I have the worst luck this week. My fridge freezer decided to stop freezing food over the weekend resulting in soft “frozen” veggies that I fed to my chickens. The peeps were overjoyed with the demise of the veggies, however, since they got a super special treat. I had to toss a few meat items that had un-frozen as well. Sigh. It should be fixed in time for this weekend which is a necessity since we’re picking up meat in bulk from the farm and need a place for it. As if that wasn’t enough of a problem to deal with, my dishwasher has decided to play hooky too and is now apparently on strike. My girls got the privilege of learning how to do about three loads of dishes the “old-fashioned” way in the sink this morning. In the interest of doing less dishes, I’ve made this awesome spiced potato salad in one pot and I’ll be serving it hillbilly style straight from the pot on the table tonight too!
This spiced potato salad is a German style potato salad meaning that it’s not creamy and isn’t made with any mayo or eggs. It’s sweet and savory spice combo comes from mustard, ginger and harissa sauce. Add some diced crunchy cooked bacon (because bacon makes EVERYTHING better!) and a touch of cilantro and it’s ready to rock your next picnic. Since this salad doesn’t contain mayo or eggs, it can be served warm or cold and is able to sit out without refrigeration longer than the creamy style salads. You still need to refrigerate it but it’s a bit safer for pot luck picnics outdoors since the bacon is cured and cooked. Take this marvelous spiced potato salad to your Labor Day picnic and it’ll be the hit of the party!
I’m just going to hit pause on the awesomely easy summer strawberry salad for a sec… I get to go dancing in two days!!! Maybe that’s not exciting for you, but it is for me :) The hubby and I used to do fun things like take latin dance lessons. Of course, this was before kids when we actually had extra time and extra cash. We (mostly) remember the steps and what we don’t, we improvise and pretend it looks good. Throw in a twirl here and there and everyone thinks you’re great even if you don’t know what you’re doing. Ha! This weekend is my step-brother’s wedding so just as exciting as dancing with my hubby, is dancing with my dear old dad. Growing up, my parents used to belong to a country dance club so every now and then we’d push the kitchen table out of the way and dance until our feet ached and our hearts were full. I’m sure my dad and I will get a good swing going and probably a two-step or two before the night is through. My heart will be full this weekend. I will be seeing a lovely couple get married, celebrate with extended family I haven’t seen for quite some time and will be able to laugh it up, dancing the night away.
Let’s move off the dance floor and back to the summer strawberry salad (I know, less exciting perhaps but so delicious!!!). This is my go-to salad when I need to bring something that everyone is guaranteed to enjoy. It’s also an amazing salad-as-dessert since it has the sweetness of strawberries both in the salad as well as the strawberry poppyseed dressing. Tossed with a little celery and pecans for crunch, the Havarti cheese gives it a little bit of cozy creaminess that says “I’m eating something naughty!”… but you’re not! If you would rather not make the dressing, I’ve found that Marzetti’s makes a great all natural, no preservatives strawberry poppyseed dressing that is quite tasty. You can also use a raspberry vinaigrette or a more creamy poppyseed dressing if you like. All taste wonderful and after a bite of this summer strawberry salad, your heart will be full too!
It’s FRIDAY and I’m feeling great! My kids were in vacation bible school every morning this week which meant I actually had some bona-fide alone time to get things done. I checked off item after item on my summer to-do list and am finally caught up. I also submitted two pieces of a big project that I’m working on so that makes me smile. My garden has been producing like crazy. Like, it’s on steroids kind of crazy. So I’ve already had to start preserving some of the abundance. Not a bad problem to have, especially when it comes to strawberries and basil. An abundance of strawberries and fresh grown herbs just in time for the weekend can only mean one thing… it’s strawberry basil mojito time!
Yes, I know mojitos are usually made with mint but strawberries and basil taste SO great together. I could have just added strawberries to my original honey based mojito but the basil gives it a great little flavor punch. The rest of the ingredients are the same. It’s a summery fresh easy drink. Pour yourself a glass and welcome the weekend with a strawberry basil mojito!
Ahhhhh. That’s the sound of a happy mom who’s getting a little bit of a break! My two daughters are away for the week spending time with their grandparents on the farm. They will be showing goats and exhibiting their culinary and artistic creations at the county fair that I grew up attending. It’s SO much quieter with just one kid in the house. The grandparents came to pick up my little ladies on Monday so I served them these amazing Greek style beef gyros with tzatziki yogurt sauce for a quick easy lunch.
