Showing posts with label salad. Show all posts
Showing posts with label salad. Show all posts


Spinach, Chicken and Bowtie Pasta Salad for 100

Salad for 100, anyone?
Last summer, I made this salad three times, in two months, for groups of 100 or more.
Spinach, Chicken and Bowtie Pasta Salad is one of my all-time favorite pasta salad recipes. Here's why:  It sits well at a gathering (no mayo in the dressing). Perfect for weddings, funerals, missionary farewells and homecomings, Girl's Camp, family reunions, church parties and school events.  It's easy to make in large quantities.  Even though it looks summery it can be made year-round. AND last, but not least, everyone loves it.
The original 12-15 serving recipe is posted here . I've had oodles of requests over the years for a large quantity recipe, so I decided it would be best to re-post the recipe with directions to feed 100.
Make sure to read my tips short story (below the recipe) for all of the info you'll ever need (or want) to make pasta salad for the masses.
Happy salad making, my friends.

Got Chicken?

First three layers. 

Starting to look like something I'm interested in eating...

This was taken at Girl's Camp. I think we served 300 with these salads.
It was like the loaves and fishes. Kind of. 

Spinach, Chicken and Bowtie Pasta Salad for 100
A Bountiful Kitchen, adapted from Favorites cookbook
print recipe

5 lbs Bowtie pasta

Salad dressing:
2 2/3 cups vegetable or canola oil
1 1/3 cups Veri Veri Teriyaki Sauce, shaken
2 2/3 cups cider vinegar
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper

Salad ingredients (veggies and fruit) :
4 Costco tubs of Spinach ( 1 lb each)
8- 8 oz cans water chestnuts, drained and chopped into matchstick pieces
6 bunches green onions, chopped
48 oz - (1 large bag) Craisins 
12 cans mandarin oranges, drained well
2 cups sesame seeds, toasted
48 oz honey roasted peanuts or cashews

15 lbs chicken breasts, marinated (ingredients below), cooked, cooled and sliced

Teriyaki marinade for chicken:
6 cups soy sauce
2 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon or about 4 cloves garlic, crushed or chopped
1 Tablespoon pepper

Mix teriyaki marinade for chicken. 
Marinate chicken overnight, or at least 6 hours. Place the chicken in Ziplock bags and mix the marinade in a bowl, then pour into the bags over the chicken. The chicken may be taken directly from the freezer and set in the refrigerator in marinade for up to two days before cooking. 
After the chicken is marinated, place the drained chicken on baking sheets and broil the chicken for about 7-10 minutes (about 2-3 inches from element), or bake at 350 for about 45  minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in the middle.  Cool completely, trim off any fat and cut into slices. Set in refrigerator until ready to assemble salad. The chicken may be cooked up to three days before serving salad.
Discard any leftover marinade, DO NOT use the marinade in the salad dressing. 

Cook the pasta al dente, according to package directions. Drain, rinse quickly with cold water and toss with a tablespoon olive or canola oil  or a little of the Veri Teriyaki sauce and place in refrigerator in covered containers (I use gallon Ziplock bags) until ready to assemble salad. May be cooked up to three days before serving.

Blend the salad dressing ingredients together using large bowl or blender. Mix well. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

May be done early in the day, or the day before serving.
Using two large containers, layer the ingredients to the salad in the following order (see photos)
Pasta, chicken, spinach, chopped water chestnuts, chopped green onions and Craisins. Make sure the water chestnuts are drained well.
Cover and refrigerate.
When ready to serve, add the following to the top of salad:
Drained mandarin oranges, toasted sesame seeds, honey roasted peanuts.
Mix the prepared salad dressing well, pour about 2 cups onto each container of salad, tossing gently so the mandarin oranges do not break apart. Add more salad dressing, sparingly, as needed.
Serve individually onto plates, or in a salad bowl.
Sprinkle with additional sesame seeds and nuts if desired.

-This salad may be prepared in advance. When I'm making salads in large quantities, I usually start the day (or two) ahead with any of the steps that can be done early. Read this recipe carefully for instruction on make ahead.
-If you are serving this with a main dish, say at a barbecue, you may leave out the chicken. Or half the chicken (and marinade).
-This salad is a hearty serving of a main dish salad. It will yield 100 generous lunch size portions of salad. If served with a roll and dessert, it should satisfy most appetites. If you are serving the salad on a buffet, with other salads or sides, this should serve up to 150 as a side dish. 
-For the chicken, I buy Costco 10 lb bags of frozen- boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Usually the Tyson or Foster Farms brands. They are generally trimmed of most fat so the prep work is minimal regarding trimming the chicken. I use the chicken right out of the freezer, no thawing needed.
If you are trying to cut costs, use less chicken. This recipe may be adjusted to serve 100 with 10 lbs of chicken (instead of 15). Cut the teriyaki marinade for the chicken in half as well.
-Teriyaki Sauce for dressing on the salad- I like  Soy-Vay "Veri Veri Teriyaki"  for this recipe. It is highly concentrated, so you will use less than when using another brand. It can usually be purchased at most grocery stores and Walmart or Costco. I've also seen it online at Amazon.  Make sure to shake the bottle before using.
- Purchase Honey Roasted Planters Peanuts at Walmart in large size containers compared to the containers sold at the grocery, they are quite a bit less expensive. I love this recipe made with honey roasted cashews, but they cost quite a bit more than peanuts, so I usually stick with peanuts when making a large quantity.
-Less is more with regard to salad dressing. Use less dressing than you think you need initially. Let it sit for a few minutes and see how much has soaked into the pasta, and how much has settled to the bottom of the serving bowl. Add more dressing if needed. I rarely use all of the dressing.
-Purchase sesame seeds in bulk at the grocery in the health food aisle or in the Asian section of the grocery. The cost is significantly less than if purchased in the spice section.
-Toss the peanuts and the sesame seeds last onto the salad to preserve the crunch of the nuts.


