Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sweet and Salty Pumpkin Seeds

Kendall talked me into carving a pumpkin today.  She likes carving pumpkins because she loves to stick her hand in the goo. Me, not so much, though I do enjoy pumpkin carving, especially since I found this recipe for a different kind of pumpkin seed seasoning. It's sweet and salty goodness at its best!


seeds from one medium pumpkin (about a cup and a half)

5 T sugar, divided
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cumin (I insist on using seeds and grinding them myself; it's just better that way!)
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp coarse salt (Kosher salt)
1 pinch of cayenne pepper, to taste (I used pepper flakes and ground them, too.)
1 1/2 T peanut oil

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread seeds on the parchment paper, evenly.  Bake until dry, stirring occasionally; about one hour (though mine only took 45 minutes this time; maybe it was the parchment?)  Cool. (I poured them onto a clean, cool cookie sheet and set them on the deck for five minutes.

Set two tablespoons of the sugar aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the remaining 3 tablespoons of the sugar, plus the salt, cumin, cinnamon, ginger, and cayenne; set aside.

Heat peanut oil in a medium, non-stick skillet over high heat.  Add the baked pumpkin seeds and the rest of the sugar. Stir, cooking until the sugar melts and the seeds begin to caramelize (I cooked mine until the seed started whistling!), about a minute.  Transfer to bowl with spices and stir well to coat.


These may be stored in an airtight container for up to one week (if crazed fools haven't eaten them all by then!)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pizza Casserole

Ever since I got a taste of my friend Pam's delicious Pizza Casserole last weekend at the Homecoming dinner at her house, I've been wanting to make it for dinner. So, even though I had 49 other things to do tonight, I happily put my needs aside and sacrificed for my loving family.

Note: Try to make this on a night everyone has other commitments so that you can have most of it for yourself. (Also, there will be fewer people around to watch you sneaking pepperoni.)

Ingredients:12-oz. egg noodles (I used only part of the bag pictured)
1 lb. ground beef
1 small onion
1 green pepper
1 8-oz pkg pepperoni
fresh mushrooms
pizza sauce
Campbell's cheddar cheese soup

First, put water on to boil for the noodles. If you have a 10-year-old Calphalon pot like mine, try not to grumble too loudly about the finish coming off. (I've already had it replaced once, and I'm too lazy to send it in again.)

Dice the green pepper and one small onion (or half of a large one)

The recipe actually called for canned mushrooms, but to me, that's like sprinkling mystery parmesan cheese from a can, instead of grating the real deal, so I decided to throw caution to the wind (I'm not an adventurous cook) and used fresh.

Brown the ground beef, along with the green pepper and onion. (Why, no, I'm not worried about heart disease. I may die, but I'll die happy.)

Add the pizza sauce and cheddar cheese soup,

and stir....
Simmer for about ten minutes (I added the mushrooms during this time.)

Remove from heat and stir in the pepperoni minus the 25 you ate while cooking.

Add the pasta. I made the whole 16 oz. bag and reserved about 1/4 of it for Kendall (who had the swine flu and wasn't interested in real food.)

Mix and place in greased casserole dish. I poured it into two dishes, so that I could freeze one.

At this point, remember the frozen block of mozzarella in your freezer. And if you have the patience of a first grader with severe ADHD and no meds when it comes to cooking, go ahead and try to grate it anyway. (It takes longer than thawing it first, but it it's a nice challenge.)

At this point, I want to show you the level of sacrifice I am willing to make for my family (yes, I really am a pacesetter when it comes to putting one's family first.) Just look at the cheese-grating injury I sustained in order to tend to my family's well-being...

It was worth it.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes (covered.) Remove cover and bake another ten minutes. (This also freezes very well.) Doesn't this look delicious?! Trust me; it is!!! [Of course, I only needed 30 minutes because it was already hot. Adjust heating times as needed.]

Now, I kid when I say I'm very dedicated to my family. If that were true, I'd have a tomato for this salad and some fresh, toasty garlic bread to accompany this meal, right?

My poor family had to tough it out...

...but I didn't hear any complaints.