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My daughter’s friend was over for dinner one night, and I served Mexican food. The little girl ate a spoonful of rice and said, “A couple questions. First, can you give my mom this recipe? Second, can we have this for breakfast tomorrow?” My daughter Katelyn looked at her and said, “I know, right?” Yeah, it’s that good.

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Italian Zucchini Bake

What a lovely little summer supper we had last night. I made a crustless quiche like-dish, loaded with shredded zucchini, served with a green salad with fresh lemon dressing, and a fruit salad.

I enjoyed not only eating the zucchini bake, but also watching my 10 year-old daughter Katelyn shovel it her mouth, since she doesn’t like zucchini. Of course, I couldn’t tell Katelyn the dish contained zucchini, because then she would automatically reject it out of principal. No one is going to tell her zucchini can be good. Humph! I was nervous the whole time she would use her fork to pick through it and investigate, asking detailed questions. I really felt like I was getting away with something, and I did, this time.

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Cheese Steak Salad

Eating out is really expensive, especially for a family of four or more. I’m always looking for ways to enjoy our favorites at home, as it saves money, and calories. One of my favorite things to eat is a cheese steak sub. Thin, tender slices of meat entangled with sweet caramelized onions and peppers, topped with silky cheese. As delicious is that is, the roll and mayonnaise accompanying the sub puts the calories over the top, so I needed a solution.

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I formally thought slow cooker meats always translated into a shredded product. And while I adore low-cooked dishes yielding tender, fall apart meat, it doesn’t have to end that way.

It’s my opinion the original idea of the slow cooker was a solution to a busy day – – throw it in the cooker, and go out for the day.  If you are around my age, you will know from experience today’s slow cookers aren’t so slow compared to our mothers’ “Crock-pots.” Many recipes can’t go for longer than 5 hours (some less) on low without compromising the integrity of the dish. Even my slow cooker lasagna with uncooked noodles can’t go for more than 4 hours on low. Of course, it all depends on what you are making. Raw beans in the slow cooker will go all day, as will a big hunk of meat. When using older slow cooker recipes, you need to take into consideration, the times for those dishes were based on slow cookers of yesteryear.

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Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal

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I buy my oats in bulk, at 50 cents a pound. I split a big bag with my friend Tabatha, which still left me with 25 pounds of oats.  I make homemade instant oatmeal, using fruit I dehydrated myself, and use oats in cookies, as a binder in meatloaf, and in bread, as I grind my own oat flour. Oats are also used in granola bars and protein bites.

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