Zesty Roasted Pumpkin Seeds ~ ElephantEats.com

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that for the last few years, I’ve been really getting into pumpkin carving at Halloween. I had seen these really cool pumpkins online and thought “i could do that,” so I picked up some wood-carving tools and was on my way!

Two years ago, I did a “Where the Wild Things Are” pumpkin:

Where the Wild Things Are jack-o-lantern ~ ElephantEats.com

My 2011 “Where the Wild Things Are” jack-o-lantern

Last year was an owl in honor of our wedding (in which there was a real owl!).

I, sadly, missed winning Movita’s Carve-Off 2012 competition by a hair!

Owl jack-o-lantern ~ ElephantEats.com

My 2012 owl jack-o-lantern

Now that I’ve had 2 years to hone my pumpkin-carving skills, I think that I did my best one yet!

Movita actually posted a link on her facebook page  to the Maniac Pumpkin Carvers last week. I had never been to their page before, but when I looked thru their SERIOUSLY AWESOME pumpkins, I saw that the Wild Things pumpkin I had found on pinterest two years ago (that inspired mine) was actually theirs. 

Nightmare Before Christmas jack-o-lantern ~ ElephantEats.com

I wanted to pick up some pumpkin carving tips, so I actually emailed them (not expecting a response) to find out A) where they cut the hole in their pumpkins since it’s obviously not the top and B) how they light them so well.

Nightmare Before Christmas jack-o-lantern ~ ElephantEats.com

Well, they wrote back like immediately which made me so excited. I found out that they actually cut a hole in the back of the pumpkin, which is what I did this year.

Nightmare Before Christmas jack-o-lantern ~ ElephantEats.com

 They also told me they rig it up with LED or CFL lights inside the pumpkin…but I didn’t have time to get the lights, so I just stuck a flashlight in my pumpkin and called it a day :)

Nightmare Before Christmas Jack Skellington jack-o-lantern ~ ElephantEats.com

My 2013 “Nightmare Before Christmas” Jack Skellington jack-o-lantern

We also finally remembered to use the tripod to take pics this year, since that’s really the only way to get a good pic of anything in the dark.

Nate carved the Oogie Boogie Man to go along with the “Nightmare Before Christmas” theme. I don’t know how we’re going to top these pumpkin next year. 

Nightmare Before Christmas jack-o-lantern ~ ElephantEats.com

*I’ve updated this post to include a few pumpkin carving tips:

  1. Find a pumpkin with a nice wide, flat-ish surface on the part you’re going to carve.
  2. Cut a hole in the backside of your pumpkin that’s big enough for your hand to fit through. Remove all the seeds (and save them to eat!) and then scrape away all the stringy pumpkin gook.
  3. Find an image. It’s best to work from an image that’s in black and white. Either find one that is already b+w or convert it with some photo-editing software. Pixlr.com is a good one and I think picmonkey.com might be able to do it too. 
  4. Use dry-erase or washable markers to sketch out the image on your pumpkin
  5. Get some wood carving tools, knives, or any other instruments you think will help with scraping the flesh off your pumpkin- some of these need to have small points as you might have intricate details to scrape.
  6. This is kind of obvious, but the lightest areas on your inspiration image will be the parts that you scrape/carve the deepest.
  7. I don’t actually ever cut all the way through the pumpkin flesh- the light areas are simply scraped quite deep into the flesh.
  8. Start with scraping/carving out the lightest areas on your pictures so you have a reference of how deep the lightest areas are compared to not scraping at all (the darkest areas) and then you can estimate how far to scrape for the in-between gray areas.
  9. When you think you’re done, take one of those pumpkin scooper tools they sell in the pumpkin carving sets and scrape the inside of the pumpkin behind your design as much as you can. This will ensure that there isn’t much flesh between the inside and your “lightest” areas. Your design will show better this way because when you put the light inside, it will be able to shine through best.
  10. Either rig up a light bulb or put a mini flashlight in your pumpkin. The little pumpkin lights they sell in the store aren’t bright enough to shine through a “scraped” pumpkin enough to really show off your design.
  11. That’s it! Now light up the pumpkin and impress all your friends!

Since we had two huge-ass pumpkins, I was able to get quite a few pumpkin seeds from them. Roasting pumpkin seeds has been a tradition in my house since I was little whenever we carved Jack-o-Lanterns. When I made them the first year I knew Nate, he became obsessed with them and now he looks forward to pumpkin carving for the seeds more than for the pumpkin I think :)

Last year I saw a Rachel Ray recipe that recommended boiling the seeds before roasting them. I decided to give it a try and they came out great! So I thought I’d share that recipe with you today. Enjoy!

