After School Snack Cookies

After School Snack Cookies | Betsylife.com

In the weird scenario I’ve created in my mind, next week is my last week of “summer break”. In reality, there was no break to start and end, just more of my regularly scheduled life. Somewhere around May I convinced myself that I would take the summer off to really enjoy myself and not worry so much about work or “what’s next?” which is something that always seems to be on my mind.

Let me tell you, it’s been a great summer, and a darn good idea on my part to make the time to enjoy it if I do say so myself.

Without hard work, frustration and sacrifice to compare it against, taking time off loses its luster a bit. As much as I’ve loved floating around in a beautiful summer haze for the last few months, its about time to get back to it. I have this week and next week, and then after that, it’s business time.

After School Snack Cookies | Betsylife.com

Perhaps taking this time off was a way to remind myself of the summer vacations of yesteryear that ended with the anticipation and promise of a new school year. That’s kind of how I’m interpreting this return to work…..back to school, betsylife style.

First I’m going to buy myself a new pencil case, then I’m going to bake myself a bunch of these after school snack cookies, because as every kids knows, a hard day of work should always be rewarded with a cookie.

After School Snack Cookies | Betsylife.com

I took all the best after school snacks and stuffed them into one batch of cookies. Chocolate, potato chips, animal crackers and coconut. You could easily do pretzels, peanuts, almonds, or candy if you wanted to as well.

I’ll pat myself on the back for a job well done at the end of each school day when I reward myself with a cookie. That should keep me going strong for a while until Christmas break rolls around.
After School Snack Cookies | Betsylife.com

After School Snack Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup toasted coconut
  • 1 cup plain potato chips
  • 1 cup animal crackers, roughly chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Cream butter and brown sugar together in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add in vanilla extract and eggs.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
  4. Turn the mixer to slow and gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture until combined. Fold in chocolate chips, coconut, potato chips and animal crackers.
  5. Place batter in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour but up to 48 hours.
  6. Spoon heaping tablespoons of dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  7. Bake 13-18 minutes until edges begin to brown.
  8. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy.
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Running Thoughts {Sponsored}

If you need me between 6:30 and 7:30 am chances are I’ll be running. I’ve found that morning running works best for me mostly because I’m still half asleep so I don’t have a chance to talk myself out of it.

As my body wakes up on my morning runs, so does my mind. Generally my thought process goes through a cycle that sounds something like this;

1. “My legs hurt, I’m tired, I’ll never be able to finish this run, I have to pee”

2. “What’s that guy doing sitting in that truck? He seems suspicious. I’d better memorize the license plate just in case.”

3. “I already forgot the license plate.”

4. “What am I going to make for dinner tonight?”

5. “What am I going to make for dinner tomorrow night?”

6. “I love this song!”

7. “I’m still tired. This sucks. I think I need to walk”

8. “If we were on the Amazing Race, Val would kill me if I walked.”

9. “Slow is better than nothing. Slow is better than nothing. Slow is better than nothing.”

10. “I’m starving! What am I going to eat when I get home?”

11. “I think I’m going to make it.”

12. “Almost there. Don’t quit now. Food awaits you.”

13. “Finish strong!”

14. “Well, at least that creepy truck sitting guy is gone.”

15. “Done! So glad I got that out of the way first thing in the morning. Now, what’s for breakfast?”

As you can see, food is on my mind constantly.

My favorite post workout snack is Silk Almond Protein + Fiber. Its a quick and easy way to replenish your depleted muscles. Once I get a little fuel back in my system. I start thinking about food once again, and what to cook for the rest of the day (and sometimes the following days).

In order to keep the feelings of desperation, weakness, and desire to quit at bay while running, its essential to fuel your body properly. By substituting Silk Almond Protein + Fiber for milk in a recipe, you’re getting 5g of protein and 5g of fiber per serving which helps you to feel full longer.

I boosted this great veggie pasta with a tomato cream sauce by adding Silk Almond Protein + Fiber, and was able to enjoy it for dinner and lunch the next day. Since my body was perfectly fueled and I didn’t feel hungry, I was forced to find something else to think about during those runs.

If you want to try new Silk Almond Protein + Fiber, head over to their Facebook page for a coupon.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.

The Great List 07.25.2014

Photo booth backdrop

Despite having a ton on my plate this week, I feel like I never got to that “shear chaos” tipping point. Maybe with maturity I’m learning to better keep a level head, or maybe my extreme summer zen mode just won’t allow for any undue stress. Whatever the case may be, I made it through a hectic week totally unscathed, and I’m rolling into this weekend with a smile on my face. Check out my gratitude inducing moments.

