browned butter butternut, kale, crouton & bacon bake with garlic goat cheese sauce.

hellooooo, redundo alliteration recipe title of the year! there’s just no other way to put it.

i should spell crouton with a ‘K’. cuz that would be…kool. i had to mention the croutons in the title because THEY ARE NOT TO BE SKIPPED in this dish!

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ok yum. i invented this in my head because i had a butternut squash i needed to use. turns out to be a perfect thanksgiving-esque side dish, or a dinner of its own.

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for this, there’s a lot of cooking individual items, but they each get cooked in the same exact pan in a very methodical step-by-step process. so, read the recipe first, lol.

butternut squash is terrifying to cut - feel free to use pre-chopped cubes. however, i feel that you get more when you start from a whole squash. but please be careful!!

the one-third cup of butter in this recipe may seem like a lot, but it actually gets used in both tenderizing the butternut squash as well as toasting the sourdough bread croutons.

the remainder of the browned butter after cooking the squash gets ALL absorbed into the sourdough croutons and THAT. IS. WHAT. MAKES. THIS. SO. GOOD. after you salt them, of course. it was hard not to just stand there and eat all those browned buttery, toasty, salty sourdough bits right out of the pan.

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then, the kale & bacon share a cooking arena. in the same pan that the bread was just in! don’t dirty up a zillion pans, people. only one large pan is necessary.

cook the bacon. let the bacon drain on a paper towel. then cook the chopped kale in the bacon grease until just tender and super bright green. beautiful.

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other tasty add-ins!

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toss all the elements in a big bowl and transfer them to the baking dish where they’ll all mingle and get hot togetha. ow owww! add most of the crouton bits on the very top because you want those to get a touch crispier and be the star of the show.

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before baking and after baking…. the squash & croutons get a little more browned and tender. the kale softens and crisps at the edges. the bacon melds its flavors onto all of its neighbors.

scoop some on a plate or bowl to serve. drizzle with the garlicky goat cheese sauce, and yuhuuhuuummm. get every element stabbed onto your fork if you can. so much flavor and richness. the colors are gorg and make me wanna go crunchy leaf stompin.’ plus, it’s warm, cozy & satisfying.

pete & i ate this as dinner (with a sausage on the side, lolz), but this could be a really nice side dish for your holiday gatherings!

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this recipe is built on browned butter and you must go with it.

and remember…. don’t skimp on the sourdough.

texture town, babyyyyy!

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Browned Butter Butternut, Kale, Crouton & Bacon Bake with Garlic Goat Cheese Sauce

Serves 4-6

Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, browned in a large non-stick pan

  • 1/2 a large or 1 small butternut squash, seeds removed and cubed into bite-sized chunks

  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, sliced into 1” chunks

  • 1-2 cups jagged sourdough chunks, torn from a loaf or baguette - crust included

  • 2 cups of roughly chopped tuscan kale

  • 1 large shallot, sliced into rings - rinsed under hot water in strainer to tame the bite

  • 1/3 cup of chopped chives

  • 1/4 cup pepitas

  • kosher salt

  • 1/2 cup creamy goat cheese (chèvre), room temperature

  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced - rinsed with hot water in fine mesh strainer to tame the bite

  • 2 TB. apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar

  • 2 tsp. honey

  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper

Instructions-

Wash and carefully cut the exterior skin off the butternut squash. Slice in half, remove & discard the seeds. Cut the squash into 1/2 inch bite-sized bits. Alternatively, use pre-cut butternut squash cubes from the store.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

On the stove top, brown the butter in a large non-stick pan on medium-high heat. Constantly whisk the butter in the pan until it foams and brown flecks appear, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and continue to whisk for about 30 more seconds to prevent burning.

Return pan to heat and add the cubed butternut squash. Toss frequently with a spatula, coating with browned butter. Add some generous pinches of kosher salt as you toss the squash until slightly tender and deep orange, 5-8 minutes. Keep in mind that you’re going to put the squash in the oven, so you don’t want it to become too tender or mushy in the pan.

Scoop the slightly tenderized squash into a large bowl, leaving the browned butter in the pan on medium heat. Throw the rugged torn chunks of sourdough into the hot browned butter. Toss frequently on medium-high heat until toasty and golden (still tender - not too crunchy), 3-5 minutes. The bread will soak up the remainder of the browned butter. Remove from heat and toss with a generous pinch of salt.

In the same pan, cook the chopped bacon til brown & cooked, but not too crispy, about 3-5 minutes. Drain on a paper towel.

Sauté the kale in the bacon grease until tender and bright, 2-3 minutes.

Place the cooked bacon and kale in the large bowl with the cooked squash. Add the chopped chives, rinsed shallot rings, and pepitas. Toss gently until all ingredients are dispersed. Lastly toss half of the toasted sourdough croutons into the mixture and combine.

Place the mixture in at least a 1 quart baking dish. Press the remaining half of sourdough croutons on top. Place the dish on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes, until croutons & squash are a bit more browned and the kale is crisp.

While the squash dish is baking, make the garlic goat cheese sauce. In a small bowl, thoroughly stir the room temperature goat cheese, garlic clove, ACV or RWV, honey and black pepper until very very smooth. Plate the baked squash and drizzle the goat cheese sauce over individual servings.

Serve immediately! Reheat within 2 days at 350 degrees F for about 10 minutes. Enjoy!

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ireland.

christmas eve in dublin!

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traveling to ireland was the whole goal behind planning this europe trip. in my schemey little head i figured... yeahhhh christmas in dublin. that will be rad and cute as shit. 

i was only partially correct - christmas eve in dublin was rad and cute as shit. christmas day in dublin = total ghost town. 

