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Are you and your kids getting excited for Halloween?
I feel like we have so many costumed events these days. When I was a kid it was simple-Halloween on Halloween at night. You didn’t have to look up the day or time or worry about being outside after dark. {My gosh I sound old, don’t I?} I admit-I do love all the events proceeding Halloween that I never had as a kid-Halloween at the YMCA, the Haunted Woods, birthday parties, school parades, etc.
It means that despite my son wanting to be Spiderman I still had an opportunity to “urge” him to be an oompa loompa while his brother was Willy Wonka. I couldn’t stop laughing at my little guy in his green wig ;).
brady and colby halloween
On to the food-I know croutons may seem so boring, but can I just tell you that my kids eat these like chips and every restaurant or store bought crouton pales in comparison-I promise you these croutons were worth their own post!
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Happy Halloween and Big Hugs,
Bree

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Here’s What You Need:
Hearty bread, cut into cubes (enough to cover a baking sheet in a single=1 small-medium baguette)
1/8 + cups of evoo
Seasoned salt (I like Penzey’s)

Here’s What You Do:

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Drizzle the bread with extra virgin olive oil and generously sprinkle with seasoning

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Bake at 400 for 10-12 minutes, stirring often

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Now serve or salad or eat like chips!

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Oh dear friends I haven’t forgotten about you!
I haven’t meant to disregard your kind comments on my recipes or fail miserably at reading your beautiful blog posts.
I have simply been living with only the tiniest bit of social media trying to swallow up the last days of summer while scrambling to get my company ready for the “fall boom” and my dearest little boy ready for kindergarten. I have been simply living. Cooking little and photographing less.

Enjoying summertime with my little man!

Enjoying summertime with my little man!

But I couldn’t not share this awesome Caesar dressing with you to enjoy while the air is still warm and the sun dangles in the sky past 8pm. These are the best days to enjoy a lemony parmesan Caesar. Dress it up with grilled chicken or blackened shrimp and crusty pieces of bread for a perfect summertime meal.
Enjoy!
xo,
Bree

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Apparently the bee really liked it too!

Here’s What You Need: Serves 4-6 as sides
1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup of grated parmesan
1-2 anchovies*
2 tsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp course sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper
½- ¾ lemon
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Here’s What You Do:
Blend all the ingredients in the blender until smooth. Toss with about 6 cups of chopped romaine right before serving.

*Don’t skip the anchovies-they MAKE this dressing. Just close your eyes as you drop them into the blender ;)

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paniniI almost cried when I found out one of my roomates in college liked country music.
I hated it.
(Along with her posters of babies and horses and your regular smooching of her boyfriend…)
But my husband, underneath is polo wearing exterior, is a country boy who would be happy in camo driving a pick up truck in North Dakota–
-And he is loyal lover of country music.
Over the 11+ years of being together and riding alongside him as he crooned to country ballads, I have come to truly love it.
The Kennys, the Keith Urbans, the Zack Browns….
I get it.
What better music to sing along to, right?

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Last weekend we went to our 4th Kenny Chesney concert. It was crazy (people watching topping the list of favorite things)
We sang every song at the top of our lungs and had a blast.
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A simple reminder to give things a little chance.
–and you just may like them….
Hugs,

Bree
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PS–I love paninis and this one was amazing!
Here’s What You Need: (For 1)
Handful of baby spinach
Storebought pesto or even better use Busy Bree’s Superfood Italian!
Cheese–I used Farmer’s Cheese with Basil in it-yum!
2-3 roasted red peppers, patted dry
Hearty bread
Extra virgin olive oil
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Here’s What You Do:
Preheat a Panini maker or grill pan. Make the sandwich by piling up the cheese, peppers, and spinach on one side of the bread and spreading the pesto on the other. Top with the other bread and brush it with evoo on the outside. Make in the Panini maker for 4-5 minutes or until it gets nice and golden brown. If you are making this on a grill pan simply add the evoo to the pan over medium high and cook as you would a grilled cheese. Put a heavy pan on the top of the sandwich to get the nice grill marks!

Kid Tip:
Cheese + spinach=much simpler, more kid friendly!

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Oh my friends… life is busy around here!