Harvest Salad with Buttermilk Sage Dressing

Tuesday night I made a salad for a creative group of crafters and bloggers who attended
"Spark Your Holidays Soiree" put on by Margie Romney -Aslett (Justagirl) and hosted by Jamie Soucy.  I didn't stay for the festivities, but heard the ladies who attended had a fabulous time! I was amazed at Jamie's  gorgeous fully decorated Christmas house and the work Margie put into assembling craft kits. It was all so festive, that I may have to sign up next time they have an event and try my hand at creating outside of the kitchen...

I wanted to share a salad that was savory and a reflection of the season. I started with greens and decided on three main ingredients for toppings: roasted butternut squash, pomegranates and avocados. Keeping the dressing harvest-style, I topped the salad with pumpkin seeds and made a basic buttermilk dressing and added fresh sage. It was simple, fresh and a bit out of the ordinary.
This dish is perfect for your holiday table, not your mother's ho-hum green salad, and also a change from the fruit-candied nut-cheese salad we see at  almost every holiday gathering.
One week till Thanksgiving!
So excited.

Harvest Salad with Buttermilk Sage Dressing 
A Bountiful Kitchen
print recipe

8-10 cups Romaine Lettuce, chopped
8-10 cups spinach (preferably baby spinach)
3 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 ripe and slightly firm avocado
1 large pomegranate, seeded or about 1 - 1 1/2 cups of seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (green type, roasted, salted)

Buttermilk Sage Dressing:
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup mayo ( light is ok, but regular is better)
5-7 fresh sage leaves, chopped
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth or place ingredients in container and shake or use an immersion blender. The dressing will keep for a week refrigerated.

To assemble salad:
About 1 hour before assembling salad-
Preheat oven to 450 convection, or 500 bake. Move rack to middle of oven.
Place butternut squash on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper. Drizzle with about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Roast just until squash begins to turn color and get a nice brown edge. This usually takes about 15 minutes on convection or 20 in a regular bake setting. Watch closely so it does not burn.
Remove from oven and let cool completely.
Place greens on a  large platter or  bowl.
Top with cooled roasted squash, chunked avocado and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.
When ready to serve, sprinkle generously with pumpkin seeds.
Serve with dressing on the side.
Serves about 20+ as a side dish.

-I doubled this salad for a group of 50-60 women. I used 3 heads of Costco regular (not mini) Romaine heads, 1/2 box of baby organic Spinach and 1 container of pre-cut butternut squash. I also used about 1 1/2 containers of pre-seeded pom seeds also purchased at Costco.
-For buttermilk dressings, I like to purchase Winder Dairy buttermilk. It is a bit thicker than other brands and whips up nicely in dressings. My second choice is Meadow Gold. Both brands found in Utah.


Fresh Corn and Tomato Salad

I originally posted this salad a couple of years ago. It is a perfect side with our Family Favorite Enchiladas or any type of barbecue dish.  Soon, fresh corn and tomatoes will disappear.
Thought you needed a little drama in your life.

Fresh Corn and Tomato Salad
A Bountiful Kitchen

6 ears corn or one small bag of frozen corn
3 large fresh tomatoes,  or 1-2 pints of grape or cherry tomatoes
1/2 large sweet onion or about 1 cup chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
two to three sprigs fresh oregano (optional)
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
coarse sea salt
fresh ground pepper

Boil corn in large pot of water for about 7 minutes. Drain and plunge corn into cool water. Cut corn off cob and set aside to cool completely. If using frozen corn, do not thaw. 
Chunk tomatoes and onion. Coarsely chop basil and strip the oregano off stems. Place cooled corn, chopped vegetable and herbs into large bowl. Toss with vinegar and olive oil. Season to taste. Serve chilled or room temperature


Tomato, Cucumber and Cottage Cheese Salad

Don't you love it when you Pin something, and click on the photo, expecting to be taken to the link that will provide the recipe, then- nothing? Dud. A while back, I Pinned a photo of a salad that I thought looked perfect for late summer months. When I tried to see the link to the photo, it was a dead end. No recipe link. Oh well.
I looked at the photo again, and discovered this: You don't need to be Martha to figure this one out.
All you need are: tomato, cucumber, cottage cheese and about 5 minutes.
Best three ingredient salad.

Tomato, Cucumber and Cottage Cheese Salad
A Bountiful Kitchen
print recipe

Tomatoes, any type about 2 cups
Cucumbers, about 1 large or 3-4 small
16 oz low fat cottage cheese, I prefer small curd
fresh ground pepper

Wash and cut the tomatoes. Wash the cucumbers and seed if desired. Slice the cucumbers into small pieces or if using large cukes, slice long way, into fourths, so you have four long slices, then seed. Cut the cucumber into chunks. I like to leave the skin on for color.
Using a medium size bowl, preferably clear, layer the tomatoes, cucumber and cottage cheese, as you would if making a yogurt parfait. Place in fridge until ready to serve.
Serves 6-8 as a side dish.

