Sweet Baked Life

my sweet journey through life…


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Crunchy Pea Salad

Sweet peas never tasted so good! This simple Crunchy Pea Salad is a delightful change from the leafy green salad variety and it’s perfect to eat on a hot summer day! It’s easy to make and great served with just about any main course. And to me, cold peas are much better than hot!

Crunchy Pea Salad

Truth be told, I didn’t like peas when I was growing up. As a matter of fact, I didn’t much like any type of vegetable as a kid. It was a struggle for me to get through a dinner without my dad repeating over and over again, “eat your vegetables” and “you cannot leave the table until you eat your vegetables”.

My family was part of the “clean your plate” club. Not something I was a willing participant. Yes I was stubborn. Back in the day, I spent many hours staring at my plate filled with the vegetables I despised until my dad finally gave up and excused me from my duties of guarding the uneaten veggies.

I dreaded dinner on a nightly basis. What I really wanted was dessert! What about you?

Crunchy Pea Salad

I guess it’s true with most kids — they don’t like veggies and they will refuse to eat them. It then becomes the parents struggle to get their kids to eat these nutritious things grown from the ground. When my son was little I did not force him to eat anything, rather I would offer him a bite of this or that, just a little bite to try.

I discovered that by doing this daily ritual, it made our mealtime a pleasant experience. And eventually my kid found the veggies he enjoyed. However still to this day, my  teen will not eat anything green! Give him a raw, uncooked, cold carrot and he is a happy camper!  Now I am not complaining. I would rather him eat some raw carrots every day than no veggie at all! I still offer him other veggies with hopes that he will one day find something green that puts a smile on his face!

Crunchy Pea Salad

And thank goodness that I evolved as well. I am a huge veggie lover. I probably love veggies more than fruit – I know that’s kind of weird since I love to cook sweet things! However, I still really don’t like cooked peas – but served cold and mixed with some of my favorite things well now that’s a different story!

So, even if you are not a green veggie or “pea” fan, you have got to try this salad. You start with a bag of thawed frozen peas, add some green onions, water chestnuts and cashews for the crunch. Then you toss it with some delicious buttermilk ranch dressing and voila — you’ve got a great salad to serve to your family, friends and guests alike. And it passed the taste test from my ever so picky hubby — he had two servings! So get ready to pass the peas!

Crunchy Pea Salad

Crunchy Pea Salad

1 (10.8 oz.) bag petite frozen peas, thawed
1 (8 oz.) can sliced water chestnuts, thinly sliced
4 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup cashews, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup Homemade Buttermilk Ranch dressing (or your favorite store-brought brand)
salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl combine peas, water chestnuts, green onions and cashews. Add the Ranch dressing a bit at a time until and mix lightly until you get the ratio of salad and dressing that you like. Chill for 1 hour before serving.

Crunchy Pea Salad

This Crunchy Pea Salad is also one of those delightful transition type salads. It’s great served in the summertime along side barbecued chicken and can made an appearance during a Thanksgiving day brunch and even continue on through to Easter as a wonderful accompaniment to your succulent sweet ham.

Now come on and eat your peas with this delicious Crunchy Pea Salad!

Sheila


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Pink Lemonade Margarita

Think pink! If you’re looking for a great summertime cocktail to help you cool off from the heat of the day…look no further. This pretty Pink Lemonade Margarita will have you puckering up for more!

Pink Lemonade Margarita

Whether you are having a get-together with friends or a party of one, this margarita will make your taste buds tingle with pure happiness! As well, it will turn your bad mood into a good one, or a celebration into a party!

And for me, enjoying a refreshing cocktail at the end of a long, stressful week is the way to go. You see, last week was one of those weeks.

I was involved with preparing the areas I manage for next year with intensively, brain-boggling budgeting at work, along with juggling all my other responsibilities. This time of year is the most stressful for me as a lot has to be done in a short time. I had to keep my forward-thinking hat on and dig in deep to solidify a well thought out plan. The good thing is that, since I went through this process last year, and kept impeccable records of what I had done, it turned out to be less difficult than what I had remembered. I guess that comes with experience. Thank goodness!!

