Monthly Archives: October 2011

Homemade Pumpkin Seeds

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Red Robin seasoning, Cinnamon/ Sugar, and Garlic/salt/pepper/paprika!

You all probably saw this one coming after the pumpkin carving how-to! Toasting up the pumpkin seeds is the best part about carving pumpkins, aside of course from the awesome jack-o-lanterns you get to enjoy when the sun goes down. But these toasted pumpkin seeds are a healthy snack you can enjoy all day long!

What you’ll need:

  • Non-stick cookie sheets
  • Cooking Spray
  • You’re favorite spices

Just take the pumpkin seeds that you saved from your pumpkin carving and clean them off. Don’t rinse them, because you don’t want to completely rid them of their delicious pumpkin flavor. Just make sure you pick out all the pumpkin chunks and pulp because these parts have the tendency to burn and stick to your cookie sheets in the oven. Spray your cookie sheets with the cooking spray, but not too much, we don’t want to affect the flavor of the seeds! After you’ve sprayed your cookie sheets, spread the pumpkin seeds out evenly. Now comes the time to get creative! I made a couple different batches so I could try out some different flavors. I made cinnamon/sugar, garlic/salt/pepper/paprika, and Red Robin seasoning…all were delicious! After you’ve seasoned your pumpkin seeds, pop them in the oven at 375 degrees for about 12 minutes. I like to bake the different flavors separately so that strong flavors, like my garlic ones, didn’t affect the flavor of the cinnamon sugar seeds. Have fun crunching away! What new flavors have you come up with?

Yumm!

 

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Skewers for Caramel Apples!

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For everyone who was having a hard time finding the sticks for the Caramel apples, here is a wholesale candy website that sells them for cheap! Only $1.29 for 24 skewers! And we all know lots of caramel apples = lots of fun! Billy Boy Candies is a retailer from my hometown and they have a great selection of other treats too. Great products and great service!

Have no fear! Wooden Sticks are here!

You can check out Billy Boy Candies here for contact information to order

the wooden sticks and also to see all their other tasty Halloween treats!

How to Carve the Perfect Pumpkin

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Pumpkin carving is, in my opinion, the best part of Halloween. I am, by nature, an artsy person, so I love to create little mini masterpieces when I can…and a pumpkin is a perfect canvas! Pumpkin carving can be a little tricky at times though, so here is a little step-by-step to ensure a perfect pumpkin you can be proud of.

Step One: —>

Start of by finding the perfect pumpkin. I prefer round pumpkins since they have a larger place for you to place and plan your design. Smaller pumpkins are also better for carving since they aren’t as thick-skinned.

<—Step Two:

Next, you need to cut the top out of your pumpkin to allow yourself access to the inside. I like to use a hexagon shape so your pumpkin top won’t fall in when the pumpkin begins to weather.

Step Three: —>

Now that you’ve got the top off, you need to cut off the pumpkin insides. Use a sharp knife; going in a circular motion.

<—Your pumpkin top should look like this after you’ve cut off the top.

Step Four: —v

You might think those seeds are trash, but they’re not! Make sure you save all of your seeds in a bowl so you can toast them up later.

<—The inside of your pumpkin should look like this when you’re done taking the seeds and pulp out.

Step Five:

Now comes the fun part! Let’s get carving! First map out your design. You might want to reach for the permanent marker, but for the perfect pumpkin we don’t want any stray marker marks! Use a washable marker instead. I like to use red to make sure I can wipe off all my marks completely. Tip: make sure your hands are dry, so your marker outline doesn’t smudge! Once you’ve got your outline drawn out, you’re ready to go! Carve away! Make sure that you’ve really thought about all your lines so that parts of your pumpkin won’t just fall through. When I’m carving I use a small, but very sharp knife and a fork. You might wonder what the fork is for. I like to use it to help poke out the thin pumpkin parts. It’s also easier if you leave the pumpkin top off as you carve so that you can hold the pumpkin from the inside with your non-carving hand to help you poke out other larger pieces…just watch out so you don’t cut yourself! After you’ve carved your design, use mildly soapy water on a paper towel to wipe off the marker as well as any dirt left on the outside from the pumpkin patch. Put a candle or “fake” candle light in your pumpkin, put the top back on, and you’re ready to haunt up the neighborhood! Enjoy your pumpkin and the holiday!

Patriots and Broncos pumpkins!

Caramel Apples

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If these apples don't say "Happy Halloween", then I don't know what does!

Halloween is almost here! What better way to celebrate the Halloween festivities than with some yummy caramel apples? Well, I sure couldn’t think of any better way, so let’s get started!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 Cup Butter
  • 2 Cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 Cup light corn syrup
  • 1 Can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 10 apples (any kind works but I prefer Granny Smith or Cortland)
  • 10 wooden sticks
  • 3 Quart saucepan
  • Candy thermometer

