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!
small applique flowers
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)
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.
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.
**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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Make the dressing by melting butter in the microwave or on the stovetop, then blend all dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor.
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.
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.
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.
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.
6 fresh peaches; peeled and sliced
1 leek; white part only finely sliced
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”)
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
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.
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!
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! 😊
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! 😊
Just in time for Cinco de Mayo!! I first had fried ice cream at our favorite Mexican restaurant in Tampa, FL decades ago and have never forgotten it. Seriously, I still crave it. It was heaven! Soft vanilla ice cream tucked inside a fried shell, topped with cinnamon and drizzled honey – yum!
I’m not going to fry ice cream at home because, well, what a mess. And I don’t own a deep fryer, nor will I in the name of healthier cooking. 😉
With simple ingredients it takes only a couple of minutes to assemble, yet boasts all the flavors of fried ice cream (and less fat since it’s not fried) whose taste has lingered in my mind ever since.
A few cooking notes…
Honey – Honey is the star of this show. As it drizzles over frozen ice cream, the cold turns liquid honey into a slightly chewy topping which resembles caramel, but a natural, healthy option. Its sweetness compliments the warm bite of cinnamon. Mmmm. I use local honey for the benefits of combating seasonal allergies. During covid quarantine I cannot get my regular, local honey so I found Local Hive Honey and it’s awesome! Whatever brand you use, make sure it’s raw, unfiltered, 100% honey. Otherwise, generic honey can have sugar in it although not listed in the ingredients because it’s considered a processing ingredient. What a sham! So don’t chince on the quality of your honey. You CAN taste the difference and your seasonal allergies will thank you.
Whipped cream – Use spray whipped cream (with real cream, not whipped oil), tub whipped cream (again, real cream, not whipped oil) or what I use, tub Tru-Whip (no oil, made with tapioca, a healthier, tasty substitute).
Ginger Snaps – The fried shell is replaced with ginger snap cookies. That’s the secret weapon. Leave them whole or crush on top, there’s no wrong way to enjoy this treat. And the cookie matters! Our favorite brand is Murray Ginger Snaps which is affordable and has that great *snap* we all want in a gingersnap. We don’t even use a spoon for this dessert. Use the cookies to scoop the ice cream…even better!! 😉
Vanilla ice cream
Ginger snap cookies
Scoop ice cream into bowls
Sprinkle cinnamon generously over ice cream
Drizzle honey over ice cream
Add ginger snaps
Top with whipped cream
This is the perfect dessert to top your favorite Mexican meal or enjoy it by itself. Have fun with it!
If Jesus wrote a love song to me, this would be it.
It is not a Christian song, per se, but it is *our song.*
~ Psalm 61; Hebrews 4:13-16~
John 13:25 is one of my absolute, very favorite Scriptures ever ever ever. I confess I’ve always been jealous of John in this moment; not in what he asks, but in his actions.
There is no other place in all of creation that I’d rather be than right there. I hold this place in my heart for now, but oh one day.
One day I will be in this place, this moment, for real. Tangible. Seen. Able to feel his warmth. Feel his muscles move as he shifts in his seat. Feel his chest expand and contract with every breath. To be so close to hear him inhale, exhale. Feel his hair tickle my cheek. My ear pressed against his chest, I feel the reverberation and hear the echo of his voice as he quietly hums our song. Feel the touch of his skin. Stroke the softness of his royal robe.
I reach for his hand and hold it in mine. I run my finger over the scar from the nail. I stare at his scar and remember what he did for me. I remember what I did to put that scar there. He senses my muscles tense and my palms begin to sweat. The weight of guilt and shame steals my breath and sorrow overwhelms my heart. He gently pulls me closer and strokes my hair. Without a word, his patient love and tender kindness tells me he would’ve done it all if only for me.
He regrets nothing.
I breathe a comforted sigh and close my eyes, my hand covering his scar.
And I rest in the feeling when you know you are completely safe, and you fold yourself into the one holding you. Guards down. Walls down. No words necessary. When you feel so safe you close your eyes and your soul exhales in a sigh of sweet contentment; drifting in and out of sleep.
Knowing fully that he has me and I am safe. I rest because he holds me. He who holds the whole world in his hands. He who carried the weight of sin for all time, holds me. His strength is safe. There is fullness of heart; not lacking anything.
To look into his eyes. His eyes of love and mercy bring hot tears to mine. We sit and look deeply into each other. He sees me. He knows. The real, raw, unfiltered, un-fronted me. And he loves me. The sweet smile in his eyes says, knowing everything about me, he loves me. The soft smile of his lips tells me that knowing everything about me makes him, in fact, love me…more.
I don’t have to explain anything to him. I don’t have to do anything but rest and receive. Receive his love. His friendship. His mercy. His brotherhood. His saving grace. To know I am fully known yet still… Accepted. Wanted. Cared for. Seen.
And time stands still. Nothing else matters. All grows dim. The only sound I hear is the beat of his heart. The heart that loved me enough to beat death and beat again. I lean into him and simply listen to the rhythmic melody of his heartbeat that will never stop playing our love song. I live this moment in my heart today and wait for it to be fulfilled in spirit, face-to-face. It will be the best moment in my entire, eternal life.
Not sure I wanted to share something so personal, but my hope is this song draws you closer to Jesus, too.
Is it possible to have authentic Italian goodness, with robust flavors of balsamic, basil & garlic, in one small bite? Absolutely! These little guys pack a punch of flavor. Tapas are typically known for Spanish cuisine, but in this recipe the name captures a bold Italian taste.
This easy, make-ahead recipe combines two recipes with a twist. Seriously, you can make the Tuscan spread days ahead (flavor gets better with time) *and even freeze it.*
Tuscan Bean Spread with Baguette; cutting board from Crate & Barrel
The pickled red onion recipe can be made up to a month ahead and gets better with time.
Replace field greens with avocado for richer texture and flavor. The crunch of the baguette and pickled onion contrasts the creamy bean spread and avocado for a perfect blend of YUM.
Tuscan Tapas with Avocado
Final assembly takes only a few minutes. I love recipes that offer a lot of presentation for little amount of work. This one is great for planning ahead or spontaneous cravings. It stands alone as a tasty appetizer as well as compliments a healthy meal.
Tuscan Tapas with grilled Mahi-Mahi, rice, grilled pineapple, snap peas, and corn on the cob.