What We’re Eating: BLT Salad

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy here.

We are still LOVING Plan to Eat. That 5 ‘o clock hour is so much better since I can link our meal planner to my Google Calendar, which sends me my Daily Agenda every morning at 5 a.m. When I wake up, I know exactly what my plan is for the day. (Implementing aforementioned plan is a different story.) Love it! If you want to sign up for a PTE trial and take my friend Kat’s Meal Planning Boot Camp, you’ve got nothing to lose but stress! (Note: Excuse the non-pro pics. Camera phone is the quickest to capture these pics.)

Changes and Suggestions
I love trying new recipes, but don’t like to spend too much time on prep. Trader Joe’s bagged greens that are already chopped is a time-saver. We love bacon, but don’t eat much of it, and especially don’t always have it at hand, so the sub for that is bacon bits. (If you leave the bacon out, it would technically be a LT salad instead of BLT salad.) I know, it’s not the same, stop yelling at me. :p Instead of doubling the feta to 8 oz, I just used 6 oz since that is how much is in the TJ’s container. Canned corn would work if you don’t have fresh corn on the cob.

Do not just make the 2 servings that is in the original recipe (I changed it to 4 servings down below). You might not want to put all the extra avocados in if you’re making more, only because you don’t want to eat brown avos in your salad. Go big and make a ton of this salad because there are quite a bit of ingredients to prep, so you want to make the most of your time in the kitchen. Plus, everyone loves it and will want more anyhow. I found that 1 pint of tomatoes for the 2 servings was a bit too much, so even having 1 pint for the 4 servings would be sufficient, unless you LOVE grape tomatoes, than go for it!

Verdict
Happy bellies all around!

On this particular evening, we had guests over for dinner AND I was bringing a meal for another family of six (one is a baby), so if you are looking for something literally to “throw together”, this would be the recipe!! We also had baked potatoes and chicken tacos from TJs.

– Joyce

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Inspiration
BLT CHOPPED SALAD WITH CORN, FETA + AVOCADO recipe from How Sweet Eats

Total time: < 25 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups butter lettuce, chopped
  • 4 cups arugula, chopped
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 8 slices thick-cut bacon, fried and crumbled
  • 1 1/2 cups sweet corn
  • 2 avocados, chopped
  • 6 ounces feta, crumbled
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Instructions:

Put all the ingredients into a large bowl and toss it all around.

*Younger kids can definitely help out with making this salad, especially if the bacon is already prepared ahead of time so no frying involved.

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

Apples

The girls have taken a liking (or love) for apples.  Fuji and Ambrosia are the favorite varieties so far.  I grew up eating Golden Delicious and Fuji.  Now I like Fuji, Pink Lady, and Ambrosia.

Can’t wait to go back to Apple Hill and have some more Apple Milkshake!

Lucky’s has an apple variety chart that was pretty interesting.  Have a look-see.

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– Norm

What We’re Eating: Cobb Salad

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy here.

We’ve been using Plan to Eat to do our meal planning recently. It has been awesome! My favorite thing is that I can see which recipes are frequently used, so I know everyone likes it. It is super easy to input recipes, too. My friend Kat has a Meal Planning Boot Camp which will help you avoid stress when anyone asks, “What’s for dinner?” Norm put cobb salad on the plan yesterday. Sure, you just cut up stuff and put it on the plate, but I would usually just put all the ingredients into bowls and then toss. Inspired by Pioneer Woman’s blog post with her cobb salad, I did this…

20150127_180656Changes
I only had 2 greens on hand, no chives or green onions around, and I used prepared chicken strips instead of making my own. I added olives at the end. I don’t know many people who like blue cheese, so of course, the girls got shredded cheese and dressing of their choice – ranch dressing for Emily and poppy seed dressing for Melody.

Suggestions
Norm found a good way to remember what ingredients goes in a cobb salad.

EAT COBB
E = eggs
A = avocados
T = tomatoes

C = chicken
O = olives
B = bacon
B = blue cheese

Probably a given, but this is a recipe that is super easy to prep ahead of time if you don’t have a lot of time to prep before the meal.

Verdict
Thumbs up all around!

