5 ways to squash your dinner

5 ways to squash your dinner

You can tell by the bright yellow or orange flesh of winter squash (well, depending on the variety), that this fall harvest fruit is good for you. (Yes, squash is a fruit!) Winter squash, like acorn and butternut, are the more substantial varieties. And I’m sure you already knew it, but zucchini is considered a summer squash.

If you’re looking for some ideas about how to get more of this delicious fruit that’s easy to find, easy to cook and easy on the budget, I happen to have some fab suggestions for you. 😉

The following are five ways you can prepare squash to enjoy with your dinner this evening:

Roasted with root vegetables. If you’re roasting beets, parsnips or carrots, toss in some squash. You can also make it even easier and simply slice your squash in half, remove the seeds (save them to roast later), and roast in its skin at 375 for about 30–40 minutes, depending on the squash and its size. When dinner’s ready, scoop out the flesh of the squash and enjoy with some butter.

Mashed or puréed. You can steam your squash and mash it, just like you would with potatoes. I personally don’t care for this method as it’s not nearly as flavorful as roasting, but it’s a good way to bulk up a serving of mashed vegetables. Puréed squash also looks very pretty on a plate.

Souped up. Make a simple soup from your squash, and serve it as an appetizer. Or, bulk it up with more veggies and serve it as a main course.

Stuffed. You can stuff and roast just about any squash you would like. Imagine a beautiful spaghetti squash, sliced in half and stuffed with tomato sauce and meatballs. Or an acorn squash sliced and stuffed with sausage and apples. Use your imagination (and Google—you can find endless ideas for roasting squash.)

As noodles. You may already know that you can roast a spaghetti squash and scoop out its noodly flesh to eat as you would any traditional noodle. But if you have a vegetable spiralizer, you can also make noodles out of other types of squash like acorn or butternut, and gently steam them to serve for dinner. (You can find veggie spiralizers on Amazon.) The accord squash “noodles” are wonderful!

I hope I’ve inspired you to add squash to your menu this evening. 🙂

Butternut Squash

Butternut Squash

It’s time once again for Tricks, Tips and a Recipe. Today you’ll learn a trick, a tip and you’ll get a great recipe to try it out with. Neat, huh?

Today’s focus is on: BUTTERNUT SQUASH

As the weather gets cooler, my mind goes to squash. That didn’t come out quite right, but you know what I mean!

Butternut squash is one of my favorite winter squashes. It has a gorgeous orange color that tell us it is jam packed with carotenoids which protect us against heart disease, breast cancer and macular degeneration.

In addition to carotenoids, butternut squash is full of fiber, potassium, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C and folate. There’s enough Vitamin C in a cup of butternut squash to give you half of your recommended daily dose of this powerful nutrient!

Not only is butternut squash nutritious, but it’s also very tasty. It can be roasted and served as a side dish or in a salad, it can be steamed and pureed into a soup, or it can be served mashed in place of starchy (boring) white potatoes.

Now, for your Trick!

You can store butternut squash for up to three months in a cool, dry place. But if you’ve cut into it, you only want to keep that guy around in the fridge for a week, max.

Your Tip:

Peeling butternut squash can be a painful process. To make the job easier on yourself, slice the squash lengthwise and remove the seeds (save those for roasting later!). Put each half of the squash—cut side down—on a parchment lined cookie sheet and let it roast at 375 degrees for an hour. You’ll be able to scoop it right out of its skin.

And your Recipe:

Print Recipe
Beef & Butternut Squash Stew
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Add onion, garlic, rosemary and thyme; sauté until fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper.
  4. Raise heat to medium-high and add beef; brown on all sides.
  5. Add beef broth and whisk up all of the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  6. Add butternut squash and stir to combine well.
  7. Bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour until beef is cooked and fork-tender.

 

Never Let Your Kids Do These 3 Things in the Kitchen

Never Let Your Kids Do These 3 Things in the Kitchen

One of my favorite pastimes is cooking with my children. Do you have kids? If you do, I want to heavily recommend that you teach them the joys of the kitchen while they’re still young and look up at you like a superhero that has all the answers. Teaching your children how to cook is more than a rite of passage; it’s just plain fun. To me, the kitchen is like a magical land that can create a special type of community and intimacy with the simple act of making a meal.

There are some little things you should look out for when you start to integrate your children into the cooking world: the basic do’s and don’ts.

DO assign simple tasks. When starting out, show them how to wash veggies, how to stir sauces to not let the sides burn, how to scramble eggs, etc.

DON’T let your child use a knife and cutting board without supervision and being taught proper technique.

DO give them a bit more responsibility as they show they understand. Show them basic vegetable cutting, but once you pass that knife from your hand to theirs, watch them like a hawk. (younger ones can use pumpkin carving knives safely, so save yours!)

DON’T let your child remove anything from the oven. But explain how it’s done as you do it; this way, when it’s time, they’ll be ready.

DO explain how when you’re using a pot or pan that you need to turn the handle to the side so it’s not sticking out so no one can run into it or accidentally knock it over.

DON’T allow them to handle meat until they’ve had a couple seasoned years under your training, but explain the safety issues and demonstrate thorough hand washing after you touch it.

