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THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Holidays & Occasions

PRODUCTS: Pumpkin Flavored Foods

The fall cool-down began here last week. But we knew fall was in the air more than a month ago, when the fall-flavor product samples started to arrive.

Fall is perhaps the best season to get into the flavor spirit. As the choices of warm-weather fresh produce narrow, pumpkin, squash and foods flavored with “fall spices”—allspice, cinnamon, clove, ginger and nutmeg—give us something to look forward to.

Consider all the seasonal specialties with pumpkin:

BREAKFAST: You can start the morning with pumpkin spice oatmeal, pancakes and muffins; spread your toast with pumpkin butter; and pop pumpkin marshmallows into your cocoa. Or, just grab a pumpkin scone and a pumpkin spice latte.

BREAK: With your morning or afternoon “coffee break,” switch to Zhena’s Vanilla Spice Harvest Herb Tea or Republic Of Tea’s Pumpkin Spice Seasonal Black Tea, with a a pumpkin chocolate chip cookie or pumpkin biscotto.

LUNCH: How about Chobani’s Greek Yogurt Flip, with Pumpkin Harvest Crisp to toss into the plain yogurt? (Pumpkin Harvest Crisp comprises pie crust pieces, glazed pumpkin seeds and pecans.) We also liked Chobani’s seasonal blended Cinnamon Pear yogurt.)

DINNER: There’s pumpkin soup, pumpkin pasta, roasted pumpkin alone or with other vegetables, rice, even in a green salad. And by all mean, have a pumpkin ice cream hot fudge sundae for dessert. We’ll save the pumpkin cocktails, crème brûlée, bundt cakes and pies for another time.

Here’s the first batch of what we’ve enjoyed so far:

  • Gourmet pumpkin baking mixes. At Sur La Table alone, there’s Pumpkin Spice Donut Mix, Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Brownie Mix, Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Cake Mix, Pumpkin Spice Whoopie Pie Mix and Buttermilk Almond Pumpkin Spice Quickbread, all nicely boxed and giftworthy.
  • Pumpkin spice instant oatmeal from Quaker. Just add hot water, and 60 seconds later you’ve got a warm bowl of comfort. It’s OU kosher.
  • Pumpkin pancakes: There are mixes on store shelves, online, and of course, at IHOP.
  • Pumpkin spice peanut butter from Peanut Butter & Co. Blended with real pumpkin and pumpkin pie spices, at $6 a jar it’s great for Halloween and Thanksgiving party favors, too. It’s also available in a fall flavor three-pack, along with with Cinnamon Raisin and Maple PBs.
  • Pumpkin spice syrup from Monin, to make your own PSLs at home (even a sugar-free pumpkin spice latte).
    For snacking, we’ve enjoyed:




    Dandies Pumpkin Marshmallows

    TOP: Talenti’s Pumpkin Pie gelato contains real pumpkin and actual pieces of pie crust. MIDDLE: Flip some Pumpkin Harvest Crisp into your yogurt. BOTTOM: Dandies pumpkin mini-marshmallows, vegan and kosher.



    Pumpkin Spice macaroons from Danny Macaroons. Photo courtesy, which sells them and other tasty things.

  • Dandies all-natural pumpkin mini marshmallows, gelatin-free, vegan and certified kosher by the Chicago Rabbinical Council. Tasty and fun, most people would never suspect they’re vegan (and also nut-free, gluten-free and corn-free). Get them at
  • Danny Macaroon’s spiced pumpkin macaroons, “pumpkin pie in macaroon form.” They’re made with real pumpkin, pumpkin pie spices and toasted pumpkin seeds. Get yours here. (Macaroons, based on coconut, are gluten-free.)
  • Talenti’s Pumpkin Pie gelato. While there’s a choice of pumpkin ice cream brands, Talenti’s pumpkin pie variation not only uses real pumpkin—it adds real pie crust pieces.
    There’s more to come, so stay tuned! But first note: Most of these are seasonal specials. Eat up!




    TIP OF THE DAY: Pumpkin Beer Cocktails (Beertails)

    Pumpkin beer cocktails have sprouted at watering holes all over town. We’ve got two great recipes that use pumpkin beer or ale, plus tips on how to dress up a regular brew in seasonal flavors.

    Even people who aren’t beer lovers can enjoy a beertail. As long as you like pumpkin pie, you’ll like these.

