Almond Snack Mix


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Hi!  I'm coming to you today with a good snack idea.  Eating between meals can be such a pitfall for those of us who want to eat healthy, but get really hungry about 3:30 pm or crave something sweet in the afternoons.  This snack mix is a really good answer to that.  I got the idea from one of my former Zumba participants and have since made it a lot, and likely adjusted the ratios of ingredients.

It's simple and customizeable, so let it fit your tastes.  I love the combination of almonds, dried cranberries, and dark or bittersweet chocolate chips.  I'm not a nutritionist, but this has protein from the almonds, and the chocolate and dried fruit answer that sweet craving in a less guilty way.

Almond Snack Mix

1 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup dried fruit (cranberries, mixed fruit, raisins)
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients together and store in an airtight or resealable container.  Try to enjoy no more than 1/4 to 1/2 cup at a time!  Note: the ratio I am using here is 2 parts almonds to 1 part each dried fruit and chocolate chips.  Feel free to play with your own combination.  

Trisha Yearwood's Marinated Vegetable Salad: Church Potluck Dish #3


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I saw an episode of Trisha's Southern Kitchen a while back, and she made this recipe.  It reminded me of a sort of older style (old church rather than old school- ha!) potluck dish, but I liked that she used fresh and frozen vegetables rather than canned ones to make it.  I wanted something vegetable based to take to the church dinner, but wanted it to still retain some freshness rather than a cooked taste and texture.  

While I think I would still need to tweak this a bit to really suit my tastes, this is overall not a bad dish.  It makes a ton (like 4 quarts), and is good for potlucks because of its volume and it's just a bit different, but not out of the realm of familiar.  It's easy to make, and you have to make it ahead of time, so it's a good time saver.  When it's first made, it is the prettiest- all the green.  Unfortunately the green of the green beans and peas fades just a bit, but it's still a few nice colors.

I changed the amount of sugar, so be sure to click the link to see her original recipe.

Marinated Vegetable Salad
adapted from Trisha Yearwood

1/2 cup sugar
1 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
16 ounces frozen cut green beans, defrosted and drained, or fresh green beans
16 ounces frozen green peas, defrosted and drained, or fresh shelled green peas
1 1/2 cups thinly chopped celery (about 4 stalks)
One 2-ounce jar chopped pimientos
2 small sweet onions, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped

Bring the sugar and vinegar to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the oil and salt and set aside to cool.

Add to a bowl the green beans, peas, celery, pimientos, onions and bell peppers. Pour the vinegar mixture over the vegetables, cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Serve with a slotted spoon to drain the excess oil.

  • I decreased the original amount of sugar by about half, and I'd probably decrease it further next time.
  • I will also decrease the olive oil next time, likely to about 1/3 cup.
  • The onions said "sweet" in the store, but they were hot!  If your onion is hot, I'd encourage you to cut it back to 1 onion AND/OR to rinse the onions under cold water and let them drain a couple minutes before adding them to the rest of the mix OR to quick pickle them in the vinegar before the vinegar and sugar are mixed together and heated.

Pinterest Find: Maple Dijon Chicken


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Can you ever have too many chicken dishes?  Especially when they're easy and deliver a huge amount of results in relation to the ingredients and time you spent putting the dish together?

This was one of the first dishes I ever pinned to my food board, and after nearly 3 years on Pinterest I am finally trying it out, and I'm glad I did.  It's really good.  It's a solid recipe for your repertoire that is one of those go-to, sure bets.  It's almost stupid-easy and is quick to prepare.  Serve with a salad or other vegetables on the side.

Maple Dijon Chicken
from Witty in the City blog

1.5 lb package of boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 6 thighs)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1 Tb vinegar (rice/rice wine/white wine/apple cider)
1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped

Preheat oven to 450.  Line a 9x13" baking dish or pan with aluminum foil for easy cleanup.  If you wish (and I did), trim excess fat from thighs and salt and pepper both sides.  Place into a single layer into the dish.

In a small bowl or mixing cup, mix together the maple syrup, the Dijon mustard, and the vinegar.  Pour over the chicken, turning the chicken to coat.  Bake the chicken in the preheated oven for a total of about 40 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the thighs reaches 165.  About halfway through cooking time, baste and or turn the thighs in the sauce for even cooking and flavor distribution.

Remove from oven and sprinkle rosemary on top of the chicken.

Chocolate Chip Pie; A Story of Success, Shame, and Woe


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If you've never known such drama associated with a pie, you probably have more of a life than I do.  Yesterday was the Harvest Celebration at my church, which is a potluck dinner in which we celebrate God's blessings through the year and we also kick off our revival.  I always think potlucks are a good time to try out new recipes, because you automatically have taste-testers, and if a dish turns out to be a flop, it doesn't ruin your meal because there's a whole slew of other dishes to be had.

After looking through different cookbooks, magazines, and my Pinterest dessert board, I decided to make this pie, because I had almost everything on hand that I needed to make it and it looked really easy.  Plus, the name sounds like it would be a pretty safe bet.

Let me tell you, it was a solid success.  It tastes like a slightly under baked chocolate chip cookie, thick, gooey, and just wonderful.  I was so glad to have a new and proven success on my hands.  

I ended up having just a little over half the pie left over, and this is where the tale of woe and shame starts.  I baked my pie in my glass pie dish, and the dish slipped off the stack of dishes I was carrying and fell on the sidewalk, shattering the dish and landing the pie right side up.  Woe.  Woe.  

Now for the shameful part: I tried to salvage the pie.  I actually thought for a minute, "surely I can just pick the pie up and put it on a plate, right?"  WRONG.  Glass had shattered all through that pie, so I had to throw the whole thing away.  I didn't cry, but I'm still shaking my head.  I'm just keeping it real.

Either way, this pie is a great little dessert- think skillet cookie with a pie crust.  YUM!

Chocolate Chip Pie
From Just Desserts by Paula Deen

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 unbaked 9 inch pie shell

Preheat  your oven to 325.  In a medium bowl, mix together flour and sugar.  Add all other ingredients, stirring until moistened.  Pour into an unbaked pie shell and bake 45-60 minutes, until set.  The top will also be lightly browned.

Serve with ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.


  • I used mini chocolate chips, because I liked the idea of smaller chips of chocolate scattered throughout.
  • If you use a glass dish like I did, it's best to reduce the heat of the oven by 25 degrees Fahrenheit and extend the time a little, which allows for a better browning of the crust while not burning everything else.

Pumpkin Doughnut Muffins


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I hope you're not sick of pumpkin spice everything, because I have some of it for you today. These pumpkin spice doughnut muffins are the best of both worlds- the texture of a cake doughnut but the size and sturdiness of a muffin.  

These were a little more work than the average muffin, but not much more.  They require an electric mixer, so you would benefit from having a handheld or counter model.  I used my handheld mixer.  They are easy to throw together, and tasty!  I loved the end result.  I also liked that they weren't quite as fatty as some muffin recipes.  They are more pumpkin-y than a lot of the muffins I've made in the past and have a nice balance of spices.  Try these today!

from Cooking Classy Blog

Makes 12-18 muffins

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1 pinch ground cloves
1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin puree
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup vegetable oil, divided
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves for 30 seconds, set aside.  In a separate mixing bowl, blend together pumpkin puree and Greek yogurt, set aside.  In another mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer, whip butter, 1 Tbsp vegetable oil, brown sugar and granulated sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 - 4 minutes.  Blend in remaining 3 Tbsp vegetable oil.  Mix in eggs one at a time blending just until combined after each addition and adding in vanilla with second egg.  Using a rubber or silicone spatula and working in three separate batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture, add 1/3 of the flour mixture alternating with half of the pumpkin mixture and fold (scraping along outsides and bottom of bowl) just until combined after each addition.

Divide batter among paper lined muffin cups, filling each cup until mostly full and bake in preheated oven 17 - 20 minutes until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Allow to rest several minutes in muffin tin then transfer to a wire rack to cool 10 - 15 minutes.

  • I made the actual muffin as the original poster wrote them, but I left out the glaze.  I am just not much of a glaze girl on cake doughnuts or muffins.  For the glaze recipe, just click on the recipe title, which doubles as a link to the original post.
  • These freeze well.  Wrap them individually and place in a zip-top freezer bag.  Thaw either on counter or in microwave about 30 seconds.

Butternut Squash, Farro, and Kale Salad


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As the days shorten, mornings become crisper, and we break out longer sleeves, this salad is a great transition dish.  It's packed with fall produce and flavors, but is served cold or at room temperature, bridging the gap between the light, less cooked meals of summer and the hearty greens and squashes of fall. 

The salad needs to be made ahead in order for the kale to soften just a bit and for the flavors to blend together.  It also makes a lot, so this salad will last a good 4 meals, if not more.

Butternut Squash, Farro, and Kale Salad
serves 4-6

1 medium butternut squash
1/2 bunch kale
1/2 cup farro
1/2 onion, finely diced
1/4 cup feta cheese
1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tb white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper

Roast your squash:  preheat oven to 375.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Peel and halve your butternut squash lengthwise and scoop out seeds.  Cut into bite size (about 3/4") cubes and place on baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss to distribute the oil and seasonings.  Bake in your oven for 30-40 minutes, tossing them about halfway through.  Remove from oven and let cool.  This step can be done a day or two ahead of time.  If you do that, refrigerate the squash.

Prep your farro:  follow package directions to cook farro.  Let cool.  Also may be done ahead of time.

Pickle your onions: place your finely diced onion into the bottom of a large bowl and pour over the vinegar and 1 Tb water.  Allow it to sit while you prep the rest of the salad ingredients.  Prep the kale by tearing the leaves from the thick stem, washing the leaves, drying them using a salad spinner or towel, and then roughly chopping them.  

Assemble the salad:  into the bowl in which you have the onion, add the kale, butternut squash, feta, and pumpkin seeds.  Pour over about 2-3 Tb olive oil and stir everything to incorporate.  Allow to sit in fridge at least an hour before serving, and the longer it sits, the better it gets.  

  • I always like to give credit where it's due.  This recipe was inspired by a Smitten Kitchen recipe.
  • Farro is a grain, and it is sold in several places.  I found my bag at Trader Joe's.  If you can't find farro, you can substitute barley, quinoa, and even rice or some other grain.  

Salmon with Lemon and a Creamy Dill Sauce


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This was our Sunday after church meal this week, but it could just as easily be a Tuesday night after work meal, too.  Fish is so quick to prepare that you can have a special meal on the table in about 20 minutes.  I found this one on Pinterest of all places, and I think we both really enjoyed it- the salmon flavor was allowed to come through, while being complemented by the olive oil/lemon mixture, and the creamy dill sauce played nicely with those flavors, too.

The whole dish can be made in about 20 minutes, including oven pre-heat time, and it has a short ingredient list, but packs quite a bit of flavor.  This will definitely be on my "make again" list. 

What are some of your favorite quick meal suggestions?

Baked Lemon Salmon With Creamy Dill Sauce
adapted from Cooking Classy blog

to serve 2-3 adults

1- 8-10 oz portion of salmon
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Creamy Dill Sauce
1/3 cup plain Greek Yogurt
3 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 tsp. dried dill
2 - 3 tsp milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon zest and lemon juice. Grease a 8X8-inch baking dish and place salmon fillet in baking dish. Season tops of salmon with salt and pepper then rotate to opposite side. Drizzle tops evenly with lemon mixture and gently rub over salmon.  Let rest at room temperature 10 minutes, then bake in preheated oven 10 minutes, or until salmon has cooked through (cook time will vary based on thickness of fillets and how well done you liked them). Serve warm topped with Creamy Dill Sauce, which you can make while salmon bakes.
For the sauce:
In a bowl, mix together Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, garlic, dill, honey, and enough milk to reach desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If you make this ahead of time, store in refrigerator, allow to rest at room temperature 20 minutes before serving (just so it's not ice cold over warm salmon).

One Year Ago:  Honey Apple Cake
Two Years Ago:  Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore over Polenta
Three Years Ago:  Swiss Chard Ravioli
Four Years Ago:  Hamburger Buns