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September 17th, 2013 by Sarah

A Great Simple Fall Recipe

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imagesMy good friend Kirstin made this casserole for lunch when I came over last fall and I have made it at least a dozen times since.   She loves to make healthy, simple meals, so I get ideas from her.

You may have zucchini or summer squash from your garden or farmer’s market that you need new uses for.  So here you go.

Sometimes I top it with a little sour cream or cilantro if we have them.  It’s substantial enough for dinner served with crusty, warm bread.

My kids like it, but I will warn you.  If your kids eat with their eyes, this may not be their food.  (Why do kids do that?)

Summer Squash Casserole

  • 3 medium zucchini or summer squash sliced
  • 2 cans black beans (lightly smashed with a fork)
  • 2-3 cups cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic pressed
  • 2 cups or a large jar of salsa
  • Cumin, salt, and pepper to taste (or you can just do a couple of tablespoons of taco seasoning if it’s easier for you).

Put ingredients in the slow cooker on high for 3 hours or bake at 375 degrees in covered 9×13 pan for about 1 1/2 hours.

*Slow cookers vary so cook until the zucchini is soft.


June 30th, 2012 by Sarah

Flourless Chocolate Cake and Pear/Cranberry Poppy-seed Salad

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This week we had my mother-in-law over for her birthday dinner.  She is such a special person.  We appreciate her so much, and always love to honor her.

We made salmon and chicken, grilled vegetables (which didn’t turn out the best), pear/apple poppy-seed salad, watermelon and this flourless chocolate cake for her dinner.



If you are a chocolate fanatic like my mother in law, you will love this cake.  It has a rich dark chocolate flavor.  AND it only has FIVE ingredients not including the water :).  I like that.  We put raspberries around the cake with a strawberry in the center, and then served it with whipped cream.

My mother-in-law asked for the recipe of both the cake and salad, so I thought I would share it on here as well.  Here is the salad recipe.  This recipe was given to me by someone who brought us this salad after Jasper was born, and it is a nice refreshing salad for summer. Cashews are my new favorite on salad.  This has been all I want to eat on hot days this week.

Pear/Cranberry poppy-seed Salad


  1. 1/2 c. Sugar
  2. 1/2 t. Salt
  3. 1 T. Poppy-seed
  4. 1/3 c. Lemon juice
  5. 2/3 c. Canola oil
  6. 1 t. Dijon mustard

Store dressing in the refrigerator.  The dressing lasts me quite a few salads, so you can cut in half if you only want a little.


Your favorite greens (romaine, or spring mix), one pear sliced, one apple sliced, craisins (dried cranberries), cashews, and parmesan cheese.

Drizzle with a bit of dressing and toss.

This recipe is versatile, if you don’t like pears, just use apples.  Fuji apples are great in this salad, but use what you like.

Hope you are keeping cool on this hot weekend!

April 25th, 2012 by Sarah

Asian Salad

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This is another one of my favorite salad recipes, and so refreshing for summer.  You can have it as a side or make it an entrée by adding a protein.  I think shredded carrots or chopped cucumbers would be a good addition if you want to give it some more crunch.

This recipe will last you for about a week, so cut it in half if you can’t use that much, but I always make this amount so we can have the dressing/topping around for a couple of weeks.  It’s a crowd pleaser too, so if it’s your turn to bring a big salad this is perfect.  I got this recipe from my friend Jody who loves to entertain and I just tweaked it a bit.


  1. Lettuce (whatever you have, but a mix of iceberg with romaine or spring mix is good)
  2. Mandarin oranges (optional)


  1. Small bag of sliced almonds
  2. Bag of sunflower seeds
  3. Two squares of ramen noodles broken up (save the seasoning for the dressing)


  1. 1/2 C. sugar
  2. 3/4 C. white vinegar
  3. 1 C. oil (I use canola)
  4. 1/2 t pepper
  5. 2 packets of Ramen seasoning (oriental or chicken)

Easy and delicious!

Click here for more salad recipes.


April 3rd, 2012 by Sarah

Homemade Salad Dressing

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These salad recipes are perfect for summer, and I almost never use store-bought salad dressing which allows me to switch up the recipes and eat salad without getting sick of it.

Below are a couple of my favorite salad recipes and dressings, but if I don’t have one made and I’m in a hurry I simply salt and pepper the salad, then sprinkle a little vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, and maybe a dried or fresh herb.

After you’ve made a few homemade dressings you start to get than hang of experimenting with your own recipes based on what you like and have on hand.

What you’ll need:  a jar to shake the dressing in (a washed out jam jar or spaghetti sauce jar), oil, vinegar (cider, balsamic,rice or any fancy vinegar like raspberry is great, and cider is the cheapest), salt, pepper, sugar, and I will give some more ideas for varieties, see below.

The basic rule of thumb is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar.  My favorite two oils to use are extra virgin olive oil, and canola oil because they have some healthy fats in them.  Add salt and pepper, maybe a little dried mustard or Dijon mustard if you have some in the fridge.

