… Squasage?

Squasage 23

I did not name this, for the record.  When I was looking up basic cooking times on the internet, I found one for sausage-stuffed squash that was entitled “Squasage” and now I can’t get it out of my head.  Sorry about that.

Anyway, I had this squash (I think it’s a kabocha?) that needed eating and this is what I decided to do with it — it makes a nice winter meal for two.

Squasage 1

Preheat your oven to 400°F and cut your squash in half.  I use a grapefruit spoon to remove the seeds — it’s easier that way.

Squasage 2

Place the squash cut-side-up on a baking dish or in a roasting pan and brush with olive oil.  Dust with salt and pepper and roast for about an hour, until you can poke it all over with a fork with little resistance.

Squasage 3

In the meantime, rinse and drain 1/2 cup quinoa.  This is red quinoa.

Squasage 4

Dump the quinoa in a small pot with 1 cup broth (your choice) and bring to a boil.

Squasage 5

Lower the heat, cover it, and let it simmer until the broth is all absorbed.  It’ll look all fluffy with little white tails like this when it’s done, after about 15 minutes.

Squasage 11

You’ll also want to chop up some veg, about half an onion and half a red pepper.  Or a whole pepper.  Up to you.

Squasage 6

I had three Italian sausages here, but you can use two as well.

Squasage 7

Slice open the casing and dump the contents into a bowl.

Squasage 8

Heat up some olive oil in a pan and start sautéing your onions.

Squasage 9

When they’re soft and translucent, add your sausage and break it up with a spoon while it cooks.

Squasage 10

When it’s cooked completely, add in your red pepper and some herbs.  I used fines herbes, a combination of things like parsley, chervil, marjoram, and chives.

Squasage 12

Stir that around for a bit until the red pepper is softer.

Squasage 13

Then you can dump in the quinoa and lower the heat just to keep the whole thing warm until the squash is ready.

Squasage 14

In a small bowl, dump in a few teaspoons panko bread crumbs and a little bit of grated cheese (your choice).  Mix that together.

Squasage 15

When the squash is ready, lower the oven heat to 350°F and start spooning the sausage mixture into your squash halves.  You may end up with leftover mix, but it makes a great lunch the next day.

Squasage 16

When the squash halves are holding as much as they can, sprinkle the cheese/panko mix over the top and chuck it back in the oven for about 15 minutes, until everything is thoroughly warm, the cheese is melted, and the bread crumbs are starting to brown.

Squasage 18

The result is an all-in-one, piping hot meal.

Squasage 21

We did find it easier to tip out the contents and scrape out the softened squash before mixing it all together and eating it.  It was less molten that way.

Squasage 26

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Creamy Pasta with Roasted Squash and Sauteed Mushrooms

Creamy Squash Pasta 20

I think this dish will make your Friday night, especially if it’s one of those nippy nights that is a portent of cold evenings to come.  This will serve a family of six happily.  Here’s how I did it, but feel free to add your own flair.

Creamy Squash Pasta 1

To begin with, roast 2 heads garlic and half an orange kabocha squash with olive oil and salt and pepper at 450°F for about 40 minutes.

Creamy Squash Pasta 2

While that’s on the go, dice up 2 small onions, and slice up a whole package of white mushrooms.

Creamy Squash Pasta 3

And grate a 150g package of asiago cheese.

Creamy Squash Pasta 4

When the squash is roasted, chop it up into little cubes after peeling off the skin.

Creamy Squash Pasta 5

I popped the roasted garlic cloves out of the head and sliced them up as best I could.

Creamy Squash Pasta 6

Here I defrosted about 2/3 cup of the frozen pesto we have on hand (if you grow a lot of basil, you make a lot of pesto).

Creamy Squash Pasta 8

Now, this is not a sauce you want to make well in advance.  I suggest making it right before you serve it and your pasta water is already on the boil.

In a skillet, melt a knob of butter with a dollop of olive oil over medium high heat.

Creamy Squash Pasta 9

Add in your mushrooms and sautée them until they’re browned.

