Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Favorite Garden Recipe: Tomato Cucumber Salad with Balsamic Dressing

With vegetable gardens overflowing this time of year, we have an overstock in our refrigerator. Some from a friend's garden and some from our local market. With that, I'm all about salads this week. Tonight's is one of our favorites!

Tomato Cucumber Salad with Balsamic Dressing


  • 2 large ripe tomatoes
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled 
  • 1/2 cup Vidalia onion, chopped (Vidalia are my favorite for their sweetness)
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, halved
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • sea salt
  • pepper
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

    1. Mix together tomatoes, cucumber, onion, and olives in serving bowl.
    2. In separate small bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar and oil until well mixed. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. I tend to go very light on the amount of dressing because the vegetables are filled with their own delicious juices. I like a small amount of dressing just to add flavor.
    3. Pour dressing over vegetables and toss. 
    4. Sprinkle with feta cheese.

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

    5 Healthy Summer Recipes

    I've recently decided I need to increase my intake of green leafy vegetables, so this week I bought a bag of spinach. Although I've been a big eater of veggies and salads, I haven't been a big fan of spinach. I'm not sure why really. I've always liked spinach-strawberry salads and creamed spinach. Well, I guess creamed spinach doesn't really qualify as healthy!

    Anyway, I'm looking for new ways to eat more spinach. So I've been looking for recipes and decided to share a couple of them here with you, along with a few other healthy recipes. After all the summer BBQs and vacation eating, I need to wind down the month of August with some lighter fare. Anybody with me?

    Spinach Artichoke Pasta - This dish is from The Pioneer Woman, and it looks and sounds fantastic. Okay, admittedly, it's a little rich, so not under the "lite" category, but I'll take it for the spinach and diet another day!

     Spinach artichoke pasta
    Photo taken from The Pioneer Woman

    Vegetable and Goat Cheese Phyllo Pie - As some of you may know, every year we support the American Heart Association and their Go Red for Women campaign against heart disease. Their website has some awesome healthy recipes. this delicious veggie pie is a must!

     Vegetable and Goat Cheese Phyllo Pie
    Photo taken from

    Strawberry, quinoa, spinach & cashew salad - Thank you to Julia's Album for this delicious and nutrition-packed salad!

     Strawberry quinoa spinach cashew salad
    Photo taken from Julia's Album

    Sweet Spiced Salmon - This is another delicious recipe from the American Heart Association. A very flavorful salmon that you can either bake or grill.

     Sweet Spiced Salmon
    Photo taken from

    Almond Snack Mix - I always crave crunchies around 4:00 and this is a healthy way to satisfy that craving! Thanks to the American Heart Association for another great recipe.

     Almond Snack Mix
    Photo taken from

    Enjoy some healthy treats and have a happy day!

    Tuesday, August 5, 2014

    Favorite Recipe: Mediterranean Pasta Salad

    I found this tasty dish on Food Network, and it's perfect for your late summer BBQs.  As complex as the flavors, colors, and textures may be, it is quite simple to prepare and great for any occasion. I've added a few of my own personal tips along the way :)

    Mediterranean Pasta Salad

    • Kosher salt
    • 1 lb. tricolor pasta, such as bow tie or fusilli
    • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
    • 2-3 teaspoons dijon mustard
    • Freshly ground pepper
    • 2/3 - 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1/3 cup diced sun-dried tomatoes
    • 1/4 cup fresh basil, julienned
    • 1/3 cup diced onion
    • 2 large pickled pepperoncini pepper, diced
    • 3 tablespoons halved black olives (I use kalamata)
    • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
    • 1-1/2 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
    • 1-1/2 tablespoons grated romano cheese


    1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, then rinse with cold water to cool.
    2. Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette: Whisk the vinegar, mustard, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in enough of the oil to make a smooth dressing; season with salt and pepper.
    3. Combine the sun-dried tomatoes, basil, onion, pepperoncini, olives and oregano in a bowl. 
    4. Add the cooked pasta, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Add the vinaigrette and both cheeses and toss.
    5. Chill until ready to serve.

