This is a staple in our home at Thanksgiving, but it’s great anytime of the year. Even the “non-squash eaters” seem to enjoy it. Adjust the brown sugar to your liking and use butter to the extent desired (it’s not necessary, but some people enjoy a more buttery flavor). Keep in mind the addition of the butter will change the consistency and make it a little thinner.
I photographed this before I took it over to my sister-in-law’s house; I wish I had photographed it when the brown sugar was carmelized on the top after it had been in the oven for a bit.
SERVINGS: About 8-12
- 2 Large Butternut Squash*
- 2/3 Cup Brown Sugar (light or dark) plus extra for topping
- 3 TBS. Olive Oil
- 2-4 TBS. Unsalted Butter (optional)
- Salt and Pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the squash into 1 inch wide segments and then cut into 1 inch cubes (leave the skin on). Spread the squash pieces on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast the squash in the oven until tender and lightly browned (about 30-45 minutes).
Allow squash to cool and remove the skin. Melt butter, if using. Put the squash into a blender or food processor, add brown sugar (and butter, if using) and process until squash is pureed. Transfer pureed squash to a baking dish and sprinkle with additional brown sugar if desired. Return to oven and heat, uncovered, for about 20 minutes or until warm all the way through.
*To save time and steps, use 2 bags of cut and peeled uncooked butternut squash (available at Trader Joe’s).
Mini Pumpkin Cheesecake with Quince Zinfindel Glaze
I hate buying specialty cooking items, but my mini cheesecake pan was worth the money. I’m not a dessert person, or a baker (except for pies), but I love cheesecake. Mini cheesecakes are even better than regular cheesecake, and they are great at a party. I served these at my Wicked Wine Tasting, so I not only wanted a cheesecake, but I wanted a glaze that incorporated wine. The Quince Zinfindel (you could use a Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot) glaze was the perfect accompaniment for the delicate pumpkin cheesecake. These mini cheesecakes are super easy (spoken from the non-baker) and the recipe could easily be adapted to make a full size cheesecake. This recipe makes 12 mini cheesecakes, but you can easily double or triple.
For the Crust:
- 1 Cup Graham Cracker Crumbs*
- 6 TBS. Unsalted Butter – melted
- 2 TBS. Light Brown Sugar
- 1/8 tsp. Cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. Nutmeg
For the Filling:
- 3/4 Cup Canned Pumpkin
- 16 Oz. Cream Cheese -softened
- 2 Eggs
- 1/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar
- 1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 1/4 tsp. Cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. Ground Ginger
- 1/8 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
- Pinch of Ground Cloves
*You can purchase graham cracker crumbs or just run a couple of graham crackers through the food processor.
For the Quince Zinfindel Glaze:
- 1 Cup Quince Paste (available in specialty stores- usually in the cheese section)
- 1/2-1 Cup of Zinfindel (you could substitute merlot or a cabernet sauvignon)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the crust until well blended. You should be able to “pack” the crust so that it holds firm; if not, add more melted butter. Lightly grease the cheesecake pan. Divide the crust between the individual cups in the cheesecake pan; the crust should fill the cups about 1/3 of the way.
Add all of the filling ingredients to a medium bowl and mix until well combined (I use a hand held electric mixer). Divide the mixture between the mini cheesecake cups (each cup should be about 2/3 full). Bake for 14-18 minutes until cheesecakes are well set. Allow cheesecakes to cool on a rack for at least 20 minutes before removing from the pan.
For the glaze: combine the quince paste and wine in a saucepan and heat over medium, stirring constantly, until the paste is melted and blended with wine. Continue to cook over medium until sauce is sufficiently reduced.
Drizzle cheesecakes with the quince glaze and serve.
Chipotle Pumpkin Soup
I served this at my Wicked Wine Tasting, but it would be a great option for Thanksgiving. Because the wine tasting was all about tasting wines paired with foods, I used really small (ramekin size) bowls. What I discovered, however, is that a small amount of soup is perfect because you can still serve other foods. Not that a big bowl of this soup wouldn’t be great, but I do like the idea of more of a tasting size portion of soup. I have a great creamy pumpkin soup recipe which is rich and decadent, but I wanted to do something a little different for this wine tasting. The chipotle flavor pairs so well with the pumpkin and there’s just the right amount of heat in the back of this soup. I served it out of a hollowed out pumpkin (which I put in a chafing dish and it actually stayed warm). This was very well received at the wine tasting and I promised to post the recipe. I apologize for the lack of photos – I had so much going on that I really didn’t have time to photograph during the cooking process, but this recipe is so straightforward that the photos aren’t necessary.
