Friday, July 13, 2018

#2,651: Instant Pot BBQ Ribs


So I am not a rib fan.   I never have been.  I don't like eating my food off a bone, and I don't like trying to get the meat off (you look silly with a knife and fork), and I hate getting my fingers so messy (I ate a piece of one rib and I had to wash my hands twice!).  My husband and middle child however DO like ribs.  So when there was a huge sale on ribs I figured I'd give this recipe a try. 

Let me say, these ribs are SOOOO easy to make.  
I THINK I used a half of a rack (is that how much is in the photo above) and it got maybe a dozen ribs out of it.  Maybe.  I don't know, I was enjoying eating the Sweet Potato Bites with Avocado and Bacon instead

My husband and middle child however LOVED these and Chloe even asked if I would make it for her birthday dinner....next year...in May.  :) I'd say that was a success.  Since we are not a big beer drinking family, I used root beer instead (It was cheaper to buy a bottle of root beer!).  Based on their reaction to this recipe, I will definitely be making this again...at least for those two! 

1 rack pork baby back ribs
1/4 cup smoked paprika
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
11 ounces beer or root beer 
1 cup BBQ Sauce

Remove ribs from packaging and dry well with paper towels. Cut into sections of 3 ribs and set aside.

Ignore the crazy, "I was just swimming" hair. 
This was her 5th rib!
In a small bowl whisk together smoked paprika, sugar, garlic salt, and onion powder.  Sprinkle all of the seasoning over the ribs and rub in with fingertips. Place ribs into your Instant Pot and pour entire bottle of beer or root beer over the ribs. Close lid and set the pot to cook for 25 minutes at high pressure.

When cooking time is up, allow pot to naturally release pressure most of the way (about 10 minutes) and then quick-release the rest.  (OK, I didn't know when "most of the way" was so I let it completely release naturally...which took 30 minutes).  

Remove ribs from pot and place on a baking sheet. Brush each piece with your favorite BBQ Sauce and place under the broiler until sauce is bubbly and starting to brown and caramelize-- about 5 minutes. 

#2,650: Sweet Potato Bites with Avocado and Bacon (#2)

I spent a good chunk of my dinner making happy sounds as I ate this meal.  Oh how this recipe includes three of my favorite things...avocados, sweet potatoes, and bacon!  YES!  I was very happy that no one else in my family wanted to try this because I didn't have to share!  Their loss!  I'll probably be making this again tomorrow.  And maybe the next day!  :) 


4 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 sweet potatoes, scrubbed clean, peels on, cut into 1/4-1/2 inch slices (I just eyeballed it and cut it into thinner pieces)
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 medium avocados, peeled, pitted, and diced
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
I also added some diced red onion

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with foil (I didn't do this step, but just oiled my pan a little). Brush sheets with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil each. 

Arrange the slices of sweet potatoes in a single layer on the oiled baking sheets, then brush tops with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil (I also did not do this additional oil step). Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown underneath. Remove the pans from the oven, flip the slices over, then roast for an additional 8 to 11 minutes, until golden on top.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the avocado, lime juice, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and smoked paprika. Mash lightly with a fork, leaving the mixture slightly chunky. Set aside.

Transfer the baked sweet potato slices to a serving plate. Top each with a dollop of the avocado mixture, chopped bacon, and cilantro. Serve warm or at room temperature.

#2,649: Homemade Ranch Dressing

This is the salad dressing I used with the Bacon Ranch Zucchini Bowls.  Also, if your dressing does not thicken up enough, the original recipe suggests adding another egg.  They have a whole lot of "additional notes" so you might want to go check the page out.  However I felt like that page runs really slow!

I personally liked this dressing but if your olive oil isn't light (or even extra light tasting), you are going to taste it in this recipe.  It was a bit much for my liking, so I added more coconut milk to it.  That made it better.  I also halved the recipe and it made a lot, so keep that in mind! 

1 egg
1 cup "light" olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup full fat canned coconut milk, stirred
1 handful fresh herb of choice (cilantro, parsley, or dill) or 3 tablespoons dried parsley

Blend with an immersion blender in a wide mouth mason jar for approximately one minute! Don't start incorporating herbs until the last 15 seconds or it will turn your ranch green. Store in the fridge up to one week.

