Tag Archives: pumpkin

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Halloween is almost upon us, spooky, fun , awesome Halloween. When you are a kid it is second only to Christmas – your chance to be someone or something else for one night, limited only by your parents ability to say no to you. I remember the year my mom made me an amazing pink poodle skirt. I wore a white turtle neck, little white socks with lace tops, and my hair was in a curly pony tail with a pink bandanna. I was rocking it – absolutely rocking it. Add to that the pillow case filled with free candy, the chance to go out on a school night (at least every couple of years). Halloween was awesome as a kid.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds - Jack O' Lanterns

As an adult, though, the act of celebrating Halloween is no longer about dressing up and being someone else – not for me at least. I have no desire to be around people who dress like “sexy” pizza slices (seriously, how is that even a thing!?!?) and don’t know how to hold their drink. Now, I love Halloween because it is the night I watch Hocus Pocus and hand out treats to the new generation of super heroes, witches, ghosts, and princesses. I love seeing all of the incredibly creative costumes and excited children.

I also love decorating for Halloween, especially carving jack-o-lanterns. In addition to creating awesome displays for my front porch, a night of pumpkin carving gives me one of the best fall snacks a person can hope for – roasted pumpkin seeds, aka pepitas. Spicy, salty, or sweet – I can eat pumpkin seeds (hull and all) by the handful, so it is a good thing they are easy to make. Tom makes the best pepitas using butter, olive oil, and seasonings, so I make him do all of the work. You can follow his simple steps to make your own this Halloween.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds 2

How To Roast Perfect Pumpkin Seeds
Recipe based on 1 cup of raw pumpkin seeds

1)     Clean your fresh pumpkin seeds until they are completely clean of all pumpkin guts. Place the seeds in a large bowl and cover with cool tap water and agitate the water to help clean the seeds, picking off large piece of pumpkin meat as you go. Strain using a colander and repeat at least once more.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds - Clean the seeds 1 Roasted Pumpkin Seeds - clean the seeds 2 Roasted Pumpkin Seeds - clean the seeds 3

2)     Once the seeds are meticulously cleaned boil the seeds in well salted water. Bring a large sauce pan of salted water to a roiling boil, add the cleaned pumpkin seeds, and cook for 2  minutes. We use approximately 1 quart of water and ½ tablespoon of salt per cup of pumpkin seeds.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds - boil the seeds

3)     Drain and dry pumpkin seeds. Drain pumpkin seeds using a large colander, tossing a couple of times to shake of excess water. Spread seeds out on a clean flour sack or tea towel and pat dry.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds - dry the seeds

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds - dry the seeds 2

4)    Season and oil  the pumpkin seeds. Place dried seeds in a bowl and drizzle with a mixture of 1 tablespoon melted butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil (per 1 cup of pepitas).  Mix the seeds well with the oil, ensuring all seeds are well coated.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds - butter the seeds 1


Roasted Pumpkin Seeds - butter the seeds 2

Spread the seeds out on a rimmed cookie sheet and season as desired. We used onion and garlic powder, fresh pepper, and seasoned salt.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds - season the seeds 2
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds - season the seeds 1

5)    Bake at 350ºF for about 10 minutes. Stir seeds about half way through the cooking time. Seeds are done when the outer hull is crunchy and easy to bite through.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds - stir the seeds

6)     Eat! Or cool completely and store in an airtight container for up to 1 week. They are good right out of the tupperware, but we like to pop them in the oven for 2 minutes at 350ºF to warm them up.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds 1


Kitchen Basics – Homemade Pumpkin Puree

By now you know its Autumn, if only because your blog rolls are filling with pumpkin recipes ad nauseam, and yes, I know Cork and Spoon is not exactly helping [ADD pumpkin bourbon link!]. But can you blame us addicts? Pumpkin is tasty, versatile, incredibly healthy, and comes – conveniently – pre-pureed in 15-ounce cans. Heck, I probably have 5 or 6 of them in my pantry right now for whipping up a quick batch of scones, pumpkin spätzle, or a savory pumpkin sauce.

Pumpkin and White Chocolate Scone with Tea

Pumpkin and White Chocolate
Scone with Tea

Pumpkin Spatzel with Brussels Sprouts and Parmesan

Pumpkin Spatzel with Brussels Sprouts and Parmesan

Savory Pumpkin Sauce over Pappardelle

Savory Pumpkin Sauce over Pappardelle

About once a year though, right around Halloween, I see a beautiful stack of sugar pumpkins at the farmer’s market and I convince myself that I am a fool for not making pumpkin puree from scratch. Making your own pumpkin puree for cooking and baking is surprisingly easy, here let me show you.

The first, and most important thing, is picking your pumpkin. You will want to use a sugar, or pie, pumpkin. These average about 6 to 10 inches in size,  much smaller than the pumpkins you carve for jack o’lanters. You want a pumpkin that is heavy for its size, unblemished, and free of soft spots. On average, each pound of unprepared pumpkin with its rind and seeds will yield 1 cup of puree.

