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fall recipes

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Stuffed Butterkin Squash

September 21, 2021

A cross between a butternut squash and pumpkin, this little stuffed butterkin squash is sure to be a kid favorite!

Stuffed Butterkin Squash

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Fall hikes and meal routines

We’re getting into the season of layers here in Michigan! We start out in hoodies and by the end of the hike the kids have peeled off all the layers to enjoy the golden warmth of the fall sun! We have a Sunday routine of hiking every weekend, and in the fall that routine also includes a roasted chicken for Sunday dinner. One of my favorite things to do with the leftover chicken is make an easy filling for a stuffed squash, and this week, we make it very weekday friendly – meaning super simple! So I thought you might like to see how to do it!

Stuffed Butterkin Squash

Stuffed squash basics!

While a stuffed squash looks fancy, I promise you this is a busy mom’s dream dinner. Comforting and satisfying without the fuss and time of usual comfort dinners, makes for the perfect weekday meal. Really, a stuffed squash is just a roasted squash filled with a protein/veggie stir fry, and topped with cheese or crispy topping. Its dinner all in one, hitting all of the protein, fat, and carbohydrate needs for growing kids. Win-win! You can truly use any squash, and once you try it, you’ll see why there are 3 other stuffed squash recipes on my blog, and one in my cookbook, Nourished Beginnings!

Stuffed Butterkin Squash

Ok, sounds good! But what in the world is a butterkin squash?!

We discovered these cutie little squashes a couple years ago, and it has become a family favorite. The butterkin squash is a cross-breed of butternut squash, and pumpkin – get it? Butter-kin! In my taste palate opinion, while it has more of the shape of a pumpkin, it tastes more like a butternut squash – buttery smooth, and sweet. It has a really kid-friendly texture and honey sweet taste. If you don’t have access to a butterkin squash, you can make this stuffed squash with a butternut squash, pumpkin, or acorn squash – all equally delicious!

Stuffed Butterkin Squash

The Method :: Roasting the butterkin squash

I promise the cutting part is not intimidating, so long as you have a proper knife! I will also promise you that while it is much faster to just plop any squash in the Instant Pot to pressure cook away, the flavor and texture that you will get from properly roasting a squash is second to none – the kids are going to inhale this! Using a sharp knife, slice around the width of the butterkin squash, so that you have the top and bottom, equal transverse halves. Scoop the seeds out, and put them into an oven safe baking dish or cast iron skillet. You can have the kids spread the butter all over the flesh of the squash, and then sprinkle it with salt and pepper. You’ll roast the squash for 50 minutes, which gives you plenty of time to make the filling – in fact you will probably have time to clean up and do other things as well!

Stuffed Butterkin Squash

The Method :: The stuffed squash filling

The sky is the limit here! This week called for the simplest of the simple. I just needed basic. Some weeks I like to get fancy with more veggie variety, but I just didn’t have it in me this week, and truthfully those kind of dinners are sometimes the best. I had a lot of spinach to use up, and mushrooms just jive so well with that, so I went with it. Use whatever you have in your veggie bin – this filling is a great way to use up leftover veggies from the week and clear the fridge out. You’ll cook the veggies in butter until fragrant and golden, and then add the chicken, garlic, and spinach. This filling really only takes 15 minutes to cook, and it can be done ahead of time too! I like to use a few splashes of broth for flavor and moisture since leftover chicken can be dry. The result of the broth cooked down with the mushrooms, onions, and garlic leaves a very flavorful filling for your sweet squash!

Stuffed Butterkin Squash
Stuffed Butterkin Squash

The Method :: Stuffing the squash, and finishing the topping

Once your filling is cooked, and the squash is done roasting, all you have to do is load up the squash with the filling – don’t be shy! Pack it in! And then you can sprinkle the topping on. Again, on this day I needed simple. I used the Ian’s Gluten Free Panko Breadcrumbs mixed with freshly grated parm, and called it good. You can do all cheese if you want, or there are some notes in the recipe card for a topping idea that is both grain and dairy free if you need that. Once you sprinkle your topping, get it up under your oven broiler for a few minutes, and you’re ready to eat!

Stuffed Butterkin Squash


If there happens to be any leftovers (a rarity in my house these days!), they truly make *THE* best breakfast the next day topped with a fried egg. Seriously heaven. It could also make a great leftover lunch too. If you think far enough ahead, you could technically roast off 2 full squashes and double the filling if you want more leftover (or have a bigger family!)

