My gym celebrated its “34th birthday” this week with raffles, free bring-a-friend-day and loads and loads of junk food. Now, I’m just as guilty as the next person of running five miles and then going home to inhale a plate of spaghetti and meatballs washed down with a vanilla ice cream chaser, but that doesn’t mean I want to do it AT the gym. We’re talking bakery cookies, a large layer cake and I think I even spotted Hawaiian Punch.
Since I go to a large, chain fitness club, I understand the need to celebrate and thus, self-promote. But to me, the number 34 is odd in itself. Why not wait until the club turns 35 and REALLY go all out? Maybe employ cocktail waiters to deliver mini-quiches to runners on the ellipticals? An ice luge in the Pilates studio? It wouldn’t have been so hard to spring for a few cases of Luna Bars and Gatorade or Vitamin Water. And hanging streamers from the gym ceiling? Just not needed. It would have been nice to instead see those funds turned over to something useful, like yoga mats or properly working air conditioning in the cycling studio.
Anyway. On to the important stuff.
This weekend when I was at my mom’s she had a butternut squash in the refrigerator. Now, I give my mom plenty of credit for being an excellent cook…when she wants to be. When she was feeding two growing kids, we had a balanced dinner every night. When I was in high school and she was working full-time and running a household, we ate take-out regularly. That isn’t to say we had McDonald’s fries for dinner every night, but it wasn’t rare for us to bring in baked ziti and salad from our go-to Italian restaurant.
Needless to say, I was a little surprised to see a labor-intensive root vegetable staring back at me when I went to get an iced tea.
It turned out she had bought it by accident and before I knew it, I had inherited a butternut squash.
I had never made squash before but inherently loved it for its fall-reminiscent qualities. I decided to experiment a little with what I had in the kitchen this time, despite the fact that I’ve always been a stickler for recipes. This was so good, that I’ve made it twice since and I feel fairly confident that it will happen again.
- Roasted Butternut Squash with Cranberries
- What You Need:
- 1 medium butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled and seeded and cut in 1-inch chunks
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons kosher sea salt
- 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup chopped pecans (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Place the squash on a sheet pan and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Arrange the squash in a single layer and roast 25 to 30 minutes, until the squash is tender, turning occasionally with a metal spatula.
- Add pecans during the last five minutes of cooking. Remove from oven and toss with cranberries while squash is hot. Serve immediately.