Chunky Pumpkin Spice Granola ~ ElephantEats.com

I had a wonderful couple weeks off of work. I still haven’t caught up on my blog reading and at this point it seems seriously overwhelming….I think I may follow a few too many blogs on feedly but it’s just so hard to eliminate some when there are so many good ones!

For Christmas we went down to Nate’s moms, as I told you guys last week, and I got some great Christmas presents that can be used in the kitchen! I got a scone pan (I’ll let you know how it works), a donut pan (expect a recipe using this when I break it in!), an Alice Waters cookbook and the Flavor Bible. The Flavor Bible is something I read about on another blog and it tells you all kinds of awesome flavor combos to help develop recipes. I can’t wait to get into it. 

Chunky Pumpkin Spice Granola ~ ElephantEats.com

Nice big chunks!

A present that I gave rather than received, however, is this Pumpkin Spice Granola. My mother-in-law eats granola for breakfast every single day (you can see where Nate gets his routine eating habits from) and she told me that she specifically likes nuts and seeds in her granola but no dried fruit, and that she likes the kind that has big clumps. According to her, this combo is quite hard to find, so I thought making her some would be the perfect Christmas present. 

I also gave her one of the awesome paperweights we made when we went glass-blowing for Nate’s bday present. I forgot to tell  you guys about that! 

We went up to Beacon, NY to this awesome little shop call Hudson Beach Glass. For Nate’s bday I got us a lesson to do together, which really involved each of us separately making a paperweight while the other person watched.

Hudson Beach Glass glassblowing lesson ~ ElephantEats.com

Nate went first. We were allowed to chose the style of paperweight we wanted, and we both chose the kind that has that swirl inside.We got to choose 2-3 colors to swirl. Nate chose red and gold, while i chose purple, blue and green. The pic of him above is putting the first color on his glass. Because he only chose two colors, he had to put a white background color so those colors would stand out better.

And here’s me with my three colors.

Hudson Beach Glass glassblowing lesson ~ ElephantEats.com

After the colors go on and you melt them in the hot furnace, you twist them together:

Hudson Beach Glass glassblowing lesson ~ ElephantEats.com

After twisting the colors together, you smooth the glass out using this wooden cup so it ends up round.

Hudson Beach Glass glassblowing lesson ~ ElephantEats.com

 

Hudson Beach Glass glassblowing lesson ~ ElephantEats.com

And here’s Nate’s finished piece right before it went in the oven to slowly “cool” from the super hot temp it was to, eventually, room temp. You can’t see the true colors until it has cooled. The red you see now is mainly the hot glass that would eventually become clear.

Hudson Beach Glass glassblowing lesson ~ ElephantEats.com

So pretty, right?!

It was super fun and our teacher, Kathleen, was so knowledgeable and cool. I highly recommend it! Sorry I didn’t take a pic of the finished paperweights but they looked kind of like this but multicolored in the colors we chose.

But back to my granola! I read that the trick for clumpy granola is to add an egg white before baking and not to stir it! Halfway through I gave the giant clumps a flip and then just left it alone. Obviously you can alter the ingredients you put in this (dried fruit, more or less sugar, etc). 

Chunky Pumpkin Spice Granola ~ ElephantEats.com

 It’s great served with yogurt or milk! 

Chunky Pumpkin Spice Granola
Yields 6
A chunky seed and nut granola with spiced pumpkin flavor!
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Ingredients
  1. 3 cups quick oats
  2. 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  3. 3/4 tsp salt
  4. 3/4 cup brown sugar
  5. 3/4-1 cup pumpkin
  6. 2 Tbsp oil
  7. 1/2 cup maple syrup
  8. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  9. 3/4 cup chopped pecans (not toasted)
  10. 2/3 cup sliced almonds
  11. 1 egg white, lightly whisked
  12. 3/4 cup sunflower seeds, roasted (if you can find unroasted then add them along with the nuts)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl combine everything except nuts, egg white and seeds.
  3. When thoroughly mixed, add in nuts and egg white and mix well. You can add the seeds now too if you managed to find raw/unroasted seeds.
  4. Spread everything out onto the prepared baking skeet in an even layer.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes then flip the granola over, taking care not to break it into pieces more than necessary.
  6. Sprinkle seeds onto granola and bake an additional 20-25 min or until crisp and golden. Remove the outer crispy pieces as necessary to prevent them from burning. The largest pieces may still seem slightly chewy inside but they will crisp up when they dry.
  7. Remove pieces to a wire rack over a baking pan to catch the smaller pieces. Once cooled, break granola up as desired into smaller pieces. Store in an airtight container.
Notes
  1. Great topped with yogurt or milk!
http://elephanteats.com/

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/
http://elephanteats.com/

 Pumpkin Spice Bread ~ ElephantEats.com

Well, I’m back from my Italian vacation. I’ll have to tell you more about it in another post, but the highlight was definitely a private cooking class my parents and I had in Chianti with this awesome chef. He was a chemist before becoming a chef and he explained cooking very scientifically (Shannon, you would have loved it ;) ).

