In the wake of our Thanksgiving feasting with its inevitable leftovers, I had another frugal foodie inspiration to share with the world.
This former poor girl who hates to throw food away was faced with the question of what to do with a leftover cup of delicious butternut squash puree, which had been oh so lovely in its blue bowl on the big day*, but was now languishing in the reduced circumstances of a plastic storage container and approaching the limits of its temporal endurance.
Since I had just made my son's pumpkin breakfast muffins for the week, it occurred to me to treat this puree in the same manner and make a quick bread for grownup snacking.
I dug up a recipe from my files (Cottage Living 2006 RIP) and gave it a try, adjusting the sugar down since the puree was already delightfully sweetened with maple syrup. Other than that change and the addition of chopped pecans for a little protein, I followed the recipe exactly as printed because the alleged point of collecting these things (and I have a file crate almost full of them) is to test the recipes. Or, at least, that's what I keep telling myself.
Anyway, I'm happy to report that my idea worked. Now the world can know how to give purpose to a bit of leftover squash (or sweet potato, I'm sure) puree. The puree could even be frozen for later thawing and baking if it's post holiday time and one is sick to death of baking for a while.
I'm also happy about the lovely crack on top of my experimental quick bread because it's just so pretty and a sign of vigorous raising. Well, mostly because it's pretty--just like those magazine pictures that may or may not be real. Many times I've baked quick breads that, although quite tasty, had boring, flat or barely rounded tops, much to my disappointment. Taste may be the most important thing, but good looks are nice, too. Further testing will be required to determine if the attractive cracking was due to luck or a good recipe, but that shouldn't be too long coming, since t'is the season for all things squashy, and I love pumpkin bread from way back. I will report.
The magazine staff had a wild idea of their own that might compound the frugality. They suggested making two loaves and using one to make bread pudding. So if you have two cups of leftover squashiness and no desire to freeze for later--or don't trust yourself to ever carry out your good intentions and exhume the stuff--you could have two loaves, or a loaf and a dessert. Trash into treasure is such a beautiful concept, isn't it?
In short, a week after the Thanksgiving holiday, I'm still giving thanks--for my frugal loaf with flair. As God is my witness, I'll never have to throw away another cup of squash puree or dab of sweet potato casserole again. And neither will you!
Frugal Squash Bread
Makes 1 loaf
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup leftover squash puree
1 large egg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour (Or just spray. I told you, I'm lazy) an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan. Sift or whisk together the first six ingredients.
Combine sugar, oil, and pumpkin in a large bowl. Beat at medium speed of an electric mixer until smooth. Add egg, beating until well blended. Gradually add dry ingredients, beating at low speed until blended. Transfer batter to prepared pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour 5 minutes or until loaf is golden and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes. Remove from pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.
*You know you're a serious foodie if...you transfer your golden orange butternut squash puree from the perfectly serviceable and already dirtied bowl in which you mashed it to a brilliant blue one just to make the dish more beautiful.