Culinary Weekend Getaway

November 6, 2009

I am excited to report that today at noon is the start of a much-needed weekend getaway.  About 4 years back, while traveling to various wineries in the area, my mom happened upon a little artist community (they dub  themselves “The Art Coast of Michigan), Saugatuck.  Upon her return, she told the husband and I that we had to make a trip up there.   In researching various places to stay in the area, we found a B&B called The Kirby House, booked a stay and had the best time there!  The owners, Jim and Ray, are excellent hosts who create a warm and comforting atmosphere.  Ray is an amazing chef who provides delicious breakfasts each morning of your stay and I’m pretty sure Jim does the baking. The town of Saugatuck, itself had much to offer in the way of cuisine, wine and lots of unique shopping. 

What exactly is the culinary aspect of the getaway you ask? Well, The Kirby House offers a cooking class package twice a year.  My mom and I attended last year and had a fabulous time. Some of the dishes we prepared were stuffed pasta shells and (my favorite) butternut squash risotto.  My sister is joining us for this trip and I am looking forward to a relaxing weekend of food, wine and spending time with some of my favorite ladies.  I am certain I will have much to report back on (pictures too, promise)!  Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Sweet & Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

November 3, 2009

It was certainly a busy Halloween.  Between a festival (where we acquired some INSANELY good kettle corn), pumpkin carving and trick-or-treating (our little guy was a chef, so cute!), I was ready for some R&R by Sunday.   Which worked in my favor because I was able to finally toast the pumpkin seeds from our carving on Friday night.  I had never toasted pumpkin seeds before so I ventured online to look for some ideas and there were so many!  I found variations using vegetable oil, olive oil and butter and a slew of seasoning and oven temperature variations.  I got the gist, though: Add fat, season liberally and roast until golden or smelling good!  I had the seeds from one huge pumpkin and the seeds from a “pie pumpkin” which the guy at the market told me was a little sweeter.  After looking around, I combined some of what I saw and came up with these two methods.

For the large pumpkin seeds:
-Rinse, drain and thoroughly dry seeds
-Place seeds in mixing bowl
-Add 1/4 c. olive oil, toss
-In a small bowl, combine 2 tbsp. chili powder with 1/4 tsp. cayenne (more/less to taste), and 2 tsp. kosher salt
-Dump spice mixture over seeds and toss (you can use less of the mixture, if desired)
-Throw onto sprayed or lined cookie sheet, roast at 350 for approx. 20 min, stirring every 5 min.

For the pie pumpkin seeds:
-Repeat steps but swap the olive oil for melted unsalted butter
-Combine 1/2 c. sugar with 1 tbsp. cinnamon (for about 2 c. of seeds)
-Spread the seeds onto the pan, then sprinkle with 1/4 the cinnamon/sugar mixture
-After 10 min., pull the seeds out, sprinkle with 1/2 remaining mixture and toss
-Finish roasting about 10 more minutes, sprinkle with last of the mixture as they are coming out, toss

That’s it.  They turned out pretty yummy, indeed.  The cinnamon sugar seeds were a hit with our little guy and myself, while the hubby was guarding the spicy seeds like they were solid gold.  Add to the yummy-ness factor that these seeds are a way better snack alternative to potato chips and I am sold.  When they are gone, I am thinking of trying out squash seeds and some different spice combinations.  I’ll keep ya posted!  Hope everyone had a great Halloween!