Home Cooking: Recipes with pumpkins, butternut squash and acorn squash (column)
And just like that, with what felt like a snap of the fingers, over the weekend we went from mild autumn weather to a foot of snow in my neighborhood south of Breck. So while it snowed outside, I was thinking of ways to warm up inside. It was only natural that I turned to my autumn favorites: all things squash.
All three of this week’s recipes are easy enough to be made on a weeknight and the butternut squash stew can be made in a slow cooker for even greater convenience. Despite their ease, these recipes are delicious, made with seasonal whole foods and perfect for a casual dinner party with friends.
Best of all, they’re easily adaptable for vegans, vegetarians or carnivores. These are my favorite autumn dishes. I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I do.
Butternut Squash Stew
This recipe is so easy, you could adapt it for a slow cooker, or add 1-inch cubes of beef stew meat and have a delicious beef stew. In fact, after I made the original version with vegetables, I remembered I had shredded chuck roast leftover in the fridge, so I added it and had beef stew for my meat-loving friends. They loved it.
On the other hand, if your friends and family are strictly vegetarian or vegan, substitute the beef stock with vegetable stock.
3 celery stalks chopped into ½-inch slices
3 carrots chopped into ½-inch slices
1-2 lb. butternut squash, peeled with a vegetable peeler and then chopped into bite-sized pieces.
1 quart beef stock
1 cup red wine
Freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Optional: a rind of parmesan
Preheat oven to 350°. Add all ingredients into a dutch oven and braise for 1 ½ hours or until squash is tender. You can also cook this in a slow cooker for six hours on low, or two hours on high.
Stuffed Acorn Squash
This is one of those recipes that I only make in the fall because it just says “autumn.” It’s easy and has endless varieties. I’ve made it with small pumpkins for one, medium pumpkins for a dinner for four and, as I’ve done here, with acorn squash. This year I’ve made a vegetarian version, but in the past I’ve included cooked sausage and shredded chicken breast. In other words, it’s the perfect quick and easy dinner to use what you have in the fridge and to suit every dietary preference in the family.
Preheat the oven to 400°. Cut the top off of your squash and scoop out the seeds and strings of the interior. Now comes the fun part. Add in small bite-sized portions of your favorite vegetables, meat, cheese and chunks of bread if you wish. For instance, I used broccoli and white cheddar cheese. When the interior of the squash is full (really press down to make sure you’ve filled the cavity well) pour in either heavy cream or the stock of your choice so that the contents are moistened. Put the top of the squash back on and pop it into the oven for 40-50 minutes until the squash can be easily pierced with a sharp knife.
Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Praline Frosting
This recipe has become another one of my absolute must-haves for autumn. The homemade pumpkin spice mix is essential. Please don’t use store-bought pumpkin spice mix. There really is a noticeable difference in taste when you make it yourself. The cake comes together so quickly and easily you can make it on a week night.
Ingredients for cake:
1 cup vegetable oil
1 15-ounce can of plain, pureed pumpkin
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
¼ -½ teaspoon ground cloves (to taste, cloves are a strong spice, start with ¼ teaspoon and add more if you’d like)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups self-rising flour
Ingredients for frosting:
6 tablespoons of butter
1 cup of brown sugar
½ cup half and half
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350°. Beat together the vegetable oil, eggs, pumpkin and sugars. Add the spices and flour and beat together until just blended. Pour into a 9- by 13-inch baking dish and bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the frosting. Melt the butter in a small saucepan, add the brown sugar and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Once it comes to a boil, allow to boil for 1 minute, then remove from the heat and stir in the powdered sugar, vanilla and chopped pecans. Allow the frosting to cool and thicken for five to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour the frosting over the cake and let it set.
Suzanne Anderson lives in Breckenridge and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her books are available at the Next Page Books and Nosh in Frisco.
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