Welcome December, Welcome Winter

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Happy December! I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I was fortunate to spend the day (actually several days) with family from all over the country. Thanksgiving is undoubtedly one of my favorite holidays. Without the pressure of gift-giving or decorating that comes with Christmas, Thanksgiving is time to gather with family in the kitchen and around the table to share stories, exciting news and partake in a delicious meal – obviously my favorite part!

With all this in mind, I have for you two wonderful recipes for this time of year. If you are looking to hold onto those last notes of autumn then this Pumpkin Bread is for you. On the other hand, as we start to fully embrace December I welcome you to enjoy a delicious roasted acorn squash recipe.

I must apologize for the poor photo quality. I was totally out of my element when I prepared these dishes and simply snapped some pics on my phone – so lame! Hopefully, I will make these again in the coming weeks and can get up some new pictures. However, I didn’t want to wait to get these wonderful recipes out to you – they are 100% delicious, so please don’t let my awful pictures hold you back!

Enjoy!

Tita

PS: Be on the lookout for lots of  posts prior to the Holidays **hint hint: nomz worthy spiced biscotti pictured below**

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Simple Pumpkin Bread

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 can canned pumpkin (16 oz)
  • 3 cups flour – make sure to fluff flour before measuring (don’t pack it in!)
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons of baking soda (make sure it’s fresh!)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 ½ tablespoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon cloves (preferable freshly ground!)
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Prepare loaf pans with non-stick spray – two large loaf pans or several mini (likely 4-5, depending on how full you like them!)
  2. Using mixer, beat sugar and oil with paddle attachment. Add in eggs one at a time. Slowly mix in pumpkin, water and vanilla extract. Blend well on medium speed for 2-3 minutes.
  3. In medium sized bowl mix together dry ingredients – flour, cinnamon, clove, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, baking soda and a pinch of salt.
  4. Feel free to mix in any add-ins you like – dark chocolate, crystallized ginger, hazelnuts, pecans – they are all delicious!
  5. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake for about an hour or until toothpick inserted comes out cleanly.

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Stuffed Acorn Squash

Serves 6

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Ingredients:

  • 3 acorn squash, cut in half with seeds/gunk scooped out
  • 4 tablespoons of butter, melted
  • 6 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ pound boneless, thin chicken breast
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 limes, juiced (approximately 3-4 tablespoons)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon of cayenne (omit if you don’t like spice)
  • ½ cup cooked quinoa
  • 2 loosely-packed cups of baby spinach
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • sharp white cheddar cheese (I like Whole Foods seaside cheddar)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F
  2. Line acorn squash in baking pan – trim bottoms if squash won’t sit flat – brush the flesh of acorn squash with melted butter, make sure you coat the whole inside! Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of brown sugar in each squash half. Season with salt and pepper and a little dash of cinnamon (about ¼ teaspoon). Bake in oven for 50-55 minutes (lower-middle rack).
  3. Meanwhile, prep the chicken breast and bake in same oven as squash. Place the chicken in a baking dish and toss with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Bake for 10 minutes. Then toss your baby spinach and shallots in with chicken so it can wilt and cook a bit. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until chicken is cooked all the way through. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then shred chicken with two forks.
  4. Mix up olive oil, lime juice, garlic, cumin, cayenne and remaining cinnamon (approx. 1 tsp) – add salt and pepper to preference. Then combine with wilted spinach, shallot, chicken, and quinoa.
  5. When squashes are ready, pull them out of the oven. Using silicone brush coat squash again with any liquid that has pooled up – don’t worry about extra liquid, it’s extra delicious! Evenly distribute quinoa/chicken mixture among squash. Shred cheddar over stuffed squash to get a nice topping.
  6. Put the squash back in the oven until the cheese is melt-y and everything is nice and warm!
  7. If you want, prepare squash ahead and then throw them in a 300°F oven for about 30 minutes – or until heated through and cheese has melted.
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