Roasted Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Seeds

My co-teacher, Hannah, scooping and sharing the insides of a pumpkin.
Image soure: Joy Food Sunshine

I like roasted seeds and nuts (do I sound like a squirrel?), but have never tried sweet roasted pumpkin seeds. When we were scooping pumpkins and saving the seeds for our two preschool classes, my co-teacher Hannah said she loved the seeds with cinnamon. Mind blown! What planet am I living on? How did I not know about these? Hon, here’s a healthy, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo-friendly, kosher recipe from Joy Food Sunshine that I must try!

Happy carving, scooping and baking!

Roasted Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Seeds

Tips Before Roasting Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds must dry completely before roasting. Remove the seeds from pumpkins and rinse thoroughly, discarding any stringy orange pieces. Drain seeds by lining a large baking pan with paper towels, spreading seeds evenly in a layer, and letting sit for 24 hours. At the 12 hour mark, change damp paper towels for dry ones, stir to air out pumpkin seeds.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups pumpkin seeds dried for at least 24 hours
  • 3 Tablespoons coconut oil or butter (or vegan butter)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pur vanilla extract
  • 4 Tablespoons granulated sugar (or coconut sugar to make paleo)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Very lightly grease a large baking pan, set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Melt coconut oil or butter in a large microwave safe bowl or on the stovetop in a 4-quart pot.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  5. Mix in pumpkin seeds until they are all evenly coated.
  6. Add dry ingredients to the pumpkin seeds and mix until all they are evenly coated.
  7. Spread pumpkin seeds on your prepared baking pan in single layer.
  8. Bake for 25-35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. They are done when they start to brown.
  9. To test for doneness: remove a few seeds from the pan and let sit on the counter to cool. If they harden up the seeds are done. If they remain soft, return to the oven, checking them after 5 minutes. Continue baking in 5 minute intervals until done.
  10. Once seeds are done, transfer them from the warm pan to another pan lined with parchment paper to let cool.

Yield: 3 cups

Store pumpkin seeds in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Easy DIY Play Dough

This week at preschool, the theme is Senses. What better way for young children to engage with touch than playing with Play Dough? I’d never actually made Play Dough before, but it was easy! I added cinnamon to the recipe on The Best Ideas for Kids. We’re going to smell “spicy.” Fun!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water
  • food coloring

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and cream of tartar. Mix well.
  2. In a separate bowl, add food coloring to the water. Then add the colored water and vegetable oil to a large pot. Mix together.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to your pot and mix.
  4. Cook over low to medium heat until the dough starts to form and becomes drier, stirring often.
  5. Once the mixture starts to form a body and looks fully cooked, take it off the heat. (Tip: Spoon it onto a plate or surface to cool.) Let the dough cool first before touching. 
  6. Once cool, knead the dough for 5 minutes to make the dough soft. If your dough is not soft, continue kneading for another 5 minutes. If you find it is still too dry add a little bit more oil and knead in.

Tips from The Best Ideas for Kids:

How to Keep Playdough Soft

First wrap your playdough in saran wrap then store in an air-tight container. You’ll notice that playdough will go hard if left out – so the less air that can get to the playdough when storing, the longer it will last!

How Do I Make Playdough Soft Again?

If your playdough dries out and turns out to be a little dry after making it, try adding in a little more oil first. You can knead the oil in with your hands. You can also knead in a little bit of water.

Hamantashen–Easy Recipe

Raspberry, apricot and chocolate Hamantaschen

The Jewish holiday of Purim may have ended, but I’ve only just started baking Hamantaschen! It may seem surprising, but I am a Hamantaschen newbie and there are many more flavors I’d like to try. How do apple, lemon and Nutella filling sound? For the holiday, Oheb Shalom Congregation hosted an online baking class for the Hebrew School kids. I took the opportunity to clean off my counter, dust it with flour, and get rolling!

What’s your favorite filling?

