Family Recipe: Cindy’s Spinach Salad

This salad is courtesy of my Aunt Cindy. I don’t remember when or where this salad originally came from, but she introduced it into our lives in my youth.

If you don’t like Spinach, you will love this salad.

Cindy’s Spinach Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag triple-washed spinach (approx 10 ounces)
  • 1 small can of mandarin oranges (drained and rinsed)- Or you can use 2 fresh peeled mandarin oranges
  • 1/2 cup French Fried Onions
  • 1/4-1/2 cup Italian Salad Dressing

Directions:

  1. In a large chilled bowl, combine all ingredients and serve straightaway.

This serves 2 as a main, or 4 as a side dish. This recipe is naturally vegan.

This is also great as a main dish topped with 4-6 ounces of your favorite grilled protein (I like chicken breast).

 

Hearty Green Goddess Salad

I love Green Goddess Salad Dressing. For those who aren’t familiar with Green Goddess Dressing, per wikipedia: Green goddess is a salad dressing, typically containing mayonnaise, sour cream, chervil, chives, anchovy, tarragon, lemon juice, and pepper.

A few months ago, I found some vegan Green Goddess Dressing– I like it because it gets its creaminess from avocado instead of mayo and sour cream, and it lasts a bit longer in the fridge.

I love making hearty salads that can withstand a few days in the fridge. It’s a great way to make sure you have yummy veggies on hand for a snack or to add to meal time.

Hearty Green Goddess Salad

Ingredients:

  • 3 Persian cucumbers, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 dry pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped (I used a red one, but whatever color you have works)
  • 2 ribs of celery, diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1/4 cup Green Goddess Dressing (I like Gotham Greens)

Directions:

  • In a bowl, mix all ingredients.
  • Store in the fridge overnight to allow flavors to mingle.
  • Serve as is, or top a bed of green.

Serves 3-5.

New Recipe: Chipotle Black Bean Enchilada Casserole

This is a super easy, yummy recipe. My kids love it because it’s cheesy, and vegetarian (important for my big kid). I’m making a big batch for dinner this week, with plenty of leftovers!

It freezes well so you can make a bigger batch and have some for later.

Chipotle Black Bean Enchilada Casserole

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag MorningStar Farms® Chipotle Black Bean Crumbles (12 oz)
  • 3 cups cheese, divided (I use Mexican blend)
  • 1 large (28 oz) enchilada sauce (I like green)
  • 16-19 corn tortillas, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1 bag (12 oz-ish) fajita blend (that’s onions and peppers)
  • spray release

Directions:

  1. Spray a 9×11 baking dish with spray release.
  2. Layer torn tortillas, black bean crumbles, fajitas blend, tortillas, sauce, and cheese.
  3. Layer until pan is filled, top with cheese.
  4. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until bubbly.
  5. Remove foil and continue to bake for 10-15 minutes until the top is brown and bubbly.

Serve with sour cream, salsa, and diced black olives (optional, but a family favorite). I serve with a Mexican Caesar Salad, or Cilantro Lime Rice-a-Roni.

To make this dish vegan, use vegan cheese.

Mexican Cesar Salad

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 cups of your favorite lettuce/lettuce blend (romaine and bibb is great!)
  • 2 tomatoes cubed/sliced
  • ½ cup purple onion, cut into rings
  • 1 small can corn, drained and rinsed
  • ¼ c ranch dressing
  • ½ c your favorite salsa

Directions:

  1. Combine the salsa and ranch together, chill in fridge 6-8 hours before servings. This allows the flavors to blend.
  2. Toss the veggies in a chilled salad bowl with the dressing.
  3. Top with ¼ c crushed corn chips/tortilla chips for some added crunch!

Serve topped with grilled chicken breasts for an entree or without meat as a side dish.  Serves 3 as an entree, serves 6 as a side dish.

 

Family Recipe: DIY Salad Bar

The post is dedicated to Souplantation/Sweet Tomatoes… RIP.

One of our family favorite restaurants pre-pandemic was Souplantation. So many great veggie and salad options all in one place. This summer I’m trying to find easy, simple lunch options for the family, so this week I’m making a salad bar.

It might sound like a lot of work, but I spend about an hour a week prepping veggies as soon as the CSA box arrives, so it’s just a slightly different prep this week.

First I got out our Rubbermaid reusable containers and lids, and I chopped the various ingredients. At lunchtime, I’ll set all of the containers out, and put the salad greens in a large bowl that is nestled in a baking dish full of ice to keep the greens crisp.

