Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Halloween was a success this year. We hit an all time record. Instead of 4 trick-or-treaters we had 7! I don’t know why kids wouldn’t want to come to our house since it’s probably one of the coolest decorated houses in the neighborhood. It’s sad that I have to take down all my decorations this week. I was thinking of keeping my grim reaper up and putting Christmas lights around him. Someone suggested a golden halo and white cloth and he can be an angel. He is weather proof and everything, but I don’t want to risk it with the ammount of snow we get in North Dakota.

I made some roasted pumpkin seeds while waiting for the trick-or-treaters to come out. These are like crack, I tell you. The secret to having some great roasted pumpkin seeds is patient. It takes awhile to clean out all the pumpkin guts from them, and you have to let them dry out over night. One time, I tried making roasted pumpkin seeds, and they never turned out. Don’t know what went wrong with them, because they were awful. These were so good and I think it will be one of my new Halloween traditions.

Instructions:

Get rid of all the guts from the pumpkin seeds. A colander works best to clean them. Let the pumpkin seeds sit out over night or for 24 hours. Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds with your favorite seasoning. I used a house blend from Paula Dean which includes onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.  Roast the pumpkin seeds at 250 degrees for about an hour. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

Get the perfect pumkin pie portion this Thanksgiving by using cupcake tins. Cupcake tins are pretty amazing. You can do so many different versions of your favorite food in them. How cute would it be at Thanksgiving time to bring out these pumpkin pie cupcakes instead of a regular sized pumpkin pie? Everybody would get their own little individual pumpkin pie.

I thought the pie crust would crumble right away when trying to stuff it into the muffin tin but it didn’t. Thank goodness! This worked perfectly. I used a store bought pie crust and took a small bowl to cut the circle out. It fit very well inside the cupcake tin.

Take the filling about 1/4 cup, and add it to the muffin tins with the pie crust around them.

You can do this with probably ANY type of pie. Cherry, Blueberry, you name it.

Ingredients

1 store bought pie crust

1 batch of your favorite pie filling. Can even be your favorite low fat version.

Directions

Take the pie crust dough out of the container and use a small enough bowl so that the pie crust will fit inside the muffin tin all the way. Fill the cupcake liners with the pie crust. Add in about 1/4 cup of your favorite pie filling. Any of those store bought pie fillings is fine in my opinion. Bake the pumpkin pie filling until a tooth pick comes out clean. Mine took about 40 minutes at 350 degrees.

Pork Chops and Apples

Tonight, I made a gourmet meal. My new husband had been complaining how I never made him one when I was on vacation all last week. Hopefully he shuts up  and doesn’t ask for awhile now. ;)

I’ve been trying a lot of recipes from the Pioneer Woman lately. So far, I’ve made Homemade Ranch dressing, Sour Cream Noodle Bake, Twice Baked Potatoes, Perfect Pot Roast and now Pork Chops and Apples. All of which can be found on her website or Food Network’s website. It would be really neat to be able to come up with your own recipes like she does and land a show on the Food Network. I have troubles trying to come up with a recipe of my very own.

This pork chop dish screamed Fall to me. We still had a couple of apples to get rid of. We gave a lot away this year to the neighbors and to some friends.  It says to serve this dish with creamy grits, but we had acorn squash with it instead. It is my new goal each week to have some kind of vegetable with a meal. I’m terrible at getting vegetables. My attempt at taking pictures isn’t nearly as good as the ones on her website. I’m trying though. It’s also a goal of mine to take more pictures of the process of making a dish too. Trying to get my bounce rate down and I thought that posting more pictures would make people stay longer. Hope it’s helping. :)

Melt some butter and olive oil in a cast iron pan.

Salt and pepper some pork chops on both sides.

Brown the pork chops in the pan until golden. Recipe says about 2 minutes per side.

Take the pork chops out and start cooking the apples. Add in the last 3 ingredients.

This isn’t the greatest picture of the dish, but it works for me.

Served some pork chops with acorn squash. I only buy that when it’s on sale.

Ingredients Pioneer Woman

6 whole Boneless Pork Chops, About 1/2-inch Thick
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Butter
2 whole Gala Apples, Diced
1/2 cup Dry White Wine
2 teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar
3/4 cups Pure Maple Syrup
1 dash Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Creamy Bacon-Cheese Grits (see My Tasty Kitchen Recipe)

Preparation Instructions

Note: See my TastyKitchen recipe box for my Creamy Bacon Cheese Grits recipe.

Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and butter and heat until butter in melted.

Salt and pepper both sides of pork chops. Brown them on both sides until nice and golden. Remove pork chops from the skillet and set on a separate plate.

Reduce heat to medium. Add apples and stir to combine them with the oil, and butter that remains in the pan. Pour in wine and vinegar, then whisk along the bottom of the pan to deglaze it. Cook until liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Pour in the maple syrup, then add a dash of salt and pepper. Stir, then return pork chops to the pan. Cover the pan and simmer on low for 20 minutes.

