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I have been busy during my maternity leave. I have developed 101 Super Simple Summer Salads.

Wouldn’t you absolutely hate me if that were true?

No, I haven’t created a thing (other than a baby) in the time I have been off.

But I did find this link for 101 Simple Summer Salads.

I am buying the goods to make numbers 2, 5, 24, 29, 60, and the list goes on and on.

The recipes are organized by vegan, vegetarian, seafood, meat, noodle salads, and grain salads. There is truly something for everyone.

Photo by Francesco Tonelli for the NYTimes

So, there ya have it on this Wonderful (and HOT) Wednesday- 101 new and fun salad ideas. Visit your local Farmer’s Market or grocery store to pick up the goods to make one of all of these today.

Let me know if you try one of these that knocks your socks off!



It is a baby boom.

At work.

With friends.

On Facebook.

As a kid, I remember whenever one of my mom’s friends had a baby she would whip up a meal or two to bring over to help make the life of the new mama a little easier.

More than that, however, I remember when my baby sister was born. I was 9, and I was over the moon. I remember sitting with my hand and head on my mom’s belly and feeling her kick and squirm. I fancied her my own responsibility from the moment she came home from the hospital. That little baby is 22 now. Yikes.

When Emily, the youngest of my siblings joined her four siblings our house was flooded with meals every day for at least two weeks. The women at our church had planned out meal after meal so that my mom could care for Miss Emily and the rest of us without having to worry about what to feed us.

I cannot imagine the relief those meals must have brought for my mom. On top of food, she was given a few moments of sanity when the women stopped by. It was a chance to connect with other moms, to talk, to catch up, and to enjoy the company that womenfolk bring.

Beyond babies, food is the perfect gift. Period.

I love going to someone’s house for dinner, or being taken to dinner, or being given a gift card for food. You get the idea, right?

I have to believe that everyone loves a night off from cooking (or having to think about cooking) from time to time.

How great would it be if you returned from a week long vacation, and a dear friend brought you a warm home cooked meal to welcome you home?

Or if, heaven forbid, you or someone you cared for had to spend time in the hospital. Food is a welcome relief when you do get home.

Or do you know someone that is just at the busiest stage of their life right now? Work is crazy or kids are crazy or something is causing stress in their life? Offer to bring that person food. I think the gesture and the gift of time-saved goes a long way.

Now, I want you to know that (contrary to popular belief) I am not perfect.

In fact, I need all of the advice that I just gave above.

So, in an effort to turn over a new leaf, Brad and I took dinner to my friend and her husband yesterday.  They just had the sweetest baby three weeks ago.

After deciding TO make dinner… the hardest part is figuring out WHAT TO make.

So, here is your assignment.

If you dare to accept it.

Find someone who could use a little extra love and care and attention from ya.

And make them food.

Need an idea of what to make?

I’m here to help!

I had a brainstorm on Friday, with my friend and co-worker, and a fellow foodie- Brittany.

We decided the following:

1. Lasagna or Stuffed Shells would be the hands-down favorite choice of the gift meal. However, it is the first thing that most people think of. So, if you are one of a few folks making food for one particular recipient, I would avoid this one.

2. The second most popular choice of meal gift is a weird turkey/chicken with noodles and gravy type of casserole. Bleck! I recommend avoiding this one, because I think it is gross. Ha. However, if you know the person loves a good casserole… have at it.

We must move beyond the most common foods.


We must move to at least the level of the pretty darn common but not most common foods.

I’m not sure what I’m saying, but stick with me.

Why don’t you whip up a batch of Chili and Cheese Bread.

It is easy to make a meal for yourself and a meal for another family at the same time.

I love a double duty meal like that.

Most people enjoy chili, and it can easily be altered to meet a vegetarian’s dietary requirements.

I make my chili in a crock pot, so I tossed in the ingredients, turned on the crockpot, and I went about my day.


The key to being a good food gifter is in making the gift super simple for the recipient.

Bring the food in disposable dishes.

That way, the recipient can dump the dishes when they are done with them. They don’t have to worry about doing dishes, keeping the dishes straight, and remembering to return them to you.

I personally like the foil pans that are available in the baking aisle of most grocery stores.

They come with handy dandy clear plastic lids.

And here is the cheesy bread. The bread gets baked in foil, so I just wrapped it in that.

I wrote the cooking instructions directly on the foil so they would be easy to find.

The second container held a big green salad.

NOTE: I later learned that some nursing babies don’t like it when their mamas eat strawberries. So, perhaps this particular salad is not the best choice for a new mom. But it is pretty darn delicious, and it looks fancy.

Spinach, sliced english cucumber, sliced strawberries, and shreds of romano make up this pretty gal.

I made some white french dressing to go with it:

1/4 c. mayo

1/4 c. light sour cream

2 T. sweet wine or champagne or even fruit juice

1/2 t. salt

1/4 t. sugar

1/2 t. white pepper

Mix it together.

Easy peasy White French.

Side note: Have you ever had White French? I hadn’t until I started traveling to Akron, OH for work. Every single restaurant in the city serves that dressing. I think it might be regional, but I’m not really sure. Maybe I just lived a deprived life??

I also made individual vegetable pot pies (courtesy of the fabulous Ina Garten).

The mama I was cooking for enjoys vegetarian dishes, as do I so it was a win/win for both of us.

Again, I made enough for their family and mine.

I did not bake them. Rather, I popped the plastic lid on these tins and I wrote the cooking instructions on top.