-This salad can be made year 'round, but is best in the summer months when garden cucumbers and tomatoes are available. That said, it is also best made with tomatoes that are NOT juicy. I like to make it  with cherry or grape tomatoes (simple to slice them in half, or leave them whole in the salad) so there is not an issue with the tomatoes giving off too much water and making the salad runny.


Broccoli, Grape and Pasta Salad

You know that salad that shows up at every potluck? The one with broccoli, sunflower seeds, bacon and a coleslaw dressing?  I like it, but it's a little heavy on green for some of my fam (code for the boys). This salad is a twist on that old favorite.  I opted out of the bacon and didn't miss it a bit. Make sure to give the sunflower seeds a try. The original Southern Living recipe calls for pecans, but I thought staying with the original idea of broccoli and sunflower seeds would be a nice combo and I loved the end result.  If you're looking for a newbie to take to your next bbq, give this recipe a try. You're going to love it.

Broccoli, Grape and Pasta Salad
Adapted from Southern Living by A Bountiful Kitchen

1- 1 lb package farfalle (bow tie shaped) or other pasta
3/4 pound fresh broccoli, blanched if desired
2 cups seedless red grapes
8 cooked bacon slices, crumbled (optional)
3/4 cup sunflower seeds

1 cup light mayonnaise ( I like Best Foods or Hellman's)
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup diced red onion
1/3 cup red wine or cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt

Cook pasta according to package directions. Rinse with cold water and set aside.
Cut broccoli into bite size pieces. 
Wash grapes and leave whole, or if desired, cut in half.
Whisk together mayonnaise and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Separate about half of the dressing and set aside in small bowl or cup, cover and set in refrigerator.  Add broccoli, cooked pasta, and grapes to bowl with remaining dressing.  Stir to coat pasta, broccoli and grapes. Cover and chill 3 hours or overnight. 
When ready to serve, add remaining dressing and bacon (if using) and toss. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds just before serving. 


BBQ Chicken Salad with Creamy BBQ Cilantro Lime Dressing

Memorial Day weekend kicks off the start to Summer. Summer. Summer.
It's been a long Spring here in Utah. One of those keep 4 blankets,boots,hat,gloves,scarf and portable heater at all times in your car for the baseball game seasons. So glad it is finally warming up.
Summer means salads. I've been looking for an excuse to try out this recipe I Pinned a while back.
Verdict? Loved it. My new favorite.
I think there is a similar salad at CPK? This salad comes from the blog Erin's Food Files. She adapted the recipe from Mel at Mel's Kitchen Cafe, but added her own twist, by throwing in some roasted sweet potatoes and succotash (a dish consisting of corn and any type of beans cooked together).
Hello Summer. So glad you're almost here.

BBQ Chicken Salad with Creamy BBQ Cilantro Lime Dressing
Adapted from Erins Food Files and Mel's Kitchen

Chicken* early in the day, or day before prepare chicken in marinade:
4 chicken breast halves, any fat trimmed off
3/4 cup of barbecue sauce to marinate chicken

1 large head romaine
12 cups lettuce Spring Mix or Spinach (about 1/2 of a Costco box of Spring Mix)
2 sweet potatoes, baked or grilled on bbq  just until soft
olive oil for brushing on sweet potatoes

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
juice of 2 limes
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
2-15 oz cans black beans, drained & rinsed ( I like S&W brand regular or organic)
3 cups corn, frozen
1 teaspoon each sea salt & pepper

1 1/3 cup mayonnaise, light or regular, I used light Best Foods
2/3 cup buttermilk, sour cream, or nonfat greek yogurt, I used light sour cream
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
4 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
few generous dashes fresh ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup BBQ sauce (you may use either home made or bottled) and additional for drizzling on salad
2-3 tablespoons milk, if needed for thinning dressing

The day before serving salad or early in the day:

Marinate chicken in BBQ sauce at least 6 hours. I like to use a large Ziplock bag. After marinating, preheat grill, and cook chicken until done.  Barbecue the chicken on low heat for about 8-9 minutes per side, depending on thickness of meat. Remove from heat, check for doneness. If cooked through, let rest for about 5-10 minutes. Slice after cooled.

Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Add beans & corn, season with salt & pepper. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

Combine all the ingredients together and whisk (or shake, if using a jar) vigorously to combine. I used a blender and pulsed the ingredients.

Place lettuce on platter or large bowl. Layer on top of lettuce with black bean & corn succotash, sweet potatoes, and chicken. Drizzle with additional BBQ sauce, followed by the Creamy BBQ Cilantro Lime Dressing.

