Oct 102012
 

Somewhere around the end of August I started seeing the tweets and facebook comments and blog posts…”Is it PUMPKIN LATTE SEASON YET?” I think what we need is an illustration about the phenomenon by the very talented Shelby, don’t you? I have to admit, I don’t get it. I don’t understand the hype, I don’t understand why the frenzy starts so early and why everyone is just so obsessed about pumpkin everything!

Don’t get me wrong. I love pumpkin. Pumpkin pie is one of my favorites (and kind of my kryptonite). Last year I made an amazing pumpkin bread that was homey and delicious and I will most definitely be making it again this year. But those pumpkin spice coffee drinks just don’t appeal to me. I was intrigued, at first, because of all the excitement about it. I decided I want to give it a try. Not to be a downer or anything, but then I looked up the calorie count of one of those babies and it totally turned me off. Depending on where you go and what size you get, a pumpkin spice latte runs between 250-500 calories. OH! So that’s why everyone likes them! They are dessert! Dessert drinks used to be my specialty! I loved those white chocolate mochas with caramel sauce, chocolate syrup and whipped cream. I’ll admit, I’m still curious and would like to try one but I just can’t justify spending 400 calories on a drink.

I found a much better option. Check out this girl’s recipe for a homemade pumpkin spice latte. It’s less than 100 calories total. Now THAT’S something I’d give a try…but haven’t yet because it takes two hours. Someone let me know how it is. :)

Since it’s squash season and I love everything squash or pumpkin, I decided to give something else a try.

Pecan and Wild Rice-Stuffed Squash

Calories per serving: About 600

From: http://hippieitch.wordpress.com/2012/09/13/pecan-and-wild-rice-stuffed-squash

Ingredients

  • 2 small acorn squash
  • 1/2 cup wild rice
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons fresh sage
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 stalks celery, minced
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup pecan halves
  • 2 Celery stalks

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Oil 2 baking sheets. Cut each squashes in half from the stem to the tip. Scoop out the seeds and place cut-side down on the baking sheets. Bake from 20 to 30 minutes, or until easily pierced with a paring knife. Let cool. Reduce the oven heat to 375 degrees.
  2. In a medium saucepan, cook the wild rice in the water, simmering until it is tender and starting to split. If there is any excess water, drain the rice in a strainer.
  3. Finely chop the sage and parsley. In a small saute pan, heat the olive oil and saute the celery, onion, and sage over medium heat until just softened. Stir in the parsley, marjoram, pepper, nutmeg, and salt, and take the pan off the heat.
  4. When the squash halves are cool, use a spoon to scoop out the flesh, leaving a bit behind to keep the skins from tearing. In a large bowl, mash the flesh coarsely and reserve. Select 16 intact pecan halves for garnish, then use a food processor to grind the remaining pecans to powder (I just finely chop them).
  5. Add the ground pecans, the sauteed mixture, and the wild rice to the squash in the bowl and mix thoroughly. Stuff the mixture into the squash shells and top with the reserved pecan halves. Place in a casserole or baking dish large enough to hold all of the squash halves. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the tops feel firm to the touch.
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This recipe was a bit on the complicated side, but don’t let that stop you from trying it. Just plan ahead and expect to spend a lot of time making the elements. OR use leftovers to stuff the squash. If you have leftover rice already cooked, I would use that for the mixture. Quinoa would be a good substitute, too.

I used Black Rice. When I went to the store to get the last few ingredients I needed, I didn’t see wild rice in my store but the black rice was on sale. I’ve never had it before so I thought I’d give it a try. It was kind of strange watching it cook because it turned the water purple and then black. I was excited to try something new.

I made a few minor changes, like the black rice instead of wild. I also used pineapple sage because that was the kind of sage I had in our garden. Michael also wanted to add some protein to the dish, so we cooked up some chicken breasts. I ended up having half of a boneless chicken breast because honestly, the squash was enough food for me.

