Autumn Chopped Salad

It was an interesting week here as we moved from 80 degree summer weather straight to talks of snow.  Ugh!  I was home sick on Thursday with a stomach bug and spent much of the day like this…

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Except for when I was drinking ginger ale and eating soup. Cooper didn’t seem to mind and was more than happy to soak up the extra love and attention.  Friday it was back to work and then straight home for Friday night services.  The BOY and I spent Saturday together with his family celebrating the end of the high holidays.  I slept a good 10 hours Friday night and the BOY and I took a 90 minute nap on Saturday.  The extra sleep helped and I felt better each day.  I woke up this morning ready for Sunday Funday with our friends.

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One thing is for sure, autumn is in the air!  When I offered to bring a salad to our friends house, I searched Pinterest for some fall salad inspiration.  I came across a few simple recipes, which always remind me how easy it is to throw together a unique and tasty salad.  I decided on one and since I was going to the grocery store, I had my entire week long meal plan and grocery list figured out before 9am.

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When I returned from the store, I got to chopping…

All of the fruits for this gorgeous salad and veggies for Buffalo Turkey Chili.  Which went into the crockpot for tonight’s dinner!

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The Bear’s game ended in a bad last minute loss, but our lunch complete with this salad was fantastic!  I shared the leftovers with my friend for her lunch tomorrow and I have plenty of ingredients left to make another salad later in the week.  It was a super Sunday Funday catching up with our friends, talking wedding and reading stories to their adorable 1 year old daughter.  Better luck next week Bears…

What is your favorite fall salad?

Autumn Chopped Salad

Adapted Slightly From Iowa Girl Eats

Ingredients
6 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1 pear, chopped
1 apple, chopped
1/4 cup almonds, chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup Poppy Seed Salad Dressing (or more or less)
2 Tablespoons (fig) balsamic vinegar (or more or less)

Directions

Add romaine lettuce, pear, apple, almonds, dried cranberries, and feta cheese into a very large bowl, then add salad dressing and balsamic vinegar to taste. Toss well then serve immediately.

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A True Sunday

I am so lucky to have a three day weekend every weekend and rely on the extra time on Monday to get myself prepped for the week ahead.  I often wonder how other people are able to fit in all of their fun, shopping, and household chores into only 2 days?!  After having this schedule for over 5 years, I am spoiled and set in my ways.  The other benefit of a schedule like this is that it allows me some flexibility for time off.  Over the next few months, there are a handful of weeks where I am working Monday and then taking another day during the week (usually Friday) off.  This upcoming week is one of them.  Although I am actually taking Wednesday off and have it jam packed with professional responsibilities followed by dinner with my old coworkers.

 

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I made sure that we had an easy Sunday so that I would have plenty of time to work through my to do list before the start of the week.  The BOY and I slept in until 9am and then I went for a run.  Prior to leaving, the BOY started putzing around out back and to my surprise and excitement decided to clean off his grill. I think seeing all of our neighbors outback grilling last night really motivated him.

 

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Cooper watched on with excitement and I hit the trail for a 5 mile run.  I was slow today (more sore from last night’s yoga than I expected), but loved getting in my first medium distance run of the year.  When I got back, the BOY had run off to Home Depot for grill stuff.  Immediately, I knew that we would be grilling tonight and that from here on out, our meal planning would shift in the direction of the grill.  Hooray!

 

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We spent the afternoon running some errands (man I hate Costco on the weekends!) and came back and got started on meal prep.  For me, this meant throwing this week’s lunch in the crockpot and chopping up fruits and veggies.

 

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For the BOY, this meant marinating tomorrow’s steak and prepping tonight’s dinner, which consisted of grilled feta (photo above) for an appetizer, grilled romaine salad, and seafood medley.  I did find a cookbook recipe that I was planning to make, but we changed our minds while we were grocery shopping.  I’ll be saving it for next week!

 

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Grilled salad became one of our favorite appetizers last summer, but we’ve never made it at home. I picked up a huge bag of lettuce at Costco knowing I could have leftovers for lunch.  We washed the lettuce and the BOY prepped it with olive oil and seasonings.

 

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We’ve also used parmesan cheese in the past which is AMAZING!

