Daily Dose of Rabbit Food

Daily Dose of Rabbit Food: December 2013

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Showstoppahhhh Salad - B.L.T. with Garlic Dressing

Holy Hiatus! I feel like I haven't been on the blog for ions. Reunited and it feels so good! Oh, how I have missed blogging, pinning, and Google-ing. The past few weeks have been a bit of a jolly blur. A lot of wrapping, opening, cooking, eating, and cleaning--the ol' holiday shuffle, if you will. Things are starting to settle back into normalcy and it feels pretty nice.

We hosted Cody's side of the family Christmas Day. If you know us, you know we are "garage people". We spend a lot of time, my husband especially, in the garage. It is like his second home, literally. He keeps that garage cleaner than most people keep their bathrooms, so, instead of cramming everyone into our house, we set-up a winter-wonderland of sorts in the garage. We hung Christmas lights, decorated with wreaths and pre-lit trees, set-up a mini-bar, a dessert station, and had enough seating for 20 of us to sit down and eat dinner as one big happy family. We had so much fun.

The menu: Ribeye's on the grill, Robin's (my mother-in-law) party potatoes, macaroni and cheese, roasted asparagus, B.L.T. salad, and dinner rolls. It is tradition to cook steaks on Christmas. This year, Jerry (my father-in-law) surprised us with a homemade Béarnaise sauce. It was the icing on the cake. 

When you are cooking a large meal it can get a bit hectic trying to time everything just right. I mean, it would just be a tragedy if the macaroni got cold before the steaks were done! (Insert sarcasm). Really, probably nobody would notice, and they would just be happy you were the one cooking and not them! I live for that moment when everybody is sitting down, enjoying their meals, engaged in conversation, and lingering at the table far longer than they normally would--it is a beautiful thing. It makes all meal preparation worthwhile. 

I am a salad freak. I love them. In my eyes, a big meal is not complete without one. I have, what I like to call, a showstopper salad--my B.L.T. salad. I have made it for a New Year's Eve dinner party, a Fourth of July weekend family dinner, and most recently, for our Christmas Dinner. I use the freshest ingredients available, cook the bacon the morning of, allow the pre-dressed salad to chill, mix-in the croutons and dressing right before serving--the end result is a crisp, cold, and flavorful salad that everyone loves.

B.L.T. Salad with Garlic Dressing

B.L.T. Salad

4-6 heads of Romaine lettuce
1 pint of organic cherry tomatoes
1 cup of fresh, crumbled blue cheese
1 lb. of uncured (nitrate-free) center-cut bacon
1-2 cups of thick-cut garlic croutons


1. Cook bacon, let cool. Once cooled, chop bacon into small pieces. Discard any "fatty" 
    pieces that are not crisp.

2. Chop romaine lettuce and wash with cold water. Spin lettuce dry or pat with paper towel. 
    Put lettuce into large serving bowl. 

3. Slice cherry tomatoes in half. Top lettuce with cherry tomatoes, bacon pieces, and 
    blue cheese. Store in the refrigerator, until ready to serve.

4. When ready to serve top salad with croutons. Gently toss salad with Garlic Expressions 
    dressing. Slowly add the dressing. I used 3/4 bottle for 20 servings of salad. 

*This recipe serves approximately 20 people. Adjust ingredient amounts based on the number of people you are serving.

B.L.T. Salad with Garlic Dressing

B.L.T. Salad with Garlic Dressing

B.L.T. Salad with Garlic Dressing

I highly recommend using Garlic Expressions dressing. The dressing contains fresh, whole garlic cloves, and does not have any additives or preservatives. If you can't find it at your local grocery store, you can order it online. I love it so much, I think it would be worth ordering online to make this salad. When purchased online, directly from the company's site, you have to purchase in quantities of 6. I think a bottle of this dressing would be an excellent hostess gift. It would also make a great accompaniment to a wedding shower gift--think salad bowl, serving pieces, and a bottle of dressing with this recipe attached! 

