My Favorite Herbed Stuffing (Vegetarian Recipe)

My Most Favorite Herbed Stuffing - Christmas - Kate from Scratch

This is my absolute favorite stuffing recipe. It’s rich and luxurious and decadent for the holidays yet it’s still vegetarian. The cranberries add a bit of tart sweetness to the savory stuffing and the pecan cracker crumble adds a richness that’s perfect for the holidays.

I like to soak the cranberries in apple cider before adding them to the top, but you can soak them in whatever your heart desires that you think would be a good fit for the dish, naturally.  This can be stuffed inside acorn squash halves and baked for an impressive vegetarian main course too.   I usually serve this and my mashed potatoes with a side of port mushroom gravy as well.  That recipe will be coming soon.

Happy Christmas to You and Yours!


My Most Favorite Herbed Stuffing


  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 teaspoon molasses
  • 2 cups vegetarian vegetable broth, seasoned to taste
  • 1 tablespoon rubbed sage
  • 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons thyme
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon orange or clementine zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream or cream cheese
  • 18 ounces toasted bread cubes (white and wheat combined)
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • 1-2 cups sweetened dried cranberries soaked in apple cider (substitute fresh cranberries rolled in sugar, if desired
  • 1 cup butter cracker crumbs (AKA ritz cracker crumbs)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • salt and pepper to taste

For Stuffing: In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, add celery, carrots, onion and shallots and sauté until tender.  Add all remaining ingredients except for breadcrumbs and reduce heat to low.  Cover.  Allow ingredients to lightly warm together, stirring occasionally until it comes to a light and gently simmer.   Add breadcrumbs and stir until fully incorporated.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Spoon stuffing mixture into a lightly buttered 2 quart casserole dish.

For Topping:  Presoak the dried cranberries in 1/2 cup of apple cider while preparing stuffing mixture.   Remove cranberries and reserve cider.  Lightly toss together cracker crumbs, chopped pecans and soaked cranberries.  Add salt and pepper to taste, if desired.  Sprinkle topping over stuffing.  Spoon or lightly drizzle reserved apple cider evenly over the corners or edges of the stuffing before baking.

Note:  You can make this ahead and refrigerate for up to one day before baking.

To Bake/Heat:  Preheat oven to 35o degrees F.  Bake in preheated oven uncovered for a crispy texture or covered for more moist stuffing for forty minutes or until hot.







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Christmas Dinner (Recipe: Crock Pot Sauerbraten)

I’m hosting Christmas dinner this year, so I thought I’d share with you what I’ll be making over the next several days for the big day.

For dessert I’ll be making a spice cake with cream cheese frosting, a German chocolate cake, a pecan pie, an apple pie and several batches of Christmas and chocolate chip cookies.

Our Christmas dinner menu includes a five-pound sauerbraten roast.   It has a lot of ingredients, but it cooks in the slow cooker, which, really is a nice thing when you’ve got your hands full with small children and guests.  Serve it with red cabbage to really up the Germanic sweet and sour factor.  This part of the menu stems from my mother’s side of the family who sort of reminds me of a modern-day Von Trapp family when they all get together.

In addition to that, though, we will also be having a lot of traditional American dishes such as a glazed ham and herbed stuffing with cranberries that pairs really nicely with a mushroom port gravy that I absolutely adore.

first snow-2

For our vegetables I’ll be making sweet corn, broccoli with a light and mild cheese sauce, and roasted root vegetables with brown sugar, rosemary, sage and butter that turns nutty and brown when roasted with the vegetables.  I use rutabaga, sweet potato and butternut squash cubed up evenly.  It’s a nice alternative to the traditional yet overly sweet marshmallow-covered dish you sometimes see at family gatherings.

You’ll notice that all the side dishes are vegetarian which is why I offer to make the dinner myself.  The meat part is easy because it’s a recipe I trust and I have a lot of people willing to taste for me on that day.  You’d be surprised how many families of vegetarians consider bacon and herb.   It is not.  By making everything myself I know that I can eat almost everything without a worry in the world.



Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Happy Holidays to all!

