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How-Tos/ RECIPES/ Seasonal

Easy Christmas Ladies Luncheon

I have some very special women in my life.  We used to get together for a Bible study at my house every Wednesday morning.  We did this for 4 years, and it was always a highlight of my week.  We had to stop meeting, due to schedule changes and life taking us in different directions.  I thought it would be great to have them all over for a ladies luncheon, and thought “What better time to do it than Christmastime?”

I set the table, made sure the candles were lit, and the Christmas music was playing.  I left a Christmas treat by each of their plates (Lindt Lindor Truffles), which added a little touch of Christmas color to my black and white table.

Soup-Chicken Tortilla Soup
Salad-Cranberry Spinach Salad
Bread-Honey Whole Wheat Bread
Dessert-Andes Mint Cookies
Something Fun To Drink-Cranberry Spritzer
Something Warm To Drink-Coffee & Hot Tea

It was a very cold and snowy week here in Nebraska, so soup was an obvious choice.  My cousin, Keeli, passed on a Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe that I have been wanting to try, so I did—and boy, am I glad I did! Yum!  I set out chips, salsa, shredded cheese; tortilla strips and brown rice, and let them help themselves to whatever toppings they wanted.

Chicken Tortilla Soup
1 pound shredded, cooked chicken
1(15oz) can whole peeled tomatoes,mashed
1(10oz) can enchilada sauce
1 medium onion, chopped
1(4oz) can chopped green chile peppers
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups water
1(14.5 oz) can chicken broth
1t cumin
1t chili powder
1t salt
1/4t black pepper
1 bay leaf
1(10oz) frozen corn

Flour Tortillas, cut into strips, optional
Shredded Cheese, optional

Place chicken, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, onion, green chiles and garlic into a slow cooker. Pour in water and chicken broth, and season with cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Stir in corn. Cover, and cook on low setting for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.  Serve in bowl topped with tortilla strips and shredded cheese, if desired

I had shredded chicken on hand b/c I had made this recipe.  I put it together the night before and then just plugged it in and set it on high and it was ready in time for lunch. 

Buffet Style=Easy!

This is my go-to easy salad recipe.  Whenever I am asked to bring a dish, this is one I often choose to bring.  I can just buy the ingredients, bring a bowl and tongs, dump it all a bowl and toss once I am there.  This is a no-recipe, recipe.

Cranberry Spinach Salad
Bag of Spinach
Bag of Dried Cranberries
Slivered Almonds
Feta Cheese
Newman’s Own Lighten Up Raspberry Walnut dressing
Dump Spinach into large bowl.  Add the rest of ingredients, amounts according to taste.  Toss and Serve.

Honey Whole Wheat Bread
I like this recipe because I can just put it in my bread maker and choose the dough option.  Once it beeps, I put it into a loaf pan and let it rise another 1/2 hour or until about double, then bake.  I could just leave it in my bread maker and choose loaf setting, but I like the shape of a regular loaf pan.
Click here for the recipe.

Andes Mint Cookies
Click here for the recipe.

Cranberry Spritzer
You can make your own (equal parts of cranberry juice and sprite) or buy a bottle like I did.  

 This luncheon really was easy.  Every recipe I chose was super simple and I already had the shredded chicken and cookie dough on hand in my freezer. 

We had a great time.  I have to admit, seeing each of them walk through the door made me REALLY miss our Wednesday Bible Study time together! 🙁
 I am so very thankful for the friendships I have, God has blessed me big time!!  

Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special


At Home Salad Bar

I love salad bars.  REALLY, I do!  There is just nothing like a good salad full of fresh veggies and lots of yummy toppings.  I love the variety and all the bright beautiful colors.
Salads are really a great way to get those servings of vegetables in each day.  I try hard to have a salad with every family dinner, and I often make one for myself at lunchtime.  If I have some soup on hand, I will make a smaller salad, but if not, I load up the entire plate and top with pasta or chicken to make it more filling.