– Joyce

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Inspiration
COBB SALAD recipe from Pioneer Woman with changes

Total time: It took me about an hour only because I kept stopping to reply to emails. That, and I was trying to figure out if I wanted to try making blue cheese dressing. :p
Serves: 8

Ingredients:

  • Grilled chicken strips, diced (from Trader Joe’s)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • Butter lettuce, chopped
  • Plus other lettuce of your choice (we only had the above 2 kinds on hand)
  • 6 whole hardboiled eggs, peeled and sliced
  • 1 pound thin bacon, fried until crisp
  • 8 oz red grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 avocados, removed from skin and diced
  • 1/3 cup blue cheese crumbles
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Blue cheese dressing, or any dressing
Directions:
  1. Prepare all ingredients above as instructed.
  2. Arrange the three types of greens in a large bowl or on a large platter in three separate sections.
  3. Arrange eggs, bacon, tomatoes, and avocados in different piles.
  4. Pile the blue cheese crumbles in the center and sprinkle the whole salad with a little black pepper.
  5. Serve with blue cheese dressing!

BLUE CHEESE DRESSING recipe from Pioneer Woman with changes

Total time: 5 minutes
Serves: 12

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup homemade buttermilk*
  • 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 oz blue cheese crumbles
  • 1 dash salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Directions:
  1. In a bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, buttermilk, and Worcestershire until smooth.
  2. Stir in blue cheese crumbles, salt, and pepper. Taste and add more seasoning if needed.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Flavors deepen as it chills!

20150127_182934*I didn’t have buttermilk on hand, so I used 1/4 cup milk and 1/4 tablespoon vinegar. I later realized that I did have some cream from when I made broccoli cheese soup last week. It still turned out decent, but a little milky.
*Bold instructions can be done by younger kids.

Here’s how my salad compared to Ree’s. I still need to work on presentation and photography. Any food bloggers reading this? :p

IMG_20150127_191623Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

What We’re Eating: Crockpot Breakfast Casserole

For those who don’t know, I am the Publicity Coordinator for our local MOPS group. I get to put together a monthly newsletter filled with all sorts of stuff for moms. This year I am featuring easy, no-fuss recipes that moms can do. A friend submitted this breakfast casserole. I know I should make use of our crockpot more, but I don’t.

Kids in the Kitchen
I was going to try to make this recipe quickly while the girls got ready for bed, but they caught me and wanted to help out too. I can’t resist teaching life skills, so they came and lent a hand.

Whenever I start cooking, I have the girls get the ingredients and tools we need that they can reach (and won’t break).

Super glad I measured the cheese because the recipe called for 3 cups. The package said 2 cups. I was going to dump one and a half package in, but the first package looked like a lot already. Upon measuring, I found that said package with 2 cups was actually 3 cups. Go figure. 1 dozen eggs + 1 cup milk + 2 lbs of hash brown potatoes + 1 lb of ham (diced) + 1/2 cup onions (diced) + 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese + 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard + 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder + 1 tsp salt & 1/2 tsp of pepper

And then, I put them to work. A dozen egg, well-beaten, and 1 cup of milk

Plus some salt, pepper, dry mustard, and garlic powder…whisk

Lightly grease crockpot and layer 1/3 of frozen hash brown, season with salt and pepper

1/3 of the diced ham

1/3 of the shredded cheddar cheese

1/3 of the onions, and then 2 more layers, pour egg mixture over everything. Cook on low for 7-8 hours for thawed hash browns and 8-9 hours for frozen hash browns.

Ta-da! It smelled like breakfast casserole in the morning. 🙂

Changes
Instead of bacon, I used ham.

Suggestions
You can try different ingredients for the breakfast meat. You can use bacon, sausage, ham, or sub in different veggies, like peppers or mushrooms.

