Squash Party

So, I went a bit crazy on Friday night and Saturday morning. The fall produce was calling my name and I went for it. {In recovery mode last night, I had a simple dinner of pasta with olive oil and pecorino romano and a side of sauteed Brussels sprouts. Perfect easy-on-the-belly dinner.} How crazy did I go, you ask? I’ll let you be the judge of that! On Friday night, we had a couple of friends over for dinner and I was so excited to put together a delicious fall meal.

Here is the set table, just awaiting the main course!

I managed to make the meal using all veggies from our CSA share (except for sage and thyme) and everyone was quite satisfied. The menu was:

  • Salad: Romaine lettuce and thinly sliced radishes tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper
  • Bread: Pumpernickel Rye from Bread & Circus
  • Main Course: Butternut squash and pancetta risotto (recipe below)
  • Drink: Hot apple cider spiked with bourbon and served with a cinnamon stick
  • Dessert: Pumpkin Whoopie Pies (recipe below)

It was quite the meal! My husband and I woke up the next morning still feeling inspired (despite the war-zone in the kitchen) and made pumpkin pancakes (recipe below) with the remainder of our pumpkin puree.

With apple cider and maple syrup, these became the breakfast of champions!

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Today’s Recipes

Butternut Squash and Pancetta Risotto

{I’m not sure where this recipe is from…it’s written down in my handwriting from several years ago}

Serves 4 to 6

Butternut Squash:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium butternut squash; peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/4 in cubes
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

Risotto:

  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 lb pancetta, small dice
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped roughly

Spiced Butter:

  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and roasted
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • dash of cinnamon
  • dash of dried ginger

Start by cooking the squash. In a large cast iron skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add the squash and cook for about 6 minutes, until golden on all sides. Add brown sugar and cook until squash is caramelized and tender. Set aside and keep warm.

Your finished squash will look like these lovelies.

While the squash is cooking, prepare the spiced butter. In a bowl, crush roasted garlic with a fork. {I roast my garlic cloves by making a little tin foil packet, drizzling them with olive oil, wrapping them up, and cooking them in the toaster oven at 325 degrees for about 10 minutes or until they are nice and soft.} Mix in 4 tablespoons of room temperature butter, marjoram, cinnamon, and ginger and set aside.

Now it’s time to start the main event! Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low and keep warm.

Heat olive oil in a heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium heat. Add pancetta and saute until lightly browned. Add onion and cook until softened. Stir in rice, sage, and thyme. Cook for 4 minutes, stirring until well coated. Turn heat to medium-high and add wine. Simmer until mostly absorbed. Add hot stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until mostly absorbed. Continue until the rice is al dente or cooked to your liking. Stir in parsley, salt & pepper, and 3/4 of the spiced butter. Gently fold in squash. Finish with the remaining butter and mix gently until combined.

Isn’t it pretty?

Ready to dig in!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

{Adapted from an old Real Simple recipe}

Cookies:

  • 3 tablespoons butter at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Frosting:

  • 2/3 cup cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until smooth (I use my hand mixer for this). Add the pumpkin, vanilla, and egg and beat until combined.

Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and pumpkin pie spice. Slowly add this to the wet ingredients and beat on low speed until fully mixed.

Spoon onto a silicon-mat-lined baking sheet (or parchment lined) using a tablespoon. Bake for about 10 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool.

While the cookies are baking and cooling, make the cream cheese frosting. I used my immersion blender for this thinking it would make it easier. It did, but it also made runny icing, so use a hand mixer or your hand for this one.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, beat together all the frosting ingredients until spreadable.

Make sandwiches on the flat side of the cookies. Only make as many sandwiches as you are going to eat right then. Otherwise store the cookies and frosting separately. These are messy and delicious!

I think I’ll go have one right now!

Pumpkin Pancakes

{Adapted from this recipe on AllRecipes.com}

Serves 4

  • 2/3 cup pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Mix together all the wet ingredients in a bowl. Separately, mix together the dry ingredients. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Don’t over-mix because these will be nice and light. Also, the batter is much more dry than a normal pancake batter…that is ok. They puff up nicely and are plenty moist when cooked.

Heat a griddle or pan over medium heat. Lightly grease the pan. Scoop out about 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake and cook for about 3 minutes per side (or until lightly browned).

Look how puffy these are!!

Be sure to serve these with real maple syrup as they are completely unsweetened. They also freeze well if you are cooking for just one or two!

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If you are craving yet more pumpkin, check out this recipe that I’m hoping to try tonight!

~CM

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