Break out of the pumpkin rut with 4 unique winter squash recipes

Winter squashImage credit: A bit of squash by Ruth Hartnup, on Flickr. CC by 2.0.

You know by now that autumn is the season for all things pumpkin. It’s in everything from coffee to cereal to dog treats. (Really, dogs? You too?) I even saw pumpkin pie spiced Pringles in my local grocery store. (You took it too far, Pringles. You took it too far.)

With all the pumpkin hype, it’s easy to forget that the winter squash family is full of equally delicious, healthy and versatile options. From acorn to butternut to carnival, there’s a squash for every taste and every meal. I think I’ll stock up on squash at my local farmer’s market this weekend and try some of these unique recipes!

  • Butternut squaffles – Looking to sneak more vegetables into your kids? Hide it in waffles! They don’t have to know their delicious breakfast treat is good for them. 
  • Warming winter squash soup – There’s nothing better than soup for lunch when the weather turns cool. This might become my new go-to lunch soup. (Sorry, creamy mushroom soup. I still love you, too.)
  • Acorn squash with chile-lime vinaigrette – This is my all-time favorite acorn squash recipe. It’s easy to make and full of complex flavors. 
  • Vegan pumpkin pie hot chocolate – For all of the pumpkin lovers, I had to include this amazing hot chocolate. Relax around the fire pit with your family and friends and sip this delicious treat.

What’s your favorite winter squash recipe? I’m always looking for suggestions. Leave them in the comments or take part in the discussion happening on Facebook.

Monday musings: Handmade soap and good, clean fun

Monarch butterflies

A fall out of Monarch butterflies at Wendy Park in Cleveland, Ohio

This weekend, I saw something I thought I would only be able to see in Mexico or California. A rainy cold front caused thousands of migrating Monarch butterflies, who had just made a strenuous journey across Lake Erie, to “fall out” in Wendy Park, just east of Cleveland. A fall out is a phenomenon that happens when a migrating species, usually a species that migrates over water, hits a weather barrier. Fall outs usually happen with birds during spring and fall migration but they can happen with Monarchs as well. The conditions were perfect for a fall out on Saturday night and there were several clusters of hundreds of butterflies throughout the park. Conservative estimates put the number at around 4,000 butterflies.

Matt and I saw an alert go out on one of several Ohio birding networks Saturday evening. We were on our way home from a day of birding at Sandy Ridge Reservation and decided to stop by, despite the deluge of rain. Jen Brumfield, a naturalist with the Cleveland Metroparkswas waiting in her car for people to show up. We got completely soaked but she was able to show us some very large clusters of butterflies. Knowing the rain would keep them grounded for the night, we decided to go back first thing Sunday morning to get better views. It was chilly and very windy but the rain had stopped and we were able to see hundreds of butterflies take flight and continue their journey south to Mexico. This was one of those times when I wished I was a better photographer!

Handmade soap

There are so many creative soap makers that inspire us. Check out some of our favorite finds on Pinterest! (Are we pinning buddies there? We should be.)

Good, clean fun

If you’re not following us on Facebook, here’s some of the fun you missed:

  • Monarch Caterpillar – It was Monarch madness this weekend. Not only did we see thousands of butterflies, we also saw several caterpillars. This was the first time I was able to find a caterpillar in the wild.
  • Gazing at nature makes you more productive – If this is true, I’m going to be extremely productive at work this week!
  • You say green pepper, I say mango – Where I grew up, green peppers were called mangos. Imagine my confusion as a 23 year old seeing an actual mango for the first time.

Previous musings from Emmet Street you might have missed

Did looking at dessert inspired soaps make you hungry for something sweet? This vegan chocolate chia pudding would hit the spot and would be much healthier than eating an entire cake. The cooler temperatures we had in Ohio this weekend was the perfect excuse for warming up with a cup of vegan pumpkin pie hot chocolate. Want something fruity and salty? Try a watermelon & feta salad for a side dish this week.


Vegan pumpkin pie hot chocolate

Vegan Pumpkin Hot Chocolate

Last week I was looking for a way to thaw out after being outdoors in the polar vortex, when I remembered this hot chocolate recipe my mom made for me the last time I was home for a visit. This hot chocolate was special; it was spiked with pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice. Just the thing I needed to thaw out my fingers and warm my soul.

Since I didn’t have her recipe or any pumpkin pie spice around, I improvised a bit. Since I don’t drink dairy milk, the result was a vegan beverage with no added sugar. I thought it was quite tasty, though I might cut back on the ground cloves with the next batch. I’ll also make sure I have some vegan whipped cream around; I think that would have elevated the concoction from tasty to decadent.

Vegan Pumpkin Pie Hot Chocolate

Makes 4 servings.

4 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1 cup pure pumpkin

4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

12 packets stevia powder (that’s what I had on hand; if my math is correct, it equals 6 teaspoons of the measurable variety), or other desired sweetener, to taste

Vegan whipped cream for topping (optional)

Warm almond milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in remaining ingredients, except whipped cream, until blended. Top with a dollop of vegan whipped cream, if desired.