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Sweet Potato & Butternut Squash with Crispy Sage & Bacon1

I tried to publish this recipe last night but I was struggling and grasping for words.  Not that Roasted Sweet Potato & Butternut Squash {with Crispy Sage & Bacon} is complicated or difficult to explain, it’s just that I made it for some friends of mine who frankly have been to hell and back over the past six weeks.  Preparing this dish evoked emotion, something I feel has been lacking as of late in my cooking and subsequent blog posts.

Last night I closed my laptop in frustration and went to bed.  Below is the paragraph that greeted me this morning.  I decided to share it unedited in it’s disjointed glory.  It’s a quick glimpse at what whirls around in the brain at times.

I have started typing this post four seven times before closing abruptly without saving.  As of late I’ve taken the easy way out when it’s come to blogging.  My recipe shares have been  I’m struggling with whether to simply share a recipe for roasted sweet potato & butternut squash and leave it at that.  Or whether I let the emotion  I was looking for a comforting side dish to go nicely with Mardi Gras Chicken.

Six weeks ago today I got a call from my close friend and co-worker Tammy.  “Chris has been diagnosed with aggressive leukemia, we are on our way to Northside Hospital for a possible emergency bone marrow transplant.”

The world stood still.  Just one week before, Tammy’s husband Chris wasn’t feeling well and went in for blood work.  He went from living his day to day life…to grasping for life in the blink of an eye.  Cancer sucks!  What this family has endured over the past 45 days is unimaginable to those who’ve never crossed paths with cancer.  Weeks in the hospital having your blood stream broken down by chemotherapy so that it can be rebuilt, only to begin all over again and again and again.  The process is ruthless, because that’s what it takes to win the battle against cancer.

With 110% support and care from his wife and family, this week Chris found out he is in remission!!  They still have a long road ahead of them with continued daily trips to the clinic, scheduled rounds of chemo and all the brutal side effects, but now they know that the treatment is working.

The Samurai ~ by Chris Fontenot

The Samurai ~ by Chris Fontenot

With Chris’ permission I’m sharing two of my favorite pieces of his art work.  Chris took up figurine painting as a hobby a couple years ago.  He has a passion for painting, small scale painting.  This first guy, The Samurai, stands about 3-inches tall.  The detail is amazing and done entirely freehand.

Gusty ~ by Chris Fontenot

Gusty ~ by Chris Fontenot

Chris is partial to painting figurines, but there’s just something about this gal “Gusty” that draws me in.  There are so many more stunning pieces of his work I could share.  I’m hoping he’ll set up a website of his own, as soon as he finds that spare time again ;)

Back to Roasted Sweet Potato & Butternut Squash {with Crispy Sage & Bacon}.  I was making dinner to deliver to Tammy & Chris.  I had already settled on Whole Roasted Mardi Gras Chicken.

Mardi Gras Whole Roasted Chicken

You see you can take the Cajun out of Louisiana (and move him to Atlanta) but you can’t take Louisiana out of the Cajun.  I hoped Chris would love this chicken as much as we do.  But I needed a side dish, that was diabetic friendly and had a little Cajun kick.  The combination of the sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and sweet onion with the savory from the bacon and crispy sage was pretty special.  Adding a nice pinch of Cajun seasoning made it extra special.

Sweet Potato & Butternut Squash with Crispy Sage & Bacon3

It was about dinner time last night when I got a call from Tammy that began “You know how much I love you don’t you….”  Part of my struggle to write this post was thinking back to when my dad passed away and later my mom.  We learned as a family then that for some people (I actually think many) it’s very difficult to ‘know’ what to do for someone in need.  Being unsure of their circumstances, fearing that we’ll intrude, or simply not knowing what to say to someone who is facing the unthinkable is often enough to keep us away.

Over the year’s I’ve learned that you don’t have to say or do anything specific, just be there.  Whether it be via a phone call, a quiet visit, or simply laying a basket of baked goods at their door….let them know that you are thinking about them.  And by all means hug their neck when you see them.  That’s how we Share the Love.

Hogs ‘n Fishes Tammy & Chris.  Keep kicking cancer’s butt!!

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Roasted Sweet Potato & Butternut Squash {with Crispy Sage & Bacon}
 
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 4 strips bacon
  • 8-10 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 tsp. Cajun seasoning or to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wrap sweet potatoes in foil and place on a shallow baking sheet. Slice butternut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Drizzle cavity with a little olive oil and place cavity side up on same baking sheet.
  2. Bake for 45 minutes or until potatoes and squash are fork tender. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Then peel and cut into bite-sized cubes.
  3. Meanwhile, cook bacon until crispy and remove to drain on paper towels. Add sage leaves to bacon drippings and cook until crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove to drain. Add diced onion to pan and cook until tender.
  4. Add diced sweet potato, butternut squash and ½ tsp. of Cajun seasoning to pan. Cook over medium high heat, turn frequently so all the flavors combine. Taste for seasoning and add as needed. Top with crispy bacon and sage leaves.

You knew I wouldn’t be able to resist sharing one more piece from Chris, one of his personal favorites.  Geisha stands about 4-inches tall.

Geisha ~ by Chris Fontenot

Geisha ~ by Chris Fontenot

My heart is bursting right now.  As of, February 11, 2015 My Cancer Kicking Warrior Chris has officially been declared IN REMIISSION.  Whoa.  We are all a bit speechless.  We never doubted, but cancer.  Cancer.

Fast forward. Chris is a figure painter. He paints within the realms of Masters.  And holds his own. This weekend, as he celebrated his first weekend back from that whole shitty cancer experience…he entered the annual Atlanta Show like nothing, in the past six months, has gotten in his way. And took home GOLD for Samurai Warrior and a special honor for his display of hope, courage, and joy.

Chris Rocks

 

 

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