Cold bean & rice veggie salad

rice and bean salad (1)

Spring is here…..well sort of. We had a few really nice days here in Wisconsin and now it seems to be hanging in the 40’s to low 50’s with sunshine. I think that it’s still way too chilly to be spring but I’ll take it. We have been outside as much as possible and beyond that it’s been a bit busy over here, so I apologize for the lack of posts. We are getting ready to move and have a baby (any day now!) so there is quite a bit to do if you can imagine .

My “free-time” has been spent packing and still nesting like crazy. Even in these last weeks of pregnancy, with my body aching and so sore, all I want to do is scrub something, anything! Everything that can be washed in the house has been washed. I went through a tub of Oxy Clean in the last couple weeks and an entire can of carpet cleaner (because I was scrubbing my vehicle mats so much, trying to get every little spot out) just to give you an idea. I just can’t stop! My whites are whiter than they have ever been and my rugs look brand new. Also, I just impulsively bought a wet/dry vacuum to better clean the floors with. Well it wasn’t super impulsive because it is the same one we got my sister-in-law for her birthday and she sold me on it. No more getting down on my hands and knees to clean the floor AND getting an even better clean?! Sold. The vacuum should come today and I am already giddy about cleaning my floors. I have been watching You Tube videos of all the infomercials about it, so excited! So if you need something cleaned bring it over, seriously. I am searching for things to clean around the house at this point. And before this post gets any lamer lets move on to this delicious, fresh salad.rice and bean salad

I came up with this concoction after buying a huge bag of mixed beans from Costco and not really wanting to make bean soup like I normally do with them. I threw some things together and then found the recipe for the dressing, which is the best part of the salad. It’s tangy, refreshing, and a tad bit sweet. The longer you let the salad sit in the fridge the more flavor the rice and beans will soak up. And the nice part about this salad is the versatility. You can pretty much toss in whatever veggies, grains, nuts, and cheeses that your little heart desires and it will still turn out great. I am going to make this again soon and add some red cabbage and sliced carrots for a little more crunch. Oh and I didn’t put this in the recipe but I threw mine on top of a bed of mixed greens with a squeeze of lemon over it and it was divine. This makes for a perfect, protein & nutrient- packed, lunch that will last you a good week in the fridge.

Cold bean & rice veggie salad
 

Ingredients
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice
  • 3-4 cups cooked beans ( I used a variety of pinto, kidney, black, yellow split peas, lima, and lentils) OR 2-3 cans of precooked beans, rinsed
  • 1 bag frozen yellow corn, thawed
  • 3-4 green onions, sliced
  • 1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • ⅓ cup chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • feta cheese

Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl combine: cooked rice and beans, corn, onions, tomatoes and cilantro.
  2. In another smaller mixing bowl, whisk together oils, vinegar, sugar, garlic, salt, cumin, chili powder, and pepper.
  3. Taste and season accordingly.
  4. Pour dressing mixture over rice and beans and toss to coat.
  5. Store in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving for best results.
  6. Add feta or any other cheese right before serving.

Happy day to you!

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Mini cherry cheesecake bites

mini cherry cheesecake bites (2)

Last week my friend threw a Pinterest/wine tasting party. We all had to make a recipe we had been wanting to try off Pinterest and bring a rare or favorite  bottle of wine for tasting. Since I couldn’t participate in the wine part, I brought my own bottle of alcohol-free merlot, which sort of made me feel like a part of the fun! Boo! I can’t wait to have my first glass of wine after baby and breastfeeding. The food tasting however, I was all about that. I made 2 recipes: the first was a super easy, to-die-for version of salted caramel creme brûlée from Tastefully Simple, and the second were these adorable mini cherry cheesecake bites. I have had my eye on them for a while via Pinterest of course, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to whip them up!

mini cherry cheesecake bites

The great thing about this recipe is that it’s easy peasy to throw together, and the finished product looks so fancy. I mean all you really have to do is mix the cheesecake ingredients; beyond that the hardest part is separating all the mini baking liners and spooning a cherry on top of each little piece. So simple! One tip I have is to make sure you bake them long enough…I ended up baking mine a few minutes longer so the wafer became more of a crust and wouldn’t get mushy. 
mini cherry cheesecake bites (3)

Mini cherry cheesecake bites
Author: 
 

Ingredients
  • 2 packages cream cheese (8oz)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Vanilla wafers
  • Mini aluminum baking cup liners
  • Cherry pie filling

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix together cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating until well combined, stir in vanilla and lemon juice.
  3. Place a vanilla wafer in the bottom of each mini aluminum baking cup, rounded side down (they won’t lay perfectly flat).
  4. Spoon the batter evenly over the wafers.
  5. Bake for ~15 minutes or until edges appear set; remove from oven and let cool.
  6. Top with cherry pie filling and refrigerate.

