A Menu, A Recipe and A Warning

21 Sep
Ready for another two weeks of dinners?

Ready for another two weeks of dinners?

September.

How I enjoy the little breaks that I get in September.

The start of school comes barreling in for weeks before that actual first day. They are filled with doctor appointments of all kinds-eyes, teeth, and school physicals, along with coaches’ practices for school sports teams, and whatever else we manage to squeeze in. We shop for clothes, shoes, notebooks and pencils. Those last two weeks of summer vacation fly by and then suddenly, the front door opens and closes a few times one morning, and by 7:30 am, everyone is gone. The house is incredibly silent. So much so that I sit and revel in the silence for a little while, sad, but yet relieved. We did it. We made it to the first day of school.

Whew….

Because I am primarily a school news reporter, this early part of September is my down time, and I enjoy it very much. I still work, but the intensity of my job is lower at the start of the year and it gives me a few weeks to ease into the school routines before it really picks up and we fly into the fall and holiday season of writing, school and family commitments.

This is the time of year I can start to try out some recipes that I’ve been putting aside, sharing on Facebook so I don’t forget where to find them, looking through cookbooks and this is the time of year I have the most time to share them on The Whole Bag of Chips. I even have the time to look up and link up the recipes for any of the meals I’ve shared previously.

Since last year I hardly had any time at all, and since it’s September now, I am giving you a nice, full post today. It’s got our Two Weeks of Meals menu for this week and next, a new recipe we tried out last week and surprise….a safety warning to go along with it!

First off: Two Weeks of Meals

Sunday: Homemade Chili (and later, homemade chocolate pudding for dessert!)

Monday: Paninis

Tuesday: Baked potato soup (new recipe we’re trying out)

Wednesday: Ravioli with sauteed shrimp and grape tomatoes

Thursday: Grilled chicken caesar salad

Friday: Homemade pizza

Saturday: Kielbasa

Sunday: Baked chicken dinner

Monday: Meatloaf burgers

Tuesday: Chicken pot pie (made with the leftover chicken from Sunday)

Wednesday: Cauliflower/Broccoli/Chicken casserole

Thursday: Eggplant Parmesean and pasta

Friday: Leftovers

 

This was a gluten free, lowfat recipe we tried out recently and loved. Every single person gave it a thumbs up. Literally.

This was a gluten free, lowfat recipe we tried out recently and loved. Every single person gave it a thumbs up. Literally.

Next Up: A New Recipe for you to try out, and a warning to go along with it!

Our menu planning is challenging for us because we are trying to combine meals that work for our busy schedule with providing healthy eating options for our family and making it either a gluten free meal or providing almost the exact same option in a gluten free version, every night. Not to mention, we try not to make things we know people don’t like.

Challenging.

But doable.

So this recipe for the Skinnytaste Zucchini Lasagna is one that I saw on Facebook, and I shared it out so that I wouldn’t forget where it was. We really wanted to try it, so we added it to the last two-week menu cycle of meals. It was delicious. A little labor-intensive, so we scheduled it on a night we’d be eating later, with more time to cook. I’d be working that night and my husband would be able to come in a little earlier in the evening to help make it, and to help with all the nighttime pick-ups for the kids.

What’s that they say about the best laid plans?

This was a delicious meal, any leftovers disappeared within days, and we'd definitely make it again, just a little more carefully next time.

This was a delicious meal, any leftovers disappeared within days, and we’d definitely make it again, just a little more carefully next time.

 

Be sure to use ALL parts of your kitchen tools, especially the guards for the sharper ones!

Be sure to use ALL parts of your kitchen tools, especially the guards for the sharper ones!

 

And so, here is the final part of my post for you: the safety warning.

The warning goes like this:

If you are using a sharp kitchen tool, be sure that you are using all of the necessary parts and pieces that go with it. They are there for a reason! Zucchini is a slippery veggie and kitchen tools are very sharp. If you are not careful, you may end up heading out to the emergency room instead of heading to the dinner table!