    First up is a beertail from


    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 3 parts pumpkin beer or ale
  • 2 parts sparkling apple cider
  • 1 part hard apple cider
  • Garnish: cinnamon stick or pumpkin spice rim (recipe below)

    1. RIM the glass, if using the pumpkin spice rim (instructions below).

    2. ADD the ingredients to the glass, giving the beertail one gentle stir so as not to break the bubbles.

    3. GARNISH with a cinnamon stick (if not using the spice rim).



    Turn a bottle of pumpkin beer or ale into a fall “beertail.” Photo courtesy


    This second recipe, from Herradura Tequila, combines vodka with pumpkin ale, canned pumpkin and orange juice. If you don’t like vodka, you can substitute apple brandy, spiced rum, even a split between plain rum and hazelnut liqueur, like Frangelico.

    This is a sweet cocktail, so test the recipe first. You can omit the agave if it’s too sweet for you.

    Why is this recipe called “punch?”

    Punch is a general term for a broad assortment of mixed drinks, made with or without alcohol. While punch generally contains fruit or fruit juice, fruit isn’t essential. Nor is an elegant punch bowl required. A pitcher is fine, and in many cases, it’s more practical.

    Punch was discovered in India by the British sailors of the East India Company. The concept was brought to England in the early 17th century, some 150 years before sparkling beverages were available to replace the water. From there punch spread to other countries.

    Carbonated water wasn’t available commercially until 1783. Then, J.J. Schweppe developed a process to manufacture carbonated mineral water, based on the the process discovered by Joseph Priestley in 1767.

    The word “punch” derives from the Hindi word, “panch.” In India, panch was made from five different ingredients: sugar, lemon, water, tea or spices and an alcoholic spirit. The word for “five” in Sanskrit is panchan; hence the name.



    Can’t live without vodka? This recipe combines it with pumpkin beer. Photo courtesy Herradura Tequila.


    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces Herradura Reposado or substitute*
  • 2 ounces pumpkin ale
  • 1 ounce orange juice
  • 1 ounce canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 ounce agave
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters (or other bitters)
  • Ice
  • Optional garnish: star anise pod, orange peel or wheel

    1. FILL a cocktail shaker with ice cubes and all ingredients except the garnish. Shake and strain into a glass filled with ice cubes.

    2. GARNISH and serve.

    NOTE: We made multiple portions in a pitcher with pre-chilled ingredients. Instead of shaking, we whisked the ingredients in the pitcher. We then dropped an ice “hockey puck,” frozen in an empty soup can, into the pitcher. The larger the piece of ice, the slower it melts.




  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin spice

    1. COMBINE the sugar and spices in a saucer or low bowl. Moisten the rim of the glass with water.

    2. DIP the moistened rim into the spice mix and twist to coat.

  • Top with a dash of pumpkin pie spice.
  • Garnish with an apple or pear slice.
  • Spice up with a cinnamon stick or star anise.
  • Skewer candy corn onto a cocktail pick.
    *Reposado tequila, aged up to a year, takes on a light yellow and more complex flavors than blanco, or silver, tequila. Given the number of flavorful ingredients in this drink, you can substitute blanco if that’s what you have on hand.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Candy Apple Party

    Is this your year to host a candy apple party for Halloween? Kids and adults alike will love the opportunity to customize caramel and/or red candy apples.

    First send out the invites, then start to gather the ingredients.

    You prepare trays of candy- and or caramel-coated apples, and guests do a quick re-dip and add their toppings. We’ll provide the caramel- and candy-coating recipes in a separate article.


    Select toppings that are small in size or crushed. Big pieces of candy or nut halves can fall off, especially on smaller apple (recommended—see the next section). That’s why we excluded Gummies, Goobers, Raisinets and Teddy Grahams.

  • Candy corn
  • Chopped nuts
  • Granola
  • Mini chocolate chips or full size (how about a mix of
    butterscotch, peanut butter, mint, dark, milk and/or white


    At a candy apple party, every guest can customize an apple (at least one!). Photo with regular and chocolate caramel apples courtesy

  • Mini M&Ms
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Mini Reese’s Pieces
  • Oreo bits or crushed graham crackers
  • Pretzel pieces
  • Red Hots
  • Shredded coconut, plain or toasted
  • Sprinkles
  • Toffee bits

  • 2 slow cookers, chafing dishes, or other warmers for the two coatings
  • Bowls and spoons for the toppings
  • Individual bowls or plates for apple-coating
  • Ice pop sticks for the apples
  • Plates, napkins

    You do the messy part in advance: dip the apples in their first coat: dark, milk or white chocolate or caramel. Photo courtesy



    Choose varieties that are crisp but not singularly sweet (e.g. Delicious). The tartness or acidity of the right variety is a counterpoint to the sweet coating and toppings.

