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Versatile vegetable side dish can be dressed up or down

Recipe: Baked butternut squash casserole, plain or fancy

Orange casserole in a white dish on oven rack
Who needs marshmallows? Butternut squash's beautiful golden-orange color adds to the festive look of the Thanksgiving meal. (Photos: Debbie Arrington)

Butternut squash subs for sweet potatoes in this lighter (and potentially healthier) version of a classic fall casserole. I say “potentially” because, like sweet potato casserole, it depends on what you put on top. Loaded with a layer of toasted mini marshmallows, it’s hard to describe a casserole as “healthier.”

But that’s the beauty of this butternut dish; it doesn’t need a fancy topping to be appealing. It’s tasty plain and golden brown.

If you like pumpkin pie spice, add more than a half teaspoon, which gives just a hint of seasonal spiciness. Or use one or more of this handy spice mixture’s ingredients: cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice and nutmeg.
Baked butternut squash casserole
Makes 6 to 8 servings


Peeled and cubed butternut squash
Butternut squash is peeled, seeded and cubed for the recipe,
which requires just a few other ingredients.
2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed

¼ cup cream

1 egg, beaten

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

¼ cup (½ stick) butter or margarine, melted and cooled

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or more if desired)


Steam squash until tender. Mash. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter or grease a 2-quart casserole dish; set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together cream and beaten egg.

Mix together sugar and cornstarch. Add to cream mixture.

In a large bowl, combine mashed squash with melted butter. Fold in cream-cornstarch mixture.

Season to taste with salt and pumpkin pie spice.

Pour squash mixture into prepared casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees about 40 minutes, until top is golden brown and, when inserted, a thin-bladed knife comes out clean.

Serve warm.

Note: Add to the sweetness, texture or crunch with something extra on top. Possible toppings: Graham cracker crumbs, chopped walnuts or pecans, mini marshmallows. Sprinkle topping over casserole before baking with the exception of marshmallows. Add marshmallows in final 20 minutes of baking to avoid over-browning.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Sept. 24:

This week our weather will be just right for fall gardening. What are you waiting for?

* Now is the time to plant for fall. The warm soil will get these veggies off to a fast start.

* Keep harvesting tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons and eggplant. Tomatoes may ripen faster off the vine and sitting on the kitchen counter.

* Compost annuals and vegetable crops that have finished producing.

* Cultivate and add compost to the soil to replenish its nutrients for fall and winter vegetables and flowers.

* Fertilize deciduous fruit trees.

* Plant onions, lettuce, peas, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, bok choy, spinach and potatoes directly into the vegetable beds.

* Transplant cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower as well as lettuce seedlings.

* Sow seeds of California poppies, clarkia and African daisies.

* Transplant cool-weather annuals such as pansies, violas, fairy primroses, calendulas, stocks and snapdragons.

* Divide and replant bulbs, rhizomes and perennials. That includes bearded iris; if they haven’t bloomed in three years, it’s time to dig them up and divide their rhizomes.

* Dig up and divide daylilies as they complete their bloom cycle.

* Divide and transplant peonies that have become overcrowded. Replant with “eyes” about an inch below the soil surface.

* Late September is ideal for sowing a new lawn or re-seeding bare spots.

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Find our spring recipes here!