Chopped Veggie Salad with a Thai Peanut Dressing

 

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This chopped vegetable salad is crunchy, colorful and really delicious.  There is just something about Asian inspired flavors that remind me of Spring and eating light.  This Thai Peanut Dressing is creamy and has a bit of a bite to it with the chili sauce.

I have made this salad many times and sometimes I really spend a lot of time chopping all the veggies to the same size matchsticks and other times I just chop it all up different sizes.  It’s all in the presentation I guess but either way it tastes the same…..Yummy!  I tend to serve this salad with fish, the flavors work perfectly.

This dressing is also great over rice noodles with some bean sprouts and chopped snap peas or as a sauce for pasta with shredded chicken and green onions.

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Chopped Veggie Salad with a Thai Peanut Dressing
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Asian
Serves: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • Salad
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch scallions (green onions), thinly sliced
  • 3 cups snow peas, thinly sliced
  • 3 carrots, thinly sliced or shredded
  • 1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced or shredded
  • ¼ red cabbage, thinly sliced or shredded
  • ½ English cucumber, cut into strips
  • ½ cup peanuts, chopped (plus extra for garnish)
  • ¾ cup fresh cilantro, chopped (plus extra for garnish)
  • Note: I served mine over a bed of chopped kale, stems removed (optional)
  • Dressing
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • ½ cup seasoned rice-wine vinegar
  • ⅓ cup all natural creamy peanut butter
Instructions
  1. Toss all the salad ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. For the dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk all ingredients together until the dressing is smooth in texture.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss with tongs to coat.
  4. To serve, pile a helping of salad onto a plate over the kale (if using) and garnish generously with more cilantro and peanuts. The salad gets better as it sits and will keep for up to three days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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Mandarin Orange Vinaigrette

 

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I absolutely love mandarin oranges!  The fresh ones and yes, the ones from a can.  I buy the no added sugar variety, the ones in their own juice, and they are delicious and so versatile.  I like them in a mixed green or spinach salad, fruit salad and made into a vinaigrette that I’ve shared here.

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The best part of the mandarin orange is……its peak season is WINTER!!  What, winter?  How can a perfectly sweet citrus fruit want to be born in the winter?  Truthfully, I don’t really know or care to look it up.  All I know is I love them and love to cook with this beautiful sunny fruit in the winter!

Mandarin Orange Vinaigrette
 
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This vinaigrette is fresh and light. Try it over a spinach or mixed green salad or as a marinade for your baked chicken. The best part of the mandarin orange is......its peak season is WINTER!! Bring this sunny citrus fruit into your winter kitchen, I'm certain it will brighten it up!
Author:
Recipe type: Dressing, Vinaigrette, Marinade
Ingredients
  • juice from 2 mandarin oranges or juice from 1 large can of mandarin oranges (⅓ cup)
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl or jar.
  2. Mix or shake to combine.
  3. Serve on your favorite salad. This would also be a delicious marinade for chicken, fish or beef.
  4. Store in a tightly sealed container for 1 week in the refrigerator.

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Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing for the perfect wedge salad

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I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for a good blue cheese dressing.  I think blue cheese is a love it or hate it food and I definitely love it!  I love this dressing as a dip for veggies, as a sauce on a chicken or roast beef sandwiches and of course on my salad.

There are many different types of blue cheese and in general, a good rule of thumb to follow is that the creamy blues are usually milder than the crumbly ones. This is because the extended aging of crumbly blue cheese allows the veining of blue mold to spread deeper through the cheese, intensifying the flavor.  Creamy, milder blue cheeses are best paired with lighter accompaniments such as fruit, celery and crusty baguettes.  The crumbly, bolder blue cheeses are best paired with chutneys and nuts, are great in dressings and crumbled over a salad and melted over a burger or steak.

I have two favorites; Roquefort and Maytag followed by a Gorgonzola.  Roquefort is a French blue cheese and is white, soft and crumbly.  It’s veins are a bluish-green and it has a smoky flavor.  I love serving it on an appetizer tray with figs and nuts and melted over crusty French bread topped with fig preserves.  Wow, I’ll have to make that soon, it would be nice for the holidays.

Maytag is similar to Roquefort but it’s an American blue cheese.  It was first created in an attempt to duplicate Roquefort.  It’s got a distinctive green veining and it can be pungent in smell.  It’s creamy yet crumbly in texture and comes in a wheel wrapped in foil.  It is awesome in this dressing and melted on your burger as well.

Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing
 
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You'll never buy bottled blue cheese dressing again once you taste this delicious, creamy homemade version.
Author:
Recipe type: Dressing, Dip
Serves: 12 servings
Ingredients
  • 5 ounces of blue cheese
  • ¼ cup and 2 Tablespoons buttermilk
  • ¼ cup and 2 Tablespoons light sour cream
  • ¼ cup canola mayonnaise
  • 1 Tablespoon and 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, mash the blue cheese and the buttermilk together with a fork until it resembles cottage cheese.
  2. Stir in the sour cream, mayonnaise, vinegar and garlic powder until well blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Grilled Pepper and Onion Taco Salad with Chipotle Ranch Dressing

Taco.Salad1 Comfort food, as defined by urban dictionary, is a food that gives emotional comfort to the one eating it.  These tend to be favorite foods of childhood, or linked to a person, place or time with which the food has a positive association. I really can’t link taco salad to a specific person or place but it’s definitely one of my comfort foods.  I also love experimenting with my taco salads adding new and unique ingredients.  It’s not just meat, cheese, lettuce and chips these days. bellpeppers2 I feel this one is a true summer taco salad.  I browned some ground turkey, seasoning it with my homemade taco seasoning blend and grilled some bell peppers and Vidalia onion on the grill until they get tender with good grill marks.  The chipotle ranch dressing is, in a word, fabulous.  All the creaminess of ranch dressing with the addition of a smoky, mildly spicy flavor from the chipotle pepper. chipotle.ranch.dressing Experiment with your own ingredients as add-ons.  I like avocado, thin sliced radishes, cojita cheese and of course, a dollop of sour cream or crème fraiche.

Grilled Pepper and Onion Taco Salad with Chipotle Ranch Dressing
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Main Course, What's for Dinner?
Cuisine: Mexican, Tex-Mex
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • ½ cup canola mayonnaise
  • ½ cup sour cream (or Greek yogurt or a combination of the two)
  • 2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 Tbsp of the adobo sauce from the can
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • ½ cup cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a bowl and whisk with a wire whisk until fully blended and creamy.

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Broccoli Slaw Salad

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I take a shortcut when I can and one of these shortcuts would be bagged broccoli slaw mix. It’s a mixture of shredded broccoli and carrot.  I’ve used it here with some cucumber and red onion along with some fresh cilantro to create a nice slaw.  The dressing is a sweet; made with seasoned rice vinegar, sesame oil and honey.  I really recommend using the sesame oil.  I’ve tried making it with olive oil and it’s just not as good.  The clean crisp sesame oil blends so well with the rice vinegar.  There are 2 types of rice vinegar; seasoned and unseasoned.  This one uses the seasoned which gives a nice sweet flavor.  I like the broccoli slaw mix as an alternate to cabbage for a nice crunchy and flavorful slaw.

I served this with my fresh mex turkey tacos and a guacamole salsa.  A healthy, fresh twist on a Mexican dinner.

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Broccoli Slaw Salad
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Slaw, Salad
Cuisine: Side Dish
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 3 cups broccoli slaw mix (comes in a bag and is a combination of shredded broccoli and carrot)
  • 1 small red onion - diced
  • 1 large English cucumber (or regular cucumber, seeds removed) - diced
  • handful of fresh Cilantro - chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons Seasoned Rice Vinegar
  • 4 Tablespoons Sesame Oil
  • 1-2 Tablespoons honey
Instructions
  1. Mix the broccoli slaw mix, cucumber and red onion in a bowl.
  2. Place the seasoned rice vinegar in a small bowl.
  3. With a small wire whisk, gradually whisk in the sesame oil until incorporated.
  4. Add the honey and whisk until combined.
  5. Pour the dressing over the broccoli slaw mixture.
  6. Add the chopped cilantro and toss to combine.
  7. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

 

Turkey Burger Panini with a garlic aioli spread

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A go-to quick and delicious dinner for me has got to be Paninis or grilled sandwiches.  It’s a meal that’s hard to mess up as pretty much anything can go between a couple of slices of bread.  Add some cheese and heat it until melty and warm and voila… an instant meal that looks like you really planned it out.

This turkey burger Panini is kind of like a patty melt.  The addition of the grilled onion and a garlic aioli spread really set it over the top.

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Turkey Burger Panini
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Grilled Sandwich, Panini
Cuisine: Main Dish, What's For Dinner
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • For the Sandwich:
  • 8 slices of whole grain bread (or the bread of your choice)
  • 1 pound of ground turkey
  • 2 Tablespoons Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • 1 large Vidalia onion - sliced into thick rounds
  • 4 slices of Swiss or Monterey Jack cheese (8 slices if you want 2 slices of cheese per sandwich, the more cheese the better right?)
  • For the garlic aioli sauce:
  • 1 cup mayo - I use canola mayonnaise
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic - minced
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the grill or griddle to medium high heat.
  2. Mix the Montreal seasoning into the ground turkey with your hands
  3. Form into 4 patties and use your thumb to put an indentation into the middle of each burger to prevent the burger from popping up in the middle when cooking
  4. Place the burgers onto the grill/griddle and cook to an internal temperature of 170 degrees. Turn the burger only once and don't press down on that burger with your spatula while cooking unless you want a dried out burger!
  5. Brush the onion slices with olive oil on both sides
  6. Cook the onions on the grill/skillet until nicely browned, turn and repeat on the other side.
  7. Butter one side of each slice of bread
  8. Assemble the sandwich with the garlic aioli spread on the bread (opposite side as the butter).
  9. Layer the cheese, burger patty, grilled onion, another slice of cheese (if desired)
  10. Place the sandwiches in the Panini maker or on the griddle and cook until both sides of the bread are nicely browned and the cheese is melted.
  11. For the garlic aioli
  12. Blend all ingredients together in a bowl until well combined
  13. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before eating

 

 

Best Ever Basil Pesto…brace yourself, it’s that good!

