5 Minute Nightly Salad Method

5 minute Nightly Dinner Salad method

I really like having a salad with dinner.  Not every night, but for many meals it’s a great side dish.

But I hate making salads.

If you can relate to that, you’ll want to give this easy method a try.  I’m sure some of you already use this method for making salad.  It’s not rocket science, but for some reason I used to always tear the leaves into pieces, then wash them, dry them…  The process didn’t take forever, but I just hated doing it.  That meant I had lettuce languishing in the bottom of the crisper drawer.


Now I buy a large pack of romaine lettuce.  Costco sells six heads in a pack.  They stay fresh for quite a long time.  One head is about the right amount of salad for our family.

romaine leaves

I pull the head apart and rinse each leaf under cool water.  They get patted dry with a clean towel or a paper towel.

romaine chopped

Next, I chop them up by cutting across all the leaves and then running the knife lengthwise down the head as well.  This takes all of 20 seconds.

All the leaves go into a salad bowl and I pat them dry again.  Sometimes I add tomatoes or red pepper or another vegetable.  Sometimes we keep it simple with just the lettuce.

Since I started making them this way, we’ve eaten a lot more salad.  And I don’t hate making it.

Nightly Salad in 5 minutes or less

The other easy salad that gets served a lot around here is the Simple Wedge Salad.

Do you like making salad?  What method do you prefer to use?

3 Things That Work in the Kitchen This Week – Freezing Jalapenos and more

3 Things that work in the kitchen

1.  Freezing Jalapenos

I had to stop in Trader Joe’s the other day for raw honey to make more elderberry syrup.  I also needed one jalapeno for a recipe.  But Trader Joe’s only had a large bag of them.

jalapeno bag

I didn’t want to run to a different store just for the jalapeno, so I bought the whole bag, took them home, diced and froze them.


It’s a good idea to wear gloves when you’re working with hot peppers.  I didn’t have any, so I put my hand into a plastic baggie to protect my skin from the peppers.  Not as convenient as gloves, but it worked.

And now I’ve got plenty of jalapenos that can be added to all kinds of recipes.

2.  Oatmeal Latte

oatmeal latte

I saw this post on Saturday and on Sunday morning we had to make it happen.  The idea of an Oatmeal Latte at first didn’t sound too great, but I was curious enough to investigate further.  When I read that it’s a creamy, warm bowl of oatmeal topped with a shot of espresso I had to try it.

This is some of the best oatmeal I’ve ever had – so rich, slightly sweet with the strong flavor of coffee.  It makes for an amazing bowl – or mug, if you’ve got one large enough.  We won’t be making this our everyday breakfast, but it’s great for a relaxed weekend morning.

3.  Detox Salad

Detox salad

I made Detox Salad on Saturday night.  It’s so good!  I didn’t chop mine as finely as Kim did hers.  I don’t have a food processor, so I was chopping by hand.  It’s an easy salad to make, even by hand.  And it is so good!  Did I mention that already?

What’s working in your kitchen this week?


3 Things That Work in the Kitchen – Traveling with a full slow cooker and more

3 Things that work in the kitchen

1.  Traveling with a full slow cooker

I don’t have the type of slow cooker that latches down to keep it from spilling.  I’d love to have one, but my current crockpots are working just fine and I can’t justify buying another one.  However, on Friday night I had to take a crockpot full of Velma’s Chili across town to the volleyball banquet for my daughter’s team.

PicMonkey Collage

I used two rubber bands, knotted together to to hold the lid on.  I also set the slow cooker inside a big bucket and wedged it in place with a few mason jars, surrounding it with an old beach towel.  I really didn’t want it sliding around inside the bucket.

The chili did slosh out.  It was a bit of a mess, but most of the chili stayed in the crock and none of it got inside the car.

2.  Grocery list on my phone

I’m a paper and pencil/pen girl.  I love being able to quickly print out my grocery list, jot a few extras on it it and go.  But the other day, my printer refused to print.  I was able to pull up the Slow Cooker Weekly Meal Plan grocery list on my phone.  It worked great, but I still prefer printing.

phone grocery list

3.  Stuffed Shells with chicken

A while back I made a batch of Stuffed Shells, but for some reason I didn’t end up with as much filling as I usually do.  Or I filled all the shells too full.  Whatever the reason, I had a smaller batch to stash in the freezer than normal.  In order to stretch it, I pan fried some chicken tenders, seasoned with salt, pepper and some Italian seasoning.  I placed the shells on top of the chicken, poured the spaghetti sauce over the top of all of it, covered and baked it in the oven.

