Happy Halloween!

Happy All Hallows Eve! Did you carve pumpkins? Are you dressing up or passing out candy? I decided to carve pumpkins for the sole purpose of roasting the seeds. Yum!

Jack-o'-lantern

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper
Garlic powder
Red pepper flakes
Chopped onion

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Rinse the pumpkin seeds separating as much of the pulp as possible. Spread out on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Place in the oven at 300* for about 10 minutes to dry out the seeds.

Remove from the oven, drizzle olive oil over the seeds and combine with seasonings to evenly coat. Increase temperature to 350*. Continue to roast in the oven for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the seeds have turned golden brown.

Trick-or-Treat! Happy Halloween

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

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Fall Baked Stuffed Squash

The grocery is full of beautiful pumpkins, squash and gourds. Aside from using them for decor, they’re wonderful to cook with and have so much flavor! One of my favorite fall time meals is this stuffed squash. Before hopping to it, I find that for this meal’s prep, Halloween pumpkin carving tools are essential. Usually during the post-Halloween sales, I (my bargain hunter Dad) search for kits that are on mark-down just for their extreme aid in hallowing out, cutting, splitting and cubing squash or gourds.

This is a great make ahead meal. I decided to prep everything the night before to bake off the next day for a gal pal lunch.

Give this recipe a whirl! It’s rather dietetic (a low carb yet robust meal) and for those looking for ideas, it’s also gluten-free. With very few ingredients, this is packed with flavor and great for a cool fall evening.

Baked Stuffed Acorn Squash

2-3 Acorn squash
1 Pound extra lean ground beef
1 Sweet onion
1 Red bell pepper
2 Cloves garlic
2 TB butter
2 TB brown sugar
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper
Red pepper flakes (if desired)

With carving tools and a good grip, half each acorn squash lengthwise. Lightly season the insides with salt and pepper. Place face down on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 350* for 20 minutes. Watch the squash closely. You’ll want them to be just fork tender. Set aside.

Baked Stuffed Acorn Squash

In a large skillet, heat just enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Sauté diced onion and bell pepper with salt and pepper until translucent. Add the ground beef, garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook thoroughly until meat is completely cooked through. If not using extra lean ground beef, drain any remaining grease.

Place a small pat of butter and 1 1/2 tsp brown sugar in the bottom of each squash. Fill the squash with the meat mixture baking at 350* for 30 minutes or until the tops have browned.

Let stand and serve. Be sure to enjoy all the squash and beef with forkful! Does this meal have the potential to make it on your table to fill up your trick-or-treaters before heading out?

Baked Stuffed Acorn Squash

Broccoli, White Bean & Portobello Side

The group was able to reconvene again for another Family Dinner! Of all dinners this is one where the compliments were supreme. Maybe everyone was hungry? Or, maybe I am really that wonderful a cook?

In addition to a basic tossed salad and pork tenderloin, I decided to come up with some kind of a side. Not wanting to commit to one entirely of starch, I decided that some white cannelleni beans (also known as “great northern beans”) would help to pump up the volume in vegetables. Definitely received some oohs and aahs over this one!

Broccoli, White Bean & Portobello Side

1 Large Vidalia onion
3 Cups broccoli florets
2 Cups mini bella mushrooms
1 Can drained & rinsed cannelleni beans

3 TB olive oil
1 TB red pepper flakes
1/4 Cup basil pesto
Salt & pepper to taste

Slice onion into thin rounds. Cover with olive oil and seasonings placing into a saucepan over medium heat. Cook onions until softened and reduce heat to a simmer. Allow the onions to caramelize over low heat for about 20-30 minutes.

In a separate pan, bring water to a boil to blanch the broccoli. After the broccoli is just barely fork tender, drain and cool in an ice water bath.

Once onions have reached a golden brown color, toss in mushrooms, broccoli, beans and basil pesto. Serve immediately. Voila!

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An “Un-Official” Eggplant Parmesan

With this week’s family dinner, I felt inspired to create a hearty vegetable dish alongside the meal’s protein.  Eggplant stood out as I cruised the aisles of Costco (you’ll soon learn about my Costco addiction).

I don’t claim to be well versed in Italian cooking, however, eggplant parmesan seemed to fit the bill for this meal.  After browsing the standard formulas online, I felt confident enough to create my own dish.  Give it a try and I can guarantee a crowd-pleasing success!

/A/MY’s Un-Official Eggplant Parmesan 

  • 4 baby eggplant
  • 2 TB salt
  • 2 TB pepper
  • 2 TB dehydrated onion
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 TB chili infused olive oil
  • 3 TB olive oil
  • 4 C panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 C baby spinach
  • 1 Jar pasta sauce
  • 1 C parmesan
  • 1 C grated mozzarella

Preheat oven to 425゜(375゜ for convection)

Slice eggplant into 1/4 inch rounds and place into mixing bowl.  Mix together with salt, pepper, onion, garlic and olive oils.  Dredge each seasoned eggplant round in panko breadcrumbs to coat.  Line a cookie sheet with a cooling rack.  As each round is dipped through the breadcumbs place onto the rack.

Oven-Fried Eggplant

Oven-Fried Eggplant

Bake the seasoned and breaded eggplant slices for 20-30 minutes.  Let stand.

Cover the bottom of a 9×13 glass baking dish with 1/3 C of store-bought pasta sauce.  Begin the laying process by placing 1 C of fresh baby spinach atop sauce.  Follow with half of the oven fried eggplant.  Top with 1/2 C of both parmesan and mozzarella.  Repeat with sauce, spinach, eggplant and cheese.  Finish with the remaining 1/3 C of sauce.

Eggplant & Spinach Parmesan

Eggplant & Spinach Parmesan

Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Bon appétit!