Stuffed Butterkin Squash

Stuffed Butterkin Squash


  • 1 medium butterkin squash cut in half across the width, seeds scooped out
  • 2 tbsp butter divided
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 4 ounces mushrooms sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 2-3 cups leftover cooked chicken shredded or finely chopped (you could also brown up ½ pound of chicken beforehand)
  • 3-4 cups baby spinach or baby kale chopped small
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 2-4 tbsp bone broth stock, or water for cooking in
  • ¼ cup GF Panko bread crumbs see notes below for grain free option
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese see Notes below for dairy free option
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste


  • Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.
  • Place the halved butterkin squashes flesh side up in a baking dish, and spread 1 tbsp of butter over the flesh of the squash. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast at 425 degrees for 50 minutes. While the squash roasts, you can make the filling.
  • To make the filling, melt 1 tbsp of butter in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and mushrooms with a pinch of salt and cook over medium high heat for 5 minutes until fragrant and golden.
  • Add the garlic and the chicken, stir to combine, and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add the spinach, thyme, and splashes of bone broth and cook until the spinach wilts and the broth cooks off – this takes a few minutes.
  • When the squashes are done roasting, turn the oven off, and take the baking dish with the squash out. Scoop the chicken/spinach skillet mixture into each half of the butterkin squash, patting the filling down into the middle.
  • Whisk the GF Panko breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese together in a small bowl and sprinkle over each squash half.
  • Put the stuffed squashes under the oven broiler on “HI” for 3-5 minutes watching carefully for a beautiful golden color. Every oven broiler can run differently so take a peek after a couple minutes in case yours runs hotter.


  • I like to use leftover chicken from my weekly roasted whole chicken. It makes meals like this so fast and cost effective to stretch that one roasted chicken dinner into 2!
  • If you don’t have leftover chicken, you can brown up about ½ pound of chicken or beef.
  • If you are dairy free and/or grain free, you can swap the gluten free panko crumbs for 3 tbsp almond flour mixed with 1-2 tsp olive oil.
  • This is such a simple veggie mixture for this stuffing. If you have different veggies on hand, go ahead and swap! Stuffed squashes are a great way to empty the leftover veggies in the fridge from the week.
Stuffed Butterkin Squash

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Butternut Squash Pasta Salad :: Gluten & Dairy Free!

September 14, 2021

Your favorite autumn flavors of butternut squash, greens, apples, and cinnamon, tossed in a gluten & dairy free pasta salad, perfect warm or cold!

Butternut Squash Pasta Salad

A slow shift to cooler weather…

Other than the *most* amazing summer on the planet, with perfect 75-80 degree days, powdery beach sand under our feet, and glorious sunshine, early to mid autumn in Michigan is truly paradise. It’s a slow, subtle shift, really. The sky gets a little more golden. The mornings a bit more crisp. But it still warms up enough to enjoy our beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline most days. We swap bathing suits for light hoodies and shorts, and still get a chance to get our feet in the sand.

Holding onto our favorite summer pasta salad!

My girls don’t mind the weather change, in fact these born and bread Michiganders can hardly wait for snow! When they asked for their favorite summer pasta salad this week, I told them I’d give it an autumn twist since squash was a heck of an in-season deal this week. I flipped the oven on for the first time in a while, and set to work on a fun fall take on a pasta salad concept they love. (You can find my classic summertime pasta salad in my cookbook, The Little Lunchbox Cookbook!)

Butternut Squash Pasta Salad

Squash Prep Tips

One of our favorite household vegetables, squashes of all kinds hit our table multiple times per week. Squashes like butternut, pumpkin, and acorn squashes are loaded with minerals and vitamins that are vital to organ function and growing kids. Squash is also so kid friendly in taste, with a mild sweetness that amplifies with roasting – it is such a great starter veggie for any older kids that are veggie hesitant. I know that he actual cutting and prep of a squash can seem daunting, but just a quick peel (I find that a sturdy Y-Peeler works best for peeling hard squashes), and a few minutes to scoop the seeds out and cube it up is so worth getting the caramelizing sweetness on all sides of those little squash cubes! The kids will love it! You can also peel and cut the squash on a prep day, or hours in advance. Cut up squash keeps in the fridge for days, and then all you have to do on your weekday dinner night is toss it on the sheet pan to roast.