ALWAYS let them sneak tastes of their labor in the kitchen. One of my favorite things about cooking is that I get to taste along the way, and I can guarantee that it’ll be a favorite among your children as well.

Well folks, there you have it! Show your children what a kitchen is and how to use it. My daughter is a college graduate now and she tells me all the time how surprised she is that hardly anyone her age knows how to cook. Regardless, your children are going to love learning this new skill! For them, it’s like finally getting to know the secret behind a magic trick. Have FUN!!

Don’t Be Intimidated!

Don’t Be Intimidated!

There is a true intimidation factor in cooking for some people—I get the emails from them so I know this is true. For me, having grown up in a home with parents who cooked, rarely eating out, I learned how to navigate my way in a kitchen early on.

It was (being honest here) a bit of surprise when I first started my website back in 2001 to learn that not everyone knew how to chop an onion. The cooking terms that I learned before I got my first Girl Scout badge (The Cooking badge naturally—I’ve got it taped to my bookcase, LOL!), have fallen by the wayside. Terms like dice, mince and julienne have turned into much simpler terms like chop, chop fine and chop into matchstick-sized pieces. But who cares, right? The deal is to get the cooking DONE, not worry about semantics.

Check out this testimonial we received from Heather:

Dear Leanne,

Okay, I finally decided to try your system.

Well, first I get the menu – looks good, but I’m worried, because spaghetti and sauce is about the most I do. Then I see the grocery list – there are things on there that I’ve never ever bought before!

I go to the grocery store with your list in hand. For a family of 6 my average grocery bill was always over $120/week. With Leanne’s list – I spent $67.52.

Now, I decide to prepare the meal. First thing that I discover, a fancy sounding name doesn’t mean hours of cooking. Second thing, it really only takes about 1/2 hour to cook the whole thing! Finally, I find out that my kids eat things that don’t include mounds of sugar.

Thank you for helping me save money and my family’s health!!

Heather

Me again—the trick is, as Heather wrote, was not to be intimidated! She took a tool (the menu) and dove in and did the work. She discovered that doing so saved her a ton of money, her sanity, and made her feel like a hero in her own home! Isn’t that what we all want?

Don’t be intimidated by cooking! I’ve said in a million times, this is not brain surgery and it is something everyone can do, I promise! If you need help, I’ve got it for you in every way imaginable from free daily newsletters, to recipes and tips, grocery lists, freezer cooking, you name it. Don’t lose hope and think you can’t do this thing called cooking. YES, you can!!

Ready to try Dinner Answers like Heather did?  We’ve got it right here for you.

6 Hot Tips To Avoid Freezer Burn (and stop throwing away your $$)

6 Hot Tips To Avoid Freezer Burn (and stop throwing away your $$)

Have you ever removed a tray of meat from the freezer only to find discoloration and ice crystals? If you’ve forgotten about a carton of ice cream in the freezer for any length of time, you may have opened it to find its surface covered in ice. Freezer burn, we tend to call it.

Freezing food is a great way to extend the life of our perishable items, but when you freeze foods, you stand the chance of having your food become freezer burnt.

Freezer burn presents itself as discoloration on the surface of frozen foods such as bread and meat. Ice crystals are another sign of freezer burn, which we can find in frozen produce and ice cream.

To understand freezer burn a bit better, it helps to know more about how the freezing process works. When food is frozen, most of the water content of that food is converted to ice. Some of the water, though, is converted directly to water vapor and is released from the food all together. This process is called sublimation.

This water loss causes food to become dehydrated over time, like ice cubes that eventually shrink when they’re left in the freezer. So, in essence, this process freeze dries parts of foods, resulting in freezer burn.

In air-tight containers (like ice cream), that water vapor forms frost on the insides of the container and/or on the surface of the food. In open containers or containers that aren’t perfectly sealed, the vapor that escapes actually leads to that build up of ice on the inside of non-frost-free freezers.

And what we’re left with is food with strange flavors that’s difficult to chew.

When you have freezer-burnt food on your hands, you should do your best to discard the areas that have been affected. But you know I just hate food waste, so let’s talk about how to prevent freezer burn all together.

Tips to prevent freezer burn

  1. Remove as much air as you can from packages you freeze food in. The closer your food is to its packaging, the less chance there is of it losing water.
  2. Don’t leave your food in the freezer longer than you have to. The longer your food is frozen, the greater the chance of it becoming freezer burnt.
  3. Set your freezer at the lowest setting that you can in order to help avoid sublimation from occurring, as it’s less likely at lower temperatures.
  4. Always use high quality zipper-style bags to freeze food, and try to wrap foods in a bag that fits just right.
  5. Don’t place hot food in the freezer. You risk increasing the temperature of your freezer, and some of your frozen foods may even start to thaw.
  6. Avoid opening the freezer door more than it needs to be opened. This will help keep the freezer temperature from fluctuating, which can lead to freezer burn.

Making meals out of the meat/poultry/fish and produce you buy as soon as you get them home from the grocery store is another way to ensure that your food doesn’t get wasted and forgotten about at the back of the freezer.

We have just the thing to keep your freezer full of great healthy meals so you never have to wonder “what’s for dinner”. Click here to learn more!