#2,648: Bacon Ranch Zucchini Pasta Bowls

I know it's kind of hard to see the zucchini noodles under all these yummy toppings, but it's there!  This recipe was supposed to have shredded carrots, but I was out of carrots, so I added some bell pepper, tomatoes, and cucumbers from my garden instead.  And red onion.  I love red onion in my salad!  I wasn't totally sure about this one because I don't love zucchini noodles...but the next thing I knew, the bowl was gone, so I must have enjoyed it more than I thought.  LOL I guess I better put zucchini on my grocery list again. 

2 medium zucchinis
3 pieces of cooked bacon, chopped
1/2 cup shredded carrots (I omitted)
1 small can black sliced olives, drained
1/2 cup ranch (that's A LOT!  I did not need nearly that much!)
2 tbsp fresh parsley
1 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
1 tsp sea salt
I also added some diced bell pepper, cucumber, red onion, and tomatoes. 

Spiralize the zucchinis with a spiralizer.  Add the cooking oil to a pan and set to medium/low heat.  Cook the zucchini noodles for 2-3 minutes or until just barely soft.   Remove the zucchini noodles and drain off any excess water (I didn't have any extra!) 
Place the noodles in a large bowl and add in the bacon, olives, and carrots.  
Stir in the ranch dressing and top with fresh parsley and sea salt.

#2,647: Easy (GF) Homemade Bagels


My kids were super excited to try making these homemade bagels and everyone even waited to eat breakfast while these were cooking.  I was sure some of them would have given up and grabbed a bowl of cereal instead!  The girls in this family enjoyed these...the boys thought they were just ok. 

But we all agreed that these were best with 2 things:
1.  With some cream cheese or peanut butter on it.

2.  Let these cool completely, then you can cut it open and toast.  It's a little less chewy in the center this way. 

This also would have been way better with some seasoning/toppings on this.  I just put a little bit of sea salt.  My crew however would have preferred a generous dumping of cinnamon-sugar on top and I refused to add that.  I personally would have added some sesame seeds to mine...next time.  

1 cup (5 oz) unbleached all purpose flour, whole wheat or gluten-free mix (we used gluten free flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder 
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt 
1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt 
1 egg white, beaten 
(optional toppings: everything bagel seasoning, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried garlic flakes, dried onion flakes)**

Preheat oven to 375F. Place parchment paper or a silpat on a baking sheet. If using parchment paper, spray with oil to avoid sticking (I did not do this, and mine did not stick!).

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt and whisk well. Add the yogurt and mix with a fork or spatula until well combined, it will look like small crumbles.

Lightly dust flour on a work surface and remove dough from the bowl, knead the dough a few times until dough is tacky, but not sticky, about 15 turns (it should not leave dough on your hand when you pull away).

Divide into 4 equal balls. Roll each ball into 3/4-inch thick ropes and join the ends to form bagels. (or you can make a ball and poke a hole in the center then stretch it slightly...this is what I did.  It was much easier!)

Top with egg wash and sprinkle both sides with seasoning of your choice. Bake on the top rack of the oven for 25 minutes. Let cool at least 10 minutes before cutting.

#2,646: Keto Waffles


I made these last night for the family for dinner and just kept telling them it was "healthy waffles" in hopes of them being more open to trying them.  The seriously question everything I put in front of them and are constantly asking "What's in these?!" before they even take a bite.  My youngest was convinced I put cauliflower in these.  HA! 

Here's the downfall to this recipe...I only got FIVE waffles out of this batch, so there was one for everyone.  I had to give them a bunch of fruit and bacon/sausage to make this a meal.  These are not crispy/crunchy waffles that normally come out of my waffle iron, and they are a bit flimsy so they were ripping into quarters as I tried to get them out.  With that said, my family actually ate and enjoyed these.  And I wouldn't let them drown these/use syrup (they probably would have liked them even more!)

