So tell me, have you installed your Christmas lights yet?
I’m so happy to report that I have done mine. Hallelujah! It means that this dreadful, daunting task is now out of the way for another full year. I know, it’s probably a tad early, but seeing as how this is such a challenge for me, (probably the most challenging thing I get to do all year, every year), I much prefer to do it while it’s still not so cold out and the ground isn’t covered in 2 feet of snow. The thing is you see, I’m terribly afraid of heights. For me, being perched at the very top of a 24 foot ladder, while stretching my body as much as I possibly can in order to reach the very top of the roof to then try and force a tiny, uncooperative plastic hook underneath a thick layer of stiff shingles, and then try and convince a strand of (often tangled) Christmas lights to gently slide into aforementioned hook all that while my legs are shaking like dry leaves in the cold blowing wind, basically rhymes with nightmare.
But year in, year out, I just have to step all over my fear and get out there and do it. Because I wouldn’t dream of not decorating my house for Christmas. To me, Christmas lights are so festive, they’re one of the prettiest things in the whole wide world : I just love it when they so warmly and cheerfully welcome me when I get home at night. Sometimes, I’ll even go for a drive just so I can get back home and check them out.
Yeah… I like my Christmas lights that much!
This year, I was lucky enough to have this super comforting Butternut Squash and Apple Casserole, topped with an incredible Maple Walnut Crumble, patiently waiting for me when I came back in from accomplishing my scary enterprise.
I’d made it the previous day to bring to a little friendly gathering, but unfortunately there’s been a last minute change of plans, so I didn’t get to share this delicious fare with that many people after all. Let me tell you, my tummy and that of the few individuals who were lucky enough to share my table that night, didn’t mind at all!
I’m telling you, this thing is so good, it made me forget all about the trying experience that I’d just been through. So much so, I’m thinking that I want to make this a regular thing. From now on, I will be making this casserole every year on the day before I plan on installing my Christmas lights, so I can once again put it to slowly reheat in the oven while I’m out there.
Comforting food at its best is what this Butternut Squash and Apple Casserole is all about: it’s creamy and sweet and salty and crunchy and sugary and spiced and everything nice! I say it tastes like pure heaven!
Honestly, I strongly suggest that you note this recipe down and make it a part of your Holiday menu this year (and every year after that!).
People will love you forever!
To start, as always, preheat your oven to 425°F.
Then prep the butternut squash, apples and onion and put all that, along with the dry cranberries in a large mixing bowl. Note that you could use raisins instead of cranberries if you wanted to, but I found the cranberries to be particularly spectacular in this dish.
Then, in a separate container, mix the melted ghee, fresh rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Pour this right over the rest of the ingredients in the bowl.
Now give this a very meticulous toss. I strongly suggest that you use your hands, as they will do a much better job at getting all the pieces evenly coated.
Transfer this to the top rack of the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the apples and squash start to turn brown and caramelize on the edges.
While this is happening, let’s get busy making the cooking liquid and crumble.
For the cooking liquid, simply whisk all the ingredients together in a glass measuring cup.
As for the crumble, place all the ingredients in a small mixing bowl and then mix well with your fingers, making sure that all the ingredients are well combined.
Note that I used pure maple sugar flakes in this crumble, because they have a bit of an additional crunch to them, which I really like, but you could very well use regular pure maple sugar if you couldn’t find the flakes.
After the initial 30 minutes of cooking time have elapsed, take the squash and apple mixture out of the oven and transfer it to a square baking dish.
Pour the cooking liquid that we just made right in…
… and then top with the crumble.
Return the casserole to the oven, using the middle rack this time, and cook for an additional 15 minutes, until the liquid bubbles up on the sides and the crumble turns a beautiful golden brown.
Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving.
Garnish with a little bit of fresh thyme and apple slices, if desired.
- 1 medium butternut squash, diced finely (about 1kg / 2.2lb)
- 3 large red apples, cored and diced (I used lobo)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- ½ cup organic dried cranberries
- 2 tbsp ghee, melted (store-bought or homemade)
- 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
- 1 tsp Himalayan salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 cup fresh pressed apple cider (or unsweetened apple juice)
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp tapioca starch
- ½ tsp Himalayan salt
- ½ tsp ground white pepper
- ¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
- ⅛ tsp Chinese 5 spice
- Preheat your oven to 425°F
- Place the butternut squash, apples, onion and cranberries in a large mixing bowl.
- In a seperate container, such as a glass measuring cup, mix the melted ghee, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper.
- Pour this right over the reserved vegetables and mix well with your hands, until all the pieces are evenly coated.
- Line a 13" x 18" baking sheet with parchment paper and then spread the butternut squash mixture into a single layer.
- Bake on the top rack of the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the apples and squash start to caramelize on the edges.
- Meanwhile, make the cooking liquid and crumble. For the cooking liquid, simply whisk all the ingredients together in a glass measuring cup. For the crumble, place all the ingredients in a small mixing bowl and then mix well with your fingers, making sure that all the ingredients are well combined.
- After 30 minutes, take the squash and apple out of the oven and transfer to a square baking dish. Pour in cooking liquid and top with the crumble.
- Return the casserole to the oven, on the middle rack this time, and cook for an additional 15 minutes, until the liquid bubbles up on the sides and the crumble turns beautifully golden brown
- Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving.