What’s for Dinner Tonight: Spiced salmon with mango salsa

Fruit salsa is OK with chips, but the sweetness really shines when you pair it with a savory meat, such as grilled pork or salmon.

Spiced salmon with mango salsa from “Spice Spice Baby.” Contributed by Wayne Wong.

This coriander-cumin salmon from Kanchan Koya’s “Spice Spice Baby: 100 Recipes With Healing Spices for Your Family Table” (Spice Spice Baby, $35) benefits from the bright flavors of the salsa. You can make the salsa as spicy as you prefer, and though you can use frozen fruit, the mangoes at local grocery stores are perfectly ripe and inexpensive right now.

Spiced Salmon with Mango Salsa

I adore fruit with fish and meat — mangoes with salmon, peaches with pork, prunes with chicken, pears with lamb, and so on. The spice, citrus and chile are the bridge between the fruit’s sweetness and the meat’s umami flavors. The results are scrumptious. Serve this with a side of white rice and guacamole.

— Kanchan Koya

For the fish:

Four 6-ounce salmon fillets, preferably wild-caught
Salt, to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
For the mango salsa:
1 cup chopped, ripe mango
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped jalapeño pepper (optional)
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
1/2 to 1 teaspoon lime juice

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Sprinkle the salmon fillets with the salt and spices. Place in an ovenproof dish or sheet pan. Bake in the oven for 15 to 18 minutes, depending on how rare or cooked you prefer.

While the fish is cooking, mix together the salsa ingredients. Taste and adjust the salt and lime. Spoon the salsa over the cooked fish and serve right away. Serves 4.

— From “Spice Spice Baby: 100 Recipes with Healing Spices for your Family Table” by Kanchan Koya (Spice Spice Baby, $35)

When you’re swimming in eggplant, here’s a knock-off guacamole to use ’em up

When you’re growing food in Texas, it’s often all or nothing.

We’ll get months of dry hot weather, which peppers and eggplant love, and then we’ll get weeks of rain, which can delay fall planting but also revive those crops that are barely hanging on.

Eggplant is a hardy summer crop that not everybody loves, but farmer Hannah Beall found a way to make an eggplant dip that tastes a lot like guacamole. Contributed by @hannahsim86

We are squarely in that in-between season right now. Local farmers are eager to plant those fall crops, but they are also trying to use up (and sell) the rest of the summer bounty.

At Hairston Creek Farm, where Hannah Beall and her husband are working with longtime farmer Gary Rowland to take over his organic farm, they are still slinging more eggplant than they know what to do with. Over the weekend, she posted a recipe for eggplant guacamole that stood out but because it’s good to have recipes to help you use up produce you might not otherwise use.

RELATED: At Farmer Starter, students get a crash course in Farming 101

I understand that the use of the term “guacamole” will rile up plenty of people because this recipe doesn’t contain avocado, but I think we can let this one lie. You can always add avocado in addition to the eggplant, but the goal here is using up a crop that might otherwise sit unused in your refrigerator.

You can find Beall at the Texas Farmers’ Market at Lakeline on Saturdays, as well as @hannahsim86 on Instagram.

This guacamole-inspired dip is made with eggplants, peppers, cilantro and lime. Contributed by @hannahsim86

Eggplant Guacamole

3 cloves garlic
3 serranos, whole
1 large jalapeno, seeded
1 1/2 cups peeled and roasted eggplant
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon lime juice
Handful of cilantro
1/2 cup chopped tomato
1/2 cup chopped onion

In a blender or food processor, combine the garlic, peppers, eggplant, salt, cumin and lime juice. Blend until smooth and then add cilantro, tomato and onion and pulse to reach the desired consistency. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

— Hannah Beall

How to make the prettiest apple tart you’ve ever seen

Apple season is so close, I can smell it.

Every fall, I try to go back to Missouri to buy fresh apples from the orchards near my hometown, and although those apples aren’t quite ready yet, the change of seasons is upon us.

Apples from Marionville, Missouri, are one of my favorite things about going back to my hometown in fall. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

If you’re celebrating the Jewish New Year right now, you’re definitely thinking about apples, and even if you aren’t, it’s a good time to celebrate the sweet things in life.

I was so impressed by this apple tart from Irvin Lin’s new book, “Marbled, Swirled, and Layered: 150 Recipes and Variations for Artful Bars, Cookies, Pies, Cakes, and More” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30), that I wanted to run it ahead of a weekend when you might have time to play around with making the apple roses.

