roasted pumpkin seeds & sweet and spicy pecans

Yesterday, I found myself in that awkward position where something unexpected happens and you suddenly have a few hours of free time on your hands. It’s not like those times where you purposely set some open time for yourself. No. It’s more like you’ve got plans to get some serious work done and then you lose the internet.

Which is what happened.

I was kind of at a loss as to what to do after I had showered and caught up on Wednesday night’s episode of American Horror Story. But then I remembered that we still had a pan of pumpkin seeds lingering in the kitchen and a recipe for sweet and spicy pecans that I’ve been waiting for a reason to try. And “having nothing better to do” seemed like a good enough reason.

The pumpkin seeds were leftover from cutting the skull open of a large, thick pumpkin and removing it’s insides through the top of it’s head before carving a face onto it’s skin.

(Man, it all sounds pretty gruesome if you talk about the pumpkin like it’s an actual person. SCOOP THE INSIDES OUT FROM THE TOP OF IT’S HEAD WITH A METAL SPOON.

…Ahem.)

We haven’t carved a pumpkin in awhile and the last time we saved the seeds was… well. It was awhile ago, that’s for sure. But after opening the pumpkin and seeing a) how many seeds there were and b) what great condition they were in, I asked if it was possible to save them this time. And you guys! So many seeds. This pumpkin really wanted kids.

These are so insanely easy that I’m not even going to go through a whole lengthy speil as to how to make them. Because really? You put them in a bowl, toss them with oil – enough to cover – sprinkle with salt and whatever other spice you want (I used chili powder) and then pop them into a 325℉ (163℃) oven and bake for about 20 minutes.

They’re kind of a pain to actually pull out of their shells, so I’ve been eating the whole thing, shell and all. Which is fine! The shells are totally edible. I promise.

The pecans are from a really funky little cookbook called To Serve Man that was given away by a local, commercial-free radio station called WFMU. As it says on the page, it’s full of recipes from the DJs who work at the station and it’s everywhere from snacks to drinks to dinner. You’d think that maybe the recipes might be… not great but you’d be wrong. So wrong. There’s a roasted beet risotto in there that’s possible one of my favorite dishes in the ENTIRE WORLD. It takes awhile to make but it’s so worth it.

Anyway. I decided to dig out this book again and remind myself of the kinds of foods in there when I stumbled upon the pecans. And since pecans are my favorite nuts and they only took 20 minutes to make, I knew I had to do it. I HAD TO. You know that feeling, don’t you? You look at a recipe and then shout at it for a few minutes. Or maybe that’s just me. (What can I say? I tend to shout at and insult the things that I love. You should see me watching shows or movies with actors I have crushes on. I should be arrested for the threats I yell at them.)

I put these together while the pumpkin seeds baked (I used the same bowl and, eventually, the same pan to cook them because it didn’t make sense to make more of a mess than necessary, especially since they both had basically the same things on them). The recipe calls for 4 tablespoons of sugar which seems like a lot and it kind of is? I don’t know. You might enjoy it but it was a little too much for me. I’ll probably cut it in half (or just maybe subtract a single tablespoon) next time I make them.

It also calls for smoked paprika which, luckily, I have but I know not many people probably do so I don’t doubt that regular paprika (or hot paprika!) would work just fine.

As soon as the pumpkin seeds came out of the oven, I transferred them to a bowl and dumped the pecans on the pan and slid it back into the oven for 20 minutes. They came out perfectly; golden and hot and sweet and spicy. They taste the best right out of the oven but, since I was the only one home at the time, I was the only one who got to enjoy them that way, unfortunately. Everything tends to dry out pretty quickly and I haven’t tasted one yet this morning, but I’m sure they’re still good. They just won’t look as pretty. As my father remarked, they’d probably taste pretty good on vanilla ice cream. But, then again, what doesn’t taste good on vanilla ice cream.

Him, probably.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
if you need to see it as a recipe, look at this. it’s as simple as that.

Trouble’s Sweet and Spicy Pecans
from To Serve Man: A Musical Cookbook by WFMU

3 cups pecan halves
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne (less or more to taste)
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 heaping teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325℉ (163℃). In a large bowl, mix the pecans in the oil and then coat with the spices (sugar, cayenne, cumin, paprika, salt). Coat a large pan with a thin layer of cooking spray and spread the nuts evenly on the pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes until nuts are golden. Cool. Devour.

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