"Everything" vs "Vanilla Nutmeg" Pumpkin Seeds

31 October 2012

- vs -

So we had our first pumpkin carving as a married couple, or even just as a couple.

It's hard for me to believe I didn't even know Ryan last year at this time.

Well, Ryan LOVES the holidays. He bugged and bugged and bugged me to get a pumpkin, so last Saturday night, we picked out two beauties and headed to our friend's house to carve.

Now, I started trying to carve Marcy, but when that turned into an epic fail, I carved a heart with r + k inside.

Ryan, chose a much simpler design - but something very typical in our household:

I think they turned out pretty well!

Come to find out, the REAL reason Ryan wanted to carve pumpkins so badly was for the seeds. Everyone thought he was a crazy person when he went around and collected every last seed and placed them in a Ziploc to take home.

Well those seeds have been staring me in the face for 3 days now (not to mention Ryan brings it up every time he opens the fridge), so I decided to just cook them up today.

I can't ever bake or cook things "normally", so I decided to make up new recipes for our seeds.

Ryan wanted savory and I wanted sweet.

What resulted were the BEST pumpkin seeds I have ever had. I don't even like them normally, but one they were cooked, I couldn't stop putting them in my mouth!

First up: "Everything" Pumpkin Seeds

Ryan's favorite bagel is an Everything bagel - so I thought, 'why not on pumpkin seeds?'

Salty, garlic-y, perfection. Sooooo much better than typical salted seeds.

Next up: "Vanilla Nutmeg" Pumpkin Seeds
These are like dessert. I cannot tell you how much of an improvement these are from normal toasted pumpkin seeds.

See all that sugar-y goodness and nutmeg? Sinful.

So, I'm going to have to cast my vote for the Vanilla Nutmeg ones...but I guarantee Ryan will devour the Everything ones in the next day or so.

Are you more savory or sweet?
Pick your poison.

I made these seeds from approximately 3 cups of pumpkin seeds, spilt in half. Wash your seeds in water and pick off as much of the extra pumpkin pulp as you can. Lay the pumpkin seeds on a cookie sheet covered in foil and place paper towels over the top. Let them dry out overnight.

Everything Pumpkin Seeds
- 1 1/2 cups dried pumpkin seeds
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper

1// Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
2// Melt the butter in a dish. Mix in the olive oil.
3// Pour the butter and oil into a bowl containing the seeds and mix well.
4// Add in the salt, pepper, onion & garlic powder.
5// Spread seeds onto a foil covered cookie sheet.
6// Bake for 10 minutes, remove seeds, stir, & place back in oven.
7// Repeat this until the seeds are brown and crispy (about 40 minutes).

Vanilla Nutmeg Pumpkin Seeds
- 1 1/2 cups dried pumpkin seeds
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons light brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon salt

1// Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
2// Melt the butter in a dish. Mix in the vanilla.
3// Pour the butter and vanilla into a bowl containing the seeds and mix well.
4// Add in 1 teaspoon white sugar, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, the nutmeg, & the salt.
5// Spread seeds onto a foil covered cookie sheet.
6// Bake for 10 minutes, remove seeds, stir, & place back in oven.
7// Mix the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of each sugar together in a bowl.
8// After the seeds have baked for 20 minutes, remove from the oven, stir, and sprinkle the extra sugar over the seeds.
9// Bake for 10 more minutes or until seeds are brown and crispy (about 30 minutes total).

What I found out was that the sugar cause the second batch to toast faster than the Everything ones. Each oven is different, so just keep an eye on them!

The BEST Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

30 October 2012

 You guys know I cook and bake...A LOT.

Well, take my word for it, these are the BEST Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies you will find.

I took into consideration a lot of reviews and a lot of cookie batches gone bad, and what evolved were these perfectly-crispy-on-the-edges-but-gooey-on-the-inside delights.

The BEST Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

-makes about 2 dozen-

-1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups oats
- 3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1// Preheat the oven to 325 degrees
2// Cream butter and sugars with an electric mixer for 4 minutes. Do not skimp on the time or you will have flat cookies
3// Add in egg and beat for 30 more seconds.
4// Now put down your mixer. Do the rest by hand. SERIOUSLY!
5// Stir in vanilla.
6// In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt. Pour into the wet ingredients and stir until just mixed
7// Add in the oats and chocolate chips
8// Drop by 1 - 1 1/2 tablespoonsfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet
9// Bake for 10-12 minutes
10// Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan

Now go grab a glass of milk and scarf down 10 of these bad boys...I know I did....

