Stuffed Carnival Squash

I picked up a grapefruit sized carnival squash yesterday while at Trader Joe’s. I’ve never cooked or even had a carnival squash before but, it is a winter squash and similar shape and size to acorn squash so I figured it would be similar in texture and taste as well…and it is. I’m already crazy Thanksgiving food and knew I wanted to bake and stuff this little carnival squash (it was about the size of a very large grapefruit) so I picked up some ground turkey, dried cranberries, and a big bag of kale to go with ingredients I already had back at the Annex.

This is a really simple recipe that can be adapted to whatever your diet restriction might be – dairy free, gluten-free, nut-free, vegetarian, low sodium, etc. It is very customizable, you just have to be creative in your stuffing fillings. My stuffing was pretty simple, but so delicious. There was no added salt to this either (except what small amount is in the spice blend I used). The flavors are that of Thanksgiving and perfect to make with leftovers, or if you are just craving a little bit of Thanksgiving throughout the year.


Stuffed Carnival Squash


  • 2 medium carnival squash – cut in half and seeds removed/discarded (you can roast these as well!)
  • 1/2 cup short grain brown rice
  • 1 cup chicken stock (low sodium, or no sodium added)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup diced baby portabella mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons sliced green onions
  • 2 tablespoons Spiceologist Greek Freak Seasoning, divided
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped kale
  • 1/2 pound ground turkey breast
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup shredded Cabot Cheese – Alpine Cheddar

Method of Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F
  2. Place cut and cleaned squash face down in a baking dish, add about 1/4 inch of water and cover with aluminum foil
  3. Roast squash for 30-45 minutes until fork tender, remove from oven and drain water
  4. In a small pot, bring brown rice and chicken stock to a boil, and cook according to rice specifications
  5. In a saute pan, add 1/2 cup of water and bring to a boil, add kale and cover for five minutes until kale is tender.
  6. Drain water, and place kale on a paper towel to drain (you want to remove as much excess water that you can)
  7. In the same saute pan, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and heat pan to medium heat
  8. Add mushrooms, green onions, and 1 tablespoon of the seasoning mixture, saute until mushrooms are lightly browned and tender
  9. Add mushrooms and green onions to the kale that has been set aside
  10. In the same saute pan, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and heat pan to medium heat
  11. Add ground turkey and remaining 1 tablespoon of seasoning mixture
  12. Brown turkey and add in pine nuts to toast during the last few minutes of cooking
  13. Once the turkey is cooked throughout, add in the cooked brown rice, dried cranberries, kale, mushrooms, and green onions, stir to combine
  14. Remove from heat and stuff cooked squash halves (you may have a little extra filling, but you can use that for another meal or snack)
  15. Top stuffed squash halves with shredded cheese and return to the oven to bake for 10-15 minutes
  16. Remove from oven, and enjoy!


Kabocha Squash Soup


This past week as “lacto-ovo” week in my Vegetarian Cuisine lab. With that being said, the following recipe originally did not have either lactose or egg in it but I had to make a quick decision at the end to add a dollop of cinnamon sugar sour cream to the top before presenting it because it didn’t meet the criteria for that weeks lesson. But honesty, this soup needs no such additions, it is naturally creamy with a bit of spice so the additional of the cinnamon sugar sour cream help off set that a bit for those who do not enjoy so much spice.

I picked up the kabocha squash (aka, Japanese pumpkin) which is an Asian variety of a winter squash. The outside of the kabocha is rough and dark green in color and may have some off white lines through it. The flesh is a beautiful yellow-orange. I would have to compare the flavor of this squash to that of a butternut squash, maybe a tad bit sweeter though and I found the texture to be similar to a pumpkin or sweet potato. Once blended, this was so thick and creamy…I was tempted to lick my bowl.

Kabocha Squash Soup

Yields about 40oz, Serving Size: 8oz, Number of Servings: 5

Soup Ingredients:                                                                              U.S. Standard:

  • Olive oil, extra-virgin                                                                      2 tbsp.
  • Kabocha squash, peeled, seeded, large dice                                35 oz.
  • Carrot, peeled, large dice                                                               5 oz.
  • Celery, large dice                                                                            5 oz.
  • Apple, granny smith, peeled, seeded, large dice                            4 oz.
  • Onion, white or yellow, large dice                                                    5 oz.
  • Garlic, rough chop                                                                           2 tbsp.
  • Ginger, grated                                                                                  1 tsp.
  • Paprika                                                                                             1 tsp.
  • Cayenne pepper                                                                               1 ½ tsp.
  • Cinnamon, ground                                                                            1 ½ tsp.
  • Vegetable stock, divided                                                                   4 ½ cups
  • Salt, kosher                                                                                        1 tsp.


