Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Squash Casserole Recipe

A few people asked about the recipe for squash casserole I mentioned a few times on facebook. This recipe is adapted from another recipe (see below), but I tweaked it a bit after making it the first time to cut some of the extra fat and to obtain a firmer, less soggy result. Don't get me tasted great making it just as printed, but I found that leaving out some of the extra fat it called for didn't affect its taste and gave a firmer texture.

Summer Squash Casserole
adapted from "Summer Squash Casserole with Nuts" by Paula on
8 servings


1 pound summer squash, sliced
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 tablespoon white sugar
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoon milk
1 egg
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
4 ounces sliced pancetta, cooked & drained (blot off any extra fat)-optional
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 tablespoon butter


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add squash, and cook until tender. Drain well.

3. Place squash in a large mixing bowl. Mash well. If there seems to be a lot of extra liquid, drain some off so you won't end up with a soggy result. Mix bell pepper, sugar, onion, egg, mayonnaise, salt and pepper, cheese, nuts, and pancetta (optional) to the mixture. Transfer the mixture to a 1-quart casserole dish. Top with bread crumbs. Dot with the butter.

4. Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 to 40 minutes.

5. Allow casserole to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

I've also made this recipe with bacon instead of pancetta, but the result was not tasty. For some reason, the bacon got rubbery during the baking of the casserole, but the pancetta didn't. Once when we were out of pecans, I used walnuts which turned out pretty good.

When you cut up the squash to cook it, you can scrape out the seeds or leave them in. I've made this both ways. If you leave the seeds in, you'll end up with more liquid when you mash the squash, but you can just drain some of it off. I usually leave the seeds in unless they are really large and tough.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Dinner Report #1

Well, my friends, here is the first post of my Dinner Report blog--made just for you all. I've had lots of nice feedback from my friends on Facebook about the "dinner reports" I've posted. It's kind of cool since I was really posting things about what I'd made for dinner because, sadly, nothing more interesting happened on that day.

But, you know, I like to cook, so talking, or writing, about it is fun for me. I like trying new recipes, cooking old favorites, and tweaking recipes with good (and sometimes odd) results (like the time I mixed up cardamom and coriander in the recipe for Black Bean-Sweet Potato Burritos).

Anyway, here is the first recipe I'm posting. It was the last thing I posted about on Facebook, so I thought it appropriate to start with this one. The official title is Spinach and Sausage Deep-Dish Pie. We always just called it Spinach-Sausage Pie. I'm not sure where the recipe came from, originally. My mom cut it out of a magazine many years ago and pasted it onto a recipe card, but there's nothing to indicate which magazine.

Spinach-Sausage Pie

1 pound Italian Sausage, cooked and drained
4 beaten eggs
1 10 ounce package of frozen spinach, thawed and well-drained
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
1 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
Pie crust pastry (enough for a two crust pie)

1 beaten egg
1 Tbs. water

In a bowl, combine the four beaten eggs, the spinach, mozzarella, undrained cottage cheese, milk, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Stir in sausage; set aside.

Prepare pie crust, set aside 1/3 of pastry. On a lightly flowered surface, roll out remaining pastry to a 14 inch square. Transfer to an 8x8x2 square baking pan; line with pastry. Fill with sausage mixture. Roll out reserved pastry to a 12 inch square. Place atop filling, folding edges under sides of bottom crust. Seal and flute edges.

Combine remaining egg and water; brush over pastry. Cut slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape. Cover the edges of the crust with foil. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. Remove foil. Bake for an additional 35 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

I used an already prepared pie crust from the grocery store (I think it was Pillsbury.) I can make pie crust, but using the already made crust cut way down on prep time. I use part skim-milk mozarrella, low-fat cottage cheese, and non-fat milk, which cuts down the fat a little bit but doesn't affect the flavor or texture. Definitely allow the pie to rest before serving; this will give the filling time to set. This reheats fairly well in the microwave.

If you want to make your own pie crust, here's the basic pie crust recipe my mom always uses and which I use too.

Plain Pastry
from Better Homes and Gardens Pies and Cakes, copyright Meredith Corporation 1966.

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup shortening
5 to 7 Tbs. cold water

Sift together flour and salt; cut in shortening with a pastry blender or fork until pieces are the size of small peas. Sprinkle 1 Tbs. water over part of mixture. Gently toss with fork; push to side of bowl. Sprinkle next Tbs. of water over dry part; mix lightly; push to moistened part at side.Repeat until all is moistened. Divide dough and form into two balls. Flatten ball on lightly floured surface. Roll from center to edge until dough is 1/8 inch thick.

I can remember my mom making this when I was a kid. I didn't care much for it because I didn't really like spinach or pie crust. My tastes have changed since then. I still don't want to eat a big ol' plate of spinach, but I like it in things, and I have developed a taste for pie crust too. I just wish I could develop a taste for all the super-healthy foods I happen to dislike too. I'm working on it.