I mixed everything together in a bowl. It was a big mess but it tasted GREAT. You know your recipe is a good one when you’re snacking on it while you cook and it tastes delicious.

While the final product baked in the oven, Michael cooked the chicken in a skillet with just salt and pepper. And we debated on whether I bought pecans or walnuts. I’m 99% sure I got pecans. He was skeptical. I stand by that 99%!

I had a bunch of leftovers after stuffing the squash so I saved it have for lunch later in the week. My final product was not so photogenic. You should check out the original recipe to see something pretty. :)

While it wasn’t pretty looking, it was delicious tasting. I absolutely loved it. Michael liked it a lot. He said it could have used a little more salt and I agreed. I loved the nutty flavor of the pecans and the black rice with the sweetness of the squash. The celery and onions had a nice crunch to them and all of the flavors went really well together. I think next time I’ll chop up the chicken breast into small pieces and just mix it into the squash.

I was glad that I hadn’t ground up the pecans and instead had roughly chopped them but kept them kind of large before I mixed it into the rice. It was delightful getting a crunchy piece of nut in a bite of squash and rice. Definitely give this recipe a try! I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to making it again.

QUESTION: Are you a pumpkin latte fan? Have you ever made stuffed squash?

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Dec 282011
 
IMG_2840

I have to admit, I’ve had this recipe for awhile now and have failed to make it for a lot of reasons. The biggest reason is that is seemed like it was going to be really involved. In reality, it wasn’t that involved, just time consuming.

Southwestern Stuffed Acorn Squash

Rating: 31

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Yield: 6

Serving Size: 1/2 squash

Calories per serving: 259

Ingredients

  • 3 acorn squash, (3/4-1 pound each)
  • 5 ounces bulk turkey sausage
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper,chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 cups chopped cherry tomatoes
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed (see Tip)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Several dashes hot red pepper sauce, to taste
  • 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Cut squash in half horizontally. Scoop out and discard seeds. Place the squash cut-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until tender, about 45 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, lightly coat a large skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium heat. Add sausage and cook, stirring and breaking up with a wooden spoon, until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Add onion and bell pepper; cook, stirring often, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, chili powder and cumin; cook for 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes, beans, salt and hot sauce, scraping up any browned bits. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until the tomatoes are broken down, 10 to 12 minutes.
  4. When the squash are tender, reduce oven temperature to 325°. Fill the squash halves with the turkey mixture. Top with cheese. Place on the baking sheet and bake until the filling is heated through and the cheese is melted, 8 to 10 minutes.

Notes

from http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/southwestern_stuffed_acorn_squash.html

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I didn’t make 6 of these. Instead, Michael and I split one squash so I altered the recipe to make just the one.

Michael cut the squash in half and I baked it in a shallow dish in water for about 40 minutes. While it was cooking we watched the Dexter finale (holy crap!).  After the show was done Michael cooked the ground turkey meat in the skillet. I chopped and prepped everything.

The actually preparation of this dish didn’t take very long and was pretty easy. The thing that took the most time was cooking the squash ahead of time.

I realized pretty quickly that we’d made too much of the meat mixture. Oh well–leftovers! The squash was done. I flipped them over and prepped them for the meat mixture.

I used a ladle to spoon the mixture into the squash. It was messy. Then I added some fresh cilantro and topped it with the Swiss cheese.

I used slices of cheese instead of shredded. It worked great. Save time and just use a slice. (It also saves on calories because you won’t overdo it with using just one slice.) I put the squash back into the oven to bake and we enjoyed salads while we waited.

Dinner was finally done and it smelled homey and delicious. The cheese was melted and oozing over the side of the squash. I put black olives on top (I forgot to put them inside the squash).

The dish was difficult to eat and very messy. I suggest using a spoon. But other than that it was a decent recipe. We needed to add more spice to the meat mixture because it was rather bland.

I liked the idea of stuffing squash with things, though. I would make this again but with more seasoning.

QUESTION: What’s your favorite stuffed squash?

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