Maple Stuffed Acorn Squash

Cooking on a weeknight is a double bonus for me.  It’s inevitably healthier than anything I pick up, and I’m finding that it helps me unwind after the day.  But coming up with ideas based on things I have on hand is the tricky part.

This  is a variation on one of the recipes my mom made for us growing up that she doesn’t remember making, which I suppose is inevitable when you birth children and then have to feed them 365 days a year for 18 years.  Things start to run together.  Anyway, her version involved butternut squash, breakfast sausage, boxed stuffing and maple syrup.  My version is a bit cleaner and based on what I had on hand tonight, but turned out deliciously nonetheless.

Start by cutting your squash in half.  I used acorn because I had it, but butternut would be delicious as well.  Cutting large winter squash is hazardous, proceed with caution.  Scoop out the seeds and goo, and place the halves face down in a glass dish with a bit of water, and microwave for 15 minutes on high while you make the filling.  Oh, and preheat the oven to 375.

Now chop a medium onion and saute with olive oil, low and slow so that it doesn’t burn.  This is usually the point that I stare into my spice cabinet looking for things to add only to be confronted with the paltry selection of spices found in a 25 year old single girl’s kitchen.  And if you’re anything like me, you’ll then add red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper and make a mental note to add respectable dried spices to your grocery list.

Also into this mix will go two links of chicken sausage (I had sweet Italian sausage), removed from the casing.  Don’t add until the onion is already somewhat translucent, and once added use your spatula to break it up into little crumbles.

To the cooked sausage and onion mix, add 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs, panko or fresh, and then the not-so-secret ingredient.

Bad photo, great ingredient.  Add a tablespoon or two to the mixture, and then try it to make sure the filling doesn’t taste like breakfast pancakes.  Stuff filling into squash, and put your squash halves into the baking pan. Then melt just a little pat of butter in the pan and add another half cup of breadcrumbs and saute in the butter.  In my opinion, such a little bit of butter hidden in a recipe  doesn’t count.  I will continue to believe this until the Weight Watchers police come to my apartment one day (and that day is probably coming soon).  But this step does add quite a bit of flavor.
Now, sprinkle your buttered crumbs on your stuffed squash halves, and pop into a 375 degree oven for 15 min.  Smell the healthy only slightly buttery goodness, pull out of the oven and enjoy!  Thanks Mom!

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