Best Broccoli Salad

Let's just say I am tired. The last week has been an utter whirlwind. Thursday we drove 800 miles to Iowa. Friday we ran around and had appointments (the bank, Joel's new job, preschool visits...) Then Saturday, Sunday and Monday we looked at 30 houses. Thirty! We even tried to buy three, but didn't get any of them. One was sold 30 minutes before we put our offer in, one we counter offered and counter offered but couldn't agree with the seller so we walked away, and one we lost to a bidding war of 11 people (this house was only on the market like 24 hours!). Needless to say, yesterday we came back to Ohio still homeless, but with a new found appreciation for realtors (ours is definitely earning his pay with us, haha) and realizing how picky we actually are. After living in 5 rentals, we really know what is important to us (big back yard, formal dining room, finished basement) and what we are willing to compromise on (for instance, I could really care less about granite counters or a gorgeous tiled bath - we can always update those later, anyway). So, the hunt goes on! 

Oh, and one more thing. Seriously, people. Dirty used q-tips, dried leaves on the floor  and scratches and dents on ever wall will not sell your home. Just saying. :) 

I have never been that interested in broccoli salad before. It's a potluck/picnic type of dish, and sure I grab a scoop at a potluck here or there, but I've never really been that excited about it. Until we were having a potluck birthday dinner at a friend's house and her husband asked if I could make a broccoli salad. I spent a while looking at different recipes (did you know there are approximately 342 different ways to make broccoli salad?!) before I finally settled on this one. I boy am I sure glad I did. This. Stuff. Is. Delicious. The dressing starts out kind of dry, so you need to let it rest in the fridge for a bit, but by the time its ready to eat its marinated to perfection. 

Best Broccoli Salad Ever (recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything)

8-10 cups fresh broccoli cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 red onion, cut into thin bite sized slices
1/2 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
3/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup sliced almonds
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup white sugar
3 TBSP red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl combine the broccoli, onion, bacon, cranberries and almonds.
In a medium bowl whisk together the mayo, sugar,  and red wine vinegar.
Stir the dressing into the salad, cover and allow to refrigerate for about 3 hours.
Season with salt and pepper to taste and Enjoy!

Thai Chicken and Quinoa Casserole

Well, here we go! We are currently driving across the country (with kids and dogs in tow) to look at houses! Wish us luck that we find one that is perfect for our family and that things go smoothly and easily for us. And also for Grandma and Papa who are watching two girls while we shop for houses! Haha...

I have made this a couple times now, tweaking it each time until I finally got it right. And I'm loving it, so I definitely needed to share it with you! This is an almost one-pot skillet dish (except you need a second pot to cook to quinoa). You can leave the chicken out and make this vegetarian, or you can add it in for a little extra oomph. Either way is delicious, and this is definitely easy to make! 

Thai Chicken and Quinoa Casserole (Recipe by Me)

3/4 cup quinoa
3-4 mini sweet peppers, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
15 ounces black beans, rinsed and drained
15 ounces coconut milk
1 cup raisins
2 TBSP coconut oil or olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp cayenne powder
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 cup chopped cilantro, divided
1 bunch green onions, chopped

Preheat oven to 350F.
Rinse the quinoa and cook according to package directions (7-10 minutes).
While the quinoa is cooking, heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat.
Add the oil, garlic, peppers, cayenne powder, curry powder, and chili powder, and the white parts of the green onions. Sautee 6 minutes.
Stir in the black beans, coconut milk, raisins, salt, 1/2 cup of the cilantro, and the quinoa.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Allow to sit for 5 minutes.
Top with the green onions and remaining cilantro, serve, and Enjoy!

Mexican Sweet Potato Casserole

I've been totally keeping a secret from you. Are you ready to know what it is? We are moving. Again! This time is hopefully the last time we will ever, ever move. In June Joel will be finishing his residency and he has accepted a position as a Hospitalist at a hospital in Des Moines, IA. It will be hard to leave the amazing friends that we have made here, but it will also be awesome finally being home and to be once again close to family. AND we are buying our very first home (eeeeek)!! No more renting for us! We've been talking back and forth with two different lenders, getting pre-qualified for a mortgage and trying to decide which offer to take (they are of course totally different so we have to figure out which one would make the best financial sense for our family). And looking for houses is both exciting and exhausting. So far we've been doing it all online and sending a list of properties to our realtor, but this weekend we are actually driving out to Iowa to look (and hopefully purchase!) a home! Since we have rented no less than 5 times before, we are of course being picky, haha. But I am confident that we will find the right home for us (requirements include a big finished basement, a huuuge backyard, attached garage, and of course a good kitchen), its just a matter of looking! So send good vibes/prayers/whatever our way this weekend as we look for a house! :) 

I loved this casserole dish! It was so delicious, and so full of yummy healthy things! The only thing is that you have to grate the sweet potatoes. Which takes a good 10 minutes and totally counts as an arm workout for the day. I did one, and then cheated and diced the other one. Which took just as much time as grating the first but felt a whole lot nicer to my sore arm muscles. Due to the quinoa and black beans there is a good amount of protein in this dish, and the asparagus is a nice surprise touch. I swear you won't even notice that there is no meat in here (but you could totally add some if you thought it was necessary).

Mexican Sweet Potato Casserole (slightly adapted from Olives and Wine)

1 cup quinoa, cooked
30 oz black beans, drained and rinsed
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 cups asparagus, cut into 1" pieces
2 large sweet potatoes
12 oz salsa
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup mexican style low fat cheese, shredded
Optional toppings: tomato, avocado, sour cream, etc...

Preheat oven to 350F.
Using a grater with large holes, grate the sweet potatoes into a large bowl.
Add the cooked quinoa, drained beans, onion, corn, asparagus and salsa and mix well.
Spread into a 9x13 pan.
Top with cheese and bake 35-40 minutes.
Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.
Serve with toppings and Enjoy!

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