Friday, October 31, 2008

More Pumpkin Seeds

Happy Pumpkins Make Yummy Seeds

For something a little different, try sweet flavored pumpkin seeds. I used ground vanilla powder (a new product I just bought). But if you don't have it on hand you could use cinnamon which works just as well.

Sweet Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds from medium pumpkin, around 1 cup
Canola oil spray
1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar, or more, to taste
1 teaspoon ground vanilla powder or cinnamon

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with oil. Add the seeds to the baking sheet and spray lightly with oil. Sprinkle with salt, sugar and vanilla powder or cinnamon.

Cook for 15 minutes, stir and reduce the heat to 300 degrees. Cook for an additional 30 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.

Happy Halloween!

YUM!!! Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Recipe - go here

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies AND Bars

The Reason For the Season!

Every Fall I think we all go a little pumpkin crazy. And why not? It is delicious and healthy for you too. Pumpkin is a member of the winter squash family and it is known to be an excellent source of essential vitamins and nutrients. For starters it contains copious amounts of vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene). It is also a very good source of vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber and manganese. And just to mention a few more; it's a good source of folate, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B1, copper, vitamin B6, niacin-vitamin B3 and pantothenic acid. For more information on the health benefits visit The World's Healthiest Foods.

It is also very versatile. It can be used in both savory and sweet recipes. IT'S ALL GOOD! I decided to go with the sweet. This recipe is enough for a batch of cookies and bars. I made both. You could make one or the other but I liked the variation. I took the cookies to work to share and ate most of the bars myself for a nighttime snack!

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies AND Bars
by Mixed Salad Annie

2 cups AP flour
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 cups old fashioned oats
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds (optional)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup tub margarine
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup, plus 2 teaspoons canola oil
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar (you could increase this up to 1 cup if you want them sweeter)
3 tablespoons molasses
1 egg
1 egg white
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (16 ounce) can pumpkin
1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts
1 cup chocolate chips, white chocolate chips or butterscotch chips or a combination
1 cup raisins

Line a 13 x 9 inch baking pan and two cookie sheets with parchment or spray with cooking spray. Cream together butter and sugars, until light and fluffy.
Combine flour, oats, ground flax seeds, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and salt; set aside.
Add egg, egg white and vanilla; mix well.
Alternately add dry ingredients and pumpkin, mixing well between each addition. Add nuts and mix to combine.

Divide batter and place half in a separate large bowl. Stir chips in one bowl and raisins in the other.

Fill the 13 x 9 inch baking pan with the raisin batter and smooth to even it out. Set aside.

For each cookie, drop a heaping tablespoon of cookie dough onto the cookie sheet leaving an inch between each cookie.

For cookies bake at 350 degrees F for 9-12 minutes; check at 9 minutes (it's better to under bake than over bake or they will be dry).
For bars bake at 350 degrees F for 30-40 minutes or until toothpick comes out with a few crumbs on it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Braised Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage

Simple and Sweet!

Sometimes I just like to eat simply and cook simply. Just a few ingredients and an easy recipe is perfect for dinner after a busy day. I don't know about you, but I really don't feel like cooking anything too complicated when I get home from work. But I do like to sit down to a hearty and healthy meal. It just makes you feel better after a hectic and stressful day. This recipe was inspired by Rachel Ray. It is a great technique of braising using only 6 ingredients. That I can handle!

Braised Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage

Adapted from Rachel Ray

1 pound fresh chicken sausage
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 large leek, sliced and washed
1/4 cup dry white wine

Put all ingredients in a medium/large high sided saute pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook until broth has evaporated and a glaze has formed. Turn sausages after 10 minutes and continue cooking. Remove sausage and leeks and place in a serving dish; cover with foil. Add 1/4 cup dry white wine to the pan, scrap up browned bits and cook for about 3-5 minutes until reduced. Pour over sausage and leeks and serve.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pistachio Meringue Cookies

The Easiest Cookie I Have Ever Made!

With only 4 to 5 ingredients, how can you go wrong? Lately my inspiration for cooking has been do to having something that needed to be used before it expired. Not the most creative way to start a recipe but it seems to be working. In this case it was PISTACHIOS.

