Winter is around the corner, which means that most of us have cleared out our gardens and are hunkering down for the cold weather that lay ahead, if it hasn't already arrived. While fond memories of tomatoes and cucumbers may linger in our collective memories, there is usually plenty of squash that can be enjoyed for months to come.

Squash adds a wonderful color and flavor to any meal. While the prospect of preparing and cooking it may seem daunting, it doesn't have to be. It's easier than you think, and with several varieties to choose from, the process can be both fun and rewarding for your next meal.

Cooking will depend on what type of squash you have and what recipe you are using. 

1. Baked Squash Halves (Acorn and Delicata)

This is as simple as it gets. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Plunge the blade of a paring knife into the squash near the stem and work the blade lengthwise to the other end. Continue with the same cut on the other side so you have two equal halves. Remove seeds. Brush olive oil or butter on the flesh, then season with salt, pepper, and brown sugar or maple syrup. Cook for about one hour, or when you can push a fork into the flesh like a baked potato. Serve warm.

2. Roasted Squash With Carrots and Onions (Butternut)

Peel the squash as indicated above. Cut the squash into cubes. Peel and chop two large carrots and cut one large onion into half-circle slices. In a large bowl, toss the squash, carrots, and onions with olive oil and salt, the place on a broiler tray. Fire up the broiler and cook for about 5 minutes, or when the vegetables start to lightly char. Turn and mix with a spatula, then cook for another 5 minutes. Repeat mixing one more time and cook for another 5 minutes. Check for doneness by piercing with a fork and tasting it.

3. Citrus Spaghetti Squash With Almonds and Honey (Spaghetti Squash)

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut spaghetti squash lengthwise and take out seeds. Brush with olive oil and place face down on a baking sheet. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until tender, take out and let cool. Gently scrape the flesh with a fork and place in a bowl. Prepare sauce by mixing 2 T olive oil, 1 T honey, 2 T lime juice, ½ t ground cumin, salt to taste. Mix sauce in a bowl and add to squash. Garnish with chopped scallions and almonds.

4. Stuffed Pumpkin (Pie Pumpkin)

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Use a small pie pumpkin, about 3-4 lbs. Cut off the top (save top) and remove seeds. Dice and sauté in olive oil the following: 1 medium onion, 1 medium carrot (peeled), ½ red and ½ green pepper. When vegetables are soft, add 1 t each of sage, salt, and thyme, and then 3-4 cups of bread stuffing. Ladle the mixture into the cavity of the pumpkin and fill with hot chicken or vegetable broth. Cover the top with shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese. If possible, microwave the stuffed pumpkin for 5 minutes, the place in oven for 1 – 1½ hours. If you can't microwave, bake about 2 hours. Cook until the liquid and cheese are bubbly and the pumpkin flesh is soft (test by poking the exposed flesh on tip with a fork). Scoop out the inside and serve with pumpkin flesh.

5. Butternut Squash With Onions and Kale (Butternut)

Prepare and cook squash and onions as in #2. Place in a large bowl. Cut, wash, and chop kale so you end up with about 2 cups, chopped. Sauté kale in olive oil until wilted but still a little firm, about 10 minutes, add ½ cup of walnuts and cook 1 minute. Add to squash/onion mixture, then drizzle with 2 T olive oil and juice from half a lemon. Add ½ t salt and ¼ t of fresh ground pepper.

6. Delicata Squash Soup (Delicata)

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Take 3 medium sized squash and cut lengthwise. Remove seeds and brush with olive oil. Bake in oven for 1 hour, or until flesh is tender. Scoop out flesh and save in a bowl. Dice 1 celery stalk, 1 onion and 2 carrots (peeled) in olive oil until tender, about 5 minutes. Add 3 cups of broth or water, add squash, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Blend soup until smooth, then add ½ cup milk or cream. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with crusty bread.

7. Sliced Acorn Squash With Maple Syrup (Acorn or Delicata)

Cut squash lengthwise and remove seeds. Place flat side down and cut slices, about ¼ thick. Brush olive oil and both sides and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in broiler pan and fire up the broiler, cooking on each side about 5 minutes. Check tenderness with fork.

8. Pumpkin and Leek Soup (Pie Pumpkin or Butternut)

Use about 3 lbs pumpkin or squash. Peel and dice the squash into 1 inch pieces and toss with olive oil and salt. Broil as in #2, then place in boil and set aside. Finely chop 4 leeks and sauté in olive oil in a pan until tender, about 4-6 minutes. Add pumpkin and 4 cups of broth, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Blend soup until smooth, and add salt and pepper to taste. Top with sour cream and serve with crusty bread.