Butternut Squash Pasta Salad
Butternut Squash Pasta Salad

The Method :: The Roasted Veggies

There is something magical that happens when you roast just about any vegetable. The natural sweetness in the veggie shines, making them really hard to resist! Even the sweet purple onions get even sweeter with roasting, and give the most amazing flavor to the salad. I find these sweet purple onions to work well for kids – especially after they roast. The pungency is covered up with caramelized sweetness. Just toss the squash, onions, and garlic on the roasting pan with olive oil, salt, and pepper. While the veggies roast, you can prepare the pasta and get the dressing ready. In under a half hour your pasta salad can be ready!

Butternut Squash Pasta Salad

The Method :: The Butternut Squash Salad Dressing

One taste of this creamy, comforting salad dressing, and the kids will be asking for this on every salad this fall and winter! You’ll take some of the roasted squash and onions from the sheet pan, along with the roasted clove of garlic and blend it up with honey, cider vinegar, cinnamon, and some seasoning. The result is a smooth, spoon-lickable dressing perfect for this pasta salad, or any salads you make this fall!

Butternut Squash Pasta Salad

The Method :: Assembling the Butternut Squash Pasta Salad

The first thing you will add to your mixing bowl is the chopped spinach. Once the pasta is cooked and drained, you’ll toss that hot pasta with the spinach to wilt it down. Baby spinach has a beautiful way of adding nutrients to veggie dishes without a veggie taste – it just takes on whatever flavors the dressing have. It is such an easy thing to add in! Then, toss the pasta/spinach mixture with the rest of the pan roasted veggies and the freshly blended butternut squash dressing. You can eat the pasta salad warm, or chill it for a few hours to eat cold.

Butternut Squash Pasta Salad

Work and/or School Pasta Salad Prep and Packing

This huge bowl of pasta salad would be fantastic to serve at an autumn party, gathering, or holiday! But it is even more versatile than just an occasional holiday. The pasta salad will keep in the fridge for around 5 days. That makes it a really great make-ahead meal prep for work or school. If you prefer the pasta salad warm, you can use a thermos like my kids use for school. Or, for adults, you can try this super handing mini hot plate slow cooker that I used to use when I worked full time outside of the home to warm the pasta salad up. Add some meal prep chicken, beef, or egg, for protein too if you like! Your kids might also like this pasta salad cold. That makes for even easier packing and this salad doesn’t drip, so it can go right into a container, or into a bento box slot easily.

Butternut Squash Pasta Salad
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta Salad


  • 1 small butternut squash peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 medium purple onion quartered, then cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic peeled (leave whole to roast)
  • ½ cup plus 2 tbsp olive oil divided
  • 1 tsp sea salt divided
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 – 12-ounce box GF pasta of choice I use Jovial GF Farfalle
  • 2-3 cups baby spinach finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp raw honey
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes this leaves a “barely there” heat to the dressing, suitable for children. If you like more heat add more!
  • 1 small apple cut into 1-inch cubes (I do not peel mine, but you can)


  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a large baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper.
  • Toss the cubed butternut squash, purple onions, and garlic clove on the sheet pan with 2 tbsp olive oil, ½ tsp sea salt, and the pepper. Roast the squash, onions, and garlic at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. While the veggies roast, you can cook the pasta and get the dressing started.
  • Get the pasta boiling, and put the chopped spinach in a large mixing bowl (you’ll be putting the hot, cooked pasta over the spinach to wilt it later)
  • To make the dressing, put ½ cup of olive oil, ¼ – ½ tsp sea salt, apple cider vinegar, raw honey, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes into a blender or Magic Bullet. When the veggies are done roasting, add the roasted clove of garlic, and 1 cup of the roasted squash/onions to the blender. Blend the dressing until smooth and taste for salt. (Set the rest of the roasted veggies aside to toss with the pasta salad later)
  • When the pasta is done boiling to al dente, drain the pasta, and give the pasta a quick rinse. Add the hot pasta to the chopped spinach in the mixing bowl, and toss to combine and wilt the spinach.
  • Add the remaining roasted squash and onion to the mixing bowl with the pasta, along with the chopped apples and the butternut squash dressing, and toss to combine. Taste for seasoning and serve warm, or chill at least 3 hours to serve cold.


  • The pasta salad can be used as a make ahead meal prep lunch or dinner, keeping in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Warm it up with a splash of water if you prefer it warm, or eat it cold!
  • Change up the roasted veggies! You can swap some of the squash for carrots or parsnips, sweet potatoes, or another squash like acorn or pumpkin!
  • The dressing is…amazing! Make extra for your salads for the week. The dressing will keep for about 5-7 days.
Butternut Squash Pasta Salad

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