Dinners

Recipe—Beef Chow Mein

Quick one pot dinners are some of my faves. My husband’s too since he does the dishes. Ha ha! Basically, any noodle bowls are a hit with my family and I love them because they are usually quick, easy, and they are a great way to get an assortment of veggies into the mix. This recipe takes less than 30 minutes to make and it is so versatile. You can swap out the beef for shrimp or chicken and you can really use any veggies you want. I also recommend snow peas, bell peppers, zucchini, and mini corn as great options. The sauce has lots of great flavors that the noodles, meat, and veggies all take on. Just the perfect balance of sweet, salty, and spicy. We also like to serve this with a side of egg rolls or pot stickers to get that whole “take out” vibe.

SAUCE INGREDIENTS
1/3 c soy sauce
3 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp ginger paste
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper 

DISH INGREDIENTS
2 (6-ounce) packages chow mein noodles
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb beef sirloin steak, thinly sliced
2 c cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 c broccoli florets
2 carrots, sliced

STEPS

  • In a small bowl, whisk together all the sauce ingredients and set aside.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the chow mein noodles according to the package instructions. Drain well.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or wok over medium high heat. 
  • Add the beef and cook until browned, about 4–5 minutes.
  • Stir in the mushrooms, broccoli, and carrots. 
  • Cook, stirring frequently, until the veggies are tender, about 3-4 minutes. 
  • Add the cooked noodles and sauce mixture to the skillet and cook until well combined, about 2–3 minutes.
  • Serve and enjoy!
Sauces

Recipe—Basil Pesto Sauce

If you follow me on Instagram, you have probably seen my backyard pride and joy, my little garden. One of the first springs in our home I had my dad and husband build me this big, beautiful redwood garden box. It has been a couple of years of figuring out what grows good and what doesn’t. Tomatoes, zucchini and pesto thrive during the hot California summer months.  

Well, this year by spry little basil plants turned into full on basil bushes in a matter of a couple of weeks. They were thick, tall, and bushy and I knew they had to be harvested before they went to flower and became bitter and tough. Homemade pesto coming right up!

While I absolutely love store bought pesto nothing beats the freshness of making your own. It can be a little pricey with the cost of pine nuts, quality parmesan, and extra virgin olive oil but it is absolutely worth it! Plus, it is so easy to make. Load all the ingredients in the blender, and blend!

With how much basil I harvested I actually made a massive batch but you certainly don’t need to make that much at a time unless you are sitting on a big basil harvest yourself. The recipe below is written for a single batch.

One thing that is really great about pesto is that it freezes great! I proportion it out into larger containers for pasta dinners and then smaller containers that work great for pizza sauce like when I make my Shrimp Pesto Pizza

What makes my pesto unique is I like to add some fresh lemon juice to the mix. I find it helps serve as a natural preservative, gives it a great flavor, and also helps to keep the vibrant green color.

INGREDIENTS
2 c basil leaves, packed
3/4 c parmesan cheese, shredded
1 c extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c pine nuts
3 cloves garlic
juice from one lemon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 pepper

STEPS

  • Combine all the ingredients in the blender and blend string periodically if needed.
  • Add additional olive oil if you need more liquid to blend.
Beverages

Recipe— Greyhound Cocktails

Recipe—Pitcher of Greyhound Cocktails

This recipe is a must for your next dinner party or a day of poolside lounging. It makes a nice sized pitcher, perfect to share with friends. When I had a little party back in August, this was the signature cocktail served and it was a huge hit! We served it in some cute pitchers along with grapefruit wedges and sprigs of rosemary.

Grapefruit juice has always been one of my favorite cocktail mixers. It is just the right amount of sweet and tart and is so refreshing. I am pretty sure this cocktail is what sunshine would taste like, if sunshine had a flavor. 

There are all sorts of variations of greyhound recipes, and this is one of my faves. The vanilla gives you this nice little bit of sweetness that cuts the tartness of the grapefruit and the soda water really lightens it up. I like the subtle flavor the rosemary garnish adds but if you like a stronger rosemary flavor you can infuse the vodka with it

Note: If you want to prepare this ahead of time, mix together all the ingredients EXCEPT the soda water. Don’t add the soda water until right before serving or it will go flat. overnight. 

