Since the cucumbers just keep coming and coming, I decided to make pickles with my boys.  This adventure began after reading a post from Out of the Box Food.  I was unaware of what exactly was in store bought pickles, mainly because I do not like pickles so I just never paid attention, and was quickly dismayed by the use of artificial colors and corn syrup.   
The boys set about sorting and washing the cucumbers and I gathered all the ingredients we would need to make our very own pickles.  After sorting we determined that we had enough for 2 batches; one with whole pickles and another with spears.  This, of course, made my pickle loving boys very happy.  

This recipe is very easy to follow and incorporate the help of your child(ren) into all aspects.  The only part my boys did not help with was the actual cutting of the cucumbers.  While I trust them and do have them help slice things from time to time, I did not feel comfortable with them slicing the cucumbers.  I think the best part of this recipe, in my boys opinion, was the shaking of the jar each day.  I am glad that I made 2 jars because I could just envision the race each morning, and the potential argument, to be the "shaker" complete with a broken jar, cucumbers and spices all over my patio.

Yet another bonus of this recipe is that you can adjust the spices, within reason, to your liking.  For our first batch of pickles we followed the directions almost exactly, with 2 exceptions.  First I did not have any fresh garlic, so I used fresh minced garlic from a jar  and used about a teaspoon total.  The other exception is that I did not include the jalapenos.  I was nervous about the use  of the jalapenos, so I thought it would be better to just omit them all together.  

Both changes from the recipe did not affect how fast these pickles disappeared from my refrigerator.  The way my boys and even their "hard to please" grandpa clamored over the pickles I figured I should at least have a taste.  I was surprised, that I actually liked them so a second batch was to be made as the cucumbers were still coming in large numbers!  In the second batch I did decrease the amount of salt by just a bit because I was doing hamburger sliced pickles.  And they turned out very good as well.  So, play with the recipe to find what you like for you and your families healthy homemade pickles!  

The recipe for the Sun Pickles, courtesy of Out of the Box Foods, is located HERE.

Healthy Eatings, 

So in a Life in the Dirt post I mentioned entering my first recipe contest/bake off, and that this recipe was part of my MUM recipes.  Well tonight was the night and I went in confident in my creation.  I was more confident after I saw and heard about judges wanting seconds.  So when the moment of truth arrived I was hopefully...only to be beaten out by a sweet senior lady and some chicken recipe.  Now, I am not bitter about losing to a sweet older lady, who is no doubt a pillar of my small community (even though I had no idea who she was or where she came from).  I am relieved to have my first contest over, no matter the outcome.  I am disappointed because I did think my recipe rocked!  My consolation is that the Mayor asked if he could take a plate home, and of course I obliged because who says 'no' to the mayor! 

Now, to save you from a heart attack or fainting episode I must tell you,  the recipes had to use Gerber Baby Food as part of your ingredients.  After all, Fremont is the home of Gerber baby food and this week is the National Baby Food Festival.  This recipe is very good and my kids have even asked for it while it was in "product testing".  

You will also note that this recipe is derived from my recipe for Veggie Mac and Cheese. And of course NOW the husband says to me "isn't is more of a chicken enchilada" (insert hand hitting forehead)...yes, yes it is...but enjoy it anyway no matter what the name!!!


4 jars-GERBER® NatureSelect™ 3RD FOODS® Vegetables – Broccoli & Carrots with Cheese 
 3 containers-GRADUATES® FOR TODDLERS LIL' MEALS™ – Pasta Stars with Chicken & Vegetables 
 1 Rotisserie chicken, removed from the bone and cut into pieces
½ Tablespoon of minced garlic
 1 package of wonton wrappers
 1 container of Philadelphia Cooking Crème-Italian Cheese and Herb
 2, 8 ounce packages of shredded cheese
Water in a small bowl
9 x 13 baking pan


