257. Barrington EATS: Helping Hands & Harvest Vegetables

3 mins read
Roslyn Road School Students Show Off Gathered Squash During a Recent Field Trip Greater Chicago Field Repository Field Trip

It’s harvest time!  For many, that means a love of cooler weather and fun fall decorations. For me it has everything to do with being in the kitchen. I LOVE fall recipes because they are always about comfort food.  And these days, at the grocery stores and in our gardens, produce from the cucurbita family dominates the space.  This includes pumpkins, zucchini, and all kinds of fun squash, like these gathered by my son and his 4th grade classmates this week during a Roslyn Road School field trip.

Roslyn Road Students Show Off Squash Gathered for the Greater Chicago Food Depository

The students picked squash for the Greater Chicago Food Depository, an organization that provides food for those in need.  What a great opportunity to teach our kids about local harvesting and helping others.

Roslyn Road School Students Gather Squash for the Greater Chicago Food Depository, Courtesy of Kelly Donlea

We filled a whole semi with squash and taught the kids a great lesson about community and sharing food.

Roslyn Road School Field Trip

These fall vegetables are not only festive to look at, they’re easy to grow, harvest and to decorate with.  Though many people do buy them for decorating, I often hear people say they’re stumped as to how to cook them. I agree they can be a bit fussy to work with, but they are well worth the effort in taste and health value if you give them a try. And don’t forget the wow-factor that’s possible with your presentation.

Below is a recipe for my favorite thing to make with Butternut Squash, Squash and Bacon Risotto, plus a fantastic recipe for Shepherd’s Pie Pumpkins in which you can serve your family dinner out of mini pumpkins. It’s one of my favorite Fall traditions and I hope it becomes one of yours too.

Shepherd’s Pie Pumpkins


4 pie pumpkins, seeded
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 cup carrots, diced
1/2 cup broth
1 pound ground beef
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup peas
2 cups mashed potatoes (see website for recipe)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large skillet, melt butter. Add flour and stir until thick paste forms. Add onions and carrots, continue stirring, and stir in broth. Add beef and Worcestershire sauce, and cook about 10 minutes until lightly browned. Stir in peas. Add equal parts beef mixture to each pumpkin, and top with equal parts mashed potatoes. Cook in preheated 350 degree oven for 35 minutes.

Squash and Bacon Risotto


4 slices bacon
1-1/2 cups arborio or other rice
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 teaspoon sage (dried or minced)
2 cups 1/4-inch-diced butternut squash
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
salt and pepper

In a large pan on stove or electric skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 2 tablespoons grease in pan. Add rice and cook over medium heat, stirring often, 5 minutes or until slightly browned. Add the onions, squash and wine, and stir until combined. Add enough broth to just cover the rice. Cook, stirring frequently, until the broth is mostly absorbed. Add more broth and continue cooking, stirring, and adding more broth as the previous additions are absorbed, until the rice is tender with just a slightly firm quality, about 25 minutes. As the risotto cooks, adjust the heat so that it bubbles gently. Feel free to add water or a bit more broth if needed to complete cooking of rice.
Stir in the cheese and sage. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Crumble the bacon over each serving and garnish with a sage leaf if desired.

Check out the recipes on my website, OrganizingDinner.com, for other Fall favorites such as Zucchini Pizza, Pumpkin Curry, Butternut Squash Soup and Stuffed Spaghetti Squash.


About the Author

Kelly Donlea is a Barrington mom, chef, cookbook author the owner of Organizing Dinner, a company that brings sensible cooking solutions to busy people. She has published several cookbooks and one of her specialties is helping parents plan family meals with fewer trips to the grocery store. Kelly also offers cooking classes and demonstrations in your home or public facility. To learn more about Kelly, her recipes and her services, you’ll find her Facebook page by clicking HERE and her website at OrganizingDinner.com. Kelly is going to be sharing recipes, cooking tips and special features about chefs and popular menu items at area restaurants right here at 365Barrington.com.

Please join us as we discover local culinary treasures and new kitchen classics in our regular Friday food feature here at 365Barrington.com called “Barrington Eats” with Kelly Donlea!

If you’d like to us to feature you favorite chef or restaurant or if you have a food related question that you’d like Kelly to answer, make a quick stop at the 365 Barrington Suggestion Box and leave us a note in the form which you’ll find by clicking HERE or simply leave your comment in the box below.

1 Comment

  1. YUM! I made this last night and it’s fantastic! I used both Sweet potatoes and white potatoes because I didn’t have enough sweet, and it worked out great. Thank you!

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