The Wedge Salad

A wedge salad is my absolute favorite decadent salad. It’s not healthy – at all. I mean there are a few tomatoes – and it is lettuce. But that’s about as healthy as this baby gets. Our wedding anniversary fell on a Tuesday this year – and Tuesdays are just tough to get gussied up for a date night, so we decided to wait for the weekend for that special dinner out. But we still wanted a good homemade dinner at home. Well special occasions call for a special salad. And if the hubs could choose his ultimate favorite dinner – it would be a classic steakhouse dinner. A wedge salad is a steakhouse staple so it’s showing up on our table for dinner tonight.

This recipe makes 4 big wedge salads or 8 smaller salads.

Ingredients: 

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  • 1/2 cup Mayonnaise
  • 1 cup Sour Cream Light
  • 3 tbsp. Buttermilk
  • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
  • 3 tsp. Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. Garlic Salt
  • 3 Chives (or green onion will work if you can’t find any chives – like me)
  • 4 oz. Blue Cheese (separated)
  • 1 Head Iceberg Lettuce
  • 4-6 slices of bacon
  • Tomatoes

Directions:

Add the first eight ingredients (mayo, sour cream, buttermilk, worcestershire, red wine vinegar, black pepper, garlic salt, chives) to a medium bowl and stir well to combine.

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This is the reason I usually try to stay away from creamy dressings. But you know it’s going to be so good.

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Throw in the sliced chives (or green onion) and stir those in. I like to reserve a few for garnish later.

Crumble up the blue cheese (Doesn’t it look heavenly) and combine about half of it into the dressing. Save the rest for topping on your salad.

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Cover the dressing in plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors mingle.

Next fry up your bacon.

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Get it cooked nice and crispy. Let it drain on some paper towels. Chop it up and save it for topping on your salad.

Now work the wedge.

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There really is no rhythm or rhyme to cutting a head of iceberg lettuce into wedges. But first and foremost – peel back some of the limp outer leaves of the lettuce head then cut off the end.

Then halve it. Then quarter it.

You can halve the quarters if you need to make eight wedges. Or stick to four big wedges.

Arrange your wedges and tomatoes on a plate. Spoon dressing all over the wedges. Then top with bacon, sprinkle some extra blue cheese and chives (or green onion).

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Serve it up and enjoy! It’s decadent and delicious. And it’s easy!! And it goes fabulous with that special steak dinner at home.

XO – Laura

*dressing recipe courtesy of foodiecrush / *featured photo courtesy of mymothersdaughter.net 

 

 

 

 

 

My Favorite Breakfast Smoothie

A smoothie for breakfast. Unless you’re a strict bacon & eggs kinda guy or gal – a breakfast smoothie can pretty much hit the spot for anyone. It’s light, it’s fresh, it’s easy and it’s great on the go. Now I’ll be honest, I go through phases on my smoothie kicks. Sometimes the thought of pulling out the blender and getting it dirty…and washing it…..and putting it away is just too much to bear (ohhh the pain!). And then sometimes I’ll snap out of it and get it together and just make myself a smoothie for breakfast. And it’ll be the best thing ever. And then I’ll make it for 16 days in a row….and then I’ll be over it. For at least a few weeks anyway (I’m a creature of habit).

Usually when I think of a smoothie the first thing that comes to mind is…..FRUIT. A fruit smoothie right? It just sounds like the right thing to do. Well I’ve always made fruit smoothies. Berries and banana! That’s always been my favorite. It’s my kid’s favorite. I think it’s the most common thing you could blend into a smoothie. I could say it’s borrrrring, but it’s always gooooood!

In the last couple years, we had a local juice bar (Juiceology) open up in our little town of Harlingen, Texas. It was exciting to get some healthy juice and smoothie options around these parts. I got adventurous and stepped out of my comfort zone (since I didn’t have to clean the blender, ya know?) and I tried all kinds of different combinations. My absolute favorite smoothie (they call it The Hulk) is made with spinach and kale. I love it so much I had to figure out how to make it on my own because I can’t drive into town every morning to get one….and nobody delivers to my house (not even Dominoes, man). So kale and spinach – I love spinach. I’m not a huge fan of kale (I know it’s the hot new trendy leafy green out there), but I can’t even tell that there is a shred of kale in this smoothie. And I just love the IDEA that I’m eating a big salad for breakfast. Or that’s how I like to think of it anyway. I really don’t know how “healthy” this smoothie really is – I’m not a registered dietician or nutritionist – but it’s definitely a better choice than donut holes (which I also love by the way).

