Carnegie Mellon University

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The voice for staff at Carnegie Mellon University

butternut squash

December 08, 2021

Local & Fresh Recipes for the Winter Season

For some people, the idea of intentional self-care might look like sitting down on the couch in cozy pants with take-out from your favorite restaurant. For others, it might look like getting off the couch and putting on your creative (chef’s) hat in the kitchen. Using fresh produce and local ingredients in my cooking and baking is important to me all year round, but gets just a tiny bit trickier in the winter when fresh fruits and veggies are low. However, that doesn’t mean a limited menu. Check out some recipes below with local produce and products that will add some flair to your kitchen table on both the holidays and on the days when you want to feel just a bit fancier with homemade and local food.

Breakfast: Fig & Onion Jam on Fresh No-Knead Bread

For the bread:

Ingredients (makes two loaves):

  • 6 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2-3 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 5 c. WARM water

Step 1: In a large bowl, add the flour, then add the salt and active dry yeast on opposite sides of the bowl. Stir together, and add water. Mix it all up until you have a sticky dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest overnight (8-12 hours) in a cold oven.

Step 2: After quadrupling in size, flour your counter HEAVILY, pour out the dough, and flour the top. Shape the dough just a bit to get it into a ball shape, cut it in half, and shape the two loaves into two equal pieces.

Step 3: In a baking dish with parchment paper, place your dough and pop the lid on. Place in the oven (do not pre-heat) and turn on the oven to 450F and bake covered for 30 minutes and uncovered for another 30 minutes.

Step 4: Remove, let rest for 10 minutes before cutting into it, and enjoy!

For the jam:


  • ¼ c. olive oil
  • 1 large red or sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 c. chopped fresh figs
  • ¼ c. Olive & Marlowe aged balsamic vinegar
  • White sugar, to taste (I like about 2 tbsp.)

Step 1: Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat; stir onion in the hot oil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover saucepan, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened and caramel-colored, 20 to 25 minutes.

Step 2: Stir figs into onion; cook and stir until figs begin to lose their shape and have softened into onion, 10 to 15 minutes. Pour balsamic vinegar into fig-onion mixture; cook until all the liquid has evaporated, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, into fig-onion mixture until desired sweetness is reached. Serve warm or chilled.

Lunch: Goat Cheese & Asparagus Quiche


  • 1 of your favorite pre-made refrigerated pie crusts (my favorite is Trader Joe’s, and Pillsbury is a staple)
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • ½ lb. fresh asparagus spears, trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium yellow or sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 log Cherish Creamery chevre (goat) cheese, crumbled
  • 1 c. half-and-half
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 3 large eggs or 4 medium eggs
  • ½ c. freshly shredded Parmesan cheese

Step 1: Heat oven to 375°F. Spray 9-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray. Place pie crust in pie plate as directed on box for One-Crust Filled Pie; flute edges.

Step 2: In 12-inch skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Cook asparagus and onion in butter 5 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until asparagus is crisp-tender. Spoon vegetables into crust-lined plate. Top with goat cheese.

Step 3: In large bowl, beat half-and-half, salt, pepper and eggs with whisk. Pour over ingredients in crust. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Step 4: Place pie plate on lowest oven rack; bake 35 to 45 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

Dinner: Winter Squash & Mushroom Curry


  • 6 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 28 ounces (about 3.5 c.) butternut or other winter squash, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes (I recommend Dillner Farms, Trax Farms, or Brenckle’s for your squashy needs!)
  • 1 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 small whole green chiles, such as jalapeño or serrano (optional)
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 tsp. black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 handful fresh or frozen curry leaves (basil leaves could be substituted)
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 2 1/4 pounds mushrooms, preferably a mix of cultivated and wild, trimmed and sliced 1/8-inch thick (Check out Real Fungi, a local mushroom farm!)
  • 15 oz coconut milk
  • Juice from one lime

Step 1: In a wide skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add squash cubes in one layer. Season with salt and pepper. (This may be done in batches.) Cook for about 2 minutes, letting cubes brown slightly, then flip and cook for 2 minutes more. Use a slotted spoon to lift squash out, and set aside.

Step 2: Cut a lengthwise slit in each chile to open it, but leave whole. (This allows the heat and flavor of the chile to release into the sauce without making it too spicy.) Add to pan. Add onions, salt lightly and cook, stirring, for one minute.

Step 3: Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry/basil leaves and let sizzle for 30 seconds, then add garlic, coriander, cayenne, turmeric and chiles. Stir well and cook for 30 seconds more.

Step 4: Add mushrooms to pan, season with salt and toss to coat. Continue to cook, stirring, until mushrooms begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

Step 5: Return squash cubes to pan, stir in coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Lower heat to medium and simmer for another 5 minutes. If mixture looks dry, thin with a little water. Taste and season with salt. Just before serving, stir in lime juice.

Dessert: Eggnog Cake

For the cake:


  • Nonstick baking spray
  • 1 c. unsalted butter
  • 2 c. granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 c. Marburger Farm Dairy eggnog
  • 2 tbsp. bourbon or aged rum (optional)
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla bean paste

Step 1: Prepare a 12-cup standard Bundt pan with non-stick baking spray. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Step 2: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium until smooth and creamy, about 4 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Step 3: With the mixer on low, add one-third of the flour, and all of the baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Add one-half of the eggnog, and all of the bourbon and vanilla bean paste. Add another one-third of the flour, then the remaining eggnog, and the remaining flour, mixing well to combine between each addition.

Step 4: Transfer the batter to the prepared Bundt pan and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the pan comes out clean, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn the cake onto a wire rack and cool completely, about 1 hour.

For the icing:

  • 2 c. powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp. egg nog
  • 1 tbsp. bourbon or rum (optional)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste

In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, eggnog, bourbon, and vanilla bean paste until smooth. Spoon the icing over the cake and let stand until hardened, about 15 minutes.

Cocktail: Cranberry Vodka


Step 1: Mix together cranberry juice and vodka.

Step 2: Pour over ice.

Step 3: Top with cranberries and a splash of ginger beer.