Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

One of my favorite parts about fall is pumpkins. One of my favorite parts about pumpkins is the slimy guts. Ok not really. Just wanted to see if you were listening.  One of my favorite parts about pumpkins is the pumpkin seeds.  It took me a few years to actually like them, but now I can’t seem to get enough.  This year, we bought many pumpkins. Many. And it may, or may not be because I wanted the seeds.  ;)

Pumpkin seeds are simple to make, and delicious to eat.  There are quite a few ways to make them, too.  I like the simple ‘dash of salt’ flavor, while other nights we use a bit of cinnamon and sugar instead.  Either way…Delicious!!

The Ingredients:
Seeds from a pumpkin
Sprinkle of salt (about 1 TBL .)
Cooking Spray

The How-To:

*Preheat oven to 300*.
*Toss seeds in a strainer, ‘swirling’ around under a stream of water. (This helps get all the slimy pumpkin flesh off. Not sure why, but it clumps together making it easier to dispose of.)
*Once seeds clean, spread them on a cloth to dry. (If you don’t want to let them dry out a bit, go ahead and skip this step and move right on to the next.)
*Spread seeds in a single layer on a sprayed baking sheet.  Once they’re flat, spray the top of them with more cooking spray.
*Sprinkle salt over top (I usually dump about 1 TBL of salt in my palm, taking a ‘pinch’ size and sprinkling that on top of the seeds until it looks like enough.  Some like them salty..I like them with just a hint of salt flavor.)
*Bake for about 45 minutes or until golden brown; stir occasionally.
*Let cool and enjoy!

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Homemade Twix Bar

No. You didn’t read that wrong. I really did say homemade Twix bar.  We could give it another name..something fancy like, ‘Chocolate-y, Carmel-y, melt in your mouth goodness bar”, which would really make more sence, but..it’s a pain to type. And I’m all about simple when it comes to typing.  So, Homemade Twix Bar it is. :) 

I first had these babies at a Bunco game.  I think I did more eating then playing that night, but who’s watching, right?? The second time I had these was over the 4th of July.  I made them for everyone (there was 16 of us), and I believe I downed my fair share, PLUS everyone elses. Yeah..that was me. The twix bar theif.  Oops! This should all just tell you how delicious these really are.  Healthy. Um….no comment.  But tasty??? ABSOLUTELY!!!  (and sometimes taste has to come first. Right? Right??)  The crust is a delicate shortbread cookie. I know, right?  Then, topped with chocolate and caramel goodness….it really should be banned to have this treat. But hey, I’m not the food banner, so looks like we’ll be having this every now and then. :)  For a really good step by step on how to make this, check out Our Best Bites here.  Amazing job explaining how to make this.

This recipe comes here from Our Best Bites.
Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour by Our Best Bites
(Recipe below is from their site, with my added thoughts mixed in.)

The Ingredients:

1 c. salted butter at room temperature
1 c. powdered sugar
2 c. all-purpose flour, lightly spooned into measuring cups and leveled with a knife
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. caramels (1 14-oz. package Kraft caramel or 2 c. homemade caramel)
3 tablespoons cream (see notes above)
3 cups mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (about 1 1/2 11-oz. bags)

The How-To:

*Preheat oven to 300. Spray a 9×13″ pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
*In a large bowl or the bowl of your mixer, combine the butter, sugar, flour, and vanilla until the mixture comes together. 
* Lightly press the shortbread dough into the pan.
*Prick with a fork to prevent the crust from bubbling. 
*Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the crust is lightly golden. 
*Remove from oven and run a knife around the edges of the bars. Allow to cool completely.

*Combine the caramels and cream in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring each minute, until the mixture is smooth.
*Spread evenly over the cookie crust, then place the pan in the refrigerator and chill for 30-60 minutes or until the caramel is solid.

*In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the unwrapped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups until melted and smooth, stirring each 45 seconds. 
*Spread over the cooled caramel.
*Place in refrigerator for 1-2 hours or until the chocolate layer is solid.  (They can also be placed in the freezer for less time if you’re in a hurry.) 
* Cut into squares and serve. Store leftovers in a cool area or the refrigerator to prevent messy disasters. (and trust me..disasters will happen. Not that I mind licking chocolate off my fingers..)

