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!

I remember back when I was a part of a team that was opening a new restaurant in town.  This particular establishment was one of many in a chain and I’ll never forget the amount of emphasis that was put on consistency.  Sure there was training on how to operate the computer system, completing sidework, memorizing table numbers and so on, but there was nothing more focused on in the training series than the importance of consistency.  People needed to walk in to our restaurant and order the same dinner someone was ordering in an establishment across the country.  Likewise, if you were visiting another state you could dine in comfort knowing your favorite item would be on the menu, prepared in exactly the same manner as your neighborhood place.

I understood this perspective, of course but it never truly hit home for me until now.  I am in love with the Fall season and when it is upon us my food cravings are in overdrive.  Cravings for complex chutneys that can somehow be savory, tart and sweet all at the same time, cravings for pumpkin laced with cinnamon, nutmeg and clove – you get my drift.  When I got a call from an old friend wanting to go to lunch, I had just the thing in mind.  Paradise Bakery and Cafe features a sandwich that I experienced for the first time last Fall and fell in love with.  I only had it a couple of times and I was in serious crave mode, so off we went.

Looks tasty, eh? The Turkey Cranberry is a wonderful sandwich comprised of roasted turkey slices, fresh cranberry sauce, lettuce, tomato and mayo all piled high on their homemade molasses bread.  Y.U.M.  I normally don’t edit my menu selections but I am a bit of a sauce snob and not a fan of a glob of mayo on my sandwich, especially one that is already dripping in delicious, tangy cranberry sauce.  So I forego the mayo and as usual, you edit a menu item and bam, it throws the cooks for a loop.  My sandwich comes out sans mayo, as requested, but also sans tomato and lettuce.  “No big deal,” I think to myself.  The lunch crowd is fierce in this place so I didn’t make a fuss.  Besides, the main components were there.  That’s when something odd looking caught my eye and I noticed there was a huge scoop of stuffing (read: aka “dressing” depending on who you are) smashed in between the two pieces of beautiful bread! 

Consistency people, consistency!  This was way out of left field.  There is nothing on their menu that even has stuffing on it, so I was really wondering what was up with that.  Like the guy had some left over Stove Top from his lunch that day and decided to jazz up my sandwich.  I simply scooted the mushy pile of stuffing off and ate what was left of the sandwich but I have to tell you, it is totally ruined for me now.  What was a perfect combination of Fall flavors in one location turned out to be a disaster in another.  I suppose that GM who trained me knew his stuff after all.