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Pumpkin!!

If you're a frugal foodie, you know that Pumpkin is one of the most awesome foods that can be purchased and consumed on a budget! The brightly colored orange squash (yes, it is a squash!!) graces our tables across the country from September through January in pies, cookies, muffins, quick breads, and more. A great nutrition choice, the main nutrients are lutein, and both alpha and beta carotene, the latter of which generates vitamin A in the body. (In layman's terms, this is one food that's good for eye health!)

Now...pumpkin CAN get boring. Everyone loves pumpkin pie, right? And nobody minds eating endless pie after pie, right? While many love to indulge in pie after pie, that's all many people consume in terms of pumpkin. After a routine search on some of my favorite food/lifestyle blogs, I saw that Amy over at Amy's Finer Things had posted a lovely compliation of different pumpkin recipes for her readers to enjoy. Thanks, Amy, for your hard work!  http://amysfinerthings.com/pumpkin-recipes

Also, I was privileged to taste a most delicious pumpkin and butternut squash ravioli recipe at a lovely restaurant in Coronado, California, when recently visiting family. The recipe itself, Cappellacci di Zucca, is a butternut squash ravioli with homemade pasta that includes pumpkin as part of the noodle dough. The recipe itself is amazing, but VERY time intensive. Instead, I offer two other choices from Allrecipes.com (a frugal foodie's favorite site!) and from Marthastewart.com.

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Browned Butter Sauce (http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Butternut-Squash-Ravioli-with-Sage-Brown-Butter-Sauce/Detail.aspx)

INGREDIENTS (Nutrition)

* 1 large butternut squash - halved lengthwise, peeled and seeded
* 2 teaspoons butter
* salt and ground black pepper to taste
* 1/2 teaspoon allspice
* 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
* 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
* 50 wonton wrappers
* 1 teaspoon egg white, lightly beaten
* Sauce
* 1/4 cup unsalted butter
* 1/4 cup chopped fresh sage leaves
* salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

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What to Drink?
Wine Chardonnay
DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Place the squash cut side up on a baking sheet. Place 1 tablespoon butter in the hollow of each half. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Cover the squash with a sheet of aluminum foil tucking in the edges.
3. Bake squash in preheated oven until tender and easily pierced with a fork, 45 to 65 minutes.
4. Scoop the cooked squash into a bowl, and mash until smooth. Mix in the allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, and Parmesan cheese until well blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. Fill a deep pot with lightly salted water and bring to a boil.
6. To make the ravioli, place a wonton wrapper on a clean, flat surface. Brush edges with the egg white. Place about 1 tablespoon of the squash mixture in the middle of the wonton. Cover with a second wonton wrapper. Repeat with remaining wonton wrappers and squash mixture until all have been used.
7. Drop the ravioli into the boiling water, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until tender. Remove, drain, and keep warm until sauce is prepared.
8. To make the sauce, melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the sage. Continue to cook and stir until the sage is crispy but not browned. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place 6 to 8 raviolis on serving plates, and drizzle with sauce.

Butternut Squash Cannelloni With Sage-Walnut Cream Sauce (www.marthastewart.com)

Butternut Squash Cannelloni With Sage-Walnut Cream Sauce
serves 8-10

3 T unsalted butter
1 onion, diced
1 butternut squash ( 2 1/2 - 3 lbs ), peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped ( about 1-inch pieces )
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 T plus 2 1/2 tsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 pound spinach, Swiss chard, or other greens ( about 2 bunches )
2 T extra virgin olive oil
8 oz dried pasta sheets ( about twelve 5x7 inch rectangles )
Sage Walnut Cream Sauce ( recipe follows )
Fresh sage leaves for garnish

1. To make filling, heat 2 T butter in a large skillet with sides over medium heat. Add onion; cook until it begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Add squash cubes; cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, cumin, 1 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper, and 1 cup water. Reduce heat, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until very tender, about 20 minutes.
2. Mash mixture with potato masher or wooden spoon, and transer to a medium bowl to cool. When cool, stir in Parmesan and ricotta. Set aside in refrigerator until ready to assemble.
3. Wash the spinach or greens well. Remove and discard stems. Roughly chop spinach into smaller pieces. Heat remaining tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add spinach a little at a time; cook, tossing, until wilted and any liquid has evaporated. Season with 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper. Refrigerate until ready to assemble.
4. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the olive oil and remaining tablespoon coarse salt. One at a time, add pasta sheets to boiling water, and cook until al dente, 2-3 minutes less than manufacturer's instructions. Remove the pasta sheets with tongs, and drain them in a colander.
5. To assemble the cannelloni, lay out the pasta sheets on work surface. Spoon about 1/2 cup filling down the center of a sheet, and top with a heaping tablespoon of spinach. Brush one long side of pasta with water, roll up, starting with other long side and seal. Repeat with the remaining pasta and filling. Spread half of the sage-walnut cream sauce in the bottom of a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking dish. Place the cannelloni in the bottom of the dish, and cover with the remaining sauce. Garnish with a few sage leaves. Bake until top starts to brown and filling is bubbling, about 30 minutes. Serve.

Sage-Walnut Cream Sauce
Makes about 3 cups

4 T unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 sprigs fresh sage
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp coarse salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
pinch of ground nutmeg

1. Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When bubbling, add the flour. Cook, stirring constantly with a wire whisk, for 1 minute. While whisking, slowly pour in the milk. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.
2. Remove pan from heat; stir in cream, sage, walnuts, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Cover; set aside to infuse for 30 minutes.

Martha Stewart Living, February 2001

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