One more helpful hint before you go: The vanilla wafers are slightly too large for the mini cup liners so they won’t sit just right. Don’t freak out though, once you start filling the cheesecake mixture on top of them, they will straighten out a bit, trust me. Even if the wafers are a little slanted in the bottom of the liners, you won’t even be able to tell once they are baked and covered with the cherries.

 

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Chicken salad w/ almond honey mustard dressing

chicken salad with honey dressing

So we had a couple GORGEOUS days outside in Wisconsin these past couple weeks. And by gorgeous I mean it has consistently been below zero or slightly above all winter, and it was 50 degrees and sunny the other day. Some days have only been in the 40’s, which honestly feel like summer with the sunshine. Yesterday I seriously wore crop jeans and a jean jacket, but I think baby keeps me a little warmer than normal too. Granted we still have a bunch of snow and everything is really muddy and wet, but we will take it. We have been slapping on our rain boots to go walks, going to the park, and playing outside after school gets out. Our clothes may get soaked but it’s nothing a load of laundry and a bubble bath can’t fix.

chicken salad with honey dressing (1)

All this “nice” weather made me want to ditch all the casseroles, soups, and hearty bakes I had planned for the week and substitute with something fresh and light. Also I have been craving salads my whole pregnancy so coming across this recipe on Pinch of Yum had me pretty excited. Besides all the delicious-ness topping this pretty salad, the dressing is phenomenal. It certainly is not your typical honey mustard–it’s tangy but sweet, and the garlic is strong but not overpowering. If you are not a honey mustard fan, have no fear! I actually altered a few ingredients from the original recipe because Ralph isn’t a honey mustard fan and it turned out fantastic! I was licking the food processor with my fingers after I made it. So one word of advice: if you are going to make this salad you have to make the dressing to go with it, don’t use a store bought, I promise you it will be worth it! It’s really simple too–basically you just toss a bunch of ingredients in a food processor and call it a day.chicken salad with honey dressing (2)

We lived on this salad all week and I am already planning on making another trip to the store so we can have again next week. Do you guys do that too? We always seemed to get hooked on something and have it a bunch of days in a row before we get sick of it.

One more thing–my kids loved this salad! I don’t know about your little ones but I know it’s hard to get most kids to eat their leafy greens. Topping them with fruit, nuts, and cheese really worked well for mine. I made a small amount of the dressing with a little extra raw honey and half the garlic for the kids–they loved it!

 

Ingredients
  • 2 cups rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • 2 cups grapes
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 3 cups lettuce (your choice) I used a blend
  • ½ cup feta cheese
  • ½ cup almonds slivers
  • 3 tablespoons almond butter
  • 1 tablespoon liquid coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons grape seed oil
  • 1 tablespoon stoneground mustard
  • ½ tablespoon raw honey
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, more to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic

Instructions
  1. Toss salad ingredients together.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine: chicken, grapes, blueberries, lettuce, feta cheese, and almond slivers.
  3. In a food processor or blender ( I used my ninja), prepare your dressing.
  4. Blend together: almond butter, coconut oil, orange juice, grape seed oil, stoneground mustard, honey, salt, and garlic cloves.
  5. Add more of anything after you taste it. I ended up adding more oil for the consistency.

Today’s forecast is high of 49 degrees and sunny, plus it’s Friday! What a dream!

 

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Chicken quinoa & broccoli casserole w/bacon

broccoli bacon casserole

There are just a handful of things we need to do to our house before selling, so we have been working hard on a few projects around the house for the last few days. Sunday we bought a new kitchen sink and faucet and while researching the cost for a plumber to install it for us, Ralph and I thought he could do it himself. After a few hours and a trip to the store for drains (who knew those don’t come with a sink when you buy it? crazy), success! Ralph is very handy around the house but this was impressive! He saved us 300$ and the sink looks beautiful!

The next thing on our list was fixing cracked plaster in our downstairs bathroom and repainting the walls. I was planning on calling someone to do it for us, but I was feeling confident vibes from the successful sink installation– so off to the hardware store I went. It took me about 5 hours and I will spare you my whining about how I can barley move my body because I am so sore, but I did it! The bathroom looks so fresh and new. This may sound like a lame feat to you crazy do-it-yourselfers (you guys seriously rock), but we are not you. We have lists and lists of projects but then with the kids and our schedules we can never seem to find time. We always end up hiring someone to make it easier but I know most of it we could really do ourselves.  So this plumber guy and  plastering lady are high-fiving all day over here!

broccoli bacon casserole (2)

