I love snacking on roasted pumpkin seeds! So delicious, easy to prepare and eat, and with numerous health benefits, who could say no? Traditionally I make large batches every year after we carve our Halloween Jack-O-Lanterns and we snack on them for weeks!
I do not use oil in this recipe.
ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS
Seasoned salt (optional)
As you carve your pumpkins, keep all the seeds in a bowl. I find it easier to separate the seeds and pulp into two separate bowls as I go, rather than sort that mess out later.
Place the seeds into a colander and rinse them under cold water, stirring with your hands to make sure they are all rinsed thoroughly.
Place the seeds in a medium saucepan, then add 4 to 6 cups of water and about 1 tablespoon of salt for each half cup of seeds.
Bring the saltwater and seeds to a boil for 10 minutes, then remove them from the heat and strain.
Spread the seeds out on a baking sheet or two and allow them to completely dry (this may take up to a week).
Once the seeds are completely dry, prepare a small bowl with salt water. This is to crystalize on the outer shell, so dissolve as much salt as you want for a saltier outer shell, or less if you feel the brine was enough.
Place the seeds into a skillet and roast on medium to low heat, stirring continuously for an even cook.
When they nearly roasted to your liking, dip your fingers into the salt water and splash it as evenly as possible over the roasted seeds, then continue to stir until the water has evaporated.
Remove the seeds from the heat and allow them to cool.
Have you ever had a pastry wrapped, baked apple? It’s like having our own personal apple pie and if you stuff it with something you love? Pure delight!
These pastry wrapped, baked apples are stuffed with something I love, Nutella! I also added some granola for texture, but you can go full Nutella if that’s what you’re into! This does take some work in preparation time, but it will be well worth it to eat! Enjoy it my friends!
PASTRY WRAPPED BAKED APPLES WITH NUTELLA & GRANOLA
2 tablespoons of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon of water
4 Granny Smith apples
1 package of frozen puff pastry
Set out the pastry dough to thaw enough to work with while you prepare the other ingredients.
In a small bowl, combine the sugar and ground cinnamon, then set it aside.
In a separate small bowl, beat the egg and the water together until combined, then set it aside.
Peel the apples and then use a melon baller to scoop out the cores, leaving the bottoms intact.
Coat the outside of each apple with the cinnamon sugar mixture and set them aside.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out a pastry sheet to about a 9 by 10 inch rectangle, then cut the rectangle into 9, 1 inch strips.
Repeat step 6 with the second pastry sheet.
Starting at the bottom of the apple, begin winding a pastry strip around and up, slightly overlapping the edges of the pastry. Once a strip ends, align another strip and continue winding until you reach the top of the apple. Strips can be attached to one another by wetting your finger with water and smoothing dough together.
Repeat step 8 with each apple until they are all wrapped in pastry and place them all on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a baking mat.
Use the extra dough to create leaf shapes and attach them to the top of each apple by wetting your finger with water and smoothing the dough together.
Lightly scoop some Nutella into the hole in the apple, then press some granola in and add more Nutella on top of the granola.
Repeat step 11 with each apple.
Lightly brush the pastry dough with the egg wash.
Chill the apples in the refrigerator for 20 to 25 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Remove the apples from the refrigerator and bake them for 25 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.
Welcome back friends! Autumn is my favorite season and while pumpkin spice has its charms, I prefer apple cider!
My family and I are starting a new Halloween tradition this year that includes drinking apple cider (check back on Friday for more details) and I thought it would be special to create our own!
Please feel free to use this recipe to create some delicious apple cider for you and yours! This cider is sweet and spiced; I used all Honeycrisp apples, but you can experiment with the combination of apples to change the flavor!
HOMEMADE APPLE CIDER
10 medium apples, quartered
1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons of ground cloves
4 – 6 tablespoons of sugar
Place the apples, cinnamon, cloves and sugar into a crockpot, then add enough water to cover the apples.
Cover the crockpot and cook the contents on low for 6 hours.
Once the 6 hours have passed, use a spoon to gently crush the apples, then allow them to cook for 1 more hour.
Once cooked, turn off the heat and allow the contents to cool slightly.
Slowly ladle and strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve into a large pot or pitcher, then strain it a second time; discard the solids.
Happy February friends! I have some chocolaty Valentine cookies for you, and whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day or not, cookies are rarely unwelcome!
You may have heard that you can make cookies with boxed cake mix and this recipe does just that, but with a boost of unsweetened cocoa powder and M&Ms! They are delicious; rich and not too sweet. If you’re looking for something tasty to bake for yourself or someone(s) you love, please try these and enjoy!
