How to Cook Acorn Squash and Other Simple Recipes for Fall Foods (Plus the Biggest Mistake Most People Make When Cooking Vegetables)

How to Cook Acorn Squash and Other Simple Recipes for Fall Foods

Many people associate summer with fresh fruits and vegetables. But, did you know the fall season has just as many? According to Executive Chef James Nickleberry, there are plenty of fresh foods to use in recipes once the air turns crisp: zucchini, squash, beets, broccoli, pumpkins, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, turnips, collard greens, kale, pumpkin, onions, rosemary, parsley and sage.

“It’s a gourd and greens season,” Chef James said. “People think about cauliflower, but they don’t realize you can eat the greens off the cauliflower!”

Don’t forget about the fall fruits, too. Apples, of course (especially in Michigan!), grapes and pomegranates are fall fruits.

So, what to do with all these fresh ingredients? Here’s some simple inspiration from Chef James, including one of his very favorite fall recipes – sweet potatoes and apples.


“I’m a huge fan of baked acorn squash,” Chef James said. So, how does a professional chef prepare acorn squash? It’s pretty simple, actually: cut the squash in half, lather with butter, sprinkle brown sugar on both halves, wrap in foil and place in oven for an hour. When it’s done, take the foil off, stick a spoon in and eat it off the shell — Chef James style.


According to Chef James, you can cook zucchini any old way you’d like! But, he says he prefers to cut the zucchini in slices, sauté with onion in the pan, sprinkle salt and pepper to taste (plus a little dash of sugar). For more flavor, add cherry tomatoes.


For a side dish that tastes like a dessert (or a dessert that seems like a side dish?!), cut some sweet potatoes into cubes and boil them until they are soft. Meanwhile, sauté some sliced apples with a dash of sugar, and perhaps some walnuts or cranberries.

Put the cubes of sweet potatoes in a pan with butter and brown sugar, add the apples, and bake together at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.

“It goes great with turkey and stuffing,” Chef James said.


For a quick and easy substitute to a “regular” enchilada, try some seasonal mushrooms and spinach with potatoes instead of the beef or beans! Put the fall ingredients into corn shells, with some shredded mozzarella, and bake just like you would a regular enchilada — including your normal enchilada sauce. Yum!


What’s the biggest mistake people make when they cook vegetables, according to Chef James? They overcook them. Vegetables should be sautéed not boiled, he said, or steamed if they can’t be sautéed. TIP: When the veggies start to lose their bright color, you’re cooking all the vitamins and nutrients out of the vegetables.


At American House, we have nutritionists and chefs who work together to create healthy AND tasty menus for our residents! Call us today at (248) 579-4422 to schedule a tour and have a slice of apple pie!

American House Recipe Box: Poached Shrimp and Pineapple Salsa with Chef James

Chef James from American House

Chef James Nickleberry from American House

Now that spring is finally here, now’s the perfect time to try out one of our tasty and simple appetizers. Our poached shrimp and pineapple salsa is a quick, light appetizer that’s easy to make and tastes great.

Here’s the recipe from our very own American House Chef, James Nickleberry.


  • 8 medium shrimp (deveined, tail-on)
  • 1 cup of orange juice
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon paprika

In a medium saucepan, combine your orange juice, water, lime juice, bay leaf and paprika. Bring your mixture to a simmer. Add your shrimp and let simmer for 7 to 10 minutes. Once they’re finished cooking, pat them dry with a paper towel and chill before serving.

To accompany your poached shrimp, you’ll be making a light and fresh pineapple salsa. You’ll need:

  • 1 cup chopped fresh pineapple
  • 2 oz chopped green onion
  • 2 oz chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 oz V-8 juice
  • 1 oz chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons squeezed lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped jalapeño pepper
  • Salt to taste

Chop all of your fruit and veggies, combine, and mix thoroughly. Serve the salsa in a shot glass or small dipping tray alongside your chilled poached shrimp.

Bon appétit!

Poached Shrimp and Pineapple Salsa - American House Blog


At American House we take the fresh, high-quality meals we serve residents seriously. Give us a call today at (248) 579-4422 to schedule a visit to see how we incorporate health and flavor into meals!

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