Celebrate Spring with this Easy Salad

Sometimes you just don’t want a heavy dinner to celebrate with family and friends. Here’s a recent celebration dinner we had when we had an early flight over the Easter. We still wanted to get together and have a nice meal, so we opted for an early dinner featuring salad. It turned into a riff on Salade Nicoise, with Chicken instead of Tuna. Simple, clean and worked remarkably well for six people.


Here’s how it’s done:

6 chicken breasts

½ lb of bacon, cooked crisp and cut into small pieces

Your favorite Teriyaki sauce

1 Pineapple

1lb haricot verte

1lb asparagus

1lb small mushrooms, halved or quartered

Chopped tomatoes

1 head Romaine

4c arugula

1 small package marble or fingerling potatoes

Olive oil


½ c blue cheese

½ c goat cheese

Preheat Oven to 375.

Preheat grill when ready to cook chicken.

Early in the day, marinate the 6 chicken breasts in teriyaki sauce (I prefer Soy Vay). Grill the pineapple.

image5Clean the greens and spin in a salad spinner. Wrap in a kitchen towel or paper towels until needed.

Toss cleaned, and quartered mushrooms into 1T olive oil and crush one clove of garlic over the mushrooms and toss. Add salt and pepper to taste and toss.

Put mushrooms in the oven for 35-45 minutes or until lightly browned and slightly dehydrated.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and blanch the haricot verte, plunge into ice water to cool and retain it’s color. Drain with strainer, dry and chill.

In the same pot blanch the potatoes until fork tender, drain and chill.

Meanwhile, prepare a mustard vinaigrette:

½ c. Olive Oil

1T Dijon mustard

3T Red wine vinegar

Juice of 1 lemon

Mix ingredients in a small jar and salt and pepper to taste.

Prepare a large platter by pouring 1T vinaigrette in the bottom and spreading around with a paper towel. Layer the chopped romaine, top with arugula. Put a quarter of the haricot verte on each corner of the platter, fill in with potatoes, tomatoes (if preferred you can toss the vegies in the dressing first). Slice the chicken and pineapple and serve on the top or the side along with the cheeses.

image1Serve with French bread and good butter.

This turned into a fun and clean eating Easter dinner which can be used for small events throughout Spring and Summer. What could you celebrate with this salad supper?

Beef & Sweet Potato Dog Food

Beef & Sweet Potato Dog Food

If you’re anything like me, you love your furbabies! On and off for years I have been cooking for my Labradors. Now that spring has sprung and allergy season is here, the dogs in our world are especially itchy! Homemade dog food reduces their gluten intake and can help with allergies. It’s also a great place to “hide” medicine if you grind it up and add it to the food!

I try to use the cleanest ingredients for my pet food, so don’t go buying the cheapest, highest fat meat at the store. I also use a lot of wild game meat, typically the meat that is too chewy for people to eat like tendons, leg meat, neck meat etc. When using game meat, make sure to both freeze and cook to a high temperature to kill and parasites that may have been in the animal.

Junior Supervising

You want the basic breakdown of the food for dogs to be:

  • 30% protein (egg, fish, chicken, beef)
  • 40% carbs (brown rice, sweet potato, chickpeas, oats, etc)
  • 25% fat (chicken fat, pork fat, fish oil, coconut oil, canola oil)

I always try to add supplements like glucosamine, calcium (including egg shells) and for allergies a Claritin (vet recommended).

You will want to make sure that your dog is getting enough calories for their size. Junior is 83lbs and gets 1 ½ cups tightly packed food twice a day.

This recipe and process is not an exact science but you do want to make you’re your dog is getting enough calories/day based on how much exercise they get. Here is a guideline to how much your dog should be eating:

Weight in Lbs Calories/Day
5 185-235
10 305-390
15 415-530
20 515-650
25 600-780
30 700-900
40 860-1100
50 1020-1300
65 1240-1600
80 1450-1870

When I make dog food, I like to make A LOT so my recipe is bulk and will require freezer space. This is the typical mix of food I use after several times that the mix came out too smelly. I don’t like using fish in high quantities because it is higher in price and…fishy. Once we made fish, broccoli, spinach and egg dog food and the animals smelled for weeks. I also avoid using beans because just like in people, they make dogs fart…a lot!

When you’re done cooking, the food should look good enough for you to eat for dinner, it just might need some salt!

Junior licking the pans!

Beef & Sweet Potato Dog Food

  • 12 lbs ground beef
  • 8 large sweet potatoes
  • 15 large carrots
  • 16-18 cups organic oats (I like Bob’s Red Mill Organic Oats, you can get a GIANT bag at CostCo)
  • ¼ cup Fish Oil
  • 3 Cups Coconut Oil
  • 1 Bottle of Glucosamine (I buy from Trader Joes because it’s the best price, but you can use anything)
  • ¼ cup Peanut Butter
  • 18 whole eggs

Set oven to 400º. Start simmering beef, coconut oil, fish oil and peanut butter in extra large pot or a few pots if you don’t have anything big enough. Grate both the sweet potatoes and carrots in your Cuisinart (if you don’t have a food processer, chop both veggies as small as possible). Add grated sweet potatoes and carrots to beef mixture.

Place the eggs, shells included, in Vitamix or Ninja blender and emulsify. It’s important to keep the eggshells for an extra calcium boost. Add Glucosamine and any other solid pills to the eggs and blend. Add egg mixture to beef.

Let the beef and veggie mixture simmer until beef is mostly cooked (about 20-30min). Mix in the oats and transfer to casserole or roasting pans and place in the oven uncovered. Cook for 45 min.

We used the sink to stir in the oats.

Once cooked, let cool for hours or overnight, then store the appropriate serving size for your dog in Ziploc bags. I typically keep 5-7 days worth of food in the refrigerator and freeze the rest. In the freezer the food keeps for at least 6 months.

All packaged in Ziploc Sandwich bags

Your furbaby will thank you!

Puppy Wagner chowing down