Sausage, White Bean, & Winter Vegetable Soup

Sausage, White Bean, & Winter Vegetable Soup

How are we feeling about the holidays friends?  Thanksgiving is over and it is full steam ahead towards Christmas.  Like it or not, that train is moving and it’s moving fast, so I guess it’s time for us all to jump on!

I’ve talked to people that have all of their shopping done already.  Some of them even have their gifts wrapped!  

I am not one of those people.  

We got our first holiday card in the mail yesterday.  

I was tickled that I even got my cards ordered.  Getting them addressed and in the mail is a whole other story.  If I were you, I wouldn’t wait by your mailbox in anticipation of receiving it.   

I’m seeing pictures on Facebook of beautifully decorated Christmas trees, holiday mantles, and outdoor lights.  

We are getting ready to replace the flooring in most of our first floor, so I am using the anticipated dirt and dust as an excuse to keep all of our decorations in the crawl space.  

Elves on the Shelf have already made appearances in many homes and are getting up to their usual holiday hijinx.  

Our elf, Rosie, has shown up after the incessant questioning by my kids of when she would come and has unceremoniously plopped herself in the usual boring and uncreative spots.  

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Wild Rice & Chickpea Tabbouleh

Wild Rice & Chickpea Tabbouleh

There are certain recipes that I gravitate to when I know my schedule is going to get hectic.  Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken is definitely one of them, but right next to it at the top of that list is this wild rice salad.  I love that it holds up for several days, so it fits well into a meal prep day and gives you a few different options for lunches and/or dinners throughout the week. 

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Spiced Peach & Pecan Chia Pudding

Spiced Peach & Pecan Chia Pudding

I am a creature of habit.  I find comfort in routines and schedules.  In fact, if you called me up at 10:30 in the morning and asked me to go to lunch, I would spend the next hour and half having a serious internal struggle about the merits of going to lunch versus continuing on with my lunch as I originally planned.  This inner conflict makes absolutely no sense since more often than not, what is originally planned does not actually involve any plans – at least none that can’t be changed for one day.  I desperately want to be that spontaneous person that does things like make last-minute lunch plans, but internally, I resist it to my very core.

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Chilled Cucumber Bruschetta Soup

Chilled Cucumber Bruschetta Soup

Recently, we celebrated Bert’s birthday and my uncle in-law gifted me with a whole bag of cucumbers, onions, and tomatoes from his garden. Given that I have a notorious black thumb, any time that someone wants to pawn off their garden surplus on me, I am so very happy to oblige. I’ve been thinking about a chilled cucumber soup lately, and then Uncle Joe showed up with a whole bag of cucumbers!  Clearly the universe decided that chilled cucumber soup needed to make an appearance here at Always Daydreaming, so here we are.

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Summer Blueberry Kale Salad

Blueberry Kale Salad

Summer Blueberry Kale Salad has so much good-for-you stuff going on.  We’ve got the kale, obviously; blueberries, which we know are packed with antioxidants; plus some healthy nuts and seeds, shredded carrots, and for sweetness a few dried cranberries.  Everything is tossed together with an easy peasy honey balsamic vinaigrette.  

Some people fear raw kale because on the stalk, it’s tough and you may not know what to do with it.  But really, making a raw kale salad is no more difficult than any other kind of green salad, except for this one thing:  add the dressing to the greens alone first and mix it well.  When I say “mix well” I mean it, no gentle tossing.   This isn’t baby spinach or field greens.   Your hands are your best utensils so wash up and use them to “massage” the dressing into the greens.  The idea here is that by “massaging” the kale with the dressing, the you are breaking down the kale just enough that it becomes tender and delicious.  You know you’re doing the right thing when you see the kale turn from a dull, dark green to a bright, shiny green.  

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Pineapple & Cucumber Salsa

Pineapple & Cucumber Salsa

The 4th of July is just around the corner folks!  I feel like once the 4th is over, summer flies by so fast and before you know it we’re shopping for school clothes and gearing up for fall sports.  June passes by at a normal pace and come July and August, time moves at warp speed, what’s that all about?  Lucky for us, the 4th is one of those rare holidays that seems made for lazy days outside, hanging out at the lake, by the pool, or in your backyard with a sprinkler.  A fun drink and snacks are all you need! 