-Great dish for make-ahead. I made the entire salad the night before and bagged all of the ingredients separately. Then in the afternoon, took to a luncheon and assembled it in just a few minutes.
-You may use any combo of ingredients for the succotash. It would be delicious with red or yellow peppers, chopped onion (red, yellow or white) or tomatoes. I added  small grape tomatoes and loved the color and flavor.
-This serves about 20 as a side dish, and is easily halved.
-I like to make my own bbq sauce (recipe found here), but didn't have any on hand, so I used 'Sweet Baby Rays" bottled sauce in this dressing, and for the marinade.
-For the sweet potatoes, I wrapped the potatoes in foil and grilled them on my bbq (350 degrees) for about an hour. After they were softened, I cut them into about 3/4 inch slices, brushed both sides with olive oil and grilled them just until they were cooked a bit more and had grill marks on the outside of the potatoes.
You can eliminate the step of wrapping in foil and baking the potatoes. Simply place the peeled, sliced potato onto a greased baking sheet and bake or broil until softened. Or grill pieces on the bbq grill.
After the potatoes are cooked, gently chop.
-If you are a cheese lover, grate some cheese on top - Monterrey Jack would work well. I don't think this salad needs cheese, there are lots of flavors in the salad, and with the creamy dressing, I think cheese is a little overkill. Just my two cents :)


Lobster and Shells

If you want to splurge on Mom for Mother's Day, try this salad from Ina Garten, aka the Barefoot Contessa.  Ina says it's important to use small shells in this salad so the corn kernels can get stuck inside of the shells. These things are important. Yes, they are. 
If you are as anxious for summer to get here as I am, you'll love this recipe. It tastes like a bite of summer in a salad. 

Lobster and Shells

Kosher salt
olive oil
1 pound small pasta shells, such as Ronzoni
Kernels from 8 ears of corn (about 6 cups) cooked, or about 1 1/2 small bags frozen corn*
12 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
2 yellow or orange or red bell peppers, seeded and small-diced
2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
2 pounds cooked fresh lobster meat, medium-diced, about 2 medium size lobster tails
1 1/2 cups Best Foods or Hellman's mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream, regular or light*
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2-4 lemons, depending on how juicy)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4-1/2 cup minced fresh dill*

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt and some olive oil. Add the pasta and cook it for 8 to 10 minutes, until al dente.  Drain the pasta pour into a large mixing bowl.  Add the frozen corn. Add the scallions, diced pepper, tomatoes, and lobster, tossing gently to combine. Allow to cool slightly.

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, 4 teaspoons salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper until smooth. Pour over the pasta and mix well to bind the ingredients. Stir in the dill. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for up to 6 hours to allow the flavors to develop. Check the seasonings and serve chilled or at room temperature.

-*Fresh corn is always best. Cook the cobs of corn for about 4 minutes in a pot of boiling water. Cut the corn off the cob and let cool before adding to the salad.  If fresh is unavailable, use frozen corn, unthawed. The corn will thaw in the salad and help keep the rest of the salad ingredients cool.
-*Sour Cream-I used regular sour cream, but thought the dressing was a bit heavy. This salad could use a little lightening up, next time I make it I will use light sour cream.
-If you make this ahead of time and set in the fridge, you may need to thin the dressing a bit  by whisking in a tablespoon or two of milk. 
-Fresh dill- If at all possible, use fresh dill. If fresh is not available, 1 tablespoon of dried dill will work. 

Here's the link to Amazon and Ina's "How Easy is That?" cookbook. It's the perfect Mother's Day gift. 


Cape Cod Chopped Salad and promises

Promises, promises. I know. I told you days ago I would post two more salads and an appetizer for your Mother's Day menu, which is THIS WEEK. It's been a little hectic around here.

For one, Stephen returned home from his mission to Puebla in March. That deserves its own post (later). Here's a little glimpse of the "most wonderful day, ever" .

That was the most anticipated hug, ever. Two years is a long time.

And then, there is/was baseball, baseball, and more baseball. 

My cute mom came to visit...

Cuddling with my favorite 6 month old grand baby. 

Brookie graduated from the U. Two college graduates. Check. 

All good stuff. Just not a lot of blogging time.
Alrightly. The Mother's Day Menu 2013:
Salad number one. Loved this recipe. All of the main ingredients are my favorites alone, but this combo is one of those "match made in heaven" deals. Creamy Roquefort cheese, soft butter lettuce, toasted sweetened walnuts, dried cranberries, a crunchy apple, and bacon.
Your mom is going to love this.

Cape Cod Salad
adapted from Barefoot Contessa
print recipe

8 ounces thick-cut bacon
12 ounces baby arugula, or butter lettuce
1 large apple, I like Gala or Granny Smith, skin on, sliced thin
1 cup toasted walnut halves, 1 tablespoons sugar if desired
1/2 cup dried cranberries
6 ounces blue cheese, such as Roquefort, crumbled
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place walnut halves on lined baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes or until fragrant. If desired, sprinkle with about 1 tablespoon of sugar right after removing from oven. 

Remove bacon from package, keeping bacon in one slab, lay on cutting board and slice into 1 inch thick slices. Fry in non stick pan over medium high heat, separating pieces as you cook. When bacon is cooked and crispy , remove from heat. Remove bacon from pan with slotted spoon onto a paper towel lined plate. Set aside.

For the dressing, whisk together the vinegar, orange zest, orange juice, mustard, maple syrup, 1 teaspoon salt, and the pepper in a bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil.

In a large bowl, toss together the greens, apple, walnuts, cranberries, bacon and blue cheese.

When ready to serve, toss all salad ingredients with just enough dressing to lightly coat leaves of lettuce. 