 

Have a safe and  happy new school year, a happy fall season and a happy two weeks of meals!

Fun Friday: Homemade sidewalk chalk paint

9 Sep
Sidewalk chalk with a twist....paint!

Sidewalk chalk with a twist….paint!

In the summertime, I love the flexibility that my job gives me. I can create my own hours, and I can often work when my kids are asleep. However, some times, I just have to work when they’re up and we’re all home together. On those occasions, I try to get up very early and be done by noon, putting in five or six hours as early in the day as I can, or start late the night before and finish up early so that the best part of the day is not spent with me typing all day.

This summer, when I typed during the daytime hours, my kids always could occupy themselves if they were home. They’ve always had the desire to make and create, concoct and cook. They love DIY sites and Pinterest. My one blog post over the summer was for Oobleck, which they loved making, and today’s is another homemade concoction that they found.

Very few ingredients were needed for this and we had them all at home.

Very few ingredients were needed for this and we had them all at home.

Although we always have a ton of sidewalk chalk on hand (see my post from a few years back about our love for sidewalk chalk and all that it signifies to me) my kids found a DIY for homemade sidewalk chalk PAINT, and were immediately intrigued. What could be better than that? Nothing, apparently. So one Typing Tuesday morning, they asked me if they could make it. The ingredients were simple and we had them all on hand, as well as a bunch of sponge brushes that would be perfect for it, so I gave the okay. They made up a small batch of it and got to work painting outside on the cement. It was just a small amount to try it out, but they decided it was a great thing and would do it again in the future.

The ingredients they needed were:

2 Tablespoons Cornstarch

4 Tablespoons Water

6 to 8 drops of food coloring (they chose blue)

There are many sites online that give out this recipe, but here’s a site they found.

Wet, but drying.

Wet, but drying.

The paint was fine on our cement, and as it turns out, even on our wooden deck stairs (that was an “don’t ask permission first, but forgiveness later” situation) and it’s NOT the reason we repainted the deck at the end of this summer, I promise.

The neat thing was that the sidewalk chalk paint dries differently than it goes on, which was a cool changeover to watch and unique from just using regular already-dry sidewalk chalk. The “Hi” picture shows the changeover starting to happen, with the lighter part being the dry part and darker being the still wet part.

Neat, right?
Right.

And just as an aside, we had a large cookout over Labor Day weekend, and sure enough, one of the biggest hits of the day with adults and kids alike….you guessed it: Sidewalk chalk! Nothing was more fun than seeing grown men laying on the ground in all kinds of funny poses, being traced by their kids. Our sidewalks looked a bit like a crime scene forensics site afterwards!

Enjoy the weekend and have some fun!

New year, new system

7 Sep
By the week, or by the day, I can scroll through and see who has what, but better yet, all of us can see what's going on each day or night.

By the week, or by the day, I can scroll through and see who has what, but better yet, all of us can see what’s going on each day or night.

It’s September already! The summer flew by. It seems that each one seems to go faster and faster, and seems to end sooner and sooner! This summer was a good one though, good weather, good times, an overall good break from the stress of the school year.

With the start of each new school year, I try to be reflective on the past year and see if there is any way I can make my life and all of our lives, easier, flow more smoothly, have more balance, and be less chaotic. We spent the last couple of years really streamlining our meal planning and shopping patterns and we have found it to make a huge impact on our stress in that area. We always know what we’re eating for two weeks in a row, and we’re always stocked up on everything we need for those meals. We plan them to be healthy, budget friendly and most importantly, they coincide with nights that are busy when we have quick and easy meals and nights that we have more time to enjoy a meal with more prep time. It also allows us to coordinate our calendars and keep to the rule of always eating dinner together, as often as we possibly can, which ends up being most nights. Everyone has their thing, and the family dinner is one of our big things.

So now that we had that system down pat, I could look to other areas of our life to see what I could do in preparation for this upcoming school year because once it starts, it’s full speed ahead through June. No time to implement changes and upset the apple cart midyear.

