Balsamic Glazed Acorn Squash

by brookefiore

When I said that I was a messy cook I meant it, but when I say that I’m a clean and organized person I really mean it. Case in point: I asked for a label maker for Easter two years ago. This happened to really work out in my favor since my mother is all about practical gifting. Once I moved back into my parent’s house after the internship I really never quite unpacked as much as I would have liked to. I found myself thinking “where did I put that notepad?” and “why can’t I find that purple tank top?” I learned from the book Happier at Home that most often when you can’t find something, clean up! Those missing items tend to show up and you’re more organized as a result. I had been meaning to go shelf by shelf as Gretchen Rubin does in her book. Finally, last night I dove in, and in my case it turned into shelf by shelf and basket by basket and drawer by drawer. I found out some really interesting things like: I own 3 graphing TI83 calculators, I possess about 100 more bobby pins than I originally thought and I have 2 sets of shower curtain rings (and 1 shower – this part I knew).

Don’t these shower curtain rings kind of look like hooks? I really don’t mean to bore you with a post about organizing but I just had to share how fantastic I felt after I had gone through and left no stone unturned. I found a sense of relief in the fact that I know what is in each and every drawer and basket in my room, closet and office. I also tried to follow Gretchen’s rule to keep one shelf empty and to have one junk drawer – it sounds contradictory but I liked it. I filled 3 garbage bags worth of items that served no purpose to me or had outlasted their useful life and I made a pile for items that I no longer wanted but could be given to a good, loving home. For a number of items I asked myself if I could use it, but for a different purpose.

Bingo! That second pair of shower curtain rings would become an organizer for my scarves. Today, this blustery, rainy weather warns that scarf season is near. I’m not complaining one bit!

 What better side dish to make in this stormy weather but some roasted acorn squash! Like many others, I find that produce tastes best when it’s fresh and in order for this to happen it must be in season. As we head into the fall season I am excited to see what I can do with acorn and butternut squash, sugar pie pumpkins, pears, apples and parsnips!

We paired our acorn squash with some crispy, oven baked chicken that was tossed in Falafel mix and whole grain bread crumbs. I realized I am much more comfortable with the idea of cooking chicken if I don’t have to actually watch it cook. Go figure.

Chicken tenders all breaded and ready to placed into the oven for some baking!

Prior to placing the squash in the oven, you must toss it with all the ingredients that will contribute to its flavor; sage, shallots, coriander, salt, pepper, butter and balsamic vinegar. As the rain and chilly temperatures head for us in the Northeast I hope you can find warmth in this hearty fall dish!

Falafel & Whole Grain Bread Crumb Crusted Chicken

Serves 4-6

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken tenders

3/4 cup whole grain bread crumbs

1 packet Falafel Mix

2 TBSP olive oil

Toss chicken with olive oil. Combine Falafel mix and bread crumbs. Dip chicken into breading and place on a rimmed baking sheet that is coated with nonstick cooking spray. Bake at 425 F for approximately 7 minutes on each side.

Balsamic Glazed Acorn Squash

Serves 4-6

2 Acorn Squash

6 sliced Shallots

12 sage leaves, chopped

6 TBSP balsamic vinegar

6 TBSP butter

2 TBSP honey

A pinch of coriander, salt and pepper

1 cup water

1/4 cup hazelnuts or walnuts (optional)

Slice the acorn squash into wedges and toss in a baking dish with the butter, balsamic vinegar, shallots, sage, honey, coriander, salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Add 1 cup water. Bake at 450 F for 20 minutes. Flip and sprinkle with 1/4 cup hazelnuts or walnuts (optional) and roast 20 more minutes.