Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Flatbread


Roasted butternut squash and caramelized onions form a perfect union atop a thin flatbread crust with dressed arugula. Fall is fully upon us, and while we don’t enjoy the changing seasons in Florida, we can at least jump on board with fall inspired recipes. Butternut squash is much easier to prepare than some of the other squash varieties. The skin peels off easily, it cuts like a dream, and its sweet rich flesh is quite versatile.


I have always had a deep love for caramelized onions, and I find that their natural sweetness plays well with the creamy squash and salty reggiano. My local grocery store, Publix, sells awesome freshly made pizza dough which I buy on the regular to use in recipes like my German Flammkuchen. I figured roasting the squash and caramelizing all those onions was enough effort! If your grocery store doesn’t sell fresh pizza dough, I would recommend following a recipe like this one from Smitten Kitchen instead of buying the canned Pillsbury variety.


The caramelized onions and squash can be prepared a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator making assembly that much easier when you are preparing this meal for guests. I thought about also adding bacon and kale, but I figured simpler is better, and boy was I right! This pizza was sweet and savory complimented by the peppery arugula salad on top. I would recommend enjoying this butternut squash and caramelized onion flatbread with a crisp German Riesling or an old world white wine.


Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Flatbread

  • Fresh pizza dough
  • Flour for dusting
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 ¾ pound or 4 medium sized yellow onions thinly sliced
  • ½ medium sized butternut squash
  • 1 cup grated reggiano
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1 teaspoon stone ground Dijon
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Salt and pepper

Thinly slice onions and caramelize on low heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil for 45 minutes or so. Heat the olive oil first on low heat and add the onions, making sure to separate them as you drop them in. You should barely stir the onions; I stirred them 3 times only because I cannot resist the urge to stir them a few times. One of my chef instructors at FIU, Chef Moran, said caramelized onions should never be stirred, rather just let them sit on low heat and they will cook beautifully.


While the onions are cooking, preheat the oven to 400F, halve the butternut squash and scoop the insides and discard. Rub olive oil on the outside and inside of the butternut squash. Season with salt and pepper and place the butternut squash cut side up on a baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes or until fork tender.


Allow the butternut squash to cool down and come to room temperature before handling. Turn the squash over when cool and use a spoon to gently scrape off the outer skin. The skin will generally peel off quite easily, but around the thin neck of the squash I had to softly scrape the skin off. At this point you can store the squash in the refrigerator in a sealed container if preparing a day in advance, or thinly slice the squash horizontally to prep for the flatbread.


Preheat the oven to 400F. Grate the cheese and set aside. Roll out the pizza dough on a clean countertop surface to create a thin crust using flour to make sure the dough doesn’t stick. Next, evenly spread the caramelized onions over the rolled out dough. Layer with thin slices of butternut squash and season with a little bit of pepper. Next sprinkle the reggiano cheese on top.


Bake the butternut squash and caramelized onion flatbread in the oven for 20 minutes or until the cheese is golden and bubbling. Whisk together 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper to taste, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to use as a light dressing for the arugula. Top the butternut squash and caramelized onion flatbread with the lightly dressed arugula, slice, and serve.


Pumpkin Spice Syrup + Slushie


Pumpkin reigns supreme this time of year, and pumpkin spice syrup will have pumpkin fanatics like myself jumping for joy. The pumpkin spice syrup from Starbucks ain’t got nothing on this recipe friends. This syrup is easy, delicious, stores for up to one month, and is guaranteed to fulfill all of your pumpkin dreams. This past weekend I went to NYC and was inundated with fabulous food options- and of course pumpkin galore.


At Smorgasburg in Brooklyn, I nommed on THE ramen burger, to-die-for ice cream sandwiches from The Good Batch, and lastly, the delicious Pumpkin Pops from People’s Pops which had me lusting for a pumpkin slushie. People’s Pops was serving up slushies of different flavors- but alas not my beloved pumpkin. I returned home with a serious hankering for a pumpkin slushie, and the weather here in Miami is still a warm and muggy 80 degrees- perfect for an icy fall flavored treat.


The instant I poured the pumpkin and spice blend into the hot simple syrup my entire apartment smelled wonderfully of sugar, spice, and everything nice. Homemade pumpkin spice syrup is perfectly spiced and tastes great on almost anything. I have already used my syrup in coffee and in a slushie. I cannot wait to pour it over some pancakes, fresh biscuits, on hot plain oatmeal, or over a scoop of vanilla ice cream- the possibilities are endless!


