I love cooking! Love it like… I love to breath or sleep or any other of the must-haves in life. Sometimes, I find myself a little out-of-sorts if I’ve been out of my kitchen for too long.
Kinda silly, I know.
My love of cooking and baking began at a very young age… I grew up in the kitchen with my Mom and Gram. This is a photo of me (with flour on my head) and Gram, apparently I was a very enthusiastic little helper!
Cooking is an expression of love for me… you’re having an off day? Then let me bake you something. You’re in the mood for Christmas Caramels in May? Let’s make up a batch. You’re not feeling well? I’m headed over with some Chicken Noodle Soup. You know how it goes… life is better when somebody’s in need of lovin’ because it’s the perfect excuse for me to be in my kitchen.
My love of all things food and joy of sharing recipes, plus the desire to carry on a piece of Gram’s 60’s Cooking Show, were all part of the inspiration behind my blog. When I turned 40 years old, I decided to take this love of mine to the next level and enrolled in Culinary School. It’s been awesome and I’ll graduate this spring 2015!
I love all aspects of food: the shopping, the prepping, the cooking or baking, the food styling, the food photography, and last but not least! The EATING!
(Oh yah, and the cleaning up afterwards part too)
Acorn Squash with Swanson Maple Cream Filling is my expression of the love of autumn and of good food and of good memories. Enjoy with your family and friends!
- 3 small acorn squash, washed
- 4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 tsp coarse sea salt
- 10 sprigs of herbs, such sage, thyme, and parsley
- 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/3 C dry white wine, I use chardonnay or Swanson chicken broth, divided
- 15 slices of turkey bacon, thinly sliced.
- 1 1/4 C pure maple syrup
- 3/4 C Swanson light cream starter
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 12 oz 3 1/2 C unsalted, mixed whole nuts; walnuts, pinenuts, hazelnuts, cashews, and almonds
- 1 Tbsp light feta cheese, finely shredded
- Heat oven 425 degrees.
- Place squash on a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes; this will make them easier to cut.
- Cut squash in half, remove seeds and discard.
- Rub outsides of squash with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.
- Place cut side down on on baking sheet.
- Lightly coat herbs with olive oil scatter on pan with squash.
- Roast until squash is tender, approx 25 min.
- On stove over high heat warm a medium sized saute pan, once pan is hot add oil and watch for it to just start to smoke, add onions, and stir.
- Once onions are browned and caramelized, add 1/3 of the white wine to deglaze pan, make sure to bring up all the bits and pieces from the bottom of the pan into the liquid, using a wooden spoon to scrape. Repeat with another 1/3 of wine.
- Add garlic, deglaze for the last time and cook until liquid is reduced to almost dry.
- Set aside.
- In a large fry pan, add bacon and cook until crispy.
- Remove bacon to onion pan, leaving drippings in fry pan.
- Once squash is cooked, remove to serving platter, sprinkle insides with salt and pepper.
- Evenly spread nuts on the pan used to bake squash, bake 425 for 3-4 minutes; stirring twice.
- Once nuts are lightly toasted and aromatic remove from oven; set aside.
- Now to finish the filling:
- Over medium high heat, add maple syrup to fry pan the bacon was cooked in and bring to simmer, add fresh lemon juice, then bacon and onion mixture; reduce liquid by half (to honey like consistency) approx 3-4 minutes, stirring.
- Whisk in Swanson light Cream Starter and stir combine.
- Throw in the roasted nuts and coat with sauce.
- Fill each acorn squash with filling.
- Garnish with roasted herbs, an extra sprinkling of sea salt, and finely grated feta cheese.
Let’s get to cooking these savory autumn squash together…
First off, we need to prep the squash – microwaving them for 5 minutes before cutting makes them OH so much easier to work with – just use caution because they’ll be a little warm! Then remove the seeds and as much of the strings as you can, place them on a pan flesh side down, and coat their little backs with some olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Lightly coat the herbs with olive oil too (I just used what was left on my hands from the squash). Get them baking in the preheated 425 degree oven.
Now, we need to prep our onions and garlic and Mise en Place out the rest of our ingredients; thinly slice half and onion, mince the garlic (or use the already chopped kind like me!), measure the nuts, open up the Swanson Light Cream Starter and measure it out, have your wine or broth ready to go too.
Once we get cooking there won’t be any time to mess with all of that.
Ready? Here we go.
Get your sauté pan on the stove over high heat and get it smokin’ hot, then add the olive oil, watch it almost reach it’s smoke point, and throw in the onions! The idea behind sautéing is to make those onions jump – high, high heat to caramelize and bring out the fabulous flavor. Once they’re all nice and brown and the pan has developed fond (or the flavor stuck to the bottom of the pan) then we hit it with a 1/3 of the white wine, cook and stir making sure to scrape up as much of that flavor off the bottom of the pan as you can.
Hit with another 1/3 of the wine, reduce again, add in the garlic, and cook 1-2 minutes; stirring. Add the last of the wine, deglaze and cook until almost dry- about a minute. Set aside.
Grab your fry pan and lets get that bacon fried up. I use turkey bacon because believe it or not, I like the taste! It fries up crispy and tastes just as good as ‘real’ bacon.
Cook and stir it, get all the pieces separated and then once really browned remove bacon pieces (leaving the little bit of drippings in the pan) just put the cooked bacon in with the onions while we work on the sauce.
Meanwhile, check on the squash. Once they’re soft to gentle pressure, remove them to a serving platter and get your nuts roasting. Make sure to set a timer for stirring the nuts every 2 minutes so they won’t burn.
Back to our sauce… Add the maple syrup to the bacon pan, cook over medium high and bring to a boil, add in bacon mixture and reduce by half so it’s thick and saucy. Then, whisk in the Swanson Cream StarterTM and cook another minute to get it to a honey-like consistency.
Remove the roasted nuts from the oven, add them to our delicious sauce and stir to coat, fill the center of each squash with maple cream filling and garnish!
YAY. You did it! Wasn’t that SO much fun?!
I had a fabulous time creating this Acorn Squash with Swanson Maple Cream Filling recipe, it tastes so gourmet with all that maple and bacon flavor packed into a one dish! I hope you enjoy!
This blog post is sponsored by Swanson®.