Friday, October 7, 2011

Pumpkin Seeds

Delicious & Easy 

Well, here's how it all begins . . .   with the carving of a pumpkin.  

My ghostly pumpkin on the left and Brian's psycho construction pumpkin on the right.
Now that the pumpkin is carved, time to get the seeds ready . . .   make sure all the stringy gunk is completely off the seeds and rinse them thoroughly in a colander under cold water.  Now ya gotta get them dried out to bake because watery seeds won't bake; they'll steam and then they'll be a not-so-crunchy mess.  DON'T PUT THEM ON PAPER TOWEL to dry as some other websites may tell you.   They stick like glue and you'll spend the next hour cleaning the paper off them. 

Sooo, couple ways to get your seeds dry:   1.  While they are in the colander, get your blow dryer and gently blow dry the seeds while turning them in the colander with your hand (this actually works pretty well).  2.  Turn your oven on to about 200deg and put them in the oven on a cookie sheet for about 5-10 minutes.  I actually did this after I made pizza for dinner while we were carving.  The oven was just barely warm and it worked really well.   Either way you choose, if you have enough patience (hehehe), let them sit out on the cookie sheet overnight to finish air drying.   Again, cooking spray or oil, does not stick to wet seeds so make sure they're pert-near dry before seasoning (a few will be a skosh wet or sticky, that's ok).

Seeds are nicely dried out, placed in a mixing bowl and ready to be spiced up!
Let's Get Cookin . . .    preheat oven to 300 deg. and get out a baking sheet and some cooking spray.   The thing I found out last night about baking pumpkin seeds is that it's a lot easier than you may think.   The only challenging part is deciding what flavor you'd like your seeds to be.   You can use any spices/seasonings you'd like.   If you like spicey, use cayenne, if you like plain, just use salt 'n pepper, or maybe you like garlic, what about taco with some cumin.   It's just whatever you like.   And, a tiny hint for seasoning, after the first 15 mins of cooking, taste one, see if you want more season (they will spice up when cooled).

But to help get you started, here's what I did:   In the bowl of about 3 cupes of pumpkin seeds, I sprayed Pam regular cooking spray on top of the seeds, mixed the seeds with my hands, sprayed again, mixed the seeds, sprayed again and mixed.  You can use your fingers and run them through the seeds to "feel" if they are well-coated.  I don't use EVOO like some recipes because I find the seeds to be too oily.  You just want to coat the seeeds so that your spices will stick.
Be generous with your seasonings because the seeds absorb them quite a bit.

Mix cooking spray and spices into seeds thoroughly

This baking sheet has about 1-1/2 cups seeds on it.
For my spices:  in the entire batch I used salt (lots of it), pepper, garlic powder and cayenne.   So, for the first batch, I used about 1-1/2 cups of seeds and spread them in a nearly single layer.  No, I did not put foil or parchment paper on the cooking sheet; why bother, the seeds already greased up.   At 300 deg, I baked them for a total of 40 minutes in 15-15-10 min intervals, taking them out and stirring them up.   After the first 15 mins, I tasted one (be careful, they're hot) to check for flavor (you may need to add more salt as I did).  One note here, the flavor will intensify after they're done cooking and they've cooled down.

These seeds were the less spicier batch and cooked a little less.
My second batch, I wanted to ramp it up with a bit more flavor.  Sooo, in my cupboard I had some Texas BBQ dry rub - what the hey!     So I added a good couple shakes my remaining 1-1/2 cups seeds which had already been seasoned with the s/p, garlic & cayenne.   Brian wanted this batch to be a little crunchier so I did a 15-15-15 mins intervals.  YES, that extra 5 mins can make a difference.   Pumpkins seeds can go from crunchy to burned in an instant.  Don't overcook them.  Watch the tips of the seeds and if they start getting a medium brown, they're done.  Again, I checked for flavor after the first 15 mins.   One other note, if you want to add more seasoning after the first 15 min interval, spray a little more cooking spray to make sure your additional seasonings will stick.

This is QFC's brand of bbq rub - it's about $5.

Second batch of seeds.
TAAA DAHHHHH ---- Well, that's about all there is to it.   Let them cool and put into airtight container and they'll keep for about a week.  Ahhh, who am I kidding, we were eating them off the cookie sheet last night AND this morning I brought in a mini plastic container of them and they're already all gone!

Couple things:  pumpkin seeds are a great source of fiber and if you didn't know this, which I didn't, the seeds you take out of the pumpkin is actually the shell, like a sunflower, there is an actual seed inside of it.
Why Carve Pumpkins?
The story of the Jack o'Lantern comes from Irish folklore. Jack was a crafty farmer who tricked the Devil into climbing a tall tree. When the Devil reached the highest branch, Jack carved a large cross in the trunk, making it impossible for the Devil to climb down.

In exchange for help getting out of the tree, the Devil promised never to tempt Jack with evil again. When Jack died, he was turned away from Heaven for his sins and turned away from Hell because of his trickery. Condemned to wander the earth without rest, Jack carved out one of his turnips, took an ember from the devil, and used it for a lantern to light his way. He became known as "Jack of the Lantern."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pumpkin Seeds

With Halloween upon us, everyone is buying up their favorite pumpkins for carving.   Big ones, little ones, crooked ones, fat ones - all in the name of Halloween (and who are we kidding, it's fun carving a pumpkin).   So, cut open the top, and start scooping out the gunk - seeds and stringy pumpkin gut.   Now here's the issue:  how do you cook pumpkin seeds?

Tonight Brian and I will be doing all that scooping and carving and then, yes, baking the seeds.  YUMMM!   I can smell the sweetness already.

So, if you want to know how to cook pumpkin seeds, easy-peezy, stay tuned tomorrow and I'll have all the "scoop" for ya . . .   

Sharing - It's a Good Thing

Well, I decided today as I ate my lunch, Asparagus Cheddar Cheese Stuff Chicken, that I am going to start blogging about my favorite day-to-day recipes.  I know you can probably find these recipes on-line but I, personally, love to get recipes from family/friends who I know have tried them and have found them to be successful at the table.   The things I cook are always simple - lol, that's why I'm doing this.  I think great recipes don't have to be complicated or contain a lot of expensive, crazy ingredients.  Most of the things I cook are simple and easy and pallet pleasing!   I really love cooking but I also really love sharing what I cook!

So, here I am blogging.   I don't have much experience blogging anything, well, other than blogging a quick "hello" to my niece, Elizabeth, so please bare with me as I figure it out.

I will try to include pictures with the recipes and simple detailed instructions . . .    however, if something is confusing to you, just post the question and I'll get right back to ya or send me an email.