Instead of making a traditional apple pie, you can make an apple tart filled with “roses” made with thinly sliced apples. Contributed by Linda Xiao.

Lin gives detailed instructions about how to roll up thin slices of apples, and although yours might not look quite as good as his, it’s still a fun technique to practice, especially with the fall holidays coming up.

RECIPE: Maple Apple Walnut Crunch Pie

If this recipe feels too difficult but you still want to bake something with apples, might I suggest these applesauce muffins or this apple strudel. This double layer apple crisp is probably the easiest apple dessert I can think of, but here’s a recipe for caramel apples, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Apple Roses and Spiced Brown Butter Tart

When I know I have to bust out an impressive dessert, I opt for something like this show-stopping tart, which only requires a little bit of dexterity. Despite the way it looks, this recipe isn’t too difficult, but it’s always a gorgeous presentation dessert for dinner parties. The best part is that it looks like you spent a lot of money at the fancy-pants local bakery. Act all indignant when your guests ask you where you bought it, but secretly know that it actually didn’t take too much effort.

— Irvin Lin

For the crust:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup dark rum
For the browned butter filling:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
6 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
3 cardamom pods
1 star anise
1 large vanilla bean or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Zest of 1 orange
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
For the apple roses:
2 1/2 pounds (about 5 medium) red-skinned firm apples, such as Braeburn, Gala or Jonagold
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the crumble topping:
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Make the crust: Combine both flours, the sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Cut the butter into 1/2-inch cubes and sprinkle over the dry ingredients. Toss the butter cubes with your hands to coat, then squeeze until they flatten out, squeezing and tossing until the dough starts to resemble crumbly cornmeal with bits of butter still in flattened chunks. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks with the rum, then drizzle the liquid over the flour-butter mixture and fold together. As the dry ingredients become moister, work the ingredients together with your hands until they come together and form a dough. If the dough seems too sticky, sprinkle a little more flour into it. If the dough seems too dry, add a little more rum or cold water. The dough should be soft. Flatten the dough into a disk about 1 inch thick, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Roll out the dough into a 14-inch circle, but don’t worry if isn’t perfect. This dough is really forgiving. Fit the dough into a 10-inch round tart pan with a removable bottom. This recipe makes a little more dough than necessary, so if you need to, use the extra dough to patch up any holes or tears. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork all over, then line with a piece of parchment paper and fill with dried beans, uncooked rice, or pie weights. Freeze the lined pan for about 15 minutes. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Set the tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until very lightly golden brown around the edges, about 10 minutes. Let the crust cool on a wire rack, and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Make the browned butter filling: Combine the butter, cloves, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, and star anise in a saucepan. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the pan, then add the vanilla pod as well. Add the nutmeg and orange zest. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the butter melts and starts to brown and turn fragrant. Once the butter starts to brown, turn the heat off and let the residual heat bring the butter to the right point. You don’t want to burn the butterfat, you just want it golden brown. Discard the cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, and vanilla pod. Let cool to room temperature.

Whisk together the eggs, sugar, flour and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in the butter, scraping the brown bits at the bottom of the pan into the bowl. Pour the filling into the crust.

Here’s how to make the apple roses: Cut the apples by placing the apple on its bottom and slicing down near the core, but not close enough to get any seeds. Rotate the apple 90 degrees and slice down again. Repeat two more times until you have a rectangular core, which you can discard, and 4 apple chunks with skin on them. Place the apple chunks flat side down on the cutting board and cut thin lengthwise slices with a sharp knife (or use a mandoline). Each slice should have one flat edge and one rounded edge with a thin piece of red skin. Place the apple slices in a large microwave-safe bowl with the lemon juice. Toss to coat to prevent the apple slices from turning brown. Slice all the apples, continuing to toss the apple slices with the lemon juice as you go. Add the sugar and butter and toss to coat.

Microwave the apple mixture for 1 minute. You don’t want to completely cook the apples, just soften them enough to make them pliable. If they are still too crisp and break when you bend them, cook in additional 15-second increments, testing until they are bendable. The amount of time will depend on how thick you cut the apples and how powerful your microwave is.

Starting with the thinnest, smallest piece you can find, curl the apple slice, with the skin side at the top, into a spiral, forming a rose-like shape. Wrap another, larger slice around the first slice. Build a rose with as many slices as you can. Use a spatula (or the side of a large chef‘s knife) to move the apple rose to the filled tart crust. The filling should help hold the apple roses together. Repeat with the rest of the apple slices, until you have tightly filled the entire surface of the tart. Any gaps in the tart where the roses don’t quite fit can be filled with extra apple slices and smaller roses.