Over the summer, our kids had a friend sleep over, and in the morning after they woke up, I invited her to stay a bit longer and accompany us on an errand, after which we’d drop her off at home, rather than her parents running out to pick her up. She grabbed her phone, opened up an app, took a look, and said, “Let me check my Cozi calendar. Yup, that should work, we don’t have any plans, let me call my mom and ask if it’s okay.”

I had a lightbulb moment right then. I suddenly remembered that years ago, before the days of smartphones and apps, I actually used Cozi briefly, housing it on my laptop computer. It had been recommended to me by my brother as an organizational tool, and although I tried it and liked it, not having a portable application for it, left all my organization at home and me on the road most of the week. Also at that time, none of our kids had smartphones, nor did we. So no one else could really utilize the app and after a while, I stopped using it and went back to carrying a paper planner; an 8 1/2 x 11 bound calendar book with long columns for each day, broken up by the hour. I was the keeper of the calendar. Anyone who needed anything had to ask me first or if they were home while I was home, go look it up in the book. That system seemed to work as best it could, for years.

My post-it note consumption has dropped off considerably with all of my lists housed in one place on my phone for anyone to add to, or to stop and pick up and then cross off from the list.

My post-it note consumption has dropped off considerably with all of my lists housed in one place on my phone for anyone to add to, or to stop and pick up and then cross off from the list.

After that lightbulb moment, believe it or not, I totally forgot about the Cozi app again. My memory isn’t what it used to be. We left that day for our errands, and my lightbulb went off. However, just a morning or two later, I was on a social media page and there in front of my eyes, popped up an ad for Cozi! It was like they knew I’d seen it in person just days before. (That’s a scary thought, but that is what it seemed like.) Right then and there, since I had some time, I opted to download the app onto my smartphone and start setting it up. Now that all our kids are out of elementary school, we finally have five phones so everyone could set up the app and access it from their phones.

As I set us up, I was able to give everyone a colored dot, even the dog, since she has semi-monthly groomer appointments and regularly scheduled veterinary appointments. I could make items repeat weekly, monthly or bi-weekly, and set up reminders for my family members days or hours before an appointment so they don’t forget that we have it. I could also make grocery lists for every store we go to, and to do lists for myself, a shared list, and individual lists, as well as lists for upcoming events. I started seeing many less post-it notes all over my desk and dining room table (which serves as my other, bigger desk). I noticed that if I had a few extra minutes to run into a store, I had the list right with me and didn’t have to search my failing memory for what it was I thought we needed.

My favorite thing though, is that all of our immediate family members have access to the calendar and to the lists. No one has to ask me if we have something scheduled on such and such a day or where someone is on any given night of the week. They can look at the calendar before asking permission to go somewhere. The kids actually start their sentences with, “I looked on Cozi, and the date is clear, can I schedule…..” which takes a lot of pressure off of me having to constantly manage everything for everyone. If someone runs out of something, they can add it to the list, and if they pick it up at the store on the way home, they can cross it off. It’s been great so far, and I think it’s going to really help us streamline our organization. We even added our two weeks of meals list to the list options so at any time anyone can see what’s for dinner tonight, if we need anything from the store for it, we can switch meals around on the fly if we need to because we have the whole list in front of us as well as the calendar, and I don’t have to answer that “What’s for dinner tonight,” question four times between 4pm and 6pm each day.

I often struggle with the ever-presence of technology in our lives, and I work very hard to try to keep balance in our family with phones, laptops and the like, as hard as it is. It’s not a perfect situation, but we’re always trying hard to keep at it. However, in this situation, I like the positive aspect of technology. I hope that throughout the year I continue to see the benefits of Cozi and that it will continue to eliminate some of the stress in our lives.

What we’re doing this summer: Oobleck

18 Jul
Not your typical summer recipe.

Not your typical summer recipe.

Hello summer, how are you?

I love summer. I love having everyone home, having no specific daily schedule most days, taking some time off, and having much less stress, overall.