1. We hosted yet another successful Creative Connection event this week, possibly my most favorite one to date. I can’t say it enough times how much it means to me to meet and interact with creative minded people. You can have the best support system in the world, but talking with people who know exactly where you’re coming from is invaluable. The location was Great, the talent was Great, the vibe was Great, and I left feeling inspired and uplifted.

2. Speaking of locations, I’m beyond stoked about the location of our event, Maker Place. Its a cool, membership based warehouse space that has everything from 3D printers, to plasma cutters, to long arm quilting machines. You can pretty much make anything there. It reminded me so much of long nights spent in my painting studio in college. The Hubs and I both got memberships starting in September. I cannot wait to experiment with new materials, and make some awesome new stuff. I’m even more excited for The Hubs to have an outlet for his creative energies as well.

3. As I was walking Olive yesterday, I took a moment to take notice of the “dead of summer” atmosphere. You know what I mean. When it’s hot and sunny even into the evenings, and the whole world seems to slow to a melted pace. You hear bugs buzzing in the trees, and the breeze blows hot. Shade becomes the most sought after commodity. This is the time of year that I love the most. Perhaps the sun fried my brain or something, but something about mid-July gives me a Great sense of peace.

4. Thankfully, to combat the heat, we have a Great outdoor living room which I was very grateful for this week. Our house is an oven in the afternoons when the westward setting sun beats through our living room windows. I’m so grateful that I can escape to my outdoor couch/TV room (in the shade!) to relax after a long day without sweating my ass off. Bonus: If its still hot, there’s always an option for a little night swimming. I love this house!

Enjoy your weekend everyone.

 

 

 

Zucchini Nachos {Sponsored}

Zucchini Nachos | Betsylife.com

Meatless. Everyone is doing it these days, not just vegetarians.  I’m not talking salads and tofu here. I’m talking about flavorful, mouthwatering, meat alternatives.

The Hubs and I actually eat meatless fairly often, and he complains about it rarely. Actually, he only complains when we have salad for dinner, but when I serve spicy black bean burgers or buffalo chik patties I don’t hear a peep from him. There are plenty of meatless ways to satisfy even the most stubborn carnivores in your life.

Great meatless recipes

This year, MorningStar Farms® is stopping at local festivals across the country to share some innovative ways to create flavorful meatless meal options – without compromising taste. They’re calling it their “Good Food for Good Times” tour.

Well I’m pretty sure I know a thing or two about good food AND good times. Those are kind of “my things” (well, that and nail art. Don’t ask.)

As you may know, I’ve been working my magic with my CSA subscription this year. The past few weeks I’ve been flooded with zucchini, one of my all time favorite vegetables. Zucchini is a blank canvas to me. There are a million different ways to enjoy it.

Inspired by MorningStar Farms®, I set out to create a fun, meatless party appetizer for my latest group of weekend pool guests. Zucchini Nachos | Betsylife.com

One great way to enjoy your freshly grown, or CSA obtained zucchini (or squash, carrots, beets, turnips etc.) is by turning them into veggie chips. All it takes is some thin slicing with an inexpensive mandolin slicer  and a little time in the oven. I’ve seen several methods for making veggie chips, but I find a shorter time at a higher temperature has worked better for me than a longer time at a lower temperature (essentially dehydrating the vegetables).

Once I had chips, the next logical step was to turn them into nachos. Veggie chips are fine, but veggie nachos are a crowd pleaser. I chopped up a couple of MorningStar Farms® Spicy Black Bean Veggie Burger patties and crumbled them over a heap of fresh zucchini chips (Patties aren’t just for burgers people!). Top the whole pile with cheese and maybe add some salsa and guacamole on the side, and your carnivorous guests will be too busy stuffing their faces to realize that they are in fact enjoying a healthy, meatless treat. Zucchini Nachos | Betsylife.com

Zucchini Nachos

Ingredients

  • 2 large zucchinis
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 MorningStar Farms® Spicy Black Bean Veggie Burgers, defrosted.
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions

    For the zucchini chips
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Thinly slice the zucchini using a mandolin. I used #3 thickness on mine.
  3. Line a paper towel with zucchini slices then top with another paper towel and press down to remove some excess moisture. This will help chips to cook faster.
  4. Spread zucchini slices in an even layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment. You may have to do several batches.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes, turning once, until chips begin to brown and crisp. YOU NEED TO KEEP AN EYE ON THEM! There is a fine line between browning and burning so be sure not to set it and forget it.
  6. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  7. For the nachos
  8. Roughly chop the Spicy Black Bean Veggie Burger patties.
  9. Pile the zucchini chips on a microwave safe plate, top with chopped patties and shredded cheese. Microwave for 20-30 seconds until cheese melts.
  10. Enjoy!
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Whether it’s hosting a party or cooking dinner for the family, MorningStar Farms® offers a fresh and versatile take on eating well with more than 30 products and 600 recipes that are convenient and delicious. Visit www.morningstarfarms.com to find exciting new ways to enjoy MorningStar Farms® and spice up your kitchen.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

White Bean and Peach Salad

White Bean and Peach Salad with a Lemon-Mint Vinaigrette | Betsylife.com

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” ― Henry James

I’m drunk on summer. As much as I try to move about my days with purpose and drive, I always seem to find myself staring at the clouds and daydreaming the hours away. Nothing in the world seems as important to me right now as being still and feeling the sun on my face.

