banish boring salads

well… maybe not banish but know that there are options out there.

You know how when you got to a restaurant and some of the fancier salads look sooo good… but you have a hard  time shelling out 13 bucks for a salad..

yeah  me too.  Here’s the thing.. you can make these at home!!  Now I know some of you are like, “duh? is she going to seriously walk us through salad making 101?”

yes. Because I have a few friends whose diets have changed and they need to add more fruits and veggies into their diet & want to show the amazing amount options that are out there. If you already know all of this.. I apologize…. just scroll to the bottom to help answer a question about my next giveaway.

WHOA!!! wait.. YOU!… get back up here.. I’m not done yet.

We’ll start with making a dressing….  yes.. making it is super simple.. and there are 17,000 combinations that you can create… just use a basic formula and add the flavors that you like!

you will need

1~ an acid.. either vinegar, lemon or lime juice, wine….  1/8 cup

2~ an oil…. olive oil, canola oil, sesame oil.. coconut oil ( my new FAVORITE! ) 1/4 cup

3~mustard… again… SO many flavors out there… play with it! 1 tsp

4~ honey.. or maple syrup ( the real stuff) or agave…. 1 tsp

5~ (optional) herbs.. fresh or dried… or sesame seeds, or crushed garlic….. 1/2-1 tsp.. depending on how strong you would like ( always start with less then add more)

6~ sea salt and pepper…..  I have a slight salt obsession as well…..  we’ll chat about this later 🙂 remind me if I forget.

simply add everything to a small ball jars

   put the top on the jar and shake….

you just made dressing 🙂

trust me.. you can’t get that out of a bottle…. anywhere.

I don’t like overly dressed salads, so I usually use about a tablespoon per salad.. if you like more, then add more… I mix it with whichever greens I am using so that they are coated, then place in serving bowl… top with toppings…

like the quiche ‘recipe’  ( are you starting to get my method of cooking… it’s always a formula, then playing with ingredients… because I am a firm believer in  play!  <—- please read this post, it’s one of my favorites 🙂

so.. you will want

1~ green of choice… baby spinach, arugula, mesclun, romaine, butter lettuce..

2~ dressing of choice

3~ ( optional.. ) protein of choice… ( chicken, beans, salmon, beef, tofu, edamame.)

4~ other veggies.. just pile them on!

5~ (optional ) cheese

6~ (optional) something for crunch.. croutons, sunflower seeds, pepitas, sliver almonds

7~ (optional) dried cranberries or apricots or mandarin orange wedges

and  you, my dear have just made a killer salad worthy of any restaurant.

here’s your 13 buckaroos back 🙂

This salad  has

baby spinach

basic vinaigrette

topped with edamame ( I used trader Joe’s ).. about 1/2 cup

black beans .. about 1/4 cup

1/4 avocado, chopped

1/4 cup cranberry goat cheese ( if you are vegan, by choice or m=by force, eliminate it…  the avocado give the same mouthfeel… and you probably wont miss it)

1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes

finish with sea salt and pepper..

I ate this for lunch yesterday and it kept me full all afternoon!  ( and peeps ask me all the time where I get my protein from 🙂  )

so be brave…. look beyond iceburg, cukes and tomatoes ( not that there is anything with it, it’s the only way I can get my kids to eat a salad, so I still make it… ) and have fun!!!!

NEEEEXXXXTTT…

I have fallen in LOVE with Greek Yogurt. Have you tried it yet? I buy the non fat plain and it tastes just like sour cream. I sub it out for sour cream all the time.  It is also a perfect base to make granola parfait but also… to make some ‘creamy’ sauces!  like this

Chipotle cream sauce

I used about 1/2 the can of peppers.. if you like it more mild, use less

about a cup of the Greek Yogurt

half a lime

I put them all in the magic bullet looking thing and blended

if you don’t have one of these babies, you could use a blender, just keep scraping down the sides.. or use a food processor.

that’s it folks… does it get simpler than that? I think not.

