Our Scariest Moment of RV Life Yet: A Series from Life on the Road

Photo cred: Author

Throughout the past eleven months, we have had some surprising moments with RV life. We’ve seen people with bizarre behavior, have driven nail-biting mountain passes (at night), been chased off by the weather, and we left one boondocking spot in a skinny minute when it got sketchy with suspicious cars doing suspicious things. However, there is one day we will never forget.

We were staying at a Hipcamp in Beaufort, SC, and enjoying every second of this sleepy beach community. What a beautiful area, tucked between Charleston and Bluffton, and home to several small beaches and private communities. If Charleston and Mayberry had a baby, it would be Beaufort. There is so much to love about this place, and we have more to share about it soon.

This particular day was our last overnight before heading home. We were having such a great time we spontaneously extended our stay by a couple of days. The crystal-blue sky wooed us to the beach once again that morning. We drove Eddie (our RV) to Hunting Island State Park Beach and tucked ourselves into a small parking lot shaded by gorgeous trees dripping with strands of moss on their lazy branches, some resting on the ground succumb by the weight of their age. 

Photo cred: Author

On the beachside, we were bordered by white sand, worthy of the Caribbean, dotted with palm trees standing stoic in their glory. We watched the wild sea oats, perched on rolling dunes, blow gently in the coastal breeze, while stealing peeks of the ocean, all day out the window. What an office view!

Photo cred: Author

As dinnertime approached, fellow beachgoers packed up and left. The sun slowly melted over the treetops as we wrapped up work. I made a homemade Mexican meal in Eddie’s kitchen at the beach’s edge. It was awesome! We ate with windows open, as the candlelight’s flame flickered in the breeze. After cleaning up, we decided to take one last walk on the beach.

We passed a few people who were packing up as we strolled in the direction of the lagoon. It felt like we had the beach to ourselves, and indeed within a short time, we did. The sun showed off its last rays behind the trees as Bruce, Precious and I ventured a long way from Eddie, our conversation light and easy.

Photo cred: Author

Suddenly, completely out of the blue, I interrupted him and said, “I think we should turn around. Now,” I insisted. I can’t explain it other than I felt a compelling in my gut, a sixth sense if you will. It was immediate as if God put his hands on my shoulders and turned me around. “Okay,” Bruce replied and we turned back.

After only a few steps, Bruce said, “What’s that?”

“What’s what?” I asked.

“That!” he said, pointing over the trees in the distance toward Eddie.

I looked where he was pointing and saw billows of dark smoke rising from the tree line.

He said, “That looks like where Eddie is parked!”

“It does!” I exclaimed.

“Is Eddie on fire?” he asked. Both of us were stunned at what we were seeing.

“He can’t be,” I replied. “I cleaned up everything and am positive I turned off the stove. I’m positive.” However, it’s easy to second-guess oneself while watching smoke clouds grow thicker and taller by the minute. My smartwatch alerted that my heart rate, which had been around 90bpm just seconds before, spiked to over 150bpm at the mere sight of the smoke exactly where Eddie was parked.

Photo cred: Author

Bruce quickly picked up Precious and we hauled butt back along the beach for what felt like an eternity. It was dusk by now, and there was, in fact, not one car or person left.

As we got closer to Eddie, I asked, “Do you hear that? What’s that weird humming sound?”

“I don’t know,” Bruce answered. “It sounds like an airplane.”

“But there aren’t any planes in the sky,” I said, perplexed.

We finally reached our parking lot and put our eyes on Eddie. He was perfectly fine. What a relief! However, our relief quickly turned to worry.

Bruce said with seriousness, “I see embers.”

“Like fire embers?” I asked as we were still hustling toward Eddie.

“Yes, right there in the tree line!” he said.

“Is this a wildfire?” I said, as stress swelled a lump in my throat.

“I’m sure it’s a controlled burn,” he said.

Again, my gut feeling felt like something was very off. If it was a controlled burn, why didn’t we see any officials? Why weren’t there signs at the park entrance notifying guests about the controlled burn? Why didn’t the park ranger say anything to us when we checked in that morning? Mostly, why in the world would officials let a forest fire get this close to us? We are a stark white, 32’ RV; it’s not like we blend. Eddie sticks out, especially in small beach parking lots. Nope. Something wasn’t right. I felt it in my bones.