Alrighty, here we go! Start out by first completely melting the butter and brown sugar in your saucepan. After butter and sugar are completely melted, add the corn syrup and sweetened condensed milk while continuing to stir constantly. It may seem like we’re just dumping all of the ingredients in there, but be sure not to put the vanilla in yet! Putting the vanilla in now will make your caramel come to temperature too fast and it is important that you let it come to temperature on its own to ensure a nice creamy texture.  Another side note: you MUST use a candy thermometer for this! A regular thermometer won’t be able to read up to the proper temperature and just trying to wing it and guess won’t work because you need to be precise about the temperature you heat the caramel to. Anyways…back to the good stuff…keep on stirring until the temperature reaches 230 degrees. This should take about thirty minutes. Make sure you stir THE ENTIRE TIME or the caramel will stick! We’re working off some calories so that we can eat the apples remember! Once the caramel has reached 230 degrees, it is now safe to stir in the vanilla. Remove your caramel from the heat and insert the wooden sticks into your apples.  Popsicle sticks are not idle for this since they don’t pierce the apples too easily, but you can use them in a pinch.  I prefer to use skewers or sharpened dowels (you can by a long thin one from your local craft store, cut to size, and sharpen using a pencil sharpener). Dip apples into warm caramel and set on a baking tray lined with wax paper to cool. Don’t be afraid to get creative! Add M&M’s, nuts, or cocoanut to your apples for a little extra zing! I find if you wait about 1-2 minutes for the apples to cool before rolling them in toppings it works best, since the caramel has a little time to set, but it is still sticky enough for the toppings to adhere. Have fun, and let me know how your apples turn out!

Happy Halloween!

Nothing Beats Mario Kart

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I might seem a little behind the times here, but I cannot find a video game that I love more than I love Mario Kart.  I started thinking about this the other day when I was in my college writing class and my teacher had us write a 5-minute paper about our “technology rating”. He described this “technology rating” as a number from 1 to 10 that we thought represented ourselves when it came to how technologically savvy we thought we were. When writing this mini paper, I realized that my technological savvy-ness was pretty good when it came to the internet, my iPhone, and my Nook, but when it came to the world of video games, I was stuck in the 90’s. I don’t know whether it has to do with the easy-to-understand interfaces of Mario games on the original Nintendo, and the Nintendo 64 systems, or the simple fact that there just isn’t as many buttons on the controller to deal with like XBox and PS3, but I just love Mario games! I ended up giving myself a 6 due to my lack of video game knowledge, but I’m happy with where I’m at. After all, there’s nothing wrong with sticking to the classics. And what’s the best part about Mario Kart? No waiting for your game to load like video games these days! Nothing’s better than instant gratification, and nothing’s better than Mario Kart.

Ever Had A Fried Banana Split?

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Delicious or inappropriate?

 

 

Well I have! Courtesy of Hapa Sushi Restaurant in good ‘ole downtown Boulder, Colorado. I think the chef must have been having a little bit of a laugh in the kitchen when he was creating this one though…seeing as he made it look like a penis, complete with fried strawberry tip and all! All joking aside, it was unreal. Fried banana and strawberry, complemented by vanilla bean ice cream, luscious chocolate sauce, crunchy peanuts, homemade strawberry sauce, and creamy caramel liqueur! Does it get any better than that? The perfect end to the perfect sushi meal!

Check out the rest of Hapa’s creative sushi menu here.

Killer Banana Bread

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Guaranteed to rock your world...and your mouth!

Love banana bread as much as me? Well this one’s for you! Super moist and delicious!…I swear it’s the yogurt.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
  • 1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • Extra butter for pan greasing

And here we go…

First thing’s first, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. In another large bowl (one with room for your first bowl’s ingredients as well) mix sugar and butter with a mixer on medium speed for about a minute. Next, add the eggs, one by one. Make sure you separate your eggs in a smaller bowl before hand to make sure you get any bloody ones…you may think, “this never happens!” but when it happens to you, and you have to start your recipe all over, you will not be happy! Anyways…add the eggs and then add the bananas, yogurt, walnuts, and vanilla. Make sure you thoroughly mix before slowly adding in your flour/baking soda mixture. Once you mix in the flour, you’re ready to butter that pan baby! You can use cooking spray, but eh…I like butter better! This recipe can fit in an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan, but I prefer to use a bundt pan because it makes it look so pretty and professional! Bake about 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until you can poke it with a toothpick and have the toothpick come out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then flip and cool completely on a wire cooling rack.  Now, while that’s cooling, let’s make some yummy cream cheese icing to top it all off!

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz. cream cheese (1 package)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 3 1/2 – 4 cups powdered sugar

Make sure you soften the cream cheese before you start…but that doesn’t mean put it in the microwave! Mix cream cheese, vanilla extract, and milk in a bowl.  Whisk in powdered sugar until you reach your desired consistency. Drizzle over banana bread, and ENJOY!

A New Fall Print From Vera!

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Come join the fun with Vera Bradley’s new print!

Vera Bradley has released a new print for the fall! From A to Vera is an eclectic ransom-style print that is perfect for travel! Since the new styles are made in vinyl, instead of the traditional quilted cotton, it can easily be wiped off when you have a little travel mishap. Don’t worry about rushing and spilling your coffee on these bad boys! Vera’s got you covered from A to Vera! The print seems a little kiddish for the older crowd, who might want to stick to the more low-key quilted prints, but for all those teenagers and their slumber parties, it’s perfect! From $38 for the Opening Act Wristlet, to $198 for the 20″ Rolling Upright, this new style is pretty reasonably priced. I think the best deal is the 21″ Rolling Duffel at $188. It’s larger than the Rolling Upright and I also like the print better in the duffel style with lots of pockets and places to put your travel necessities.

Happy Shopping!

What’s New In Betseyville?

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25% off, that’s what! The sale starts now and runs though Columbus Day (October 11th).  Betsey Johnson is famous for her funky and fun handbags, and now they’re all on sale! Not only handbags though…we’re talking shoes, sweaters, and dresses too! We’re not gunna lie, some of Betsey’s outfit combinations may seem a little over the top, but when you separate the pieces into separate outfits, you’ll be fashionable and ready for fall! More apparel and accessories already 70% too! What better way to celebrate your Columbus Day than with a little bit of Betsey?