I love the holidays as much as the next person but I learned early on that while the Winter holidays can be a time for fun and family they can easily turn into a time of stress and chaos. I choose fun!
In fact, I've actually put my foot down on all of the over-spending, over-indulging and over-eating madness. It's easy to get caught up in all the holiday rush and fluff what with every single store that you go into decked out in holiday propaganda starting the day after Halloween! * Boooo! I've found that the more you think you need, the more unhappy and stressed you are.
So, I decided to do what I can, when I have time and only if it is something we love doing. I happen to love cooking, more specifically I love cooking foods that are good for you that are still delicious. Fall foods happen to be one of the most flavorful with the least amount of effort and additions IMO. Rather than cooking one BIG, unnecessary holiday meal this year with four attention-hogging, albeit beautiful children running amuck, I decided to cook all of our favorite Thanksgiving dishes separately and as complete meals over the couple of weeks before T-Day.
Squashes, potatoes, yams, cranberries, leafy greens and oh-yes... Turkey. Taking the time to actually ENJOY each one rather than stuffing ourselves into a food induced coma. Tonight was squash night, and oh what a night it was! A complete meal that was so so so simple, beautiful and flavourful my whole family Oooo'd and Awwww'd at the goodness of it. Goodness is too a word, look it up ;).
TIME 30-45 MINUTES SERVES 4-6 You Will Need:
2 acorn squash
1 cup cooked wild rice ( I use leftover rice)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 TBSP olive oil
1/2 Vidallia onion, chopped
3/4 cup diced celery
1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup cranberries
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 cup dried apricots, diced OR 1/2 cup diced fresh apples
Ground Turkey, cooked
*Calorie Saver: Skip the cheese and bread, these are so seasonally delicious and savory with fresh ingredients you really don't want to cover it up with cheese!
Putting it all together:
Cut the acorn squash in half to make a bowl. Scoop out seeds and membranes with a spoon, discard. I microwaved them in a large, deep plate for 15 minutes. You can bake them if you'd rather at 400F for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a cast iron skillet oil over medium-high heat, add onion and celery, saute 4-5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Add cooked rice, nuts, fruits and spices. Stir to combine. Scoop filling into partially cooked acorn bowls. Place on a foil lined baking sheet and bake at 400F for 20 minutes.