ANSWER: Baking Squash
QUESTION: What was I doing at 4am?
What the hell, I was awake. Might as well get my prep work done for dinner. Meant to do it last night, anyway; but too exhausted to stay up and went to bed just after 8pm. The problem with that is that I wake up even earlier than usual, meaning I'm awake longer, so I'm still exhausted when I get home. It's a vicious combination of insomnia and an internal clock that makes it practically impossible to sleep past 6am and often has me awake at 2am.
Half the battle of cooking dinner is the prep and if I can do it the night before, all I have to deal with is the actual cooking. On the menu tonight is pan-fried, pecan crusted catfish and baked acorn squash with pecans and goat cheese.
The time-consuming part is the squash - about 30 minutes. Even from scratch, from refrigerator to table would only be about 45-50 minutes, but now I've cut the evening kitchen time in half.
Each half of the squash will be filled with a mixture of chopped pecans, syrup, and thyme, and topped with a slice of goat cheese. Then baked another 10 minutes. Squash is baked, pecans are chopped, and the thyme is shredded. While the oven is heating, stir in the syrup and fill the squash.
For the catfish, I'll throw a cup of pecans and half a cup of flour in the food processor, click whir for about 30 seconds and dump on a plate. On another plate I'll beat the bejeezus out of an egg. Coat the fillets with egg, dredge through the flour/pecans, and drop in the oil that's been heating since the squash went in the oven.
From the time I walk in the kitchen, to the time we can eat is under 20 minutes. Then after dinner I can prep the vegetables and pork for tomorrow's stir fry and I could still be asleep before 9pm if Lost wasn't on.
Later today, perhaps I'll share my simple secret for spinach salads.
Update: Squash recipe