Sunday, November 30, 2014

Spice Up Fall with Savory Squash

Butternut Squash Brightens a Beef Stew

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Now with the fall harvest time here and an abundance of farm-fresh produce available, nothing says autumn like homemade Butternut Squash and Beef Stew.

The bright yellow squash adds a new flavor dimension to beef stew.  

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel especially like to make the stew on the weekend when there’s plenty of time to let it cook slowly in the crock pot.

You can start it the day before and let it cook overnight so it’s ready for lunch the next day. Or begin it in the morning and be out at the beach enjoying the day while it’s cooking. Then have it for dinner. The total cooking time is 10 hours.  

“Butternut squash is a favorite of mine,” Sunny says, “because it’s so versatile and can be cooked in many ways. The squash has a subtle flavor and melts in your mouth.”

What’s more, it’s high in nutrients and fiber and low in calories with no cholesterol. One cup of squash (cubed) has just 63 calories and tons of Vitamin A (297% of the daily requirement) and Vitamin C (48%).
Sunny’s recipe for Butternut Squash Stew is hearty, but not heavy. “That’s because it has a lot of vegetables,” Sunny explains.

One of the seasonings Sunny uses in the stew is lemongrass, an herb that reminds her of her childhood home when she used to go out in the backyard and gather it fresh. “Then I would tie the leaves in a small bundle to put in soups and stews.”

If you don’t have wild lemongrass growing where you live, you can get it in the spice aisle at the supermarket in dry packets or as a paste. Sunny uses the paste.

Sunny’s Recipe for Butternut Squash Beef Stew


1.5 lbs beef stew meat, chopped into 1” pieces

1 T. canola oil

5 small red or purple small potatoes

12 oz petite baby carrots or 3 large carrots, chopped

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 tsp minced garlic

10 oz sliced cremini mushrooms

One 2.5 lbs butternut squash, peeled and chopped

1 quart beef broth (4 cups)

1 bay leaf

1 T. Worcestershire sauce

1 T. soy sauce

½ tsp lemon grass paste

2 tsp salt

2 tsp sugar

¼ tsp pepper

Pinch of cayenne pepper

½ tsp paprika

½ cup flour


Place the flour in a shallow dish with the beef and toss well to coat. Heat the canola oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and sauté for about five minutes until soft. Add the beef and garlic to the pan and continue sautéing until the beef has browned.

Place the beef, onions and garlic at the bottom of the Crock Pot. Next add the bay leaf, butternut squash, mushrooms, carrots and potatoes and afterwards pour the beef broth over them.

In a small mixing bowl combine the Worcestershire, soy sauce, sugar, paprika and lemon grass powder or paste and stir with a spoon until blended. Pour over the mixture in the Crock Pot.

Place the lid on the Crock Pot and turn the heat to low. Cook for 8 – 10 hours. Right before serving, add the salt, cayenne and black pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaf.

The recipe serves 8 – 10 people so after a morning or afternoon of surfing you can bring your friends home to a hot meal. Just set the table, serve it with warm French bread and you’re ready to enjoy some real comfort food. 

SurfWriter Girls Sunny and Patti knew that the Butternut Squash and Beef Stew was a success when Patti’s husband Greg went back for seconds.

Your friends will, too.

Please post your comment below. Comments will appear the next day.

Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel hold the exclusive rights to this copyrighted material. Publications wishing to reprint it may contact them at Individuals and non-profit groups are welcome to post it on social media sites as long as credit is given.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Coffee Brewing in Seal Beach – Part II

Thanksgiving is Pumpkin Spice Latte Time

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Old Town Seal Beach is the perfect place to stop and savor the crisp fall weather and indulge in a Pumpkin Spice Latte.

To usher in Thanksgiving and the holiday season, SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel always make a stop at Javatinis (148 Main Street) for its special PSL.

Located right in the middle of all the action on Main Street, Javatinis central location makes it an ideal spot to meet friends for coffee or to stop and take a break from shopping or work.

There are upholstered chairs up front, café tables along the side windows and counter seating in the back with bar stools.

Seal Beach locals hang out here and catch up on everything from the latest gossip and surf conditions to news and politics. On any given day, you never know who you will run into or what they will be talking about.

One of the first things you notice is the smell of the freshly roasted coffee beans. SurfWriter Girls learned that Javatinis roasts its own beans on-site every day.

So you can be sure that you’re getting the freshest cup of coffee possible. That’s why its PSLs are so good.

Javatinis also specializes in what it calls “Latte Art,” creating original designs in the coffee foam.

To go along with your coffee or latte, there is a variety of fresh baked goods to tempt you, including gluten-free options, breakfast sandwiches and gelato.

During the Christmas holiday season Javatinis makes ginger bread men, too, which are great to eat on the spot or take home to put in a stocking or use to decorate a gift package.    

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (347 Main Street), on the corner of Main Street and PCH, is hard to miss as you drive into Old Town Seal Beach.

A true sidewalk café, it has eye-catching, bright red umbrella tables and a street front location that’s ideal for watching people and cars go by while sipping a perfectly-brewed cup of coffee or tea.   

