Panzanella Salad

Monday, October 3, 2022

Is anyone else's garden bursting with goodness right now?   Or at least maybe you're tempted by the cheaper prices on all the in-season produce  at the grocery store. This  recipe for panzanella salad was one I discovered a few years ago to use up some tomatoes and cucumbers in my garden and it's one I've been tweaking ever since then.   This year I think I finally got it just the way we like it and I'm excited to share it with you now.     Never heard of panzanella salad?   It's an Italian salad that combines stale or toasted bread with fresh veggies.  My family is obsessed!    

Just a note:  If you don't think you'll be eating all the salad at once, then combine all the ingredients EXCEPT the bread.   Add bread to individual servings as needed.  That way the bread won't get soggy.  

Click here for printable recipe.


1/4 cup olive oil
16 ounces (or so) french bread (or gluten free bread), cut into 1-inch cubes
1-1/2 - 2-lbs. fresh tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped 
1 large cucumber, coarsely chopped
2 bell peppers (any color), chopped into 1-inch pieces
1/3 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 envelope Good Seasons Italian seasoning mix, prepared as directed (1/4 cup apple cider vinegar + 3 Tbs. water + 1/2 cup olive oil + 1 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper)

Cube the bread into 1-inch pieces.   Add 1/4 cup olive oil to large frying pan over medium-high heat and toast the bread cubes, stirring frequently until golden brown and toasty.  Set aside until just before serving.  

Chop veggies into 1-inch dices.  Combine into large bowl.   
Prepare Good Seasons dressing mix as directed on package, plus add additional salt and pepper.   (1/4 cup apple cider vinegar + 3 Tbs. water + 1/2 cup olive oil + 1 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper).  Set dressing aside until just before serving. 

Shortly before serving, add the toasted bread cubes, parmesan cheese, basil, and dressing.

Stir together until well-combined.  
Serve immediately.  
If you don't think you'll be eating all of the salad at once, I recommend mixing everything together EXCEPT the bread cubes, then add the bread to individual servings.   The toasted bread will get soggy quickly otherwise.  



New Favorite Recipes

Thursday, September 1, 2022

 New Favorite Recipes We've Discovered: 

I may not have found much time to post new recipes here on the blog recently, but that doesn't mean I haven't been cooking and trying new recipes.  I took exactly one picture, so this isn't as visual as usual, but I don't want to lose track of these, so you here you go!    Here are a few new favorites we've discovered recently...check back and I'll update it with new links as we try them:  


Best Broccoli Cheese Soup:  WE loved this healthier version of broccoli cheese soup!

Buddha Bowls (We loved this for dinner, but loved it even more as leftovers the next day for lunch.   I want to make a double batch of it at the beginning of the week and use it for healthy, easy to grab lunches later.   We used a mix of roasted brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes for the veggies, and used cauliflower rice instead of rice.  And I doubled the sauce, because I knew my family would eat more veggies if there was more sauce.  haha, my kids may be teens now, but I still use some of the same tricks to get them to eat their veggies ! )

Cashew Chicken : we loved this easy one to make!

Chicken Curry in a Hurry served over cauliflower rice (next time I'll make 1-1/2 batch)

Chili Lime Instapot Chicken--good basic overall mexican chicken recipe--love that it comes out perfectly in the Instapot!

Grilled Chicken and Avocado Pesto--served over cauliflower rice, cooked the chicken on cookie sheet at 400-degrees for 20 minutes, very low carb and very delicious!

Korean Steak Bowls:  We went through a phase of eating this once  week or so and like it with chicken even better than steak.

Sesame Chicken Salad--Great flavors in a delicious healthy dinner.

Skillet Lasagna (used GF penne pasta)--SO good and so easy!

Thai Crunch Salad--  used shredded cabbage instead of salad kit and added sweet potatoes, comes together quickly  and oh so yummy!

Thai Mango Chicken:   The leftovers are even better!