1-Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2-In a medium size mixing bowl combine the baby food, chicken and garlic until mixed well
3-Place one Tablespoon of the mixture in the center of a wonton wrapper
4-Dip your finger into the bowl of water, then run along the outside of the wonton wrapper to moisten the edges
5-Place another wonton wrapper on top and smooth the sides together (this will look like a large sized ravioli type packet)
6-Place the wonton packet in the baking dish.
7-Repeat steps 3-6 until the bottom of the baking dish is covered.  Then sprinkle about 1 cup of shredded cheese over the layer of wonton packets
8-Repeat steps 3-6 until the second layer is complete
9-Combine the Philadelphia Cooking Crème and 8 ounces of shredded cheese in a medium sized bowl
10-Add in any leftover baby food mixture
11-Spread this mixture over the top layer of wonton packets
12-Sprinkle with remaining cheese
13-Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes
14-Uncover and bake for an additional 20 minutes or until bubbly.

Healthy Eatings, 

I decided to enter the OXO Cherry Recipe Contest.  So it became my mission to create a recipe using fresh cherries.  Sure, I have done this before with my Cherry Spinach Salad.  But, why would I use something I have already done, there is no fun in that!  I set off for the store and remembered it is also fresh peach season, so I had peaches on the brain when my 10 year old requested Salmon for dinner.  So you guessed it my friends, the stage for this challenge was set!  

After my trip to the store for the ingredients my brainstorming really began as I had cherries (and peaches) to use in a salmon recipe.  I have used a fruit chutney in previous recipes including my Pretzel Crusted Salmon and my most recent Make it Up Monday (MUM)-Rhubarb Pork Chops, so clearly I could make that option work.  But I wanted the use of the fruit to be something different, yet flavorful,  more of a fresh look and taste.  

Did I hear someone say, "But, it's summer why are you not using the grill?"  You must have been reading my mind because, you guessed it I also wanted to try this one on the grill, which is a first for me.  So, throw in one of the hottest days of the year, a recipe contest, one determined blogger and this is what you get, enjoy!!

In my efforts of full disclosure, I must add that I did not use any of my OXO utensils and products in this recipe.  However, I am wishing I had after hand pitting all those cherries.  So, I will be purchasing the OXO Cherry Pitter in the very near future.  I DID however, use the OXO Steel Winged Corkscrew to open my bottle of Riesling, which was a perfect wine for this recipe. 

2 packages (4 fillets) of Orca Bay Sockeye Salmon, thawed and with skin removed
1-2 cups of fresh cherries, pits removed
3-4 fresh peaches, cut into slices
Fresh Spinach, amount is up to your preference
1/4 cup of Panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup of sunflower seeds, roughly chopped (I gently rolled over mine with a rolling pin) 
1/3 cup of oil in a bowl big enough to dip the fish, I used Zoye 100 % Pure Soybean Oil
Aluminum Foil
Grill basket (optional)

-Preheat your grill, as you can see below I use a charcoal grill.
-Place cherries and peaches in a foil, I double layered mine just to be safe.  You can see my packet on the left side of the picture below.
-If you are using a grill basket, which I did and left it open faced, line with foil.  I also used a basting brush to lightly grease the foil from the bowl already set aside.
-Combine the Panko and the sunflower seeds onto a plate or shallow dish
-Dip or brush oil on both sides of the salmon fillets
-Coat  both sides of the salmon with the panko and sunflower seed mixture
-Place into the basket
On the Grill:
-Place the Cherries and peaches over an area with lower heat
-Place the Salmon on the grill
-Grill for about 5 minutes per side or until the salmon has an internal temperature of 145 degrees
-Flip the cherries and peaches after about 5 minutes as well.  

(Please note that the large foil packet on the right of the picture above was a summer squash that I was grilling, but not using in the recipe)

-Place fresh spinach on the plate
-Top with a salmon fillet
-Finish with the cherries and peaches

As a girl who, in the past, has not a big fan of salmon, and is only beginning to appreciate and choose salmon and other types of fish as a dinner option this was delicious and will make it into a more regular "rotation" in this house.  

