7-Layer Mediterranean Dip

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I love layered dips like this! I think it all started when I had a 7-Layer Mexican Dip from the deli section of the grocery store back in high school. There is just something about a scoop full of several flavors at once!

Another reason I love these dips is that you can customize them to any particular tastes! Don’t like feta? Leave it out! Not of fan of kalamata olives? No biggie… use back olives instead!

For this dip, I spread all of my favorite flavors and then serve it alongside a big bowl of salty tortilla chips!

 

7-Layer Mediterranean Dip
Serves 12

Screen Shot 2018-09-13 at 9.24.29 AM1 16oz container humus
4 tablespoons prepared pesto
1/2 cup red pepper, chopped (or you can use a large jar of pimentos)
1 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup sliced green onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

On a serving plate or platter, spread the hummus to the edges. Top with the pesto, spreading to the edges. Scatter the red pepper, olives, feta and green onions over the top. Sprinkle with parsley to finish.

Serve with fresh vegetables or salty tortilla chips!

Enjoy!

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Parathyroidectomy

I FINALLY had my parathyroidectomy last Friday! It feels like it’s been such a long road. While I was really just diagnosed last September, I’m so thankful to be on the healing end.

The last year has been such an education. And I learned more in the last two weeks than I have in the last year! While the dietary changes have helped me feel immensely better, they weren’t enough to cure my disease or even slow down it’s progression.

When my doctor suggested I see an endocrinologist, I thought it would be easy to get in to see one. Not so much. The local one here had a several month wait time and thankfully through some connections with my brother, I was able to see an incredible doctor in Philadelphia. He explained the disease so thoroughly and helped Bill and I to really understand how it’s been effective me both physically and emotionally. He also said that it wasn’t my diet that caused it… it’s just something I’m predisposed to. He also said that in his opinion, it needed to be removed sooner rather than later.

He referred me to the surgeon who was just as wonderful. He explained everything even more clearly and after the appointment I had such a sense of relief and justification that everything I’ve been feeling for at least the last two years was due to this and not every excuse I was making. When I was exhausted I’d blame it on working so much. When I was depressed I blamed it on being sad about losing my dad. When I was achy I blamed it on working out too much or not working out enough. When I didn’t feel well, I blamed it on something I ate. And all this time it was something in my neck the size of a grain of rice that was the culprit.

Before I met with the surgeon, I did my research and one of the biggest themes was to be sure to ask the dr to check all 4 parathyroid glands to make sure there wasn’t more than one infected. Thankfully the dr explained that there was no need for that now, due to modern medicine!

After my appointment I felt so at ease and knew we were definitely on the right track. And we scheduled it to happen 3 days later. Which I was very thankful for… I didn’t need a month of thinking about it.

I was scheduled for 1pm surgery and needed to arrive at 11:30am. We actually made great time in traffic and arrived an hour early.  When you check in you get a number that corresponds with a big board in the waiting area. It kind of looks like the arrivals and departures monitors at the airport. Each patient has a number and next to it is their current status: pre-op, in surgery, post-op, recovery.

By 11am I was in the pre-op in my gown and ready to go. I had just switched on HGTV to pass the time when I overheard someone call out my last name and “Room 3! ASAP! ASAP! ASAP!” Well, I knew I wasn’t in any crisis or an emergency but it did make me wonder in a little bit of a frightened way!

Then a swarm of nurses, technicians and several others came in and started getting me moving. When I asked what was going on they said that my surgeon had finished his previous surgery early and was ready for me. Which I was very thankful for. I was a little hesitant when they said they could get me in at 1pm on a Friday afternoon. All I thought was, “Geez… what if he’s running late… then what?” So happy I didn’t have to worry about that!

Since I’d never had any kind of surgery before and it was all unknown, it was probably better that I had no idea what to expect. That way I wasn’t too scared. I did get a little weepy at one point though but I’m sure that’s to be expected and I’m certain they’ve seen worse!

The IV line went in and then I received a shot in my stomach (I actually thought the nurse was kidding when she told me she was going to give me a shot in my stomach!). Then I signed some papers, more people spoke to me and off we went. Before I knew it I was in the operating room and they were asking me what kind of music I wanted to help me relax.