Warning if you use extra virgin olive oil and put it in the fridge it does harden.  It looks gross but the dressing is still good, you just have to let it thaw and then shake it up.

Here are a few of my favorite recipes…

Cranberry/Pear Salad: 

Greens, Pears or Apples,Gorgonzola, Parmesan or Feta cheese (I really like the gorgonzola and even find it at Aldi), Craisins/dried cranberries, Pecans or walnuts toasted in a skillet (when I’m lazy I don’t toast them or I use store-bought candied/toasted nuts).


  • 3/4 C. oil
  •  1/3 C. honey
  • 2 T. raspberry vinegar (I don’t usually have this on hand so I substitute with cider vinegar or balsamic).
  • 1 T. Dijon Mustard
  • 1 T. minced red onion (optional)
  • 1 t. salt

Strawberry Poppy Seed Salad  This is my all time favorite poppy-seed dressing.  You may want to cut this in half your first time to make sure you like it).


  • 1 C sugar
  • 3 t. ground mustard
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2/3 C. rice vinegar
  • 2 C. Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 T. poppy seeds

Combine in a blender or food processor, but again I am usually lazy and I just shake it up in a jar.  I think it still tastes great.

The salad I put this dressing is just greens (spring mix), silvered almonds (toasted), and strawberries or blueberries.

Time Saver: Trader Joe’s had silvered almonds that are already toasted and they are delicious on this salad.

More salad recipes to come!


March 10th, 2012 by Sarah

Irish Brown Bread

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In light of St. Patricks day I wanted to share one of my favorite bread recipes.  It is so easy and delicious.

My mother and father in law took Jason and I to Ireland ten years ago, during our first year of marriage.

We drove around the countryside staying at a different bed and breakfasts each night.  It was beautiful, but my favorite part was staying in the restored mansions and country homes.

Each afternoon we were greeted with an afternoon tea… bread with jam, maybe some dessert and tea.  Jason and my father in law were not very interested in “tea time” so my mother in law, Colleen, and I usually enjoyed the girl time by ourselves.

Colleen asked for the recipe for this Irish brown bread at one of the bed and breakfasts, the Berry Lodge (shown above).  This lodge was also a restaurant and cookery where the owner taught cooking classes, but she was still willing to give this recipe to Colleen.

This recipe requires no kneading or rising.  It is easy, healthy and so delicious with jam.  Our family loves it with strawberry or rasberry jam.  I have also made it with whole grain white flour before and it is a little less chewy (and a little less healthy), but very good.



Irish Brown Bread

2 c. Whole wheat flour

1 1/4 c. White bread flour

2 T. Steal cut oats

1 t. Baking soda

1 t. Cream of tartar

1 Good pinch of salt

1 t. Honey (I think you could substitute sugar if you don’g have honey)

1 T. Oil

1 Egg

2 1/4 C. Buttermilk

(I usually don’t have buttermilk so I substitute either half plain yogurt/half milk OR I make a substitute by mixing 2 T of white vinegar OR lemon juice with 2 1/4 C of milk.  Let sit for 5 minutes before you mix it with other ingredients.

Heat buttermilk, honey, and until hot, but not to a boil, in microwave or saucepan.  Mix in the rest of the ingredients.  Pour into a greased bread pan or 5×5 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes (until it sounds hollow).

Enjoy with your favorite tea!


February 29th, 2012 by Sarah

Getting Kids to Eat Salad

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Strawberry and Avocado Spinach Salad 500

I often make salads at dinner, but it seems more than half of the time my kids reject it before they have even tried it.  Kids eat with their eyes and like choices so I decided to make our own salad bar at our house.  We do this regularly and it works… all of our kids eat their salad and usually ask for more.

I try to use healthier lettuces like romaine, spinach, and spring mixes.  If you like the crunch of the not as nutritionally packed iceberg you can mix it in with another healthy lettuce and it works well.  Make sure to chop your kids lettuce/spinach into smaller pieces fit for their little mouths.  You can even use a round pizza cutter to smash it all up.

Here are some ideas for toppings (I usually just use what I have on hand):

Hard boiled eggs, cranberries, raisins, sunflower seeds, lunch meat, leftover grilled chicken, cheese, croutons, nuts, broccoli, shredded carrots, shrimp, strawberries, olives, mushrooms, leftover taco ingredients with tortilla chips, black beans, peas, tomatoes, any veggie!

Put out a few different salad dressings, (I love making my own and I’ll put some of my favorite dressing recipes on here soon).

It’s kind of a no throw-together dinner, and it’s so healthy.


My all time favorite item to buy at Costco is their one pound bin of organic spinach or organic spring mix.  It is almost the same price as a small bag at the regular grocery store, but there is probably three times the amount.

Do you have any other topping ideas or tips to get your children to eat veggies?