“Are you sure it’s a controlled burn?” I asked as we quickly unlocked Eddie and put Precious inside as we quickly packed up.

“Yeah, I’m sure it’s fine,” he said. To his point, what truly are the odds that a wild forest fire on the beach is happening right before us?

The fire was visible directly on the other side of the trees that lined the parking lot mere feet from us.

The thundering hum was the fire and it was getting louder as it approached. It was so close now; smoke blew into our RV as I raced to close the windows. We quickly retracted the leveling jacks, pulled in the slide-out, and started the engine. Shaking with anxiety, I watched the red glow of the flames advance closer to us. I realized we were on our own. No one knew we were there, and I believed no one knew about this fire.

One tell for me were the birds. As we approached Eddie, birds were making a very noisy racket, darting out from the trees and flying away. It reminded me of the television show, Lost, when the invisible monster marched through the woods, scaring everything off in its path. The birds were frightened off and that scared me. And again, no one in an official capacity would let the fire get this close to us.

I told Bruce that if we couldn’t get out in time, our plan was to grab Precious and run to the water until someone finds us. I wasn’t keen on standing in the water after dusk when sharks feed, but a visible fire trumped the possibility of a shark.

At this point, it was dark and we didn’t know which direction the fire was spreading, how big it was, or how fast it was moving. All we knew was our only way out was through the woods. It was terrifying to think we had to drive into the woods, which were on fire, to get out of it.

Bruce drove much faster than he did that morning, launching Eddie over tree roots and rocks and taking some hard hits from potholes. It felt like we were driving in a scene from Jurassic Park with a T-Rex hot on our trail.

Photo cred: Author

It all happened so fast, when I took a breath while hanging on for dear life on the root-filled road, I knew we should call someone.

Without any more discussion about it, I decided to dial 911. “Hi, we are on Hunting Island Beach and there is a forest fire. Please tell me it’s a controlled fire and there’s nothing to worry about?” I asked.

“This is dispatch, so I’ll have someone check it out,” the operator answered.

We were finally out of the park and on the way back to our Hipcamp when five fire department and first responder vehicles raced past us, one after the other.

Photo cred: Author

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“You know those are all you,” Bruce said with skeptical emotion.

“I know. I don’t want to be right, but I don’t want to be wrong,” I sheepishly replied fearing I’d wasted the first responders’ time.

The next morning, we headed back to the beach one last time before hitting the highway. As we pulled up to the ranger’s station we asked, “We were here last night and there was a fire. What was that?”

The ranger replied, “Oh yes! It was a wild forest fire! We have no idea how it started, but it took more than four hours to pit it out. We lost more than three acres of our protected forest and they were only able to extinguish it by creating a fire line around it.”

Bruce and I sat wide-eyed. The reality of what happened hit us square between the eyes. It was, indeed, a wild forest fire. No one knew we were there. No help was coming, we were on our own, and it could’ve ended very differently.

We immediately thanked God we were okay and that we called 911. However, I wondered how a forest fire happens on the coast. It seems like the beachfront is too developed to let it get out of control. We toured the park’s historic lighthouse that afternoon, and sure enough, the marquee said that the original lighthouse’s residential home had been burned down in a wildfire all those years ago. Crazy!

I tried not to think of what could have happened to us and am so grateful none of it did. I’ve never been that close to a wildfire. Growing up in Florida, the threat was quite the opposite from hurricanes and flooding. I helped bail my grandparents’ home out of three floods over the years.

Hearing the guttural hum of the blaze, choking on the smoke, and being memorized by the curtain of glowing red flames felt surreal. The air was electric, and it felt like we had zero control over our destiny.

The truth is, people have very little control over the future. Anything could happen at any time, 2020 proved that. But there was a peace in my heart that we were exactly where we were supposed to be, at just the right time, to help save this beautiful beach forest. A friend of mine once said, “If there is a need, I count to three to see if anyone else is going to help. If no one responds, I’m it.”

In this case, there was no need to count because there was no one else. There was no choice but to make the call. There is a campground at the other end of the park, and if this wildfire had gone unnoticed who knows what could have resulted.

