The End…

Readers, the end is near.

After two glorious months of work and fun school starts again…and they’re making me go.

Readers, I don’t have anything inherently against school. Sometimes I like it. Kind of. Maybe.

Really! I’m not just kidding myself!

And I don’t mind Olive leaving the house every single day to go hang out with strangers in a building where she’s not even allowed to wear pants.

One thing I’m certainly not is bitter against the stupid private school I picked and their super stupid, archaic laws about women’s dress.

Yes, school is on it’s way, and I am…completely…fine…with that…

Please don’t make me go.

I haven’t gone to a single farmers market this year! It’s not actually summer until you get to a farmers market. Naturally, I should be given an extra few weeks/months to solve this problem before being sent back to school, right?

My green beans and peas died in the heat wave this year. OSU gives time off for grieving, right?

I’ve only been on a handful of water slides! How can I possibly go back to school having only ridden a few water slides multiple times?

I don’t want to complain, but as far as summers go, this has been pretty special, even with the downs. I wish I could stay home, bake more, invent more recipes, and try other people’s recipes! I want to spend time with my family and enjoy the special things they bring to my life.

Of course, right now, Olive is stomping her foot into a kick drum as hard as she can while Mike plays what I can only describe as Satan’s chord progression.

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Actual face he makes during crap like this.

Yeah, no, I can go back to school, that’s fine.

Sorry for the Delay Readers. Have a Cupcake, I Insist.

Oh readers, I am TERRIBLE. I mean that. I never intended to leave you hanging for as long as I did.

That being said, life got a little rough for a little while, and a break was necessary. I hope you understand. It is my intention to keep this as regularly updated as possible, and I’m going to do my best. I can’t promise I won’t go off the grid again, but I can promise you that we have at least another two months before my next scheduled freak out. :)

Still, I missed you, and I know a few of you missed me. I’m sorry. As penance, I give to you a recipe. No, no, it’s none of that health food nonsense. They’re cupcakes. Sweet, yummy, delicious…

…fruity?
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Cupcakes.

I call them “Kellycakes” since they were created for my coworker, Kelly (duh), who left for bigger, greater, and significantly more Korean things. I wish her well, but miss her terribly. As a goodbye, I prepared to bake up a fresh batch of those delicious raspberry cupcakes I made for Olive’s birthday. Then I noticed that Mike had eaten all the raspberries. Naturally, I punched him. Hard. Sadly, he is not some magical, fruit filled pinata, and I couldn’t get so much as a single raspberry out of him.

Strawberries are probably just as good, right?

As those were cooking I prepared the rest of the ingredients. I reached into the fridge for the applesauce. Hmmm…I don’t seem to have any applesauce. These cupcakes were almost a disaster!

I did, however, have one super ripe banana. Guess that has to do?

See, whenever I tell you to use applesauce instead of an egg, you can actually substitute the words, “pureed fruit” for the applesauce. The only reason I insist upon applesauce is because everything else will alter the flavor of the final product. Don’t get me wrong, I like bananas, but they have a time and a place, and a German Chocolate cake is neither the time, nor the place for banana flavoring.

So Kelly got Strawberry Banana cupcakes, and I got a new recipe.

Kellycakes
Makes 12 cupcakes
2 c white whole wheat flour
1 tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c + 2 tbs sugar
1/2 c canola oil
1 ripe banana, mushed
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c unsweetened almond milk
1/2 lb fresh strawberries, rinsed and quartered
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs vegan margarine
2-3 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F

Before you do anything else, place the quartered strawberries in a pan over a medium heat. If the berries are tart, throw a pinch of sugar in with the berries. Otherwise, you can just let them cook down until they go from this:

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to this:

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You should be able to get that consistency just by mushing the berries with a fork as they cook. However if you are an impatient spaz (guilty), you can throw them in the blender after they’ve already broken down significantly, just to even out the texture.

The next part’s simple. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, blend the oil with the mashed banana.

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Does this remind you of your old high chair? It should.

Add 1/3 cup of your strawberry “reduction” (we’re using that term loosely because I’m lazy and totally blended the bajeezus out of the strawberries) to the banana and oil and mix well. Stir in the vanilla and almond milk.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir only to combine. Scoop the batter into muffin tins and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a fork comes out clean.