I hope you love this salad as much as I do! Looking forward to 2014! 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Two Items, Ten Hours, One Damn Good Sandwich

If you haven't found the way to your husband's heart, you will, after you make him Damn Good Italian Beef. To a man, there is nothing better than a good, hearty, meaty, cheesy, glorious sandwich. They just can't help themselves. This Damn Good Italian Beef will not disappoint the toughest of critics. Believe me, I am married to one! The best part is, the recipe doesn't take much on your part, just a crock pot, a roast, and a jar of pepperoncinis.

This is a recipe I have been meaning to try for a long time. The girls at work swear by it! It is one of those recipes that gets passed from person to person. I don't know what has taken me so long to try it, especially considering that this beef can pretty much guarantee you a "wife of the year" award.

Whenever we have a crock pot meal working, the first one home is responsible for taking the first bite, calling the other person to let them know how good it is, and sometimes (sad to say) sending a pic! We do love our food at the Schade household! I knew we had a winner when I saw a "the beef is the bomb" text from Cody come through. Yay!

Italian Beef

So, here is the nitty gritty:

Damn Good Italian Beef

2-3 lb roast
1 large jar pepperoncinis

Put roast and entire jar of pepperoncinis (liquid included) into crock pot. Cook on low for
10 hours. Shred beef and enjoy.

For the meat, we used a sirloin tip roast. I am not an expert on cuts of meat, so I usually ask the person behind the meat counter what they would recommend. They won't steer you wrong.

For the sandwich, Cody toasted the bun with butter and garlic salt, layered it with beef, mozzarella cheese, and the softened pepperoncinis from the crock pot.

Italian Beef

Italian Beef

Italian Beef

You must try this recipe! Cody claimed it to be better than Chicago-style Italian beef. He said it may have just been the best sandwich he has ever had! If you know my husband, you know the weight of this comment! Hope you all enjoy this Damn Good Italian Beef as much as he did!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Cranberry Almond Granola

Hello friends. If you are like me, between work and preparing for the holidays, you have a busy week ahead of you. I have been making my list and checking it twice. My goal is to check everything off of that not-so-little list by the end of the week. Our family festivities start this Saturday and cruise right along through Christmas day. This year, we only have one family party per day, so we will not have to rush from place to place. I am looking forward to spending quality time with all sides of our families! My arsenal for the busy week ahead is pre-planned meals, carved-out time for exercise, and adequate sleep. Ok, ok, you can add coffee to that list too. I honestly don't even know how people survive without coffee. My coffee pot is pre-set so it ready before I even get out of bed. Ah, the simple things in life.

Getting enough sleep is key for feeling energized, keeping hunger at bay, and keeping a smile on your face! Sleep seems like an easy thing to skimp on when your to-do list is a mile long, but resist the urge! You will feel so refreshed and ready to take on the day when you log enough hours in bed. It is equally important to carve out time for exercise. This time of year is stressful, and exercise is a huge stress-buster. Not to mention, it is easy to overeat when there are Christmas cookies calling your name. Getting a sweat on will help you melt away calories, decrease your stress, and leave you will feel-good chemicals circulating through your body. Consider good health a Christmas present to yourself that keeps on giving. 

Now, ain't nobody got time to be making five-star meals the week before Christmas! If you do, what do you do for living, and how to I get your job??? This week, focus on healthy, easy meals and snacks. One of my favorite on-the-go breakfasts is Greek yogurt, fresh berries, and homemade granola. Homemade Cranberry Almond Granola is so easy and one batch will get your through the week! I made this recipe yesterday and it is what I will be eating all week for breakfast! 

Cranberry Almond Granola

Cranberry Almond Granola

1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted or 1 tbsp of vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds
1/2 cup dried cranberries

1. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Combine brown sugar, honey, coconut oil, vanilla, salt, cinnamon in large mixing bowl. 
    Fold in old-fashioned rolled oats.

3. Spread into an even layer on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake and stir occasionally
    until the oats are toasted and the granola is dry, approximately 30 minutes.