It’s not that we’re not busy, it’s just a nicer pace. After the hectic school year, we enjoy the slower pace of the summer. It’s often a balancing act, balancing our work schedules over the summer with family and vacation time, but it works well for us. Since I am self-employed, I only get paid if I work, so I always make sure that I work much harder during the school year so that I can take some time off in the summertime and enjoy my kids while I have them home. I know that those days are fleeting, and the time is going fast.

Sometimes in the summer the kids, like lots of families we know, will make Bucket Lists: things they want to do over the summer. I always remind them that their lists are simply wish lists, things they hope to do, but won’t necessarily get to do. What I like about the lists is it gives us a starting point when we’re looking for fun things to do with them to make their time off more memorable. I have my own mental list of things I’d like to do with them, but I don’t tell them what they are. I like to keep some things unexpected and different.

Orange flavoring added a new element to the science experiment, something I had never thought of before.

Orange flavoring added a new element to the science experiment, something I had never thought of before.

My kids, like many other kids their age, follow a lot of YouTubers. They learn all kinds of life hacks, tricks, hairstyles, DIY projects, STEM ideas, crafts and more by watching these YouTubers. One thing they’d been asking me to do for weeks was to make Oobleck. I’d done Oobleck years ago when I hosted a Family Science Night as a teacher, but I had not done it in years. I remembered the basic premise of it and remembered how cool it was to make, but during the school year the thought of it was too much for me to handle. I told the kids to save it for summertime.

And so, it went onto the Bucket List.

Last week I got the question again, “Can we make Oobleck today?” I finally said yes. The thing about having older kids is that you don’t have to oversee every little project. This “recipe” had just two ingredients: cornstarch and water. As an added twist, the kids had seen that you could add food coloring to make it a unique color, which I’d done before, and flavoring such as mint, vanilla or orange extract for example, to add a scent, which I’d never heard of before. We had a few choices, and they went with orange extract and purple food coloring.

Within minutes we had a lot of cornstarch on the counter, but overall not that much of a mess, thankfully. The kids had done the whole thing themselves, and they were mesmerized looking at and playing with their Oobleck. It was neat to watch it liquify and solidify as they played with it. I managed to wrangle it into zippered closed bags for them so they could do some more observing for a couple more days before it eventually went into the trash. I noticed a purple tint to my wet paper towels and wipes as I wiped up my counter the next few times, but overall, we survived the science experiment unscathed.

It was a fun, easy, relatively quick activity and it was a little bit educational too, different than some of the typical summer activities we do. I liked that this item on their list was something they had found and wanted to learn about and create on their own, rather than something I thought of and carried out for them. And, I liked being able to check one thing off their list. They enjoy making the lists, but they enjoy crossing things off just as much.

For more information about Oobleck, you can do your own search and check out the many available instructions and options, or go here for starters.

Have fun!

Keeping your Oobleck contained and (out of the bedrooms) is key.

Keeping your Oobleck contained and (out of the bedrooms) is key.

New recipe: Stuffed Pepper Casserole from Skinny Mom and Sue

27 Jun
A new recipe for us!

A new recipe for us!

Well here it is, the last week of June!

Hooray!!! We made it to summer vacation! I will admit, there were days and nights I didn’t think it would ever, ever, EVER get here, and the final month of the school year was absolutely brutal to get through, but we did it. We have a newly minted junior in high school, an eighth grader, and a sixth grader, and we will finally be back in just two schools again next year, rather than the three from this year.

To help us make it through the year, we relied on many of our tried and true recipes, but there were also a couple of new ones thrown in there every so often. This is one I have been wanting to post for some time now, but I just never had a chance to get on and do it.

I’ve mentioned my friend Sue on this blog a few times already. You can read about Sue, her kindness, generosity and her fabulous recipes here and here.  Sue has this wonderful habit of texting me to let me know that she’s left me a treat in her milkbox. It might be a bag of the snacks I linked to just now, or it might be cookies, or a book, or in one case, a container of a new recipe she had tried out. The recipe was for a Stuffed Pepper Casserole and it was from the blog Skinny Mom. You can view the recipe here.