Toss the salad with just enough dressing to moisten. Serve immediately.

Serves approximately  6 as a side salad.


Strawberry Spinach Pasta Salad with Fresh Lemon Vinaigrette

Here's a recipe for a fresh and simple salad, perfect for brunch. I served this at a gathering last week and it was a hit. Inspired by one of my favorite salads at Plates and Palates in Btown. They serve something similar, without the pasta. It's a great make-ahead salad if you are looking for a recipe you can throw together just before serving.
Happy Easter weekend!

Strawberry Spinach Pasta Salad with Fresh Lemon Vinaigrette
A Bountiful Kitchen
print recipe

3 chicken breast halves, cooked and chopped about 3-4 cups total
3/4 pound pasta, cooked according to package directions any shape
bottled poppy seed dressing, optional (such as Brianna's brand)
1 quart fresh strawberries, washed, sliced and drained*
green onions, chopped, optional
8-12 cups fresh spinach or a mixture of spinach and greens, washed and dried
1 cup dried cherries or Craisins
1 cup salted cashews

Fresh Lemon Vinaigrette:
1 cup canola oil
1/2 cup white balsamic or cider vinegar 
1 fresh lemon, juiced, about 1/3 cup
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

The night before or early in the day before serving:
Cook the chicken breasts, trim off any fat, chop and set aside. I like the chicken to be in 1/2 inch chunks.
Cook the pasta and drain. Let cool. If desired, pour about 1 cup poppy seed dressing over pasta and store in fridge until ready to assemble salad.
Prepare the strawberries and layer in a pan, such as a 9x13 cake pan, to prevent the berries from bleeding onto each other or the salad. This method will insure the berries are completely dry before assembling the salad.
Chop green onions, set aside.
Make the dressing:
Whisk all dressing ingredients together in a blender or in a bowl using an immersion blender or whisk. Set in fridge until ready to use. When ready to assemble, whisk again, just before pouring.
To assemble salad:
Place spinach in bowl or platter, or assemble on individual plates. Layer the following on top of greens:
Pasta (you may toss with additional poppy seed dressing if the pasta has soaked up most of the dressing),  chicken, strawberries, green onions and dressing. Top with cashews and dried cherries.

-*Making sure the strawberries are washed, sliced and drained is essential. If the strawberries are not drained, they will bleed onto the chicken and pasta, giving off the appearance of red chicken or pasta with red or pink spots. Trust me :o
-I made this recipe up without any cheese, but if would be yummy with a little blue, Gorgonzola or goat cheese sprinkled on top.
-If you would like the dressing to be thicker, add about 1/4 cup of mayo (light or regular) to the recipe.
-You may also substitute honey for the sugar in the dressing recipe.


Warm Caramelized Pear and Asparagus Salad

Brookie called me a couple of weeks ago and told me she made the most wonderful salad for dinner. I knew the boys would not be thrilled about a spinach, warm pear and asparagus salad, so I threw it together one night when it was just me and the doggie at home. Since Jack is not generally interested in greens, I was able to have the entire salad to myself.
Oh my goodness.
So simple. So delicious. Sweet, savory. You know how I feel about that combo.
You have to try this.

Warm Caramelized Pear and Asparagus Salad
adapted from Season with Spice
print recipe

2 Bosc pears – cored and cut into 1/2 inch wedges
1 lb of asparagus,  tough ends snapped off
A handful of pecans or walnuts
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Fresh spinach
Crumbled feta cheese or goat cheese, optional

1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
Dash of cayenne pepper
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients for the vinaigrette and set aside.
In a large skillet or frying pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add pear wedges and cook for a minute over medium heat (turn wedges over once). Using tongs, move the pears to one side of pan. Add asparagus to pan and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes. Add nuts and cook for another minute until the asparagus is just tender and pear is softened and browned on the edges. Remove from heat and place on top of spinach on serving platter or individual salad plates. If you would like the nuts to be sweetened, sprinkle a little sugar on top of the walnuts or pecans.
Crumble cheese on top if using. Drizzle a small amount of dressing on top of each salad.
Serve warm.
Serves about 4-6

-Prepare all of the ingredients before starting to cook. This recipe comes together quickly and it is best to have everything ready so the salad may be served warm.
- Depending on the firmness of the pears and asparagus, cooking time may vary. You may need to turn the heat up a bit to medium-high heat to get the pear to caramelize.
-I left the cheese off and loved this salad. I think goat cheese would be best and add a little creamy tang to the salad.
-Adding sugar to the nuts is optional- I added about a teaspoon at the end of cooking.
-This salad took me less than 15 minutes to make.
-This salad is best served warm, but is also good served at room temperature.


Butter Lettuce, Grapefruit and Avocado Salad

After gorging ourselves on turkey, cranberry sauce and stuffing for the better part of a week, We are turning over a new leaf. A healthy leaf. The "I have a physical on Friday because I turned 50 leaf".
No more pumpkin pie for me.
At least till Saturday.
Try this salad.
I know you'll love it. It's perfect for holiday meals coming up.
Or if you are cramming for your cholesterol test.
Just sayin.

