Roasting Up A Seasonal Snack: Pumpkin Seeds

photo(26)Pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins!  Whether they are in baked goods, coffee or homes as decorations, I just can’t get enough.  As decorations, pumpkins have an additional feature.  Carving Jack O’ Lanterns has an added benefit to their luminescent glow, seeds.  The perfect opportunity to roast up some seasonal snacks.

For years, I avoided tackling the seeds, opting to purchase them at the store.  Mostly because of the time it takes to wash them and the inconsistency in baking them.  For whatever reason, the insides would always turn out stringy.  Now, though I’ve figured it out.

Interested?  Here’s a version to try:

Preheat the oven to 320.  Remove the seeds from the pumpkin pulp.  The easiest way to do it is put everything in a bowl of water.  Mix it all together.  And, the seeds will come loose from the rest.  As my son B says, they float!  So, you can just scoop them off the surface.

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Next, boil them in an uncovered pot of water with 1 tablespoon of salt. Boil for about 10 minutes.

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Strain. Dump on a baking sheet.  I prefer the one by Chicago Metallic.   Coat with seasonings.  This can be a fun job for little hands.  My boys loved getting their hands dirty by mixing the seeds and spices.

Bake at 320 for about an hour, mixing around every 15 minutes.  Let cool.  Enjoy!  My boys and even our sweet pug love enjoying these as a snack.

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Pumpkin Waffles

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If you’ve been following my blogs, you know that I love anything having to do with pumpkins.  Pumpkin lattes (see my recipe here), pumpkin scones, pumpkin patches and my own lil pumpkins. So when my husband gave me a waffle maker – which in my family we joke about gifts like these being the gifts that keep on giving time and time again — I had to work on incorporating my favorite food into a waffle.  There’s just something about the light flaky taste of a properly cooked waffle.  Add a hint of pumpkin and bamn – pure bliss!  Top it with spiced fruit or maple syrup and there’s no reason to leave the kitchen table other than to make another one.

Mouth watering yet?  Mine is as I write this.  If you want to dive into pumpkin waffles, here’s my recipe:

  • 1/2 cup pureed pumpkin (can be canned or fresh)
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (or white sugar with a hint of molasses)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or combination of cinnamon, cloves, cardamon & ginger)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs or equivalent of egg replacer
  • 1 cup of water

preheat your waffle iron.  Then whisk together the eggs or egg replacer, brown sugar, oil until combined.

A quick word about egg replacer for fellow folks with kids with egg allergies.  I’ve tried different kinds and they seem to absorb moisture making batters more difficult to work with.  So far, I’ve had the most success with the replacer made by Bob’s Red Mill which is available at Whole Foods or delivered to your door via Amazon.

Add the pumpkin & vanilla.  Mix until combined.  Add the baking powder.  Combine.  Then whisk in the spices and flour.  If too thick then add a little more water.  If too thin, then add a little flour.

Coat your waffle iron with a non-stick spray or brush with melted butter.  Cook to your liking and enjoy! I personally like my waffles a bit crispy and crunchy with an airy center.  It’s the number 5 setting on the All Clad Waffle maker which truly has been the gift that keeps on giving.

Serve right away as after awhile they will lose their crispy factor.

Serve with  butter (my other favorite ingredient), syrup and some spiced pears or applesauce if you have it.  My neighbor just made some spiced applesauce that is so rich and flavorful.  If you haven’t made your own for awhile, try it out.  It is definitely worth the effort.

Also serve with thick cut bacon; the perfect salty treat to compliment.  In fact, I made these for my son’s 4th birthday.  And, we had a friend who gave us some fresh thick cut bacon – it was a to die for combo!  It’s just one of the many benefits of living out here in the sticks.

So try it out, and let me know how it goes!  Wishing you happy times baking up memories.

Celebrating Fall

photo(10)Fall is one of the most amazing times of year out here in the wine country.  The vines turn colors that rival the most beautiful sunsets.  It is surely a special season providing much to celebrate.

It also gives the perfect reason to teach two little boys about the season.  Yesterday, my 4 year old was looking up at the trees in the backyard.  He was looking in wonder watching the leaves dance to the ground.  Red, yellow, orange and brown – our backyard is such a gorgeous palate.

So, there’s no better time to bring the colors inside.   At least that’s what we’ve done.  I had my boys collect their favorite leaves and then arrange them on our dining room table.  Watching them do it was the most insightful experience.  My older son decided to sort the leaves into colors prior to placing them on the white cotton tablecloth.  He then arranged them by size and placed them neatly in a straight line all the way around.  My nearly 2 year old son, piled them in a heap.  Developmentally I’m not sure what the relevance is of their two different organizing strategies.  But I think that the end result  is a masterpiece representing both of their visions of how the leaves should be.  In my world, it’s perfection to say the least.

At the end of the day though, the leaves are just a reminder of how gorgeous the world is around us.  By pointing it out to my boys, as they get older, hopefully they’ll take time to smell the roses or watch the leaves dance to the ground.   Have you done it lately?  I urge you to try it.

For more thoughts, kids arts projects and ideas on fall, and recipes check out my other blog at modernmamamary.com.