Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Fall is (sort of) making an appearance here in Florida, and with Halloween just a few days off, pumpkin carving is in full swing.  What to do with those handfuls of pumpkin guts?  With a little work, you can sort out the seeds and roast them for a healthy treat!

Have you ever noticed how much seeds (and nuts) cost in the supermarket?  It’s ridiculous.  So save the pumpkin seeds you’ve got and save some cash!

There are several ways to roast the seeds, but my preferred way is low and slow.  I’ll give alternative cook times if you don’t have an hour to wait, but roasting them slowly allows them to fully dry out and minimizes chewiness.

Here’s the recipe – or really, just how to roast perfect seeds.  The seasonings are up to you!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

  • Fresh pumpkin seeds
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Seasonings of your choice

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

Separate the seeds from the pumpkin flesh; wash the sorted seeds in water and pat dry.  Put them in a bowl and add a drizzle of olive oil.  I like to put the oil in my hand and then stir the seeds with my fingers.  All you want is a very light coat so the salt and seasonings will stick.

Here’s the fun part.  Add a little salt (or not) and whatever flavors you prefer – Cajun, garlic, curry, Old Bay, or chili powder…or how about trying some cinnamon and sugar?  You really can’t go wrong!  I use about half a teaspoon of seasoning per cup of seeds, but adjust to your liking.

Spread the seeds on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper (you can do without but it keeps the seeds from sticking to the pan; don’t add nonstick sprays, it will add too much moisture).  Try to get them in a single layer with minimal overlaps.

Bake for 45-60 minutes, check for crispness at 45 minutes (this means take one out and eat it!).  If you have a lot of seeds on the tray, stir them around halfway through to help evenly cook them all.

If you don’t have that much time, preheat the oven to 350-375 degrees and roast for about 35 minutes.  Just keep an eye on them!

After they’ve cooled, store in an airtight container at room temperature.  How long will they keep?  I don’t know – ours never make it more than a few days!

Enjoy!

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Gingered Tofu & Vegetable Stir-Fry

Mmmm….stir fry.  Easy and delicious.  Exactly what I was thinking when I wanted to introduce my toddler to tofu.

I make stir frys many ways, with whatever I have on hand, but this is a favorite – with ginger and sesame oil.  Tofu is a very versatile ingredient, taking on the flavor of whatever you put with it, and it’s a great protein source.  We don’t eat tofu often but this is one way that is great!

Around these parts, tofu is in the organic section of the produce.  Get the firm or extra-firm kind.

If you don’t have fish sauce, that’s ok, leave it out.  But it adds delicious flavor!

I use San-J gluten free sauces, it is amazing.  We love the gluten free soy sauce even more than its regular cousin!

Serve with rice (sticky, short grain “sushi” rice if you can).  Just lovely.

Gingered Tofu & Vegetable Stir-Fry

Yields about 4 2-cup servings.

  • 1 block firm or extra-firm tofu
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cups smaller mushrooms, such as button or portabella, sliced if needed
  • 2 green onions (scallions), white part only sliced
  • 1 head baby bok choy, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup Gluten-Free soy sauce, plus more to taste (such as San-J)
  • 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons ginger (1 tablespoon if using fresh grated)
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • toasted sesame seeds for garnish, optional
  • 1 teaspoon fish oil, optional

Drain tofu and place on a paper-towel line plate.  Top with more paper towels and add a weight on top to help squeeze out the liquid.  Set aside.

Chop onion, bell pepper, carrots and bok choy; add to a large bowl.  Chop green onion and mushrooms and add to second smaller bowl.  Set aside.

Return to the tofu.  Dice into small, even sized piece and add to a zip top bag with 1/4 cup soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and 1 teaspoon ginger.  Toss to combine and refrigerate to marinate (you can do this step hours ahead for more flavor in the tofu).

Add two tablespoons sesame oil to a wok or large pan.  Heat to medium with the minced garlic and red pepper flakes.  Add the vegetables from the larger bowl (bok choy mix) and stir fry, stirring often, until bok choy wilts, about 5 minutes.

Return the vegetables to their bowl and pull out the tofu.  Add another tablespoon sesame oil to the pan and brown tofu on all side, about 10 minutes on medium heat.  Move tofu to a bowl.

Return bok choy mix to the pan, and add the second smaller bowl of mushrooms and green onion; stir fry about 3 minutes.  Add back the tofu, top with 1/4 cup soy sauce plus more to taste, and teaspoon of fish oil if desired.  Heat through.

Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and serve with sticky or stir fried rice.  Enjoy!


Hearts of Palm Corn Cakes

So I came across a delicious-looking hearts of palm “crabless” cake recipe…I was ready to make it, post it and give them the credit…but the cakes totally fell apart on me!  I was super disappointed the recipe didn’t work.

So I decided to remake the idea from scratch, keeping just the hearts of palm, corn and Old Bay spice ingredients from the original recipe.  The results were delicious!  These are gluten- and msg-free, and vegetarian.  If you substituted the Greek yogurt for Vegan mayo, they’d be vegan too!

So here’s my version of Hearts of Palm Cakes!

Key to getting these cakes to stay together is pulverizing the hearts of palm.  They take on a very crabmeat-like consistency and get sticky.  I used a food processor and alternated pulsing and scraping down the bowl.  Take a few minutes to do this. Drizzle in a bit of olive oil to help lubricate things if you’re having a hard time getting them to break down.

