Indian Style Butternut Squash Recipe


This is one of my favorite recipes & I am proud to say I created it myself.  Considering there is nothing new under the sun, I’m sure it’s not truly original, & I did take inspiration from various sources, but in any case I’ve perfected my version of it just from my own experimentation.  I make it almost every week now since both my husband & I really like it.  Quite often my coworkers have told me it smells delicious when I bring it to work for my lunch, so today I decided I would share it on here.

I’m starting to enjoy cooking a lot more, but it still isn’t exactly something I do just for fun.  However, this recipe meets all three of my fundamental requirements for something I take time to cook: it’s quick/easy, healthy, & reheats well so it can be used for multiple servings over the course of a week.

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash
  • Several tablespoons of olive (or other cooking) oil
  • 1 TBS Vietnamese sweet lemon curry (will be pictured later)
    • Could substitute regular yellow curry if needed
  • 1 TBS cumin
  • 1/2 a 13.5 oz can of light coconut milk

Start out by cutting the ends off of the butternut squash

P1100477Next, hold the squash vertically & cut it down the center so that you end up with 2 halves like this:P1100478This is the point at which you can see how closely butternut squash are related to pumpkins.  The seeds are almost identical.  The next step is to scrape out the seeds & the stringy flesh around the seeds.  This works best with a grapefruit spoon, but if you don’t have one, a regular spoon will do the trick; it’s just a bit more work.P1100479I usually buy a large butternut squash, so what I’ll do at this point is place one of the halves into a Ziplock bag & save it in the fridge until next week.  I’ve found that if I try to cook the whole thing at once we can’t eat it all in one week; plus it’s harder to cook the whole thing at one time.  If you have a larger family, you might want to use the whole squash, but I’d still recommend actually cooking each half separately.

Now it’s time to peel the squash.  I highly recommend using an actual vegetable peeler because these things are a real menace to peel without one.  You may notice some green striations in the flesh of the squash; these are totally normal.P1100480Next, slice up the squash into sections like this:P1100481Now it’s time to get the oil heated up.  I never measure, but I just use enough olive oil to thoroughly coat my iron skillet, & I turn the burner onto medium.  Also I’ve found dishes taste better if I allow the spices to simmer in the oil as it warms up (I don’t measure, just a quick sprinkle of each spice).

The spices pictured below are the ones I use for this recipe (& for many other dishes).  The Vietnamese curry comes from Savory Spice Shop in Lafayette Village off of Falls of Neuse Rd in North Raleigh (see http://www.savoryspiceshop.com/ where you can purchase spices online if you aren’t in the Triangle area of NC).  You can certainly use a regular yellow curry, but I’ve found this sweet lemon curry pairs extremely well with the cumin.  The cumin I use comes from Sam’s Club, but you should be able to find it at just about any grocery store.  P1100482While the oil is heating up, use this time to further cut the squash into bite-size pieces like this:P1100484By time you finish this, the oil should be hot.  Now place the bite-size pieces into the hot oil & cover with more of the curry & cumin.  I never measure, but I’m guessing about 1 TBS of each is sufficient.

Once I’ve placed the squash into the pan, I turn the temperature back to medium low.P1100485Cover with a lid & stir every 3-5 minutes to ensure even cooking.

After about 10 minutes or when the squash are starting to soften up a bit, it’s time to add 1/2 a 13.5 oz can of light coconut milk.  Make sure you shake the can well before opening it.

Pour about half the coconut milk over the squash & allow to cook for about another 10 minutes.  You can pour the other half of the can into a tupperware & save it in the fridge for later use (it will keep for over a week at least).P1100486You will know the squash is done when it is visibly softened & can easily be cut/mashed with a fork.  This usually takes about 15-20 minutes total, ideally half of the time before adding the coconut milk & half after.P1100491The key to keeping the squash moist is NOT draining the oil/milk after cooking.  Make sure to save all of it because it helps keep the dish both moist & flavorful as you reheat it for days to come.  Yes, the olive oil & coconut milk add a few extra calories, but they also contain very healthy fats that are important in a nutritious diet.

Here is a portion of the finished product, ready to be served.  Delicious!P1100494An essential component of this recipe is having a corgi running around the kitchen while you’re cooking.P1100488Just kidding.  😉

Again, I love this recipe because it’s quick/easy, healthy, & reheats easily.  And of course most importantly it’s DELICIOUS!  Let me know if you decide to try it & how it turns out for you.

Sweet Curry Squash


The last few weeks have been really busy for me & as much as I’ve wanted to blog, my mind has just been splintered in too many different directions to come up with anything decent to share with the world.  However, today I saw a recipe online that inspired me to try my own variation of it, & it turned out so well that I felt I ought to share it.  If you’re looking for a healthy (& easy!) side dish or appetizer for a Christmas/holiday dinner or party, this would be a perfect choice.