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we stayed in a little airbnb cabin in dublin one, on the north side of river liffey. it was very minimal & simple, but it was really all we needed for a few days in dublin. staying on that side of the river was just fine and there were plenty of places to walk to, but we discovered it was way more happening on the south side of river liffey. everything was very walkable.

even though most restaurants & businesses were preparing to close down for the next couple of days, we had SO much fun on christmas eve. we decided to grocery shop for our christmas day meals since we found out everything would be closed on christmas day (and pretty much everything the day after christmas, too). look how insane the grocery store check-out was on christmas eve:

^ we found our namesake pubs. donoghue is my grandparents' last name on my mom's side, and then there's peter! didn't find any zerkel anythings when we were in germany, but lots of peter things!

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we knew we weren't going to be able to go to the guinness storehouse or jameson distillery once we found out everything closes december 25th & 26th, so we really did it up on christmas eve.

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temple bar neighborhood was all christmasified and it seemed like everyone in the city was out and about with their families. all the pubs were packed and it was awesome. i loved that everyone was out on the town.

there are tons of pubs everywhere and lots of them had live bands playing which we enjoyed. hot tip: eat dinners fairly early - we had a hell of a time getting dinners on multiple occasions in europe because restaurants close their kitchens super early... on christmas eve most places closed their kitchens at 6pm and we were hauling ass all over the place probably looking psychotic running in panting "is your kitchen still open?!?!??!!!!!!!!!"

we ended up finding ONE tapas restaurant that still had their kitchen open (and this was like 7pm!) and we had a really great waiter with a cool life story. he talked super fast but he was so interesting and smart and knew more about american politics than most americans that i know. turns out he didn't actually work there haha, his friend who owned the restaurant just asked him to help that day. he was just bopping around to the tables and drinking wine with everyone. we were just SO relieved to be eating food so i having a grand ol time.

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christmas day! it poured rain! woohooo merry christmas!!! also - picture a complete ghost town with nobody around and no businesses open to go sit inside. we went on a super long walk just to feel like we did something and get out a little bit.

back it upppp - we did go to christmas eve midnight mass at christchurch which was an interesting thing to experience while in ireland. it was a very old cool church and the choir singers were pretty incredible - they did perform a couple of classic christmas songs which made me happy.

we walked all the way to the bay and back.

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^ here's our weird grocery store christmas breakfast and our weird grocery store christmas dinner. i don't hate it.

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a funny little dublin experience since it was not what i'd anticipated (lolz obviously this very catholic nation would close down on christmas), but we had a good time anyway!

on to galway...

we rented a car and drove across to galway on the west coast of ireland. we stayed at another airbnb cabin in kinvara, a town about 30 minutes south of galway. we liked this cabin experience - as long as somebody knew how to maintain the woodstove (our neighbors in the next cabin bailed because they didn't know how to make fires in the stove and it was cooold...) and mentally get over the composting toilet situation, it was clean & cozy! basically all of the airbnbs we booked for this entire trip were under $100/night, so there were some trade-offs haha.

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we had a great experience in kinvara. it was a small community where everybody knows everybody. the pubs were super cozy and we had a very special and authentic live music experience at one of the pubs - where i had the best irish coffee ever and sat by a fire (my pub dreams, realized haha)! some folks that chatted with us happened to be friends with our airbnb hosts. it was all very cozy & tight knit, which was the irish experience i think we'd envisioned we have when planning this trip. 

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kinvara also felt straight outta BABE. not babe, pig in the city. OG BABE.

when we ever go back to ireland we will be spending a lot more time driving around the countryside! there's so much to see.

cliffs of moher!

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SO CRAAAZY these cliffs are!

spoiler alert: we are about to get engaged. right. here.

backstory: i was being kinda grumpy & irritated with my camera and was mad at the sun for casting such strong shadows on the cliffs, HA. and i was pissed at the wind and having to adjust my hat & hair constantly. i just wanted to take some freaking cool photos of these freaking cool giant cliffs, mmmkaaaay. i was prob also on edge (literally, Lolololzzz) from driving on the left side of the road, and everyone knows i'm the most annoying backseat driver on earth. so, getting out of the car after an hour drive on narrow winding roads where i constantly thought we were gunna crash into the stone wall barrier (which seemed to be approximately 12 inches away from the passenger window at all times) - not the most relaxed version of me there could be. 

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my only suspicions:

-pete let me sleep in that morning and didn't tell me to get up (which is very out of character hahah). he quietly made coffee and a fire in the woodstove so i wasn't cold when i got up. i just thought he was being sweet because it was almost my birthday :)

-he was also suddenly very into taking selfies on this trip. we had taken like a zillion selfies together in london and it continued in ireland...i was kinda like  heh??? what's this??  we're usually lucky if we take one selfie or get a photo of the two of us together during a given trip.

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selfie time is here agaaaain

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oh how majestic this place is. howbout a selfie!?

but really, it was so gorgeous and we were lucky to have such good weather that day. i surrendered wrestling with my big camera and put it away and also my hat. i was getting un-grumpy just taking it all in.

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WHOOMP THERE IT IS

WHOOMP THERE IT IS

i handed my phone to a random guy to take our photo right here; i turn back and BAM pete is on his knee waving a loose ring in the air. reminder: it was very windy, there's a foreign stranger with my phone, and we're on the side of the largest cliff i've ever seen, so this moment was quite overwhelming for me. 

overwhelming in the best way, though. :)  thanks, petey, for this very epic & special memory. 

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yaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyy

hey so now we're engaged and i have your grandma's ring on (which means everything to me and i feel soooowowowwowoooooo crazy honored to have it)..... let's go have some guinness and celebrate! 

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galway - so cute right now.

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my forever boo.

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loved you, ireland. we just got a tiny taste of you, but we made some very big memories. you are really something. 

 

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