    You also want small apples over large ones. Big apples look more impressive, but smaller ones (typically sold pre-bagged) give you a better ratio of apple to topping. And, you can have more than one!

  • For red candy coating: Baldwin, Crispin, Honeycrisp, Idared, Jonathan, Stayman, SweeTango; secondarily, Braeburn, Gala, Fuji.
  • For caramel apples: The tart Granny Smith is the best variety for caramel apples; the tartness works well with the caramel. But any of the red candy apple types will work if you’re not seeking that nuance.
    TIP: Many supermarket apples have a wax coating that can inhibit the coating from sticking to the apple. If you can’t buy your apples from a farmers market or orchard, remove the wax coating by swirling the apples in a pot of boiling water and wiping them dry with paper towels.



    Set the slow cookers, trays of coated apples and bowls of toppings and other materials on a table or sideboard, ideally on a craft paper covering or tablecloth.

    When the guests are ready to create their apples, let them re-dip and add their toppings. Individual bowls for each person help prevent the toppings from spilling on the table.


    What to serve at your candy apple party? Apple-themed drinks:

  • Apple Beer or Ale
  • Apple Cider
  • Apple Spice Tea
  • Appletinis
  • Apple Wine
  • Apple Seltzer (like Polar)
  • Hard Cider
  • Hot Mulled Wine or Mulled Cider
  • Sparkling Cider Punch


    RECIPE: Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts

    With their seasonal orange color, moist texture and delightful pumpkin flavor, these baked doughnuts are better-for-you, with less sugar and no hot-oil frying. Make them for breakfast, snacking or dessert, with a scoop of ice cream.

    They also freeze nicely. The batter also keeps well in the fridge, in case you want to make a double batch, or prepare the day before to bake in the morning. They are not too pumpkiny—more pumpkin latte than pumpkin pie—so people who don’t like pumpkin can enjoy them, too.

    All you need besides the recipe ingredients are doughnut baking pans. Or, you can make pumpkin muffins in your muffin pan.

  • Wilton Nonstick 12-Cavity Doughnut Pan
  • Fox Run Mini Doughnut Pan (buy 2)
  • Prep time is 15 to 20 minutes, baking time is 30 to 38 minutes.

    For step by step photos, check out the King Arthur Blog.


    Ingredients For 12 Doughnuts, 24 Mini Doughnuts Or
    15 Muffins

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar*
  • 1-1/2 cups pumpkin purée (plain canned pumpkin)

    Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts

    Make the batter the night before, then serve warm muffins at breakfast or brunch. Photo courtesy King Arthur Flour.

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, or 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon plus a heaping 1/4 teaspoon each ground nutmeg and ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour†
    For The Topping

  • 3 tablespoons cinnamon sugar or pumpkin-spice sugar

  • For spicier doughnuts, add more pumpkin pie spice or allspice, cinnamon, ginger/or and cloves.

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two 12-cavity doughnut pans or substitute (mini doughnut pans, muffin pans).

    2. BEAT together until smooth the oil, eggs, sugar, pumpkin, spices, salt, and baking powder. Add the flour, stirring just until smooth.

    3. FILL the wells of the doughnut pans about 3/4 full; use a scant 1/4 cup of batter in each well. If you’re making muffins, fill each well about 3/4 full; the recipe makes about 15 muffins, so you’ll need to use two muffin pans or bake them in two batches.


    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/pumpkin donuts kingarthur 230

    Baked pumpkin doughnuts, close up and delicious. Photo courtesy King Arthur Flour.


    4. BAKE the doughnuts for 15 to 18 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean. If you’re making muffins, bake for 23 to 25 minutes. While the donuts are baking, make the cinnamon sugar or pumpkin spice sugar, by mixing half spice with half superfine sugar. (You can pulse table sugar in the food processor to a superfine consistency.)