  • Pine nuts, toasted                                                                               ¼ cup
  • Mushrooms, crimini, sliced and blanched                                           4 oz.
  • Sour Cream                                                                                         ¼ cup
  • Cinnamon                                                                                            1/8 tsp.
  • Sugar                                                                                                   ¼ tsp.

Method of Preparation:

  1. Gather all the ingredients and equipment.
  2. Wash, peel, and wash the squash, carrot, celery, and apple. Set aside.
  3. In a large stock pot add olive oil and heat over medium heat.
  4. Add onion, and cook until translucent. This should take about 3-5 minutes.
  5. Add garlic and ginger and cook for an additional minute.
  6. Next, add in the kabocha squash, carrot, and celery.
  7. Cook for 8-10 minutes until slightly softened.
  8. Add in paprika, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon, stir to coat evenly.
  9. Next add in 4 cups of the vegetable stock. Reserve the remaining ½ cup – this will be used to blanch the mushrooms.
  10. Bring stock pot to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes or until squash is fork tender.
  11. While the soup is simmering, take a small dry sauté pan and add the pine nuts.
  12. Cook over medium heat until lightly toasted but do not burn them.
  13. Remove the pine nuts and set them aside to garnish the soup with.
  14. In the same sauté pan add the remaining ¼ cup of vegetable stock and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook for 6-8 minutes.
  15. Once the mushrooms have finished cooking, set them aside in a small bowl to garnish the soup with.
  16. Add the mushroom stock to the simmering stock pot.
  17. To create the sour cream topping place the sour cream in a small bowl.
  18. Add the cinnamon and sugar and mix well. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
  19. Turn off the stock pot.
  20. In a heavy-duty blender puree soup (in batches if needed), until smooth.
  21. Return back to the stock pot, season with salt.
  22. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
  23. Soup temperature must reach 165°F before serving.
  24. Soup should be held at 135°F
  25. Serve immediately in a large bowl topped with mushrooms, pine nuts, and a teaspoon of cinnamon sugar sour cream.
  26. Cool remaining soup to 41°F as quickly as possible, by placing the a container of the remaining soup in an ice bath to help with the cooling process. Store in a refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  27. To reheat the soup, place it in a stock pot and cook over medium-low heat (do not boil) until it has reached 165°F for 15 seconds.

 Chef’s Notes:

  • This is a blended soup, so using a rough chop on the vegetables is a good way to save some time during preparation.

  • For a vegan option you may substitute out the sour cream for vegan sour cream such as “Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream”

Butternut Squash Soup & Croutons

I have been wanting to make some butternut squash soup for a while now, but sadly I don’t own a food processor, blender or immersion blender so I put it off. I started thinking about the soup again this past week and was determined to make it, so I thought if I cooked the squash enough I could just mash it, but then it wouldn’t have that smooth creamy texture so I finally went next door and asked my neighbor if she had a blender or food processor I could borrow.  Of course she had one, and why had I not thought of asking her sooner?  Who knows, I’m a bit slow lately.  Being sick for a month has really thrown me for a loop.  I am finally feeling better and getting back into cooking more.  Poor Bryan has been dealing with my half-ass attempts of meals lately, which consisted of mostly “mushy” foods because I couldn’t chew anything.  Even though this soup could be considered another “mushy” meal I refuse to look at it that way because I have been craving it for so long.  To add a little bit of texture to the soup I topped it with some crispy bacon pieces and homemade gluten-free croutons (see recipe below).

Like always, I did some searching online for butternut squash soup recipes just to see what others put in theirs.  I found that many of the recipes were similar to the one that I had floating around in my head so I figured I would just wing it and see how it tasted (maybe not always the best idea). Bryan hasn’t really eaten butternut squash much and has never had butternut squash soup, so to make it more appealing to him I wanted to add a bit of spice to it.  The first time I ever had this soup was in China of all places.  It was amazing.   If you don’t like that much spice you can always start by cutting those ingredients in half at first, taste it and then add accordingly.

