Tag Archives: roasting

Autumn Bounty: Roasted Acorn Squash and Seeds

Hope all you folks (who celebrate it) had a nice Thanksgiving!  We visited our family in Illinois for a week.  I also visited the children at Woodland Primary School in Gages  Lake where my sister-in-law works on Monday. We had fun pretending to make soup!

From the Daily Herald -- my sister-in-law is in the back in the striped sweater!

While I was in Illinois, I received a really touching email from a woman whose adorable 2 1/2 year old daughter, Addison, enjoys my book, Soup Day.  She did a blog post about them spending the day recreating the story that is so perfect I just have to share it.  Check it out here!

Before, during, and after the Thanksgiving festivities, we all indulged in comfort foods and desserts.  My mom made our favorite enchiladas.

My nephew made amazing grilled chicken sushi.  Unfortunately I have no photos!  Major fail on my part.  He basically grilled some chicken breast seasoned with salt and pepper in olive oil.  Then he cut it into strips and rolled it with cucumber, green onion and wasabi on seasoned rice and seaweed.  See the maki method here.  We also made crazy kimchee and jalapeno versions with smoked salmon and avocado that were so good.

My nephew’s girlfriend made these decadent, addicting Oreo Truffles with milk and white chocolate.

Photo credit: Run For Your Life on Food.com

My cousin made her own inventive creation of Coconut Frosted Pumpkin Cupcakes filled with Haupia (Hawaiian Coconut Pudding).   She’s from Hawaii and had the brilliant idea of combining Ina Garten’s Pumpkin Cupcake recipe (sans Maple Frosting) with this Haupia and Frosting recipe  (sans cupcake).  They were to die for!!

Since my brother’s house was overflowing with decadent food, I focused on making a lot of vegetables!  One of dishes I made was my favorite fall veggie that is also readily available throughout the winter months—acorn squash.  You can steam cook and even microwave them, but my favorite way to prepare them is to roast them at high heat.  It really brings out the natural sugars, and you can do double duty and roast the seeds at the same time.

To serve, I mash the cooked acorn squash halves in their skins a bit and add butter and brown sugar and cinnamon to taste.  I cut the halves into wedges and serve them in their skins.  If you don’t eat the skins, it’s easy to scoop out the sweet flesh and eat with a spoon.  It tastes like dessert.

We like to eat the savory roasted squash seeds as is or tossed on our salads for added crunch.

For about $1.49 per acorn squash, this is a fantastic deal I love to take advantage of this time of year.  🙂

Roasted Acorn Squash

non-stick spray

1 medium acorn squash

butter to taste

brown sugar or maple syrup to taste

cinnamon to taste

Roasted Acorn Squash Seeds

Seeds from an acorn squash

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil

Kosher salt to taste (or other spices — cumin, smoked paprika, chili powder, garlic salt might be good!)

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil.  Spray with nonstick spray.  Set aside.

2.  Cut acorn squash in half lengthwise.  Scoop out seeds and stringy flesh.  Separate seeds from flesh and rinse in a colander.  Spread seeds out on a paper towel to dry a bit.

3.  Place acorn squash halves cut side down (I do this to get them caramelized on top) on parchment or foil lined baking sheet.  Roast for 30 minutes.

4.  While squash is roasting, scrape seeds off paper towel into a medium bowl.  Toss seeds with oil and seasonings.  Set aside.

5.  When squash has roasted for 30 minutes, flip halves over so cut side is up.  Set timer for 20 more minutes and continue roasting.

6.  When timer goes off, move acorn halves to one side of the the baking sheet and spread prepared seeds on other side of pan in one layer.  Set timer for 10 minutes.

7.  When timer goes off, stir seeds and continue to check every five minutes or so once or twice.  Remove seeds to a plate when they are golden.  They will crisp up more as they cool.  Test acorn squash flesh to see if they are done.  If they are soft like a cooked sweet potato, they are ready.

8.  Season acorn halves with butter, brown sugar or maple syrup, and cinnamon to taste.  Cut into wedges and serve.
9.  Serve seeds as is in a bowl or tossed on salads as a healthy, crunchy condiment.



Filed under Children, Desserts, Dinner, Sides, Uncategorized, Vegetables, Vegetarian

DIY Nagini (Lord Voldemort’s Serpent) Costume, Flesh Wounds, and Other Halloween Fun Stuff

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Copyright 2011 Melissa Iwai

I was never much of a Halloween person.  I don’t particularly enjoy dressing up.  I don’t eat a lot of candy.  Then ever since Jamie, I guess it’s become fun and exciting again.  We made Graveyard Cups the other day with leftover gingerbread I made into tombstones.  We used leftover fondant to make creepy creatures in the graveyard.