Baked Oatmeal  a hearty and healthy way to start the day

Banana Oatmeal Pancakes
super easy and super good:

Favorite Chia Seed Pudding:
  hearty and chocolatey, great with fresh fruit and a drizzle of nut butter over the top

Gluten Free / Low Carb Pancakes

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies: Just make sure you use GF oats, but this is a good solid GF cookie recipe that's saved me many times!    I like to omit the flax, add a real egg, and increase the oat flour just a bit.  Perhaps one of these times, I'll write down what I do and add it here to the blog.

Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls:We tried a bunch of recipes before landing on this one from Detoxinista.   It's as close as I've ever found to gluten-filled recipe!

The BEST GF Lemon Bars: Nice and zesty--the way lemon bars should be!

Gluten Free Rolls--calls for some weird/expensive ingredients, but are the BEST gluten free rolls I've ever had

Keto Tortillas: easy and good GF tortillas (we made them a little thicker to be more like naan bread)

Mashed Cauliflower--good basic recipe.  Added extra cream cheese and extra garlic.

No Sugar Cranberry Sauce--Just the right amount of tartness.  Also excellent added to whipped cream cheese or served over goat cheese.

Overnight Oats--We may be a little late to the game, but we have just discovered the joy of overnight oats for crazy mornings.  We usually use some PB powder in place of actual PB and love to change up the toppings with different fruits and nuts.

So what should I try next?    Feel free to spam me with all your best links.  


Mediterranean Dip

Thursday, August 18, 2022

 This recipe, from my friend Heather, is one I've been enjoying and making for many years and I decided it was time for me to officially share it here on the blog!   Heather is a talented cook and I always looked forward to her signing up to bring the treats for book group.  She makes the most amazing baked goods ever, but this savory dip is what I'd get really excited about.   It's a lot of chopping, but otherwise super easy to throw together and it tastes absolutely amazing.  It's meant to be an appetizer served with pita chips or fresh veggies, but we will serve it with some grilled chicken and fresh fruit or some lentil soup and a Greek salad and make it a big part of a delicious Mediterranean dinner! 

Click here for printable recipe.

Yield: (1) 12-14 inch round plate of dip

Don't love cilantro?   Make it with basil instead.  😋
1½ cups fresh cilantro (it was about 2 bunches)
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup olive oil, divided
1/4 cup pine nuts (or whatever nuts you happen to have)
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese


2 containers (10-ounces each) hummus
1 batch cilantro pesto (see above)
1/2 English cucumber, diced
1/3 cup red onion, diced
1/2 cup banana peppers, chopped
1/2 cup sliced black or kalamata olives (I prefer black)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup  sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, chopped

12-14 - inch round platter or small cookie sheet 


FOR THE CILANTRO PESTO:  In a blender or food processor, combine the cilantro, garlic, about half of the olive oil,  and  nuts.

Oops...I accidentally added the Parmesan cheese too, then tried to scoop it out. 

 Pulse repeatedly until a coarse paste forms, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go. With the blender/processor running, add the remaining olive oil in a steady stream and process until smooth.
Transfer the pesto to a bowl and stir in the Parmesan.
(If storing for later use, drizzle with a thin film of olive oil, cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pesto, and store in an airtight container.)

Spread a layer of hummus on a serving platter.

Spread the cilantro pesto over the top of the hummus.

Layer evenly with cucumber, red onion, banana peppers, olives, feta, and oven-dried tomatoes as desired.
Garnish with an additional few tablespoons of minced fresh cilantro. Serve with pita chips or fresh veggies (we like cucumber slices and carrot sticks).



Dark Chocolate Rocky Road Fudge

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Hello, friends!   Long time, no see.   I interrupt this long hiatus to let you know that I'm still here and still cooking away, though with far fewer kids at home, a lot more gray hairs, and three houses removed from the DC area, where 99% of these recipes were posted from.  I don't eat sweets super often anymore, but here is a recipe I've been tweaking one batch at a time every Christmas over the last several years.  I think I *finally* got it perfect this year and I'm excited to share it with you all.   Who knows maybe I'll post again in another few years?!  Merry Christmas!

Click here for printable recipe. 