 

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Typically, I don’t use dressing with my lettuce…I think that the olive oil and grill add more than enough flavor! 

 

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Especially when you add shaved parmesan cheese!  But you could make your own balsamic or use a store bought dressing.

 

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This salad makes a beautiful appetizer or can be topped with meat (in this case seafood medley) for a delicious and satisfying main course.

 

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In true Sunday night form, we are all tucked into our cozy spots enjoying a movie.  Look who is exhausted from his birthday celebrations : )  I’ve got to go to bed early since tomorrow is an early work day.  Have a great week!

 

 

What is your favorite thing to make on the grill?

How do you spend your Sundays?

 

 

Meal Planning 4/06/14

Sunday: Grilled Romaine (recipe below) with Seafood

 

Monday: MEAT!  Steak for the BOY and Salmon for Me!

 

Tuesday: Grilled Chicken and Veggies

 

Wednesday: Out to Dinner

 

Thursday: Who Knows?

 

Lunch: Crockpot Green Curry Chicken (recipe to come)

 

 

Grilled Romaine with Parmesan Cheese

 

Ingredients

4 long romaine lettuce heads

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Graded parmesan cheese

Shaved fresh parmesan cheese

 

Directions

Heat grill to 450 degrees.

Wash lettuce and dry it well.  Cover lettuce with olive oil, using your hands to spread it throughout the leaves.

Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese (or any other seasonings that you like…you can get creative with this).

Grill for 8 minutes total, turning every 2 minutes.

Sprinkle with shaved parmesan and top with tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, or dressing.

Suddenly Summer BBQ

It’s summer! 

And with the thick, muggy weather, it finally feels like it!

I kept this weekend pretty low key on purpose and Saturday was saved for packing and a BBQ!

Around 1:30pm, I felt like I had a good handle on the packing portion of things and decided to go for a walk along the path.  I haven’t done much of anything in terms of exercise this week, so it was nice to get out and moving.

 

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Meanwhile, the BOY was hard at work seasoning and smoking ribs.

 

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My BFF and her adorable family were coming over for a BBQ.  She brought some delicious appetizers (including grilled salami).  I threw together a summer salad inspired by this mouth watering post on Pinch of Yum.

 

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I cheated and went with the store bought salad dressing, but maybe next time I will make my own!

 

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The toughest part of making this salad was searching the fruit section at the grocery store for the ripest nectarines in the bin.

 

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Luckily, I choose well and they sliced up perfectly for the salad.

 

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The gang was excited about their flavorful, smoky ribs, and the BOY threw some chicken on the grill for me.  We had a side of roasted broccoli, and everyone dug into dinner.

 

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I almost didn’t have room for dessert, but I never say ‘No’ to angel food cake, cool whip, and berries.  It’s the perfect finish to a summer evening spent with friends!

 

What are you most excited for this summer?

 

 

Blueberry Nectarine Summer Salad

Inspired by Pinch of Yum

 

Ingredients

6 cups baby spinach

1/3 cup slivered almonds

1 cup blueberries

2 ripe nectarines, sliced

Grilled chicken (optional)

Poppyseed dressing

 

Directions

Place spinach in large salad bowl.  Sprinkle with almonds, blueberries, and then top with nectarines.

Serve with salad dressing and chicken.

2 Miler

With a weekend as active as this one, it would have been okay to take the day off from exercise today and sleep in.  However, these shoes were calling my name. 

 

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Not literally calling my name, but these beautiful new runners were just quietly hanging out in their box waiting to get outside and hit the pavement. 

 

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The salesman at the running store suggested breaking into this shoes lightly, starting with low miles and alternating them with another pair of shoes.  With the 10 Miler on Saturday, I didn’t have time this past week for low miles, so this morning was my first chance. 

 

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Plus, it was a gorgeous spring day (the kind that makes you want to call in sick and play outside all day).

 

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So, I worked out an compromise…I would do an Active Recovery!  This way I could sleep in before getting up and running a short 2 mile run in my new shoes.  I didn’t know exactly what to expect from a light weight shoe as I have been wearing the same Brooks Adrenaline style for 8 years!  I definitely felt a difference wearing a lighter shoe (this is 8.3 oz compared with the Adrenaline which is 9.4 oz).  Although my legs were tired and not so fast, I could tell that they shoes were fast.  They had a strong spring to them, which made them feel like they’d be more efficient on a longer run.  The Pure Cadence is the more supportive of the Brooks Pure Project line and therefore a great place to start.  I took a little time to stretch out my tight calves after my run and enjoy the beautiful day.