Also during this week, my husband was dealing with a sensitively awkward situation on his project and we were both missing our teen son who was away on his last vacation before school started. We originally had grandiose plans while we were kid-less, but because of our hectic schedules and long hours, we really didn’t feel like going out — the evenings turned out to be quietly relaxing — spending a little quality alone time together. That’s all you can really ask for when you are having a crazy week!

So, bring on the ritas! This refreshing drink starts with your favorite pink lemonade concentrate, doused with silver tequila, triple sec and garnished with some fresh lemon slices and you’re set. Just one sip will make you want to set up your own adult lemonade stand so you can share the pure deliciousness with your friends!

Pink Lemonade Margarita

Pink Lemonade Margarita

For one:
2 oz. silver tequila
2 oz. pink lemonade (made from frozen concentrate)
1/2 oz. triple sec
sliced lemons for garnish
sugar to rim glass

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add all ingredients. Shake vigorously. Pour into sugar rimmed glass and garnish with lemon slice.

For a crowd:
1 (12 fl. oz.) can Minute Made Premium Pink Lemonade concentrate, thawed
(note, use the can to measure the other ingredients!)
3 cans cold water
1 can silver tequila
1/2 can triple sec
sliced lemons for garnish
sugar to rim the glasses

In a large picture add the pink lemonade, water, tequila and triple sec. Stir well and refrigerate until ready to use.

Rim each glass with lemon, then dip in a small plate of sugar to coat. Fill glasses with ice then pour chilled margarita and garnish with a lemon slice.

Pink Lemonade Margarita

And good news for me…the budgeting is complete, the project turned out perfect, and our son got home late Monday night and is ready to start 8th grade today! Yeah, now it’s time to celebrate happy times!

This delightful Pink Lemonade Margarita is great to drink in the sun or shade, and always better shared with friends. So break out your stand and let the crowds be pleased!

Sheila

 

{recipe adapted from The Incredible Sometimes Edible Egg}


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Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

Yee ha! Ride on over to delight your taste buds with this incredible Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing. If you are tired of that old bottled stuff, now is the time to saunter over to the Sweet Range and rustle up this all-time favorite salad dressing!

Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

Yes. I’ve been on a salad craze lately. And making my own salad dressing has gone hand in hand with that. I really am so tired of salad dressings that leave you craving for something better. So in my attempt to do something about it…I have been making my own.

With that being said, you know if I am making it, it’s got to be easy and tasty…and this Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing defiantly is! And no surprise here — I have been a “ranch girl” since I was first introduced to the stuff many moons ago, it really is my favorite dressing. What about you?

And with the hot temperatures staying on track for the weekend — the forecast is for 106 degrees around these parts for today and that means when I get home from work it will be about 110 degrees in my backyard. Yep, I’ll be jumping in the pool and not feel like cooking anything. That’s where this cool salad dressing will make you want to take the plunge!

Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

So all you cowgirl and cowboy fans of the fresh taste of Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing watch out, this creamy goodness will knock your boots off! I mean really, can anything be better than something so delicious and homemade?

You start with tangy buttermilk, good quality mayonnaise, tangy sour cream then squeeze in some freshly sweet lemon juice and toss in some freshly chopped parsley and chives, give it a good shake, add your salt and pepper.

And there you have it — a jar of smooth and tangy dressing. Use it over your favorite salad or thicken a bit (with more mayonnaise) and use as a dip for just about anything! And in my book you can make this awesome Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing year-round. Defiantly a people pleaser — especially around the old homestead where my family loves the stuff.

Whether you decide to drench your lettuce with this distinctive creamy goodness, or prefer to dip your crisp chips or veggies into it, or even use it to give your pizza crust fresh, new life, this  delightfully cool dressing will become one of your go-to dressings! Especially in the hot summer months when all you can think of is cool, refreshing food.

Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup Best Foods Mayonnaise (or other good quality)
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon freshly chopped Italian parsley
1 tablespoon freshly chopped chives
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, finely chopped (optional, I did not use this)
Kosher salt and ground pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large mason jar with a lid. Shake vigorously. Season with salt and pepper to your liking. Pour over your favorite salad. If you want it thicker to use for a dip, add more mayonnaise.

Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

So what are you waiting for? Mossy on over to experience this lip-smacking Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing; you’ll be glad you did!

Sheila

 

{recipe adapted from Huffington Post /Huffington Taste}

 


12 Comments

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Did you ever have to make something special, for someone special, for a mistake you made? If so, these classic Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies are the way to go! They will turn that “make-up” or “I’m sorry” sting into pure sweetness for everyone!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

For me, it was one of those mornings…my hubby had been asking me all week to help him with a proposal, and of course after working long hours, playing mom, wife and cook, sometimes I just don’t have the energy on a week night to do one more thing! So, I decided to get up extra early that Thursday morning so I could surprise him and edit the document.

I sleepily walked to my office, woke up my MAC and proceeded to opened up his email draft. In order for me to edit and format this all-important proposal, I needed to bring it into Word where I could work my magic. This would be a simple task, one that I have done hundreds of times before. I quickly opened Word, toggled back to the email and with my tired fingers I highlighted all of the text, then I did the keyboard shortcut to copy. But for some unknown reason I accidentally did the shortcut to paste.

Yikes! In an instant all the text was replaced my last known paste. Out of my half-sleep state I went into a panic. Help! What do I need to do? As quick as I could (which mind you was not so quick at 5AM) I attempted to exit the email, but unfortunately it auto saved! I tried to “undo”, plus a few other keyboard tricks, but nothing worked. I was left there sitting at a blank screen and my heart sank. All I could think was, “boy, I am in big trouble…and I was just trying to help.”

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I then had the daunting task of walking downstairs to tell my hubby that all the work he had done on the proposal was lost. The only good thing I could think of was that he is super understanding and does not get all crazy when things go awry. I could barely get the words out of my mouth, and when I did, he proceeded to tell me, “that’s ok, I’m sure it’s there somewhere.” Nope. Not here or there or anywhere. It’s gone! I felt so bad — and not a good way to start the day!

And then I stated, “well, at least you have the hand written version.” Wrong. He had decided to be all “high-techy” on me and actually only used the computer to input his thoughts! Oh no!

#amistupidorwhat #idiotwife #onlytryingtohelp #doghouse

As he handed me a freshly brewed cappuccino, I gazed over to him and apologized over and over again. He remained, calm and cool and told me not to worry about it. How did I get so lucky? He is the most understanding person I know.

Throughout the day I thought about what I could do for him to let him know how sorry I was. Then it came to me. I would make his favorite Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies when I got home. Now mind you, baking cookies after a long day at work is not something I normally do. But for him, and because of my terrible mistake, there was no question, this is what I would do.

This traditional cookie has just the right amount of softness and firmness to tantalize your taste buds and the incredible flavor combination of nutty oatmeal surrounded by sweet smooth milk chocolate chips can melt your heart. My hubby loved these — especially right out of the oven as the warm chocolate gently oozed out with every bite! In my home, deliciously sweet fresh baked goods make everyone feel comforted and satisfied and bring lots of happiness.

After making these heart-warming cookies, I took his re-written proposal — yes, this time it was done on lined paper and began the process of taking is well thought out words and turning them into the perfect proposal. Yep, it was a long night, but in the end, all was good on the home front!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups Old Fashioned Oats
2 cups milk chocolate chips

Heat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl add the flour and baking soda and stir to combine. Set aside until ready to use.

In a large bowl of an electric stand mixer with the paddle attachment , add the butter and sugars and mix until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating after each addition. Then add the vanilla and combine. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture until just combined. Remove the bowl from the stand and add the oatmeal and stir with a spoon or spatula until combined. Then fold in the chocolate chips and stir until incorporated.

Using a 1-inch cookie scoop, place the cookie dough on your cookie sheets, placing about 2-inches apart. Bake for 12-14 minutes until they begin to brown. Cool slightly on a wire rack before serving. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

These traditionally scrumptious Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies will turn a bad situation into a good one in no time. And your home and hearts with be filled with an amazing aroma of sweetness — something we can all use a little more of these days!

Sheila

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