Moroccan Curry Butternut Squash Soup

To say I love winter squash would be an understatment.   I have a couple of other posts in my fairly new blog about it.  I just love it.  It is so sweet and flavorful.  I could eat it all day and in so many ways. 

A word about squash types.  My favorite is buttercup.  But it is only a tiny margin that seperates it from its cousins, buttercup, acorn and hubbard.  So for the purposes of this recipe, it can be any of them.  In this case I am using up the some of the last of the packets that I froze up in this post.  Which was hubbard, butternut and acorn.   So rather than differentiate (and cause squash is shorter to write than buttercup squash) I will be just saying squash throughout the post.. okay?

Well, I have been looking for a recipe for a squash soup.  I have a certain flavor in mind and have tried a couple store bought and both times it fell miles short.  I want something mildly sweet, spiced, and full of squash flavor.  I posted on a cooking blog I frequent and got a couple of possibles.  One will be an amalgamation of 2-3 different ones to try and get the flavor I want.  And then there is this one….. while it isnt what I was looking for, it is heavenly.  

This recipe is from Prevention RDs website.  I followed a link when I posted for the squash soup recipe.  I did do some mild adapting but not much.  She got it originally from Ginas Weight Watchers Recipes (which I bookmarked thank you very much!!).  Again it isnt the one I was looking for but it is going in The Box!!!  I tried it and yum!  I figured I would be eating it alone.   NOPE both Nik and Aaron love it.  So easy, took 20 minutes and so rich and flavorful.  And my fellow WW people…… a 1 cup serving is only 2 points.  I just about died when I saw that! 

Ingredients
2 cups already cooked mashed squash
1/2 medium onion
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup light coconut milk
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp sea salt

Cast of characters

Start off by chopping your onion

Then the garlic and mincing them together fine.

In a dutch oven or 6-8 quart stock pot, add some Pam cooking spray and saute the onion and garlic of medium heat until translucent.

Measure out the spices.

And add them to the translucent veggies.  This will be kind of odd looking in the pan and very dry seeming but the heat will release the fragrance and flavors of the spices.


Add the chicken broth.
And then the squash.

And then the coconut  milk.   I had a half a can leftover so woooohooooo one less dirty dish!

Let simmer for about 10 minutes and then attack it with the stick wand to puree the onion and garlic.

Plate it up and take the can and the last few drops can make a pretty presentation.. or a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream. 

This soup made the house smell so good.  And it was so warm and inviting on my tongue. I really was surprised by the flavor.  I cannot wait to make this again.   I am going to be making my other sweet squash soup in the next few days but I think this soup will be coming out of  The Box atleast one more time in the next couple weeks.  Curry is good food and so is squash. 

Happy Cooking!!

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Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells

This is one of my most asked for recipes, hands down.  When I have it for left overs I have to bring in extra for a couple people in my office who love them, right Emily!?!!  These are semi labor intensive but like my last post where I talked about freezing ahead, I make two (this recipe makes two 9×13 trays) and freeze one.  They freeze amazingly well.   The butternut squash I made is slightly sweet and smooth with that rich taste that only copious amounts of cheese can give you.

Let me warn you, this is not a low fat dish, there is really no way to make it low fat.  It is not gluten free or dairy free.  This is a good old fashion clog your arteries with goodness dish.  You will not need to have more than 3-4 shells (unless you are 17 year old boy who can devour about 10 of them in 30 seconds flat!) because they are so rich.  I most often serve with carrots or a green veggie. 

I originally got this recipe from a magazine 6-7 years ago but have doctored, played around and generally changed it so much I dont feel bad passing it off as my own.  I love to do that; do math on my recipes..  You know: add a little, subtract a little, multiply this or divide that.  Drives me boys nuts in someways.  “Mom what is the recipe?”  UMMMMMMM I dont know.. it started out *this* but now its *this*.  Its good for them.. keeps them on their toes and teaches them to try new things some times.

First a note about cheese.  I very seldom buy preshredded cheese for anything other than tacos (or for Rob and the kids to use).  When I am cooking I buy the one pound blocks of mozzarella, the 8 oz blocks of cheddar and I never buy canned or ready grated hard italians.  Part of what keeps those shreds from clumping is a de-clumping agent, sometimes natural products but it isnt cheese.  I am paying for cheese, I want cheese!  So take the time and grate it or shred it yourself.  It tastes better and is more cost effective.  Already shredded cheese is generally more expensive because of the convenience factor.. seriously a 1 lb block of cheese takes 2 minutes to shred.. and it is a dollar more in some stores.   You do the math!

