Butternut Squash

To celebrate the second day of Autumn, I roasted a butternut squash, my first of the season.  Since I hate waste, I also roasted the seeds into crunchy, salty scrumptiousness.  Here’s some imprecise instructions for you, for both:

1.  Start by hacking the squash in half lengthwise with a sharp, heavy knife and scooping out the seeds.  Place the squash halves face down in a baking pan with a litte water, and place it in a 375 degree oven.  Don’t worry about being precise on the oven temp; if you’re baking something else at 425 or 350, that will work too.

2.  While it bakes, clean the seeds of any squash pulp and put them in a small pan with a little vegetable oil (not olive, it burns).  Make sure all the seeds are thoroughly coated, and place it in the oven with the squash.

3.  Check the seeds after about 10 mins and give them a stir.  They’ll probably need a little more time.  You’ll know they’re done when they are crunchy and golden but not burned to a crisp.  I didn’t time it, but I think it took about 20 minutes.

4.  To check the squash for doneness, just stab it with a fork.  If the fork goes in easily, it’s done.  If not, give it more time.  This could take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.

From there, you can do whatever you want with the squash!  I made mine into soup, but you could also mash it and eat, or chop it and add it to all kinds of things, or even put it into a pumpkin pie or other baked goods.

The seeds should be drained on paper towels and salted and enjoyed.  Sharing is optional.

Healthy Indulgences

I love peanut butter.  I love chocolate.  I love peanut butter and chocolate together!  So today when the craving hit, I had to come up with something that didn’t involve making an oreo run.  This is what I came up with:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls (No-Bake!)

1/2 c rolled oats

3/4 c natural peanut butter, at room temperature

2 Tbls cocoa powder

2 Tbls ground flax seed

2-3 Tbls liquid sweetener (I used half honey, half maple syrup)

chocolate chips (optional)

pinch of salt, if using unsalted PB

1.  Put everything but the chocolate chips in the food processor and pulse until just combined.  Add the chocolate chips and pulse a few more times until they’re incorporated but not chopped up too much.  You could also mix this by hand.  The texture will be a little different but they’ll taste about the same.

2.  Roll the mixture into balls about 1 Tbls each, and place them in your mouth on waxed paper.

3.  Try not to eat them all at once!

Baked Tofu

Tofu is one of those tricky foods that we enjoy so much when it is deep-fried in our pad thai, but when we try to make it at home, it is often bewildering and intimidating. What to do with this wiggly white block?

Bake it.

Beyond your basic scramble, this is the easiest, simplest way to enjoy tofu. You’ll get a chewy outer coating and silky insides, perfect for chopping into a salad or stir-fry, or even on a sandwich. Plus, it takes very little effort, so if you have the oven on for something else, you might as well throw a few slabs of tofu in there.

You can see I sampled the final product.

Ingredients:

1 block of tofu, firm or extra-firm

soy sauce, or other thin sauce of choice (my mom has barbecued it successfully!)

salt and pepper, or other seasonings (skip the herbs, they burn)

1. Slice the tofu lengthwise into slabs. I made three this time, about 1/2″ thick. You could slice it the other way too, if you want. Thickness is up to you, just be sure to reduce the cooking time if you make very skinny slices. Blot dry with paper towels; no need to be super thorough here.

2. Place the slabs on a baking sheet, either non-stick or sprayed lightly with oil. Brush with soy sauce; you don’t need much. I squirted a little on each and spread it with my fingers. Then sprinkle with salt and pepper if desired (I used Slap Ya Mama of course)

3. Bake at 425 for 30-60 minutes, until a light golden crust has formed. No need to flip them, the bottoms will brown too.

Enjoy! I chopped some of mine into cubes and added them to an eggplant salad. Maybe I’ll share that recipe another day. The remainder will be a yummy sandwich tomorrow.