Tag Archives: winter squash

Butternut Squash Mole Sauce

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It’s now the beginning of April, and I am still trying to find ways to use winter squash! It’s totally my own fault though – I did buy an extra butternut squash at the farmer’s market a couple weeks ago.

I used half the butternut squash in my Spinach and Butternut Squash Pasta, but I still had to figure out what to do with the other half.

I wanted to try something different, but what?  Well, I watched a marathon of the show “Chopped” on Food Network the other day, and I noticed one thing.  No matter what the chefs on “Chopped” made, they always made a sauce.  And if that sauce wasn’t any good, or they ran out of time and didn’t get it on the plate, they typically didn’t make it to the next round.

Thankfully, I don’t have famous chefs critiquing the food that I made in my kitchen, or they would be horrified by the lack of sauce on my dishes!  But I did think that I could probably make a cool sauce using the butternut squash.  Turns out, I was right!

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I sliced the pork chops and piled all this good stuff into a flour tortilla. Super tasty!

I know it’s not a traditional mole, but Butternut Squash and Anaheim Chili Sauce just didn’t have the right flow.  Call it creative license.

Butternut Squash Mole

  • 1 1/2 lbs Butternut Squash, cubed
  • 3 dried Anaheim Chilis (Ancho would work too, I just couldn’t find them.)
  • 1 medium white onion, rough chopped
  • 5-10 garlic cloves, depending on size (I used an entire head of garlic – about 6 big cloves)
  • Chinese Five Spice (the jar I have is a blend of Star Anise, Cinnamon, Cloves, Fennel and Black Pepper)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Toast the dried chilis on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes.

They smelled awesome - sort of a warn, smoky, chocolate scent.  Very unexpected.

They smelled awesome – sort of a warn, smoky, chocolate scent. Very unexpected.

Once the chilies are toasted, remove them from the oven.  (Side Note:  I chopped off the top stems and shook out some of the seeds because I had never worked with dried chilies before and I didn’t know how hot they would be. I have no idea if that’s approved behavior or not.)  Soak the chilies in hot water to rehydrate.  You’ll also use this water when blending the sauce.

The water takes on the color of the chili peppers almost immediately.

The water takes on the color of the chili peppers almost immediately.

Toss the cubed squash, chopped onion and garlic with olive oil (enough to coat), salt, pepper, and a couple big pinches of Chinese Five Spice.  Transfer the squash mixture to a baking sheet (I used the same one I toasted the peppers on) and roast in a 350-400 degree oven for about a half hour.

After roasting - you want the veggies to be soft and get that caramelized outside.

After roasting – you want the veggies to be soft and get that caramelized outside.

Transfer the roasted veggies to a blender.  Add the rehydrated chili peppers (I only added two peppers at first – after I blended the sauce a bit, I tasted it before adding the last pepper) and some of the chili pepper water.

Looking down into the blender...

Looking down into the blender…

I added about a cup of water, blended it, tasted it, added a pinch of salt and another half cup of water and blended it some more.  Make it as thick or as thin as you like – I wanted a thicker, more substantial sauce.

Once the sauce is made, it keeps really well in the refrigerator and reheats beautifully.  I almost wish I had another butternut squash to make some more!  It went well with chicken, potatoes, pork, eggs – the list goes on and on!

This post is linked to What’s in the Box?  at In Her Chucks. 

What’s your go-to sauce?  I still have a half-dozen dried peppers left – any suggestions? 

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Butternut Squash Hash

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Happy New Year, everyone!

So after some baked apples, and Mom’s peppermint bark candies, I did finally get in the Christmas spirit and really enjoyed the holidays.  I will confess though, I haven’t done much cooking since before Christmas.  I took advantage of all the family dinners and the leftovers that come with them!

But now that the holidays are over, it’s time to get back in my regular routine – and that includes cooking a real dinner after work (at least a couple of times a week!).  Before New Year’s, I had bought a couple of good steaks, fully intending to make a fancy New Year’s Eve dinner for Brian and myself.  Didn’t happen.  We lazed around the house watching movies all weekend, and cooking a fancy dinner was just too much work!  We ended up going out New Year’s Day for a late lunch.  I would have cooked, but since Brian suggested going out…well, I happily accepted!  (Now, I did make sauerkraut and sausages on New Year’s Day, but I used the slow cooker.  Nothing better than cooking and being lazy at the same time!)

However, that meant that I had some really nice cuts of meat that needed to be cooked.  All right, I’ll have a fancy weeknight dinner!  I also had a couple of squashes stashed away from my Fall CSA share that needed to be used up pretty soon.  What else…oooo, bacon!  And little gold potatoes, red onions…that works!  Butternut Squash Hash!

I didn’t have a recipe for this, and I’m terrible with measuring, but I’ll try to approximate amounts.  The hash made two hearty servings, which was perfect, since I was just cooking for me.   (I’ll probably take the leftovers for lunch tomorrow).

