Awesome Autumn Part VIII: Fall Is In The Air!

Took a stroll through Central Park to capture all of that Fall Magick! (notice the witchy spelling!)


Awesome Autumn Part VII: Roasting Pumpkin Seeds!

As promised in my pumpkin carving post, here is my recipe for super tasty pumpkin seeds! But before I give you all of the gory details, here are some healthful reasons why you should always save those pumpkin seeds, and more importantly eat them!:
Prostate Protection
They promote overall prostate health and alleviate the difficult urination associated with an enlarged prostate.
Improved Bladder Function
In some studies, pumpkin seed extracts improved bladder function in animals.
Depression Treatment
They contain L-tryptophan, a compound naturally effective against depression.
Prevention of Osteoporosis
Because they are high in zinc, pumpkin seeds are a natural protector against osteoporosis. Low intake of zinc is linked to higher rates of osteoporosis.
Natural Anti-Inflammatory
Pumpkin seeds effectively reduce inflammation without the side effects of anti-inflammatory drugs.
Prevention of Kidney Stones
They prevent calcium oxalate kidney stone formation, according to studies.
Treatment of Parasites
They are used in many cultures as a natural treatment for tapeworms and other parasites. Studies also show them to be effective against acute schistosomiasis, a parasite contracted from snails.
Great Source of Magnesium
1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds contains 92% of your daily value of magnesium, a mineral in which most Americans are deficient.
Lower Cholesterol
Pumpkin seeds contain phytosterols, compounds that that have been shown to reduce levels of LDL cholesterol.
Cancer Prevention
The same phytosterols that lower cholesterol also protect against many cancers.
Now back to the recipe! When you are carving your pumpkin, place all of the gookey seeds in a roasting pan (no need to pre-grease). When you are ready to tend to the seeds, get as much of the stringy pumpkin goo out of the pan as you can. Don't worry about a few stragglers, they will roast right up into nothing!
Now that you have the cleaned seeds, here are your seasonings which should be tossed into the pan:
3 glugs of extra virgin olive oil (I this Jamie Oliver phrase!)
2-3 garlic cloves, finely minced (depends on how much you love your garlic, especially on Halloween. Gotta keep those Vampires away!)
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cut fresh and finely chopped parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350. Mix the seeds up so that they are all evenly coated with the flavors. Roast in oven for about 25-40 minutes depending on how much you have. Stir up the seeds every 10 minutes. When they start to get golden brown they are done! Let the seeds cool and then store them in an airtight container, or serve them warm!
Stay tuned, because tomorrow I will post my Awesome Autumn photos from Central Park!


Awesome Autumn Part VI: Pumpkin Carving Time!

A few days before Halloween, everyone gets their pumpkins, carving utensils, and ideas for faces ready to go. But do you know the history of the jack-o-lantern? It's a quite interesting tale actually:

The Irish brought the tradition of the Jack O'Lantern to America. But, the original Jack O'Lantern was not a pumpkin.The Jack O'Lantern legend goes back hundreds of years in Irish History. As the story goes, Stingy Jack was a miserable, old drunk who liked to play tricks on everyone: family, friends, his mother and even the Devil himself. One day, he tricked the Devil into climbing up an apple tree. Once the Devil climbed up the apple tree, Stingy Jack hurriedly placed crosses around the trunk of the tree. The Devil was then unable to get down the tree. Stingy Jack made the Devil promise him not to take his soul when he died. Once the devil promised not to take his soul, Stingy Jack removed the crosses and let the Devil down.
Many years later, when Jack finally died, he went to the pearly gates of Heaven and was told by Saint Peter that he was too mean and too cruel and had led a miserable and worthless life on earth. He was not allowed to enter heaven. He then went down to Hell and the Devil. The Devil kept his promise and would not allow him to enter Hell. Now Jack was scared and had nowhere to go but to wander about forever in the darkness between heaven and hell. He asked the Devil how he could leave as there was no light. The Devil tossed him an ember from the flames of Hell to help him light his way. Jack placed the ember in a hollowed out Turnip, one of his favorite foods which he always carried around with him whenever he could steal one. For that day onward, Stingy Jack roamed the earth without a resting place, lighting his way as he went with his "Jack O'Lantern".
On all Hallow's eve, the Irish hollowed out Turnips, rutabagas, gourds, potatoes and beets. They placed a light in them to ward off evil spirits and keep Stingy Jack away. These were the original Jack O'Lanterns. In the 1800's a couple of waves of Irish immigrants came to America. The Irish immigrants quickly discovered that Pumpkins were bigger and easier to carve out. So they used pumpkins for Jack O'Lanterns.

