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Butternut Squash Bread

January 13 1013 014 Edited Butternut Squash Bread

Week 11 of 12 Weeks of Winter Squash features ugly, but delicious, butternut squash bread. I am fairly certain I lament nearly every time I bake a quick bread that I really can not get the darn thing to come out of the pan right to save my hide. I wait too long and it sticks, or I don’t wait long enough and it falls apart, or something altogether different happens that results in weird-looking bread.

This time, I lost the bottom crust. To add insult to injury, I could not cut through the tough crust without destroying the tender crumb underneath. The silver lining to this ugly bread is that it is incredibly delicious. Perfectly spiced and packed with flavor.

January 13 1013 023 Edited Butternut Squash Bread

If you use canned butternut squash puree, it is a snap to whip up. If you are unable to find canned, pureed butternut squash at your grocery store (my grocery carries the Farmer’s Market brand alongside the Libby’s pumpkin puree), the recipe includes instructions for how to make your own at home. It’s as simple as roasting the squash until tender, then pureeing in a food processor.

Enjoy the bread on its own, or take a cue from the cookbook and serve it with a scoop of ice cream. Top it off with a dollop of butternut butter to really spice things up. Until our final week next week, enjoy!

January 13 1013 017 Edited Butternut Squash Bread

Butternut Squash Bread
 
Ingredients
  • 1⅔ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup pureed butternut squash
  • 2 tablespoons water
Instructions
  1. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Set aside.
  2. Stir together the sugar, vegetable oil, eggs, butternut squash puree and water until well combined.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix together until well incorporated.
  4. Pour the batter into a greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pan and even out the top.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F for 60-90 minutes. The top should be well browned, and a toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean.
  6. Allow to cool to room temperature before slicing.
Notes
To make a butternut squash puree, simply cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and membranes. Place the squash cut-side down in a baking dish filled with ½ inch of water. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45-60 minutes or until tender. Remove the squash from the oven, turn cut-side up, and allow to cool until it is able to be handled without scorching your fingers. Scoop the flesh from the squash and process in a food processor until smooth. You may need to allow the puree to drain to remove excess water. Place the puree in a mesh strainer set over a bowl (to catch the liquid) and allow to drain for about an hour.

 


Cranberry Almond Oatmeal Cookies

Winter Squash Week 10 013 Edited Cranberry Almond Oatmeal Cookies

I took some grief for the exceedingly lengthy delays between my blog posts today, and I was rather surprised about it. I generally carry around feelings of guilt and neglect when I ignore this space for more than three days, which until today, I thought was completely irrational and narcissistic. I had no idea my friend who dished out the grief actually looked forward to my nonsense.

For the most part, I figured people just sort of hung out across the internet, forgetting that they liked this blog until they saw something new come through and remembered it again. Like driving along and hearing a song on the radio that you enjoy but have not heard in a while. You sing along, but then pretty much forgot it exists once you get out of the car.

My point, if there is one to be made in this mess, is I made these cookies last weekend with every intent to share them then, but I had so very little to say that I sat on the post. I probably would still have it sitting as a draft if it weren’t for my friend getting in my face about it.

Winter Squash Week 10 011 Edited Cranberry Almond Oatmeal Cookies

Yesterday, a different friend asked me if I made any resolutions for the year. My immediate, resounding response was “nope.” I feel like I accomplished a lot last year without really setting out to do so – I started a new job, took a few weekend trips, made some new friends, ate a lot of cookies, drank a lot of beer, and lots of other things in between.

This year, I think I’d like to dial it down a notch. I know what I need to do, and I’ll see what I can do to get it done. If I fail at everything, in all reality, I will be no worse the wear. It’s kind of nice to be in place where I am able to enjoy my life as much as I do without wanting to change something all the damn time.

Don’t get me wrong, there are things that I would like to be different, but I’m not going to stress too much over the disappointment if those things fail to come true. Time keeps on moving, and I’d like to enjoy moving along with it.

