Baked Acorn Squash Stuffed with Apples and Cranberries

Is there something like a sweet tooth or is everything an acquired taste? I wonder sometimes.. pretext being that neither me nor my husband have strong sweet cravings. Even as a kid all I asked my mom to prepare on every single of my birthdays was a simple fruit-salad! So preparing desserts is a rarity at our place (special occasions or family friends over for dinner). Sweet dishes that I do prepare at home are either a) traditional Marathi sweets that we do crave once in a while or b) some light fruit based desserts (tarts, crustless-pies.. you get the idea). Its not so much about watching sugar or calories, but just that neither of us really crave sweets. Okay, now before you think that I am this saint person who gets no sweet cravings let me assure you that like everything else in nature there are exceptions to this rule :-) First, I do get my bulk-load of non-saintness craving fried snacks like samosas and kachoris and second, did you say Tiramisu, Chocolate molten lava cake or coconut ice-cream!?!!

Anyway, ever since I saw this recipe of stuffed acorn squash on Mark Bittman's website I have been getting cravings for a similar dessert. The original recipe had stuffing of apples and bacon which I changed to apples and cranberries and for good measure spiced it up with an apple-pie'ish flavor. Acorn squash has been one of my favorite squashes - it tastes wonderful simply roasted with a bit of butter, sugar and cinnamon; but I must say that the apple-cranberry stuffing gave this dish such a depth of flavor! I loved this dish so much that I think I am going to try making this next with a baked apple base instead of an acorn squash just so that I can keep making this even when the acorn squash is out of season!

Acorn squash has a soft nutty flavor. It is not overpowering
in taste and blends really well with the spices and roasted apples. More about acorn squash from wiki. If acorn squash is not available in your area at this time, I would try substituting a crunchy apple base.

Here is how I made baked acorn squash stuffed with apples and cranberries:
Recipe source: Inspired from Mark Bittman's post

1 green acorn squash
1 apple (any baking apple would do; or for that matter any apple at hand would be fine too)
handful of dried cranberries
1tsp lime juice
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 Tbsp butter (room temperature)
1/4 tsp cinnamon (cardamom would be nice too)

1. Pre-heat oven to 375F
2. Cut the acorn squash into vertical halves like so:

3. Using a spoon remove the inner seeds.

4. Meanwhile prepare the apple-cranberry mixture. Cut an apple into small byte sized pieces.
5. Squeeze a little bit of lime juice so that apple does not discolor.
6. Mix the apple, cranberries, sugar, butter and cinnamon together.
7. Stuff the hollow acorn squash halves with the apple-cranberry mixture.
8. Press gently so that the stuffing won't spill during baking or transporting the squash halves to and from the oven.
9. Place the squash on an aluminium foil and bake at 375F for half an hour. Increase the oven temperature to 400F and bake for another 10mins.
10. After 40-mins of baking, check on the squash. Sometimes I do need an extra 10more minutes (depends on the squash). Pierce the yellow squash mass gently with a fork to check for doneness. Bake for 10 more minutes if desired at 375F. If the squash seems to be getting very dry I cover it with an aluminium foil for the last 10mins of baking.
11. Server warm on its own or with a dollop of ice-cream!