Easy Chilled Cucumber Salad Recipe

This easy chilled cucumber salad recipe is another of my family’s favorite super-simple recipes, and since the cucumbers at the Amish market have been absolutely beautiful, we’ve been happily munching this for months now. It comes together in just a few minutes, and it’s a great addition to dinner, but the leftovers are even better after marinating overnight in the fridge.

My husband’s eyes lit up when he saw me pack some of the leftovers in his lunchbox, and my daughter ate a huge pile of this after coming home from school the other day. It’s a big hit in our family!

Easy Chilled Cucumber Salad Recipe

Easy Chilled Cucumber Salad Recipe
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins
 
This easy chilled cucumber salad recipe comes together in just a few minutes, and it's a great addition to any dinner. As a bonus, the leftovers are even better after marinating overnight in the fridge.
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Emily Chapelle
Ingredients
  • 4 large Cucumbers peeled and seeded(optional), sliced or cubed
  • 1/3 cup Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Red wine vinegar
  • Sea salt
  • Parsley or Dill
Instructions
  1. In a small lidded jar, shake the extra-virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, a good pinch of Sea salt, and a sprinkle of parsley or dill.
  2. Pour the dressing over the sliced or cubed cucumbers, toss to coat.
  3. Chill until it's time to eat!

 

Easy Chilled Cucumber Salad Recipe

Easiest Crispy Oven-Roasted Potatoes Recipe

I love to cook, and trying new recipes is really fun for me. But when we settle into normal life, and cooking isn’t necessarily the focus, I tend to return to the basics. Simple food, simply prepared. Easiest Crispy Oven-Roasted Potatoes Recipe

Easiest Crispy Oven-Roasted Potatoes

These crispy oven-roasted potatoes are a favorite of my husband and I. Sometimes my son enjoys them, but my four-year-old daughter dislikes white potatoes (and I’m in no way encouraging her to learn to like them, as I see them as a bit of a splurge) so she abstains when we make these. Sometimes, I’ll squeeze a bit of lemon juice over mine, to mimic this lemony potatoes recipe with a lot less preparation. The leftovers are even great cold, or you can of course reheat in a toaster oven or in a pan.

Easiest Crispy Oven-Roasted Potatoes Recipe
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
55 mins
 
These crispy oven-roasted potatoes are a favorite simple side to accompany burgers and a vegetable. And they're EASY to make. Squeeze some lemon juice over them for a tangy surprise!
Course: Sides
Cuisine: American
Author: Emily Chapelle
Ingredients
  • Red-skinned potatoes washed and cubed
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt or your favorite seasoning
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Toss your potatoes with enough olive oil to lightly coat them.
  3. Spread potatoes on metal baking sheets in a single layer.
  4. Sprinkle with sea salt or your favorite seasonings.
  5. Roast for half an hour, then scrape the potatoes up with a metal spatula/flipper, and turn them.
  6. Continue roasting another 10-20 minutes, or until the potatoes are as crispy as you like.

Easiest Crispy Oven-Roasted Potatoes

Would you like to see more of my family’s everyday recipes?

These are usually things that don’t require many ingredients, and the preparation isn’t anything complicated. They might be things you already know how to do, but being able to bookmark or pin them for your meal-planning convenience might be helpful. What do you think?

Healthy Cranberry Orange Gelatin – Quick and Easy Dessert

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Dollar General for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

On a recent trip to Dollar General (outside of San Antonio) for some supplies for a holiday recipe, we were inspired by the cranberry jelly. Every Thanksgiving, I grew up having a wobbly cranberry sauce that slid from a can onto a serving dish…and it was pretty tasty. But I wanted to make something a little more than that fo rmy kids.

I already had cranberry jelly at home, and since we were about to leave to drive to Florida, I didn’t want to stock up on more pantry goods, so I used what I already had. Still, the recipe should work with DG cranberry jelly too, or whatever kind you like.

One of the snacks my kids like to have sometimes is those little mandarin oranges in a jar. (Some Dollar General stores carry them in juice like what we buy, but others only have the “light syrup” kind… so double check yours.) Since I do get the kind in juice, I like to use the juice versus throwing it out… we almost never actually buy bottles of juice, so it is a treat, and those jars of mandarin oranges, while affordable, are far more expensive than fresh fruit. So I want to use every bit.