If we had not stayed those extra days in Beaufort, or lingered over our meal, or taken the long walk on the beach, we too, could have packed up and left before knowing a fire was brewing in the brush. I don’t believe in luck or coincidence. I believe God had us there to get help, and we are so grateful he kept us safe in the process.

One perspective is to see this as the worst ending to the best day, but we see the opposite. We’ve never viewed RV life as something to selfishly consume. Our heart’s desire is to use it to help others however we can. We have some ideas about what that may look like, but we never could’ve imagined this. Beaufort and its surrounding islands offer so much joy, fun, beauty, rest, and memories, it is a blessing to be connected to it even in the smallest way.  When we bought Eddie almost a year ago, we dreamed about the adventures we would have with him, but none of those dreams included a personal encounter with an undetected wildfire. It was terrifying and something I don’t need to experience again. But, wow, to be able to help save the forest was pretty stinking cool. All glory to God that he worked it all out. Here’s to more adventures, with less life-threatening moments preferably. RV life is a wild ride and every moment and mile is totally worth it.

Trip Pix from Banner Elk: A Series from Life on the Road

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Trip Pix from Sanibel and Captiva Islands: A Series from Life on the Road

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CLICK HERE to read the backstory of these pix with our RV life.

Hand-crafted Easter Basket (Part 1)

Easter is one of our family’s favorite celebrations. As Christians, it is a joy to honor Christ’s resurrection!

And I’m a sucker for fun holiday traditions.

Our three kids are now adults in their early twenties. Am I the only mom who still wants to have some Easter fun and fill a basket for her adult kids? 😉 And now, there is an amazing guy and gal to love into our tribe! We adore them.

The time will come when these amazing young adults will create their own traditions for their families, but until then I relish surprising them with their favorite treats.

While decorating for Easter recently, I set out our kids’ Easter baskets and felt it was time to add two more baskets for this very special guy and gal to the menagerie of woven wood and soft trims.

To make hers, I incorporated one of her favorite colors and favorite flower; lavender and baby’s breath.

I gathered all of the elements in a trip to Michaels and let the basket design itself.

It requires very little structural components: tying knots, a little hot glue, and a paper clip. However, I love all of the layers of details and textures. Fun!

Items needed:

  1. basket
  2. ribbon
  3. faux garland
  4. small applique flowers
  5. tulle (I took a shortcut and bought the 50 strips precut; mainly because I knew if I cut them they wouldn’t be exactly the same length)
  6. hot glue & hot glue gun
  7. large paper clip
  • Count the number of pieces of tulle you’ll need. Using the pre-cut strips, count the number of holes and then divide the number of strips to fill the holes by two as the length of the tulle strip will be cut in half to make two shorter pieces.
  • Gather the tulle strips, fold them in half and cut them.
  • Prepare the paper clip by unfolding it and closing the larger loop so the tulle doesn’t slip out.
All done! 🙂 Fill and enjoy!

Homemade Popcorn

Homemade Popcorn

Extra time at home means time to learn something new! Homemade 🍿 popcorn!! Straight from raw kernels.

I’ve MISSED $5 movie Tuesdays at our local theater these last months, and streaming at home feels even more real now with authentic popcorn.

I will never buy commercial popcorn again! This is sooo much better and we choose the salt, fats and how much of them.

The whole house smells so yummy. And it’s only $2 for an entire bag of kernels – which makes 96 cups of popped corn. Awesome!
Now we get a better movie theater experience at home while working through our Netflix list. 🎥 🍿 🤩

My sweet friend, Kacey, taught me how to make it from scratch – raw kernel scratch.

Below is the recipe with our tips…

~ One recipe makes approx. 24 cups of popcorn ~


3/4 c      raw corn kernels

1/2c      oil*

2T          unsalted butter; melted

additional oil (see below)



1. Heat stovetop to medium-high heat.

2. In a large pot or stock pot with a lid, pour grapeseed oil to cover the bottom to 1/8” thick (this recipes takes 1/2c).

3. Place 3 kernels of corn in the oil and wait for them to pop.

4. Once popped, immediately add remaining kernels enough to fill the bottom of the pot, one layer thick (this recipe takes 3/4c).

5. Place the lid on the pot and continually shake the pot without removing it from the heat. Continue this until you no longer hear kernels popping. Do not walk away from it and do not overcook.