I diced about half of the small butternut squash and about the same amount of little gold Yukon potatoes.  I also diced up about a half cup of red onion and three strips of good, thick cut bacon.

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I cooked the bacon in a flat sided pan until it was crispy, then pulled it and put it aside.  I had quite a bit of bacon grease in the pan, so I drained a little of it, but not all.  I turned the heat up to high and tossed in  the butternut squash and potatoes.  I added salt, fresh ground black pepper and a couple generous pinches of Chinese Five Spice.

I cooked this on high for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so that the squash and potatoes could get carmelized all over.  Then I turned the heat down to medium low and added the red onion.

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I let this cook until the squash and potatoes were soft – about another 10 minutes.  I added the bacon bits back in just before I served it so they stayed crispy.

While this was going, I cooked the steaks in a skillet.  While the skillet was preheating on medium high, I seasoned the steaks with olive oil, salt and pepper.  I cooked the first side on medium high for about 5 minutes, then flipped and cooked the second side for another 5 minutes.  Because these were really thick pieces, I then turned the heat down and let them continue to cook for about another 10 minutes.  Perfect medium rare.  Awesome!

I topped the steak with some herb butter and served it with a big helping of the hash.  It was fantastic!  The hash had a deep, warm flavor from the five spice, and the herb butter was fresh and sweet.  It was a nice contrast and made for a happy belly!

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While I was taking pictures, my big orange cat, Jake, sat down in the chair across from me.  I think he was wondering where his steak was – I know he didn’t want the butternut squash hash!

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Carnival Squash with Bacon and Garlic

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I haven’t done much creative cooking for a couple of weeks, partially because I spent some time traveling for work, and partially because it takes a lot of time and thought to cook creatively and well, I just got a bit lazy.  It happens to the best of us, right?

But I’m back!  And I’m still dealing with the surfeit of squash from my fall CSA.  I still have a buckskin pumpkin, a tropical pumpkin (I can’t remember the real name) and a blue Hubbard squash (along with a few other assorted squashes).  I was told when I picked up the blue Hubbard squash not to use it until January, so I have a bit of time for that one, at least!  The tropical pumpkin is supposed to be a shocking, almost neon orange color on the inside.  I can’t wait!  So far, I’ve noticed that the uglier the squash on the outside (kobacha squash, anyone?), the tastier it is on the inside, so I have high hopes for these two.

Tropical pumpkin (left) and blue hubbard squash (right)

Tropical pumpkin (left) and blue Hubbard squash (right)

Tonight, I decided to work with one of the smaller squashes from my CSA – a beautiful carnival squash.  I cut in into quarters, scooped our the seeds and gunk and sprinkled each quarter with salt and pepper.  It was a very pretty squash – yellow and orange, cute little acorn shape…so going by my uglier squash taste better theory, I thought that a cute little squash like this might need some flavor help.

Hence – bacon.  Everything is better with bacon!  Especially bacon that I just got Saturday from Duma’s, a local meat market and an awesome place.

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I diced three pieces of bacon, and mixed the diced bacon bits with 2 cloves of garlic (minced), some dried rosemary, olive oil and a little bit of hickory syrup.  How is it different from maple syrup?  Well, I don’t really know.  But it came from Shisler’s Cheese House in Smithville, Ohio and it just sounded nifty, so I bought it a couple of months ago.  This was the perfect chance to use it!

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I put the squash on a baking sheet and spooned the bacon mixture into the hollow of each piece.  I baked them at 375 degrees for about 35 minutes, then broiled them for a couple of minutes at the end to make sure the bacon was nice and crispy.

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I will admit that the texture of the squash was not my favorite.  Not bad!  Just not my favorite.  It wasn’t as velvety as the kobacha, or even a butternut squash – it was closer to a spaghetti squash.  But the flavor was awesome!  The crispy bacon and the sweetness from the hickory syrup went perfectly with the squash.

Although this could easily be a main dish, I will admit that I had it as a side dish with a strip steak (also from Duma’s) grilled simply with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Yum!!

Here’s the recipe and approximate amounts.  This could be used with any type of squash –  I might try it again with the butternut I still have…

Carnival Squash with Bacon and Garlic

  • 1 Carnival Squash
  • 2-3 strips of bacon
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary (sage or some type of Italian seasoning would be good as well)
  • 3 Tablespoons maple syrup (I used hickory syrup because it’s what I happened to have)
  • 3-4 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Quarter the squash and remove the seeds.  Place the quarters on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  (Edit:  I recommend lining the baking sheet with foil.  Cleanup would have been much easier if I had done that.)

Dice the bacon.  Mix with garlic, rosemary, syrup and olive oil.  Spoon bacon mix into each squash quarter.

Bake for 30-35 minutes.  If needed, broil for 1-2 minutes at the end of cooking to ensure crispy bacon.

Eat and enjoy!