Fresh Peaches | Betsylife.com

Don’t worry. Work is still happening. I’ve never been one to shirk my responsibilities, but the second a project wraps or an invoice is generated, I’m back to living in my bubble of blue skies, ocean breezes, and the smell of sunscreen.

I’ve read 6 books so far this summer. I’ve painted. I’ve taken walks. I’ve drank beer on patios with friends. There has been much BBQ consumed. I’m blissfully in my sweet spot.

I know all good things must come to an end, and I have major plans for when I “buckle down” once fall comes, but until then I’m determined to relish every second.

Fresh Peaches and Watermelon Cucumbers | Betsylife.com

Every experience in life has a million facets. My love of summer wouldn’t be complete without feeling the temperature of those breezes, the smell of that sunscreen, and the exact blinding blue of the sky. To love summer is to taste it, and for me it tastes like fresh peaches.

Perfectly ripe juicy peach juice running down your face and arms is one of those purely summertime experiences that can’t quite be replicated any other time of the year.

When you take fresh peaches, and pair them with equally seasonal watermelon cucumbers and an ice cold beer, you are well on your way to summer nirvana.

White Bean and Peach Salad with a Lemon-Mint Vinaigrette | Betsylife.com

White Bean and Peach Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 6 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 2 medium peaches, halved and sliced
  • 1/2 cucumber, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds

Instructions

  1. Combine 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 2 tablespoons oil, mint, lemon juice, and syrup in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add spinach, peaches, and cucumber; toss gently to coat. Divide spinach mixture among 4 plates; top with white beans. Sprinkle with almonds.
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**Recipe adapted from Cooking Light 

The Great List 07.18.2014

Sunrise San Diego

This week was a bit disjointed. The Hubs was gone, and we were both out of our regular routine once again, so things came off a little bit hectic. No biggie. It’s the weekend now so we can slow down, and regroup. But first, gratitude.

1. You guys might think I’m nuts with this one. Have you ever been dancing at a nightclub and you get into a groove then suddenly, POW! The song hits a high point and the lights flash and the crowd goes crazy? This week when I was running a super difficult hill run, the song in my headphones hit a highpoint right as I reached the top of a huge hill, and the sun burst out through the clouds at the exact same moment. I know it sounds so ridiculous, but the run was so hard, and I needed that boost at that exact moment, and it was such an awesome feeling. Little moments like that one are floating in and out of our lives all the time. When I actually take a second to notice and soak them in, they seem to stay with me for a long time.

2. I almost gave The Hubs a heart attack this week when I told him I was going to the mall with Val on a Sunday. That’s something that hasn’t happened in probably 15 years. It wasn’t terribly painful, and I did get a new fragrance out of the trip. Fragrance is one of those things you can’t really order online. I’m loving my new scent but the best part is that it’s really long lasting, so I can still faintly smell it at the end of the day.  Risk (weekend mall trip) = Reward (new stuff)

3. I got to take a long walk with Jen this week and another one with my friend Becky. I think walking is my friends and my favorite thing to do. The younger me never would have imagined saying, “What are you doing this weekend? Want to take a walk?”, but that’s how we roll. Being outside (especially in the beautiful San Diego weather) is already one of my most favorite things, but combining that with great conversation and a light workout is kind of the perfect combo. It’s funny to think how I used to spend my weekends. (We won’t get into that)

4. I heard from so many of my “kids” this week. First I got a package from Texas. Inside is a necklace that is made from the original artwork of my 7 year old niece, Elsa. It’s a picture of a dog wearing a bow. I about died. Two of my brothers and their kids are at our family lake house in Minnesota. I got a barrage of photo texts of my 7 year old nephew holding a giant fish, my 3 month old niece riding in the boat for the first time, and a video of my 2 year old twin nieces dancing. This morning I got an email from my cousin in Canada with a photo of his two kids, but my favorite of them all was the text I got from my sister in law in Dallas with a photo of my 4 year old niece Alexandra who gave herself a “new haircut”.  I mean, she looks like Halle Berry. I haven’t laughed so hard in a while. My sister in law is mortified, but it absolutely made my day.

