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Lemon and Cucumber Tzatziki with Fresh Herbs

Lemon and Cucumber Tzatziki with Fresh Herbs

Tzatziki is a yogurt-based sauce that is often used with Mediterranean cuisine. You’ll see it at every Greek or Mediterranean restaurant, and it is a must-have for me. Whether I get a gyro, a platter or a salad, you will see tzatziki on it! Tzatziki 

Watermelon Berry Margarita

Watermelon Berry Margarita

My Watermelon Berry Margarita is refreshing with seasonal, juicy watermelon, strawberries, and tangy lime. It is sure to keep you cool in the heat of the summer! Watermelon Season I have been loving seasonal summer fruits and have been experimenting with watermelon a lot. Being 

Watermelon Mint Refresher

Watermelon Mint Refresher

Summer Fruit

It is summer and I have been enjoying all the fruit! I have been loving the watermelon, peaches, berries, and mangoes. My friend Sara gave me great inspiration for this Watermelon Mint Refresher. I have been making some form of it almost every day. No lie, these are GREAT with alcohol, too!

Watermelon Chunks

Hydrate and Refresh

In Arizona, it is incredibly hot. Today we are supposed to reach 117 degrees! I try to stay hydrated, and I wanted to take advantage of these delicious seasonal fruits. Watermelons are perfect to hydrate and refresh; they have a very high water content of 92%!

Ingredients

The ingredients in this Watermelon Mint Refresher bring from the heat, and quench your thirst. Plus, they have much needed electrolytes and nutrients. The mint and lime lend a refreshing and bright flavor. The watermelon and coconut contain for the water and electrolytes. Strawberries add delicious, fresh flavor and wonderful nutrients.

Hydration Drink

Ingredient Health Benefits:

Watermelon contains vitamin A and C, lycopene, beta-carotene, antioxidants, and water.

Strawberries are rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, antioxidants, and are anti-inflammatory.

Coconut Water contains electrolytes and antioxidants, and is 94% water.

Peppermint soothes GI symptoms, contains antioxidants, is anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial.

Lime contains vitamin C, antioxidants, folate, and many nutrients are in the peel.

Lime Sparkling Water has no calories and adds a refreshing bubbly note!

Watermelon Mint CBD (optional) helps reduce stress and anxiety, relieve pain, and improve mood and sleep.

My friend Erica sent me this watermelon mint flavored CBD. She is a CBD educator and we have been talking about collaborating on more CBD recipes. This ingredient is optional, but I love adding CBD to my recipes and it reinforces the watermelon-mint flavor. Click here to contact Erica and purchase HempWorx CBD.

Source: The World’s Healthiest Foods, George Mateljan

Watermelon Drink

A few notes about the recipe…

As watermelon has such a high water content, adding ice to the recipe can make the drink too watery. I freeze the watermelon to avoid that.

Frozen Watermelon

To freeze the watermelon, place it on a sheet pan with parchment paper and set it in the freezer for a few hours. Transfer the frozen watermelon to a gallon-size zip-top bag. This way, the wet watermelon doesn’t freeze together in one big chunk.

Committing to Watermelon

Watermelons are very large in size, meaning you have to commit to eating the whole thing. I have been making watermelon refreshers, frozen watermelon, and watermelon margaritas. Stay tuned for more refreshing watermelon recipes! What is your favorite way to eat watermelon?

Fresh Fruit Cocktails

I did mention that alcohol tastes great in this drink. If you want more fresh fruit cocktails, check out these recipes:

Creamy Pina Colada

Frozen Mango Margarita

Watermelon Refresher
Hydration Drink

Watermelon Mint Refresher

A refreshing and hydrating summer drink made with watermelon, lime, mint, strawberries and coconut water.
Course Drinks

Equipment

  • Blender

Ingredients
  

  • 1 ½ cups watermelon
  • ½ cup strawberries
  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 7-10 mint leaves roughly chopped
  • 1 lime juiced
  • lime sparkling water
  • Watermelon Mint CBD optional

Instructions
 

  • Blend all ingredients in a blender, besides the sparkling water.
  • Fill half your glass with the watermelon mint drink, and the other half with sparkling water. Drink over ice if desired, or blend ice with your beverage.

