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Entries in Snacks (3)


Butternut Squash Tart

Saturday was a day to be indoors.  Those don't happen all that often in Colorado and we took full advantage of the gray day that alternated between rain and snow - we did "life admin" at home, took care of a few chores, and I finally made this Butternut Squash Tart.  My parents had a banner crop of squash this season and I have at least 15 squash and pumpkins waiting to be cooked.  

This was definitely a risky recipe -- one of those with components that are individually delicious, but who knows how they'll work together.  I also was not convinced the squash would be cooked through.

You'll see below that this was much enjoyed at our house.  I didn't take a final shot at the end of the day when every last piece was gone.  In our defense, we didn't really eat breakfast and this was lunch and an afternoon snack... but still.  The butternut squash flavor isn't particularly strong, but it is present and complimented by the spicy honey and the nutty parmesan and the delicious puff pastry.   

A few notes about this recipe:

First, I didn't have any Fresno, jalapeño, or red Thai chiles as called for in the original recipe.  I substituted red pepper flakes, which I think most people have in their kitchen.  They added the necessary spice and I didn't feel like it was missing anything as a result of the substitution.   

Second, I didn't feel like the sage contributed much to the dish except in making it prettier.  If you don't have sage leaves or don't want to bother with frying sage leaves, I don't think you'll miss them.  I did read online that you can microwave "fry" leaves - I've never tried it, but it might be worth investigating.

Third, while I do think this would make a great appetizer for a party, the middle slices of tart are harder to pick up and eat than the edges - they are better served on a small plate with a fork. 

Butternut Squash Tart
Adapted from Bon Appétit  

1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed (from a 17.3-ounce package)
1 large egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water
12 1/8"-thick rounds peeled butternut squash (or about 2 cups of butternut squash cubes - see below for details)
kosher salt
1/4 cup honey
1 tbsp red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons olive oil
12 fresh sage leaves (optional)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
black pepper


  • Preheat oven to 375°.  Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Gently roll out 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed (from a 17.3-ounce package) on a lightly floured surface to a 10-inch square (just enough to even out). Transfer to prepared sheet.
  • Brush pastry with 1 large egg beaten with 1 tsp. water.  Arrange butternut squash cut 1/8" thick on the puff pastry.  I already had cubes of squash, which I just sliced into thinner pieces.  If you don't already have cubes, I think the best approach is to cut approximately twelve 1/8-inch-thick rounds of peeled butternut squash (cut from the neck of the squash).  Spread the sliced butternut squash over the pastry, overlapping as needed and leaving a 1/2-inch border (because I did squares, none overlapped).  Place another sheet of parchment paper over squash.  Set another large rimmed baking sheet over the tart (this will weigh down the pastry dough and steam the squash slices).
  • Bake until bottom of pastry begins to brown and top begins to puff, about 10 minutes.
  • Remove top baking sheet and discard top sheet of parchment paper.  Brush squash slices with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with kosher salt.  Return tart, uncovered, to oven and bake until pastry is deep golden brown and cooked through, 25–30 minutes longer.
  • Meanwhile, combine 1/4 cup honey, 1 tbsp red pepper flakes, and 2 tablespoons water in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat (add additional red pepper flakes if more heat is desired).  Boil until thickened slightly and syrupy, about 6 minutes.
  • Optional - Line a plate with paper towels.  Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small skillet until just beginning to smoke.  Add 12 fresh sage leaves; fry until crisp, about 30 seconds.  Transfer to paper towels to drain.
  • Remove tart from the oven.  Brush the tart with the pepper-infused honey (I used about 2/3 of the honey).  Sprinkle 1/4 cup shaved Parmesan on top.  Return to oven for 1-2 minutes -- just long enough to melt the cheese.  Garnish with fried sage leaves (if you made them) and a few grinds of black pepper.


National Caramel Corn Day

In honor of National Caramel Corn Day, I am re-posting one of my favorite recipes for, of course, Caramel Corn.  Caramel corn has been a favorite of Americans since Cracker Jack was introduced at the Chicago World' Fair in 1893 and this makes a great dessert or snack.  Might I suggest you make a batch and go see the Hunger Games if you haven't already?  Happy Friday!


Caramel Corn

If you were hoping for a let's-start-2012-on-a-healthy-note post that includes a recipe for salad, I'm afraid you are going to be disappointed.  If it is salad you are looking for, try the Kale and Pear Salad.  I made it again tonight (with apples instead of pears) for at least the 15th time and I still love it - healthy and delicious!

This is not to say that I don't think of the start of a new year as an opportunity to set goals and think about what I want to accomplish in the coming year.  I would say that my "resolutions" are more akin to goals - I make them quantifiable or measurable (e.g., set a new marathon personal best, read X number of books, etc.) because I really enjoy tracking my progress throughout the year to see what I accomplished.  Even when I don't attain one of my goals for the year, I have usually worked toward it and often that goal just rolls over into the next year!  

So, onto my first (of many to come) unhealthy posts in 2012!  I made this for the first time about two years ago with my wonderful friend H.  I remember standing in my kitchen eating clumps of it while it was still hot from the oven and marveling at how the caramel was still stretching from one piece of popcorn to the next and was so gooey.  I'm pretty sure that we ate half the batch right there (don't judge).  Since then, I've made this on numerous occasions.  I usually reserve it for parties as I have found it is incredibly dangerous to have it around the house.  

Caramel Corn
Adapted very slightly from Orangette 
Yield = 10 cups 

Before you start...
1.  I wouldn't recommend making this without a candy thermometer.
2.  Be sure to prep the baking soda and vanilla ahead of time (measure it out and have it ready to dump into the caramel at the right time).
3.  It is easiest if you have someone to help you when you add the caramel to the popcorn -- Rob is a wonderful kitchen assistant and turns the popcorn as I pour the caramel in.
4.  Be very, very careful with the hot caramel.  It does not feel good if it gets on your skin.
5.  I would actually measure out the popcorn to ensure you have 10 cups.  If you have more than 10 cups, I'd adjust the caramel accordingly (e.g., increase the amounts proportionately).  Mine is a little less caramel-y because I didn't make this adjustment.  Oops.  Sometimes I am lazy. 

1 (3½-ounce) package plain (unbuttered natural flavor) microwave popcorn, or about 10 cups fresh popcorn popped by any method, lightly salted

1 cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 250°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Pop the popcorn according to the microwave package instructions or on the stove.  Coat a large mixing bowl with non-stick cooking spray, and dump the popcorn into the bowl, taking care to pick out and discard any unpopped kernels.

Measure the baking soda and vanilla extract and prepare it for mixing into the caramel - it is critical that you do this ahead of time and have it nearby while the caramel is forming.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, salt, and 2 tablespoons of water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Continue to simmer, whisking often, until the mixture reads 250°F on a candy thermometer, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Immediately remove the pan from the heat, and whisk in the baking soda and vanilla.  Quickly pour the hot caramel over the popcorn.  Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the caramel into the popcorn, taking care to distribute it as evenly as you can.  Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 1 hour, stirring and turning the popcorn with a spatula every 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven, and place on a cooling rack for 20 minutes.  Gently break up the popcorn, and serve.

Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days (it won't last that long, I assure you).