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!!!!


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…


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

autumn mushroom soup with cognac

heres a story about a fun guy. * giggle*  get it… Fun-GI?

True story… when I was little I was ADDICTED to cream of mushroom soup… I could not get enough of it.

I remember sitting at my mom’s small table with a bowl of it. I swear I  actually remember having it for breakfast. Good ol’ Campbell’s!

then something happened ( mom, help me out?)  I think that  I got sick after eating it once.. and from that point on… I could not STAND mushrooms. Yuck.. gross.. fungus, I tell you, fungus.

I would not get ANYWHERE near them.

About 4 years ago, something changed. I saw a grilled portabella sandwich with blue cheese ( something else that I couldn’t stand) on a cooking show for super bowl Sunday recipes.

I found myself really wanting to try that sandwich! Bizzarre, I know.

Who am I?

I ran to the store, bought the ingredients and voilia! I Liked it.  I more than liked it, I LOVED it!

go figure?  Now I eat mushrooms all the time. They say that your body and palette are always changing.  I’m so happy that mine changed for the better.

One of my favorite new magazines is Vegetarian Times.  I received the subscription as a gift when I subscribed to Yoga journal.

this months issue came in yesterday & The cover called out to me.  I opened the magazine to this page and knew that I had to make it. And let me tell you, I am so glad that I did. Easy, quick, healthy.. and trust me, you would never believe that there isn’t any cream in the recipe.


If by chance you are vegan. just switch out the butter for Earth Balance or Olive oil..

If you don’t want to use almond milk, I’m sure you could use cow’s milk.. I’m just not sure if the consistency would be as ‘creamy’

ironic, eh?

SO here you go….  grown up cream of mushroom soup.

Autumn Mushroom Soup with Cognac

2 pounds white or button mushrooms ( I used baby bella)

2 Tbsp butter

2 large leeks thinly sliced  * see note below*

2 garlic cloves peeled and thinly sliced

1 tsp. dried Thyme leaves

1/4 cup cognac ( I bought a small nip from behind the counter of the liquor store.. perfect amount)

3 1/2 cup vegetable broth ( I used low-sodium)

1 cup almond milk ( make sure it’s not flavored or sweetened )

1/4 cup chopped parsley for garnish

Sea salt & pepper  to taste.


yeah.. about that….. I can;t find the cord to upload the picture of the ingredients…. so I took a picture of the picture 🙂

Start by pulsing the mushrooms in a food processor ( or chop them finely)

Heat the butter in a large pot over medium heat  ( I use cast iron now.. I love it & will explain my reasonings later ) Add the leeks and sprinkle with salt. Cover and cook 5 minutes or until the leeks are softened, stirring occasionally.

Increase the heat to medium-high, stir in garlic and thyme and cook 1 more minute.

Deglaze pan with Cognac  and cook 1 minute or until the liquid has evaporated.

Stir in chopped shroons , cover pot and cook 5 minutes.  Then uncover and cook 5-7 minutes more or until most of the liquid  has evaporated and the mushroom start to brown.

Stir in broth and bring to a simmer. Add almond milk & s& p.. Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth.

Garnish with Parsley.


ahh… look a barefootgirl in the picture !!

** note on prepping leeks**.. Leeks are grown in sand and are really sandy. No mater how hard you try to rinse them you will still get grit in your dish, Now one wants grit in their soup. yuck.

SO to prep them, do a preliminary rinse, then chop them on a cutting board. Then add the leeks to a big bowl of ice water and let them sit. The sand will all soak to the bottom. Wash the grit off of the cutting board. To drain the leeks , don’t drain them into a colander because you would just be dumping the sand right back into them.  Using your hands, reach into the ice water and lift the leeks up ( gently so that you don’t stir the sand up)

There you have it.. perfectly prepped leeks!

rejoice mushroom lovers.. rejoice!

oxoxox~ shel

the blind side

*warning* there is no food in this post.. if you are looking for food, you can click the link to my sister blog for the best pea soup recipe.  But please, read this for me.

now, onto my thoughts.