Serve pork chops on top of a generous helping of Creamy Cheese Grits (mashed potatoes are good, too) and spoon the apple-maple sauce over the top, allowing the liquid to drip over the grits.

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Here is my interpretation of Fall. Some of these pictures turned out better than the ones I took of the pork chops and apples. Doesn’t that dish sound lovely on a Fall day?

Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts

I wish my grocery store would get a supply of pumpkin in. They have plenty of pumpkins to carve outside and plenty of cans of Libby’s pumpkin. Libby’s is ok, but the store bought stuff we get is about 60 cents cheaper. I keep on going there every week to check and see if they got another supply in. When they have canned pumpkin for 88 cents a can during Thanksgiving time, I think I’m going to go there every day that sale is going on and stock up.

Do you have a doughnut pan yet? If you don’t, I suggest you get one. Baking your own doughnuts is a lot healthier than frying doughnuts. I’ve had the sudden urge to try frying doughnuts, but this method is a lot easier and it doesn’t make your house smell like grease for a couple days. Pumpkin + doughnuts + morning coke (that’s what I have instead of coffee) = one fabulous weekend breakfast.

Combine all the wet ingredients together.

Mix all the dry ingredients together, and combine.

Dip the doughnuts in a cinnamon sugar mixture right after they’ve come out of the oven if you’d like.

Ingredients from Blue Eyed Bakers

For Donuts:
1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoons ground cloves
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup milk

For Coating:
1/2 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup sugar
1-2 tablespoons cinnamon (more if you’re a cinnamon lover)

Preheat oven 350 F.  Butter a mini donut pan and set aside.

In a bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt and spices together and set aside.

In a large bowl (or the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment) whisk together oil, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, pumpkin and milk until combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the mixture and stir until just combined, careful not to over mix.

Using a pastry bag or a steady hand and a spoon, fill each donut cup with the batter.  The donut cups should be fairly full, but not overflowing. Bake for 8-9 minutes, until donuts spring back when gently pressed (if you’re using a larger donut pan, allow them to bake for 12-15 minutes).  Turn donuts out onto a wire rack and allow to cool for a few minutes.

While the donuts are cooling, melt butter in one bowl and combine the sugar and cinnamon in another.  When donuts are still hot (but not too hot to touch), quickly dip each donut in melted butter, then coat in the cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Serve immediately.

*Note: If you’re not going to serve the donuts immediately, you can bake them up to a day in advance and store them in an airtight container.  Do not coat them in the butter/cinnamon-sugar mixture until just before serving or they may get soggy.

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash soup is a rich and creamy soup, perfect for a cool Fall day. I’ve never really had butternut squash soup before, but I love butternut squash. Butternut squash risotto is really good and so is this soup. Get squash when it goes on sale at the grocery store and serve it with a nice piece of chunky bread. It was 51 cents a pound or something like that, when I got this and only cost about $2.50 for the whole squash. Not bad.

My brother gave me a new knife set for our wedding present and it cut through the squash really well. The knife set even came with a knife sharpener, which is really cool. We also got the pasta maker attachment for our kitchen aid mixer, and I can not wait to try making my own pasta. Ravioli here I come! It even makes it’s own spaghetti. Wonder how many calories making your own pasta is compared to the number of calories are with the store bought pasta???

Serves: 8

Points plus: 6

Calories: 204 | Fat: 5.9g | Carbohydrate: 34.7g | Fiber: 5.3g

Ingredients from Cooking Light

8 cups (1-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 2 1/4 pounds)
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
Cooking spray
4 cups warm 2% reduced-fat milk, divided
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth, divided
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400°.
Combine squash, oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 45 minutes or until tender. Place half of squash, half of milk, and half of broth in a blender; process until smooth. Pour pureed mixture into a large saucepan. Repeat procedure with remaining squash, milk, and broth. Cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated (do not bring to a boil). Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Ladle 1 cup soup into each of 8 bowls; sprinkle each serving with 1 1/2 teaspoons nuts.

Pasta E Fagoli Soup

This was a very hearty soup. It’s very rare that I call a soup filling. Most of the time, whenever I make soup, I’m left still feeling hungry. Same goes with a salad.  Makes me want to chow down on a big bowl of chips after. You don’t really even need a piece of bread with this one. I’ve wanted to make this soup before, but I always left this recipe to the side, because it had beans in it. I wasn’t very fond of beans for the longest time, but now I don’t  mind them at all.

On to the pictures. I’ve decided to start posting more pictures. Trying different things to improve my bounce rate and make people stay longer on the site. I love how the PW does that on her website. So here it goes.

Start off by cooking some veggies. I didn’t have any pancetta or bacon. Only maple wood flavored bacon and I didn’t think that would go very well in this soup. Oh well…

Add in some beans…

Then add in all the liquid.

