Tag Archives: salad

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


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


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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Academy Award

The 85th Academy Awards air tonight from the Dolby Theater in Hollywood and before I settle in to catch all of the red carpet action, I want to share a round-up of the film-inspired recipes I’ve shared over the previous twelve days.  It wouldn’t be a round-up without some Oscar trivia:

Nine-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) is the youngest actress ever nominated for Best Actress in a Lead Role, taking the distinction from actress Keisha Castle-Hughes who was nominated at thirteen for her role in Whale Rider.  She competes against Emmanuelle Riva (Amour), who at eighty-five is the oldest nominee in the category.

The youngest actor ever nominated is Justin Henry, who at eight years old was nominated for his role as Billy Kramer in the 1979 film Kramer vs. Kramer.

Silver Linings Playbook is the first film since the 1981 film Reds to earn nominations in all four acting categories as well as Best Director and Best Picture.

Les Miserables is the first musical nominated for Best Picture since Chicago in 2002, and prior to Chicago no musical had been nominated in the Best Picture category since Oliver! in 1969.

Composer John Williams, nominated this year for his work on Lincoln, still holds the record for the living person with the most nominations at forty-eight.  Next in line is Woody Allen with twenty-three.

Three of this year’s Best Actor nominees: Bradley Cooper, Denzel Washington, and Hugh Jackman, have previously been named People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive.

For this year’s 12 Days of Oscar feature, I selected four movies that have been nominated for but did not win Oscars, four films that have won at least one Oscar, and four films hoping to win an Oscar this year.

salisbury steak

Pleasantville, Salisbury Steak

ihop sweet crepes

I Am Sam, Crepes

chef salad

When Harry Met Sally, Chef Salad (with oil and vinegar on the side!)

roasted chicken salad

My Week With Marilyn, Roasted Chicken Salad

banana ripple ice cream

The Aviator, Banana Ripple Ice Cream

cream puff

Marie Antoinette, Cream Puffs

chicago deep dish

Chicago, Deep Dish Pizza

chicken lyonnaise

Titanic, Chicken Lyonnaise

lemon butter pollock

Moonrise Kingdom, Lemon Butter Pollock

french bread

Les Miserables, French Bread

crabby snacks

Silver Linings Playbook, Crabby Snacks

mary lincoln apple bread pudding

Lincoln, Mary Lincoln’s Apple Bread Pudding

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Colin and Marilyn

Day four of our 12 Days of Oscar feature brings us to the last of films that were nominated in previous years but did not win.  The 2011 film My Week with Marilyn was nominated for two Oscars last year.  Michelle Williams was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her portrayal of Marilyn Monroe but lost to Meryl Streep for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady.  Kenneth Branagh was nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his portrayal of Sir Laurence Olivier, but lost to Christopher Plummer for his role in Beginners.  My Week with Marilyn is based on two books by Colin Clark, and focuses on the week that Clark (Eddie Redmayne) escorted Monroe around London during filming of the 1957 movie The Prince and the Showgirl.  

my week with marilyn movie


In his book Clark describes an evening where Marilyn kept him waiting for an hour then offered him some chicken salad.  Clark also writes that during the filming of a dinner scene in The Prince and the Showgirl,  Monroe was given her choice of foods to eat for the scene, which took numerous takes.  She chose caviar and chicken salad and would actually eat the food instead of just pretending.  Between this and the hot lighting, new chicken salad had to be made for each take.  It is also said that when Monroe wasn’t living on champagne, she was living on chicken salad.

I don’t know how true that last statement is, but there’s something interesting about the complexity of Monroe next to the simplicity of chicken salad.  Chicken salad, in my opinion, is best when it’s simple.  It only needs a little mayonnaise, there’s nothing appealing about chicken drowning in mayonnaise.  Roasting the chicken breast brings out a lot of flavor and that’s the most difficult step in making this great chicken salad.  I don’t add grapes, or nuts, or apples to my chicken salad.  I prefer it with just chicken, seasoning, and fresh herbs.   As far as serving options go, this was great on my homemade sandwich bread and would also be wonderful on top of salad greens.

roasted chicken salad

Roasted Chicken Salad


  • 8 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 generous Tbsp. mayonnaise (or more to taste)
  • 1 tsp. fresh tarragon, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 celery stalk, finely diced
  • 1 Tbsp. finely diced red onion


Heat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Brush the olive oil onto the top and bottom of the chicken breast and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast the chicken for 25-30 minutes until cooked through.

In a medium bowl, combine the mayonnaise, tarragon, oregano, celery and red onion.

Using two forks, shred the chicken and add it to the mayonnaise mixture.

Stir to combine thoroughly, and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Makes two generous servings.

