Beet Salad

It’s officially summer in Minnesota! Which means us northern folk are crossing our fingers we don’t see snow for the next few months. It was a LONG winter. And it was COLD. Just a few weeks ago we were in the 50’s and here we are in the 80’s! But I can’t lie, I love winter cooking. I am a diehard crockpot cooking mama. I love throwing everything in & letting it just do it’s thing! I’m finding the transition from “winter cooking” to “summer cooking” difficult, but am relying heavily on our grill! I have so many yummy recipes I can’t wait to share with you, starting with this one! 

I LOVE beets. Roasted beets in particular & that is just what this recipe calls for. 

  • 1 container of mixed greens. 
  • 2-4 beets, depending on size. 
  • 1 container of crumbled goat cheese. 
  • candied pecans 

Salad Dressing

  • maple syrup
  • dijon mustard
  • apple cider vinegar  
  • lemon juice
  • olive or grape seed oil
  • salt & pepper

First, cut your beets into bite size chunks, drizzle them with olive oil & then roast them so you can poke through them with a fork. I usually do the oven at 400 degrees.

Next, I use my magic bullet and combine the dressing ingredients. I typically don’t measure and do everything based on taste! I usually use equal parts olive oil & apple cider vinegar with a little lemon juice. I add about 1-2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard and do the maple syrup, salt & pepper to taste! I like my dressings a little tangy and the maple syrup really balances out the zing. 

To candy the pecans it’s so easy, sugar & butter in a pan melted and combined, add the pecans... I’ve never had them turn out this good before, but they were SO good. They really caramelized! Let them cool on parchment paper before you add them to the salad! 

Mix & serve! 

Cheesecake

One of my favorite desserts is cheesecake. It doesn’t have to be fancy, I’m a fan of plain piece of cheesecake. I imagine this is the cheesecake that Chandler & Rachel stole and ate on Friends. In fact, the gal I got this recipe from even references this. You guys, it’s amazing.  

This Christmas, Chase challenged me to a cheesecake bake off. His choice was a chocolate, peanut butter cheesecake. He’s never made a cheesecake and I wasn’t about to lose to him. That being said, we decided they’re two totally different cheesecakes. His has so many layers of chocolate & is filled with peanut butter while mine is a simple plain cheesecake topped with a few berries.
I got this recipe from Ashlee Marie and I’m so so happy with it! I’ve made it so many times. Don’t be alarmed by the amount of cream cheese you need, because let me tell you, my mouth dropped when I read how much I’d need! If you give it a try, let me know!!

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Cheesecake Recipe

Crust

  • 1 1/4 C Vanilla wafer crumbs or graham cracker crumbs **I use graham crackers

  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar

  • 6 Tbsp butter melted

Cake

  • 3 lbs full fat cream cheese softened, six 8 oz. packages

  • 1 ½ C granulated sugar

  • 2 tsp vanilla

  • 3 lrg eggs room temp

  • 2 lrg egg yolks room temp

Topping (optional)

  • 1 1/2 C full fat sour cream

  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar

  • 2 tsp vanilla

**I don’t do the topping. Well, I’ve never tried to do it. Maybe next time I make this, I’ll give it a try!

Instructions
Crust

  1. Preheat the oven to 375

  2. **I don’t have a food processor so I just fill a gallon size bag with the graham crackers & get some aggression out, crushing them up until they’re really fine! I’ve found using a rolling pin really helps. I use two packages, which I think is one box. My favorite part of cheesecake is the yummy crust, so I tend to make a little extra and try and push it up the sides of the pan. If you add graham cracker, be sure to add more butter also!

  3. Press firmly into the bottom of a 10 inch spring form pan. **I’ve found using a measuring cup helps press the graham cracker firmly into the sides!

  4. Bake on the bottom rack until crisp and golden, abut 15 min.

  5. Let cool.

  6. Reduce oven to 300 and place baking dish full of hot water on the bottom rack to create moisture (leave this in while baking). **Remember to wrap your springform pan with aluminum foil for the water bath IF you are placing it right in the water! This last time I had the water just below so I did not wrap mine in foil.

Cake

  1. Beat cheese sugar and vanilla with electric mixer on med until light and fluffy, about 30-60 sec.

  2. Scrape the bowl, beat 45 sec more - make sure it's smooth with no chunks.

  3. Lightly whisk the eggs and yolks together and add to cream cheese mixture.

  4. Mix on low speed until they are incorporated and the batter is velvety, about 30 sec, scrape the bowl and mix 10 sec more - do NOT overbeat.