Notes

As watermelon has such a high water content, adding ice can sometimes make the drink too watery. To combat this, I freeze the watermelon and use minimal ice in the blender. It will still taste great if you add ice, but the drink may separate quickly.
To freeze the watermelon, I place it on a sheet pan with parchment paper and set it in the freezer for a few hours. Once frozen, I transfer the watermelon to a gallon-size zip-top bag. This way, the wet watermelon doesn’t freeze together in one big chunk.
Keyword Coconut Water, Hydrating, Refresher, Refreshing, Summer Drink, Watermelon
Super Protein Bites

Super Protein Bites

Energy Balls or Protein Bites? Energy balls, protein bites, oat snacks. Whatever you want to call them, they are delicious and packed with tons of nutrients. I have been making these for years for myself, my friends, cooking demos, and whenever I have oats in 

Getting Diagnosed with MS

Getting Diagnosed with MS

In this mostly food-based blog, I wanted to start writing about being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, as it is as big a part of me as food is. Obviously, not by choice. No one chooses to have MS, and it is not a curable disease. 

Cast Iron Skillet Steak

Cast Iron Skillet Steak

Steak is one of my favorite dinners, and I can almost always eat it. Lately I have been cooking my steaks on a cast iron skillet, and now I wouldn’t want it any other way. We live in an apartment complex in Arizona. It’s the middle of July, and it’s reaching 118 degrees outside. That means I’m mostly hanging out inside. I really can’t stand the heat (yes, I’m trying to get out of here), so I do everything I can to cook inside. This cast iron skillet steak has a gorgeous sear, mouthwatering seasoning, and keeps you cool while cooking.

Medium Rare Steak

Cast Iron Cooking

There are a few other reasons why I like to cook my steak on a cast iron skillet. Besides keeping me out of the heat, a cast iron skillet helps to keep the flavor in the steak. When cooking on a grill, the fat and flavor can get lost through the grates. If you cook with a cast iron skillet you keep all the flavor. Score! Another annoying reason why I prefer to cook inside…. our apartment complex almost never has propane stocked in the grills. At this point I find any way I can to cook inside!

For instance, check out these recipes:

Oven Baked Sweet and Smokey BBQ Ribs

Instant Pot BBQ Brisket

Cast Iron Skillet Steak

Recipe Ingredients

For this recipe, I use a delicious homemade steak seasoning and NY Strips. Use your favorite steak seasoning and cut and you’ll be happy! The simplicity of this steak makes it so tasty that you don’t even need steak sauce. As long as you cook it right 😊. I like my meat still very red, but some people like their meat a little more well-done and that is A-OK. My tip for cooking steak is to cook it for a little less time that you think is necessary. Letting the steak rest will allow carry over cooking, just make sure not to cut the steak before letting it rest. Cutting the steak will result in losing all those delicious juices and may leave you with a dry steak.

Smokey Kitchen

The only possible downfall to searing these steaks in the cast iron skillet is that you may end up with a smokey kitchen or house. Brad is on the ready to open every window when I start cooking the steak. Keep the fans on, open your windows, and be prepared! It will get a little smokey, but I promise you it’s worth it.

Steak Dinner

Sliced Steak

Enjoy this steak with some vegetables, a baked potato, or some seasonal fresh corn. Whatever you eat on the side, I’m sure you will enjoy it!

Want some recipes for side options? Try these:

Roasted Vegetables with Vinaigrette

One-Pot Mac and Cheese

Simple Arugula Salad

I used this Lodge Cast Iron Skillet for searing my steak. They are reasonably priced and a great brand. Getting a pre-seasoned one is helpful, but it’s super easy to season your own skillet.