4. Fold in cranberries and almonds; let cool. Store in an airtight container.

Cranberry Almond Granola

I hope Cranberry Almond Granola helps you get through this busy week! It will at least take the guesswork out of breakfast every morning! This recipe also makes a great gift. Put Cranberry Almond Granola in a mason jar or wrap it in a plastic; tie with a Christmas ribbon and create a hand-made card. Voila! A healthy gift will stand-out among the platters of Christmas cookies!

Cranberry Almond Granola - Christmas Gift

Have a great week everyone! Enjoy this busy week and make sure to slip in some exercise and an hour or two of extra zzz's! 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Who ever liked a perfectly straight Christmas tree anyways?

Ho. Ho. Ho-lidays! I hope you all are having a fabulous December! I apologize for being a little MIA the past few weeks. I have been MIBW (Missing in Blog World) but have been PIRL (Present in Real Life)! My hubby, family, and friends appreciate the PIRL Gina, especially this time of year. Christmas shopping, impromptu pedicures with my mom, Christmas tree hunting with friends, and holiday meal planning have been consuming my free-time! Yay - love this time of year!

I hope you all are taking a moment to stop and smell the pine trees! We sure are. Last weekend, we went Christmas tree hunting with good friends of ours. We were aiming for a tall-skinny, but ended up with a short-wide. Beggars can't be chooser, right? I am not going to lie, when we first brought the tree inside, it did not stand up perfectly straight; actually, it still doesn't stand perfectly straight, BUT, if you turn the tree so the lean is to the corner, it is not THAT noticeable. I mean, once you haul that tree home, put your favorite childhood ornaments on it, and perfectly string the lights, there is no turning back.

If you are looking for an inexpensive way to decorate your house, I have just the thing. One part glass, one part sparkly ornament, and one part pinecone. Mix pinecones and ornaments together and place in glass jar! Voila! This is the cutest, most inexpensive, Christmas decoration. Plus, you can go beyond the traditional red and green, and mix in pinks, blues, and purples. Another bonus, very minimal assembly required, which is good for people like me!

This is our first Christmas with Magic. What is pet protocol? Do you get your pets Christmas presents? I mean, they become such a part of your family, they sometimes feel human! I would feel bad not getting him something to open, errrr, tear apart. I am so glad Cody talked me into adopting Magic; I just love him. He is my bud!

I hope you all are finding the perfect gifts, spending time with family, and enjoying a Christmas cookie or two! Remember to be present in the moment and enjoy making these special memories!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Spaghetti Squash Soiree

Do you know how easy it is to make spaghetti squash? Let me tell you, it is eaasyyy. Ladies, you can even put your husbands in charge of this one! Spaghetti squash is a beautiful winter root vegetable that is a cinch to make. Literally, you slice it length-wise, scoop out the seeds, and put it rind side up in the oven at 375 for 45-60 minutes. Spaghetti squash can be eaten on its own, but I prefer substituting it for noodles, rice, or other grains. It is a great option for those who eat gluten-free. Another bonus -- it's only 30 calories per cup. Woot. Woot. 

Cody was traveling this week, which meant I got to experiment in the kitchen. Not that he doesn’t like to experiment; he just doesn’t get as excited as I do about sweet potatoes and spaghetti squash. This Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash recipe was inspired by one of my best friends, Katie. Throughout the years, she has discovered she has various food allergies. Whenever I visit, she is always whipping us up a healthy and delicious meal. This recipe is very similar to a dish she made for us before.

I have played with the ingredients, but I always come back to the combination of garlic, spinach, diced tomatoes, olives, and feta. I just love the flavor combination. I am a garlic freak. I just love it. In fact, I am pretty sure you can smell it coming through my pores. There could be worse smells, right? 

Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash

Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash

1 medium-sized spaghetti squash
1 can diced tomatoes
4 garlic cloves, minced (I used jarred but fresh would work too)
1/3 cup kalamata olives
4 cups fresh spinach
1/2 cup feta cheese
2 Tablespoons olive oil

1. Cut squash in half length-wise. Scoop out the seeds. Place each half face down
    on a foil lined baking sheet. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until tender. When squash
    is cooked, you should be able to take a fork and gently pull apart the strands. 
    Place all of the squash strands in a bowl and set aside; discard rinds. 

