oven-roasted pumpkin seeds

Happy Tuesday! As promised in an earlier post, I have a quick & easy recipe to share with you today: oven-roasted pumpkin seeds. If you are someone like me who does not like to waste anything, this is a great way to get the most bang for your buck out of your carved Halloween pumpkins!

carved pumpkins

After you’ve scooped out all those slimy pumpkin guts, why not roast up the pumpkin seeds for a healthy and delicious snack or salad-topper? Pumpkin seeds are a terrific source of zinc, vitamin e, and a wealth of antioxidants!

oven-roasted pumpkin seeds

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

2. Rinse the seeds clean of all pumpkin goop.

cleaning seeds

3. Dry the seeds on a paper towel.

4. In a small bowl, stir 2 tbsp butter or coconut oil with the seeds until they are well-greased.

5. Spread out the seeds in one layer on the baking sheet. {We had enough pumpkin seeds to do two separate batches.}

seeds to bake

6. Season however your heart desires! We did one sweet batch {pumpkin pie spice + cinnamon} and one savory batch {garlic salt + ground pepper.}

7. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until seeds begin to turn golden brown at edges. Be careful not to overcook the seeds, because they burn quickly! Roasting pumpkin seeds reminded me a lot of cooking popcorn, where things can go from delicious –> disastrous in a very short time frame.

roasted pumpkin seeds

ENJOY! 🙂

my favorite. dessert. ever!

Happy Friday, friends! Hope you have something fun planned for this weekend. 🙂 I am getting ready to head to LA this afternoon for my cousin Amanda’s bachelorette party! I am so excited! It will actually be the first bachelorette party I’ve ever attended. I’m looking forward to seeing my cousins and friends and celebrating Amanda’s final days of singledom!

I have a delicious recipe to share with you today! I made this for my dad’s birthday cake on Monday. He loves peanut butter and chocolate, so I took my peanut butter cup brownies and upgraded them to a “brownie-cake” … and the highlight is definitely the homemade peanut butter frosting! This frosting is SO simple to make, and if you like peanut butter, you are in for a treat! I predict you will be licking the bowl. {Or maybe that’s just me!}

pb brownie cake

I will warn you in advance, I didn’t even try to healthify this dessert … I don’t even want to know how many calories/fat/sugar/etc. is in a slice of this! Sometimes you just have to treat yourself, right? But I did just come across this recipe by Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean for healthy sweet potato brownies that I might try using in this recipe in the future! If you try it out, let me know how it goes!

I used my fave boxed brownie mix … Ghiradelli dark chocolate!

brownie mix

I made the batter as directed {if you’re trying to healthify things a little, you could substitute unsweetened applesauce for half of the oil} and poured the batter into a lightly greased 8 x 8 pan. Then I stuck in mini dark chocolate peanut butter cups in a tic-tac-toe pattern.

brownies prebake

Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

brownie cake

Once the brownies were cool, I frosted them with homemade peanut butter frosting!

homemade peanut butter frosting
– 1/4 cup butter, softened
– 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
– 3/4 cup powdered sugar
– 2 tbsp milk {to taste … depending on your frosting consistency preferences!}

1. Mix together the butter and peanut butter until well blended.

butter pb

2. Slowly add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add milk until it gets to desired consistency.

frosting

After frosting the brownies, my final step was sprinkling mini chocolate chips over the frosting layer. Ta da! My favorite dessert ever!

pb dessert

These disappeared from our house in record time!

Thank you also for the sweet birthday wishes! I had a wonderful birthday. My family took me out for dinner and even surprised me with sunflowers! How pretty and happy are these flowers?

bday girl

Thanks also to everyone who took part in my birthday beauty giveaway, and welcome to all our new subscribers! The two randomly selected winners are:
– Big Beauty Basket: Anna Wang
– Travel Beauty Clutch: Jo Tran

I will email you both to get your mailing addresses to send you the prizes!

Happy weekend, everyone! Eat something yummy and spend time with those you love!