So besides that we are still getting things ready for baby around the house, at least as much as we can until we move. If you’re a frequent reader you know how rough my pregnancy has been, but I am telling you, this third trimester is bliss. I may be sore all the time but I get incredible energy for most of the day, which allows me to cook and clean! I can’t express how amazing this feels after months of my body not allowing me to do these things. Granted by 4pm I am spent from working on things all day, but its worth it! I am back to my weekly meal schedules and this broccoli quinoa recipe made my list this week by the word bacon alone. Besides being incredibly tasty, this casserole is so simple that you don’t even need to cook the quinoa ahead of time. The only part that takes time is frying the bacon and I suppose if you really wanted to you could skip that part. I highly recommend you don’t though…..for obvious delicious reasons. Go make this. If not for it’s ooey gooey-cheesy-ness, do it for the BACON.

Chicken quinoa & broccoli casserole w/bacon
Author: 
 

Ingredients
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • ½ cup flour
  • 2 cups water, divided
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • ½ cup cooked, crumbled bacon
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 teaspoons seasoning (your choice)
  • ¼ cup shredded Gruyere cheese (or your choice)
  • 3 cups fresh broccoli florets

Instructions
  1. In a saucepan on medium heat, bring the chicken broth and ½ cup of milk to a boil. Whisk in the rest of the milk and the poultry seasoning.
  2. Next whisk in flour until creamy sauce forms.
  3. In a mixing bowl, mix the sauce from the stovetop with one cup of water, the quinoa and the bacon.
  4. Pour the mixture into a butter greased 9×13 pan.
  5. Cut chicken into strips and place on top of quinoa mixture.
  6. Season, cover with foil, and bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees.
  7. Next put broccoli in boiling water on the stovetop for 1 minute or until it turns bright green.
  8. Run under cold water and set aside.
  9. Remove casserole from oven and make sure quinoa is done. (you will be able to tell if the germ has popped open to form a little spiral)
  10. It may need to go back in for an additional 15 minutes or so depending on your oven.
  11. When casserole is done toss in the broccoli, cover with cheese and bake again just until the cheese is melted.

Thanks to Lindsay from Pinch of Yum for yet another great recipe!

 

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Fresh Waldorf salad

Waldorf salad (2)

Today is Ralph’s 27th birthday. When it’s my birthday I want the royal treatment. I want to be pampered and waited on. Not Ralphy. He woke up just like any other day, made us all eggs and toast, took all the garbages out, did the dishes that I left from the night before, and helped me get the kids off to school. Every morning his selflessness amazes me and his birthday is no exception. Among many other great qualities, one of Ralph’s greatest qualities is putting others before himself. Although his life is incredibly busy and stressful with his work load, he is always thinking of ways to not only help make my life easier ,but for everyone that he cares about. He is one of those people who does really nice things for people who he doesn’t even know and wants no recognition for it. Most times I will find out months later about something generous he did for someone because he doesn’t even tell me. 8 birthdays ago was the first birthday I got to celebrate with Ralph and he still makes my heart flutter just the same. And only people who make my heart flutter get fresh Waldorf salad in the fridge for the week!

Waldorf salad (4)

You know those salads with apples, whipped cream, and snickers that someone always brings to a baby shower or get together? Those are my favorite. This recipe reminds me of those salads but a little bit healthier? Maybe, maybe not. When I came across this recipe I had written down ages ago, it sounded so refreshing and I thought it would be perfect to keep in in the fridge all week for a snack. Oh and it didn’t disappoint! It turned out beautiful and so yummy. The kids thought it was ice cream with fruit in it. Jokes on you kids. This salad isn’t totally bad for you if you use the right ingredients; it’s just bad-ish for you. The sugar is the only thing really, but as long as it’s real organic cane sugar we will all live to see another day I think. So whip this up for your next get-together and everyone will want your recipe! I am curious to see how it keeps in the fridge this week, I will get back to you on that.

 

Ingredients
  • 5 apples, your choice, diced (unpeeled)
  • 1 8-ounce can pineapple tidbits (drained)
  • 1 cup seedless red and/or green grapes, cut in half
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup pineapple juice
  • ½ cup cream
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 1 8-ounce carton whipped topping or favorite whipped cream

Instructions
  1. In a small pot, whisk together sugar, flour, cream, butter and juice.
  2. Heat on medium until boiling.
  3. Remove from stove and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Fold in whipped topping.
  5. Mix with fruit and nuts just before serving.

 

Here is my favorite post I wrote last year about Ralph in case you want to know more about my Mr. Wonderful. The birthday boy requested a chocolate chip cheese cake (his favorite), my Merlot meatballs, lobster bisque (courtesy of Costco!), and loaded baked potato crisps. Works for me. Happy Monday playas.

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