Admit it. I had you at massaged.. didn't  I ? 

You are probably thinking that I've lost my mind. Or that I typed it wrong. But the truth is... massaging it is exactly how you make this delicious salad! 

Let's start at the beginning. 

Scott and I happened to come across a restaurant one day while house hunting.. True Food Kitchen. 

It is a restaurant based on the anti- inflammatory diet by Dr Andrew Weil MD.


It is an open- kitchen restaurant, where everything is made fresh, organic when possible, sustainable- in season , and crazily good!

The drinks are all amazing..  Kale- aid is my fav....  They have all sorts of crazy drink options, made with fresh juice, both alcoholic and non- alcoholic. 

Trust me, friends... if you were to come visit me  out here, this is the first place I will take you... I promise !

Scott bought me the cookbook and I have made a few recipes from it ( on a side note, I am so happy to be settled and have the time to cook again... this past year has been nothing short of crazy! ) 

One of my favorite recipes from the cookbook is the kale salad ( which is served on the side of many entrees) 
This is my version of it.. tweaked just a little bit. You can find the original on the web if you google it. ( otherwise I couldn't share the recipe here) 

~1  bunch fresh kale ( I like the lacinto or dinosaur kale, but any kind will work )  this time of year you can find it at any farmers' market... 

~juice of 1 lemon
~ about 1/4 cup olive oil
~ about a teaspoon of Dijon mustard
~ 1-2 garlic cloves... depending on how much garlic you like
~1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese ( plus a little extra for curls on top)
~1/4 cup dried cranberries
~ 1/4 cup slivered almonds ( not pictured.. it was an after-thought... but a very good one ;) 
~ sea salt and pepper

start by crushing garlic clove with the back of a knife ( or chopping super- fine) and add it to serving bowl. Add lemon juice, mustard, salt, pepper and whisk in olive oil.  Rinse kale and pull the leaves away from the ribs. Discard ribs. 

this is what your empty ribs should look like.... sounds sad, doesn't it? 
next tear up of cut your kale leaves into bite- sized pieces, adding them directly over dressing.

next, with clean hands... get in there and massage the dressing into the leaves.   it should only take 2-3 minutes. 

mmmm... look at that yumminess! 

next, top with the cheese, cranberries & almonds. 

cover and refrigerate until ready to eat. , Toss right before serving.

I like to make this a few hours in advance.... in fact it's one of those salads that is just as good the next day! 

and there you have it.... my favorite summer salad ( then again, I think that all of them are my favorites.  

you can have fun with the toppings here, too...  last week I made it with blue cheese, dried cherries and candied walnuts....

I encourage you to try this... it's a healthy, impressive easy one - dish wonder!
ciao bellas! 
so if you are friends with me on the devil that is facebook, then you may have seen the picture of the pina colada pop that I posted yesterday.
( if you aren't, I know how to fix that ;) 

soooo.. this idea came to me last week while I was shopping at a grand opening sale (of a new Sprouts!!!) and coconut water was on sale. 

Coconut water has become very popular recently ( in case ya didn't know). It's kind like Mother Nature's Gatorade. It is super- hydrating , it's fat free, it's cholesterol- free, it's tasty.. annnd it's one of the ingredients in a Pina Colada! 

so, at this same sale there was whole pineapples on sale for 99cents a piece. ( clean your computer screen, it's ok... I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it myself) 

So immediately I decided I had to play. ( yes, I play with my food. I'm cool with that :) )

so given that it is mid summer and over 90 degrees just about everyday, I thought freezer pops would be in order. 

seriously, this is so simple, and Im sure I cannot be the first person to think of this, but I was so proud of myself for thinking this, that I went with it....  oh and those cherries... well, doesn't every pina colada have a cherry on top??

