It has been a difficult week in the land of Kitchenbelle. While enjoying the weekend at BlogHer Food ’09 in beautiful San Francisco (at the fabulous cocktail party hosted by The Mushroom Channel, to be exact) I learned of the unexpected death of a dear friend of ours. He was a regular visitor to this blog and each time we were together he inquired about it. Also, he was quite the prankster and his silly comments on this blog (one claimed “I made this meal [tuna noodle casserole] the other night and it was wonderful. Me and my cat await your next masterpiece. Meow!”) will be sorely missed. He will be sorely missed and my words here will not do him justice.
Though I try to keep Kitchenbelle.com a place of cheer, happiness, and inspiration I couldn’t not mention this loss. I am sure you would have sensed it anyway. For me food is something I can control and something I can look forward to. So I guess it is natural that in times of despair, I find myself baking and cooking more often. The methods and rhythms soothe me. The smells provide comfort. Sitting across the table from my husband over a warm home-cooked and nutritious meal, on a dark cool night, especially during my favorite season of the year, ground me. They give me hope and encourage me to be thankful.
My husband has had an especially difficult few days prompting me to want to do nothing more than to take care of him. The best way I know how to do that is to shower him with love and dinner. It is a feeble attempt at easing the pain, but it is what I know.
Our friend was buried yesterday, one of the first beautiful breezy sunny autumn days in the northeast. I found myself thinking of those verses from Ecclesiastes (I remember being struck by them while studying the Old Testament during ninth grade humanities class) that the Yardbirds spun into that popular song: “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven…a time to weep, a time to laugh, a time to mourn, a time to dance…a time to get, a time to lose…” Autumn is already a nostalgic season.
After all was said and done we took a ride to a pumpkin stand and purchased some gourds and a pumpkin for our stoop. In hopes of capturing the season as well as offering some respite from a heartbreaking day, I decided to make squash for dinner. I adjusted this recipe quite a bit and I have noted those changes below.
Changes and Notes:
*Original recipe called for sage. My grocery store was out of sage so I used chives. Sage with squash is a more traditional flavor combination, however, the chives were just fine.
*Original recipe called for blue cheese. I don’t eat blue cheese so I substituted goat cheese. Delicious. I love goat cheese.
*Original recipe was vegetarian. I wanted to add some bulk so I added grilled chicken breasts.
*This is a simple and nutritious (also low calorie, I think) weeknight dinner that could be easily un-healthified (as in, bumped up a notch for company) with the addition of some heavy cream and cheddar. Email me if you would like to discuss how this could be achieved.
Butternut Squash with Goat Cheese:
- 5 cups (3/4-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 2 pounds)
- 1 (1 1/2-ounce) bread
- 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
- 2 cups onion, finely chopped
- 4 tablespoon chopped fresh chives or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
- 3 chicken breasts, grilled and torn into pieces
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Cooking spray
- 1 cup crumbled goats cheese (or 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese)
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Steam squash until tender, about 10 minutes.
Place bread in a food processor, and pulse until coarse crumbs measure 1/2 cup. Transfer to a small bowl and add 2 teaspoons oil, and toss with a fork to combine.
Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion to pan; saute 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Transfer the onion mixture to a large bowl. Add butternut squash, chicken (if using), chicken broth, chopped herb, salt, and black pepper to bowl, and toss gently to combine. Spoon squash mixture into an 11 x 7–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400 F for 20 minutes. Sprinkle crumbled cheese evenly over squash mixture, and sprinkle evenly with breadcrumb mixture. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and crumbs are golden brown.