Creamy Squash Pasta 10

Chuck those mushrooms in a bowl for now.

Creamy Squash Pasta 11

Add your diced onions to the skillet and cook until softened.  Then you can chuck the mushrooms back in, together with your garlic and roasted squash.

Creamy Squash Pasta 12

Give that a stir.  Already it smells amazing.

Creamy Squash Pasta 13

Then chuck in your pesto, as well as 4oz (half a 250g package) plain cream cheese.  Stir that until it’s all melted and lovely.

Creamy Squash Pasta 14

Pour in about 3/4 cup whipping cream, as well as 1 cup milk (or any combination of dairy you wish — that was just the amount of cream I had to get rid of).

Creamy Squash Pasta 15

Add the cheese and stir until melted and incorporated.

Creamy Squash Pasta 16

Toss with your cooked pasta and serve immediately.

Creamy Squash Pasta 18

You can garnish it with whatever you wish! Even nothing!

Creamy Squash Pasta 19

Spaghetti Squash “Pasta” with Bacon, Mushrooms … and Squash

Spaghetti Squash with Squash 16

It’s only after he spends the evening helping me put all this together that the Pie tells me he doesn’t like spaghetti squash.  Well, too bad.  I like it just fine.  And it’s a great gluten-free pasta replacement.  Plus it’s good for you and stuff.  Not to mention kind of cool.  This recipe involves a bit of pre-preparation, but then you can just toss everything together at the end and it looks like you planned it or something.

Start by preheating your oven to 400°F.  Put a cooling rack on a baking sheet and line it with BACON.  However much bacon you want. Alternately, you could fry this up, but I figured I’d do all the cooking parts at the same time, plus I needed the stove top for the other stuff.

Spaghetti Squash with Squash 1

Take a spaghetti squash, cut it in half and scoop out the stringy bits and seeds.  Brush with olive oil, salt, and pepper and place cut side down on another baking sheet.  I also cut up another, non-spaghetti squash I had lying around and put that on the sheet as well.

Spaghetti Squash with Squash 2

Shove the bacon and the squash into the oven.  Let the squash roast for about 45 minutes, until it’s all tender and smooshy.

Spaghetti Squash with Squash 9

Cook the bacon, flipping halfway through, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until it’s as crispy as you like it.

Spaghetti Squash with Squash 6

Gren tried being extra affectionate with the Pie in the hopes he might get some bacon.  His dastardly plot was unsuccessful.

Spaghetti Squash with Squash 5

While that’s on the go, cut up some other vegetables.  I used an onion, cut into strips, and some mushrooms, sliced.

Spaghetti Squash with Squash 3

I sautéed the mushrooms in a bit of butter and caramelized the onions in olive oil on low heat.

Spaghetti Squash with Squash 4

Then I chucked the bacon (chopped) in the pan with the onions and mushrooms and left that on a low heat while I prepared the squash.

Spaghetti Squash with Squash 7

I cut up the other squash into cubes and tossed that into the pan.

Spaghetti Squash with Squash 8

Then I took a fork and went to work on the insides of the spaghetti squash.

Spaghetti Squash with Squash 10

I love how it really looks like spaghetti.

Spaghetti Squash with Squash 12

Then I chucked all that into the pan as well and tossed it.

Spaghetti Squash with Squash 13

Added in a jar of basil pesto, gave it a good stir.

Spaghetti Squash with Squash 14

Tada.  It ain’t pretty but b’y was it tasty. Especially with a bit of parmesan cheese dusted over top.

Spaghetti Squash with Squash 17

Wingin’ it Wednesday: Roast and Roasted

Roast and Roasted 16

It’s been raining for a while here.  I guess that means it’s fall.  The night I made this meal Fussellette drove us to Costco around 7, just after sunset.  There was a huge black cloud coming out of the west, like those ominous ones in movies where spells are cast or aliens arrive, and it blacked out the whole sky.  Yup.  Autumn on the North Atlantic.