6. Immediately remove from heat and pour popcorn into a large bowl.

7. Melt butter in microwave-safe bowl, then immediately pour over popcorn. Mix thoroughly with hands.

8. Spray popcorn with oil to taste (or pour slowly if using oil from a bottle). Mix again with hands.

9. Salt popcorn lightly, then taste. Add salt a little at a time, tasting as you go until it’s just right for you.


**About the oils – I only use grapeseed oil to cook the kernels (and most foods). It is a heart-healthy oil that withstands high heat without burning, changing its chemistry, or oxidizing onto the pot like other oils, which is impossible to remove.

Do not cook kernels in olive oil. It has a low burning temperature and will ruin your pot.

I steer clear of vegetable and Canola whenever possible.

For the oil to add after cooking, I use THIS PRODUCT. Using oil cuts the need for butter in half which means less solid fat. If you don’t have the pump oil like this above, drizzle olive, coconut, or grapeseed oil a little at a time, mixing as you go, to taste.  

**Butter – I recommend unsalted butter so you can control the amount of salty taste.


Other popcorn versions:

1. Add 1-2 packets of Hidden Valley Ranch powdered dressing mix for ranch popcorn. Add dressing after oil, then add salt to taste as the dressing has some salt in it.

2. Add spices like rosemary & thyme for savory popcorn.

3. Add 1/3c white sugar to the oil and stir until blended for kettle corn taste. To do this, add the 3 kernels and continue with recipe. Or add 1/3c brown sugar for a caramel corn taste.

4. Melt chocolate and/or white chocolate and drizzle on popcorn, mixing with a large spoon so you don’t burn your hands, for a sweet treat. (Add seasonal sprinkles as well, then bag and tie it as a gift).

5. Mix with pretzels, peanuts (or any kind of nut), and mini chocolate chips for a fun movie snack.

Summer Citrus Salad

It’s July. It’s hot. It’s humid. Looking for a refreshing entree salad that is light, healthy and cools you down from the inside out? This is it. Fresh blueberries and oranges’ sweet flavors contrast tangy goat cheese, salty bacon and hearty walnuts.

And the dressing? Mmmm… fresh orange juice (not store-bought) blended with herbs and garlic, go with me here,  adds the perfect amount of zesty, juicy, savory goodness drizzled over this beautiful meal rich in colors, tastes and textures.

I’m super excited about this salad and hope you enjoy it as much as we do! Stay cool out there!


Summer Citrus Salad


5oz                        Baby kale mix

1 bunch                  Green onions (a.k.a. scallions); chopped

4oz                         Fresh mushrooms; quartered

4oz                         Walnuts; chopped or halved

2                             Avocados; diced

1c                           Bacon; cooked & crumbled

2                             Fresh oranges; peeled & sliced or quartered

4oz                         Crumbled goat cheese

1c                           Fresh blueberries



Fresh Citrus Dressing

Fresh Citrus Dressing

1/3c                       Plain rice vinegar

1/3c                       Canola or vegetable oil

1/4c                       Granular sugar

1/2c                       Fresh-squeezed orange juice

2 cloves                 Garlic; minced

1t                           Herbs de Provence

1/2t                        Salt




Dressing – Add all dressing ingredients into a bottle or bowl with tight-fitting lid. Shake well to blend. Or, add ingredients to a food processor or blender and blend until thoroughly combined.

Salad – Layer salad in order of ingredient list beginning with kale and ending with blueberries on top. Drizzle dressing over salad upon serving.

Cuban Sandwich Salad


Growing up in Florida, I’ve savored Cuban sandwiches ever since I can remember. Cubans can be enjoyed hot or cold, and whether served in school cafeterias, packed for lunches on the beach, or grab & go from the deli, Cubans have been a part of every season of my life. Mmmm….

So I thought I’d try my hand at transforming this delicious sandwich into a decadent salad!


Keeping this salad true to the original Cuban sandwich, the ingredients are especially important. A “real” Cuban does not have mayo, fancy mustards, tomatoes, or any type of cheese other than Swiss; nor is it served on a hoagie. If a Cuban sandwich comes your way with any of these, it’s a fraud. 😉

An authentic Cuban simply has butter, yellow mustard, roasted or barbequed pork, ham, Italian salami, Swiss cheese, dill pickles and Cuban bread. That’s it!