Verdict
It was a hit. Well, I don’t know if it was hit, but when I returned to the brunch spread, the crockpot was empty, so at least everyone gave it a try. 🙂

– Joyce

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Pinspiration
CROCKPOT BREAKFAST CASSEROLE recipe from Family Fresh Meals
Originally pinned HERE

Total time: It took me about 45 minutes with the kids helping out.
Serves: 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 lbs hash brown potatoes (frozen hash browns, cook 8-9 hours, instead of the 7-8)
  • 1 lb bacon, cooked, drained and cut into pieces. (feel free to substitute with your favorite breakfast meat..sausage, ham, etc)
  • 1/2 cup onions, diced
  • 3 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt & 1/2 tsp of pepper (add pinch of s&p for each layer of hash browns)
Directions: 
  1. Beat 12 eggs until well blended.
  2. Beat in milk and garlic powder, mustard, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Layer potatoes, add a small pinch of salt and pepper.
  4. Sprinkle 1/3 of the onions.
  5. Sprinkle 1/3 of breakfast meat, or substitute.
  6. Top with 1 cup of cheese.
  7. Repeating this layering 2 more times to have a total of 3 layers, ending with cheese.
  8. Take your egg mixture, and pour over layers. For refrigerated hash browns, cook for 6-7 hours on low. For frozen hash browns, cook for 7-8 hours on low or until eggs are set.

*Bold instructions can be done by younger kids.

pinterest-to-real-life-2014-buttonSince I’m all about putting my goals to action this year, my friend Nicole’s monthly link-up, Pinterest to Real Life, is a perfect way to keep accountable to that! I have pinned lots of stuff with every good intention of baking/cooking/crafting/etc. It usually doesn’t happen because life happens. I would love to move toward “getting it together” this year, sooo…here we go…. If you want to join in, it’s easy. Choose something you’ve pinned, do it, share about it. That’s it!

What We’re Eating: Tortilla Rollups

We have been in a food slump lately (and a blogging slump, I know, I know). It was time to take the Pin It and Do It Challenge. Norm, the best grocery-shopping hubby ever!, looked at our “Recipes to Try” board and decided on Tortilla Rollups by the Pioneer Woman.

tortillarollupsStory about the image above: I don’t know how all the creative lunch-making mamas out there do it, but I’m not creative and I don’t really make lunch. There is usually enough leftovers from dinner to re-heat for the next day’s lunch. This took all my brainpower. We did make it prior to this particular morning, but the girls made those. The photo quality is bad because it was not sunny outside, and our house has bad lighting (anyone want to help with that?), so I just snapped this shot quickly with my phone before packing them up for homeschool group.

This is a safe recipe since we can pretty much shove anything into a tortilla and the girls will eat it. I didn’t try the exact recipe in the link, but it’s another one of those recipes that you can change to your own likes and tastes.

CHANGES
You can make it with various ingredients.

SUGGESTIONS
Try different ingredients to see what you and/or your kiddo(s)/hubby/in-laws/neighbors/friends, etc. like.

VERDICT
Yay! Everyone in the house was a fan of this one!

– Joyce

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TORTILLA ROLLUPS recipe from The Pioneer Woman:

Total time: <20 minutes
Serves: 1 serving per tortilla

Ingredients:

  • Cream cheese
  • Taco-sized flour tortillas
  • Ham/turkey slices
  • Cheese slices
  • Tomatoes, sliced
  • Cucumbers, julienned
  • Avocados, sliced
Instructions
  1. Spread cream cheese in a thin layer over the tortillas. (Younger kids can use plastic knife.)
  2. Lay ingredients down the middle of the tortilla.
  3. Roll up the tortillas as tightly as they’ll go. PW suggest using plastic wrap and refrigerating for an hour so that things stay together.
  4. Slice into fourths.

What would you add to your tortilla rollups?

*Bold instructions can be done by younger kids.

What We’re Eating: Banana “Ice Cream”

raspberrybananaStory about the image above: I set out some raspberries for the girls to eat during breakfast. Emily was not paying attention and Melody ate the last of the raspberries. The only raspberries left were the ones I put into the freezer. Being too impatient (me, not the girls) to thaw the raspberries, I just made some “ice cream” for breakfast. (I woke up with a headache so ice cream sounded like a good way to start the day. ;p Don’t worry, they also had some raisin bread, too.)

This BANANA “ICE CREAM” recipe has been on my “Recipes to Try” pinboard since last September when the post came out. The girls LOVE bananas, so they always eat them all up before I can even attempt to make this. We’ve been on a smoothie kick lately, so I had some banana slices in the freezer already. We have tried it in various ways, but mostly plain-ish, so I haven’t actually done the exact recipe linked above. It’s a recipe that you can change to your own liking.