I like to add vanilla protein powder to this smoothie. So I guess that would make it a protein shake. But the protein is completely optional. It adds to the smoothie and makes it more filling. It definitely gets me through the morning. Whether you make a smoothie or a protein shake – it’s a great way to start the day!

Ingredients: 

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  • 1 c. Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
  • Kale (a handful)
  • Spinach (a handful)
  • 1 tbsp. Maple Almond Butter
  • 1 scoop Vanilla Protein (optional)
  • 1/2 Banana
  • 1-2 c. Ice

Directions:

Pour the Almond Milk in the blender. And add the greens. Just about a handful of each (spinach and kale).

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With your greens ready to go – flip the switch and blend it all together (don’t forget the lid!)

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It should look like this. Don’t scrunch your nose and wonder why on God’s green earth you’re trying this (if you’re not a spinach and kale fan). Just keep going…..It’s magic in the works. And now you’re ready for the rest of your ingredients.

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In goes the Almond Butter….

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And the protein powder (only if you choose to add the protein!)

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Don’t forget the banana and ice! (A little banana goes a long way…and it makes all smoothies taste good). 

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Flip the switch and let the blender do it’s thing. Let it run for a while then check the texture. If you prefer it a little more chunky/icy – add a few more cubes of ice and give it another whirl.

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And voila! Your shake/smoothie is ready to go.

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I hope you love this smoothie / protein shake. The hubs even loves it!

If you decide you love it, here are a few tips for your smoothie supplies. I love to wash my kale as soon as I get home from the grocery store. I dry it and store in an airtight container in the fridge. Same with the spinach. And anytime I use half a banana – I wrap the other half in plastic wrap and freeze the other half. These little tricks help smoothie building run a little easier in the morning. And if you’re in a real time crunch in the mornings, you can always go by Juiceology (if you’re in Harlingen) and order the real deal. Or go by your own local juice bar and make a special order!

Enjoy!

Laura

 

 

 

Chopped Greek Salad

With Labor Day weekend behind us it seems that Summer is officially on the decline and Fall is descending upon us. But in my little corner of the world, we still have temps in the 95+ degrees spectrum of the forecast. I really really want to vibe the Fall season – but when I have pit stains at 9 AM with coffee in hand, it’s just not happening. That being said, I get to enjoy shorts, sandals and Summer salads a whole lot longer (like year-round) than the rest of this beautiful country. And though I’m really looking forward to “sweater weather”, I have really and truly enjoyed this Summer salad recipe that I discovered this year. I love to serve it with any BBQ meats we do (which also doesn’t slow down in our neck of the woods until….well we just don’t quit). This Chopped Greek Salad is fresh, light, and delicious. Everything you could possibly want in a Summer salad. It’s easy to put together, it’s healthy, and it’s a great make-ahead dish.

Ingredients:

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  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 4-5 roma tomatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 (15 oz.) can Garbanzo beans
  • 3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • feta cheese

Directions:

Rinse all the fresh produce and chop tomatoes, onion, cucumber, and bell pepper.

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Place all the chopped produce in a large bowl. Then rinse and drain the beans.

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Add the beans to your bowl. And stare at the beauty of freshness you have created before you.

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Ok. Time to move on. On to the dressing! Mix the last 4 ingredients (red wine vinegar, olive oil, oregano, salt) together in a small bowl or Mason jar. (See my sad nails – they’re beyond ready for a manicure).

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Shake it. And drizzle it all over the salad.

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Next, crumble your feta cheese (as much as you want).

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And sprinkle it over your salad. Mix it up and make sure the dressing and cheese gets evenly distributed.

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Sprinkle just a bit more cheese on top of the salad (to make it purty). Cover it in plastic wrap and pop it in the refrigerator for at least an hour to chill and let the flavors mingle with each other. Before serving, toss it around just a bit – the dressing may settle at the bottom.

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Serve this beauty on the side with chicken, fish, pork or beef. It’s an easy crowd pleaser and it’s easy to make ahead for guests or pot lucks. Enjoy!!

XO,

Laura

 

*You could also add pepperoni, salami or olives to this salad if you wanted to build it up. 