I used beef in this recipe instead of a more traditional lamb. Beef is usually a bit more palatable since lamb can sometime be VERY gamey. Plus, I have plenty of beef on hand since we get beef from the farm in large quantities. A good rub with Greek seasonings like oregano, garlic, rosemary and marjoram followed by a searing on the grill, locks in the Mediterranean flavor. Then the roast is slow cooked for 6-8 hours to be fall-of-the-bone tender. Shredded into bite size bits and placed in a whole wheat pita, the meat is topped with a tzatziki yogurt sauce that becomes the flavor punch that makes these gyros all come together.
Tzatziki sauce is a traditional Greek sauce that combines plain unsweetened Greek yogurt (you can use coconut milk yogurt for dairy free), cucumber, dill and garlic. This sauce is awesome for dipping vegetables into as well. Another spoonful? Don’t mind if I do… and I’ll gladly lick that spoon too!
Half of the summer is nearly gone already! How does that happen?!? At least that’s how I’ve always perceived the 4th of July holiday. It’s always marked the halfway point in my mind though we really do have two full months left until school starts up again. I shouldn’t be surprised that the 4th is already here but for some reason the busy-ness of the past month or so has caught me off guard and left me feeling drained and in need of a vacation. Soon enough I’ll get that vacay! In the meantime, I’ll focus on easy to make salads-as-a-meal like this southwest salad with chipotle dressing!
Southwest salad has a few layers of healthy greens as the base. Then it’s topped with fiberlicious black beans, grilled corn on the cob, scallions, grape tomatoes and a light summery chipotle dressing that has a little kick to it. Depending on how hungry I am, I’ll add avocado for the healthy fats or you can add grilled steak or chicken to it as well for a more filling dish. Add crushed tortilla chips for a little crunch and this southwest salad will be your go-to easy meal!
Oh boy. My girls are officially on summer vacation and I’m happy they’re around. Not so happy about all the “I’m bored!” statements that are happening already. Lucky for them, I have all sorts of fun tasks to solve their boredom (insert maniacal laugh here). I’m betting they won’t tell me they’re bored after weeding all of the mulch in the backyard and helping pick up sticks that have littered the yard after the last wind storm. See, I’m a problem solver. My next problem that needed solving was that I’d NEVER made a risotto. I’ve been leery to try making it because I kept hearing that it’s “so hard to get right”. So, this wonderful mushroom leek risotto happened last night and I can tell you it is NOT hard. I’m happy to report that it’s WAY easier than I thought to make and just as deliciously creamy as I had imagined. Nailed it!
To get the perfect mushroom leek risotto you will need a large wide bottom sauce pan. I used a 12-inch skillet, which worked awesome. You will need to keep a separate saucepan with warm broth ready to add a ladle full at a time to the larger skillet after all of the main ingredients are added. Making risotto is really not difficult and it comes together in less than thirty minutes with no need to attend to it the whole time. The trick to knowing when to add more broth is simple: drag your stirring spoon through the rice mixture and if the space left by your spoon does not immediately fill with liquid, it’s time to add more broth. Simple as that. After you’ve added all of the broth, add the rest of the ingredients and continue cooking until the rice grains are suspended in the creamy brothiness but not sticking together. It shouldn’t look as fluid as soup yet not as thick as cookie dough either. More like a loose oatmeal consistency is what you’re going for. Keep in mind the rice will continue to absorb liquid as it cools so pull it off the heat just as it starts to get to the right consistency. If you let it cook a little too longer and it’s too thick, easy to fix – just add a bit more broth!
In a separate wide bottom saucepan or skillet, add olive oil, mushrooms, leek and garlic and sauté about 5 minutes until mushrooms have given up most of their moisture and leek is beginning to soften.
Add rice and stir until it's coated with the oil.
Pour in white wine and let that absorb into the rice. Be careful not to let the pan go dry.
Add a couple ladles of hot broth to the rice and stir occasionally. To check if it's time to add more broth, drag your stirring spoon through the rice. If the space left by the spoon does not immediately fill in with liquid, add another ladle of broth. Continue this until all the broth is added.
After all of the broth is added, stir in the salt and sundried tomatoes.
Cook mixture until it resembles a loose oatmeal. Rice should still be al dente but look creamy.
Remove from heat and add parmesan if using. The risotto will continue to absorb liquid as it cools to get to the perfect creamy consistency.
It’s my darling husband’s 40th birthday today!! In honor of his big celebration, we had a huge yard party this past weekend with a taco and nacho bar which included fresh salsa, smoky guacamole, chipotle bean dip and chile con queso. We studded the yard with fun yard games, had some kickin’ karaoke in our garage and ended the night with a bonfire that went into the wee hours of the morning. We ended up having about 70 guests throughout the night and it was a GREAT time! All of the party prep and planning meant I’ve gotten a bit behind in my posting of awesome recipes for all of you but this one is sure to put me in your good favor again. Baked sweet potato egg nests are a perfect way to start the morning with a bit of protein, a bit of carbs and a splash of veggie value.
