Tag Archives: dressing

Strawberry Swing

April’s over after today, and that means National Grilled Cheese Month ends as well.  Even though I love a good grilled cheese sandwich, I didn’t make anything special to celebrate.  I tend to keep my grilled cheese simple, maybe adding in some ham or bacon on occasion when I want to really get wild.  So while I drooled over everyone else’s amazing grilled cheese variations, I also kept in mind that tomorrow is May, and that means National Salad Month.  Unlike Lane who did not eat salad until he was thirty-eight years old, I love salad.  I could honestly eat salad at least twice a day and never get bored.  Not sure what to do with that leftover chicken? Toss it in a salad.  Have leftover bacon from breakfast (okay, that might never happen in this house)? Throw it on top of a salad.  Tired of packing sandwiches for lunch? Salad is your friend.  Need to feed the kids a vegetable so you don’t feel like you’re serving them things devoid of any nutritional value for dinner? Side salad, here we come.

Of course, I have to be early for something like National Salad Month.  The people at Dole have designated tomorrow, May first, as National Salad Day so it seemed fitting to celebrate my love of all things salad sooner rather than later.  While my absolute favorite salad is a simple tossed version with whatever veggies I happen to have hanging around, salad is something I have turning into an experiment.  Even though it’s a little early around here for strawberries, I couldn’t stop myself when they were on sale and I always have lettuce of some variety hanging around.  Strawberries and lettuce might not seem like the most obvious combination, but when you toss in almonds and top it all with some strawberry balsamic vinaigrette, it’s a party.  The vinaigrette gets a little tang from Dijon mustard, and while I like it a little tart you can add a teaspoon or so of sugar or honey to sweeten it up if your berries aren’t quite sweet enough yet.  Four ingredients in the blender and ten seconds are all you need to make the dressing.  The smoked almonds add the right amount of saltiness and crunch.  This was a great quick lunch, and it’s going to be a summer staple in this house.

strawberry almond salad

Strawberry Almond Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

for the dressing:

  • 1 C. strawberries, stems removed (about 8 large-ish berries)
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

for the salad:

  • 4 C. Romaine lettuce or your favorite lettuce blend (I used Dole European blend, 10 oz. bag)
  • 1 C. strawberries, stems removed, quartered
  • 1/2 C. smoked almonds

Directions:

To make the dressing, combine all ingredients in a blender jar.

Blend on high speed (“liquefy” on my blender) for 10-20 seconds until smooth and completely combined.

To make the salad, arrange the lettuce on 4 plates (for individual servings) or in a large salad bowl (to serve family style).

Evenly sprinkle the strawberry quarters over each plate or over the lettuce in the salad bowl.

Evenly sprinkle the almonds over each plate or over the mixture in the salad bowl.

To serve, top each salad with 2-3 Tbsp. of the dressing, or toss the dressing with the salad to serve family style.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: dressing adapted from Tasty Kitchen

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Reach Out

In Olympic news yesterday, Michael Phelps won gold in the 100m butterfly, which is is final individual Olympics race. Yesterday was the first day of events inside the Olympic Stadium, where track and field events are held. After beating Japan, the Russian women’s volleyball team remains undefeated in these Olympic Games. Today, there are twenty-five gold medals to be awarded in eleven different sports.

Today marks the halfway point in the Summer Olympics 2012 feature. I hope you’re enjoying it as much as I’ve enjoyed cooking (and eating) my way through fare representing the host cities of Olympics past. The 1984 Summer Olympics were held in Los Angeles, California (which had previously hosted the 1932 Games). In response to the boycott at the 1980 Moscow Games, fourteen countries boycotted the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

Despite the boycott, a record (at the time) 140 nations competed in the 1984 Summer Olympics. Though the Games were criticized for relying heavily on corporate sponsorship, the Los Angeles Summer Olympics turned a considerable profit and became the model for Olympic Games going forward. Rhythmic gymnastics, synchronized swimming, the women’s cycling road race, and a marathon for women all made their debut at the 1984 Summer Olympics.