When they were done, I asked the fam to rate these to get a better sense of what they really thought of them.  Here's there responses (I think the 6 year old might be confused!).  I was shocked that Brian liked these as much as he did.  Chloe really was hoping for regular/traditional waffles.  LOL

All in all, I would definitely make these again for my crew!  They have a bit of a sweetness to it with the coconut flour, and I used WAY less sugar than this called for, so adding more might have made them even better to this group.  We will have to see the next time I make this. 

5 eggs - medium separated
4 tbsp coconut flour
4 tbsp granulated sweetener of choice or more, to taste (I used 5 packets of stevia which wasn't even a full tablespoon)
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp full fat milk or cream
1 stick of butter, melted

In a small bowl, whisk the egg whites until firm and form stiff peaks.  Set aside. 

In a second bowl, m
ix the egg yolks, coconut flour, sweetener, and baking powder.  Add the melted butter slowly, mixing to ensure it is a smooth consistency.  Add the milk and vanilla, mix well.

Gently fold spoons of the whisked egg whites into the yolk mixture. Try to keep as much of the air and fluffiness as possible.

Place about 1/2 cup of waffle mixture into the warm waffle maker to make one waffle. Cook until golden.  Repeat until all the mixture has been used.


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

#2,645: Bacon Ranch Chicken Poppers

I'm going to be really honest, I was scared to death to eat these, and I was even more scared to serve them to my family.  My 9 year old took one look at them and with huge disdain (and a bit of horror) said "There's carrots in that!  I know it!  You put carrots in the meatballs!" We've been battling the 6 year old a bit at dinner time because he's just like his dad rebelling against all vegetables.  He used to at least eat carrots but he's even crying to eat those.  So since he's going to cry anyways, I'm broadening his tastes and giving him more variety of veggies...and I'm sticking one or two on his dad's plate too!  Some days those boys will actually like and eat their veggies.

So I figured the only chance I had of this crew willingly eating/trying these was to serve it with something they like...spaghetti.  I expected them to want to dip these in ranch (obvious choice) or catsup, but they dipped them in their spaghetti sauce instead AND no one complained about these!  The girls even had seconds!  (insert shocked face!).

Personally I liked these, but the dill gives it a flavor I don't love...but I don't totally love dill either.  I think it can be over powering.  I even cut back on the amount of dill this recipe called for!  I don't know if I'll love these as leftovers/reheated, but for dinner I enjoyed them.  They are different...I like that!  


Now, if you bake this on parchment paper like the original recipe suggest, yours will not be almost burned darker in color like mine.  I however, would not have eaten it if these weren't dark enough!  Personally I think parchment paper makes it too mushy because the oil/fat that is released just sits on the parchment paper so the meatballs steam more than they bake.  So I let it cook half of the time on the parchment paper, and then pulled the parchment out.  I finished cooking directly on the cookie sheet and flipped them one more time so both sides would be darker in color.  


1 lb raw ground chicken (or turkey)
2 cups raw shredded carrots (this was 4 large carrots for me)
3 slices raw sugar free bacon
2 tbsp coconut oil (I used avocado oil)
2 tbsp coconut flour
2 tbsp dried parsley
2 tsp dried chives (I omitted b/c I was out)
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp dried dill (I used 1 tsp)
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Add the shredded carrots to a food processor along with the bacon and blend on high. You want both the carrots and the bacon to be very finely shredded.  Remove the carrots and bacon from the food processor and add to a mixing bowl.  Stir in the raw ground chicken, seasoning, coconut oil and flour and thoroughly combine.  

Line 2 baking sheets (or one large baking sheet) with parchment paper.  Roll the mixture into small poppers and slightly flatten them (I got about 35 out of mine). Bake for 30-35 minutes, flipping them half way through.  OPTIONAL- Place them under the broiler for 5 minutes to crisp before serving (or see my directions above).  Serve warm with ranch dressing and enjoy! 