Just rereading this post makes me feel even more grateful than I already was feeling. Life is frickin’ good let me tell you. Gratitude is one of those self fulfilling prophecies. The more you talk about it, the more things you have to be grateful for. Keep this in mind as you enjoy your weekend.

How to use your CSA Box: Part Five

What to make with your CSA Share |betsylife.com

The weekend is here, which for me usually means getting by on popcorn, string cheese and wine. I love to eat healthy, and I love to create in the kitchen, but sometimes I just need to turn everything off you know? Never fear, we’re going to wrap up our CSA box this week with three easy, mindless, snackable recipes that you can enjoy all weekend long.

Only a few items left in our CSA box:

-Lettuce

-Kale

-Purslane

-Pickling Cucumbers: partially used

-Radishes: partially used

-Avocados

-Onions

-Green Beans: partially used

-Strawberries: Partially used

-Carrots

-Zucchini

See my other posts from DAY ONE  DAY TWO DAY THREE, and DAY FOUR 

Fresh Strawberry Breakfast Cake |betsylife.com

I kind of love a crumbly breakfast cake on the weekends. This time around I made this simple, fresh strawberry breakfast cake. You can eat it for breakfast on Saturday morning, then dessert on Saturday night, and again for breakfast on Sunday. I’m sure it would taste pretty darn good in the middle of the afternoon too if you want to go there. It takes a bit of effort one time, but you get to reap the rewards for days.

Other suggestions:
Strawberry Rhubarb Bundt Cake

Strawberry Swirl Pound Cake 

Strawberry Bread 

Easy, healthy snack recipe | betsylife.com

After a long day in the sun I’m usually feeling pretty fried and brain dead….yet hungry. For years I’ve been mixing tuna fish with ranch dressing and eating it spread on celery stalks. You know what? Its excellent on cucumber slices too! Talk about a simple summer snack. I love this for a weekday lunch as well.

Easy refrigerator pickles recipe |betsylife.com

Last but not least, if you ever have anything leftover, PICKLE IT!  Making pickles is the simplest thing ever.

Combine 1 1/2 cups water and 1 1/2 cups vinegar. Add 2 tablespoons non-idodized or pickling salt, and boil until the salt dissolves. Stuff your pickling jars with pretty much any vegetable you can think of. I’ve even pickled strawberries before! This time I used the rest of the cucumbers, the rest of the green beans and the rest of the radishes.

Add one teaspoon of any combination of peppercorns, mustard seeds, red pepper flakes, coriander seeds, garlic cloves, or celery seeds to each jar. Ever get fresh herbs in your CSA box? Add a sprig or two to each jar as well.

Once the jars are jam packed, pour vinegar mixture over the top and fill to the top. Seal with a lid and store in the fridge. The longer the pickles soak, the more flavor they’ll have. I like mine to sit for at least a week before eating, but feel free to dig right in after 12 hours or so. These should last in the fridge for about a month.

So that’s it. One, regular sized CSA box, two people, one week, and ton of recipe inspiration. I think I’ve shown that it doesn’t have to be all about smoothies and salads so don’t be intimidated! Find a local CSA, subscribe, and put your local produce to work. You’ll be helping your community, as well as yourself and your family.

Strawberry Breakfast Cake |betsylife.com

Fresh Strawberry Breakfast Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and diced. Reserving a few slices for the top

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch pie plate
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a mixer cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg, mix until well combined. Add in the vanilla.
  4. Alternate adding the flour mixture and milk in 3 additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
  5. Fold in diced strawberries.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan. Cover the top of the cake with reserved strawberry slices.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes then reduce heat to 325 and bake 40-50 minutes more, until cake is golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Cool before slicing.
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How to use your CSA Box: See the full series

Day One | Day Two | Day Three | Day Four | Day Five

How to use your CSA Box: Part Four

Beyond salads and smoothies: What to make with your CSA share

The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they’re going to have some pretty annoying virtues.”

Elizabeth Taylor

 After a day of waffles, grilled cheese and pizza, I think it would be best to start this day off on a healthy foot don’t you? That’s kind of my whole philosophy on cooking and eating in general. Indulgence should be a part of everyone’s life, but if you do it every day, it ruins all the fun. Besides, there are plenty of healthy and satisfying options out there, so stick with those most of the time.

Here’s where we’re at with our CSA box so far:

-Lettuce

-Kale

-Purslane

-Pickling Cucumbers: partially used

-Radishes: partially used

-Avocados

-Onions

-Green Beans: partially used

-Strawberries: Partially used

-Carrots

-Zucchini

Be sure to check out DAY ONE  DAY TWO , and DAY THREE to see how we’ve gotten here.