*Recipe courtesy of gardengrazer.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turkey & Sweet Potato Skillet

I love Mondays. Most people don’t. I think Monday is a great day to start fresh. It’s a new week and one of the best things about Monday – is that it’s a great day to start any diet or just buckle down on some clean eating after a weekend of indulging. This Turkey & Sweet Potato Skillet is one of my favorite weeknight meals because it’s healthy – it’s good – it’s hearty – it’s easy – and the leftovers are even better.

Now when I met the hubs exactly 12 years ago, he didn’t even know that ground turkey existed. And this man definitely loves beef. Well…I converted him and he has grown to really enjoy ground turkey – and this dish specifically (he still prefers beef – but for health reasons…he’s happy with turkey). My toddler eats a plate full of this stuff and that makes me a happy camper. It’s a staple dinner item in our house and I usually reserve it for busy evenings when I don’t feel like making a mess in the kitchen (skillet meals are the best – it’s one pan to wash!)

This recipe I’m giving you today is actually doubled (that’s how I usually make it). It makes enough for about 6-8 servings. But you can easily cut in half if needed.

Ingredients:

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  • 2 lbs. Extra Lean Ground Turkey
  • 2-3 Medium Sized Sweet Potatoes
  • 3 Bell Peppers (any color)
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 1/4 c. Olive Oil (separated)
  • 1/2 c. Water
  • 3 tbsp. Chili Powder
  • 1 tbsp. Cumin
  • 1 tsp. Onion Powder
  • 1 1/2 c. Mozzarella Cheese (shredded)

Directions:

Start by washing and cutting up the produce. Peel the potatoes and chop them. Bell peppers should be cut about the same size as the potatoes – Bite size or so. Mince the garlic.

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Heat up a large skillet and drizzle in a little olive oil. Add your garlic and get it stirred around for a minute. Add the ground turkey and season it with a little salt and pepper.

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Brown the turkey till it’s almost done. Add the chopped bell peppers.

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Continue cooking and add all the seasonings. Stir everything in until all the seasonings are nicely distributed.

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Now add the sweet potatoes. And stir them in. And add 1/2 cup water.

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Cover the skillet leaving juuuust a crack open. Simmer for 25 minutes to let the potatoes cook through. Stir it occasionally.

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About 10 minutes into cooking the potatoes – lift the lid and add half of the mozzarella cheese. Stir it in. Cover again and let the potatoes continue to cook for another 15 minutes until they’re nice and tender.

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Once the potatoes are completely cooked (you should be able to put a fork through) – top the skillet with the remaining cheese and stick it back in the oven for another 5 minutes until the cheese is melted.

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After the cheese is melted, pull it out of the oven and sprinkle it with a handful of freshly chopped parsley.

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And just like that. Dinner is done!

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This is truly a one dish meal. But feel free to serve this with a green salad if you want some greens in your life (like in addition to the parsley). To keep my leftover lunches simple, I like to heat up a bag of frozen peas or broccoli as a little side veggie for this leftover lunch  (getting some veggies in makes me feel like a responsible adult).

Hope you enjoy it!

Xo – Laura

 

 

Black Bean Salsa

One of my best friends shared this recipe with me years ago and my life has never been the same since. If you haven’t tried this stuff – make it a priority in your life and try the goodness of this heavenly dip. It’s one of my favorite go-to appetizers. It’s a major crowd pleaser. It’s easy and healthy (hey, there’s no mayo or sour cream involved here). And…it’s pretty! It just screams fresh with all the bright and vibrant colors. It’s so refreshing – and in my part of the world, where it’s pretty much a constant 85-95 degrees year round, this baby hits the spot any day of the year. So by all accounts you just can’t go wrong with this beauty.

Ingredients:

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  • 2 cans black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 can of corn (drained)
  • 1 red onion (or if you’re like me – it’s a purple onion)
  • 3-4 roma tomatoes
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • red wine vinegar (oops! not pictured)
  • 1-2 limes
  • salt & pepper

Directions:

Start by draining and rinsing the beans. And draining the corn.

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Then slice / dice / chop the tomato, onion and cilantro.

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Now that everything is ready to go. Put it all together in a large bowl (I actually cut this recipe in half today because I’m only making it for a small crowd tonight). Aren’t all those colors purrrty.

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Splash in a bit of Red Wine Vinegar (maybe 2 tsp. or so). Squeeze the fresh lime juice of 1-2 limes. And season with salt and pepper.

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Mix it all together (or get some cute little hands to help you out).

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Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips and dig in! It won’t last long – I promise. It’s addicting! Enjoy!

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Recipe Note: You could also add chunks of avocado to add a little punch to this dip. Or you could scoop it over chicken breast or fajitas for a low carb topping.

