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Butterflies

I’ve been thinking for the last few years that I would like to make my  yard more butterfly-friendly. Last year I planted a butterfly bush which didn’t exactly “take off” but it seemed to establish pretty well. The polar vortex winter made me nervous about the survival of any newer plants. So I was very happy when the butterfly bush made it, and now it has beautiful, vibrant purple blooms. This morning’s visitor seems to agree! Any other butterfly fans out there? I’d love to hear what others do to attract our fluttery friends. p.s. anyone know what kind of

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Sweet Potato Salad

August 19 was National Potato Day so, of course, a potato dish is needed. Plus, it’s August so let’s think cool. As in potato salad! And let’s give that old saw a new twist by using sweet potatoes! Technically, sweet potatoes are distant relatives of the everyday potato visitors to your dinner table, the red and white “taters.” Sweet potatoes are root tubers found in the company of beets, carrots and turnips. Whereas “regular” potatoes are part of the nightshade family, who count tomatoes, eggplants and peppers as family members. As any respectable bar food denizen knows, sweet potatoes are

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Roasted Baby Potatoes

August 19 is National Potato Day and even though we are smack dab in the middle of August and therefore certain to be hot, I can’t resist sharing my favorite go-to hot recipe for potatoes. Is there anything better than roasted red potatoes, crispy on the outside and creamy-good inside? I think not.  They remind me of a cross between a baked potato and a French fry. Irresistible! Red potatoes work so well for roasting: In addition to that lovely skin (no peeling required), the potato itself has enough starchiness to roast well. For this batch, I purchased a supply

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Pineapple Kiss

As mentioned before, August 16 is National Rum Day so I thought I’d better post at least one recipe using rum. And this one is super simple. It’s another one of those recipes that started with a restaurant menu. I took note of the description and played with the proportions at home. The final combination was perfect: sweet and refreshing with mild tropical flavors of pineapple and coconut. Perfect for a hot summer day, like a pineapple-flavored kiss on the shores of Maui. Enjoy!

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Kahlua Mudslide

There are so many recipes for ice cream drinks that use Kahlua. Many use a combination of liqueurs, but I wanted to keep it simple. The following is called the “Applebee’s copycat” by some, which implies that Applebee’s invented it, but I can tell you for certain that I made this drink long before I heard of Applebee’s. You see, I was in college (I told you it was a long time ago) and my roommate’s boyfriend went to Mexico for spring break. He came back with many bottles of Kahlua. So, a blended drink seemed the perfect option. As

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Kahlua Chocolate Cake

with Chocolate-Kahlua Frosting August 16th is National Rum Day. Right about now you are probably thinking, “What kind of summer recipes use rum?” Well, actually, there is rum in Kahlua!! So, it totally counts! Kahlua is a sweet, coffee-flavored liqueur that hints at dark chocolate, at least to me. The drink that always come to mind for me is Kahlua and cream. If you think about it (after a couple of these) it’s just an adult glass of chocolate milk, right? Coffee is a popular additive to baked goods to enhance chocolate flavor, so this Kahlua chocolate cake (found at

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Frozen S’mores Pie

August 10 is National S’mores Day. Now THIS is a holiday I can really get behind! In case you were abducted by aliens for 100 years and don’t know what a S’more is, I will explain: a S’more (short for “some more”, as in I want some more) consists of a roasted marshmallow with a layer of chocolate bar sandwiched between two pieces of Graham cracker. Yum! The Girl Scouts are commonly credited with this campfire treat, but there is at least one other person, a Presbyterian minister, who contributed to the treat because of his moral crusade.* *Little known

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International Cat Day

Today is International Cat Day. Which apparently differs from National Cat Day, celebrated in October. Doesn’t matter, if you have a cat you know that they feel EVERY day is their day! My guy is celebrating at the Vet, getting a full dental. He doesn’t seem impressed with my venue choice.

