Greek pasta saladLast Sunday Erik, Juliet and I had a picnic at a park near our house that’s on a small lake. I had this vision in my head of a picturesque afternoon, however, when we arrived at the park we realized it was a bit cooler than we thought and super windy. Needless to say our time was cut short, but we still managed to enjoy it. Juliet squeezed every last minute she could playing at the park. Parks are by far her top favorite things. In fact, we went to two parks on Sunday. And every day I drop her off at daycare she asks the provider, “Sarah, can we go to the park today?”

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Top 2013 recipes2013 was an interesting year on the blog. While there were many great recipes, the real parties element of the blog was really slow. That was mostly my fault. I had to prioritize cooking/baking for my family which meant less time for creating posts around the great party submissions I received. I really hope to bring that back in 2014, along with some other exciting things.

Like a blog redesign!

I’m very excited to get this blog a face lift (it soooo needs one, right?!). The current navigation is terrible. And the commenting systems is not user-friendly and downright frustrating. The redesign will be more than a face lift. It will be a totally new look with new branding and even a new platform (bye bye Blogger, hello WordPress). I’ll be working with the talented ladies at Wooden Spoons Kitchen and will hopefully have everything ready to share in the next few months.

In April, Eat Drink Pretty turns 5. Wow. I can’t believe I’ve been doing this for 5 years. Sometimes I think I’m crazy. Blogging isn’t easy. This year has been really tough to find the time to blog with a toddler, a busy job, etc. And I know it showed. My posting frequency waned a lot. I was uninspired some of the time. But recently I’ve been re-energized and hope that 2014 brings a lot of great things around the blog.

I wanted to say thank you for being here in 2013. I truly appreciate your visits, comments and emails. Thank you especially to those of you that have been around since the beginning and have stuck with me.

2013 brought a lot of great recipes around the blog and some are these are favorites in my household. Without further ado, here are the top recipes from Eat Drink Pretty in 2013.

Chickpea Greek pita
Herbed blue cheese quiche
Quinoa caprese
Quinoa mac and cheese
Kale, strawberry and avocado salad
Melt-in-your-mouth pumpkin cookies
Vinegar broiled potatoes with sour cream dipping sauce
Roasted cauliflower

Tomorrow I’ll be doing a recipe round-up of the top toddler recipes from 2013. If you are interested in making your toddler’s favorite homemade be sure to stop back.

If you have any requests for things you’d like to see more of (or less of?) on the blog in 2014 please comment and share, thank you!

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This simple cucumber salad is a summer staple in our household. It is one of my husband’s favorite salads, one that he grew up eating in North Dakota.

Erik’s mom and grandmother always had fresh cucumbers from the garden, add in a bit of cream (of course cream, this is a North Dakota recipe, after all), vinegar, dill and there you have it.

A delicious, creamy, crunchy cucumber salad.

I make this often for family BBQs and gatherings and everyone always loves it. I just made it this weekend for a lunch with friends and my girlfriend said it was the best cucumber salad she’s ever had.

It’s really easy, and really that good.

Cucumber salad

Ingredients

4-5 small to medium sized cucumbers (fresh from the garden or your local farmers’ market are best), peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 Tablespoon fresh dill (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1/4 cup green onions, sliced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Preparation

Add all the ingredients together in a medium sized bowl and stir to combine. Serve immediately. Lasts a couple days stored in an air-tight container in the fridge.

Note, the combination of ingredients in this recipe are very much to each person’s taste. Make it as I recommend above, but alter based on if you want the salad to be more vinegary or if it needs more salt, etc. Erik’s mom adds water to thin it out a bit, but I prefer to keep it a bit creamier. Also, I typically am not a fan of using white vinegar in cooking, but it works in this salad. I’m sure you could substitute red or white wine vinegar, but I haven’t tried it.

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I mentioned in a recent post that I really want to be more deliberate about taking time in the kitchen cooking and baking. My goal is to have one new recipe post a week, which means that I should plan a fun recipe to test every weekend. Juliet is working her way to one nap a day and it’s usually at least 2 hours, a perfect amount of time for recipe testing.

With summer here I crave lighter foods, and even salads…which is weird for me. Have I ever mentioned that back in the day, in my early 20′s, I was on the South Beach Diet for years and as a result I tend to never want salad. I just over-did it on salads back then.


With that being said, I do enjoy a healthy salad every once in a while and I’ll definitely be making this one again soon. Kale is abundant at the Farmer’s Markets right now and strawberries are in-season in MN, too. This salad is easy and quick and healthy and beautiful.

I googled kale salads on Saturday when I was in need of a light lunch and this recipe came up via Two Peas and Their Pod (an awesome food blog that you’re probably already familiar with).

The salad was delicious and I ate a huge serving of it. With kale being full of calcium, vitamin a and c…and well, basically everything else good you can think of…and avocado being full of good fat, the salad was filling and hearty enough for a meal.

Kale, strawberry and avocado salad (recipe via Two Peas andTheir Pod) 

Ingredients

4 cups chopped kale, stems removed
Pinch of sea salt
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 avocado, sliced
1/3 cup sliced almonds 

For the Lemon Vinaigrette Dressing:

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon maple syrup (I use pure organic from Trader Joes), original recipe calls for honey
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preparation
1. Put the kale in a large bowl. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt over the kale and massage the leaves with your hands until the leaves are darker in color and tender.
2. Add the strawberries, avocado, and almonds. Toss gently.
3. In a small jar, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, salt, and pepper. Shake until mixed well.
4. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Serve.

Note, the original recipe calls for a 1/4 cup of feta cheese, which would be a great addition (so would goat cheese). I had neither which is the only reason it’s omitted. 