    5. REMOVE the doughnuts from the oven. After about 5 minutes, loosen their edges with a knife or spatula and transfer them to a rack to cool. If you plan to eat them shortly: While the doughnuts are still warm, but no longer fragile…

    6. GENTLY SHAKE them in a bag with the cinnamon-sugar. If you’ve made muffins, sprinkle their tops heavily with cinnamon-sugar. NOTE that for the best appearance, it’s important to hold the cinnamon-sugar until you’re ready to serve the doughnuts. Store the rest without the cinnamon sugar (see the next step) and add it just before serving.

    7. COOL the doughnuts completely and store at room temperature for several days. Do not wrap them tightly or enclose them in a plastic bag: Because these doughnuts are so moist, they will become soggy. We put ours in a plastic storage container, which allows air to circulate. You can also use a cake dome or a plate with an upended bowl; or use a baking pan covered with wax paper.



    *The original recipe used 1-1/2 cups sugar, but cutting back to 1 cup is just as delicious (although slightly less tender—no big deal).

    †To use self-rising flour instead of all-purpose flour (e.g. King Arthur Unbleached Self-Rising Flour), reduce the salt to 1/2 teaspoon; omit the baking powder, and substitute 2 cups (8 ounces) of self-rising flour. Bake the doughnuts for about 18 minutes.



    RECIPE: Apple Sangria


    Ready for a glass? You can use red and
    green apple slices, in addition to the
    strawberries, for extra color. Photo courtesy
    U.S. Apple Association.


    It’s so hot here today (87°F) that we can’t get into fall recipes. But this Apple Sangria recipe is a compromise, turning the most popular fall flavor into a refreshing drink.

    There are actually two recipes below: the first, sangria with Calvados and sparkling wine; the second, a mocktail.

    The first recipe makes eight 8-ounce servings or ten 6-ounce servings. If you don’t have Calvados (apple brandy), you can substitute plain brandy or Cognac.



  • 1/4 cup Calvados
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 5 cups apple juice or cider, chilled
  • 1 medium crisp* apple, cored and cut into thin wedges
  • 2/3 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 cup halved white or red seedless grapes
  • 1 750-ml bottle extra-dry chilled Cava (Spanish white sparkling wine) or Prosecco (Italian white sparkling wine)
  • Ice
  • Preparation

    1. MIX the Calvados and brown sugar in a large pitcher until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the apple juice, apple, strawberries and grapes. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or more.

    2. ADD the sparkling wine just before serving and gently stir (you don’t want to break the bubbles). Pour into ice-filled glasses.
    *Crisp green apple varieties include Crispin/Mutsu, Ginger Gold, Granny Smith, Newtown Pippin. Crisp red apple varieties include Braeburn, Cameo, Gala, Fuji, Honeycrisp, Jonathan.



    This recipes makes eight 8-ounce, or ten 6-ounce, servings of non-alcoholic sangria.


  • 3-1/2 cups apple juice
  • 1 medium crisp apple (such as Crispin or Honeycrisp) cored and cut into thin wedges
  • 2/3 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 cup halved white or red seedless grapes
  • 1-1/2 cups club soda, chilled
  • 1 bottle (25-1/2-ounces) non-alcoholic sparkling apple cider, chilled
  • Ice

    1. COMBINE the apple juice, apple, strawberries and grapes. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or more.

    2. ADD the club soda and sparkling cider just before serving and gently stir. Pour into ice-filled glasses.



    The Crispin apple, also known as Mutsu, has a green skin. Honeycrisp apples have a red skin. Photo courtesy New York Apple Association.


    Around 200 B.C.E., the conquering Romans arrived in Spain and planted vineyards. They soon discovered that red grape varietals produced the best wine in the local soils. While some was enjoyed locally, the majority of the wines were shipped to Rome.

    The locals created fruit punches from the wines and called these drinks sangria after the Spanish word for bloodletting.

    While sangria was drunk in Spain for more than 1,000 years, it didn’t arrive in the U.S. until 1964—at the Spanish Pavilion at the World’s Fair in New York. It was quickly adopted by Americans.

    Since January 2014, the use of the word “sangria” on bottle labels is restricted by the European Union. Only sangria made in Spain and Portugal can be sold under that name.

    Sangaree, a fruit and wine punch from the West Indies, is the same drink. The name is an archaic English term for sangria.

