Squash Casserole

I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve last posted, almost 2 months!!! I guess I’ve just been too busy living… 🙂

Today it’s a throwback… all the way to the 1960’s when casserole was king.

A fantastic 1966 cookbook that was my nanny’s… I’m sure it would be a top seller these days. And no we aren’t making Poached Salmon in Aspic, but that would be soooo vintage of me. After I figured out was aspic was…

I completely understand why casseroles were such a big deal.

1) It’s easy.

2) It’s relatively inexpensive.

3) It’s a complete meal in one dish… veggies, protein, and delicious.

4) You can feed an army… or myself for a week.

This squash casserole comes from Mrs. Judy, my sunday school and pre-school teacher for many years while we lived in Texas. The amount of love she has for everyone is immeasurable. She is true salt and light. (Matthew 5:13-16) She was a champion in the kitchen and she made the best bread-and-butter pickles ever.

One of the most remarkable women I have ever met and likely will ever meet.

The casserole is so filling, creamy, crunchy, and yet another reason to thank Mrs. Judy.

Start with some fresh veggies, including the obvious and necessary Summer Squash. Zucchini can easily be used as a substitute.

And some other, less obvious vegetables.

Saute the onion, bell pepper, celery, and green onion until just softened. Then add in the squash and saute slightly, making sure it is still crisp.

Sausage or “Sausage” is the protein of the dish. These links easily crumbled for incorporation into the casserole. It just needs a quick saute to brown it up.

Non-vegetarians, Jimmy Dean ground sausage is written in the recipe or to lighten it up, a Turkey sausage would work great.

When Mrs. Judy wrote this recipe I doubt there was a such thing as turkey sausage. It’s that vintage.

There aren’t too many step by step photos, why you ask? It’s a casserole! You just throw it all together, pop it in the oven and 20 minutes later… “ding!” Ready to eat!

Stand on your chartreuse shag carpet, in your shift dress, listening to the Beatles, take a trip back in time and whip yourself up some squash casserole.

Here’s How to Do It:

1 lb. Sausage

2 tsp. Olive Oil (if using low-fat sausage or sausage substitute)

1 small Onion, diced

1 Bell Pepper, diced

3-5 Celery stalks, diced

3-4 small to medium Yellow Squash, halved and sliced (about 1 to 2 lbs.)

1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup

1 cup Yogurt (plain) or Sour Cream

1 cup Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix

1 cup Grated Cheddar Cheese

1-2 tbsp. butter, melted

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9X13 baking dish.

If using real sausage, cook and break up the sausage until browned. Drain off any excess fat, keeping a small amount in the pan for the vegetables. If using vegetarian sausage, break up and brown slightly in a saute pan. Pour into the 9X13 baking dish.

Cook the onion, bell pepper, and celery in olive oil. Cook until almost softened and then add in the squash. Saute 5-7 minutes to cook the squash but it should still be crisp. Pour the cooked veggies into the dish with the sausage.

While the veggies cook down, combine the mushroom soup and yogurt or sour cream in a medium sized bowl. Pour into the 9X13 baking dish and stir the sausage, vegetables, and soup mixture all together to combine.

Combine the stuffing mix, cheese, and melted butter into a small bowl and sprinkle over the casserole to cover.

Bake in the oven at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

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Butternut Squash Enchiladas

It was a very productive Sunday. I checked quite a few things off of my to do list.

Take out the garbage – Check.

Work-out – Check.

Shave legs – A much needed Check.

Clean and change the cat litter – A much despised Check. Ps. WHY on earth is it that every time I change Ollie’s litter, he just has to use it literally the next minute?!?! We can’t just have a clean litter box for even an hour, please?!?

Phone calls to the family – Check.

My conversation with my Nanny was a real pick-me-up. It went a little something like this…

Ally: “What have you been up to lately?”

Nanny: “Oh I have been pretty busy as of late, I’ve got a new trainer at the gym (she’s 87, and she’ll probably kill me for revealing her age), I’m going to learn how to play Mahjong with a few friends this week, I’ve got a couple doctor’s appointments coming up, and my Bible study luncheon this Tuesday.”

Ally: “Geez, Nanny, it sounds like you’re going to be pretty busy for the next few weeks.”

Nanny: “But you know me, Ally… I thrive on this stuff.”

I laughed….When I’m 87, I hope I still have something I thrive on…. or even when I’m 25…. she is quite the inspiration.

Right now, I thrive on cooking and sharing with all of you… like these butternut squash enchiladas.

My parents came in town for a visit a few weeks ago, right after my mom’s birthday. I decided to take them out to dinner since I didn’t have enough time or forethought to get her a real gift. We went to this great modern Mexican restaurant Cactus. I ordered the butternut squash enchiladas and man oh man were they good. So good that I decided to try and replicate the thing at home and if I do say so myself… it worked out pretty well…. except for the enchilada part…

I made one mini-batch that was kind of in enchilada form (see above) but when I went to my larger dish, all the tortillas were breaking apart, along with my dreams of perfection…. so  my enchiladas turned into more of an enchilada lasagna….

Start with caramelizing a sweet onion in some oil (vegetable or olive) with all the spices. I went with canola because it has a higher smoking point or at least I think I heard that on some Food Network show.

Add the squash and get your cheese together and you’re now ready to assemble.

Oh yeah… did I mention there are two kinds of cheese in here. Goat cheese and Jack cheese and it all gets so melty and delicious.

You’ve got to try this.

Here’s how to do it.

Butternut Squash Enchiladas

Servings: 8

Ingredients:

2 c. Butternut Squash, Cubed

5 oz. Goat Cheese

1/3 c. Sour Cream

12 oz. Jack Cheese, Grated

15 oz. bag of chopped frozen Spinach

1 Sweet Onion

2 Cloves Garlic

1/4 c. Oil + more for drizzle on the Squash

8-10 Corn Tortillas

2 c. Prepared Enchilada Sauce (I used Rosarita)

A little of each of the following spices: Cumin, Chili Powder, Cumin, Salt, and Pepper. (I forgot to measure… oops.)

Instructions:

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees to roast the squash. Drizzle olive oil over the squash, add salt, pepper, a few sprinkles of cumin, a small pinch of cayenne and chili powder. Cook the squash until just softened, about 15 minutes.

While the oven heats up add the oil to a saute pan to heat up. Cut the onion in half once and slice. Mince garlic. Add onion to hot oil and cook until translucent. Then add garlic and some more of the same spices from above. You’ll want the onion to have a nice color after adding the spices. But don’t get too heavy handed.

As that softens away, grate the jack cheese. Also combine the goat cheese and sour cream. It will still be a little chunky but an easier consistency to spread.

Thaw the frozen spinach and then press out all of the liquid. There will be a lot of this and will stop everything from getting too runny.

Add the thawed spinach and cooked squash to the onions and garlic.

Assembly:

Put a little enchilada sauce on the bottom of the dish. Spread the goat cheese mixture on to the corn tortillas and lay tortillas, cheese side up, to cover the bottom of the dish. Add a little bit more sauce on top of the tortillas. Then add the spinach, onion, and squash mixture. Sprinkle with cheese and top with a little extra drizzle of the enchilada sauce. Cover with another layer of corn tortillas with the goat cheese spread, a little more sauce, veggies, cheese, etc. Top with a final layer of tortillas with the goat cheese spread face down, cover with sauce and sprinkle with cheese.

I got about 2 layers out of it and my dish was about a 8X11 oval. If you want to make a larger batch or a few more layers, it would be real easy to just prep more of everything.

Bake in the oven at 350 for 20-30 minutes. It really just needs to be heated through.