While those are cooling, feel free to make/taste/start dipping pretzel sticks into the strawberry icing.

In a bowl using a hand mixer on a medium speed, combine the margarine, remaining strawberry reduction, and lemon juice. Slowly add the powdered sugar until the consistency is firm enough to pipe with (or at least be able to slather it on carelessly without leaving too many puddles).

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Yum!

After your cupcakes are cool, simply ice them and share them with your favorite Kelly. Or some chick you know whose name is Kelly. Or just someone who looks like they could use a treat. It all works out in the end.

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The camera doesn’t do this justice at all. First off, the icing is an adorable pink color. In fact, I first decided to use berries because my daughter wanted a Pinkalicious themed birthday and I don’t much care for food dyes. Second, since I was impatient and iced these warm, you can’t tell how well the icing actually piped. Pity, since before the heat overtook the frosting it had been quite pretty. Finally, you can’t lick this picture and expect it to taste quite like the real thing. Sadly, you’re going to have to make these yourself.

Admittedly, strawberry Banana is a pretty offbeat flavor for a cupcake. It’s ok though, because Kelly is kind of an offbeat chick. Are they a little weird? Sure, but it didn’t stop me from eating three of them.

So readers, I have returned, and I came bearing cupcakes. Thanks for your patience. I hope you can have a few of these as consolation for my bad blogging practices.

Enjoy!

***NOTE: I have received feedback from multiple sources about my zucchini muffins not setting in the center. My best answer is because the zucchini needs to be drained first, however, I need to test the recipe a few more times to see what is going wrong. I am so sorry for anyone who had a less than stellar muffin on account of me, and I’m working to fix the recipe immediately! Thanks!***

Sorry Readers! Stay Patient and I Will Get Things Up and Running Soon!

Readers, a quick update: Crunchy, Hip, and Broke is still up and running and will return to regular updates soon. Unfortunately, my family has experienced some difficulties recently. Don’t worry, we’re fine, but it’s been a very stressful and trying time, on top of the new transitions we were already making. I had to cut all non essential functions in order for us to make it through the past few weeks. Things are calming down nicely though and regular updates will begin shortly, promise! Have a lovely day, readers! Take care!

I’m Dealing With Some Stuff

Readers, I am quickly learning the value of a good schedule. When the quarter ended, I had three weeks before my new job started. Three weeks when my daily life looked a bit like this:

