anyone who knows me knows how obsessed i am with autumn and winter. in fact, one of the first memories my husband has of me is seeing this strange girl walking around our sunny san diego college campus during winter all bundled up in a winter coat and scarf–there’s always a scarf on, november to march. you see, it’s not that i can’t handle a slight breeze in the air; i can. in fact, i pray really hard every day for that slight breeze to turn into a huge gust–preferably with snow. but living in coastal southern california that’s just not bound to happen–sleet, maybe, but soft, beautiful, powdery snow? not exactly. so when we DO receive even the slightest hint of a chill in the air, i squeal with delight and bundle myself up…all in celebration of winter. oh Cold, how i love you so.
needless to say, i love autumn and winter. all the yummy seasonal food is one of the main reasons of this, and topping my favorite food list is winter squash. i have to admit, when i walked into henry’s a month ago and saw their autumn squash display in the middle of the store, an audible squeak left my mouth as i gasped in delight–and almost nearly ran into the flyer stand. and topping the list of squash is butternut squash–just ask my husband how passionate i am about butternut squash…in fact, i truly believe that spring and summer exist for the sole purpose of allowing the orange tint of my skin to fade back into my normal pasty white (yes, believe it or not, my skin tone can actually fade; i never knew that was possible). oh butternut squash, how i love you so. (hmm, i love a lot of things “so”…)
1 kabocha squash, small butternut squash, or 2 c. pumpkin puree
4 oz. neufchatel cheese, softened
1/2 c. fat-free sour cream
1 tsp. brown sugar
1 T. honey
nutmeg, to taste
cinnamon, to taste
cayenne, to taste
chili powder, to taste
1) preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2) (for step-by-step instructions with photos, see here.) cut squash in half from top to bottom. scoop out seeds and strings. place in glass pan cut side down. add a little bit of water into the pan so squash doesn’t stick to bottom and to give the meat a bit of moisture while it roasts. bake for 45-60 minutes, or until tender when poked with a fork.
3) remove squash from oven. allow to cool for about 5 minutes, or until you can touch it without burning your little fingers.
4) scoop out cooked meat with a spoon and place into a small mixing bowl.
5) add remaining ingredients. (note: i didn’t put measurements for the spices because i feel like everyones taste buds are different. so add to taste, remembering that it’s better to add a little bit at a time rather than too much, because you can always add more spice but can never take it back out. also, if you prefer it to be sweet only and not spicy, feel free to eliminate the cayenne and chili powders. i added it in there because my husband and i like sweet and spicy mixtures, and like to have a little kick on the back of our tongues when we eat. but i promise you won’t be disappointed if you keep it in there. just add a bit to taste but not enough to make you breath fire out of your mouth.)
6) blend with an electric hand mixer until smooth. serve and enjoy!
we ate this with pieces of fresh pita bread (from our local farmers market, yum!) and with apple slices. but i’m sure it would taste just as good with pita chips, carrot sticks, graham cracker pieces, etc. i even contemplated spreading it on a slice of pumpkin bread like pumpkin butter.