Tomato Stack Salad with Corn and Avocado

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Luscious tomatoes stacked high with avocado, corn and creamy herb yogurt dressing.

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Hello, my lovelies! For those following along, Momma’s surgery went well on Wednesday and we brought her home yesterday. While we all rest and regroup, Julia from The Roasted Root is sharing some incredibly sweet words (excuse me while I go get a tissue) and a luscious stacked tomato salad recipe. Here she is!

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Hello, my dear friends! I’m stepping in for Stephie while she’s spending time with her family. As you know, Julie “Momma” Swope had a procedure to remove colon cancer on Wednesday, and Stephie has been spending time with her this week (if this is all news to you, go read Stephie’s Life Updates post and then come right back!).

I brought some stacked food, which I will tell you about momentarily, but first what I really want to talk about is Julie Swope. Julie is a superhero as far as I’m concerned. She’s quick-witted, hard-working, supportive, smart, funny, thoughtful, and strong! I feel a kinship toward both Momma Swope and Stephie, and am thrilled that I am finally meeting them at the end of September.

Momma Swope has been a big part of my life over the last three years, particularly within the last year. While I haven’t gone into detail on my own blog, this past year has been challenging for me. Julie has been an incredible resource for advice and laughs – the woman has insight and humor, which is what I crave abundantly. She’s very giving and willing to lend a helping hand.

They just don’t make people like Julie and Stephie these days, so having these women in my life makes me feel like I really lucked out. They certainly fill my love tank. Their positive outlook on life is contagious and their ability to always move forward in spite of any hardship they face is inspiring.

I mean, what kind of woman finds out she has colon cancer and instead of feeling downtrodden and throwing herself a pity party, she shrugs with a “I don’t have time for cancer,” and decides to fight? That would be Julie.

To Julie: I wish you a speedy recovery and can’t wait to finally give you a legit hug next month. My thoughts are with you and I love the crap out of you (get it? Crap?)!

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Creamy Chicken Enchilada Pasta Salad

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Chicken enchiladas and pasta salad fell in love and had a baby. Trust me, you’re gonna want this pasta salad love child.

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Hey, y’all! While I’m at home taking care of my momma, my dear friend Stef from Sarcastic Cooking graciously offered to share a delicious recipe with you guys. I want to face-plant into this Creamy Chicken Enchilada Pasta Salad – it would be perfect redefined comfort food this week! So without further ado…here she is!

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Tuesday was one of those “nothing seems to be going right” kind of days. Andy has not been sleeping through the night. I am going to say it is teething. Am I 100% sure of that? No. But teething is much better than sleep regression or thinking he will never ever sleep through the night again. Yes, that is a bit dramatic, but that is me.

Andy didn’t nap. He didn’t want to be held. He didn’t want to sit. He didn’t want to bounce. He didn’t want to eat. It was like everything I was trying was not suitable to ease his little mind. I honestly think he had no idea what he wanted.

Now, you guys know me. You know I am a bit of a Sad Sally. A Debbie Downer. A Negative Nancy, if you will.  It is so hard for me to get out of a funk. These little battles with my child may seem like nothing to a Sunshine Susan who has beams of light and rainbows shooting out her ass. But I felt defeated.  I really had to just shut down. I had to go to sleep as soon as Mike got home that night and just reboot and restart the next day…. 

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Whole Wheat Rhubarb Muffins with Buckwheat

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Whole wheat, naturally-sweetened muffins are the perfect vehicle for tart rhubarb and earthy buckwheat flour.

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Before I get to muffins, I have something much more important to say.

Thank you to everyone who read and responded to my latest post about my mom’s cancer. To say that my whole family as been completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of love this weekend – much of it from people we have never even met – would be an understatement. I have always said that the community is the best thing I have gotten out of blogging, and that has never been more true than this weekend. Thank you all for your kind thoughts and prayers – believe me when I say that we will be carrying them with us to the hospital on Wednesday for her surgery. We are so blessed.

Alright. Some food. I hadn’t planned on a post from me this week (though you will be hearing from a couple of friends who were so generous as to offer to guest post for me even with such short notice), but wanted to share this rhubarb recipe with you before it is completely impossible to find any in the stores. Normally I would be sharing rhubarb earlier in the season, but almost no stores by me carry it! I wasn’t able to find any until a recent jaunt to a new grocery store. Believe me, it’s my new favorite place in the world.

