Friday, November 19

Delightful Squash Endeavors...

I have been extra tired lately - I blame it on the dreary grey days that come with fall's debut and my annual (hate to say it but it's become annual) overall health decline in autumn/winter. Fatigue and aches & pains are once again rearing their ugliness, and I crash on the couch every afternoon or evening for at least an hour. I'm not a good lunch eater - I'm either out running errands, working on some project, or sleeping like today. Well, I woke up this afternoon and needed to eat, and I put together this delightful lunch that filled me up and took just 10 minutes to prepare: [4 Honeysuckle White turkey breakfast link sausages, pan-fried on medium in a nonstick pan with a drizzle of EVOO] and [Squash Apple Casserole]. *Disclaimer: I do not know for a fact that the turkey sausages are GF. I do not have a Celiac diagnosis, and so I do not always avoid things that may have trivial amounts.

I found the recipe for this Squash Apple Casserole on my new favorite allergy-friendly site, BeFreeForMe.com. Here is the original: http://befreeforme.com/ViewRecipe.aspx?RecipeID=766.
(By the way, this website is very cool! Go to the "Recipes" tab, and you can check off your common allergens and select what type of recipe you need (main course, side dish, dessert, etc.) it will filter through the recipes and pull up those that you can make and enjoy without ugly reactions!)
I made the Casserole last night and it was waiting for me in the fridge today, perfect for lunch. It paired SO well with the turkey sausages!
Here is the recipe with my modifications:

1/4 cup  Grade A maple syrup
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 ½ cups of butternut squash, cut into 1” cubes
1 ½ cups of pared and sliced apples (any variety)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place the cubed squash in a single layer in a 2-quart casserole dish; drizzle with a bit of the maple syrup and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp of cinnamon. Next, add a layer of the sliced apples – and drizzle again with the maple syrup and cinnamon. Repeat the layers, alternating with a drizzle of the syrup and sprinkle of cinnamon, until all the squash and the apples have been layered. Drizzle the casserole with the remaining maple syrup and cinnamon. Cover casserole and place in the oven for 45 minutes to 1-hour, or until the squash and the apples are tender.
Serve hot. Serves 4.

*Future ideas to try: pumpkin pie spice instead of or in addition to the cinnamon, add the walnuts from the original recipe (I just forgot them this time!), add in cranberries... 

Last night when I pulled the casserole out of the oven, I was thinking I'd wasted an hour of oven time and some perfectly good apples and squash... but I let it sit overnight in the maple syrup and cinnamon. It turned out really lovely once I heated up half a plateful to enjoy with my turkey links! I made sure to spoon some of the syrup from the bottom of the casserole dish and drizzled it over the squash and apples. Don't you love it when a recipe turns out? I felt like a healthy food rockstar after I finished my meal, because I'd just eaten a whole lot of butternut squash packed full of good stuff for my body.


Speaking of butternut squash, can I just talk about the simple joy of peeling and dicing one of these beautiful creations of autumn's bounty? I was smiling, oohing and aahhing for literally twenty minutes last night as I prepared 1" cubes of squash for the recipe. I must have said, "Isn't this just beautiful?!" and "Look how orange this is!" at least fifteen times - my husband couldn't quite seem to match my enthusiasm, but always the good sport, he tried. :)  I was trying this "casserole" recipe to see if it would measure up for one of our Thanksgiving meals next week - and after trying it today, I'd say I could bring it to both the brunch and the dinner we will be attending. Double win!
TIP to remember: when you cut up a butternut squash or pumpkin, make sure you keep the seeds and rinse, pat dry, spread on a baking sheet, drizzle with EVOO, sprinkle with chili powder... and roast them for a great snack!

If you need something fun to do this weekend and you are low on funds or snowed in or, whatever the case may be, why not try a new recipe? There's nothing like that feeling of accomplishment and simple joy you feel after creating a new food masterpiece that you and a loved one can enjoy together. If it turns out, why not participate in this season of giving by sharing some with a neighbor? Enjoy your weekend :)