Healthy Eatings, 

First, I apologize for the delay on this recipe.  It is very probable that fresh rhubarb is now gone in your area.  It is becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with all the plates I have spinning in my world.  I continue to strive to bring you new and exciting recipes as well as expanding my blog beyond just healthy tips but all about my life, when the plants grow and when the plants die.

A friend of mine and I were on the phone and she asked, "what do you do with rhubarb?"  My only response at the time was, "I make jam."  But then I got to thinking I wonder what else I can do with rhubarb.  So I headed to the grocery store, my greatest source of inspiration, to ponder (and get groceries).  As I was picking up some fresh fruit I saw rhubarb and decided to pick some up and as I passed the apples it hit me...PORK!  I have often made pork chops marinated in a citrus rub or with apples so maybe adding a little tang with rhubarb would work too.  How to balance the tang was my next question.  as I drove home I figured it out, hard cider and I was in luck I still had one bottle in the fridge!  

This MUM was actually on a Sunday.  Because (hanging my head in shame because it is already July and I am just now posting), I made this recipe on Memorial Day weekend.  Since we have traditions on that holiday Monday I had to move this to Sunday, because I am not going to mess with tradition.  Okay, sometimes I will but not this one. :)  

2 long stalks of rhubarb chopped, about 2-3 cups
1 bottle of Hard Apple Cider 
4-6 Pork Chops
Mrs. Dash Caribbean Citrus Seasoning
Agave Nectar

Prep: Combine rhubarb and cider into a bowl.  Refrigerate 2 hours-overnight.

-Place pork chops in a 9 x 13 pan or marinating pan
-Pour the cider and rhubarb mixture over the chops.  Cover and chill for 2-8 hours (depending on if you are making this during the work week or on the weekend).  
-Remove rhubarb, place in a bowl and set aside for later
-Place pork chops on a plate and sprinkle with the Mrs. Dash seasoning
-Preheat your grill
-Grill the chops until they are done, about 6-8 minutes per side depending on thickness
-While chops are grilling, put rhubarb in a small sautee pan on the stove on low-medium heat
-Add a tablespoon or two of agave nectar and simmer on low-medium heat until the rhubarb is softened and looks similar to applesauce.

-Place a pork chop on your plate
-Top with the rhubarb 
-Add you favorite vegetables on the side

Healthy Eatings!!!


I always see recipes with peanuts and chicken or chicken with some sort of peanut sauce.  Well, being someone who cannot eat nuts I usually skip right over those recipes and think about how amazing they must taste.  Monday, I noticed my jar of Sunbutter in my fridge and thought, why don't I just you this instead of peanut butter.  I am not sure why I had never thought of it before, I use Sunbutter in my baking and on sandwiches so why not in my cooking.  Mum ingredient #1-check.  Now to think of what to put with it, well as you can clearly see by the photo on the top of this post, I paired it with pineapple.  I must admit, I was skeptical of this pairing but it proved to be a unique and tasty dinner!

For you "not allergic to nuts" people, you could use peanut butter instead of the Sunbutter.  If you use Sunbutter, I want to warn you of the price because it is higher than normal peanut butter, thus not as budget friendly.  I am sure others with allergies will agree that the $6.00 for a 16 ounce container is worth it to have something that tastes so good, yet won't send you into an allergic reaction. 

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup of Sunbutter
2/3 cup of panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup of instant mashed potatoes
1/2 fresh pineapple cut up
Agave Nectar-I forgot to measure, but I am guessing 3 Tablespoons 
non-stick spray
oven safe pan

-Preheat oven on BROIL

-Place Sunbutter, bread crumbs and instant potatoes in a bowl and mix well
-Place chicken in an oven safe pan 
-Pat Sunbutter mixture on top of the chicken breasts, you will use it all, so pile it on there!
-Place in the oven for 10 minutes, reduce stove temperature to 400 degrees, bake for another 5-10 minutes (or until done)
-Place pineapple and agave nectar in a pan, heat on medium until pineapple is soft

-Place chicken on your plate
-Top with desired amount of pineapple

Healthy Eatings, 

I had a request on my  Facebook page, for a healthier creamed spinach recipe.  So I thought I would give it a whirl for MUM.  Because I made the rules for MUM I figured this counted: I have never made creamed spinach nor have I tried it, because I like plain spinach so never wanted to add to it.  Well, thank you to this facebook poster I am glad I accepted this recipe makeover!  I added cauliflower just for fun, and I am in love with my own MUM creation!!  