Kale Breakfast Salad

 I’m starting off my day with a kale breakfast salad. I know it seems kind of strange to eat a salad for breakfast, but it does have bacon! If it’s too weird for you, just eat it for lunch then. I promise you’ll love it any time of the day.

If you’re going to put kale in a salad, you have got to massage it first. Drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil over a bunch of washed and chopped kale. Add the juice of one lemon and a generous pinch of salt, then get to massaging. Yup, just squish it around in your hands for 3-5 minutes until it starts to get soft. You’ll see it change right before your eyes. Once it’s good and loose, you can add whatever salad stuff you like. My recipe is below.

Other suggestions:

Summer vegetable skillet

Grilled Chard Salad

Kale Superfood Salad 

Roasted vegetable salsa

On this particular week I was “training” for our annual salsa contest. I took the onions from my CSA box as well as tomatoes and chilies and roasted them to make this award winning salsa. Ok fine, I didn’t win, but I still think roasting your vegetables makes for an excellent salsa. Just peel and chop your onions, halve your tomatoes and chilies, and place them all together on a baking sheet with some garlic cloves. Roast them at 400 for about 10-15 minutes or until they begin to char.  Once charred, place the chilies and tomatoes into a plastic bag and seal for 10 minutes. The skins should come right off. Chop or puree it all together and add your seasonings for a great homemade salsa. I can’t tell you my exact recipe because I kind of wing it as I go, but I didn’t win anyway so maybe I’m not the best person to be dolling out salsa advice.

Vegetarian Barley Risotto

For dinner I’m chopping up my zucchini and adding it to this cheesy, vegetarian, barley risotto. I posted this recipe a while back, and since then I’ve become madly in love with it. I love the texture of the barley, and anything with cheese is A-ok in my book.

Just like my antipasto salad and my stuffed waffles, the possibilities for this dish are endless. I added zucchini, chard and peas, but my friend Dara makes hers with mushrooms, shallots and sugar snap peas. Carrots would be great in this, and so would green beans. Just think of the barley and cheese as a base, and add whatever vegetables you might find in your CSA box.

So there you have it! Three free form, healthy, and easy ways to use those CSA box ingredients no matter what they may be.

Kale Breakfast Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch kale, massaged
  • 1/2 of a medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup sliced cucumber
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 2 slices of bacon, cooked
  • 1 egg

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl combine kale, red onion, tomatoes, cucumber and quinoa. Crumble the bacon over the top.
  2. Cook the egg to your liking (poached, scrambled, over easy) and serve on top of the salad.
  3. No dressing necessary because of the oil and lemon used to massage the kale (and the egg yolk if you cook it in a way that it's runny)
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Kale Breakfast Salad

How to use your CSA Box: See the full series

Day One | Day Two | Day Three | Day Four | Day Five

 

 

How to use your CSA Box: Part Three

How to use your CSA box

It’s hump day and that calls for a little treat. Just because CSA boxes are packed with healthy, organic produce doesn’t mean that they can’t be used to make something majorly indulgent. Let’s all give ourselves a little break today, and enjoy something a bit special.

To recap, here’s where we stand with our CSA box for the week:

-Lettuce

-Kale

-Purslane

-Pickling Cucumbers: partially used

-Radishes: partially used

-Avocados: partially used

-Onions

-Green Beans: partially used

-Strawberries

-Carrots

-Zucchini

Be sure to check out DAY ONE and DAY TWO to see how we’ve gotten here.

Bacon, Egg and Cheese Stuffed Waffles

 Today I took my regular breakfast avocado and stuffed it inside of a waffle along with some bacon, eggs and cheese. Yes, you read that right, STUFFED WAFFLES. These are quite possibly my new favorite way to enjoy breakfast. They take a bit of time to prepare, so they aren’t an everyday food, but we’ve earned it after making it through half a week of work right?

I’m sharing the full recipe and how-to on these beauties over at Club Chica Circle today, so head over and check it out.

Strawberry Balsamic Grilled Cheese

For lunch, I’m tapping into my strawberry stash and making one of these extra cheesy strawberry balsamic grilled cheese sandwiches. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This sandwich is 100% worth the dairy overload, but, a fair warning,  it may induce that 2 o’clock food coma we all know and love.

BLT Pizza

No indulgence day is complete with a meal of pizza. Granted, this pizza is probably way healthier than something you’d have delivered, but I think it will still satisfy your cravings. Tomatoes weren’t in my CSA box this time around, but I know in a few weeks I’ll have more than I can handle so I thought I’d present this as an option.

