Tag Archives: fall

Butternut Squash and Apple Muffins with Pumpkin Seed Streusel

I have received one butternut squash and one dozen eggs every Tuesday for the last three weeks from my CSA.  Up until yesterday, I had exactly three butternut squashes on my counter and three dozen eggs in my refrigerator.  I always like to kid myself and say things like “When fall gets here and the kids are back in school, I will finally organize their baby books.  Or clean out the storage area.  Or have that yard sale I’ve been meaning to do since June.”  Instead, I am confronted with back to school nights, violin shopping, supply acquisition, homework helping, pick ups and drop offs, driving, soccer, snacks, and maintaining some level of personal hygiene.

(Memo to my kids: I really have tried with your baby books.  Although I am very sentimental and keep things like your baby teeth and dried up belly button stubs, I am very poor at organizing these items into beautiful volumes for you to treasure one day.  I really hope it is OK that everything is crammed into a baby book with a cracked spine, papers falling out, and notes written in any color pen (or pencil) I had handy.  I do love you.  But not enough to scrapbook.)

And this entire month has been consumed by the Bloomsburg Floods.  We have the luxury of not being in the epicenter of the destruction and our busy schedule is pretty trivial compared to what the residents are going through.  But it has meant a lot of back and forth travel — which means bags that don’t have a chance to get unpacked before they are being packed again. Whirlwind is how some describe it, I think.  But as I talk with friends who are having their homes condemned, I am pretty sure a whirlwind would be a welcome feeling.  Never mind the “problem” of having all of your children’s baby book items in a box, rather than in a muddy heap never to be looked at again.

This whirlwind seems to blow cooking and eating rules out the window.  The grown ups have eaten a lot of Thai takeout. The kids have eaten way too many pasta dinners and lots of dessert.  It was the boy’s 5th birthday too, which seemed to provide an endless supply of cookies, rice krispy treats, cakes, and cupcakes.  But no more!

I turned on the oven yesterday (and it still worked!) and I made these muffins in an attempt to make a relatively healthy treat or breakfast that the kids would enjoy.  They are whole grain, quite low in sugar and fat, and filled with both butternut squash and apples.  They were a nice fall treat and used up one whole squash and 4 eggs.

Only two squash and 32 eggs to go.

Butternut Squash and Apple Muffins with Pumpkin Seed Streusel

Makes about 18 full size muffins

1 1/2 cups of cooked butternut squash (I like to halve mine, scoop out seeds, and slow roast for about an hour at 325 degrees Fahrenheit)
4 eggs
1/4 cup of dark brown sugar (can use more — up to 3/4 cup for a sweeter muffin)
1/3 cup applesauce
6 T vegetable oil
1 t salt
1 t baking soda
2 t baking powder
2 t cinnamon
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 medium apple, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped

1/4 cup dark brown sugar (can use more here too if you like)
1 t cinnamon
1/3 cup chopped and toasted pumpkin seeds

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.  In a large bowl, mix wet ingredients by whisking together cooked squash, eggs, dark brown sugar, applesauce, and vegetable oil.

3. In a medium bowl, mix dry ingredients by combining salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and whole wheat pastry flour.

4.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and whisk until just combined.  Stir in chopped apples.  Spoon into greased muffin tins about 2/3 of the way full. (You can use cupcake papers if you like.)

5.  Combine streusel ingredients (brown sugar, cinnamon, and pumpkin seeds) and sprinkle a nice spoonful over top of each muffin before baking.

6.  Bake muffins for about 15 minutes until just done and a tester comes out basically clean.  Let cool a few minutes in tins and then remove muffins to a cooling rack.  (I had to use a knife to loosen them before removing.)





Stuffed Spaghetti Squash with Sausage

Remember the low carb diet hysteria?  When the grains that were the basis of civilization became banned substances?  I fell just as hard as the majority of people — somehow always looking for the miraculous fix to that pesky problem of eating too much.  We all eliminated carbohydrates from our diet and commenced eating large quantities of meat, cheese, cream, nuts, and vegetables (the one upside).  Our days were filled with eggs and bacon and our nights were filled with steak dinners and creamed spinach.  And then we started losing weight. Weird how that happened.


