Winter squashes are really rewarding to grow. And they just keep growing, and growing and growing, and pretty soon everyone in the neighborhood is bringing them over is baskets and buckets to share them with you. Now I really love squash, so I wouldn’t want them to stop offering to share the bounty, but I’m running out of room. I mean there’s squash everywhere in the kitchen, a few in the garage, and I just can’t stand the idea of any of it going to waste. So when there’s too much of anything I bag it and put it in the freezer. Fortunately, squash freezes beautifully, and I just peel it, cut it into bite size chunks and freeze a few bags for roasting later in the winter. I also cook some in the microwave until tender, puree it and freeze flat in bags for using in pie, breads, and even souffles.
Still, my favorite way to enjoy squash is stuffed and baked in the oven. This delicious, flexible recipe is one I got from my sister-in-law, Skye Morgan O’Malley. You can use any kind of winter squash including pumpkin, and make either sweet or savory variations. Below is the sweet recipe which is a good choice for those of us who grew up eating sweet potatoes and squash with butter and brown sugar, but you can give it a savory twist by cutting back on the sugar and adding a some browned sausage.
Baked Curried Squash
Baked Curried Squash
The recipe below is for 4 servings.
2 butternut or acorn squash, or small pumpkins
4 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 tsp curry powder (you can adjust this to taste)
1 tsp garam masala
1/4 cup each dried fruit like cherries, cranberries and golden raisins
3/4 cup diced apple
½ cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans (strictly optional)
1/8 tsp each of cinnamon, nutmet, ginger, allspice and cardamon, or (2 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup brown sugar, and 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
1 cup of browned crumbled sausage (vegetarian option – Leave it out or substitute curmbled up Morningstar breakfast patties)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Lightly oil a baking pan and set aside.
In a small bowl combine 2 tablespoon olive oil or melted butter with all of the stuffing ingredients. (You can substitute a tablespoon of vegetable broth for the oil). Set aside.
With a sharp knife or other suitable instrument, split the squash or pumpkin in half, or cut the top off and remove all of the seeds and fibers.Scrap clean.
Fill the hollowed out squash or pumpkin with the stuffing ingredients and place in the baking pan.
Lightly spray the squash with cooking spray or oil, place in the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the flesh is fork tender.
Helpful Tip:Slice just enough of the rind off the bottom of the squash so it will sit flat in the pan.
I’ve started to see the long V’s of Canada geese flocking up to head south. That usually means that fall is just around the corner and we’ve had a few cool days now, so I’m starting to think about some of my favorite soup recipes. We eat soup year round, but when fall comes it often becomes the main meal. This week I made potato soup, and I make a lot of it because it makes a great addition to the lunch box too. The recipe below is vegetarian, but you could certainly make it with chicken broth or add bits of ham or bacon.
Comforts of Home Potato Soup
This is a simple, easy to make soup that’s great hot, or even cold.
4 or 5 small to medium potatoes, peeled and cut in 1 inch cubes
4 cups vegetable broth or water
1 medium onion, diced
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 large carrot, grated
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup half and half (optional)
2 bay leaves
2 sage leaves (or use dried sage)
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot, cover the potatoes with broth or water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until tender. In the meantime, add a ladle full of the broth into a saute pan and add the onion, garlic and carrots. Saute just until the onions are slightly softened. Add to the onion, garlic and carrots to the potatoes along with the herbs and salt and pepper. Simmer gently for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Lower the heat, and add the milk and half and half. This is a good time to add a tablespoon or two of sour cream or non fat yogurt for creaminess. Let simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and mash with a potato masher. I like some chunks in my potato soup and a potato masher works perfectly. Sprinkle with some chopped fresh dill and serve with a hearty bread.
When you’re prepping your vegetables on shopping day, chop enough carrots, celery onions and peppers for the week and store them in containers in the refrigerator. It will save time in preparing meals. You can also prepare lunchbox items like carrot and celery sticks ahead of time for speedier lunchbox prep.
It’s the peak of zucchini season and I wanted to find some yummy new ways to use zucchini that don’t involve turning on the oven. These long, hot days make salad an appealing way to not heat up the kitchen. This deliciously crunchy zucchini salad is a new favorite of mine, easy to prepare and keeps in the fridge for snacks and lunches. No zucchini should go to waste, so get chopping.
2 cups of sliced zucchini julienned or whatever style you like (unpeeled please)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
½ teaspoon minced garlic
4 teaspoons rice wine vinegar (it will be enough)
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup chopped parsley and/or cilantro (my personal favorite)
Add all of the ingredients in a serving bowl and put in the fridge to chill. It doesn’t get much easier than this. Makes about 3-4 servings, so if you have more hungry mouths to feed, just make the quantities larger. For a 1 cup serving it’s about 55 calories and less than a gram of total fat.