For a number of years around Thanksgiving time, I ran an annual teacher appreciation luncheon at our middle school with two other moms. Along with an army of volunteers, we would prepare a complete Thanksgiving spread for the entire school’s faculty with turkey and all the trimmings. One of the most popular dishes was a Butternut Squash Casserole. The tradition started after someone brought this casserole to one of the lunches. Everyone enjoyed it so much (people were scraping the pan!) we added it to the Thanksgiving menu the following year, making it in mass quantities so everyone could get a scoop.
I haven’t made that butternut squash casserole in a couple of years, but when I came across Paula Deen’s Butternut Squash Casserole recipe recently, I was reminded of this popular Thanksgiving dish. Her rendition of this dish was more on the savory side, not cloyingly sweet like the one I remember. What surprised me the most about this recipe was that it didn’t have any butter in it…or cream – what happened Paula? Anyone who watches Paula Deen knows how she just loves butter. I think I even saw her deep fry butter balls one time. Yikes!
I haven’t watched Paula Deen on Food Network in a while, but I remember what caught my eye – her infectious smile, southern drawl, and playful sense of humor. Today, a group of bloggers is celebrating Paula Deen as one of the 50 Women Game Changers In Food.
As a single mom raising two boys with barely any money, Paula Deen started a lunch delivery service to businesses called The Bag Lady. Soon, her cooking became so well known in the community, that she opened her first restaurant in 1990, called The Lady and Sons. Today, Paula is the host of three popular Food Network shows, and the author of four cookbooks. She also has her own line of cookware, knives and pantry items. Now that is truly a self-made success story, which is why I think she made the list for 50 Women Game Changers In Food.
I made this recipe with cranberries and unsweetened coconut on top (Paula uses raisins and sweetened coconut). Although the toppings were pretty, I would have preferred this without the extras on top (I like the pure creaminess of mashed butternut squash), and perhaps with a bit of maple syrup mixed in (to round out the flavors). If you’re looking for an alternative to sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving, give this Butternut Squash Casserole a whirl. Just adjust it to your taste (if you like it more savory, the recipe as written is fine). If you’re used to a sweeter casserole, add a little maple syrup.
If you’re interested in joining our group as we cook our way through this list of 50 influential women in food, just ask Mary from One Perfect Bite.
Please stop by and take a look at what the rest of the group made this week in celebration of Paula Deen:
Annie from Most Lovely Things
Linda from There and Back Again
Val from More Than Burnt Toast
Joanne from Eats Well with Others
Taryn from Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan from The Spice Garden
Heather from girlichef
Miranda from Mangoes and Chutney
Katie from Making Michael Poland Proud
Mary from One Perfect Bite
Sue from The View from The Great Island
Barbara from Movable Feasts
Nancy from Picadillo
Kathleen from Bake Away With Me
Veronica from My Catholic Kitchen
Mireya of My Healthy Eating Habits