Spicy-Sweet Roasted {Pumpkin Seeds}

To be honest, I’ve never had much success with roasting pumpkin seeds…

Unless, of course, by “roasting” you mean creating a clump of gunk charred beyond all recognition, or some soggy things that get stuck in your teeth and are a little slimy. If that’s the case, I usually nail it.

BUT, this time, my seeds were a resounding success. They tasted awesome, had the perfect *crunch*, a delightful honey-smokiness, and a pretty caramelized color…

Almost as beautiful as the Husband’s “Avenger” pumpkin.

So, grab up those discount-pumpkins, scoop ’em out, and enjoy these awesome little treats! Perfect for get-togethers, on salads, or a before-dinner snack…

Spicy-Sweet Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients

  • Pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 pinch cinnamon
  • 1 pinch cumin
  • 1 pinch cayenne
  • 1 pinch chili powder
  • 1-2 tablespoons honey

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove seeds from pumpkin. Discard membranes and spread seeds on baking sheet. Bake for about 10-15 minutes – this will make them nice and crisp!
  • Remove from oven. Toss seeds with olive oil, honey and spices to taste – don’t be afraid to be liberal with them. The more flavor the better…
  • Return to oven and roast coated seeds until golden, about another 10-15 minutes. Watch very closely to prevent burning, and stir several times during cooking. Let cool, and enjoy! Keep in an airtight container, and much on ’em for over a week.

P.S. The Husband makes a pretty cute Gondolier, no?

…now if I could only get him to STOP singing “‘O Sole Meio”…

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Sweet {Pecan} Turkey Burger with Spicy Yogurt Aioli

I LOVE that show, “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” on the Food Network.

Well, really anything on the Food Network.

But, who doesn’t enjoy see those amazing dishes, and learning about what food gurus think is the BEST of the Best?

It seems like we’ve all had those few dishes that really stick with us: The ones that we dream of as we eat random green leftovers for lunch, or choke down that rubber chicken they serve at conferences and college events…. again. The ones that we crave all the more because they are so unattainable – Nestled in a cozy booth in a restaurant far away, or at your grandmother’s table in another state.

Well, I’m no guru, but this is one of those meals.

I’ve eaten this burger exactly once, about 5 months ago, and I’ve thought of it about 127,000 times since then. So, I decided to do something about it!

Inspired by Barley’s Brewing Company’s Turkey Nut Burger, this sandwich is spicy, sweet, juicy and fresh. The pecans are surprising. The aioli is secretly healthy. Best enjoyed with crispy baked sweet potato fries.

Oh, yes.

{Perfect for a summer dinner, or a “wishing for summer” dinner… like tonight}

The secret is really in the maple syrup, pecans and aioli, so feel free to use your tried and true burger recipe (I based mine off of this one), or even use ground beef, chicken or pork. Those caramelized, sweet pecans are to die for!. The millet, onion and veggies in this version do a great job of keeping things juicy… just be very careful when flipping. The lower fat content can cause the burgers to crumble easily…. but it’s so worth it : )

Sweet Turkey Pecan Burger with Spicy Yogurt Aioli

Serves 6

For the Burger:

  • 1 lb ground turkey (lowest fat content may not hold together as well when formed into patties – try 93%-lean)
  • 1/4 cup cooked millet (you can substitute couscous, quinoa or another grain if you have it on hand)
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 T chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 T chopped fresh basil
  • 1 t oregano
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans

For Grilling:

  • 3 T olive Oil
  • 2 T pure maple syrup

For Spicy Aioli:

Measurements are “to taste” – add a little more spicy or sweet if you’d like!

  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • About 1 T Sriracha Asian Chili Sauce (available at most grocery stores!)
  • About 1 T honey
For Caramelized Onion:
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1T olive oil
  • 2T fig or balsamic vinegar
  • Sprinkle of brown sugar (optional)
For Garnish – Optional:
  • Sliced tomato
  • Spinach
  • Cheese of your choice

Directions:

