After a week’s worth of feasting, I am slowly crawling back–or at least attempting–to my normal healthy lifestyle.  More than anything, I love being able to feel fresh after eating light meals.  I had my fair share of rib eye roast and homemade chicken karage last week, and I thoroughly relished every bite of the delectable food in moderation.  However, I have begun craving for a good ol’ salad.  I love how you can be creative with it!  Since I had some leftover kabocha squash, I decided to put my spin on the butternut squash apple salad.  Unfortunately, we ran out of baby lettuce and spinach 2 days ago, so I improvised with sweet, crispy romaine lettuce.  The dressing complemented the smoky, caramelized taste of the squash.  The apples added a nice touch of acidity, while the nuts balanced the strong flavors of the salad and dried cranberries leave a pleasant aftertaste, almost like a dessert that cleans your palate.  And as always, I can turn to my monthly subscription of Bon Appetit for culinary inspiration.  Do you remember my recipe for oatmeal bars? Well, I came across a recipe for Spiced Pepitas and Cashew Crunch, which I am eager to make!  It’d pair well with a nice glass of wine and artisan cheese on New Year’s Eve.

KabochaSquashSalad

BUTTERNUT/KABOCHA SQUASH APPLE CRUNCH SALAD 
Dressing:
1 tsp olive oil
2 tsp sparkling apple cider
1~2 tsp dijon mustard with white wine
1 tsp balsamic vinegar

1 ~1.5 cup cubed steamed squash
1 tbsp lightly salted pepitas
1/3 cup sliced almonds (toasted)
1 small/medium Gala apple
3~4 cups spinach/baby lettuce
1 tbsp dried cranberries

1. Grill already steamed squash with some olive oil on a pan.  Do so until the cubed pieces brown and caramelize.
2. Cut apple into thin slices.
3. Toss the salad together.

Speaking of New Year’s Eve, tomorrow marks the last night of 2013.  I’m still in disbelief that 2013 is essentially closing.  Exactly a year ago, I was floundering in bittersweet emotions just thinking about my June graduation.  Now, I’m pensive as I reflect on the both the blessings and obstacles encountered during the last 12 months.  No matter how much we want to cling onto memories, it’s also important to look forward to new adventures.  Thus, a year’s end does not call for brooding.  Instead, let us expectantly wait for the surprises in store for us.

I’m off to grab my cup of coffee and finish necessary tasks.  Enjoy the rest of January 30, 2013, everyone.  We’ll raise our glasses for a toast tomorrow and share stories over a mug of perfectly brewed apple cider.

LOVE,
pristine christine

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