Other suggestions:

Grilled Pizza

Cobb Salad Pizza  

Individual French Bread Veggie Pizza

BLT Pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ripe tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup canola mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 4 center-cut bacon slices
  • 10 ounce fresh pizza dough
  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal
  • 2 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup chopped romaine

Instructions

  1. Place a pizza stone on bottom oven rack. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Arrange tomato slices on a parchment-lined baking sheet; sprinkle with oregano and pepper. Place baking sheet directly on pizza stone. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until tomatoes are no longer wet. Remove tomatoes; keep stone in oven.
  3. Increase oven temperature to 500°.
  4. Combine mayonnaise, oil, chives, and garlic in a small bowl.
  5. Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp; drain on paper towels. Break into pieces.
  6. Using well-floured hands, pat dough into a 10-inch circle. Place dough on a pizza peel or baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Pierce dough with a fork; transfer to preheated pizza stone. Bake at 500° for 5 minutes.
  7. Carefully remove pizza stone from oven. Brush mayonnaise mixture over crust, leaving a 1-inch border; top with tomatoes and bacon. Top with cheese; coat crust edge with cooking spray. Bake 10 minutes or until cheese melts and crust browns. Top with romaine. Cut into 8 slices.
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**recipe from Cooking Light 

BLT Pizza

How to use your CSA Box: See the full series

Day One | Day Two | Day Three | Day Four | Day Five

How to use your CSA Box: Part Two

CSA-text

Today we’re taking our CSA box ingredients into the wild world of dinner side dishes. I can tell that you’re on the edge of your seat. Believe me when I say there’s nothing quite as exciting as spiraling carrots into noodles.

Ok, maybe its time for me to get a life outside of produce. That’s a topic for another post.

After yesterdays recipes, here is where we stand with our CSA box for the week

-Lettuce

-Kale

-Purslane

-Pickling Cucumbers: partially used

-Radishes: partially used

-Avocados: partially used

-Onions

-Green Beans: partially used

-Strawberries

-Carrots: partially used

-Zucchini

I’m starting off my day with another slice of avocado toast using the other 1/2 of the avocado from yesterday, and following it up with another helping of yesterdays antipasto pasta salad for lunch. I usually get about 3 days worth of lunch salads with a  recipe like that.

Moving on to dinner. Today I’ll be tackling the rest of the carrots that I received.

Raw Carrot Pasta with Peanut Sauce

My new love is making veggie noodles. I recently got this Mastrad Veggie Spiraler that comes with 3 different attachments for making different shaped noodles.

I spiraled the rest of my carrots into a big pile then mixed up a sweet and spicy peanut sauce to toss them in. I served them up with some grilled chicken. Simple right? Talk about a light and fresh summer meal.

Raw Carrot Pasta with Peanut Sauce

Although The Hubs doesn’t agree with my theory that veggies noodles satisfy the same cravings as actual pasta, I think your family will find that turning veggies into noodles is a fun new way to experience the same old ingredients.

I think part of the reason people get stuck with a CSA box is because all they can think of is salad and steamed vegetables. Produce can be both versatile and simple at the same time. Perhaps a little inspiration is all you need.

Other suggestions:

Raw Zucchini Pasta 

Summer Squash Salad with Crispy Prosciutto 

Zesty Pasta Giardiniera 

Raw Carrot Pasta with Peanut Sauce

Raw Carrot Pasta with Peanut Sauce

Ingredients

  • 5 large carrots, peeled and spiraled into noodles
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 4 tablespoons almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Gourmet Garden fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped peanuts
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped thai basil

Instructions

  1. Place carrots in a large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together peanut butter, almond milk, soy sauce, Sriracha, garlic, ginger, and lime juice until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Toss the carrots with several large spoonfuls of dressing. Add more until desired coating is reached.
  4. Toss in peanuts and thai basil.
  5. Serve
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How to use your CSA Box: See the full series

Day One | Day Two | Day Three | Day Four | Day Five

How to use your CSA Box: Part One

How to use your CSA Box

One of the highlights of this summer is receiving a variety of fresh produce each week from my CSA. For those who don’t know, CSA stands for community supported agriculture. You pay a monthly fee, and in return, you get a box of fresh produce each week, based on what your chosen farm is harvesting at the time. It’s not only a great way to pledge support to local farmers, and purchase healthy, organic ingredients, but I’ve also found it to be a fun way to spark my creativity in the kitchen. I always get excited to see what’s new each week.

I recently read this article about not being able to handle the farm share each week. For me, its great fun to figure out how to use all the items, so I figured I would share my CSA strategy for those of you who may be struggling.