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I have a wonderfully delicious party to share with you today submitted by Jenni of A Well Crafted Party. Jenni is a writer, designer, and party stylist from Portland, OR. A Well Crafted Party is a blog where she writes all about the little things that make life a party and life’s many celebrations. She also helps coordinate Portland Blogger meet-ups for bloggers in the Portland, Oregon area.

I love a good party and usually the better the food and drinks, the better the party (in my opinion). I love that this party is centered around Jenni’s husband’s favorite foods and was inspired by his urban garden.  Their garden and backyard served as the perfect backdrop on what appeared to be a gorgeous summer evening.

I’ll let Jenni give all the details (don’t miss the recipes at the end of the post!).

My husband’s 31st birthday was a few weeks ago and we wanted to celebrate by having a dinner party with friends in our backyard. We tried to keep things simple due to a crazy busy summer, so we just put out a few handmade decorations to make the space pretty and give the event a more celebratory and cohesive feel. 

My husband just started his urban garden this year and really enjoys the whole movement towards sustainable food and self-sufficiency. He also really loves beer and German food. So, I tried to bring all of those elements together. 

We decorated tables with simple white table cloths, white flowers (from the super market!), homemade pickles, menus, and candles. The homemade pickles doubled as favors. (I just used my pickled asparagus recipe and substituted different vegetables to make the favors for everyone.)Currently I am loving the look of hand-lettered signs— so, I crafted all of the signs, menus, and favor labels with gold calligraphy ink. We put the bar area in the little garden area of our home and held the main party in our backyard. Guests enjoyed going back and forth from one area of the party to the other. 

The bar area had space for nonalcoholic options as well as wine, beer, and two signature cocktails. I served my fruity version of a Whiskey Collins and a simple and refreshing Basil Gin Cocktail. I made easy to pour mixes for guests to pour over ice and top with soda water to make serving the cocktails simple. For the meal we stuck with some simple dishes with a German flare. We simmered several different styles of bratwurst in beer for hours before the party. They turned out delicious and SO easy. 

The menu:   

Appetizers

  • Pretzels with Fondue
  • Meat & Pickle Platter

Entrees

  • Sausages
  • German potato salad
  • Red cabbage salad
  • Cucumber Salad

Desserts

  • German Chocolate Cupcakes
  • Vanilla Cupcakes

The best part about this meal is that I was able to prep and do most of the meal before the party, leaving me time to actually enjoy the party instead of staying in the kitchen the whole time. The three salads are to be served at room temperature, so I didn’t have to worry about items not being hot when serving time came around! 

Recipes:

German Potato Salad— Takes approximately 30 minutes and serves approximately 15 people depending on how much each person wants to eat!   

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs of red potatoes cleaned, and diced into small bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 white onion thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup garlic mustard
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup diced dill pickles
  • 1/4-1/2 cup fresh parsley chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 4 eggs boiled and crumbled

  Directions

  1. Boil all of the diced potato until the potato is soft, but not so soft that it falls apart.
  2. Drain potatoes and put in a large bowl.
  3. Mix potatoes, mustard, apple cider vinegar, onion, pickles, parsley, salt, and pepper with a large spoon until incorporated. Try not to let everything get too mushy by over working.
  4. Put into serving bowl and top with crumbled boiled eggs.
  5. Serve at room temperature.

Cucumber Salad—Takes about 10 minutes of prep time and at least 1 hour for marinating, serves approximately 15 people depending on their desired portion size.   

Ingredients

  • 4 cucumbers thinly sliced in discs
  • 1/2 white onion thinly sliced
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Optional red pepper flakes for heat

Directions

  1. In a bowl mix together both vinegars, sugar, salt, and pepper. Set aside for a moment.
  2. In a large baking dish mix together the cucumber and white onion slices.
  3. Pour the vinegar mixture over the cucumber and onion slices.
  4. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and put in fridge for at least one hour, but not more than 3 hours.
  5. Drain the vinegar out of dish and serve cold or at room temp. The cucumbers and onions should be slightly sweet and pickled.
Thanks so much to Jenni for sharing all the beautiful details of this very special birthday party. I can’t wait to try the German Potato Salad!

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We finally had a beautiful spring weekend in Minnesota. It was in the mid 70′s and absolutely amazing. Erik golfed Saturday so I planned a picnic at a nearby park with my family. It was pretty impromptu but I had a bunch of ingredients to make a tasty pasta salad. We also had sandwiches, chips, cupcakes, veggies and hummus and fruit. I also packed a Smirnoff Ice Peach Bellini for my mom and I…who doesn’t like a little bubbly with their picnic?

Picnics are one of my favorite spring and summertime activities. We spent hours outside, it was just what we needed after a very long winter.
This pasta salad was really tasty. Erik loved it, too. It’s a great salad to bring to a picnic or any potluck. 

Pasta salad with goat cheese and tomatoes (recipe inspired via Martha Stewart)

Ingredients

  • 3/4 pound whole wheat rotini 
  • 3/4 cup crumbled fresh goat cheese (3 ounces)
  • 1 large tomato, chopped 
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 package spring greens (baby kale, spinach or arugula would work as well)
Directions

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente. Drain pasta and allow to come to room temperature. 

In a large bowl, toss pasta with tomatoes and goat cheese.

Make dressing: In a bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, and mustard and season with salt and pepper. (To store, refrigerate pasta mixture and dressing separately, up to 1 day.) 

To serve, toss pasta mixture with dressing and spring greens.

Apparently the weather is going back down into the 30′s this week…UH!!!!  But it shouldn’t be too long before we have another sunny, warm weekend. Here’s hoping.
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