Source: Diana Dishes original



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Isn’t it Romantic

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Because of the 12 Days of Oscar, you won’t see any posts full of hearts or red velvet baked goods or a fancy dinner for two on here today.  Before you run off in search of something with a conversation heart on it, today’s film is a great romantic comedy if that helps.  The 1989 film When Harry Met Sally explores whether or not a man and a woman can ever just be friends.  Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) meet after graduating from the University of Chicago when Sally is headed to New York and her friend arranges for Sally to give her boyfriend, Harry, a ride to New York as well.  After having differing opinions on life and relationships, the two part ways in New York but have a number of encounters over the course of the next twelve years.  The most memorable scene in this movie is the one at Katz’s deli that results in an elderly woman telling the waitress “I’ll have what she’s having.”  It’s a great movie to watch today, no matter your relationship status.   When Harry Met Sally was nominated for an Oscar for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen (Nora Ephron) but lost to Dead Poets Society (Tom Schulman).

when harry met sally diner

Harry and Sally stop at a diner on their way from Chicago to New York where Harry simply orders “the number three,” while Sally orders a chef salad and apple pie à la mode, but with a long list of substitutions.  “On the side is very big with you,” Harry tells her in one scene.  I wasn’t going to attempt to recreate a Katz’s pastrami sandwich because once I make pastrami at home, Lane will likely demand it for dinner nightly.  That, and I know my limits and I’m willing to bet that nothing I make at home could touch the pastrami at Katz’s.  Instead, I made the chef salad Sally orders during their diner visit, “with oil and vinegar on the side.”

Chef salad is typically a simple combination of hard-boiled eggs, vegetables, meats, cheese, and greens.  The types of meats and cheeses vary from chef to chef and so it’s really up to you what you’d like to include.  Ham and turkey almost always make an appearance and occasionally roast beef or salami.  Some restaurants chop the meats and cheese as you would for a cobb salad, and others roll up thin cold cuts either all together or separately.  Dressings also vary but you really can’t go wrong with the simplicity of a good olive oil and a good red wine vinegar.  The hardest part of making this is hard boiling the egg (I suggest one whole egg per guest) because the rest is just assembling the components.   The sky is really the limit here, the chef salad police aren’t going to come if you add croutons or omit tomatoes.  The amounts below make a salad big enough for two people to share, or a large dinner salad.  If you’re still lacking plans with your sweetheart, get your hands on this film and share a chef salad.  If you’re sweetheart-less, get your hands on this film and have chef salad anyway.

chef salad

Chef Salad


  • 2 C. spring mix lettuce
  • 1 medium cucumber, sliced
  • 1 C. grape tomatoes
  • 2 large eggs, hard-boiled and sliced
  • 4 oz. sliced cold cut ham
  • 4 oz. sliced cold cut turkey
  • 4 oz. thinly sliced cheese of your choice (I suggest provolone or American)
  • 1/2 C. black olives, pitted
  • olive oil
  • red wine vinegar


Place the salad greens on a large plate or serving dish.

Top with sliced cucumber, tomatoes, egg slices and olives as desired.

Roll up the meat slices either separately or combined (you may also roll the cheese up in the meat slices) and place them on top of the salad.

Drizzle with olive oil and red wine vinegar to taste.

Source: Diana Dishes original (inspired by the many chef salads I’ve consumed over time)

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Stale Intrigues

It’s been a busy weekend. Saturday, Lane and I packed up the kids and drove them to Long Island so they can spend a week with family before summer vacation is over. Lane had the added bonus of a sore arm, a summer cold, and a million home improvement projects he swears he’s going to get done while doped up on Dayquil. Try arguing with Lane that he needs to rest when he’s on a quest to fix the garage door, I dare you.

Sunday we spent some time with friends celebrating a special little girl’s upcoming first birthday. It was a great day with friends (and this group of friends is like a family I picked for myself), and the birthday girl loved the attention (and cake, and presents- this birthday stuff is fun!). It was nice to get a break from packing, even if the stress is starting to really set in.

It’s busy weekends like these that make me appreciate taking the time to make something at home that I could have obtained in a package from a grocery store shelf. Enter these croutons. They’re so easy to make, and a great way to use up bread that might otherwise go to waste, and they make me want to eat salad. What could be bad? Best of all, you can use whatever you’d like to season them. I like mine garlic-y so I used some garlic powder and garlic salt and a sprinkling of crushed pepper and in with hardly any hands-on time, I had tasty homemade croutons. I like to use day-old bread for this, I think it holds up better to being mixed with oil and bread without getting soggy. You can remove the crusts from the bread before proceeding if you like, but I don’t bother. Also, you could use plain sandwich bread for this, but I find the texture of the finished product to be a little softer and less flavorful than I’d like, so I use French or Italian bread.



  • 4 C. 1/2 inch bread cubes (from a baguette or other crusty bread)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp. melted butter
  • garlic powder, to taste
  • garlic salt, to taste
  • dried parsley, to taste
  • ground black pepper, to taste


Heat the oven to 300 degrees.

Place the bread cubes in a large bowl.

Add the olive oil and melted butter and toss the bread cubes to coat.

Season the bread to taste with the garlic powder, garlic salt, parsley, and pepper (I start with 1/2 tsp. of garlic powder and parsley and 1/4 tsp. of the others).

Toss the bread to coat with the seasoning.

Spread the bread out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.

Bake for 30-50 minutes (total time will depend on how crunchy you like them and the density of the bread used), stirring every 10 minutes.

Remove baked croutons to a cooling rack to cool completely before serving, and store in an airtight container.

Makes 3-4 Cups.

Source: adapted from Annie’s Eats, originally from Savory Sweet Life

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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


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


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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