  5. Pour the filling over crust, bake on the center rack until golden, about 1 1/4 hours +.

  6. When you open the rack and shift the pan the center will jiggle a little, but not too much. This is the trick to learn, you might slightly undercook (not bad) or slightly overcook (okay) the first time as you get used to this style.

  7. Just the center 4-5 inches will jiggle and not like soup, like a loose jello jigglers.

  8. If you want the topping add it now.

  9. Turn the oven off and crack open the door and let the cake cool then refrigerate overnight, cheesecake tastes better after a day or two in the fridge.

Topping (optional)

  1. Mix all the ingredients

  2. Pour over the warm cake and lightly spread the topping

  3. Return to oven for 5 min cool completely and refrigerate.

Zuppa Toscana Soup

This is one of our staples when the cold hits here in Minnesota! And the cold has finally hit! It’s the perfect recipe to throw in the crockpot and go about your day. You can also do this in a soup pot, I just like the idea of letting it simmer all day! I usually add a little spice to the recipe with red pepper flakes, but since we are doing baby lead weaning with Jaxon, I’m not adding extra heat. I should also say, I never really measure or follow the rules when cooking, so I’ll add any modifications that I make instead of the standard way to make it!

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  • 1 lb Italian sausage **We like the Jimmy Dean’s Hot Sausage.

  • 2 large sweet potatoes **You can use golden or russet potatoes, I keep our recipe’s fairly “Paleo”.

  • 1 large onion

  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced. **I cook with garlic in excess. Do it to your liking! :)

  • 2 cartons (32 oz) of chicken broth

  • 1 cup of heavy cream **I use one can of coconut milk instead.

  • 6 cups of torn kale **This looks like a lot, but it really wilts down in the soup! I add extra kale in the soup, it’s my favorite part!

  1. Brown and crumble sausage.

  2. Chop onion and sweet potato into bite size pieces and add to crockpot.

  3. Add chicken broth, coconut milk, garlic & sausage to the crockpot.

  4. Salt & Pepper to taste.

  5. Add kale one hour before serving.

Homemade Aussie Bites

We first tried these at my fiance's mom's house and I was OBSESSED. But then, forgot about these yummy snacks until one day when we were walking around Costco. I've sent Chase there to just pick these up... which he now refuses to go there with Jaxon JUST to get these. So I figured there's got to be a good copycat recipe!
I got the recipe originally from insidekarenskitchen.com/homemade-aussie-bites-costco-copycat/
and only made a FEW changes to it. We love these little energy bites & a lot of the main ingredients are GREAT for breastfeeding moms! Even if you aren't breastfeeding, these are so yum, you have to make them! 

UPDATE: Add cinnamon. I added quite a bit. Like, didn't measure quite a bit. I just added it to taste and holy wow. Game changer.

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  • Homemade Aussie Bites

  • 1 3/4 cup rolled oats, divided

  • 1/4 cup dried apricots

  • 1/4 cup raisins

  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed **I added about 1/2 cup instead of the recommended 1/4 cup.

  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

  • 1/4 cup cooked quinoa

  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds **I added an extra tablespoon of chia seeds.

  • 1/4 tsp baking soda

  • 1/4 cup honey **I used all agave nectar and no honey due to baby’s not being able to have honey until they are one. Personal choice, you can use it if you aren’t sharing with baby! :)

  • 1/4 cup agave nectar

  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

  • 1/4 cup unrefined coconut oil, melted

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat two 12-count mini muffin pans with cooking spray and set aside.

  2. Place 1 cup of rolled oats into a food processor. Process for about 1 minute until oats are pulverized. Add in the remaining 3/4 cup rolled oats, dried apricots, raisins, flax seed, sunflower seeds, coconut, quinoa, chia seeds and baking soda. Pulse until apricots and raisins are in small bits.

  3. Pour in honey, agave nectar, melted butter, coconut oil and vanilla extract. Pulse just until combined.

  4. Divide batter among the prepared muffin pans. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.

  5. Remove pans from oven and let cool in pans on a wire cooling rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and let cool completely on the wire rack.

  6. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 to 5 days. Can also freeze for up to 2 to 3 months.