If you are having a salad bar for your July Fourth celebration, consider using a cold ingredient caddy like this one.

It keeps the components cold and at their preferred temperature for an extended period of time.

Here are just a few of the ingredients that we’ll be featuring in our DIY salad bar:

  • Salad greens (spinach, romaine lettuce, butter bibb lettuce, mixed greens, kale)
  • Radishes
  • Brocolli
  • Cauliflower
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Celery
  • Red onions
  • Green apples
  • Strawberries
  • Beets (raw or pickled)
  • Bell pepper or other sweet peppers
  • Pickled veggies
  • Capers
  • Nuts
  • Dried fruit
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Cheese cubes (or crumbled feta or goat cheese)
  • Diced ham or diced turkey breast lunchmeat
  • Croutons
  • Salad Dressing- I like this vinagrette, and this one, and this ranch.

What do you like on your salads?

Recipe: Refreshing Cranberry Kale Salad

kalecutI know, KALE. It’s weird and has that super crunchy stem. It’s really good for you, but it gets a bad rap.

This salad recipe is dead simple and is so good that you will fight over the leftovers (if there are any).

I like making this in the morning and letting it sit in the fridge all day. That gives the ACV in the dressing time to mellow out and all the flavors to mingle.

I like starting with a bag of triple-washed chopped kale, since it’s usually the same price as whole kale, and it saves me time, but you do what works best for your family and budget.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package triple-washed chopped kale, or 6 cups of kale, washed and chopped into bite sized pieces.
  • 1/4 cup Apple Cide Vinegar, with the mother (I like Bragg’s)
  • 1/4 cup of your favorite oil, we prefer avocado oil (like this one)
  • 1 t. honey or agave
  • dash kosher salt
  • a few grinds of black pepper
  • 1 T. fresh, chopped rosemary, or 2 t. dried rosemary (whichever you have)
  • 1/2 c. crumbled herbed feta or goat cheese (your choice)
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds (you could substitute sliced almonds or almond slivers if you prefer)

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, mix oil, vinegar, honey, rosemary, salt and pepper. set aside.
  2. In a large salad/mixing bowl, add kale, cheese, almonds, and cranberries. Dizzle over oil/vinegar dressing and toss gently.
  3. Store in Fridge 4-6 hours minimum before serving.
  4. This is great as a side dish, or top with a grilled chicken breast or steak for a great main dish.
kalechips
Yum!  Kale!

Serves 6-8 as a side or 3-4 as a main dish.

If you are vegan, substitute honey for agave and use vegan cheese crumbles of your choice.

11/4/19 Weekly Meal Plan

stemarie_1650skitchen

The littlest kiddo and I went grocery shopping on Friday, and man did we stock up! I went over budget by about $10 again this week, but we picked up some pantry staples that we had run out of. They will last at least a month, so I’m not too concerned.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

You may notice a lot of plant-based meals- We are not vegetarian (well, the big kid is, but the rest of us aren’t), but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Coffee with heavy cream for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or soups for me and Bitty. The big kid takes his lunch to school, but once in a while, I can convince him to buy his lunch.

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked. I did a little meal prep over the weekend, chopped and bagged veggies soups and chili, and made cookies for the kids.

  • Monday: Breakfast for dinner: Egg scramble with bacon, cheese, and veggies, hot cocoa
  • Tuesday: Leftover chicken tetrazzini, I made a huge batch last week.
  • Wednesday: Vegetable ravioli soup (recipe this week)
  • Thursday:  Taco-dillas (Quesadillas made with taco fixings), beans & rice
  • Friday: Vegetarian chili (I made a double batch last week and frozen part of it).
  • Saturday: I’ve got two events on Saturday, so I’m going to grab pizzas on the way home.
  • Sunday:   Leftover-palooza.

 

Talk Back: What are you planning to cook this week?

10/28/19 Weekly Meal Plan

stemarie_1650skitchen

The littlest kiddo and I went grocery shopping on Friday, and man did we stock up! I went over budget by about $10, but I was able to pick up a lot of stuff that will last us a few weeks, and stuff for both kiddos school/preschool Halloween parties. This week I’m re-organizing the freezer.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

You may notice a lot of plant-based meals- We are not vegetarian (well, the big kid is, but the rest of us aren’t), but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Coffee with heavy cream for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or soups for me and Bitty. The big kid takes his lunch to school, but once in a while, I can convince him to buy his lunch.