I ended up learning a ton! We cooked up grilled fresh porcini mushrooms on toast with truffles and truffle oil, homemade gnocci with an amazing bolognese sauce that didn’t have to simmer for hours, white beans with fresh sausage, and the creamiest tiramisu for dessert. 

But anyway, I’m SO excited it’s October!!! Autumn is my absolute favorite season (I can’t belive I got married last October!). Unfortunately it’s still a bit warm here in NYC, but hopefully soon the weather will cool down enough for me to pull out my sweaters and curl up with some tea. I just love when the air is crisp and it smells like dry leaves outside. Not to mention, autumn has my two most favorite holidays- Halloween and Thanksgiving. I can’t wait! :)

Storm King Sculpture Park ~ ElephantEats.com

Storm King Sculpture Park- not sure what I’m doing…

Nate and I headed upstate this weekend for a day of fun. First we went to Storm King, a really cool, huge sculpture park. The leaves are starting to change up there and they were so pretty :) The weather was overcast and sprinkly but we made the best of it.

Storm King Sculpture Park 2 ~ ElephantEats.com

Nate, finally doing some heavy lifting

Next we went to Fishkill Farms for some apple picking! Hopefully I’ll make an apple recipe soon that I can post.

Fishkill Farms Apple Picking ~ ElephantEats.com

I love apple picking but it was super crowded at this place and I’m not a fan of crowds. We still managed to take home a good haul, in addition to getting to enjoy some cider donuts and apple cider.

Fishkill Farms ~ ElephantEats.com

Nate hard at work again! I wish he helped that much at home ;)

After apple-picking we met up with our friends who live nearby for dinner, and then finally we headed over to The Blaze, which was the reason for our whole trip upstate. The Blaze is an elaborate walk-through experience of 5,000 individually hand-carved, illuminated jack o’ lanterns.

The Blaze, Hudson Valley ~ ElephantEats.com

My favorite pumpkins- piled into sunflowers!

I had heard great things about it from multiple people, so Nate and I thought we should do it at least once. It was definitely cool to see so many pumpkins lit up, but I wasn’t particularly impressed by any of them.

The Blaze, Hudson Valley ~ ElephantEats.com

I think it was the sheer magnitude of them all together that impressed me the most. We tried to take pictures but most of them came out blurry since it was so dark. 

The Blaze, Hudson Valley ~ ElephantEats.com

But back to the baking… Now that it’s officially October, I can post another pumpkin recipe. This recipe is the one my mom baked for us growing up, but I’m not sure what the original source is. 

Pumpkin Spice Bread ~ ElephantEats.com

Since I already know I love the recipe, I decided to give it a try subbing in the butter-flavored Olive Oil that I got from Star Fine Foods. I figured a little butter taste certainly wouldn’t hurt! It added an awesome flavor, but obviously you could definitely use regular oil as I’ve always done before now. 

This bread calls for both raisins and pecans, but since Nate is a nuts-in-baked-goods hater, I omitted the pecans. I personally think they add a great crunch. This recipe makes two loaves- one for you and one to give to a friend :)

Pumpkin Spice Bread 3 ~ ElephantEats.com

I’ll be back later in the week with a little feline Halloween fun ;)

Here’s a preview of LC with a cat-proportioned pumpkin we picked up for her at the farm.

LC and a pumpkin ~ ElephantEats.com

If you’re wondering why the pumpkin is shiny, it’s because LC licked it all over.

Spiced Pumpkin Loaves
An autumn spiced pumpkin bread chock full of raisins and nuts!

Yields: 2 loaves
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Cook Time
1 hr 20 min
Cook Time
1 hr 20 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 cups flour
  2. 2 tsp baking soda
  3. 2 tsp cinnamon
  4. 1 tsp nutmeg
  5. 1 tsp ginger
  6. 1 tsp salt
  7. 2 cups solid packed pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie mix)
  8. 2 cups packed brown sugar
  9. 1 cup white sugar
  10. 1 cup oil
  11. 4 eggs
  12. 2 cups raisins
  13. 1 cup pecans, chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Butter two 9 1/4 x 5 1/4 loaf pans and dust with flour.
  3. Sift first 6 ingredients into a medium bowl.
  4. Using mixer (or whisk), beat pumpkin, sugars, oil and eggs in a large bowl. Beat in the dry ingredients until just blended.
  5. Stir in raisins and nuts.
  6. Bake until test comes out clean or with a few crumbs attached- about 1 hr 20 min.
  7. Cool 15 min in pan, then remove and cool completely on wire rack before wrapping in foil.
Notes
  1. This gets better in time. The cooked loaves can also be frozen and defrosted at a later time. Wrap them well in foil and then put in a ziploc freezer bag.
http://elephanteats.com/

courtesy Jodi Miller Photograpy

Well, I got my wedding photos back (you prob already got a sneak peek if you’re my fb friend) and they’re pretty much better than I ever imagined they’d be.

