Girl Meets Bulgaria

Musings of an American expat in Bulgaria (with detours in Utah and Alaska)


2012 Fall Firsts

Sunday night family dinners are pretty important to my family. It’s especially nice for me when we get together because I am so rarely in Utah these days. My grandmother passed away at the end of July , so our dinners are definitely not the same anymore, but I enjoy them nonetheless.

Tonight we had a casual dinner out to celebrate my uncle’s birthday. After dinner we headed back to my grandpa’s house to have some pie and just spend some time together.

We (well, my cousin, M. to be specific) took this opportunity to carve our first pumpkin of the season. The second the top was removed and the seeds and ‘guts’ we pulled out, I knew it was officially fall. That smell is irresistible!

For my cousin’s birthday party next weekend we are carving pumpkins as well. I bought a knife kit from Target a few shopping trips ago (ah, there have been so many since being home), so I’m all set to get my carvin’ on!

I’m not generally a pie person, but I did have a bite of pumpkin pie tonight and it was delicious.

All in all it was a fun night with the fam. I only have a few more weeks left to spend time with everyone and top enjoy autumn in Salt Lake City.

Autumn in Sofia awaits my arrival!


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October Traditions: Carving Pumpkins and Roasting Seeds

Last night, for my cousin birthday, I went over to my aunt and uncles house for our annual pumpkin carve-a-thon.

We went to a couple local stores and picked out the best carvin’ beauties we could find and lugged them home.

Usually, “gutting” the pumpkin is my least favorite part, but this time I didn’t mind at all. I was intent on gathering all of the seeds from my pumpkin so I could roast them. I’ve done it in years past but for some reason they never turned out very well.

By the time I was done picking pumpkin goo off of all my seeds, everyone else was done carving so I carved mine at lightning speed. It turned out pretty cute, I think!

My pumpkin is on the bottom – SMILE!

I put all the seeds into a bowl full of water then we carried our jack-o-lanterns outside and my uncle lit the candles with a butane torch. Yep. A torch!

After that, I got to work roasting my seeds!

I googled how to do it  and used a few pointers from a couple of websites. In the end they turned out amazing!

Here’s my “recipe” for some delicious roasted pumpkin seeds:

  • Soak the seeds in a bowl of cold water for 10-15 minutes
  • Pour the seeds into a strainer and rub them between your fingers under running water (to clean off any remaining pumpkin bits)
  • Lay seeds out on paper towels and pat dry
  • Spread seeds in a single layer on a cookie sheet and place in a warm oven for 10 minutes to ensure they are completely dry (stir after 5 minutes)
  • Remove from oven
  • With a spatula, group the seeds in the middle of the cookie sheet
  • Gather your spices (I used seasoned salt, garlic powder and fresh ground sea salt)
  • Melt butter or margarine in the microwave and pour over seeds (I used about 3 Tbsp for all of the seeds from one large pumpkin)
  • Sprinkle desired amount of spices over the seeds
  • Spread seeds evenly back out over the cookie sheet (I ground some sea salt over them at this point)
  • Place in oven, stirring every 5 minutes, until the seeds start to look golden brown (mine took 30 min.)
  • Remove from oven and let cool. OR…
  • Stand and eat directly from the hot cookie sheet (if you are anything like my aunt and I!)

Oh man. They are SO yummy! I highly recommend you try roasting your own. I found lots of spice combinations online. You can do savory, sweet, “Halloweeny” (cinnamon, ginger and allspice), lemon flavored, and lots more!

As I write this I am eating more seeds! Mmm.

What are your October/fall traditions?


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Oreo Truffle Balls & Pumpkin Muffins

This past weekend I got together with some friends for a pot luck.

I volunteered to make Oreo Truffle Balls. I have made them quite a bit in the past and people always love them.

I don’t know where I originally got the recipe, somewhere online I am sure. Over the past few years of making them I have tweaked the recipe a bit and figured out what does and doesn’t work.

My favorite thing about them is how elegant they can look with not too much effort. They aren’t as easy as just popping a box cake into the oven, but they aren’t much harder! Continue reading