Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin Seeds

Because I hate wasting anything (especially food), I made sure to make something out of the seeds from the pumpkin I used for this bread. 

Truth be told, I never paid much attention to pumpkin seeds because they are common "snacks" in the Philippines - cheap, salty, and readily available. But here, I only see them during the Fall season, and they come in a myriad of flavors and spices! 

I chose to make sweet instead of salty - I have had too many salty pumpkin seeds in my youth! :-) It was delicious - especially when they are still warm from the oven!

By the way, I never knew that the white hull of pumpkin seeds can be eaten. We usually just eat the green part (called pepitas). But yes, apparently they are edible. You might choke a bit when you eat it, but it'll grow on you.

I didn't put any measurements in this recipe - just use as much or as little as you prefer!

What you need:

pumpkin seeds
olive oil

What to do:

Preheat oven to 300°F.

Wash pumpkin seeds and remove any stringy pulps that are attached.

Drizzle a small amount of olive oil on a baking sheet. Spread the seeds in a single layer on the oiled baking sheet and roast for about 30 minutes to dry them out.

Remove from the oven, toss the seeds with a little bit of olive oil, cinnamon and sugar. Return to the oven and bake until crisp and golden, about 20 more minutes.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

1. Pumpkin seeds are chock-full of minerals, protein and fiber! More reason to eat them!
2. Try Italian spices - instead of cinnamon and sugar, toss with grated parmesan and dried oregano.
3. Did you know that all pumpkin seeds are edible? Yes, including the ones from your jack-o-lanterns.


Thanksgiving 2012

For our Thanksgiving bulletin board, I created a turkey (yes, I made that turkey from scratch so please pardon the skewed measurements) and had the kids do "something" with the turkey feathers.

I had them write things they are thankful for on a piece of colored construction paper that would later on become the feathers.

We enjoyed reading their answers, as some are quite amusing (no surprise here, they are Kindergarteners) - thankful for their toys, their pets, one even said he is thankful for the holidays. 

Of course, most are thankful for their parents, their families and friends, their school, their health, and all those wonderful answers. Several said they are thankful to God for making everything and for loving us, but one said "I am thankful that Jesus died on the cross for our sins."

Such a poignant thought for a young girl, one that evoked emotions and pride, knowing that our works (as teachers) weren't for naught, and our words didn't fall on deaf ears. It kind of reminded me of the Parable of the Sower (Luke 8:4-15). I went home happier than usual that day. :-)

Anyway, lately some moms in our class have been bringing in adorable goodies (thanks to Pinterest!) to the delight of the kids. Here are some:

Oreo Turkey

Cute Teepee Cones! (Pardon the paper clip on the background haha)

And of course, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I would like to say that I am thankful to a lot of people (you know who y'all are), for the impact you have in my life and for all that you do. 

Thank you to my readers, my commenters, my followers, and those people that continually read all these things that I write;

And to echo my student - thank you Jesus for dying on the cross for us and redeeming us. There is truly no greater love.


Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

I finally found time to whip up something from the pumpkin puree I made several days ago. This was a special treat for my class, and they enjoyed every bite of this bread that I baked for them. But of course, who wouldn't? With this much chocolate, it was a sure fire hit!

Oh, and if you scroll down to the bottom of this post, you'd see a cute surprise!

What you need:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups chocolate chip
1 cup sugar
1 cup pureed pumpkin
3/4 cups canola oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Mix well. 

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, pureed pumpkin and oil using low setting. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until moistened. Slowly fold in the chocolate chips in the batter.

Pour batter into a greased 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pan. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for about 10 minutes, then remove from pan to cooling racks.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

1. If you don't want too much chocolate chips, reduce the amount to 3/4 cups.
2. Too oily for you? Use half oil and half apple sauce.
3. To prevent the chocolate chips from sinking to the bottom, toss them in flour before folding into the batter.
4. Add half a teaspoon of vanilla for enhanced flavor.
5. You can also use canned pumpkins for this recipe.

