Mack's Corner

This Week

Cooking 220 - 2 pans, 2 burners, 20 minutes - Living Well - Mediterranean Diet:

One of the best and easiest things to cook is butternut squash, acorn squash, sugar pumpkins, spaghetti squash or any of those kinds of hard shell squash. All you do is cut it in half, clean out the seeds and stuff inside, then put a little olive oil or butter inside, salt and pepper and put it in the oven at 350 - 400 for 30 - 45 minutes. When it's soft (((like a fully cooked baked potato))) it's ready. This by itself is great. But notice that you still have that hole in the squash that you could fill with all kinds of things. Here's some ideas:

Idea #1

1 pound spicy Italian chicken sausage (or 1 pound ground chicken or half ground chicken half sausage)

1 clove minced garlic

4 ounces pancetta, finely chopped

1/2 a sweet onion, finely chopped

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon fresh thyme (1/2 teaspoon dried)

1 teaspoon fresh sage (1/2 teaspoon dried)

1 tablespoon fresh basil ( 2 teaspoons dried)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes

1 cup water

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

1 1/4 cup milk (I used 2%)

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

3/4 cup provolone cheese, shredded

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1.In a large skillet, cook 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the pancetta over medium heat, stirring, until the pancetta is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, bay leaf, thyme and sage and cook, stirring until the veggies are softened, about 5 minutes. Push the veggies to the side of the pan. Increase the heat to medium-high. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the center of the pan and crumble in the chicken sausage and cook without stirring for 3 minutes. Break up the meat and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until well browned, about 3 minutes.

2.Add the tomatoes, basil and 1 cup water to the skillet. Simmer, stirring occasionally until thickened, about 15-20 minutes. Once the sauce has thicken a bit, discard the bay leaf and season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.

3.Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk in a steady stream and simmer for 2 minutes, whisking throughout. (((This is a Bechamel sauce))) Remove from the heat, stir in all of the provolone and season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Let cool, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin from forming.(((This is a Provolone Bechamel Sauce)))

4.To assemble place a layer of the meat sauce in the squash, then a layer of the Provolone B├ęchamel sauce, then top with cheese. Do the same with the rest of the squash. Place the squash on a baking sheet and broil for 5-10 minutes until cheese melts. Remove from the oven and let sit 5 minutes.


Idea #2

Pimento cheese and panko bread crumbs. Put the cheese in the squash, top with bread crumbs under a broiler till melted.


Idea #3

Store bought Mac & Cheese Fill the squash with Mac & Cheese. Under a broiler till browned.


Idea #4

4 cups of cooked quinoa

1 medium yellow onion

2 cloves of crushed garlic

1 cup chopped pecans

1 cup raisins or craisins

1 tablespoon rough chopped rosemary

1/2 teaspoon of sea salt (more to taste)

fresh cracked pepper

2 tablespoons of high quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil (plus a little extra)


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees

2. Prepare quinoa per package instructions

3. Dice onion and combine in a saute pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the crushed garlic.

4. Cook over medium low heat until onion is translucent. Add rosemary and cook one additional minute.

5. Combine quinoa, onion, raisins, sea salt, and an additional tablespoon of high quality Olive Oil.

6. Season quinoa mixture with additional salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste.

7. Stuff squash and serve hot, with rosemary sprigs for garnish.


You mean there's actually a plan?

If you around before 2007 you will remember that we used setup 2000 chairs every Saturday in the gym and then take them all down right after church on Sunday. We had a team of volunteers who showed up every Saturday at 12:30pm for setup. It took about 45 min. We were good, and we knew the plan. I had people of every age, 6 - 80, men and women. Some strong, some not. Everybody had a job. Everyone knew where we started, where each chair lined up on the squares on the floor. Each person worked in a team. It was very efficient. Each chair was taken off the stack and put in it's exact place. We could do it if only 3 people showed up... We had new people come all the time and they would usually start un-stacking chairs. Any place! Like there was no order to it, they would just un-stack chairs as if the goal was to get all of the chairs off of the racks and then somehow the chair fairies would come around and put them in the right place. One time they un-stacked them and lined them up... One row had 10 chairs, the next had 12, the next had 7 the next had 23, and the chairs weren't facing the stage!.. Had these people ever been to church here? Had they ever been to a movie and seen which way the chairs face? Did they really believe that all 2000 chairs were randomly placed, like you would put out a few lawn chairs in the back yard? I stopped them "Wait, wait, wait... Look... See what you're doing?" "Yea, what about it?" "You have to line them up or they won't fit, there won't be any isles, they need to face the stage!" "oooooooh, I guess you're right. You mean there's actually a plan?" "Yes! A very specific plan. The same plan we use every week. It all fits together, it all lines up, it's not a mystery!" I guess there were so many chairs and the room was so big that it was too much to comprehend. It's not like putting your Lazy-boy in front of the TV to watch football...

God's like that: We think that stuff happens randomly. That things are not connected. That events are not directed. But God directs everything. He's got a plan, and it's really big. It all fits together, it all lines up, it's not a total mystery! Our job is to figure out what he's telling us to do and how we fit in and then do it. We're all part of it and everything that happens directs you to the next step. If you look at life that way, things that we think are bad are really just a new direction... Look for God in every situation. Try to figure out why you're there, why he put a person in your path. You are here for a reason. Why? ... so what will you do next?

I wonder if I need to teach a Sunday school class on Geometry, show people how things line up...


Posted by Mack Oates at 12:00 AM