My Very Most Favoritest Salad Ever

I haven’t written a post since July.  JULY.  And this post was actually started in August, but I only saved it as a draft. But all I actually saved was the title of “My Very Most Favoritest Salad Ever” and a blank document.  Sooo…progress is being made.

It’s January 1, 2014.  A New Year…a new me?  No, the same old me, but definitely a new year.  I haven’t made a set list of resolutions or anything, but one thing I am going to try and work on is updating this blog a bit more often than I have the past year.  Along with that, I’m hoping to make some more permanent, healthy lifestyle changes for me and my family.  Generally, we eat pretty healthy meals, but we slip up quite a bit, and we eat out much too often.  And neither my husband nor I are that great at making sure we are getting regular exercise.  Well, THAT is what we are working on!  Or at least I am.  I started working out again a few days ago with the support of some girl friends, and I’m hoping to keep it up.  When I work out regularly, I tend to eat healthier, too.  I not only crave better foods, but I don’t want to waste all my hard work.  The hubs also got me a FitBit Force for Christmas, which was 1) unexpected, and 2) motivating.  I wear it (bracelet) all day and night, it doesn’t need to be charged too often, and when I reach my goal it vibrates, which is surprisingly uplifting. I plan on chronicling my journey to a healthier life on here….if I can manage to update every so often!

So back to the title of this post.  I don’t remember how exactly I came across making this salad recipe.  I was inspired from something in a  magazine, but I don’t remember which one, and it doesn’t help that I do remember that it wasn’t from an actual article…it was just a side note or something.  Anyways, I make this a lot in the summer, and I can eat it. Non. Stop.  I love it.  It’s vegan, if you’re into that kind of thing.  And even if you’re not, it’s still soooo yummy and good.

My Very Most Favoritest Salad Ever (Quinoa Salad)
Makes about 4 big servings on its own, or several smaller side servings

For the salad:

  • 1 cup quinoa (uncoooked)
  • 1 cup chopped red pepper (or just one red pepper, which is what I do)
  • 1 cup shelled and cooked edamame
  • 1/2 cup diced onion (I usually dice up an entire small, red onion and rinse it in a sieve or colander for a minute or two to take the bite out of the raw onion)
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries, roughly chopped (I prefer cherries)

For the dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • pinch of sugar
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Cook the quinoa* according to package directions and let cool.  Toss the cooled quinoa with all of the salad ingredients.  In a small both, whisk together the dressing ingredients.  Taste and adjust salt and pepper (and possibly sugar) as necessary.  Pour over salad and mix.  Adjust salt and pepper again, to taste.

*Note: You can cook the quinoa in water or broth (chicken, veggie).  I’ve done both and either way, it tastes great!  (I generally cook quinoa in my rice cooker so there is pretty  much no thinking involved.  One part quinoa to two parts water/broth, set it for “steam” and in about 20 minutes you’ve got some pretty perfectly cooked quinoa.  I also will only cook rice in my rice cooker.  Once you’ve had rice cooker rice, you will never go back!  Perfect. Every. Time.) Obviously, to remain vegan, you wouldn’t want to use chicken broth.  Additionally, if you’re going for gluten free, you will either want to cook the quinoa in water or check the ingredients for your broth.  Something as simple as store bought broth can have a lot of additives!  You can always use homemade broth, too!

 

Super easy, super tasty.  All of us enjoy this salad, and if I had a good picture of it, I’d share because it’s really beautiful with the red pepper, bright green edamame, dark maroon cherries, purple onions…ugh, I can go on and on!  But it’s January 1, and it’s not exactly number one on my list to cook right now.  I’m more in the mood for things like soup, chili, and casseroles.

Speaking of which, I made a fantastic chili last night that little Miss Audrey (and the hubs) gobbled up.  It’s from The Clothes Make the Girl: http://www.theclothesmakethegirl.com/2009/02/22/my-favorite-chili-recipe/.

I used ground turkey and chicken broth since I apparently am out of beef broth.  I let it simmer uncovered for about an hour to an hour and a half, then covered it up.  I found that I had to add a bit of salt at the end, but I’m guessing that is because I used turkey rather than beef.  Turkey tends to be a bit more bland.  One pot made quite a bit, so we are having the leftovers this weekend when my parents come to visit.  I’ll make some elbow macaroni to serve it on to make my dad happy, and I might bake up a spaghetti squash to serve mine on (and maybe my mom’s) for a lighter fare.

Well, I just took a swig of the last of my coffee, and it is now stone cold, which indicates that it’s time for me end this lovely little entry.  Next time, I will thrill you with tales of my battle with the elliptical and entice you with my favorite granola recipes!  That’ll keep you coming back for more, I’m sure!  Happy New Years!

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Horse Meatballs

The past few days have been busy around here!  With my class feeling like it takes up my entire Saturday, our weekends really fly by.  Yesterday, after our delicious breakfast (see previous post), we went to Ikea.  We were planning on looking around for a new media center.  Our current TV stand has a glass top that sticks out and doesn’t seem too safe for a 10 month old who’s taking over the house.  Anyways, we went to Ikea and ended up with a bunch of new rugs instead.  Oh Ikea, how I love you and your horse meat meatballs.  (I jest…I’ve never had their meatballs.)  Anywho, we got some new rugs and swapped a bookshelf from the basement with the TV stand.  Presto-chango! Our family room looks brand new and like some fashionable young couple lives here!

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A runner behind the couch and a short one for the door for when Peanut goes in and out.

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The new family room area rug and a tiny corner of the short runner between the family room and kitchen, and the bookshelf that now holds our TV.

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Better view of the same two mentioned above.  Audrey is loving her new, more open feeling play area, and yes, that is my mini wiener dog on top of the couch.  I swear she is more cat than dog sometimes…though she is currently burrowed underneath my covers as I type this.