Scott and I watched the Blind side this weekend. A special thanks  to my daughter who encouraged me to watch it. It thoroughly enjoyed it & would like to think that I could inspire a kid like that. It was heartwarming.

What I’m about to share is heartbreaking.

Friday morning about 20 minutes after me kids left for school, my struggling eyes were reading my facebook newsfeed on my phone, and I read  ” car strikes bus head in in crash in Kingston”.

my daughter, who has had her licence for less than a year, goes to school in Kingston. I quickly ran to my computer, where my eyes stood a better chance at reading & discovered that the accident had happened right before she had left home. She was safe. In those few seconds on the way to my computer, my  stomach turned.

Then I saw the car involved and almost threw up.  The next few hours unfolded details that are just horrific. The story is that 4 kids, on their way to school crossed the yellow line & slammed head on into a school bus. The bus had just dropped off students, so only the bus driver was on the bus ( Thank God.)

The three passengers were unconscious when rescue arrived. The driver was the only one awake and needed the jaws of life to free her. 3 of the kids were medflighted to a Boston hospital with life  extremely serious injuries.

My daughter did not know any of these kids personally, but she has friends who are very close to them. ( she attends a different high school in the same town) Throughout the morning, more & more details were emerging, each one more disturbing than the last.

This happend on the morning of the junior prom.

The thoughts of this accident are haunting me.  There are certain things in your life that stick with you. I remember in my freshman year of high school, we all gathered in the auditorium to watch a movie for drivers’ ed. ( some of you who read this may remember the video, because you may have been sitting with me)

The video was about a boy who recently got his licence and took his little brother out on a ‘joy ride’

Speed was a factor & he hit a fence head on & one of the posts went straight through the windshield & through his little brother’s chest, killig him instantly.

I don’t think I slept for weeks after seeing that.  It has stayed with me all these years later….

Out of respect for the kids & the families, I will not go into details of their conditions, but let me tell you, it isn’t good. At all.

The news showed the image of the father of the driver showing up to the scene of the accident, then quickly leaving. I cannot imagine that feeling, nor would I wish it on my worst enemy.

I keep thinking of the bus driver…  whose wheels had turned, I’m sure in an effort to avoid the oncoming car, and what she must have seen. Four kids screaming at the top of their lungs. I have heard that she only had minor injuries, but the damage done to her physcologically is unimaginable.

The kids involved and their families.. lives changed forever in the blink of a second.

The accident is still under investigation, and while speed and inexperience are both obvioulsly factors, they are investigating cell phone usage.

If you know me then you know that I am HUGELY against texting and driving. And in my state it is the law to NOT text and drive. Yet I see people doing it all the time & it irritates the hell out of me. In fact ,I know of several friends and soem family members who still do it.

We are not invinsible. Not even a little. For the love of God, just don’t text while driving. there is NOTHING so important that can’t wait until you are stopped and parked. I NEVER ever do it and hope that I have passed how wrong this is onto my children.

When Ali heard updates yesterday, she and I sat in my parked car and cried. I almost threw up. She said, “mom, what of that other car wasn’t a bus? what if it was another car.. maybe with more kids? “

You hear tragic stories all the time, but when it hits this close to home, it stings. In a big way. I have said som many prayers for all involved and if you can find it in you heart to send a few more, that would be wonderful.

I’m sorry if I sound preachy…. no, actually I’m not sorry. Because If you think of this and somehow you think of my preaching & it saves you from being air lifted, or showing up to see your child air lifted, then I’m ok with that.

I am so heartbroken over this. For whatever reason, it has lodged itself in my chest and it is truly heavy and sad.

I love my family more than anything and cannot imagine……

I’m posting this picture to to remind us all that we are not invincible. If this hadn’t have been on the news then I would not have posted it, but my hope is that you will share this with your  loved, especially if they text & drive.  And if you are my family member, don’t ever do it. I would rather never hear from you then have me be on the other end of that partial text before a med flight helicopter is needed.

talk about being blind sided.

God Bless these kids and their families, and dear Lord, Please hear our prayers…….

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