Pumpkin Pie Spiced Pepitas (Pumpkin Seeds)

The holidays are always a hectic time for us since we live so far from home. It’s a six hour drive (or longer if we’ve had a recent snowfall) so I like to pack a treat to eat on the road. Monday I spent the morning alternating my time between baking and rounding up every last thing we think we need for the trip back to St. Louis. Somehow we always pack twice as much as we actually need, but once the car was loaded up we hopped in and made our way home.

Even though I’m not in charge of cooking a single thing for the holiday meal this year I still hate to come empty handed. The pumpkin pie spiced pepitas I made for our trip are perfect to bring along to all of our family gatherings. They only take a few minutes to make, especially if you buy pre-hulled pumpkin seeds (look for them in the health-food section, the baking aisle, or with the snack nuts) and you can make them in advance if need be. Toss the seeds with liberal amounts of butter, salt, sugar, and pumpkin pie spice—bake for a few minutes—and you'll have a tasty treat to share with your friends and family. They'll be gone in minutes, so make sure to bring extras!

Pumpkin Pie Spice Pepitas (Pumpkin Seeds)

Pumpkin Pie Spiced Pepitas
makes 8 - 10 servings

Ingredients

2 tablespoons salted butter, melted
12 ounces (2½ cups) pepitas
⅛ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
sea salt, to taste

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl combine melted butter, pepitas, sugar, and pumpkin pie spice. Spread evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 7 minutes, stir once, and bake for an additional 8 minutes.
  • Once the pepitas have been removed from the oven allow them to cool for 30 minutes and top with sea salt before serving.

Notes

Leftover pepitas can be stored in an airtight container. They'll stay fresh for at least 5 days, but ours are usually long gone before then.

Caramel Apple Pie

Thanksgiving is tomorrow and surprisingly enough I've got most of the hard work done ahead of time. I'm pretty sure this is a first for me. My side dishes are in the fridge ready to be reheated and my pies are cooling on the counter. Tomorrow morning I'll wake up early, make breakfast, and get my cleaning done. My house is generally a disaster, I do have a toddler running around after all, but right now my kitchen currently looks like a tornado went through it. Hopefully tomorrow I have enough time to make it look somewhat presentable before the guests arrive, but I'm not going to worry about it if I don't. My friends aren't going to care, they're just there for the food and the pleasure of my company (I'm rather modest, can't you tell?) All I really need to worry about tomorrow is making the gravy since I'm not in charge of the turkey. That will give me plenty of time to relax and enjoy myself for a change. This is a luxury that the person in charge of the feast seldom has so I'm going to enjoy it.

I hope you, your friends, and family all have an enjoyable day tomorrow. If you're still looking for something yummy for dessert give this pie a shot. Thanksgiving dinner in our home isn't complete without an apple pie and this recipe is popular enough in our household that many times I end up making two of them just so we have some left over. Who doesn't like apple pie for breakfast the day after a holiday? 

ApplePie.jpg

Caramel Apple Pie
makes approximately 8 servings

Ingredients
½ cup unsalted butter
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 Vanilla Bean
¼ cup water
½ cup white sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
2 pie crusts
4-6 large apples (I use Braeburn for the mixture of sweet and tart)
Sugar in the Raw (for sprinkling on top) 
 

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • While the oven is preheating melt butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. 
  • Split vanilla bean lengthwise and add insides to the saucepan. Add water, white and brown sugar, and bring the mixture to a boil. Set the temperature to low and let simmer while you complete the next step.
  • Place the bottom crust in the pie dish, fill with thinly sliced apples, then gently pour sugar mixture over the top. Take care not to over-fill the pie dish.
  • You can either place the top crust over the mound of apples, crimp edges, and cut slits in the top for ventilation or make a lattice top.
  • Bake for 15 minutes at 425°F to brown the top crust, then reduce the temperature to 350°F and continue baking for an additional 35 - 45 minutes.

Recipe Inspiration:

Apple Pie by Grandma Ople - Allrecipes.com

2013 Thanksgiving menu and a bit of fire safety

Thanksgiving is nearly here and I'm absolutely not preparred for its arrival, heck I still have the Halloween decorations up. Instead of making the almost 7 hour trip home to St. Louis, this year I'm hosting Thanksgiving dinner for a small group of friends. So far I have nothing planned, no menu, no shopping list, nothing. I keep meaning to sit down and figure out the menu, normally I have things like this planned out months in advance. However, this year I haven't been able to find the time to sit down at the computer and sort through the (rather substantial) pile of recipes I've been meaning to try. With only two weeks left to go I decided that I needed a little motivation and nothing motivates me more than sitting down to write. It forces me to collect my thoughts, which is exactly what I need right now.

I thought some of you might also be curious about what I'll be putting together in the kitchen at Not Starving Yet. Here is a rundown on what I've decided to make this year with links to some of the recipes I'll be working with. It may surprise you, but they aren't all mine. There are some recipes, like Pioneer Woman's Parker House Rolls, that have become a staple in this house; it just wouldn't be a holiday meal without them. I also have a handful of items, such as dressing and gravy, that I haven't quite perfected. Until I do I'll try something a little different each time, making notes about what I liked or disliked about the new recipe I'm working with. Eventually I'll perfect these recipes and share them with you, but not this year.

You may have noticed, I haven't said much about our Thanksgiving bird. It might surprise you, but I'm not in charge of the turkey, my husband is. This was an agreement we came to the first year we were married and 25 years from now he will still be in charge of the turkey. I don't like turkey, I don't want to cook turkey, therefore he is in charge of the turkey. The last few years he's been using Alton Brown's method for Deep Fried Turkey. It turns out perfect every time, crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside. Even though I don't like turkey, I highly recommend Alton's method should you want to try your hand at deep frying a turkey this year. I also highly recommend having a fire extinguisher on hand if you do. So far we haven't managed to catch anything on fire, but I've heard plenty of stories over the years from my father-in-law the fire chief, of people who weren't so fortunate.

Even if you don't plan on deep frying a turkey, make sure you have a fire extinguisher on hand, you never know when you'll need one. Also keep in mind that you don't want to use a water-based fire extinguisher on a grease fire. Water will actually cause the fire to spread, possibly to the person using the fire extinguisher. You'll want a chemical-based ABC fire extinguisher, just make sure you're familiar with how to use it before you begin frying your turkey. You don't want to be rushing around trying to figure it out when there is a fire to put out.

It's a good thing we received not one, but two fire extinguishers for a wedding gift. I still remember writing the thank-you card for a gift I hoped I never had to use (and I said as much when I wrote it, I'm kind of cheeky like that.) While we haven't needed them for a deep fried turkey incident, we did need them when the lawn mower decided to catch on fire several summers ago. What can I say, we have odd problems in our household, but at least we're well prepared thanks to the generosity of our friends.

Ok, that's enough fire safety out of me. Now on to the menu, because I know that's what you're really waiting for.

Appetizers
Relish Tray
Assorted Cheese Tray
Mixed Nuts

Main Course
Deep Fried Turkey (Alton Brown)
Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy (Delish)

Side Dishes
Green Bean Casserole w/ Carmalized Onions, Bacon, and Mushrooms
Spicy Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Parker House Rolls (Pioneer Woman)
Salad w/ Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
Classic Bread Stuffing (Brown Eyed Baker)

Dessert
Caramel Apple Pie (check back soon for the recipe)
Pumpkin Pie (Libby's) with home made Pumpkin Pie Spice