salad of the week + father's day idea #1

Has it really been just about 2 weeks since I last posted on here?? Last week really flew by. Between having a midterm & going to Disney to celebrate one of my best friend's birthday, my time was very limited. I really wanted to post a new salad last week for the June Salad-A-Day Challenge, but unfortunately it didn't work out. I decided that it might be easier to post a "salad of the week" from now on, rather than trying to post multiple recipes per week.

On a happy note, next week is the last week of my 4 hour microbiology lab on Tues/Thurs! That means more free time, which will ultimately be filled with gymmin' it up, kickboxin' it up, and recipe testin' it up. Flatbreads and sparkling summer beverages anyone?? The excitement is almost too much!! Throw in planning my birthday trip to NYC and I'm a happy, happy lady!

The salad I came up with for this week is simple, healthy, and super easy. It's nothing too fancy, but the flavors complement each other very well. It's been a go-to salad in my house, and with a little tweaking it is now another staple to be enjoyed all summer :)

Salad of the Week: Cran-Apple Salad with Mixed Greens, Feta, Sliced Almonds, and a Tangy Vinaigrette

Yield: 1 serving

  • 3 slices of a Granny Smith apple (~1 cup), cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons reduced fat feta, crumbled (I usually buy mine already crumbled)
  • 3 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
  • A couple of handfuls of mixed greens, I used spring mix    
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon honey
  • good pinch of salt
  • pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Toast sliced almonds in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes, or until slightly golden brown. You can also do this in a toaster oven. Rinse mixed greens, set aside. Make the dressing by whisking together apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, and honey. Once mixed, whisk in EVOO until dressing is emulsified. Add salt and pepper, give it a quick whisk. To slice the apple, I find it easiest to use an apple slicer, then cut those slices in half since they are pretty thick. Once cut in half, cut into smaller bite-sized pieces. In a large salad bowl or mixing bowl, toss together mixed greens, apples, dried cranberries, reduced fat feta, sliced almonds, and the vinaigrette. Add a little more dried cranberries or feta to garnish, (optional).

prepare ingredients
whisk together apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, and honey
whisk in EVOO until emulsified
apple slices are thick. cut these in half, then slice into bite-sized pieces :)

I feel so good when I know I've been fueling my body with healthful foods and exercising regularly. I can almost hear my heart saying "Thank You" as I'm jogging away on the elliptical.

There comes a time though, usually a special occasion, when you know that you may splurge a bit. Said splurging may consist of cheesy pasta for dinner, cake for breakfast, or sinful cookies for dessert. I am both saddened and pleased to tell you that I have recipes for all of these! Saddened because healthy eating is not the priority in these dishes, but very pleased because they are all finger-lickin' (or fork-lickin') good!

As I'm sure you're aware, Father's Day is just around corner, and if you're like me, then you love to cook for any occasion that you can possibly can. Especially the kind that allow you to show your love for someone through delicious food. I thought it would be fun to post a few dishes that are inspired by dad, and may inspire you to make for your dad. :)

As an Italian, a former New Yorker, and now a boating/fishing junkie, my dad is all about the comfort food. You can't blame him, especially when his ideal meal is some sort of Italian dish for dinner and chocolate chip cookies for dessert. I've decided to amp this up a bit though, and provide you with a new take on old comforts! Traditional chocolate chip cookies are taken to a new level with.....

Ooey Gooey & Chewy S'mores Cookies,  Father's Day Idea #1
Memories of sitting around the campfire, toasting up marshmallows and smushing it between two honey graham crackers flood my mind after taking a bite of one of these cookies. Oozing chocolate and gooey marshmallowey goodness.... it's so perfect!! If you like chunks of chocolate rather than mini chips, by all means use the big ones. With a cookie like this, you can't go wrong.

I can honestly say that these are in my top 5 best cookies I've ever had. And as I try to think of 4 other cookies just as amazing as these, I simply can't. So I might as well say that these are my number 1. We can all admit that that's kind of a big deal. They are gooey and very chewy, just as the name implies. If you like your cookies soft with chocolate chips that melt in your mouth, then you will be in heaven with these.

