Colorful Beet Salad with Carrot, Quinoa & Spinach

Reset with this colorful and healthy beet, spinach and quinoa salad! - cookieandkate.com

Man alive, yesterday was not my day. I stayed up too late the night before (will I ever learn?) and told myself I’d hit the ground running in the morning anyway. Ha. I ate lasagna for breakfast, forgot several important items on my grocery list and fell over in yoga class. More than once. Maybe it was a normal day after all.

spinach and cilantro vinaigrette

I managed to piece together this mega colorful beet salad with ingredients from the store and some substitutions based on what I had at home.

The original recipe called for two beets instead of one beet and one carrot and chopped mint instead of cilantro. I also toasted the nuts (it’s a pain, but adds so much flavor!) and tinkered with the dressing a bit, too.

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Maple-Sweetened Banana Muffins

Healthy banana muffins recipe (whole grains, naturally sweetened and so good!) - cookieandkate.com

Can anyone tell that I got a new camera? Bueller? Bueller? Is that a no? Well, that’s ok. I can and I’m thrilled about it! I bought my old camera during my last year of college and it was the best investment I ever made.

Eight years and 88,000 (that’s eighty-eight thousand) photographs later, it was time to upgrade. If you want to geek out with me for a second, I’m now using the Nikon D750 with a 50mm f1.8G lens.

mashed banana

New cameras are serious business. I researched all the cameras and lenses out there, compared prices, added cameras to my cart, deleted them from my cart, and after months of deliberation and saving up, finally pulled the trigger. Then I obsessively hit refresh on my UPS tracking code until it arrived and opened the door to greet my new camera with first date-like butterflies in my stomach.

Did I make the right decision? What if it doesn’t feel right? What if I should have gone with a Canon this time? I was all nervous when I opened the boxes and Cookie was, like, whatever lady, you get a lot of boxes in the mail.

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What’s in Season? April Produce

Learn what to do with April fruits and vegetables! Find recipes, preparation tips and more. cookieandkate.com

Hello, April! Bring on the watermelon. (Ha, sorry, produce joke.) These seasonal produce guides are getting tricky because local spring produce is slowly becoming available depending on your location. Think of these guides as broad indicators of what’s in season and shop accordingly. Before we get to the produce, here are a few links I’ve been meaning to share:

Podcast! I recently chatted with sweet Marly about becoming a full-time blogger and she made a podcast out of it. I had a cold and said some dumb stuff about shoes, which she may or may not have included in the final cut. I couldn’t tell you since I’m too sissy to listen to it.

Food photography guides! I wrote some guides for eBay: food photography gear recommendations, as well as finding your style/shopping for props and lastly, how to put it all together and emulate three popular food photo styles. Whether you’re a food blogger or an aspiring food photographer or just plain curious, please check them out!

Easter! If you’re looking for recipes, I think you’ll find quite a few Easter-appropriate recipes over here. A few of my top picks: baked asparagus frittata, green goddess hummus, Greek broccoli salad, lemon-parsley bean salad and last but not least, spring pea and asparagus pasta.

Thanks again to Becky for letting me base this resource on her “Eat Seasonal” monthly seasonal produce lists. You can download her free screensaver for April produce over here. For more seasonal inspiration, follow my boards on Pinterest!

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Spinach Artichoke Lasagna

Fresh spinach artichoke lasagna with the simplest homemade red sauce - cookieandkate.com

This lasagna recipe is for my friend Scott. A few months ago, he wanted to cook dinner for his wife, Sara, and came here to look for a lasagna recipe. I had nothing to offer him! Sorry, Scott.

I’m making up for it with this spinach artichoke lasagna, which was originally intended to be a spinach mushroom lasagna, but the mushrooms weren’t quite right. Artichokes were meant for this lasagna.

fresh spinach lasagna ingredients

I honestly hadn’t attempted lasagna in four years, after one bad veggie lasagna experience that happened soon after I started this blog. I remember thinking that I had put a lot of effort into that lasagna for such lackluster results and swore off cooking lasagna indefinitely.

That was before I had discovered no-boil lasagna noodles. It was also before I learned that photographing a recipe under my artificial overhead kitchen lights is a very bad idea. It was a long time ago and I’m happy to report that I have finally conquered the art of the lasagna.

This is one freshly flavored, not-too-heavy, nearly healthy spinach lasagna. I love it so much that I could hardly resist eating leftover lasagna for breakfast.

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Quinoa Vegetable Soup with Kale

This quinoa vegetable soup makes great leftovers for lunch! It's easy to make and good for you, too. cookieandkate.com

Cookie couldn’t be happier about the change in seasons. She chases the bunnies out of the backyard every time I open the back door and pulls me through the neighborhood during our recommenced evening walks. I don’t mind. Forsythia is on fire and the magnolia trees are blushing. I love this time of year.

vegetable soup ingredients

Since our early spring weather has been mostly wonderful, I’ve been trying to embrace the rainy days that bring more green to my world. I didn’t even grumble when I ran into the grocery store during a downpour a few days ago, dodging puddles in ballet flats. Celery mission: complete.

I got to work on this homemade vegetable soup when I got home and it warmed me right up. I’m hoping the leftovers will carry us through the remaining rainy days and all the muddy paws that come with them.

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Green Goddess Hummus Sandwich

Healthy, hearty and fresh hummus sandwich - cookieandkate.com

What’s a girl to do when she’s working on freelance projects all weekend and has a big bowl of green hummus in the refrigerator? Hummus sandwiches, that’s what! I’m not big on sandwiches in general. It just seems like most vegetarian sandwiches are more bread than anything else. This healthy, hearty, fresh hummus sandwich gets one enthusiastic stamp of approval from your resident sandwich skeptic, though.

We start with some lightly toasted, sturdy whole grain bread. Spread both sides generously with herby green goddess hummus (or your favorite store-bought variety). Top with crisp cucumber, some fresh green lettuce and tangy pickles. Place the second piece of bread on top. Lunch is served.

sliced red onions and carrots

I couldn’t resist complicating the pickles part of the equation. (I’m particular about my pickles like I’m particular about my sandwiches, which is to say that I’m pretty particular in general.) Most pickles are far too salty. I think they’re trying to make up for all the flavor lost while those pickles sit on the shelf, waiting for us to take their said pickled selves home only to be forgotten in the shadowy nether regions of the refrigerator.

This sad pickle conundrum is easily solved with homemade quick pickles. Man, they’re good! You can quick pickle all kinds of vegetables. Think radishes, cabbage, fennel, shallots, beets, onions and carrots. The thinner you slice the vegetables, the quicker they soak up the brine.

These onion and carrot quick pickles are ready in under thirty minutes. They go great on sandwiches, tacos, salads, toasts—basically on anything that could benefit from a salty, crispy, vinegary punch.

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