Savory Acorn Squash!

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The past few days have been a time for me to take a step back, look around, and focus on me. A month ago I had damaged my voice while teaching, I then continued to strain as I neglected to take care of…me. Last week I went to a specialist who stuck a tube up my nose and down my throat (not pleasant) and announced, much to my despair, that I had persistent laryngitis, a raw voice box, and vocal nodules. After a hectic and stressful Tuesday, I decided to follow my doctor’s orders and take the rest of the week off of work. I used this time to focus on recovery, help get myself back to health, and to rest my voice. A few days gone in the teaching field is a lot, but the time off was needed, and I am excited to announce that my voice is almost back to normal!

Part of my recovery time included yoga, meditation, and of course, cooking and trying new things! Tomorrow I will either inspire or traumatize you with my super smoothie (warning: it includes kale!)! Tonight, however, I am going to introduce something new, and definitely fun.

While produce shopping a few days ago, I came across an amazing deal, three acorn squash for a dollar. Never having cooked an acorn squash, and not quite sure what to look for, I choose three from the selection and wondered what I could do with the squash. A cursory glimpse at google suggested butter, sugar, and cinnamon…which is lovely, but not for dinner! I eventually found a lovely recipe at The Kitchn took half of the ingredients, substituted the rest, and ended up with an amazing result.

Ingredients: I cooked for myself only this time…adjust the portions as needed

  • one acorn squash
  • olive oil (2tbs)
  • meat crumbles (8oz) (I used boca crumbles, the original calls for turkey sausage, use what you want)
  • red pepper flakes (enough to season)
  • Italian Seasoning (1 tsp)
  • Garlic (2 cloves)
  • sundried tomatoes (to your liking…)
  • chickpeas (half of a can)
  • arugula (1 cup or more)
  • basil (a few leaves shredded)
  • fresh breadcrumbs (enough to top the acorn squash)

First, wash and cut the squash in half. It is close to a circle, so “long ways” doesn’t quite work well as a direction. Stand it up, and cut down the middle. Scoop out the seeds, place in a microwave safe dish with about a half inch of water in it. Microwave for 7-9 minutes. Mine took 9 minutes. You want the squash to be soft!

While that is happening, make breadcrumbs…if you do not have some already on hand, or if you want to be fancy! I broiled pita bread until it was crispy and then used my blender to make breadcrumbs. If you are going for the fresh breadcrumb option, start preparing your bread item now.

In a large frying pan, add olive oil, meat, garlic, red pepper flakes, and Italian seasoning. Cook for about five minutes, add chickpeas, stir and cook for another five minutes. Add sundried tomatoes, cook for another three – five minutes. Add arugula, basil, and water if the mixture is dryish. Wait until the arugula wilts!

By now the squash should be done and your microwave should be annoyingly beeping at you waiting for recognition that it has finished its job. Place the two halves of the squash on a baking sheet, fill with the frying pan mixture, add a tablespoon of water to each (I am not sure why…but I am not going to question it), and then sprinkle with bread crumbs.

The original recipe said to add a shredded hard cheese, like parmesan…I obviously did not do that, although I can see why some would. This would be the time to add dairy.

Place in the oven on broil until either a.) the dairy melts, or b.)the breadcrumbs look rather toasty. I have found that the proper amount of time is exactly equal to the amount of time it took for me to clean my kitchen. This time may vary for you. (Mom, pretend you are cleaning someone else’s kitchen…otherwise you will skip using the oven!)

The outcome was pretty amazing.

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Candied Apricots

so at 1am after our ménage a trois of raviolis, dessert was needed. We had originally planned for a dessert ravioli but honestly we were not pleased with the results of what was going to be our filling. It had come out watery, seedy, and just all around unpleasant in flavour and texture. BUT! we, and more specifically I came back from this failure with a candied apricot creation that tremendously tantalized my taste buds.

Apricots are sweet in general, but the dried variety have a fantastic texture that is just brilliant when used as a topping for a dessert or when mixing savoury with sweet. I started out by taking pure maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, and a bit of sugar mixing it together in a preheated small pan and letting it absorb the sugar and thicken a bit. After it was the proper consistency I added chopped dried apricots to it, reduced the heat to low and let it sit and simmer for 10 minutes. Letting it sit and simmer for that 10 minutes unleashed a myriad of flavours, the apricots became soft and the sugary mixture retained its subtle flavours as well as acquiring the slight taste of apricot.

Needless to say while I wasn’t pleased with what the dessert raviolis had come out to be, I was more that pleased and thrilled with the candied apricots, you know if you couldn’t tell by my posting at all. I don’t think I need to give you a more specific reaction, I think my post has conveyed my feelings.

Jenni’s reaction: While they smelled atrocious at first, they ended up fantastically stupendous.

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