Thai Cashew Chopped Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing


So, remember that Sweet Thai Chili Peanut Butter from Sprelly. This salad was the recipe I finally picked out to use it. I didn’t end up making the pad thai as I was having a hard time getting over fish sauce. Silly? Possibly. I just can’t get my mind over adding fish sauce to anything. Have you smelled it by itself?

But this? This salad and the dressing were both awesome. In fact, we had enough salad for 4 meals, but only enough dressing for two. My husband was eating it with a spoon. That said, I am excited about the possibilities for this recipe. It was fresh. Light. Simple. Fast. Sounds like the perfect summer meal, and I’m sure we will end up making it all summer.


The salad itself is just chopping vegetables. I did use actual heads of romaine lettuce, but I’m sure you could swap out prepared salad mix to make it slightly quicker. I mixed the dressing in a small bowl using just a whisk, but you could probably also add this to a blender (or even a smoothie cup) if you wanted to make it easier too.

If you never use ginger, my tip is to buy a piece and freeze it. Then when it is time to make the dressing, you can just peel it and use it on a microplane while frozen. My last tip. Don’t skip the salted cashews (and the salt is key)!



(Printable Recipe)

Thai Cashew Chopped Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing
From The Recipe Critic

2 heads Romaine lettuce, rinsed and chopped
1/2 head red cabbage, chopped
15-20 sliced baby carrots
1/2 cup frozen edamame, thawed
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup salted cashews

Ginger Peanut Dressing:
1/3 cup sweet thai chili peanut butter (see Sprelly)
2 Tbsp. honey
3 Tbsp. fresh grated ginger
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 tsp. sesame oil
water to thin (I used about 2 Tbsp)

In a small bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, honey, ginger, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach your desired consistency. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the salad ingredients through the green onions. Toss. Top with the cashews and dressing.


Lightened-up Almond Granola

lighter summer granola with blueberries

Well, the hubbs has finally joined the Greek yogurt club. The bad news about that was he didn’t forecast this decision. A fridge void of Chobani when that is one of your go-to work breakfast options definitely starts the day off on a sad note. I think it was that night he told me, “Those Chobanis are good. I had 2 the other day!” 🙂

We do tend to go through quite a bit of granola with our morning yogurt. This is one of those recipes that I cannot believe I haven’t shared. This granola is a workhorse in our breakfast rotation, and I have no idea how many times I have made it. Enough that I now essentially have the recipe memorized.

lightened-up granola finished

This recipe is originally from Oh She Glows, and the base of the recipe is still pretty similar to Angela’s although I’ve made a few adaptations to make it fit our tastes. Largely reducing the amount of brown sugar called for in the dry ingredients. We usually like things sweet here, but I promise you won’t notice a difference. As with most granolas, it is pretty easy. Especially so, as the “sauce” portion of this one doesn’t need to be cooked on the stove. The bake time is an estimate of 20-25 minutes, and I find this is true for me as well. Each batch varies just a bit in the time it needs in the oven. Just watch the pieces of oats and almonds. When you see them browning, it is done. The pieces may still seem a little soft, but it will crisp as it cools.

With some Greek yogurt and berries, I could absolutely see this as an addition to Easter Brunch. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Lightened-up Almond Granola
Adapted from Oh She Glows

6 cups old-fashioned oats
1-1/2 cups sliced almonds
1 cup uncooked millet
6 Tbsp. ground flaxseed
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1-1/2 to 2 tsp. Kosher salt
6 heaping Tbsp. unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp. almond butter
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1-1/2 tsp. almond extract

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray a couple large sheet pans with nonstick spray. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine the first 7 ingredients (oats through salt). Mix well.

In a medium-sized, microwave safe bowl, mix the applesauce, honey, and almond butter. Microwave, for 30 seconds at a time, and stir until the mixture is uniform and smooth. Let cool slightly and add the vanilla and almond extracts. Mix well.

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir until all the oat mixture appears to be coated with the almond butter mixture. Divide between the prepared pans spreading the granola in a single, even layer in the pan. I usually have to use 3 pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring halfway. Remove the granola when the pieces begin to brown. It will go from brown to burnt quickly (especially on the edges) so watch it closely. The granola will crisp as it cools.

