Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Halloween, along with every other holiday, was so much more exciting and magical when I was a kid. My sweet tooth loved all the candy and my creative side loved dreaming up unique costumes and pumpkin carving ideas. While most of the magic of Halloween is gone, I still manage to eat Halloween candy, dress up in a typically cliché costume, and this year I even carved a pumpkin.

A friend of mine hosted a creative birthday party where we all carved pumpkins, ate pumpkin bars, and drank pumpkin beer. To prepare for the party I picked out my “perfect” pumpkin. Not too big, not too small, perfectly symmetrical with the stem in tact. My pumpkin was a blank canvas waiting to be transformed into a Jack o lantern. I don’t boast about my pumpkin carving skills (or lack there of) but I think he turned out pretty cute. I took him home with me to decorate my front entry and also took home the seeds to bake. I make pumpkin seeds only one time a year so they’re a special treat for me. This year I fancied up my typical seasoning and liked the result. Here is the “recipe” I used:

Pumpkin Seeds

Olive Oil

Salt

Pepper

Cayenne Pepper

Chili Powder

Onion Powder

Paprika

Garlic Powder

Bake at 300 degrees for 30-40 minutes

I soaked the seeds in salt water for a few hours. I removed most of the pumpkin pulp but left a little for added flavor. I patted the seeds dry with a towel then tossed them in a bowl with the olive oil and seasonings, then spread them out on a baking sheet and baked for about 30 minutes.

I also tried toasting some of the seeds in a cast iron skillet to see if it worked better than baking. The taste test revealed similar results but they smoked a lot (probably from the olive oil) on the cast iron skillet. I found it much easier to bake them in the oven.The seeds turned out great and I loved the seasonings I used. However, a simple dash of salt is a simple, tried and true “recipe” that tastes great as well. Enjoy!

Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread

It’s over 100 degrees in the valley yet I am still committed to enjoying some of my fall favorites. I can’t wrap myself in a cozy sweater just yet but I certainly am indulging in my favorite comfort foods. A few days ago I made a pumpkin blended iced coffee from a recipe I found on Pinterest. It tasted as good as it looked in the photo that drew me to the recipe. After enjoying my coffee drink I was inspired to attempt baking gluten-free pumpkin bread.

I find quick breads to be one of the easiest things to bake gluten-free, however they can get too dense and dry out quickly if not done correctly. I also have a tendency to under-cook my breads so I use cupcake tins to make it easier. The main trick to successful GF baking involves a balance of flours and starches.  This recipe proved to have the right balance:

3/4 c brown rice flour

1/2 c sorghum

1/2 c tapioca starch

1/4 c potato starch

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp all spice

dash xanthan gum or guar gum

1 stick butter

3/4 c sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 can pumpkin

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line cupcake pan with decorative liners. I used ones with a cute fall pattern that I purchased at Michael’s
  2. Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl
  3. Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy then add eggs, vanilla and pumpkin
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until fully blended
  5. Scoop dough into cupcake pan with an ice cream scoop
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes
  7. Cool on a wire rack

The result is a subtly sweet and savory blend of flavors. The ‘”cupcakes” stayed moist for a couple of days on my counter which is unheard of with most GF baked goods. I also froze a few of them and found that popping them in the microwave for about 15 seconds warms them up perfectly. I’m quite sure this recipe will be used a few more times this fall and will definitely be making an appearance at my Thanksgiving dinner.

Sunday Morning Waffles

For most people a waffle is a basic breakfast food that can be easily made at home or ordered at any morning cafe. Sunday mornings as a kid, for me included the breakfast staple and I loved every bite. Fast forward a few years and waffles, for me, became a bit more difficult. In my late 20s I discovered that I would need to start eating gluten-free or remain sick everyday of my life. It was an easy decision to make, but the road to full recovery and lifestyle change took some time. Gluten free baking can be difficult and waffles were no exception. I ran into many waffle recipes that produced soggy, hard as a rock, or just plain bad tasting waffles.

It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I discovered the best Gluten Free Belgian Waffle recipe. It was light, crispy, and sweet. Perfect. Even if you don’t need to eat gluten-free this is a great recipe that offers an alternative to wheat flour. I’ve made the waffles a few times now and have added a few changes of my own to make them even better.

1/2 cup brown rice flour

1/2 cup sorghum flour

1/2 cup potato starch

1/4 cup tapioca starch

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. xanthan gum

1 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 cup milk w/dash of white vinegar

1/4 cup canola oil

2 eggs

Mix the dry ingredients (you can sift them if you want to get real fancy).  Add the vinegar to the milk and let sit for a minute. If you prefer you can substitute lemon juice for the white vinegar to sour the milk. This is an important step, so if you’re bothered by adding vinegar, at least use lemon juice. Then add all the wet ingredients to the soured milk. I don’t recommend substituting melted butter for the oil. Using melted butter in waffle recipes doesn’t produce the best possible waffle consistency (trust me, as a midwestern girl, I’ve tried it). Mix the wet ingredients into the dry bowl and whisk together.

As with most GF recipes, the batter will be lumpy. I cook my waffles for about 4 minutes and serve them with whipped cream, berries, apple butter and sometimes a dash of powdered sugar.