8:30AM–Wake up. Sort of
9:00AM–Realize that I had not actually woken up. Panic and start yelling at Mike to get out of bed and get ready for work.
9:15AM–Make Olive and Mike some breakfast.
9:20AM–Convince Olive that YES, her hair does need brushing.
9:30AM–Realize I have not packed Mike a lunch. Panic and promise myself to pack his lunch tonight before bed. (I won’t remember).
9:40AM–Throw Mike out of the house with a baggie of veggies, a piece of fruit, and a leftover I’m pretty sure he’s only been eating the past few days to make me happy. Kiss him goodbye and thank my lucky stars he’s polite enough to at least try to eat it.
9:45AM–Realize that he’s probably been getting subway every day, since the leftover comes back mostly untouched. Become filled with rage. Resolve to punish Mike for this later (I won’t remember).
10 AM–Eat WHATEVER I WANT FOR BREAKFAST. Usually this is a delicious fruit and veggie filled smoothie I made during my panic to get Mike out of the house, with a piece of toast. I then savor at least one cup of coffee.
10:30-11:30AM–unspecified internet time. I tell Olive I’m doing important work. Important work often includes reddit. Hey, I gotta keep the routine.
11:30-12:30PM–Gardening/miscellaneous chores/whatever I feel like doing. Sometimes that means laundry, cleaning the bedrooms, or weeding. Sometimes it means Olive and I get fancy and have a tea party, leaving the dusting for another, unspecified occasion. Sometimes this means I take a shower and think about things I could potentially do. Sometimes I have another coffee and doodle for a little while. It’s a very productive time.
12:30-1:00PM–COOK AND EAT WHATEVER I WANT FOR LUNCH. Remember I am lazy and opt for PB&J again. Yum.
1:00–3:15PM–Remember that I’m an adult and am supposed to do things. Freak out, clean the kitchen, clean myself if I haven’t already, and try really, really hard to remember if there was something I was supposed to do. I completely forget until Mike gets home.
3:15PM–Mike gets home and I remember that I was supposed to go to the grocery store. Hey Mike, wanna go to the grocery store?
3:15-5:00PM–Miscellaneous Mike’s home stuff.
5:00-6:00PM–Dinnertime stuff. We eat whatever I want to cook. It is glorious.
6:00-8:00PM–More miscellaneous stuff. We often sit around talking about what we want to do. This sucks up most of the actual free time. Usually, we let Olive play outside for a bit or run errands. What am I saying? Usually, I forgot that I Was supposed to do something, uproot everyone from what they were doing, and go do the other thing instead. This is also a very important part of the routine.
8:00-8:30PM–Olive’s bedtime. This often involves stories, songs, and pleas for more goodnight kisses. I can not stress the importance of routine enough, people.
8:30-10:00PM–I drive to the gym and get in a decent workout. Sometimes. Other times this part of my day involves me bargaining with myself to go tomorrow instead. This time can also be facebook time, movie time, or eating vegan ice cream from the pint time. It’s pretty versatile.
10:30PM–I start to get sleepy.
11:00PM–Convince myself that I’m not tired. Whine to Mike that I still have to do the dishes. Do the dishes with Mike, and then whine that I’m tired some more.
11:30PM–Tearfully apologize to Mike for whining so much.
11:35PM–Wait, wasn’t I mad at Mike about something earlier?
11:45PM–Pass out, if I haven’t already. Remember as I’m falling asleep that I had intended to read/sew/write a letter/call someone. Tell myself I’ll do it tomorrow.

Repeat.

Readers, I was bored. Bored, bored, bored, bored, bored. That’s why I had scheduled so much “miscellaneous” time. I mean, I could have come up with something constructive to do, and eventually I tried to a little bit, but when you’re broke, burnt out from school, and completely unfocused, it’s nearly impossible.

Anyway, a few weeks of this went by and before I knew it, I was employed again, and my schedule starting looking like this:

6:00-6:30AM–Hit snooze button every ten minutes. Bargain with alarm clock to turn back time a little. I know it can do it and is just keeping the technology from me. Please?
6:30AM–Give up on the alarm clock. Wake up, get dressed, and pack gym bag.
7:30AM–Commute to gym.
8:15-9:30AM–Gym/shower/get dressed for the day.
10:00AM-4:00PM–SPREADSHEETS.
4:00PM-5:00PM–Commute home.
5:00-6:00PM–Hug family, cook dinner, thank god I am not staring at a computer screen.
6:00-6:30PM–Eat dinner, tell Olive that yes, she does need Mike’s help brushing her hair tomorrow morning, and no, I don’t think I’ll be able to teach him french braids.
6:30-8:30PM–Family time. This still occasionally involves panicked errands. Old habits are hard to break.
8:30-9:00PM–Olive’s bedtime routine. It hasn’t actually changed, it’s just a bit later.
9:00-10:00PM–Dishes and lunch packing for tomorrow. This includes me, Mike, and three days a week, Olive. Yes, I do pack them little notes. I have yet to find a note in my lunch bag, though. I resolve to give Mike what for about that later (I won’t remember).
10:00PM–Insist that I’m totally down for watching a movie or playing a game with Mike, as soon as I’m done with my blog/reddit/facebook/stalking Edward Norton.
10:30PM–“Actually, can we watch it upstairs, instead? I’m kind of tired.”
11:00PM–“No…no…I’m…I’m awake. I swear.”
11:05PM–/transmission

Now, you may have noticed that a large chunk of my day once devoted to panicking, using the internet, and whining, are gone. They are now completely devoted to spreadsheets. So. Many. Spreadsheets. This has caused me to organize things a little better in order to manage things, and to appreciate my evenings with my family. As a result, I go to the gym before they’re even out of bed (the lazy jerks) and eat my breakfast afterwards. This means that my delicious breakfast smoothie and toast are a no-go. The smoothie doesn’t pack well guys; please accept this as a fact and do not go through the process of learning this heartbreaking lesson for yourself.