It's all pretty straight-forward... I opened the can on coconut water ( that's some raw talent there, I tell ya :) )
peeled, cored and cut the pineapple ( you could used canned it you cannot find fresh) 
and blended in blender with a pinch of salt until smooth. 

then I poured the mixture into my pop molds. ( I bought these at Bed Bath & Beyond a few years back... but you can find them anywhere these days) Make sure that the mixture is filled up right to the tippy top. if there is foam at the top, spoon off and replace with more of the liquid. , the handle part of the pop maker needs something to freeze onto. I found it easier to partially fill the molds ( 3/4 of the way) place it in the freezer, then finish pouring and putting the tops in. ( It just makes it easier rather than spilling the molds on the way to the freezer. Go ahead.. ask me how I know :)  *whistles mindlessly*

once I poured the coconut- pineapple mixture in , I dropped pieces on the (pitted) cherries in. I was afraid that they would fall to the bottom, ( which they did) but I thought the end result was pretty.. dontcha think?

next, just freeze until set! I find it helpful to run the mold under warm water for about a minute before removing ( it just makes it so much easier to release) 


So remember back in this *Click_here* post about our big out west trip way back when?

Well since we actually live in the west now the mere thought of how close we are to all of this has us very excited!

On the very last day of that trip we stopped at a place in the Rocky Mountain National Park called Never Summer Ranch. It's an actually ranch that a German family built and lived on and operated it as a guest house up until the 70s

In the mid 70s the family sold the ranch to the park and has operated small tours of the ranch

You need to walk a bit to get to it and back on our trip, since it was our last day I stayed back to clean the rental camper so that we could return it ( jay stayed back with me ) and Scott , Ryan. And Ali went and had a blast.

They came back with this picture and it has been a family favorite for all these years. In fact it has been on Scott's desk at work since then!

Scott's birthday is next weekend and Ali won't be here so the kids decided to celebrate a weekend early. Ali made a delicious ice cream cake and a great card with some inside family humor thrown in for fun and we decided to spend the day at Rocky Mountain National Park!

( the fact that I can even say this is a day trip has me giddy)

Aaaaand. We visited never summer ranch ( with me Included this time ) and the kids surprised Scott by doing this 
isn't this just CRAZY????  I mean seriously? what a great idea as a gift for him... He is actually wearing the same shirt in both pics. ( the kids tried as hard to re create their exact positions as in the original pic :) 

ok.. we are headed out for pre- birthday pizza.. I just wanted to share this with all of you.

here are a few other pics from our day.... I'll spend more time on this tomorrow. 

when I was younger I remember eating cucumber upon cucumber throughout the summer. My mom used to make a creamy cucumber salad that was oh so good a refreshing.

with he discovery of Greek Yogurt recently, I have been using it ( the non fat plain) In places of higher- fat ingredients.  This has been my favorite recipe so far this summer ( ask poor Scott, I make it almost nightly ) 

Lightened- up creamy cucumber salad

1 cucumber
about 1/2 cup of Fat Free plain Greek Yogurt
1 Tablespoon mayonaise ( use ligth if you can.. the boys bought this) 
1 Tablespoon sea salt
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 garlic glove, minced
1 Tablespoon dried dill ( or fresh if you have it )
grating of fresh ground pepper

a fine mesh strainer.
start by peeling your cucumber and cut it into thin slices. I like to cut my slices in half because I love the little moon shapes :) 

then place your strainer over a bowl and sprinkle cukes with salt. using your *clean* hands or a spatula, make sure that all cuke slices are covered with salt. 

let rest for about 15 minutes.

The salt is drawing out extra moisture from the cucumbers ( since there is so much water in these babies) which will in turn help to have your salad not be overly watery. 
you can skip this step, but I like the consistency if I do this .

there's not alot of liquid, but trust me, it's enough !
next, using a spatula, press as much liquid out as you can. I never find that the finished dish tastes too salty , but if you are concerned, then use a paper towel to blot any excess salt. 
remove strainer from bowl and wipe bowl clean of any liquid.

Crush your garlic clove and mix with remaining ingredients , adding reserved cucumbers last. 

cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to eat.


there are lots of little things this week that are making me smile. here are few of them :) 

my pretty 1950's inspired strawberry apron!
seriously, it just makes me happy :) 

little bowls of frozen fruit!
I started with grapes , but with so much yummy summer produce available ( and affordable) I've been freezing all sorts of treats!

chilled pitchers of flavored water.... it feels fancy even thought it's really just... water!
my retro blue ball jars!  I saw these online a few months ago and thought that I haaad  to get them.. QUICK! before they sell out!  So I bought 3 cases. 

turns out they are in Target, Hardware stores, etc...  so the mad rush did not have to happen. It's ok.. I still love them.

and how about those super- bendy straws? just. plain. fun. 

pasta pie. have you seen it floating around on pinterest? welp, I made it this week and I'm kinda infatuated with it.

basically, you set up your cooked ziti ( tossed with olive oil and some cheese) with the ziti standing up all around the pan like little soldiers ( I used a springform pan)  ( so that all the holes in the pasta are facing up.)

then pour your sauce over-top, top with cheese and bake.  Allow to cool for a minute, remove springform pan and...