NOTE:  This recipe was loosely based off of a recipe from Food Network.  

1 head of Cauliflower, rinsed and cut up.
8-10 ounces of spinach, rinsed and tough stems removed
3 Tablespoons of olive oil
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups reduced fat buttermilk
1 cup 1/2% milk
1/4 cup diced onions
2 cloves of crushed garlic
1 whole egg and 2 egg yolks

 -In a medium sauce pan heat the olive oil, then add the garlic, onions and flour.  Mix well
-Add in the buttermilk and milk
-Stir occasionally until the mixture begins to boil then remove from heat.
-Boil the cauliflower and spinach-I boiled both together because I was short on pans Monday night :)
-Drain the spinach and cauliflower, squeeze excess water from the spinach
-Return sauce to heat, add in the egg and egg yolks, stir and heat to a boil
-Add the spinach and cauliflower to the sauce until well mixed
-Remove from heat and serve.

I served this with broiled chicken breasts seasoned in McCormick Grill Mates 25% Less Sodium Montreal Chicken Seasoning 

Healthy Eatings, 


Remember that Kenny Rogers song, "The Gambler"?  There was one line that stuck out to me as I was preparing for dinner, "You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away and know when to run".   I knew my boys were at their limit of being surprised at what I was making for dinner on a nightly basis.  So I decided to surprise them with one of their favorites with a twist ;)  

1 box (16 ounces) whole wheat spaghetti 
10 ounces fresh spinach
1 container (10 ounces) of Philly Cooking Creme, Italian Herb and Cheese
6 ounces of reduced fat cream cheese
16 ounces reduced sodium chicken broth
1 rotisserie chicken-I use just about the whole thing
Parmesan cheese (optional) to sprinkle on top 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Cook pasta per directions on the package
-While pasta is cooking, remove the chicken from the bone and place desired amount in a bowl, then set aside
-Steam the spinach until wilted, wring or pat out extra water and set aside
-While spinach is steaming, in a pan on medium heat combine broth and cheeses and heat until mixed well
-Drain pasta
-Combine all ingredients until well mixed
-Spray 9 x 13 pan with non-stick spray
-Optional top with Parmesan cheese
-cook for 30-35 minutes or until bubbly

Healthy Eatings, 

I apologize that this was actually last week's MUM and I forgot to post it.  

I have never used udon noodles in any of my recipes so I thought I would use those and broccoli slaw as the basis for this recipe.  Verdict: Make it Up Monday #2 was a really good.  I also decided to share this recipe with someone as a "taste tester".  So, after a hard workout I decided that my trainer was the perfect person!  After hearing that he liked it I decided to share it with you :)

2 packages of broccoli slaw
2 packages of udon noodles
3 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons xantham gum
1 to 1.5 pounds of chicken, pounded to uniform thickness
Garlic Expressions-to marinade your chicken

-Turn oven on broil.
-Marinade the chicken in Garlic Expressions, I do this right on the stoneware pan that I will be broiling it on.
-Broil chicken about 7-8 minutes per side or until it has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees.  
-Slice your chicken to the desired sizes.
-Cook noodles as directed on the package then drain.
-In a medium sized pot, whisk together soy sauce, xanthum gum, and chicken broth. 
-Heat on medium heat, until it thickens, stirring occasionally.
-Add broccoli slaw until well mixed then remove from heat.  

