Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Salted Pumpkin Seeds

Confession - I've never roasted pumpkin seeds before.  I recall my Mom maybe roasting some once when I was a kid, but I've never done it myself.  Yesterday I was talking to one of my wonderful Tastefully Simple team members, Michelle.  She had a fantastic idea of using our new Himalayan Sea Salt Blend with pumpkin seeds! we were carving last night (or shall I say I...with a little help from my youngest) we kept the seeds this time.

Wednesdays provide BEAUTIFUL late start mornings.  (Have I mentioned lately how I love this alternative to early out days?)  Bring on Google and recipes for how to roast pumpkin seeds.  After a couple different searches, this is what we landed on.  I of course "Tastefully Simplified" it :)

Salted Pumpkin Seeds

Seeds from 1 pumpkin
1 tsp salt for boiling water  (I used Tastefully Simple Seasoned Salt)
1 tsp Tastefully Simple Roasted Garlic Infused Oil
1 tsp Tastefully Simple Himilayan Sea Salt Blend (this was about 40 cranks of the grinder for me)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Clean seeds from pulp of one pumpkin (I did this last night).  Boil water in medium sauce pan and add seeds. Recipes mentioned to add 1 tsp of salt to water.  I used Tastefully Simple Seasoned Salt, because that's the salt we use in our house.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Drain seeds and lightly pat dry with towel.  They don't need to be completely dry - just absorb excess water.

Drizzle oil over seeds and mix slightly to get coverage over all of them.  Spread into single layer on baking stone or pan.  I always use my Pampered Chef baking stone - love it!  Sprinkle with Himilayan Sea Salt Blend.  Bake in oven for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and stir - then return to single layer on baking stone.  Bake another 8-10 minutes.  During last 5 minutes - break open a couple seeds to make sure they are not burning inside as the inside cooks faster than the outside.  Inside should be a golden brown.

Remove from oven and give a few more cranks of the Himilayan Sea Salt Blend on the top.  Cool and ENJOY!  These are a light, salty and healthy little snack!  As you can see - we are enjoying them :)  Next year, I'm thinking of trying some of our other seasonings as well.  I think Wahoo Chili would be quite tasty on the seeds.

As a complete side note...I just love this pumpkin dish.  The month before my Grandpa Brock passed away I had purchased this dish with a little plant inside.  It was a complete impulse gift, and one in which I'm so glad I followed that little voice to give him.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Creamy Cauliflower Soup w/ Parmesan and Bacon

I've really been in the mood for Soups & Stews on the weekends lately.  Maybe it's inspiration from the cookbook I got for Christmas.  Maybe it's the cold temps.  Most likely it's because I can make a BIG POT that serves for both lunch and dinner!

This recipe was once again inspired by the cookbook Sunday Soup by Betty Rosbottom.  I made some definite modifications though.  Original recipe calls for Creme Fraiche and prosciutto.  In MY world those convert to sour cream and bacon :)

NOTE:  You'll need an immersion blender for this recipe!  We use ours mostly for smoothies, but they are fabulous for making soups such as this one!  Yes - you could puree the soup in batches with a food processor, but that would be much more work and generate quite a mess - in my opinion.

I was pleasantly surprised how quick and EASY this recipe was to make!  Adding the bacon at the end added the perfect amount of flavor.  While I normally shy away from anything that calls for cayenne pepper (don't like spicy), I found that using such a minimal amount added just the right touch of flavor for this soup.

4 Tbsp unsalted butter
3-4 medium leeks, chopped (use only white and light green parts and see * about leeks)
2 heads cauliflower, breaking into florets
8 cups chicken broth
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 generous shakes of Tastefully Simple Seasoned Salt
6 generous shakes of Tastefully Simple Garlic Pepper
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
4-5 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

Melt butter in a large, heavy pot.  Add the chopped leeks and saute, stirring until softened for about 5 minutes.  Add cauliflower florets, chicken broth and cayenne pepper.  Bring to a strong simmer, then reduce to gentle simmer and cook vegetables until tender (about 20 minutes).

Puree soup (right in the pot) using an immersion blender.  Add Seasoned Salt, Garlic Pepper, sour cream and 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese.  Blend a bit more.  Heat on low for another 5-10 minutes.  Serve with crumbled bacon and sprinkle of remaining Parmesan cheese.

I hope you enjoy!!  It makes probably 10+ bowls of soup, so perfect for a large group or ensuring you'll have leftovers for the week.

*  LEEKS:  If you've never cooked with leeks before, check out this video for instructions on how to clean them:

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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Breakfast Burritos

After what seemed like the Christmas Break that would never end (sub zero temps causing school to be closed an additional two days), busy schedules are back in FULL SWING!  I knew we were pressed for time tonight, so was searching for something that wouldn't take more than 15 minutes to whip up.

