Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pumpkin Seeds

It is that time of year when lots of pumpkins are being carved and lots of pumpkin seeds are being scooped out and roasted. If you are anything like me when I first started roasting pumpkin seeds, you've burned them a few times, over seasoned them and maybe even tried to oil them. And they've all been terrible, right?

Well, fear no more! Perfectly roasted pumpkin seeds can be yours!!!

First, carve your pumpkins and have lots of fun doing so!
Then, scoop out all the seeds and put them in a bowl.
I then put the seeds in a colander and run water over them a handful at a time, getting all the pumpkin innards off of the seeds. Put the seeds on a baking sheet. I don't dry mine first, but some people do. I find it an extra, frustrating step because pumpkin seeds are so slimy and naturally oily that they stick to paper towels and kitchen towels and then I'm spending extra time trying to get them un-stuck. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Generously salt the seeds with Kosher salt. Bake them at 10-15 minute intervals, checking for browning and shaking the cookie sheets to make sure the seeds aren't sticking. Don't neglect to check them--that's where I always would forget about them and they would burn to the cookie sheets or be too browned.
I cooked mine for 30 minutes.
And there you have it! Crisp, salty and oh-so delicious! Now, go out my friends and roast those pumpkin seeds with a light heart!!!!


Monday, October 25, 2010

This Week's Menu

Warning: There are lots of salads as sides this week. It's because I am trying to watch my calorie intake and lettuce is easy on the calories. :)

Monday: Marlboro Man Sandwiches

Tuesday: Zucchini Soup

Wednesday: Pot Roast
Pumpking Pudding

Thursday: Pasta with Homemade Cheese Sauce
Olive Bread

Friday: Ravioli with Sauteed Zucchini

Vegetable of some sort

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Can Can.

I love everything that has to do with cooking. If I could, I would cook and bake all day. I would take endless classes so I could learn MORE about cooking. I would live in my kitchen all day long and just make delicious dish after delicious dish.

If my pantry magically refilled itself for free.

And if I had a house elf to clean my kitchen up after me.

And if I had the storage space for all the finished dishes.

Canning is one of those things that I've always been interested in learning how to do. Last weekend, I got some first hand lessons from 2 lovely friends and then the supplies to make jelly on my own from another.

It was a wonderful canning weekend for me.

On Friday, I went over to support my friend Kim (by staring at her and slicing strawberries and yapping her ear off) while she made strawberry jelly. It smelled heavenly in her home.
We made applesauce at my friend Rachel's mom Lynn's house on Saturday. She has this super cool thing-y that smooshes the apples into applesauce texture. (I should probably re-ask the name of it since I need to have one now). She also uses it to make homemade tomato soup which is the absolute best tomato soup I have ever had.
Elisabeth did all of the smooshing for us. She was most proud and will gladly tell you that she made all the applesauce by herself.

The smell of cooked apples filled the whole house. It was a perfect fall day smell.
I am now attempting to jar my own prickly pear jelly. My friend Shanya gave me the prickly pears and I have attempted to make it on Sunday. I am patiently waiting for her advice because it hasn't totally jelled yet and I am nervous. I forgot to ask how long it takes to fully jell.

No worries, though. I'm not giving up on this whole canning thing. I have big plans for rows and rows of homemade jellies and jams and sauces and soups and maybe even pickles!!!!

Again. I am a cooking dork.

Monday, October 18, 2010

This Week's Menu

Lots of repeats from last week's menu. Evan worked all week past supper time, so the girls and I either ate at friends' houses or ate leftovers. This week, we'll be back to normal.

Monday: Leftovers

Tuesday: Chicken Pot Pie

Wednesday: Skillet Chicken Divan
Mac & Cheese

Thursday: Rachel's House

Friday: Beef Stew

Saturday: Pasta & Asparagus Primavera

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pumpkin Bread

Do you remember last year when there was a canned pumpkin shortage?

And everyone was freaking out that they may not have pumpkin to make their pies and other dishes in time for Thanksgiving?

Well, I do. So, this year, when I saw it in the stores, I may or may not have squealed with delight when I saw them on the shelves and may or may not have grabbed an indecent amount and threw them into my cart while laughing a delirious laugh of joy.

Regardless of what might have occurred at the grocery store in front of my youngest and complete strangers, I am happy to say that I made pumpkin bread for us yesterday. The house smelled heavenly and Elisabeth reminded me that I didn't even make this bread last year. I then told her about the pumpkin scare of 2009. She had nightmares.