Ingredients

2 boxes of  jumbo shells
2 jars of your favorite alfredo sauce (can do low fat, but I’ve yet found one I like)
1/2 cup milk
6-7 grates fresh nutmeg (can use 1/4 tsp ground but the fresh is so much better)
2 tsps ground sage
1 15 oz container of part skim ricotta
1 egg
10-12 grates of fresh nutmeg (or about 1/2 tsp ground)
2 1/2 cups of your squash (or store bought) with any extra fluid drained off
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated fresh parmesan or other hard italian cheese (optional)
2-3 cups shredded mozzarella

First boil your noodles in salted water. (see note about salted water below***)  And drain well and put aside to cool slightly.

 

In a seperate bowl mix the alfredo sauce,  milk, nutmeg and sage.  Mix thoroughly and set aside.


Mix your filling together which consists of the ricotta, egg, squash, 1/4 cup of the shredded cheddar and 1/4 cup of the parmesan.  Mix together until smooth.

 

Now it is time to stuff!  This is a blast, the kids and I do this part.  They always over fill but after a few gentle reminders they get better.  Spread alittle of the sauce in the bottom of your greased 9 x13 pan.   I use one metal one for dinner and then another aluminum one to get in the freezer.   


You want to fill them so that you can almost fully close them.   Then lay them with the opening facing the side.  Fill up and cover with half of your sauce (remember this makes two pans).  You should make sure that the sauce is on all the shells so you might have to pull it out of the crevices between the shells. 

Take the remaining 1/2 cup cheddar, 1/4 cup parm and 2-3 cups mozzarella and cover the shells.

Bake at 350 for about an hour until bubbly or the drooling has gotten so bad you cant stand it.    It comes out all yummy with crunchy cheese around the edges!

Serve with your favorite veggie and some nice crusty bread.   So tasty..

*** There is some controversy about salting your pasta water but i did a little experiment after something I saw on a cooking show.  I boiled pasta one night in salted water (1 tbsp kosher salt in 10 cups of water adding one pound pasta) and served it with just butter and pepper, no one person added salt.  The following week made it with no salt in the water and both of the kids added salt and it was much more salt than what the pasta had in it from the water.   Cool huh!!  Now if you are on a restricted salt diet please omit.

I love this recipe. It is fun to make, not too hard and other than a bit time consuming, so worth it.  Rob doesnt eat squash (neither will the boys but they will eat this) so when I make this I make two lasagnas or two stuffed italian shells as well. The kids eat both so there works out to be enough for dinner and a couple lunches for Rob and I.  Ihope you try it and love it as much as I do.

Happy Cooking!

Putting up Squash for Freezing

I love squash.  I am the only one in the house who loves it though.  😦  I keep telling Rob he doesnt know what he is missing but he just looks at me and gives me the look!  You all know the look.. the special one that husbands give when they are not finding you funny.  LOL   So anyway… my mom gave me a laundry basket of squash.. yes a while laundry basket..  There were three kinds, Hubbard (right), Acorn (center) and Butternut (left).

Split them all in half and seed them.. With Hubbard you need to split it, seed it and then break it into more manageable chunks, for this one I got 10 chunks!!  


Put in a foil lined pan at 350 degrees and put a 1 tsp of brown sugar on each one (feel free to omit the sugar but I like it slightly sweet).  Bake for however long it takes for it to get soft.. each one is different.  Ripeness and thickness effect baking time.

Scoop into a bowl and let cool a bit.   This is what i got with the first two batches.. I thought it would be big enough.

Once you have it all done and it has cooled a bit, whip it up to mix the flavors of the different squash and to get any large lumps out. 


Then divide up into ziploc bags for freezing.  I freeze mine into 2 1/2 cup packets which I then use to make my something very special……. Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells.  That laundry basket of squash got me 12- 2 1/2 cup packets!!!  WOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOO.


I love putting things up for future use because you then always have a way to plan ahead.  It takes 2 hours to do this most of the time…. if you are doing this with just a couple squash, that is a lot of time for a little return.  Doing it this way you can get enough to last me the year and it only took me about 3 hours! 

Happy Cooking!!!