I made two complete meals for my friends and for us, and it took MAYBE an hour on a Sunday from start to finish.

I threw some break off Toll House cookies into the mix for dessert.

So, look around you. I know that you know someone who would be blown away by the gift of a meal delivered to them after being made with love.

I challenge you to accept.

And I’m challenging myself here too.

The new mom is an easy target for a hot delivered meal, but I’ll be on the lookout for others to love on.

And that is all I have to say about that.

Hope that you all had a great weekend.

If you live in the Midwest, I hope you survived the crazy thunderstorms last night!

Happy Monday, and thanks for stopping by.



Potato and corn, to be exact.

This year, for the first time, Brad and I joined a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group. It has been an awesome experience. Once a week, we go to the farmers market and pick up a bag of assorted farm fresh fruits and veggies. We also get a half dozen organic farm raised eggs.

It is always a treat to peek in the bag and see what the good folks at Bergefurds farm have picked for us.

We have received an abundance of corn and potatoes.

Every week for about 6 weeks, we received 4-8 ears of sweet corn.

Now, I love me some corn.

But for 2 people… too much.

I have been giving it out at work.

I have been handing it out on street corners.

I have been selling it on Craig’s List.

I have been racking my brain with clever things to do with corn in the kitchen.

And when one of those cooler late summer days happened upon us, I decided it was time for some Corn and Potato Chowda.


Like any good recipe, this one starts with bacon. However this is an optional step. If you leave the bacon out, the rest of the recipe is vegetarian. If you leave the bacon in, it is not.

That last sentence is my obvious statement of the day.

Throw a tablespoon of olive oil into a pan over medium heat.

Chop up 4 slices of bacon and throw them in a pot. I happened to use uncured bacon here, which is another story for another day.

Anyone out there have an opinion on or experience with cured vs. uncured bacon?

I don’t know a whole lot about it.

However, the man at the farmer’s market selling the bacon made me feel like a sinner for using cured bacon.

So, I caved and bought the uncured.

It was very very delicious, but you have to add in your own flavors (salt/pepper/liquid smoke).

I’m not sure it is worth the extra work.

Someone tell me what to do here.

For, I am lost.

Once the bacon is all browned and delicious, remove the bacon and put it on a paper towel to drain a bit.

Then, toss out some of that extra bacon fat.

Leave 2 tablespoons of the fat in the pan.

Chop up 4-5 potatoes (I used red potatoes- on the smaller side. If you are using larger baking potatoes, you will only need 1-2).

Throw ’em in your pot.

And stir ’em around.

Now we shall prepare a leek.

Do you ever cook with leeks?

I love them.

They add a lovely mild onion flavor to a dish without overwhelming it.

This is a leek:

It kind of looks like a giant green onion.

Chop off the white end.

Then chop off the thick woodier green part.

Now slice it in half lengthwise.

Then, chop it into little half moons.

Now, in between those delicious little half moons of oniony goodness, there may be some dirt.


Because these are plants, and they were grown in the dirt.

That’s why.

Fill up a bowl with cold water.

Throw in your leeks.

Let the dirt fall away.

In the meantime, cut the corn off of 5-6 ears of corn.

Or open two cans of corn.

And toss the corn in with the taters.

Drain your leeks.

And throw them into your pot.

Also toss in a teaspoon of dried thyme.

Put in a little salt and pepper.

And then some wine.

I used a drier Sauvignon Blanc, and I added about a cup.

The wine will help you to scrape all of those delicious bits of flavor off of the bottom of the pan.

It will also help you reduce the stress level in your life.

When consumed from a glass.

I recommend pouring yourself one if you are feeling a little stressed today.

I should also note that if you don’t groove on wine, you can leave this step out.

Use some vegetable stock to deglaze the bottom of your pan.

After the wine and vegetables have hung out for 4-5 minutes, add in some vegetable stock.

Enough to cover all of the vegetables… about 4 cups.

Throw in a bay leaf.

Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low.

Now, cream.

Oh, cream.

Yummy creamy cream.

So, I add in a splash of cream (about 1/4 c) for the rich flavor. Then, so that I can sleep at night, I add in about a cup and a half of low-fat milk.

To make a chowda properly, you should use all cream.

But I would like to state for the public record that cream has been known to cause husbands to swoon children to eat all of their food.

So, add the cream at your own risk.

Mmm, savory, creamy deliciousness.

Now, you could stop right there and put this in a bowl.

Life would be very good.

And your belly would be full

However, I do have a way to bring this soup up a notch.

You will like it, I promise.

What if you added jalapeno/cilantro cream to the top?

It is amazeballs. Can I say that word?

It is the only word that seems appropriate.

Here is what it looks like:

And here is how you make it (the jalapeno cream is a Wolfgang Puck recipe, by the way):

Combine all of the following ingredients in a small bowl:

-1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped

-1/4 cup sour cream

-1 jalapeno pepper, cored, seeded, and minced

-2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

-Salt, to taste

-Freshly ground pepper, to taste

-Lemon juice

*Note: This cream is at its best when the flavors have some time to meld together. I had a leftover bowl of soup for lunch the day after I made it for dinner, and the cream was about 100 times better than the night before. So, if you are a plan ahead type of person, I recommend making the cream at least a couple of hours before the soup will be ready. But if not, still make it! Please.

Top your soup with a dollop of the cream and some of those saved bacon crumbles.

Serve with a green salad.


I like the chowda.

Enjoy my friends,


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