Butter Lettuce, Grapefruit and Avocado Salad
Adapted from Bon Appetit 
print recipe

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1-2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 tablespoon honey
1/3 cup olive or canola oil
sea salt
fresh ground pepper

8 large butter lettuce leaves, gently washed and dried
3 ripe avocados, sliced into one inch chunks
3 large Ruby Red and/or pink grapefruits, all peel and white pith cut away, 
segments cut from between membranes
Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. If you like the dressing to be on the sweeter side, add an additional tablespoon or two of honey.  Set aside. This can be made in advance and refrigerated until day of serving. 
Place the cleaned butter lettuce on a tray or on individual salad plates. Fill evenly with grapefruit and avocados. Drizzle with dressing and serve immediately. 

-If making ahead,  prepare the dressing and refrigerate up to three days in advance. Wash the lettuce and store in a Ziploc bag with paper towels to absorb moisture. Cut up the grapefruit,  store in a bowl in refrigerator. Drain the grapefruit juice before placing the fruit in lettuce leaves. Slice the avocado and assemble salad just before serving. 
-I only used about half of the dressing total. 


Cobb Salad with Creamy French Dressing

Don't you love a good Cobb Salad? Cobb Salad usually consists of a combo of bacon, chicken, avocado, tomatoes, green onion, eggs and cheese on top of a bed of greens. I love the way it looks with the toppings lined up in neat rows.  Why is this appealing to me?
I like to make Cobb Salad without chicken, because I usually serve it with a main dish. Traditionally it is served with French or Roquefort dressing. I made three dressings last month: French, Roquefort, and Balsamic. All keepers.  I'll post the Roquefort and Balsamic soon, so you can whip some up on your own.
I know you want to make your own dressing.
Yes. You do.

Cobb Salad with  Creamy French Dressing
A Bountiful Kitchen
print recipe

1 lb bacon, cooked crisp, drained, cooled and chopped
6 eggs, hard boiled, cooled and chopped
Green, washed, dried and chopped about 12-15 cups or two large heads of lettuce
4 medium tomatoes or grape tomatoes, chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
3-4 avocados, chopped (still fairly firm)
two cucumbers, seeds removed and chopped
2-3 chicken breast halves, cooked and chopped (optional)
Roquefort cheese or other grated cheese (optional)
green onions, chopped, (optional)

Place the greens in a large bowl. Layer all desired ingredients in rows on top of the greens.  Chill thoroughly and serve with home made dressings.
Serves about 25 as a side dish.

French Dressing

4 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 clove garlic, crushed (optional)
1/4 teaspoon  red pepper
1 1/2 cups vegetable, canola or olive oil

Place all ingredients in blender or bowl and blend on medium or using beaters or immersion blender for about 2-3 minutes. Mixture will thicken. Cover and store in fridge for up to three weeks. Stir before serving.
Makes about 2 2/3 cups or twenty-two 2 tablespoon servings.

-Make sure to wash and dry the greens and toppings thoroughly. You don't want water in the bottom of the bowl.
-I like to use either Romaine or a combo of Romaine and other greens. Although Cobb Salad is traditionally made with Iceberg lettuce, I think it looks better when made with a dark lettuce. And it's better for you :)
-If at all possible, serve this with a home made dressing. Trust me, you will be glad you took the extra two minutes to make your own.


Mango-Peach Tango

Hooray, our plums are finally ripe!  I found this recipe in the August Southern Living Magazine and thought it would be a perfect way to use up some of our fruit. We served it with Honey Lime Enchiladas.
Everyone at dinner agreed- it's a keeper.

Mango-Peach Tango
Southern Living Magazine, August 2012
print recipe

1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon seeded and minced jalapeƱo pepper
2 mangoes, peeled and chopped
3 large peaches, peeled and chopped
3 cups chopped plums
1-2 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1-2 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Stir together first 3 ingredients in a large bowl until sugar dissolves.
Add mangoes and next 4 ingredients, tossing to coat.
Cover and chill 2 to 6 hours.

-I made this immediately before serving, chilling for 2-6 hours is not necessary, but allows flavors to blend.
-You may slice or chop the fruit, I preferred it chopped.


Fresh Peach and Blackberry Slaw

You know all of those jokes about zucchini showing up on your porch while you are sleeping? At my home, it's usually peaches, or tomatoes or other various fruits and veggies. The zucchini usually comes via the back fence from my friend Chris, who keeps me in zucchini in the warm summer months.  My friend Marsha gave me some of her absolutely delicious white peaches a while ago. I can't get over how wonderful they taste. In my next life, I am going to be a farmer. Or at least own a peach tree.   Last week, the Tingey's gave me some of their peaches and cabbage. Oh-so-good.  Remember that year I thought instead of canning, I could just make loads of peach desserts? Remember how I thought I could just make Perfect Peach Crumble for everyone so I could get out of canning peaches?
Hello Einstein.
Flash of brilliance stupidity.

Making enough Perfect Peach Crumble to use up a bushel of peaches? Not a good idea. 

In the next day or two, I'm going to can peaches. I am. I will not just talk about it. I will do it. I will.  I think I've talked myself into it.
Last week, I was in the cooking (or for this recipe, chopping) mode, and made several recipes using up the fresh fruit and veggies that found their way into my kitchen. I was playing nurse to Jake, who got his wisdom teeth out. Needless to say, he ate a lot of peach shakes.
This slaw recipe is perfect if you have some fresh cabbage, peaches and blackberries around. I liked the crunch of the cabbage with the soft peaches and blackberries. Tangy and sweet, crunchy and soft.  Lots of interesting textures and flavors. Great summer side dish.
Not that it's summer anymore. Tomorrow is the first day of school.

