Stuffed Acorn Squash

20131023-082141.jpg

Food cooked in its own bowl–does it get any easier than that? I love making stuffed squash–not only is it cozy and delicious, but stuffed squash is a great way to use up small bits of leftover fresh vegetables and turn them into something amazing.

All winter squash are high in fiber, low in fat and an excellent source of vitamins, including beta-carotene, vitamin B, vitamin C and potassium. It is also filling due to its high fiber content, and very inexpensive! Win-win-win-win! A serving of stuffed squash is 1/2 of a squash–we usually make more though, since a stuffed squash half makes a completely amazing lunch later.

There are endless combinations of foods for this dish, and I almost never make it the same twice, but this is one of our favorites. It has a nice, Italian flavor that spices up the squash without being overpowering. So grab an acorn squash (or two) and make your own delicious creation!

Stuffed Acorn Squash (makes 4 servings)

  • 2 acorn squash
  • 4 tablespoons fresh, grass-fed butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small, organic onion, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cloves organic garlic
  • 4-6 sun dried tomato halves
  • 1 small bunch kale, washed, trimmed and chopped (about 4 cups raw)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 lb. organic chicken sausage (ours was Italian sausage)
  • Kosher or sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup organic, mozzarella cheese, grated
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
  2. Cover the sun dried tomato halves with very hot water and let soak.
  3. Wash the outside of the squash and dry carefully. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut the squash in half widthwise. Scoop out and discard the seeds. To make sure each half will stand up properly, trim a little bit of the squash ends, making a flat edge.
  4. Rub the inside of the squash with 1 tablespoon of butter each and put the squash, cut side up on the baking sheet. Roast the squash for 45 minutes or until the squash flesh is soft.
  5. While squash is roasting, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Remove the sausage from its casing and add to the skillet. Cook until sausage is no longer pink and cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  6. Remove the sausage and add the onion to the pan. Cook 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute.
  7. Remove the sun dried tomatoes from the water, chop, and add to the pot.
  8. Add the kale, sausage and water to the pan, tossing all ingredients well. Reduce heat to low and simmer about 10 minutes or until squash is cooked.
  9. Remove squash from the oven and let rest until cool enough to handle (about 15 minutes). Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees.
  10. Scoop roasted flesh from the cooked acorn squash, leaving about 1/4″ of flesh to keep the squash shell stable. Return the squash shells (scooped side up) to the baking sheet.
  11. Add the kale mixture to the bowl and combine everything well. Season with kosher salt and black pepper to taste.
  12. Stuff the squash halves with the squash-kale mix, top each half with 1/4 cup of shredded cheese, and bake for 15-20 minutes.
  13. Serve immediately.

 

Advertisements

Week 43 Budget and Menu

20131002-111400.jpg

Our weather has been perfect for mushrooms! The markets are full of fresh Shitake mushrooms this week!

October! October is here!!! It’s still in 80’s here in North Carolina, so we’re not exactly feelin’ the fall weather, but all the same, we know fall is approaching. Leaves are starting to turn, the often oppressive humidity is gone and mosquitoes are fewer in number. Every region has their own seasonal benchmarks. You may have fall hayrides, we have a decline in blood-sucking mosquitoes.

I’d love to have nothing but chili, stew and baked pasta this week, but it’s too warm for such cozy fare. Instead, we are focusing on lighter foods that still feature our seasonal fruits and vegetables. I am especially excited that I found fresh, organic Shitake mushrooms at our downtown farmer’s market! Apparently, our fall weather has been perfect for them!

I also had great success with making my own refried beans this week! It was very easy, and I used some heirloom beans leftover from making chili, so it was a good use of extra food. I made the refried beans  on the bland side so I can add whatever spices I want later. We’re using them on bean tostatas later this week along with some leftover tortillas and cheese. We also have extra corn and leftover crab meat (now frozen) from a few weeks ago and that will make a lovely corn and crab chowder. Don’t you love it when leftover foods come together in something that approximates a meal?

Our budget this week is definitely helped by Tom’s fishing success and a weekly coupon from Locals Seafood. Every little bit helps, especially when the cost of food keeps rising.

Breakfasts this week include Ezekiel bread, muffins, and probably some whole wheat buttermilk pancakes. We are using our homemade jam, which is wonderful and we will get another jar of local honey in this week’s Produce Box!

I hope you are taking advantage of some wonderful fall produce in your area (or spring if you are in the southern hemisphere!). Have a happy and healthy week!

Budget [$109.51]

  • The Produce Box (acorn squash, honey, sweet onions, lettuce, apples, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, yellow squash, green beans, mixed sweet peppers): $48.00
  • Locals Seafood (shrimp): $10.00
  • Hilltop Farm Organics (Shitake mushrooms): $4.30
  • Mitchell Family Pantry (jam): $3.00
  • Hillsborough Cheese Company (goat cheese): $6.00
  • Trader Joes (pasta, organic rice, organic chicken, frozen fruit, almond milk, almonds): $38.21

Menu for Week 42

  • Wednesday–Roasted red pepper, mushroom and shrimp pasta, salad
  • Thursday–Leftovers (we have some left from last week!)
  • Friday–Game night–Refried bean, mushroom and cheese tostatas
  • Saturday–Corn and crab chowder
  • Sunday–Roast chicken, acorn squash with honey and sage, green beans
  • Monday–Game night–Chicken and vegetable quesadillas
  • Tuesday–Roasted whole fish, squash and zucchini saute

Chicken, Rice and Acorn Squash Soup

20130929-200706.jpg

This soup is total comfort food. Think of it as your favorite sweatshirt in food form–simple, but soothing. It is easy to make, delicious, and is the perfect food for a rainy, fall day. I used the last of our homemade turkey broth from last year’s Thanksgiving feast and wow, that made a huge difference. If you have some homemade stock, it will make a great soup superior. If not, use a good quality chicken or vegetable stock.

Chicken, Rice and Acorn Squash Soup (makes 6 servings)

  • 1 quart homemade chicken, turkey or vegetable sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive or grapeseed oil
  • 2 acorn squash
  • 1 large, sweet onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3-4 cups cooked chicken, chopped
  • 1 cup organic rice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
  2. Wash the acorn squash, cut in half widthwise and remove seeds.
  3. Brush cut sides of squash with 1 tablespoon of the cooking oil, and put squash halves cut side down on the lined baking sheet.
  4. Roast squash for 45 minutes or until squash is soft. Remove from heat and let cool.
  5. In a small sauté pan, heat the remaining olive oil and saute the onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes.
  6. In a large stockpot, add stock, thyme, onion and garlic, and warm over medium heat.
  7. Scoop pulp from the squash halves and add that to the stock. Blend with an immersion blender.
  8. Add rice and chopped chicken, stir and simmer for about 45 minutes.
  9. Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper.
  10. Serve hot with a green salad.
%d bloggers like this: