Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Garden 2014 recap

I finally had the chance to have my own garden last year! Dad, Josh and Tim helped me build it and Kaydin helped me weed, water and harvest it throughout the summer.

The first year was spent learning how things would grow in the area, how rain would run off (It didn't. Instead I had many swampy floods through my rows of veggies), and if the soil was deep and healthy enough. Some tweaks are in order as well as lots of expansion for 2015! I've got my plan made, seeds in hand, and hopefully some little seedlings growing at my brother's house!

But first I thought I'd do a quick run down of what happened last year.

In late April we built the garden, throughout May we added lots of soil, planted seeds and picked up plants at the farmer's market. June was spent hoping my seedlings would make it through the streams all the rain brought barreling through the backyard, and July and August I was actually able to harvest some stuff!

Besides all the rain I also tried combating all the rabbits that kept eating all my little plants. The beets tops had to grow back three times! I used all of the piles of dog hair that is abundant at our house during the spring and summer and that helped a little I think. I also paired that with marigolds that I've read is also supposed to deter rabbits. Finally, I would sometimes use a liquid pepper spray that my brother mixed up for me. It never solved the problem completely but the situation got better as the summer went on.

This fall I closed up the garden by adding all the compost I made throughout the spring and summer and covering the soil with some straw I got from Wills Orchard in Adel. 

Herbs- as always, my herbs did well and lots were harvested and preserved. I grew oregano, mint, basil, and rosemary.

Carrots- lots of green growth but because the backyard is new and mostly clay, I didn't get much of a harvest but a few knubs. I read that you can make pesto out of carrot tops so I saved them but never actually got around to making them into something.

Cucumbers- harvested many! And make some pickles.

Zucchini- Plant grew really well, harvested a handful of fruits and then the vines turned to mush and died. At least I got a few out of it.

Beets- Like the carrots, the beets didn't grow large. I only salvaged a few very small beets. I did however, enjoy the tops!

Bell peppers- A few small ones grew throughout the season that I was able to chop up and use.

Tomatoes, cherry- This plant performed well and I got lots of little tomatoes throughout the whole summer. Next time I will remember to empty my pockets every time I come in from the garden and not leave a few little guys in my jacket pockets for weeks! Yeah, not a fun find that far down the road.

Tomatoes, heirloom- I was able to get a few fruits from each plant. The plants just did not do well since they received so much water. I planted them on the west side of the garden and that was the first place all the rain streamed in. Plus, most of the fruit that did grow developed blossom end rot. Guess I'll be making sure I get more calcium in the soil this year.

Kale- not one single leaf grew this year. I had some rally small little guys going and then the rain would come. Then it would dry out an so would the plant. Major fail but I sure hope I get lots harvested this year!

Here's to lots of pounds harvested in 2015! Can't wait!

Have you grown a garden before?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Make Ahead Freezer Smoothie Packs {+ Smoothies with Blue Diamond Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk}

During the winter my smoothie making usually goes on a hiatus. Just too cold to sip on a drink containing ice or frozen fruit.

A couple weeks ago, though, as the temps have started to rise, I pulled my smoothie ingredients out of the freezer and cupboard. Since we're coming back around to smoothie making weather I wanted to make the fast and easy meal even faster and easier.

It just took 15-20 minutes of my time on a Sunday afternoon and I mixed together lots of smoothie packs that are now just waiting for me pull out in the mornings when we're short on time.

To add even more nutrients, my liquid of choice when blending smoothies has been Blue Diamond Unsweetened Vanilla almond milk. Adds such a creamy texture and lots of calcium without the dairy. I mixed one up for Kaydin that had grapes, berries, and almond milk and it was her favorite one I've made in a long time. Sometimes just the fruit with no other added sweetener leaves her requesting honey. This time she sucked it down no problem stating she loved it! I credit it to the almond milk adding great flavor and creamy texture.

Make ahead freezer smoothie packs

tsp or two chia seeds
tsp or two hemp hearts
tsp or two wheat germ
1 cup mixture your choice of fruit (fresh or frozen)
handful of spinach
2-3 ice cubes
sandwich size plastic bags

Add all ingredients to the bag.
Store in the freezer and pull put when ready to blend a smoothie.

*Disclaimer- This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond. All opinions are my own.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Crockpot Corned Beef and Cabbage Soup

Every March the impending St. Patrick's Day holiday always has me craving corned beef and cabbage.

Last fall, my brother, Josh, introduced me to a new variation of the Irish classic. He sent me home with a bowl of corned beef and cabbage soup he'd recently made. It was fully enjoyed that week for my lunch at work.

I've been waiting for March to get here ever since so I could recreate his version of the St. Paddy's Day staple!

I didn't get much help in the recipe department though...

Me: Send me your corned beef soup recipe.
Josh: There isn't one. Put sh*t together.

Well ok then! He gave me the list ingredients and I was on my own.

But really, though, you don't need a precise recipe to pull this meal together. Just the known ingredients and your trusty crockpot!