For this case study, we’ll be using the actual ingredients I got in my CSA box the other week. This included:

-Lettuce

-Kale

-Purslane

-Pickling Cucumbers

-Radishes

-Avocados

-Onions

-Green Beans

-Strawberries

-Carrots

-Zucchini

I start almost every day with lemon water and avocado toast. I know lemons aren’t on the list, but often I find them in my CSA box. I combine the juice of 2 lemons with 32 oz of water, and drink that first thing in the morning. I follow it up with 1/2 an avocado spread on 1 piece of whole wheat toast which I sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.

I save the other half of the avocado for breakfast the next day.

How to use your CSA Box

When I first get my CSA box, I always try to make a big salad that I can portion out and bring with me for lunches throughout the week. This particular week I made what I call my antipasto salad. The great part about salads like this, is that you can truly use anything you get in your CSA box, as well as a few leftovers from your fridge. First, I chop my lettuce and store it in a large ziploc bag in the fridge. This week, I added purslane to my lettuce as well. It’s a great, yet fairly unknown salad booster.

Next, I mixed up my antipasto salad ingredients in a large bowl with homemade italian dressing. This time I used cucumbers, carrots, green beans, radishes, broccoli and tomatoes. You can pretty much substitute any vegetable, any type of cheese and any herbs you can think of. There are no “wrong” combinations.

Each day, I put a handful of lettuce/purslane into a tupperware container and top it with a scoop or two of the antipasto. Talk about an excellent lunch on the go!  How to use your CSA Box

So far we’ve used all our lettuce and purslane, some of our cucumbers, some of our radishes, some of our avocados, some of our green beans and some of our carrots and its only the first day! Tune in tomorrow to see what else I make with my CSA haul.

Other suggestions:

Southwestern Chopped Salad

Bean Salad with Herb Dressing

Spicy Tabbouleh Salad 

Antipasto Salad

Ingredients

    For the dressing
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3½ tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • For the salad
  • 2 cups cooked pasta (penne, rotini etc.)
  • 4 cups chopped vegetables: carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, tomatoes, peppers, green beans, etc.
  • 1/2 cup chopped turkey pepperoni
  • 1/2 cup chopped or shredded mozzarella cheese (I used chopped up string cheese)
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh herbs (basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary etc)

Instructions

    To make the dressing
  1. Whisk together all ingredients until well combined.
  2. To make the salad
  3. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle with a bit of the dressing at a time, stirring until desired coating is achieved.
  4. Serve on top of greens.
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How to use your CSA Box: See the full series

Day One | Day Two | Day Three | Day Four | Day Five

Chicken Pot Pie In A Jar #12bloggers

Chicken Pot Pie In A Jar #12bloggers

There comes a time in every home cooks life when the thought of making dinner puts them over the edge into insanity. That’s me this week. I’m so exhausted, so worn out, and yet the responsibilities just keep coming at me. It’s nothing too terrible or strenuous, just a million little things that all need attention immediately.

We’ve all been there I’m sure.

Chicken Pot Pie In A Jar #12bloggers

Fast food or take out is always an option, but I personally find that the guilt I feel after eating it (not to mention the indigestion) just adds to my stress level.

Chicken Pot Pie In A Jar #12bloggers

I don’t think about making freezer meals often enough. Usually the thought pops into my mind when a friend has a baby, and I load up on freezer friendly casseroles for them. But what about me?!?! I always seem to forget that sometimes I need a pre-made meal too…..not this time.

Chicken Pot Pie In A Jar #12bloggers

 

For our 12 bloggers theme this month we were assigned food in a jar. What normally comes to mind when you think of in-a-jar recipes? Dessert right? Not me. My first thought was, “what can I make ahead and freeze in a jar that would be a good meal for one when The Hubs is out of town and I don’t feel like cooking?” Voila! Chicken pot pie in a jar. Pure genius if I do say so myself.

Chicken Pot Pie In A Jar #12bloggers

Mine is chock full of garden fresh veggies from my home garden and my CSA box: Peas, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and onions, but you can use frozen if you want to, or a different combination depending on what you have on hand. Heck, you could even use one of those pre-cooked rotisserie chickens from the deli section if you’re really feeling like you’re on the brink.

Not allowing dinner to drive you mad is the name of the game this time around.

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Not all my 12 blogger friends are about to lose it like I am. Be sure to stop in to see their fantastical in-a-jar recipes as well.