INGREDIENTS
2 c vodka
3 1/2 c grapefruit juice
2 tbsp vanilla
1 1/2 c soda water
rosemary sprigs for garnish

STEPS

  • Mix vodka, grapefruit juice, vanilla, and soda water in a large pitcher and stir well. 
  • Pour over a glass filled with ice.
  • Add a sprig of fresh rosemary for garnish.
Appetizers, Sauces

Recipe—Salsa Fresca

Last year in my garden we were harvesting more tomatoes than we knew what to do with! We were having Panzanella Salad and Marinated Tomatoes almost every week. Once my jalapenos came in, I was all about that fresh salsa! Who doesn’t love that fresh salsa flavor!? Store bought salsa just does not compare.

This recipe is pretty much goof proof. You just add all the ingredients to the blender and blend. Yes, it really is that simple!

Just serve up with a side of some crispy salty tortilla chips or along with your favorite tacos or burritos. 

Note: If you over blend your salsa, it can become sort of frothy. If this happens, just cover and store in the fridge for a couple of hours and it should settle. Fresh salsa can last in the fridge covered for up to two weeks. The flavors get better and better with time.

INGREDIENTS
1/4 white onion 
2 tsp garlic, minced
1 jalapeno 
4–6 medium sized tomatoes
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 c fresh cilantro leaves
juice from 1 lime
pinch of sugar (optional, to balance the acidity of the tomatoes)

STEPS

  • Add the onion, garlic, and jalapeno to a food processor or blender and pulse a few times to chop.
  • Add all the remaining ingredients to the blender and blend to desired consistency. 
  • Refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to really come together. (Optional)

This salsa goes great with the following recipes:

Soups

Recipe—Zuppa Toscana 

I have been sitting on this recipe for months now just waiting for the right time of year to share. After getting record amounts of rain in Sacramento this last weekend and it FINALLY feeling like fall, I think we are finally ready for one of the best soup recipes ever! Now I can’t even take credit for this soup recipe. My friend made this Olive Garden “copycat” soup for me back in July when I was recovering from a medical procedure, and I was absolutely smitten. I had to ask for the recipe and made it for my family less than a week later. It is now a family fave. I just absolutely love that spicy sausage with the rich creamy broth and the loads of kale. (Not gonna lie, the kale makes me feel like I am eating healthy.)

Note: If you are watching your carbs you can easily leave out the potatoes for a fantastic low carb soup. 

INGREDIENTS

12 oz pack of bacon, chopped
16 oz hot Italian sausage, ground
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 tbsp garlic, minced
64 oz chicken broth
5 medium potatoes, cubed into 1/2″ squares
2 bunches kale, stems removed and leave chopped
1 pint heavy cream
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground pepper
freshly grated parmesan

STEPS

  • Add the bacon to a large pot and cook over medium-high heat.
  • When the bacon is cooked to desired doneness, remove it from the pot and set aside.
  • Add the sausage to the pot breaking it up as it cooks.
  • Once the sausage is cooked through, drain off most of the grease leaving about 1–2 tablespoons.
  • Add the chopped onions and garlic to the pot with the sausage and cook stirring occasionally until the onion starts to brown, about 5–6 minutes.
  • Add the broth and potatoes to the pot and bring to a boil.
  • Simmer the soup for about 15–20 minutes or until the potatoes are just fork tender. 
  • Add the kale, cream, salt, and pepper to the pot and simmer for another 5–10 minutes. 
  • Ladle the soup into bowls and top with parmesan. 
Sweet Treats

Recipe—Banana Cream Pie Dip

Banana cream pie is one of my top 5 favorite desserts, maybe top 3. It was pretty much the only late night craving I had throughout my pregnancy with my son. Maybe it is because it reminds me of the banana shakes my dad used to make me as a kid. That was kind of our thing. Friday nights watching M*A*S*H and drinking banana shakes. That. Was. The. Life!

This dip has everything I love about banana cream pie but in one very addicting easy to make dip. It is perfect for parties or just a random dessert. If you have been following me for a while now you may know I have a thing for dessert dips. I’ve posted recipes for Cannoli Dip, Sweat Cream Dip with Strawberries, Sweet Cherry Chip Dip, Funfetti Cake Batter Cookie Dip, and Toffee Apple Dip

Dessert dips are so quick and easy to make. So many people are intimidated by overly complex desserts but when all you have to do is mix a bunch of ingredients in a bowl, these really are foolproof. 