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Frozen Banana Bites

When my granddaughter came to visit this summer, I was looking for fun frozen treats to make. I tried a few Popsicle recipes, but they drew mixed reviews. Then, I struck gold. Or, chocolate. And bananas. Yes! Frozen banana pops! A winner! These pops have the shortest ingredient list ever: bananas and chocolate chips. I got fancy and made half white-chocolate and half chocolate-chocolate, but that is strictly optional. Oh, and the googly eyes. Very important. They’re optional, of course, but really, who can resist watching a 3-year-old place googly eyes on edible objects? Not me! (Googly eyes can be

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Guacamole

July 31 was National Avocado Day and probably everyone was surprised that I did not publish a guacamole recipe. Well, I saved it because this week the NFL begins the first pre-season football games of the year. In this house, on football Sunday, we call chips and dip “lunch”. To kick off the pre-season, let’s start with Guacamole. Originally from Mexico, the word guacamole is derived from two words in the Aztec language: ahuacatl (avocado) and molli (sauce). So basically it is avocado sauce. We of course use it as a dip 😀 And it is a healthy dip! Formerly,

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Corn Tomato Avocado Salad

I’ve had today’s recipe on my radar for a long time. Finally, I tried it and my very first thought was – “Why did I wait so long?” followed by “How soon can I make this again?” It’s filled with the fresh flavors of just picked sweet corn and tomatoes paired with the creamy, healthy goodness of avocado. So easy and so amazingly delicious! Credit for this goes to skinnytaste.com Note: I have played a little with the proportions and find that I’m happiest with a bit more sweet corn so I bumped it up from the original 1 cup

Avocados!

July 31 is National Avocado Day so I thought I would share some general avocado tips to help everyone maximize their enjoyment of this wonderful fruit (yes, it is a fruit!). Tip #1: Ripening avocados For me, finding a perfectly ripe avocado is almost impossible. It happens about one trip in 20 to the grocery store, and then it’s usually when I don’t want an avocado that particular day! Instead, my approach is to buy unripe avocados, preferably not super green but at least starting to ripen. Then, at home, I place these in a brown paper bag, which I

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Strawberry Shortcake Roll

Today’s recipe delivers all the wonderful flavors of strawberry shortcake: fresh strawberries, whipped cream and shortcake, in one package. I found this recipe on crazyforcrust.com and to my great distress the cake looked like a complete failure at one point. In the end, I snatched victory from the (hungry) jaws of defeat. Normally I wouldn’t post a recipe before getting it right all the way through, but people from the neighborhood Bridge Club are clamoring (“Clamor! Clamor! Clamor!”) for the recipe, and I am here to deliver! The aforementioned Bridge Club, is not named for a card game, but it

Bird Suet

This recipe is for the birds!! I like to feed backyard birds and because I live in a wooded area I see many different types of feathered friends. Their beauty can be astonishing and the songbirds sing so wonderfully. For years, I was of the mind that birdfeeders were only truly necessary in winter when natural food sources become scarce. But I have come to realize that keeping feeders stocked year-round is helpful to shrinking bird populations and provides a year round opportunity to view a wider variety of species, as some only visit during migratory times of the year.

Grilled Margarita Shrimp

July 24 is National Tequila Day. I’m sure everyone is looking for creative ways to celebrate. A margarita is an obvious choice, especially delicious in slushee form on a hot summer day. But don’t stop there! Since you already have tequila on hand, make some margarita shrimp. Yes, there is such a thing and it’s delish! Also very simple. I originally found this recipe on Allrecipes.com. To start, marinate the shrimp in a mix of tequila and lime juice (sounds like a margarita to me!) as well as some Mexican-y spices. This step needs at least 30 minutes but can

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New Backyard Visitor

My neighbor used to have a pile of wood stacked on the edge of his lot. It was occupied by a big old woodchuck who would periodically come out just to torment my dogs. I was so happy when the woodpile disappeared, because then so did the woodchuck. Until now. After all these years, I have daily sightings of a woodchuck. He looks much too comfortable in my backyard! I’m starting to think I need to get a dog again!