MPM-Spring
This post is linked up as part of Menu-Plan Monday!

peanut butter cup brownies

Thanks to everyone who joined in Monday for this week’s #yearofkindness challenge {delivering valentines to a nursing home} and those who were with us last week for my fave romantic movies and easy, inexpensive homemade Valentines ideas. Today we’re continuing “Valentine’s Week” with a delicious recipe that you can make for your sweetie, friends, coworkers, or even yourself!

valentines week

Peanut butter and chocolate may be my all-time favorite dessert combo, so it’s no surprise I was inspired to combine peanut butter cups and dark chocolate brownie mix! I thought I was soooo clever for using my muffin tin to make these cute little brownie cups, but one of my friends told me she and her mom have been making these babies for years. Maybe I’m a little late to the party, or maybe it’s just true that great minds think alike! 🙂 Either way, these are de-li-cious and so easy to whip up. Enjoy!

peanut butter cup brownies

– 1 package brownie mix {i like the dark chocolate variety}
– 1 package mini peanut butter cups
– 1 egg
– 1/3 cup vegetable oil
– 1/3 cup water

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with paper cups or spray with vegetable spray and set aside.

2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine brownie mix, egg, vegetable oil, and water. Stir until ingredients are well-mixed and there are no lumps in the batter.

3. Fill each muffin cup 3/4 of the way to the top with the batter.

4. In the center of each cup, gently press an unwrapped peanut butter cup.

reeses brownies

5. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until a fork inserted in the center comes out clean.

reeses brownies

YUM! These are dangerously good. You’ll want to eat the whole batch yourself!

What are some of your favorite Valentine’s Day memories? Are you planning to do any Valentine’s baking this year?

More tomorrow!
-Dallas ❀

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Looking for more Valentine’s Day treats to make? You might enjoy these earlier posts:
red velvet cupcakes with coconut cream-cheese frosting
rice krispies treats with m&ms
chocolate strawberry coconut cookies

marvelous monday: apple-banana oatmeal muffins

You know how much I love muffins, especially healthy, hearty and delicious muffins that will get your day off to a marvelous start! Here’s another recipe that I found and tweaked slightly to make it more nutritious. I will be enjoying for breakfast all week and I hope you like it, too!

apple-banana oatmeal muffins
{recipe adapted from this one at Rock Recipes}

– 1 & 1/2 cups oatmeal
– 1 cup  whole wheat flour
– 1 tsp baking powder
– 1 tsp baking soda
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 2 tsp cinnamon
– 1 tsp nutmeg
– 2 eggs
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 2/3 cup milk {I used soy milk, but any kind will do!}
– 1/4 cup applesauce {I used no-sugar-added}
– 1/4 cup brown sugar
– 1 ripe banana, mashed

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper wrappers.

2. Peel the banana and mash it until the biggest lumps are out.

3. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, applesauce, milk and vanilla. Set aside.

4. In a different bowl, mix together oatmeal, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

5. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, mixing well.

6. Add in the banana. If batter is too thick, add more applesauce.

7. Spoon batter into muffin tins until they are about 3/4 of the way full.

8. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until a fork inserted in the center comes out clean.

These muffins are SO good served warm! Inspired by Julie at the blog Peanut Butter Fingers, I topped mine with some dark chocolate peanut butter for a healthy breakfast that tasted decadent. It’s the perfect way to get an ordinary day off to a special start!

You can download a printable version of this recipe here: apple banana oatmeal muffins.

Have a marvelous day! 🙂
-Dallas

easy honey-lime chicken enchiladas

Tired of turkey leftovers? I was in the mood for Mexican food tonight, and when I saw this recipe for a honey-lime marinade for chicken, I was inspired! I turned it into a crock-pot recipe, added some diced onion and bell pepper, tortillas and cheese and green tomatillo sauce, and made honey-lime chicken enchiladas. They turned out del-i-ci-ous, and SO easy!

I made a small batch since it’s just Mike & me, but you could easily double or even triple this recipe to feed a bigger family. These enchiladas heat up great as leftovers and even freeze well for later meals.

honey-lime chicken enchiladas

– 2 large chicken breasts
– 2 tsp minced garlic
– 1/3 cup honey
– 1/3 cup lime juice
– 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
– 1 small onion, diced
– 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
– 3 wheat tortillas
– 1 cup shredded reduced fat Mexican cheese
– 1 small can green enchilada sauce

1. Place chicken breasts in the bottom of the crock-pot. Add chicken broth, honey, and lime juice, and stir to combine. Cook on low for 4-6 hours.

2. Saute onion, garlic and bell pepper in a little olive oil over low heat for 3-5 minutes, until onion becomes translucent. Add ingredients to crock pot mixture and cook for another 1-2 hours.