YUM!   I cannot wait to play around with other flavors... spinach and cheese... chicken broccoli alfredo..hmm...

unexpectedly having some of my kids here.  it's just so nice to have them here.. to enjoy thunderstorms, walks in the park, Friday night pizza trips and of course, the beloved Bonnie brae ice cream...

and despite that they are 18 & 20, they still love a good ol-fashioned tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich for lunch :) 

what's making you smile ? 
a recipe! 

in my last post I mentioned that i have found a new favorite store....  Sprouts.

Now I found it quite by accident.... while driving around aimlessly ( my new favorite pastime in the afternoons ) and I * purposely * took a wrong turn and saw the big green sign and just knew that I had  to stop in 
now if you are from one of the few states that House a Sprouts, then you are probably thinking, " yeah, big deal"  Buuut , I'm a New England girl, transplanted and currently in awe of so much that is around me.

Trust me... I am finding an excuse just about every day to make my way to this store.

it's a cross between a Trader Joes, A Health food store, A farmers market, a high end butcher and well, its a dream come true for this shoe-less girl..

imagine how my heart skipped a beat when I turned the corner to see this

I'll give you a minute... I certainly needed one.   I bought 3 containers and went home to make grilled chicken with blackberry- basil sauce.

I started by marinating the chicken breast in a mixture of crushed garlic, chopped rosemary & thyme, lemon juice olive oil & s&p

I covered it with plastic wrap and marinated for about an hour. ( not too much longer, or the lemon juice will start to ' cook' the chicken, resulting in a less than desirable texture.

when I preheated the grill I started to make the sauce on the stove top.

I added 1 container of blackberries ( blueberries would work here too) 
a handful of basil leaves, shredded.
about a tablespoon of honey  ( taste your berries, if they are overly sweet, then omit or decrease honey)
a few thyme leaves
pinch of sea salt

cook over medium het, stirring often and in a few minutes, magic will happen.

now since I had soo many blackberries ( and I knew I would look for an excuse to go again the next day) I made an arugula salad with goat cheese, almonds and blackberries with a simple vinegarette. 

Grill the chicken to an internal temp of 165, let rest for about 5 minutes, slice into strips and top with sauce.

summer flavors perfected. 

I did go back and get more blackberries.. I mean really, how could I not? 

If you find yourself with a deal on berries this summer and want to freeze them, it is super easy. Just rinse them, dry them, lay flat on a plate or platter and stick in the freezer

once they are frozen, then add them to a large freezer bag ( this keeps them from freezing into a big solid bunch, allowing you to take as many as you need at a time for the rest of the season) 

I froze 3 batches of these babies.

I can hardly wait for the next sale!

xoxoxo~ shel
Looky what I found today!
I saw this and just could not resist...  not exactly what you would think when you hear ' Colorado Herb' but this is MY kind of herb  :) ( plus the little kid in me could not help but to do this post!) 
While shopping at my new favorite store ( more on that soon) I came across this... I read the back and was intrigued...  
It is a live plant that is not meant to be planted outside, but instead in a small jar of water on a windowsill! Simply pinch the basil leaves when you need them and check the water every day or so.

I absolutely love this! 
pretty cool, eh? it's pretty, it smells good and for $2.99 it completely made my day! 

My house in Plymouth had a kitchen in the center of the house, so I have not had a windowsill in almost a decade.  It is so silly how  the fact that i have not one but TWO windowsills in my kitchen now makes me goofily excited. Almost to the point of forgetting about how tiny and poorly set up the kitchen actually it ;) 

( my other window sill is laden with oils, vinegars and spices) 

And coming up soon ( by the end of today... I just want to make sure that this site works and that those who want to read what ramblings come out of my fingers and onto this page can find me ) I will share the recipe that i used my first basil in!

cioa bellas!