Pumpkin Puree - sugar pumpkin

While pumpkin puree can be made from any cooked pumpkin flesh, whether boiled, steamed, or microwaved, but I firmly believe that roasting the pumpkins provides the best flavor and requires the least amount of work, so that is the method I am going to describe here.

Begin by cutting the pumpkin in half from stem to end. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy center. If you are a fan of pumpkin seeds, set aside the pumpkin guts to clean and bake the seeds later.

Pumpkin Puree - halve and core pumpkin

Brush the cut sides of the pumpkin lightly with neutral flavored oil, such as vegetable or canola oil, and place cut side down on a cookie sheet lined with foil (for easy clean up).

Pumpkin Puree - prep for roasting

Bake the pumpkin at 375ºF for 45 minutes to an hour – until a fork slides easily into the flesh of pumpkin. Remove the pumpkin from the oven and let cool until in can be easily handled without burning your hand; I usually wait an hour.

Pumpkin Puree - roasted pumpkins

Once the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, carefully scoop out the flesh. Use a blender to puree the flesh until silky smooth. Use the fresh puree with 48 hours or freeze to use later.

Pumpkin Puree - removed roasted pumpkin meat

Pumpkin Puree - finished puree 2

Pinspired: Bourbon Pumpkin Pecan Bread

As you read this Tom and I are on our way toHouston, TX to enjoy the long weekend with his family. This will be my third trip to Texas, but my first to Houston. While most of our time will be spent with Tom’s parents, sister, and larger family, I am planning to do at least a little sight seeing. I had hoped to check out the Johnson Space Center, but with the U.S. government shutdown in full swing, that seems unlikely.

Bourbon Pumpkin  Bread - sliced bread 2

Since we will be spending most of our time at Tom’s sister’s home, and I was taught to never show up at someone’s front door empty handed, I’ve decide to bring along a few things to say help say thank-you. My original plan was to bring a bottle of Virgina red wine that I picked up during my recent wine outing, but wine doesn’t always travel well and there was a definite risk of travel shock. So, as a back up plan, I decided to bake a loaf of quick bread because, properly wrapped and pack, I was confident it would make the trip in one piece. I originally thought of baking my “healthy” chocolate zucchini bread, but then I remembered that I’d recently pinned a recipe for bourbon pumpkin pecan bread. What follows here is my slightly tweaked recipe based on Belle of the Kitchen’s original recipe, found here.

Bourbon Pumpkin Pecan Bread
makes 2 standard loaves

¾ cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
½ tsp ginger and cloves
4 eggs
15 oz pureed pumpkin
⅔ cup oil
3½ cup all-purpose flour
⅓ cup bourbon
1 cup buttermilk
2 tsp baking soda
1½ tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 ½ cup chopped pecans

1)    Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease and lightly flour the bottom of two standard size loaf pans, about 8.5 x4.5×2.5 inches.

Bourbon Pumpkin  Bread - prepare loaf pans

2)     Use a fork to whisk together sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and clove in a small bowl.

Bourbon Pumpkin  Bread - whick sugars together

Bourbon Pumpkin  Bread - whisk spice into sugar mixture

Bourbon Pumpkin  Bread - whisked sugar and spices

3)      In a large bowl whisk together eggs, oil, and pureed pumpkin. Add sugar mixture to bowl and whisk to combine. Stir in 2 cups of flour.

Bourbon Pumpkin  Bread - whisk egg pumpkin and oil
Bourbon Pumpkin  Bread - mix sugar and pumpkin mixture

4)     In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix together bourbon and buttermilk and carefully fold into batter.

Bourbon Pumpkin  Bread - add bourbon buttermilk

Bourbon Pumpkin  Bread - fold in bourbon buttermilk

5)    Sprinkle baking powder, baking soda, and salt on top of the batter and stir well to incorporate. Add in remaining flour and mix until just incorporated.

Bourbon Pumpkin  Bread - add leaveners

6)     Fold the chopped pecans into the batter.

7)     Divide the batter evenly between the 2 prepared loaf pans and bake in preheated oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Bourbon Pumpkin  Bread - pour batter into pans

8)     Once bread has been removed from the oven, let the loafs pans cool until comfortable to handle and then remove loaves. Set on wire rack to cool completely before storing.

Bourbon Pumpkin  Bread - finished bread

Bourbon Pumpkin  Bread - sliced bread 3

Apple Pumpkin Dog Treats

We are about a week away from Christmas, and you may think you are done with your Christmas prep and shopping but have you picked up a present for Fido? I have a lot of dogs in my life and if there is one thing I know, it is that man’s best friend deserves his own presents under the Christmas tree in return for the undying love we get every day. While it is easy to pick up a Elf costume for your dog or a stocking of new toys, why not take a moment and paper your dog they same way you pamper yourself, with homemade tasty, healthy treats?