I guess the point was that we were eating too much.  And eliminating an entire class of foods from your diet has a way of working in the short term.  Beyond, it is true that you cannot eat as much cheese when you don’t have crackers and you can’t eat as much sauce when you don’t have potatoes or rice to soak it all up.  But there came a point where I could work around anything.  Mashed potatoes were replaced with mashed cauliflower or turnips (with copious amounts of cream and butter).  Desserts had crusts made of crushed nuts and butter, rather than pastry or graham crackers.  And vodka and club soda replaced wine or beer.  Please don’t ask me about the time I made crackers OUT OF CHEESE to SERVE WITH CHEESE.


At some point, you think to yourself that maybe this whole eating plan is about as balanced as Rush Limbaugh riding an elephant side saddle.  But I guess every time you embark on one of these diets, you learn something, don’t you?  I think there were lessons to learn about eating more vegetables and cutting way back on sugar and refined carbohydrates.  Those concepts had merit.

(The cabbage soup diet, however, taught me that it fucking sucks to eat cabbage soup for every meal.)

I much prefer our balanced, seasonal, local, and whole foods approach to eating now.  I never really think about diets any more.  Maybe I think that I need to cut back, or that I overindulged, or that we have eaten out too much recently — but I rarely consider eliminating entire food groups (Unless you consider tequila a food group.  And even then, that never lasts that long.)


However, one thing that has remained with us long since Dr. Atkins has left is spaghetti squash.  If you haven’t had it, you should give it a try.  Once cooked, you fluff it with a fork and it separates into strands of “spaghetti.”  It is wonderful just roasted in the oven and served with a bit of butter and garlic.  My kids really enjoy it and it is not heavy or rich at all (like acorn or butternut squashes).  It is neutral in flavor and takes on any sort of sauce.  In this recipe, I baked it and then stuffed it with a homemade tomato and sausage mixture — which was really delicious.  And just to prove to you that I’m over the low carb days, I think it should be served with a big, ridiculously thick piece of garlic bread.

Stuffed Spaghetti Squash with Sausage

Serves 6

1 medium spaghetti squash
1 small green pepper, chopped
1 small red pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 lb. ground pork, or loose pork sausage (can remove it from casings if that is how you have it)
15 Roma tomatoes, peeled and chopped (or about 4-5 cups)
Sea Salt, Freshly Ground Pepper
Olive Oil
1 t dried fennel seeds
1 t dried oregano (or Italian Seasoning)
Red pepper flakes
Freshly grated parmesan cheese

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Rinse spaghetti squash and dry thoroughly.  With a sharp chef’s knife, remove stem end.  Split squash in half lengthwise.  (Being very careful that the squash doesn’t roll out from under you — I like to poke my knife in and then bang on the knife a bit to cut it further.  Then remove and repeat until the squash is split in half.)  Using a spoon, scrape squash seeds out and discard.  Drizzle squash halves with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place halves cut side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 45-50 minutes until tender.  (Poke a sharp knife in the skin and it should go in without resistance.)

2.  While squash is baking, in a large saute pan, heat a bit of olive oil.  Cook loose pork sausage until browned.  Season the sausage with 1 t salt, pepper, fennel, oregano, and red pepper flakes (to taste).

3.  Add in chopped peppers, garlic, and onion.  Saute until softened, about 5-7 minutes.  Add in chopped tomatoes and simmer sauce for about 30 minutes.  Taste and season as needed.  Set aside until squash is done.

4.  When squash is tender, remove from oven and turn halves right side up.  Using a fork, scrape the squashes in order to fluff up the strands of squash.  Place two cups of the tomato/sausage sauce on each half, cover with grated parmesan cheese, and return to 400 degree oven for about ten minutes. You can broil the halves for a minute or two if you like the parmesan browned.

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