If you are a pistachio lover as I am, you're probably thinking that your bag of pistachios would never last in the house that long to even get close to an expiration date. Mine normally would'nt either, but I bought 2 large bags a few months ago and threw one of them in the back of a cabinet and forgot about it. It was like I hit the lottery when I happened upon it. So I started thinking of all the possibilities of what to do with this treasure as I pain stakingly shelled each beautiful green nut. After two broken nails and bits of shell under the others, I decided on cookies. Maybe a meringue for a change. So I started looking on line for inspiration and found this amazing recipe. Apparently it is of Syrian Jewish origin. I got the recipe from Off The Broiler who in turn found it in a 2004 article on

Whether you are Jewish or not, I am not, you will love these cookies! I did make a few alterations to the original recipe which only had 3 ingredients. I added almond extract and Nutella hazelnut spread. So I guess in my case they are Jewish/Italian Cookies! LOL...
Pistachio Meringue Cookies
1 1/2 cups shelled Pistachio nuts
2 large egg whites
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Nutella hazel nut spread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place the pistachios in a food processor and blend until finely ground. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed with an electric hand-held mixer, until peaks start to form. Slowly add sugar to the egg whites and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Add almond extract and continue beating for about 30 seconds. Add the ground pistachios and fold in with a spatula or wooden spoon, until fully incorporated.

With a cookie scoop or tablespoon, place the pistachio dough on a greased baking sheet (or line with parchment paper), leaving 1 inch between each cookie. Bake until lightly golden around the edges, about 13 to 15 minutes. Cool 30 minutes before removing from the sheet or cookies may break.

Now the fun part, spread some Nutella on the tops of some of the cookies and top with a pistachio nut. Or, spread Nutella on the bottom of two cookies and press together to form pistachio meringue nutella sandwich. Enjoy. I know I did!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Eggplant and Tomato Tart

Beautiful, Delicious but...
Slightly Flawed

This tart was inspired by a recipe from Cooking Light. First I have to say, the topping was phenomenal. The flavors were just fantastic! All of the fresh veggies and herbs were complimented by the flavorful cheeses. It was a like a party where everyone got along, right in your mouth.

In the CL recipe a cracker-like crust was the base for the tart. It didn't seem too complicated, actually it was very easy to make, but I thought I would be different and make a fillo crust since I had some in the freezer.

BIG MISTAKE. Of course the outer edges look golden and beautiful, but the underneath was soft and soggy. I should have known better. I mean it was edible, but I was disappointed that you couldn't pick up a piece and take a bite like a pizza. :( So If you want to make this recipe, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world to use a fillo crust, but if you're like me and prefer a crunchy crust, use one of your own tried and true crust recipes.

Eggplant and Tomato Tart


16 - 20 sheets of fillo
Butter flavored cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.
Cut a half circle through 16-20 sheets of fillo, 1" larger than the tart pan. Overlap the 1/2 circle sheets in the center to form a full circle to fit the pan (the fillo circle should be large enough to go completely up the sides of the pan), spraying each layer with cooking spray as you go along.

Bake empty tart shell for about 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside to cool.


1 large or 2 medium eggplants (about 1 lb), cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
3/4 teaspoon sea salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint
2 garden tomatoes, thinly sliced (about 6 ounces)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded scamorza or mozzarella cheese, divided
2 tablespoons grated fresh pecorino Romano cheese
Butter flavored cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375°.
Arrange eggplant on several layers of paper towels. Sprinkle eggplant with 1/2 teaspoon salt; let stand 15 minutes. Pat dry with paper towels; brush eggplant with 1/2 teaspoon oil. Arrange eggplant in a single layer on 2 baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes. Stack eggplant slices on a plate; cover with plastic wrap. Let eggplant stand to steam while preparing next ingredients.

Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-low heat. Add garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt, basil, oregano, parsley, and mint. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons scamorza on bottom of baked crust. Layer eggplant and tomatoes in crust, sprinkling evenly with garlic-herb mixture; sprinkle with remaining scamorza and Romano cheese. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes or until cheese melts. Cut into 4 large wedges.