INGREDIENTS
3.4 oz box instant banana cream pudding
2 c milk
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 c powdered sugar
2 c Cool Whip, divided
Nilla wafers or graham crackers for serving

STEPS

  • In a medium bowl, beat together the pudding powder and milk until well combined and set aside. 
  • In a separate large bowl, use an electric mixer and beat together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla until smooth. 
  • Fold the pudding mixture and 1 1/2 cups of the Cool Whip into the cream cheese mixture and stir until it is creamy.
  • Transfer the finished mixture to a serving dish and top with the remaining 1/2 cup of Cool Whip. 
  • Place in the refrigerator and allow to set for 30 minutes or more. 
  • Sprinkle with a few crushed wafers or graham cracker crumbs.
  • Serve with a side of Nilla Wafers or graham crackers.

If you like this recipe, then I highly recommend you check out these other awesome dessert dip recipes!

Cannoli Dip

Cannoli Dip

Cherry Chip Dip

Toffee Apple Dip

Salads, Side Dishes

Recipe—Creamy Dill Red Potato Salad

Summer is upon us! Well not quite, but we are so close! I can literally smell it! The smell of grilled meat has infiltrated the warm evening air in my subdivision and I am itching for a good ol’ fashioned cookout.

One thing I absolutely love about summer BBQs are all the cold salads. Macaroni salads, potato salads, mmmmmmm… mmmm… mmmm! (I really should not write these posts when I am hungry because right now, I am salivating just thinking back to this potato salad.)

I have a go to potato salad that is loaded with bacon, olives, bell peppers, onions, and so much more and it is amazing, but sometimes I am looking to mix it up with something a little more simple and lighter. 

The red potatoes really come out fluffy and then the super creamy dressing is a little tangy from the vinegar and sour cream and then you have this delicious dill flavor. So simple and so lite. Perfect for these warm summer days!

INGREDIENTS
8 large red potatoes, diced
1 c sour cream
1 c mayonnaise
1/2 c red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp dill
salt and pepper
4 green onions, chopped

STEPS

  • Add 1–2 tablespoon of salt to a large pot of water and bring to a boil.
  • Add the diced potatoes and boil for 10–14 minutes or until fork tender.
  • While the potatoes are boiling whisk together the sour cream, mayonnaise, vinegar, dill, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  • When the potatoes are done cooking drain them in a colander and transfer to a large bowl.
  • Add most of the green onions (saving a handful for garnish) and dressing and toss to coat. 
  • Garnish with the leftover green onions and a little bit of the dill.
  • Cover with a lid or saran wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. The longer it rests, the better the flavors.

If you like this recipe, then I highly recommend you check out these other awesome salads that make for great additions to your BBQ menu!

Italian Pasta Salad

Italian Pasta Salad

Classic Macaroni Salad

Classic Macaroni Salad

Orzo Pesto Pasta

Orzo Pesto Pasta

Salads, Side Dishes

Recipe—Cauliflower Tabbouleh

To me, spring means transitioning those hearty comfort foods to lighter more refreshing dishes. Gotta start getting this body bikini ready! Just kidding, this mom bod hasn’t rocked a bikini in over 11 years. A good ol’ tankini is more my style. LOL In reality, I just crave lighter foods as the weather warms up, and the produce section of the grocery store transitions with the season. Everything just seems more vibrant and robust.

This cauliflower tabbouleh is perfect for warmer weather as it requires no cooking, so you can leave that hot stove off. The flavors in this dish are so refreshing as it is PACKED with herbs! You have lemon zest, mint, garlic, and red pepper. Freaking delish!

This dish is one of those that actually gets better as it sits. I like to make it the day before I plan on eating it so the cauliflower bits really take on all those yummy flavors. It is one of those perfect dishes to make on Sunday to have for lunches throughout the week. You know I am all about that meal prep! (Just beware, you may have some garlic breath so pack some gum too.)

While traditional tabbouleh is made from bulgar wheat, I actually use a bag of riced cauliflower in this recipe making it keto friendly and low calorie. It goes fantastic with some grilled Greek chicken and tzatziki!

