Squash Stuffed With Sausage, Pears And Cranberries

Squash Stuffed With Sausage, Pears And Cranberries

Squash Stuffed With Sausage, Pears And Cranberries

One of the many things I look forward to every Fall is all the different varieties of squash. I am a self proclaimed squash whore. Don’t judge me. It’s a sickness, a sickness I say! I don’t recall us ever having squash when I was a kid (though back then, I highly doubt there were many to choose from ANYWAY; probably acorn and that was about it.), it was something I got pulled into trying about a decade ago. How? The sheer prettiness of the vegetable. Acorn squash with their shades of green and orange, Butternut, but especially my two favorites, Delicatas and Sweet Dumpling Squash. Those two are just so pretty to look at that you can’t help but want to eat them. I love them best with just butter and salt (we totally won’t talk about how much butter I use), but Winter squashes are also so darn good used in recipes.

I also have a thing for stuffing. It’s one of the dishes on Thanksgiving that I pig out on. So I decided to mesh two of my favorites into one. I’d seen stuffed squash before, but I had no interest in one with feta and llama toes or one with calcified dinosaur eggs and balsamic covered hickory nuts. I wanted something a bit more traditional but with a twist. So I went back to the fruit I have already called underappreciated; the pear. They are so delicious this time of year but they get ignored in favor of apples and pumpkins!  We need to start a Facebook page for pear lovers! #pearloversunite Or…erhmmm, something like that.

So I stuffed a big meaty sweet dumpling squash with a buttery, crispy mix of sage sausage, chopped pears, dried cranberries and roasted/salted pepitas. Those, with some cubed French bread (use whatever bread makes you happy) and seasonings (including cinnamon, which added a wonderful Fall note to the filling) made this into a fantastic light meal. It makes a lot of filling, enough for two large squash (4 people), so if you don’t need that much, feel free to freeze the rest in a air tight container or just make the rest in ramekins. I did that because my husband, weirdo that he is, doesn’t care for squash. He loved the stuffing, however.

You know the drill… 🙂  This recipe is so open to variations, so play around with it to make it yours

Squash Stuffed With Sausage, Pears And Cranberries

  • 2 Winter squash, cut in half and seeds discarded (I used Sweet Dumpling. You do you. This would be good in a Delicata, an Acorn, you name it.)
  • 1 lb roll breakfast sausage (I used sage. If you like spicy, sub in a hot sausage)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1 1/4 cup chopped pears (cored, but don’t sweat it about the peel)
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup roasted and salted pepitas
  • 8 to 10 ounces cubed bread (use your favorite; I used French, but you could use Ciabatta if you want more texture, a sourdough would work well, or even the bagged cubes)
  • 1 14 oz can good quality chicken broth (you may not use it all; depends on how wet you like your stuffing)
  • 1-1 1/2 teaspoons ground sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. After scooping the seeds out of the squash, cut a small slice off the bottom side of each half. This simply enables it to sit upright in the pan without toppling over. Lightly butter or oil all over, inside and out, of each squash half
  2. Using a large pan, break up the sausage and cook until well browned. Scoop out the sausage and set aside. Without draining the fat, add in the onions and celery and cook over low heat until softened. Add the sausage back in and stir well.
  3. Add in the pears, cranberries and pepitas along with the butter and half of the chicken broth and stir just until the butter melts.
  4. Toss in the bread; stir well.  Add in the sage, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Stir to combine and give it a taste for seasoning. Add more broth if you want it moister. Add a touch more sage if it needs it, more salt, what have you.
  5. Spoon the stuffing into the squash, packing it down firmly. As I mentioned in the post, if you aren’t using it all in squash, you can either freeze the extra in a tightly covered container or bake the extra in greased ramekins.
  6. Bake at 350 until a fork easily pierces the side of each squash half. If the stuffing is getting too brown for your tastes (I like it nice and crispy, myself), cover the squash with foil.
  7. When done, feel free to shove a pat of butter down in the middle of the stuffing. I won’t judge.
  8. Serve; enjoy. I love to scoop a little of the squash into every bite of stuffing; others like to mix it all together. No matter how you choose to enjoy it, it will be delicious!

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Amish Apple Butter Streusel Bars

Amish Apple Butter Streusel Bars

Amish Apple Butter Streusel Bars

I, like so many people, have always had a fascination with the Amish lifestyle. I call it a lifestyle because, while I have read a good amount about their religion and respect 9and even agree) with a lot of it, it seems to be more than JUST a religion, but a lifestyle also. Especially in this day and age where so many of the Amish are forced by necessity to interact in the modern world, yet still choose to stay true to a life that forbids many of the things we all take for granted. There was a time in my life when I seriously considered trying to find a way to gain entrance into their world, but I came to realize that while I’m far less “modern” than many I know, I’m still probably too “of the world” to survive happily living as they do.

That said, I do, however, love what is considered the typical form of Amish cooking. Is what we do out here that is called Amish 100% accurate? I’ll probably never know. But it’s easy to find some foods that claim to be of the Amish spirit, at the very least. Add that into that category. Homey and comforting, using home canned goods (preferably) like my Spiced Apple Butter, generally made to feed a lot of people, and delicious. This recipe covers all those bases 😀 I adapted an old Amish apple butter bar recipe I had and this is what I ended up with.