Shredded and seasoned sweet potatoes are lightly baked in a ramekin first to make the nest. Then I added a layer of spinach and cracked a beautiful farm fresh egg into each nest. Baked until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny makes the BEST gooey delicious breakfast treat. I topped them off with a sprinkle of chives and some fun chili pepper threads for good looks. These sweet potato egg nests are sure to be a new breakfast (or lunch) favorite!
I thought I was done with casserole type meals for awhile as the weather has been that perfect temp where I’m equally comfortable wearing jeans and a long sleeve shirt or shorts and a tee. Two days of gloomy rain and more yet to come lends itself completely to crockpot meals and baked dishes like chorizo meatloaf.
For this spicy riff on a classic meatloaf, I’ve substituted part of the ground beef for chorizo. I’ve also added a poblano pepper (you can use a regular green bell pepper if you prefer) and topped it off with sriracha sauce rather than ketchup. I snuck in a few other healthy additions to the chorizo meatloaf mix including chopped kale and ground flax in place of the bread crumbs. I’m sneaky like that. If you’re into a flavorful bit of spice but not so much that it will knock you on your butt (a.k.a. my kids and will still eat it), THIS is the meatloaf for you!
Every year for the past ten years, we’ve held a garage sale at our house over mother’s day weekend. It was tradition in the neighborhood we had lived it. Last year was the last garage sale as we’ve moved to an acreage and its gotten me feeling a bit off. The neighborhood garage sales were a group of nearly 200 sales going on at the same time. The streets were lined with food vendors and it was such a fantastic weekend. I miss it already. Of course we can still go to the sales and party it up with the neighbors but it just wouldn’t be quite the same. Instead, we’re taking our littles (or not so littles anymore) to the farm so they can help lead train their show animals for the fair. It’s going to be a crazy warm weekend too which is going to feel downright tropical. Since I’ve got palm trees on the mind, I prepared an awesome tropical inspired pina colada peach smoothie.
This smoothie has the traditional pineapple and coconut milk for pina colada flavor but then gets a little kick of fun flavor from either a pinch of ginger or a cardamom. I round out the flavors with a touch of peach to bring you a sipping delicious pina colada peach smoothie!
I’m currently sitting at my desk with a chicken on my shoulder watching an exciting lightning storm outside while sipping a small glass of wine. I’m good at multitasking. The dear hubby is gone on a business trip this week so I’ve been gladly bombarding him with text photos of the kids and chickens. It makes me happy… and really, I’m pretty sure pics like that would bring a smile to anyone’s face. Meanwhile, when he’s outta town, it’s a comfort food all the way kind of day. So I made cheesy ranch potatoes. Yes, like the kind from my childhood with that totally unassuming name of cheesy potatoes but in true fashion I re-did the recipe to make them healthier and added herbs that lend a ranch flavor to them. You know, because I used to dump in a packet of hidden valley ranch seasoning to the mix. That seemed totally wrong and too processed so now I have cheesy ranch potatoes made from scratch with hidden veggies. And they. are. GOOD. My daughters even proclaimed that I should DEFINIETLY make these again!
I know, cheesy potatoes have a calling in potluck situations in the Midwest (or for Easter and mother’s day brunch) to serve as that totally cheesy, over the top creamy deliciousness that is smothered all over the shredded (or diced) potatoes. It’s always one of my absolute favorite dishes but I decided it was time to give it a little makeover in the nutrition department. I haven’t bought a can of condensed soup in over two years. There’s just no need when you can put more nutritious combinations together or make your own version of the same thing in nearly the same amount of time. Anyway, in place of the traditional cream of chicken soup that’s normally used in “cheesy potatoes” I subbed chicken broth and pureed squash (or pumpkin would work too). Then, instead of the sour cream, I used plain Greek yogurt. You could totally use a mix of yogurt and sour cream but I really liked the yogurt with the ranch herb mix as it gave it just enough of that buttermilk tang that fresh ranch dip has without the processed ingredient list. Gotta love that!
This little riff on cheesy potatoes still has a crunchy topping but it’s accomplished with a sprinkle of corn meal rather than over buttered crushed cornflakes. Honestly, it’ll be great either way. I just decided to make it a bit lighter with the cornmeal sprinkle and a toss of chopped chives on top to accent the ranch flavor. Seriously, this is my new favorite comfort food!!