Is this the most beautiful cabbage you have ever seen? I thought so.

Fresh Peach and Blackberry Slaw
adapted from BHG

1/4 cup vinegar, white balsamic or cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive or canola oil
4 tablespoons brown sugar
pinch of salt
1 small head of cabbage, washed cored and sliced or shredded
3 white or yellow peaches, or a mixture of both
1/2 pint blackberries
2 oz crumbled blue cheese, optional
snipped fresh chives, bail and or tarragon

Make the dressing:
Whisk together the vinegar, olive or canola oil, brown sugar and salt. Pour over the cabbage. Toss well.
Add the peaches, blackberries and blue cheese, if using. Gently fold together. Place in serving bowl or platter, top with snipped fresh herbs.

-I found half of the dressing was more than enough for this amount of cabbage. Toss the salad with half of the dressing and put the other half in a bowl and pass alongside the salad.
-Reviewers on the BHG site recommended using a broccoli slaw, purchased at the grocery. Sounds like a good combo if you don't have fresh cabbage available.
-You don't need to worry about the peaches going brown in this salad the vinegar will prevent that from happening. Remember to keep the salad cool.


Quinoa Salad

Have you tried Quinoa? It's a whole grain (or seed to be more precise). High in protein, also gluten and cholesterol free (check out this link for all you ever wanted to know about quinoa, but were afraid to ask).
I made this salad to go along with some grilled salmon and fruit last week for Brookie's birthday. Brooke and I absolutely loved it. It's fresh and simple. Mint, veggies, quinoa and an olive oil, fresh lemon juice and balsamic dressing. This is a great alternative to the usual potato salad and baked bean side for your summer BBQ.
Jake was a little less enthusiastic about our side dish. He ate one tablespoon of salad I placed on his plate, then made the remainder of his meal salmon and watermelon.
Never judge the success of a vegetarian recipe by the reaction of a 15 year old boy.

Quinoa Salad
adapted from Food Network
print recipe

1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed
4-5 pickling cucumbers, seeded, ends trimmed, and cut into 1/4-inch cubes*
1 small red onion, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 large tomato, cored, seeded, and diced or a pint of grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 bunch Italian parsley leaves, chopped
2 bunches mint leaves, chopped (or one package from grocery)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar ( I used Port Balsamic)
1 lemon, juiced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 heads Belgian endive, trimmed and separated into individual spears
(or one head curly green endive)
1 avocado, a little on the firm side, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks


Cook quinoa, according to package directions. I used a rice cooker and cooked 1 1/2 cups quinoa in 3 cups of water. After cooked, cool completely. I spread the quinoa onto a plate and set in the refrigerator for about an hour. This could also be done several hours before serving, up to a day before.
When the quinoa is cooled, add the cucumbers, onion, tomato, parsley and mint. Toss.
In a separate small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice salt and pepper.
Wash and dry the endive. If using the curly endive, line a platter with leaves. Lightly toss the avocado with the salad. If using endive spears, spoon the salad onto endive spears, top with avocado, and serve.

-The recipe calls for 12 cups of water to the 1 1/2 cups of quinoa. This had to be a misprint. I followed the advice of several opinions online and used a rice cooker. The quinoa was cooked perfectly in the rice cooker. If you don't have a rice cooker, follow package directions for cooking on the stove top.
-It is essential to completely cool the quinoa after cooking. Fluff it up a bit and place in fridge.
-The recipe calls for rinsing the quinoa after cooking. Thankfully, I listened to that little voice that said - test a small portion. I took about a cup out and rinsed it. It never drained. The portion I rinsed was a water soaked mess. It sat in a strainer for a few hours, and never drained. Glad I didn't try that with the whole batch. Spreading the quinoa on a plate and placing in the fridge worked well for me.
-I prefer grape tomatoes to larger tomatoes for this recipe.
-The original recipe calls for red wine vinegar. I've found when a recipe calls for just red wine vinegar and olive oil, I usually prefer balsamic. I use a Port Balsamic "O" Brand, which can be found at kitchen specialty stores, or often at my favorite, TJ Maxx, in the kitchenware aisle. You can also find "O" here.
-*The recipe calls for pickling cukes. You may also use regular grocery store variety, just make sure to seed them (remove the seeds). Or seeded English cucumbers work well.
-Last note- this was even better for leftovers the day after. 


Cafe Rio Style Creamy Tomatillo Salad Dressing

What's a Cafe Rio salad without the dressing?  While other copycat recipes use Ranch packets, this recipe is all home made. Tomatillos are found in the refrigerated section of your produce department. You're going to love this.

Cafe Rio Style Creamy Tomatillo Salad Dressing
A Bountiful Kitchen
print recipe

2 cups mayonnaise (not light)
2 cups sour cream
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, washed, stems removed
3 tomatillos, quartered (remove outer paper-like skin)
2 stems green onion, green parts
1 garlic clove
1 jalapeno, seeded
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
salt to taste, about 1 teaspoon

Place all ingredients in a blender or use a hand immersion blender and blend until smooth.
Store in refrigerator.
Yield, about 20 servings.
Keeps in fridge for about 10 days. 