  • Prepare millet according to directions, or (like I did) use leftovers!
  • Preheat grill to medium-high.
  • Prepare aioli: Mix yogurt, chili sauce and honey to taste, cover and place in refrigerator.
  • Prepare caramelized onions: Place ingredients in pan on medium heat, stir often until crust forms, golden brown, fragrant. Set aside.
  • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add celery; cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add thyme, basil, oregano, salt and pepper; cook until fragrant, about 20 seconds more. Remove from heat.
  • Add millet to the pan, toss, and let cool for 5 minutes.
  • Add onion and grain mixture to the ground turkey and stir until combined; do not overmix. Form the mixture into 6 patties.
  • Mix olive oil and maple syrup. Press crushed pecans onto the top of each patty, and brush with the maple-olive oil mixture.
  • To grill: Oil the grill rack, and grill the burgers for 5 to 6 minutes per side, flipping gently to avoid breaking them. Garnish, and serve immediately!
  • To cook on the stovetop: Coat a large nonstick skillet, preferably cast-iron, with cooking spray and set over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add the patties, reduce heat to medium, and cook for 4 minutes. Turn and cook on the other side for 2 minutes. Cover and continue to cook until lightly browned but still juicy (the juices should run clear, not pink), about 4 minutes more. (An instant-read thermometer inserted in the center should read 165° F.)

Don’t forget those fries…

Enjoy!

What is one of your “Best Thing I Ever Ate” dishes?


{Warm up} Spicy Carnitas Chili

It’s freezing.

As in, the temperature stood at a grand total of 5 degrees yesterday morning as I headed out the door to work. Yuck.

The Husband and I had planned on swimming after work this week, but because of the wet, blustery weather we decided against it.

My feet had already been damp all day long, and the thought of jumping in a pool made me want to die.

So instead, I made chili.

So worth it.

This recipe is based off of my favorite Turkey Chilli recipe from Eat, Live, Run, and was inspired by Alexandria’s Tacos De Puerco – A braised pork belly taco with tomato-ancho sauce, queso fresco and cilantro… that is to die for.

And so, Spicy Carnitas Chili was born… Try it!

Spicy Carnitas Chili

Ingredients:

Makes about 8 servings

(Don’t be intimidated by this long list – it’s easy!)

  • About 2 cups (a little more or less works just as well) of cooked pork loin, cut into bite-sized cubes (I used leftovers that I had roasted with cranberries, rosemary and apples. Great flavor!)
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 large green (or red or orange or yellow…) bell pepper
  • 8 cloves of garlic (yeppers – e.i.g.h.t.)
  • 1-2 Jalapeno peppers, or 1-2 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, seeded and chopped (depends on how HOT you like your chili! The chilies add an amazing depth of flavor, but can heat things up pretty quickly. Watch out!)
  • 2 T chili powder
  • 1T ground cumin
  • 2T brown sugar
  • 1 t oregano
  • 3 T tomato paste
  • 1 1/4 cup red wine
  • 2 large cans of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 regular cans of black beans
  • About 2 cups of corn, fresh or frozen
  • Chopped cilantro, shredded cheese and plain Greek yogurt for garnish

Directions:

  • Chop onion, bell pepper, garlic, and jalapeño pepper (or chilies). Sauté everything in two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over medium/low heat in a large pot/stockpot.
  • After about five minutes, add cooked, cubed pork loin (or add pound of lean ground turkey). Cook until the meat begins to form a crust (or has browned if you are using raw – about 8 mins.). Stir to keep things moving!
  • Add chili powder, cumin, brown sugar, oregano and tomato paste. Cook for one minute, stirring constantly (Don’t worry – the crunchy stuff on the pan is flavor!).
  • Add red wine , stir – this will “deglaze” the pot.
  • Add crushed tomatoes, beans (drained and rinsed), and corn.
  • Give it one last stir, then cover and let simmer for about an hour. Check and stir occasionally.
  • Serve piping hot with a hearty garnish of chopped cilantro, shredded cheese and plain Greek yogurt. A few tortilla chips would be a nice addition as well…

Enjoy!

This soup is thick, and almost has a smoky BBQ flavor that is out of this world. The meat is tender and falls apart – each bite is full of rich, fresh flavors and textures (and, like most soups, it just gets BETTER sitting overnight in the fridge!). Awesome for a group, perfect for a snowed-in weekend, and just different enough to keep your taste buds entertained.

You, on the other hand, might need a few Lifetime movies, nail polish, a good book and a backrub.

Or maybe that’s just me.