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Category Archives: Dinner

Day 8: Squash and Apple au Gratin

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After last night / this afternoon’s disappointing meal, I was hoping for something wonderful tonight.  I scrolled through my Pumpkin Everything board and didn’t see anything that really spoke to me.  With some pumpkin puree, a butternut squash, and a carnival squash at home, I wondered what I could do to make my taste buds happy.  Then I pulled up my OneNote recipe notebook to look up some potential Thanksgiving recipe and I found a treasure trove of forgotten pumpkin recipes!  And this was born tonight’s dinner.

The only thing I didn’t like about the dish was the texture difference between the squash and the apples, but that’s because I have weird texture issues.  I used Jonathan apples which are good for baking and therefore became mushy.  I think I’d rather use a harder apple or pear to match the squash’s texture after baking.

3 strips bacon, well cooked and crumbled
1 medium butternut squash, cubed
4 small – medium apples
1/2 small sweet onion
1/4 cup flour
crushed red pepper (if you like a sweet/spicy combination)
italian seasoning
1 cup sharp cheddar, shredded
grated parmesan cheese
crumbled goat cheese
2 cups chicken broth

Squash and Apple Au Gratin

1.preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Fry up 3 strips of bacon until crispy.  Or if I’m being honest, I cooked 4 strips squash ate one. Because, bacon.  Save the bacon grease to use for later.  And leave a little in the pan if you’re cooking up something, like chicken, to accompany the squash.
3. Cut up squash, apples, and onions.  Place in a plastic bag and add flour, spices (to your own taste.  I used about 1 tbsp cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp Italian seasoning, 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper, and a dash of cloves) and shake well.
4. Place 1/2 of the squash mix into a baking dish (I used a 9 x 11 pan).  Add 1/2 of the cheddar and sprinkle parmesan to your taste.
5. Pour the chicken broth over the mixture.
6. Add the rest of the squash mix.  Cover with the rest of the cheddar cheese, add parmesan and goat cheese to taste.  Top with bacon crumbles.
7. Bake for 40-45 minutes until squash is soft.
8. When squash is done it will appear a bit watery but let it cool and the cheese will help that liquid solidify into yum!

I paired this with a boneless chicken breast seasoned with Goya’s Adobe and sauteed in leftover bacon fat yummmm. The salty was a good complement to the sweet squash.


Day 7: Squash and Garlic Pasta

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Last night it finally happened.  I got sick of pumpkin.  Maybe I’m just sick of making myself dinner.  There are few squash short cuts since it’s such a seasonal meal.  Nothing I thought about making sounded good or appealing and squash takes a while to cook so I was meh and disheartened.  But alas, I triumphed and made a pasta dish based off of one from Locavore Girl in the City.

(1) acorn squash
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
grapeseed oil
1/2 lb green beans
crushed red pepper flakes
balsamic vinegar
1/2 box pasta (I used tricolor rotini)
parmesan cheese

Squash and Garlic Pasta

1. Preheat oven to 400.  Cut squash in half, put face down into a baking pan with about 1/4 inch of water.  Bake squash for 40 minutes.
2. When there is about 10 minutes left on the squash, start boiling water.  Add pasta once boiling.
3. Add about 1 – 2 tbsps grapeseed oil into a frying pan.  When hot, sautee garlic and oil.  When the onions start to soften, add spices (you can swap those out with whatever you’d like.  And we know I don’t measure spices, so … sorry).  I liked the spice from the red pepper and the nutmeg brings out a lot of the squash flavor.  Add green beans and continue sauteeing.
4. When squash is done let cool before scooping out insides.  I score cubes into the squash and then scooped out the cubes.  Add squash into the frying pan and sautee about 2 minutes.
5. Add pasta to frying pan just to get the pasta warm since it’s already cooked.  Top with balsamic vinegar to taste.  Top with parmesan cheese

I was meh about the meal.  It was good, not great, but I wasn’t in the mood for it.  And I don’t think I like the consistency of acorn squash, so maybe it needed to cook a little longer or maybe I just should’ve used a different type of squash.  Too bad, because this is also lunch today.  I thought about sauteeing the onions and garlic in butter instead of oil, and maybe that would have been better with the squash.  Some rosemary, thyme, or sage also would have helped.  Not a fail, just a work in progress.

Day 4: Broccoli Slaw

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I still have some Pumpkin Vinaigrette left over from Wednesday and I’m going out of town this weekend so I tried to come up with a third dish to use this vinaigrette on.  Yesterday when I was buying brussels sprouts I saw some broccoli slaw so I grabbed that to make some pumpkin broccoli slaw.  I had seen a recipe for a creamy pumpkin salad dressing on Worth the Whisk (SO PUNNY!) so I took the rest of my vinaigrette, doctored it up, and added it to the broccoli slaw.

I had about 1/3 of the vinaigrette left and some pumpkin puree from last night’s cookies.  So I took the left over vinaigrette and added:

1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup lite mayo
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp rosemary

Mixed it up and put it over the broccoli slaw.  I’m letting it marinade at home right now so there might be an update later.  If I want it a little creamier I might add a 1/2 cup of sour cream I know I have in the fridge instead of more mayo.

Day 3: Roasted Squash and Brussel Sprouts

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Tonight I had my first pumpkin dinner party, so THANK YOU Brei for coming over.  Initially I thought of roasting butternut squash with butter and brown sugar with rice pilaf or couscous (thank you Sarah Spielman, for that recipe way back in 2010) but as the morning drew on inspiration struck and I wanted to roast squash with some other vegetables.  DID YOU KNOW that butternut squash and brussel sprouts are a common combination?  (WAIT — DID YOU ALSO KNOW they’re called Brusells sprouts.  Mind.  Blown.  I won’t adapt now)  I guess they’re in season around the same time and take similar amounts of time to roast.  So then the question was … how.

