Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Leader Enterprise - Nov. 21, 2012 - Squash


Squash is one of my favorite foods in the fall & winter months. I love cooking it up and storing it in the freezer so it's handy for my favorite dishes. I found this nutritional information about squash varieties at www.livestrong.com

Golden butternut, green-skinned acorn and orange-amber squash are all considered winter squash.You can enjoy not only the edible flesh of winter squash, but also their seeds and blossoms.



Winter squash refers to gourds with thick rinds and a central hollow filled with seeds. These gourds take longer to mature than summer squash, such as zucchini, and can be stored throughout a harsh winter, according to the What’s Cooking America website. Butternut squash is the most popular type in the United States. These tan, bell-shaped vegetables have firm orange flesh. Mature butternuts weigh in at 4 to 5 lbs. Most winter squash has a similar nutritional make-up and contain high levels of vitamin A, beta-carotene, potassium and dietary fiber.
Winter squash is relatively low in calories. One cup of baked,cubed butternut squash, for example, contains 82 calories. It also has 2 g of protein, 22 g of carbohydrate, 4 g of total sugars, 7 g of fiber and a negligible amount of fat. Winter squash also contains a high amount of dietary fiber, also called roughage or bulk. You need sufficient fiber in your diet in order to insure colon health.

Winter squash is a good source of potassium, one of the minerals you need each day. One cup of cooked butternut squash cubes contains 600 mg of potassium. The daily average requirement for an adult is 4,700 mg. Winter squash also contains other essential minerals, such as iron, calcium, zinc and selenium.

To easily cook squash, poke a few holes in it (whole); cook in the microwave on a plate for about 15-18 minutes, depending on size. Allow to stand about 10 minutes, cut open and cool; remove seeds. Flesh comes right off the skin and you don't have to peel it.


Here are some delicious recipes using these wonderful gourds. I may have shared some these before, but some recipes are just worth sharing again.

CREAMY BUTTERNUT TWICE-BAKED POTATOES 
4 lg. baking potatoes
3 c. cooked butternut squash 
4 ozs. spreadable garden vegetable cream cheese
3 Tb. butter or Smart Balance Spread
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Scrub and pierce potatoes. Bake at 375 for 50-55 minutes or until tender. Cool potatoes for 10 minutes; cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out pulp leaving thin shells. In large bowl, combine potatoes and squash; mash until smooth. Add cream cheese, butter, salt and pepper; mix until creamy. Pipe or spoon into potato skins. Bake, uncovered at 375 for 10-15 minutes or until heated through. 

BUTTERNUT SQUASH BREAD
1 c. butternut squash puree
2 eggs
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. applesauce
1 c. white sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1-3/4 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cardamom or pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour one 8" X4" X2"loaf pan. In large bowl, mix together the squash puree, eggs, oil, applesauce and sugars until thoroughly combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour,  baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom (or pumpkin pie spice). Stir the dry ingredients into the squash mixture. Combine just until incorporated; do not overmix.  Pour into the prepared pan. Bake 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Add any 'extras' you'd like--dark, semi sweet, or white chocolate chips, nuts, craisins, etc.Enjoy surprising your family and guests with a'hidden' ingredient!

DELICIOUS BAKED ACORN SQUASH
2 whole acorn squash
kosher salt to taste
4 Tb. butter
2 Tb. brown sugar
4 Tb. dried cranberries,optional
pure maple syrup

Preheat oven to 400. Halve each squash; scrape out seeds and stringy membranes. Place halves,flesh side up, on baking sheet and sprinkle each with salt. Add Tb. butter in center of each squash; then sprinkle each with 1/2 tsp.brown sugar. Divide cranberries evenly, then drizzle with maple syrup. Pour 2 c. water in bottom of baking dish. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 30-45 minutes or until squash is cooked through and brown.

And for those of you who may not care for squash, how about satisfying that sweet tooth with an easy fudge recipe? This has been 'hot' on the internet since I recently posted it at my blog. It's simple and is made in the microwave. It has a few crushed nutter butter cookies in it. Makes a great holiday gift too. 

NUTTERBUTTER FUDGE
1 container mini-Nutterbutter cookies (or about 8 - 10 large), crushed
1/2 c. peanut butter
1-11 ozs. bag Reese's Peanut Butter Chips
(use name brand for fullest flavor)
1-14 ozs. can sweetened condensed milk

Line an 8" X 8"pan with foil; spray with cooking spray or use nonstick foil. In a microwavable bowl, melt the peanut butter, chips and sweetened condensed milk together. After 45 seconds on high, I stirred and stirred until it was all nearly melted, then zapped it for another 15 seconds. (Be careful not to overcook..you just want everything melted together.) Fold in cookie crumbs. Spread evenly in pan and refrigerate to harden.