Often, I just end up making gelatin from the juice. My kids both love it, and I’m happy that they’re getting all of the goodness of grass-fed gelatin. Great for joints, nails, hair, really healing, and protein sparing!

So I decided to combine that idea with the cranberry jelly I already had. They (and my husband) ate the whole thing that night. So I’d say it was a success.

Healthy Cranberry Orange Gelatin – Quick and Easy Dessert

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of cranberry jelly
  • 1 cup of juice from mandarin oranges
  • 3 Tbsp gelatin
  • mandarin oranges

Method:

  1. Warm the cranberry jelly gently, until melted and warm throughout, but not boiling.
  2. Stir in the powdered gelatin until dissolved.
  3. Pour the juice into the cranberry mixture, and stir until combined.
  4. Place in a container (all I had was a tupperware type thing, since we’re on the road) in the fridge to set for a while.
  5. When the gelatin dessert is set, dip the container into hot water to loosen, then flip onto a dish.
  6. Garnish with mandarin oranges, and cut to serve.

I hope your family likes this as much as my family did!

Thanks for the inspiration, Dollar General !

Visit Sponsor's Site

Zuppa Toscana Crockpot Recipe (Sausage, Potato, Kale Soup)

This Zuppa Toscana crock pot recipe will make you feel like you're in Olive Garden... or Italy. Easy to make in the crockpot, and great for freezer meals for later. Tuscan sausage kale potato soup recipe
This Zuppa Toscana crock pot recipe will make you feel like you're in Olive Garden... or Italy. Easy to make in the crockpot, and great for freezer meals for later. Tuscan sausage kale potato soup recipe

Zuppa Toscana Crockpot Recipe

While in one of my pinning frenzies, I came across this recipe for (Olive Garden copycat) Zuppa Toscana in a crock pot. It looked darned good to me, and also like something that I could double without much effort, AND freeze successfully. I wasn’t 100% sure about freezing it because of the potatoes (which sometimes freeze weirdly) and cream, so I had to test it out before I could recommend it.

I made some changes to the recipe, enjoyed a bowl of soup that night (my toddler loved it and asked for several bowls, and my baby boy slurped down several of the potatoes, quite a bit of sausage, and some kale), and then froze the rest. I ended up with 3 quarts in the freezer – 2 in freezer jars, and one in a freezer bag (lay flat to freeze, then you can move it wherever it fits best in your freezer). I don’t see the exact jars I used but they’re similar to these.

I also froze a bowl of soup in my small freezer, just overnight, to try the next day and see if the potatoes and cream got weird or not.

And the next day? Success! The texture of the potatoes was a little bit different, but not off-putting, and the flavor was good. Everything was as delicious as the first night, and I was excited to have 3 more quarts of this soup in my deep freezer for later.

Zuppa Tuscana Crock Pot Recipe

Tuscan sausage, kale, potato soup. Easy to make in the crockpot now, and freeze for later.

Course: Soup
Author: Emily Chapelle
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs pork sausage
  • 3 russet potatoes cubed
  • 3 onions diced
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 gallon chicken stock 2 quarts
  • 4 cups or more of kale ripped up (stems/ribs discarded)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
Instructions
  1. Brown sausage in a pan, then add to crock pot.
  2. Add the potatoes, onions, garlic, and chicken stock.
  3. Cook on high 4 hours or until potatoes are cooked through.
  4. Turn off the crock pot and add kale. Cover and cook 5 more minutes.
  5. Stir in cream.
  6. Serve or freeze.

 

Freezer Friday: Grain-Free Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken pot pie is one of those foods I’ve always loved. It’s warm and creamy, there’s just the right amount of chicken, lots of vegetables, and a perfect crust to include a bit of in every bite, like a biscuity condiment.

But I haven’t made it in ages, because my “go-to” recipe involved canned “Cream of” soups, and bisquick-mix biscuit lumps on top.

So when my friend Katie posted pictures of her chicken pot pie preparation and my stomach started to growl, I knew I had to do something! I NEEDED to find a recipe that would work. And not *just* work… but be delicious and nostalgic while also being wholesome and healthy.

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I had a bunch of bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts that needed to be used, so I threw them into the crock pot one morning, knowing that by the evening, they’d be cooked.

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The meat was juicy and easy to pull off the bones, and after the kids’ bedtime, I removed the chicken, then tossed the bones and skin back into the crock pot with a splash of apple cider vinegar, to make stock overnight. And in the morning, all I had to do was strain out the bones and such… look at that gorgeous stock!

