Friday, March 18, 2011

Yummy Spring Apple Salad with Yogurt Dressing

This is now my favorite salad. It’s so crunchy, healthy, and yummy and you can eat as much of it as you feel like without ever feeling guilty (not like I would at the moment, being 8 months pregnant, but I’m thinking of you readers out there, too). The tangy yogurt dressing gives it a great kick and has no added oil or mayo, like most conventional salads you get at restaurants, and the other ingredients harmonize wonderfully giving this salad a nice spring flavor.

This salad is a healthier mix of two well-known salads, the Waldorf and the Cobb. Being pregnant, I can’t have the yummy blue cheese on the cobb salad and I love the dressing on the Waldorf, but didn’t feel like mayo and I wanted to have this salad as a main course and not a side. I remembered how much I loved the yoghurt dressings they make over in Europe, and thought I might put together something similar. In the end, the salad above is what came out of all this recipe daydreaming.


½ Iceberg lettuce
2 apples (I used Gala)
½ C chopped walnuts
½ C raisins
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 C diced grilled chicken (optional)

Juice of 1 lemon
3 T plain yogurt
3 t sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Dice all salad ingredients and add to a large salad bowl.

2. For the dressing, I like to use a jar with a lid. Any medium sized jar is fine, including old jars from pizza sauce or jam which have been thoroughly washed in the dishwasher. You can shake the dressing, which is far easier than stirring, and if you have any unused dressing left, you can just pop the jar in the refrigerator.

3. Add all dressing ingredients to your jar, add lid and shake well. Your dressing is ready. You can either pour the dressing directly on the salad and mix it all together, or drizzle it on the salad directly before eating. Remember, because your salad contains apples, if you do not eat the salad immediately after preparing it, you may want to coat your apples in some lemon juice before adding them to the salad so that they don’t brown.

4. That’s all. Super easy, super good. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Baby's First Pillows

At 15 months, I decided that it was time for my son to get his first pillows.

He already had a blankie that he would keep wrapped around him no matter where he traveled in his bed. He loves his blankie and other than his comfort rag, it was the only thing allowed in his bed at night. Nevertheless, I had to admit, he was getting older and maybe it was time to pimp his bed a little.

I wanted to get him some pillows that fit his personality, but that weren’t too high or fluffy to make them unsafe. Most standard kid pillows are still too big for a child under one. Therefore, I decided to make them myself. The first night I gave Jonas his new pillows, he was so thrilled. I checked on him a few times and no matter where he was in his bed, his head was either on the pillow, or tucked under his arm. Often when he wakes up, he’ll look at his pillow and start babbling about all of the different cars and trucks on it. Now, he can’t go to bed without them anymore!

Since Jonas loves anything with wheels, I used some material I had which was covered in different vehicles, some racecar material, and some neutral material for the back of the pillows. The easiest way to make a pillow is to sew a square or rectangle and then stuff it with polyester backing. Nevertheless, polyester backing can start to clump when it is washed too often. Therefore, I decided to use polyester backing strips (You can buy it in a roll) which I could sew into the sides of the pillow, thus preventing clumping.

Here’s the how to:

1. Cut out two squares or rectangles of material into the size you would like plus a quarter to a half inch on each side. My pillows are 12 x 18 inches. Then cut out polyester backing strips the same size as your pillow. I used 4 layers of backing. Finally, cut out a piece of newspaper also the same size.

2. Layer the items as follows: First lay your two material pieces with the good sides of the material facing each other. Then, add the polyester backing over the material. Finally, lay the newspaper on top. It is much easier to sew over newspaper than polyester backing, which will catch on everything and snag. Now use stick pins all the way around to hold it all together.

3. Finally, sew around your pillow leaving about 6 inches on one side. Turn your pillow right-side-in. Using a needle and thread, sew the 6 inch opening shut. Your pillow is finished! Super easy.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Asian Butternut Soup

Here’s a really easy recipe for a delicious butternut soup.
Originally, I when I started making this soup, I had an entirely different soup in mind. However, I managed to get one of the least tasting butternuts at the store and had to rethink my soup.

I don’t know if you have ever experienced the same thing with pumpkin, but there is a big difference between a good one and a bad one. I’ve pureed butternut before, where you could eat it pure and it was delicious. This one, however, tasted like nothing with a hint of butternut. Therefore, I had to get creative.

I knew that I had some coconut milk in the cupboard for a Thai dish that I like, and I figured Asian spices would help to pep any bland soup, so I went from there. I decided on a bit of coconut, peanut butter, ginger, and Asian spices. In the end, my husband loved it and I was pretty impressed.

Here is the recipe, if you would like to have a go at it. I’m sure you could also add garlic, or coriander, Tabasco, or other spices of your choosing. Enjoy!

Butternut soup

1 whole butternut, cut into squares
1 red onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 large apple, chopped
1 t ginger, chopped fine
Spices: paprika, garlic salt, curry, salt and pepper (teaspoon each)
2 T creamy peanut butter
1 can coconut milk
2 T brown sugar

1. Add all ingredients in a large soup pot, add just enough water to cover. Boil about 15 minutes or until tender. Puree smooth.

2. Add all other ingredients and mix well. You may need to add more or less spices depending on how ripe your butternut is. A good butternut hardly needs any spices at all, but a bad one doesn’t taste like much of anything.

3. Garnish with green onions or chopped peanuts.