To make the crumble topping: Combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl and stir together with a fork. Drizzle the butter over the dry ingredients and toss until crumbs start to form and stick together. Sprinkle the crumble in a ring, about 1 inch wide, around the edge of the tart on top of the apples.

Bake until the apples are a rich golden brown and the filling has set and looks puffy and slightly golden, 50 to 60 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before releasing the tart from the sides of the pan. Serves 10.

— From “Marbled, Swirled, and Layered: 150 Recipes and Variations for Artful Bars, Cookies, Pies, Cakes, and More” by Irvin Lin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30)

Use up this week’s leftovers in a spaghetti pie with ricotta, veggies

Now that it’s finally not too hot to turn on the oven, here’s a quick dinnertime pie you can make with just a few ingredients. It’s a great way to use up leftover spaghetti, but it’s also a way to serve pasta that isn’t your everyday red sauce.

This ricotta and spinach spaghetti pie is from “Inspiralized and Beyond: Spiralize, Chop, Rice and Mash Your Vegetables into Creative, Craveable Meals” by Alissandra Maffucci (Clarkson Potter, $21.99). Contributed by Evan Sung

Spiralizer master Alissandra Maffucci uses potato noodles in this recipe, so if you have a spiralizer, you can spin these yourself. But if you don’t, pick up one of the packages of pre-cut veggie noodles at the store, or use regular ol’ cooked spaghetti.

You could use any number of vegetables or kinds of noodles in this ricotta pie. Contributed by Evan Sung

We still eat plenty of regular spaghetti in my house, so I’ll be making this with thin spaghetti and all the leftovers in the fridge. If spinach isn’t your thing and you don’t have any leftover veggies from the week, try asparagus or broccoli by cooking the vegetables to al dente in the pan before baking for about 15 minutes.

RELATED: Austin Food Blogger Alliance to host noodle cook-off on Sept. 23

Ricotta and Spinach Spaghetti Pie

Spaghetti pie is an effective use for leftover pasta (if you ever have any …). This spiralized version uses potato noodles instead of processed pasta to give you a bigger nutritional bang for your buck. The spinach sneaks in some dark-leafy-green calcium, and the ricotta gives the pie a fluffy, velvety texture and comfort-food flavor, making this dish a crowd-pleaser.

— Alissandra Maffucci

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 large russet potatoes, peeled, spiralized with Blade D
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Fine sea salt and pepper
6 cups packed spinach, chopped well
3 medium eggs, beaten
1/2 cup ricotta cheese (if desired, you can use part skim)

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the potatoes and the garlic powder. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes, then transfer to a large bowl. Let cool for 5 minutes.

Immediately add the spinach to the same skillet and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 5 minutes. Transfer the spinach to the bowl with the potatoes and add the eggs and ricotta. Season with salt and pepper and toss well to combine.

In the same skillet, spread the mixture into an even layer. Transfer to the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the noodles are set when pressed with the back of a spatula and the edges are just beginning to crisp. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

— From “Inspiralized and Beyond: Spiralize, Chop, Rice, and Mash Your Vegetables into Creative, Craveable Meals” by Alissandra Maffucci (Clarkson Potter, $21.99)

What’s for Dinner Tonight: Five-spice duck (or chicken or pork) with wild rice, kale

Have your sheet pans and casserole dishes collected dust yet? It’s been a long, hot summer, but I can feel my palate and my cooking instincts starting to make that transition to fall, especially with this rain we’ve been having.

This five-spice duck and rice dish comes from “Dinner’s in the Oven” by Rukmini Iyer. If you don’t like duck, you can substitute chicken breasts or pork chops. Contributed by David Loftus.

In the past few years, we’ve seen a number of sheet pan supper cookbooks, which help cooks get dinner on the table with recipes that call for cooking everything in a single dish or baking sheet. Rukmini Iyer’s “Dinner’s in the Oven: Simple One-Pan Meals” (Chronicle Books, $19.95) is a somewhat sophisticated spin on this concept with ingredients such as spelt and halloumi that you might not be able to find at everyday grocery stores just yet.

This five-spice duck dish is notable because the rice is baked in the same pan as the poultry and the kale. You could use any large-diced vegetable in this dish, and chicken or pork is a fine substitute if you can’t find duck. I usually roast vegetables at a much higher temperature than 350 degrees, but the lower temperature in this recipe ensures even cooking and, if you’re lucky, slightly crispy rice along the edge of the pan.