While this recipe is easy to make, it does require a bit of time.  You do a lot of freezing in between the steps, but I promise you..if you’re looking for a party in your mouth..this is the one to try. :)

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Mini Lasagna

 

I am a sucker for all things mini.  You know..like things I can just pop in my mouth and devour instantly. :)  When I first found these cute, compact mini lasagna bites,(here) I knew my life would never be the same. But it took me awhile to actually make them.  It’s been so warm until recently that the thought of cooking in the oven didn’t appeal to me.  However..cooler weather has arrived and these, my friends, were first on my list of things to make.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I think about making lasagna overwhelms me.  All the layers, the long process..it’s just too much.  What I love about these is how simple they are to make. Let’s get started, shall we?

The Ingredients:

12 oz raw ground turkey (I used ground lean hamburger.)
¼ tsp salt, divided
¼ tsp pepper
1 cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped mushrooms (we aren’t mushroom people so didn’t use these.)
14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes, or tomato sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tsp dried oregano, divided
½ tsp dried basil
1 ½ cups part skim ricotta cheese
24 small square wonton wrappers (found near the tofu in the refrigerated section of the produce dept)
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

The How-To:

*Preheat oven to 375ºF.
* Heat a large skillet over medium heat.
*Add the turkey (or hamburger), onions, mushrooms, salt, and pepper. Crumble the meat and saute the mixture  until it is cooked through.
*Add the garlic and stir constantly for 30 seconds.
*Add the crushed tomatoes and 2 tsp of oregano.
*Bring the pan to a gentle boil.
*Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
*Remove from heat and set aside.

*In a separate large bowl, combine the ricotta, a pinch of salt and pepper, the remaining teaspoon of oregano, and the basil. Stir to mix well. Set aside.

*Coat a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Place 1 wonton wrapper into each of the 12 cups, pressing firmly in the bottom of the cup and up the sides. (The wonton wrappers are a bit tricky to separate, but using only ONE per layer is the way to go.  Trust me. :D)

*Using half of the ricotta mixture, divide it among the 12 muffin cups.
*Spoon half of the meat/tomato sauce, spoon it evenly over each of the ricotta filled cups. Sprinkle with 2 tsp of mozzarella.
*Gently press another wonton wrapper on top of the mozzarella layer. (again..only ONE)
*Repeat the process by distributing the remaining ricotta, then the remaining meat/tomato sauce, and finally the rest of the shredded mozzarella.

*Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and wonton wrappers are crispy.
*When the cups have cooled, it’s time to devour. :D

One of the best things about these, is that you can use them for dinner, lunch, an appetizer or a side.  Which, to me, means you can eat them all day long. :D

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Chocolate Rolo Cookies

 

I know..I can hardly believe it myself!! Who would have thought that ROLO’s and COOKIES belonged together. Well..that person is a genius. Just sayin’!  I first saw this recipe at one of my most favorite food sites here.   Her pictures are amazing. No..Ah-Mazing!! Maybe she invented these sweet treats. I don’t know. But what I do know is that these cookies are absolutely delish.  Chocolat-y…carmel-y…melt in your mouth, sinfully bad for you delicious.  (and did I mention super easy to make??)  The ingredients are few, which is an added bonus because really, when it comes down to it, who wants to spend a lot of time in the kitchen when you could be doing other meaningful things like..taste testing other food. :)   I’ve officially decided that these cookies will be on my Christmas neighbor gift list.  So if you’re my neighbor..be prepared for these to grace your taste buds. :)

Here’s the recipe as told by Buns In My Oven. *my additions are in parenthesis*

The Ingredients:

  • 1 box Devil’s Food cake mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • Rolo candies, unwrapped

The How-To:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment.
  3. Mix together the first three ingredients.
  4. Grab a small piece of dough, about half the size of a golf ball,  and roll it into a ball.
  5. Smoosh it flat, place a Rolo in the center, and then close the dough around the Rolo. Repeat until all of the dough is used. (after we covered the Rolo’s, we rolled the dough ball gently until it was a nice circle.)
  6. Bake for about 9 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Delicious served warm or at room temperature.

