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Archive for the tag “pumpkin”

Pumpkin Seeds (3 Ways)

Ok, so I know Halloween was like 2 weeks ago. But between a hurricane, travel and other distractions we didn’t even carve our pumpkins until the day of anyway so there was no way to get up the pumpkin seed making ‘in time’ to be super useful to you. LUCKILY, pumpkins are still in season and perhaps you have some pumpkin pies or soups coming up in your recipe book yet that you can use fresh (instead of canned… though it’s pretty good too) pumpkin for and get some seeds. Alternatively, you can buy raw pumpkin seeds (called ‘pepitas’ for some reason) a lot of places, including Trader Joes.

Anyway, all that aside, I made 3 types of seeds this year:

  • Mexican cocoa (aka spicy chocolate)
  • Traditional (which for us is salty, slightly garlicy, paprika’d deliciousness)
  • Rosemary apple (totally because we had these items… but they turned out pretty damn good)

So first a few things about pumpkin seed making:

  1. They burn easily, so using slightly lower heat for longer helps prevent you from doing this. I like to go with 300 degrees Fahrenheit. I leave them in for 10 minutes, and then test them every 2 after that. It can take awhile, especially if they’re super fresh (right out of the pumpkin) or for things like cocoa that hold moisture rather than salt that wicks out moisture. You want to get the seeds to a point where they are crunchy, not chewy.
  2. You can either leave some pumpkin goop residue on the seeds to get flavors to stick OR wash and dry your seeds to get the goop off and then toss them in a teeny bit of egg white before adding spices etc. Either way is fine. This year I went with egg white, previously I’ve gone with goop. I don’t think it makes one bit of difference.
  3. Seeds don’t keep super long. Even in plastic bags they tend to get a little chewy after a day or so. You can re-roast them for a few minutes at 300 to recrisp them.

Ok, now to the flavors!!! First, the seeds came out of these two awesome pumpkins (kitty didn’t help, she’s just looking fierce here)

The first, and my favorite:

Mexican Cocoa

What you need:

  • Cocoa powder
  • Cayenne pepper (the ground powdery kind)
  • Cinnamon
  • Sugar (the really fine stuff if you have it)
  • Salt

In a bowl, combine 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder, 1/3 tsp of cayenne, 1/2 tsp of cinnamon (or more, if you’re pro-cinnamon), 1 tablespoon of sugar and  1/3 tsp of salt. Stir these together.Then toss 1 cup of seeds (either with the pumpkin goop intact or tossed in 1 tablespoon of whisked egg whites) into the mix.

Here comes the fun part. Grease a cookie sheet. Now try to spread these out in a single layer on the cookie sheet. Most likely you’ll end up coated in fudgy goo while doing this (the egg white and the sugar and the cocoa make a delicious enemy). If you’re feeling like a risk taker, lick your fingers when you’re done though, it’s yummy!

At 325 these will take around 20 minutes, but start testing after 15 or so just in case. Mine took a good bit longer b/c I put in too much egg white… it’s a delicate thing. But it’s worth it – these were AMAZING. As a note, they will probably need to be re-crisped after 24 hours or so in a baggy, but at 300 degrees for a few minutes they re-crisp pretty well.

Traditional (Salty)

What you need:

  • Paprika
  • Garlic Powder
  • Black pepper
  • Salt

Ok, so same idea here. 1 1/2 tablespoons of paprika, 1/2 tsp of garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon of salt (if you don’t want them garlicy, but just salty, just use no garlic salt and 1/4 teaspoon of salt) and 1/4 tsp (a dash or two really) of black pepper. These are really salty, so if you’re not keen on that, cut back the salty items and up the paprika or pepper. Just a preference.
Toss a cup of seeds (with goop or egg whites) in this mixture and spread in a single layer on a greased cookie sheet. This should be easier than with the chocolate ones, no worries.

Check these after 12 minutes. They cook up fast with all the salt, and are yummy fresh out of the oven! And they stay crispy crunchy longer than the other 2 flavors, so great for taking to work the next day or giving as a gift (within a few days)

Rosemary Apple

Ok, the invented flavor. What you need:

  • 1/2 an apple (any type, I used gala I think) diced into small pieces
  • Fresh rosemary (the leaves off one good sprig) chopped to the smallest bits you can muster
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt

You know the drill. Mix the spices (fresh rosemary chopped, 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1/8 teaspoon of salt) and the apples in a bowl. Then drop in the seeds. These actually probably need less egg white to them because of the moisture from the apple bits. I didn’t reduce the egg white and they took quite awhile, but really were tasty.