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Life Updates

it is well

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I owe you a few life updates.

If you’re reading this, you know that I launched the site redesign two weeks ago. Big stuff! A bit stressful, but ultimately so rewarding and a great move for this little corner of the internet.

But that is not the only thing I have had going on these past couple of weeks.

The day after the new site launched (on Tuesday), my momma had a colonoscopy, during which they found 6 polyps. That Thursday we learned that she has colon cancer.

Boy, cancer is a terrifying word to hear. It brings with it so many questions, so many unknowns. It brings with it the frightening realization that yes, indeed, your loved one is as human as anyone else and, despite your previous beliefs that they must be immortal – because the ones we love always seem to be when we are young – something could certainly happen to them. Our family history does not favor our colon health – my maternal grandfather has battled cancerous polyps for half of his life and Momma’s uncle died from colon cancer.

And yet, in so many ways we are blessed. The cancer is very early stage – the doctors will be performing a resection this Wednesday afternoon, during which they will remove the portion of her large intestine that contains the cancer. The doctors are quite confident that the surgery – which will be performed laparoscopically and will have a relatively short recovery time of 2-4 weeks – will take care of this. Apart from having to have colonoscopies every 6-18 months for the rest of her life, she should not require any additional treatment.

I write to tell you all of this for a number of reasons.

First, I will be heading home this week to be with my parents during and just after the surgery. Things may go a bit silent around here and on social media. Please bear with me as I spend time with my family and make sure Momma Swope is ok. As much as I love you all, that is the most important thing right now.

Second, I ask for your prayers. While the doctors feel certain this is easily managed, I ask for prayers that this would indeed be the case. That the surgery would go brilliantly with no complications and that her recovery would be short. Pray also for my daddy for physical and emotional strength as he cares for her during her recovery (I will only be able to stay for a few days due to work).

And lastly, please do me this favor: take care of yourselves. Colon cancer is so preventable. Are colonoscopies fun? No. (Trust me, I know better than anyone – due to my ulcerative colitis, I had 4 of them before I turned 25.) But truly, they save lives. If you are having any suspicious symptoms, go talk to your doctor immediately. My great-uncle waited for a year after first seeing symptoms to speak to a doctor. By that time the cancer had spread so far that he had no shot against it. Even if you, like my momma, are not having symptoms, go get yourself checked. If everything is hunky-dory, you won’t need to go back annually. The Colon Cancer Alliance has great info available about screenings, who should be screened, and how family history and genetics come into play. Educate yourself and help spread the word.

Thank you all for your love, support and prayers this week and always.

Xoxo,
-S

Classic Bruschetta

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Classic Bruschetta made with summer-ripe tomatoes, garlic, shallots and loooooove.

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I looooove tomatoes. Anyone else looooove tomatoes?

You know who does not love tomatoes? My mom. Sure, she can get down with tomato sauce and ketchup and tomato soup, but raw tomatoes? Momma Swope does not eat raw tomatoes.

Sometimes this is tiring. In a situation like this, however, where raw, summer-ripe tomatoes are showcased to perfection, I tend to have a “more for me” outlook on her aversion to raw tomatoes.

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Because let’s be real. I could eat this entire recipe in one sitting, and this recipe makes a fair amount of bruschetta. (Don’t worry, we’ll go over what to do with any leftover topping in a moment.) Is it wrong to settle in with nothing besides a plate full of bruschetta and a glass of wine for dinner? If it is, I don’t want to be right.

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Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus

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Creamy dreamy hummus flavored with sun-dried tomatoes plus a secret ingredient: Greek yogurt!

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Apparently we are getting ready to head into back-to-school season. Or, at least that’s what Target and Staples commercials are telling me.

I’m at that stage of life where back-to-school is something happening to “other people”. I have been out of school for a few years now, my friends have all graduated and even those who are pursuing other degrees choose to do summer terms, making education a year-round festivity for them (yippee!), and – since no kindergarten seems to want my weirdo cats around – I don’t have any little ones to send off to school in a couple of weeks.

But, if I did have any little nuggets that I was sending off to school this month, Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus is absolutely the snack that I would have ready for them when they got home.

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