Medium Rare Steak

Cast Iron Skillet Steak

Flavorful steak seared in a cast iron skillet
Cook Time 10 mins
Resting Time 5 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 2 steaks

Equipment

  • Cast Iron Skillet

Ingredients
  

  • 2 steaks about 1 ½ inches thick
  • 4 tbsp favorite steak rub
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • salt and pepper if not in your steak rub

Instructions
 

  • Rub each steak with 2 tbsp of steak rub or seasoning. Let marinade at room temperature for an hour.
  • Heat cast iron skillet to medium-high. Add butter and let melt.
  • Once pan is heated, add the steaks and sear for 5 minutes on the first side. Flip the steaks and turn down the heat to medium-low. Sear for 4 minutes (this is for medium-rare, if you want more well-done cook for 1-2 minutes longer on each side).
  • Remove the steaks from heat and allow to rest under tented foil for 5 minutes.
  • Cut into center of steak and ensure it is done to your liking. If it needs a little longer, you can place it back on the cast iron skillet or under the broiler for another minute.
  • Enjoy with your favorite sides.
Keyword Cast Iron Skillet Steak, Seared Steak, Steak
Simple Arugula Salad

Simple Arugula Salad

This simple arugula salad is one of my favorites, and it has become a staple for me. I first had a salad like this at Phoenix Public Market on the side of a quiche. It was so simple, elegant, green, and delicious. Who would have 

Frozen Mango Margarita

Frozen Mango Margarita

Brace yourself for this incredible frozen mango margarita! Mango is my favorite fruit of all time. My favorite fruit mixed with alcohol only makes it better!  Honestly, I haven’t mastered a regular margarita, but this mango one is off the charts. To make it even 

One-Pot Mac and Cheese

One-Pot Mac and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese rarely disappoints at any age. A comfort food, creamy, cheesy, and a great vessel for other foods. A perfect side to almost any entrée. Warm, welcoming, and brings back memories that make you feel like you’re at home. Whether you make it from scratch or out of the box, it is sure to bring a smile to your face. Unless you overcook the pasta, which I have done more times than I’d like to admit. This one-pot mac and cheese recipe is creamy, rich, and so easy to cook.

Shredded Cheese

One-Pot

One-pot mac and cheese is a winner in my household. Brad does all the dishes, so it’s great to make food in one dish rather than having to use several. With homemade macaroni and cheese, I usually use many dishes. One pot to boil the pasta, a colander to drain, and another pan to make the cheese sauce in. Instead of 3 separate dishes, this recipe only uses 1! You’re welcome, to whoever does the dishes at your house 😊.

Adding Cheese

Add Ins

This one-pot mac and cheese recipe has green chile and bacon, which make it incredibly delicious and brings me right back to New Mexico. These are optional, so don’t add them if you prefer not to. Alternatively, you can add a ton of different things to this one-pot wonder.

My favorite macaroni and cheese add ins:

  • Ham
  • Peas and Carrots
  • Bacon
  • Green Chile
  • Roasted red peppers
  • Chicken
  • Broccoli
  • Jalapenos
  • BBQ Meat
  • Sausage

Get the Right Ratio

I have made this recipe with gluten-free pasta, and it works great. The gluten-free pasta does tend to break apart, but it is still delicious and yields a great product. I have also used rotini and penne, which both worked out great. I think you can use any type of pasta, as long as you follow this ratio:

2 cups dried pasta : 4 – 4 ½ cups liquid : 1 ½ – 2 cups cheese

Cheesy Mac

Sometimes the amount of liquid may need adjusting. If it is too dry, add liquid a little at a time until you’ve reached the desired consistency. As for the cheese, add as much as you want, and you can’t go wrong 😊. I usually just use whatever cheese I have on hand. This recipe has cheddar, mozzarella, Boursin, and parmesan cheese. Feel free to get creative with the types of cheese you use!

For the pot to cook this deliciousness in, I used a Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Braiser. These can get expensive, so I really like the Amazon Basics brand of enameled cast iron skillets that run about a quarter of the price of Le Creuset.

Perfect Side

BBQ Sides

I made this pasta to go on the side of my favorite BBQ. Check out the recipes here:

Sweet and Smokey BBQ Ribs

Instant Pot BBQ Brisket

Dutch Oven Collard Greens

BBQ Brisket Meal
One Pot Mac and Cheese

One Pot Mac and Cheese

Creamy and rich one-pot macaroni and cheese with green chile and bacon
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups dried pasta
  • 3 – 3¼ cups milk
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1/2 tsp ground mustard
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 oz cream cheese softened
  • cups shredded cheese I used chedder and mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup shredded or shaved parmesan for garnish
  • 1/4 cup chopped roasted green chile optional
  • 1/4 cup chopped cooked bacon optional
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley optional