INGREDIENTS
10 oz bag frozen riced cauliflower, thawed
cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 cup small tomatoes, cut in half
1 c fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 c mint leaves, chopped 
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp garlic, minced
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp lemon zest
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt

STEPS

  • Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine. (Yes, it really is that easy.)
Soups

Recipe—20 Minute Sausage, Spinach, & White Bean Soup

20 Minute Sausage, Spinach, & White Bean Soup

Hello cold weather! It is finally starting to feel like winter out here in California. Just this week we finally have some back to back days of rain and some serious wind going on and I freaking love it! It’s the kind of weather that just makes you want to wrap yourself in a heavy blanket and eat hearty bowls of soup all day long. This soup recipe is awesome because there is so much good flavor and it is really filling, and best of all, it is one of those meals that you can have on the table in 20 minutes. You do not have to be a well-versed chef to make this. You are basically just adding ingredients to a pot and letting your stove do the rest of the work. Sounds like the perfect lazy rainy-day meal to me!

Note: If you have a busy week ahead, chop the onion, carrots, and celery over the weekend and store in a container or a zip loc bag so they are ready to go!

INGREDIENTS
1 tbsp olive oil
1 (12.8-ounce) package smoked andouille sausage, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
6 c chicken broth
2 (15-ounce) cans Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
3 c baby spinach

STEPS

  • Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat.
  • Add the sausage to the pot and cook until lightly browned, about 3-4 minutes making sure to stir occasionally.
  • Add the garlic, onion, carrots, and celery to the pot and cook for another 3–4 minutes making sure to stir occasionally.
  • Add the broth, beans, oregano, bay leaves, salt and pepper to the pot and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to medium low and allow it to simmer for 8–10 minutes.
  • Add the baby spinach to the pot and continue cooking for another 1-2 minutes or until the spinach has wilted.
  • Ladle into bowls and enjoy!
Brunch

Recipe—French Toast Casserole

French Toast Casserole

Christmas morning can sometimes be a bit chaotic with hustle and bustle of gift giving, cleaning up of all the shreds of paper and ribbon, and then sometimes the mad dash to clean the house before relatives arrive for round two of Christmas. At least that’s how it is in our home. However, on Christmas morning I always want to sit down and have a nice breakfast with my crew, I just don’t always have the time to make a big Christmas worthy breakfast. However, I do have the time to throw a casserole in the oven. So here you have French Toast Casserole to save the morning!

Several years back I posted a recipe for Blueberry French Toast Casserole. Not to toot my own horn, but toot toot! It’s amazing if you haven’t given it a try. What I love about french toast casserole is you can prep the dish the day before, throw it in the oven in the morning, and boom! Just like that you have a hot and delicious breakfast with almost no work. This recipe has all that delicious cinnamon goodness baked into a sweet bread pudding with a crispy streusel topping. It is so tasty!

So if you are looking for a quick and easy breakfast that you can make in advance, then this is the recipe for you.

French Toast Casserole

INGREDIENTS
12 slices sourdough bread (or a sourdough loaf), cut into 1” cubes
10 eggs
2 c milk
1/2 c heavy cream
2 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 c sugar
1 c brown sugar, divided
1/2 c flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c cold butter, cut into small pieces

STEPS

  • Cut the loaf of sourdough into cubes and distribute them in a greased 9” x 13” pan.
  • In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, and vanilla.
  • Whisk in a 1/2 cup of the brown sugar and all the granulated sugar to the egg mixture
  • Pour the egg mixture over the bread.
  • Using your fingers or the back of a spatula gently press all of the bread pieces down into the egg mixture.
  • Cover the baking dish with foil and place in the fridge 8 hours or overnight.
  • For the streusel topping, in a medium bowl, mix together the other 1/2 cup of brown sugar, flour, cinnamon.
  • Add the cut-up butter to the topping mix and using a large fork or pastry cutter mix it all together until it is a nice crumbly consistency.
  • Store the streusel in a Ziploc bag in the fridge until ready to bake.
  • When ready to bake, remove the casserole dish and streusel from the fridge and allow it to sit on the counter for about 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • Sprinkle the streusel topping over the french toast.
  • Cover the dish back up with foil and bake for 45 minutes.
  • Remove the foil and continue baking until the top is a nice golden brown and the egg mixture is set, about an additional 15–20.
  • Remove from oven and allow it to cool for 5 minutes.
  • Cut and serve with a pat of butter and some warm syrup.