I would love it if you tried these and let me know how you like them. :D

 

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Cowboy Caviar

A few weeks ago we went to a work BBQ for my hubby.  We needed to bring an appetizer.  I don’t do appetizers.  I like desserts.  Lots of desserts.  This was a challenge for me.  I wanted something….dinner-y, yet not a ton of work.  Suddenly inspiration hit.  My bff from, well, my whole life, texted me and gave me this recipe.  I’m sure there’s a few out there that are similar to this, but she called it “Cowboy Caviar.”  And let me just say..it was out of this world.  It’s one of those dishes that you look at it and think, “Yeah, I’ll get it on the next go-around”.  But when you finally take a bite of it..BOOM!!  A little fiesta for your taste buds!!  It was perfect, so much so that several people wanted the recipe.  This is when the devilish side in me came out and really, really, REALLY had to force myself to hand over the recipe.

What I love most is that I have all the ingredients on hand.  No joke. It’s simple, quick, and oh so tasty.  Served with corn chips (we use Scoops Frito Chips)..it truly is a match made in heaven. 

With football season here..you can’t go wrong if you need to take this to a football party!

The Ingredients:
Cowboy Caviar
1 can shoepeg corn ( sometimes in Mexican aisle) or can use white corn
1 can black eyed peas
3 Roma tomatoes chopped
1 bunch cilantro chopped very small
1 small  bunch green onions chopped- just the green part
2 or 3 avocados cut up small pieces
1 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp black pepper
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic ( I use the already cut up version in the jars)
1 bag Fritos Scoops Chips

The How-To:
Chop everything up.  Add the drained beans and dressing (or vinegar and oil). Mix well & it’s best served cold. Serve with chips- the scoops work best!

(FYI: When I made it, I omitted the corn and avocados, and instead of using the vinegar and oil, I used Catalina Salad Dressing. Either way..YUMMMM-O!)

Serve as an appetizer or heck…go ahead and have it for dinner. I know I may..or may not.. have done that several times since making it a few weeks ago.

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Easier then easy Chicken Kababs

**NOTE** Yes. You are looking at the kabab uncooked.  Sadly, we ate them all before I could get a ‘cooked’ picture. What? They were too good. Couldn’t help it. :)

Summer means BBQ. BBQ means Kabab.  Kabab means yum!! Not that long ago I was having a little summer get together with the Bunco group I’m in.  I had no idea what to serve for these lovely ladies. I needed something that was easy, that would feed a lot (there was 12 of us), and that would taste fantastic.  Inspiration hit and Kababs found itself on the menu.  So glad that it did, too! These were delicious! Made with just a few ingredients and a bit of patience, these babies came together quickly and easily. That’s my kind of meal.

The Ingredients:

Chicken, cubed ( I used 1 bag of chicken tenderloins. You can adjust it to fit your family size or gathering)
1 can coconut milk (I used the ‘lite’ version)
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 (of each) red, orange and yellow pepper. Cut in big chunks
2 cans pineapple chunks, juice drained and reserved
1 package skewer sticks
1 onion, cut into chunk pieces

The How-to:

*place skewer sticks in water for at least an hour to help prevent burning while on the BBQ
*open the canned pineapple, drain the juice into a large bowl for marinating, place the pineapple chunks into a separate bowl.
*add the coconut milk, soy sauce to the reserved pineapple juice.  Set aside.
*cut up chicken into chunks, about 1 inch thick. Place them in the coconut milk mixture to marinate.  (over night is best, but if you don’t have that much time, at least 3 hours.)
*cut up peppers (1 1/2 inch size cubes) and place in another large bowl
*cut up onion and place in another bowl
(so basically, you have 1 huge bowl that the marinade and chicken are in. 1 bowl for the pineapple chunks, 1 bowl for the peppers and 1 bowl for the onions.  For me, it just makes it easier to have things in separate bowls, but if you want to combine the veggies, go right ahead.)