I love the look and smell of fresh veggies cooking!

I love the look and smell of fresh veggies cooking!

As soon as I tried Sue’s casserole (which was gluten free and low fat, perfect for our family’s needs) I knew I had to add it to one of our two week menu plans. Sue had made some adjustments of her own, adding in mushrooms, using the sauce she likes, and things like that, and I opted to do the same thing. We added in mushrooms and olives, used a sauce we liked, and I even decided to double the recipe, thinking we’d then have it leftover for another night’s meal.

I cooked this recipe in my new Pampered Chef stir fry pan, and as I did, I quickly realized that not only would I have enough leftover for another meal that week, but I actually had enough for two full casseroles: one for that week with leftovers and one to bag up into a large-sized ziploc freezer bag and freeze for a future night. It would just need to be thawed out and baked with cheese on top.

I also tried out a new gluten-free biscuit mix which we flavored with a garlic powder and butter topping, and that went over well too. All in all, I had a new, delicious meal and I had enough for a whole second meal as well. It was a win-win for us. I would most definitely make this meal again in the future. Anyone who loves stuffed peppers or even American Chopped Suey, would love this recipe too! I encourage you to try it, and I thank Sue for sharing it with me!

I quickly realized that I had enough meat for not one, but two casseroles!

I quickly realized that I had enough meat for not one, but two casseroles!

 

 

 

I thought everyone in the whole world was nice.

8 Jun

dandelion-925721_960_720I’ll never forget those words out of my daughter when she was young.

I don’t remember the conversation we were having, but it had something to do with protecting oneself against some sort of evil. Might have been stranger danger, might have been something else. I don’t know.

All I know is that I will never forget her reaction: her small, questioning voice and her confusion as we stripped away a small layer of her innocence, never to be replaced. She was now aware that no, not everyone in the world is nice.

We are raising girls here at our house. We are raising women. We are working hard to make them savvy, to make them strong, to keep them safe, to make sure they know they are loved and respected, to make them loving and respectful to others, to keep them honest.

Not necessarily in that order, and I’m sure I may have missed a few thousand things on my forever-long list of things we must do when raising them.

It’s exhausting. Some days are so hard. Some days I look at the world they’re in and I just don’t even know how we can do it any more. I look at what we’re up against and I am exhausted. I feel as if we’re swimming upstream, against the tide.

This week was one of those weeks.

I’m sure that by now, you’ve all read about the newly convicted rapist Brock Turner, a former Standford University young man who had been drinking alcohol, and then brutally raped a young, unconscious woman who had also been drinking alcohol, behind a dumpster until he was caught by two individuals who just happened to be passing by. He tried to run from his crime, the unconscious woman left behind in an instant, victimized, brutalized and still unknowing; but thankfully he was caught by those who had seen him, two heroes.

He was convicted on three felony charges of sexual abuse and thanks to Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky’s ruling, Brock Turner will serve just six months in jail for his crime, even less if he behaves well while in jail. He will be put on probation and must register as a sex offender. The maximum time allowed by law was 14 years.

Six months. Approximately 180 days in county jail for him, or maybe just 90 days if he’s a good boy, while he was able to deliver a life’s sentence to a woman he didn’t even know.

That young woman could’ve been my daughter.

Any one of them.

That young woman shared a more than 7,000 word statement with her attacker in court at the time of his conviction about how his brutal attack had affected her life in the days since. Clearly, she can’t put into words yet how it will affect her life forever, because she has no idea.

I have no idea.

But I can imagine, although, I don’t want to.

The life sentence Brock Turner has bestowed upon his rape victim is approximately 25,550 days long, if she lives for 70 more years.