These bars are utterly delicious. You have a streusel style crust covered with a rich cheesecake style later, then topped with large dollops of apple butter and more streusel. You go from sweet and creamy to crunchy and nutty to tart and fruity in each bite of these. They are perfect for the family and after school snacks, perfect for a potluck or church dinner and great for a family dessert topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

You know the drill… 😀

Amish Apple Butter Streusel Bars

  • 2 cups oats
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts, (10 minutes, 350 oven)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 1/2 sticks ( 1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 2 8 oz packages cream cheese, room temp
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour mixed with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cups apple butter
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13×9 inch baking pan with foil and butter the foil or spray it with non stick spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the oats, 2 cups flour, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Use a wooden spoon or your clean hands to mix in the butter, combining until it is a crumbly mass and no dry flour mixture remains.
  3. Set aside 1and 1/2 cups of the streusel and then press the rest of the streusel firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until the crust is just a light golden brown.
  4. While the crust bakes, make your filling- in a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese together with the sugar until light and creamy. Add in the milk and vanilla extract and blend just until combined. Beat in the eggs just until well combined. Sprinkle the flour/cinnamon mix over the top and stir that into the cream cheese mixture.
  5. When the crust is ready, pour the cream cheese batter over the top of the crust and smooth. Evenly dollop the apple butter over the cream cheese filling, then use a spoon or butter knife to gently swirl it into the filling. Sprinkle the reserved streusel over the top.
  6. Bake at 350 for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Place the pan on a rack to cool completely. You can cut if then, but I found it slices better if chilled. Either way, cut into squares and serve. Keep refrigerated for storage.

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Amish Apple Butter Streusel Bars

Amish Apple Butter Streusel Bars

Sesame Soy Turkey Breast

Sesame Soy Turkey Breast

Sesame Soy Turkey Breast

Ok, who stole 2016? Yes, yes, I know, I’ve done a lot of whining lately about being glad the hot Summer is past and that the cooler weather and my favorite season, Fall, is here. And I stand by those whiny moments.  It’s just that today, I was suddenly cognizant of the fact that it’s almost November. Freaking NOVEMBER! Wth? I mean, I knew it was this late in the year, logically. I’m that person who starts looking at Thanksgiving and Christmas pins on Pinterest in August, because it’s fun to mentally prepare my menu. it just didn’t really hit me until it occurred to me that I could probably go ahead and post this so that it was up in time for people to use on Thanksgiving. This year has gone abnormally quickly.

I made this turkey breast a couple of weeks ago and we absolutely loved it. The recipe is lightly adapted from one I found in Food & Wine magazine last year.  I’m similar to what I guess most of you are and make my turkey the same way every time because, tradition. But this was a nice twist that I may even be willing to make on Thanksgiving and definitely will use other times of the year because we eat turkey more than just one day a year here, since we love it. My differences from the original are that they used a whole turkey, I used the breast, they melted and then re-chilled the butter mix and spread it under the skin and I left it melted and used it as a baste to make it easier, plus different cooking temps and minor diffs in seasoning.

Sesame Soy Turkey Breast 2

The skin on this gets nice and crispy and if you’re feeling ambitious, you could butterfly the breast and have it 1) cook even faster and 2) have all the skin get crispy rather than have the inevitable bottom skin staying kind of soggy. The flavor here is fantastic; a perfect mix of salty, a subtle sweetness, the richness of sesame oil and butter and a bit of bite from the seasonings. I served this with brown rice, but this would go just as well with noodles or Thanksgiving potatoes.

You know the drill…  🙂

Sesame Soy Turkey Breast

  • 5 to 7 lb turkey breast, rinsed, innards removed, and turkey patted dry
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 -1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup toasted sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger (please make sure it’s fresh. It loses quality if it has been stored in the cabinet for too long)
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (use more or less of this according to your heat tolerance)
  • 1 can (14 ounces) good quality chicken broth
  • Sesame seeds and sliced green onions for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 400 and line a 13×9 inch baking pan with foil. If you butterfly the breast, you’ll need to use a larger pan plus adjust cooking time.
  2. Make sure your turkey is dry, add to pan and sprinkle it with the salt and pepper.
  3. Melt the butter, then add in the next 7 ingredients (everything but the broth). Stir well to combine and dissolve the sugar and spices.
  4. Using a pastry brush, baste the whole breast with the butter mixture.
  5. Roast at 400 for fifteen minutes, then turn heat down to 375 and add the chicken broth to the bottom of the pan. Baste with more of the butter mixture and continue doing that every fifteen minutes.
  6. Roast turkey until it is golden brown and crispy and has an internal temperature of 165f, about one and a half to two hours, depending on size and whether or not you butterflied it. Be sure you’re not touching the bone when testing. Leave in the pan, very lightly covered with foil, for at least fifteen minutes to allow the turkey to continue to rise in temp and to prevent losing all the juiciness by cutting into it too soon.
  7. You can either serve the breast with the drippings, as we did, or use them to make a gravy. If you have leftover basting sauce, you can use it as a delicious dipping sauce for the turkey. Just make sure to bring it to a boil and let boil for one minute to prevent any cross contamination.
  8. Slice thin and garnish with sesame seeds and green onions.

