Super Simple Pumpkin Seed Solution, Cook Them!

If you like to cook everything you can like I do, here’s a simple recipe to cook your pumpkin seeds. Whenever we carve pumpkins, we take a few minutes and put all the seeds aside. These are very tasty and make a nice snack.

Here’s the ingredient list:

-1/2 stick of butter

-Cajun Seasoning

-Pumpkin seeds

 

Start out by pre-heating the oven to 400 degrees

Put all of the seeds on a baking pan and be sure to foil line it.

Melt the butter and pour it on top of the seeds. Once that is on, sprinkle cajun seasoning over the seeds

Bake the seeds for10 minutes then stir the seeds, add a little more cajun season (you want to get both sides if you can) then cook them 8 more minutes.

That’s it! They are a very tasty treat with a little kick. The pilot gives these an 8.75 on the 1-10 scale. Enjoy!

-Morgan

Homemade Pumpkin, Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip Cookies. A Fall Cooking Favorite Recipe!

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year. It seems like much more “home cooking” begins and I love to cook! This recipe has become a staple around the time the fall pumpkins come out and the pilot absolutely loves them. The ingredient list is mostly in the cabinet already. You don’t have to cook a fresh pumpkin to make this recipe, but I highly recommend it. Here’s the ingredient list:

1 & 1/2 cups of butter

2 cups of packed brown sugar

1 cup sugar

2 cups of steamed pumpkin (if you do not want to cook your own use 1 can of solid packed pumpkin)

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 cups of all-purpose flour

2 cups of quick-cooking oats

2 teaspoons of baking soda

2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon of salt

2 cups of semisweet chocolate chips

 

If you are going to steam your own pumpkin, start with that. Cooking pumpkins are usually quite a bit smaller than carving pumpkins. First, cut open the top and take the seeds out (just like you do a Halloween pumpkin). Then peel the outside of it with a potato peeler. It’s not very hard to do. Once it is peeled, steam the pumpkin for about an hour an a half (note, you are not boiling it, but steaming it). It will slightly change to a darker color. After it has cooked, put the pumpkin into a blender and blend away. That’s it!

Now you can preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix the butter and sugars together.

In the mixer, Combine the pumpkin, egg, and vanilla.

Then add the flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add the butter-sugar mixture to the mix, slowly.

 

After it is well mixed stir in the chocolate chips.

 

I like my cookies to be fluffy so I like to bake the cookies on an ungreased cooking matte. Bake them 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. These are very homemade and are wonderful to eat. The pilot gives these a 9.5 on the 1-10 scale. Enjoy!

 

 

 

We brought a little beach back; A blue crab and gulf shrimp boil

Four blue crabs and 2 pounds of jumbo shrimp made the adventure home with us from Galveston, Texas. When preparing for a boil, you always want to make sure that the crabs are still alive when you cook them. If they die, they release a toxin that can make you sick (it makes me really sick but actually does not bother the pilot at all). We brought the crabs that we bought at Katie’s Seafood home in a brown paper bag, they suffocate in plastic, and we kept them from direct contact with the ice…if they get to cold they will also die.

What is needed:

2 blue crabs per person

1/2 pound of shrimp per person. Fresh shrimp is much better!

Corn, cut in 1/2

Potatoes

Boil Seasoning (I prefer the powder to the liquid)

Here’s how to do it in the story format:

We wanted to make sure that they were still fresh when we ate them, so we had them for dinner the same night we bought them. Even though I cough and cough when we boil (because the spices are so potent!) on the stove, it was just for the two of us so we did not think we needed to get the propane out and setup the outside boiling pot. As a compromise, I cleaned the crabs and shrimp and the pilot took care of the actual cooking. I rinsed the shrimp but we cooked them in the shell. The shrimp get really rubbery if you shell them before you boil them (according to the shows I like to watch on the cooking channel, there is also a lot of flavor in the head and shell so it is best to boil them whole)…We bought them headless though. These were the jumbo size and they were huge.

I also rinsed the crabs; I used cold water to get the crabs spunky again just to make sure they were still healthy. As soon as the cold water hits them after being on ice, they come back to “life” rather quickly.