I had a few go to foods initially. Sometimes this would be a cup of cheerios, some nuts, and a piece of fruit. A few times I packed a peanut butter sandwich with fruit. These are all fine and dandy, but lets face it, when you’re used to waking up and having your only dietary limit being what’s in your kitchen, they’re just plain boring. I needed something awesome and quick that would pack well and give me the nutrients I needed after a really hard workout.

Yogurt Oats
1 cup plain non dairy yogurt (omnivores and lacto–ovos, get what ever you’d like, but please check the ingredient list for gross stuff.)
1 cup of fruit (Any and all are fine.)
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
A handful of nuts (optional)
maple syrup, honey, or jam to taste

Ok guys, do you have a thermos? No? Go get a small one, they’re $2 at Walmart or target and infinitely useful. Mine even has it’s own little spoon hidden under the cap. So convenient! Anyway, to pack this, you’ll need a thermos, and I recommend putting it in your freezer for about ten minutes beforehand to get it cold.

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Please pretend that the froggy ice pack you see in my freezer is Olive’s and not mine. Or accept that adorable cartoon frogs are a very adult way to keep your lunch cold. Whichever.

To sweeten the plain yogurt, I usually use about a teaspoon of maple syrup. I was in the mood for berries this time though, so I added a tablespoon of my favorite jam.

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Add the yogurt.

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Yeah, you could buy flavored yogurt, but the big tub is cheaper, and do you really want to commit to one flavor for an entire week? I don’t. Besides, I like being able to control the amount of sugar and omit sweeteners. Aspartame for breakfast? Or ever? No thank you!

Add the fruit, oats, and nuts if you want them. I lift weights at the gym, so I like to get a teensy bit of extra protein. Besides, I’m also a big fan of healthy fats, and it’s not like I can get to a fridge to spread avocado on a piece of toast anymore.

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You can’t see it, but I added both berries, and a banana. Mix and match whatever you want. I have my suspicions that raisins and apples would be pretty awesome in this, too.

Mix it up, and let it hang out for a little while. If you’re making this at home, just put your bowl in the fridge and eat it an hour or two later. If you’re on the go, keep it in your thermos, and when you get to eat it after your workout, it will be delicious!

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Letting the oats soak in the yogurt makes them very chewy. Some of you may have had muesli the traditional way by soaking it in milk overnight. This is kind of like that, but with yogurt and less nuts. It’s porridgy, and really filling.

Now, I’m not saying it’s best to eat your breakfast at your desk. I love sitting down with my family for as many meals as possible, including lunch and breakfast. Still, if I worked out at night, Mike wouldn’t see me, and if I worked out in the evening, Olive would start to miss me. This way, I get my day off to a great start and they get more time with me. If you have to pack your breakfast, this is an awesome way to get something that is tasty and healthy without spending your hard earned paycheck on something sub par. Everyone wins!

Plus, now I don’t have to deal with those two monsters in the morning. Of course, that has nothing to do with why I leave the house so early.

…I lied, it’s a huge a perk.

I mean it. They’re horrible. Remember the three bears?

Still, they’re my bears. And those bears are far, far away.

Eat something good today, readers!

Money Saving Monday–Welcome Back Courtney!

I’m back readers. Did you miss me during my vacation?

What’s that? You didn’t know I was taking a vacation? Shame! You’d have heard about it if you liked me on Facebook. Tsk tsk.

In reality, it wasn’t much of a vacation, since it was only a break from blogging. We were so busy, it was stupid. We had a lot going on. Here’s a recap for those of you not in the know:

We went to the zoo.

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I reunited with old friends, and saw some new ones.

We played hide and seek…kind of.

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I started a new job.

We celebrated Father’s Day with giant batches of brownies and our own…unique kinds of presents.

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We wore chef hats and fancy aprons.

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(Thank you Momma Kamper)

Olive made friends with some super heroes.

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I went to Comfest (giant festival we have in Columbus every year) for music, tie dye, and art.

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Someone turned five.