As you walk inside, you immediately see an extensive assortment of premium beans and tea leaves from around the world displayed in clear wall units.

There is a broad selection of coffee bean choices from light and subtle to dark and distinctive, sourced from Latin America, East Africa and the Pacific… 

and whole tea leaves gathered from plantations spanning the globe...Sri Lanka, China, Japan, Thailand, India, Kenya.

Picking out which coffee or tea you’re going to try is like taking a journey and certainly part of the fun.

There’s a full range of ice-blended drinks, too, in coffee and coffee-free versions.

So, when the weather is hot or you’re feeling adventurous, try the chocolate-cherry Black Forest, strawberry-banana Malibu Dream, Mucho Mango fru-tea or one of the other concoctions.

Then find a table where you can savor your CBTL creation and chill out.

And, for something to munch on, check out the pastries and other treats in the baked goods case – the muffins and bagels are huge. There’s bound to be something there that’s hard to resist.    

SurfWriter Girls agree that Seal Beach locals and visitors are lucky to have so many different coffee houses to choose from.

With Bogart’s, The Crema Café, Javatini’s, and The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, whether you just want to get a cup of coffee to go, feel like socializing, or are in the mood to relax, there’s something special brewing for you. 

And that’s definitely something to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Patti and Sunny

Please post your comment below. Comments will appear the next day.

Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel hold the exclusive rights to this copyrighted material. Publications wishing to reprint it may contact them at Individuals and non-profit groups are welcome to post it on social media sites as long as credit is given.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Coffee Brewing in Seal Beach – Part I

Get Your Cup of Joe – to Stay or Go!

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

When it comes to coffee culture, there’s always a Starbucks or McCafé nearby. But, if you’re looking for a change of pace and want to experience some coffee houses with a local taste, Old Town Seal Beach is the place.

On Main Street and Ocean Avenue, just steps from the Seal Beach Pier, you can sample what’s brewing at four different coffee houses, each with its own unique style – Bogart’s Coffee House, The Crema Café, Javatini’s and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf


SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel love all the different choices for coffee that Seal Beach has to offer…especially now that fall is here and there’s some nip in the air.

Depending on our mood and what we’re doing, we can always find a coffee house that’s just right.

Bogart’s Coffee House (905 Ocean Avenue) is directly across the street from the Seal Beach Pier. You couldn’t ask for a more inviting place to relax with friends or just sit and enjoy the ocean view through the large windows.

It has a retro vibe and casual ambience with café tables, a comfortable couch and leopard-print easy chairs to settle into.

A painting of silver screen legend Humphrey Bogart is on the wall and a life-size Bogart is there to greet you along with stacks of newspapers and books waiting to be read at your leisure. 


The closest coffee house to the beach, Bogart’s is the place to stop in the morning for a steaming hot cup of coffee or a chai latte to take with you for a walk down to the water’s edge to watch the surfers and seagulls skimming the waves.

Or drop in after a jog on Ocean Avenue and cool down with a smoothie. If you’re interested in a light breakfast or snack, there are pastries, crepes, and paninis to choose from.

When SurfWriter Girls Sunny and Patti are parked in the one-hour spaces on Ocean or coming back from the beach it’s nice to know that Bogart’s is right there. We can grab a quick cup of coffee on the run or stop and stay awhile.

The Crema Café (322 Main Street) offers everything you could want in a coffee house with its gourmet coffee, pastries, full-service breakfast and lunch menu, and charming garden setting.

It’s a place where you definitely want to linger, savoring a coffee refill and putting your other activities on hold. Whether you relax at a table inside or take time to slow down and enjoy the total Crema Café experience in the garden patio, you’ll start to feel a sense of well-being as soon as you enter the doorway.


The warm woods, plank tables and sunlit windows looking out on Main Street give the interior a cozy atmosphere that makes you want to sit down and catch up with a friend or stop to read the morning paper or a good book.

Whatever the weather may bring, the table umbrellas and sheltering trees stand ready to keep the elements at bay on the patio.

And, when the café is busy and it gets crowded outside – especially on sunny days and weekends when everyone wants to enjoy the garden – Crema Café offers free coffee while you wait for a table.

With a large selection of sandwiches, paninis, savory and sweet crepes, omelets, quiches and salads, the hardest part about eating at Crema Cafe is choosing what to order.

SurfWriter Girls observed that many people, like Kay Kwok and Cyndee Ewing, like to pick different things to try from the menu and then share, having more dishes to taste. The portions at Crema Café are large. So give yourself time to indulge.


The only ones in a hurry here are the waiters, quickly and courteously taking orders and ferrying plates back and forth from the patio to the kitchen. 

To be continued. Look for Part Two with the latest on Pumpkin Spice Lattes and other Thanksgiving treats.

Please post your comment below. Comments will appear the next day.

Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel hold the exclusive rights to this copyrighted material. Publications wishing to reprint it may contact them at Individuals and non-profit groups are welcome to post it on social media sites as long as credit is given.