Salad Inspiration

Salad Inspiration

I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve really been into salads. In fact, I’ve had one nearly every day for past week. All of the nutritious ingredients that I pile into my bowl make me happy, knowing that I’m doing my body (and my baby’s) good.

Often times I fall into a rut with my salads: Stuff greens into bowl. Add cheese, nuts and dressing. Repeat with exact same ingredients every day. But I’ve been attempting to be more creative and try new combinations. Here are a couple that I’ve been enjoying:

Mixed greens with clementines, avocado, red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, fresh ground pepper and coarse sea salt.



Salad Inspiration

Another lovely combo: mixed greens with cheese, pepitas, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Simple but satisfying.

I also tried an apple/gruyere combination. Very good.

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Also, these Smashed Potatoes with Parmesan Gremolata are AMAZING. Get the recipe over on the Good Life Eats blog here, and make them tonight!

What are your favorite salads? I need some inspiration!

Hope ya’ll have a happy Monday!

Erica

Simple Sage Stuffing/Dressing from Scratch

Sage Stuffing

Confession: I have a special place in my heart for boxed Stove Top dressing. Granted, my mom doctors it up quite a bit with wild rice and turkey, but there’s just something about it that says “Thanksgiving” to me.

Sage Stuffing

I’ve always wanted to try making stuffing from scratch. Though tasty, boxed dressings are often loaded with unnatural ingredients. But making it myself always seemed a bit daunting. How are you supposed to find a recipe with just the right amount of spices so it’s tasty and liquid so it isn’t soggy?

Sage Stuffing

Then I decided to jump right in and give a recipe a try. To my surprise, it was uber easy and no-fuss.


Sage Stuffing

Will it replace your beloved Stove Top? No. But what could without using high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils and MSG? Is it a good natural, healthy alternate? Definitely yes!

The beauty of this recipe is that it’s a great canvas for your culinary creativity. You could so easily add your favorite ingredients: cranberries, wild rice, turkey, nuts, whatever you please!

Recipe Notes:

If you’re using homemade or low-sodium chicken broth, you’ll probably want to add a little extra salt to the stuffing mixture.

Simple Sage Stuffing from Scratch | adapted from Martha Stewart | Printable Page | makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf bread (whole wheat, white, or whatever you please) torn into bite-sized pieces to make about 8 cups
  • 2 tablespoons butter, plus more for baking dish and foil
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1-2 teaspoons dried rubbed sage (depending on how “sagey” you like your dressing)
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

Directions:

1) Preheat your oven to 350° F (175° C). Place the bread crumbs on two rimmed baking sheets and bake in preheated oven until nice and dry, about 14 minutes, stirring & rotating the pans halfway through baking. Set aside to cool (these can be made ahead of time and stored in an air-tight container for up to 1 week).

2) In a medium skillet set over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and celery, season with salt + pepper to taste, and cook until nice and tender, about 8 minutes. Add the sage and celery seeds and cook for an additional 3 minutes.

3) Place the bread crumbs in a bowl and add the sauted vegetables. In a separate bowl, mix together the chicken broth and egg. Add to the bread crumbs and toss together until evenly moistened. If you’re using homemade or low-sodium chicken broth, you may want to add a bit more salt at this point.

4) Place the stuffing in a buttered 13×9-inch pan or a 10-inch cast iron skillet and bake at 350 until warmed and the bread has soaked up the broth, about 25-35 minutes. You can also store the un-baked dressing in the refrigerator until ready to heat.

Product Review: Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil

Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil

Hey ya’ll! Time to talk about coconut oil.

A while back Tropical Traditions contacted me about reviewing their Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil and becoming a part of their referral program. Now, I was no stranger to this company – my mom had been buying coconut oil from them in bulk for years. We had always been impressed with the quality AND price of their products. So of course I wanted to share it with you guys!

I’m sure ya’ll have heard about how healthy coconut oil is. Back in our health-craze days when we were in our teens, my husband and I ate this stuff like candy. Almost. We still enjoy it for popping popcorn, in soups and on mashed potatoes. If you get the extra virgin coconut oil, it even adds a nice coconut flavor to rice and curry.

And, just so you know, if you order anything from Tropical Traditions by clicking on any of my links and have never ordered from TT in the past, you will receive a free book on Virgin Coconut Oil, and I will receive a discount coupon for referring you. Cool, huh? It’s part of their referral program.

What’s your favorite way to use coconut oil?

Hope you’re having a wonderful week!

xoxo

Erica

Maple & Pecan Banana Cake

Last weekend, we went camping. When we returned, I found three VERY ripe bananas in the refrigerator. I knew something needed to be done with them before they were completely useless, but I just didn’t feel like baking banana bread.

So I made banana cake instead! I knew from the get-go that I wanted the cake slightly more healthy (surprise surprise!) than the original recipe. So I swapped whole wheat flour for the AP flour and used maple syrup in place of the brown and white sugar. To compensate for the maple syrup, I increased the flour by 1/4 cup.

This recipe was very forgiving, even with all of my crazy substitutions. The cake was moist and flavorful and rose beautifully in the oven.

The original recipe instructed me to serve the cake with slightly sweetened whipped cream. Since I don’t take orders from recipes very readily, I just served it with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting and sprinkled it with some toasted pecans.

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Maple & Pecan Banana Cake

from How to Bake by Nick Malgieri

Ingredients:

For the Cake

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 2 3.4 cups (11 ounces) whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup mashed, not pureed, bananas
  • 3/4 cup milk or buttermilk

For the Frosting

  • 1 eight-ounce package cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened but still firm
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup toasted pecans, for garnish

Directions:

To make the cake:

1) Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a 13×9-inch glass baking dish and line the bottom with parchment paper.

2) In the bowl of a stand mixer or using a hand beater, cream the butter until soft and light. Gradually add the maple syrup and beat on medium speed for 5 minutes more, or until very light. The butter and maple syrup may separate slightly.

3) Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape the bowl and beaters occasionally. Beat in the vanilla.

4) In a medium bowl, whisk together the  flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to the butter mixture along with the milk and bananas. Beat on low speed just until combined.

5) Scrape the batter into the prepare pan and bake for approximately 35 minutes, or until the cake is well risen and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack, removing the paper, and allow to cool completely.

To make the frosting:

1) In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the butter, maple syrup, and vanilla and beat until smooth.

2) Store in the refrigerator until serving. If the frosting becomes too hard, let it sit a room temperature until spreadable.

To serve the cake:

Cut the cake into desired sized pieces. Spread with frosting. Garnish with toasted pecans. Serve immediately.

Makes approximately twenty-four 2-inch squares

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