Make Ahead Meals

I love to cook for my family, and I love to entertain family and friends. I especially love to entertain when I can make meals ahead of time that I can pop in the oven the day guests arrive. I spend a good deal of time planning menu’s, and trying new recipes. For the most part, when I try a new recipe I stick to the exact recipe the first time. Then, after I know we like the general idea, I will change things up and make it my own version of the original recipe. I also rarely, if ever, measure ingredients. So, when I share “my” recipes, I can’t give exact measurements. I just have to tell you, or in this case, show you how much of each ingredient to use. That’s what makes cooking fun for me.

This is “my” version of stuffed acorn squash. It’s one of my favorite meals to serve and it is so easy to make. It just takes time but it’s a labor of love for my family and friends and so worth the time it take to make…

You will need:

Acorn squash

Olive oil

Turkey Italian Sausage (or whatever sausage or meat you choose to use or even no meat if you don’t want meat)

Fresh onion (power if you prefer but I think fresh is better)

Fresh garlic (powder if you prefer but I think fresh is better)

Fresh sage ( ground if you prefer but I think fresh is better)

Fresh nutmeg (ground if you prefer but I think fresh is better… getting the idea about using fresh ingredients…)

Reduced fat cheddar cheese (use full fat if you don’t care about fat and calories… 🙂

Fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano (use the fake stuff if you don’t want the REEEEEl good taste)

Box of Near East Long Grain and Black Rice with seasoning package inside (cook your own rice if you want but I like the Near East brand flavoring)

White wine

Fresh ground pepper (use the other if you don’t want reeeel fresh flavor)

Salt to taste (I don’t use salt because the cheese and rice mix both have salt in them but you do what you like… 🙂

Now let’s get cooking…!

Take your acorn squash


Cut squash in half and take out seeds


Drizzle small amount of olive oil inside squash


Cut cross-hash marks being careful not to cut though the skin of the squash. This makes it easier to scoop out the squash later.


Place squash cut side down on baking dish and bake in 400 degree oven until tender enough to scoop the squash out of the shells without breaking the shell (like what  you would do for twice baked potatoes..) I check the squash after 30 minutes to see how soft they are getting and adjust the timing as needed.

While the squash is baking in the oven, start cooking the Near East long grain and wild rice according to package directions except reduce the water amount, and add 1/2 cup of white wine to make the full liquid amount. This gives the rice a wonderful, rich flavor…


While the rice is cooking, cook a package of ground Italian seasoned turkey meat, or whatever meat you want to use…


When meat is browned


Remove meat from pan and sauté in the same pan, onions until tender, then add garlic and sage to taste and sauté a little longer but not too long or the garlic will get bitter. Add a small amount of nutmeg into the mixture. Careful, a little nutmeg goes a long way, but adds wonderful flavor. When rice is done, add onion, garlic, nutmeg & sage mixture to rice.


When squash is baked tender enough to scoop out the inside, remove from oven and let cool.


When squash are cool enough to handle, scoop out the inside of each squash leaving enough squash in the shell so they hold their shape.


Add squash you scoped out of shells, the meat, and the rice mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add a handful of cheddar cheese and grate some fresh Parmigiano – Reggiano into the mixture and mix to blend all the ingredients well.


Take the empty squash shells and begin stuffing them with the meat, rice, cheese mixture and place in a baking dish that you sprayed with cooking spray. At this point you can add a little more of the cheeses on top and bake them in 350 degree oven OR cover them with foil and put in refrigerator for up to three days to bake-off at another time. If you are making these as a make ahead meal add the cheeses on top just prior to baking.


Either way…the end result is YUMMERS!!!



Stay Tuned!

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. gotham girl
    Oct 27, 2013 @ 20:04:13

    OMG! This looks so delicious!! I love how easy you make the steps! I’m thinking even I could possible do this! Ha! I better stick to my fish. 🙂 xoxo


    • beyondcinderella
      Oct 27, 2013 @ 20:20:31

      If you can make my jambalaya frissy, you could make this for sure. But, not to worry, because if you don’t want to make it, I’ll make it for you when you come back to Arizona.:) Just remind me and I would be happy to make it for you for dinner. XoXo


  2. katsbynp
    Oct 28, 2013 @ 00:09:27

    Definitely looks delicious and since squash is so plentiful right now I will put this on my menu. Agree with you on using the fresh ingredients. Thanks for sharing


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