Loaded Cauliflower Casserole

For those of you watching your carb intake, cauliflower can be used as a decent substitute for potatoes in some dishes. I say ‘decent’ because I don’t really like cauliflower but have been successful (and sometimes not so successful) in using it in the place of potatoes for a low carb side dish and my favorite way to eat it….as pizza crust!

Loaded Cauliflower Casserole

For Thanksgiving, I knew my low-carbing, diabetic husband would have a lack of options for sides, since he would not be eating the awesome stuffing, or the potatoes. (I think we had rice too!) So I made this cauliflower casserole and included lots of cheese-y goodness, and bacon. Because we know bacon makes everything mo’betta.

Cauliflower Casserole

Did it taste like a loaded baked potato? No. It tasted like cooked cauliflower with cheese and bacon. However, it wasn’t bad for us non-cauliflower people and it was down right tasty to those who like it (aka my mom. The only one out of the 10 of us.) But, it gave my husband a low carb option, so my job was done.


Thanksgiving plate

This. This is how you do Thanksgiving. And this (in conjunction with cookies, fudge and egg nog) is why I need to be at the gym right now.

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Creamy Hoisin Egg Roll Dipping Sauce

This post was sponsored by MINH® Mini Chicken Egg Rolls and I was compensated to write it. Regardless, what I have written reflects my own opinion and experience. I hope you find it useful.

The holidays are in full swing, and with that brings social gatherings. And obviously you can’t have a get together without lots of good eats…otherwise it’s just a meeting. (Ok, so I’m sort of paraphrasing Julia Child, but she definitely had a point.) I love party food (aka appetizers, appies, finger foods, or hors d’oeuvres <– hardest word ever to spell)

Egg rolls w sauce collage_Fotor

Sometimes we have hors d’oeuvre night where we just have a bunch of party food for dinner. My kids love that (for obvious reasons.) It’s mainly for “special occasions”. Anyway, as much as I love making everything from scratch, like homemade egg rolls, I often just don’t. have. time. So, I was thrilled to find these  at Sam’s Club.

Minh at Sams

They are affordable, you get a bunch in a box, and most important – they are delish!

egg rolls labeled photo

They are the perfect size to serve at a party too. They bake in the oven in under 15 minutes, and come with a tasty sweet chili sauce.

party egg rolls

I’ve sprinkled this platter with dried cilantro and red pepper flakes (green & red!) but it could be easily omitted, or just added to the sauces. You could also use basil I think, but I would not recommend oregano (personal opinion).

Egg Rolls

Along with the sweet chili sauce, I wanted a white sauce (I almost made it green with the addition of green dragon sauce, but I wasn’t sure if it would look appetizing.) This is a mild, creamy, slightly sweet sauce that pairs well with the egg rolls and perfect for those who have a low heat tolerance (everyone in my house except me!), but you can easily spice it up by increasing the chili paste or adding red pepper flakes.



In addition to mini egg rolls, my other “go-to” party foods are sausage balls (these are a must at Christmas and New Year’s!), Creamy Sausage Dip, Chips with restaurant style salsa, chips and dip, cheese and crackers, and at Christmas, there will be fudge on the dessert table, along with these…022

Pretzel Treats…my kids LOVE these. Obviously, we don’t usually have fancy parties. We have family, kid-friendly parties! What’s your favorite party food?

How to Make Perfect Pasta Salad {without a recipe!}

I love pasta salad, and it’s so versatile. You basically boil some pasta, throw in some veggies, and add a dressing. Right? Well…that hasn’t worked out so well for me in the past. I just couldn’t get it quite right. Until now!

Through some trial and error, I have figured out a few tips that make for the perfect pasta salad every time. I have been able to make a little or a lot, use whatever is on hand, and it’s good every time! I have posted these tips (and a basic recipe) over at today. I’d love for you to head over and check it out!

Thanksgiving Ideas – Veggies

You’ve probably got your main dishes all figured out, but what about the sides? Today is all about the veggies…a necessary evil in my opinion. There is always the traditional green bean casserole, but here are a few other recipes that make eating your vegetables much easier…

Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar Reduction – if I have to eat them, this is how I want to do it!

Cauliflower Au Gratin – low carb and surprisingly good (coming from someone who doesn’t like vegetables cauliflower very much!)

Bacon Wrapped Green Beans – because e’rything is better with bacon

Bacon Green Beans for a Crowd – a super easy variation of the above bacon wrapped green beans. Delicious.

What’s your favorite vegetable dish? Do you have to cover yours in sugar or bacon to eat them or is that just me!?