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The vegetables were a mixture of things I had on hand and things I bought specifically for my pot pies, but you can really use whatever you want.

I heated about 1/4 cup of expeller-pressed coconut oil (the one that doesn’t have coconut flavor, so I use it for savory stuff), then threw in 2 diced onions. When they started to get translucent, I threw in 7 sliced carrots, 5 sliced celery stalks, and 10 cloves of garlic, minced. I really wanted pearl onions too, but the commissary didn’t have any and I didn’t want to wait until I went into town to look at other stores. So…next time.

While those were cooking, I diced 3 zucchinis. I threw them into the pan with 2 cups of peas (though I might use more next time because I LOVE peas in chicken pot pie) and a 10 ounce bag of mushrooms. Once everything was in the pan, I added a cup of chicken stock.

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I let the vegetables cook for a while longer, so the stock could reduce a bit, and meanwhile, I cut up my chicken. It ended up being about 6 or 7 cups of chicken. Any chicken will work…breasts, thighs, the whole bird, whatever.

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Then I dumped in the veggies and stirred it all together.

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Once that was done, I started the gravy. In my search for awesome pot pie, I found this recipe by the Urban Poser, which featured a cashew gravy. It sounded amazing. Like… amazing. And while that recipe calls for raw soaked cashews, I didn’t have any and neither did the commissary.

So I searched around for similar recipes, and found that other recipes didn’t specify raw, but they would boil them for a few minutes before blending. This, my friends, is called winning.

I used the same pan I had used for the vegetables, to simplify the dishwashing, and the gravy came together very quickly. Just sautee an onion and some garlic in coconut oil, then add 5 cups of broth, 2 cups of cashews, and boil.

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After it boils for a couple of minutes, blend it (I used my immersion blender right in the pan), and add pepper to taste.

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Mix the gravy into the chicken and veggies, and you have your pot pie filling!

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There are much “greener” ways to do this… but I’ve decided to use the foil disposable loaf pans for my freezer casseroles. They go from freezer to oven with no problems, and they’re just the right size for dinner for Anneliese and myself (then lunch for myself the next day), with the added bonus of not having to wash pans or casserole dishes afterward.

IMG_8662

I was left with a slight dilemma about what to do for crust. Most of the paleo pot-pie recipes I had found while googling had some sort of almond flour-egg crust. Some used coconut flour, but I knew I didn’t want that flavor or texture here. I just worried that the almond flour crusts would be too dense.

When it comes to pot pie crusts, give me flaky or give me…biscuits.

And flaky is hard to come by in the grain-free world (gluten-free is easy. grain-free not so much). So I thought maybe I could lighten up the almond flour crusts with some arrowroot powder… but wondered if someone had done it before. So I googled for an arrowroot-almond-flour biscuit recipe. Real Sustenance delivered! I doubled the recipe (using butter of course, not earth balance), and used my cookie scoop to make lumps on top of the pot pies.

Just a little pat with my fingertips to flatten them, and they were ready to freeze or bake!

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I put five into the freezer… just press some aluminum foil down onto the surface of the biscuit dough, so that there isn’t much air inside, then crimp the edge all around. Don’t forget to label the side with a permanent marker so you’ll know what it is in the freezer.

The other one? I baked at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. The biscuits cooked perfectly, and the pot pie was a success. Anneliese loved it too, and she is not usually big on casserole-type foods. So this recipe is a win all around, and definitely one I’ll be repeating once my freezer stash is gone!

It was a lot of preparation at once, but I kept reminding myself that I would have many delicious warm creamy nostalgic comfort-food dinners “ready to go” afterward. Definitely worth it.