3. The chicken mixture is done when chicken is fully cooked and most of the liquid has evaporated. If needed, take off the lid and turn heat to high for the final 15-20 minutes of cooking.

4. Turn off crock-pot and use a knife and fork to pull apart/shred the chicken.

5. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare an 8×8 glass baking pan by pouring about 1/3 of the can of enchilada sauce into the pan to coat the bottom.

6. Fill each tortilla with the shredded chicken mixture and a spoonful of enchilada sauce. Roll and lay into the pan. Pour the remainder of the enchilada sauce evenly over the tortillas and top with cheese.

7. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until cheese is fully melted and edges of the tortillas are a little crispy.

I served mine with brown rice and broccoli for a filling, healthy and delicious meal!

What are some of your favorite post-Thanksgiving, non-turkey meals? {Actually, this recipe would probably work well with turkey, too, now that I think of it!} 🙂

Hope you’re having a great week!
-Dallas

perfect pumpkin pie

Happy weekend, everyone! Sorry that I didn’t get a pumpkin recipe up yesterday … with Greg coming into town and my GRE test this morning, it kind of slipped by the wayside. But I’m happy to report that Pumpkin Week is back today!

I shared in a post last month that I made a delicious pumpkin pie … and that I also made a disaster of a pumpkin pie! Seriously, it was pretty gross. It never seemed fully cooked, so I kept putting it back in the oven for longer and longer, and then the top started to kind of peel away from the rest of the {still-uncooked-seeming} pumpkin mixture. Imagine a creme brulee or pudding sort of thing happening, only on pumpkin pie.

Not. Good.

I was so disheartened I didn’t even take pictures of it. The bad embarrassed blogger in me just tossed it into the trash. I wish now I would have taken pictures so I could have shown it to you. {Thanks to Bonnie at Recipes Happen for encouraging all of us to embrace our mistakes, laugh about them, and learn from them!} Alas, I did not take pictures, so you’ll just have to imagine it and take my word that it was baaaaad.

Here’s what I think happened: I tried substituting truvia for the sugar, and something about that mixture didn’t work out. I don’t know if I added too much of it, or too little, or if just my pie happened to be unlucky, or what. Have any of you tried baking with a sugar substitute like truvia or splenda? Any tips or advice? As you know, I’m always trying to find ways to make recipes healthier! But maybe sometimes, like in the case of pumpkin pie, it’s best to stick with the basics. 😉

I’ve also tried making pumpkin pie with both evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk, and I must say that I like the sweetened condensed version better. It’s a little creamier texture-wise, and has a good balance of sweetness and pumpkiny goodness. My latest experiment has been trying reduced fat sweetened condensed milk, which I’m happy to report tasted just as delicious with fewer calories! Hooray for small victories.

In the past I’ve always used pre-made graham cracker crust from the grocery store  but in the future I’m hoping to try making my own graham cracker crust {or even my own graham crackers after being inspired by this post by Jill at Reini Days!} I’ll keep you posted! I also am very generous with spices, particularly cinnamon. If you’re not the biggest cinnamon fan, you might adjust the spices to fit your tastes.

perfect pumpkin pie

– 1 graham cracker crust {I like the reduced fat version just fine}
– 1 can pumpkin
– 1 can reduced fat sweetened condensed milk
– 2 eggs
– 1 tsp vanilla
– 2 tsp cinnamon
– 1/2 tsp nutmeg
– 1/2 tsp cloves
– 1/2 tsp ginger
– 1/2 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Combine pumpkin with spices and vanilla.

3. Beat eggs and add to pumpkin mixture.

4. Add sweetened condensed milk and beat well.

5. Pour pie filling into graham cracker crust.

6. Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees, then turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake for another 40-45 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center of the pie comes out clean.

Serve with whipped cream on top for the perfect pie experience!

YUM! I love pumpkin pie.

I’m in the mood for celebrating now that my GRE exam is over … hooray for the weekend! 🙂 Hope you are having a wonderful day!

-Dallas

pumpkin pasta

Happy Thursday, everyone! I’m in a super happy mood because my brother Greg is arriving this evening for a long weekend visit! I’m leaving right after I finish teaching to go pick him up at the airport. I am sooooo excited to see him! 🙂

I have another new recipe to share with you today for pumpkin week! I made this last night after seeing a recipe on AllRecipes.com that compared this sauce to “inside-out pumpkin ravioli” … I’ve never had pumpkin ravioli but it sounds really delicious. So I thought I would give this pumpkin pasta sauce a whirl. And I’m so glad I did! It was even better than I expected.