In her statement which I couldn’t even read in its entirety at first, there is one part that I can’t get out of my head. Well, truthfully, there are about 7,200 parts that I can’t get out of my head. But this one part, the part where she realizes that the details of the attack were made public in a news story (the story she read which gave her the intimate details she previously hadn’t known about her own attack) and that she had to tell her parents. She wrote about sitting them down, about having to tell them that she had been attacked and raped, and not to read the news stories, that they were awful. Trying to stand up, her parents having to hold her when she could no longer stand as she recounted her experience as she now knew it.

That, next to actually being attacked myself, is the stuff my nightmares are made of. Hearing those words come out of my child’s mouth, I can’t even imagine the anguish that family has had to go through. As a parent, you try so hard to protect your children, to teach them to protect themselves, to make good choices, to stay safe, to treat others kindly, to do unto others as they’d like done unto them.

To hear that your child has been attacked, brutalized, victimized, left for dead in a rape-and-run crime, violated, forever changed, wounded and damaged. That might be some of the hardest, most devastating news to receive as a parent, in my personal opinion.

I can’t get it out of my head.

But the story, like any story, has even more ugly twists and turns.

There’s the actual crime itself, which alone is violent and sickening. There is the male judge’s lenient sentence for a brutal rapist, and his statement in court that he feared for the impact on this young man’s life if he had issued a stronger sentence. He didn’t mention fearing for the impact this crime would have on Brock Turner’s female victim. There is the news report about the crime that included the fact that the boy was a champion swimmer, once having had Olympic dreams, now dashed. It didn’t seem to mention the dreams of the rape victim in the report. There is the picture of Brock Turner that was first shared all over the internet, a pretty, blond athletic-looking boy in a nice navy blue suit with a button up shirt and tie.

Where was the mug shot we’d normally see plastered all over the internet?

I wondered.

And then, the icing on the cake: Brock Turner’s dad, Dan Turner, and his written statement of how this crime that his son committed, his non-violent “20 minutes of action” over 20 years time, has affected his son’s days, his son’s appetite and prior love for a good steak, his zest for life, and all of this in his opinion, is just so unnecessarily so.

He hardly did anything at all, apparently.

That’s when I feel like slumping down the wall that’s holding me up on our uphill climb, raising girls in today’s world.

This.

This is what we’re up against, this is what our girls are up against. This is when I feel like we haven’t come very far as a society at all in our fight for women and their rights. We’re up against a world where men brutally attack and rape unconscious women, leave them for dead, get a light punishment, and have people feeling badly that their appetite has diminished in the days since  devastatingly attacking a woman and, in essence, her family, setting them off into a nightmare for the rest of their lives.

Sometimes I feel like our society is so broken, so beyond repair, especially when I see stories like this. I fear for my daughters and their lives all over again, no matter which daughter, no matter how old. I fear for a day when one of them sits me down and delivers this news.

Now I know you can’t live in fear. I know that you can’t slump down the wall and stay there, and you have to keep on keeping on. But some weeks it’s just harder than others.

Last summer some of my girls and I took a walk one night, something we all do all the time when the weather is nice. As we walked, we came across a car parked in front of a home in the neighborhood. The car had out-of-state plates from a nearby state, and the driver was sleeping in the front seat with the windows open. We thought it odd, but the house seemed dark and we assumed when we walked by that the driver had arrived early from out of state, no one was home at the home she was visiting, and she fell asleep waiting for them to return. It was only early evening, still daylight.

On our way back from our walk, we noticed the young woman was still there. Still sleeping. The house was still dark. I peeked in through the open car window, and only noticed a cell phone in her hand. No evidence of drugs or alcohol, but something was definitely not right.

A neighbor called 911 while I called my husband to walk over too. We stayed close by. We were worried, the girls and I, as we waited for emergency personnel to arrive. We did the right thing, we were later told. Whatever was wrong with her, she needed medical attention. It could have been absolutely anything from a drug overdose, to a diabetic induced shock, to being dehydrated or being drunk. The house she was in front of was random. She did not know them. How she got there, why she was there, we’ll never know.