IMG_8673

5 from 1 vote
Servings: 18
Ingredients
Filling
  • 1/4 cup expeller-pressed coconut oil
  • 2 onions diced
  • 7 carrots sliced
  • 5 celery stalks sliced
  • 10 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 zucchinis peeled and diced
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 10 ounces mushrooms
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 6-7 cups cooked chicken cubed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Gravy
  • 1/4 cup expeller-pressed coconut oil
  • 10 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 onion diced
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups cashews
  • Pepper to taste
Biscuit Topping
  • 4 cups almond meal
  • 1 cup arrowroot
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1.5 tsp white vinegar
Instructions
Filling
  1. Heat coconut oil in a deep pan.
  2. Add onions, carrots, and celery. Cook until onions are translucent.
  3. Add garlic, zucchini, peas, and mushrooms.
  4. When carrots are starting to get softer and mushrooms are mostly cooked, add broth, salt and pepper.
  5. Simmer until most of the broth evaporates.
  6. Mix with chicken.
Gravy
  1. Heat the coconut oil in the same pan you used for the vegetables.
  2. Add onion and garlic. Cook until the onion is translucent.
  3. Add chicken stock and cashews.
  4. Boil about 5 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and blend with an immersion blender.
  6. Pepper to taste.
  7. Combine Gravy with the filling.
  8. Divide mixture into baking dishes, or foil pans for freezing.
Biscuit Topping
  1. Mix almond meal, arrowroot, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl.
  2. Cut in butter until everything is crumbly, almost like damp sand.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix eggs with the vinegar.
  4. Add eggs to the almond mixture, and lightly combine until a dough forms.
  5. Drop biscuit dough over the top of the pot pies, and flatten slightly with fingertips.
  6. Freeze the pot pies at this point, or bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes (They'll need more time if you made yours bigger/deeper than mine.)
  7. If frozen, bake at 375 for 30 minutes, covered, then 20 minutes, uncovered.

 

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Please share this recipe with your social networks, if you like the way it sounds! The buttons are right below this.

Also, let me know if you try it out, please. And be sure to check out the other Freezer Friday recipes!
Freezer Friday - foods to make and freeze!

Freezer Friday – Homemade Healthy “Fast Food” Paleo Chicken Nuggets

Cooking for myself and a toddler (while my husband is deployed) is SO different than cooking for all 3 of us. Especially since my husband takes leftovers to work for lunch. So I’ve been focusing on trying to make 3 categories of dinners for Anneliese and myself, to avoid eating the same leftovers for a week straight.

  1. Simple foods that we won’t have leftovers of at all.
  2. Foods that I love the leftovers of, which will provide about 1-2 extra meals of leftover.
  3. Bulk cooking foods that will freeze well and reheat easily later.

So I’m going to be writing up “Freezer Friday” posts each week. These posts might include…

  • freeze-able recipes
  • reporting back to you on how well (or not) something reheated.
  • freezer maintenance
  • freezer organization
  • food storage
  • reviews of freezer-related/storage-related products

The first Freezer Friday, today, I’m sharing a recipe with you that I made up to satisfy a nostalgic craving.

glutenfreenuggets

You know the processed chicken nuggets you loved as a kid, but which you won’t buy now? Maybe they have soy or bread fillers inside them… no doubt they’re filled with vegetable oil and tons of sodium. They might even have corn syrup in them. Well, these fill that gap (is that a gap?) in your healthy diet.

One recipe will make about 3 dozen nuggets, and your nugget cravings will be covered for a while!

These are grain free, gluten free, and primal (or Paleo-plus-dairy).

They’re only made of real food, and you control exactly how much of everything goes into them. I’ll give you my measurements, but feel free to change them to suit your taste, or add other seasonings.

Ingredients

  • boneless skinless chicken, cut into small chunks — about 4 breasts, or 6 thighs (or a mixture). I used breasts only
  • 1 cup of buttermilk, or milk plus a tablespoon of vinegar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 Tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese.
  • 2 teaspoons Frank’s Red Hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • coconut flour — about a cup
  • 4 more eggs
  • almond flour — 2-3 cups

Method

  1. Marinate the chicken in the buttermilk at least 4 hours, or overnight.
  2. Drain the chicken and discard the buttermilk. Put chicken into a food processor with 1 egg, onion powder, parsley, cheese, hot sauce, salt and pepper.
  3. Blend ingredients with the regular blade, until a paste is formed and all ingredients are combined.IMG_8201
  4. Sprinkle coconut flour on a cookie sheet, and drop chicken mixture onto it. I used my cookie scoop to make evenly sized blobs.
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  5. Flatten each blob with your fingers, and flip over so that all sides get covered with the coconut flour.IMG_8206
  6. Beat the other 4 eggs in a bowl, and dredge each nugget in the egg wash, then coat in almond flour. I find it easiest to do the almond flour step by putting the almond flour in a gallon zip lock bag, then tossing in a few egg-covered nuggets at a time, shaking to coat. (Please put them on a different baking sheet, instead of plopping them back on top of the coconut flour like I did. It’s annoying to have the coconut flour on the outside!)
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  7. Bake in a preheated oven (350 degrees Fahrenheit) for 12-15 minutes. Check to make sure a fat one is cooked all the way through.
  8. Freeze on a cookie sheet, then vacuum-seal to save for later.