The ingredients:
3 1/2 C. flour; 1/2 tsp baking powder; 2 tsp. baking soda; 1 1/2 C. brown sugar; 1 1/2 C. sugar; 1 C. oil; 4 eggs; 1 1/2 tsp. salt; 1 tsp each of nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon; 2 C. of pumpkin. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Start by dumping the flour into your mixing bowl. Oh, what's that? Why yes, that is a new Kitchen Aid mixing bowl I'm using. My favorite sister-in-law gifted me this for my birthday. It has measurements on the side and a spout. I lurve it.
Then add the baking powder...
the baking soda...
the sugar...
Oh, hi, Julia. I see you've gotten into the winter wear. You look lovely.
the brown sugar...
the salt...
the nutmeg...
the cloves...
and the cinnamon.
Mix them together.
Now, in a separate bowl, dump the can of pumpkin. (Do you see me in the bowl? Peek-a-boo!)
Add the oil to the pumpkin and mix together.
Mix together the pumpkin to the dry ingredients.
Mix well.
Then praise the beautiful color of the batter and go ahead and take a lick. It's wonderfully delicious.
This makes enough for two loaves. So, generously grease two loaf pans and pour in the batter.
Cook for 50-60 minutes until it looks like this and a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
Oh my goodness, look at that bread.
This bread was perfectly pumpkin-y and moist. My girls have almost eaten half a loaf on their own. It's such a simple bread to make (you know, once you've located the pumpkin at the store). And it makes your whole house all warm and smell like fall.


Monday, October 11, 2010

This Week's Menu

Monday: Baked Pork Tenderloin
Green beans
New potatoes

Tuesday: Rigatoni with Sausage, Peppers & Onions
Garlic Bread

Wednesday: Chicken Pot Pie

Thursday: Rachel's House!!!!!

Friday: Skillet Chicken Divan

Saturday: Unknown

Friday, October 8, 2010

Pita Chips

Sometimes, when I rip recipes out of magazines and stuff them into my cookbook shelf and then decide to go through them when I can't take a cook book off the shelf without ten bajillion loose magazine pages flying out at me, I'll look at the recipes I deemed worthy to be torn from the said magazines and think:

Really? I thought you sounded good? Hm. I must have been half asleep/drunk/lost my reading skills that day.

Not so with this one. I found this pita chip recipe and saw it's simplicity and it's ingredients and knew I needed to make them and then eat them all immediately.

The Ingredients:
Pitas; olive oil; kosher salt; pepper; Parmesan cheese; oregano. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

See? Ridiculously simple.

Start by taking the pitas...
and cutting them in half.
Then, very gently, split the half apart. Obviously, I did not take my own advice.
Cut them into chip sized pieces. I cut each half into fourths. Put them all on a baking sheet. Four whole pitas will fill up 2 baking sheets.
Take some olive oil...
and brush it onto the pitas.
Sprinkle parmesan cheese over them. I did not measure--I sprinkled to my heart's content.
Then add the salt and pepper. Again, I did not measure. I like to live dangerously.
I took 1/2 tsp. of oregano and sprinkled them over both cookie sheets of pita chips. Use more if you'd like, but, like Goldilocks, I felt it was just right.
Then, take the baking sheets full of pita chips and put them in the oven for 8-10 minutes. Be careful not to let them get too browned.

And when they are done....
they will smell and taste heavenly!!
I ate mine with hummus. It is just as good with salsa, pico de gallo, guacamole, hot artichoke dip, etc. etc.
You could always change the herb you use too. Maybe you're a rosemary or thyme or basil kind of person. Go for it!! Oregano is just one of my favorites.

I have to tell you that I took these chips to our Thursday dinners I have with my friends Rachel and Kim. I was passing them around when Rachel's youngest, Peter, asked for one. Peter is a lovely child, but he is a rather (very) picky eater. (Ex: He won't eat beans or potatoes or peppers or mushrooms or tomatoes or things he can't identify or has ever heard of.)

Peter took a chip and ate it. Then, when I was passing some out to his sister, he appeared at my elbow and said, "Hey! Those are good. Can I have another one?"

Be still my heart. I gave him the whole freaking bag. I love that kid.

If Peter loved them, then you totally will too!


Monday, October 4, 2010

This Week's Menu

Monday: Chicken Tortellini Soup


Wednesday: Chicken Fried Rice

Thursday: Taco Soup

Friday: Spaghetti with Meatballs
Garlic bread

Saturday: Skillet Chicken Divan