Tag Archives: sides

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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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. 😀

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. 😀

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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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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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Fruit Pizza



You can’t tell me you’re not drooling right now. Wait..you’re not drooling?? How can I be the only one going crazy over this dish? Well, it could be because you haven’t made it…yet. 🙂  Which is why I will share with you one of my all-time favorite summer dishes.  It’s fruity. It’s sweet. It’s pizza. Only, better. Made with a pie crust, a secret little pudding sauce that will have you doing a happy dance in no time, and topped with mounds of fresh fruit, this beauty screams “SUMMER”.  (at least, at my house that’s what I hear…) 


1 pie crust (homemade or refrigerated store-bought. I use store-bought. Don’t  judge.)
1 box instant vanilla pudding mix
2 cups cold milk
1 carton whipped cream (you can use lite or fat-free if you’d like. Both are delicious)
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries, washed
1 cup halved blueberries, washed
1 cup fresh peach slices
1 cup fresh raspberries
1 banana, sliced
1/2 cup softened butter
cinnamon and sugar to sprinkle

The How-To:

(the crust)
Pre-heat oven to 350*
*Roll out pie crust onto baking sheet
*Spread a thin layer of butter over the top of the pie crust, making sure to get right to the edges
*Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over the top of the butter
*Bake for 12-20 minutes or until crust is cooked through and golden
*Remove from oven and let cool completely

The toppings:
*In a large mixing bowl, combine the box of vanilla pudding mix and 2 cups of cold milk.  Mix well
*Add the whipped cream.  Again, mix well
*Place pudding mixture in the refrigerator until ready to use
*Meanwhile, take the strawberries, blueberries, peaches, raspberries and any other fruit of choice.  Wash and slice into bite sized pieces. 

*When the crust has cooled completely, spread the pudding mixture over top.  Make sure you spread it all the way to the edges, you don’t want to leave any crust feeling left out.
*Top with fresh berries..again, covering all the crust to the edges. 
*Serve immediately.  The crust has a tendency to get a little soft  if you don’t eat it quickly after topping it with the pudding and berry mixture.  But hey, can we really be patient enough to wait?? No.  Eating it right away works for me.

Are you drooling now?  Maybe if I tell you that the crust is light and flaky, and the pudding mixture adds just the right amount of sweetness to make the fruit sing praises to Summer. Now are you drooling?  Maybe another photo will do the job..

I don’t know about you, but I need to go make this…right now.  As in..RIGHT. NOW.  Care to join me??  😀  What are some of your favorite summer time treats??

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Back to Basics..Garden Salad

Summer is here!!!  Let’s give a shout out to Mr. Sun and deep blue skies, shall we? We shall!!  I’m so excited to see the sky. For reals. It’s been a loooong winter here, and summer is just what I needed to boost my attitude and feeling like I’m living in a snow cave.  But, we won’t talk about that.  Instead, we’ll talk about a simple, basic food that is always one of my favorites. (besides chocolate and anything dipped in sugar. :D) 

Enter: Garden Salad.

A garden salad is just that..foods that come from a garden.  Lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, onions..you get the picture, right?  When I’m hungry, in a rush, but want something that’s good for me, I usually turn to the trusty garden salad.  Loaded with fresh veggies..you just know you’re doing something good for yourself.


The best thing about this salad is that you can put virtually anything in it.  I tend to stay on the calmer side and just use the basics.  Tomatoes and cucumbers with little chunks of chicken. They are my friend.  I want to marry them.

But if you’re feeling a little wild, add boiled egg slices, maybe a few sunflower seeds or even some bacon bits.  But for me..I like it plain and simple, and oh so good for you. 🙂

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Garlic Dinner Rolls

This happened on accident.  Should I even admit that? 

I was making some pizza dough the other night for dinner (that blog post is soon to come. :D), and had some leftover dough. “Hmmm..what to do with this?”  I thought.  Well, how about make some garlic bread rolls?!  Brilliant!  I’ve always seen these rolls, the kind that have three cute little ‘puffs’ that some how come together while baking and just look..amazing. Yeah, that’s what I was going for.  These might not look like that, but boy..do they deliver in flavor! 😀

(This recipe is for pizza dough that I found here, which I also used for these rolls. Fantastic, favorite site that I just can’t stay away from. :D)


1 1/4 cups warm water
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

The How-To:
* In a large mixing bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer), mix the water, yeast, sugar, honey and oil. (If using active dry yeast, increase the amount of yeast to 2 3/4 teaspoons and proof the yeast in the water until foamy before mixing in the sugar, honey and oil.) 

*Mix in 1 cup flour and the salt. Continue mixing in all the remaining flour until you get a nice, soft dough. Knead until dough is soft and smooth, about 10 minutes by hand or 5 minutes with a stand mixer.

*Shape the dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl and cover tightly (with a lid or plastic wrap).

***this is where I switch from making pizza dough, to garlic rolls**

*Let rise for about an hour

*Punch down dough.  Taking ‘pinch’ sized pieces (I just kind of tore a piece of dough and rolled it into a 1/2 tablespoon sized ball…if that makes sense.), and roll them into small balls.

*Place 3 balls in each well-greased muffin tin.