October Cara Box Reveal {Link Up}

29 October 2012

I am BEYOND excited!

Today's the day to link up and reveal your October Cara Boxes!

If you want to know more about the Cara Box Exchange, click on the tab at the top of my blog (:

October's theme was "The Best of Fall..."

And from what I've seen, you guys went all out!

My partner was the beautiful Samantha over at Hooah and Hiccups.

I'm sure you guys have seen her around, as we are basically blog bff's. We grew even closer this month and by the time my box arrived, I just couldn't wait to see what she sent me!

First look:

I opened up the box to find glitter tissue paper and another box:

I just LOVED the Scrabble letter idea (:

She added little Fall leaves to the side.

I opened my box...

What a precious, encouraging note (:

And THIS is what was first staring me in the face. Oh my holy bah-jol-eys. And all I need to get is a pie crust. Yum!

 Then she gave me these cute DIY wine charms. You can use the stickers or use porcelain paint to decorate them!

 There was a cute little wine bottle charm to go with the wine charms.

Oh, these tissues. I'll feel like Kate Spade blowing my nose.

And THIS was probably my very favoritist thing! What a cute luggage tag! She gave it to me because she remembered that I'll be flying to Chicago later this Fall.

I just loved my Fall Cara Box!

And most of all, I loved getting to know  Sam even better (:

So what did you get in your Fall Cara Box?

Link up below!

The November Cara Box Announcement will post on November 1st, so get excited!!!!

October Cara Box Reveal {Michaela}

28 October 2012

This past week was the greatest week ever—why?
Because I gave and received my Cara Box, of course!
My partner was Kaitlyn [not my sister] and I loved meeting her!
I found out that we were more alike than I would have expected. It was so neat getting to know a complete stranger that lived in another state, yet having so many things to bond over [like horses].
As soon as I saw her love for horses, I knew I loved her!
I really enjoyed going on a scavenger hunt for things in this $15 price range that would be super awesome to get in a package. It was difficult at first, but my sister gave me some great advice that led me the direction for the cutest gifts [I thought]!
I sent my box off, and waited anxiously for mine!
Living in Tallahassee made me very nervous when waiting for my box. My house is in the straight up ghetto where we get random passersby asking to do chores around the house for money, or claiming they need a couple bucks for school supplies, as it’s raining outside.  Packages have miraculously disappeared and our trash is always rummaged through by homeless people, so again, I was very nervous.

Worst case scenario, a bum would definitely get “The Best of Fall!”
Well, I was sitting on my couch Wednesday afternoon when I hear a random knock on our door. One of my roommates answered it and I heard an unfamiliar voice and the passing of a package from his hands to my roommates. I ran to the door to see my Cara Box and I jumped with joy…literally! I ripped it open and began pulling out all my goodies!

First was the” oh so cute” fall decorations! I love decorating our house with the upcoming holidays, and I didn’t have much for Thanksgiving. So these items immediately decorated our common area. And yes, those two little turkeys hang their legs off the edge of the table and hold tea light candles—so adorable!

Next was this little assortment of goodies. My roommates and I are always lighting candles as some motivator to do homework and what-not, and we were running low. This candle came just in time, and we have used it the past three days now! The socks are MUCH appreciated and I am actually wearing them as I am typing this up! It is the coldest it’s been this fall, and I had to warm these little toesies with these awesome socks. I absolutely loved getting these tissues with the cold weather coming and sickness imminently taunting me. With all this craziness going on and the changing of seasons and basically everyone around me sick, I have a feeling I will get sick soon, and I am well-prepared now! [fingers crossed I don’t have to use these too soon though] I also loved getting this nail polish! I love painting my nails when I not working at good ‘ol Sonny’s BBQ [it’s a ridiculous rule that takes away my sunshine]. But the days I am not working there, I will be enjoying this classy fall color on my nails. Watch out!

And the real treats! Let’s just say I still have the bowl, but the other goodies are long gone. I loved the sweets, but before eating them, I put them in this adorable bowl. The bowl may have lost its job holding these precious M&M’s, but it is now holding some peanuts that randomly appeared there. My roommates must love the bowl too!

I then got these very useful treats for writing down important notes or just giving encouragement notes to others. One is a small journal and the other is a notepad. The notepad has a magnet on the back so I put that sucker up on the fridge for all to use! There are also these precious stickers for fall time cheer! They are still safely wrapped on my desk waiting for a special person of my choosing to receive them. The problem is finding who is worthy of these special gifts.

