Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Baked Acorn Squash

Baked Acorn Squash

I always saw acorn and butternut squash prepared as Fall veggies. I never tried 
any of it until this Autumn. I prepared the acorn squash and found I had been missing out
on an easy, yummy and healthful veggie. Lots of vitamin A in those yellow veggies.
I'll try the butternut squash next and fill you in on how that goes!

one acorn squash
baking dish 
4 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
*1 slice of onion coarsely chopped -Optional


Preheat oven to 400*
Put 1/2 cup water in baking dish so the squash skins won't burn
Wash exterior of acorn squash
Slice squash in half with cleaver
Scoop out seeds in middle
Put squash halves in baking dish with cut sides up.
Place the next ingredients in hollows of the squash.
 2 Tbsp butter 
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 onion slice per half of squash if desired.
Dash of Salt and pepper
Take the 1/4 cup of plain bread crumbs and divide between the two squash halves.
 Bake at 400* until tender all the way down to the skins.
The skins of the squash become tender and thinner.

Allow the squash halves to cool and you can use them as individual servings  and eat them right out of the skins. 

Baked Acorn Squash ready to take out of the oven.
This smelled so good and tasted even better! 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mess O' Greens--Collards!

Mess O' Collard Greens

    I was surprised recently to learn that my mother-in-law who is an outstanding cook
and expert baker and all around A plus gold star homemaker material did not know what collard greens were!   I suppose its a regional thing.  We are from Virginia's Shenandoah Valley and mountain region where there is a heavy German and Scots Irish influence.
We take for granted that everyone should know what souse and scrapple are, but it is not the case.   Collard greens are in the cabbage family, but don't form a head like cabbage.
They are wonderful tasting and packed with vitamins and nutrition.  I struggled for years to learn to like greens without much success until I tried collards.  Yum! I could sit down and eat them all by themselves.  They are Southern goodness at its finest.  Sweet P's Barbeque and Soul House prepares them sauteed with other veggies and they are manna from Heaven!  My brother-in-law, Doug Graham prepares them with ham and onions and they are perfection!  I am pleased  with myself that I did not give up on greens when turnip greens did not really do it for me.  Oh what I'd have been missing!  A "mess" of something is a big batch.  Southerners don't know how to fix a little bit of anything.

The recipe below to prepare them is simple and basic. Taught to me by a man I'd never met before in Food Lion grocery store.  The secret to fixing and liking collards or any greens is getting rid of the "grassy" taste by par boiling.

Here is me holding a bunch of fresh collards in the kitchen. You can find them in most produce sections of good grocery stores.

Big kettle
Large bunch of collard greens
ham or fat meat

unbundle greens and wash thoroughly in kitchen sink to remove
any mud, sand or grit.
Chop greens on cutting board removing the tough center stalk.
I cut that out and use all the rest. Chopping my greens by rolling up the leaves
and using a large kitchen cleaver to chop into medium pieces.

Par boil greens in water for 10 min or so then pour through a colander to strain out greens
in sink. This is the key to getting rid of the "green, grassy" taste that can be unpleasant.
*Edited to say:  Doug has a recipe that cuts out the par boil without being "grassy" and preserves 100% of the nutrition and vitamins poured off in the first draining. I'll learn it and repost later.

Replace greens in kettle with fresh water, salt to taste, pepper, chopped onion and ham or fat meat.  I fixed this mess like Doug does with peppers and onions and a few carrots for colors.  Tasty and pretty too!

Bring greens back to a boil for 5 min. reduce heat and boil for 15 min.
Then simmer slow for an hour to allow them to become tender and soak up the flavors.

Great served with corn bread for pot likker. 

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients for cake:
One box Duncan Hines Spice Cake
3 large eggs
1/2 cup butter milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 15 oz can pumpkin
1 cup shredded Angel flake coconut

Ingredients for frosting:

1 8 oz cream cheese softened to room temp.
1/2 stick butter softened to room temp.
3/4 box or bag ( 12 oz) of powdered sugar
1 cup Chopped pecans for topping-optional

Directions for cake:
Pre-heat oven to 325*
Grease and flour or spray with Bakers Joy 13x9 no stick pan
Beat all ingredients together for cake for 2 min. and pour into pan.
Bake for 35 min or til cake springs back when lightly touched and a butter knife inserted through center of cake comes out clean.

Remove cake from oven and allow to cool completely on rack.
Frost with cream cheese frosting and top with chopped pecans

Directions for cream cheese frosting:

Blend 8 oz cream cheese, butter together in large bowl.
Blend in powdered sugar in portions til all included and creamy.
Use to frost cake.

Keep cake stored in fridge to keep fresh.