The ingredients:  


2 cups sugar
10 oz. evaporated milk

1/2 cup butter

13-14 -ounces  marshmallow fluff or creme

1 tsp. salt

2- tsp. vanilla

4 cups (2-10-oz packages) semi sweet chocolate chips (I like the Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet chocolate chips)

4-oz unsweetened baking chocolate


add 1 cup chopped walnuts and 2 cups mini marshmallows 

Directions:   Combine first 5 ingredients in a large saucepan.  

Stir over medium heat until well blended.   Bring to boil, stirring occasionally, but watching closely. Once fully boiling, turn the heat down to low, set the timer for 2-½ minutes,  and stir constantly.  

After 2-½ minutes, remove from heat, stir in chocolates and vanilla until chocolate is smooth and melted. 

After the chocolate is smooth and well incorporated, stir in walnuts and marshmallows until just combined. 

Pour into a parchment paper lined 9x13-inch pan and allow to cool.  Store covered. Enjoy!


Sheet Pan Fajitas

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Here is a recipe we've found over the last few years that's become a family favorite.   We did keto for about 6 months to see if it would help with my daughter's seizure control.   It did, but ultimately she decided that it was too hard for her to stick to and we are back to just eating lowish carb, but nowhere near as strict as true keto.  This is one of those recipes we discovered during that time that we will keep on the menu no matter how many carbs we are eating.  It's easy and delicious!   I love how perfectly the chicken turns out every fuss, no muss!     I make them as a fajita bowl over a cauliflower rice/cabbage mixture, but the rest of my family generally eats them in low-carb tortillas.   Of course, you can serve them in whatever you want and they'll still be delicious!  
Click here for printable recipe.    

The ingredients:

3 bell peppers, thinly sliced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup oil
1-1/2 - 2 -lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into strips
3 Tbs. taco seasoning (This homemade version makes the perfect amount)

Desired toppings:  sour cream, grated cheddar cheesesalsa,  guacamole
Cauliflower rice* or low-carb tortillas
( *I cooked some shredded red cabbage with my cauliflower rice.  I like the extra color and jolt of nutrition.)

Directions:   Preheat oven to 400º.   Toss together chopped peppers, onions, chicken thighs in a bowl.   Add oil and taco seasoning. 
Toss together and mix well. 

Spread into a single layer on a large cookie sheet. 
Bake for 22-25 minutes, until chicken is fully cooked.   While chicken/veggies are cooking, prepare the cauliflower rice. 
Serve hot over cauliflower rice or in a low carb tortilla with desired toppings. 



The Best Homemade Salsa

Monday, February 3, 2020

My daughter recently discovered the best homemade salsa recipe and we're so hooked on it, that I decided to break my 5 year silence here on the blog and put this recipe in a safe place where the recipe won't get lost!   One jalapeno gives it just the spiciness level we like, but you may want to add more if you like the heat.   I know the celery seems weird, but I think it's what helps give it the perfect texture.  Who knows?  Perhaps this recipe will help kick off me starting to post some of the other new family favorites we've discovered over the last few years.   
Click here for printable recipe. 

The ingredients:
2 cans diced tomatoes
4-5 stalks chopped celery
1 bunch cilantro
1/2 onion, diced
1-2 jalapeños, deseeded (start with one and add more to taste)
4 cloves garlic
juice of one lemon and/or lime 
1/2 tsp. cumin (optional)
1/2 tsp. chili powder (optional)
1-1/2 tsp. salt  (you may need to adjust this a little depending on how salty your tomatoes are)
1/2 tsp. pepper 

Add all ingredients to blender.

Press "PULSE" a few times, until the mixture is even and coarsely chopped. Makes about 4 cups. For best flavor, allow the flavors blend for several hours or overnight. Keeps in the fridge for about a week. Enjoy!


About This Blog

My name is Lara and while I'm definitely not a gourmet cook, I do love preparing tasty, healthy meals for my family. Finding new recipes to try and sharing the ones we've already fallen in love with is a passion I've had since college and the reason why I've started this blog! With five kids, I'm usually in a hurry, so you'll find most of these recipes kid friendly and simple to make.

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