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‘Tis the time of year when gardens are all but finished and winter squash is plentiful.  I wasn’t really introduced to winter squash until after I was married.  My mother-in-law made it for one of the winter holidays and I fell in love with a whole new food!

Years later, as my co-workers and I were discussing our Thanksgiving pumpkin pie recipes, one of the nurses said she used butternut or buttercup squash instead of pumpkin and it made for a sweeter pie–more like sweet potato pie.

Having a squash on hand, I thought I would try it.  It was delicious!  I didn’t need to use as much sugar, either.  Thanks to that discussion, I now use squash in any recipe calling for canned pumpkin.

I have really come to enjoy winter squash, freezing it so we can eat it year round has been a treat for our family.  It can be a dessert by itself.  It keeps in a cool dry place for months and can be used as a side dish-or even dessert.  One of my friends even calls it “heaven in a bowl.”

Many people ask how I cook it or fix it, and true to my nature, I tell them the easiest way (which, in my opinion is the tastiest) to fix it is to just roast it in the oven.  I generally place a whole squash on a parchment lined cookie sheet and let it bake in a 350-400F oven for an hour or two.

Sometimes, after 30-45 minutes I’ll cut it in half, place the cut sides down on the parchment and return it to the oven for another 30-60 minutes or until soft when poked with a fork.  Some people like to scoop out the seeds before baking, but I think they give the squash a nutty flavor.  It’s also hard for me to safely cut most raw squash, as they are generally solid and hard.  But the sooner they are cut, they faster they cook.

One could also use the microwave if you really want it fast.  Just be careful and cut it as soon as possible (generally after 3-4 minutes) or it may explode.  After it’s cut in half, place it cut side down on a glass plate/pan and cook on high for another 8-10 minutes or until soft.  Cooking time will vary depending on the size of the squash and your microwave.

Either way, you’ll want to wait til it cools, then using a spoon (or fork for spaghetti squash) scoop the flesh away from the skin.  I like just butter or coconut oil and salt on mine.  Others may like to sprinkle brown sugar, drizzle molasses or melt marshmallows on it.

Any way you fix it-you’ll enjoy it!

How do you like your squash?

Winter Squash

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