1 box of devil’s food chocolate cake mix
1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup of butter, softened
2 cups of “cupid’s mix” Valentine M&Ms
Pre-heat the oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Pour the cake mix and unsweetened cocoa into a large bowl and stir gently to incorporate.
Add the eggs and softened butter into the dry ingredients and mix until a thick dough forms.
Divide the M&Ms: Mix one cup into the cookie dough and place the other cup into a separate small bowl.
Roll the dough into 1 to 1 1/2 inch balls, then dip the top of each dough ball into the small bowl of M&Ms and place each one onto the baking sheet.
Place the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes depending on the power of your oven.
Bring the cookies out of the oven and allow them to cool on the sheet for about 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a cooling rack for another 5 to 10 minutes.
Repeat this process until all the cookie dough has been baked, this should yield about 16 cookies.
Zoey, our little Tinker Bell, is one year old! This year has been an unusual one (understatement of the century), but it has flown by faster than I could have imagined and I have been fortunate enough to spend the majority of it at home with her; grateful for every moment.
Like many one year birthday boys and girls, Zoey has not been exposed to much sugar. Now I don’t mind a little sugar, but I did not want to sugar bomb her all at once so I created a homemade smash cake with frosting for her without adding extra sugar.
This Tinker Bell petal smash cake is a variation of a banana bread recipe my family has made for years without added sugar and a variation of cream cheese frosting without powdered sugar. I would consider the cake a tame banana flavor and the frosting a tangy cream cheese flavor, smoothed out with the addition of a natural sweetener (I used agave nectar). I purchased a used Disney Infinity Tinker Bell figurine off of Mercari, gave it a good cleaning, and used it as a cake topper with the obligatory “1” candle.
She was very tentative about smashing her smash cake, almost like she wasn’t sure if she was allowed to. Even with her audience coaxing her she only tasted a little bit of cake I broke off for her and mostly just played around in the frosting. Her favorite part of the cake was the Tinker Bell figurine up top and she ended up fixating on that. And what the hey, as long as she had fun!
So let’s make a smash cake for the little Tinker Bell in your life!
BANANA SMASH CAKE
3 bananas, overripe
1/2 cup of butter, softened
1 1/4 cup of flour
3/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Grease two 6-inch cake pans, or line them with parchment paper.
Cream the butter and bananas together with a (hand) mixer.
Add the eggs in one at a time, beating each in with the (hand) mixer.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients a little at a time, mixing and scraping down the sides of the bowl in between each addition.
Pour the mixed batter into the prepared cake pans about half to 3/4 of the way full.
Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean. The timing may vary depending on your oven so keep an eye on them!
Remove the cakes from the oven and allow them to cool in their pans for about 10 minutes, then remove them from the pans and allow them to cool completely on a wire rack.
Mine were pretty flat. If yours do not turn out flat, cut the very tops off of the cakes to create flat tops for stacking and frosting.
Frost your cake (see below).
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING (NO ADDED SUGAR)
5 tablespoons of butter, room temperature
1 1/2 packs of cream cheese (8 ounce), room temperature
A pinch of salt
2 to 3 tablespoons agave nectar, honey or maple syrup
1 to 2 tablespoons whole milk
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons corn starch
Green food coloring
*You can make the frosting up to several days in advance and store it in the refrigerator. Bring it to room temperature before frosting.*
Whip the butter and cream cheese together in a large bowl until well combined.
Add the agave nectar (or sweetener of choice), milk, salt and vanilla extract. Whip again, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Add 1 tablespoon of corn starch and whip until well incorporated. If at this point the consistency is right for you, you can move on to the next step. If not you can add cornstarch one teaspoon at a time until it reaches the desired thickness (careful not to exceed 2 tablespoons total).
Divide the frosting four equal parts in separate bowls. Add green food coloring to each bowl of frosting, ranging from dark to light green. Put each shade of green frosting into a pastry bag.
Pipe and smear frosting on the top of the first layer of cake and gently place the second layer on top of this.
Begin the petals by piping a dollop of dark green frosting on the side of the cake at the base. Take a flat slender spatula or butter knife press gently into the dollop and smear it to the right. Pipe another dollop of dark green near the end of the smear and repeat all the way around the cake.
Repeat this process with the next shade of green and repeat, but stop before you reach the lightest shade of green and the top of the cake.
Pipe and smear a healthy dollop of the lightest green frosting onto the top of the cake and smooth it out with a flat spatula, then continue with the last layer of petals in the lightest shade of green around the top of the cake.