Cafe Rio-Style Sweet Pork Salad

If you live in the great state of Utah, or have visited here in the past ten years, you know about Cafe Rio. Or Costa Vida. Mexican food with a Southwest flair.
This recipe is a great option for feeding a crowd,  because there's something for everyone. Don't like meat? Have a meatless salad. Don't like meat or salads? Have a tortilla with cheese, rice, dressing, pico  and beans.  Everyone builds their own. It's worked for me when cooking for a crowd of 30-300.
There are loads of copycat recipes on the Internet for Cafe Rio/ Costa :  rice, beans, dressing and the fan favorite/flagship item-Sweet Pork.  I'm posting my family favorite copycat recipes this week. I know I'm a few years behind this trend, but it will save me jumping around from site to site, looking for the recipes, or searching for the crumpled pieces of paper with my scribbles written all over. They'll all be here, in one place.  Ole!

To Build a Cafe Rio style Sweet Pork salad:
print instructions/grocery list

Cafe Rio style Sweet Pork- find it here
Cafe Rio style Black Beans-find it here
Mexican Rice with Cilantro Dressing - find it here
Cafe Rio style Cilantro Dressing- find it here
Pico de Gallo - find it here
Our favorite Chunky Guacamole- find it here

Other items you will  need/want to make a Cafe Rio style salad:
Romaine lettuce, washed and chopped
Cheese, Mexican blend and/or Cotija (Mexican cheese) for sprinkling on top, if desired
Flour Tortillas, we like the type found in Costco in the refrigerated section, grill for a few minutes on each side at home, or you may use grilled corn or regular grocery store flour tortillas, warmed
corn tortillas and vegetable oil- cut the corn tortillas into strips, fry over medium high heat, drain on paper towels, sprinkle with salt
Sour cream for topping salad
Fresh cilantro to top salad
lime slices, to top each salad
8 or 9" disposable foil tins found in baking section of grocery or the dollar store, or plates work too

Place all items on serving table in this order:
Tins or plates, tortillas, beans, rice, meat, lettuce, cheese, pico, guacamole, dressing, sour cream, tortilla strips, cilantro and lime slices.

Cafe Rio Sweet Pork for a crowd
A Bountiful Kitchen
print recipe

For roasting meat:
13.5 lb Pork Shoulder* (yield approx 6 1/2 lbs cooked, fat removed, shredded pork)
2 teaspoon onion salt
fresh ground pepper
3 cloves garlic, chopped fine or crushed
1 can or approx 12 oz Coke or Dr. Pepper, not Diet (see reader comment below by Bonnie)

For sauce after roasting:
3- 4 oz cans diced (mild to medium) green chilies
1-28 oz can red enchilada sauce
2 cups light brown sugar
2 cans or 24 oz Coke or Dr. Pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place rack in bottom third of oven.
If making a full recipe and using a piece of meat larger than 6 lbs, cut the meat into at least two or more  pieces to insure meat will be cooked through.
Season the pork with onion salt and ground pepper on all sides.  Rub the top of the pork with crushed garlic cloves.
Place the pork in a large heavy roasting pan or crock pot.  Pour Coke around the sides of roast.
Cover tightly with foil, so no steam escapes. Roast at 350 for 2 1/2 hours. Do not open oven. Turn oven to 200 roast for 2 more hours. Alternately, Place the pork into two large crock pots. Follow directions, except cook on low for about 10-12 hours.
After roasting, remove meat. Let cool for about 15 minutes, or cool enough to handle. Pull meat apart with hands, removing any visible fat remaining on meat. Discard fat and drain remaining liquid from pan.
Place meat back into roasting pan, shred with forks.
Prepare sauce by placing green chilies, enchilada sauce and brown sugar into a blender.  Blend until smooth. Add the Coke, stir with spoon. Pour the sauce over the meat, and heat the meat again before serving. Do not stir too much, this makes the meat a mushy mess. Visualize the icky barbecued meat in the frozen section at the grocery. I prefer to pour sauce on top and leave the meat alone :) Using tongs helps tremendously.
Yield: about 35 servings.

-*Important: Make sure to buy Pork Shoulder or Pork (Boston) Butt.  Pork Roast or Pork Loin does not have enough fat to produce a product that will shred properly. I like Pork Shoulder best for this recipe. A large Pork Shoulder can be found at Costco for approximately $2.00 per pound.
-This recipe may also be used as a taco filling or for burritos.
-If preparing ahead, follow directions until meat has been shredded. Refrigerate or freeze meat at this point. When ready to serve, prepare sauce and pour over meat. Heat up in oven or on stove top at low heat.
-This recipe freezes well. When I have leftovers, I freeze the meat and drain off the sauce. When I want to use the frozen meat, I let it thaw in the fridge overnight; then place the meat in a pan on top of the stove. I make fresh sauce but only prepare 1/3 of the recipe above.
-If the sauce is too thick for your liking, you may add water, 1/4 cup at a time.
-If you are looking for a recipe that is scaled down to 6 servings, read this post at Family Favorite Recipes. The recipes are a bit different than mine, but the quantities are smaller for the pork. Fam Fav Recipes also does a great job of thoroughly explaining the assembly process in making the salad.