The girls had this on their tacos last night & I topped my tostada with it.

the girls’ taco filling is made with lean ground chicken, then when I add the taco seasoning ( only half the package… it’s so loaded with sodium.. a little goes a long way.. you also can make your own, considerably knocking the sodium down, but I had it so I used it) and when I add the water I add a can of refried beans. They blend in perfectly… it stretches the filling and boosts the protein 🙂 I’ve been doing this for years..

It also freezes and defrosts well, so you can make double the amount and have it in the freezer for a super quick dinner…. If you need to cook for one, make a batch and freeze it into individual portions…  again.. quick dinner for one

*if you have dinner for one, please do me a favor and do it by candle light.. you are special and should have a nice dining experience.. if you want you can face time me and we can eat dinner together 😉 *

My filling was chopped mushrooms, sautéed  in oil, then  I mashed some back beans and lime juice in, seasoned with sea salt, cumin & chile powder

I placed it on a small flour tortilla that I heated in my cast iron skillet ( I CANNOT say enough how much I love  cast Iron to cook with)

top with cheese ( if vegan, try the daiya cheese shreds.. it’s very good, melts and stretches like cheese and can be frozen.. It is on the pricey side ( $5 a bag) but it does freeze, and I just pull out what I need when I need it )

the I added avocado.. fresh salsa.. Chipotle cream sauce and some plain Greek yogurt..  YUM!  ( and sooooooo easy )

As far as the rest of the chipotle peppers ( I’ve never had a recipe that I’ve used the whole can ) I take a freezer bag & label it… place in a jar

then press out the air & seal

Whenever I need some for a recipe, or a burst of flavor, I just break a piece off! No waste here.. yo!

so now that I’ve made you hungry… I have a question for all of you.

I have a fun company that has offered for me to give away one of their products.  I have the choice…

1~ 1 big gift for one lucky recipient…

OR

2~ 10 small gifts ( of the same item) so that TEN of you can win….

so whatcha all think? 1 big winner or 10 smaller ones???

smooches friends!!  oxooxo

crock pot shredded chicken, taco style 

:warning:

a WHOLE lotta chicken ahead.

 

* If you are not a fan then click here for a cookie recipe. (Because who doesn’t like cookies? and if you answer yes to this question. then I don’t think I can help you today)*

But come back tomorrow 🙂

 

Both recipes are beyond easy. No kidding!  the first is a crock pot dish. Now many of you have cooked a chicken dish similar to this, but over the last week I have shared this recipe with 3 different people who had NOT heard of it, so I decided to share it here.

 

If only 1 person learns about it from my blog, then I can sleep with a clean conscience tonight 🙂

 

Crock pot shredded chicken.

I typically make mine with a Mexican inspired theme, but feel free to change the spices around depending on how you want to use the cooked chicken.

In a large crock pot, place boneless chicken breast ( heck, you could used bone -in as well, you’ll just need to remove them later,, also easy 🙂

the chicken can be frozen OR defrosted. That is what is so super cool about this.. you can stick the frozen chicken right in the crock pot in the morning & it will slowly defrost & cook while you go about your busy day. ♥love♥

 

On top of the chicken, I sprinkle about a tablespoon of Cumin, some chipotle chili pepper ( how much you use depend on how hot you want it) Some salt & pepper, a large onion sliced into half moons and if you like it hot, place some hot peppers right on top of the chicken.

 

pour a little water ( about 1/2-3/4 cup right oven chicken ) and cook on low 8-10 hours

when your cooking time is up  remove the peppers( if used). I like to mash mine up with some Greek yogurt for a peppery paste  as a topping.

If you used boned chicken, now is when you would remove the bone. The chicken should fall right off of the bone.

using two forks, shred the chicken right in with the liquid that is still in the crock pot

and there you have a whole bunch of shredded chicken. You cold cool it completely and freeze it at this point, use it in casseroles, top a salad. Use your imagination!

I like to top a corn tortilla with some low fat cheddar cheese, some black beans, chicken mixture & broil until cheese is all melty… Top with sour cream or Greek yogurt ( see my hot pepper paste?) and some fresh cilantro.

oh. yum.

so have fun with this recipe. Find flavors that you want to play with.. then let me know what you used..

 

perhaps lemon, olives & red onions??

perhaps Herbs de provence

maybe lemon & thyme & pepper??

 

Get down with your bad self!!!