I decided that the famous Cobb salad would be a fitting entry for this series. The Cobb salad was created, as legend has it, at LA’s famed Brown Derby restaurant by its owner Robert Cobb. Cobb went foraging around the restaurant kitchen, hungry, and put together various ingredients to make what we now call the Cobb salad. There are many opinions as to what the original Cobb salad dressing was (some say French, some say Russian, some say vinaigrette), so I went with a red wine vinaigrette and it was fantastic. I will say, Cobb salad is a lot of work, and even using the bare minimum of ingredients made me enough salad for two people. The work is worth it, as the flavors all work so well together (some of the labor could even be performed ahead of time). This is a great salad for lunch, and substantial enough for dinner.

Cobb Salad

Ingredients:

for the salad:

  • 1/4 head of iceberg lettuce, torn into bite size pieces (about 2 Cups)
  • 1/4 head of Romaine lettuce, torn into bite size pieces (about 2 Cups)
  • 1 medium tomato (I used a plum tomato), chopped
  • 6 strips of crisp cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 C. crumbled blue cheese

for the dressing:

  • 1/4 C. water
  • 1/4 C. red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. dry ground mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 C. olive oil

Directions:

To make the salad, combine the iceberg and romaine lettuce in a large bowl, toss to combine, and then spread on a large dinner plate or serving platter.

Arrange remaining salad ingredients in rows on top of the combined lettuces.

To make the dressing, combine all ingredients in a container with a lid that seals (I used a mason jar). Shake to combine all ingredients.

Refrigerate dressing until ready to serve, and shake well before pouring over salad.

Makes 2 generous servings.

Source: adapted from Kitchen Project

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The Big Ranch

I know we discussed my summertime obsession with salad yesterday, but I just didn’t feel like we did the matter justice.  Okay, I kid, justice was served.  Still, it seemed unfair to share the Good Seasons knockoff and not also discuss my other most favorite dressing in the whole world, ranch.  What I usually don’t like about grocery store versions is that it just tastes like seasoned mayonnaise, which is fine for a potato salad, but not what I want on my garden salad.

For a few years now, when I want ranch dressing, this is how I make it.  It’s easy, I usually always have the ingredients on hand, and it all goes right into the food processor so there’s not a lot of cleanup.  I love this on a fresh garden salad, or to dip veggies in as a snack.  It’s creamy and tangy, and garlicky.  I store mine in a resealable container, keep it refrigerated, and hide it from anyone else in the house who might want some.  Okay, maybe not the last part, but it is that good.

Ranch Dressing

Ingredients:

  •  2 cloves garlic
  • salt, to taste
  • 1/4 C. Italian flat-leaf Parsley
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh chives
  • 1 C. mayonnaise
  • 1/2 C. sour cream
  • Buttermilk (as needed to thin the dressing to desired consistency, optional)
  • 1 tsp. white vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh dill (optional, use more or less to taste)

Directions:

Put all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with steel blade.

Process until all ingredients are combined and the dressing is smooth.

Put dressing in a resealable container and keep refrigerated.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Source: The Pioneer Woman

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Italian Summer

Earlier this week, the tent was hung, hosed down, dried out, and Scotchgarded.  A 30-pack of beer was purchased and refrigerated. S’mores supplies were obtained, and glow in the dark bubbles were mixed up.  We’re beach-bound this upcoming weekend to go camping with a dear friend of mine, who has two daughters close in age to Lane’s kids.  Stop laughing- I’m really going camping.  With children.  In a tent.  I actually love camping.  My father would take us camping when we were little, and the incident where he thought his tent was on fire will live in family infamy forever (sorry, dad!!).  Lane’s kids are pretty excited about it, they’ve been playing “camping” in O’s room and using a blanket piled on the floor to represent their camp fire.  Seeing the tent come out always tells me that summer is really here.  I know that we’ve blown through the summer checkpoints of Memorial Day, and the Fourth of July but this is camping. Camping means summer is really truly here.

Besides meaning it’s camping time, summer means a lot of salads for me (which is kind of how this blog slid into hiatus last year- let’s avoid a repeat, mmmkay?). I have a strange addiction to Kraft’s Good Seasons Italian Dressing.  I don’t have an addiction to the price tag.  It’s usually around $3, and considering that I’m then adding my own olive oil and vinegar, it really isn’t such a bargain.  Then there’s the argument that those packets contain all manner of preservatives and such and that’s not so good for you.  Since I just made whoopie pies from a boxed cake mix, I’m not going to stand on that soapbox today.  I will say that I typically prefer making things myself, from scratch, when possible.  This dressing is one of those things that’s worth a little extra effort.