How to cook a spaghetti squash

how to cook a spaghetti squash

2. Saute garlic in olive oil over medium heat for 3-5 minutes or until fragrant. 
    Add diced tomatoes and olives to pan. Cook for 5 minutes; stirring occasionally. 
    Add spinach to pan and gently stir until spinach is wilted. 

spaghetti squash recipe

3. Add spaghetti squash to pan and coat with tomato mixture. Just before serving,
    stir in feta cheese. 

Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash

Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash

Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash

Even though the squash may take up to an hour to cook, this recipe takes little work. I like to put the squash in the oven as soon as I get home from work. That way, while the squash is cooking I can get other things done around the house. By the time it is done cooking, I am usually relaxed and ready to start step 2. To make this a complete meal, serve it with a green salad and garlic bread. See, there I go again with the garlic! I can’t get enough! 

This recipe makes great leftovers. I made it on Wednesday night and took leftovers for lunch on Thursday. A few of my co-workers tasted it and it got a thumbs up! This is a dish you can feel good about eating! I hope you enjoy! 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Eat Sweet and Be Sweet!

Straight from the mouth of my husband, "Sweet potatoes have an identity crisis -- they don't know if they should be sweet or savory, or if they should be dessert or dinner." With all due respect to the sweet potato, I have to agree with him! They can definitely swing one way or the other!

Naturally, sweet potatoes are sweet (duh!) but they can be taken into the savory world with the addition of chipotle seasoning or when tossed into a black bean and sweet potato quesadilla. Yes, a sweet potato and black bean quesadilla did happen, and yes, it was good! Forget the quesadillas, most people associate sweet potatoes with brown sugar, butter, marshmallows, and candied nuts. So, I suppose this takes sweet potatoes into the dessert realm, even though we eat this so-called casserole with dinner. Let's be real with ourselves, it's definitely dessert. Whatever makes you feel better, right? So, you see, I understand my husbands frustration with this little orange gem of a root vegetable.

Regardless of their identity crisis, sweet potatoes make an excellent starchy addition to meals. Not only do they taste amazing, but they are loaded with beta-carotene, are heart healthy, and help regulate blood sugar. In an effort to balance the inner-war of the sweet potato, I created Maple-Glazed Sweet Potatoes. This recipe enhances the natural sweetness of the potato but doesn't push it so far into the dessert zone that it becomes a calorie bomb! 

Maple-Glazed Sweet Potatoes
Maple-Glazed Sweet Potatoes
Serves: 4

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
1 Tablespoon 100% pure maple syrup
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (optional)

1. Heat coconut oil in pan. Add sweet potatoes to pan, cook over medium heat for 25-30
    minutes. (I like to cook mine until there is a nice brown crisp on the potato.)

2. Remove pan from heat. Add maple syrup and toss sweet potatoes until coated.

3. Add 1/4 cup toasted walnuts. Optional.

To toast walnuts, cook at 400 degrees for 2-4 minutes, or until fragrant.

Maple-Glazed Sweet Potatoes

Maple-Glazed Sweet Potatoes

This is an easy and healthy side dish! We eliminate the empty calories of the butter, marshmallows, brown sugar, and candied nuts, but enhance the sweet flavor of the potato by using pure maple syrup. 100% pure maple syrup is a pantry must! It is so sweet that a little goes a long way. You may as well kiss Aunt Jemima goodbye because once you go to pure maple syrup, you will never go back to the fake stuff. If you haven't used coconut oil before, this recipe is a great way to experiment with it. Coconut oil is a heart healthy substitute for butter. It sounds intimidating to use but it is so darn easy! It is a solid-fat so it must be heated to liquid form before use. You may be scared that you will end up with coconut-glazed sweet potatoes, but have no fear, the coconut flavor does not overwhelm the dish. In fact, if your family doesn't see the coconut oil on the counter, they will never even know you used it. If you want another beginner coconut oil recipe, try these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Coookies.

They say, you are what you eat. Eat sweet and be sweet! Be good to yourself and those around you.

I hope everyone has a great first week of December. Seriously, 20 days until Christmas?