-Place noodles on your plate
-Top with the broccoli slaw mixture
-Finish with chicken

Healthy Eatings, 

Here is the first ever Make it Up Monday success! You can read more about Make it Monday or MUM in my blog posts.  To sum it up, this recipe worked well last week while this week's recipe was...not up to expectations, to put it nicely :)

This recipe was also one of the first that enlisted the help of a surprise taste tester.  In his words,"Thanks for was amazing!"  It was nice to have such a great review from someone outside of my family, not that their opinion isn't valuable just a bit biased ;).  

This recipe makes enough to freeze for at least 1-2 more meals depending on your family size.  I have a family of 4 and there was enough for me to freeze for another meal.  This is in addition to what we ate on Monday,  the 2 servings I gave to the taste tester and the 3 servings I put in the fridge for left overs later in the week.  **I did not freeze any gnocchi or scallops**

To Freeze: I put 6 Cups of the meat and vegetable mixture, with plenty of juices to reheat for next time, into a freezer safe plastic container, sealed it up and put it in the freezer.  Simple and easy.  To reheat, I will thaw out in the fridge the day before I plan on it for dinner.  I plan on reheating it again using the Crockpot until warm (I am guessing about 1 hour).  I will update this information if I find it is any different.  

So enjoy!!

4-5 pound pork tenderloin
32 ounces reduced sodium chicken broth
1 jar Bella Sun Luci Sun Dried Tomato Halves with Italian Herbs
2, 1 pound boxes of Delallo Potato Gnocchi 
16 ounces bay scallops
olive oil
5 Cups Asparagus
CrockPot-large enough for your roast.  Mine is a 6 quart CrockPot

+Place tenderloin into the CrockPot (I put mine in at 11AM, so I turned mine on high.  If you put yours in earlier in the day I would chose low).

+Add the Chicken Broth and Tomato Halves
+Let it do its thing all day.  
+About 10 minutes before serving, start cooking your gnocchi per the directions on the package.  
+About 5-6 minutes before serving, add you asparagus to the CrockPot and start your scallops.  
+heat a sautee pan with olive oil and garlic.
+Place scallops in and sautee for about 4-5 minutes (note that bay scallops cook faster than sea scallops so keep an eye on them) occasionally stir/flip them so they are evenly cooked but not sticking to the bottom of your pan and burning.  

+Place gnocchi on the plate
+Top with the pork tomatoes and asparagus.  When I used my laddle to plate it I made sure there was some of the juice so it could soak into the gnocchi.
+add a few scallops on top 

Healthy Eatings, 

First, I apologize for not remembering to take a picture before I ate last night, I was just so excited to try it!!!  This is a different way to cook up pork chops and it is delicious!!

Important things to note:
1-I used agave but maple syrup lovers could substitute that instead.  The original recipe title (this is not that recipe) listed maple syrup and balsamic with pork tenderloin.  So I thought, why not agave instead with balsamic and pork chops.  
2-The recipe I used for the corn bread is adapted from another blog.  So, in order to give credit where credit is due, if you would like that recipe you can find it HERE.

Pork Chop Ingredients:
6 pork chops, thawed
1/3 cup Basamic Vinegar
1/3 cup Agave/maple syrup

Cornbread Ingredients:
1 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup corn meal
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup milk
1 egg
3 Tablespoons oil16 ounces of frozen corn, thawed (fresh is better if you have it available) 

-Place pork chops in a marinating dish all day, or at least 1 hour before cooking.
-Cover the chops with the agave and balsamic.
-Preheat oven at 425 degrees.  If you are using a cast iron skillet or stoneware, spray with non-stick spray and place in the oven as it preheats.
-In a medium mixing bowl mix together all the ingredients, except the corn, until evenly mixed. Then fold in the corn, until even mixed.
-Pour cornbread mixture into pan and bake for 20-25.
-After the cornbread is finished turn oven to broil
-place chops on a pan to broil, baste 1/3 cup of the marinade on the chops as they go into the broiler.
-Broil about 4 minutes then flip the chops and baste with the remaining marinade. 
-Broil for another 4 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.

Healthy Eatings,