#2,644: AIP Caesar Dressing


I tried a new homemade salad dressing recipe using avocado (and a little olive) oil.  It was super easy to make, but it called for an ingredient I don't use/have never bought/didn't have on hand...fish sauce.  Fish and I are generally not very friendly, and I made the huge mistake of smelling the sauce in the bottle.  (Yep, it smells fishy).  But I do like caesar dressing so I figured I'd still give this recipe a try.  Although it isn't as creamy as I had hoped, it was still very good!  Shocking, I know!  I halved the recipe and that shot glass size amount in the picture is what I had left after I poured my desired amount onto my salad.  So you could easily get 4-6 generous size servings out of the full recipe below. 

2/3 c avocado oil
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp fish sauce
2 medium cloves of garlic, peeled (I just used minced garlic)
1/4 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp coarse black pepper

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend on high until whipped and creamy (mine never got creamy).  Store refrigerated in a jar, and shake to combine before serving.  

#2,643: Sweet Potato Nachos

I used this recipe as the basis for these Sweet Potato Nachos that I made for lunch for both the kids and I.  Don't let me fool you, their plate did NOT look this good.  I gave them everything in small piles/separately (they just ate sweet potatoes, taco meat, a little shredded cheese, and for some sour cream.  Baby steps!).  This was fabulous!  1 kid only liked it if the sweet potato was covered in taco meat.  1 kid liked it dipped in sour cream.  1 kid cried and spit it out. 

I loved these and think it's an awesome meal!  And have eaten it more than once.  The kids weren't as excited, but I'll keep trying to get them to enjoy sweet potatoes as much as I do!  You could totally adapt this to whatever meat/veggies/toppings you are in the mood for.  


Below is the recipe to make the sweet potato nachos.  I didn't add the directions for the toppings, so just add what you have on hand and/or love!

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch thick slices
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat your oven to 425 F.  In a bowl, combine the sweet potato slices, olive oil, paprika, garlic powder, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Mix everything until well combined.
Place the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet, and bake in the oven for 40 minutes, turning once. (I only needed to bake mine for 30 minutes and I was removing pieces as they were finished cooking since they were cooking a bit unevenly).  

When done top with desired toppings.  

Monday, July 9, 2018

#2,642: French Onion Dip Burgers

Don't judge this burger picture by the lack of topping ingredients on it!  I took this picture before one of my kids dove into it.  If this was my ideal burger pictured, it would have had lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, provolone cheese, all on a lightly toasted brioche bun!  :)  But the kids were eating so they could go to the pool, and I was trying to finish up dinner so I could go back to writing a paper!  I was impressed I got a picture of this dinner at all!  (And yes, I even made fresh baked oven fries that night too!)

When my family started eating these you could tell there was something different about this burger.  Usually I make my burgers with onion, Worcestershire sauce, yellow mustard, garlic, and some seasonings, and they are much lighter in color than these.  So when my kids took a look at these burgers, my 9 year old asked if it was a new recipe (do they know me or what?!).  Overall we were pretty happy with these burgers.  I personally thought it was a tad salty, but no one else seemed to think so.  I would definitely make these burgers again...they were certainly easy!  Although most burger recipes are easy!  


I honestly don't know if there was a real recipe for this or not.  I saw a packet of french onion soup mix in my pantry and figured it could be added to some ground beef to make a burger.  I always like to add an egg to give it some moisture and I thought the water would cut down on the seasoning packet powder.  But I thought it was a bit too soft for the grill so I threw in a little bit of breadcrumbs to give it more binding. 

1 packet of french onion soup mix (like this kind...although I used a generic version) (next time I'll probably use 1/2 to 3/4 of a packet to cut down on the saltiness)
1 egg (I used just the yolk)

1/4 cup water
2 tbsp Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1 lb ground beef
hamburger buns
desired burger toppings

In a bowl combine the ground beef, french onion dip mix, egg, water, and breadcrumbs.  Mix until just combined.  Preheat your grill over medium heat.  Form into patties and grill to desired done-ness.  Serve on a bun (or not!) with desired burger toppings.  

#2,641: Cowboy Caviar

I love cowboy caviar!  I love how how you can open up some cans of beans and corn and just add some fresh veggies and you've got a great appetizer or salad on your hands.  If you omit the avocado and add it on top of your serving this will last a lot longer.  If you add it to the dish and combine it throughout your avocado is going to start turning brown and getting mushy.  I ate this scooped up with tortilla chips, as a side dish/salad, and in my tacos.  This is super versatile to whatever your mood is!  

