Butternut Squash and Hominy Stew with Avocado Salsa Topping


Let me tell you about one of my favorite meals. Never mind that while it’s officially fall, it hasn’t been really cool enough here to make it. The calendars says fall, so I went ahead anyway. But seriously. I think my sweatiest run all summer was last Monday (which was probably also influenced by the fact that is was my longest run in quite some time).

This is a vegetarian soup recipe that combines a little bit of spicy in the stew portion with  cool and creamy flavors from the Greek yogurt and avocado. It might be a little spicy for little ones, but you can certainly adjust that by the amount of dried peppers you add to the butternut squash layer.


I will note, as written, I find that the butternut squash portion is often a little dry. I usually add a little bit of vegetable broth while cooking it. Just enough to cover it, but not so much that it converts from a stew to a soup. Maybe ~1/2 cup or so. You want the bottom layer to stay thick.

So, please make this at some point this season. Even if you have to wait for the weather to cool off a bit. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Butternut Squash and Hominy Stew with Avocado Salsa Topping
Adapted from Cooking Light

Butternut Squash Stew:
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium-sized butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 dried New Mexican or guajillo chile, stemmed, seeded, and roughly crumbled
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 (15.5 oz) can yellow hominy, undrained
1 (15.5 oz) can white hominy, undrained
1/2-3/4 cup vegetable broth, as needed

Avocado Salsa:
1 avocado, diced
1/2 cup cilantro, minced
1jalapeño pepper, finely chopped (remove seeds)
1 tsp. olive oil
1-1/2 tsp. lime zest
1-1/2 Tbsp. lime juice
1/4 to 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 to 1/2 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt

Heat a 3 quart saucepan or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbsp. olive oil to the pan and swirl to coat. Add the butternut squash, onion, oregano, and the dried, crushed chile. Cook 10 minutes or until the onion and squash begin to brown, stirring frequently.

Add paprika, salt, crushed red pepper, and undrained hominy. Add broth as needed, just to add enough liquid to bring the pot to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook 10 minutes or until the pieces of butternut squash begin to look very soft.

To prepare the salsa, combine avocado, cilantro, jalapeño, and 1 teaspoon of oil in a small bowl. Toss to combine. Stir in lime zest and juice.

To serve, add the squash mixture to a bowl. Top with Greek yogurt, avocado salsa, and Monterey Jack cheese. Serve immediately. If you have any leftovers, we package up the stew and toppings (salsa, yogurt, and cheese) in two separate containers (1 with stew, 1 with all the toppings combined) so the soup can be reheated later.

Spicy and Sweet Sqash Bowls

spicy and sweet sqash bowl close

As a child, I hated squash. Admittedly, I was a rather picky child (sorry mom!), but squash was pretty far down on the list of things I’d rather go hungry without than eat. There was one year where our neighbors gave us several of them from their garden. Mom roasted them with brown sugar and cinnamon (sounds good now, right?). Despite the sugar, there was no way either my brother or I were going anywhere near them…

As an adult, I was a little skeptical to give squash a second try. In reality, I have probably only embraced it in the last year or so, and I have found that I really enjoy it. Especially roasted with brown sugar and cinnamon. This recipe from Lindsay at Pinch of Yum takes uses that sweet side and mixes it up with some curry, pecans, and spices.

spicy and sweet squash bowls cooking squash
spicy and sweet sqash bowls

My biggest advice about the recipe would be not to skip the hummus. It absolutely makes the dish. I used purchased hummus rather than the white bean hummus indicated in the recipe for a shortcut, however I am sure either would be great. Different. A little spicy. Healthy. I know squash is starting to go out of season, but this one will not disappoint. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Spicy Sweet Squash Bowl
Adapted from Pinch of Yum

1 cup quinoa
1-1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 Tbsp. curry powder
1/2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 medium to large butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 bunch fresh cilantro, minced
1 cup fresh spinach, roughly torn
1/4 cup toasted chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat the squash with olive oil, white sugar, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon curry, and salt to taste. Roast until fork tender, about 25-35 minutes depending on how large you cut the squash cubes.

Meanwhile, place quinoa in a medium saucepan with the broth (or water if you want), 2 teaspoons curry, cayenne pepper, and brown sugar. Mix well. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes until the liquid is completely absorbed. Let sit for a few minutes. Remove the lid and fluff with a fork. Mix with spinach and pecan pieces.

Divide the quinoa mixture between bowls. Top with the roasted squash and finally with a dollop of hummus. Mix together and enjoy!

Hearty Chicken Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Quinoa

Man. I feel like a little bit of a wimp saying this, but it was cold this week in New Orleans. No, not snow cold, but cool weather combined with rain can still be cold. We were there for a pharmacy conference and having to walk around in the rain is not synonymous with fun. I was definitely ready to get back to Arizona desert last night! Nonetheless, the chill stayed with me and has me thinking of one thing. Soup!

In reality, I made this soup a couple weeks ago, almost immediately after I ran across it online, and a bowl of it sounds about perfect right now! Dara from the Cookin’ Canuck came up with this recipe on her own, and I have to say she is a genius. Check out her site for the pictures, and let me tell you that this soup is as good as it looks. Extra points in because it is healthy. Delicious + healthy = win.