 

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And then headed inside for breakfast.  In honor of our Fiesta weekend, I made a simple egg wrap with avocado.  Crazy though…we are all out of salsa which I LOVE on my eggs.  If I had more time, I thought about making a Mexican style breakfast pizza, but this wrap totally hit the spot!

 

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We still have a few things leftover from this weekend’s BBQ which I took for lunch today.  One thing was this salad from Allyson Kramer’s book Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats. 

 

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I thought that Wendi’s Black Eyed Pea Salad (picture on the cover) would be a healthy salad to support our Mexican themed BBQ.  Per the book, this salad is potluck friendly and I was able to throw together the salad ingredients on Saturday.  I used canned corn and black eyed peas along with a frozen bag of steamed rice for ease, but you could always use fresher ingredients if you wanted.  I also omitted the jalapeno.  Why…you ask?  Because I forgot that I had two in the fridge. 

 

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On Saturday, I was able to whisk together my salad dressing, add it to the salad to chill a few hours before serving.

 

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I will tell you that I LOVED this combination of textures and flavors even before adding the dressing.  The celery adds the right amount of crunch and the corn creates a little bit of sweetness.  With whole grain brown rice, this salad is very filling and can be eaten as a side or a meal of its own.  Today, I had it atop leafy greens with a few multigrain tortilla chips sprinkled across the top.

 

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I did feel that there was a little too much dressing for this fresh tasting salad.  Now, this could have been because of my lack of detail when measuring out salad ingredients, but the next time I make this, I will go lighter on the dressing. 

 

On another note, I find this cookbook to be jam packed with bright and colorful pictures.  The recipes are creative and many of them are practical.  They give you measurements in cups and in grams which I always like for easy measuring on my food scale.  You don’t have to eat gluten-free or vegan to appreciate the recipes!  However, if you are baking gluten-free (like with any gluten-free cookbook), you will need to have some unique and different flours on hand. 

 

This salad recipe is a good find and a compliment to any BBQ!

 

 

Wendi’s Zesty Black Eyed Pea Salad

From Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats by Allyson Kramer

 

For Salad:

2 1/2 cups cooked black eyed peas (I used one can rinsed and drained)

2 cups cooked brown rice

2 cups thinly sliced celery

1 3/4 cups cooked sweet corn (I used one can rinsed and drained)

1 cup diced red bell pepper

1/2 cup chopped cliantro

1 tbsp minced jalapeno (remove seeds if you want less heat)

1/2 cup chopped scallions

 

For Dressing:

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tsp cumin

1 1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbs sugar or agave nectar

1 tsp black pepper

1/2 cup olive oil

1 1/2 tsp sea salt

 

To Make the Salad:

Combine all the salad ingredients in a large bowl and chill until cold, at least 1 hour.

 

To Make the Dressing:

In separate smaller bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients.

 

Toss salad with dressing until well combined.  Chill in the refrigerator for a few hours to let the flavors meld.  Serve cold or at room temperature.

 

 

***Note: I would consider using half of the agave and less olive oil for a lighter dressing.

You can prepare the salad up to two days in advance and store in the fridge.  Just toss before serving.

It’s BBQ Time!

The BOY and I hosted our families for a Mother’s Day/End of the school year BBQ yesterday. 

 

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It was nice to be able to host everyone and dedicate an entire afternoon to catching up!

 

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We are so lucky to have family that lives in town, but it still hard to find a day to get EVERYONE together!

 

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I emailed everyone the date for the BBQ in January (yes, I have some OCD).  And the BOY and I have been talking about the menu for weeks.  I was excited to try out some new recipes and the BOY was excited to show off his new grill.  Hummus is my GoTo appetizer and everyone seemed to enjoy this Garlic Hummus and Roasted Red Pepper Hummus.