So you are probably wondering how I could receive so many gifts with this $15…I was wondering the same thing and I have concluded that she is just plain AWESOME and a bargain shopper of course! Well guess what, this was not all she got me. I saved the best for last!

I got this pumpkin patch scratch and reveal! So freakin’ cool right? Out of everything that I got, I literally got really excited for this unique gift! As I squealed, my roommate looked at me and said, “wow, your partner must really know you.” I am proud to say I take delight in the smallest of things, and it does not take much to excite me. So thank you Kaitlyn for giving me this fun thing to consume my spare time!  And I had to show you what happens when you scratch it too—it gives you the same satisfaction as scratching a lottery ticket, but you don’t win money haha.

I also got this lovely card from Kaitlyn encouraging me and saying the sweetest things! She is such a blessing and I’m so glad I met her. If any of you are doing the Cara Box next month and she is too, ya’ll should hope and pray you get magically matched up with this girl because she’s great!

Peace. Love. Cara Box. 
- Michaela

Mini Apple Pies

26 October 2012

Ryan claims these were inhaled by his class in less than 60 seconds.

I will admit, they were pretty darn tasty.

I've been craving this apple cream pie that I make every year for the holidays. But what would Ryan and I do with a whole pie?!?!

So I decided to adapt my recipe into mini pies (:

So go grab 2 refrigerated pie crusts. Roll them out and cut as many circles as you can out of each.

As you can see, I used a 3" cookie cutter and I was able to get 10 circles, which will make 5 mini pies. So all together I got 20 circles. I then re rolled out the scraps and got 4 more. I was lazy and didn't want to re roll it again, but I'm guessing you could probably get 2-4 more circles.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and place your circles about an inch and a half apart from each other.

Now get a 20oz can of no sugar added apple pie filling. Dump it in a strainer and rinse the apples under water.

Trust me, my ingredients will taste WAY better than the goo the apples come in.

Shake the strainer to get rid of excess water and dump the apples in a large bowl. With kitchen scissors, chop the apples into small pieces. Add in 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, 1 tablespoon half and half, and a pinch of salt. Stir to mix well.

Put 1 - 1 1/2 tablespoons of apple cream pie mixture in the center of each circle. Place another circle over the filling and use a fork to seal the edges. Poke the fork in a cross on top of each mini pie for vent holes.

Tah dah!

Brush egg white on each pie and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake pies at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until the crusts are flaky and golden.

Yum! Yum!

Coconut Curried Chicken {Crockpot}

25 October 2012

A week or so ago I made a Pineapple Curried Chicken. I made that recipe up since I didn't have coconut milk on hand. It was REALLY good, but there's just something I LOVE about coconut milk with curry.

So here is my delicious recipe!

Coconut Curried Chicken (serves 3-4)
  • 2 frozen chicken breasts
  • 1 bag of frozen stirfry vegetables
  • 13.5 oz can lite coconut milk
  • 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon curry
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

  1. Spray crockpot with cooking spray. Very important! Place frozen chicken breasts at the bottom. Pour the frozen vegetables on top.
  2. In a bowl, mix the remaining ingredients, except the corstarch, until smooth. Pour over the vegetables and chicken.
  3. Cover the crockpot and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 5-6. 10 minutes before serving, mix the cornstarch with 3 tablespoons water.
  4. Fish out the 2 chicken breasts and chop into small, bite sized chunks. Pour the chicken back into the crockpot.
  5. Add in the cornstarch/water mix. Stir the contents of the crockpot and wait 5 minutes. Add additional cornstarch/water to reach desired thickness. Serve over rice.
Ok, this is so yummy!

Normally, instead of using tomato sauce and cornstarch, I would just use a can of tomato paste. I like the sauce thicker, so if you do too, swap out the tomato sauce and cornstarch for the paste.


Cheesy Pumpkin Sausage Pasta {Crockpot}

24 October 2012

I've been on a crockpot kick lately.

It makes cooking so much easier!

I made this recipe up last week. We then went to a class on base that went an hour longer than it was supposed to. When we got home, the noodles were twice their size and the sauce had evaporated!!!

It was still amazingly tasty.

So I decided to make it again this past weekend so I could take some pictures and get it on the blog.

I made it Sunday afternoon when Ryan had friends over for the Giants game. They were so sad there wasn't seconds.


