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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 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)