As has been the common theme, I looked up a bunch of different recipes and liked this one best, but put my own twist on it.

HOW GORGEOUS DOES THIS LOOK!?  Sorry, I’m obsessed with this dish.

Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprouts


1 medium butternut squash, cubed
12 oz brussels sprouts, quartered
1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp nutmeg
Mrs. Dash Italian blend, to taste (I used lots)
Olive oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Diced bacon (I didn’t use these but I think they would have made this dish even more delicious!)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Dice vegetables and bacon and place in a baking dish (I used a 3 qt dish)
3. Add spices over vegetables.
4. Add enough olive oil to coat vegetables and toss so vegetables are evenly covered in oil and spices.
5. Add balsamic vinegar to taste, and toss and coat vegetables again.
6. Bake for about 40 minutes or until vegetables start to brown.

I have to say, gluttonous as this may be, Brei and I ate almost that entire pan of vegetables and couldn’t stop. Thank you, Brei, for helping me finish off these vegetables, otherwise I probably could have eaten that entire plate myself.

Day 3: Pasta Salad with Pumpkin Vinaigrette

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I had a ton of salad dressing left over from yesterday’s lunch so I wondered what else I could do with it besides just make another salad.  I guess I kind of made another salad, but this time a pasta salad.  It seemed like a good dressing alternative to plain ol’ oil and vinegar and certainly better than mayo.

Pumpkin vinaigrette
1 cup pasta, cooked (I used tri-color rotini.  Because it’s fun)
1/2 cup broccoli florets (I used frozen)
goat cheese crumbles
sliced chicken breast (I used sliced lunch meat so turkey or ham can be substituted, or chunks of grilled chicken would work well too)
1/4 cup cannolini beans (I just opened a can and spooned some beans out)

1. Boil pasta.  About 1/2 way through I added the frozen broccoli florets to the boiling pasta water.
2. If you haven’t made the vinaigrette yet, make the vinaigrette while the pasta and broccoli cook.
3. Drain pasta and broccoli and run under cool water to cool down so the pasta and broccoli aren’t too hot to be pasta salad.
4. Add whatever other ingredients you want, in my case cheese, meat, and beans.
5. Dress salad, mix up, and enjoy!

Day 2: Butternut Squash Beef Stew

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One of the meals I was most excited to make was butternut squash beef stew.  Three years ago (OMG I can’t believe this was 3 years ago!) I spent a lovely weekend in Durham, NC with my friend Andrea during which we made a delicious butternut squash beef stew.  I couldn’t find the exact recipe that we used so I looked at a bunch, got the general idea, and set off to work.  I will warn you, the stew was underwhelming.  It’s not that it wasn’t good; it was fine  I’m not sure if I remember this stew as SO GOOD that I held it in high regard for the last 3 years and was now let down, or if I left something out (in which case suggestions are much appreciated).

The interesting or weird thing about this project is that not all of my recipes will turn out well.  There will be a lot of learning what not to do or thoughts for doing it better next time.  Or can just be a comedy of errors as some of my cooking experiences turn out to be.

Here’s the recipe.  I won’t post a picture because, well, stew rarely looks appetizing.

1 lb beef (I used pre-cut stirfry strips)
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 medium butternut squash, cut into cubest
1 medium potato (russet or white)
1/2 lb green beans, ends cut
1/2 cup chopped carrots
16 oz beef broth
1/2 cup flour
(1) 6 oz can of tomato paste
1 tsp chopped garlic
Italian seasoning

1. Add vegetables and meat to slow cooker
2. Add broth, tomato paste, and spices to taste.  I rarely measure spices and now know how my grandmother felt every time I would ask her “But how much do I use.”  So no idea how much I used of each spice, but definitely more cumin and Italian seasoning than the others.
3. Sprinkle flower on top.  This will allow the broth to thicken to be stew.
4. Mix together.  Set slow cooker to low and let cook for 7-8 hours, or high for 3-4 hours.
5. When done serve over rice. (I made brown rice in beef broth)

Day 1: Pumpkin Fritters

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I’ve been pretty pumpkin-deprived all day.  Really, I’m not sure when the last time I had pumpkin something besides those marshmallows was.  Unless you include that Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks where they decided my name was Terra.

So tonight’s meal is chicken sauteed in garlic and herb butter (thank you, Land O Lakes) with a side of pumpkin fritters.  This recipe is a mix of two that I saw, one for Squash it Out Fritters and the other for Chinese Pumpkin Pancakes.

1 cup pumpkin puree (I used LIbby’s but don’t confuse the puree with the pumpkin pie mix!)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
other spices (ginger, nutmeg, cayenne) to taste
*If you want a sweeter fritter you can also add some brown sugar into this
Panko, bread crumbs, or sesame seeds for a crisp outside
Canola or vegetable oil for frying

1. Pour oil into a frying pan and turn on medium heat.  You don’t want the oil to be too hot otherwise the outside of the fritter will be nice and brown and the inside won’t be cooked through.
2. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and season to taste.  The mixture will be a little tacky and stick to your hands.
3. Scoop pumpkin mix with a small spoon, shape into patties, and coat in panko or other breading of your choice
4. Fry the patties, turning them over when a golden brown on the outside.  Try not to over crowd the frying pan otherwise the oil temperature will cool too much.Pumpkin Fritters 1
5. When golden brown on both sides, remove each patty-turned-fritter from the oil placing on a plate lined with paper towels to let the oil drain.
6. Once done, sprinkle seasoning of choice on top for additional flavor, if desired.  I added garlic powder and a little bit of salt.

And voila!  Well, my fritters and chicken kind of look the same in this picture but they were delicious.

Pumpkin Fritters 2