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Sesame Soy Turkey Breast 3

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Spiced Apple Butter

Spiced Apple Butter

Spiced Apple Butter

I remember when I was a kid (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and all children wrote on rock tablets and walked five miles to school, uphill both ways), sometimes for a few days during the Summer, we would go visit my mothers family in Alabama. I loved going to see mommer and popper. It was a totally different world in Alabama than it was on the south side of Chicago. I had cousins to play with, aunts who seemed so much more lighthearted than my mother, though I know now that that was just the viewpoint of a child, and a grandfather who seemed to adore me (that was Popper).

Back then, once breakfast was over, the leftover food was simply covered with a tablecloth to await the next meal. Two of the things that were always on that table were what they called hoecakes (simply a large skillet made biscuit that everyone tore pieces off of) and apple butter. It was just store bought apple butter, but it was something Popper loved, so it was always there. It wasn’t something our mom bought often, and I loved it myself, so I would pig out on it. I recall one time finishing off the last of the hoecake and apple butter and popper laughing his butt off about it, though the aunts were horrified because you just didn’t eat up all of Poppers hoecakes and apple butter.

When I grew up and started canning, one of the first things I made was homemade apple butter. That was one of my first experiences with how much better home canned goods are than then their store bought counterparts. Over the years, I have tweaked the recipe I originally found into the one I use today. It is sweet but not cloying like some I’ve had and has a nice kick of spice to it, but not enough to overwhelm the fresh apple flavor. I have been known to stand in front of the jar in the fridge with a spoon. What? Don’t judge.

If you’re new to canning, don’t stress it. If you can boil water and put a lid on a jar and just be smart and clean, you’ll have no problem. The hardest part of this apple butter is cutting the apples and if you use an apple corer/slicer, it goes quickly This apple butter is totally worth it. Sweet, thick, spicy, it’s delicious spread on a warm biscuit, in a PB&J sandwich, used in baking, or just from a spoon as you stand in front of the fridge 😀 This is a wonderful way to use some of Autumns best apples.

You know the drill… 🙂

Spiced Apple Butter

  • 8 lbs fresh apples, sliced and cored (no need to peel)
  • 3 cups apple cider
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups firmly packed brown sugar (use light or dark; you choice. I prefer dark)
  • 1 rounded tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  1. Pour the cider and cider vinegar into a large pot. Over the years, I’ve found that a tall, narrow pot works better than a short wide one. You get less splatter on the stove and as apple butter thickens, it DOES splatter.
  2. Dump your apple slices into the cider/vinegar mix. Cover and cook over low heat for about 20 to 30 minutes, until completely soft and limp. Give it a stir a couple of times to make sure the apples on top get down in there. A little while in, the apples will start releasing a lot of juice and all of the slices will soften up.
  3. At this point, I let them sit for about an hour to cool down. You can do this, or if you’re brave (translate; foolhardy 😛 ), you don’t need to. Either way, next step is just pureeing the apples. I scoop them up in my 4 cup measuring cup, blend them on puree in my blender, transfer each batch to a large bowl until I get them all done, then just transfer them back to the pot.
  4. Once back in the pot, add in the two types of sugar and all of the spices. Stir well to break up the brown sugar.
  5. Cook the apple butter on low heat, stirring frequently, until it is thickened. You want to be able to take a spoonful of it, put it on a chilled plate and not have it get surrounded by a puddle of liquid. It’s ok if there is some, but you want thickened butter with just a bit of liquid around it. This is going to take a few hours. You don’t want to raise your heat to try and make it go faster, because once it starts to thicken, it will burn to the bottom of the pot pretty easily. Another way to check doneness is if you spoon up a spoonful and it doesn’t leak off of the spoon, but stay mounded.
  6. When it’s ready to go, ladle it carefully into sterilized (I get 6 to 7 pints) pint jars, to a quarter inch of the top. Clean the rims with a clean, hot damp cloth and place the lids and rims on the jars, finger tight. Don’t tighten the bands or they could cause the jars to break when boiling.
  7. Boil in a boiling water canning bath for 10 minutes. Carefully take out of the pot and set on a clean towel to cool. You’ll hear the pop of the lids as each one vacuum seals. When completely cool (always give about 24 hours), label the jars and transfer to a cool place for storage.
  8. The following if a canning tutorial if you’re new to canning. I promise; canning is easy. Just stay away from the sites that say it’s ok to just invert your jars once you add the hot contents or any other practices that could cause safety issues. Your health and that of your family isn’t worth the risk. canning tutorial Now go make some biscuits for this!

Copyright Notice: From Cupcakes To Caviar images and original content are copyright protected. Please do not publish these materials anywhere without prior permission.

Spiced Apple Butter

Spiced Apple Butter

 

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