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And everyone ate pink cupcakes. Pink cupcakes that were AMAZING, I might add. Yes, you can have the recipe, but no, not today. I didn’t get to take any pictures of the process OR the cupcakes, due to the frightening speed in which they disappeared. I was enthusiastically told that they were the greatest thing I had ever baked. Later guys, you can have it later.

Besides, a whole week of comfort food and sweets and I’m done. When we grilled our dinner, we kept it simple–vegetables, corn, and baked beans. Easy, healthy, nourishing, delicious. Except there was just one problem. I didn’t have any dessert, energy, or cupcakes (those of you who ate more than one, I’m looking at YOU, jerks! Didn’t you know I was going to have cupcake breakfast?).

So we had apples. Because no matter how tired, broke, or sweet deprived I am, I always have apples, and they’ve never let me down.

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Grilled Apples
Serves Four
2 Apples
Cinnamon, to taste
Ginger, to taste
Blueberries, to garnish
Sugar (optional)

Cut the apples in half. Remove the core with a paring knife OR, if you’re my mother and managed to deeply cut yourself on tongs last week, a dull spoon, some elbow grease, and a lot of determination. A melon baller would probably also work fine.

Sprinkle the apples with cinnamon, ginger, and sugar, if using (you don’t need to, I think they’re amazing as is. But for a tart baking apple, a bit might help). Place the apples, cut side up, on the grill until they start to look soft. Turn them over for about a minute to cook the cut side. Remove from grill, fill cavities with blueberries while still hot, and then serve them to your family who ate waaaaaaaaaaaaay too many cupcakes last weekend, ate waaaaaaaaaaaaay too many chocolate donuts, and had waaaaaaaaay too many juiceboxes. Remind your significant other that apples are a dessert and no we do not need to go to the grocery store to pick up Swedish fish and no, you are not making him another batch of chocolate coconut fudge, and no, the fudge would not be healthier if you put peanut butter in it.

Seriously though, these are yummy, are nothing but fruit and spices, and are full of vitamins and nutrients that round out a meal perfectly. I’m not saying there isn’t a time for pink cupcakes or peanut butter fudge. But that time isn’t today.

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Because if she expects to be this fabulous all the time, she’s going to need the energy. She’s going to need apples.

Oh hell, who am I kidding. I need the apples.

Potato, Potato

Readers, the name of that post sounds cooler than it reads, I promise.

Recently, I was asked for ideas for eating greens. Unfortunately, my reader was apparently pretty green savvy. She was already sauteing them, cooking them in potato soup, braising them, and eating them with mussels. Whether or not I’ll eat them I have to give credit to a woman for getting creative with something that looks like…ugh I don’t even want to get into what mussels look like. Either way, kudos for knowing a lot of good ways to eat greens.

See, I think that’s so great, mostly because those, excluding the mussels of course, are all ways I eat my greens too. Mostly I saute them, though from time to time I’ll pop them into a salad, depending on my mood and what kind of green it is.

At nearly the same time I was also asked about comfort food. She wanted something healthy, but rich enough to be soothing. Nourishing, delicious, and savory. Sounded to me like potatoes were really the only answer to this conundrum. Potatoes have a horrible rap these days, and it’s just silly. They’re full of fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. So long as you aren’t drowning them in butter, grease, or gravy, you’re making a good choice having one.

Potatoes and greens…potatoes and greens…potatoes and greens but NOT soup. Well poop, what’s a girl to do but combine them?

Red Skinned Green Potatoes
6 small red skinned potatoes
2 cups spinach or other green (if using a green OTHER than spinach, steam it very lightly until slightly tender)
1 tbs vegan margarine
1 tbs nutritional yeast (Omnivores, if you have to you can swap the yeast for Parmesan cheese, but the yeast is worth your time finding, since it’s just so ridiculously nutrient dense)
2 tbs unsweetened almond milk
2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

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Clean the potatoes and stab them with a fork like they’re the jerk who stood you up at the prom. “Bake” them in your microwave for 10 minutes, or until a fork goes through one pretty easily.

When they’re cool enough to handle, cut them in half.

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Then scoop out the innards until they’re as empty as that useless shell of a prom date.

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In a food processor or really forgiving blender, throw the potato innards, greens, margarine, “milk,” and spices and let process until combined.

