One of the things I miss most about life “pre-kids” was the sense of adventure I had when making meals for my husband and me. We would spend lazy Sunday afternoons cuddled up on the couch together discussing what we were going to have for dinner. I would be happily flipping through my pile of cookbooks while he watched golf on tv.
Back then, we made and ate everything. Hot and Spicy Chicken Reubens? Check. Grilled Mahi Mahi with Oven Roasted Potatoes? Oh, baby! Herb Crusted Rib Roast? Yes, but only once because then I got pregnant.
As much joy as our children have brought into our lives, they have also kicked our culinary sense of adventure straight to the curb. Our parenting lives are now filled with weekly dinner menus that follow certain themes like “Muffin Mondays,” “Taco Thursdays,” and “Spaghetti Sundays.” I keep laughing as I write this because it’s just so funny and sad all at the same time.
So last winter, while watching my kids hide their peas and corn under their rice pilaf, I decided that enough was enough. I was taking back my kitchen and I was going to introduce a sense of culinary adventure into our children’s lives.
Stealing a page from my sister’s playbook, I informed the kids that we were going to start trying one new food item each week. They would get to decide what we would try, but it had to be something they had never tried before. And if they got stumped, we would pick out something for them.
We’ve been doing this for quite some time now and I have to say, it’s been rather successful. They don’t always love everything they pick out, but that’s the whole point. To be on an adventure, you have to take some risks.
This is how we came up with this recipe for Baked Acorn Squash. The children love its mild flavor and creamy texture. I love that it’s easy to make and can be spiced up or down, based upon your mood. The kids prefer it without garlic and paprika, but I definitely need the extra seasonings in mine.
Easy Baked Acorn Squash
Makes 4 halves
- 2 acorn squash (1 pound each)
- 2 tablespoons butter, cut into halves
- 1/4 cup heavy cream (if you have really big squash, use a little more)
- 8 sprigs thyme
- Salt and pepper, season to taste
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan (use more if you want it cheesy)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Halve squash lengthwise and remove the seeds. Trim bottoms to lie flat if needed. (I just squashed mine together in a dish so they didn’t tip over.)
- Place squash halves cut side up in a large baking dish or on a rimmed baking sheet. Place 1/2 tablespoon of butter into each squash half. Divide cream and thyme among all of the halves. Season with salt and pepper. Divide garlic powder and paprika among the four halves, if using.
- Bake until squash is tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, 35 to 40 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan and bake until cheese is melted and golden, 10 to 15 minutes more.