    Friday, August 1, 2014

    Happy Friendship Day to Forever Friends

    This Sunday is Friendship Day.

    We are a group of 6. We came together in high school and have been best friends for 35 years. We shared typical adolescent adventures throughout high school (and some not so typical). We went to mostly different universities, and pursued different careers. We got married, divorced, had children. We married again, lost parents, and moved to different cities, states, and even countries. We suffered depression, cancer, lupus, miscarriages, and infertility. And to this day, we come together. Whenever life allows.

    The most recent battle of one, which means it's a battle for all, was a diagnosis of ovarian cancer. The affected one, with a dear husband and 2 amazing young boys, fought the disease unremittingly (and still is). Although life didn't afford us the time to be together often before the disease, the disease changed all priorities, and we were there. Bringing food, visiting, tending to chemo sessions. Taking her boys apple picking, driving her to events when the poison in her body impacted her ability to drive. 

    And always coming together on the one day of celebration that remains constant - Christmas. 

    This is what true friendship is, and on this Friendship Day, I honor these women, the newer friendships I've made along the way, and all of the amazing friends who are there for each other through life's journey.

    Thursday, July 24, 2014

    5 Irristible Summer Desserts

    While this time of year is considered the dog days of summer, we're really only a little more than halfway through. There is still plenty of time from now through Labor Day for BBQs, picnics, and weekend or day trips. In fact, take it a couple weeks past Labor Day and, weather permitting, keep feeling that summer sunshine. I encourage you all to make the time for a summer outing and when you're planning your outdoor menu, choose one of these delicious summer desserts!

    Pistachio Triple Layer Bars from Lady Behind the Curtain. I'm a huge fan of pistachio, so when I saw this recipe, I immediately had to try it. It's a bit more of a formal dessert, but it's beautiful, decadent, delicious, and really not hard to make. It doesn't get much better than that!

    Raspberry Cheesecake Bars from Midwest Living. Raspberry, cheesecake, and almond are a refreshing and delicious combination for these summer dessert bars. They look as good as they taste! Make these ahead of time, so they are nice and chilled for serving.

    Coca Cola Cake from My Recipes. I have to admit I have not made this yet, but it looks too good to pass up. This is now on my list for my next baking adventure!

    Cherry Peach Galette from Eat Drink Love. Nothing tastes quite like summer than the combination of peaches and cherries! This is a great dessert for a BBQ and paired with a nice sweet wine.

    Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Milkshakes from The Stay At Home Chef. Delight your guests and revisit your childhood with these tasty milkshakes. Whether you choose to buy the sauces or make your own, these are sure to be a hit!

    Have a happy day!

    Monday, July 21, 2014

    Thoughtful Presence Giveaway: Take a Break with our Summer Spa Gift Set

    It's the latter half. You're wondering why the summer goes so fast. You're wishing vacation was still ahead of you instead of behind. And you're starting to seriously think about back-to-school. Well, folks, this is it: the dog days of summer.

    But rather than feeling anxious that September will come too fast, or dwelling on the fact that summer is too short, take a break. Relax. Renew your spirit. Make a list of 10 summer things you can still accomplish before Labor Day. Then schedule them, so they don't slip by undone.

    For me, July and August are spent planning for the rest of the year, especially Christmas. And boy if that doesn't rush things along! But I still take time to water my garden, plan a picnic, and squeeze in one more camping trip.

    And to help you along with your dog days relaxation, we're giving away a summer spa gift set, perfect for gifting yourself or someone else if the occasion fits.

    And tell us in the comments what is one thing you've yet to accomplish between now and Labor Day?

    Have a happy day!

    Thursday, July 10, 2014

    July Product Review and Giveaway!

    Today we kicked off a great giveaway along with a product review in partnership with Eighty MPH Mom blog! It's been awhile since we offered a gift card giveaway, and we're thrilled to bring this your way! Eighty MPH Mom has great ideas and finds for food, crafts, DIY and more! So head on over and check it out. There are lots of great ways to enter, and you could win a 50.00 gift card to our store!

     Product Review and Giveaway

    Have a happy day! (oh, and Good Luck!)