    December 20th is National Sangria Day. Here’s more about sangria.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Apples & Honey

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/apples honey goodeggs 230

    Apples and honey, a Jewish New Year tradition, are a delicious snack or
    simple dessert on any day.


    Today is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. One of the holiday traditions is dipping an apple in honey. But the tradition can be enjoyed year-round by anyone looking for a tasty snack or a simple dessert.

    All you need are honey and apples. Slice the apples and serve them with a dish of honey.

    TIP: While a bowl of honey lets more than one person dip at a time, a Honey Bear squeeze bottle or other squeeze bottle (with a dispensing tip) is much neater!


    Apples are sweet, honey is even sweeter. Combine the two and it’s symbolic of a [hopefully] ultra-sweet new year.

    The apple symbolizes the Garden of Eden, which according to the Torah has the scent of an apple orchard, and in Kabbalah is called “the holy apple orchard.”


    So whether or not you’re celebrating anything today, pick up some crisp apples and honey, slice and dip. If you aren’t already familiar with this combination, you’ll wonder why it took you so long to put them together!

    There’s generic honey—a blend of inexpensive honeys from around the world, blended to a common denominator for American supermarket purchases.

    And then there’s varietal honey: single-source honey, such as Black Sage, Clover, Orange Blossom, Raspbery and Sage. There are hundreds of varieties, each made from the nectar of a different flower, bush or tree.

    Each varietal honey has a distinct flavor; thus, and each pairs well with specific foods. Check out our food and honey pairings.

    Consider these pairing tips from Rowan Jacobsen, an apple grower and author of Apples of Uncommon Character:

  • Gala apples with orange blossom honey
  • Granny Smith and other tart green apples with basswood honey
  • Honeycrisp apples with wildflower honey
  • Pink Lady or SweeTango apples with avocado honey
  • Pippin apples with apple blossom honey
  • Russet apples with tupelo honey
    Here’s the full article.

    Happy New Year to those who celebrate, and enjoy those apples and honey, to those who don’t.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Kugel

    The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah*, begins tomorrow night at sundown*. A traditional part of the dinner is kugel (KOO-gull), a casserole-like baked pudding that is served as part of the main course.

    The traditional versions in Jewish households are noodle pudding (lokshen kugel), made with egg noodles and raisins; and potato kugel; but mixed vegetable kugels have become very popular in recent decades.

    In our family’s tradition of excess, Nana always made a noodle kugel and a potato-carrot kugel. We always looked forward to them—especially the sweet noodle kugel—and always requested the crispiest† piece. Nana’s noodle pudding recipe is below.


    “Kugel” is a word from Middle High German meaning sphere, globe or ball. The Yiddish name likely originated as a reference to the first versions, baked in round pans to a puffed-up shape. (Today, kugels are often baked in square or rectangular pans.)

    According to Wikipedia, the first kugels were savory casseroles made from bread and flour. Some 800 years ago, German cooks replaced the bread and flour with noodles or farfel (pellet-shaped pasta like orzo).


    Vegetable Kugel

    A slice of vegetable kugel, made with carrot, onion, potato and zucchini. Photo courtesy Good Eggs | SF.

    Eventually eggs were incorporated. The addition of cottage cheese and milk created a custard-like consistency that is common in today’s dessert kugels.

    Polish Jews added raisins, cinnamon and cottage cheese to their noodle kugels. Jews in different communities developed their own flavors. In Jerusalem, the kugel of choice is a caramelized sugar and black pepper noodle kugel. Here’s a detailed history of kugel.

    *Rosh Hashanah literally means “head of the year.” Because of the nature of the Jewish calendar, the date differs each year.

    †Bake a noodle kugel for a few extra minutes and the top noodles get crisper.


    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/noodle kugel kitchendaily 230

    Cholesterol conscious? This noodle kugel omits the egg yolks. Recipe courtesy Kitchen
    Daily. Here’s their recipe.



    As with casseroles, there are as many types of kugel as there are cooks who conceive them. You may even have enjoyed kugel without knowing it: Baked rice pudding is a kugel (rice kugel). Carrot pudding is a kugel.

    Savory kugels are most often potato kugels, but broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cheese, spinach, yellow squash and zucchini have become popular (usually with a touch of onion). Like cauliflower and mushrooms? Put them in your kugel. Here’s a link to many savory kugel recipes.