So, I'm sure you are all wondering what I carved this year? Nothing too scary. We're not that couple that carves the perfect Michael Jackson face or an intricate design. No need to go crazy unless you are in it to win it! Just have fun and watch a scary movie while you are carving. Click here for some great carving tips!
And remember to save those pumpkin seeds! Tomorrow I will be posting my roasted pumpkin seed recipe.


Awesome Autumn Part V: Butternut Squash and Turkey Sausage Lasagna

I can't say that this was my idea... In fact I first heard about a butternut squash lasagna recipe at Oh, Mishka, which then led me to another blog, which then led me to a Giada DeLaurentiis! My fave! With a few tweaks, like adding hot turkey sausage, garlic and sage, this was a FANTASTIC lasagna for a cold and dreary fall day.
And remember... go ORGANIC on as many ingredients if you can to ensure healthful food! I pasted Giada's original recipe, and noted my tweaks in green. ENJOY!


-1 package lean hot turkey sausage- taken out of case and browned

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 (1 1/2 to 2-pound) butternut squash, halved and roasted in a pan with water for 40 minutes at 400. Scoop the cooked insides out. Trash the skins.
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 amaretti cookies, crumbled (I DID NOT USE THESE. DON'T THINK THEY ARE NEEDED)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 cups whole milk (I USED ORGANIC FAT FREE- turned out fine!)
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup (lightly packed) fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh sage
  • 12 no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded whole-milk mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan


Preheat oven to 400. Halve 1 butternut squash and place open side down on a deep pan. Cover with 2 cups water. Let roast for 40 minutes or until flesh is tender. Scoop out flesh into bowl (be careful it's hot!) and mash with a potato masher. It's ok if it's lumpy. Remember, this will bake again in the lasagna! Reduce oven heat to 375 and position the rack to the middle of the oven.
Heat olive oil in skillet. Take the hot turkey sausage out of it's casing and break up into skillet. Cook until meat has browned and then set aside.
Melt the butter in a heavy medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, whisking often, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the nutmeg. Cool slightly. Transfer half of the sauce to a blender*. Add the basil and sage and blend until smooth. Return the basil/sage sauce to the sauce in the pan and stir to blend. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, to taste.
Lightly butter a 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Spread 3/4 cup of the sauce over the prepared baking dish. Arrange 3 lasagna noodles on the bottom of the pan. Spread 1/3 of the squash puree over the noodles and then 1/3 of the turkey sausage. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese. Drizzle 1/2 cup of sauce over the noodles. Repeat layering 3 more times. My last layer was Noodle/Sauce/Cheese by the way.
Tightly cover the baking dish with foil and bake the lasagna for 40 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses over the lasagna. Continue baking uncovered until the sauce bubbles and the top is golden, 15 minutes longer. Let the lasagna stand for 15 minutes before serving.
*When blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.


Awesome Autumn Part IV: Organic Treats and Sweets!

Before you go running off to Kmart, Walmart, CVS and the like to stock up on candy, take a moment to read this post and decide if what you are handing out to the little kiddies is actually good for them. Also think about yourself! I, for one, would eat at least half of any candy I buy for other people. If it's around... I'll eat it. I have some great options for you that do not involve preservatives, artificial sweeteners (gross- read this!) and coloring, corn syrup and all of that other scary stuff! A lot of these products are gluten free and are made with all-natural ingredients. Don't worry folks, you don't have to hand out raisins on Halloween to promote healthiness! You'll still be popular.

Check out these online stores now before it's too late to ship!

The Natural Candy Store offers all of your beloved favorites. Lollipops, Cotton Candy, Chocolate Coins, Gummies, Fudge, Popcorn Balls... you will LOVE this sight and your body will thank you for the healthful treat. I say on Halloween calories don't matter, but chemicals DO! Treat yourself right on October 31st.

Yummy Earth is a great place to buy  candy in bulk! Their gummy worms are even packed with 100% of our daily intake of Vitamin C! You can even shop at Toys R' Us and Whole Foods (among other stores) for this great brand of candy!

Sugar Coated Organics is a hodge-podge of different brands of organic treats. You'll even find Yummy Earth there!

Be sure to check out the ingredients of any product you buy to insure that you are not allergic to anything. Although, some of these products are in fact nut free too!