I was starving when I got home from school this evening {a little later than usual because I had a meeting after class for Sycamore Review, the literary magazine I work for} so I discovered an added bonus of this recipe: it comes together pretty quickly! I made the sauce while the pasta was cooking, and the entire thing was ready to eat in about 15-20 minutes.

pumpkin pasta

– 1 package noodles of your choice {I used whole-wheat spaghetti; I think penne would also be delicious}
– 1 tbsp butter
– 1 tbsp flour
– 1 small onion, diced
– 1 tbsp minced garlic
– 1 zucchini, diced
– 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
– 1/2 cup skim milk
– 1 cup pumpkin puree
– 1 tsp onion powder
– 1 tsp garlic powder
– 1 tsp chili powder
– 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
– salt & pepper to taste
– grated Parmesan cheese to taste

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions.

2. While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a large pot and saute onion, garlic and zucchini. Add flour and stir to make a rue.

3. Add the chicken broth, milk, and pumpkin. Stir together until well blended.

4. Add the onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, pumpkin pie spice, and salt and pepper.

5. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, until sauce reaches desired thickness.

6. Drain the pasta. Add sauce to the drained pasta, and toss with the Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

I served mine with fresh baked French bread. It was the perfect complement to the pasta and I loved mopping up the sauce at the bottom of my bowl with the warm bread. {Something I wouldn’t do in a restaurant, but at home it seems okay!} 🙂

Hope your week is going great! Tomorrow, I’ll have a classic pumpkin recipe for you to wrap up the work week: pumpkin pie!

-Dallas

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– Time: 20 mins
– Cost: about $8

pumpkin week: savory {and easy!} pumpkin & kale stew

Whew, what a night! After a whirlwind election day, I was in the mood for something simple for dinner.  When I saw this recipe for savory pumpkin and kale stew on one of my favorite cooking blogs The Pajama Chef, I thought it would be the perfect dish to try as part of my pumpkin week series!

I must admit, I had never had pumpkin soup before and was a little skeptical, but after reading Sarah The Pajama Chef’s rave reviews, my curiosity won out and I decided to try out the dish myself!

This soup turned out absolutely delicious. It’s hearty thanks to the chicken and veggies, creamy thanks to the pumpkin and dash of cream, and very flavorful. It just tastes like autumn — warm and comforting. And it’s super healthy with the kale, carrots, and Vitamin-A-filled pumpkin!

{Here is my recipe, modified a little from the one I found on The Pajama Chef}

ingredients:

– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 1 small onion, diced
– 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– freshly ground black pepper
– 4 cups chicken broth
– 1 & 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
– 2 chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
– 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
– 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
– 3-4 leaves kale, chopped {about 2-3 loosely packed cups}
– 1 tablespoon fresh sage, minced
– 2 tablespoons half and half

1. In a stock pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots and garlic, and season with black pepper. Saute for about 5-6 minutes or until soft and translucent.

2. Next, add chicken broth, pumpkin, black beans, chicken, and pumpkin pie spice. Stir until combined, then cover and bring to a boil. {Sarah’s original recipe includes adding a can of stewed tomatoes as well, which I’m sure would be delicious. I took the tomatoes out of my recipe because Mike is allergic.}

3. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes.

4. Add kale and sage, and cook for another minute or two.

5. Stir in half and half and serve immediately.

This meal was a winner for me and I will definitely be making it again! And I’m already looking forward to leftovers for lunch tomorrow. 😉

What are some of your favorite stew and soup recipes? Have you ever made pumpkin or butternut squash soup?

Till tomorrow,
-Dallas

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– Time: about 30 mins
– Cost: less than $10

election day pumpkin oatmeal cookies

Happy election day! Have you voted yet? If you haven’t, before you read any more of this or do anything else, please go out and vote! I think this picture one of my friends posted on Facebook says it well:

After a cold rainy weekend, we have been having beautiful sunshine here in Indiana yesterday and today, and I am trying to soak up every golden ray! It’s still cold enough to layer up with comfy sweaters, boots and scarves–my favorite fall fashion staples. I remember when I lived in California, I always wished it would get cold enough to layer up in autumn clothing. Now my cozy knitted goods are getting plenty of use, that’s for sure!

