. Place the mixture in a blender and process it until it is completely smooth. Add more stock or water if there is not enough liquid to blend easily.


3. Transfer the mixture back to the saucepan over low heat. Add the cheddar and Monterey Jack and stir until the cheese melts. Add the salsa and stir to combine. Taste the queso; add more salt if necessary and more stock if your mixture is too thick. Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy hot!




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