  • Ingredients:
    • 1 butternut squash
    • 2-3 TBS curry
    • 2-3 TBS brown sugar
    • 1-2 TBS olive (or coconut) oil
    • Grated goat cheese
    • Optional: Crumbled pecans (or walnuts, almonds, etc)
  • Directions
    • Peel 1 butternut squash.  Stand it on one end & cut it in half so that you have 2 long slender halves (see picture below).  Spoon out the seeds (a grapefruit spoon works great for this).butternut squash halves
    • Next cut the squash into bite-size cubes/slices.  Spread the pieces onto a cookie sheet covered with foil & greased with either olive or coconut oil.
    • Combine a few tablespoons of brown sugar & a few tablespoons of curry (y’all know I don’t measure; I just guess) & sprinkle this over the squash.
    • Bake for 20 minutes at 350 F.  At that point, drizzle with a little extra olive oil if the squash seems to be drying out.
    • Bake for another 20 minutes & then serve with grated goat cheese on top. For extra protein/healthy fat, sprinkle a few crumbled pecans (or walnuts, almonds, etc).sweet curry squash

To all my lovely readers, I wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukah, Happy Boxing Day, or whatever holiday you celebrate at this time of year.

Chicken Marsala & Rosemary Butternut Squash Recipes


Cooking for me is a lot like exercising.  It’s something I never really WANT to do, but if I make myself do it I always feel better afterward.  I wish I were one of those people who naturally love exercising & cooking because I’d probably be a lot healthier if I were.  But sadly I am one of those mere mortals who thinks of exercising & cooking (& cleaning while we’re at it) as mostly drudgery that I somehow never really look forward to no matter how much I know I’ll feel better if I just do it.  In any case, in keeping with last week’s blog post about making 2014 a healthier, happier year, I felt inclined to post two recipes that I employed for lunch today, both of which turned out absolutely deliciously!

chicken marsala and squash

The “main dish” I made today was chicken marsala.  I’ve made it once or twice before but this time I had to adapt the recipe a bit because I didn’t have any mushrooms.  Here is the original recipe that I based mine off of: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/chicken-marsala/

I’m basically incapable of following a recipe “to the T” because I never seem to have all of the exact ingredients on hand or else I just don’t feel like using them all.  For example, any time a recipe calls for salt & pepper as seasoning, I almost always skip them (like with this one) because I figure as an American I probably already eat way too much sodium as it is so why add more when it doesn’t impart much extra flavor anyway (in my opinion, that is)?  So below is a quick description of how I adapted this recipe to fit my tastes/needs.

  1. Place a couple tablespoons of butter in an iron skillet on medium low setting on the stove top.  (My other cooking issue is I hate measuring so mostly I just guess & hope for the best.  It usually works out just fine.)
  2. While the butter is melting, combine about ¼ cup flour & a few teaspoons of garlic powder & oregano.
  3. Dip chicken breast strips in the above mixture.  I use pre-cooked frozen grilled chicken strips from Sam’s Club because they are easier & encourage me to do a lot more cooking than if I have to work with raw chicken all the time.
  4. Place the lightly breaded chicken strips in the skillet.  Cover with lid & cook for 2-3 minutes (considerably longer if using raw chicken I suppose).
  5. After a few minutes, add a few tablespoons of white cooking wine (I couldn’t find actual marsala wine but plain white cooking wine seems to work & taste just as well).  Replace lid & let simmer for another 3-5 minutes; again length will depend on if you use raw or pre-cooked chicken.

Next up is baked rosemary butternut squash.  I truly cannot believe I’ve learned to enjoy any type of squash because as a child it was something I hated.  Even the smell of it made me nauseous.  But I have learned over time that most Southerners cook vegetables completely wrong.  No offense to my family & many other Southern families, but boiling vegetables & then seasoning them with nothing but salt, pepper, & butter is quite possibly the least tasty & least healthy way to eat almost any vegetable (boiling can kill off some of the vitamins & other healthy ingredients in veggies).  I recently discovered an AMAZING recipe for a butternut squash/sweet potato/carrot soup (http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/2010/05/curried-carrot-soup-with-pan-toasted.html),

& since then I’ve been enamored with butternut squash & finding new ways to cook it.  Here’s the original recipe that I used today: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/rosemary-roasted-butternut-squash/

Again I had to adapt the recipe a little bit because I didn’t have fresh garlic or rosemary twigs on hand.  And again I left out the salt & pepper.

  1. Set oven to 400 F.
  2. Peel & cut butternut squash into small chunks.
  3. Coat long cooking dish with olive oil.  I used an 8 X 11 (I guess?) Pyrex dish.
  4. Sprinkle rosemary & garlic powder into the oil.  Again I didn’t measure; I just guessed.
  5. Add in squash pieces to evenly cover the dish.
  6. Sprinkle a little more rosemary & garlic powder on top the squash.
  7. Place in oven & cook for 30 minutes.  The recipe says 45-50 minutes but mine was done in 30 minutes.

Voila!  Two very easy & relatively healthy homemade dishes.  I guess my idea of healthy is a little different than some.  I for one do not espouse the idea that to be healthy you have to be a vegetarian or vegan (nothing wrong with doing that if you choose; I just don’t think it’s the only right way).  And I would much rather use REAL BUTTER than some disgusting fake margarine crap any day.  Yes, it might have more calories but it’s also REAL.  I trust cows more than stuff created in a science lab.  (With that being said, I am very guilty of drinking diet sodas.  It’s a bad habit I’m working on.)

I hope these recipes have given you some inspiration today.  If you decide to try them, let me know how they turn out!