Sunday, March 24, 2013

And the winner is...

Well, all the entries are in now, and I used a random number generator to select which of you is the lucky winner of the free Shutterfly photobook. Congratulations to...

Catherine W.!

I will send your name and email address in to Shutterfly, Catherine, and they should be contacting you shortly with the codes to order your free book. Have fun! :D

Thanks to all who entered! Giveaways like this are a lot of fun, so hopefully Shutterfly will have another one before too long. I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Recipes: Homemade Salad Dressings

Maybe it's because I grew up in a health-nut family, but I thoroughly enjoy fruits, veggies, and salads of all kinds. I don't care for many of the stronger-flavored dressings that are commercially available, so I pretty much stick to Ranch unless I make up some homemade dressings. 

I'm gradually putting together a small collection of recipes that are quick and easy, and don't require any expensive or hard-to-find ingredients. It doesn't take long to make them, and it's so much healthier than the store-bought kind that are full of preservative and artificial flavors! Want to take a peek at a few of my favorites? Let me know if you give these a try - and if you have your own favorites to share, please do so in the comments!

(I cheated and grabbed this picture from, but it looks like my typical salad combo)

Here's a special dressing I make whenever we get fresh spinach on sale. It's super easy, yummy, and the poppy seeds look pretty on the salad.

Spinach Salad Dressing 
1/4 c. mayo/Miracle Whip
2 Tb. milk (cream or half-and-half also works; I've used powdered milk in a pinch, too)
2 1/2 Tb. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. white vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. poppyseeds 
Mix together well, and keep leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge.

Note: I like to serve this over a salad of fresh spinach, sliced almonds, craisins, and mozzarella cheese (small cubes or shredded). I think it could also work great with grapes, strawberries, pears, walnuts, or other similar ingredients.


Another recipe I enjoy is from my friend Tammy's great blog, Tammy's Recipes. She pairs it with her easy and delicious Oriental Chicken Salad, but it's good with other salads, too. Here's the way I make it:

Tammy's Chicken Salad Dressing 
6 Tb. honey
1 Tb. apple cider vinegar
4 Tb. mayo/Miracle Whip
1 Tb. regular mustard (the condiment, not the powdered spice)
2 Tb. olive oil 
Put into a bottle with a tight lid and shake well until it is lump-free, stirring if needed. Helps if the honey is plenty warm and runny. If you prefer more or less sweetness, tweak amounts. Store leftovers in fridge, but set out ahead of the meal to warm to room temperature since the honey gets pretty thick and hard to pour.


A friend's request for homemade Ranch salad dressing the other day prompted me to request my sister Lydia's recipe. I haven't made it yet myself because we have a good stock in the pantry to use up first, but this is a delicious dressing that's even better than store-bought Ranch:
Lydia's Ranch Dressing 
1 c. mayonaise
1/2 c. sour cream (or plain yogurt)
1/2 tsp. dried chives
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. dried dill weed
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper 
Mix and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.

Note from Lydia: I have made it without the chives, onion powder, and pepper most of the time. I just put in a little finely chopped onion instead.

Note from Abigail: My favorite salad to combine with Ranch dressing is loose-leaf lettuce and/or mixed greens, chopped tomato, chopped bell pepper (preferably yellow, but I usually go with green because they're cheaper), a handful of toasted, salted sunflower seeds for crunch, and a sprinkle of shredded cheese for color. I'll also use chopped cucumber or sliced carrots sometimes, and if you like raw onion that could be thrown in, too. Makes a very beautiful salad!


And finally, my lifelong favorite which we had almost exclusively while growing up, a recipe concocted by my grandpa and always served at their house:

Grandpa's Salad Dressing 
1/2 c. mayo/Miracle Whip
1/2 c. honey
1/2 c. olive oil
1/4 c. vinegar 
Mix together thoroughly and store in the fridge. This recipe can easily be made in larger quantities; just use half as much vinegar as the other ingredients. Shake well just before serving.

Note: I personally don't care for this dressing in combination with tomatoes in a salad (I think it's the vinegar/tomato combo), but it is wonderful over any other types of greens and veggies. Sweet and simple, we've had many guests comment on its tastiness over the years.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Giveaway: Shutterfly photobook

Ooooh - anyone up for another fun giveaway post? I'm so thankful to the generous folks at Shutterfly for giving me a chance to participate in another giveaway. One of you folks is going to win a photobook!


Shutterfly Yearbooks seem to be pretty popular these days, and I can see why. A super-easy way to preserve school memories (or any other memories), they are also quite affordable when one considers how much it would cost to buy individual prints of all your photos, not to mention a photo album as well as any scrapbooking supplies. Get it all in one simple-to-design package with Shutterfly's high-quality printing!

Whether you homeschool or your kids go away to school, these books are a great way to "make it a school year to remember." Shutterfly also offers free tips and tricks for putting a yearbook together, as well as shortcuts and ideas. Also, be sure to check out their list of photo ideas for documenting a school year.

I haven't yet printed one of these books myself, but I'm guessing the templates offer a lot of versatility and could probably be used for documenting pretty much anything - not just a school year. I've been very pleased with everything else I've ordered from Shutterfly so far, and am looking forward to giving these books a try. They're giving me a free book as a thank you for hosting this giveaway: yay!

If you'd also like to check out the yearbooks, and to do so for FREE, just leave a comment here and tell me your current methods for preserving family memories: scrapbooking, digital albums, facebook, instagram...what works for you? Please be sure to include your email address if you're posting anonymously so I can get in touch with you if you win! :)

For a second entry, please share this post on Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, or your blog - then come back here and leave another comment letting me know.

Get your entries in by midnight March 23. I will randomly select one entry on March 24, and that person will win a FREE 8x8 20-page photobook (including FREE shipping)!

Thanks for participating, and I can't wait to see who will win! :D

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Recipe: Baked Oatmeal

A friend just asked me for my baked oatmeal recipe, and I thought, Why not post it here on the blog so others can enjoy it, too? Credit for this recipe actually goes to my friend Natalie, who shared it with me many years ago. It's delightfully simple, quite versatile, and is a great go-to breakfast that works for gluten-free diets. Great to make up the night before and have an easy breakfast.

Natalie's Baked Oatmeal
1 c. brown sugar (or 1 c. white sugar and 3 Tb. sorghum)
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
3 c. oatmeal (rolled oats work best; steel cut can be too chewy, quick oats too gummy)
raisins, nuts, spices (cinnamon & nutmeg) to taste
1/2 c. oil
2 eggs
1 c. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Mix dry ingredients in one bowl, liquid in another. Combine well. Pour mixture into greased 9x13" pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, or until brown on the edges and relatively firm in the center. Very yummy to eat plain or with milk, either hot or cold.

Makes about 6 servings.