Enter Breakfast Burritos!  Believe it or not...I've NEVER made these!  We often have breakfast for dinner, I've just never gone to the extra effort of wrapping it in a tortilla.  I remembered a recipe book Tastefully Simple published a few years ago - "Tastefully Simple - The Food You Love".  I'm a big fan of recipe books that have pictures!  I need a visual to decide if something really appeals to me for some reason.  I dog-eared this recipe the minute I saw it, but for some reason just never put it on the meal plan.  

It was DELICIOUS!  In fact, the kids started eating their burritos as soon as I started wrapping them.  (I'm normally a stickler for trying to sit down at the table, but I knew we were pressed for time.  And...the kitchen table was full of MY junk too - ha!)  Before I even started eating my own...the kids had already finished 2 each.  Enough said - we will be making this again often!  I did vary the recipe slightly (didn't feel it needed red bell pepper or sour cream)  And yes...I took a picture of the picture in the cookbook.  Don't judge!  As you may have noticed by cooking skills are much better than my photography skills :)

1/2 pound ground breakfast sausage, browned (Original recipe called for 8 oz. turkey breakfast sausages, cut into 1/2 inch pieces)
1 Tbsp Tastefully Simple Onion Onion
12 large eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp Tastefully Simple Seasoned Salt
10 taco size flour tortillas, warmed (I warm for 30 seconds in the microwave)
1 cup shredded cheese
1 cup Tastefully Simple Corn, Black Bean Salsa

NOTE:  Next time I will buy 2 packages of tortillas, because we had enough mix for at least 3-4 more burritos.

Brown sausage and set aside.  Cook eggs with Onion Onion and Seasoned Salt until set.  Combine all ingredients together and stir.  Add about 1/4 cup to center of warmed tortilla.  Fold in sides then roll into burrito.

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Saturday, January 4, 2014

Melt in Your Mouth Beef & Barley Stew

Happy New Year Everyone!
We're experiencing BITTER COLD temps this week, so I was on the hunt for a warm and hearty stew.  My mother-in-law gave me this great cookbook for Christmas called "Sunday Soup" by Betty Rosbottom. This recipe originated from this cookbook.  Of course I adapted (aka Tastefully Simplified) it to meet the needs of my favorite products and what I have around the house!  I simplified a couple of the prep steps as well.

Caution:  This is what I would term a 'high-maintenance" recipe.  (Meaning it takes longer than 20 minutes prep, requires more than just cutting and dumping, and contains some ingredients you probably normally don't have around the house)  However, I assure you...the end result will leave you full and content!  It is definitely a recipe I will make again!  And all the healthy ingredients are just a bonus.  It's comfort food at it's best!

Prep:  About 30-40 minutes
Start to Finish:  3 hours

4 -4 1/2 lbs beef chuck roast
10 Tablespoons olive oil (approx.)
8 cups beef broth
2 teaspoons Tastefully Simple Merlot Sauce
1/2 teaspoon Tastefully Simple Seasoned Salt
1/4 teaspoon Tastefully Simple Garlic Pepper (can substitute black pepper if you don't have this)
2-3 carrots, peeled, halved and cut into half circles (about 1/4 inch thick)
2-3 ribs celery, diced
2 parsnips, peeled, halved and cut into half circles (about 1/4 inch thick)
1 medium onion, diced
8 oz. sliced white mushrooms
1 large potato (I like Yukon Gold for the butter flavor), peeled and diced
1 cup pearl barley
1 teaspoon dried ground thyme

Cut beef into 1 inch pieces (trimming off excess fat).  Pour about 5 Tbsp olive oil into the bottom of a large stockpot and turn on medium-high heat.  When oil is hot, add enough pieces of meet to fit in a single layer on the bottom of the pan.  Brown all sides of meat then remove with a slotted spoon and place on a double layer of paper towels.  Repeat until all meat is browned.

Remove remaining oil from pot and wipe out with a paper towel.  Return meat to pot and add in beef broth, Merlot Sauce, Seasoned Salt and Garlic Pepper.  Bring to a simmer on medium-high heat, then reduce heat to low.  Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

While meat/broth mixture is simmering, cut up your carrots, celery, onion and parsnips.  Place 2-3 Tbsp oil in a medium size skillet.  Saute veggies in oil for about 5 minutes, until slightly softened.  Remove from skillet and set aside.

In same skillet, add sliced mushrooms and saute for about 5 minutes, until lightly browned and softened.