RELATED: An easy spin on chicken enchiladas from America’s Test Kitchen

A creamy chicken and pasta dish that’s perfect for back to school

Five-Spice Duck Breasts with Wild Rice, Kale and Ginger

This incredibly satisfying duck and wild rice dish, with its contrast of complementary textures and flavors, is easily scaled up if you’re cooking for more than two. If you don’t like duck, chicken breasts or pork loin work well, too.

— Rukmini Iyer

1 cup mixed basmati and wild rice
1 1/2 cups water
2 inches ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, whole
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 star anise
1/2 bunch kale, destemmed, and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 duck breasts (about 3/4 pound each)
2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
1/2 fresh red chile, thinly sliced
2 scallions, thinly sliced

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Mix the rice, water, ginger, garlic and 1 teaspoon of the sea salt in a roasting pan or large baking dish, and throw in the star anise. Mix the kale with the sesame oil, then scatter it over the rice.

Slash the skin on the duck breasts with a sharp knife, then rub them all over with the remaining 1 teaspoon sea salt and the five-spice powder. Place on top of the kale, cover the roasting pan tightly with foil, then transfer to the oven and roast for 40 minutes.

Remove the foil and cook uncovered for a further 10 minutes, to allow the kale to crisp up. Allow the duck breasts to rest for 5 minutes, then thinly slice and return the breasts to the roasting pan. Scatter over the red chile and scallions and serve. Serves 2.

— From “Dinner’s in the Oven: Simple One-Pan Meals” by Rukmini Iyer (Chronicle Books, $19.95)

RELATED: An easy basil-balsamic marinade for pork chops, chicken

Takeout is great, but here’s how to make chicken pad thai at home

How to make a rainbow-colored grilled cheese sandwich (glitter optional)

In today’s food section, I explained the recent phenomenon of “unicorn food,” a colorful, glittery subset of the highly visual “internet food” movement.

Rainbows, sprinkles, glitter and stars are staples of so-called unicorn food, but that doesn’t mean all the dishes are sweet. This colorful, savory grilled cheese is from Rachel Johnson’s new book, “Unicorn Food: Magical Recipes for Sweets, Eats and Treats.” Contributed by Rachel Johnson

There are no fewer than four cookbooks with the title “Unicorn Food” coming out this year, and one of them is by Austin author Rachel Johnson, the recipe developer behind stupidgoodrachel.com.

In the story, you’ll find recipes for birthday cake pancakes and a turmeric lassi. Some of the unicorn food recipes are more natural than others, but if you’re a cook who doesn’t mind using plain ol’ food coloring to brighten up your day, here’s a tie-dye grilled cheese sandwich that is a treat to look at and — with all those good cheeses — delicious to eat, too.

As if you needed another excuse to use sprinkles for breakfast, these birthday waffles from Jessica Merchant’s “Pretty Dish” are filled with sprinkles and served with ice cream. Contributed by Jessica Merchant

RELATED: What’s at the end of the rainbow? The latest trend: unicorn food

Tie-Dye Grilled Cheese

Don’t freak out, but this is the grilled cheese of your dreams. The multicolored cheese pull is just perfect to generate a like for your Instagram!

— Rachel Johnson

4 ounces shredded mozzarella
4 ounces shredded cheddar
4 ounces shredded Gruyere
Food coloring (pink, green, blue and purple)
4 tablespoons softened butter
8 (1/2-inch) slices white bread (such as sourdough, pullman or brioche)
Kosher salt, to taste
Edible glitter (optional)

Mix the cheeses together in a large bowl. Divide between four bowls and tint each cheese with each food coloring by stirring around with a spoon (about 2 drops per color per bowl will do).

Heat a nonstick pan or griddle to medium-high heat. Spread the butter evenly on one side of each bread slice.

Place four slices of bread, butter side down, on the heat surface. Top with each color of cheese in any preferred pattern. Sandwich with another slice of bread, butter side up. Cook on the griddle for 2 to 3 minutes or until the cheese is starting to melt. Flip and cook another 2 minutes, or until the bread is toasty and golden. Sprinkle with salt and edible glitter in case you are extra. Makes 2 sandwiches.

— From “Unicorn Food: Magical Recipes for Sweets, Eats and Treats” by Rachel Johnson (Sterling Epicure, $14.95)

What’s for Dinner Tonight: An easy spin on chicken enchiladas from America’s Test Kitchen

From El Paso to Beaumont, Texans love enchiladas, and every family has their favorite way to make them.