Put enough water in the pot to cover all of the shrimp, crab and vegetables along with as much shrimp boil as you like. The more you add the hotter the corn and potatoes are going to make your lips. The pilot and I love the Louisiana Brand Crab Boil. Dumping in the seasoning really helps give the shrimp and crabs a lot of flavor and we like things spicy. The pilot says part of the spicyness is the soak after they boil. This is where you turn off the heat and let them sit. For a milder flavor, pull them out immediately. For hotter flavor, let them sit for 10 minutes after turning off the heat.

There are two methods for cooking crabs. You can boil the water and then put the crabs in or put the crabs in and then bring the water to a boil. I recommend putting the crabs in the water first and then bringing the water to a boil.  When you drop them in the boiling water they tend to expel a white stingy substance and I have a tendency to splash myself and starting with water that is not boiling prevents me from burning myself.

We put the crabs in first, and brought the water to a boil, once it is boiling add the shrimp and potatoes and corn. To make sure that the potatoes and corn can get finished in the few minutes it takes to boil the shrimp I usually put them all in a potato bag in the microwave for 3 minutes before I put them in the water.

We added corn and potatoes (from HEB, our local grocery store) to the boil when we added the shrimp and let them boil for a few minutes, the shrimp will turn bright red when they are ready.

When the shrimp are ready, cut off the fire (or turn off the heat if you are making them inside) and add Okra if you like Okra. We have a garden full of tokra and I love it so we tend to put it in everything…Then let everything sit in the water and rest. Like I mentioned, The longer you let everything sit in the water the spicier they get. We usually let ours sit for about 10 minutes before we take them out. The Okra gets really HOT.

Strain out the water and eat. I usually have to add a little fruit to the meal to help my lips quit burning but it is ready to eat…and not boiling hot. A nice addition is some cocktail sauce to dip the shrimp in. The pilot likes to dip his potatoes in the cocktail sauce as well.

We have also been known to add a few other fun things to the boil:

Whole Small Onions, Mushrooms and Artichokes.

All three of them soak up a lot of water, and spice, so just be careful with how much seasoning you put in and how long you rest your boil.

I love, love, love fresh seafood. I really love a fresh seafood boil. This rates a high 9 for me.The fresh seafood was WONDERFUL. Enjoy the recipe!

-Morgan

 

Just Peachy Peach Pie Recipe

On our recent trip to Fredericksburg, Texas, the pilot bought me two kinds of peaches. One type were larger and easy to peel and eat. We ate all of those as they were VERY good. The other batch of peaches were much smaller. One of the fruit stands we went to had a 1/2 bushel of small peaches(very affordable) so we decided to cook with them.

I love peaches and ate as many of them as I could before they started getting soft. The larger peaches really smelled like peaches, they were ripe and ready to eat. The half bushel on the other hand, were a little less ripe which gave us a few extra days. When I first smelled them, there wasn’t much fruit smell to them. When I put them down, the lady at the fruit stand tossed me one and said to try it. Much to my surprise, they were full of flavor. Yum.

There are two parts to this recipe. The first part is a homemade crust and the second part is the filling. Go ahead and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Here’s how to make the crust.

 

Crust Ingredients:

1 & 1/3 cup of flour

1/2 teaspoon on Salt

1/2 cup of shortening

2 to 3 tablespoons of water

 

Mix the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Use a pastry cutter and cut in the shortening. Sprinkle with the water 1 teaspoon at a time as you stir it with a fork until the dough is a firm ball. Use your hands and squish the dough into a flat circle. Flour your cabinet so that it will not stick and then roll it with a rolling pin to about 1/8″ thick (making sure it stays round). You will then put it in a pie plate. Next is the filling.

 

Filling Ingredients:

1/3 Cup of Flour

1 cup of white sugar

2 cups of washed, peeled and sectioned peaches

(It is easiest if you peel them then cut one wedge slice out, after the first wedge you can just make the second cut against the seed and they will fall into the bowl.)

1/2 stick of butter

 

Mix the  flour and sugar together and then put them over the pealed peaches. Mix the flour, sugar and peaches together in a bowl. I found out why a 1/2 bushel of small peaches was so cheap, it took me an hour to peal and cut enough peaches for one pie. The small ones are worth it though, they tend to taste better.

Make sure all the peaches are well coated with the flour sugar mixture. Then you will dump the filling mixture into the crust.

Mound it up a bit in the center as the peaches will cook down. Cut up the 1/2 stick of butter into little squares, I usually slice them and then cut the slices into fourths. and sprinkle them on top. They will stick together so I usually put them on as I cut them.