Protein Trail Mix “Cookies”

trail mix protein cookies close

Due to our work schedules, we generally eat dinner pretty late (at least on most people’s schedules). By late, I really do mean late. It’s not unusual to sit down around 9 (or later some nights). This creates 2 problems for me. As you can imagine, no matter what time of year, I don’t have much natural light for photos around 9 PM. Second, I tend to get hungry sometime in the hours between lunch and dinner. I generally do pretty well if I’m still at work, but if I happen to be at home, all bets are off. I’ve been trying to plan “healthier” snacks for those times so I don’t end up attacking the Nutella jar with a spoon 🙂

These “cookies” are one of those healthier snack options. Not only are they a bit sweet, but they’re packed with ingredients that really do help keep me full until it’s time to eat. I ran across this recipe thanks to one of my co-residents from last year, but the original recipe comes from Peas and Thank You. Don’t be worried about the texture of the mixture after you add all the ingredients. It will seem crumbly. You’ll have to pack the cookies a little with your hands to form the balls, but they will come out of the oven in one piece. Promise. My cookies tend to stay pretty soft in the middle, but for whatever reason, Brooke’s form this nice crust when she bakes them. I’m actually jealous of her crunch, but they taste great either way.

trail mix protein bars before mixing dry ingredients

trail mix protein bars before baking

These also make a great “I’m craving something just a little bit sweet” dessert swap. Not that I would know. 🙂 Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Protein Trail Mix “Cookies”
From Peas and Thank You

3 Tbsp. ground flaxseed meal
3/4 cup. unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup pepitas
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup chocolate chips (calls for dark chocolate; I used milk chocolate)
1/2 cup vanilla protein powder
3 Tbsp. honey
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the ground flaxseed with the milk and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and mix to combine. Add the flaxseed mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. To make the cookies, using hands or an ice cream scoop, pack the dough into balls. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the cookies start to brown on the top. Let cool completely on the pan before transferring to an airtight container to store.

Yield: 12-15 cookies

Baked Oatmeal with Berries and Bananas

banana-berry baked oatmeal after cooking

It will not be a surprise to anyone that knows me well to hear me say that morning and I are not great friends. My dad has a quote that he’s seen 4:00AM more often from the night side than the morning side, and my natural tendencies lie much more on his night owl side of life. Unfortunately, in being a resident, I’ve learned that alarms set before 5:00AM are much more common than I prefer.

I tell you that to set the scene for my morning route. Basically everything from my lunch to my gym bag needs to be grab and go. This includes breakfast as there is a slim to none chance that I am going to have time to cook anything in the morning. Out of all the quick breakfast choices I plan, this baked oatmeal from Skinny Taste is one of my favorites. It’s highly adaptable – I’ve made it with different berries, different nuts, different sweeteners, and even different milks and it always turns out great. Better yet, it keeps well in the refrigerator, allowing me to make it ahead and have single serving breakfast options ready to go in the refrigerator.

banana-berry baked oatmeal clsoe
banana-berry baked oatmeal

A minute or so in the microwave at work, and I have a healthy, delicious, warm breakfast. Can’t beat that for so little work. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Baked Oatmeal with Berries and Bananas
Adapted from Skinny Taste

2 over-ripe bananas, sliced (can use frozen bananas that have been thawed)
1-1/2 cups blueberries (or any combination of berries)
1/4 cup honey, divided
1 cup uncooked quick oats
1/4 cup chopped or sliced nuts (I like almonds)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. cinnamon, divided
pinch of salt
1 cup fat-free milk or unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spray an 8×8-inch baking dish with non-stick spray. Set aside.

Arrange the banana slices in a single layer over the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle half the berries over the bananas. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon honey and 1/4 tsp. cinnamon. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the oats, half of the nuts, baking powder, remaining 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, and salt. Mix well. In a separate small bowl, mix the milk, egg, and vanilla together. When the banana mixture has finished baking, spread the oat mixture evenly over the top of the bananas. Pour the liquid mixture over the oats, covering the entire surface of the dry mixture. Sprinkle the remaining berries and nuts over the top. Bake the oatmeal for about 30 minutes or until the top of the oatmeal has set.

Keeps well in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Makes 6 servings. Can reheat oatmeal squares in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.

Fruit and Nut Granola

For breakfast, I am typically an oatmeal girl. Give me a container of oats, applesauce and cinnamon, and I am a happy girl. Better yet if I can add some sliced bananas on top. The hubbs, not so much. He really is not a picky guy, but oatmeal is not his thing. He tells me it’s a texture issue more than anything.

