Pilaf-Stuffed Acorn Squash

I’ve been confused by a few things this past weekend.

For example, how does ice freeze like this, when it’s lying flat in the freezer? Please some science genius email me and explain this because it’s baffling.

Also, photography has been confusing me no end. More specifically, the lighting of my photography lately. As winter draws in and it’s getting dark earlier, I’ve been really struggling to get good shots of my dinner recipes to post on the blog.

Although this could be a great excuse for me to jump in and finally trade my 5-year-old Olympus SLR for the Nikon I’ve been drooling over for months, it’s actually not really a camera issue. Yes, a better-quality camera probably would help somewhat but it’s more to do with environment lighting at the time of shooting and post-editing.

I have Photoshop Elements that I use for all my basic edits and collages (well, the really basic edits – cropping, etc – I use iPhoto for). Averie, who is an amazing food photographer, recommended that I purchase Lightbox. I might do that but I have had Photoshop Elements for a few months now and haven’t even started to look into what that can do and I want to avoid just loading up on software without taking the time to really look at any of its capabilities. I’ve been reading Angela‘s posts about photography too, but I need to read around a bit more. As you’ll see in the images in this post, the shadows and the harshness caused by artificial lighting are just really starting to get me down!

The other thing that confused me this past weekend? Well, I went across the border to Bellingham, WA for some quick shopping on Friday and stocked up on these:

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Sorry…phone photography…

But seriously, how come it takes me just an hour to drive across the border and load up on all these yummy flavours, but they still don’t stock them in Canada? (Sorry, they do stock the LARABAR cookie dough flavour but it’s brand-new and isn’t in any of the local stores I go to). Chocolate Chunk? Chocolate-Dipped Coconut? I didn’t even know these flavours existed, and they’re soooo good! (Chocolate-Dipped Coconut tastes like a Bounty Bar :)).

The best thing? I love LUNA bars and LARABARs, but they can be pricey. I can pay up to $1.79 here for a LUNA bar, and usually over $2 for a LARABAR (if I’m not buying in boxes). Despite the fact that the Canadian and US $ are pretty much on par right now, Target charge just 99 cents for a LUNA bar and just over $1 for a LARABAR.

Yay discounts!

Anyway…a lovely girl at Whole Foods explained to me that in Canada, because all labelling has to be in both French and English, new products coming from US companies can take a bit longer to get to us up here, so at least confusion is solved on that issue. If anyone can help out with the ice mystery or the photography issues, please let me know ;).

What didn’t confuse me this weekend was this pilaf-stuffed acorn squash. It takes time to make only because you have to wait for the squash to cook. It has a lot of ingredients only because that makes it taste GREAT. But despite the length of time and the length of the ingredients list, this is so easy to make, honest!

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You just prep your squash, put it in the oven, then basically stirfry all the filling ingredients together and stuff it. Bake a little longer to make it crispy and then eat. I promise! It’s one of those recipes I made up and then worked on over time and now I think it’s got the perfect blend of flavours, textures and nutrients. I hope you like!

Pilaf-Stuffed Acorn Squash

INGREDIENTS (serves 4 as main course)

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1 acorn squash, halved and with seeds/string scooped out
1/2 tsp dried sage
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp olive oil-based margarine (I use Olivina) – you can use butter or other margarine
1 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, diced
3/4 cup oyster mushrooms, thinly sliced
3/4 cup shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 cup crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/4 cup red pepper, diced
1/4 cup grated carrot
2 green onions, chopped
1 green apple, cored and diced (peeled if not organic)
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup cooked wild rice
1/2 cup cooked white rice
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 egg (can be omitted for vegan version)
1/4 tsp dried sage
Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:

1. Melt margarine, sage and garlic together in a bowl and brush over acorn halves. Place acorn halves on a lined baking sheet, cut side up, and bake at 425F for 50-60 minutes or until tender.

2. Heat oil in a large frying pan and cook shallot, garlic and mushrooms for a few minutes. Add red pepper, carrot, green onions and apple and cook until mushrooms are tender and apples are starting to brown.

3. Add rice, stir in breadcrumbs and nutritional yeast and add up to 1/3 cup water (the mixture won’t be wet, but you don’t want it to fall apart easily either).

4. Stir in egg and seasonings and take off the heat.

5. When the squash is cooked, take filling and stuff half of it into each acorn squash half. Bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes (until the top of the stuffing is crispy and golden).

6. Serve and enjoy!

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Nutritional information per serving if serves 4:

Nutritional information courtesy of caloriecount.about.com

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Comments

  1. That squash looks great. And yes, I can relate to the frustration of not being able to get favorite food items in Canada. I would love it if Trader Joe’s would open here but it is never going to happen.

    Re the water/ice thing… water expands as it freezes. So the ice needs more room than water does! Simple physics…

    Have a great Monday.

    • Thanks Elle! I knew about the physics rule regarding water expansion when frozen, but I just couldn’t see how that led the ice to freeze in mid-air in this droplet form! …Perhaps I have just shown everyone how blonde I am…whoops :S

  2. Love the squash idea! My cooking has gotten pretty boring lately as my mind (and food cravings) is still in “summer” mode and none of that produce is affordable anymore! I forced myself to buy some squash and told myself to like it. haha Your recipe looks easy enough for lazy me 🙂

    The ice thing? emm….you have some internal freezer winds whipping up the water as it is freezing.

    j/k I have NO idea. lol

    And I have having the same lighting issues too!! No natural light! I drag my living room lamp into my kitchen for lighting. =P

    • The lighting issues are a bummer. I really need to get studying so I can become really proficient with some photo editing software and with some at-home lighting tricks!

      I hope you love the squash! Let me know if you have any success with it. Honestly, the hardest part for me was cutting the darn acorn squash in half – those things are tough! Once that’s done, the rest is plain sailing :).

  3. Have you tried making more use of ‘contrast’ to improve your pics? I had a similar problem with my ebay listing pics and Alan, who, as you know, is a professional photographer, suggested using the ‘contrast’. It made an immediate difference! Another tip was to take the pics in natural daylight. x

    • Contrast is a big help and I can probably learn a lot more about it…I need to get my head into some photography books! When I shoot in natural daylight the pics are fine; my issue lately is when I get home from work and cook dinner it’s always dark thanks to the hour going back and winter setting in! I’m starting to think I should just shoot leftovers …!

  4. Try living in New Zealand!! We see all of these lovely recipes on blogs and cant even drive across a border to get many of the ingredients!

    • Aw trust me, I feel your pain. I’m from the Cayman Islands and growing up there we could never get ANYTHING…though they have got much better now with what they choose to import! Still, when I go home I bring suitcases of food and bars that I can’t get there!

  5. my mouth is watering that looks so delicious, I love rice pilaf and I feel like it is a perfect match for acorn squash I just pinned this…… im soooo making it 😉 thanks for the inspiration!!

Trackbacks

  1. […] it’s not a squash overload, try the pilaf-stuffed acorn squash- that is a hearty, filling and seasonal meal that will please meat-eaters and veggies […]

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