I used these ingredients (and their proportions to the sandwich) to keep this salad true to form. The dressing has real butter and yellow mustard. Italian seasoning compliments the salami’s spices. Rice vinegar and shallots are the mildest flavors of vinegars and onions so as to give this dressing personality but not dominate the salad or change the Cuban’s original flavor. And the vinegar also compliments the vinegar-soaked pickles; an awesome combination.

The point of the dressing is to get mustard and butter into this dish (like on the sandwich) and lightly coat the lettuce so it is still a proper salad yet with all of the authentic flavors of a Cuban sandwich.

IMG_E2337[1]Don’t skimp on the pickles! A true Cuban has bity dill pickles that deliver a crunch. Please skip the shelved, limp pickles and get the fresh, refrigerated pickles. Their crisp crunch and fresh taste is light years beyond any non-refrigerated pickle. Trust me on this! Good pickles are the ingredient that pulls this entire dish together. They are the crowning jewel of this salad; use at least 2 cups but add more if you’d like.

The mixed soft greens of spring, kale and watercress are given texture with crunchy cabbage and Brussel sprouts which do not add flavor, but do add texture and nutrition with the Brussels.

We prefer hard salami to Genoa, but either works. The roast pork is a cheat that I buy precooked from the deli. It’s definitely a time-saver, and since it’s part of the entree and not the main course I’m totally fine buying a pre-cooked portion of pork versus roasting an entire tenderloin – though leftovers are never a bad thing.

Lastly, serve with Cuban bread on the side or skip it for a gluten-free option.

My family kept saying that they couldn’t believe how much this salad tasted like a Cuban sandwich, woohoo!!

Enjoy Cuban sandwich flavors on top of a zesty, high-protein salad that, when paired together, you have a new, uncompromised version of the Cuban we all know and love.


(Serves 4 to 6)


4oz                         Spring mix lettuce

4oz                         Baby Kale

4oz                         Watercress

4oz                        Angel hair plain Coleslaw cabbage

4c                           Brussel sprouts; thinly sliced & ends cut off

3/4#                       Ham; diced (you can buy it pre-diced)

3/4#                       Roast pork; diced (pre-cooked from the deli)

1/2#                       Italian hard salami; diced (buy one thick piece from the deli then dice it)

3/4#                       Swiss cheese; diced

2c                           Dill pickles; chopped (use the refrigerated kind like Claussen dill)

1                             Cuban bread; optional- leave soft or toast and cut into cubes as croutons


4T                          Butter; unsalted & melted

1/4c                       Grapeseed or vegetable oil

2                            Shallots; peeled, ends cut off and then cut shallots in half

2t                           Italian herb seasoning

3/4c                       Plain/natural rice vinegar

4T                          Yellow mustard

2t                           Fresh minced garlic

4t                           Sugar

1/2t                        Salt

1/8t                        Black pepper



  1. Make the dressing by melting butter in the microwave or on the stovetop, then blend all dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor.


  1. If saving for later, pour dressing into a bottle, bowl or measuring cup that can be microwaved to keep butter melted if it cools and thickens. Otherwise simply set it aside. Dressing should be room temperature when served.


  1. In a large bowl, toss spring lettuce, baby kale, watercress, cabbage and Brussels with the dressing until evenly coated. Divide evenly among 4-6 serving plates.


  1. Plate salads by dividing remaining ingredients evenly and layering them on top of the dressed greens in the order listed above beginning with ham and ending with pickles.


5. Garnish with Cuban bread, optional. Serve immediately.

Peachy Keen Chicken Salad

Peachy Keen Chicken Salad

This salad!!! Oh my! New family favorite. I love to cook using ingredients in their peak season and right now peaches are perfection. Mmmm! This salad is our only meal of the day…it’s that hearty and satisfying!

The base flavors of this salad are peaches, goat cheese, blueberries and basil. These flavors compliment each other with sweet, savory and tangy tastes.

Salad notes – I always try to add a hidden vegetable to bump the nutritional value and the hidden jem here are green beans. They don’t change the taste but add nutrition and pack a crunch.

Bacon and peaches play off of each other with salty & sweet flavors and give this extra layers of YUM!

Compote note – Leeks add a savory tang to the sweet peaches and sugar in the compote. Balance is key to a yummy dish.

