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Family Food Fight Battles Carbs + A New Recipe

April 4, 2011 by Joan Nova in Baking, Family Food Fight, Recipe Development | 22 Comments

Life has a funny way of getting between you and the things you like to do sometimes. Fortunately, for us, it’s been all good things like a wedding, a graduation, various trips out of town, and lots of other happy events.

It had been quite a while since we battled it out in the kitchen. So when Jim called one day last week  to ask “how about a Family Food Fight this weekend?”, I was ‘all in’. And, since 3 of us are watching carbs these days, we decided the theme of the challenge would be Atkins-friendly.

We’ve done many themes, many ways (see links below). And, if you look closely, you’ll see a pattern developed over the years. I’m usually the healthy version of the theme, Cassie tends towards desserts or vegetarian, and Jim vacillates between refined bites and I-don’t-even-want-to-know-how-many-calories-is-in-that!

We started challenging each other 4 or 5 years ago with blind picks for a course and then adhering to an agreed upon theme. These ‘battles’ took on a life of their own with jokes, sarcasms (usually directed at me) and serious critiquing and judging whose dish was best.

We were even approached  to film an episode  for TV, which we did, but nothing’s happened…yet.

The most important thing is we spent the day together, had a lot of fun and we ate well.

Battle: Carbs (No)

This was a very civil affair. None of the usual shenanigans. We selected and prepped our dishes in advance and just assembled and cooked when we got together. We seemed to have mellowed some during the hiatus. We also gained a new challenger because we encouraged Julie, Jim’s wife, to join us.

Julie was up first with dough-less pizza bites…all the yumminess of pizza without the carbs. One version had toppings on a piece of pepperoni; another “the Margherita” was a parmesan crisp with toppings.

Next was my Butternut Squash Mini Cheesecake served with grilled chorizo and broccoli rabe.

Jim made kofta kebobs and leban. (That’s his photo set-up behind him…and that’s why you’ll want to go over to his blog and see really good photos.)

Cassie and her friend Shane made Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies. Atkins? No carbs? Not. She reasoned that because she put oatmeal in them, they were healthy. Kids! Sheesh!

Recipe for Savory Butternut Squash Mini Cheesecakes

I got the idea in my head to make a butternut squash savory cheesecake and then set out to search if there was such a thing. I saw this WW recipe and loosely (very) followed it. I had already prepared the squash and had the flavor profile in mind but I needed to know how much cheese and how many eggs.

Yield: 12

Serving Size: mini


  • 1 medium butternut squash roasted + cut in cubes
  • 1 leek cut in thin rings
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 eggs
  • 4-5 ounces cream cheese
  • dry seasonings salt, pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon
  • 1 heaping teaspoon crumbled pepper bacon
  • 1/4 cup sugar-free hazelnut syrup (like they use in Starbucks)
  • 24 pumpkin seeds
  • 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pat butter

Cooking Directions

  1. Roast squash, cool and chop in cubes.
  2. Saute with leek and garlic in extra virgin olive oil and butter.
  3. Add dry seasonings.
  4. Bring to room temperature.
  5. Soak bacon in hazelnut syrup for about 10 minutes*.
  6. Put squash, eggs, cream cheese and bacon with the syrup into blend and pulse till you reach a batter-like consistency.
  7. Pour in greased mini muffin tins and bake for about 20 minutes at 325.

*This was a moment of genius. Try it.

Some past Family Food Fights:

Stuffed Slider Surprises and Battle Burger
Vegetarian and Vegetarian
Chopped Mystery Battle
Grilled Pizza and Creative Pizzas
Battle Green
Budget for family of 4 and $10
Feast of San Gennaro
Reinvented BBQ
Ravioli Riot

As a team, we took on Ben of What’s Cooking “Home-made Tortilla Challenge” and we battled out one of my Culinary Tour stops, Russia in 2009.


NOTE: Some recipes found on FOODalogue are offered without ingredient quantities. They're meant as a guide to food pairings and techniques to be experimented with … in your own kitchen … to your own spice and taste levels … to your preferred portion sizes … and to however many people you’re cooking for. A perfect meal has multiple levels of flavor and textures, bright colors and tastes, and healthy(ish) choices. It's all about enjoyment. Enjoy the process, the presentation and the just rewards...eating!


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  1. Peter says:

    I’m really diggin’ that dish with the Chorizo…both visually and stomach-grumbling appetizing!

  2. Ben says:

    Hehehe, I love the cookie entry. They get points just for trying :D

  3. bellini says:

    These family food fights are always so much fun Joan. The butternut squash cheesecake has one foot in autumn my favourite time of the year even if I am holding my breath for Spring produce.

  4. I LOVE this!! Great competition fuels fun and passion!!

  5. norma says:

    I enjoy your food fights and your dish really is amazing. The addition of the chorizo is what got me.

  6. Tiffany says:

    OMG!!!!! This looks like SOOOOOOOOOO much fun! I love it! :D And I love those butternut squash cheesecakes. Mmmmmmmmm!

  7. So much fun! and I love the idea of mini butternut squash cheesecakes, they look totally scrumptious!

  8. sippitysup says:

    I am not really a carb watcher, but I love a good food fight! GREG

  9. My husband wants us to do a family ‘Masterchef’ type scenario! How do you all get on in the kitchen together?!

  10. You have some awesome butternut squash cheesecakes that look fluffy soft and delicious and what a great combination with chorizo too!!

  11. Great looking cheesecake and foodie fights without face pies are great!

  12. Fran says:

    I am going to have to try the squash cheesecake. I need new ideas for all the veggies I’m eating and this is going to be great. Now that I know the proportions I think I’ll be able to try it with a variety of vegetables. YAAAY!

  13. Marie says:

    Ooooh, I think you got something going with that cheescake, your whole dish looks like a winner to me, and have I ever told you I love that picture of the 3 of you!

  14. Jessica says:

    Love Love the mini squash cheesecake. A new recipe indeed and so flavorful and beautiful!

  15. woow!!!!so much talent in one kitchen! I like the kafta kebabas and labneh of course but I am really intrigued by the savory cheesecake: now that is something to savor!
    Thanks for the advice I just submitted my entry to the mingle (have no time left to check on those things! :)

  16. Delishhh says:

    WOW – so much fun. I love the kafta kebobs!!!!!

  17. This is incedible and since I am heading to low carb in 3-1/2 weeks, I am bookmarking this. Your creativity always shines through Joan :)

    The chorizo dish & your mini cheesecakes are fab.

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  18. elra says:

    Wonderful food made by wonderful family. All are delicious looking!

  19. Katie says:

    I’m glad to see the Family Food Fight has returned! I love the inventiveness of your dish. I never would have imagined bacon soaked in hazelnut syrup. You definitely piqued my interest with that detail!

  20. Lori Lynn says:

    Such family fun! Love those squash cheesecakes Joan.

    I was so excited when I open my copy of Saveur and saw your sandwich. Congrats! YAY!!!! Way cool. The sandwich looked fabulous!

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