One of my favorite things in my kitchen is my Salad Spinner.  It is so much more economical to buy a head of green leafy lettuce or romaine, than buying the pre-packaged stuff.  It takes no time at all to give it a rinse and a spin…in fact, it is so easy that my 6 year old is the official salad spinner in this house.  She begs me to be the one to wash the lettuce, break it into pieces and pack it into the spinner.  She has so much fun watching the lettuce twirl, and has become quite the salad- eater since owning the job as the “Bowman family salad spinner.”  She even asks for seconds now, which is a miracle since not too long ago she spent a nice chunk of our dinners fussing about having to eat her salad.  I have found that if we pass the toppings around the dinner table and let the girls help themselves, (I put out a plate with a variety of chopped vegetables and fruit) they are much more likely to eat it.  I tell them they have to have at least 3 different colors on their salads, and since they are artistically minded, it often turns into make a “pretty salad” time.  I am proud to say (after much doubt that I ever would) that they are all 3 salad eaters.  Yippee!

**Look at all that water!
I love this salad spinner because it spins and stores.  There is alway lettuce washed and ready to go for sandwiches or to break up for tacos.  It is amazing how long the lettuce will stay fresh in the spinner, ours never gets wilted before we eat it.  I buy a head of lettuce every week so we always have it on hand.
I am much more likely to eat a salad if I know it is in my refrigerator ready for me to throw it together.  I have put my lovely mason jars to good use, and fill them up with chopped vegetables, which has made my refrigerator transform into my very own at home salad bar.  It also makes throwing together a plate of toppings at dinner time a breeze.
**please excuse the green tinge of these pictures.  I’ve got to remember to turn off my under the cabinet lighting before snapping photos!!

As far as dry toppings, sunflower seeds are very healthful and give good crunch.  I also love a sprinkling dried cranberries.  I often make my own croutons by keeping the ends of homemade bread (throw them into freezer in a ziplock until read to use), cube them, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic salt or what ever seasoning you like.  Toast in oven just a few minutes until golden.
As a substitute for croutons, I will take crackers (like Wheat-Thins) and break up a handful and sprinkle it on my salad.  I learned that little trick by watching my bro-in-law.  (the same bro-in-law that taught me to put Baked Lays Potato Chips in my Subway sandwich:))  I guess we both like an added little crunch! We almost always have a box of crackers on hand, so I do this often.

Other toppings I like to add are grated cheese, hard boiled eggs, (these make great snacks- I try to always have some in the refrigerator, my girls love them and are now even making their own egg salad for sandwiches!) whole wheat pasta, (another thing I try to have on hand in the refrigerator, which we use up especially on the weekends, my girls help themselves to it for lunch and sprinkle with parm. cheese) and fresh fruit–chopped apples, clementines, grapes, strawberries, etc.

I try to keep dressings simple.  Todd and I just drizzle ours with a good quality olive oil and a good quality balsamic vinegar.  It really is delicious AS LONG as you buy the good stuff.
My girls love the spray dressings that are out by Wish-Bone, Wish-Bone Salad Spritzers, particularly the Red Wine Mist.  It is full of red wine vinegar and they love that tang.  I have tried to make my own homemade, but have bombed twice.  I even tried filling the Wish-Bone bottle up with my homemade dressing, but it didn’t fool them!
Oh well.

I love seeing my family eat their salad! I have found between drinking our green smoothies and eating salads, that it is very easy to get our fruits and vegetables in.  It takes a little rinsing and chopping up front, but the health benefits for my family make it very worth it!

**make sure you buy the green stuff!  Romaine lettuce and Green Leafy lettuce have seven to eight times as much beta-carotene, and two to four times the calcium, and twice the amount of potassium as iceberg lettuce.  Spinach is another green that is amazingly good for you, so throw some of that in, too.  As a general rule, the darker green the leaves, the more nutritious the salad green.

***This post is linked to Tempt My Tummy Tuesday.
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