We just bought a condo on Castle Rock Lake that we are going to be renting out. I am super excited about it, but the rental program requires a lot!
Furnishing four bedrooms and buying all the little things like pizza cutters and garbage cans is getting to be a little daunting. If we had endless heaps of money it sure would be fun to go, “I want this, this and this” and call it a day. That’s not the case of course ;).
We spent two days this weekend at furniture stores and I happy to say we can check off a few rooms.
I can’t wait for summer to officially kick in and to get a little r+r. In the meantime, there are many days when the sun touches down in my little town that I am incredibly grateful for living out in the country. Note picture below-view from my porch.
sunset
Ah.
“Holler if you’re ready for some summer nights!”
xo,

 B
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This Grilled Vegetable & Feta Salad definitely tastes of summer…
Here’s what You Need: (1 meal or 2 side portions)
1-2 asparagus stalks, chopped
½ yellow squash, sliced
½ zucchini, sliced
Handful of kalamata olives (pitted)
1 TBS of sundried tomatoes, diced
1-2 TBS of crumbled feta
Extra virgin olive oil
Favorite seasoning-Like Penzey’s Country French Vinaigrette
1 capful of evoo + 1 capful of vinegar (like balsamic or red wine)
Salt + pepper
Handful of baby spinach ( a big one!)
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Here’s What You Do:
Preheat a grill pan (or grill) to medium high. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Season the vegetables generously and add them to the pan, turning after a couple of minutes. Cook until they are softened but still a bit al dente. Add them to a big plate of spinach along with the feta and olives. Stir the evoo and the vinegar and season generously with salt and pepper. Pour over the salad. Yum!

Did you know that Busy Bree’s is for sale?
Busy bree's
It’s affordable and amazing..seriously check it out!

saladgood2I heard Jillian Michaels  talking recently and she said she had to be the tough persona she is on Biggest Loser because,
“These people are suiciding with food.”
Wow.
What an incredibly powerful statement.
-And yet, I guess it is an accurate way to look at morbid obsesity.
Slowly killing one’s self with food.
I think what makes that show in particular so successful is that they work not only on what people are eating and how much they are excercising, but what’s behind the eating.
It is rarely as simple as a love affair with food.
Often it is a void that is attempted to be filled
or a sadness that is temporarily being forgotten by food.
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I think at some point we all, myself included, have chastised ourselves for our bodies or had unhealthy relationships with food.
Getting to the heart of emotional eating is the key to  successfully losing weight, to making a  true lifestyle change.

–And most importantly, to wholly love ourselves.
Our bodies.
To be incredibly strong.
Both inside and out…

What do you think about what Jillian said?
Food for thought, right?
In the meantime and on a lighter note,  here’s a tasty salad…
XO,

Bree
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Here’s What You Need Salad: (For each)
1 Handfuls of baby spinach
1 mandarin orange (I love Cuties)
Handful of walnuts
1 celery stalk, diced
(Best Life Spread, Salt + Pepper, Cayenne, Agave)
2-3 TBS of wild rice (I like the microwaveable one from Target Archer Farms for how easy it is!)
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Here’s What You Need Dressing:
1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp of red wine vinegar
Salt + Pepper
1 TBS agave or honey
1/2 TBS orange juice
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Here’s What You Do:
Preheat a pan over medium high and add the walnuts along with about a tsp of the Best Life Spread, salt and pepper and a good dash of cayenne and cook until the “butter” melts. Drizzle with agave and then stir to coat. Meanwhile pile the lettuce onto a plate and top with the rice, celery and orange segments. Top with the still warm walnuts and drizzle with the dressing to coat. Season with s+p.

Kid Tip:
My kids do not dig salads! But I gave them the celery and the oranges along with their dinner–basically deconstructing the salad.

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tuna3For the past several months my co-worker Lindsey and I have been working on plans of our Annual Meeting for my company, Futura Language Professionals. It is a meeting of the minds where our staff and franchise owners come together to learn, collaborate and inspire. This year’s theme is called Ignite! It is dedicated to Igniting or sometimes, re-igniting your passion for what you do. I think it is important to reflect on and do things all the time to be reminded of what inspires us. We only have this one, short life, so why not live it fully—ignited?
My charming little boys, my family, my friends, Spanish, travel, creating in the kitchen..so many things that I am passionate about.