 

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Except for the fact that my $1 festive table cloth started dying people’s elbows red.  Opps!  The BOY had his ribs on the grill early this morning and they were looking pretty good by the time I made it home from yoga.

 

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He was feeling a little stressed about the timing…

 

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PS Don’t tell him that I posted this picture that he doesn’t know that I took!

Ok, so you all saw my recipe yesterday for Blackberry Cornbread.  Well, I finally got to taste a bite …

 

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And it is GOOD!!!  You will definitely want to serve this at your next BBQ!

 

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You will also want to check out this recipe for Key Lime Cheesecake Bars!

 

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And something green…this Sweet and Crispy Salad always hit the spot!

 

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Looking for another BBQ friendly side dish, you HAVE to make this Ramen Coleslaw. 

 

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Combined with some awesome food from our guests…

 

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We had quite the impressive spread.  With so many fun and colorful options, I don’t think anyone walked away hungry.  The weather was HOT, but we were able to sit outside before the rain came.  And there was plenty to watch on TV between the Cubs/Sox game and the NATO riots.  By the time dessert came out, we all found our way back to the kitchen to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to the BOY’s aunt. 

 

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Don’t worry…Double Layer Cookie Cake recipe coming SOON!

 

Between spending all morning prepping and all afternoon entertaining, the BOY and I were exhausted by the end of the day.  We heated up some leftovers for dinner and sat down to have a cocktail.  I think we are both still recovering today…that might be from the cocktails though.  I can’t wait to host everyone again for Mother’s Day next year.  Is it too early to start the email chain?!

Ramen Coleslaw

Do you remember living on Ramen Noodles in college???

Really…deny it all you want, but we all did!

 

To be honest, I don’t really like coleslaw, but when I tried this in Florida a few weeks ago, I knew I needed the recipe! And so did everyone else at the party. We all went home with a copy, and I was excited to have a reason to try it out this weekend.  Which is why I was back in the soup aisle buying a package of ramen having flashbacks to my freshman dorm room.

 

I was surprised to see how simple this recipe is, and it is definitely something that you can make a day ahead, which is always great when you are hosting a BBQ and your boyfriend decides to serve ribs : )

 

This coleslaw has a nice little crunch to it with the roasted ramen noodles and nuts.  It calls for slivered almonds, but I didn’t want to slice the nuts, so I toasted them whole, which worked out just fine.

 

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This was the only bag of ‘coleslaw’ that I saw at the grocery store and it worked out well for this recipe.  I have never bought coleslaw before and thought maybe there would be more varieties to choose from.  Either way, the bagged version is much better than slicing your own.

 

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Combine your slaw and roasted nuts in a big bowl.  This you can do a day in advance if you want.

 

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You can add your dressing the day before or just before serving depending on how crispy you want your salad to be.  Just store it in an airtight container in the fridge.  I did everything a few hours before the BBQ, so the flavors had time to set, but there was still a little crunch.

 

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The dressing is almost the same as this Sweet and Crispy Salad dressing, so I just made one batch to use for both this weekend.

 

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Because it is so easy, compliments any dish, and tastes amazing (I am super excited for leftovers), this is my new favorite BBQ side dish.  The ingredients are healthy and you can go easy on the dressing to lighten it up.

 

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After tasting this recipe, you might actually start liking coleslaw.  And the ramen aisle is always a fun walk down memory lane!

 

 

Ramen Coleslaw

Recipe passed down from friend to friend

 

Dressing

1/2 cup canola oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup sugar (can sub in Turbinado or Brown Rice Syrup if you want)

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

 

Whisk all ingredients together until sugar dissolves.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  You can make this several hours ahead or overnight.  Whisk again before using.

 

Salad

1 (3 ounce) oriental flavor Ramen Noodle Soup (I used chicken and it still tasted great)

1/2 cup slivered almonds

1/2 cup sunflower kernels

1 (10 ounce) bag of angel hair coleslaw (a bigger cabbage mix is fine)

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Break up dry noodles into small pieces in a 9×13 baking dish covered with foil.  Sprinkle with the packet o seasoning from the soup mix.  Bake about 6 minutes or until beginning to brown.  Stir well, scraping any of the dry mix from the bottom of the pan.  Add in almonds and sunflower kernels; stir well and mix.  Bake for another 6 minutes, or until almonds begin to brown.  Cool completely.  If making in advance, store in airtight container.