What we didn’t do though, was beat her, rob her, kill her, drag her out of her car through the open window, drag her behind the house, or behind a dumpster. My husband didn’t arrive and brutally rape her, just because she was unconscious. Her being unconscious didn’t mean we got to victimize her in any way. One did not beget the other.

We helped her. We believe we saved her life. We did for her what we hope someone would do for one of our girls if they were in that situation. We only wish we’d done it sooner, on the way there, rather than on the way back from our walk.

How I wish for Brock Turner’s victim and her family, her parents and her younger sister, that he had made a different choice other than the one he did, but even more so, how I wish that the male judge hadn’t minimized what happened to this young woman, how I wish he hadn’t favored a former male champion swimmer’s life and experiences over the victim’s life and experiences. How I wish Brock Turner’s father, Dan Turner, hadn’t raised Brock to believe that getting “20 minutes of action” was a thing, hadn’t raised him to believe that raping an unconscious woman was a non-violent action,  and hadn’t raised him to believe that his love of a good steak or loss of a swimming scholarship should be valued more than his respect for another human being’s body and life.

I wish and I hope and I pray that everyone would treat women, their bodies and their lives with respect, so that my girls, my future and fellow women, will have a safer world to live in than the one they live in today, because unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Not everyone in the whole world is nice.

 

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Tomato Salad with a Twist

25 May
Doesn't it look delicious?

Doesn’t it look delicious?

It’s been a little while since I have posted a new recipe and I’ve been wanting to share this one since last month when we first tried it. The recipe is one that one of my daughters found on the back of a Whole Grain Wheat Reduced Fat Triscuit box. Our family loves these Triscuits and we keep them on hand regularly, so once we saw this recipe, we continued to see it on every box of Triscuits we bought. Each time we’d buy a new box, my daughter would say, “Mom, we have to make this!”

Finally over the school break in April, I made sure we had all the necessary ingredients, and we finally made it. I truly enjoy cooking with fresh veggies and it makes me so excited for summertime, when we have our own garden. Tomatoes are a favorite of almost everyone here, and we especially love the more unusually colored varieties along with the typical reds. This time around I bought a large container that had a mixture of several types of tomatoes in it, and it made for such a beautiful salad.

Since one of the girls eats a gluten free diet, I chose to make hers separately with no Triscuits and no red onions, since she doesn’t like those either. Tomatoes are one of her favorite snacks though, so she was just as excited as everyone else for this new recipe.

Each time we bought a new box of Triscuits, we'd be reminded of this recipe that we just had to try!

Each time we bought a new box of Triscuits, we’d be reminded of this recipe that we just had to try!

This was a simple recipe to follow. It is called a Panzanella Salad, but it’s very much like our usual Caprese salads, just with a bit of a twist, provided by the added Triscuits. There is no cooking involved, just chopping, slicing, dicing and assembling, so the preparation was quick. We just had to keep stopping ourselves from snacking as I was prepping.

While I cut up the tomatoes and the cheese, I had my daughter prep the Triscuits, counting out the amount the recipe asked for, and breaking them into bite-sized pieces. That was definitely a “one for me, one for the bowl” activity as well.

We served this with a dinner of hot dogs and hamburgers, and it was the perfect side dish. It’s going to make a great addition to our sides for this upcoming summer. We loved the added crunch to the salad that the Triscuits provided, and my younger daughter enjoyed her gluten free version just as much as we enjoyed ours.

Here is the recipe according to the Triscuit box:

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup slivered red onions
  • 18 Triscuit Reduced Fat Crackers, coarsely broken
  • 3 Tbsp. reduced-fat balsamic dressing
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper

 

Directions:

Combine  first 3 ingredients in medium bowl.

Mix  dressing and garlic until blended.

Add to cracker mixture; mix lightly. Let stand 30 min.

Tear  basil into small pieces. Add to tomato mixture along with the pepper; mix lightly.

 

Even when made gluten free, this is a delicious side dish!

Even when made gluten free, this is a delicious side dish!