Cheesy - Pumpkiny - Savory - Sausagey

I know you could probably get away with just pouring the mixture over cooked pasta to skip the crockpot if need be...BUT I am telling you, the hours in the crockpot are really worth it for the amazing flavor you get from waiting!

Cheesy Pumpkin Sausage Pasta (serves 4)
  • 16oz hot turkey sausage
  • 1 cup frozen chopped onion
  • 13.25oz can sliced mushrooms
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 15oz can of pure pumpkin
  • 8oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon sage
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 box rotini pasta

  1. In a large skillet, brown the turkey sausage. Add in the onion and mushrooms. Going down the list, add in all of the rest of the ingredients (minus the pasta) and stir until smooth.
  2. Spray your crockpot with cooking spray. Pour the sauce into the crockpot and cover. Cook on low 3 1/2 - 4 hours.
  3. Pour in your box of uncooked pasta and stir to coat. Re-cover and cook for 1 additional hour.

You'll love this!

It's seriously on my list of go to comfort foods. It almost reminds me of an adult version of mac and cheese - but kids will love this too!

Whatever you do, don't cook the noodles longer than an hour in the crockpot. Or you'll end up with the same disaster I had the first time!

Cinnamon Roll Pumpkin Pancakes

23 October 2012

If you make any of my breakfast recipes, make this.

Letters From Lala
I'm linking this delicious post to the Fave Fall Fixin' Link Up...because, this is definitely one of my top fave fall fixin's....obvi.

I am not kidding - I had no words when I put this delicious pancake in my mouth.

I wanted to figure out a way to make these by using a pancake mix, instead of having a laundry list of ingredients.


There are three parts to this: The pancake, the swirl and the topping.

Don't be afraid, I made these in less than 20 minutes!

Ok, here we go:

1// Cinnamon Swirl

- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 1/4 cup & 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Mix the ingredients together in a bowl.
Pour into a freezer Ziploc bag and seal.
Place in the refrigerator.

2// Pumpkin Pancakes

- Pancake mix/batter for 6-7 pancakes
- 1/3 cup pure pumpkin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Make enough pancake batter for 6-7 pancakes.
Follow the directions on the box.
To the batter, add the rest of the ingredients.
Remove the Cinnamon Swirl bag from the fridge.
Snip a small hole in a corner of the bag.
Spray a large skillet.
Heat over medium low heat.
Drop pancake batter in circles on the skillet.
When it starts to bubble (about 4 minutes), grab the Cinnamon Swirl mix.
The swirl mix should be thick like toothpaste - not runny.
Pushing the tip of the bag slightly into the pancake, swirl, starting from the outside and working in.
It will look like a cinnamon roll.
Flip the pancakes.
Cook 4 more minutes.

3// Cream Cheese Topping

- 1/4 cup salted butter
- 2 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
-  1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place butter and cream cheese in a bowl.
Microwave on low until butter is melted and cream cheese is soft.
Mix in the vanilla and powdered sugar.
Stir until smooth.

Take a pancake.
Smother it with the cream cheese topping.
Do not, under any circumstance, skip the cream cheese topping because you are lazy.

Welcome to heaven.

Champagne Glasses & Carafe {diy}

22 October 2012

How cute are these?

I thought I'd post this in honor of FSU winning again this week.

I think this is an awesome DIY idea, especially because you can choose colors that match your favorite sports team!

What better excuse to drink mimosas than to show your gameday spirit?!

I got a set of 4 champagne glasses at Walmart for $5. The carafe was only $2.50.

These Martha Stewart paints are at Michael's.

They were on sale for $2.

The paint colors I used were Garnet and Florentine Gold.

So all in all, this set of glasses and carafe cost me about $12. I still have A LOT of paint left.

Bottoms up!

Turkey Hummus Burgers

19 October 2012

Don't tell me that doesn't look scrumptious...

I found a recipe in Food Network Magazine, incorporating hummus into your turkey burger to keep it moist.

After trying the recipe once, I adapted it into what your eyes are now feasting on.