Curry Squash Soup

I’m still working through the mass quantities of squash from Friday’s Fall CSA.  Because I’ve been spending so much time with squash, I had a revelation today that I would like to share.  I love – really, really love – winter squash!  Who knew?  As I ate the last of my leftover Baked Winter Squash Pasta for lunch today, I fully realized the awesomeness of winter squash.

Squash is pretty.  Squash is tasty.  Squash is healthy!

So for my next squash recipe, I was inspired by the Coconut Curry Soup at Fresh Veggies in the Desert.  I am not a fan of coconut, but the combo of squash and curry sounded yummy, so I decided to experiment.

I started by roasting one of the kobacha squash from my CSA.  This is my new favorite squash.  It’s a little weird-looking, but that’s part of the fun.  It has a sweet taste, the texture is velvety, and it’s such a bright orange!  Love it!

While the squash was cooking, I cut up some carrots and onions, and sautéed them in a heavy-bottomed pan with olive oil.  I added salt, pepper, and curry powder to the veggies.  (As soon as I added the curry, it started to smell fantastic!!)  After they cooked for about 10 minutes, I added some chicken stock.

When the squash was done, I scooped out the insides and put them aside in a bowl.

I blended the squash and the chicken stock/veggie mixer in two batches.  I wanted a really smooth soup, so I blended it for a couple of minutes, then added it back to the pot to simmer.  Such a pretty color!

I felt like the soup needed something added to it, so I sautéed some shrimp with olive oil, salt, pepper and smoked paprika.  I love the bags of frozen, easy peel shrimp.  It’s such an easy, healthy add-on to a meal and it only takes a couple of minutes to cook!  I originally used smoked paprika for the color, but it turns out that the smoky flavor went wonderfully with the soup.

It’s nice when a plan comes together.

I topped the whole thing with a drizzle of sour cream just to make it look pretty, and there it is!  I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this dish.

Has anyone else ever made a recipe that you weren’t terribly excited about, but then ended up loving?  Isn’t it a nice surprise?

Now, the recipe:

Curry Squash Soup

  • 5 – 6 cups cooked squash
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 small onions or 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 Tablespoons Curry Powder
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  There are different ways to cook squash, but I’ve had good luck with this method:  Cut the squash in half and scoop out seeds.  Place the squash, skin side up, in a casserole dish with about 1/2 inch of water.  Cook until the squash is soft – for this recipe, it took about an hour.  When you remove the squash from the oven, let cool for a few minutes.  Scoop out the cooked squash and set aside.

Add olive oil to a heavy bottom pan over medium heat.  Add carrots and onions, salt, pepper and curry powder and cook until soft (about 10 minutes).  Add chicken stock and continue to cook for 5-10 minutes.

Blend half the squash with half the carrot/onion mixture until smooth.  Blend the second half (unless you have a really big blender and you can fit it all in one batch).  Return to the stovetop and simmer.

Eat and enjoy!!

 

Swamped with Squash!

Last night, I picked up my first of two fall CSA shares from Basket of Life Farm.  I was thrilled to see some Rainbow Chard on top of the first box (that’s right – two boxes!) along with some beets and a kohlrabi.  I have to do some research on the kohlrabi – I’ve never cooked with one or eaten one, so that should be an adventure!

I also got shallots, onions, potatoes, a huge beautiful cabbage…and a fabulous selection of squashes.  Two big butternut squashes, acorn squashes, kobacha squashes, a pie pumpkin and a buckskin pumpkin!

Buckskin pumpkin!

Unfortunately, storage space is at a premium in my kitchen, so this morning I decided that I needed to cook up some of this squash to freeze for later.  The buckskin pumpkin is the largest, but it’s also supposed to last for quite a while, so I moved on to my next target:  one of the super sized butternut squashes.

I cut the squash into quarters and scooped out the seeds.  It was so big that I needed two casserole dishes to fit all the pieces!  I roasted them at 400 degrees,  skin side up, with a small amount of water in the casserole dishes.  It took about an hour and a half until all the pieces were tender.  I let them cool for just a few minutes, and scooped out all the good bright orange squashy goodness.

This was about a third of the cooked squash. It made a ton!

Well, since I had this yummy looking cooked squash right in front of my, I decided to try a recipe that I had seen on one of my new favorite blogs – Five and Spice.  It was a recipe for a Baked Winter Squash Pasta.  I know – sounds great, right?  As it turns out, this dish is awesome.  I think I’m going to be making it again for a new Thanksgiving side dish!

I also entered this recipe in my calorie tracker (that’s right, I’m still tracking!) and it’s only 110 calories per serving.  Now, I did use low fat sour cream, but I wasn’t skimpy on the cheese and this is still a really healthy recipe.  I would definitely recommend it!

It only took a few minutes to mix together the squash sauce and cook the pasta.  I popped it back in the oven to get all melty and delicious, and broiled it at the very end to brown up the cheese on top.

And even though it wasn’t quite lunchtime yet…I’ll admit it.  I had to try a bite!

Nom nom nom

Thank you to everyone out there posting great squash recipes – I’m going to need them!

Happy weekend!