Marinade note – I always use grapeseed oil when I can. It’s better for our hearts than other oils and can handle heat up to 500 degrees which makes it perfect for the grill to help keep proteins from sticking when flipping.

Peach Compote:

6              fresh peaches; peeled and sliced

1/4c         sugar

1              leek; white part only finely sliced

Chicken marinade:

4 -6         chicken breasts (# of pieces depends on # of servings)

4T           balsamic vinegar

3T           garlic powder (not garlic salt)

1T           Herbs de Provence

4T           grapeseed oil

Salt & pepper to taste (be a little generous with the salt)


1/2c         balsamic vinegar

1/2c         extra virgin olive oil

2              fresh peaches; peeled and Sliced

2T            good white wine (preferably not “cooking wine”)

1/4c         sugar

1/2t          salt

1T            Herbs de Provence


10oz       spring lettuce

5oz         baby kale

1/2c       fresh basil; finely chopped

2c            fresh green beans; ends cut off and beans cut in thirds

1c            green onions; chopped

4oz         goat cheese; crumbled

1c bacon; cooked and crumbled

1c            cranberries (50% less sugar)

1pint      blueberries

1c            pecan pieces

3              fresh peaches; peeled and sliced

1c            red pepper; diced

1              avocado; sliced

Peach compote topping


1. Begin the peach compote. Place 6 sliced peaches and sugar in small saucepot and cooking on medium heat, stirring often so it doesn’t burn.

2. Once bubbling, turn down the heat to low and add sliced leeks. Simmer on low until sauce becomes translucent and compote is loose-jam consistency. It will take a good 20 minutes so start this step first.


3. While compote is reducing, prep chicken by rinsing the chicken then the trimming fat and cutting breasts in half lengthwise.

4. Add chicken halves to a gallon plastic bag and then add the marinade ingredients.

5. Massage the bag gently and thoroughly to coat the chicken pieces evenly.  Set aside.


6. Now make the dressing by blending all dressing ingredients in a food processor or blender. Pour into a serving bottle and chill until ready to use.


7. Place cut green beans in a small pot with enough water to cover and boil for 5 minutes (set a timer!).

8. Immediately remove beans from heat and dunk them in an ice bath (a bowl with enough ice and cold water to cover the beans). This is called blanching. Boiling will slightly cook the beans, and the ice water bath shocks them so they stop cooking and keep their crunch and color. Keep them in the ice bath until ready to use.


9. Heat grill and place chicken halves on the grill. Cook thoroughly. (You can also bake the chicken in the oven or air bake for approx. 20 minutes @ 350 turning halfway through- in lieu of grilling.)


Time to assemble the salad…

10. Compote should be finished. Once it is thick, pour into a bowl and let cool on the counter while making the salad.

11. Keep checking on and turning the chicken, then remove from heat.

12. Assembling the salad – plate the ingredients per their list order beginning with lettuce and ending with avocado. (I always put the green items on the bottom so the colorful items pop on top.)

13. Drizzle dressing over top. (Leftover dressing makes a great marinade for chicken or pork – or more salads!)

14. Place two grilled chicken halves on top of each salad. Evenly spoon compote over all chicken pieces. Serve immediately.

Summer Garden Salad with Crabcakes

Summer Garden Salad with Crab Cakes

I’m a firm believer in working smart, not harder, in the kitchen. This salad requires minimum prep and I buy our favorite crab cakes from the market. We prefer Charleston-style crab cakes versus Maryland crab cakes, but both work with this entree salad. If you’re feeling it, make your own crab cakes. More power to ya! Bought or made, they are a perfect compliment to this dish.

There are several different tastes and textures layered in this meal. Sweet, savory and salty work cohesively to give this salad a big, flavorful personality. There is also plenty of crunch in the carrots, Brussels, pepper, sugar snap peas, walnuts and pepitas which contrast this salad’s softer side of tomatoes, pickled onion, cucumbers and blue cheese.

Added proteins of nuts, pepitas and blue cheese elevate this meal from filling to downright hearty.

The dressing is my bruschetta dressing. Super light and summery but full of flavor. Works great as a dip for veggies, or don’t blend it and voila! You have bruschetta ready for a sliced baguette.

Enjoy the fresh flavors of the season with this summer dish!