1 (15 oz.) can black beans drained & rinsed
1 c. corn kernels 
1/2 c. diced sweet onion
1 bell pepper, diced
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 avocado, cubed
1/4 c. chopped cilantro (optional)
I also added a jalapeno, chopped

1/4 c. olive oil
2 T. red wine vinegar
1 lime, juiced

Wash and prepare all vegetables and combine in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, and lime juice. Pour over the salad and gently stir to combine.

Cover and refrigerate at least one hour, or up to 24 hours (add the avocado right before serving).  This also needs salt, so make sure do add it in! 


#2,640: Mediterranean Pasta Salad (GF)


I love my veggies and pasta, so I was excited to make this Mediterranean pasta salad.  Then I started making the recipe and couldn't believe how much tomatoes and cucumber this recipe called for, so I halved both of the ingredients.  2 cucumbers for 8 oz of pasta....that's insane to me! I really, really enjoyed this pasta salad.  I personally would have loved to add some feta to it too, but not everyone in our house is a feta fan (how is that possible?!)  I love the oil and vinegar dressing on this too.  I would definitely make this again!

8 ounces penne pasta (I used 12 oz of gluten free fusili)
4 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, halved (I used 2 cups...4 was A LOT)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt, adjust to taste
1 teaspoon fresh black pepper, adjust to taste
2 cups cucumbers, chopped small (I used 1 cucumber)
6 ounce can whole black olives, drained and halved
1/4 cup red onion, sliced very thin and chopped small
10 large fresh basil leaves, sliced very thin, about 2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped small

Bring a large pot of water to a boil along with 1 tablespoon kosher salt. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain, but do not rinse the pasta.

While the pasta is cooking, combine the tomatoes, oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper in a medium-size bowl. Stir and let sit while assembling the rest of the salad.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cucumbers, olives, red onion, and cooked pasta. Add the tomatoes and all of the juices from the bowl. Stir to coat everything in the dressing.

Sprinkle with basil and parsley and toss again. Taste the salad and add more salt and pepper as needed. Serve or refrigerator until ready to eat. Enjoy!

#2,639: Instant Pot Mexican Rice

I really struggled with this recipe!  If you've ever gotten a burn notice on your instant pot, you know how frustrating it is to know that you are too late in preventing your food from sticking to the bottom.  When I make instant pot rice with just rice and water (plus a little olive oil and salt), I have never gotten a burn notice.  But the second I add in a thicker liquid like tomato sauce, I get one every-time.  I got the burn notice on this recipe THREE times.  Thankfully, as long as I didn't scrape the bottom, I was able to salvage this rice and still able to serve it.  This recipe though needs a bit more seasoning...and liquid. 


Each time I got the burn notice (after freaking out a bit), I would release the pressure and take the top off and add about 1/2 cup (or more!) of water to this recipe.  After the 3rd time, I just gave up and let it sit with the top on in hopes that the rice would finish cooking.  The rice had a tiny bit of a crunch to it, but I was personally ok with that.  And it was good added into my tacos.  But on it's own, it needed a lot more chili powder, some garlic and/or onion powder, and personally, some petite diced tomatoes and jalapeno would have been good too.  This recipe is a good starting to point for Mexican Rice, but needs some tweaking for sure.  I'll probably try it again with some changes, but it was a good place to start.  



2 cups long grain brown rice, washed and drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon salt

Plug Instant Pot in power and press Saute to heat. Add oil, once it is heated, add onion, garlic, cumin and cook for 2 minutes stirring. Stir in the rice and saute for about 4 minutes.

Add tomato sauce and stir to coat. Add vegetable broth and salt switch Instant Pot to the Keep Warm/Cancel button. Cover Instant Pot with the lid, make sure knob is set on the Sealing position. Now press the Manual button and the display will now say ON. Click the + plus button until it is 22 minutes on High Pressure. (That is a LONG time.  I set my instant pot for FOUR mintues, then let it do a natural release for 18 minutes....well that was my plan if it would have stopped getting the burn notice!) 

