Sunday Stock-up 1: A Butternut Squash Affair

NSFW?

Ah, Butternut Squash, how much do I love thee?  Let me count the ways!
Savory, sweet, comforting, healthy and…dare I say, sexy, with those ample flesh-toned curves…
but I digress…

Let’s steer our undying adoration of this wonderful fall staple past creepy, straight on the culinary path to deliciousness.
In this, the first installment of Sunday Stock-up I will take you through breakfast, lunch and dinner with our star ingredient, the smooth, sultry, versatile,  Butternut Squash.  You’ll marvel over how few ingredients have to be paired with this fabulous fruit to bring out all the aforementioned qualities.

The following 3 recipes could all be very happily consumed in one day,  but I prefer to stretch these meals throughout the week in an effort to save time and money.  Taking a few hours out of my Saturday or Sunday to prepare several of the following weeks meals allows me to delve into my cooking passion without breaking the bank or mangling my schedule.  Besides, who really has the energy to serve up an delicious, nutritious, home-cooked meal after 8 hours on your feet?  I sure as hell don’t!

So without further ado,  THE RECIPES!

Breakfast

Cinnamon Butternut Squash Muffins
Butternut squash joined by various fruits, spices and seeds make a this a  tasty, perfectly moist, not-too-sweet,  muffin.  Add a serving of your favorite yogurt or cottage cheese with fresh fruit and you have hearty, satisfying breakfast that is sure to stick with you.

I used this recipe I found while droogling (googling whilst drooling)  butternut squash recipes I added a few things and made a few key changes, but to be fair I did not create the original recipe.  Below is my altered version.

*Ingredients*

  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 1 cup butternut squash, cooked
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup apple sauce (I made my own *click here for the recipe!*)
  • 1/3 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 6 tblsp canola or vegetable oil (I used canola since it’s what I always have on hand)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2  tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup organic white flour
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • 3/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds

I opted out of the Optional Topping from the original recipe, mostly because it completely slipped my mind (>.<)
I definitely wont be forgetting it next time as I found these muffins to be practically perfect except needing a teeny bit more sweetness.

Lunch

Butternut Squash Soup
A velvety savory-sweet waltz in a bowl.  Butternut squash sauteed with a troika of aromatics and herbs in a blend of butter and olive oil, then simmered in stock and blended with cream for this smooth, comforting, seasonal favorite.

*Ingredients*

  • 1 tbsp of butter (we aren’t afraid of butter in this house but if you prefer not    to use it just substitute a tbsp of olive oil)
  • 1tbsp of olive oil
  • 2 large celery stalks or the equivalent (about half cup), diced
  • 1.5 medium onions, diced
  • 1.5 shallots, diced
  • 6 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded, diced (can use frozen)
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp salt (divided)
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tsp tarragon, dried
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Dinner

Butternut Squash Gratin
Nutty Gruyere (or in this case 60 day aged Gouda which was on sale) pairs incredibly with the creamy sweetness of Butternut Squash and bakes  into  a casserole so rich and satisfying I think you’ll find you hardly miss the meat  in this hearty vegetarian meal.

*Ingredients*

  • 4 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded, diced
  • 1/2 shallot, diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup white wine or stock
  • 2 tbsp mayonaise
  • 3/4 tsp pepper
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp brown sugar or coconut palm sugar
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 2 tsp dried tarragon
  • 2 tblsp dried chives (optional)
  • 1.5 cups Gruyere or aged Gouda

______________________________________________________

Pots, pans and other junk you’ll need

  • 1 large, heavy bottomed stock pot
  • 1 large pan for sauteeing
  • 1 casserole dish (I used my 8×8)
  • 1 – 2 qt sauce pan
  • 2 muffin tins, lined
  • 1 slow cooker (I used my 2 qt Rival)
  • 2 large mixing bowls
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Immersion or standard blender
  • 1 large knife for chopping and dicing
  • 1 pairing knife or vegetable peeler for peeling (I used the large knife to peel my butternut squash.  It all depends on your comfort level.  If you are nervous about peeling the squash with a knife go for the peeler.  It will take longer but probably be less bloody.
    ISN’T COOKING FUN?! :D  YES!)

Almost 8lbs of Butternut Squash! Organic was on sale this week for $.99/lb! HAPPY DAY!

Lulu is wondering why I am bothering with all these noms that are not made of meats. This is her “S’wrong Witchu?!” look.