My first try was with our hand blender since we don’t have a food processor. It worked, but it was quite a workout. We got a Philips Hand Blender & Chopper collection (with beaker and whisk) as a wedding gift (I can’t remember who it’s from, so if it’s from you, let us know so we can give you a shoutout!). We love it! I seriously use it all the time. The next time I made the ‘ice cream’ I used the chopper, and it worked great!

CHANGES
You can make it with various ingredients.

SUGGESTIONS
Try different ingredients to see what you and/or your kiddo(s)/hubby/in-laws/neighbors/friends, etc. like.

VERDICT
EVERYONE LOVES BANANA ‘ICE CREAM’!!! I’m not a huge fan of bananas (another story for another day), but I have to say that it does feed that ice cream monster without all the added stuff that some ice creams have, although I’m not complaining about the added stuff because ice cream is ice cream. 😉 Yum!

– Joyce

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PLAIN BANANA RECIPE:

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes
Serves: 1 serving per 1/2-1 banana?? <– just making this up

We’ve done it different ways, so I don’t have a set recipe. But…it goes something like this…

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe bananas, cut into chunks
  • A little milk or yogurt
Instructions
  1. Cut bananas into 1-2″ pieces. (Younger kids can use plastic knife.)
  2. Freeze until stiff. (I lay it out on a wax paper lined baking sheet.)
  3. Put frozen banana slices into processor (I used a chopper since we don’t own a food processor) with a little milk or yogurt, and blend until creamy.
  4. Serve immediately. If it starts getting melty (<–take note of this technical cooking term ;p haha) you can simple put it back in the freezer for a little bit until it is firm.

Note: If you don’t have a food processor or a chopper, you can even thaw the banana slices a little and mash up with a fork and blend it that way.

Variations: banana raspberry (pictured above, or use any kind of berry), chocolate banana, will add to this list as we try them out…

What flavor would you try?

*Bold instructions can be done by younger kids.

What We’re Eating: Blueberry Crisp (Bread & Wine)

breadandwine 2013-04-23_17-29-03_337

I received the book Bread & Wine, and to be honest, I just thought it was really cool to read a book that some of the bloggers that inspire me were reading and reviewing. Little did I know… this book is a whole lot more than just a book with some stories and some recipes. There are recipes, but it is not exactly your typical cookbook. You can head over to our review blog to read my thoughts on Shauna Niequist’s book BREAD & WINE.

Note: These are all phone photos, so I apologize for the blurriness of the photos.

Below is the account of the girls making Blueberry Crisp, one of the recipes from the book.

Here are the ingredients, from one of the stores that Shauna frequents, Trader Joe’s. And we also frequent it because it is located right next to our church!
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Melody reading the instructions to me so that we can double check that we have all the right ingredients and measuring cups/spoons.
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The girls are pouring in oats.
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Melody mixing together the oats, almond meal, maple syrup, olive oil, and salt.
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Emily adding the crisp topping to the blueberries.
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I really love this book, and it’s going to be one that I will read over and over again. If you haven’t already, head over to read my review of BREAD & WINE. It will make you want to cook, and throw a dinner party, even if you don’t know how to cook…or throw dinner parties, like me!
passage

– Joyce

Kids in the Kitchen: Sushi Rolls

We decided to make sushi one night. Random. On the menu: edamame, miso soup, shrimp tempura, potstickers (aka gyoza), and lots and lots of yummy sushi rolls. They were all veggie rolls, or had chicken or smoked salmon, so nothing raw for those of you who don’t like that kinda stuff. :p If anyone is interested, I can post (links to) recipes later on.

Here is Melody getting ready to roll her first roll.

Rollin’

Ta-da!

Another roll…

It was an inside-out roll, so adding just a bit of sesame seeds…

Some of the rolls Melody made

And…a close up!

Digging in…and taking a pic :p

Getting chopsticks ready

Emily made a ‘smiley face.’

And here’s Melody’s plate.

Yum!

What I’m learning these days:

Don’t estimate what you kids can do, they will surprise you!

Check out the meal that these kids (age 7 and 4?) put together! Focaccia? Impressive!

