My dear father always used to say that however bad things might seem, they could always be worse. He passed away three years ago, ironically just a few days before Thanksgiving. It was damn hard to find anything to be thankful for that year! But, eventually I realized that I was thankful that his suffering was finally over. And, I was thankful that I still had his memory alive in my head. I was also thankful for my wonderful husband, beautiful child and the rest of my family that was still with me. Thanksgiving Day has never been the same for me since, but I'm still grateful for it. Even in these bleak times, I can still find hope, and I'm thankful for that too.
Another reason to be thankful, is for all of that wonderful Thanksgiving food! It's one of the few days of the year where gluttony is not only NOT frowned upon, but actually encouraged. I'm all for that! There are literlly millions of terrific Thanksgiving recipes out there, and you don't have to spend a fortune in time or money to recreate many of them, like this Apple-Maple Acorn Squash Puree. Most of the ingredients are probably already lurking in your pantry.
Those of you who are winter squash aficionados might be shocked to learn that there are some people who dont actually like orange-fleshed food. I know, its scandalous! Both my husband and daughter fall into that category. Im sure that you all feel my pain at this revelation! While they each might indulge in a bite or two of a cleverly disguised pumpkin pie or a spoonful of my mothers world famous candied sweet potatoes (only on Thanksgiving), they draw the line there. I, on the other had, adore the color orange, especially on a plate! So, when I feel the need for a gourd fix, Im pretty much on my own.
One of my favorites is acorn squash. I normally prepare it very simply - baked in the oven with a little butter and some cinnamon and brown sugar sprinkled on top. That soft, yielding, slightly sweet and spicy flesh is so satisfying! Acorn squash is not quite as dense and sweet as its other Cucurbitaceae cousins, and its flesh is lighter and more golden, but it is every bit as healthy and delicious.
Acorn squash is a tasty source of complex carbohydrates and soluble fiber, which, is said to play an important role in reducing the incidence of colon cancer. It is also an excellent source of beta carotene, which is converted to Vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is essential for healthy skin, vision, bone development and maintenance as well as many other functions.
The other day I had the opportunity to make myself some acorn squash. I tried a new twist on it that I really, really liked. I cut it in two and spread a bit of softened butter on the inside of each half. Then, I sprinkled on some cinnamon and dark brown sugar and drizzled a little pure maple syrup (NOT Log Cabin) on top. Heres where the twist comes in. Normally, I would bake the squash on a baking sheet in a little water bath. Instead, I used some apple cider. By the time the squash was cooked through, the cider had reduced and caramelized into a thick, gooey syrup that was both sweet and tart at the same time. I scooped the flesh of the squash into a bowl, scraped up all of that glorious apple-maple ooze and added it too. The combination of apple, brown sugar, maple syrup and cinnamon turned that squash into something sublime!
If youre a fan of acorn, or any winter squash, you must try it this way. It was really and truly divine and incredibly easy to prepare. This dish would make a perfect Thanksgiving side and will definitely make an appearance at my holiday table this year!
Apple-Maple Acorn Squash Puree (Printable Recipe)
1 medium acorn squash
2 tablespoons softened butter
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 cups apple cider
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F., and line a baking sheet with foil.
- Cut acorn squash in half and scoop out seeds and stringy bits. Place on baking sheet flesh side up.
- Spread butter on squash, then sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. Drizzle maple syrup on top. Pour apple cider into the baking pan all around the squash.
- Bake for 1 hour, or until squash is very soft and apple juice has caramelized. Scoop flesh from the skin and into a bowl. Scrape as much of the apple goop as you can up from the baking sheet and add to the bowl. Mix and mash it all together and serve
Still hungry? come visit me at Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy or follow me on Twitter