Prepping the squash:

At this point you are probably salivating, and ready to attack your beautiful butternut squash with the nearest sharp implement for the sake of haute cuisine.
WHOA THERE SUZY STABSALOT!
That’s how accidents happen.
Let’s face it, like Mom always said, it’s all fun and games until somebody loses an eye…or a finger…
So lets keep all our parts in tact and learn proper butternut squash prep technique from this informative youtube video I found whilst watching cute pet videos and surreal British comedies.

Now, on to the dicing!

Shhh! It’s okay. You’re going to be delicious.
:-}

oh…dear…

Ah, that’s better <3

ONWARD TO OUR SOUP!

To Saute Or Not To Saute?

According to Wikipedia, the French word sauté is a past participle of “to jump”.  So saute is basically a fancy french word for browning the surface of food in a small amount of fat.  Essentially the diced veggies jump around the pan like it’s the early 90’s and Kris Kross just came on the radio.


It’s a celebration.  Enjoy yourself.

If you are pressed for time and aren’t a big fan of FLAVOR, you can skip the sauteing in this recipe altogether.   Personally, I wouldn’t, but I realize you might live a life that doesn’t allow you to dedicate loads of time BUTTERNUT SQUASH.  You might have better things to do.  I don’t.  Listen, I’m not judging you.  If you don’t saute I’m sure your soup will be delicious  but I’m equally  certain it wont be as delicious as mine because I took the 10 minutes to take my squash and aromatics to flavor town via the butter and olive oil express.

Prep your aromatics

Aromatic is yet another fancy cooking word you can toss into normal conversation to impress your friends.  Basically aromatics are those gorgeous smelling roots, vegetables and herbs one uses in recipes to deepen the FLAVOR.  People, at this point you might be noticing a recurring theme.

*FLAVOR IS AWESOME*

No, Not YOU Flava Flav.

Aromatics! (Celery not pictured) These will be used for both the soup and the gratin.

Add 1 tbsp of butter and 1 tbsp of olive oil (you can use any fat you feel comfortable with.  I like this flavor combo) to your heavy bottomed stock pot over medium heat.  It’ll take a minute or so for the butter and oil to get hot enough.  You want to hear that beautiful sizzle when you drop your aromatics in.

All chopped up and ready to jump around in fat! Celery, 1.5 diced onion and 1.5 chopped scallion. Don’t worry too much about the size of your dice. All these lovely ingredients will be cooked down and blended in. If you are pressed for time, use a food processor!

Saute the celery, shallots and onion over medium heat for 1-2 minutes, until they start to become translucent.
Then add your 6 cups of diced butternut squash, 1 tsp brown sugar, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp of dried tarragon.
Saute for 5 minutes or until the squash starts to brown and caramelize a bit.

Isn’t it pretty?!


If you’re like me, at this point you are salivating and ready to devour this as is.  If you decide to do that I wont hold it against you, but if you stick with me you’ll slurping soup in no time!

Now add your salt, pepper, nutmeg and tarragon

Spices!

Next, add 6 cups of chicken stock to the pot.

adding the stock to the saute helps loosen those brown bits that have been collecting at the bottom of your pan. Those bits are flavor gold!
This method is also referred to as, deglazing.
Oooh! You just deglazed, ~fancy pants~!

Bring to a boil, cover, lower to a simmer and continue to simmer for 30-40 minutes.  Until the squash is quite tender. 

While the soup is simmering, get your blender ready.  Immersion blender is your best bet and probably one of the most useful purchases you will make where cooking is concerned.  However, if you don’t have one, fear not!
A standard blender will do the job just as well.

If you are going to be transferring this scalding mixture to a standalone blender I suggest waiting for it to cool a bit unless your a fan of burning yourself silly.
You will also have to blend in batches using a standard blender so get another pot or very large bowl for transferring blended soup back to your heat source.

Add 1/2 cup heavy cream, fresh ground pepper, nutmeg and the rest of the salt to the pot.  Stir and BLEND!

Blend until silky smooth!

ZOMG! YOU JUST MADE BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP! YOU ROCK!

This recipe yields 6 – 1 cup servings
Butternut Squash Soup paired paired with a decadent salad of mixed greens, goat cheese, dried cranberries, maple walnuts and balsamic vinaigrette, served up with some delish crusty bread made for a healthy, filling, balanced meal!
AND I had 4 servings to bring to work for lunch the following week!  YUM!

WASN’T THAT EASY?!

Maybe so, Pusheen. But will you say that after you taste my gratin?! =^_^=

And so with pride in our hearts and growing hunger in our stomachs we continue on with Butternut Squash Gratin.

