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Chef Andy: A Thanksgiving treat, Apple Baked Acorn Squash

By Andy Mueller

With Thanksgiving gatherings likely adjusted this year, it’s important to change the way we approach the fare on the table.

Heaping bowls of dressing may not heap so high, and the 20-pound turkey may be replaced by something half that size.

Recipes will need to be adjusted, maybe even simplified, and I’m here to help.

Local Chef Andy Mueller

If you’re like me, the turkey is great, but it’s the sides that convince me to overeat year after year.

Creamy mashed potatoes with gravy, fluffy sage infused sausage dressing, cucumber salad, and my favorite treat, Apple Baked Acorn Squash.

Fresh cut honeycrisp apples tossed with cinnamon, sugar and topped with butter and baked golden is that cold weather comfort food that makes me give thanks every year.

It has the home-filling aroma similar to apple pie, but is much easier to make and just as satisfying.

It also falls into the gluten-free category as the shell replaces the normal crust and has a warm creamy texture.

The recipe is basic, but doesn’t have to stay that way.

You can add walnuts or pecans to the mix, raisins or dried cranberries add a nice texture, and if you want that extra bit of gooey sweetness, you can top the squash with mini marshmallows during the last 10 minutes of cooking.

The beauty of this dish is in its simplicity.

One medium-sized apple fills half of the acorn squash.

It’s as simple as cutting the squash in half, scooping out the seeds and strings, then add the filling and bake.

One acorn squash can feed two people generously, or four people nicely, considering there are going to be quite a few sides you need to find room for on your plate.

Few foods are as versatile as the squash, and even fewer are as satisfying.

Whether it’s sweet, savory or a combination of both, squash can fit the bill and create culinary memories that can last a lifetime.

Experiment with this recipe for Apple Baked Acorn Squash, try it out this Thanksgiving and you may find it good enough to crack the starting lineup.

Apple Baked Acorn Squash

(This recipe can be doubled or tripled or more.)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Cut in half, then scoop out the seeds and strings of 1 acorn squash, place on a baking sheet, cut side up.

In a mixing bowl. add:

2 medium-sized Honeycrisp apples, peeled, cored and diced into 1/2 inch cubes.

2 tablespoons brown sugar.

1 tablespoon sugar.

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.

1 teaspoon cornstarch.

A pinch of nutmeg.

A pinch of salt.

2 tablespoons melted butter.

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract.

Optional ingredients – 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, 1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins.

Mix ingredients to blend evenly.

Divide apple mixture evenly into each acorn squash.

Top each squash with 1 tablespoon of chilled butter.

Bake for 1 hour or until squash and apples are tender.

If you want, you can top each half with mini marshmallows and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes or until marshmallows are golden brown. Enjoy.

Chef Andy Mueller is owner/chef of Galley 57 Supper Club in Bellevue – galley57.com.

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