Since he’s not as happy with that container of dry oats as I am, I am constantly on the lookout for quick, homemade breakfast ideas for him. If my description of my oatmeal above tells you one thing, mornings and I are not the best of friends. If it is going to take me longer than 5 minutes to make in the morning, I am not going to have time to do it, making eggs and really anything that needs to be cooked out of the question.

Enter homemade granola. Something that can be made at home, can be made ahead of time to be a quick meal in the morning, and something that he enjoys. Sounds like it meets all the requirements! 

Granola is something that I have actually made before. I have a great pumpkin granola recipe that I make again and again throughout the fall, but I really wanted to find a recipe that was less seasonal and more universal. In looking through the recipes that I have saved from other blogs, I realized I have had this recipe from Natalie at Oven Love saved for almost a year. Her description of the granola sounded great – full of chunks, low in oil/butter, and using nuts and flaxseed to boost the nutritional value. One note on the flaxseeds – if you want to get the nutritional benefits, they need to be ground. Overall, I am happy to report that this recipe was a hit. Now if I can just keep up with making it! Enjoy!
(Printable Recipe)

Fruit and Nut Granola
Adapted from Oven Love (originally from Chocolate and Carrots and Gourmande in the Kitchen)

2-1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
2-1/2 cups quick cooking oats
1-1/2 cups puffed rice/wheat cereal
2-3 Tbsp. ground flaxseed 

1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 Tbsp. canola oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups mix of nuts, chopped
1 cup dried fruit (mix of raisins and cranberries, or whatever you’d like)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line 2 large, flat baking sheets with foil or parchment paper. 

In a large bowl, combine oats, puffed cereal, ground flaxseed, cinnamon, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the applesauce, honey, brown sugar, canola oil, and vanilla extract. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. 

Pour the granola on the baking sheets, splitting evenly between the two sheets. With your hands, squeeze or pinch the oats together into small/medium clumps leaving space on the baking sheet between the clumps. Bake for 20 minutes. 

While the granola is baking, chop the nuts and mix together in a small bowl. When the granola is finished baking, flip it with a large spatula and split the nuts between the baking pans. Bake for another 20-30 minutes, until completely dry and brown. Let the granola cool completely on the baking sheets. Once cool, add the dried fruit. Store in an airtight container.

Club: Baked – Sawdust Pie

When Karen approached me about choosing a recipe for my host date of Club: Baked, she asked if I would be willing to pick a recipe out of the pie section of the book we’re baking through, Baked Explorations. If you have been around my blog at all, you know that pies aren’t exactly my area of expertise. I can count the number of pies I have ever made on one hand, and I don’t even need all my fingers. That said, I approached my pick with a wide open viewpoint since most of the pies in the book would be something “new” in my mind.

So, what made me choose this sawdust pie? First, while it has quite a few ingredients, the recipe itself is relatively simple. Outside of the crust, it is just mix, pour, and bake. Second, the ingredients were things that we really like. Coconut has to be one of my husband’s favorite ingredients in baked goods. Lastly, it was a unique recipe with unique ingredients. Who would have though of adding graham cracker crumbs in the filling of a pie?  While I don’t have too many pies that I can speak to in my repertoire, this is certainly one that I have never heard of prior to this book.

As it reads in the book, the pie came together pretty quickly. Since I don’t have a “go-to” pie crust recipe, I also made the crust recipe exactly as written in the book. I feel like the crust turned out pretty good, however I think I may have added just a little bit too much water. Still working on that perfect flaky pie crust. Add the filling and some whipped cream to the crust, the pie was great! I am not kidding when I say that my husband loved it! In the comments about the recipe on the blog page, several of the ladies were comparing it to a pecan pie, and I can definitely see the reference given the chopped pecans although I feel that the texture difference from the graham crackers and coconut give it just a little bit more. With this one now in my pie repertoire, I may be making pies more often. At the very least, it will be making its way to our Thanksgiving feast. 

Be sure to stop by the blog page to see pies from the other ladies. Thanks for baking along with me! 

(Printable Recipe)

Sawdust Pie 
Adapted from Baked Explorations  
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. fine salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter

1/2 crust recipe
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1-1/4 cups unsweetened flaked coconut
1-1/4 cups pecans, coarsely chopped
21 graham crackers (I used 21 half sheets)
2 ounces high-quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
6 egg whites
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
whipped cream for serving
sliced bananas for serving (optional)

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, sugar and salt together. In a measuring cup, stir 3/4 cup water with several ice cubes until it is very cold. 