Zesty Roasted Pumpkin Seeds ~ ElephantEats.com 

Zesty Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Crispy, salty, spicy seasoned pumpkin seeds!
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup cleaned raw whole pumpkin seeds
  2. 1 tablespoon plus 1 tsp fine sea salt
  3. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  4. 1 tsp garlic powder
  5. 1 tsp onion powder
  6. a pinch cayenne
  7. 1 tsp worcestershire sauce
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees .
  2. In a small saucepan, bring 4 cups water, the seeds and 1 tbsp. salt to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, then drain. Pat the seeds dry between layers of paper towels.
  3. Toss the seeds with the olive oil and remaining 1 tsp. salt. Spread in a single layer on a greased foil-lined baking sheet. Roast until golden, 10 to 12 minutes (or possibly a little longer).
  4. Toss with one of the seasoning blends at right and roast for 5-10 minutes more or until crispy. Keep an eye on them because they burn fast!
Adapted from http://www.rachaelraymag.com/recipe/oven-roasted-pumpkin-seeds/
Adapted from http://www.rachaelraymag.com/recipe/oven-roasted-pumpkin-seeds/
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09. October 2013 · 44 comments · Categories: life · Tags: , ,

Halloween Cat ~ ElephantEats.com

I alluded to it in my last post, but Nate decided this year that we should dress LC up for Halloween. If you remember my post from a couple years ago, we learned that cats don’t really like wearing costumes.

But Nate didn’t care about LC’s feelings, he only cared about his own enjoyment (don’t worry, I rewarded her with treats for all the torture she endured). And so in preparation for Halloween, Nate bought three costumes and he’d like you lovely blog readers to decide which she should wear:

**I highly encourage all of my cat-loving blog friends to partake in humiliating your cat and posting it on your blog as well (hint hint Rachael, Natalie, Pamela)! Coordinating background drawings are optional ;) **

Option #1: 

Cat Costume #1 ~ ElephantEats.com

LC really didn’t like wearing this, hence the blurry photo.

Option #2:

Cat Costume #2 ~ ElephantEats.com

She’d wear this skeleton tie every day if she could.

Option #3:

Cat Costume #3 ~ ElephantEats.com

By this point, LC knew what we were up to but chose to cooperate.

On a semi-related animal note, I just finished my latest pet portrait for my coworker. She had seen my other portraits and asked if I could paint her miniature Schnauzer, Scottie.

Scottie passed away some years ago, but she told me he was her favorite dog. She wanted me to reproduce a photo of him she had that she loves. Unfortunately the photo was pre-digital photography and was a bit dark and grainy so it was hard to work with. I decided that I could best do a smaller portrait since it involved less detail, so this is my first 6″ square portrait. 

Custom Miniature Schnauzer Acrylic Pet Portrait ~ ElephantEats.com

If you’re interested in having me paint your furry friend, send me an email and I can give you more info!

And finally, on a completely unrelated note, our wedding had a little blurb in Ocala Style Magazine (Ocala is in Florida)! I had been asked by our photographer to submit photos to them but never heard anything back. My parents live in Florida, though, and apparently my mom’s friend who was at our wedding was flipping thru the magazine at a doctor’s office and saw our blurb! So random :)

Click to view our blurb in Ocala Style!

Our wedding was also featured on the blog GreenWeddingShoes back in March for those who missed it! You can check out the amazing video Nate made for the wedding there :)

I don’t think she’s going to forgive me for this…

Nate and I went down to PA this weekend to visit his mom. We also went to an open house at the venue we wanted to possibly use for the wedding and loved it. So we put our deposit down and officially booked the venue and have a date! So exciting. I can’t believe we’re going to be married next October!

While there, we went pumpking picking because Nate had decided that I was going to carve a Where the Wild Things Are pumpkin. There were slim pickins at the pumpkin patch this year. I think maybe all the rain we got wiped out their supply?

I did a lot of walking around and comparing, assessing my canvas, until I found one that would be perfect for carving the image I wanted.

Nate found a good one too.

I spent a little while browsing pictures online til I found one I liked:

I then removed the pumpkin top and scraped it out. I saved the seeds and roasted them with some salt, paprika and garlic powder…taaasty! Totally reminds me of carving pumpkins when I was little because my mom would roast the seeds for us.

Next I sketched out the image freehand on the pumpkin with a pen.

Then I used some wood carving tools I got at Michaels to scrape away the image to the best of my ability. I realized that you have to kind of carve a reverse relief. The parts that you want to look the closest have to be the deepest, and hence the brightest. I found putting the pumpkin in my lap made the carving easiest.

And here’s the final product, all lit up on the front porch!…Nate chose to do a traditional Jack-O-Lantern :)

Now, what should I carve next year. Ideas?!