Winter Squash Week 10 014 Edited Cranberry Almond Oatmeal Cookies

Already this year I have discovered a great new cook book, Wintersweet, where I found this recipe for cranberry almond cookies. I look forward to very little during the winter, but this cookbook has perked me up. It is full of baking recipes featuring winter squash and cranberries and apples and pears and all good things in between; I love it.

That said, these cookies were a bit finicky. The cookies spreads quite a bit when baking, so I refrigerated the dough in between batches to help minimize the spread. I also recommend erring on the side of underbaking since the cookies crisp up when they are cool.

They bake up crisp rather than fluffy like the cookies I so love, but that does not mean they are not tasty. Right out of the oven, they are warm and chewy, but when left to cool, they crisp up nicely. All around delicious. Enjoy!

Winter Squash Week 10 012 Edited Cranberry Almond Oatmeal Cookies

Cranberry Almond Oatmeal Cookies
 
Author:
Serves: 36
Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • ⅛ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1¼ cups oatmeal (old-fashioned rolled oats)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
Instructions
  1. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, then add the almond extract.
  4. Slowly add the dry flour mixture to the mixing bowl, then add the oats. Mix until just combined.
  5. Fold in the cranberries and chopped almonds.
  6. Drop the dough by rounded tablespoons onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Leave plenty of space (approx. two inches) because the dough will spread.
  7. Bake at 325 degrees F for 14-20 minutes until golden brown but still soft in the middles.
Notes
The recipe recommends using roasted, salted almonds, like the kind you would snack on. I used almond slivers, simply because they were what I had available. This recipe also makes a lot of cookies; at least three dozen when dropped by rounded tablespoons.

 

Pumpkin Breakfast Quinoa & Hello New Year

Winter Squash Week 10 018 Edited Pumpkin Breakfast Quinoa & Hello New Year

Six days in to the new year, and one measly blog post to show for it. I did not made any resolutions, and I did not intend to (although given my two week absence from this space, recommitting to a frequent blog schedule seems like a good one). I rang in the new year with friends, had a great couple of days, then promptly fell ill.

But I don’t have time to be sick! The laundry needs washed. The floor needs mopped. The trash is in desperate need of making its way to the dumpster. And I am sure there is some sort of rule that says the Christmas tree can not be up for more than two days past the new year!

“Good luck with that,” I picture my body saying to my mind, “I’m out.” Hence, I have spent the majority of this new year feeling not so good. And you know what? The laundry remains safe and sound in its pile. The mop is still ready to be used when I get to it. The trash has not yet started moving on its own, so I’m pretty sure all is well on that front. And it’s actually been nice to enjoy the tree lighting up my space for a few more days.

Winter Squash Week 10 020 Edited Pumpkin Breakfast Quinoa & Hello New Year

The point I wish remind myself of in the event I look back at this post is that things are going to happen, and like it or not, the world will keep right on moving. Good things will happen and bad things will happen and a bunch of mundane things thrown in between those highs and lows will happen.

I want to have the sense to know when it is okay to float along with the current instead of rapidly swimming upstream all the time. The sense to take comfort in a little rest now and then.

When I fill up on rest, I may just turn to comfort food like this pumpkin breakfast quinoa. As it thickens in the slow cooker, the quinoa takes on the consistency of a porridge rather than fluffy grains when it boils. It is hearty, flavorful, and filling. I feel better already. Enjoy!

Winter Squash Week 10 021 Edited Pumpkin Breakfast Quinoa & Hello New Year

Pumpkin Breakfast Quinoa
 
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 4 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup maple or agave syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • For Garnish
  • dried cranberries or other dried fruit of your choice
  • toasted walnuts or other nut of your choice
Instructions
  1. Oil or spray the slow cooker insert with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Combine all ingredients except the dried fruit and nuts reserved for garnish in the slow cooker.
  3. Stir well, cover and cook on low until the quinoa is soft and thickened, four to six hours.
  4. Dish into bowls and garnish with dried fruit and nuts. Enjoy while still warm.
Notes
The original recipe called for a cook time of six to seven hours, however my quinoa was well done after four hours.