Instructions
 

  • In a large skillet, add dried pasta, green chile (if using) milk, and chicken broth. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
    Milk and Pasta
  • Let simmer until pasta is done and stir frequently to prevent pasta from sticking together. Times will vary depending on type of pasta used.
  • Once pasta is cooked, add the butter, cream cheese and shredded cheese. Reserve the parmesan cheese for garnish.
    Adding Cheese
  • Stir slowly to combine while the cheese melts. Add the cream a little at a time while stirring. If it looks too dry, add more milk or chicken broth until you’ve reached the desired consistency.
    Cheesy Mac
  • Remove from heat and top with bacon, parmesan and parsley. Enjoy!
    Green Chile Mac and Cheese
Keyword Mac and Cheese, Macaroni and Cheese, One Pot, One-Pot Mac and Cheese
Sweet and Smoky BBQ Ribs

Sweet and Smoky BBQ Ribs

For National BBQ Day I am making BBQ pork ribs, along with a homemade dry rub AND BBQ sauce! I don’t know where you are, but I’m in Arizona where it’s HOT! At 111 degrees, I plan to stay inside and cook in the air 

Sweet and Smoky BBQ Sauce

Sweet and Smoky BBQ Sauce

This Sweet and Smoky BBQ Sauce is a staple in our house. BBQ is one of my favorite things to eat, and fanatics know that good BBQ can be hard to come by. I’m a fan of sauces, so of course I had to make 

Sweet and Smoky BBQ Rub

Sweet and Smoky BBQ Rub

BBQ is one of my favorite things to eat. The meat options, delicious sides, an array of different sauces, and the incredible flavors. I like a lot of different BBQ variations, but at this house we tend to lean towards sweet-tasting BBQ that has a bit of a smoky flavor. One way to ensure the best flavor is to use a BBQ rub, and I have the perfect one for you right here.

Layered Seasoning Ingredients

This Sweet and Smoky BBQ Rub has brown sugar for the sweet, and chili powder and paprika for the smoky. The spices in this dry rub make a wonderful flavor collaboration and make a great seasoning for BBQ. I have used it on pork and chicken, and I even use it in my Sweet and Smoky BBQ Sauce.

BBQ Rub

I made this rub to put on my ribs for July 4th, and the Sweet and Smoky BBQ Ribs were born. And then gone, quickly. The brown sugar in the recipe brings perfect sweetness and helps with caramelization and crispiness. Paprika and chili powder in this rub lends the smokiness but using smoked paprika would give it even more smoky depth.

Dry BBQ Rub

The recipe yields 2 cups of seasoning, which is enough to make the ribs and the BBQ sauce and still have some leftover for next time. I store the rub in these mason jars with a wide-mouth plastic lid at room temperature.

Check out the recipe for the sauce and ribs here:

Sweet and Smoky BBQ Sauce

Sweet and Smoky BBQ Ribs

The ribs are a perfect addition to these sides, too:

Dutch Oven Collard Greens

One-Pot Mac and Cheese

Looking for more BBQ recipes? Check out this:

Instant Pot BBQ Brisket Recipe

BBQ Rib Rub

Sweet and Smoky BBQ Rub

A dry rub with sweet and smoky flavors, perfect for BBQ or seasoning.
Prep Time 5 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine BBQ
Servings 2 cups

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 tsp cumin

Instructions
 

  • Combine all spices and stir or shake well. Use as a dry rub or a seasoning for sauces.
Keyword BBQ Rub, Seasoning
Creamy Pina Colada

Creamy Pina Colada

Pina coladas are my new favorite cocktail, and my love for them is growing deep. I’m 30 years old and coconut is one of my favorite flavors, but it didn’t always used to be that way. When I was younger, just the smell of coconut 

Chicken Herb Meatballs

Chicken Herb Meatballs

I’m really into meatballs lately. Before I was never a huge fan, but the more I experiment with them the more I love them. I like that they have so many different variations, and so many ways to eat them. Any flavor combination works, and 

Roasted Vegetables with Vinaigrette

Roasted Vegetables with Vinaigrette

If you are human, you know how difficult it can be to get your daily dose of vegetables. Even if you’re an adult and love broccoli like I do, vegetables can still get boring. When I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, I adopted an AIP (autoimmune protocol) diet which increased my vegetable consumption to 9 cups a day. Yes, I said 9 cups of vegetables a day. Even if you are a vegetarian that amount is hard to consume! I decided to mix things up, literally and figuratively. I took every vegetable in my refrigerator, roasted them, and tossed them in a lemon mustard vinaigrette.