Lime Shrimp and Avocado Salad

Sometimes the mood for shrimp hits, but not the mood for making it. This recipe from skinnytaste.com satisfies both those needs by using pre-cooked shrimp to throw together a wonderful and healthy salad. The tastes of this salad remind me of ceviche, which is essentially raw fish cured in citrus juices. Ceviche is delicious, but sometimes the mental image of raw fish might spoil it for some. In this salad, the shrimp is already cooked, which makes it a perfect compromise. It takes very little time to assemble, and in the case of a rare leftover portion it is still

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Frozen Tropical Lime Pie

I wanted to bring to your attention an important holiday coming up. I’m hoping it’s marked on everyone’s calendar. Every year on the third Sunday in July our nation should set aside time to observe National Ice Cream Day. This year it’s July 21st. Should be a national holiday, right? Clearly, an ice cream pie is in order. This recipe is adapted from Pillsbury.com and features both lime sherbet and vanilla ice cream. The crust was the greatest challenge for me as I couldn’t figure out what kind of cookie Pillsbury asked for with the description “crisp coconut cookie.” So

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Lemonade Pie

Is there anything more refreshing on a hot summer day than lemonade? It’s tart, sweet, thirst-quenching (and I swear it cools body temperature) all at once. I love it! That made this recipe an easy choice: a no-bake pie with the flavors of lemonade. This is another super-easy pie that requires very few ingredients, and the result looks like you labored from dusk til dawn. Note: While this is not a labor-intensive recipe, planning ahead is essential since preparation for this cool confection includes four hours of defrost time for the Cool Whip (I ALWAYS forget this step) and four

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Creamsicle Pie

It’s mid-July, which means summer is definitely in full swing and we need some cool and refreshing desserts. But let’s not bake unless we have to; there are plenty of no-bake options to choose from. Everyone remembers Creamsicles, right? Or is it Dreamsicles? One site I found stated that one (Dreamsicle) is made with Ice milk and the other (Creamsicle) with ice cream, another said the word ”Dreamsicle” was created to emulate but not infringe upon the copyright of the Creamsicle. But basically Creamsicle is the brand name used by the makers of Popsicles (and I consider that a VERY

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Caprese Pasta Salad

I love the fresh flavors of a Caprese salad: mozzarella, basil, and tomatoes, drizzled with balsamic. So “old country.” A pasta salad version couldn’t go wrong. I adapted this recipe from one on Delish.com. Their version would feed a small crowd, but I was feeding two so I scaled it back, making most ingredients half of what was called for, with one exception: cheese. I used the same amount of cheese for half the salad. Why? Because (repeat after me) “There is no such thing as too much cheese!”   Looks right to me! In my opinion, what takes this

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Sweet and Sour Pork Kabobs

(Also known as “Kebabs”) The first formal cooking class I took (aside from Junior High Home Economics) was for Chinese cooking. It was the 1980’s and I worked at a hospital that offered sports leagues and enrichment classes to employees. What fun! My co-workers and I, all lovers of Chinese take-out, signed up to learn how to make it ourselves, and we had a blast. But the real winners were the guys playing basketball in the same building. They worked in various departments of the hospital, and felt comfortable showing up at the door the minute they smelled us cooking.

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Grilled Beets

With summer in full swing, a lot of cooking happens on the grill. But that doesn’t mean just meat. Many vegetables are both easy and delicious when grilled. One such is the beet. For many people, beets seem to fall into either the “love” or “hate” category. For me, I SUPER love (new category) beets (but not pickled, because I just don’t think you should do that to a perfectly good vegetable). You’ve heard of sugar beets, right? They’re called that for a reason: Beets are naturally sweet, due to their high sugar content. But here’s the magic: sugar +

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Chickpea, Carrot and Arugula Salad

Time for a great summer salad that provides plenty of protein and needs no cooking. Even better, it requires only 6 ingredients, plus spices. As a vegetarian main or a side dish, this salad delivers your veggies in a delicious package! This is another recipe from one of my favorites: The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook. It features chickpeas, arugula and carrots, plus Kalamata olives and a lemony dressing. Since this salad uses arugula, let’s detour a minute to my backyard. This year I decided to grow a few greens in some leftover empty pots. I filled each pot with soil and

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Red, White and Blue Potato Salad

For the Fourth of July, you need potato salad.  Since you’re probably going to make some anyway, why not make it to celebrate the holiday? This post is simply a different twist on my Classic Potato salad. To make it fun for the Fourth, I use red, white and blue POTATOES! Have you seen these? They are typically sold as a “medley” of very small potatoes – usually about an inch in size. The advantage to this is that they are all about the same size, and there is no need to cut any before cooking – bonus! The small

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Red White and Blue Vodka Slush

This recipe is just pure fun. I wanted something relatively simple, but entertaining for the holiday, something that stands out, like – what else for July Fourth? – red, white and blue Vodka Slushies! I first thought of using three different beverages but quickly realized that the logistics were terrible: Make big pitchers and store them in the fridge? Who has that kind of room? I mean, we need some food at this gathering too, right? So, I decided to use a Vodka-Lemonade slush recipe found on Foodie Misadventures. Making these red, white or blue works like this: Red: fill

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Frozen Patriotic Torte

The Fourth of July isn’t one of those holidays associated with a certain food so much as a place: outside. The almost certainly warm holiday means eating outdoors is preferred. And you want something cold and refreshing. Layers of Jell-O? That’s one approach. The Frozen Patriotic Torte seriously ups the game! This marvelous recipe is courtesy of the folks at wisconsincheese.com and requires no baking, just mixing and freezing. Perfect for a hot summer day! Picture this (or, just look at the photo): A white base of mascarpone cheese, whipped cream and pound cake, accented with blueberries and raspberries producing

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Red White and Blueberry Crumble Bars

Here’s a red, white and blue version of a simple berry-crumble bar. I found this recipe years ago on Allrecipes.com, using blueberries. The notes said that any berry would work, so I thought why not strawberry? Better yet, why not both? By making this half blueberry and half strawberry, you create red, white and blue all in one 9×13 pan. (I’m counting the neutral-colored crust as white here) Simply mix up the dough ingredients and pat half of it into a 9×13 pan. The berries are mixed with some sugar and cornstarch and then added to the pan. The rest

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American Flag Taco Dip

I don’t exactly know why, but I simply LOVE to make red, white and blue food for the Fourth of July! When my kids were young, it was layered Jell-O. At some point, I graduated to layered cakes and other foods. No matter what direction I take, I always want to have at least one item with the right colors on July 4th and that’s why I have been eagerly anticipating this week leading up to the Fourth – and now it’s here! YAY! That is my theme from now until Independence Day – all recipes will have a red,

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Mimosa Sunrise

Today, June 21, is the summer solstice. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it is the longest day of the year. What better way to commemorate this day than with a sunrise drink? (No, I don’t mean a drink at sunrise. Unless you are so inclined of course. No judging here!) My first thought was tequila sunrise, but I wanted something different, so I tried a Mimosa. So fun! I’m pretty sure you could drizzle grenadine into any orange juice based drink and make the lovely sunrise effect. What I like about this drink is that it is

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National Martini Day!

Good Morning! June 19 is National Martini Day. So, of course, my decision for what to make was already made for me. A martini, obvi. But which one? The traditional martini is made with gin and vermouth, garnished with olives or a lemon twist. Purists will say to only stir a martini. Some, like James Bond, feel martinis should be shaken not stirred. I for one, do NOT intend to disagree with 007.   What I think is much more fun is the development of martinis with all the other types of liquor available. Since I prefer vodka to gin,

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Cranberry Grapefruit Kiss

Here in Madison, Wisconsin there used to be THE perfect (to me) restaurant. It had something for everyone: think bar food, wonderful salads and appetizers, decent prices, plenty of seating, a casual, friendly crowd, and in the summer a HUGE outdoor patio. Those who live in Wisconsin LOVE places with outdoor seating, even though it’s relevant only 3-4 months of the year. It makes up a tiny bit for those days of winter. ⛄️ So, I was particularly sad when this restaurant closed. Something about using the (truly awesome) location for a different purpose. What?! Don’t they know? We NEEDED

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Easy Pasta Salad

When a quick salad is needed to go with whatever is on the grill, pasta salad is an easy choice. I typically use whatever fresh vegetables happen to be on hand plus cheese and meat according to preference or mood of the day. I have found this to be a good venue for whole grain pasta, since the use of a dressing makes it hard for those “picky eaters” to distinguish between the “white stuff” and whole grain. This time I used tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, yellow bell pepper, green onions, salami and mild brick cheese with rotini pasta. My dressing

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Juicy Lucy

Have you ever heard of a “Juicy Lucy”? No? In that case, I will consider this my public service message for the day J. A Juicy Lucy is a cheeseburger with cheese inside the patty instead of on top resulting in a melted core of cheese. Cool, hey? Two bars in Minneapolis claim to be the inventor of the burger, though other bars and restaurants have their own interpretations. One, “Matt’s Bar, where I had my first JL (and not my last) ” uses a different spelling: “Jucy Lucy.” Cooking the cheese in the burger gives you two “wins.” The

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Grilled Pizza!

Make it Vegetarian OR Meatlovers! Pizza is America’s favorite food, according to a survey by the California Pizza Kitchen. (I’m sure they were COMPLETELY unbiased, LOL). But it is summer, and we love to grill. So can we combine these two loves? Yes, we CAN! Grilling pizza is essentially just a technique to get used to, particularly for the crust. Once you have that figured out, the rest is easy. The pizza can then be customized with whatever ingredients are preferred. Please note: I do all my grilling on a gas grill. In theory this can also be done on

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Quinoa Edamame Salad

With summer coming isn’t it nice to have an “easy button” to throw together last-minute salads? This one is something I quite literally THREW TOGETHER, using .. whatever .. in my fridge and freezer. I liked it so much, I make it regularly. On purpose! Both quinoa and edamame provide a protein punch. Corn gives hints of sweetness, and grape tomatoes provide a mild tang. I’ve also used cooked carrots and peas with success.  The possibilities are endless! One note about edamame: when I find a package labeled edamame in the freezer section, it is a package of beans in

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Asparagus and Cannellini Bean Salad

I was raised on a farm where we grew our own asparagus, so for me this vegetable always shouts “Spring!” Luckily, due to the marvels of modern growing and shipping practices, we have access to this vegetable almost year round. But let’s face it: Asparagus is still best in the spring. Sometimes all you want to do is steam your asparagus and have it on the side with fish or even steak. But other times, you want something different. And for that we go to one of my cookbooks from America’s Test Kitchen. And it delivers! By including cannellini beans

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Spicy Mushroom-Noodle Soup

You know, ramen has come a long way. I don’t think I ever heard of it until I was in college. At the time, ramen meant cheap instant noodles with a flavor packet. And cheap! What were they, three or four packs for a dollar? Perfect dorm room fare: Carbs that didn’t require a lot of cooking or kitchen equipment. Of course, you were always hungry an hour after. Fast forward to today. Ramen has been dressed up and taken downtown. Seems like there’s a ramen restaurant on every other corner, each claiming to be better than the last. How

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Classic Potato Salad

Does anything say summer more than potato salad? (Okay, maybe ice cream, popsicles, shorts, sandals, suntan lotion – you get the idea…) I have a true love affair with potatoes and therefore potato salad. I also believe that everyone should have at least one “go to” potato salad recipe that they love and can rely upon. (I have three, at last count) There are many different potatoes and ways to make the dressing, and you might have your own preferences, but here are mine: Potatoes: I use red potatoes, baby-sized if possible. The reason? It’s such a bother to peel

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Quinoa with Broccoli and Parmesan

This is one of my “go to” dishes, any time of year. It takes a mere 3 ingredients and only minutes to assemble. With two of those ingredients being quinoa and broccoli, this dish packs a punch of superfood action covered in one swell foop! AND it’s truly delicious! Since May is coming to a close I wanted to be sure to mention that it is Celiac Awareness month. Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition in which the ingestion of gluten leads to damage to the small intestine. So many people seem to be affected by this! Fortunately, there are

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Cheesy Brat Stew

Since Memorial Day is upon us, I thought I would post this recipe just in case you’re about to throw some sausages on the grill, and are worried about having leftovers. This stew is so yummy, you might want to cook up some extra on purpose! The recipe is meant for bratwurst or Polish sausage, but really almost any sausage will work. When I made this recently I used 4 bratwursts and 2 Italian sausages – naturally, because that’s what was in the fridge! I can’t give you a link for this recipe, because I got it before there was

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Mediterranean Chopped Salad

If you are looking for a salad that is bursting with bright, fresh flavors, look no more! This “Middle Earth” delight has a simple vinaigrette dressing that, through some alchemy, “pops” the flavors of the tomatoes and cucumber; “crunches up” the taste of romaine lettuce; and smooths the palate with feta and chickpeas. Kalamata olives provide the “Ta dah!” moment with an exclamation point of piquancy. I absolutely love the flavors and textures of this. Transport your taste buds to the Mediterranean! This recipe comes from The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook, from America’s Test Kitchen. I made a few small adjustments

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4 Ingredient Coleslaw

I think there’s a rule that you can’t serve pulled pork without coleslaw. (Maybe it’s just a guideline). Contrary to popular opinion, coleslaw does NOT have to come from a deli. It is, in fact, one of the easiest salads to make and you probably have all the dressing ingredients on hand already! Buy yourself a package of pre-shredded coleslaw mix and you are good to go! If you are determined to make this COMPLETELY from scratch, you can shred your own cabbage. You could also simply leave a knife out so it looks like you slaved all day over

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Pulled Pork – Instant Pot

Includes Dry Rub Recipe for Chicken or Pork Memorial Day is coming and you’re probably planning to grill, but if the weather is sketchy or more meal choices are desirable, pulled pork is an excellent and easy choice. Plus, you can make it in your Instant Pot, which frees up other cooking methods for additional menu items. If you don’t have an Instant Pot, just use this rub. Then, slow-cook your meat in the crockpot (at least 6, up to 12, hours on low). Dry Rub First, the dry rub. A couple of years ago, I started using dry rub

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Roasted Baby Carrots

Something I always have on hand are baby carrots.  They’re the perfect snack, any time of year.  Some call them the perfect health food, too, as they provide beta carotene, fiber, vitamin K, potassium, and antioxidants. They are also thought to lower cholesterol levels and improve eye health. Sign me up!  I like carrots raw as well as steamed.  But if you haven’t yet discovered the rewards of roasting vegetables, using this method on carrots takes it to another level. According to the carrotmuseum.co.uk (there is a website for EVERYTHING), a “true” baby carrot is basically an immature carrot. If

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Crispy Roasted Chickpeas

As I stated in my last post, I am focusing this week on ingredients for Buddha bowls: a grain, a green and a bean. Sometimes the bean can be a challenge, so I was really happy to discover that you can roast chickpeas to make a crunchy treat. They can be eaten as a quick snack anytime you are in the mood. I’ve tried a couple different methods to accomplish a nice crunchy chickpea. The ingredient list is short: canned chickpeas, olive oil, and seasonings.  Simple, right? Well – not exactly. Turns out, there are many different approaches to roasting

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Quinoa

for Buddha bowls and more This week, we celebrate Buddha’s birthday.  We have to pick a week because apparently there’s no agreed-upon date for his birth (or “name day” for you Game of Thrones fans).  So, if you are using the 8th day of the 4th month in the Chinese lunar calendar, the 2019 day is May 12. If you’re using the full moon day of the Vaisakha month of the Buddhist calendar, then it’s May 19. Yeah, I’m confused too. Try Wikipedia, they explain it in great detail. But that brings us to Buddha bowls.  According to The Urban

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Feeding Hummingbirds

May 11 is World Migratory Bird Day, and since I love to feed backyard birds, I could not let this day pass without talking about it!  My hairstylist, the fabulous Jenny, was asking me about feeding hummingbirds so Jenny, this is for you! Hummingbirds are the most amazing little creatures.  And when I say little, I mean TINY.  The average ruby-throated hummingbird (the species seen in my backyard) weighs 3 grams.  By comparison, a nickel weighs 4.5 grams. Just absorb that for a minute. A hummingbird’s wings flutter in a figure 8 pattern between 50 and 200 rotations per second,

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Roasted Brussel Sprouts

If you haven’t tried roasting vegetables, then you have really been missing out!  Don’t get me wrong, I love my steamed veggies as much as the next, and they definitely take the least amount of time to prepare, but sometimes roasting brings out different flavors and textures, which makes them seem like different vegetables all together! So, let’s walk step by step on how I roast brussel sprouts.  Now to be honest, I was never that crazy about this particular veggie, which is kind of weird because I really love cabbage, and brussel sprouts are quite similar; however,  I think

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Easy Stuffed Sweet Potato

So, do you have a few leftovers from Cinco de Mayo?  Whenever I make my Brown Rice and Bean Bake , I love eating the leftovers, but sometimes I like a little variety for it.  Of course, you can go with the classic Burrito Bowl: lettuce or spinach with tomatoes, maybe a little sweet potato and avocado, a scoop of the warmed-up Brown Rice and Bean Bake, and you are good to go! Need more? Add cheese! More still? Thrown on some salsa! You get the idea. One day, I wanted something a little more substantial, so I decide to

International No Diet Day

May 6th is International No Diet Day.  When I first saw this, I thought, “SWEET!  Let’s have dessert!” But then I started to read up on this holiday.  What it is actually promoting is the idea of having a healthy relationship with food rather than focusing on whatever diet happens to be the trend right now as a way to lose weight.  This day means we should be celebrating our health and body diversity, instead of trying to achieve the unrealistic air-brushed images we see of celebrities in magazines. In 2012, I went on one of those diets—I followed the

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Margarita Slush

Cinco de Mayo is almost here, and I couldn’t let go of this theme without a margarita recipe! I have to tell you, margaritas hold a special place in my heart.  When I first moved from Central Wisconsin to the “big city” of Madison, I was a senior in college and joined a high school friend and her roommates in their bachelorette pad.  I vividly remember their reaction when they realized I came with a blender and about 15 pints of frozen strawberries from my parents’ berry patch.  What a fun party THAT was! (I’m pretty sure that’s not what

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Vegetarian Crunch Wrap

Here is something a little different for your menu—a Veggie Crunch Wrap! This is similar to the menu item at a Mexican fast food location near you, but if you make this at home, you have control over exactly what is going into your wrap.  I have made these with seasoned ground beef, as well as with Salsa Chicken, to rave reviews, but wanted to make a vegetarian version for myseIf.  It took me a couple of tries to get what I wanted, and I can tell you that for me, the key ingredient was a nice thick slice of

Black Bean Soup

Black Bean Soup

Happy Spring!  It is almost May, which means green grass, flowers and…snow? We did in fact have snow just last weekend here in southern Wisconsin—kind of a cruel trick from Mother Nature.  As much as spring is warm and wonderful, it can also be unpredictable.  So, it is probably a good idea to keep soup in mind for those cooler days.  And, since we are leading up to Cinco de Mayo, what better choice than Black Bean Soup? Like most soups, this one is easy to tinker with by adjusting the seasonings to suit your personal preference.  The inspiration for

Brown Rice and Bean Bake

Mexican, Vegetarian Today, I am continuing the countdown to Cinco de Mayo, and this time, I have a recipe that is hearty enough to be a main dish for vegetarians and perfectly suited to be a side dish for carnivores. There are plenty of bean-and-rice dishes out there, but most start with white rice, something I try to avoid.  White rice is not a whole grain; all the most nutritious parts, like the bran and the germ, have been removed.  This process removes most of the vitamins and minerals, as well as the fiber.  So, use brown rice whenever possible;

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Salsa Chicken

Instant Pot or Oven This coming weekend will be Cinco de Mayo, so what better time to discuss some Mexican-inspired dishes? I’m going to start with Salsa Chicken because it is a simple way to prepare your chicken to use as the basis for many other dishes. I have prepared this in both an oven and Instant Pot and both work great, so no matter what cooking method you prefer, this is guaranteed to be an easy way to prepare an ingredient for the carnivores coming to your Cinco de Mayo party.  First, start with chicken-I prefer boneless/skinless chicken thighs-they