At the end of the 22 minutes let the Instant Pot Natural Release pressure for 5 minutes. Then you will turn the knob to Vent and allow it to Quick Release the remaining pressure. I usually put a damp dishcloth over the vent carefully as the final steam releases.

Once the steam releases you can now open the Instant Pot and flurry your rice.

#2,638: Gluten Free Cinnamon Banana Bread

My mom had some very ripe bananas needing to be used up so I decided to try making some banana bread using gluten free flour for our family this weekend.  This was definitely an easy recipe to throw together, but it was a bit soft for my liking and deifnitly not very sweet (not that that's a bad thing though!).  To bump up the cinnamon taste to it, I added some cinnamon sugar to the top before I threw it in the oven, and it came out super crispy, but ended up turning into a more "wet"/moist texture as it sat overnight.  This got mixed reviews from my crew.  We didn't dislike it, but it isn't our favorite banana bread recipe we've ever made or tried.  It definitely is much healthier without the ton of sugar added like a traditional banana bread has.  I would make this again, but it won't be my "go-to" recipe. 


3 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 tbsp. honey
3 tbsp. maple syrup
2 eggs
1.25 cups mashed bananas (around 3 bananas)
1/4 cup nonfat milk (or nut milk)
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1.75 cups white whole wheat flour (I used gluten free flour)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Beat together the oil, applesauce, honey, maple syrup, eggs, bananas, and milk. Once well combined, add the cinnamon, vanilla extract, baking soda, and salt. Then using a spoon, stir in the flour until just combined. 

Pour into a bread pan (I used a 9 x 5) sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean and bread is cooked through.

#2,637: Quinoa Salad with Lemon Dressing


I made this healthy quinoa salad for lunch, and whipped it together in just a few minutes.  Don't you love recipes like that?!  I used leftover quinoa that I had in the fridge, chopped up some veggies, and then added some dressing on top.  I took the picture on a cute (long) summery tray and was too lazy to put it back in a bowl (I didn't want to get another bowl dirty) so I just ate it off the tray.  My husband looks over and starts laughing at how ridiculous I look eating this off a gigantically long tray.  Ha!  This salad is super light and the lemon gives it is nice refreshingly summer flavor, while the almonds, cucumber, and peppers give the texture the crunch I love.  I was out of parsley so I just used some cilantro instead.  I also decided to omit the mint, since all I have is chocolate mint in my garden and thought that might be too weird to a taste for this dish.   

For the quinoa salad
3 cups cooked quinoa (1 cup dry = 3 cups cooked)
1 large seedless cucumber, diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 (15 ounce) can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 bunch of mint, finely chopped (I omitted)
1 bunch of Italian parsley, finely chopped (I used cilantro)
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the dressing
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 lemon, juiced (I used 6 drops of lemon vitality essential oil)
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (I omitted)
1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey

In a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients from the “for the quinoa salad” portion of the recipe.

In a separate bowl, combine all of the dressing ingredients. Drizzle over the quinoa salad and toss to evenly coat. 

#2,736: Grilled Shrimp

I was trying some new recipes this weekend and going out of my comfort zone of cooking anything in the beef family.  LOL  I will usually at least try a bite of everything I make, but I just couldn't try this one.  Unless my fish is battered and deep fried (or unless my mom makes me!), I really have a hard time trying fish. I just don't love it.  And the thought of biting these big guys kind of scared me.  Shockingly we got the 9 year old to try it though.  Those who did eat these grilled shrimp loved them and said it was the best meal I made over the weekend AND have asked for it to return to our labor day menu as well.  I'd say that was a success!  This is the recipe/seasoning I used to make these shrimp.  

1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (use 1/4 if sensitive to spice)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice (from about 1/2 small lemon)
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined (use jumbo, 15-18 count shrimp to cook directly on the grill without skewers; if using smaller shrimp, skewer then cook for less time)
Canola or vegetable oil for the grill

Preheat an indoor grill pan or outdoor grill to high. 