At America’s Test Kitchen, they’ve published plenty of from-scratch enchilada sauces, most of which require a blender, a food processor or a multi-step cooking process, but this recipe is a little different.

This version, from longtime America’s Test Kitchen recipe developers Julia Collin Davison and Bridget Lancaster, uses tomato sauce and dried chili powder and other spices instead of the whole, dried peppers you’d find in a classic red chile sauce.

The recipe comes from a book that published last year called “Cooking at Home With Bridget & Julia: The TV Hosts of America’s Test Kitchen Share Their Favorite Recipes for Feeding Family and Friends” (America’s Test Kitchen, $35) by Lancaster and Davison, whom you’ll see often on “America’s Test Kitchen,” the TV show that airs locally several times a day on KLRU Create.

RELATED: Taco cleansing with kale, caramelized onion enchiladas

How to make Maudie’s chile con carne enchiladas from ‘The Austin Cookbook’

Craving green enchiladas? Here’s how to make a slow cooker enchilada casserole, South Texas-style

Chicken Enchiladas with Red Chile Sauce

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped fine
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips
2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 cup water
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
1/4 cup jarred jalapeños, chopped
12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (3 cups)
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic, chili powder, coriander, cumin, sugar and salt and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in chicken and coat thoroughly with spices. Stir in tomato sauce and water, bring to simmer, and cook until chicken is cooked through, about 8 minutes.

Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer into bowl, pressing on chicken and onion to extract as much sauce as possible; set sauce aside. Transfer chicken mixture to bowl, refrigerate for 20 minutes to chill, then stir in cilantro, jalapeños, and 2 1/2 cups cheese.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Spread 3/4 cup sauce over bottom of 13-inch-by-9-inch baking dish. Brush both sides of tortillas with remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Stack tortillas, wrap in damp dish towel, and place on plate; microwave until warm and pliable, about 1 minute.

Working with 1 warm tortilla at a time, spread 1/3 cup chicken filling across center of tortilla. Roll tortilla tightly around filling and place seam side down in baking dish; arrange enchiladas in 2 columns across width of dish.

Pour remaining sauce over top to cover completely and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Cover dish tightly with greased aluminum foil and bake until enchiladas are heated through and cheese is melted, 15 to 20 minutes. erves 4.

— From “Cooking at Home With Bridget & Julia: The TV Hosts of America’s Test Kitchen Share Their Favorite Recipes for Feeding Family and Friends” (America’s Test Kitchen, $35) by Julia Collin Davison and Bridget Lancaster

What’s for Dinner Tonight: A kid-friendly, one-pot pasta with one sneaky ingredient

Siri Daly, the NBC contributor and wife of TV presenter Carson Daly, knows that a family with kids in the house can’t have enough pasta recipes.

Sneaky one-pot Mexican pasta. Contributed by Jennifer Causey.

We’ve published several main-dish pasta meals in the past few weeks as families have been preparing for school, and here’s one more to add to the collection from Daly’s new book, “Siriously Delicious: 100 Nutritious (and Not So Nutritious) Simple Recipes for the Real Home Cook” (Oxmoor House, $26.99).

She adds a frozen butternut squash puree, which adds sweetness to balance the taco seasoning. The cup of taco sauce that she calls for is the smooth, tangy jarred salsa that will add flavor without the chunks of tomatoes. If your kids love salsa, just use their favorite, and don’t hesitate to use only a few tablespoons if you’re worried about it being too spicy for your tastes.

RECIPES: How to make street cart-style chicken at home

Basil-balsamic pork chops, for now and for later

A creamy chicken and pasta dish that’s perfect for back to school

Sneaky One-Pot Mexican Pasta

Everyone always assumes that because I write a food blog (and now a cookbook!), my kids must be fabulous eaters. Wrong! I have picky, picky eaters. Right around 18 months, each of them started rejecting nearly all healthy foods. I’ve felt everything from frustration, anger, shame and embarrassment over it. Yet on my good days, I realize their palates are still expanding and they won’t be like this forever. Case in point: My son now eats salads! Victory!

So I carry on, trying and sneaking: trying new foods, and when that doesn’t work, sneaking them into their meals. Cue this cheesy, one-pot Mexican pasta with squash, which sort of melts into the ground turkey, creating a slightly sweet counterbalance to the spicier Mexican flavors. Obviously, the best part about this dish is you can make it in about 30 minutes in one pot. The first time I made this, my oldest and youngest gobbled it up. The stubborn middle child? Well, we had a 1950s-style showdown. She sat there, crying, begging for a treat, resisting even one bite. Oh, well. Can’t win ’em all.