I’m loving Pumpkin Week so far and have a delicious recipe to share with you today: pumpkin oatmeal cookies! I tweaked these cookies to use up some leftover Halloween candy after I was inspired by this post on the Bon Appetit website that recommends topping oatmeal cookies with candy corn before baking. However, I think these cookies would be perfectly delicious without the candy corn, too, or with chocolate chips, nuts, or even dried cranberries. This is a good base recipe to experiment with!

pumpkin oatmeal cookies

– 1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
– 1/4 cup brown sugar
– 2 eggs
– 1 tsp vanilla
– 1/4 cup pumpkin
– 3/4 cup oats
– 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
– 1/2 tsp baking soda
– 1/2 tsp baking powder
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 1 tsp cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
– butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, candy corn, or desired toppings!

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Cream butter and sugar together until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well. Stir in the pumpkin.

3. In a separate bowl, combine oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix well. Batter will be thick!

5. Drop spoonfuls of batter onto the baking sheet. If desired, add chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, or candy corn toppings.

6. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until bottoms are golden brown.

These are perfect served warm from the oven with a big glass of milk! 🙂 Do you know of any good recipes for using up leftover candy corn or other Halloween candy? I’d love if you would share them in the comments section.

Have a wonderful day! And please, get out to the polls and vote!!

-Dallas

saturday upsides & healthy apple oatmeal muffins

Hi everyone! Hope you had a wonderful week and are gearing up for a lovely autumn weekend. I am pretty much over my nasty head cold, but am still feeling a little low-energy. As mentioned, I was {un}kind enough to share my cold germs with Mike, who has been battling the bug as well this week. I took him to the doctor yesterday, which was a good thing because he had a build-up of fluid in his ears that easily could have turned into a bad ear infection! He is currently on a regimen of steroids & antibiotics to clear up any infection and woke up this morning feeling much better.  It will be nice for both of us to get some rest this weekend and {fingers crossed} I will be feeling all better and will have an energetic Marvelous Monday post for you in a couple of days!

In the meantime, I was inspired by my blogging friend Bonnie over at Recipes Happen who has created a series called Saturday Upsides in which she posts each Saturday about looking at the bright side of things. {Check out her post today about the upsides of a busy Saturday!}

My Saturday Upsides today are numerous: both Mike and I are feeling on the mend; we get to see his family this weekend; fun pumpkin carving and Halloween activities are planned. And one bright side of struggling through a few miserable days while your body is battling a cold or flu bug is that it makes you more aware of what a blessing it is to normally be feeling healthy!

Before I sign off for the day, I wanted to share this recipe that I made earlier this week for healthy apple oatmeal muffins. I made a big batch of these on Tuesday evening and ate them for breakfast and snacks all week long. They are full of fiber and heart-healthy oats, plus double-apple goodness thanks to the apple pieces and applesauce. A perfect autumn treat! And they are easy to whip up {which was a requirement for me this week! This cold has seriously knocked me flat!}

I adapted this recipe from one I found on Frugal Homemaking for oatmeal chocolate-chip muffins. Hope you enjoy!

healthy apple oatmeal muffins

– 3/4 cup oatmeal
– 1 and 1/3) cups whole-wheat flour
– 1/3 cup brown sugar
– 1 tsp. baking powder
– 1 tsp. baking soda
– 1/4 tsp. salt
– 2 tsps cinnamon
– 1 egg, beaten
– 3/4 cup milk {I used nonfat}
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
– 1 large apple, peeled and cut into pieces {I used a honeycrisp, my all-time favorite apple, but you could use any kind you want}

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a muffin tin with paper cups.

2. Blend together dry ingredients: oatmeal, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.

3. In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients: egg, milk, applesauce, and vanilla.

4. Create a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the well. Mix together.

5. Stir in the apple pieces. Batter will be lumpy and thick.

6. Fill the muffin cups about 3/4 of the way to the top.

7. Bake for 16-18 minutes, until golden brown and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

And that’s it! These muffins are like apple-cinnamon oatmeal in baked form. Warm, filling, healthy comfort food.

What are your plans for this weekend? Any autumn-inspired recipes you’re trying out?

Stay happy & healthy,
Dallas

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– Time spent: 40 minutes {including bake time}
– Cost: less than $5.00