As you can see, some of mine still stick together. The pie is ready to go in the oven (325 degrees) for 45 minutes. BEFORE you put it in, set it on a cookie sheet, in case it boils over, so that it wont run all over the oven. After about 25 minutes cover up the crust with either tinfoil or a crust cover (found at your local kitchen store and pictured on the pie below).

Cook for the remaining 20 minutes. Pull it out and let it cool for about 15 minutes before serving if you don’t mind if the filling runs. If you want pretty pieces you will want the pie to cool completely before serving.

With the fresh peaches the pilot gave the pie higher than usual marks. He rated it a 9.5 out of 10. Fresh fruit is really high on our list of good things to eat. Fresh peach pie tops the charts. If you give this recipe a try, post a comment on what you would rate it. I would love to know!

-Morgan

Venison Stuffed Squash Recipe

The garden has FINALLY taken off.  This year I thought I would grow everything from seed but with a late start and the SUPER hot weather it was a disaster. I love the garden, the fresh dirt on my bare feet (even though it drives the pilot crazy when I track it inside on our light colored carpet).  As a little girl my grandpa and I always had a garden together and every time I am out there pulling weeds I think of all the wonderful stories he used to tell me while we worked.

As usual, despite my best efforts, one of the Zucchini squash got away from us! I am sure it must be the pilots fault, I think he hides them from me so that I have no other choice but to make him stuffed squash. My favorite thing to do with an extra large squash is to stuff them with a venison meatloaf stuffing. It can be made with both zucchini or yellow squash depending on which one you prefer. Traditionally I do not make them unless I have large squash because it makes a great stuffing to squash ratio. One of my favorite parts about this recipe is the simplicity of it, yet savory flavor it offers.

Here’s how its done!

Preheat the Oven to 350 degrees.

Ingredients needed:

Squash, 1 Chub pack of Ground Venison (you can substitute ground beef or turkey if you would prefer), 1 large bell pepper (the bells from my garden are small so I use 2 or 3), a small onion, 4-6 mushrooms, 2-3 small potatoes (I use red potatoes but pealed Irish potatoes work as well), 2 cups of bread crumbs, 1 egg, salt, pepper, 1 medium garlic clove, 1 can of tomato paste and 1 can of tomato sauce.

 

Wash the squash and cut it in half long ways. Use a spoon (I like to use a grapefruit spoon) to empty out the seeds, and make room for the stuffing. Although they are a little messy, the gooey seed makes for a great food fight, it sticks nicely. I have learned, however, that I usually get stuck cleaning it up and that tends to take the fun out it.

Remove the large seeds first and discard them. After the seeds are removed hollow out both ends and put what’s left over in a bowl to use for the stuffing. Make sure to leave some of the meat of the squash in the skin (see the picture).

In a saute pan,brown the ground meat and season it with a little salt and pepper. When the meat is browned, drain the fat and set it aside. Next, you will saute the onions, potatoes and bell peppers in a little bit of olive oil or butter. When the onions are almost clear add chopped mushrooms and the squash you scooped out and saute the vegetables together. I would say about 3-4 minutes to tenderize the mushrooms and squash mixture.

Add the vegetables to the meat in a bowl and combine the first cup of bread crumbs, an egg, and half the can of tomato sauce and the tomato paste. The second cup of bread crumbs will only be added if needed to make it thick enough to hold together in the squash.

Mix it all together. If it is too thick, you may have to add a little more tomato sauce to hold it together, if its too thin add some of the bread crumbs. I like it to be fluid, yet not runny.

Stuff the mixture in the squash halves. Although I know it is MUCH more sanitary to use a spoon, I like to mix and stuff with my hands; I feel like a do a much better job of getting it really mixed up.  MAKE SURE TO WASH YOUR HANDS  THOROUGHLY AFTER! I recommend that you use dish washing soap, it does a much better job of getting the sticky raw egg off your hands. Add 1/4 cup of water to the can of tomato sauce, then pour it over the top of the squash in the pan.

Cover with tinfoil and bake on 350 degrees for 30 minutes, then uncover it and bake it for another 30-40 minutes until the squash begins to wrinkle a little. Slice and serve.