— Siri Daly

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground turkey
1/2 (1-ounce) package taco seasoning
1 (12-ounce) package frozen butternut squash puree, thawed
8 ounces uncooked pasta of your choice
2 cups chicken stock
1 (8-ounce) jar taco sauce or salsa
1 1/2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the ground turkey and cook, stirring, until crumbled and no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle in the taco seasoning and cook, stirring often, until well combined, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the squash, pasta, chicken stock and taco sauce, and bring to a boil over medium-high. Stir everything up, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until the pasta is al dente, 12 to 15 minutes.

Add the cheese, and stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is thickened. Sprinkle with a bit more cheese and the scallions, if desired, and serve. Serves 6.

— From “Siriously Delicious: 100 Nutritious (and Not So Nutritious) Simple Recipes for the Real Home Cook” by Siri Daly (Oxmoor House, $26.99)

What’s for Dinner Tonight: A creamy chicken and pasta dish that’s perfect for back to school

With the school year upon us, it’s time to stock up on easy recipes that you don’t have to think about too much.

This creamy chicken pasta with shallot and basil is from “Family Table: Farm Cooking from the Elliott Homestead” by Shaye Elliott (Lyons Press, $24.95). Contributed by Shaye Elliott.

This chicken pasta is from “Family Table: Farm Cooking From the Elliott Homestead” by Shaye Elliott (Lyons Press, $24.95), and although it’s not quite a one-pot dish, it’s easy enough to make while you’re helping kids with homework or unwinding from the day. Omit the peppers, shallots and/or tomatoes if your family is on the picky side.

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An easy basil-balsamic marinade for pork chops, chicken

Creamy Chicken Pasta With Shallot and Basil

2 tablespoons butter
4 boneless chicken thighs or 2 boneless breasts
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 shallots, minced
2 red bell peppers, cut into strips
4 ounces cream cheese
1 1/2 cups cream
1 pound fusilli pasta or pasta of choice
2 small tomatoes, diced
Fresh basil, for garnish
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Heat butter in a large cast-iron skillet. Add chicken thighs or breasts and season generously with salt and pepper. Cook for 4 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Remove to a plate to cool. Into the hot skillet, add the shallots and bell peppers. Saute for 5 minutes, until softened.

Cut the cooled chicken into strips and place the chicken strips back into the skillet with the shallot and peppers. Add the cream cheese and cream, stirring gently to combine. Cover the skillet and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.

During the last 10 minutes of simmering, boil the pasta in a pot of water until al dente. When the pasta is ready, drain it in a colander, then add to the skillet. Combine the chicken mixture and the pasta, stir in the diced tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh basil and a generous sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serves 6.

— From “Family Table: Farm Cooking From the Elliott Homestead” by Shaye Elliott (Lyons Press, $24.95)

That’s a lot of cookies: The Big Bake Sale raises more than $12,000 for RAICES

Over the weekend, dozens of bakers set up bake sales at Austin-area restaurants and cafes to raise money for RAICES, the organization assisting families that have been separated at the border.

Austin-area bakers made treats at home and then sold them at several locations through the city on Saturday morning. Contributed by the Big Bake Sale.

Including donations from partners, including, Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ and Crema Bakery & Cafe, the group raised $12,482.77 that will “go directly to RAICES to help immigrant and refugee families at the border.

Austin Bakes, which is the Big Bake Sale’s sister organization and started after the Japan tsunami, has raised more than $80,000 for humanitarian relief.

You can find out when the next bake sale is through the Big Bake Sale’s website or Facebook group.

The Big Bake Sale raised more than $12,000 over the weekend. Contributed by The Big Bake Sale.

One of the delightful treats we picked up from the Valentina’s location on Saturday morning was this churro Chex mix from Kristina Wolter, my food stylist friend behind girlgonegritsfoodstyling.com. She shared the recipe she used to make this sweet snack.

Churro Chex Mix

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
4 1/2 cups Rice Chex cereal
4 1/2 cups Corn Chex cereal
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Heat oven 350. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside. In a pot, add the brown sugar, butter and corn syrup. Bring to a boil for 1 minute and then add baking soda and set aside.

Put the Chex in a large bowl, and pour the hot caramel over the cereal and mix until all cereal is coated. Spread the mixture on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Mix granulated sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the top of the cereal. Bake for 15 minutes. Stir and bake for another 5 min. Let cool before breaking up. Store in an airtight container.

— Adapted from a recipe on Chex.com