Yesterday’s post – Thanksgiving Ideas for the kids

 I may be linking up at any of the following – (Monday)  (Tuesday) , ,, (Wednesday) , (Thursday) , (Friday) ,,(Saturday) 

Homemade Hummus, Lunchbox ideas & Mason Jar Salads Cookbook Review

I’m a Southern girl, and I’ll admit, we do love our mason jars! But for something that was mainly used for canning (and moonshine!), mason jars are seen everywhere and used for everything nowadays. Just hit up Pinterest and you will see what I mean. What many have come to realize, and we Southern women have known for decades *grin*, is that glass mason jars are great for storing things…especially food because you don’t have to worry about any weird chemicals leaching out. Making salads ahead of time and storing them in the fridge for a weeks worth of healthy lunches/dinners has been all the rage recently, and everyone I’ve seen is stored in a mason jar. So, when given the opportunity to review the cookbook  by Julia Mirabella,  I was more than eager to check it out, as were my Pinterest loving daughters.

First I have to say that the photography in this book is AMAZING. Almost every recipe comes with a gorgeous color photo. The other thing that I loved about the book is it is not just salads in a mason jar, even though everyone in it looks delicious. It gave me ideas on storing other foods, and lunchbox ideas!! This is huge since I have 3 kids who all carry their lunches to school almost everyday. That’s a lot of lunches in a year, and ideas run out quick. So, when my 11 year old saw the Spicy Hummus and vegetables recipe, she asked could she make it and take it for her lunch. Absolutely! I was pleased that we had everything to make it, and she was able to do it almost entirely by herself. I loved the way the homemade hummus and veggies were packaged in a small mason jar. It is such a handy and unique way to carry hummus to school. AND it’s healthy, homemade, and my daughter loved it! I’m thinking I could send my dessert hummus to school for snack the same way….maybe stick apple slices in it?

Spicy Hummus and Vegetables

reprinted with permission from Mason Jar Salads and More
There’s no better midday snack than veggies with hummus — and the great thing about this snack is that you don’t need separate containers for the dip and the vegetables. All you have to do is plant your veggies upright in the dip, close the Mason jar, and voilà, you have something to see you through the afternoon at work.
Makes 4 servings
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
5 to 6 tablespoons olive oil, as needed
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons tahini
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper
6 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
celery and carrots, for dipping
4 half-pint Mason jars
  •  Place the chickpeas in the bowl of a food processor along with 5 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the garlic, tahini, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes. Process to blend the ingredients together. If needed to achieve the desired smooth consistency, add another tablespoon of olive oil.
  • Cut the celery and carrots into strips that will fit into the Mason jar with the top closed. Scoop 1⁄2 cup of hummus into the bottom of the jar and then set the vegetable strips upright in the hummus. Seal the jar and refrigerate until ready to use.

This is just one of many recipes that I have bookmarked. Next on my list is a Blueberry Vinaigrette that sounds amazing, along with a Citrus-Soy Vinaigrette, I want to make ahead some salads for my own lunches as well. The Orzo Pasta Salad, the Cobb Salad, and the Asian Greens Salad all sound really good. I also want to get back to my overnight oats, which I always prepare in a mason jar. There are several smoothie recipes in the book as well. So, if you are part of the mason jar (my kids taught me this word) then you should enjoy this cookbook!

   I may be linking up at any of the following – (Monday)  (Tuesday) , ,, (Wednesday) , (Thursday) , (Friday) ,,(Saturday) 

Kid Friendly Salad

Am I the only mom in a constant struggle to get more veggies into my kids? I feel like it’s a never ending battle. My kids are SO picky. I heard a mom say the other day that her child would eat anything put in front of him…brussel sprouts, broccoli, just whatever. Well, I have had no such luck with any of my three children. My middle child is better about trying new things than my other two, but there is still no lovefest with vegetables going on around here. That’s why I try to be a little creative at getting them to eat more. Especially greens.

My family, and this includes myself, prefer raw vegetables over cooked. This means that we eat a lot of salads. However, my kids’ version of a salad is generally iceburg lettuce, cucumbers and carrots. And cheese. My oldest will drown everything in cheese if I let her.

I decided to change things up one night. I put the things I knew they liked in a salad on a plate, but I also placed some different things on there too. (I also had a few other things in separate dishes, like cheese, mandarin oranges, raisins.) I let them prepare their own salads. They thought it was very odd that I had chicken and potatoes and boiled eggs on the plate, but I told them to just give it a try. I didn’t force the issue or make them choose everything. The plate looked so pretty, I sent a picture to my sister. She responded with “are those chicken nuggets?” Why yes, yes they are. I knew I had to start things off with things they already liked. Grilled or boiled chicken would not have gotten a good response, but I’m working up to that!