Not too sweet, but sweet enough to be called cookies instead of crackers, these treats are a hit! They are springy, yet firm enough to soothe her teething gums and she likes them!…Although so does my husband so I’m going to have to convince him not to eat all of them before she can knaw on a few.
Grease a baking sheet and preheat the oven to 325 F.
Combine the ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir them with a mixing spoon until a thick dough has formed. You may need to adjust the amount of water or coconut oil you add depending on how juicy your bananas are.
Section the dough into smaller portions and (using a flat surface and a rolling pin) roll out your dough to 1/4 of an inch thick. You will need to use flour to keep the dough from sticking to the rolling pin and surfaces.
With a circular cookie cutter or a drinking glass (I used a drinking glass), cut cookies out of the dough and place them onto the greased baking sheet.
Cook each sheet of cookies for 12 to 15 minutes. Be careful they are hot! Use the spatula or a spoon to test their springiness. They should be firm yet springy when pressed as they are brought out of the oven.
Allow the cookies to cool before serving. These can be stored in the refrigerator for a little more firmness.
Serve and enjoy, but please watch your baby as they eat this to make sure they handle the texture well!
I am now a fledgling intermittent faster. Do you want to try it with me?
If you’re not familiar with intermittent fasting, it is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. It doesn’t specify which foods you should eat (although healthier foods yield better results), but rather when you should eat them.
I’ve chosen the 16/8 schedule, which means that I am restricting my eating to an 8 hour timeframe and fasting the remaining 16 hours of the day. This is what is working for me, but there are several other schedules out there if you’re looking for something different.
20/4: Restrict eating to 4 hours of the day and fast the remaining 20.
5/2: Eat regularly for 5 days of the week, on days 6 and 7 only consume about 500 calories per day.
24 hour: Fast for 24 hours straight, once or twice a week.
36 hour: Fast for 36 hours straight once a week.
Why am I doing such a thing you ask? Odd as it may sound, I wanted to conserve food during the pandemic. After breaking my fast, I usually don’t feel hungry again until right before the 8 hours are up. Everything is simpler, there are fewer meals to prepare, cook or clean up after!
In addition to conserving food, I would love to reach my pre-pregnancy weight or lower. As I mentioned above this eating pattern has me eating fewer meals and consuming less calories a day. I’ve also read that intermittent fasting can boost metabolism and that’s encouraging!
There are several other potential benefits, but the best thing I can do is tell you about my personal experience. I will practice intermittent fasting for the next three months at least and report back with my findings. How about you?
Welcome back friends! This week we’ll be cooking the happy porridge Mushu serves to Mulan in Disney’s Mulan.
This recipe is featured when Mulan is about to start her training. Mushu wakes her up the first morning with this happy breakfast to get her day started!
You can see little grains of rice in the porridge Mushu holds out to Mulan so to stay as true to the recipe from the film as I could I made congee. Congee is a type of porridge created with rice and enjoyed in China. It’s super easy to make and super delicious! I also chose to make the eggs in a muffin tin and the bacon on a baking sheet so I could cook them all at once and it was easier to keep them in the correct shape for the happy face on the porridge.
MUSHU’S HAPPY PORRIDGE
4 cups of chicken broth
4 cups of water
1 cup of jasmine rice
Salt to taste
Bring the 4 cups of water and 4 cups of chicken broth to a boil in a medium to large pot.
Add the rice and bring the combination back to a boil.
Lower the heat and let it gently simmer with a partially closed lid, stirring occasionally to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
The longer the porridge cooks the thicker it will get, keep in mind it also gets thicker after it’s cooled off. Once you are happy with the consistency, remove your porridge from the heat.
Season with salt to your taste.
Serve Mushu’s happy porridge in a bowl, arranging 2 cooked eggs and a bacon slice (see below) to look like a happy face on top.
BACON AND EGGS
4 slices of bacon
INSTRUCTIONS (BACON AND EGGS)
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Grease 8 cups of a muffin or cupcake tin.
Gently crack and place an uncooked egg into each greased cup of the muffin or cupcake tin. I personally only used the yolk and half of the white of each egg, but you can use the whole egg if preferred!
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Cut each slice of bacon in half and line the pieces out on the prepared baking sheet.
Place the eggs and bacon in the preheated oven to cook. The eggs will take about 15 minutes and the bacon will take about 25 minutes, but keep an eye on them as every oven is different!
Carefully (because they’re hot) remove the eggs and bacon from the pans and arrange them on the porridge (see above).
Welcome back friends! This week we’ll be frying the Doughnuts (or Donuts) Jim Dear and Darling give Lady in Disney’s Lady and the Tramp!