When you’re ready to assemble:
*taking one skewer stick at a time, thread the chicken, pineapple, onion and peppers in an alternating pattern until the stick is full.  (Make sure to leave about 1/2 inch between each bit of food and 1 inch on both ends of the stick.)
*place them over a baking dish or cookie sheet as the marinade will drip off the kababs

*turn your BBQ to medium high
*when it is hot enough, lower the heat to medium low
*place each kabab on the grill
*cook 3-5 minutes on each side
*after 20 minutes, check chicken to make sure it’s cooked all the way through. If so..you’re done. If not, keep it on the grill an additional few minutes until it is fully cooked.

Wa-lah!!  This chicken kabab is super tender from marinating it overnight.  The flavor is a subtle sweetness from the coconut milk and the pineapple juice.  Mixed with the soy sauce..you have a delicious combination of flavors in your mouth.  The peppers and onion add a nice crunch to finish it off.

The only thing that takes time is threading the chicken and veggies on the skewer stick.  I have to admit, I am not a fan of doing this. However, it’s worth it. I promise. :)

Oh…and next time, I’ll be sure to get a ‘after’ picture…if we can wait that long before scarfing these down. :D

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Ice Cream Sandwich Cookies

I always feel giddy when I think about an ice cream sandwich.  Not sure why..but it just makes me happy.  And, after one too many attempts to chase down the ice cream man and missing him by mere seconds, I knew I had to learn how to make my own ice cream sandwich.  I found this recipe and realized that it doesn’t even use ice cream..but..I think I might like it better that way. Shhhh…don’t tell the ice cream man. I’ll let you decide what you like best.  Either way, my freezer is stock full of these bad boys.  :D

Ingredients:
(For the cookies)
1 package devil’s food cake mix
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil

The How-To: 

 

*Heat oven to 350 degrees.
*Add oil and eggs to cake mix and blend together. (Mix will be stiff.)
*Roll dough into balls, (about the size of a quarter..don’t worry, they will be a bit bigger)
*Place on greased cookie sheet.
*Press down slightly on each cookie with the bottom of a glass cup or your fist.  Not too hard, just enough to make it spread out a bit and is somewhat flat.
*Bake for 8 minutes.
*Remove from oven and let cool on sheet (until warm).
*Remove cookies from sheet and place on cooling rack.

Cream Cheese Filling Recipe:
1 – stick butter (1/2 cup)
1 – 8oz  cream cheese, softened 
3-4 cups – confectioner’s sugar (depending on desired consistency.  I usually go with 3 cups)
1 – tsp vanilla extract

*Cream butter and add cream cheese and mix well. Add confectioner’s sugar slowly until you reach your desired consistency.

To assemble the cookies:
*Add about a tablespoon of filling into the center of one cookie.
*Place another cookie similar in size on top of the filling.
*Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie.
*Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream.
*Place in an air tight container or freezer ziplock bags and store in the freezer until the cream frosting is frozen. 
*When ready to eat, let set out in room temperature for a few minutes to soften the cream up a bit. (about 3 minutes..remember, it’s supposed to resemble ice cream. :D)

After you make your batch, let me know how you like it. Oh..and one more thing..if you want to be really daring, you could add a little peppermint extract flavoring to the cream mixture and have a little Oreo/peppermint cookie. YUM!! One of our favorite Christmas cookies to make. :)

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Easy-Peasy mini cheesecakes

These little beauties are so, so easy to make, and so, so easy to devour. I’m not sure that’s a good thing, but for today, let’s just say that it is. :D  It’s been a warm summer and we needed something cool to eat.  Something..graham cracker-y, and cheescake-y topped with a little bit of fruit. BINGO!! Mini cheesecakes entered our life. We’re so glad to have them come and stay. ;)

The Ingredients:

  • 2 cups crushed graham cracker
  • 8 TBL margarine-melted
  •  8 TBL sugar
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • strawberries or any other fruit to top cheesecake with
The How-To: 
For the crust:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line miniature muffin tins with miniature paper liners.
  2. Crush the graham crackers until a fine crumb. 
  3. Melt the butter. When melted, mix in 8 TBL. of sugar until well mixed.
  4. Combine the crumbs with the butter mixture.
  5. Press into the lined muffin tins.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes, watching it closely to make sure it doesn’t burn. 

While the crust is cooking, make the cheesecake:

*In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice until light and fluffy. 
* When the crust has cooled completely, fill each miniature muffin liner with the cheesecake mixture, almost to the top.
* Top with a teaspoonful of cherry pie filling.
*Eat immediately or store in the fridge until ready to eat. 