My mom's dog C.J., a 3lb poodle, and my sister's dog Yogi, meet for the first time

My mom’s dog C.J., a 3lb poodle, and my sister’s dog Yogi, meet for the first time

Before making anything, I needed to do some research about what foods are bad and what foods are good for dogs. As I went through the various lists I was surprised to learn about the many health benefits of pumpkin for dogs. Pumpkin provides relief for both occasional bouts of constipation and diarrhea, the beta carotene is good for their eye sight, and, if your dogs is packing on a few extra pounds this holiday season thanks to turkey scraps, it also has weight loss benefits because of its high fiber and water content. As a self-identified pumpkin lover, this made perfect sense to me, and I immediately went searching for pumpkin based dog treat recipes. I quickly found the Pumpkinista’s Pumpkin Apple Dog Treats. I made a few adjustments to the recipe, for example, I added cinnamon to the recipe because it is good for maintaining steady sugar blood sugar and the arthritic joints of older dogs. I also substituted some left over rye flour for the wheat flour because I needed to use it up before it went bad and organic turbinado sugar for the brown sugar.  The thing to keep in mind when making substitutions or creating any version of these dog treats is that you need to stay away from anything “white” or processed – no white flour or white sugar – because these can be particularly difficult for dogs to digest.

Finished dog treats

The final product was a big hit my friend’s dog Abbey, who for the record isn’t really into dog treats at all. I can’t wait to see what my mom’s dog, C.J. thinks of them on Christmas morning 🙂 Even more important, this recipe has given me the confidence to experiment with other recipes in the near future- after all dogs will eat just about anything 🙂

tasty treats!

Apple Pumpkin Doggie Cookies

1 large apple, grated

1 tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3 cups rye flour (or other whole wheat flour)
1/2 cup cornmeal

1 egg
1/2 cup pumpkin
1/2 cup cold water

1)     Preheat oven to 375°F.

2)     In a bowl, mix together grated apples, cinnamon, and sugar.

mix together the apple, sugar, and cinnamon

3)     Stir in egg and pumpkin puree.

add the egg and pumpkin

4)     Stir in flour and cornmeal, resulting in a dough that resembles course crumbs. Add water, and kneed into a thick, somewhat dry dough.

add the flour and corn meal

5)     On a lightly floured surface, roll out your dough to between half an inch and a quarter inch. Cut your cookies and place on baking sheet about half an inch apart.

puppy dog cookie cutters

cutting the treats

6)     Bake for 30 minutes. Turn off oven and leave cookies in the oven for another 35-45 minutes to let them crisp.

6)     Store finished treats in an air tight container or plastic bag.

Hump Day Happy Hour: Spiced up Pumpkin Porter

It’s fall here in the States, which means its time for everything pumpkin. There are versions of the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks, Cosi, Caribou Coffee, and about a half a dozen local coffee shops. You can change up your morning strawberry pop tart routine by switching it with a pumpkin pie pop tart or you can treat yourself with a handful of pumpkin spice Hershy’s kisses. While all of those things are, I am sure, fabulous tributes to fall and the glorious pumpkin, none of them excite me as much as when I spot the first 6-pack of season pumpkin beers. There are dozens of pumpkin ales, and even a pumpkin cider, but my heart skips a beat when I see Starr Hill Brewing Company’s Boxcar, a pumpkin porter.

In honor of this delicious porter, I decided to try my hand at a beer based cocktail. A little whiskey and Snap cut through the richness of the beer and a touch of maple syrup brightens the whole thing up. I tried the recipe without the cinnamon sugar rim, and I promise it is much better with it than without, so if you aren’t sure about the sugaring the rim take a chance and go ahead.

Spiced-up Pumpkin Porter

1 ounce Snap Liquor
1 ounce whiskey
¼ ounce dark maple syrup (approximate)
1 bottle Pumpkin Porter
cinnamon sugar

1)     Rim a pint glass with a healthy amount of cinnamon sugar

2)     Pour Snap, whiskey, and maple syrup in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously for a minute or two and strain into waiting pint glass.

3)     Top with beer, careful not to let the frothy head over flow.

Pumpkin Oat Pancakes

It’s no secret that I love breakfast – especially eggs. In fact when given the choice, I always stray to the savory egg and veggie options on a brunch menu. As tempting as the french toast and waffles are, I can’t justify starting my day with a plate full of sugar any more than I can justify eating a bowl of Lucky Charms for breakfast. So I am always trying to figure out ways to make tempting but slightly healthier versions of some of the sweeter breakfast staples so that when I feel the need to indulge, I can do it without adding 6 more miles to my daily run. So I was really excited when my attempt at a pancake pumped full of fiber and nutrients succeeded on the first try. One thing I will say, no matter how excited you are for these pancakes, do not skip the 10 minute waiting period, otherwise the oats will be dry and create a weird consistency in the pancakes.

Pumpkin Oat Pancakes

½ cup old fashioned oats
1 cup flour (white or whole wheat)
2 tablespoons honey
2 ¾ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup milk
½ cup pureed pumpkin
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ tablespoon neutral oil
1 large egg

1) Pulse oats in a small food processor until coarsely ground.

2) Whisk together flour, oats, spices, baking soda, and salt.

3) In a small bowl combine milk, pumpkin, vanilla, oil, and egg.

4) Pour liquid ingredients over dry ingredients and stir until combined. Let sit for 10 minutes.

5) Pour about a quarter cup of batter into a lightly oiled fry pan preheated over medium-low heat.

6) Cook until bubble start to form in the middle of the pancake and the edges look dry. Cook on the second side for another 2-3 minutes.