 

Chicken Pot Pie In A Jar

Ingredients

  • Pie crust dough or refrigerated pie crusts
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups chopped fresh vegetables
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 cups cooked, chopped chicken

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425
  2. Break off small pieces of crust and press into the bottom of each jar, until the bottom and sides are lined with dough. Set aside. Roll remaining dough into circles large enough to cover the tops of the jars. Use a knife to cut a vent in the middle. Set aside. (**If you're planning to bake immediately, place the jars and pre-cut tops in the freezer to chill while you prepare the filling)
  3. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant (1-2 minutes)
  4. Add onions and vegetables, and cook until they begin to tenderize.
  5. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper and mix well to coat all the vegetables with flour.
  6. Gradually add the broth and milk, stirring constantly until smooth and thick. Stir in chicken.
  7. Fill each jar with chicken mixture to the brim. Top with pre-cut top crusts. Brush with an egg wash and bake on a baking sheet for 15 minutes. Cover with foil and continue to cook for 15-20 more minutes until golden brown and bubbly.
  8. **To freeze for later, cut the excess off the top crusts and seal jar with lid. Freeze. When ready to cook, thaw for at least one hour. Place in the oven before preheating. Once the oven comes up to temperature, cook as directed.
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Chicken Pot Pie In A Jar #12bloggers

The Great List 07.11.2014

afterlight-45

It’s been a whole week and I’m still feeling totally wiped out. I don’t think I ever really recovered from the holiday weekend, and suddenly here we are, facing the weekend once again. We had a lot of “extras” in our week. We had a constant rotation of dogs we’ve been watching the last two weeks, plus a cable install one day, and an extra unscheduled work meeting that popped up mid week. I think I may have been ok if I could have just stuck to my regular schedule, but the extras put me over the edge. I’m really looking forward to sleeping in until whatever time the dogs let me tomorrow. Despite my haze, there are a few things I took the time to notice, and feel grateful for this week.

1. Sunday I got to read in peace for a whole afternoon. The dogs were all so wiped out from the festivities that they didn’t bug me for attention or to play once. No friends came over. I had nothing to cook. I had nothing else to do. It was amazing.

2. Clean sheets! Our housekeepers came this week and the house was clean for about a second, but when you have 4 dogs underfoot, its only a matter of time before the dog hair starts to accumulate. Fortunately, the sheets remain dog hair-free for much longer than the rest of the house. Plus, there’s just something Great about crisp clean sheets on a warm summer evening am I right?

3. I got a little hug session in with my sweet niece Grace before I took my brother and sister in law to the airport. She’s a smiley little sweetie that one. Definitely was a bright point in an otherwise hectic day.

4. For my blog birthday I asked you, my readers, to leave a comment with the best piece of advice you’ve ever received. This is now my most favorite comment thread of all time. Thank you all for sharing your wisdom here! Excellent advice for sure.

Stick a fork in me, I’m done! If you need me I’ll be catching as many zzzz’s as possible all weekend long. Have a good one!

 

A Betsylife Birthday Giveaway

birthday-gift

Another year of Betsylife is in the record books, and I’m throwing a small celebration for all my favorite readers. Just because I just love you all so much, I’m giving away a grab bag of some of my favorite cookbooks, cooking tools and kitchen accessories. I mean, after all, you guys have totally earned it.

Year after year, I come here in the middle of the summer and gush about how much writing this blog has been so fulfilling to me, and how it’s mind blowing how quickly my life changed once I started putting myself out there. Well this year is no exception. I’m still taken aback by the direction my life is moving in, I’m still eternally grateful to have an audience for my creativity, and I’m still overwhelmed by the support that’s been shown to me throughout these last four years. It’s wonderful, and incredibly humbling.

I didn’t start this blog with a clear direction, and I still feel as though I’m just moving along with it as it takes me wherever I’m supposed to end up. There’s been no lack of frustration and disappointment along the way, but the good has definitely outweighed the bad. I think I’ll be riding along for many more years to come.

For you all, a cooking gift pack doesn’t even begin to describe the thanks that I feel for you all. Thank you a million times over for listening to what I have to say.  That is truly the greatest gift I’ve ever been given. Please take a second to enter below so I can try to repay you in a small way.

“Life is about trusting your feelings and taking chances, losing and finding happiness, appreciating the memories, learning from the past, and realizing people change.” -Atul Purohit

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

 

Strawberry Balsamic Grilled Cheese

Strawberry Balsamic Grilled Cheese Sandwich

I’m still a little brain dead from the holiday weekend. I’m learning that recovery time is directly proportionate to your age. Maybe one of these days I’ll learn to take it easy, but until then I’ll just slog through any and all weeks following a long holiday weekend.

Thank god for my CSA box or I would be eating leftover salsa from our salsa contest for dinner this week (I didn’t win).

Strawberries+mozzarella+balsamic vinegar+fresh mint= the greatest hangover sandwich of all time. It was totally worth the dairy overload.

How’s everyone else’s recovery going? Anyone in the same boat as me? God I love summer!