You might be surprised to find out this gratin starts almost exactly the same way as the soup.  Assuming some of you reading this aren’t regular home chefs but more “weekend enthusiasts” when it comes to cooking, the more you cook the more you’ll discover many of your recipes start with the same basic steps.

Because we are super-smart we already prepped our squash and aromatics for this recipe, so just grab your large saute pan and lets get started!

First things first:
Make sure your oven rack is in the center.  Preheat your oven to 375.  Grease your casserole dish with butter or pan spray and set aside.

Scroll back up to when we were sauteing (fat + aromatics for  2 minutes +  squash for 5 minutes or until light golden brown)  and do that again in your large pan.   The only real difference is there is no celery this time and you will be tossing in the sugar, salt and pepper in to the saute with the squash.

Ooooh, sassy squash saute!

Check out the developing deliciousness!

Is it getting hot in here or is it just my squash?

Now, I’d like to take this opportunity to “ooh” and “aah” over the brown bits forming in my saute pan.  You may have heard this before but it bears repeating, BROWN BITS = FLAVOR GOLD.  Unfortunately, it’s all stuck to the pan.  Fat lotta good all that flavor is going to do for you stuck to the pan!
So how do we get all this flavor into our gratin?

We ~deglaze~

Oh boy!  More fancy cooking words!
Wait!  Come back!

Don’t start losing faith in your ability to make this gratin happen.  To Deglaze means, quite literally, throwing some liquid in to your saute to loosen the tasty golden goodness sticking to the pan.  Sounds simple enough, right?  Well, good!  Cuz, it is!
I used 1/4 cup White Wine.  You can use wine, stock or even plain water.  However, since we are going for maximum flavor here, lets just stick to wine or stock for now.

Since the brown bits are essentially sugar I feel this song is super-duper necessary for this part

Pour in 1/4 cup white wine to deglaze pan.  Scrape brown bits up with a wooden spoon.

Scrape, scrape, scrape! Brown bits, how come you taste so good?

Once all the yummy brown bits are loose-y goose-y, transfer all the contents of the saute pan into a large bowl.   Set aside.

Folks, gratin just isn’t gratin without cheese so, without further ado, let’s get to shredding.

To many, saving time is just as important as saving money. That being said you are welcome to use pre-shredded cheese for this recipe. Nobody cares if you shred or don’t shred. It makes no difference to the recipe as far as I’m concerned.

Use This Video if you are unsure of your shredding technique.  (She’s using cheddar but obviously it works for any cheese)

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, this aged Gouda wedge (now shredded) was on sale at my local market. I’m always happy to shred my own to save a buck.

Stir 1/2 cup of cheese, 2 tablespoons dried chives and 2 tbsp mayonnaise into the butternut squash mixture.  Transfer contents of bowl to greased casserole dish.

In another medium bowl or large liquid measuring cup combine 1/2 cup chicken stock, 1/2 cup heavy cream, and 1/4 tsp nutmeg.
Pour cream mixture over butternut squash mixture in the casserole dish.

Should look like this thus far ^_^

In another bowl toss together 1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs, 2 tbsp dried tarragon and remaining 1 cup of shredded cheese.  Sprinkle over creamy goodness in the casserole dish.  Try to make the cheese/bread crumb layer as even as you can.

Butternut Squash Gratin Assembled!

Bake at 375 for 45-50 minutes.  Your gratin should be deep golden brown and bubbling when you remove it from the oven. 
Let sit for 15 minutes

Butternut Squash Gratin! Serve with your favorite steamed or roasted green veggies and DEVOUR!

I suggest you start strutting around like you’re hot, hot stuff for a while.  At least till the end of this song.

I’m serious.

Start dancing.


Celebrate your ability to provide yourself and the ones you love with healthy, nourishing meals!  What better way to celebrate your butternut squash gratin than with cheesy disco?!
Okay, party animal, this isn’t Studio 54.  Lets get to baking some muffins, shall we?
Muffins are super easy.  Once you get the hang of them you can shake your booty while you mix,  I promise!

CLICK HERE FOR CINNAMON BUTTERNUT SQUASH MUFFINS

 

I hope you enjoyed this entry as much as I enjoyed writing it!  If you would like to see more butternut squash recipes or have any questions please let me know in the comments.

THANKS FOR READING!

Categories: Uncategorized | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Sunday Stock-up 1: A Butternut Squash Affair

  1. Katarica

    I will have to bookmark this—that gratin looks magically delicious for the next time I can afford fancy cheese \m/ <3

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