Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Buttercup and pumpkin.

Yes! I'm squeezing in at least one more post before Thanksgiving.

Buttercup squash is similar to kabocha, although the texture is more starchy and the flavor is less rich, in my opinion.

I just baked it, scooped out the flesh, and topped it with cinnamon, brown sugar, and walnuts. And then I baked it again.

It was not my favorite. It would probably be better suited in a stew. At least its funky appearance provided some amusement.

As for the pumpkin.... I cheated and used canned. (I am reserving my actual sugar pumpkins for something more exciting.)

But this chocolate pumpkin tart still counts, right?

The fresh whipped cream and pecans are essential. This tart recipe was super easy, but I should have lined the bottom with parchment. The bottom of the pan pops up from the sides, but the melted chocolate + caramelized sugar cemented parts of the tart onto the pan. I hate fighting with my food.

But we kissed and made up.

Next: My butternut debacle. (P.S. Take the poll if you haven't already!)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

So much squash, so little time!

Ack. How the heck is it the weekend before Thanksgiving already?

Since I'm running out of time, I need a little help in deciding what to do with the remainder of my butternut squash. Please take my poll to the left!

And wish me luck in my Thanksgiving prep.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Snack bonanza!

Lately, mostly due to lack of time to cook a full meal for myself on weekdays, I've been snacking myself into oblivion. Here are three recent favorites, to satisfy three separate cravings:

Pretzel Crisps

This buffalo wing-flavored snack might as well be laced with crack. I can't get enough of them. They're as addictive and light as potato chips, but are crunchier, taste way better and are better for you. Look how gloriously thin they are:

I bought the buffalo wing and garlic flavors at my local Sprouts, to justify my passing the sample tray about a dozen times to snatch up more and more of these. They really should not leave those things unattended.

Trader Joe's also has its own version -- and they're everything-flavored. Though, they carry them kind of sporadically, so don't get mad at me if you can't find them.

Isabella's Cookies

These were a random impulse buy while waiting to purchase my lunch at Ivy's Cafe in Tustin (simple, healthy, yet somehow super delicious sandwiches/salads). I like these cookies because they (1) taste homemade (which they are) and (2) come in unusual flavors. The above is "The Paddy" -- mint chips and semisweet chocolate chips. And below:

"The Muffy" -- a tribute to a muffin top (undoubtedly adding to my "muffin top"), this cookie is studded with dried blueberries, white chocolate chips, and milk-chocolate covered blueberries. I've also tried "Chocolate Haze," which has whole hazelnuts and dark chocolate chunks. I'm still trying to find "The Shortcake," an homage to strawberry shortcake.

The Pure Bar

Although it's not common, I'd imagine, I suppose it's possible to have a healthy craving. The Pure Bar is all-vegan raw food -- organic, nothing cooked, no preservatives, and all that jazz. Now, I am usually not into these super healthy meal-replacement bar dealios. In fact, I find many of them quite awful, especially when I have to think for longer than 15 seconds about how the vegan peanut butter and chocolate bar I'm chewing tastes even remotely like peanut butter and chocolate.

Maybe that's why The Pure Bar is not only tolerable, it's astonishingly delicious: It doesn't really try to emulate any flavor. It just is.

Example: The wild blueberry bar, my favorite, just tastes like dried blueberries, complemented with little bits of walnuts -- enough to satisfy, but rare enough to invoke a fond appreciation for each walnut encounter as I slowly make my way through. Same thing goes for the apple cinnamon.

While I tend to stay away from the ones promoting themselves as chocolate, the chocolate chip trail mix bars offer an interesting alternative: cacao nibs. It's not as indulgent as a good, rich bar of dark chocolate, but it's definitely still "the real thing," and a suitable substitute if you're trying to be healthy.

But like many good things, The Pure Bar does not come cheap, and so far I've only been able to find it at Whole Foods.

As my snack preferences change as often as my cravings do, only time will tell what my tastebuds have yet to discover in the tasty world of munchies!

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Yeah, so, I haven't really been following the schedule o' squash as well as I had intended. But I have started!

First up: Kabocha squash.

Kabocha is a Japanese pumpkin and its flavor and texture, according to Wikipedia, is comparable to chestnuts. I'd have to say I agree.

It's commonly used in tempura. Mmm. That's what I love about squash: its versatility in creating both sweet and savory dishes. The following recipe is an example of the latter execution.

Miso-glazed kabocha squash:

(I'm annoyed because my camera battery died before I could upload my own photos, and I don't have my memory card reader with me. But blah di blah di blah, you probably don't care.)

This recipe from Sunset Magazine was a good first one to try, although when I make it again, I'll probably cut slightly thicker slices, to be able to savor more squash per bite. Also, I over-glazed them; saltiness hampered the natural sweetness of the squash. Let the taste of nature's bounty shine through! Power to the squash! .. And other hippie phrases.

More tips for my future self!
- Be patient when baking; semi-crunchy squash is not so yum.
- Don't leave out the sesame oil; it's a nice finishing touch.
- It's pretty tasty on a bed of steamed rice.
- The rind, while edible, gets annoying after a while.
- Kabocha is fun to say. Kaaboochaaa. Heh.

Yay, 1 down, several more to go (picture a butternut squash, a buttercup squash, and sugar pumpkins all lined up in a row on my counter).