My kids devoured their salads! They were much more adventurous when preparing their own salads than had I done it for them. My son wouldn’t eat the potatoes or eggs, but even he did better than I expected. Next time, I’m adding even more variety and see how it goes.

Are your kids good veggie eaters? If not, how do you get them to eat more or try new things? I’m open to suggestions…my 6 year old is my pickiest kid yet! {Of course, he did actually try something new the other night…he put hamburgers in gravy on a bun and called it a crabby patty! But hey, at least he ate it. First time ever eating any kind of hamburger!)

By the way, chicken nuggets and potatoes are actually really good in a salad 🙂

Restaurant Style Salsa

I love salsa…but not the thick chunky stuff. I like restaurant style salsa and have found a quick and easy recipe that is SO good and SO easy. Which, for those of you that have been here before, know is my M-O. I don’t do complicated. 

I always use my food processor, but I’m sure you could make it in smaller batches in a blender or bullet.
I’ve made this with red and white onion, I’ve also made it with and without fresh jalapeno (not pictured above). I also left the lime juice out of the ingredient pic. When I use the Rotel with Lime Juice and Cilantro I will reduce the amount of lime juice called for in the recipe. It’s easy to tweak the recipe to get it exactly how you like it.

Restaurant Style Salsa

1 can (28 oz) Whole Peeled Tomatoes (with juice)
2 cans (10 oz) Rotel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies *I like to use one can Rotel Original and one               can Rotel Diced Tomatoes with Lime Juice and Cilantro
1/2 cup cilantro (or to taste)

1/4 cup onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 whole jalapeno, sliced and seeds removed if desired

1/2 to 1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
juice of 1/2 fresh lime
Add all of the ingredients into the bowl of a large food processor (or process smaller quantities and add together in large bowl). Pulse until desired consistency is reached. Refrigerate for an hour for best flavor.
I like to chill the salsa and give the flavors time to hang out together, then taste to determine if additional salt or seasoning is needed.
Recipe Source:
Then I like to consume large quantities of salsa with Multigrain Tortilla Chips from Sam’s Club. Totally justified since I’m eating all those veggies. Right? Right. *wink*
If you are lucky enough to have an abundance of fresh veggies right now, you might want to check out this Jalapeno Salsa also. Not as easy to make, but very good and a great way to use your garden bounty.

This recipe was featured at !
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I may be linking up at any of the following – (Monday)  (Tuesday) , ,,, (Wednesday) , (Thursday) , (Friday) ,,(Saturday) 

Black Bean Brownies – Take 2

You’ve probably heard of making desserts with chickpeas, avocados and black beans. Have you tried any? I was on the chickpea train for a while, and now I’ve made black bean brownies for the second time. All of my avocados end up as guacamole, except that time I attempted to make chocolate pudding (you should read it, it’s comical), but I plan on giving it another shot (and follow a recipe this time). So anyway, I’m here to tell you, desserts can be made healthier AND still taste good. These brownies are a perfect example!

Fudge-y, chocolate-y, and no, they do not taste like beans at all. As a matter of fact, the only difference between black bean brownies and regular brownies is the texture. It’s not a bad texture, just a little different. They are moist without being too gooey and they are not crumbly.
This recipe came from the cookbook by Kelsey Kinser.
I was interested in reviewing the cookbook because my family definitely does not eat enough beans. Since beans are loaded with protein, vitamins, and minerals (and they are cheap!) I would love to incorporate more into our diets. Even if it is in brownie form!
I also want to try Kelsey’s Chickpea Cupcakes and plan on making the Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas very soon! Of course, if you are a more ‘traditional’ bean eater, there are salads, soups, burgers, etc. to choose from.
Black Bean Brownies from
(reprinted with permission)
Either you’ve heard of this recipe before and love it or you are scratching your head and thinking, “There is no way this is going to be good.” Trust me. It’s good. It’s really, really good. Also, this recipe benefits from the surprising bonus of being a gluten-free dessert option. So go ahead and try it. With about 5 to 10 minutes of actual active cooking time and a brief and inexpensive ingredient list (for which you probably already have everything already), you have nothing to lose and a delicious, fudgy, surprisingly guilt-free world to gain. Canned black beans are used in this recipe for convenience, and the point is to not taste that is made from beans so the quality of flavor is not as important, but feel free to substitute 2 cups of well-cooked black beans.
(Note: This recipe produces a more fudge-like brownie. If you prefer yours more on the cakelike side, double the amount of flax seeds and water.)
Serves 9 to 12
1 (15.5-ounce) can of black beans, rinsed and drained (or 2 cups of well-cooked black beans)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil (coconut oil can be used but will result in a slight coconut taste)
2 1/2 tablespoons of fresh ground flax seeds whisked into 3 tablespoon of warm water*
1⁄4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1⁄4 cup and 1 tablespoon cocoa powder (sifted if need be)
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coffee (optional but worth it; can be left over from the morning)
1 teaspoon cinnamon