Gravestone says: RIP

On Saturday, we trudged in the snow to get a pumpkin at the Farmer’s Market only to find that they were packing up at 11:30 am (I didn’t blame them!), so we got a small one at Trader Joe’s instead.  To continue with my son’s obsession with all things Harry Potter, I carved a Harry Potter face (he drew the design beforehand).

Surprised Harry

I roasted the seeds from the pumpkin.  Yum!

I’ve also been dabbling in gory makeup techniques.  This guy has a great tutorial on making flesh wounds.  I didn’t have liquid latex and tried using liquid frisket which I use sometimes in my work.  It was perfect!  I layered frisket and thin pieces of torn tissue on my hand, letting it dry after each layer.  Then I cut out a wound with scissors.  I applied foundation and eye shadow to the area and filled the “wound” with fake blood.

Disgusting, eh?

I plan to make more on my face and be a flesh eaten zombie.

Jamie, on the other hand, decided awhile ago that he wanted to be Nagini, Lord Voldemort’s serpent.  I think it’s because he always loved the name.  Denis made up a song about her sung to the tune of the Hayden’s Surprise Symphony:

Malfoy’s Manor is the place

Where Nagini stuffs her face,

Doesn’t matter where you’re from

She will eat you up — yum!

Of course there’s no way I was going to find a Nagini costume to buy, so I made one for him out of a grey hoodie, a ping pong ball, and some felt.  You could easily make another kind of animal using the same technique — an alligator, lizard, even some mammals with some improvisation (e.g. adjusting color of hoodie and the felt and how you drew the eyes)!

He's also wearing grey sweat pants which we obviously need to retire!

Hope everyone has a Happy and Safe Halloween! 🙂

DIY Nagini (Serpent) Costume

You’ll need:
– a hoodie






-sewing needle

-large piece of felt for the snake pattern

-white felt

-red felt

-1 ping pong ball

-thick needle

-yellow highlighting pen

-black marker

-a large

1.  Trace a snake pattern on paper that fits the spine of the hoodie.  I just did a simple diamond shape with stripes to go behind the eyes.

2.  Pin to a large piece of felt.  Cut out.  Sew onto spine of hoodie.

3.  Cut a ping pong ball in half.  Punch holes around bottom with a large needle.

Color ping pong balls with yellow highlighter.  Draw in pupils with a black marker.

4.  Sew “eyes”, threading through the holes you punched out, onto sides of the hood of the jacket.

5.  Cut out fangs out of white felt and a serpent’s tongue out of red felt.  Sew a pair on the top of the hood and a pair at the neck of the hood.  Sew on tongue in the middle of the top two fangs.

6.  If you’re up for it and you have another sweatshirt of the same color, make a long tail by cutting out a long size from the front of the sweatshirt.  Trim to size.  Cut out another diamond pattern from felt and sew onto tail.  Then sew tail onto the bottom of the hoodie.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

1.Preheat oven to 325 degrees

2. Rinse seeds in a colander under cold water.  Pat dry with paper towels.

3.  Line a baking sheet with Silpat, parchment paper, or foil.  Spray with non-stick spray.  Spread pumpkin seeds in one layer on sheet.  Spray again and sprinkle with salt, or other seasoning (chili powder, cumin, garlic salt might be good)

4.  Bake for about 20 minutes, stirring halfway.

5.  Transfer to a plate to cool — they crisp up in a few minutes.

Graveyard Cups (Based on Foodista’s)

1 package of instant Chocolate Pudding mix

About 10 Chocolate Wafer cookies or Oreos processed into crumbs in food processor

Gummy worms

Cookies for tombstones (in the original recipe, Milano cookies were used)

Optional:  Icing and Halloween candy creatures

1. Prepare pudding as instructed on box.

2. Spoon 2 tablespoons cookie crumbs in the bottom of four parfait glasses.

3. Spoon chocolate pudding on top (it is also fun to “bury” things in the pudding like the candies and the gummy worms).

4.  Spoon more cookie crumbs on top.  Insert cookie tombstone.  You can decorate it with icing.  Decorate rest of graveyard with candies.

Makes 4 graveyards.


Filed under Art Related, Children, Cookies, Desserts