If you’re planning to enjoy some right away, you can cook those in a pan with expeller-pressed coconut oil (which is the one that has NO coconut flavor) over medium-high heat, turning every couple of minutes, for about 8 minutes total.

When reheating from the freezer, microwave until heated through. If you want your outsides more crispy, then you can lightly fry in a pan with coconut oil after microwaving. If you ask me, it’s worth the extra step.

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The almond flour gives a breadcrumb-like coating, but if you prefer a more “fluffy” breading, you can use a gluten-free flour mix (like bob’s red mill) which won’t be grain-free, but will still be gluten-free. If you want a more panko-like coating, substitute pork rind crumbs (put plain pork rinds into a food processor and pulse until they’re like sand).

Are you looking forward to next week’s Freezer Friday post? What sorts of things are you hoping to see in this feature?

freezer

A Year’s Worth of Laundry Detergent for Less than $16

A Year of Laundry Detergent for Less Than $16 !

Seriously, you guys. When I watched the Duggars making their vats of laundry detergent (Was it on the show, or did I just dream about it?) I thought… “Okay, that’s a little bit beyond what I’m ever going to do to pinch a penny.”

But then I saw this post about making laundry soap. No melting things… no stirring giant pots full of strange ingredients, trying to figure out how to store 18 gallons of liquid, or pouring (spilling) into a smaller container for the laundry room. Just good old stir-and-serve.

And I don’t normally like to shop at Wal-Mart, but the whole everything-is-available-in-one-spot thing made the idea of going there palatable. So I did. I teamed up with a friend, and made a huge batch of the soap. We split the cost and split the soap, and can you believe it lasted both of us (WHILE cloth diapering) 6 months???

It did!

laundry copy

For the amount I would normally spend on ONE bottle…

of High Efficiency All Free & Clear (or even Up & Up, Target’s brand) liquid, I was able to wash tons of clothes and diapers for 6 whole months.

And then I ran out. The second time I mixed up a batch of soap, I did it slightly differently. The original recipe says to use Fels-Naptha laundry soap, or Zote soap, which I did. But the smell was a bit strong for me, and I had read that regular soap like Ivory (NOT a cleanser bar like Zest or something) will work just as well. So far that’s proven to be true.

So here’s your shopping list.

Prices are from Alice.com, where purchases of over $49 get free shipping and they have TONS of home items. I may just order from them the next time (and also get some shampoo, toilet paper, and other sundries), instead of going to Wal-Mart.

55 oz.  Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda — $4.09

2 2-lb. boxes Arm & Hammer Baking Soda — $4.18

76 oz. 20 Mule Team Borax — $5.59

3 Bars Ivory Soap — $1.79

Total — $15.65

I also added some Lavender essential oil, which you can also get at Alice.com for $6.99, but I already had mine.

All you have to do is…

  1. Grate your soap.
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  2. Convince your toddler daughter that it is NOT, in fact, cheese.
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  3. Mix together HALF of each ingredient in a bowl with a spoon. Trust me. The first time, I used the garbage-bag-in-a-5-gallon-bucket method described in the original blog post, and it was SO hard to stir that much stuff. I ended up accidentally flinging some into my eyes, which… don’t do that. It burns like crazy. Half at a time is manageable, and works fine.
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  4. Optionally, you can add some essential oil. Lavender is good for a lot of things, and won’t damage diapers or cause irritation when your clothes touch you. Some other oils have “side effects” so you may want to ask someone who knows more about essential oils than I do before using something different.
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  5. I didn’t count drops. I just sprinkled them in, and stirred.
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  6. Then I used a measuring cup as a scoop…
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    And put it into my giant jar.
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  7. Repeat with the other half, and you have a full huge jar of soap. I put half of one (or one if it’s more soiled stuff, or a really full load) of these little scoops into my laundry, and it will — no joke — last me an entire year.
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So what are you waiting for?

Hop in your car and get some magic laundry powder ingredients! (Or order online.) And be sure to share this post with your friends on Pinterest, Twitter, StumbleUpon, G+ and Facebook! (There are some buttons right below this to help you.)