Pumpkin Spice Syrup + Slushie

  • 1 cup Water
  • 1/3 cup Libby’s pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/4 cup each light brown and dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • dash of salt
  • 1 tablespoon Dominican Vanilla Extract

Mix the water and sugars in a saucepan on low heat with a whisk until the sugar is completely dissolved- this took about 3-4 minutes. Next add the pumpkin puree and spices mixing well. Allow the pumpkin spice syrup to cook for 7-8 minutes on low heat, do NOT boil or simmer.


Pour the pumpkin spice syrup through a fine mesh strain. Once the syrup is cooled add the Dominican vanilla extract. This yields 2 cups of pumpkin spice syrup. The syrup will store for a month and maybe even a tad bit longer!


To make a slushie use shaved or very fine crushed ice. I used 7 ice cubes in a blender with a tablespoon of the pumpkin spice syrup. I added another tablespoon of the syrup on top when the ice was finely ground. Garnish wish a cinnamon stick and enjoy!


Bourbon Pumpkin Bread Pudding


Fall has finally arrived, and in celebration I made a bourbon pumpkin bread pudding with butterscotch bourbon glaze. Bourbon pumpkin bread pudding comes together in blissful union as Maker’s Mark takes canned pumpkin to be his happily ever after.  There is something magical about the onset of fall. It is at this point in the year where everyone begins to question how time flew by so quickly as the memory of New Year’s, spring, and summer seem so fresh and recent.


Although those of us in Miami won’t be able to enjoy the changing seasons, pumpkin patches, and chilly air that inspires giddy anticipation for the holiday season, I will be celebrating fall in spirit with the rest of you. While you can always count on retail giants to remind you of each and every upcoming season, there is a palpable change in the air and mood. In Miami we vainly hope for chilly days below 70F where we bundle ourselves in boots, scarves, and hooded sweaters. Alas, I am but reduced to enjoying a pumpkin spice latte with blasting AC in 90 degree weather, but we can all dream right?

 pumpkin-glaze-slice pumpkin-is-for-fall

The bourbon pumpkin bread pudding is doused in a wonderful butterscotch bourbon glaze that crystallizes and hugs every spiced nook and cranny. If you would like to serve this hot I would recommend a scoop of vanilla ice cream sprinkled with pumpkin pie spice instead of the whipped cream, but the fresh whipped cream was equally decadent. Bourbon pumpkin bread pudding will put a smile on your face and remind you of all the goodness that is yet to come in these final months of this year. This is a keeper for Thanksgiving, so bookmark this recipe to treat your family and friends!


Bourbon Pumpkin Bread Pudding

  •  4-5 cups diced bread
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • ¼ cup Maker’s Mark Bourbon
  • ¾ cup canned pumpkin
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Dash of salt

 For the Glaze:

  •  ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons Maker’s Mark Bourbon

 For the Whipped Cream:

  •  1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Garnish with a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice

Preheat your oven to 350F. Dice the stale bread into evenly sized cubes and set aside. I used about half of a loaf of stale French bread and 3 stale Martin’s potato rolls (I know this is random, but it’s what I had on hand!). Like I have said before bread pudding is made of simple ingredients! Next mix all of the rest of the listed ingredients together. I mixed these together using my KitchenAid but a hand mixer or simply whisking the pumpkin custard ingredients together will also work.


Place the diced bread into a greased Pyrex baking dish. Pour the pumpkin custard over the diced bread and gently toss the ingredients together until all the bread is saturated. Now press the soaked bread into the dish evenly. Bake the bourbon pumpkin bread pudding for 40-45 minutes or until firm and set. I allowed this to completely cool before pouring the butterscotch bourbon glaze on top.


For the glaze I placed a ¼ cup of sugar and the tablespoon of butter in a saucepan. I allowed these to melt and brown together until wonderfully toasty and a light caramel color. This involved stirring over low to medium heat for 7-9 minutes. Next slowly add the whipping cream while constantly stirring. The butterscotch will immediately begin to bubble and change color. When fully incorporated pour in the bourbon and whisk until you no longer smell the sting of the alcohol in the air.


Pour the butterscotch bourbon glaze on top of the entire bourbon pumpkin bread pudding and allow it to cool in the refrigerator. I personally prefer my bourbon pumpkin bread pudding cold, but this will taste amazing on the spot or heated up to serve. Prepare the whipped cream right before serving by putting 1 cup of cold whipping cream with 2 tablespoons into the KitchenAid and beating until beautiful whipped peaks form. Top the bourbon pumpkin bread pudding with fresh whipped cream and sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice for garnish. Fall has arrived!