Cut the cold butter into cubes and toss them in the flour mixture to coat. Put the mixture in the bowl of a food processor and pulse in short bursts until the butter pieces are the size of hazelnuts. Pulsing in 4-second bursts, slowly drizzle the ice water into the food processor through the feed tube. As soon as the dough comes together in a ball, stop adding water. Remove the dough from the food processor and divide it in half. Flatten each piece into a disk and wrap each disk first in parchment paper and then in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the refrigerator before proceeding with your recipe.

For the pie, dust a work surface with a sprinkling of flour. Roll out the dough ball into a 12-inch round. Transfer it to a pie dish and carefully work it into place, folding any overhang under and crimping the edge as you go. Wrap and refrigerate the crust for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, use a wooden spoon to combine the sugars, coconut, pecans, graham crackers, white chocolate and salt. Add the egg whites and vanilla and stir until just combined – the egg whites should coat all the ingredients.

Transfer the filling to the prepared pie shell. Bake until filling is set to the touch, 30 to 40 minutes. Cool the pie for at least 1 hour before serving it warm, with whipped cream and sliced bananas, if you like.

Cinnamon-Apple Chex Mix

I realize that I am suppose to be studying right now, but there is only so long that one can read legal statues without a break. One down and one to go. I am wishing that the test was sooner and that I had more time to study at the same time. During my break, I thought I post a quick recipe that would be great for a snack, potluck, or basically any gathering to which you would bring food along. I know I would certainly welcome some right now as I sit here amongst my mountains of papers and highlighters 🙂

In reality we made this recipe for no reason at all (other than to have at home) because my husband found Chex on sale at the grocery store. It probably cannot be classified into the “healthiest” snack in the world, but it is fun to have around as a sweeter snack every once and awhile. We’ve made it a couple of times now, and it is definitely something that is a hit here. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Cinnamon-Apple Chex Mix
Found on

5 cups wheat Chex
1 cup lightly salted almonds
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup dried apples, cut in halves or thirds
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt-covered raisins

In a large microwavable bowl, mix the cereal and almonds. Set aside.

In a 2-cup microwavable measuring cup, melt the butter in the microwave (cover the cup with a paper towel to avoid any explosions). Add brown sugar, corn syrup, and cinnamon and microwave uncovered on high about 2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute, until the mixture is boiling; stir. Pour over the cereal mixture, stirring until evenly coated. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Stir in apples; microwave on high for 2 minutes or until apples just begin to brown on the edges.

Spread on waxed paper or foil to cool, about 15 minutes. Place in a serving bowl, stir in yogurt-covered raisins. Store in an airtight container.

SMS: Peanut Praline Sundaes

We’re nearing the end of the Sweet Melissa Baking Book. We only have 6 more recipes left with plans to finish up by the end of August. This week’s recipe was peanut praline hosted by Ruby of I Dream of Baking. The group has made Melissa’s brittle a couple of times now, but this was my first time along. The peanut praline in the book is basically the peanut brittle crumbled up and served over ice cream. I have never made brittle before from any recipe, so I thought it may serve me well to go back and read the posts from the other recipes. Thank goodness I did! It seems like many had problems with the recipe in the book – chewy and burned were many of the comments. Neither of these are good things for a brittle. 

I still wanted to participate, so I decided to look through the recipes that a couple of the ladies in the group had posted. It seems that the Sweet Melissa recipe has a lot more butter and no water compared to the other recipes? In the end, I choose to go with Margot’s version that she posted here on her blog in October. The brittle came out just the way a peanut brittle should be without any trouble. I didn’t measure my peanuts and think I may have added a few too many (user error on that one). The inclusion of the cayenne pepper gives the candy a bit of a kick as an aftertaste, and while some may prefer the sweet-spicy combo, I think I would leave it out next time. 

In her post, Margot added her brittle to ice cream. I had planned to make the brown-sugar vanilla ice cream in the Sweet Melissa book to pair with the peanut praline and thought about copying her idea. In the end, my husband talked me out of mixing it in because the ice cream is SO GOOD plain. This is the second time that we have made it, and I will never make another vanilla ice cream recipe. We served the ice cream and praline with caramel syrup (I like caramel much better than chocolate), and it was awesome! Definitely one to keep in mind for a “fancier” ice cream treat. Thanks Ruby for a great pick and for a recipe I may have never attempted on my own! Check out Ruby’s attempt and the other bloggers on the SMS blogroll page!