    Sweet kugels are made with apples, butternut squash, cherries, corn, dried fruits, peaches, pineapple, rhubarb, sweet potatoes and more. You can use any fruit you fancy, from lychee to mango. Check out these sweet kugel recipes.

    There are flourless Passover kugel recipes that adapt of all of these.




  • 1/2 pound wide egg noodles
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 16 ounces small curd cottage cheese
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup raisins (substitute dried cherries or cranberries)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 dashes salt
  • Optional: slivered almonds‡

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F.

    2. BOIL the noodles in salted water for 4 minutes; then drain. Combine the noodles with the other ingredients (except the almonds) in a large mixing bowl

    3. POUR into a greased baking pan, 9″ by 13″ baking dish (substitute 9″ by 9″ square pan). Sprinkle the optional almonds over the top. Bake until the custard is set and the top is golden brown, about 30 to 45 minutes.
    Enjoy the leftover kugel for breakfast, cold or warmed.
    ‡Some people add a can of crushed pineapple. Nana would geschrei!



    RECIPE: Baked Acorn Squash With Wild Rice

    September 7th is National Acorn Squash Day. If today’s weather is to warm for roasting, plan to make it on the next cool day.

    You can serve stuffed acorn squash as a first course, or as a main along with a protein and a green vegetable or salad.

    This recipe is from USA Pears, which has many recipes on its website.


    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 3 acorn squash
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Freshly ground nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
  • ¾ cup wild rice
  • 1½ cups canned low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, plus extra to taste
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 large rib celery, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/pear stuffed acorn squash USAPears 230

    Baked acorn squash is stuffed with wild rice, nuts, fruits and herbs. Photo courtesy USA Pears.

  • 2 firm Anjou or Bosc pears, peeled, halved lengthwise, cored, and cut into ½-inch dice (substitute
    Granny Smith apples)
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries


    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Toast the nuts to bring out their full flavor. Place the nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350°F oven until lightly browned, about 5 to 8 minutes. When the nuts come out, the squash goes in.

    2. CUT each squash in half crosswise. Scoop out and discard the seeds and strings. If necessary, trim the top and bottom so that the squash will be level, and place on a rimmed baking sheet, cut side up.

    3. SPRINKLE each half with a little salt, pepper and nutmeg, to taste. Dot each half wit butter, using 3 tablespoons. Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake the squash just until moist and tender, about 45 minutes.


    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/acorn duo beauty goodeggs 230

    The first acorn squash of the season. Photo courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco.


    4. COMBINE the rice, broth, salt and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a low simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice is tender, about 40 minutes. When the rice is done most of the water should be evaporated.

    5. HEAT the olive oil in a 10-inch sauté pan over medium heat. Swirl to coat the pan and sauté the onion, garlic, celery and carrot until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add the pears and sauté 2 minutes longer. Cover the pan, adjust the heat to medium-low and cook the vegetables until crisp-tender, 3 minutes longer. Add the sage, thyme and parsley and sauté 1 more minute. Remove from the heat.

    6. COMBINE the cooked rice, sautéed vegetables, pears, walnuts, and dried cranberries in a large bowl. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired. Mound the rice mixture into the squash halves, dividing it evenly. Cut the remaining tablespoon of butter into small pieces. Dot each stuffed squash with butter. Cover with foil. Bake until heated through, about 20 minutes.


    Acorn squash (Cucurbita pepo var. turbinata) is a member of the Cucurbitaceae botanical family, which also includes cucumber, gourds, other winter squash (including pumpkin), summer squash (including zucchini and yellow squash) and watermelon.

    Known for its acorn shape, hard green skin (often with a splotch of orange) and deep, longitudinal ridges. Inside is sweet, yellow-orange flesh. While the most common variety is dark green in color, newer varieties have been developed, including the yellow- and white-skinned varieties.

    Acorn squashes typically weigh one to two pounds and are between four and seven inches long. Before modern refrigeration, acorn squash was a hardy variety to store throughout the winter. It kept for several months in a cool dry location, such as a cold cellar or a root cellar.

    Acorn squash are indigenous to Central America, and were cultivated by pre-Columbian natives (Mayas, Aztecs and their predecessors) as long as 8,000 years ago. Initially, only the seeds were eaten since the flesh was considered too hard. The flesh layer at the time was much thinner than modern-bred varieties, so not worth the trouble. Today, it is flesh that is prized and the seeds that are typically thrown away!

