Beyond the Pumpkin
Nov 21, 2017 11:03AM
● By Maleesa Johnson
Fall is finally here. Although autumn officially started on September 22, we believe it truly starts with the first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season. For many of us, that first delicious swig happened in early September, and if you’re in the same boat, you may be burnt out on pumpkin flavors already. If that’s the case, try out some of these alternatives – and possibly superior – fall flavors. With each item, we have listed an offbeat way to incorporate it into your menu. So have fun with it and dive right in!
Does this fruit ever go out of season or style? While some blame the apple for the fall of mankind and the sleeping doom of Snow White, others say it keeps the doctor away. For the sake of keeping things happy for the holidays, we’ll go with the latter. Juicy apples tossed in with your choice of protein is a perfect way to keep meats from drying out while roasting. Apples can be grilled, turned into apple butter, used in pies...the list goes on. There is a reason why kids give this fruit to their favorite teacher.
Bear with us, because this one sounds crazy. For an added crunch to your grilled cheese sandwich, incorporate thin slices of a Granny Smith apple. Before you gag, we will admit, this technique should not be used on your standard sliced-bread-and-cheddar-cheese sandwich. Try it with brie and honey on sourdough. With this mix of ingredients, you’ll experience a cacophony of flavors, and they're all good!
A common Thanksgiving dinner staple, cranberries are far more versatile than the gelatin-like substance that slides out of the can with a satisfying and simultaneously unsettling “schloop” sound. Cranberries can be used for cocktails, side dishes, salads, and yes, sauces. The tangy berry is sure to add balance to drink and dishes both sweet and salty. Perhaps one of the best aspects about cranberries is color. The deep burgundy color is perfect to decorate desserts and even dinner staples with.
For an added seasonal flair, place cranberries in ice cube trays and cover with water. Once frozen, you have ice cubes with a touch of color, perfect for cocktails or even just a fun way to dress up a plain glass of water or seltzer.
This spice is so prevalent year-round, but for some reason, it fuels nostalgia of fall. Red and yellow leaves falling, the sound of the high school band practicing in the morning and the taste of cinnamon in your coffee. Ahh. Texans aren’t always promised vibrant fall colors, but we can certainly put cinnamon in and on everything.
Honestly, cinnamon goes so well with everything that we had a hard time coming up with a usual match. After much perusing, a recipe for bolognese sauce popped up that incorporates two whole sticks of cinnamon. Unconventional? Yes. Unbelievable? Definitely not. Cinnamon is an immune-boosting rockstar that can go with almost anything.
Now things get a little more complicated. Seriously, have you ever tried deseeding a pomegranate? Thankfully, the internet is full of hacks, and while many have failed us, it may just be operator error. Supposedly, pomegranates can be deseeded in under a minute by cutting it in half, turning it seed-side down in your hand and whacking it repeatedly with a wooden spoon.
For some, a Thanksgiving meal is actually all about the pre-feast snacking. While cheese balls certainly aren’t a Thanksgiving exclusive, the appetizer is a holiday staple in some American households. Enter pomegranate. In another fabulous mix of fruit and cheese, pomegranate seeds can be used to coat the outside of cheese balls. Remember how Grandma used to coat the outside with bacon? We’re willing to bet this is a bit healthier.
Ah yes, the comeback vegetable of the 21st century. Hating brussels sprouts used to be cool, but then people started cooking them with bacon. That changed the game. This vegetable, with the appearance of a tiny cabbage, can be a bit confusing to work with. Do you slice it or cook it whole? We say both!
Three words: Buffalo Brussels Sprouts. Stop reaching for that chicken wing, because there is a new sprout in town. Simply roast brussels sprouts after coating them in olive oil to provide a good crunch. After taking them out of the oven, coat them in your favorite buffalo sauce and crumble blue cheese on top. This makes for a perfect game day snack, and let’s face it: you’re going to need one in November.
Dieters, avert your eyes. Caramel reportedly has high potassium counts, but the sugar and fat content is enough to scare away the health-conscious. However, holidays are nationally recognized cheat days, so consider a small caramel splurge justified. We’re two months away from New Year’s resolutions to diet and work out anyway.
Salted-caramel glazes are nothing new. People have been coating a variety of desserts in caramel since its inception–or so we think. We’re not caramel history buffs. But this isn’t about dessert, this is about ham. That’s right, salted-caramel glazed ham. In a weird way, it makes sense, but you can have the first bite.