The thoughts in my head at that moment? “Are you kidding me? I have no idea!”, “Hmmm… what kind of music relaxes me?”, “Please don’t play Elvis… anything but Elvis!” Before I could say a word, the young male nurse who could probably be my son said, “She looks like she likes Aerosmith.” Which I do but probably wouldn’t have been my first choice in the relaxation category!

I think I muttered something along the lines of “Whatever makes Dr Pak feel the most relaxed…” Then I heard Aerosmith, saw my surgeon walk in and then nothing…

He was able to locate the infected gland immediately and remove it. Then he waited 15 minutes and did the blood test. The plan was if my levels dropped to normal, they had the right one and wouldn’t need to look at the others. As expected, that’s what happened and he closed me up!

The next thing I knew I was in post-op. The nurse was asking my pain level and administering something through the IV. The first dose didn’t help. The second helped a bit and then the third was just way too much. I didn’t feel very good after that. Then they moved me into the recovery area.

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At that point I was starving!  They gave me crackers and ginger ale and I waited for Bill to come in. Then I got dressed and we were on our way home!

The worst was the sore throat from the breathing tube and feeling dizzy from the anesthesia. But I can totally feel that I am on the mend!

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This morning I am a bit red and decided not to go into work for the next few days so I can relax and be 100%. And on Saturday I could feel my lips tingling which is another great sign. That means my calcium is low!

So for anyone who might be facing this too… you’ll be so thankful when it’s done. I promise!

Life is good!  xoxo

 

What We’ve Been Eating

I’ve had very little time to do any writing. Summer is insanely busy for us and this year has proven that the trend is very much still intact. We’ve had some fun travel, first over Memorial Day weekend we went to Rehoboth Beach in Delaware with a group of friends. There were 8 of us and we had such a great time! Then mid-June we traveled to MI for my god-daughter’s high school graduation (and a dr visit for me… more on that later), then we spent 6 days in norther Michigan at the Boyne Mountain Resort. That trip was pure bliss! We had amazing family time and played golf almost every day! It was wonderfully relaxing! If you follow my instastories, you saw the pics and how wonderful both trips were.

As July rolled in, we had our annual July 4th party where 79 attended and had a fantastic and safe time! We are so blessed. The same day as the party, we also had our first house guests of the season arrive. When all is said and done, we will have guests with us for 7 weeks straight (not all the same ones!) Needless to say, it doesn’t leave much time for blogging, but I have been taking photos of what I’ve been making and will share them with you here!

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I love this recipe.. it’s the Chickpea “Tuna” Salad from Inspiralized & Beyond. SO. AMAZING. You cannot tell it’s not tuna! I’ve blogged about this before and I will continue to make this one because it never disappoints. I also use Maille Old Style Whole Grain Dijon Mustard in this recipe and it contributes to the texture.

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This recipe was Grilled Salmon with Artichoke Tapenade, Lemon Grilled Zucchini from Against All Grain and Roasted Corn with Chimichurri Butter that we made from The Fresh20.

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This was Bruschetta & Zucchini Linguine with Grilled Chicken. I did this for a demo for a Pampered Chef virtual party that I did. This is another great recipe for sumer. If your garden is overrun with basil, zucchini and tomatoes, this will become a go-to. Pair it with grilled chicken with the Sweet Basil Rub.

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This is another recipe I’ve made more than once. I have a habit of not repeated recipes as there are so many I want to try! This is the Sesame Orange Slow Cooker Chicken from Against All Grain with Cauliflower Rice. The kitchen smells amazing as this cooks and it just melts in your mouth. It’s also quick and easy!

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This lovely dinner came from The Fresh 20… Teriyaki Salmon with Broccoli Rice. It was so pretty and perfect for a warm summer evening.

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The weekend after July 4th, our neighbors invited us over for a party. A friend of mine on Facebook made this version of a Pineapple Upside Down Cake and when I saw it, I jut HAD to duplicate it! I ended up making it twice that weekend for two different events! Isn’t it pretty?