We've always paired our corned beef roast dinners with potatoes, carrots, and onions. Just as we do with traditional roast beef. Those ingredients make up this soup recipe, too!

And-- just because we've been getting lucky with some awesome 60-70 degree weather doesn't mean your crockpot has to be packed away until next winter. I like to use the crockpot year round to achieve a great meal with minimal work. The crockpot is the perfect tool to get your corned beef pull-apart tender.

Corned Beef and Cabbage Soup

1 package corned beef (weight depends on how meaty you want your soup. I used one that was about 1 1/2 lbs) + spice packet that comes with the roast
1/2 bag baby carrots
1 large onion, cut into large chunks
2 lbs of 5 lb bag of Yukon gold potatoes (about 10-12 potatoes), quartered
1 medium head of cabbage, cut into large chunks
1 32 oz carton beef broth
2-3 cups water
1 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried parsley

1. Optional step: The day or night before you want to make your soup, place corned beef in crockpot on low and cook for 6-8 hours.
2. If cooking all in one day: Add corned beef and a few splashes of broth to crockpot. Cook on low for 6 hours.
3. Add remaining ingredients and cook on low another 4 hours or until all veggies are tender.
4. Shred corned beef before serving so it's evenly distributed throughout the soup.

What are your go-to foods for this time of year?
I'm thinking a mint milkshake with some thin mints thrown in is in order this week!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Sending my Love....{Happy Valentine's Day!}

Happy Valentine's Day, Loves!

I'm not super mushy, I'm not super sappy. But I do like Valentine's Day. It's fun, it's pretty, it's delicious. What's not to love??

Plus, Kaydin and I ran into some early presents from our Timmy this year.

The above was laying out on the table when we got home last night. Like she needs any more stuffed animals, but she loves him just as much as her 1,000 others! His name is Frodo the Frog. :)

After dinner we dug into dessert making our pick from each box.

My office sure has a pretty addition as of yesterday afternoon. Sending flowers a couple days early= an even bigger surprise! Two years ago they came one day early. He's so sneaky. Guess he wants the delivery man to have one less to deal with on the 14th. ;)

Who's Sallie you're asking...?? Well, yes, that's me! :) One of my many nicknames that have evolved from yet another nickname. I could make a whole post on nicknames that Tim has for Kaydin and I. maybe someday... :)

Look at that fun addition to the vase! Single rose petals. Never seen that before, but such a fun, pretty idea!

Image result for hearts in a lineImage result for hearts in a lineImage result for hearts in a line

Now I wanna take a little time and mention just because you are single doesn't mean your Valentine's Day has to suck. Don't get down on yourself! You are strong. You are independent. You are amazing!

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If I didn't have Tim, I'd have my baby girl to shower me with love. If I didn't have her, I have my friends and family. And ya know, I have myself!

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Confidence and happiness in myself! And so should you! ;) No matter what your relationship status.

The rest of our Valentine's weekend is going to involve some heart shaped pizza, maybe some Funfetti Dip, some pancakes made by Kaydin Baby, a show at the Des Moines Performing Arts Center, a nice dinner enjoyed at home (steak for me, cheeseburger request from Kaydin and a "not steak" request from Tim), and some movies.

Have a GREAT Valentine's weekend no matter who's by your side or what your relationship status is! 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Crab Rangoon Pizza

Today we're celebrating! It's baby shower day!!

Baby shower day for my friend, Nicole! I met Nicole in 2013 at the Healthy Living Summit. A group of us had dinner the first night before the summit officially kicked off and we got along great. I had a fun weekend spending the weekend getting to know a new friend.  I got the chance to spend more time with Nicole at Blend last June. Again, before the actual retreat started I saw her and Ari (I met Ari at Healthy Living Summit, too.) standing outside the resort while a bunch of us were piling into cars to find something for lunch. I spotted the both of them and jumped out of the car running to meet Nicole with a hug! She learned we were headed for food, and she was in! We crammed her in car and were off to find a lunch spot.

I guess it's only appropriate that we are throwing her a baby shower centered around food! :) More specifically pizza, brownies and other chocolate-y goodness and booze, three of Nicole's favorite things!

So now on to the recipe! 

We have a great pizza place in Des Moines, Fong's Pizza. It's an Asian/pizza fusion place. The pizzas there are great-- and creative! Unique pizza flavors like black bean with cilantro, beef and broccoli, Kung Pao Chicken, and mac and cheese make it a popular place. The pizza that's really put the restaurant on the map is their Crab Rangoon Pizza. 

It's definitely delicious, but when I tried it I thought maybe I could make it even better. I thought the filling was lacking on the pizza. That's my favorite part of crab rangoon, the creamy filling. I wanted to try a version that included lots of the creamy crab mixture.

An easy filling mixture for base of the pizza, sprinkled with cheese and then topped with crispy baked wonton strips makes this is a pretty close match but unique way to enjoy the crab rangoon flavor!