Christmas Card 2014

Crock Pot Sauerbraten

Serves 10

For Marinating

  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups Red wine vinegar
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 1 lemon sliced
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 beef bullion cubes, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 6 whole peppercorns


  • 5 1/2 pounds Rump Roast

For Slow Cooking

  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup broken gingersnaps
  1. In a large removable liner, combine all the marinade ingredients.  Add roast to the marinade and seal.
  2. Refrigerate 36 to 72 hours before cooking, turning occasionally.  The longer the meat marinates, the spicier it will get.
  3. Remove meat from marinade.  Strain marinade reserving one cup.
  4. Place chopped onion, carrot and celery in the bottom of the removable liner.  Place meat over the vegetables. Pour reserved cup of marinade over all.
  5. Place liner in slow cooker base.  Cover and cook on auto 7-8 hours, or on low 9-11 hours or on high for five hours.  Remove meat to carving board and let sit 15 to 20 minutes to rest and firm up before carving.   Add gingersnaps to liquid in cooker and cook on high for 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Slice meat and ladle on sauce.
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Salt Dough Ornaments

Salt Dough OrnamentsForgive my lack of posting in recent weeks.  I’ve been battling the tempestuous nature of Christmas shopping and I’m now happy to report that I have exhaustively executed my to do list.  I may now even consider myself completely done with all of my Christmas shopping.

The only issue is that my version of “done” is a relative term; meaning that if I remember that I forgot something, then I won’t be done, will I?  Probably not.  Fortunately I do not think I forgot anything, at least as far as presents are concerned.  Now, it’s nearly time to start focusing on the rather large family Christmas dinner I’ll be hosting.   The days just fly by this time of year.

Salt Dough Ornaments-4

For today, or maybe this weekend, if you’re feeling peculiarly crafty, try making these.  They’re not edible but they are very fun and keep tiny hands busy.  They’re made with inexpensive basic pantry ingredients.  The salt within the dough helps to preserve them, provided they’re sealed from moisture.  Holding onto a day that just flies by for years to come (via hand-crafted keepsake) can never be a terrible thing.

It’s all the fun of classic roll out christmas cookies without all the sugar and sprinkles.  You can paint them, you can roll them in glitter, you can brush them with glue and wrap them in foil or wrapping paper.  You can do whatever you’d like to them and they’ll last at least a generation.  If they drop on the ground, or accidentally get tumbled into or shot with a nerf gun, they won’t break.  And, around here, that’s a pretty nice bonus quality to have in Christmas ornaments.

Salt Dough Ornaments

  • 2 cup flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup water (or more as needed)
  • ornament hooks (or drinking straw)
  • holiday cookie cutters
  • non-toxic acrylic varnish

You’ll need a rolling pin, cookie sheet, parchment paper (if desired for less dishes), acrylic paints, paintbrush and (the optional choices of) foil, printed or wrapping paper and glitter.

  1.  Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

  2.  Whisk together the salt and flour in a large mixing bowl.

  3.  Add water and mix.

  4.  Sprinkle parchment paper with a bit of flour and roll out the dough to desired thickness.

  5.  Cut dough using holiday cookie cutter shapes. Remove cutout ornament and place onto parchment lined or ungreased cookie sheet.

  6.  If using ornament hooks, place gently into the top of the ornament without tearing the dough.  If using a drinking straw, push a small hole into the top of the dough from where you want the ornament to be hung (for the purpose of running ribbon through later, after baking).

  7.  Bake in preheated oven for two or three hours.

  8.  Remove from oven and allow to cool on a cooking rack completely before decorating.

  9.  Decorate the ornaments to your liking.

  10.  If you want the ornaments to last for generations to come, coat them in an a non toxic acrylic varnish (2-3 coats should do the trick).  Here’s a link, if needed. 

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Practically Perfect Pumpkin Pie

Kate from Scratch | Practically Perfect Pumpkin Pie


Pumpkin pie is underrated.  It can be easy or you can make every component from scratch, and top it with cinnamon infused homemade whipped cream.  Or not!  It’s totally your call.

If I have sugar pumpkins lying about that are begging to be utilized rather than tossed, I will roast them and throw them in the food processor (sans skin, of course) and freeze the puree.  It’s not because I’m fancy, I just don’t like wasting things that I feel should be used.  And because it’s really stupid amounts of easy to make roasted pumpkin puree, especially if you have the time and the patience for it.  In fact, I’m essentially cheap, not fancy, if you really break it down.  But, we don’t have to right now.  You’re busy.  I’m busy.  Let’s just say we’re fancy instead.