I changed the soup a little by using a sweet potato rather than a butternut squash and slightly varying the cooking method. The recipe calls for cooking the chicken in some broth, but you could certainly use cooked chicken as a time saver if you want. We loved our end result, but I’m sure it would be great with the butternut squash too. If you’re looking to warm up from some cool weather, this would be a great way to do it. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Hearty Chicken Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Quinoa
Adapted from Cookin’ Canuck

1-1/2 lbs. sweet potato, peeled and cubed into 1/2-inch pieces
3-1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1-1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 can (14 oz) petite diced tomatoes
2/3 cup uncooked quinoa
3/4 cup pitted and quartered kalamata olives
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup minced flat-leaf parsley, chopped

In a medium saucepan, add sweet potatoes and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil and boil for 5-7 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are fork tender. Remove half of the pieces. Continue boiling the remaining pieces of sweet potato until they are very soft, 3-5 minutes more. Drain and mash with the back of a fork. Set aside. 

In a large saucepan set over medium-high heat, bring the chicken broth to a simmer. Add the chicken and cook until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and allow to cool. Pour broth into a medium-sized bowl.

Return the saucepan to the stovetop and lower the heat to medium. Add olive oil and allow to warm. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is starting to turn brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the minced garlic and oregano. Cook stirring for 1 additional minute. To the saucepan, add tomatoes, cubed sweet potato pieces, and mashed sweet potato. Stir to combine. Stir in reserved chicken broth and quinoa. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until the quinoa turns translucent, about 15 minutes. 

Shred the chicken with your fingers or a fork. Stir in the chicken, olives, and pepper into the stew, and simmer uncovered for about 5 minutes. Stir in parsley and serve.

Creamy, Light Mac and Cheese

It really hasn’t been that long since I posted this version of macaroni and cheese, but really, who can resist a big bowl of cheesy macaroni when the weather starts to cool down? In our house, past macaroni and cheese recipes or not, there was no way my husband was going to allow me to not make this when he saw my September issue of Cooking Light. It was cover-love at its greatest 🙂

In reality, this macaroni and cheese recipe was the makeover recipe for September swapping pureed butternut squash for some of the cheese and fat in the traditional sauce. This one major swap cut the calories by almost 2/3. Crazy! Thinking there is no way that butternut squash could be a good replacement for cheese? In our opinion, it didn’t do too bad. It certainly wasn’t they Velveeta, gooey version of macaroni and cheese, but the squash actually keeps it quite creamy all while staying barely noticeable. If you are looking for that Velveeta version, you won’t find that here. What you will find is a pretty good mac and cheese that would fall within most diets. In fact, if you didn’t know the ingredients, it would be hard to pick squash out of the lineup. Perfect if you happen to know any vegetable haters. You don’t even have to lie about the name. They left the word ‘squash’ out 🙂 Enjoy!

(Printable Recipes)

Creamy, Light Mac and Cheese
From Cooking Light September 2011

3 cups (1 lb) cubed, peeled butternut sqaush
1-1/4 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
1-1/2 cups skim milk
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. fat-free Greek yogurt
1-1/4 cups (5 oz) shredded Gruyere cheese
1 cup  (4 oz) grated pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup (1 oz) finely grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided 
1 lb. uncooked elbow macaroni (I used whole wheat)
cooking spray
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

Combine squash, broth, milk, and garlic in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat.

Place the hot squash mixture in a blender (or blend with an immersion blender if you have one as this step is much easier). Add salt, pepper, and Greek yogurt. Remove the center piece of the blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid. Place a clean towel over the opening of the blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Place blended squash in a bowl; stir in Gruyere, pecorino Romano, and 2 tablespoons of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Stir until combined.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain well. Add pasta to squash mixture, and stir until combined. Spread mixture evenly into a 9×13-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. 

Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add panko, and cook for 2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the heat; stir in remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Sprinkle evenly over the hot pasta mixture. Lightly coat the topping with cooking spray. Bake for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Pizza

My first thought when I saw this several weeks ago on Two Peas and Their Pod was that it was definately a unique pizza recipe. Nevertheless, I was intrigued to want to try it. I’ve never done much with squash. I can remember my mom trying to cook it for us a couple times when we were kids. However, I think she was the only one in the family who would eat it, so she never really pressed the issue too much. Now that my tastes have matured a little bit, I’ve always wondered if I would end up liking it.
The verdict overall was pretty good. It is not my favorite pizza that we have ever made, but we both enjoyed the change in flavors and in routine.  I’m glad we took the chance to try it out, and I may be looking for more squash recipes in the future. I’ve been eyeing all the butternut squash soup recipes, so we’ll see how it turns out. Enjoy!
Roasted Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Pizza 
Adapted from: Two Peas and Their Pod
1 large red onion, sliced
1 tsp. brown sugar
olice oil
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
feta cheese
Mozzarella cheese, shredded
dried rosemary
balsamic vinegar
Make pizza dough in breadmaker or by using prepared dough. To roast the squash, place peeled, diced squash on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 40-50 minutes at 400 degrees. Stir occassionally.

Meanwhile, add olive oil to a warm saute pan. Add the onion slices and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occassionally. Add 1 tsp. of brown sugar and cook about 10-12 minutes more until the onions begin to brown. Remove from heat and set aside.

 Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees. Spread the dough over a pizza pan and drizzle with olive oil. Top with the garlic, squash, onions, and feta and Mozzarella cheeses. Sprinkle dried rosemary over the top of the cheese. Cook the pizza for about 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden brown. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over the pizza after removing from the oven. Slice and serve.