Roast and Roasted 23

Anyway, before we left for Costco we had to eat early, and neither of us was particularly interested in putting much effort into food preparation.  Still, that doesn’t mean that you’re stuck with peanut butter sandwiches or eggs on toast.  You can still produce quality comfort food with very little effort.  Case in point: our roast.

Roast and Roasted 20

The roasts we buy here are tough and flavourless, and frankly I’m not sure why I keep picking them up.  But once I buy them they need to be eaten and so here we go.  Make sure to take your roast out of the refrigerator at least half an hour before you intend to cook it.  Just trust me on that one.  Preheat your oven to 500°F, or as high as you can get it before the broiler kicks on.

Roast and Roasted 7

In a roasting pan (I used our well-seasoned cast iron skillet here), you are going to make a bed of chopped vegetables.  What vegetables those are is up to you.  Onions are a perennial favourite, as are potatoes and carrots and parsnips.  I used carrots, a red pepper, cauliflower, and some potatoes.

Roast and Roasted 10

Chuck those in the pan and drizzle them with olive oil.  Sprinkle with some sea salt and toss to coat. Use your fingers, don’t be afraid.

Roast and Roasted 12

Then take your roast and rub olive oil and sea salt all over it. Plop that in the centre of your bed of vegetables.

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On the side I also decided to cut up this lovely squash.

Roast and Roasted 1

Doesn’t it look like a flower?

Roast and Roasted 2

I put the squash in a separate pan, and gave it the olive oil and salt treatment as well.

Roast and Roasted 5

Now pop that all in your oven, and turn the heat down to 400°F.  Give that about an hour to cook, depending on the size and cut of your roast.  Medium-rare beef serves at a temperature of about 145°F, if you have a thermometer handy.  Check your veg a couple times, and toss them about to keep them from sticking.  If they look really dry (at least, the ones under the meat), then add a bit of water to keep them from burning. You should be okay, though.

Roast and Roasted 17

Once your roast is cooked (ours took about 45 minutes, and then I took it out and left the vegetables still cooking for another 15 minutes), take it out and set it on a carving board to rest for at least 15 minutes.  After that, slice it up super thin and serve with your roasted vegetables.

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A bit of honey and butter on your squash won’t go amiss, either.

Roast and Roasted 21

YUM!

Roast and Roasted 22

Butternut Bisque

Butternut Bisque

I’m not the biggest soup fan (I prefer to drink my hot liquids), but I’m starting to acquire a taste for them.  I’m especially fond of blended soups (because then it’s like a savoury pudding and I’m less likely to burn my tongue on the hot broth).  This one comes from Martha Stewart and is a good match for a nice late-summer lunch or a good accompaniment to a fall comfort meal.  It’s quick and easy, which I like in a soup.  You can also freeze it and enjoy it at any time.

First, do your chopping.  In this case, chop up 1 medium onion, 2 cloves garlic, and 1 large butternut squash.  Peel the squash, cut it open and remove the seeds, and then hack it into smallish cubes.

Butternut Bisque

Then, get your spices ready to go.  You’ll need 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper.  Also, not shown, is a pinch or two of coarse sea salt.  Feel free to add more or less, according to your own taste.  It’s only soup, after all.

Butternut Bisque

Melt about 3 tablespoons butter into the bottom of a large saucepan.  Add in the onion, garlic, and the spices and cook until the onion is tender and translucent, about 7 minutes.

Butternut Bisque

Dump in the squash cubes, as well as about 15oz chicken broth and 1 cup half-and-half (you could use plain milk if you wanted to be healthier, but do you really want to do that?), and then about 3 cups water.  Bring that whole thing to a boil and reduce it to a simmer for about 20 minutes.  Your squash should be squishy at this point.  You should be able to squish your squash with the back of a spoon.

Butternut Bisque

Remove the pot from the heat and use your immersion blender to squish — er, purée — your squash and onions and all that stuff.

Butternut Bisque

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of cayenne, if desired.

Butternut Bisque

Sweet Bread Pudding with Squash and Tres Leches Sauce

Bread Puddings

Second bread pudding of the week.  And this one is also made of squash.  But here’s the kicker: this one is a sweet one, a bread pudding you can have for dessert or even breakfast.  A very rich breakfast.  When the Pie and I ate this dish last Sunday morning we had to go and have a nap afterwards.  But it was worth it.