MOPS Craft: Dip Mix and Spice Blend

I’m not a crafty person, so any of the crafty items you see around our home was made at MOPS. I love that I don’t actually have to go out to buy the materials. I’ve gotten compliments on all the things I’ve made. Thanks to our wonderful Creative Activities coordinators Monica and Genevieve for preparing all the great crafts!

At the last MOPS meeting we put together a Ranch Dressing & Dip Mix and a Moroccan Spice Blend. Definitely something that I would not do on my own but fun to do with the group.

Materials:
*container for spices (I think ours were 6 oz.)
*measuring spoons

Ingredients for Ranch dressing and dip mix (40 servings):
*2 Tbsp dried onion powder
*4 Tbsp dried parsley
*2 Tbsp dried chives
*2 tsp garlic powder
*2 tsp dried celery flakes/powder
*1 tsp white pepper
*1/2 tsp paprika
*1/4 tsp dried dill
*1/2 tsp salt, or to taste

Instructions for Ranch dressing and dip mix (makes 2 cups):
*Mix 3 Tbsp of dry mix with 1 cup mayonnaise and 1 cup buttermilk. Let dressing rest in fridge for 1 day for best results.
*Lighter Version: Mix 2 Tbsp of dry mix with 1/2 cup plain yogurt, 1/2 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise, and 1/2 cup buttermilk.
*Optional: Buy dry buttermilk powder from the baking section. Add 1/2 cup powder to the dry ingredients in the tub. When adding the wet ingredients, you can substitute regular milk for the buttermilk.


Ingredients for Moroccan Spice Blend:

*4 tsp ground cumin
*4 tsp ground ginger
*4 tsp salt
*2 tsp black pepper
*2 tsp ground allspice
*2 tsp ground cinnamon
*2 tsp ground coriander
*1 tsp ground cloves
*1/2 tsp cayenne

Recipe Ideas for Moroccan Spice Blend:
*Use as a dry rub on chicken and pan fry.
*Mix 2 Tbsp of dry mix with plain yogurt and coat chicken. Let marinate for 1/2 hour. Place in foil packets. Bake for about 25 minutes at 450*F. Comes out super juicy and flavorful.
*Mix with olive oil and coat potatoes or vegetables. Roast in oven until tender.

And also, not pictured was the chalkboard contact paper used to label the tops of the containers so that you can write down what spice was inside. We ran out of contact paper, so I don’t have that one mine.

2012-11-27_11-13-30_509 2012-11-27_11-13-23_913

– Joyce

What We’re Eating: Make-Ahead French Toast Casserole

Image Source: I Can Teach My Child

I’ve been looking for some simple recipes for dishes to make for MOPS brunch. Usually I sign up to bring fruit, since it’s easy and we love fruit. 🙂 But I wanted to try some new things this year. This French Toast Casserole recipe came into my inbox, and it looked simple enough.

CHANGES
None.

SUGGESTIONS
None.

VERDICT
I personally don’t know how this tasted because I brought it to MOPS, and I got called to work in the 2’s room. When I came back at the end of the meeting, it was all gone. I got a small piece that got stuck to the side. It tasted pretty good, but at that point, it had been the previous night’s dinner since I last eaten, so anything would have tasted pretty good. Looks like everyone at MOPS gobbled it up though. I will have to make it again.

– Joyce

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FRENCH TOAST CASSEROLE recipe from I Can Teach My Child:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 12 slices of white bread
  • 3/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups of milk
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

Instructions:

  1. Melt 1/2 cup of butter and pour it in the bottom of the 9×13 casserole dish.
  2. Lay 6 pieces of white bread on top of the melted butter.
  3. Mix 3/4 cup of brown sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.
  4. Pour half of the brown sugar mixture on top of the first layer of bread.
  5. Add the second layer of six pieces of bread over the top of the brown sugar mixture.
  6. In a separate bowl, mix 5 beaten eggs, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and 1 1/2 cups of milk.
  7. Pour the egg mixture over the casserole.
  8. Top with the remaining brown sugar mixture.
  9. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  10. The next morning, cover the casserole dish with aluminum foil and then bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes. dust with powdered sugar.

*Bold instructions can be done by younger kids.