However, if I do not have frozen pie crust and frozen pumpkin puree in the freezer, ready for whipping into a delicious pumpkin pie, there’s nothing that won’t stop me from picking up a frozen pie shell and a can of pumpkin from the grocery store.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.  Canning is the means of preserving the best of the season for moments to come.  So, this recipe is for those that are busy holiday bees, running about, setting tables, buying odds and ends for the perfect family meal all while trying to hold the day-to-day together.   We’re expecting at least six inches of snow on Wednesday night, here.  We’ll see how my own holiday goes.  Some things just aren’t thwarted regardless of how much one plans.

However, a really good pie is easy and doesn’t need much planning at all.

This recipe is simple, requires zero preparation and yet can still be called a pumpkin pie “from scratch”.   It’s both practical and perfect; as holidays should always be, in my opinion.

No, you may not have roasted the pumpkin yourself and you may not have broken the butter into pea sized pieces before gently and delicately melding with dry ingredients with your antique pastry cutter like a Norman Rockwell photo.

But, you made a pie.  And that’s definitely something.

Practically Perfect Pumpkin Pie

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin, mashed
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg plus 2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, optional
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 9 inch unbaked pie shell/crust (found in the freezer aisle)
  • Whipped cream, for topping

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the Crust: Place a sheet of parchment paper over the prepared pie shell and drop dried beans or pie weights over the parchment.  Bake in preheated oven for five to seven minutes. Remove and prepare filling

For the filling: In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese with a hand mixer. Add the pumpkin and beat until combined. Add the sugar and salt, and beat until combined. Add the eggs mixed with the yolks, half-and-half, and melted butter, and beat until combined. Finally, add the vanilla, cinnamon, and ginger (if using) as well as nutmeg and ground cloves.  Beat until incorporated.

Place pie crust onto a baking sheet so it’s easy to remove from the oven later.  Pour the filling into the warm prepared pie crust and bake for 50 minutes, or until the center is set. Place the pie on a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Cut into slices and top each piece with a generous amount of whipped cream.

Recipe adapted from Paula Deen

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Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies

Well, it’s been two seconds since Halloween ended, so obviously the world is planning for the holidays.   Is that right?  That can’t possibly be right.

I still have fake spiderweb remnants hanging from my ceiling that I need to get down. Somehow.

And, there’s a small pumpkin that should be roasted and turned into something delicious.  It’s almost a necessity.

If you’d like, you can go and get your shopping done early and be all prepared like that, if that’s your thing.  I respect that.

However, I’ve decided I’m going to ease into the holiday season with cookies.  In fact, these aren’t even holiday cookies.  They’re just sugar cookies that I love.

It’s a basic recipe that pleases a crowd that I find very handy around a certain unnamed time of year.    No big deal.
Kate from Scratch | Soft and Chewy Suar Cookies

Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies

Makes about 4 dozen cookies


2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup softened butter
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 to 4 tablespoons buttermilk
Sprinkles or colored sugar, for decorating (optional)

Preparation Instructions:

  • Baking Prep:  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Make Cookie Dough:
    • In a medium mixing bowl, sift or whisk the dry ingredients together –  flour, baking soda, and baking powder.
    • Set aside.
    • In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla.  Fold in the dry ingredients in three additions, lightly mixing after each addition.
    • Add enough of the buttermilk to moisten the dough and make it soft, but not wet.

Note: if you’d like to store cookie dough in the freezer, you may for up to three weeks.  Wrap and seal in an air tight container and keep frozen until ready to bake.

  • Bake Cookies:
    • Roll rounded teaspoons of dough into balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. With a brush or fingers, moisten the top of each cookie with the remaining buttermilk and slightly flatten the top of each cookie.
    • Sprinkle with raw sugar or colored sprinkles if desired.
    • Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until slightly golden. Let stand for 2 minutes before removing to cool on a rack.
    • Repeat baking instructions as needed.


  • Storage Instructions:  When the cookies come to room temperature, store in an air tight container.  The cookies will keep their chewy texture if done properly.


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Roasted Pecorino Brussel Sprouts with a Pomegranate and Cider Glaze

Kate from Scratch | Pecorino Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Pomegranate Cider Glaze

This is one of my many answers for what to eat in place of salad when the weather starts to cool off.  It’s really easy to make, but doesn’t lack in flavor, bite or texture.  It’s complex and unique without being overdone.  It’s sweet with a little sour, yet it’s savory and rich and luxurious.  And, of course, as an added bonus, it doesn’t force you to skimp on the portion size.