There are a lot of ingredients in this, but they’re all things I generally have on hand.  I like to use cider vinegar instead of regular, but plain white vinegar works fine as does any red wine vinegar or balsamic.  I shake this up in my Good Seasons cruet, but any resealable container will do.  Yes, this does taste just like Good Seasons- I served it at a cookout and no one knew the difference.  The dry mix makes enough for several batches of dressing.  Keep the dry mix in a sealed container until you’re ready to make more dressing, then just add the oil, water, and vinegar.

Italian Salad Dressing (Good Seasons Copycat)

Ingredients:

for the dry mix:

  • 1 Tbsp. garlic salt
  • 1 Tbsp. onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 Tbsp. dried parsley
  • 1/4 tsp. celery salt
  • 2 Tbsp. kosher salt
to make dressing:
  •  1/4 C. cider vinegar (or any other vinegar)
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 2 Tbsp. dry mix

Directions:

In a resealable container or bag, combine all ingredients for the dry mix.

To make the dressing, combine 2 Tbsp. dry mix, vinegar, olive oil, and water in a cruet or other sealable container and shake to combine completely.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Source: adapted from Group Recipes

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Healthy Choice

How many times have you heard that it isn’t the salad, it’s what you put on it?  Well, there is some truth to that.  After taking the trouble to make some lean chicken breast and cut up fresh veggies to make a salad, I didn’t want to dump an unhealthy dressing on it.  I also have to watch the amount of sugar I consume, so “light” and “fat-free” salad dressings don’t always cut it for me in that department.  I was pretty excited when I found a recipe that uses nonfat Greek yogurt as the base for a salad dressing.

This dressing is creamy and flavorful, and can be made in no time.  I made a batch of this, put some on my salad for lunch, and used some to dip veggies in later on.  I can tell you it only gets better after a few hours in the refrigerator, when the flavors have had a little more time to combine.  I will definitely make this again.

Creamy Cilantro Salad Dressing

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 C. plain nonfat yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
  • 1/4 C. fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbs. fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl.

Serve over salad or as a dip for vegetables.

Cover and refrigerate any unused portion.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: adapted from food.com

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The Dole

I’m a big fan of salad for dinner.  I’m also a big fan of apples in my salad, so when I bought a bag of Dole Mediterranean salad mix and saw that the people at Dole recommended tossing it with herbed chicken, apples, raisins, and a creamy sun-dried tomato dressing, I was beyond intrigued.

It was a rainy day, so rather than grilling the chicken as the bag of salad suggested, I made an herb crust with breadcrumbs and seasonings and baked it in the oven.  All combined, the chicken, apples, raisins, and dressing really worked well.  The dressing is creamy and flavorful and I would definitely make it again.  It counteracted the sweetness of the raisins and apples and complemented the chicken so well, it’s been a few days since we had this salad and we’re still talking about it!

Chicken, Raisin, Apple Salad with Creamy Sun Dried Tomato Dressing

Ingredients:

for the dressing:

  • 1/4 C. light mayonnaise
  • 1/4 C. sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. roasted red pepper, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste

for the chicken:

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in half lengthwise (butterflied)
  • 1/2 C. breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tbs. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tbs. dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

to finish:

  • 1/2 C. raisins
  • 1 large red delicious apple, diced
  • 1 bag Dole Mediterranean salad mix

Directions:

To make the dressing, put all dressing ingredients into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade (or a blender) and pulse until creamy.  Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

To make the chicken, heat the oven to 450 degrees.

In a shallow dish, combine the breadcrumbs, parsley, rosemary and oregano.

Dip the chicken into the beaten egg, shake off excess, and dip it into the breadcrumb mixture.

Place the chicken onto a baking sheet and repeat until all chicken is breaded.

Bake the chicken for twenty minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and chicken is cooked through.

To put the salad together, place the lettuce mix on a platter or in a large bowl.

Scatter the apples and raisins over the lettuce mix, and then top with the chicken.

Serve the dressing on the side, or on top of the salad if desired.

Makes 4 (dinner-sized) servings.

Source: Dole salads

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