Friday, December 14, 2012

Oven Roasted

I assured you today's recipe would not only be edible but simple and if you've already been there, done that, well, maybe this can be some inspiration to add this to your holiday table this year?  It's quick, warm, comfort food that is whole and packed with nutrients.

First of all, how many of you reach for a canned pumpkin every time you make a pumpkin custard or pie?  What if I told you it is easy and delicious to actually make your own pumpkin puree, using just your oven, a knife and a food processor.  Most people remember grandma's "grainy and difficult" from scratch pies.  This is simple.  It's easy to be intimidated but I assure you, one step at a time and you'll have it.  If pumpkin isn't your thing, I'll show you a wonderful golden acorn squash substitute.  

Heat it up!  These cold winter months bring the chill and the snow (if you're up north) and sometimes, even in the south, it's nice to have the warmth and decadent smell of roasting something in the oven.  First, we're almost out of fall, but if you look hard enough, you'll be able to find a sugar pumpkin or a golden acorn squash (regular squash work well too.)   If you're going to make a big pan, even one or two sugar pumpkins will be more than enough.   Both of these can be eaten right out of the oven, or they can be pureed to make a wonderful filling or custard.  

First start with your oven at about 400 degrees F.   I always place foil on my pan, and prick the gourd of choice and rub it with a little butter.  You can skip that step if you like, I always prick them just in case though, so they don't get bubbles that can splatter.   Place in the oven for approximately 25 minutes.  Roast whole, until soft enough to run a fork through.  Some pumpkins are a little larger and some acorn squash can be quite small.   I would say in my experience, about a pound requires 20 minutes or so.   When your pumpkin or squash is tender, pull it out of the oven.  Cube it, and remove the seeds and skin.   Here's where you have a choice.  You can follow the recipe below, or you can toss it in a blender or food processor and make it smooth.  If at this point you're opting for the food processor, you can use your pumpkin just like canned.  Add it to anything you want!  It's ready to go.  

If you would like a warm snack or a warm comforting afternoon lunch, follow the recipe. 

Roasted Spiced Acorn Squash

1 medium roasted acorn squash (or pumpkin) cubed
2 oz butter 
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 oz walnuts - crushed
1 oz. sugar free maple syrup
1/8 tsp dried clove powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
OPTIONAL:  1 oz. dried cherries or cranberries (WARNING! These have added sugar unless from a natural store!)

If your oven is still on... GREAT!  We're going to put it to good use.   Place squash in oven proof dish.  Melt the butter with the spices and pour over your acorn squash.  Pour over the syrup, sprinkle the nuts, and cherries if you chose to have them.   Place back in the oven for about 5-8 minutes.  Just enough to get it all nice and hot and melty and blend those flavors.   Pull it out... voila!  Instant meal!  

If your oven wasn't on, or you made the pumpkin/squash earlier and refrigerated or froze it, you can still use the oven if you choose.  You could also use a toaster oven, or if you really were starving, the microwave (for about 2 minutes.)   

This is a complete meal on its own or you can serve it as a side dish for a beautiful holiday meal.  

Note:  In my photo below, I mixed them and it was amazing, but it works fine with just one or the other.  Mine was piping hot and by the time the pictures were taken, the butter was melted into a puddle.  Beautiful and delicious!! 

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