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the garlic powder, salt, Italian seasoning, and cayenne pepper. Drizzle in the olive oil and lemon juice and stir into a paste (mine was a bit thinner than a paste.  I was able to pour it onto the shrimp). 

Add the shrimp and toss to coat. 

Brush the grill or grill pan with canola oil. Grill the shrimp, just until pink and opaque, about 2 to 3 minutes per side, turning once half way through (discard the extra liquid/spices that is left at the bottom of the bowl). Serve immediately.

#2,735: Patriotic Jell-o Cups



When you have a 4th of July gathering with a bunch of kiddos, you make a patriotic themed food!  I happened to have everything I needed in my pantry to make these jell-o cups for the kids, so that's what I did.  Personally I hate making jell-o items because you have to let everything sit/solidify between layers, but I did it for the kids anyways.  LOL  This recipe probably took a good hour to make (from start to finish, minus the final set up time (which I just let sit in the fridge overnight)), and this recipe made 5 cups of jell-o, so if you are making it for a larger crowd, use smaller cups or a lot more jell-o packets!  

In the end, the kids loved them, so that's all that mattered! 



3 oz package Blue Jell-O Gelatin 
3 oz package Red Jell-O Gelatin 
1 envelope Unflavored Gelatin 
1 1/3 cups boiling Water
1 cup Milk
1/4 cup Sugar
Maraschino Cherries drained (I omitted)
Small clear cups (tall shot glasses, clear plastic drinking cups, etc.)


Place blue gelatin in a bowl and add 2/3 cup boiling water.  Stir well until dissolved and allow to cool. Fill each cup 1/3 full of blue and place in refrigerator.  When the jell-o starts to set (mine took about 20 minutes), start making the 2nd layer. 

2nd layer: Add 1/3 cup of milk to another bowl and sprinkle unflavored gelatin over top.  Do not stir.  Heat remaining 2/3 cup of milk in a pot and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and stir in sugar to dissolve.  Add heated milk to gelatin/milk mixture and stir until blended. Allow to cool. (I let mine cool about 15 minutes.  You want it cool to the touch, but not starting to solidify).  Gently fill all cups the next 1/3 of the way with white mixture and return to refrigerator.

3rd layer: Place red gelatin in a bowl and add 2/3 cup boiling water.  Stir well until dissolved and allow to cool.  (At this point, I divided the red jell-o liquid to the cups and put in the fridge overnight).  
If you are adding the cherry stem: Place a cherry on top of each glass and add about 1/4″ of red gelatin to each. 
Place in refrigerator for 5 minutes. Pull from refrigerator and try to adjust to get stems to point upward.  Fill each cup the rest of the way with red and place in refrigerator.

Friday, July 6, 2018

#2,734: Impromptu Crawfish Boil



We are at the lake for the 4th of July and the kids (and some adults) like to go fishing.  My husband joked that he caught a crawfish...I saw it as a way to try a new recipe and to try cooking something I've never cooked before.  I'll admit, I was super scared...what if I made everyone sick; how was I going to put live animals into boiling water!?  But I went ahead and tried it anyway.  I was thrilled that my husband even tried a small piece of it!  Those that tried it said it tasted like lobster (or mushy chicken).  Those that didn't get to try it (we only caught 5) wanted to try it, so we sent a adult and the kids down to the pier to try and catch 16 more (one for everyone).  Wouldn't you know, we caught exactly 16?! 

After much googling, I learned that you have to get the crawfish to purge their intestines.  We either didn't do it right, or long enough, but thanks to watching a lot of cooking shows I was able to pull out the gross poop line after we cooked it.  Blech!  

I used this boil recipe to flavor the water, but then left the fish in the water for a lot longer (5 minutes did not seem long enough to me). 

2 quarts water
1 medium white onion, peeled and quartered
1 lemon, quartered
1 bay leaf
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and halved
1 tablespoon kosher salt

In a pot of water add the onion, lemon, bay  leaf, garlic and salt.  Bring to a boil. 

Add the crawfish to the water, and return to a boil.
Turn off the heat and cover the pot.  Let the crawfish remain in the covered water for 30 minutes. 

Then you will have to search google or youtube how to get the meat out of it!