Last year's meeting was in Mexico. Lindsey-What the heck is that drink in?!

Last year’s meeting was in Mexico. Lindsey-What the heck is that drink in?!

What ignites your passion?

Oh—and Tuna Melts for lunch this week because it is BUSY and they taste pretty great too :)
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Here’s What You Need: ( 2 servings)
2 pieces of hearty bread (I love Clasens’)
1 piece sharp cheddar
1 can of albacore tuna, drained (I love Wild Planet’s)
1 TBS Dijon
1 TBS low fat mayo
1 tsp ff Greek yogurt, plain
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¼-1/2 tsp of your favorite seasoning (I used Penzey’s Sunny in Paris)
Salt and Pepper
½ carrot, diced; ½ celery stalk, diced
2-3 grape tomatoes, diced
Handful of kale or baby spinach, diced (optional)

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Here’s What You Do:
Preheat the oven to broil. Mix all the other ingredients together and divide onto the two pieces of bread. Divide the cheese as well. (I use only one piece to make it skinnier, obviously!) Broil for 2 minutes or until bubbly.

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Kid Tip:
I was by myself when I made this at work and so I ate the sandwich for lunch and the left over tuna as a snack. It was that good! My little guys definitely don’t want open faced sandwiches at this stage so I would probably give them a bit of the tuna mixed with the veggies and make it into a grilled cheese.

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I was at the airport recently and a girl in line next to me at Subway ordered a
salad.
I am sure she felt instantly skinnier and healthier just by ordering it.
Don’t we all?
But as I watched her pour the entire giant thing of Ranch
dressing over the top and smother it in shredded cheese it got me to thinking,

One of these puppies has almost 20 grams fo fat!

One of these puppies has almost 20 grams fo fat!

“Are salads making people fat?”
She would have saved a heck of a lot of fat grams
getting one of the six grams of fat sandwiches.

And have you heard about Chili’s Buffalo Chicken Salad?
Looks and tastes great, but..chilis
It’s 55 grams of fat and 870 calories

Why not just eat two Big Macs?!
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Here are some salad tips on ordering or making better salads…
~Because salads can be healthy,  satisfying and just plain old fabulous ;).

Say goodbye to iceburg!
Iceburg lettuce is basically water. Even though it isn’t not fattening in anyway it doesn’t add any nutritional value. So swamp it for greens that count! Spring green mixes or better yet baby spinach are much better choices.
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Easy does it on the cheese!
Cheese is my dearest friend (!), but it sure is fattening, so use rich tasting cheeses (like blue cheese, feta, or really sharp cheddar) and then just use one tsp.

Dress for success! Creamy dressings are so fattening so try swapping out your favorite one for a yogurt based one. And many “diet” oil-based dressings have high fructose corn syrup as an ingredient. Buy all natural ones or better yet, make your own!

Add in some protein! Salads will make you HUNGRY if they don’t have any protein to satisfy you. So add chickpeas, hard boiled eggs, nuts or lean grilled chicken.

Make it interesting! We all know salads can be boring so make yours colorful and creative. Add in dried fruit, artichokes, roasted red peppers, pepitas or other flavorful components

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Looking for inspiration?
My Summer Salad is so easy-and flavorful.

Fill your salad plate with mixed greens.
Top with 2-3 strawberries slices.
Add a handful of walnuts.
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Sprinkle 1tsp of crumbled blue cheese.
Add in a palmful of dried craisins.
Top with a capful of extra virgin olive oil and 1-2 capfuls of balsamic vinaigrette.
Season with salad and pepper.
Enjoy!
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Hope your day is sunny and summer bright even in the midst of winter!

XO,

Bree

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BKT5I can remember a couple of years ago my friend telling me how she bought nitrate free hot dogs for her son. I nodded my head in agreement, smiling, pretending like I had any clue what she was talking about. Boy how things have changed.
The thing I have loved more than anything about having this website is how much I have learned-about cooking, photography, and most importantly about nutrition and food labels. It is kind of troubling actually, that you can’t go into a grocery store and just buy something off the shelf and trust that it is something you want to feed your family.
I mean have you heard about the thirteen ingridients banned elsewhere but not in the US? ugh.
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That’s why I love a company like Applegate Farms which has no artificial ingredients or nitrates. (Now that I know a thing or two about nitrites that’s important to me.)
– And they even make a ultra low fat turkey bacon, which inspired this BKT Sandwich (As in Bacon, Kale, Tomato). It was absolutely deliciously salty and crunchy just like your typical BLT, but you can feel a heck of a lot less guilty for eating it. Hey-you can even feel good about eating it. How awesome is that?!