Roasted Pecorino Brussel Sprouts

with a Pomegranate Cider Glaze

Serves 4 as a side dish, 2 as a main course

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Recipe level: easy

  • 1 pound brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced or grated onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced or grated fresh garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino romano
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup fresh pomegranate seeds
  • 1/4 cup crumbled ricotta salata (optional)
  • 1/4 chopped walnuts or hazelnuts (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a rimmed baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a salad bowl, or large ziploc bag, add brussel sprouts, olive oil, onion, garlic and red pepper flakes.   Toss until sprouts are coated evenly.
  3. Drop sprouts onto prepared pan and sprinkle with pecorino romano.  Roast in preheated oven until fork tender, and golden brown, or about 20 minutes – turning halfway through roasting time (around the ten minute mark).
  4. In a small saucepan over medium high heat, add pomegranate juice, cider and vinegar.  Bring to a boil to reduce it down until it becomes thick and syrup-like in consistency.
  5. In a serving dish, add roasted brussel sprouts.  Drizzle one quarter cup of the pomegranate-cider reduction over the roasted pecorino brussel sprouts and toss to combine.  Note: if there’s any leftover, you may store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
  6. Drop the pomegranate seeds over the roasted brussel sprouts and top with ricotta salata and hazelnuts (or walnuts) if desired.






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Classic Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Kate from Scratch | Classic Chocolate Chunk Cookies_

These cookies are irresistible.  The walnuts add depth as well as a certain richness, while the brown sugar and vanilla palate wraps around the robust chocolate chunks; keeping things perfectly balanced with a bit of chewy –and a lot of chocolate, of course.

There’s nothing trend worthy about them, they’re like the little black dress of cookies.   It will always work.

This recipe pulls no tricks and is nothing but a classical treat.

Classic Chocolate Chunk Cookies

makes about 36 cookies (3 dozen)

  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
  • 1 1/3 pounds semisweet chocolate chunks
  • chocolate sprinkles (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Using a stand or hand mixer, cream the butter and two sugars together in a large mixing bowl.  Add vanilla and eggs and mix again for about a minute.
  3. In a separate bowl, add flour, baking soda, and salt.  Whisk to break up lumps and evenly distribute ingredients.  Note: If you want to sift these together, and that’s easier for you, that’s fine too.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in two additions on low-speed with the electric mixer.  Note: try to avoid over mixing at this point, please.  Mix until just combined.
  5. Fold in the walnuts and chocolate chunks until evenly distributed throughout the batter.
  6.  Drop dough onto prepared cookie sheet in rounded tablespoons.  Sprinkle with sprinkles if you’d like and bake in preheated oven for fifteen minutes.
  7. Allow to cool on the pan for 2-3 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Continue with step 6 as needed.  Note: you may wrap up and store extra dough for the future, if preferred.
  8. Once at room temperature, immediately store in an air tight container, to retain chewiness.
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Creamy Acorn Squash Soup

Creamy Acorn Squash Soup | Kate from Scratch_

It’s cold and exceptionally windy and obviously pouring rain once again today.  So, with all that in mind, I’ve decided to share my most favorite of all the fall soups that I adore while also sparking up the first fire of the season.

It’s sweet and creamy and it will definitely warm you up regardless of the cold chill in the air.  It’s seasonal and absolutely comfort in a bowl, which I could use right about now.

You see,  the power went out for a bit earlier today (also a good reason to light a fire), so I am making this post a quick one.  You know, if –just in case– something decides to go awry once again in the next fifteen minutes or so.  Hopefully it won’t.

But, if it does, at least I’ll have done my part to share this with you while I eat soup.

Try to stay warm and dry out there, everyone!   It’s a mess!

Creamy Acorn Squash Soup

Serves 4


  • 1 quart of vegetable broth
  • 1 Roasted Acorn Squash
  • herb sachet (below)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Herb Sachet

  • 1 square of cheesecloth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 pink peppercorns
  • 3 black peppercorns
  • 3-4 sage leaves
  • 1 small sprig of rosemary
  • butcher’s string

Make Soup:

  1. In a large saucepan or dutch oven with handles, over medium-high heat, pour in the entire quart of broth.  Scoop out the flesh of the roasted acorn squash and drop with the broth.
  2.  Bring to a boil.   Meanwhile, make herb sachet (directions below) and set aside.   Reduce heat to very low until gently simmering.  Using an immersion blender, blend soup until completely smooth.  Add cream and stir, keeping the heat very low.
  3.  Tie one end of the herb sachet to the handle of the saucepan or dutch oven and drop the other end (the sachet) into the soup.
  4. Cover and allow the herbs to steep in the soup for about fifteen minutes.
  5. Serve warm.