Let’s talk about the breadcrumbs I used for a minute.  Technically, Namaste Foods Gluten Free Homestyle Coating Mix is for frying chicken and such, but it was the closest I could come to gluten free bread crumbs in the grocery store.  It turned out fantastic, and already comes seasoned with an Old Bay-style blend, so if you use this exact product, halve the amount of Old Bay you use.  If you have regular or gluten free plain breadcrumbs, use the full amount of Old Bay.

Make the creamy, lemony yogurt dip for them too.  My sister’s boyfriend hates crab – but he loves these cakes!

Hearts of Palm Corn Cakes

For the palm cakes:

  • 2 cans whole hearts of palm, drained and patted dry
  • 1 cup fresh corn (about 1 ear)
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/3 cup diced celery
  • 1/3 minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for frying
  • salt and pepper to taste (I used 1/8 tablespoon each)

For the dipping sauce:

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/8 cup lemon juice
  • few shakes of salt and pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon Old Bay
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

 

In a food processor or blender, pulse hearts of palm until sticky.  Add a little olive oil to help, if needed.  Set aside.

Saute corn, onion and celery until soft and fragrant, about 10 minutes, over medium heat in a tablespoon of olive oil.

In a bowl, combine hearts of palm, cilantro, and remaining ingredients.  Add the corn mixture when ready, and stir gently to incorporate all ingredients.  Season with salt and pepper, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or until chilled through.

Using a flatware tablespoon, form heaps of mixture into balls (I estimate they’re 1/3 cup each or so).  Roll in breadcrumbs to coat entirely, and flatten into patties.  Set on parchment or waxed paper.

In a deep fry pan, add 1/8″ olive oil and heat to medium.  Working in batches of 4, slowly brown the cakes on both sides, about 5 minutes each.  They’ll be firm and will stay together when you try to flip them.

For the dipping sauce, combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth.

Serve as an appetizer or with a green salad for an entree.  Enjoy!

 


Ham & Vegetable Quiche

Mmmm….quiche.  But there was always something wrong, to me, with the recipes I tried.  Not nearly enough cheese!  Now I know to be a quiche it needs to be eggy, but why not cheesy too?  My version isn’t for brunch, it’s for dinner!

Here’s tonight’s meal…full of fresh vegetables and yes, lots of cheese.  Your kids WILL eat this quiche, and all the vegetables in it, even if they don’t like vegetables.  If you family doesn’t like ham, substitute ground beef or whatever you like!  Easy and gluten free!

Lots of fresh ingredients here.  Lots of color!

Ham & Vegetable Quiche

  • 4 ounces chopped ham
  • 4 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup yellow squash, chopped
  • 1 cup red pepper, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green onion, white part only, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (I used cheddar and monterey jack), plus 1/2 cup for topping
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup gluten free Bisquick (or use regular)
  • Salt and pepper if needed

Saute the onion, garlic, red pepper and squash in a skillet with 2 tablespoons butter, about 5 minutes.  Add spinach, mushrooms, green onion and ham and simmer until spinach wilts.  Put mixture in a buttered pie plate.  Top with 2 cups of cheese.

Wisk the eggs, milk and Bisquick until combined.  Pour over the cheese and vegetables and give everything a stir to incorporate the egg mixture.  Top with remaining cheese.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until cheese is brown and bubbly and quiche is no longer jiggly.  Let rest 5 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!


Fresh Salsa

Salsa…one of my all-time favorite foods.

There’s nothing like homemade salsa, and once you make it yourself, you’ll never go back to the jarred disaster claiming to be salsa.

You can leave out the Ro-Tel if you like.  We just love the extra boost of flavor.  And don’t oversalt the salsa.  Tortilla chips are salty enough!

This is my version, and I always get asked for the recipe.  Our favorite certified gluten free tortilla chips are Snyder’s of Hanover Whole Grain Tortilla chips.

It will keep in your fridge for a few days, but it’ll get eaten long before that…

salsa2

Fresh Salsa

Yield about 3 cups.

  • 1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes and chiles (mild or original)
  • 3 Roma (plum) tomatoes
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 1 bunch cilantro (about 1 cup chopped)
  • 1/2 bell pepper (any color)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 limes
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 jalapeno, optional

Roughly chop the tomatoes, onion, cilantro, bell pepper, and garlic.  Drain the Ro-Tel and add it to a food processor or blender.  Add the chopped ingredients on top, squeeze the juice of both limes in, and add the 1/8 teaspoon cumin, salt and pepper.  Don’t overdo the cumin or it will overpower the salsa!

Blend to desired consistency, and refrigerate until needed.  Salsa will keep in fridge for a few days, but I promise there won’t be any left the first time you bring it out.  Enjoy!


Black Bean Hummus

Do you love chickpea hummus?  Well here’s any easy version using canned black beans, and everyday pantry ingredients (no tahini!).  Great on tortilla or pita chips and veggies, or as a sandwich spread – just like it’s lighter-hued cousin.

I add in some sour cream for a smooth, spreadable result.  Try adding some fresh chopped cilantro and jalapeno for a kick!

The point is to really blend it well – at least several minutes.  It’ll be smooth and creamy and perfect!

Black Bean Hummus

Yield about 2 1/2 cups.

  • 2-15 ounce cans reduced or no sodium black beans,
  •      rinsed and drained
  • juice of a whole lime
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 cup reduced fat sour cream

Process all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth, scraping down sides as needed, 3-5 minutes.  Serve cold as you would chickpea hummus, or use as a spread on sandwiches.  Enjoy!