Bison Stuffed Acorn Squash

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As a kid my mom used to stuff squash with meatballs and bake them to make a complete meal in one self contained dish.  She was really onto something.  I have been making these little numbers for years, using my mom’s meatball recipe.  You can use any squash of your choosing, butternut, acorn, spaghetti, etc.  I decided to mix the meatball recipe up a bit when I found some good looking ground bison at the grocery store.  To enhance the fall flavor of the squash the bison was perfect.  I used rounded out the meatball with leeks and fennel.  The result was delicious!  I used 2 pounds of meat and was able to stuff 2 full acorn squash (4 halves) and 2 green peppers.  I don’t like to use bread crumbs in my meatballs, so these are paleo friendly.

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Ingredients:

-2 Acorn squash, halved and seeded.
-2 Green bell peppers, stem and core removed
-1 lb sausage (I used a spicy sausage)
-1 lb ground bison meat (you can use ground beef or turkey if bison isn’t your thing)
-1/2 tsp ground black pepper, heaping
-1/2 tsp celery salt
-1 tsp garlic powder
-1 tsp dried thyme, heaping
-1 tsp dried sage, heaping
-1/4 tsp red pepper flake
-1 leek quartered and sliced
-1/2 fennel bulb, diced

Directions:

1. Wash and prepare the squash and green peppers.

2. Mix together the meatballs by adding sausage, bison, seasonings, leeks, and fennel.

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3. Stuff meat mixture into center of squash and green peppers, arrange on a baking sheet.

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4. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour (more or less, until meatball is cooked through).  Half way through cooking time I brushed some of the drippings around the top of squash to prevent drying.  You can also rub with oil or butter.

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With this dish I eat the skin of the squash as it gets soft with baking.  If you want you can serve with a small salad for a very healthy and delicious dinner!  A thick piece of toasted bread with goat cheese is also nice with this dish.

Don’t throw away the seeds from the squash, you can season and bake these as well to eat alone or toss onto a salad.  I seasoned mine with salt, pepper, and garlic.

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Bake at 350 for 15 minutes (more or less for desired browning/crisp)

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Enjoy!

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Stir-Fry Stuffed Acorn Squash

Today was the ideal fall day, despite the fact that it is technically still summer.  The air was crisp and cool but in the sun you melt to a comfortable temperature.  This dinner took a little advanced planning and did require a bit of chopping, but worth the efforts.  Anytime I can convince my husband to eat a dinner (and go back for seconds) that is primarily vegetables and lean meat without dairy, grains, or processed foods it is win.  This dinner sort of came together as I was making it, trying to utilize the vegetables in my refrigerator that needed eaten.  This is my best recap of what happened.

2013-09-16 19.30.12Ingredients:

– 2 acorn squash

– 2-3 boneless pork chops ( you can use pork shoulder, pork loin…even chicken or beef), cut into bite-sized pieces

– 5 carrots, peeled and sliced in thin strips

– 5 stalks of celery, sliced

– 3/4 cup of shiitake mushrooms, stem removed and sliced

– 3 Hungarian peppers (I had some red and some yellow), thinly sliced in rings

– 1 1/2 heaping Tbsp of minced fresh garlic, plus 1 tsp for marinade

– 1/2 tsp ginger powder

– 1 bay leaf

– 1/3 cup soy sauce

– 1 1/2 heaping Tbsp of minced fresh ginger

– Infused olive oil (infused with dried chili peppers, garlic, and black peppercorn)

– salt and pepper

– 1-2 dashes of red pepper flakes

Directions:

1. 12-24 hours in advance put the pork in a marinade: 1/3 cup of soy sauce, 1 Tbsp infused olive oil, 1 tsp minced garlic, 1/2 tsp ginger powder, 1 bay leaf.   I marinated the meat in a quart sized zip lock bag so I could remix easily a few times over the course of the day.

2. Cut the acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds, then cut into wedges 5-6 per half.  To make the squash easier to cut, I poke holes into it and put in the microwave for 5 minutes to soften it up.

3. Spray the wedges with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, place on pan cut side down and roast at 450 for 15 minutes before flipping and cooking for an additional 15 minutes.

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4. While the squash is roasting get to work chopping the garlic, ginger, peppers, carrots, celery, and mushrooms.

5. In a hot skillet over medium heat add some infused oil to coat the bottom of the skillet and saute the fresh minced garlic and ginger (make sure the pan is not too hot like mine was on the first round, it will instantly burn the garlic and ginger).  You want a light brown with good fragrance before adding the sliced Hungarian peppers.  Cook until the peppers get a little soft, about 5 minutes mixing constantly.

6. Remove the peppers from the pan leaving behind some oil and garlic/ginger as able.  Add more infused olive oil as needed to coat the pan then add the pork, cook until nearly fully cooked.

7. Add the peppers back to the pan when the meat has just a few minutes left to cook, stir together and let cook for 2-3 minutes.

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8. Remove the peppers and meat from the pan and set aside.  Add more oil to thickly coat the bottom of the pan and saute the rest of the vegetables.  I sprinkled a few dashes of garlic powder and red pepper flakes in with the vegetables.  Depending on how thin you were able to cut your carrots, they will be the longest vegetable to cook.  I covered the vegetables for part of the cooking process to speed the cooking of the carrots.

9. When the vegetables are nearly finished cooking, add the peppers and meat back to the dish.  Stir well, cover, and let cook on medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes to finish cooking and fuse the flavors.

10. Plate with the squash so it can be eaten in place of rice with the stir-fry.

I think in future I would add the mushrooms at the same time as the Hungarian peppers to have more of the mushroom flavor enhance the meal.  Otherwise I was pretty happy with the way these vegetables worked together to make the meal full of flavor without any one ingredient overwhelming the dish.