I'd seen a crab rangoon dip recipe on Pinterest in the last few weeks so that was my inspiration to create my pizza. And the final product turned out sooooo well! Yum! I wish I had another one right now! A great replica of one of my favorite appetizers that I don't have too often in pizza form. Winning combo!

Crab Rangoon Pizza

Filling makes 2 large-medium sized pizzas with a small amount of crab meat mixture leftover.

1 8oz package cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup crab meat, shredded (reserve 1/4 cup for sprinkling on top)
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded (reserve 3/4 cup for sprinkling on top)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded (reserve 1/4 cup for sprinkling on top)
juice from 1/4 of a lemon
2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
1 1/2 tbsp green onion, chopped
1 1/2 tbsp chives, chopped (reserve a small amount for garnish)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
few cracks of fresh cracked pepper, about 1/2 tsp
1 pizza crust (I use the dough from Trader Joe's)
4-5 wonton wraps, cut into small thin strips
sweet chili sauce, for drizzling
honey, for drizzling (optional)

 1. Cut the wonton wraps in small thin strips. Lay them out on a baking sheet. Spray with non-stick spray and put them in a 400 degree oven for just a couple minutes. Keep an eye on them- they brown fast! Bake for 2-3 minutes or until just golden on the edges. Set aside.
2. Stretch dough to fit your pizza pan. Bake for 5-7 minutes until just slightly brown.
3. Mix first seven ingredients (only 1/4 cup of crab meat, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and a small amount of chives) together in large bowl. Mix until well combined.
4. Spread a thin layer of the topping onto the crust. Top with remaining crab meat and cheeses.
5. Bake in 400 degree oven for 10-12 minutes or until cheese is golden brown.
6. Remove from oven and top with wonton wraps.
7. Drizzle honey and sweet chili sauce on top of the pizza. 
8. Garnish with chopped chives.

*Definitely do not skip the sweet chili sauce! It makes the whole pizza. The honey is optional but  recommended as it added just another layer of flavor among the creamy topping, crunchy won tons and pairs perfectly with the chili sauce. 

Here's the whole round-up of everyone that participated in Nicole's Baby Shower! There's some good ones in the list! Can't wait to try some of the recipes! Click on over to see the rest of the menu!

Boozy Red Velvet Hot Chocolate from Ari's Menu
Boozy Iced Coffee from The Wanderlust Kitchen
Coconut Oil Brownies from Handle the Heat
Raspberry Lemonade Champagne Punch from Eat. Drink. Love.
Chocolate Cherry Brownies from Savvy Eats
Four Cheese Pizza with Sausage and Peppers from The Little Ferraro Kitchen
Crab Rangoon Pizza from Mollie's Sprinkles of Life
Grapefruit Chia Seed Cocktail from Peace Love and Oats
White Pizza with Bacon, Basil & Tomatoes from Eating Bender

Huge shout out and thanks for Ari for organizing! Happy baby shower, Nicole! :)

Let me know what you think when you make this unique pizza flavor!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Blueberry Lemon Buttermilk Pancakes {National Blueberry Pancake Day with Driscoll's}

Did you know today is National Blueberry Pancake Day?!?

Pancakes are never my first choice, especially when going out to eat. That is until I tried the pancakes at Mimi's Cafe. I craved those pancakes all the time. Perfectly fluffy, creamy, and didn't turn to mush when drizzled with syrup.

Sadly though, Mimi's in Des Moines closed more than six months ago. I didn't even get a chance to go there one last time. I drove by one day and it was just empty. :(

Since Mimi's wasn't an option anymore, I was back to being indifferent about pancakes. I mean, I wouldn't turn them down, but they weren't my first choice either.

That all changed though when I put this recipe together! These pancakes are the perfect combo of ingredients and are now my new favorite pancake recipe! A great replacement for the Mimi's breakfast I'm still missing.

I knew National Pancake Day was coming up and I just had a basic recipe rolling around in my head. I planned on dressing them up with some props and blueberries to make the pictures pretty. Although when driving the other day, the thought of adding buttermilk to the recipe popped into my head. Directly behind it, the idea of pairing lemon with the blueberries also came. I was sold! Lemon and blueberry is a great combo to bring out this time of year when everything is dreary and gray. The end product turned out delicious!

Blueberry, Lemon, Buttermilk Pancakes
Makes 4 large, thick pancakes.

1 tbsp butter, melted
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp fresh lemon zest
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup blueberries

1. Mix butter, egg, and buttermilk until mixed well.
2. Add vanilla, lemon juice, zest, and sugar. Mix well.
3. Add dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
4. Fold in blueberries.
5. Add 1/2 cup or so of batter to heated skillet over medium heat. Flip when bubbles appear in batter. Let cook for 2-3 minutes and remove from pan. Top pancakes with powdered sugar or maple syrup.

Disclosure: This post was brought to you by Driscoll's. I was compensated for my time and also with Driscoll's berry coupons. All opinions are my own.