    Squash traveled north and across what is now the U.S., where it was cultivated and highly prized. The seeds were dried for eating during lean times, or as portable food for travelers.

    The Pilgrims encountered it upon their arrival in Massachusetts. The locals called the fruit askutasquash, which gave way to the English word “squash.”

    Squash became a staple of colonial gardens. Both Washington and Jefferson, among many others, grew squash on their plantations and farms. Today, while other Colonial garden items have come and gone (horehound, lovage, orach and peppergrass, purslane, sea kale and others), squash remains on the popular vegetable list.




    FOOD FUN: Pool Party Punch

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    Match your cocktail to the pool (the miniature
    beach balls
    are plastic, made for doll houses).
    Photo courtesy Pinnacle Vodka.


    For your next pool party, make this Pool Party Punch, an tasty and fun idea from Pinnacle Vodka.

    Pinnacle made it with their Original Vodka; you can make it your own with a flavored vodka. If you prefer, you can substitute gin or tequila.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 part vodka
  • 2 parts lemonade
  • Splash of Blue Curaçao (we used DeKuyper)
  • Garnish: fruit of choice (we used blueberries on cocktail picks)

    1. MIX ingredients and serve over ice. It’s that simple! Here’s a video with the full punch bowl recipe.


    Make a mocktail by exchanging the vodka for 7 UP, Sprite or white cranberry juice. Use blue food coloring instead of Blue Curaçao.

    And for garnish, perhaps a red Swedish Fish?

    Here’s the mocktail recipe.



    Curaçao is an orange liqueur made from the dried peels of the laraha (LA-ra-ha) citrus fruit, grown on the island of Curaçao in the Netherlands Antilles (southeast of the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean).

    The laraha is a de-evolved descendant of the Valencia orange, which was brought over from Spain in 1527. It did not thrive in the Southern Caribbean climate. The oranges that the trees produced were small, fibrous, bitter and inedible. The trees were abandoned, and the citrus fruit they produced evolved from a bright orange color into the green laraha.

    When life gives you bitter fruit, distill it! It turned out that while the flesh of the laraha was inedible, the dried peel remained as aromatic and pleasing as its cultivated forebear. Experimentation led to the distillation of Curaçao liqueur from the peel.

    The distilled liqueur is clear. Some brands are colored blue or bright orange to create color in cocktails. The color adds no flavor.


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    Blue Curaçao. The clear orange liqueur is colored blue. It is also made in an orange-colored version.


    Here’s how the different types of orange liqueur differ, including Curaçao and triple sec, which are generic terms, plus brands like Cointreau, Grand Marnier and Gran Gala.



    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Blossom Water

    For two years we’ve had our eye on Blossom Water, an innovative beverage in a crowded field that has not yet gotten the distribution we think it deserves. We keep checking the store locator, hoping for something near us.

    We drink it at the trade show where we first discovered it; and we do buy it online. A 4-bottle package that’s $12.00 has a shipping cost of $4.95.

    And we think it’s worth it. But we want to drink so much Blossom Water, that the shipping charges quickly add up. (Blossom Water folks: Can you put the product on Amazon so we can at least use Amazon Prime?)

    Perhaps by publishing a rave review, some retailers will take notice. So here it is:


    The flavors are perfectly blended:

  • Grapefruit Lilac
  • Lemon Rose
  • Plum Jasmine
  • Pomegranate Geranium

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    Lemon Rose Blossom Water. Photo courtesy Blossom Water.

    We have particular favorites, but every palate is different so please try them all.

    The flavors taste exactly as they sound: like a delicious sip of nature. We love each flavor as is, so we haven’t considered adding gin, which itself is made with botanicals that would complement those in Blossom Water.

    We’ll get around to it; but for 45 calories for an entire bottle of heaven, we’re not in a rush to add more calories.


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    Grapefruit Lilac Blossom Water. Photo courtesy Blossom Water.


    The delicately nuanced flavors are refreshing for every day drinking and for special occasions, including lawn parties, showers and weddings, holidays like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.

    The beautifully-designed bottles are also ready to serve as party favors.

    OK, men: You think it’s a chick product. But it’s a beverage for anyone whose palate seeks exciting new flavors.

    The only solution: Taste it for yourself.

    Discover more at, and ask your specialty store manager or supermarket beverage manager to bring some in. They, too, will never know until they try.




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