Monday, January 11, 2016

Season of Squash!

Season of the squash has been my kitchen obsession this past fall and winter!

I have really experimented more with fresh, clean cooking, and squash has been a hidden gem for it. My only real knowledge of squash prior to this fall was summer squash you cut in circles and cooked in the microwave for 5 minutes. Again, by participating in my health and fitness accountability groups, I have been introduced to 3 new-to-you scrumptious squash that I never knew existed!

Spaghetti squash

So tonight I cooked spaghetti squash to eat with my turkey meatballs and tomato sauce. A fantastic way to go low-carb and not even really notice it. A year ago I didn't even know what a spaghetti squash was and never even noticed it grocery stores. I am amazed at how delicious squash can really be when cooked right and seasoned with the right flare of ingredients. I know many people cut their spaghetti squash in half, but I now cut mine in rings most of the time and rub the rings in about a tablespoon of olive oil with a little salt and pepper. Throw them in the oven for 40 minutes on 400 temperature. Bam! Perfect, non-mushy, spaghetti squash to replace your noodles or pasta.

Cut the squash in rings and place on parchment paper

The picture above is the squash cut in rings and baked on parchment paper. The dish was a bacon, goat cheese, spinach, and spaghetti squash recipe. Oh man it was so good. I am not even a big bacon-eater, but this was mouthwatering. Spaghetti squash with bacon, spinach, and goat cheese!
This was an amazing spaghetti squash burrito bowl! Spaghetti squash burrito bowl

Acorn Squash

This is such a great little squash to pair as a side dish with really any dinner and could replace a roll or garlic bread. It goes nicely with like a turkey meatloaf or a lean beef entree. It even makes a great snack. My first experience making it was out of the Autumn Calabrese's Fixate cookbook (which is an awesome cookbook to have by the way if doing the 21 Day Fix! Fixate cookbook). Cut them in half and place the squash cut side down on baking sheet. Bake 30-35 minutes or until tender. Then the Fixate recipe calls to add a little butter, maple syrup, ground cinnamon, and nutmeg! Bake another 15-20 minutes. Sensational squash! Here is a similar recipe for roasted acorn squash
Here I put turkey meatball spaghetti over a roasted acorn squash

Butternut Squash

Last but certainly not least....butternut squash! Yum, my kids even really like this one. They even ask for "sposh" (rhymes with Josh) when I make it. You can cut up the squash into cubes and roast it with a light coat of olive oil and some salt and pepper to taste, or you can completely transform it into "candy butternut squash"! Keep reading....
Honey Cinnamon Butternut Squash....the kids love!
The honey cinnamon butternut squash is so easy and scrumptious, deli-umptious! If that is even a word? Willy Wonka phrase I think?

Honey Cinnamon Butternut Squash:
Cut squash in cube-sized 1 inch pieces. Caution*** It can be hard to cut up a butternut squash! So be careful, have a sharp knife, and don't do it alone if possible. Have a kitchen buddy in case of an emergency! 
Toss cubes in 2 tablespoons honey, 1 tbsp coconut oil, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp cinnamon, and bake on 375 for 20-30 minutes (until tender). Or you can try a soup with the squash!

Butternut squash soup and roasted carrots

We made a butternut squash soup in our new Instant Pot pressure cooker (black friday find!), and it did come out very good. Although I have to be totally honest, I am not a huge fan of butternut squash soup, I love tomato basil soup, but this is not one of my favorite ways to eat the squash. The Fixate cookbook also has a interesting butternut squash soup that is complimented with pepper jelly and spiced yogurt. Sounds incredibly strange, but when I have all the ingredients on me, I may try to do it!

So I hope you find these "diamonds in the rough" of the grocery store (especially if shopping in the rough throngs of Walmart) and enjoy them as much as I did. If you have a favorite squash recipe with any of these varieties of squash or others, please please share! Also don't forget with all these you have to core out the seeds, but you can roast them for snacks too! 

Good night and always grateful!

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