Although I don't cook or bake with butter often, there are times when you just can't replace it with something healthier. I was, however, able to use organic whole wheat pastry flour instead of all purpose flour, and Sucanat sugar in place of brown sugar. (Sucanat still contains some nutrients!)

I'm kind of going backwards here in terms of my Father's Day ideas. Starting off with dessert first wasn't my intention, but who's really complaining, right? My roommate, my brother, my friend, (and of course me), absolutely loved them! I am 99.99% sure that any guy who appreciates some good ol' cookies, would enjoy these very much!

Make these! You (and/or your father) truly will not be disappointed!!

Yield: ~20 medium sized cookies 

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened (1/2 cup= 1 stick of butter)
  • 3/4 cup Sucanat sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 inch of a vanilla bean (scrape out & use the tiny beans) or 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs, ~6 crackers
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 bag (or 1 cup) of semisweet mini chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup of mini marshmallows
  • extra crushed graham cracker pieces & marshmallows to place on top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside. Gather all of your ingredients.

Place 6 graham crackers in a food processor and pulse until they become crumbs. If you don't have a food processor, don't worry! You can place the graham crackers in a sealed plastic bag and use the back of an ice cream scoop to crush them.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or a hand mixer), add butter to the mixing bowl and mix on medium speed until creamy, less than a minute.

Add in Sucanat sugar and granulated sugar, and cream together with the butter on medium speed until airy and creamy, ~3 minutes. This is an integral step in making sure your cookie has just the right texture and leavens correctly.

Scrape down the bowl and paddle as necessary.

Add in the egg and vanilla extract and mix until incorporated. Again, scrape down the bowl and paddle as necessary.

In a small mixing bowl, mix together dry ingredients (whole wheat pastry flour [wwpf], graham cracker crumbs, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.) While the stand mixer is running on low-medium speed, add your dry ingredients into the bowl. Add a little, let it mix in, then add a little more, let it mix in, and so on. The goal is to make sure all of the dry ingredients are incorporated evenly. Remember that they contain the baking soda and baking powder that cause it to rise, so you want to be sure that they mix in evenly so every cookie turns out the same.

Once the dough has come together (it will be sticky), add in the chocolate chips and marshmallows. You can use a rubber spatula or a low speed on the stand mixer to mix them in, but I prefer to use my hands.

Using a medium cookie scoop, a big spoon, or your hands, place medium sized (about the size of a golf ball, maybe a tinyyy bit bigger) cookie dough balls on your parchment lined baking sheets ~1 or 2 inches apart. Add extra graham crackers pieces and marshmallows on top. This step is optional but I highly, highly recommend it. The extra marshmallows on top get golden brown and gooey!

Bake for 10-11 minutes for a chewy, gooey texture. Let them cool for 10 minutes, if you even can! I couldn't resist and tried one almost straight out of the oven. Sometimes I have little to no self control :P

Place extra cookies in a Tupperware. They should be good for at least a few days. I can guarantee they won't stay around that long though!

mini chocolate chips are so cute and delicious. there's no way you can eat just one
use a stand mixer to cream the butter and sugar
you want it to be mixed very well so it is creamy and airy. this step plays a part in leavening the cookie
add the egg and vanilla
it will look like this
mix together dry ingredients (wwpf, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder/soda, salt)
add the dry ingredients a little at a time so it is evenly mixed
stir in the chocolate chips and marshmallows. don't be afraid to also use your hands to make sure it is evenly mixed
i used my hands to form medium sized cookies, but that's only because I don't have a cookie scoop. make them as small or as large as you want :)
mine are about 3 inches in diameter. they're pretty big!

Tomorrow I'll be posting the remaining two Father's Day Ideas!
*comfort breakfast food in style
*easy Italian pasta becomes cheesy Italian pasta (don't worry it's still easy)


  1. Pics look awesome!!! Love this post :) Great job as always. The salad looks really good!