walnuts or dairy-free chocolate or carob chips for topping (optional)
     *Blogger’s Note: if not vegan, can use an egg in the place of flax and water 
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Using either a food processor or blender, combine all ingredients except for toppings. Blend well, stopping at least once to scrape down the sides of the blender carafe and blending again. You do not want any large chunks of beans in this batter. It should be very smooth.
Pour batter into 8- by 8-inch glass baking dish. *Blogger’s Note: I suggest spraying pan with cooking spray.
Bake on middle rack of oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a knife poked into the center comes out clean.
Cool for at least half an hour before cutting and serving. 
*I added chocolate chips to the tops after removing from oven
Do you have any “unconventional” desserts that you and your family enjoy? My kids have actually enjoyed my bean desserts, and considering how uber picky they are, that’s saying a lot! (If interested in checking them out. – Biscoff Cookie Dough Dip, Double Dark Chocolate Cookie Balls, Deep Dish Cookie Pie)
I was sent the above cookbook for review. No compensation was received, all opinions are my own.

This recipe was featured at:

I may be linking up at any of the following – (Monday)  (Tuesday) , ,,, (Wednesday) , (Thursday) , (Friday) ,,(Saturday) 

Spinach Tomato Orzo Soup

Probably not what most people are posting for St. Patrick’s Day…but hey, you can’t get much greener than spinach!

Okay, so that doesn’t look so hot. But the end result….
That’s a little more appetizing I hope. I love soup, so it looks pretty darn good to me. Especially since it continues to be cold and rainy and just plain gross weather wise.
As with most things I make, this is pretty easy to throw together, and even better, it’s healthy! I’m not sure why, but I love orzo in soup.
Of course, with all this healthiness going on, I’m the only one in my house that would eat it. If you are not a big veggie eater, soup is a good way to get more in your diet. Spinach works great in soup because of its mild flavor, and you can puree your other veggies if you don’t like the chunks. I do that a lot, because honestly, the only chunks I want are chocolate ones 🙂

Spinach Tomato Orzo Soup

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lb spinach
1 – 15 oz can diced tomatoes 

1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 cup orzo pasta
4 quarts chicken or vegetable stock

salt and pepper, too taste
Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • Place a large stock/soup pot on medium high heat. Add olive oil. 
  • Saute onions until tender. Reduce heat to medium and add garlic. Saute for about a minute 
  • Add canned tomatoes, spices, spinach, and chicken or vegetable stock. Increase heat to medium high and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to medium and add orzo pasta, cooking for 12 – 15 minutes, or until orzo is tender. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. 
Serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese if desired. I love cheese in my soup!
                 (Recipe adapted from )
You could easily add meat to this soup, like chicken or chicken/turkey sausage. You could also use kale instead of spinach if you are a kale fan, as well as incorporating more veggies. That’s the great thing about soup, it’s pretty versatile. Now, if only my children’s taste buds would become more versatile…the only soup they will eat is chicken noodle. And then, only 2 out of 3 will eat it! Oh well, enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day!
I leave you with a little Irish Blessing –
May joy and peace surround you, 
contentment latch your door, 
and happiness be with you now
and bless you evermore!

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Fresh from the Garden – Peppers! (recipe round up)

If you’re lucky and have a garden, are part of a CSA, or just have a friendly gardening neighbor, you are probably getting a bounty of fresh produce right about now. I thought I would highlight a few of my favorite recipes using some of these fresh veggies – I’ve already done a round up for zucchini, and today is peppers – bell peppers, banana peppers, jalapenos!

First up, Pickled Jalapeno Peppers. These are SO good! You can also do pickled banana peppers with this recipe.

Jalapeno Salsa, also another one of my favorites.

Homemade Pepper Relish, sweet and spicy.

Another Pickled Banana Peppers recipe. I like these a lot!

And, Jalapeno Poppers, or in this case, Hot Banana Pepper Poppers! These are made a little bit skinny with turkey bacon and reduced fat cream cheese. Yummers.

And if you missed the zucchini round up, check it out here!

Do you have veggies coming out of your ears? Or are you like me, and really wishing you had a garden?! I am fortunate that my neighbor shares his bounty, and I have several Farmer’s Markets in the area around where I live. Hopefully I’ll have my garden next year…in the mean time, what are you cooking up with in season fruits and veggies?