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We all have one; that one recipe that is so good and gets you so much praise when you serve it that it secretly makes you feel like a rock star.  That one recipe for me is my basil pesto.  So much “the one” that I’ll be honest with you, I’ve really been on the fence about whether or not to share it.  Of course, I’ve come to my senses and realized that hello, I’m a food blogger and I’m passionate about sharing my recipes.  I want you to experience this holy grail of all sauces (in one blonde’s humble opinion that is).

I use this to create amazing pasta dishes, as a sauce for Panini and grilled sandwiches, as an appetizer on bread, in place of tomato sauce on pizzas and stirred into tomato soup for great added flavor!

Best Ever Basil Pesto...brace yourself, it's that good!
 
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The only basil pesto recipe you'll ever need!
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • heaping ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2 large cloves of garlic (more to taste)
  • ⅔ cups olive oil
  • heaping ½ cup grated Romano cheese (or Parmesan or a combination of the two)
Instructions
  1. In a small skillet toast the pine nuts over medium heat until they begin to turn a light golden brown. I can always smell when they're done as they smell like popcorn kernels cooking in oil on top of the stove.
  2. Place the basil, toasted pine nuts and garlic in the food processor and pulse until fully chopped.
  3. Stream in the olive oil while the processor is running and blend until it is fully incorporated.
  4. Transfer the pesto into a bowl and stir in the cheese.
  5. *Note - if you are going to freeze the pesto, add only ½ cup of the oil and pour the remaining oil on top of the pesto before freezing. Add the cheese AFTER you defrost it and are ready to eat it.

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Strawberry and Bell Pepper Salad with Pear Champagne Vinaigrette

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I am a fan of fruit on a salad; I think it’s an unexpected surprise.  It adds a natural sweetness and looks so fresh and pretty.  I’ve made this salad with red leaf lettuce, red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, red onion, sliced strawberries and crumbled blue cheese.

The dressing is a pear champagne vinaigrette that’s light, slightly sweet and really delicious.  Trader Joes makes a pear champagne vinaigrette dressing but of course, I love to make dressing homemade, this one definitely gives Trader Joes’ version a run for its money.  I adapted this recipe from one I found on allrecipes.com

Strawberry and Bell Pepper Salad with Pear Champagne Vinaigrette
 
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Serves: 1½ cups
Ingredients
  • 1 ripe pear - peeled, cored and chopped
  • ½ cup white wine (or non-alcoholic sparkling white grape juice)
  • 1 clove of garlic - chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup champagne vinegar (or white balsamic vinegar)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
Instructions
  1. Blend the pear, white wine, garlic, Dijon mustard, champagne vinegar, black pepper, and salt in a blender until well combined.
  2. Drizzle the olive oil into the mixture in a thin, steady stream while continuing to blend. Blend a few seconds longer until the salad dressing is thick and creamy.

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Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

ranch dressing.1 We cannot live on vinaigrettes alone!!  Let me explain, recently my friend and I visited one of our favorite local diners for lunch.  I ordered the grilled chicken cobb salad with, wait for it….ranch dressing!  Which caused my friend to respond “Wow, ranch dressing?  Who are you?”  Yes folks, ranch dressing; we loved it as kids.  It had the ability to make any vegetable edible and pretty much anything you dipped in it taste just way better.  My salad came to the table with the homemade ranch dressing on the side in what looked to be a small gravy boat!!  I swear, the first bite of salad with that creamy white perfection drizzled on it was like heaven.  The clouds parted, the sun came out, and all those ranch dressing memories tickled my taste buds with delight!  Even the server must have noticed my pure ranch dressing delight as she asked me if I would like more!  Thankfully I said no as I’d like my thighs to still fit in their skinny jeans. This experience prompted me to come up with a buttermilk ranch dressing recipe that I could make at home.  It’s full of natural ingredients with no sugar, artificial flavors or preservatives which is what you’ll find in bottled ranch dressing. I hope you too can experience salad nirvana with this buttermilk ranch dressing.

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
 
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Ingredients
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
  • 4 teaspoons white wine vinegar or lemon juice
  • 2 medium garlic clove, grated on the microplane or finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Place all of the ingredients in a 2-cup Mason jar. Seal tightly and shake to evenly distribute all the ingredients. Or stir all ingredients together in a glass bowl.  Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as desired. Refrigerate until chilled and the flavors have melded, about 1 hour. The dressing will last up to 1 week in the refrigerator.

This recipe was adapted from chow.com

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