 

Toss together the cabbage and noodle mixtures.  Drizzle with dressing and toss well.

Refrigerate before serving.

Sunday Funday Recipes

Doesn’t the weekend just fly by?  This is why I love having Mondays off!  I can get all of the things that I didn’t do this weekend done tomorrow.  And tonight, I can sit on my couch, watch a movie (Horrible Bosses), and Blog about my weekend.  I stated yesterday morning with an intense hot yoga class.  I was up early at the 8AM class because I had a dentist appointment afterwards.  The class was so difficult, but I felt great when I was finished.  I must say, I was tired this weekend…most likely a combination of the early morning and a busy week.  Even so, I felt great throughout the class.  While my legs were shaking after forever ~9 minutes in Warrior II, I still felt light and flexible, especially during the spinal twists.

 

After the dentist, the BOY and I headed off to lunch.  I was starving after my morning workout.  We went to his favorite local restaurant, where it was easy to find some tasty vegetarian options.  The hummus was so amazing topped with olive oil, paprika, and cumin, that I had to take a picture before we dug in.

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On today’s agenda…studying for the BOY and the Annual Bear’s Chili Party for me.  But first, I got out for a run.  I was feeling pretty strong clocking in my first mile at 7:50 and finishing 6 miles in a quick 49:11.  When I first thought about going meat-free, I was worried about how it would impact my workouts.  One week in, no complaints!

 

After my run, I got to work in the kitchen on today’s snacks.  We have a group of friends that we’ve known for 27 years and 3 years ago, we started a tradition of getting together to catch up on life and watching the Bear’s game.  Everyone is decked out in blue and orange (even the babies), and we have lots of delicious homemade food.

 

I made an Apple Pie Dip, a Beer Cheese Dip, and a Sweet and Crispy Salad (recipes below).  I had seen a recipe for Apple Hummus a few weeks ago and couldn’t find it anywhere, nor could I remember if it was online or in a cookbook.  Instead, I came across this recipe for Apple Pie Dip.  I must admit, I was a little skeptical, (chickpeas and applesauce?) but it was great.  I served the dip with graham crackers and apple slices.

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For those not as excited about my vegan creation (mostly the guys), I made a Beer Cheese Dip.

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And for anyone looking for something green, a Sweet and Crispy Salad.  I made a few modifications to ‘clean up’ the salad a bit.  For starters, I subbed Brown Rice Syrup for the white sugar in the dressing.  And I baked the walnuts/noodles instead of frying them up with butter.

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Creating this beautiful salad…

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With homemade dressing.

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Dressed in my Sunday’s best, I headed out the door for the noon game.  Quite a successful morning!

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Apple Pie Dip

 

Beer Cheese Dip

 

2 8 oz blocks of cream cheese (at room temperature)

1 envelope ranch salad dressing mix

1/3 cup beer (I used Beck’s per the BOY’s recommendation)

2 cups sharp cheddar cheese

 

-In large bowl, beat together cream cheese, ranch dressing mix, and beer until smooth

-Stir in cheddar cheese

-Bake in oven safe dish at 350 degrees for ~15 minutes until warm and starting to bubble on the top.

-Serve with pretzel chips

***Can also be eaten as a cold dip

 

Sweet and Crispy Salad

 

Dressing Ingredients-make 1 day ahead

1 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup sugar (I used brown rice syrup)

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1 tbsp soy sauce

salt and pepper to taste

 

Salad Ingredients

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 package ramen noodles

2 tbsp butter

2 heads Romaine lettuce (~2 bags), chopped

1 head broccoli, chopped

1/2 bunch of green onions, chopped

 

-Whisk together oil, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, salt and pepper.  Refrigerate 1 day ahead.

-Melt butter in frying pan on low heat.  Add crushed noodles and walnuts.  Toast and then drain on paper towels.

-In bowl, combine lettuce, broccoli, and green onions.  Toss with 1/2 salad dressing and walnuts/noodle mixture.  Add more dressing as needed.

***It works well to make the dressing in a bottle to easily shake/mix again before serving

***I baked the walnuts and noodles omitting the butter, and the salad was just as good!