These doughnuts are featured during a breakfast scene after Lady retrieves Jim Dear’s paper. Darling offers Lady a doughnut and Jim Dear offers her coffee to dunk it in.
I knew I wanted to make old fashioned buttermilk doughnuts with a simple glaze. I considered making cake donuts, but deep frying seemed like so much more fun! If you’ve never deep fried anything before, be very careful! I use a very heavy dutch oven and a frying thermometer, heating the oil up a little at a time so it doesn’t get too hot too fast!
4 tablespoons of butter, melted
1 cup of sugar
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of salt
3 1/2 cups of flour, sifted
3/4 cup of buttermilk
6 cups of canola or vegetable oil
In a large bowl, mix the melted butter and sugar until they form a light, sandy texture.
Add the eggs one at a time, followed by the egg yolk, and then the vanilla extract.
Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg and salt.
Begin adding in one cup of flour, followed by 1⁄4 cup of buttermilk. Continue alternating the flour and buttermilk, ending with the flour.
The dough will be very sticky. Flour your hands and sprinkle a little on the dough, cover it with plastic wrap and chill it in the fridge for at least an 1 hour.
In a large heavy bottomed sauce pot (I use my dutch oven), slowly heat the oil to about 325F as read on a candy or deep fry thermometer.
While the oil heats, flour a large flat work surface and roll the dough out, flouring it liberally if needed to prevent sticking. Roll out to about 1⁄2″ thickness.
Using a doughnut cutter, cut out doughnut shapes. Keep re-rolling and cutting the dough as needed.
When oil is hot, gently slide the doughnuts into the pan using a slotted wire spoon to prevent splashing.
Fry the doughnuts for about 90 seconds per side, or until a deep golden brown then remove them from the oil and place a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet.
2 teaspoons of corn syrup
3 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1⁄3 cup of hot water
Combine all of the glaze ingredients in a saucepan and stir until smooth.
Place the warm doughnuts into the glaze mixture one at a time.
Use a fork or spoon to turn them over and coat them completely in the glaze.
Place the glazed doughnuts back onto the wire rack to set for about 20 minutes.
Welcome back friends! This week we’ll be cooking the Spaghetti that Tony serves Lady and Tramp in Disney’s Lady and the Tramp!
This recipe is featured when the Tramp takes Lady out to one of his favorite places to eat, Tony’s Restaurant. Once Tony notices Tramp is not alone and has brought Lady with him, he decides to treat this as a special night and serves them spaghetti and meatballs, then serenades them with “Bella Notte’.
Spaghetti and meatballs are quite fun to make and did I mention delicious? I had to stop myself from snacking on the meatballs before I was done making the pasta! My only regret is that I didn’t make the pasta or the sauce completely from scratch. I chose the timesavers path and used pre-packaged pasta, canned tomatoes and tomato paste. The good news is, most of us do not have time to make everything from scratch, but I do look forward to revisiting this recipe in the future to bring you everything from scratch!
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic
3 tablespoons of grated onion
1 1/2 teaspoons of dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of sugar
2 – 28 ounce cans of diced tomatoes, undrained
1 – 12 ounce can of tomato paste
1 cup of water
Combine all the sauce ingredients together in a dutch oven.
Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer (uncovered) for about an hour and 15 minutes.
While the sauce is simmering prepare the meatballs (see below).
6 slices of day-old bread, torn into pieces
1/2 cup of water
3/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons of minced fresh parsley
1 pound of ground beef
While the sauce simmers, soak the bread in the water until fully saturated.
Squeeze the excess water out of the bread, then place it in a large bowl.
Add the beef, eggs, garlic, parmesan cheese, parsley, pepper and salt; mix well.
Shape the mixture into meatballs 1 1/2 inches in diameter and place them on a rack over a shallow baking pan.
Pre-heat the oven to 400F.
Bake the meatballs, uncovered for about 20 minutes or until they are no longer pink then remove them from the oven and prepare the spaghetti (see below).
12 cups of water
3 tablespoons of salt
8 ounces of spaghetti noodles
Bring the water to a rolling boil.Add the salt and allow the water to return to a boil.
Add the pasta to the salted, boiling water and stir.
Bring the water back up to a boil again (don’t cover), then lower the heat slightly to avoid the pot boiling over and cook for as long as directed on the packet.
Once done, drain the pasta.
Remove the bay leaf from the finished sauce (see above) and add the spaghetti, stirring to coat.
Place the meatballs (see above) into the spaghetti and sauce, and simmer until heated through.
Garnish with parmesan cheese if desired, and enjoy!