 

ciao bellas!

a sea of pink

Good morning friends!

( stayed tuned, I promise some food in this post 😉 )

For the last 3 years, my sister, Jodie & I have joined thousands of other women ( and men) to walk 40 miles over the course of 2 days  participating in the Avon Walk For Breast Cancer.

It is quite the commitment to participate. Not only do you need to train for months prior to the actual walk, but EACH individual walker needs to commit to raising $1,800.

Not small change, by any means…

It is truly an amazing experience, one that really cannot be put into words.

I’ve tried to share our experience with a Video Slide show

My sister, Jodie & I had were lucky enough to have our daughters born just  1 month & a day apart from each other. My niece ( and Goddaughter), Alexis & Ali have grown up being ‘sisters’. It’s been so wonderful to watch these two grow up together

they are looking out the window on Christmas Eve for Santa 😉

The girls & Scott ( as well as my Mom & stepdad ) have spent the last 3 years showing up at cheering stations , rooting us on & pushing us (sometimes, I wish physically) and being at the finish line waiting for us at the end of this very emotional experience.

Ali & Lex have been patiently waiting until they were old enough to be able to walk with us.

This winter the  girls each turn 16, meaning that they will be old enough to participate!!

My youngest niece, Mollie, still has many years until she will be able to walk with us in the Avon walk, but we found another walk this past weekend that she was able to join us in..

Making Strides against Breast Cancer..

so early Sunday morning, the 5 of us, donned in pink, headed to Beantown to participate in a 6 mile walk around The Charles River for breast cancer awareness.

at every mile marker, Mollie got a snack..

this was mile 1

like her Aunt, she loves food!
we need to find a cure….

these two walked arm & arm for most of the walk 🙂

After the walk we stopped one of my favorite restaurants, Rustic Kitchen, on the way home so that the girls could have some hot cocoa & Jodie & I could have a glass of wine… but when I saw the menu Pumpkin beer .. I just had to have my sister try it.

this is a horrible, distorted photo of us, but I wanted to share her first Pumpkin brew with all of you!!

NOW…  since this is supposed to be a food blog…   I give you

CHILI !!!

full disclosure… this is in no way shape or form nearly as professional as my friend Cecelia‘s award winning chili, but for a yankee girl, it didn’t come out that badly

(plus 😉 I was able to assemble it at 5 am & come home at the end of the walk to dinner waiting for me)

my recipe:

2 pounds ground chuck

2 teaspoons cumin

3 assorted peppers

2 large onions

a carrot

2 garlic cloves, peeled

2 large cans of tomatoes

OR

fresh tomatoes

( all of my veggies came form Plato\’s Harvest Organic Farm )

1 can of white beans, rinsed & drained

1 can of kidney beacons, rinsed & drained

chili powder ( to taste)

a few banana peppers ( feel free to omit if you don’t like thigns a little bit spicy..)

I started by browning up the ground beef, seasoning with salt & pepper & cumin.

before the cooked ground beef makes it to the crock pot, I pour it into a fine mesh strainer to remove excess grease

)))grease(((

once strained, put it in the crock pot

Place the onion, peppers , garlic & carrot in a food processor. Pulse until the veggies are about the same size as the ground beef crumbles. add to the saute pan & saute for a minute, picking up any leftover browned bits from the beef.

((love hiding me some veggies in a family meal ;)))

Have the veggies jump on in the crock pot with the beef.

add the tomatoes & chili powder;  Stir to combine, then place the banana peppers right on in the bathtub of chili… they’re going for a nice long steamy bath !!

( a special little treat for the spicy chef)

I cooked it on low all day long… adding the beans about an hour before we wanted to eat.

I view chili like I do oatmealmore oatmeal

the perfect base for TOPPINGS!!

it’s all about the toppings!

And look what Scott had waiting for me when I got home?

YUM!

I leave you with this picture of the girls’ arms locked together.

note the breast cancer symbol between them? Pure coincidence!!

Oh! I almost forgot.. the Avon Foundation’s Boston office asked me to give a speech at an introduction event tomorrow for future potential walkers!!

Wish me luck!! ( ahem. I’ve never actually spoken to a crowd in public before…)

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