Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sausage- and apple-stuffed acorn squash

My mom came to visit for a few days, which was delightful! And since that meant cooking for two instead of one, it was the perfect opportunity to make this recipe I'd been admiring for a few weeks. The recipe was for four servings, so we scaled it down to two but rounded up on most of the stuffing ingredients. The only other changes we made to the original recipe were cutting out the panko crumbs and using ground turkey sausage instead of turkey sausage in casings. 

I normally don't even like sausage, but this dish was good! The sausage served as an excellent complement to the creamy acorn squash and sweet apples. And, while it looks really fancy, it's actually pretty easy to make. It's a little time-consuming, but most of the prep time is spent baking (so less hands-on time). I would gladly make this dish again!

Without further ado, here is the recipe, adapted slightly from Nicole's recipe at For those of you interested in nutrition information, she includes it with every recipe.

Sausage- and Apple-Stuffed Acorn Squash

1 large acorn squash, halved and seeded
1 Tbsp butter, melted
1 clove of garlic, pressed
1/4 tsp ground sage, divided
1/2 lb. ground turkey sausage
1/4 to 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
3/4 celery rib, finely chopped
3 oz mushrooms, chopped
1/2 to 3/4 apple, cored and chopped (we used Gala)
2 generous Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
1 small or medium egg, beaten (or beat a large egg and don’t pour all of it in)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the melted butter, garlic, and 1/8 tsp sage. Brush the inside and outside of each squash with the butter mix. Place the squash on a cookie sheet, cut side up, and roast for 50-60 minutes, or until fork tender. (Mom started ours cut side down in an inch or so of water; we took out out after about 25 minutes, brushed with the butter mixture, turned cut side up, and returned to the oven for a little longer. This method meant the squash cooked faster and was more tender and less crispy.)

In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the sausage. When the sausage is browned, remove it from the pan and place on a paper towel lined plate, set aside. To the skillet add the onions, celery, and mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes. Add the apples and cook for another 2 minutes.

Return the sausage to the skillet then remove from heat. Season with 1/8 tsp sage, salt, and pepper. Stir in the Parmesan and egg.

Divide the stuffing evenly among the two squash halves. Return to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes.

Yield: 2 servings.

Acorn squash - cooked, and ready to fill 
The bottom left corner is blurry partly because of the focus setting,
but mostly because the lens was starting to steam up.

All gone!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Roasted sweet potato and pear

While grocery shopping the other day, I was captivated by the pears and had an uncontrollable urge to buy one and invent a recipe to go with it. Sweet potato seemed like a good complement to the pear, so I bought one of those, too, while visions of fall goodness danced in my head.

The result last night was good . . . but not awesome as I had hoped. But I have some ideas for how to improve it next time, so I’ll keep all two of you readers posted. J

My first mistake was roasting the sweet potato for too long. My Google searches led me to believe that sweet potatoes take much longer to roast than pears, so I gave them a 20-minute head start, and they were completely done at the end of those 20 minutes! So I’ve adjusted the instructions below to reflect a more reasonable cooking time.

Roasted Sweet Potato and Pear

1 small sweet potato
1 pear (I used Anjou)
Olive oil
Sprinkling of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger
Craisins (a small handful)
1-2 Tbsp. pecan pieces

Preheat oven to 350; line a baking sheet with foil and spray with olive oil spray. Wash sweet potato and cut into cubes. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with spices; toss to coat. Pour onto prepared baking sheet and pop into the oven to give the sweet potato about a five-minute head start.

Meanwhile, wash, core, and cube the pear, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with spices, and toss to coat. When the potato’s head start is up, add the pear cubes to the baking sheet and return to the oven for 10 minutes. It occurred to me halfway through making this that I could bake the sweet potato and pear in the same Pyrex bowl I used to toss them in the flavorings.

Meanwhile, put the Craisins into a small bowl with a little bit of water, and let them soak while the sweet potatoes and pears roast. When the timer goes off, add the Craisins (without excess water) and pecans to pan/bowl, and roast for an additional 5 minutes. Check for doneness, and enjoy!

Yield: 1-2 servings. The only other part of my dinner last night was some Greek yogurt that I ate for protein while this cooked, so I ate all of it. If it’s a side, it could easily serve two people.

Result and ideas for next time: This dish was definitely missing something. It was a little dry, and the flavor profile wasn't quite as complex enough for my liking. (Look at me, using a fancy term like "flavor profile." Can you tell I've been watching Food Network shows?) I think I will try one or more of the following adjustments next time:

  • Use a little bit of butter instead of all olive oil.
  • Sprinkle some cheese on at the end when I add the Craisins and pecans. I’m thinking Gouda or Parmesan . . . maybe Swiss.
  • Add some red onions.
  • As I’m typing out this blog post, it occurs to me that this could be awesome with the sauce from the Balsamic Roasted Pumpkin and Friends I made a few weeks ago. I can’t imagine balsamic vinegar and orange juice NOT tasting incredible with the pears and Craisins, and the added liquid would solve the dryness problem without dumping on too much oil. Hmm . . . this may be the winning idea. Now I can’t wait to try it!