Crab cakes –

8                             store bought or homemade crab cakes

2T                           grapeseed oil

1                              lemon; juiced

Salad –

5oz                         baby kale

5oz                         spring mix lettuce

½#                          Brussel sprouts; thinly sliced

1                             cucumber; quartered and chopped

8oz                        fresh sugar snap peas; chopped

1c                           pickled red onion; thinly sliced

1                             yellow female* pepper; diced

1pint                      grape or cherry tomatoes; halved

1c                           carrots; thinly sliced (I like rainbow carrots for color)

1c                           walnuts; pieces

1c                            pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

4oz                         blue cheese crumbles

1c                           cranberries (50% less sugar)

Dressing –

4 cloves garlic; minced

6 Roma tomatoes; diced

1 large bunch fresh basil; chopped

1/4c balsamic vinegar

1/4c extra virgin olive oil

1/2t salt

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1. Prepare dressing by adding all dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until thoroughly combined. Chill until ready to use.

2. In a skillet on medium heat, heat grapeseed oil. Add crab cakes and pour lemon juice on top. Flip halfway through cooking (according to package directions or recipe). Or air fry at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, flipping halfway through.

3. While the crab cakes are cooking, plate salads by dividing prepped ingredients into fourths and layering them in order listed above.  

4. Drizzle dressing over salad. Top with crab cakes. Serve immediately.

*Note – use a female pepper because they are sweeter and better for eating raw. Male peppers are better for cooking. Female peppers have 4 bumps on the bottom. Male peppers have 3 bumps. You can taste the difference! 😊

Lemon Chicken with Lemon Basil Salad

As temperatures climb, we crave the light, fresh flavors of summer. Lemon and basil are two of those addictive tastes and are key ingredients to making this dish pop!

Packing this salad with extra proteins, like pepitas and nutritional yeast, makes this meal satisfying, even as its taste leaves us wanting more. Mmmmm!

Lemon Chicken with Lemon Basil Salad

Ingredients: serves 4

Chicken –                                                                    

4                             chicken breasts; halved longwise

1 1/4c                    Panko plain breadcrumbs

3T                            nutritional yeast (for parmesan flavor and additional protein & vitamin Bs)

3                              lemons’ zest (zest 3 lemons, then juice them for the dressing)

1                              lemon; juiced (zest first, then save zest for dressing)

2t                            Herbs de Provence

2T                           oil (olive or avocado)

                               salt/pepper to taste (use black pepper generously)

                               pump, not aerosol, spray oil (Pam cooking spray with coconut oil)

Salad –                                                                     

5oz                          baby kale                                                              

5oz                          arugula lettuce                                                                 

1 ½ c                       fresh basil; finely chopped                               

½#                           fresh Brussel sprouts; thinly sliced                 

1c                            green onion; diced                                             

1                              female red pepper; diced                                               

1 pint                      cherry or grape tomatoes; halved                   

1c                            carrots; thinly sliced (I like rainbow carrots for color)

1c                            pepitas (a.k.a. pumpkin seeds)

Lemon Dressing –

1/3c                        plain (unseasoned) rice vinegar

1/2c                        fresh lemon juice (about 3)

1/3c                        canola or vegetable oil

1/4c                        sugar

1/2t                        salt

1                             garlic clove; minced

1                             lemon zest


1. Trim chicken and place halves in a gallon Ziploc bag with all chicken ingredients. Massage until well coated. Place on greased cooking tray and spray pump oil top to top help crisp the breadcrumbs.

2. Bake at 350 for 20 min or until cooked through. Or air fry at 400 for 20min (flipping halfway through). Or pan fry in extra oil on medium heat until cooked through.

3. Prepare dressing – combine all ingredients in a bottle/bowl with lid & shake well until sugar dissolves or blend in food processor/blender.

4. Divide salad ingredients in fourths. Plate the salad in order from bottom up: lettuce, basil, Brussels, onion, pepper, tomatoes, carrots, pepitas. Drizzle dressing over salad. Place chicken on top and drizzle dressing over chicken. Serve immediately.

Cooking note – use a female pepper because they are sweeter and better for eating raw. Male peppers are better for cooking. Female peppers have 4 bumps on the bottom. Male peppers have 3 bumps. You can taste the difference! 😊