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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

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life happens

for good or bad, better or worse… life happens

It’s been quite the busy October ’round here. A few weeks ago, my eldest son, Jason, who is an aviation technician in the NAVY got word that he will be getting deployed overseas around the first of  December.

While the news should not have come to a surprise for me, I was shocked & blown away at my reaction. I had a roller-coaster of emotions over the course of the next couple of days.

I was proud, scared, sad, & worried all at the same time.

He himself put in in perspective for me when he said, “mom, this is what I signed up to do”.

It’s a strange feeling when your children become your voice of reason…

One of the things about him leaving at the beginning of December is that they obviously won’t’ be home for  Christmas 😦

He was given 2 weeks leave immediately so he & Amanda booked a last minute 3-day weekend away.

Scott & I were trying desperately to figure out when we could see him before he left and given the time constraints could not find a suitable time to fly south.

Then Scott had an idea…

It was crazy, irresponsible, only heard of in movies.. which is why we decided to do it!

We dipped into our savings, scrambled our lives around & decided to crash their vacation!!

With 4 days notice.

And didn’t tell them 😉

They were very excited to see us & the 6 of us spent 3 whole days just hanging together, playing games, doing scavenger hunts, horseback riding & 🙂 eating 🙂

and well, just being as silly as we always are..

We were sad when it was over

After our 3 days together, we spent a whole day flying home, switching planes & waiting in airports.. to come back to reality.

And in one of the next days to follow, I had a birthday.

A big birthday.

I’m now 40.

I had all sorts of wonderful ’40’ posts planned, but with the chaotic-ness of the last few weeks, this is as good as it gets.

I may through a random post up at sometime about my thoughts on aging, but for now… I want to bring you a recipe that I made last month….

This IS a food blog, correct?
here is what I did..

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded & cubed

1 box low-sodium chicken broth

1 can Tj’s light coconut milk

4 cups canneloni (white) beans

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 carrots, peeled & chopped

2 onions, peeled & chopped

2 garlic cloves, peeled & chopped

2 TBSP Madras Curry Powder ( I actually used a little bit more than this, bit I like it spicy 😉

pinch of nutmeg, cinnamon & allspice

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup whipping cream

(only a few minor changes from her recipe)

Add everything except the cream to the crock-pot

cook on low for 5-6 hours, then use an immersion blender to puree. I didn’t add the cream to the whole pot, instead..

I swirled in some cream for serving & topped with some pumpkin seeds.

Heaven. In a bowl.

And we haven’t heard that last about Jason’s deployment, we are still waiting for details, so I’m sure that you’ll hear from me on this subject again.

but in the meantime…

life happens.

how to cook fresh PUMPKIN!!

WARNING! Lots of

ORANGE ahead.

look what I noticed on the Dogfishhead Punkin Ale box..

*giggle* no wonder I love it so!


Pumpkin.

Pumpkin.

Pumpkin.

I just love me some pumpkin.  Is there anything else that says FALL like pumpkin?

I was traumatized by the terrible pumpkin shortage of ’09 .

( I still have a can that I was able to get last year & hoarded in the event that pumpkin was scarce again this year.)

just.

in.

case.

But I am proud to day that I have 6  pumpkins right in my very own kitchen 🙂

I have researched the best way to cook pumpkins so that they are recipe-ready and this is what I came up with..

Start by halving your pumpkin & scooping out the seeds.

WHOA! did someone say seeds? Oh yes, that was me. How could I have forgot about the magic that is the pumpkin seed?

Place those seeds in a bowl & set them off to the side.. we’ll get to those in a minute.

Remove as much of the stringy part or the pumpkin as possible, then place your pumpkin cut side down in a baking dish & add about 1/2 cup water.

place in a preheated 450 degree oven & bake for approximately 45 minutes or until a knife inserts easily into the skin

allow to cool a bit

then you can either spoon it out of the skin

or, if it the skin has blistered a bit, peel the skin from the flesh

you could probably cook with it just like this, but I felt the need ( for no particular reason other than the spirit moved me ) to use my handy-dandy immersion blender to make it smoother

can you say ‘pumpkinny goodness’?

I cooked 2 batches yesterday. one to make Jessica\’s Double Decker Pumpkin Bread

escuse me while I wipe the drool..

and one batch for the freezer.  For Christmas. For Jason. and Amanda.

Now, onto those pumpkin seeds..

Start by separating as much flesh from thew seeds as possible. ( I put the seeds in a large bowl of col water and massaged them.. it helps free the seeds.) then rinse & drain in a colander & spread on a cookie sheet overnight.

( or, your could use a blowdryer or a very low oven if you simply can’t wait)

preheat oven to 300 degrees and melt about a tablespoon of butter; toss seeds with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt & melted butter

spread in a thin layer on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil or waxed paper.

(this not only makes clean-up easy, but by lifting the foil & starting to fold in half, it makes it easier to remove the seeds from the pan to whatever you will be storing them in)

I’m speechless.

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