Friday, October 31, 2014

Perfectly Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

HalloWeekenend has arrived and they are calling for snow in the valley! There is no better fall treat than roasted pumpkin seeds and a cold Sam Adams Octoberfest, so this year we decided to perfect our pumpkin seed roasting technique.
For inspiration, I looked online and visited a few of my favorite blogs (Simply Recipes and Oh She Glows) who start by boiling clean seeds in salt water. We like really crunchy seeds, and this technique promised to deliver. It's quick, easy, and DELICIOUS. Since we were left with two pumpkins and a baby on our hands, we took full advantage and got a yearbook worthy picture, the kind that would be super embarrassing a few years down the road! 
On a side note, I followed these instructions and made the best grilled cheese sandwich today. What did I do differently this time? I grated the cheese, used a cast iron skillet and melted the butter in the skillet before adding the bread. Definitely worth the extra few minutes for the end result. If you're a little lazy, Amy's Organic chunky tomato bisque is a longtime favorite of mine. 

Perfectly Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
adapted from Simply Recipes
  1. Clean seeds using water and colander.
  2. Boil seeds for 10 minutes in salt water (I used 1 tsp salt and 4 cups water for 1 cup of seeds)
  3. Drain the seeds and pat dry with a paper towel
  4. In a large bowl or roasting pan, add olive oil and desired seasonings. Then spread in thin layer on roasting pan. (I used Tony Chachere's)
  5. Bake at 325 for 10 minutes, then stir and bake for additional 8-10 minutes. Taste a few seeds, depending on the size you may need to roast for a few more minutes.
  6. Enjoy with a delicious cold October beer! 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Five-Chip Cookies...and a BABY!

We welcomed little Charlie to our family on the 13th of October, and the last two weeks have come and gone in the blink of an eye. Josh and I felt like we were ready for a family and had always planned on it, but didn't realize just how ready we were until we held our 7 pound 5 ounce baby for the first time. I always knew Josh was meant to be a father, and I fell in love with him all over again seeing him hold and snuggle our boy.  
I didn't realize how HARD it was to have a newborn in the house, and I have a whole new respect for all the moms out there. It's one thing to read the baby books and conceptualize life with a newborn, and another to live it in real time. It's a 24/7 job, and most days just taking a shower and putting on a little makeup feels like a small victory. I also didn't realize how much joy a baby would bring to our lives. It's exhausted bliss. 
We are all doing great, our pediatrician described Charlie as "perfect" on our last visit and Josh and I are adjusting to the erratic sleep that comes with a newborn. I'm taking my own advice to focus on what really matters, and up until today the blog has been far from my mind. 
Last night Josh was telling me about a five-chip cookie he had years ago while hunting in Massachusetts, and it was served crumbled over vanilla bean ice cream drizzled with maple syrup. Since I haven't made a new cookie in awhile, I found this recipe and spent my "me hours" in the kitchen today baking these delicious treats. The combination of peanut butter and oats in the cookie along with all the chips is divine. 

Five-Chip Cookies
from Taste of Home magazine
Yield: 4 1/2 dozen

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup old fashioned oats
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup EACH milk chocolate chips, semisweet chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, white chocolate chips and butterscotch cups

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl cream the butter, peanut butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.

Combine flour, oats, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in chips. 

Drop rounded tablespoons two inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cook before removing to wire racks. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

exchange Busy for Meaningful

As I was reading my book yesterday (the 7 habits) one sentence really stood out to me. 

It is possible for people to be busy - very busy - without being very effective. 

I'm not sure why we glorify busy in this country, as if staying constantly "busy" was a noble feat that we should all strive for. Have you heard the phrase "busy is the new happy"? I'm not buying it. Often, I think we stay busy doing things that don't really matter.  I love this print below from Emily Ley so much that I framed it over my desk. 
My goal this week (while waiting and waiting for baby Charlie) was to spend my time effectively, doing things that matter. What did I do? I made dinner for my husband and we ate at the table and talked during dinner (no phones allowed!). I read a chapter of the 7 habits every morning. I organized my office and craft closet. I had an afternoon coffee date with an amazing friend. I talked to my brother on the phone for awhile. I read up on infant portrait photography and dug out my tripod. 

Honestly, it's not that I did that much, I was by no means "busy", but I felt like I spent my time doing the things that mattered. Once you realize what is truly important to you, it becomes clear what activities are aligned with your priorities. If you value your friendships, plan coffee dates and girls nights. If you value your spouse, plan a weekly date night. If you value spending time outdoors, go for a hike or a bike ride.  Just decide what you value, and the rest becomes clear.  

Monday, October 6, 2014

Virtual Book Club

One of the best feelings is curling up on the couch under a soft blanket, with a mug of steaming chai tea and your favorite soft sheepskin house shoes, while its 38 degrees outside, listening to your boxers snore, and propping your kindle up on your 40 week pregnant belly to dive into a new novel! 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Skinny Chicken Parmesan

If I could only visit one blog every day, it would be Skinnytaste. While I love cooking recipes from Ina Garten and my family cookbook, I try to balance those with healthy recipes that I make for us most of the time.  When we splurge, we take off the brakes, but the truth is that we feel better when we eat more vegetables and lean proteins and less carbs and ice cream. AHEM. Says the 40 week hormonal pregnant lady. 
And then this BEAUTIFUL cookbook arrives at my doorstep. That's right, Gina of Skinnytaste has published a cookbook and the recipes and photographs are glorious! Tonight I made her Skinny Chicken Parmesan over spaghetti squash with my favorite sauteed kale with garlic. I already have three more recipes bookmarked! 
Skinny Chicken Parmesan 
from Skinnytaste cookbook
serves 6

Cooking spray or oil mister
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (8 ounces each), fat trimmed
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup seasoned whole wheat bread crumbs
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons melted unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups marinara sauce (homemade or store-bought)
9 tablespoons part-skim mozzarelle cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly spray a large baking sheet with oil.

Slice the chicken breasts in half horizontally to make 6 cutlets. Season both sides with salt.

In a shallow bowl, combine the bread crumbs and Parmesan. In a small bowl, combine the butter and olive oil. Brush the butter oil on both sides of the chicken, dredge the chicken in the bread crumb mixture, and put the chicken on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly spray oil on top of the chicken.

Bake until golden on the bottom, about 20 minutes. Turn the chicken over and bake until the center is cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes. 

Meanwhile, in a large, deep covered skillet, cook the marinara sauce until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes.

Place the baked chicken in the skillet and top each piece with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the mozzarella. Cover the pan and cook until the cheese melts, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve hot.

*I served my chicken over spaghetti squash*