Spiced Butternut Squash Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil (or butter)

4 celery stalks – diced

3 garlic cloves, chopped

2 medium-large butternut squash (about 3 – 3.5 pounds) – See prep options below

1 large sweet potato (or two small/medium) Peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces

3 cups of chicken broth (gluten-free low sodium/organic)

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/8 teaspoon allspice

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

salt and pepper to taste

1/4-1/2 cup half and half

There are two ways that you can prepare the squash:

1- Cut the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds and place flesh side down on a foil lined baking sheet (oiled/sprayed well).  In a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 40-50 minutes.  Once roasted and cooled slightly scoop out flesh and add to soup

2- Peel the squash, cut in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds and then chop into one inch cubes.  Cook squash in the soup with out roasting.

The first one is probably a bit easier because the skin of the squash is very touch and can be a pain to peel.  I have a really good peeler so I didn’t have any problems with it.  So it is completely up to you on which method you prefer to use, and you will get great results either way.  The recipe below is for option number two, however if you choose to roast your squash then scoop it out add it after you sauté the celery, garlic add the broth.  You can then go right into pureeing the soup.


Peel and cut your squash and sweet potato and set aside.  Over medium heat in a large sauce pan (or stock pot) add olive oil and celery, cook for 3-4 minutes or until softened.  Add garlic and cook for an additional two minutes.  Next, add squash, sweet potato, half of the spices and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil for 20 minutes.  Lower heat to simmer.

In small batches ladle the soup into a blender (or food processor) and puree until smooth and there are no chunks.  Add the pureed soup back into the pan and repeat until all the soup has been pureed and it is smooth.  Add remaining spices and half and half.  Do Not bring back to a boil, just simmer on low for 15-20 minutes.  Serve warm with your choice of toppings (bacon, croutons, sour cream, spiced pumpkin seeds etc.)

We served ours with crumbled maple bacon bits and some gluten-free multigrain croutons. Croutons are so simple to make, I dont’ know why people buy them. You can make them how ever you wish, plain, garlic, seasoned etc. You should really try to experiment with them at some point.  Great in both soups and salads or to just munch on.

Gluten-Free Croutons

6 pieces of gluten-free bread (I used Rudi’s Multi Grain Bread)

1 clove of garlic minced

3 – 4 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon melted butter


Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees. In a bowl combine garlic, oil, butter and salt – set aside.  Cut bread into small chunks and place them on a foil lined baking sheet.  Drizzle the oil, butter and garlic mixture over the bread chunks.  Toss the bread to make sure it is evenly coated.  Bake at 300 for 15-20 minutes, turning once.  Croutons should be a light/medium golden brown.

You can all any seasoning you wish to your croutons and increase the measurements according to the amount of bread you are using.  Other seasoning options include: dried basil, dried oregano, celery seed, pepper, parsley, grated parmesan cheese or whatever you wish.

These can be stored in an air tight container for up to four weeks or frozen for up to six months.

Help Rudi’s “Spread The Bread” “For every dollar coupon downloaded, Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery will give a dollar to The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) to help in their efforts to better educate physicians in the diagnosis of celiac disease. There are an estimated 3 million people in the United States suffering from celiac disease, yet only 160,000 are diagnosed.” Get your coupon HERE!

Pasta-less Lasagna


(Updated November 2010)

When I was little every year for my birthday we would have lasagna and I loved it so much. Mostly loved it with out meat but on the occasion meat was ok . I haven’t had lasagna in such a long time and the other day Lisa was talking to me about a recipe she made with squash instead of noodles. It sounded pretty tasty so I thought I would give it a try.

This recipe is awesome! So tasty and has a little bit of crunch from the squash. I used a Trader Joe’s sauce with a little bit of spice to it.


2 medium-large yellow squash

1/2 cups ricotta cheese (you can use skim ricotta to make it a bit lighter)

1 cup frozen spinach, chopped (after its been thawed and drained well)

1/2 cup Pasta Sauce (I prefer homemade, but jar sauce is perfectly fine)

Salt and Pepper to taste

Slice the squash in 1/4 inch pieces.  Lay them on a paper towel, salt to draw out the extra water/moisture from the squash.

In a bowl mix the spinach and ricotta, season with salt and pepper.

In a baking dish (I used a small 2qt baking dish, for a larger lasagna double the recipe and use a larger baking dish) layer the bottom of the pan with a small amount of sauce. Place the first player of squash down to cover the bottom of the pan (you may have to cut a few pieces to make it fit), evenly spread out the ricotta and spinach mixture, top with sauce. Repeat. You should get about three layers out of these ingredients. Sprinkle with some grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese or top with sliced/shredded mozzarella.

(This can also be done with eggplant or zucchini, again after slicing place on a paper towel and salt to draw out excess water).

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes (or until mozzarella is golden brown)

Thanks Lisa!!!