Jodi Miller Photography does SUCH an amazing job (you can see my engagement photos by her here). Not to mention, Jodi and her husband Kurt are the sweetest people you’ll ever meet. They send all the clients they work with the most thoughtful and beautiful care packages and are just so great to work with. Anyway, you can click here to see the highlights of the wedding that they posted on their blog. There are SOOOO many more amazing pictures but I obviously can’t post them all. She did a pretty good job summing up the important parts in her blog post…but I can share some more when I go into detail with my wedding craft projects sometime in the near future.

Also, if you missed it in my prior post, check out Nate’s seriously amazing video he made for the wedding :)

courtesy Jodi Miller Photography

I thought once the wedding was done that I’d have more time for blog posts…but now instead of wedding crafts and stressing over my dress, I’m busy with thank you note-writing, cleaning the apartment (which is a mess between honeymoon unpacking and tons of wedding gifts), and the usual other million to-dos.

Scallops with Pumpkin Risotto

I do have a lot of recipes stored up though. Even though I haven’t found the time for blog posting, I’ve still been doing a decent amount of cooking. I made this recipe when we went down to my mother-in-law’s house. She always cooks dinner for us when we’re there, but I was kind of in the mood to make something, so I found this recipe and it’s definitely a winner. Hopefully you guys aren’t too sick of pumpkin yet (actually i used butternut squash).

Scallops with Pumpkin Risotto

I know I’m late on the brown butter band-wagon, since it’s been all over the food blogger world for months now, but the sage brown butter on this is amazing. It’s nutty and rich. So rich that a small portion of this meal is seriously satisfying. In fact, I think I made myself sick eating it.

Scallops with Pumpkin Risotto

Pan-Seared Scallops with Pumpkin Risotto

Sightly adapted from Gourmet, October 2001

Print this recipe!

Serves 4

For risotto:
1 1/2 cups diced (1/4 inch) peeled seeded fresh pumpkin (preferably from sugar or cheese pumpkins) or butternut squash
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup white wine
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup Arborio rice
1 oz grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/3 cup)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
For scallops:
20 large sea scallops (1 1/2 lb), tough muscle removed from side of each if necessary
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh sage
2 tablespoons white truffle oil (optional)

Cook diced pumpkin in a medium saucepan two-thirds full of simmering water until tender, 3-5 minutes. Drain in a colander.

Bring stock and wine to a simmer in a small saucepan and keep at a bare simmer. Cook onion in oil in a 2- to 2 1/2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add 1 cup simmering stock and cook at a strong simmer, stirring constantly, until stock is absorbed. Continue simmering, adding stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next, until rice is tender and creamy-looking but still al dente, about 18 minutes total. (There may be broth left over.)

Remove from heat and stir in diced pumpkin, cheese, and butter, stirring until butter is melted. Season with salt and pepper and cover to keep warm.

Prepare scallops:

Pat scallops dry very well (especially if they were pre-frozen) and season with salt. Heat oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté scallops, turning once, until golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. If scallops are not cooked through, reduce heat to moderate and cook about 2 minutes more. Transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon and discard any oil remaining in skillet (do not clean skillet).

Cook butter in same skillet over moderate heat until it foams and turns light brown. Add sage and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in truffle oil if using. Season with salt.

 

**Before getting into today’s post, if you’re a WordPress,com blogger, please read my last post! I made some changes to my blog and if you were “following” me before, you won’t be anymore until you make the changes in that post!**

I don’t know the last time I ate a donut (I’m not counting the two bites I snuck at work on Friday when I was being tortured by the smell of Krispy Kreme’s someone brought in.)

I mean we all know donuts aren’t good for you, although Dunkin Donuts might say differently.

There are tons of those baked donuts going around the food blogs lately. Honestly though, I don’t think you can pretend a baked donut tastes like a fried one…so why bother. That’s where this recipe comes in.

I’m not pretending these are donuts. Nope. These are muffins through and through. But if you love the taste of a cinnamon sugar donut then you *might just like these too.

Blog-checking lines: The Daring Bakers’ February 2012 host was – Lis! Lisa stepped in last minute and challenged us to create a quick bread we could call our own. She supplied us with a base recipe and shared some recipes she loves from various websites and encouraged us to build upon them and create new flavor profiles.

Quick bread is an American term used to denote a type of bread which is leavened with leavening agents other than yeast. Quick breads includes many cakes, brownies and cookies, as well as banana bread, beer bread, cornbread, biscuits, pancakes, scones, soda bread, and in this instance: muffins.

Pumpkin Donut Muffins

Very slightly adapted from Cait’s Plate

Print this recipe!

makes 12 muffins

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (or omit whole wheat flour and add an additional cup of white flour)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/3 cup milk
1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs

Topping:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with paper cups.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice.

In a small bowl, whisk together soymilk and pumpkin puree.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down bowl as needed.

With mixer on low, add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions pumpkin mixture, and beat to combine.

Using an ice cream scoop, fill each muffin cup with batter and bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean (about 25- 30 minutes).

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine granulated sugar and cinnamon. Let muffins cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack.

Working with one at a time, remove muffins from pan, brush all over with butter, then toss to coat in sugar mixture.
Let muffins cool completely on a wire rack.