November Cookie Carnival: Sassy Cinnamon Cookies

It’s been several months since I’ve baked along with Tami and the others at the Cookie Carnival, but it’s always fun when I get to bake along! The Cookie Carnival is an online baking group that makes 1 cookie recipe a month. Recently, Tami’s been sending out 2 recipes – one “adult recipe” and one you can make with kids. We can make one, both, or neither recipe depending on our schedules and preferences, and there are no participation requirements. This has been good for me because I’ve really tried to keep up with my baking groups during rotations this year, but without a house and especially kitchen of my own, I fear it’s been more miss than hit. Despite my spotty participation, I’ve always enjoyed the recipes when I get to bake along!

Anyway, on to the cookies! Our November choices were these rugalach from the Food Network and these cinnamon chip cookies from Betty Crocker. I made the Sassy Cinnamon Cookies to take into work together with these beauties from last November’s cookie carnival. I was originally attracted to this recipe because of the cinnamon chips. While they can be a little hard to find, I really enjoy them in baked goods! I’d definitely recommend picking up a couple bags once you find them because I promise you’ll use them!

The cookie dough came together really easily although it seemed a little dry if anything. I also noticed that I needed to flatten my cookie dough balls a little before baking them so that the cookies would flatten better in the oven. As for taste, I sent them into work with a co-worker and forgot to save a couple for home. She brought me back an empty container, so I didn’t get to have one of the finished cookies. Nevertheless, I didn’t miss out entirely because the dough passed my taste test =) 

Both of these recipes seem like they’d make a great addition to any Christmas cookie tray, so if you’re looking for some Christmas cookie recipes, check out Tami’s blog for the round-up after the 1st of December!

(Printable Recipe)

Sassy Cinnamon Cookies
From Betty Crocker

1/2 c. butter
1-1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
2-1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. cinnamon chips
1 c. chopped pecans
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat together 1-1/2 c. sugar and butter with an electric mixer on medium speed. Add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla. Mix until creamy. Stir in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt until combined. Mix in cinnamon chips and pecans.

In a small, shallow bowl, mix together 2 Tbsp. sugar and the cinnamon. Shape dough into balls and roll in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Flatten slightly on the pan. Bake for 8-11 minutes or until the cookies are just starting to brown on the edges. Remove from the cookie sheet and cool on a wire rack.

Yield: 2-1/2 dozen 1-1/2-inch cookies, or 16 large cookies

Pumpkin Granola

It’s already the middle of October, and pumpkin recipes seem to be everywhere right now. I, too, have already joined in the pumpkin madness, making these delicious cookies a couple weeks ago. My issue with these recipes is that many of them call for 1 c. of pumpkin puree, thus leaving me wondering what I should do with the half can of pumpkin sitting in the fridge? The answer absolutely is to make this granola from Maria at Two Peas and Their Pod

I seem to be on a granola kick lately (I’ve made 3 different recipes in the last month), but this is absolutely the best granola recipe I’ve ran across thus far. The spices, pumpkin, and maple syrup combine to give it a great “fall” flavor, but my favorite part has to be the chunks.The pumpkin puree and applesauce work as binders to make the oats hold together giving you larger chunks of granola pieces. Perfect.

 I stayed pretty true to Maria’s recipe, only adding about 1/2 c. of almonds to the oat mixture before coating it with the wet ingredients. If you’ve got that random partial can of pumpkin sitting in your fridge, please make this granola. You can always bring some to me if you end up with too much =) Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Pumpkin Granola
Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

5 c. rolled oats
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (can make your own)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. whole almonds
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. pumpkin puree
1/4 c. applesauce
1/4 c. maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. pepitas (or pumpkin seeds)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. 

In a small bowl, combine the oats, spices, salt, and almonds. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, pumpkin puree, applesauce, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth. Pour wet ingredients into the oat mixture and stir until the oats are evenly coated. They will be moist. Evenly spread the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes. Remove pan from the oven and stir. Bake for an additional 15-20 minutes or until the granola is golden and crisp. Remove from the oven and stir in dried cranberries and pepitas. Let it cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Serve with yogurt or milk or just enjoy it plain as a snack =)