The Pilot loves this recipe. We much prefer venison to hamburger bought in the store, it is a whole lot leaner and the more we eat the more often we get to go out to the country to get more. Almost all of this comes from our garden and there are at least a few zucchini squash that I miss when I am picking the garden. This recipe makes perfect use of those larger squash that do not work as well in other recipes. Enjoy! A large squash easily feeds 4 and the pilot gives this meal an 8.5. I like to serve it with a fresh fruit salad and garlic bread.

 

 

 

 

Not your average Fried Frog Legs

The Pilot and I were in the mood for something a little different tonight. With the help of some wonderful frog legs from Quality Seafood, the pilot thought we might find them at HEB, and some inspiration from the pilot’s new favorite show Duck Dynasty we braved making Frog Legs for the first time.

On our 1-10 scale we gave them an 8.

Soak 1 pound of frog legs in 2 cups of  buttermilk…They can be soaked in beer if you prefer…for 20 Minutes.

Remove the Frog Legs from the buttermilk and pat them dry. Season them Cajun Seasoning and a little bit of cracked pepper. (The dryer they are the better the seasoning sticks.

After they are seasoned cover the frog legs in flour.


Then drop them in an olive oil bath, 1/2 and inch in the bottom of the pan and 1/2 a stick of butter. Make sure the Oil is MEDIUM hot.

Pan Fry them until they are lightly browned on each side.

After they are browned add them to a pot of:

Cook: 1 whole small garlic, 1 cup of mushrooms, 3 cups of white wine, and the oil and butter sauce that you have already cooked together.

For 30 minutes on 300 put the pot in the oven and let it simmer. Pull them from their sauce and serve them…we did with mashed potatoes.

 

 

 

 

Co-Piloting in the Kitchen

The Pilot and I really enjoy doing things together. There are a number of traits my pilot possesses that I love, one of which is his expertise in the kitchen. We love to try new recipes and share in the cooking responsibilities (doing the dishes, not so much but I am working on it). Most of the recipes you will see in this blog will be a combined effort delivered to the plate. Jason has brought a lot of wonderful flavors and seasonings to my cooking and I have introduced him to cooking with fresh fruits and vegetables. Most of the time we try a recipe we find in at the check out counter at my favorite place to shop (HEB), and then we make adjustments. I love the Pioneer woman’s cookbooks, she always shows me what the food should look like along the way (instead of just the final product) so this blog will follow the same premise, pictures of the recipe as it comes together. Please let us know what you think of the meals…we would love to add your variations to our recipes as well.

Parmesan and Pecan Crusted Tilapia

The pilot and I decided to use some finely chopped pecans we had bought from the Berdoll Pecan Farm. Bastrop, Texas does not have an airport so we actually took a drive out there today. I am always up for a trip to visit Pearl the giant Squirrel and to pick up a bag of Dark Chocolate Covered Pecans.  On the way back North we ran by HEB and picked up a few additional ingredients.

What you need:

1/2 cup of pecans (either chopped finely or you will need to chop them in a minute)

1/3 cup of Parmesan grated cheese

1/4 cup of chopped fresh parsley

3 tbsp. of lemon juice

1 tbsp. of olive oil

4 fish fillets, about 1 pound total

1 cup of rice

a handful of broccoli tips

1 can of chicken broth

Preparation:

Get the rice cooking to start. We replaced one cup of the water with chicken broth for flavor (don’t forget a pinch of salt in the water). Chop up the broccoli into small “florets”.  When the rice gets down to the last 5 minutes of cooking, drop the broccoli in and let it cook.

For the fish start turning the oven on 375 degrees. Then chop up the parsley and mix that with 1.5 tbsp of lemon juice, the parmesan cheese and olive oil. Set the fish on a baking pan we line the tray with foil and apply a little bit of the olive oil to the top.

 

Lightly sprinkle the finely chopped pecan on both sides. If you can’t buy the finely chopped, do the best you can to get it as fine as you can.

 

Once this is done, sprinkle the cheese/parsley/lemon/olive oil on top.

 

Bake the fish about 15 minutes. Once the rice and fish are done, serve the dish on the bed of rice. Here’s what the final dish came out looking like.

 

We enjoyed the fish. The pilot gave it a 8.5 and I gave it a 9.5. A little bit of spicyness would have been a good addition. Its a pretty simple dish to make and doesn’t have a ton of ingredients. If you make it, give me some feedback on what you think of it!