After Ikea, we came home (pooped!) and I made dinner…spicy meatballs (not horse meatballs!) over parmesan polenta.  Oh. My. Goodness.  They were sooo good!  And I even messed them up by forgetting to add the 6 tablespoons of milk.  Who says 6 tablespoons, anyways?  I guess it’s better than 3/8 of a cup (since that’s what it is).  We’re having the other half of the meatballs Wednesday for dinner.  Audrey gobbled hers up…it was the first time she had ground beef and she loved it!

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She ate all the pieces of meatball before she would eat anything else 🙂

Today, Audrey and I took a trip out to visit Grammie at school.  Then we went to Grammie’s and Grandpa’s to play.  While Audrey stayed and played, I got to go to the dentist and get a cavitity filled.  Oh the excitement and fun in my life…can you stand it?!?  At least it was only one cavity.  The new dentist I was trying wanted to drill 8!!!  So when I found out my childhood dentist was in network for our insurance, I booked it over there and he found only 1.  PHEW!  When I got back from the dentist, it was time for Audrey to eat, and Grammie and I found that she cut her first tooth sometime today!  I would have taken a picture to post but the girl sticks her darn tongue out whenever you try to open her mouth so it was a no-go.  But I did get this one to leave you with.  Before she got changed into her jammies and got packed up in the car to go home, Audrey enjoyed her bottle in the most comfortable seat in the house.

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I want a bean bag chair that fits me like that!  Well, I hope you were able to go out there and enjoy the weather today…it was beautiful out here in the midwest.  Tomorrow we’re supposed to get hit with the biggest winter storm of the season, so I’m running any errands early.  Speaking of early, I just remembered that my alarm is set for my 5 am workout time, so I’m heading out!  Good night!

Some Background Info

So I thought that I’d give a little more information about myself and my family, especially considering I only put up a tiny little blurb in the “about” section.  I have a Bachelors Degree in Mathematical Sciences and a Masters Degree in Mathematics Education.  I was a high school math teacher for 5 years and I can say “was” because I officially resigned this past week. When I had my daughter last April, my husband and I made the decision that I would take advantage of my contract and take a parental leave of absence for this school year.  By March 1, I had to let the district know whether or not I planned on returning, and we made the decision that I would stay home with Audrey.

When I was pregnant, I couldn’t wait to be able to resign and be home with my child.  I thought it would be nothing but happy feelings, but when I actually wrote my resignation letter and the good-bye email that I sent out to the staff, I surprised myself by feeling a bit sad.  I was anticipating resigning for so long, yet the time had finally come when I was closing the book on that part of my life.

With that being said, I am more than happy that I am able to stay home with my daughter and my future children, but it was not simply because we are “lucky.”  My husband and I have been planning on having kids together since before we were even married.  We knew we wanted a house and kids, and I knew that I wanted to stay home and be the one to raise my children.  So we made a lot of decisions, financial and otherwise, based on that.  We didn’t buy the most expensive house; in fact, we wouldn’t be in the neighborhood we are in had we not gotten our house as a short sale.  We saved a lot.  I taught an extra class or two at the community college.  We paid off our car loan and for a few years, only had one car (Marcus biked to work pretty much every. single. day.).  Shoot, we even had only internet service and watched TV online through Hulu and the network websites.  No Hulu Plus or Netflix accounts even.  And we waited.  We got married and didn’t start trying to have a baby until we knew we were ready — ready mentally and financially.  Add to that the fact that even now, as a “stay at home mom,” I teach a class at the community college and tutor several students throughout the week.   So, no, it wasn’t luck that let me stay home with my daughter; it was planning.

Yes, I understand that the last paragraph was a bit of a rant, but you wouldn’t believe how many times people say something along the lines of “Oh, you’re so lucky that you can do that!”  Sometimes it is said earnestly and sincerely, but sometimes I can hear that slight tinge in their voice that tells their real feelings.  I understand that some people just cannot be stay at home moms even if they wanted to, and I feel for those women, I know some of those women.  But I also know that some who say they can’t probably can, but are not willing to make some of the necessary sacrifices that go along with being a stay at home mom.  And guess what?  THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT.  We all do what is best for ourselves and our families, and we shouldn’t have to face the constant judgement we do from our peers: other women.

Man, are we women hard on each other.  We are judgmental, pushy, bossy, and snobby.  And I include myself, even though I’d like to be able to say I’m above all that.  But let’s be real, I find myself critiquing THE MOM just as much as the next lady.  You know, THE MOM is the one who not only makes everything homemade, but only uses the purest ingredients.  Even though she makes all that, her kitchen is spotless, along with the rest of her house and family.  Her kids are perfectly well behaved and never throw temper tantrums, and her husband is as helpful and romantic as any leading many in the latest rom-com.  Well….I do make a lot of homemade food…but I’ll be the first to admit that when it comes to cleaning, I suck as a homemaker, and the hubs is not quite the neatest person in the world.  Some days it bugs  me how much dust is all over the furniture and how my long hair and the dog’s hair sits in little clumps in the corners of the room.  I get a bit irritated at having to wash dishes about 52 times per day (yes, we do have a dishwasher, but not everything goes in there!), and I definitely don’t clean the bathroom as often as I should.  But eh, it’s alright.  My dirty house will be here tomorrow for me to clean.  So, to quote my good friend and neighbor, Mandi, rock on, THE MOM.  You’ve mastered something I have yet to do and just might never get around to doing.

Long post/rant DONE!  But P.S. stop on over to Mandi’s blog at mandishouse.blogspot.com for some good eats and fun treats!  She’s the one that inspired me to start a blog 🙂