Sunday, October 21, 2012

Winter Squash Season – October 21, 2012

Autumn has finally arrived in Louisville.  I took a drive on Friday in Southern Indiana and the trees were awe inspiring.  Our closest farmer’s market is closed for the year, but there is still one open all year on Bardstown Road and we get a farmer’s box every other week.  Right now, it is full of local greens and squash and everywhere I drive I see the most beautiful and unusual winter squash.  There are many ways to use winter squash, but my favorite for ease and taste is this chicken and squash curry that makes a great one pot meal for cool evenings.

Winter Squash with Chicken

1 T. olive oil
1/3 lb. ground chicken
1 – 1 ½ c. boiled and mashed butternut squash
1 – 2 tsp. sweet curry powder
½ tsp. cumin
¼ tsp. paprika
pinch red pepper flakes

Heat oil in pan and brown ground chicken, add squash and herbs and mix well.  Serve warm.  You can also make this without the chicken if using as a side dish.

Once you get tired of this recipe and all the great ways to roast and bake squash (plus make fabulous soups) you can move to desserts.  Winter squash makes a great pie (just like pumpkin) but I had to try these cheesecake squares when I saw the recipe at the Bardstown Road Farmer’s Market.  We took them to our community garden harvest festival.

Winter Squash Cheesecake Bars 

9 Graham Crackers  
1/2 c. Old Fashion Rolled Oats
2 T. plus 1/2 cup Sugar (Divided)
1/4 Cup plus 3 T. All Purpose Flour (Divided)
2 T. unsalted butter
3 T. Milk
8 Ounces Reduced Fat Cream Cheese - at room temperature
8 Ounces Nonfat Cream Cheese - at room temperature
1/2 cup Squash Puree
2 Large Eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat 9 X 13 baking pan with cooking spray.  Process crackers, oats, 2 T. sugar, 1/4 cup flour and butter in food processor until finely ground.  Add milk, pulse until completely moistened. Transfer this mixture into prepared pan and evenly pat into bottom.  Bake 10 minutes.  Cool on wire rack 20 min.

Meanwhile, reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.  Beat both cream cheeses and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed until creamy, scraping bowl often.  Beat in the squash puree.  Beat in eggs one at a time.  Finally, beat in the vanilla, cinnamon, salt and remaining 3 T. flour.  Scrape the filling into pan, spreading evenly over crust.

Bake until set and the edges are light brown, about 35 minutes.  Let cool completely on wire rack.  Refrigerate one hour before cutting into bars.

These were good, but not quite sweet enough for me.  We served them dusted with power sugar.  They’d be great with cherry filling on top although you’d lose the subtle squash taste.  You could probably also just add another ½ cup sugar to the filling.

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