Veggin out

Fall cooking with butternut squash

A little while back, my parents came to visit and brought a butternut squash with them. My dad has a pretty large garden at home and he knows I love to have fresh produce to cook with and always likes to bring me some when he can. I had the squash sitting there, waiting to be cooked, for a while (they don’t go bad very quickly at all). So, I decided I wanted to find a quick and simple recipe to try so I could finally use it. I found one for maple cinnamon roasted butternut squash and decided to try it, since I already had all of the ingredients at home.

When I was cutting the squash into cubes, I remembered how hard it is to cut a butternut squash. So, instead of making my muscles sore and my knife dull, I decided to heat it in the microwave for a few minutes to make it a little softer, which made it much easier to cut. You also can roast it in the oven for a while first, too and then the skin will come over really easily without having to use a peeler.

I loved this recipe and will be making this again, for sure!

Maple cinnamon roasted butternut squash

(Adapted from

lifemadesweeter.com)

1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 F degrees.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly spray baking sheet with cooking spray.

Spread butternut squash cubes out on baking sheet. In a small bowl, mix together olive oil, cinnamon, salt, pepper and maple syrup and drizzle over squash cubes. Use tongs or your hands to ensure the cubes are coated. You also can put ingredients in a large bowl and coat the cubes that way and return them to the pan.

Place in the oven and roast for 35-40 minutes minutes until squash is tender. Remove from oven and serve.

You can double or triple the recipe, depending on how many people you will be feeding.

The fall and winter months are the perfect time to enjoy what many call “comfort foods.” Some of my personal comfort foods include hearty soups, stews or chili, pasta, casseroles, pot pie and macaroni and cheese. I love a good bowl of mac and cheese, and when I came across this recipe for butternut squash mac and cheese, I knew I had to give it a try.

Butternut squash mac and cheese

(Adapted from therecipecritic.com)

1 and 1/2 cups macaroni noodles, uncooked

3-4 cups cubed butternut squash, peeled and de-seeded

2 tablespoons unsalted butter or non-dairy butter

1/2 cup vegetable broth

3/4 cup 1 percent milk or almond milk

1 and 1/4 cup cheese, any you prefer I like extra sharp cheddar or non-dairy cheese

Salt  and pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

Parsley, optional

Cook the macaroni according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Heat the butter in a skillet over medium low heat.

Meanwhile, peel the butternut squash and remove the seeds. Cut into large chunks.

Boil the squash until completely tender and then drain. Place the squash in the blender with the butter, salt, pepper, broth, paprika and milk.

Pulse until smooth.

Pour the sauce over the cooked noodles and add the cheese. Stir until melted.

Add more salt and pepper to taste. You also can add more cheese to fit your personal taste.

Serve with parsley if desired.

Stellfox is the Lifestyle and Education editor at the Sun-Gazette.

Her award-winning column is published on the second Wednesday of the month in the Food section.

She can be reached at jstellfox@sungazette.com.

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