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Scoop the stuffing into the potato shells and place them on a baking sheet.

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Broil for five to seven minutes, until the tops are just a bit brown. Don’t tell anyone that you used the microwave earlier.

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That can be out secret. Promise. :)

Quick, easy, cheap, and yummy.

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Need to get rid of greens? Make a giant tray of these for a get together, or keep them in the fridge to nuke for a quick snack.

I used spinach because it’s what was in my fridge. If you have a farm share, trust me, you will have an abundance of spinach at some point. If, however, you find yourself with collards, chard, or turnip greens no worries. Just steam them for about five minutes before hand and they’ll be just as dreamy in your potatoes.

My family loved it, including Mr. “I don’t like spinach” and Ms. “Eww! It’s green!” They asked for seconds. I was out of spinach.

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Ok…I could always go get some more…

Money Saving Monday–Grain Salads, or “Beets, Part Deux”, otherwise known as “Totally Flaked Last Friday so Here’s a Twofer”

Guys, I’m pooped. In a weeks time I had finals, Mike’s birthday, and my band had two gigs. I’m exhausted.

I had originally planned to get an update with a second beet recipe up on Friday. Well, I didn’t. Sorry. Instead, I was busy baking this monstrosity.

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Delicious, vegan, and soooo, soooo bad for you. The man is worth it though, for sure. When a good man says, “I want a vanilla and chocolate cake mixed together with candy baked in, cookies on top, and sprinkles!” after having cheerfully taken tantrum duty for you after a near death experience (for Olive, not me), you really have no choice but to deliver.

I’m not giving you the recipe, though. I love you guys too much to let you eat that.

Anyway, conveniently enough, the second beet recipe I came up with tied into an important “Money Saving Monday” tip, which I am happy to share with you. Readers, eat more grains!

It’s summer, and salads are light and refreshing. Filling? Not so much. Confession time: I’ve never particularly cared for salads. Sure, I’ll eat an especially tempting one from time to time and I love the ones they serve at restaurants, but at home they just take more effort that I’m usually willing to put in for a side dish and require more produce than I’m willing to part with for an entire meal. I’m more of a “roast,” “steam,” or “grill,” sort of girl, myself. Besides, leaves alone are not tremendously satisfying.

Grain, however, easily solves this problem. You can make a salad out of ANYTHING readers, and I mean, ANYTHING. Have too much rice in your fridge? Make a salad. Dying to figure out what wheat berries taste like? Make a salad. Want a meal in a bowl that lasts you the whole week and won’t require you to so much as toast bread? Make a salad.

Most grains are dirt cheap. A big ol’ bag of rice, wheat berries, or barley costs, at worst, two bucks. At that, you can find a ton of different varieties, and each one has a unique texture. If you’re feeling really fun, check out the bulk food section of Whole Foods (or other natural food store) for a large variety of surprisingly affordable, nutritious whole grains. The recipes can be as simple or complicated as you want them to be.

I chose simple.

Pink Barley Salad
3 beets, roasted in two tbs of olive oil (as per these instructions), chopped into bite sized pieces.
1 cup pearled barley
1/2 or one whole cucumber, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 tomato, diced
4 tbs lemon juice, or to taste
1 15 oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper to taste

Did your reserve the Olive Oil like you did last time?

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Good! You’ll need that!

Ok, this is going to be complicated. I want you to take all the ingredients, including the reserved oil, put them in a bowl, and mix them.

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The result? Beets blend well with the citrus and tomatoes, the peppers add a nice crunchiness, the barley is chewy and just right, it’s a bowl full of awesome nutrition…

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…and it turns bright pink! How cool is that? How cool would it be to bring that to a potluck? “Salad? Oh, you mean the princess salad. Yes, I made that.”

You can feel free to call it princess salad. I won’t judge. It’s the only way I could get Olive to eat it. Truth be told, she thinks she doesn’t like beets. She’ll eat pink food though.

The longer you marinate it, the better it will taste, so feel free to let this sit in your fridge over night, or even for an hour or two, before you start chowing down. Much like revenge, it’s best served cold. It will not, however, kill you.

Happy Monday, readers! I’m going to bed!