The downside of cutting wheat and dairy from my diet is that it really eliminates a large chunk of appetizer and snack options. As we all know, the best appetizers include warm, gooey cheese and/or bread, preferably both. Sure there are options out there, like marinated vegetables or antipasta kebobs, or something else along those lines. But sometimes what you need is something that you can throw in a bowl with a basket of dippers and be done and if that is your goal, then salsa is where it’s at.  And that is exactly why salsa is the answer to my snacking and appetizer conundrum. I make it for everything, all of the time, all year round.

Pineapple & Cucumber Salsa

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S’mores Baked Oatmeal

S'mores Baked Oatmeal

Summer vacation is here in Central Pennsylvania, woot woot!  Unfortunately, this does not mean that I will be spending the next 2 1/2 months lounging by the pool or sleeping in because I have a job in an office and summer is a busy time of year for us.  Despite the fact that my personal schedule remains largely unchanged, I fully celebrate the fact that we have a few months off from arguing about homework and take home folders and launching full expeditions throughout the house in search of someone’s misplaced glasses – which always happens 5 minutes before we need to leave the house to catch the bus.  So in celebration of said summer vacation, we’re having S’mores Baked Oatmeal for breakfast!  

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Chipotle Taco & Quinoa Bowl

Chipotle Taco & Quinoa Bowl

Every day I pick my kids up at the babysitter after work and every day I get the same cranky question:

“Moooooom, what’s for dinner?”

They’re not even completely inside the car before they’re hounding me about what we’re having to eat.  And for the record, it’s not just a casual question.  There’s no “Hey Mom, how are you?  What’s for dinner?”  or “You’ll never guess what happened at lunch today!  By the way, what’s for dinner?”  No, there is none of that.  It is a daily query, raised with the explicit expectation that they will be disappointed, so it is therefore asked in a tone dripping with contempt.  Dripping, because there is so much disdain for the as-yet-unknown dinner, it can’t be contained by a simple question.  As they sit there in the backseat, every part of their being is exhibiting a hostility with regard to the dinner, that mind you, I haven’t even disclosed yet.  But when I respond with  “We’re having tacos!” then I get cheers and all is well…for the time being.

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Peppercorn & Honey Pickled Onions

Peppercorn & Honey Pickled Onions

I wish someone could explain to me why red onions are called red onions when they’re really purple.  

Anyone?  

Red, purple, whatever color they are, they are pretty in green salads, pasta salads, grain salads, all kinds of salads.  But here’s the rub – red onions are supposed to be fairly mild and a bit sweet, but more often than not I find that they have a pretty strong bite with a tendency to overwhelm other flavors.  A simple fix for this problem is to pickle your onions first.  They’ll be a bit briny from the vinegar and sea salt, and also have a little sweetness from the honey.  

Peppercorn & Honey Pickled Onions

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Pear Bunnies

Pear Bunnies

My Nana was a most extraordinary lady.  Tomorrow, it will be two weeks since we lost her.  As this is Holy Week there are surely parallels to be made about resurrection and new life.  But frankly, they do not bring me comfort because they do not bring back her smile or her dancing or her enthusiasm for life which was contagious to those around her.  I feel like I should do more here in tribute to her; I want to do more here in tribute to her, given the profound impact she has had on my life.  At her memorial service I talked about how I believed that Nana’s legacy was that she taught us the language of food.  She showed us how we can channel our feelings of grief, joy, and frustration into the preparation of food and use it to show other people that we care about them.  It would seem fitting then, that tomorrow we plan a huge dinner in honor and remembrance of her.  But the idea of doing so seems like an  overwhelming task because there is simply so much to say, both with words and with food.  Where do you even begin?  

Answer: You begin with bunnies.  Pear bunnies, to be exact. 

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