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We had some of Bill’s extended family over for swimming and a cookout so I made this one from Celebrations! It’s on the Father’s Day menu… Grilled Tri-Tip and Veggies. This platter was licked clean!

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After my most recent doctor visit, I am focusing more and more on what I put into my body. It’s so hard. I sit and eat salad while I watch others eating cheesy lasagna (that I made!) But I know it’s better for me to eat what I’m eating and possibly I can venture back into the cheesy wheat-filled world again at some point.

The recipe above is Coconut Green Curry from Inspiralized.com. The word that comes to mind for me on this dish is *lovely*. It’s delicate and flavorful and comes together incredibly fast. If you’re a coconut curry fan, be sure to put this into your rotation.

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The next day I repurposed it for lunch adding some grill chicken tenderloins. I had them in my refrigerator and needed to use them up. I couldn’t get enough of this recipe!

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Last night I made Thai Quinoa and Zucchini Noodle Salad from Inspiralized.com. Another perfect recipe! It has a mild kick from the Sriracha and the peanut sauce has just the right consistency.

For a few years I’ve been wanting to Cook A Book. Now, as some of you know, I work at a financial planning firm in addition to my Pampered Chef business and writing this blog. Now worries, I am not doing anything illegal! I will be cooking my way through a cookbook in the Julie & Julia way. I am not going to put a time limit on the completion… I’m just going to do it as I go. At the moment, I working through the Inspiralized Vegan Meal Plan. When I finish it, I will move on to cooking through Inspiralized & Beyond!

As a result of my most recent dr visit, a thyroidectomy is in my near future. A gluten-free and dairy-free diet is essential until I have the surgery and depending the results, I may or may not venture back into eating gluten and dairy in very limited ways. I had been hesitant to commit to cooking a book because there are so many recipes that I can’t have. So my plan is to start with the ones I can make without any modifications and go from there.

So for the time being, I’m putting writing my own recipes on hold because I just don’t have the time it deserves to do so. I’m disappointed but thinking of fitting that in was stressing me out and that’s definitely not something I can afford to do. Of course, I will be blogging about what I’m making and sharing pictures. Be sure to follow me on Instagram as I will be posting the pics there as I make them and blogging here a recap each week.

Thanks for reading and following my blog! Can’t wait to share my new journey with you too!

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Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links. Colleen Finley is an independent advanced director for Pampered Chef. She earns a commission by linking to products she uses and trusts. If you purchase a product through her website link, your cost will be the same, and Colleen will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated and helps us enrich lives, one meal and one memory at a time!

Lemon Pepper Chicken & Lentil Salad

There is a great little bakery across the street from my office. I was in a pinch for lunch one day so I popped over to see what they had and was so happy to see a few vegan options and a GF breakfast bar. One item they had was a lentil salad and I think I’ve only had them once or twice before. Of course I fell in love with them!

IMG_2659Recently I signed up for a 3 month subscription to EMeals vegan menu for 2. I want to try to incorporate as many vegan meals as I can into my diet to keep my PHI levels from increasing. I adapted this recipe from one of the menus. I had some chicken I had to use so now of course it’s not vegan but is helping me head in the right direction!

 

Screen Shot 2018-06-27 at 6.59.52 PMLemon Pepper Chicken & Lentil Salad
Serves 4

4 ounces chicken breast tenderloins
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon lemon pepper seasoning (I used this one)
1 cup green lentils
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup white onion, finely diced
1/2 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon dijon mustard

  1. Place 1 tablespoon olive oil and the lemon pepper seasoning in the bottom of a bowl. Add the chicken tenderloins and toss to coat. Set aside.
  2. Pour the lentils into a saucepan and fill with water to cover by 3 inches. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer 15 minutes. Drain and rinse.
  3. Meanwhile, chop the bell pepper and dice the onion. Set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, basil, lemon zest, lemon juice and mustard.
  5. Heat a grill pan over high heat for 1 minute. Add the chicken and place a press on top. Grill 4 minutes, turn and grill 4 additional minutes. Remove from the pan and let rest. Then dice.
  6. In a serving bowl, mix the lentils, bell pepper, onion and dressing, tossing to combine.
  7. Portion into serving dishes and top with the diced chicken and additional basil if desired.