Easy Hamantaschen

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick of butter, room temperature (Margarine may be substituted to make cookies parve.)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 Tablespoons Orange juice (iIf you don’t have OJ, lemon juice will work.)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • any flavor of filling such as jelly or chocolate chips (Tip: pie filling may have a bit more body, but I haven’t tried it yet.)

Directions:

  1. With hand or stand mixer, mix together butter (or margarine), egg, sugar, vanilla, and orange juice (or lemon juice).
  2. Add flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well.
  3. Roll out dough on a floured board to about ¼-inch thickness. Cut into circles. Fill the circle with approximately 1 teaspoon filling and pinch dough into triangles around the filling. Place on cooking sheet. (Tip: Collect extra dough and combine for more cookies.)
  4. Bake at 375-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes until lightly browned. 

Yield: Depends on size of circles. I used a juice glass as a cookie cutter and made 30 cookies.

Valentines Day Sugar Cookies

Valentines Sugar Cookies

Valentines Sugar Cookies

Sugar cookie recipe + royal icing = the perfect Valentine’s Day cookies! Happy baking, hon.

(Tip–This recipe makes a large amount of cookie dough. You can make all of it or use half and freeze half.*)

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients.  Add dry ingredients to butter/ sugar mixture in increments until the flour mixture is completely incorporated.
  3. Chill mixture in fridge for about one hour then let sit on counter while you prepare the surface you are using to roll out the dough.  
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  5. Roll dough to desired thickness and cut into shapes. Bake cookies on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper but you may bake them directly on your ungreased cookie sheets.
  6. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges turn slightly brown.

Yield:  Whole recipe makes approximately 4 dozen cookies, depending on cookie cutter size.

Royal Icing

Ingredients:

  • 3 3/4 cups confectioners sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons of meringue or dried egg white powder (I used the brand Deb El and a product called Just Whites.)
  • 6 Tablespoons warm water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla, optional (note: adding vanilla adds flavor but tints the color of the icing)
  • food coloring, optional
  • sprinkles, decorating sugar

Directions:

  1. Beat all ingredients 4 to 5 minutes
 by hand.
  2. Stir in optional flavorings.
  3. Tip: Cut icing in half, keeping one half white and adding a couple drops of food coloring to the other half. Thin icing, if needed with extra Tablespoons warm water. Decorate as desired.
  4. Let icing dry. 

*After I defrosted the second half of the dough, I had to knead it a few minutes before I could work with it.

 

What’s For Dinner? Grilled Veggie Pasta Salad

Grilled Veggie Pasta Salad is a perfect summer dish! Add grilled, sliced chicken, salmon or steak for protein, and dinner’s served. Going on a picnic? Pack it for lunch. Kids can cut up the veggies (with adult supervision), measure ingredients and mix it all up, making this a contender in the Easy DIY Kids Crafts & Recipes category. Not into pasta? How about mixing brown rice with the grilled veggies and tossing it all with the yummy balsamic dressing? Hon…guess what I’ll be serving later this week? 

Grilled Veggie Pasta Salad
Ingredients:
  • 8 oz. asparagus spears, trimmed
  • 1 medium red sweet pepper, quartered lengthwise
  • 1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 small red onion, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups cooked whole grain penne pasta
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, snipped 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • Tip: Grill additional veggies to add to dish.
Directions:
  1. Lightly brush vegetables with 1 Tablespoon of the oil. Grill sweet pepper, zucchini, and onion on the rack of a covered grill directly over medium-high heat 10 minutes or until tender, turning once. Add asparagus the last 3 to 5 minutes, cooking until tender, turning once. Let cool slightly. Cut vegetables into 1/2 inch pieces.
  2. In a large bowl, combine vegetables and pasta. Add remaining 2 Tablespoons oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat. Sprinkle with oregano.

Tip: Add grilled chicken breast, steak or salmon for protein.

Yield: 4 servings

Source: Better Homes & Gardens