By the way, I want to share with you a sample of this cute "Thanksgiving Hand Print" trivet we made in class. We used acrylic paint and floor tiles. What makes it so special is that the print you see is really the hand print of the child. Such a precious keepsake! I am truly blessed to be teaching in Kindergarten. It is a very special and wonderful time. :-)

From this....                                  to this!
Click for larger image


Pumpkin Puree

Last week, we used several pumpkins in the classroom as teaching aids. We talked about them, measured them, weighed them, and did all the other fun things that Kindergarteners do. The "funnest" one was when the kids guessed how many seeds were in our big pumpkin. The answers ranged from 1 (no kidding!) to 2 million. 

So since we were so eager to know who won the guessing game, we decided to count the pumpkin seeds. We gave each kid several seeds on a plate to count. Then we added them all up. Needless to say, nobody won. And because the range was so wide, the closest  number was about 300 off. But hey,  they had so much fun and learned some big numbers. That's what counts (no pun intended).

I took one of the small pumpkins home to bake something for the kids. But first, I had to puree the pumpkin! I combined two of my favorite blogs' pumpkin pureeing methods - Peachy's and Ree's. :-)

What you need:

1 pie pumpkin
about a cup of water

What to do:

Preheat oven to 350°F. 

Wash the pumpkin and dry. Cut the top off, remove the seeds, then slice the pumpkin into smaller pieces. Don't throw the seeds away - we will turn them into a yummy snack later!

Place the sliced pumpkin pieces in an oven-safe pan. Pour water (at least enough to cover the bottom of the pan) and bake in the pre-heated oven for about 45 minutes, or until pumpkins are fork tender. 

Yes, the holes are where I poked them!

Remove the skins by gently peeling off with a knife. If you baked it correctly, the skin would easily peel off.

What a "peel"-ing!
Place peeled pieces in a blender or food processor. Pulse several times until pumpkin is smooth. Transfer to an air-tight container. Voila! Home-made pumpkin puree!

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

1. You can also bake it without water - just keep an eye on it as it might burn!
2. When pulsing in a food pro, add a teaspoon or two of water if it seems dry.
3. Pureed pumpkins would last for several months in the freezer!

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We love it a bit burned!

This is one side dish that has become a staple in my house. Tostones is traditionally unripe plantains that are sliced thin and fried. I have seen so many ways to prepare this - the most popular is frying it twice and using a tostonera, but being the weird unique family that we are, we enjoy it a different way - instead of unripe, we actually enjoy it VERY ripe. Sort of like "black plantain" ripe.

So yes, I buy the blackest plantains I can find, and actually let them sit on the counter for a few more days before I use them. The reason is that ripe plantains (or bananas, for that matter) have more sugar content, making for a yummier treat. 

This dish was an "accidental" one, as it was originally a failed attempt to make plantain chips, the salty ones that you eat with pico de gallo. After realizing that we like ripe ones better, we switched and never looked back. ;-)

What you need:

very ripe plantains
Canola oil for frying

What to do:

Slice plantains into coins, about a quarter of an inch thick. Place on top of parchment or wax paper, then cover with another piece of parchment/wax. Gently pound with a flat item (in my case, the sides of my meat tenderizer!) until slightly flat. Continue doing so until you have used up all your plantains.

Meanwhile, heat a pan with canola oil over medium heat. Fry flattened plantains for about a minute, then turn over to fry the other side. Drain on a rack and enjoy!

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

1. Do not pound too hard - or else you're gonna have mush! Just enough for the plantain to be flattened a bit.
2. You can also place the sliced plantains inside a resealable bag when pounding. Easier cleanup!
3. Oil must be enough to cover at least half the surface of the plantains. If you have a deep fryer, that is better!
4. Let fried plantains sit for about 2 minutes to cool and harden a bit.

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