Bread Puddings

There’s a bunch of this that you can do the day before, to save yourself time.

First,  you roast a butternut squash at 400°F until it’s all tender and squishy, about 30-45 minutes.

Bread Puddings

If that doesn’t do the trick you can always put it in the microwave.

Bread Puddings

Cut up a baguette into chunks and leave it overnight to go stale.  If you’ve already got a stale one then you don’t have to wait for it, obviously.

Bread Puddings

Now the tres leches sauce takes about 45 minutes to make so you will probably want to do this the night before.

In a medium saucepan, bring a 12oz can of evaporated milk (I actually used coconut milk because that’s what I had on hand) and 6 tablespoons granulated sugar to a boil.

Bread Puddings

See how it’s all nice and foamy.

Bread Puddings

Dissolve 1/8 teaspoon baking soda in 2 teaspoons warm water and chuck that in as well.  Be wary of the foaming milk.  Keep stirring.

Bread Puddings

Reduce the heat to medium and keep it simmering.  Stir it frequently while it cooks, for about 30 minutes, until it’s significantly reduced and a light caramel in colour.

Bread Puddings

Add in 1 can sweetened condensed milk and 1 cup whipping cream and stir it around until it’s all warm and thoroughly mixed.

Bread Puddings

Now let it cool until it’s just warm and then you can serve it.  Or bung it into the fridge overnight.

Bread Puddings

So onto the bread pudding.  Set your oven at 350°F and butter a large casserole dish.

Take half your squash and plop it in a blender with 1/2 cup granulated sugar.

Bread Puddings

Add in 1 1/2 cups half-and-half milk (or use regular low-fat milk mixed with your preferred amount of cream), some freshly grated nutmeg, a pinch or two of garam masala, and a shake of cinnamon.

Bread Puddings

Give that whirl, then add 5 large eggs and whirl it again until just combined.

Bread Puddings

As for the other half of your squash, use a fork to roughly mash it up with 1/2 cup brown sugar.

Bread Puddings

Plop your stale bread chunks in a large bowl and add in the milk/squash mixture as well as the rest of your half-and-half.  Let that sit for a few minutes.

Bread Puddings

Dump in the rest of the squash and stir it around.

Bread Puddings

Pour it into the casserole dish and bake it for 30 minutes, until it’s all solid and browned.

Bread Puddings

Serve hot, either as a breakfast or as a dessert.

Bread Puddings

Drizzled with tres leches sauce it’s not a healthy breakfast but it sure is good.

Bread Puddings

Wingin’ It Wednesday: Salmon with Roasted Veg and Israeli Couscous

Wingin' It Wednesday

Most of the time, I don’t photograph every step of what I am cooking.  Hard to believe.  But the majority of my days are spent in getting home a little after dark, walking the fiend, and then trying to create dinner out of what’s left in my fridge.  Sometimes it works.  Sometimes it doesn’t.  Sometimes if it works, I remember enough about it to recreate it another time.  Sometimes.

So I’m introducing Wingin’ It Wednesdays to you here.  These are meals that I haven’t paid enough attention to, ones I couldn’t tell you what I did to make them.  But they turned out okay, and usually they were a spur-of-the-moment concoction of the dregs of my pantry.  They might help to inspire you when you’re looking for that middle-of-the-week meal at the last minute.

This dinner was Atlantic Salmon that I pulled out of my freezer (the Pie was out).

Wingin' It Wednesday

I had picked up some Israeli couscous from Auntie Crae’s back before it shut down, and I’d never tried it, so here was a good opportunity.  After having tried it, I think I prefer regular couscous, though this would be good in a soup.

Wingin' It Wednesday

I also roasted a sweet potato and a buttercup (not butternut) squash with a little bit of olive oil.

Wingin' It Wednesday

Tasty, tasty.

What’s in your pantry/fridge/freezer that you’ve been meaning to try but haven’t?