I give you:
Turkey Hummus Burgers

Turkey Hummus Burgers (makes 6 burgers)
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint
  • Olive oil
  • 7oz spicy pepper hummus
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 20 oz lean ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • 6 "light" english muffins

  1. Do this ahead of time: In a sealable container, shred the cucumber with a cheese grater. Add the feta, vinegar, mint and a tablespoon of olive oil. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir and then cover and refrigerate for a few hours.
  2. Mix the turkey, hummus, parsley and coriander in a bowl. Season with pepper. Form the meat into 6 equally sized patties, slightly larger than the english muffin. Cooking the patties will make them shrink a little bit.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of oil and the patties. Cook for 3 minutes per side. Remove the patties from the skillet and transfer to a plate.
  4. Slice the english muffins in half and toast. Smear a little of the remaining hummus on each english muffin and layer the burger, tomato and some of the cucumber mixture.

These are AMAZING. Even with the spicy hummus, they aren't spicy. Any hummus would work, I'm sure. Whatever you do, don't skip the cucumber mixture. It makes the burger.

We used the english muffins because they are healthier than normal buns and I think taste better. I hate how normal buns have so much - bun.

I served these greek wonders with a side of this:
Yes, those are sweet potato steak fries. So much better than regular ones due to the fact they are wider and, I think, cook better.

Ore-Ida makes the healthiest version. Just put some foil on a pan, drizzle with olive oil and spread out the fries. Drizzle olive oil over the fries and sprinkle with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Flip the fries half way through their cooking time.


Peanut Butter Brownie Pumpkins

17 October 2012

I love me a good cake pop.

Last month I made Funfetti Birthday Cake Pops for Ryan's birthday.

They were quite the hit.

Well, do you know what I love more than Funfetti cake mix?


And the all time two best flavors paired together are: Chocolate & Peanut Butter.

Fall + Cake Pop + Brownies + Chocolate + Peanut Butter = Peanut Butter Brownie Pumpkins

Um, how cute are these????

So you'll need to get a box of brownie mix for this. The 8x8 size made 16 pumpkins. I got a "fudgey" kind. Make the brownies according to the box. I chose the fudge-like ingredient option and undercooked the brownies by 2 minutes.

You don't want a ton of hard edges so undercooking is better.

After the brownies cool for 15 minutes, cut along the edges of your pan, removing the "hard brownie". Corners are always my favorite, so I just ate all of said "hard brownie".

Scrape the soft brownie into a bowl and crumble completely. Add 2 tablespoons of peanut butter and mix well.

Make 1 tablespoon brownie balls and place on a plate. Now this brownie mixture wont roll like a cake ball in your palms. You have to form these babies with your finger tips. They are going to want to crumble, but it will work, I promise.

After I made all of the brownie balls, I rolled each one inside a paper towel. The warm brownie plus the peanut butter will cause the brownies to be quite oily. Dabbing off the oil will help the chocolate stick.

Place all of the brownie balls on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and put in the freezer for 15 minutes.

While that's going on, melt your candy coating.

I got the idea to create these when I was in Michael's yesterday. In the checkout line they had all of those bins filled with "impulse buys"...well I impulse bought a bag of orange Wilton candy melts...hey, it was on sale!

They also sell these at Walmart in the cupcake/wedding decorating aisle.

So I melted 3/4 of the bag. You'll use the other 1/4 later.

Remove your brownies from the freezer and, one by one, do the following:
1// Drop the brownie in the bowl
2// Spoon candy coating all over it - don't try to stir it, you might make the brownie fall apart
3// Roll and scoop the coated brownie out of the bowl. I know this sounds weird, but I don't know how else to describe it. You want to get some excessive chocolate off so you don't have a huge pool of candy coating at the base of the pumpkin.
4// Place the coated brownie on a sheet of parchment or wax paper

It will look messy, fear not.

After you've coated all of the brownies, take a toothpick and slide it around the base of the pumpkins to push away some of the extra coating.

After the pumpkins have set enough for you to pick them up (about 10 minutes), move a pumpkin to a plate. Using a sharp knife, finish trimming around the base of the pumpkin. Set it aside and complete the rest.

Awhile back my mom gave me a ton of colored, edible pearls. I saw them and figured, "Hey, this would make a great stem!"

So I dipped these green pearls in a tiny bit of candy coating and stuck them to each pumpkin.

Here are the pumpkins, trimmed and with their "stems".

Next, melt the rest of your candy coating that you had set aside. Place the melted candy in a pastry bag or a ziploc with a small piping tip attached. I used an Ateco #4.

Pipe little pumpkin lines on each pumpkin. I found that the quicker you pipe, the smaller and prettier the lines will be!

Here they are (:

Lastly, and most importantly, eat a pumpkin.

Holy Ba-jole-y...

If you like peanut butter and chocolate, drop what you are doing and go make these...now....
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