It worked great!  I didn’t snap a photo, but it turned out delicious, it was easy and we had enough food.  Win, win, win.

What’s working in your kitchen this week?




Today’s the last day


Today’s the last day to get Slow Cooker Freezer Meals for a great price.

Pick up one volume for just $7.97 or grab both for $12.97.

I love having these for busy days.  I can pull a meal from the freezer, thaw it quickly in the microwave and then pop it in the slow cooker.  With just a few minutes of effort in the morning, we’ll have dinner ready that evening.

You can purchase and find out all about what’s included here.

Crockpot Chicken Spaghetti

Crockpot Chicken Spaghetti

This is one of those classic recipes that gets passed around because it is so good.  There are a million different variations.

I like this crockpot version.  The chicken and veggies cook in the crockpot and the spaghetti and cheese get added later.  It splits the meal prep into two easy parts and makes dinner fit into your day.

The next time I make this, I’m planning to add a can of diced green chilies and a can of drained, diced tomatoes.  Or maybe just a can of tomatoes and green chilies.  I kept it simple this time, and it’s good either way.  Change it up to suit your family and what you have on hand in the pantry.

Here’s what you’ll need:   [Read more…]

3 Things That Work in the Kitchen This Week – Cooking classes, new recipes and more

3 Things that work in the kitchen

1.  Inspiration and good reading

southern living

I used to love to flip through magazines and would buy them all the time.  I still love to look through them, but I rarely buy anymore.  This 50th Anniversary edition of Southern Living is too good to pass up though.

I especially enjoyed the timeline of recipes.  So fun to see when and how Jello wiggled into our lives, what we were doing with pineapple in the 70s and how French food inspired all kinds of dishes on southern tables.

And don’t miss the cakes.  They look amazing!

I found a recipe in the 80s section that inspired this…

2.  Crockpot Chicken Spaghetti

Crockpot Chicken Spaghetti

The other day my mom was telling me about this recipe that she found on Facebook.  I don’t think she called it Chicken Spaghetti though.  I happened to be thumbing through the Southern Living when we were talking and I told her I’d found the recipe in the magazine.  I’d also remembered that Pioneer Woman has a version of this on her site.

This is one of those recipes that can be made a million different ways, like any good basic recipe can.  It’s fun when people put their own spin on a classic like chili or mac & cheese or Chicken Spaghetti.  Some recipes include green chilies or tomatoes or other seasoning.

I kept things fairly simple with this one.  It all cooks in the crockpot, except the spaghetti which gets added in later.  It’s super easy and really good.  Look for the recipe on the blog soon.

3.  Cooking classes

I filled in as the cooking teacher this week at our high school homeschool electives program.  I taught two classes, each with about twenty students.  That’s a lot of energy!  We made green smoothies and migas.

A few of them had tried green smoothies before, but for most it was new.  The overall response was good.  They liked them and a few said they wanted to make them at home.

Migas my favorite egg dish

The Migas were also new to them.  I think they mostly liked those too.

Sale going on now!


Don’t miss the sale going on right now on the Slow Cooker Freezer Meals.  I love having these meals stashed away in the freezer for busy days.

The sale runs through Wednesday, February 24.

1 Hour Freezer Stash Plans – On Sale Now!


If you love having a few dinners stashed away in your freezer for really busy days – this is the sale for you!

Each of these volumes has 12 plans in it with 6 meals each, grocery lists and assembly instructions included.  They’re designed so that you can put together 6 meals for the freezer in just 1 hour.

I love having my freezer stocked with slow cooker freezer meals.  It’s so easy to pull one out on a busy morning, pop it in the slow cooker and know dinner is ready.

Add to cart (3)

Add to cart (2)

Add to cart (1)

You can pick up one volume for just $7.97 or both for $12.97.

You can find out more and purchase by clicking here.

Slow cooker freezer meals is a feature that our Weekly Meal Plan Members get.  Each month we load a new freezer plan in the member area as part of the Slow Cooker Meal Plans.

This sale runs through Feb. 24, so don’t wait!

Easy Soup Toppings Bar Ideas

Bear Creek soup toppings buffet

Soup is one of our favorite meals. I didn’t think we could like it any more than we do until we added a soup toppings bar.

We’ve had a lot of snowy weather lately. One day for lunch, I pulled a packet of Bear Creek Creamy Potato Soup from the pantry. I decided to add a bunch of topping options to go along with the soup.

