Monday, October 10, 2016

Acorn Squash Salad, Pumpkin Rigatoni and Spiked Cider

Lance went to Pittsburgh for a guys' weekend to see a Steelers game (they won!) So while he was out, I had a girls' pumpkin carving/decorating night.  

Most of us ended up painting our pumpkins rather than carving (in Florida, it's way too humid for a carved pumpkin to last the whole month...) Everyone came up with really creative designs - I think it's the best group of pumpkins I've ever seen.  You can scroll to the bottom to see the individual pumpkins, but here we are with our creations: 
I tried to get a pumpkin from the Hyde Park pumpkin patch, but it was insanely packed!  There was a huge line, so I ended up getting mine from the grocery store instead.  It wasn't the prettiest of pumpkins, but since it was painted anyways, it didn't matter.  Thao got hers from Hyde Park and it was the most stereotypical perfect pumpkin.  

For dinner, I tried out a few new Pinterest recipes and they all turned out amazing!  I love all fall ingredients - squash, pumpkin, figs, pears, pomegranates, apples, etc.  I go crazy buying everything at Trader Joe's this time of year since it's all pumpkin flavored.  

Hillary also brought over this amazing popcorn coated in marshmallows and drizzled with chocolate (it had candy corn for decoration which I'm not a fan of, but I just ate around them...)  It was seriously addicting - like Rice Krispie treats made of popcorn.  If I get the recipe I'll post it on here too.  

I would definitely make any of these recipes again: 

Acorn Squash Salad (adapted from How Sweet Eats)

Salad Ingredients:
Dressing Ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 t freshly grated ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, freshly grated
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/4 t pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil 


1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the oil.  Cover the squash slices with salt, pepper, and brown sugar and add to the skillet.  Cook until slightly caramelized, about 10 minutes on each side.  

2. Add spinach/arugula to a large bowl with a pinch of salt and pepper.  Add the avocado, pomegranate arils, cucumber, pecans, and squash pieces.  

3. Combine all the dressing ingredients and toss with the salad. 

Pumpkin Rigatoni Pasta with Sage (adapted from Joanne Eats Well With Others)

  • 1 lb rigatoni
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 T butter
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 t red pepper flakes
  • 1 T minced sage
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1-1/2 cups Silk Unsweetened Cashew Milk (I completely forgot to add this since I was too busy chatting with friends - it turned out fine without it, but may be a bit creamier with it) 
  • 1 bunch kale leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups ricotta
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 8 oz mozzarella, grated 
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs


1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. 

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta until al dente. 

3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat until the butter is melted.  Add the onion, sage red pepper flakes, and pinch of salt.  Saute for 3-4 minutes, or until onions become translucent.  

4. Stir in the pumpkin and saute for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Add in the cashew milk and bring to a simmer.  Stir in th ekale and simmer for 4-5 more minutes or until slightly thickened.  Stir in the ricotta and season to taste with salt & pepper.  

5. Grease a 9x13 baking pan.  Toss the pasta with the pumpkin mixture and spread half of it in the pan.  Sprinkle half the cheese, top with the other half of the pasta, then sprinkle with more cheese.  Top with bread crumbs. 

6. Bake for 25 minutes or until cheese begins to brown and sauce is bubbling.  Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.   

Spiked Cider (a combination of several cider recipes)

  • 1 jug Trader Joe's spiced cider 
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 4-5 whole star anise seeds
  • 2 liters ginger ale
  • 6-10 oz vodka, depending on how strong you want it


1. Combine the cider, lemon juice, cinnamon, and anise and let them sit for a few hours so the spices soak in. 

2. When you are ready to serve, add in the ginger ale and vodka.  Stir to blend it together.  

I'm sure this drink would be great warm if it was cold outside (you could try it with rum as well).  

I had such a great time with this group of girls - check out the closeups of all the amazing pumpkins:  

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