Bring the soup to a boil and add in the pasta. The ditalini pasta was my favorite part of the soup. It only takes 8 minutes for the pasta to get done cooking and then the soup is done. While waiting for the pasta to cook, I went out and took some random shots.

The final soup!

8 servings

Calories 229 | Fat 4.84g | Carbohydrate 37.18g | Fiber 5.2g |   Protein 10.67g

Points Plus: 6 (without the bacon)

Ingredients: from the little kimchi pierogi

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
⅛ pound (3 slices) pancetta or bacon, chopped
2 (4- to 6-inch) sprigs rosemary, left intact
1 (4 to 6-inch) sprig thyme with several sprigs on it, left intact, or 1½ teaspoons dried thyme
1 large fresh bay leaf or 2 dried bay leaves
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
coarse salt and pepper
2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini or great northern beans
1 cup canned tomato sauce or canned crushed tomatoes
2 cups water
1 quart chicken stock
1½ cups ditalini
grated Parmigiano or Romano, for the table
crusty bread, for mopping

Directions:

Heat a deep pot over medium high heat and add oil and pancetta or bacon.  Brown the pancetta or bacon bits lightly, and add herb stems, bay leaf, chopped vegetables, and garlic.  Season vegetables with salt and pepper.  Add beans, tomato sauce, water, and stock to pot and raise heat to high.  Bring soup to a rapid boil and add pasta.  Reduce heat to medium and cook soup, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes or until pasta is cooked al dente.  Rosemary and thyme leaves may separate from stems as soup cooks; remove stems and bay leaves.  Let soup rest and begin to cool for a few minutes.  Ladle soup into bowls and top with grated cheese.  Pass crusty bread for bowl mopping.

Crock Pot Apple Butter

I told yah, that I’d be posting some more crock pot recipes and here they are. I didn’t lie to you all. ;) More to come too.  I don’t know what went wrong with the crock pot apple butter recipe that I made last year?? I had  sticky/messy burnt apple goo stuck to my crock pot for the longest time and it was hard to get out. I was thinking that the recipe was wrong and there was no liquid. Nope… that wasn’t it. This recipe didn’t have any liquid in it either and I was surprised after it started cooking in the crock pot how much liquid came out of the apples after mixing in the sugar. Who ever knows what happened to my crock pot the last time I tried making this, will never know.

I’ll be making some more of this, this week since I have a whole week and a half off. I’m so excited for a vacation, but it really won’t feel like one. We’ll be so busy in a couple of days that I won’t be able to put up my Halloween decorations on October 1st. Sad, story. I know. Future husband won’t even let me put them up because he thinks that it’s too early. Well then, why the heck does Wal-Mart already have Christmas trees up? That stinks.

Ingredients from allrecipes.com

5 1/2 pounds apples – peeled, cored and finely chopped
4 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

Place the apples in a slow cooker. In a medium bowl, mix the sugar, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Pour the mixture over the apples in the slow cooker and mix well.
Cover and cook on high 1 hour.
Reduce heat to low and cook 9 to 11 hours, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thickened and dark brown.
Uncover and continue cooking on low 1 hour. Stir with a whisk, if desired, to increase smoothness.

Spoon the mixture into sterile containers, cover and refrigerate or freeze.

Homemade Applesauce

We have a bountiful of apples this year. I even went to a beautiful apple orchard with a friend, and picked some.

Our tree in our backyard is packed with them. I’ve already made some apple pie filling and an apple pie with the ones I’ve picked so far.  Tonight I made apple sauce.

I sometimes buy those little cups of applesauce that you get in the store and eat them as a snack at work. I also remember getting them in my lunch bag at school. Now, they have all sorts of different flavors of applesauce like strawberry,  raspberry, and peach. I feel like I was jipped as a kid.

Now that I am older and can make my own applesauce I can do whatever I darn well please with it. I can add in tons of cinnamon, mix in some cranberries, or serve it with some pork tenderloin if I wanted too. Maybe even add in some bacon?  Apples and pork marry well together. Whoever thought of that was a genious.

Here’s the recipe.

Ingredients from Simply Recipes

Ingredients

3 to 4 lbs of peeled, cored, and quartered apples. (Make sure you use a good cooking apple like Golden Delicious, Jonagold, Granny Smith, Fuji, Jonathan, Mcintosh, or Gravenstein.)
4 strips of lemon peel – use a vegetable peeler to strip 4 lengths
Juice of one lemon, about 3-4 Tbsp
3 inches of cinnamon stick
1/4 cup of dark brown sugar
up to 1/4 cup of white sugar
1 cup of water
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Method

1 Put all ingredients into a large pot. Cover. Bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

2 Remove from heat. Remove cinnamon sticks and lemon peels. Mash with potato masher.

Ready to serve, either hot or refrigerated. Delicious with vanilla ice cream or vanilla yogurt.

Freezes easily, lasts up to one year in a cold freezer.