A Fall State of Mind

One morning last week, as I was leaving the house to go to work, I realized that the morning sun was reflecting off the frosted grass as if it were glass. As I stood there wondering where the warm weather had gone I decided I should go back inside and grab a sweater and my sunglasses.

The first frost came upon me so unexpectedly that my internal food compass (the one I told you about last month) pointed me towards winter squash and root vegetables.  I started mentally preparing this week's menu while I sat in my office chilled to the bone.  I wanted to make anything that would warm me up from the inside out.

But then today, in contrast to the last week, I walked outside to a warm, bright afternoon with temperatures nearing 90 degrees.  Ninety.  In mid-October.

That's Ohio for you.  

I decided to keep my menu for this week as I planned it.  I'm in a fall state of mind, and there is no turning back

I spent much of my Sunday afternoon multi-tasking between organizing the mountains of clean (and dirty) laundry we've accumulated, catching up on some episodes of Cook's Country, and starting to prep some time consuming ingredients for dinners this week.  

I got the inspiration for risotto from Cooking After Five.  Nicole took pumpkin puree and mixed it in with her stock, infusing the stock with the flavor of the pumpkin.  Then when she added the stock to the rice, the pumpkin flavor, but not the bulk of the puree, was transferred to the rice.  

I opted to swap the pumpkin for butternut squash.  And in order to have some pureed butternut squash, I was going to need to make it myself.  Using the method that I saw on Annie's Eats, I sliced a 3.5 lb squash lengthwise, cleaned out the seeds, and put both halves cut side down on a cookie sheet.  I added a cup of water and roasted them for 75 minutes in a 350 degree F oven.  

When I took them out, the flesh of the squash was soft.  I let them cool for about 25 minutes while I folded a few loads of laundry (it won't go away unless I take care of it).  Then I scooped out the soft squash and added it to the food processor, discarding the skins.  I pulsed the food processor until the squash was pureed and there were no more chunks.  Then, in the manner that Annie did, I lined a mesh strainer with a paper towel and attempted to strain out some water from the puree.  

But truthfully, after an hour sitting in the strainer, no excess water had been strained out.  When I went back to consult Annie's photos, my squash puree was much thicker than her pumpkin, and I guess the flesh of squash is just not as watery.  

So, I measured the squash out in 2 cup increments and labeled the plastic containers.  For me, a 3.5lb butternut squash made about 4 cups of squash puree.  I'm going to keep one container in the fridge to be used  in my risotto, but that only calls for 1 cup.  I might have to get creative to find a way to use the other cup.  Any ideas?  

I will toss the other container in my freezer, stacked on top of our homemade tomato sauce and a few batches of frozen pot-stickers.  If I keep making big batches of things, I'm going to end up needing a second deep freeze.  

I have a few other thing to prep this evening so that Tim won't be waiting for hours after work to eat (he likes to eat on a schedule!) but I think I will surprise you with those.  

Just think fall food and check back here later this week to see how my week of warm dinners went.  


  1. I'm in the process of making butternut squash ravioli as I type! http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/roasted-butternut-squash-ravioli-with-a-sage-brown-butter-sauce-recipe/index.html

  2. Coleen, thank you for the idea! That is definitely the kind of thing I want to make with my leftover squash.

  3. Your bounty screams for butternut squash soup. I make mine with chicken stock, cream, pancetta, parm and sage, plus a dollop of cognac - a perfect warming bowl of autumn! Can't wait to see what else you do with your squash, Jen.

  4. I recently made a recipe from Bon Appetit that called for homemade squash puree, and instead of straining it, they had me cook it over medium heat until most of the liquid was gone, then let it cool and refrigerate. Maybe that would be a less frustrating way next time?


Thanks for sharing your thoughts!