Make Herb Sachet:

  1.  Lay cheesecloth on a flat surface and place all ingredients except the string into the center of the square of cloth.
  2.   Grasp the four corners and edges of the square of cloth and twist together to make a neck.
  3. Tie the butchers string around the grasped neck of the cloth  –like a small pouch or purse– to secure it tightly.
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Easy Six Ingredient Apple Turnovers



This recipe requires only six ingredients and fills the air with home-baked apple cinnamon goodness in no more than thirty minutes.

It’s classic and simple and uncomplicated.   You’re more than welcome to use your own homemade puff pastry dough if you prefer, but that is usually very time-consuming and would require a lot more ingredients.

You can add a hit of citrus zest and nutmeg to the apples, or maybe a brush of butter or a drizzle of vanilla glaze after baking.   But, that’s definitely not required to make these delicious.

Make these for the morning or serve warm with vanilla bean ice cream for dessert.

Easy Six Ingredient Apple Turnovers

Makes 8 turnovers

  • 2 frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
  • 5 1/3 cups chopped apples (you want small, bite-sized pieces)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, or to taste
  • 2-3 tablespoons sugar (vary to taste) + more for sprinkling over the top
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (just a pinch)
  • egg-wash (1 egg + 1 tablespoon of water, beaten together)

Optional Additions

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoons citrus zest
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a sided baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Roll out the puff pastry sheets on a lightly floured surface until nearly doubled in size.  Cut each sheet into four squares for a total of eight square pieces of dough.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl combine all remaining ingredients except for egg wash.  Mix until the apples are uniformly coated in cinnamon, sugar and salt.
  4. Place 2/3 cup of apples into the center of each piece of dough.
  5. Brush edges of the square dough pieces with egg wash using a pastry brush.
  6. Fold one half of dough over  the other half to make a triangle  with the apples in the center.   pinch edges of each turnover to seal.  Brush the tops with egg wash using the pastry brush and sprinkle with additional sugar if desired.
  7. Place each turnover gently onto prepared baking pan.  Cut a small (1/3 inch) slit in the top of each turnover to vent.
  8. Bake in preheated oven for about 17-22 minutes, or until golden brown.
  9. Allow to cool slightly  – about five to ten minutes.
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Sweet Sage Brown Butter Roasted Acorn Squash

Brown Butter and Sage | Roasted Acorn Squash |  Kate from Scratch

This recipe is a fall staple that’s required for a number of dishes, from various takes on mac n’ cheese or lasagna to traditional autumnal soups and stews or stuffings and dressings.  You’ll find roasted acorn squash in a variety of dishes from now until early December and it’s time for me to share this recipe since it’s the first step to all of those delicious dishes.

This can also be served as written, simply scooped into a bowl of steaming vegetable broth; or perhaps with the addition of some northern white beans (cannelini beans) or tossed with wild mushrooms and/or melted or caramelized onions.

The simplicity of this allows the possibilities to not only be various but also plentiful.  The cold rain of today has me making half of this into creamy roasted acorn squash soup for lunch.  The other half will be tossed with my favorite wild rice recipe, topped with sweet and tangy dried cranberries as a side dish for tonight’s dinner.

No matter how you decide to serve it, it is a fall must-have dish.

Sweet Sage Brown Butter Roasted Acorn Squash

  • 1 medium acorn squash (about 1 pound)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces and at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, (either packed brown or white if preferred)
  • 1 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahreneheit.  Using a large, sharp kitchen knife, slice acorn squash in half.  Scoop out and discard any strings and seeds.  Place squash halves on baking pan cut side up, like a bowl (lined with parchment paper if you don’t want to do dishes).

Mix together the butter, sugar and sage in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Allow butter to bubble and foam up.  Pour half the sage brown butter in to each half of the prepared squash

Place in preheated oven for one hour, or until fork tender.

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