After meat/broth mixture has simmered for 1 1/2 hours, add the veggies (except the mushrooms), cubed potato, barley and thyme to the stockpot.  Simmer, cover and cook for an hour - stirring occasionally.  Add the sauteed mushrooms and simmer another 2-3 minutes until heated through.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Bacon Ranch Chicken Strips

The next time you're craving some crispy chicken, avoid the drive through and make these instead!  My family devoured them last night and they were SO EASY to make!  For those of you attending my next Tastefully Simple Freezer Meal Workshop - these will definitely be on the menu!

Bacon Ranch Chicken Strips
2 lbs chicken tenders (you can obviously buy chicken breasts and cut into strips - I was short on time, so bought the pre-cut packages)
1/2 cup Ranch dressing
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp Tastefully Simple Bacon Bacon

Combine bread crumbs, cheese and Bacon Bacon in medium bowl.  Pour Ranch dressing in different medium bowl.  Dip chicken tender into ranch dressing and then dip into bread crumb mixture.  Place onto cookie sheet or baking stone.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes until chicken is cooked and outside is crispy.  Enjoy!!

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tastefully Simple Tonight Freezer Meals get thumbs up!!

I was up at Tastefully Simple Headquarters last week for a special retreat.  I decided to prepare some Freezer meals before I left to help out the hubby (and ensure cereal was not the main dish every night :).  I used our Tastefully Simple Tonight Collection which comes with a grocery list, recipes and freezer labels.  All of the meals have been DELICIOUS!

Below are the recipes included with this collection:

The family ate the Ham, Swiss & Aritichoke Fritatta as well as the Parmesan Peppercorn mac-n-cheese while I was gone and passed along RAVE reviews!

We ate the Rustic Herb Pork Tenderloin for dinner last night - very moist and great flavor.  I modified the cooking instructions by placing it in a slow cooker on low for 6-7 hours.

The Parmesan Peppercorn Mac & Cheese makes a TON!  I will 1/2 it next time and divide into two 8x8 servings.  I think this recipe would be fabulous with some cooked chicken added too.

I split the Family Friendly Chili in 1/2 and we used to make chili-dogs, since the temperatures are still relatively warm right now.

If you're family is used to ground beef not ground turkey - give it a try!  Mine didn't even notice.

Wondering about cost?  I spent just under $100 to buy all the groceries and the TS Tonight Collection is $57.99.  Breaking that down it was between $10-15 per meal or $2-3 per serving!  (And I was in a rush getting groceries, so didn't shop for sales.)

MUCH healthier and CHEAPER than fast food for these 10 tasty meals!!  Contact me to order your own Tastefully Simple Tonight collection or order online from my website;

Trust me...having freezer meals prepped and ready can alleviate so much stress and minimize those impulse convenience food purchases!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Pork & Mushroom Lettuce Wraps

WOW is the first word that comes to mind when trying to explain the flavor in this recipe!  Pair the taste with the fact that this was a freezer meal I pre-made has it quickly jumping onto my 'will definitely make again' list!
I simply defrosted the meal overnight and placed it in my slow-cooker (on the warm feature), so that it's ready to go when we all need dinner at various times tonight.  If our schedule would've allowed us to all sit down together tonight, I would've warmed it up on the stove top (or microwave) instead.

NOTE:  Tastefully Simple's Honey Teriyaki Sauce is going away in a couple weeks.  As much as I adore this product, I'm certain our new Plum Teriyaki Sauce taking it's place will provide just as great a flavor - especially for this dish!

I also sauteed the ground pork, mushrooms, bell pepper and carrots all together and then added the Honey Teriyaki.  Once it cooled, I placedi tin a Ziploc freezer bag.  Worked just fine adding everything in together at once!

Pork and Mushroom Lettuce Wraps
Submitted by Rosemary (MN) HQ Resident Chef

1 1/2 pounds ground pork
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, chopped
1 tsp. Fiesta Party Dip Mix™
1/2 cup Honey Teriyaki Sauce
2 heads of Bibb lettuce, cored, leaves separated
1 cup matchstick-size strips red bell pepper 
1 cup matchstick-size strips peeled carrot
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves

Serve it tonight: Sauté ground pork, mushrooms and Fiesta Party Dip Mix™in a large skillet until pork is no longer pink. Stir in Honey Teriyaki Sauce; heat through. Serve warm pork in lettuce wraps; top with bell pepper, carrots and cilantro. Makes 6 servings. 

Serve it later: Sauté ground pork, mushrooms and Fiesta Party Dip Mix™ in a large skillet until pork is no longer pink. Stir in Honey Teriyaki Sauce; heat through. Cool mixture; place in a resealable plastic bag. Freeze until served. Thaw and heat gently in the microwave. Serve as directed above.