Baked Pumpkin Seeds

pumpkin seeds
Baked pumpkin seeds are the first of three recipes featured in this blog that can be made from a pumpkin like the one in the photo below. Considering the low cost of this delicious and nutritious squash, (I bought this one for $3) you should try a few dishes featuring pumpkins.

You can eat the entire seed. With a little salt, they make a great snack. They are also a good source of zinc, protein, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, and phytosterols and other vitamins. They are also believed to lower cholesterol.

kosher salt
1 medium to large pumpkin

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cut the pumpkin in half.
  3. Remove all of the seeds.
  4. Spread the seeds evenly across a baking pan.
  5. Lightly salt the seeds with kosher salt.
  6. Put pan in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
  7. Serve with cold beer.
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Eggplant Lasagna Recipe

Eggplant Lasagna
This recipe for Eggplant Lasagna is classic comfort food. The eggplant, porcini mushrooms, onion, and garlic combine to provide a perfect complement to the rich taste of the three cheeses in this dish.

It is best to cook eggplant lasagna on the weekend since it involves alot of steps that are simple but time consuming. Eggplant lasagna takes about 2 hours to prepare.

extra virgin olive oil
2 eggplants
1 yellow onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, diced
2 tbsp dried porcini mushrooms, diced
3 ounces pancetta, diced
1 tspn red pepper flakes
1 tspn basil
1 tspn oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1 box lasagna noodles
ricotta cheese
Parmesan cheese
mozzarella cheese
1 15 ounce can of tomato sauce

  1. Cut eggplants in half lengthwise. Make cross cuts into the flesh of the eggplants (see photo below). In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Cook eggplants for 3 to 4 minutes on both sides. You will probably only be able to cook 1 or 2 halves of the eggplant at a time. After cooking the egg plants on both sides, remove them from the heat and set them aside to cool.
    Eggplant halves
  2. Scoop the flesh from the eggplants and place it in a large bowl.
  3. While the heat of the skillet is still at medium, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the diced pancetta. Brown the pancetta and then add the red pepper flakes and diced onion. Cook the onions until they become clear and translucent.
  4. Add the eggplant, porcini mushrooms, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper to the skillet. Cook for about 4 minutes.
    cooked eggplant
  5. Add diced garlic to the skillet and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove skillet from the heat.
  6. Grease a lasagna pan with olive oil.
  7. Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. Add the lasagna noodles and cook until al dente.
  8. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
  9. Cover the bottom of the lasagna pan with lasagna noodles. This will probably take 3 to 4 noodles.
  10. Cover noodles with a thin layer of ricotta cheese.
  11. Add a thin layer of mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese on top of the ricotta.
  12. Top the mozzarella and the parmesan with 1/3 of the eggplant mixture.
  13. Next, top the eggplant with 1/4 of the tomato sauce.
  14. Top with another layer of lasagna noodles.
  15. Repeat steps #10 through #14 two more times.
  16. On the top layer of lasagna noodles, apply another layer of tomato sauce and some Parmesan cheese.
  17. Bake the lasagna for 1 hour at 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
  18. Remove pan from the oven and let it cool for about 20 minutes before cutting the lasagna.Eggplant lasagna
If you like this recipe, try Cinghiale

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Walnut Cookie Recipe

walnut cookiesWith the holidays right around the corner, I wanted to post a few recipes for cookies. This recipe for walnut cookies has its origins in Germany. These cookies have alot of flavor but they're not too sweet. Try them with Cafe Noir.

10 tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
6 egg yolks
1 tspn vanilla
pinch of salt
50 ground walnuts

2 tbsp apricot jam
halves of walnuts for garnish
1/8 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tspn vanilla
1 tbsp milk

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Using a stand mixer, mix together the butter, powdered sugar, egg yolks, egg, sugar, salt, and vanilla extract.
  3. Add walnuts and flour.
  4. Make balls of dough that are walnut sized and place them on a greased baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove the cookies and brush them with the apricot jam.
  7. Construct the glaze by combining the butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk in a sauce pan. Stir these ingredients over medium-low heat until they form a white, clear glaze.
  8. Brush the glaze on each of the cookies and top them each with a half of a walnut.
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Carnitas Recipe

carnitasThe first time that I tried carnitas was in Chicago. There was a "super mercado" a couple of blocks from my apartment that sold them from a counter in the back of the store. Since then I have preferred carnitas over similar dishes that feature beef. Although this recipe takes a few hours to prepare, it's worth the wait. Carnitas have alot of flavor and they are inexpensive to make. For this recipe, I used corn tortillas (heated in the microwave for 30 seconds), the carnitas, salsa, cilantro, and diced red onions. Here is how you make them:

Recommended Equipment:
slow cooker

2 tbspn kosher salt
2 tbspn ground cumin
2 tbspn garlic powder
1 tbspn oregano
2 tspn coriander
1/2 pork shoulder
1 bay leaf
3/4 cup chicken stock
corn tortillas
+ salsa, shredded cheese, diced red onions, sour cream, and/or other toppings.

  1. In a bowl, mix together the first 5 ingredients to create a dry rub.
  2. Make several deep cuts into the 1/2 pork shoulder.  The idea is to create alot of surface area on the pork to apply the dry rub.
  3. Rub spice mixture from step #1 onto the pork.
  4. Place the pork in a large, covered bowl.  Refrigerate overnight.
  5. In the morning, place the pork into the center of the slow cooker.
  6. Pour the chicken stock around the pork. Try to avoid pouring the stock directly on the pork so that the spices stay adhered to the pork.  Drop in the bay leaf into the chicken stock.
  7. Place cover on the slow cooker and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.
  8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  9. Shred the pork into smaller pieces, place them on a baking pan.  Pour some of the broth from the slow cooker over the shredded pork (about a cup) and then bake the pork in the oven for 30 minutes. This will create a bark on the carnitas.
  10. Remove pork from the oven.  Heat the tortillas (10 at a time).  Wrap them in a damp paper towel and heat them in the microwave for 30 seconds.
  11. Serve with rice, Cuban Black Beans, tortillas, guacamole, salsa, cilantro, diced red onions, shredded cheese and/or whatever toppings you like.  
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