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked. I did a little meal prep over the weekend, chopped and bagged veggies soups and chili, and made cookies for the kids.

  • Monday: Breakfast for dinner: Breakfast sandwiches on bagels, strawberries, hot cocoa
  • Tuesday: Crockpot chili (vegetarian), protein biscuits made with Kodiak Baking mix recipes forthcoming!!
  • Wednesday: Grilled Cheese sandwiches, soup, goldfish crackers, strawberries
  • Thursday:  Halloween- Pizza night!
  • Friday: Skillet casserole, probably chicken tetrazzini
  • Saturday: Quesadillas, Mexican Caesar Salad
  • Sunday:   Leftover night

 

Talk Back: What are you planning to cook this week?

10/21/19 Weekly Meal Plan!

stemarie_1650skitchen

This week is going to be busy with appointments and running around, so I’ll be leaning on stuff in our freezer. This week batch cooking will be saving our bacon!

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done, so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

You may notice a lot of plant-based meals- We are not vegetarian, but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Coffee with heavy cream for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or soups for me and Bitty. The big kid takes his lunch to school, but once in a while, I can convince him to buy his lunch.

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked. I did a lot of prep for the coming week over the weekend. I cut up the produce, bagged it for meals, made up some smoothie kits, and cut up cantaloupe to have this week. Thanks to some frugal shopping over the weekend, I’ve only spent half the grocery budget for the week. I will probably use it all.

  • Monday: Spaghetti or zoodles with Veggie Loaded Pasta Sauce 
  • Tuesday: Omelets with cheese, bacon, veggies. And Dave’s Killer Bread 
  • Wednesday: Chinese Chicken Salad, garlic bread
  • Thursday:  Taco Salad (Taco meat from the freezer)
  • Friday:   Date Night!
  • Saturday:  Breakfast for dinner: Smoothies and Bagels with cream cheese
  • Sunday:   Leftover night

 

Talk Back: What are you planning to cook this week?

Recipe: Not Your Average Taco Salad

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My Taco Salad is a little different than most, there is no big, greasy, deep-fried shell. Instead, I use tortilla chips as a garnish. This was one of the first recipes I concocted after we committed healthy eating about 10 years ago. It’s very filling and has tons of veggies.

There are all kinds of changes and modifications that can be made to accommodate any dietary concerns.

Not Your Average Taco Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground meat of your choice (Beef, chicken, turkey, or pork, or a mixture)
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can corn, drained and rinsed (or you can use 1.5 cups of frozen corn)
  • 1/4 cup water (or however much the packet tells you to use)
  • 2 cups Tortilla chips (I like these flax seed Tortilla chips)
  • 2 cups (per person) Salad greens of your choice

With the following ingredients, use as much as you’d like, I prep 1/2 cup-1 cup per person:

  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Chopped bell peppers (I usually use one red, one yellow, and one orange pepper for color/variety)
  • Shredded carrots
  • Cucumber slices
  • Avocado slices or guacamole, whichever you prefer
  • Shredded or crumbled cheese
  • Black Olive Slices
  • Jalapeno peppers Slices
  • Sour Cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • Salsa of your choice

Directions:

  1. Brown meat, set aside.
  2. Using any residual fat in the pan, and adding olive oil, cook onions until clear and soft.
  3. Add meat back to pan, mix in taco seasoning and water. Cook as directed on the taco seasoning packet.
  4. Add in both cans of beans and corn, cook until heated throughout.
  5. To plate, on a dinner plate or a big bowl- arrange 2 cups greens, top with 1/4-1/2 cup meat/bean mixture, top with other veggies and 1/2 cup chips and cheese and a dollop of sour cream/sour cream.
  6. If you NEED dressing, mix a little sour cream or plain Greek Yogurt with salsa or hot sauce and top your salad.

For a vegetarian taco salad- use soy/veggie crumbles instead of meat.

Urbane Cafe: Free lunch for Teachers and Staff (El Cajon and Encinitas Locations)!

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Various Urbane Cafe locations are offering free lunches (sandwich or salad) to teachers and school staff.

Not so small print…
  • Only one meal per ticket
  • Must have Valid Teacher ID
  • No app, phone or online orders
  • Must be present to receive the offer

The El Cajon Location is offering them on 9/17/19 and 9/18/19 at 11am. RSVP here. 

The Encinitas location is offering them on 9/24/19  and 9/26/19 11am-9pm.  RSVP here.

 

 

Please share this post with your friends and family who might benefit! Teachers and school staff work so hard- they deserve a free lunch!