Put them on a greased baking sheet and toss them in. At 325 these take at least 20 minutes if not more. Depends on how juicy the apple was, really. Also, there will be some sticky browned apple juice on the pan this time, not much you can do about that. But these taste pretty yummy and look super festive and holiday-ish. Could be a great appetizer for Thanksgiving or Christmas for sure.

As a note, they will probably need to be re-crisped after a day in a ziplock, but at 300 degrees for a few minutes they re-crisp well.

Let me know what flavors of pumpkin seeds you made this year. Any plans to make more? I think I may buy some raw pepitas tonight to make up for a snack. Hmmm… which to make… ENJOY!


Pumpkin Southwestern Chicken Soup

I love all things texmex – all of them (except when people put olives on nachos… seriously? olives? ew.) Anyway… this adoration really conflicts with my desire to eat healthy. Cheese, sour cream, refried beans, chips & guac… nom nom nom. SO, a few years ago I decided to make chicken tortilla soup. It’s pretty healthy considering, but still gives that delicious texmex flavor to dinner. Win win.

Then one fall I made a homemade pumpkin pie. Not like out of a can pumpkin, I mean like we roasted a pie pumpkin, pureed the pumpkin pulp etc. It took forever, but it was worth it. If you get the chance this year to make a from scratch pumpkin pie with fresh sugar pumpkin and honey etc. do it.  But from this pumpkin pie, I had some leftover pumpkin puree. So, in true me fashion, I decided, why not make this into a soup? Why not combine good things then and make pumpkin chicken tortilla soup? And you know what? Great idea. So here’s how you make it. It helps if you have some left over roasted chicken around so you don’t have to make it just for soup. But you could if you want. Luckily I made a whole chicken the other day, so we had some in the house. This recipe won out over Southern chicken salad… it’s that good.

Step One: Get out your trusty crockpot (if you don’t own a crock pot, I GUESS you can use a pot on the stove. But really, just go get one. They’re not very expensive, and you don’t need a fancy one.) Set it to high.

Step Two: Chop up the basic soup veggies: onions, celery, carrots, garlic. Add in there some bell pepper too (and if you have some chop up a few jarred roasted red peppers). Then pour in a can or two of green chilies.  If you have fresh ones, by all means use those. I also toss in 1 chopped seeded (aka take out the seeds) jalapeno. But that’s optional of course.

mmm peppers

Step Three: Add some more stuff! A few cups of chicken broth (I use the box kind, but if you have your own around, that’s good too!), and a few handfuls of leftover roasted chicken (If you don’t have any cooked chicken you have two options: either cook up a chicken breast/a few thighs on the stove and shread, or throw them into the crockpot raw and shread after fully cooked which they will be after a few hours). With that you need to pile on black beans and pumpkin puree too.  As I’m too lazy right now to make pumpkin puree from scratch, I used the ubiquitous fall canned pumpkin this time.

Sorry for the slightly blurry pic… new phone is almost set up so better photos to come.

Step Four: Ok, you’re almost there. Easiest part: add a couple cups of water. Or, if you have any leftover white wine like I did (perhaps something you didn’t like), you can add a cup or so of that instead. Both good.

Step Five: Spices time! Cumin (at least 3 teaspoons), chili powder (same amount here), salt (a pinch or two), black pepper (fresh pepper corns if you have them). The sneakiest ingredient here, to bring out the pumpkin…. nutmeg (add at least 1.5 teaspoons… to taste of course like everything else. I like a bit more)

Step Five: Put the lid on and leave the crock pot alone on high for about 4 hours. This makes this an ideal candidate for all day or all night cooking (if you leave it all day, feel free to go down to low, it’ll get to a boil at low after about 5 hours). BUT while you’re waiting… you should make some pico de gallo for the top.

BONUS STEP: Pico de gallo. Chop up 1/2 an onion (red is best, any works), 1/2 a jalapeno (again, w/o seeds) one or two tomatoes, and cilantro to taste (the more the better in my book). Pinch of salt on top is optional. You can also add 1/2 a chopped avocado if you’re feeling so inclined.

When you serve your soup, dollop some of this pico mix right in the middle before eating/serving. Adds a little kick, and the cilantro isn’t too soaked in the soup this way. Perfect (and lovely I might add)

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