One Word Game

Was tagged in a post by the lovely Gaia at Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. If you are in dire need of inspiration and beautiful things- this is the blog to get lost in!

This is a one-word game. Only answering the questions with one word was tough, but I gave it my best shot.

1. Where is your cell phone? Bag
2. Your hair? Lion
3. Your mother? Heaven
4. Your father? Montauk
5. Your favorite food? Pasta
6. Your dream last night? Nothing
7. Your favorite drink? Tea
8. Your dream/goal? Tranquility
9. What room are you in? Office
10. Your hobby? Cooking
11. Your fear? Government
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Farm
13. Where were you last night? Home
14. Something that you aren’t? Dramatic
15. Muffins? Blueberry
16. Wish list item? Camera
17. Where did you grow up? Northport
18. Last thing you did? Email
19. What are you wearing? Layers
20. Your TV? Off
21. Your pets? Family
22. Friends? Few
23. Your life? Carnival 
24. Your mood? Relaxed
25. Missing someone? Yes
26. Vehicle? Feet
27. Something you’re not wearing? Skirt
28. Your favorite store? Zabar's
29. Your favorite color? Blues
30. When was the last time you laughed? Morning
31. Last time you cried? Forget
32. Your best friend? Work
33. One place that I go to over and over? Kitchen
34. One person who emails me regularly?
35. Favorite place to eat? Home

We had some of the same answers Gaia! I will now tag:
Be sure to check out their blogs too!


I'm a Foodie Blog Roll Winner!!

A few weeks ago, I entered a contest on the Foodie Blog Roll and just found out yesterday that I am one of the winners! To enter the contest, one had to write their take on the obesity epidemic in America and/or their thoughts on America's food policy. 7 winners are to win Hank Cardello's STUFFED: An Insider’s Look at Who’s (Really) Making America Fat this month, and I was number 6! Whoo hoo!! This is a topic that I am incredibly interested in, and while I'm still learning how to dodge all of the government controlled crap they are feeding our minds and bodies, I am also trying to encourage others to educate themselves right along with me. To read my post on this topic, click here! And don't forget to checkout the Foodie Blog Roll for great recipes and other foodie tidbits and topics from my fellow enthusiasts!


Awesome Autumn Part III: Trick-or-TEA!

I've written about Mighty Leaf Tea before, 
but now is the time get in on the ghoulish prices
Mighty Leaf is running a seasonal sale on some of best herbal teas out there, 
and tis the season for cold and flu so stock up on these drinkable healing herbs now! 
you'll be able treat your souls to a nice, warm 
and oh-so-Autumn beverage.


Awesome Autumn II: Halloween Costumes

I'm back after a long and interesting moving process. I will post pictures of the new pad the moment everything is in place. In the meantime, let's talk Halloween costumes! Every year I decide what I am going to be the week before All Hallows Eve and I send myself scrambling throughout the streets of NYC looking for the coolest eyelashes or the perfect Lindsay Lohan hat! This year, I'm thinking Uma Thurman as Mia from Pulp Fiction, which should be quite simple... all I need is the wig! For my fellow trick-or-treaters I have to say that homemade costumes are the best way to go. Whether you are literally making your costume, or if you buy bits and pieces from all over- it will definitely turn out to be a much better costume than the cheap looking costumes they sell in stores. I'm a victim of said garb. Just take a look at how much cooler my A Clockwork Orange Droog and Lindsay Lohan outfits were than the Mad Hatter! What are you being for Halloween? What are your kids dressing up as? And the dog? Let's discuss!


Currently Under Construction...

... Well, not the blog- but I'm under construction. Moving into a new apt will take some time, but I'll be back soon with more Awesome Autumn Posts!


Awesome Autumn Part I: Trick-or-Donate

In celebration of Fall, I am going to diligently dedicate each post to the season! Whether it be food, wine, entertainment, travel, going green etc... it will be all things Autumn until Winter! Quite the challenge, as it is always tempting to veer off topic, but let's give it a whirl!

Autumn is the season of giving, but not just because of the Thanksgiving holiday here in the states! Autumn is a time when the earth gives us its last treats in preparation for the winter cold, and what better way to kick off the season than by giving some thanks back to mother nature?

The World Wildlife Fund is a great place to start. Endangered Species are a growing number every second, but we have the power to stop it! By October 22, when you make a $50 or $100 adaption, you will get an adorable trick-or-treat gift bag sent to you by Halloween. It's a great way to celebrate the season, and these beautiful animals!