(Just a side note: the crust might get a little soft the longer you wait to eat it. I suggest eating it ASAP. You’ll thank me later. :D)

 

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Hawaiian BBQ Sandwich

It’s Summer!!!! And Summer means yummy, delicious food that you cook on the grill. No need to get your house all hot and …well..suffocating..when you can easily go outside (where it’s equally suffocating and hot ;D), and make dinner on the good ‘ol BBQ.  (me secret new BFF, just in case you’re wondering..)

This recipe was brought to my attention a few years ago.  I don’t even remember where it came from, so I can’t give credit where credit is due. I will however, let you know that despite what my little  man believes, I didn’t invent this recipe.  (I know..my picky eater LOVES this meal..that’s saying volumes! Volumes, people!!)

Basically, it’s chicken marinated in a sweet/tangy orange sauce, then grilled to perfection.  Topped with tomatoes, red onions and grilled pineapple..yeah..it’s amazing. 

Ingredients:
Chicken (1 breast or 2  tenderloin for each sandwich)
1/2 cup orange juice
1 can pineapple ringe, drained, juice reserved
Reserved pineapple juice (from above)
4 Tablespoons soy sauce
Thin sandwich buns (I use Sandwich thins. Yum!!)
Lettuce
Tomato, sliced thin
Red onion, sliced thin
BBQ sauce, ketchup, mustard, mayo..optional

The How-To:

*In a large zip-lock bag, place the chicken pieces, orange juice, soy sauce, and pineapple juice.  Let marinade at least 4 hours..overnight is best, though.

When ready to grill:
*Heat grill to medium heat.  Place chicken on grill and cook until no longer pink..about 5 minutes on each side. (For the tenderloins, it might be a shorter time, for thicker chicken breast pieces, it will be longer.)
*While chicken is on the grill, start slicing the tomatos, and onions.
*When chicken is finished cooking, arrange lettuce on a thin bread bun.
*Add chicken, tomatoes, and onion.
*Finish off with a slice of pineapple (grilled if desired.)
*Place the top of the bun on and enjoy!

See how easy? Nohing to it.  And for reals..this is a taste of freshness and fruit, mixed with the heartiness of chicken.  Ohh-la-la, I love it!!

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Filed under chicken, dinnertime, lunch, sandwich, sandwich

Peanut-y Fruit Dip

You are not going to believe this.  No, really..I didn’t either.   This delicious fruit dip is made with something you would never guess.  I’m a little hesitant to even tell you what it is because I don’t want to scare you off.  However, I will.  But before I do, let me just tell you how yummy this is.  It’s YUMMY!!  ok..I’ll tell you more.  It’s absolutely delicious!! We love to dip fruit chunks in it..apples, pineapple, bananas..it’s all good.  If we’re really crazy, we dip crackers in it. (see photos for proof of our dipping craziness.)  Ok..are you ready for the secret ingredient? Here it is……….drum roll please……………garbanzo beans. There. I said it.  Now, before you run away and hide..just give it a try. It truly is tasty, and healthy, for you.  I stumbled upon this recipe here, at Chocolate Covered Katie.   And while you’re there, take a look around. Her stuff will blow your socks off. For reals..she’s genius when it comes to making healthy dishes that also taste fantastic. :)

Ok..on to the recipe:

The Ingredients: 
1 1/2 cups chickpeas (1 can, drained) (250g)
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup nut butter
1/4 cup plus 3T nondairy milk (I used 1%. It’s all I had)
2/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup chocolate chips
Optional: I add 1/4 cup flaxmeal for omega 3s and a fun texture (you can also add quick oats!)

The How-To:
Add all ingredients (except for chocolate chips) to a blender or food processor, and blend until very smooth. Then mix in the chocolate chips. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Now, if you’ll notice, mine turned out a little more creamy then hers.  That’s because I didn’t have any flaxmel and didn’t use quick oats.  Next time, I think I will use the oats.  Also..how could I not have any chocolate chips on hand!? That should be illegal!!! Next time (and there WILL be a next time!) I’ll be adding these for sure. 

Very yum! Just sayin’…

 

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