As I write this, I want to describe the situation that is my life at this very moment.
Today is “meal prep” day. In all honesty, one of the most exciting and fulfilling days in my nerdy little week is meal prep day. Mostly because, it’s my day. Nobody tells me what to cook, or what to wear while cooking. There is no deadline to get things done, no interruptions (usually), and I have sole governing power over the music playlist.
Since I’m a huge supporter of multitasking, this is also my day to get EVERYTHING else on my to-do list done as well. If I close my eyes, I can pick up on the sounds of everything from cheesy mac&cheese bubbling in the oven to the hands-free kneading of dough in the bread machine. I can also hear the dishwasher humming and the washing machine spinning the debris out of a week’s worth of work clothes. The dog is busy chewing away on a deer bone and the cat, despite being told repeatedly that it is not a scratching post, is continuing to ruin the decorative molding of my staircase… Some sounds are more pleasant than others.
I also use this time to regain a little youth with any face mask, eye mask, hand mask, foot mask and body mask I have in my bathroom cabinet. Imagine, as you read this, that I am typing with a thick layer of green clay slathered across my face. I’m also donning a pair of embarrassingly fuzzy, vaseline-streaked sock booties because I believe that strappy sandals or open-toed shoes are all-season accessories. And, it’s acceptable to wear them when there’s four inches of snow on the ground, but not OK when your heels are cracked.
Today also felt like a good day to finally use up the pumpkin seeds from when we carved Jack-O-Lanterns for Halloween. Yes, I am over 30, thank you for asking, but I have never grown out of the Halloween spirit or the need to carve a pumpkin for decorating our porch steps. If anything, years of experience have only helped to hone my craftiness, making it extra fun to try new things like stencils and sculpting tools.
Now that we have animals on our farm, I like to discard the carved pumpkins by giving them to our animals as treats. They really enjoy eating the insides of the pumpkins as well as the seeds. But, I like to save some of the seeds for us to roast as well. This year, I created three batches of roasted pepitas because as much as I love the classic lightly-seasoned variety, I wanted to try something on the sweeter side and something with a little kick.
Please note that I used a whole pepita for this recipe, including the hull/shell/coat/whatever-it’s-called. You can buy pumpkin seeds without this in the supermarket (they will be small and green in color), or you can spend the painstaking hours of removing the outer shell to get to the little green seed inside. I don’t mind the shell, so I leave them as is. The major difference is texture where the outer shell provides a little extra crunch and almost a chewier texture than the shelled version. I don’t think either way is right or wrong. I did learn through the internet that some varieties of pumpkins produce different types of seeds as well. I also learned that there are over 40 varieties of pumpkin, and that I have no idea which of those varieties I am using for today’s recipes. So, that’s helpful…
For this recipe, I wanted something that would satisfy my sweet tooth. Since these seeds come from pumpkins, it seemed only natural that I experiment with pumpkin pie spice. Obviously, you can buy a pre-mixed pumpkin pie spice, but I tend to mix my own with cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. On the first try, I will admit, my mind left me for a moment and I powdered these pepitas with straight spice. The result was not unlike the “Cinnamon Challenge” circa 2012. After a few minutes of coughing and gagging, I discarded that batch and tried again with a decent helping of sugar to keep the ground spices from going airborne.
The result is a sweet, but not overly sweet, snack with a hint of pumpkin pie flavor that will make you dream of all things autumn!
Pumpkin Pie Spiced Pepitas
1 cup pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground ginger
Preheat oven 300F.
Remove seeds from inside a pumpkin and clean thoroughly, discarding any of the orange, stringy pieces of pumpkin. Pour the olive oil into the bowl and stir to thoroughly coat the seeds.
Spread pumpkin seeds onto a cookie sheet.
Bake seeds for 35-40 minutes.
Remove from cookie sheet and place in an airtight container. Coat the hot seeds with melted butter. I like to put the lid on the container and shake the pepitas to evenly coat them.
In a small bowl, mix the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger together. Pour the sugar mixture over the seeds and reapply lid. Shake until the seeds are evenly coated.
Store in an airtight container.