Bear Creek soup with toppings

Next to the pot of soup – we aren’t too fancy around here – I put small bowls of different toppings:

  • Bacon bits
  • Shredded cheese
  • Diced green onions and diced red onion
  • Oyster crackers
  • Croutons

All those toppings made the soup even better. For some reason, I’d never had croutons in soup before. That is a great combo!

The toppings bar is a really easy way to add to your soup lunch or dinner. I just pulled things from the fridge and pantry that I had on hand.

Bear Creek Soup Mix

We chose Creamy Potato for our soup lunch, but Bear Creek offers quite a few other flavors too. These are great for kids who want to make a meal. Or for adults who want something quick. Making a pot of soup is really quick with Bear Creek.

Bear Creek toppings bar

What are your favorite soup toppings?


 Bear Creek Country Kitchens began over 20 years ago with one goal in mind: to create home-style soups that will satisfy every appetite.  Combining high-quality ingredients and a special blend of spices, Bear Creek soups are delicious and easy to prepare. 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Bear Creek Soups. The opinions and text are all mine.

Brie, Bacon and Chicken Stuffed Baked Potatoes

Brie, bacon and chicken baked potatoes

This is a case where an inspiration ingredient turned into an amazing meal.

I bought the block of brie at Trader Joe’s the other night.  It caught my eye, and even though I didn’t know what I’d do with it, the brie had to go home with me.

On Sunday I decided that the brie needed to be tucked into hot, baked potatoes.  Oh my!  Brie was made for potatoes.  My son-in-law said brie is like cheese trying to be butter.  Perfect!

My oven has a delayed bake setting on it, so the potatoes went into the oven while we were at church.  Once we were home, I pulled together a quick topping of chicken (I used rotisserie chicken), onions, French herbs in chicken broth.

We nestled slices of brie into the split potatoes, spooned the chicken and onions over the top and crumbled bacon over it all.

It was easy, quick and amazing!

Here’s what you’ll need:   [Read more…]

3 Things That Work in the Kitchen This Week – Elderberry Syrup and more

3 Things that work in the kitchen

1.  Homemade Elderberry Syrup


homemade elderberry syrup

A few months ago, just as fall and winter were setting in, I heard about taking elderberry syrup everyday to help prevent colds and flu.  You can also up the dosage if you do get sick and it helps you recover quicker.  I bought a bottle at the drug store, but we quickly realized that is a fast way to go broke.  Those drug store bottles are really expensive.  That meant we weren’t keeping up with taking it.

I’d heard about making it homemade, but had no idea where to get the elderberries.  It seemed complicated and not worth it.  I was wrong.  This is so easy – from ordering the elderberries off Amazon to actually making the syrup.

I used the recipe from Wellness Mama.  I didn’t change anything in her recipe.  The elderberries were about $16 on Amazon.  I think I can make the syrup about three times with that amount of berries.  The recipe also calls for raw honey.  It is important to use raw honey and not the regular kind.  Raw honey has a lot of healthy benefits.  I found raw honey at the new Lucky’s Market that just opened in town.  I’ve also seen it at Trader Joe’s.

Does it really help prevent colds and flu?

Studies have been done showing that it does.  So far, we’ve had two rounds of bad colds circulate in the house.  Despite taking elderberry syrup every day, I did come down with the first cold.  Then I stopped taking the syrup because we were using store-bought and it was expensive.  My son also got the cold, but he kept taking the syrup and he didn’t get nearly as sick as I did.

So far, I haven’t picked up the second cold to hit our house.

2.  New Dishwasher Schedule

Ok, this is kind of pitiful, but I finally figured out a schedule to run our dishwasher.  We usually run it twice a day, but we were waiting until we couldn’t cram another piece in before running.  That meant it ran right before dinner sometimes, meaning we couldn’t put the dinner dishes in the dishwasher until later.

I finally realized that it works better to run it on a schedule versus when it’s absolutely full.  We now run it after lunch and at night before bed.  It’s still be mostly full when it gets run and we get to empty it at more convenient times.

A simple thing I should have figured out a long time ago.

On a related note, it makes me wonder where else in my life I’m trying to maximize something (like cramming the dishwasher full), but it’s actually complicating things.  Hmmm…

3.  Brie, Chicken and Bacon Stuffed Baked Potatoes

Brie, bacon and chicken baked potatoes

This happened on Sunday.  Oh my!  This was such a good combination.  I’ll share the recipe on the blog soon.  It’s an easy one!

What’s working in your kitchen this week?


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