Thursday, November 24, 2011

Recipes: Spaghetti Squash & Butternut Squash

This year Thanksgiving is obviously a little bit different for me and what originally was going to be a pot luck dinner with my friends has turned into a small very chill night with just a few of my favorite people. In all honesty, I think I kind of forced Thanksgiving on them because I didn't want to be alone. But to make up for it I am cooking an amazing meal (everything but the bird which someone else is taking care of) as my way of saying thank you for putting up with me, not only today but over the last three months.

I have to say, in the past when I've gone through hardships I've generally opted to do things by myself and shy away from life then emerge out of my cocoon more or less looking like a deformed butterfly. This time around I said things would be different, but even if I hadn't made that decision I don't think my friends would have let me do things any other way. Right now, more than any other time in my life, I have the most amazing support system and some of the best friends ever. I don't know if I'll ever be able to show just how much gratitude I have for them; hopefully making huge meals like this for the rest of my life will be a good start.

My menu consists of:

- Caramelized onion and goat cheese quiche
- Dressing (that's stuffing just not in the bird)
- Green bean casserole
- Butternut squash
- Spaghetti squash
- Ice cream for dessert (I was vetoed on actually making any dessert)

I am a little bit disappointed that my famous smoked gouda mac and cheese which is my contribution to most holiday meals and pot lucks is not on there, but I'm making it tomorrow for another get together and I couldn't do it two days in a row. But all of my other favorites are there, including multiple kinds of squash. I love 99% of squashes out there. Chalk it up to my obsession with the fall, but it's hard for me to be disappointed with this vegetable.

Here's the two recipes I used for the squashes listed above.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Cranberries:

- 1 Butternut squash halved and de-seeded
- 1/2 cup (or more depending on the size of the squash) of Cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place the squash directly on the oven's top rack with a cookie sheet on the bottom rack underneath (or if you're doing this at the same time as the other squash, put that baking dish underneath) to catch the juices that fall so that they don't burn and dirty your oven.
3. Cook until the squash is soft when pricked with a fork. Then let cool for 5-10 minutes.
4. When the squash is not hot anymore, peal the skin off (you should be able to do it with your hands, but you can also cut it with a knife or scoop the squash out with a big spoon).
5. Next cut the squash into chunks and place it in a small baking dish. Add the cranberries.

I've cooked this two different ways before so you have some choices with regards to the rest of the flavor:

Option 1:
1. Sprinkle in blue cheese and chopped walnuts. Stir to evenly distribute.
2. Add a drizzle of maple syrup on top then bake for another 10 minutes to melt the cheese.

Option 2:
1. Add 1/4 tsp of clove, 1/2 tsp of nutmeg, 1/4 tsp of cinnamon (all of these can be adjusted to your taste) and mix evenly.
2. Cut up 1/2 of a stick of butter and place all around the dish then bake for another 10 minutes until melted.

Spaghetti Squash:
(recipe adapted from this one by Emeril)

- One spaghetti squash
- water
- 1/2 stick of butter
- hazelnut oil (or olive oil)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of Adobo
- 1/2 tablespoon of Rosemary

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Using a sharp knife, cut the squash in half lengthwise and place, cut side down, in a baking dish. Add enough water to come 1/2-inch up the sides of the baking dish and cover with aluminum foil.
3. Bake for 45 minutes, until the squash is easily pierced with a fork. Turn squash over and cover with foil again and continue to cook another 15 minutes, until the squash is very tender. Remove from the oven, uncover, and allow to cool slightly.
4. Add butter to pan and melt it on medium. Using a spoon, remove the seeds and discard. Using a fork, gently pull the strands of squash away from the peel and place the squash strands into the pan.
5. Add 2 tablespoons of oil, rosemary, and Adobo. Saute the squash for 5 minutes stirring frequently. Serve while hot.

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