BUTTERNUT SQUASH BRAISED with THYME & CIDER

Sweet butternut squash is a perfect vegetable to braise in the slow cooker because it becomes caramelized and tender when cooked low and slow.  The addition of thyme and apple cider gives this squash lots of personality.

½ c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

¼ c. firmly packed light brown sugar

1 c. apple cider

2 tsp. dried thyme

4 c. 1-inch chunks peeled and seed butternut squash

Combine all the ingredients in 5- to 7-qt. Slow cooker.  Cover and cook on high for 3 ½ to 4 hrs., until squash is tender.  Serve squash from cooker set on warm.  Also excellent pureed.  Serves 6-8.  Found in Slow Cooker: The Best Cookbook Ever by Diane Phillips.

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Zucchini Bake with Feta & Thyme

4 medium-sized yellow or green summer squash, or a mixture of colors, sliced lengthwise and then into 1/4 inch slices (about 8 cups sliced squash)
1 T olive oil (or less, depending on the pan)
1 T minced garlic
2 T fresh thyme leaves or 1 T dried thyme (or less if you’re not that fond of thyme)
2 large eggs
1/3 cup light sour cream
1 cup crumbled feta (not tightly packed)
2 T grated Parmesan cheese
1 T lemon juice
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375F/190C. Wash and dry squash, then cut off stem and blossom end and discard. Cut squash lengthwise in half, then slice into half-moon slices about 1/4 inch thick. (You can use a mandolin with the 7mm blade, or you can use a knife.)
Heat olive oil in large non-stick frying pan, add garlic and thyme leaves and saute about 45 seconds (just long enough to season the oil, don’t let the garlic brown.) Add squash slices and saute about 4 minutes, turning a few times. Squash should be barely starting to soften.
While squash cooks, break eggs into a small bowl or glass measuring cup and beat until egg yolks and whites are combined. Stir in sour cream, feta, Parmesan cheese, and lemon juice. Spray a 2 quart gratin dish or glass casserole dish with non-stick spray or olive oil. Layer half the squash in the dish, then season with salt and fresh ground black pepper. (Remember the feta is salty, so it won’t need a lot of salt.) Pour over half the egg-feta mixture and use the back of a spoon or a rubber scraper to spread it over the squash. Repeat with another layer of squash and the rest of the feta-egg mixture.
Bake at 375F/190C for 40-45 minutes, or until the mixture is bubbling, slightly set, and top if lightly browned. Serve hot.
This will keep in the fridge for a day or two. For best results, it is recommended to reheat in a toaster oven. Do not freeze.

Recipe from Yummly.com

Crockpot Potato Leek Soup

3 large leeks, cleaned and diced (you only use the white part)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 pound brown potatoes (weigh them—you’ll only need 2 or 3)
5 c. broth (chicken or vegetable)
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 c. heavy cream (optional)

Peel the potatoes and chop everything up and toss it in with the broth and the spices. If you are going to use heavy cream, you don’t add that until cooking is complete. Cover and cook on low for 7-9 hours, or on high for about 4. When the potatoes and onion are fully cooked and soft, use an immersible blender to soupify. If you don’t have an immersible blender, blend in small batches CAREFULLY in your traditional blender. Stir in heavy cream, if desired.

Recipe taken from A Year of Slow Cooking by Stephanie O’Dea