- 4-6 Cups of Chicken Stock (or broth)
- 45 oz. (3 small cans or 1 large and one small) Canned Pumpkin
- 1 Medium Sweet Onion – chopped
- 3 Cloves of Garlic – minced
- 2-3 Chipotle Peppers (canned in adobo) – chopped
- 1 tsp. Ground Cumin
- 2 tsp. Fresh Oregano (or 1 tsp. dried) – chopped
- 2 tsp. Olive Oil
- 2-3 tsp. Salt (to taste)
- 1 tsp. Fresh Ground Pepper
- Cayenne Pepper (optional)
Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic, cumin, and chipotle peppers and saute for an additional minute. Add pumpkin and 4 Cups of chicken stock. Add oregano and salt and pepper and simmer for about 20 minutes. After about 20 minutes, transfer soup to a blender and blend until the onions and peppers are incorporated and the soup is smooth. Add more chicken stock if the stock is too thick. Season with additional salt and pepper as necessary and add cayenne pepper if more heat is desired. Serve with garnishes of creme fraiche and cilantro. If desired, serve out of a cleaned out pumpkin.
Chipotle Pumpkin Soup served out of a Pumpkin
Chorizo Con Queso Dip
Phew…the Halloween party was a huge success, and I have great photos and video to submit for the contest I am entering. That’s my way for apologizing for a recent lack of posting – I know that’s taboo for a blogger. I have promised guests that I will post all recipes (with the exception of deviled eggs because I can’t commit to a recipe – I base them on taste), so I am starting with one of the appetizer dishes I served. I don’t have in-process pictures, but this is really straightforward, so I will just post the recipe. I served this in a sugar pumpkin (instructions follow), but this would be delicious any time of year and could be cooked in any ovenproof baking dish. You can adjust the spice, but I think this was perfect. Reviewers commented that the dip was like a combination of tacos with con queso. (Serves 12-15 as an appetizer).
- 1 Lb. Ground Chorizo Sausage*
- 4 Cups Shredded Chihuahua Cheese (can substitute mozzerella)
- 2 Cups Mexican Cheese Blend (4 Cheese blend – NOT Taco cheese because it contains spices)
- 1 Jalapeno Pepper (remove seeds and membranes for less heat) – finely chopped
- 4 Oz. Can of Chopped Green Chiles
- 1 tsp. Ground Cumin
- 1/2-1 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
- 1/4 Cup of Flour
- 2-3 Cups Chicken Broth
- Chopped Fresh Cilantro – for garnish
*If you can’t find loose ground chorizo, you can substitute chorizo that is cased – just chop it into small pieces. You could also substitute regular breakfast sausage, but you will have to increase your Mexican spices.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium saute pan, cook chorizo over medium to high heat, breaking it up as it cooks. Drain off excess fat from the pan. Add jalapeno, green chiles and spices to pan, and cook until jalapeno is tender. Add flour and cook until the flour starts to brown (3-5 minutes). Add 2 cups of chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in all of the cheese, stirring until the cheese is thoroughly melted. Check the consistency and, if necessary, add additional chicken broth to thin the dip- the dip should have a creamy texture. Pour cheese mixture into a baking dish (use a baking dish you would serve out of) or an oven-proof bowl. Bake for 20-30 minutes until bubbling and golden brown on top. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with tortilla chips.
If you would like to serve out of a pumpkin, cut the top off of a 3 Lb. sugar pumpkin and remove the seeds and pulp from the pumpkin. Place the pumpkin on a baking dish, fill with the con queso, cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour (until pumpkin starts to brown and become tender). Do not overcook, or your pumpkin will be too soft to move to a serving plate. Remove foil and bake for another 10-20 minutes until cheese dip is bubbling and browned on top.