*Let rise for 30 minutes so they get nice and puffy looking. (think..marshmellow. Yes. Absolutely think that.) 

*Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350* or until golden brown.

*Rub the tops of the rolls with a little butter

*After baking, top with parmesan cheese for a little extra flavor. (And I know you like flavor. :D)

Wah-lah! Garlic dinner rolls. Perfect paired up with soup, salad, pizza, lasagna, anything, really.  You can omit the garlic or..if you’re an animal..use cinnamon and sugar! I dare you! 😀 Rawr!

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Bacon and Broccoli Alfredo

Isn’t there something comforting about a yummy plate of creamy, noodle-y deliciousness? Especially when bacon is involved. Yes, I think so too. The other day I was wondering what I could make for dinner. I knew time was short, we were going to have a busy night and spending a lot of time in the kitchen just wasn’t going to work. However, I wanted something other than toast. SO..I went on a search to find something quick, tasty, and pleasing to all members in my family.  Enter: Bacon and Broccoli Alfredo.  And, you guessed it, I found it here on one of my ‘go-to’ sites.  (If you haven’t checked out her blog..DO. The pictures will have you drooling in no time.  Her recipe is below..)


  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 2 cups chopped broccoli (about 2 heads)
  • 5 slices bacon, diced
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese (not the powdery kind!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • grilled chicken (optional)

The How-To:

*Bring a large stock pot of water to a rolling boil. Boil pasta according to package directions.

*While the pasta is boiling, fry the diced bacon until crisp. Add in the broccoli florets and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until they are tender-crisp.

*Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, add the butter and heavy cream until heated through and butter is melted. Add in the Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Stir until the cheese is thoroughly melted and sauce is a smooth, creamy consistency.

*Drain pasta when done and add to a large serving bowl. Pour in the bacon and broccoli and toss it in with the penne. Pour the Alfredo sauce over top of the penne and stir until well combined.

*Serve topped with sliced grilled chicken, if desired.

I’m thinking that if you’re not a fan of broccoli..green peas, maybe even corn, would work perfectly. Or..if you’re really wild and crazy, throw in some asparagus! 😀  The bacon gives it a nice smokey taste, the noodles are soft and perfect, while the alfredo sauce adds the creamy spunk.  All combined, this meal is Amazing! (Yes, a giant  “A” was in order..) If you prefer this as a side dish..I think that would be ok, too. 🙂  (Is there ever a time when I’ll turn down a side dish that involves bacon? I think not. )

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Garlic-Rice Pilaf

What does ‘pilaf’ mean?  I wasn’t sure either. Don’t worry, we’ll figure it out together. 😀 
I might know what you’re thinking, though…it looks like a bowl of rice. Simple, plain, bowl of rice.  However, do not be fooled by this.  When it hits your tastebuds, you’ll realize what a gem you’ve discovered with this dish.  😀

I first found this recipe here at Annie Eats, one of my favorite ‘go-to’ sites. No joke..all her food is heavenly! Anyway,   I was looking for a little something extra to go with dinner, but didn’t want the ‘norm’. I did want something simple to make that the kids would love.  When I saw this..I knew I hit the jackpot. Why not? I mean, we like rice and garlic. Combining them could only produce great results.  Watching the kids scarf this down (..and I do mean Scarf with a capitol S..) it became an instant winner in our house.  Super easy to make, super delicious to eat, what’s not to love?

2 tbsp. butter
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 cup long-grain white rice
2½ cups chicken broth, divided
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
Squeeze of lemon juice

The How-To: 
*Preheat the oven to 375° 
* In a saucepan or skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  
*Add the garlic and rice to the pan and cook until both are golden brown, about 3-4 minutes.
* Stir in 1 cup of the chicken broth, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.  
*Pour the mixture into the casserole dish, cover, and bake for 25 minutes.  
*Stir in the remaining 1½ cups chicken broth and bake, covered, for another 45 minutes.  
*About 15 minutes before it is finished baking, stir in a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Note: This recipe can be doubled without increasing the baking time.

It seems like it’s a lot of cooking time, but your house will smell amazing as this is cooking.  So worth it.  My advice for next time..make MORE then what I think we’ll eat.  Clearly, we’ll …scarf….it all down.

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Easiest Salsa Ever

Oh my. If this doesn’t say “EAT ME”, I’m not sure what will. (Well, other then something chocolate-y, of course..) This salsa is what I grew up with.  My mom would make it often, and I would scarf..I mean..eat it properly, as fast as she made it.  One of my favorite things.  The way I make it is not spicy at all.  In fact, I don’t add any spices or seasonings. Simply tomatoes, onions, and cilantro. (hence the name: ‘Easies’t Salsa Ever. 😀 Genius, I know.)

5 tomatoes, diced
1/2 onion, chopped
1 bunch of cilantro, washed and chopped

The how-to:
Combine all ingedients into a medium bowl. Mix well.

See!? Super easy! Now, if you like spice..go ahead and add it. If you want to squeeze some lime juice in there..be my guest.  Add some finely chopped peppers if your heart desires.  That’s the great thing about this salsa..it’s SO easy to create and make it your own.  Plus, it’s amazing served up with Homemade Tortilla Chips or crackers. YUM!!  Let me say it again, just so you hear me…YUM!! 😀

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