Enjoy!

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Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links. Colleen Finley is an independent advanced director for Pampered Chef. She earns a commission by linking to products she uses and trusts. If you purchase a product through her website link, your cost will be the same, and Colleen will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated and helps us enrich lives, one meal and one memory at a time!

 

Sweet Potato Egg in a Nest

We’ve always heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right? When I was young, my mother always made us an Egg in a Nest. It was a staple in our home. When I was older, I’d make it for myself as comfort food and always when I was feeling lonely or homesick.

IMG_2405The Egg in a Nest is known by several other names: bullseye eggs, eggs in a frame, egg in a hole, gashouse eggs, gasthaus eggs, hole in one, one-eyed Jack, one-eyed Pete, pirate’s eye, popeye, and spit in the ocean. I had no idea there were so many names!

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Sweet Potato Egg in a Nest
Serves 2

1 cup sweet potato, spiralized
1/2 cup zucchini, spiralized
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 eggs
1/4 cup water
freshly milled pepper

  1. Spiralize the sweet potato and zucchini.
  2. In a medium sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the sweet potato noodles and sauté just until they start to brown, about 4 minutes.  Add the zucchini, tossing with the sweet potatoes and sauté 1-2 minutes longer or until the zucchini is soft.
  3. With a scraper, arrange the veggie noodles into two nests with a well in the middle. Crack one egg into each well. Pour the water into the pan and immediately cover with a lid or foil to cook the eggs to the desired consistency.
  4. Remove the nests to serving plates and finish with freshly milled pepper.

Enjoy!

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Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links. Colleen Finley is an independent advanced director for Pampered Chef. She earns a commission by linking to products she uses and trusts. If you purchase a product through her website link, your cost will be the same, and Colleen will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated and helps us enrich lives, one meal and one memory at a time!

This Summer’s Perfect Cocktail

About a month ago when we were at the beach for the weekend, my friend Deb shared her favorite cocktail with me. She always describes it to the bartenders because there isn’t a name for it… until now! We are calling this one *The Deb* of course after my friend Deb.

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It’s absolutely perfect. Easy to make and the perfect flavor! I promise it to satisfy on the hottest summer day.

 

Screen Shot 2018-06-27 at 4.58.29 PMThe Deb
Serves 1

ice
1/2 red grapefruit, juiced
1 jigger vodka (we use Tito’s)
1/2 cup tonic water
1/4 lime

Fill a highball glass or stemless wine glass with ice. Using a reamer or juicer, juice the grapefruit half and add it to the ice in the glass. Add the vodka and then fill to the top with tonic water. Squeeze the lime over the top, then drop it into the cocktail.

Enjoy!

 

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Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links. Colleen Finley is an independent advanced director for Pampered Chef. She earns a commission by linking to products she uses and trusts. If you purchase a product through her website link, your cost will be the same, and Colleen will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated and helps us enrich lives, one meal and one memory at a time!

Carrot Cake Breakfast Cookies

The other day I tried another recipe from Inspiralized & Beyond… the Carrot Cake Breakfast Cookies. Someone made them and posted their review on Facebook so the recipe bumped up higher on my list. And the best part? I already had all of the ingredients! (Don’t you just love when that happens?)

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They were very easy to make and I made one simple adjustment… I added a second egg. It helped the ingredients hold together nicely. I packed the ingredients into my Large Scoop and baked them on the Cookie Sheet using the Reversible Silicone Baking Mat.

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They were the perfect mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack at my desk! I promise you will be hooked when you make these and they were super, super easy!

Enjoy!

SHOP MY KITCHEN!


Some of the links on this page may be affiliate links. Colleen Finley is an independent advanced director for Pampered Chef. She earns a commission by linking to products she uses and trusts. If you purchase a product through her website link, your cost will be the same, and Colleen will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated and helps us enrich lives, one meal and one memory at a time!