French Toast

My kid loves French Toast. It’s one of his favorite breakfast foods. Now that school (pre-k in our case) is back in full swing – this is one of my life saver recipes for a super fast breakfast before school or even to pack as a morning school snack.

I grew up eating French Toast – and it was one of my favorites for breakfast too. So when I started making it for my kiddo it was a no brainer. I was chatting with a good friend of mine one day about feeding our babies-turned-toddlers some real food (when these milk guzzlers start requiring real food, it’s a brain buster at first trying to think of toddler friendly foods). Somehow we got to comparing French toast recipes and she told me an accidental secret weapon for making some fabulous French Toast. Want to know what it is?? Keep reading. Like most not-so-fancy French Toast recipes you should be able to whip this up from start to finish in about oh….7 minutes. And that includes gathering the long list of ingredients.

Ingredients:

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  • 2 Slices of White Bread (or honey wheat or wheat or french bread)
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 3/4 Cup Coffee Creamer – CoffeeMate Natural Bliss Cinnamon Cream

That’s right. Coffee Creamer. That is the secret weapon in this French Toast batter. By the way, I love this creamer for my afternoon coffee, so I’ve always got a couple bottles of this stuff in my fridge.

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You could even try different flavors of creamer. I prefer Cinnamon Cream. But the seasonal creamers (I’m thinking pumpkin) could be a lot of fun.

Directions:

It’s real easy y’all. Get your skillet warm and spray a little non-stick cooking spray. And make the batter…

Crack the egg in a bowl. Pour in the creamer. Sprinkle the cinnamon. And mix it. Voila.

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Dip your bread slices in the batter.

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Throw ’em in the pan and let it sizzle away to hot French Toast. While you wait for the French Toast to cook through on both sides – pour yourself a cup of coffee. Have a sip. You deserve it.

And just like that – with a sip of coffee. This French Toast will be done. Warm up a little syrup (one of my pet peeves is cold syrup – it’s just wrong) and drizzle it all over the toast. It doesn’t need much.

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Plate it up. Serve it up. Cut it up. Bag it up (for a school snack). I don’t care how you do it as long as you eat it up. And you will. It’s rich and yummy – and it’s easy. 4 ingredients!! Can’t beat it. Try it. Your kiddos will love it. And so will you.

Enjoy – Laura!

 

 

Chocolate Cupcakes

I love chocolate. Chocolate cake. Chocolate candy. Chocolate donuts. Chocolate cupcakes. Oh…but a chocolate cupcake! Cupcakes are basically a “cute” cake that incorporate portion control, right? Cupcakes are the perfect cake.

It’s our anniversary today…and please note that the hubs doesn’t have a sweet tooth (like at all – like it fell out or something…I don’t know, it’s just not there). I, on the other hand, have a sweet tooth for the both of us. I usually try not to bake very much unless I have a good reason, because I’m the only one in the house who ends up eating any of the baked goodness (and if I eat a muffin today – you’ll see it on my left thigh tomorrow). But, today I have a good reason – it’s our ANNIVERSARY! 8 years of wedded bliss requires some shuga. Chocolate has been on my mind lately, so chocolate cupcakes are on the menu tonight (along with some of our other all time favorites). 

This recipe is very simple. And very semi-homemade. I can’t say it’s healthy. But it’s a cupcake. So indulge! Enjoy one. And make your friends, family and co-workers happy by sharing the goodness of this super simple – and (semi) homemade recipe. This recipe makes about 15 cupcakes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. vinegar

Directions:

Combine all the dry ingredients and mix together with a wooden spoon. (No mixer necessary! Told ya it was easy.)

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Add the liquid ingredients and continue to mix until the lumps are gone.

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Prep your muffin pan. Little hands are best for this job.

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Fill your cupcakes up with batter and put those babies in the oven.

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Bake at 350 degrees for 15-17 minutes . Pull them out and let them cool.

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Now here’s where the SEMI in semi homemade comes in…

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If you want to be an over achiever then by all means whip up a homemade frosting – but ain’t nobody always got time for that. I, for one, am completely content with my semi  homemade version by incorporating the lovely Duncan Hines Classic Chocolate Frosting.

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I’m going for the classic/rustic frosting finish here – nothing fancy for us. And anniversary treats for my handsome hubby and our little family of 3 are done.

*If you decide to do a homemade frosting – a peanut butter frosting would be fabulous on these.