XO,
Bree

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Here’s What You Need:(For 1)
Two pieces of hardy bready (I love the Ten Grain and Seed from Clasen’s)
3 pieces of Applegate Farms Turkey Bacon
A few pieces of green leafy kale
1-2 tsps low fat or olive oil mayonaise
Tomato, sliced
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Here’s What You Do:
Cook the bacon as directed and set aside. Keep the pan warm and add the kale for about 1 minute, stirring. Toast the bread and add the mayo. Season it with salt and pepper. Season the tomato as well and build the sandwich.(You can also drizzle the tomato with a little bit of evoo.) Enjoy :)

Kid Tip:
My kids are not fans of BLTs so I would add the bacon and kale to make a yummy grilled cheese!

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I keep joking with my friends that if I keep up eating the way I have been I will need to change my website to chubbymommy.com

Can you say chocolate butter?!

I am serious. I ate chocolate butter a couple of  weekends ago when I went out to dinner with my friends.
I am an eater.
I love to eat.
It brings me so much joy.
It is making my pants seriously tight.
(Which is why I am sitting here wearing my elastic banded pants this afternoon ;).)
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Anyway, after a horribly stressful week of trying to get my product manufactured for the first time, of cooking live for the first time, and having the boys by myself for many nights, I am so happy to be back in my routine, which includes a very healthly, yummy lunch like this one-Creamy Kale Ceasar Salad.

And just to be clear-I do not regret eating chocolate butter or the other happy indulgences this weekend.

80/20, my friends!
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Here’s What You Need Salad: (4 Dinner Sides or 2 Lunch Entrees)
Bunch of lacinto kale
1/4 cup of grated parmesan
1/4 cup of evoo
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/8 cup pine nuts
Juice of 1 lemon
2 anchovies*

Here’s What You Do:
Blend all the ingrients from kale through anchovies until smooth. I like to transfer it to a jar to shake right before serving. Chop the kale and add the dressing and croutons right before serving. You can also add a good dash of pepper on the top and shaved parmesan if you like.

*If you like caesar salad, chances are you like anchovies in the dressing. Don’t be intimidated it is worth the site of the ugly critters to get that awesome umami flavor. Drop them into the blender and look away ;). And they are a great source of protein!
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Croutons:
Preheat your oven to 425. Chop up whole wheat or whole grain bagels (3 small or 2 large) and toss with evoo (about 3 TBS) and season generously with seasoned salt like the one from Penzey’s. Bake for about 12 minutes, turning once.

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sausage

This recipe is a total keeper.
It can be made for lunch or for dinner.
Served on a bun.
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Over pasta.
On grilled polenta.
Or even straight up.

I made it on a busy weekday night while the boys at their turkey hotdogs (don’t judge-they were nitrate free ;)).  I had this again for my 2nd lunch today. Haha…

So good.
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Skinny Italian Sub
 Here’s What You Need:  (Makes 1, but super easy to multiply!)
1 Smart Chicken Hot Italian Chicken Sausage
3 mushrooms, halved and sliced
3/4-1 cup of marinara
1 Babybel light cheese (cut into pieces)
Handful of kale or spinach, chopped (optional)
1 bun (I used a sprouted grain one by Cybros that was awesome and six grams of fiber!)

Here’s What You Do:
Slice the sausage in half and remove it from the casing. Heat a pan over medium high heat and add the sausage, breaking it up with your spoon for 2-3 minutes. Add the mushrooms for about a minute. Add in the marinara and simmer for 3 minutes. Add in the cheese and then the kale and cook for 1-2 minutes. Scoop onto your bun, pasta, or polenta. Manga!
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Kid Tip:
This sausage was a bit spicy for my boys, so I would go for sweet Italian sausage by Smart Chicken the next time. If they don’t like buns, you can definitely stir this into whole grain or veggie penne with a good dash of parmesan.

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Note: I received the Babybel cheese from Laughing Cow, but the opinions here are all my own.