Vegetables on Sheet Pan

This may not sound exciting but let me tell you that it is. Roasted vegetables are one thing, with the crispy and caramelized skin and deep flavor. But roasted vegetables tossed in a vinaigrette is a whole other ball game. Tossing warm roasted vegetables with a vinaigrette is a great idea because the warm vegetables absorb all the liquid and flavor from the vinaigrette. This helps to flavor the vegetables, keep them moist, and create some tanginess that was missing.

Fresh Roasted Vegetables

Lately, I have really enjoyed making a lemon-mustard vinaigrette. Use your favorite vinegar or just lemon juice, grainy mustard, and olive oil. I like to dress it up with some fresh herbs or garlic, and of course salt and pepper. This is so simple, but it changes your roasted vegetables more than you could imagine.

Roasted Vegetables with Vinaigrette

One tip I have is to ensure your vegetables are finished at the same time. You don’t want to have an overcooked and mushy vegetable with one that didn’t cook all the way. To do this, I make sure that my vegetables are either cut around the same size, or that they are cut according to cook time. When cooking Brussels sprouts, I quarter them to get them the same size and thickness of asparagus. If I add zucchini or yellow squash, I will cut thicker half-slices because they have a shorter cooking time. The vegetables will only need 15 minutes to roast in the oven, so you will get the hang of chopping them in the correct size.

I like these Nordic Ware sheet pans from Amazon for roasting the vegetables. Usually I use one of these Pyrex mixing bowls to toss the vinaigrette with the vegetables, and it’s so convenient to have all the sizes and lids. These Pyrex Snapware containers are great to help keep the roasted vegetables fresh while storing.

Chicken Meatballs and Roasted Vegetables
Roasted Vegetables with Vinaigrette alongside my Chicken Herb Meatballs over pasta

Having such a great flavor on your vegetables makes you actually want to eat them. And now I can eat more of them since I have to eat 100000 cups of vegetables a day. How do you dress up your roasted vegetables?

These roasted vegetables with lemon mustard vinaigrette would go perfectly on the side of these main dishes:

Chimichurri with Flank Steak

Marinated Greek Chicken

Bacon and Cream Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breast

Roasted Vegetables with Vinaigrette

Roasted Vegetables with Lemon Mustard Vinaigrette

A mixture of vegetables roasted and tossed with a lemon-mustard vinaigrette
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 6 servings

Equipment

  • Oven

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup Brussels sprouts quartered
  • 1 cup zucchini large chunks
  • 1/2 cup asparagus large chunks
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup bell peppers large chunks
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil or favorite cooking oil
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Lemon-Mustard Vinaigrette

  • 1 lemon juiced
  • or 2 tbsp favorite vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp stone ground mustard or dijon
  • 2 tbsp fresh herbs chopped
  • pinch salt and pepper

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a sheet pan with oil – avocado, olive or coconut are great options.
  • Chop vegetables according to cook time. Lightly coat them in your favorite cooking oil. (Vegetables that take longer to cook should be cut smaller, while vegetables that take less time to cook should be cut larger so that all vegetables take the same amount of time to cook).
  • Spread the vegetables evenly in a single layer on the greased sheet pan.
    Vegetables on Sheet Pan
  • Roast vegetables in the oven at 350° for 15 minutes, or until vegetables start to turn bright green and are fork tender.
    Roasted Sheet Pan Vegetables
  • Prepare vinaigrette in a bowl while vegetables are roasting. Whisk all vinaigrette ingredients together in a small bowl.
    Lemon Mustard Vinaigrette
  • Once vegetables are done roasting, toss them with the vinaigrette in a large bowl while they are still warm.
    Fresh Roasted Vegetables
  • Enjoy vegetables warm or cold.
    Chicken Meatballs and Roasted Vegetables
Keyword AIP, Healthy, Paleo, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian