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Squash Challenge: Trick or Treat!

October 22, 2012 by Joan Nova in 5 Star Foodie Makeover Cooking Group, Baking, Blogging, Events, Recipe Development, Savory Muffins | 24 Comments

I was all over the place with this month’s theme. I had 10X as many ideas as there are varieties of squash. And then I realized it was Halloween. Why not don a toque and costume myself as a “baker and candy-maker”? No one would recognize me, for sure!

“Come in my little pretties … I have a treat for you.” Hee hee.

Squash: You either love it or hate it!
I was not a big fan of squash growing up. Unless you’re very young, you probably weren’t either. That was before the globalization and cross-culturalization of recipes … the days when it was generally overcooked and served only as a side dish to accompany some protein … before we knew that roasting vegetables was a hell of a lot better than boiling!

But, today, squash serves many recipes. It’s roasted, sauteed and fried. It’s incorporated in quiches, fritattas, pastas and a whole range of other dishes. It’s also frequently used in baking – adding much needed moisture to bread and muffins.

Zucchini + Pumpkin Seed Muffins (with Suprise Center)
and Candied Mini Squash

Michael Ruhlman’s “Ratio” gave me the correct formula for making muffins. Then, I took liberties. Instead of all purpose flour, I used wheat flour and halved the butter and sugar. I felt like a mad scientist as I moved forward with this challenge. I’m not a baker nor a candy-maker but I went fearless into the unknown — and it totally worked!

… well, except that my intention was to make squash candy and the result was candied squash (get the difference?). It was just as well, however. See “The Bonus” below.

The Bonus: While I made both components strictly for the challenge, they turned out to be perfect accompaniments for a pork roast dinner the following day. And the last muffin made a great breakfast with a couple of strawberries.

•     •     •

A variety of squash (and byproducts) was used for the challenge: zucchini (large and miniature), pattypan, spaghetti, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin pie spice.


Zucchini + Pumpkin Seed Muffins with Surprise Center -- and -- Candied Mini Squash
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 10 muffins
  • 1 cup King Arthur whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 ozs. 2% milk
  • ½ stick sweet butter melted
  • orange zest
  • 2 sm. zucchini shredded
  • handful salted pumpkin seeds
Surprise Center
  • 2 tbs peppered bacon (crumbled)
  • 2 tsp almond butter
  • 1 tbs sun-dried tomatoes (chopped)
  • 1 tbs white balsamic syrup
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • Condiments: red chili flakes, coarse salt, crushed dark chocolate bits
Candied Squash
  • baby zucchini, pattypan squash, spaghetti squash (pre-cooked)
  • juice of 1 large orange and zest
  • Bacardi coconut rum (capful)
  • 2 pats sweet butter
  • sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice
How To
  1. Combine dry ingredients.
  2. Whisk wet ingredients.
  3. Combine.
  4. Add shredded zucchini, orange zest, pumpkin seeds and mix batter.
  5. Pour into muffin cups.
  6. Drop filling in center and bake in 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes.
Candied Squash
  1. Heat the juice and zest of orange with a splash of rum and butter.
  2. Add vegetables and cook on medium for about 10 minutes, continually coating vegetables.
  3. Finish in oven to dry out for about 5 minutes.

Finishing Touch: Dusting of mixed brown sugar, chili flakes and pumpkin spice.

hosted by 5 Star Foodie & Lazaro Cooks!

Once again, a BIG thanks to Natasha and Laz for hosting our 5 Star Makeover Culinary Group. I can’t wait to see what everyone did! A round-up of all the dishes will be published Five Star Foodie on Friday.

• • •

NOTE: Some recipes found on FOODalogue are offered without ingredient quantities. They're meant as a guide to food pairings and techniques to be experimented with … in your own kitchen … to your own spice and taste levels … to your preferred portion sizes … and to however many people you’re cooking for. A perfect meal has multiple levels of flavor and textures, bright colors and tastes, and healthy(ish) choices. It's all about enjoyment. Enjoy the process, the presentation and the just rewards...eating!


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  1. Squash and pork go well together. Love your creations Joan. I like squash now, but I wasn’t a squash lover myself growing up, but my mother never served it. It is my experience that mothers only serve food that they like. She must not have liked it :)

  2. They look great…did you freeze any because I am coming over….
    Platanos Mangoes & Me! recently posted..PUMPKIN TAMALES – TAMALES DE CALABAZAMy Profile

  3. These challenges are just made for you, Joan, with your insanely creative mind always stretching for something new and exciting. And these are just that! And whether the wrappers are paper or cloth, they are just dandy!
    Flavors of the Sun recently posted..Soufflés, Squeals, and San MiguelMy Profile

  4. Wow. How creative. Nothing I expected at all. Love this.
    angela@spinachtiger recently posted..Cocktail Hour at M in Columbus, the Pinterest Restaurant and My Favorite Bite of the YearMy Profile

  5. Wow so creative and fun. Nothing like biting into a muffin only to get a luscious surprise! Love your October makeover!

  6. Lori Lynn says:

    There you go pushing the envelope again! Joan ~ you are one mad creative scientist. I can just imagine that delicious roast pork & squash dinner…

    • Joan says:

      Thanks Lori. I love adding a savory element to traditionally sweet as in the muffins and adding a sweet element to savory foods as in the squash side dish.

  7. Laurie says:

    Zucchini bread and muffins.. yum! Love any kind of squash and they’re so darn pretty!
    Laurie recently posted..The Inspired Plate Challenge | October | Food Photography on a Black BackgroundMy Profile

  8. Faith says:

    What a great mixture of squash! I love that surprise center too…what a beautiful treat!

  9. These look delicious. I love baking with squash, so this is right up my alley.

  10. Such a great idea…and these are both savory and sweet muffins? The candied squash is a great extra touch. I can totally see this with pork.

  11. I love the surprise center in those scrumptious looking muffins! A terrific combination of flavors!

  12. Erica says:

    Very creative,Joan!Love the pictures and the filling sounds delicious….Graet combination of flavors!
    Erica recently posted..Mojicones o Pan Mojicón (Colombian Sweet Rolls)My Profile

  13. Shannon says:

    ooh! love the filling in these, way to pack in flavor :) candied squash… i must try!

  14. deana sidney says:

    love the savory muffin idea. Perfect addition to a thanksgiving meal. Great dish, Joan!
    deana sidney recently posted..Pichet Ong’s Kabocha Squash Pie with Ginger Butterscotch SauceMy Profile

  15. The muffin paper cups are just as cute as the actual treat! Love the use of ingredients. I wouldn’t feel so guilty eating them.
    Bren @ Flanboyant Eats recently posted..Nutty 4 Apple Bread … Really, really good apple bread.My Profile

  16. Trix says:

    Isn’t Ratio great? Lets you just run wild!! Love the center mmmm

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