Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad

 

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Boneless Buffalo wings, one of the best bar snacks ever invented.  I loved them in my 20’s but sadly I no longer have the metabolism of a 20 year old and not to mention it’s bikini season.  So…. I get my buffalo chicken fix with this delicious and nutritious pasta salad.  There is all of that delicious buffalo chicken flavor but without the breading, the frying and the guilt.  And, wait for it…..there’s even fresh crumbled blue cheese!  Yep, I’ve covered all the bases with this one.  You could pack it for a poolside lunch where you can wear and rock your two-piece bathing suit.

I was able to find a bottle of all natural ranch dressing made with yogurt which was good for this recipe.  You can also use my homemade Buttermilk ranch dressing.

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Buffalo Chicken Pasta
 
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Author:
Recipe type: pasta salad, side dish, main dish
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 cups dry whole wheat Rotini or Penne pasta
  • 2 cups of rotisserie chicken or cooked chicken breast - shredded
  • 3 stalks of celery - diced
  • 4 green onions (white and green parts) - diced
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 8-10 ounces of all natural bottled Ranch Dressing
  • 2 Tablespoons hot sauce (or more)
  • ¼ cup crumbled blue cheese
Instructions
  1. Cook the pasta to al dente, rinse and set aside to cool thoroughly.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the ranch dressing, blue cheese and buffalo sauce.
  3. Test the spiciness of the dressing and add more hot sauce to your liking.
  4. In a large bowl, toss the cooled pasta, chicken, celery, onion and carrot together.
  5. Pour the dressing over the salad and stir with a spatula until evenly coated.
  6. Serve and enjoy!

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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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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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Oh summer, how I’ll miss you….

tomato.layered.salad.1I told you quite awhile ago that I’m working on new ways to use all these tomatoes I have in the garden.  While my tomatoes are still growing on the vine my ideas seem to be running short.  The creative juices just don’t seem to be flowing for me lately.

Truthfully, the ending of summer is really hitting me particularly hard this year.  Summer just felt so short and chilly this year.  I’m longing to taste a fresh juicy watermelon one more time, lie by the pool and tend to my flower pots.  In an attempt to embrace the Fall season I stopped to look at all the fall and Halloween décor at my local gift shop; typically one of my favorite things to do.  Even that just seemed to make me feel rather blue.

Alas, I will eventually embrace Fall and all of the wonderful flavors that go along with it.  Squashes, pumpkin anything, apples and pears and homemade chili will soon be gracing my kitchen and I must say, the thought of them does make me smile.

So, in the tomato spirit, this is a layered tomato salad that I’ve stuffed with a chicken pasta salad.  A pretty presentation I thought; it’s even wearing a little hat!

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This is a simple tomato tossed salad.  I love tomatoes in many ways but my favorite is still slicing or chopping a tomato and eating it on it’s own sprinkled with some Kosher salt or on top of a mixed green salad with a light vinaigrette.

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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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5 Delicious recipes to help you love kale

Kale Collage I’ve more than made peace with kale; I’m actually enjoying it and not just because its a nutritional powerhouse but because it’s delicious.  It’s delicious in these recipes anyway! I still live by the belief that people who eat kale are beautiful.  The “kale glow” if you will. Click on the photos below for the recipes.  I hope you enjoy them and here’s to you developing a new love……for kale. kale_farro_salad swiss.chard.pasta.3 kale.pesto.crostini1 kale.pesto3 kale 1

Sweet Corn Fiesta Salad

 

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The first Saturday in August is our friends’ annual corn roast at their cottage.  Corn roast you ask?  The answer is yes and they really do it right.  They grill a ton of ears of corn on a grill made from cement blocks that hold a huge grate with a mound of charcoal underneath.  It’s truly a cool setup.  The corn is shucked by the chef (yes Mark that’s you) and then dunked in a vat of melted butter.  A little salt and wow; it is so sweet and so delicious.  I look forward to it each year!

So what do you do after a corn roast?  You eat leftover corn.  This recipe was put together using the leftover corn that I cut off the cobbs.  You could absolutely use frozen roasted corn and it will still be great.

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I think this would also be great as a salsa; just dice the tomatoes.

Lime pepper seasoning pops up again in this recipe.  Click on the link for info on lime pepper and where to buy it.  Lemon pepper is a fine substitution and still tastes bright and fresh.

Sweet Corn Fiesta Salad
 
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Recipe type: Salad, vegetable, side dish
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 2-3 cups of grilled sweet corn cut from the cobb or frozen roasted corn cooked according to package directions.
  • 10 grape tomatoes cut in half lengthwise - I used red and yellow
  • 6 large leaves of fresh basil - cut into ribbons (chiffonade)
  • Alternate - small handful of cilantro - chopped
  • juice of ½ of a lime
  • 1 Tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of lime pepper or lemon pepper
Instructions
  1. Mix the corn, tomatoes and basil (or cilantro) in a bowl.
  2. Add the lime juice and stir to combine.
  3. Add the olive oil and lime pepper and stir to combine.
  4. VARIATION:
  5. Substitute cilantro for the basil.
  6. Add chopped avocado.

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Try this variation substituting cilantro for the basil and adding chopped avocado…delicious as a salad or a salsa!

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Bistro Salad

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I have two preferred methods of cooking vegetables depending on the season.  In the fall and winter it’s roasting; in the spring and summer is grilling.  The peppers and beets in this salad were grilled.  Yes, beets; like little circles of purple perfection!!

The steak is a flank steak.  Flank steak is an economical cut of steak as compared to prime rib, T-bone and ribeye.  It’s typically not as tender of a cut so using a marinade or rub is recommended but not imperative.  I’ve included a simple marinade in the recipe that I enjoy.

Bistro Salad
 
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Recipe type: Steak Salad with grilled veggies
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • For the marinade:
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • 2 Tablespoons deli style or whole grain mustard
  • For the flank steak:
  • 3 pound flank steak
  • For the salad:
  • Boston (butter) lettuce, or romaine, or your favorite mix of lettuce - chopped
  • 2 beets - peeled and sliced into thin rounds
  • 2-3 bell peppers - cut into 2 inch wide strips
  • 4 Hungarian/banana/cubanelle peppers - sliced into 1 inch wide strips
  • ½ to 1 pint of grape tomatoes - sliced in half lengthwise, I used yellow and red and a heirloom variety called black krim (the 2 tone ones in the picture)
  • ½ cup crumbled blue cheese
Instructions
  1. Mix the marinade ingredients together in a mason jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake the jar until mixed. Or mix all ingredients in a bowl using a wire whisk.
  2. Pour the marinade into a zip-top plastic bag.
  3. Add the steak to the bag and place in a baking pan in the refrigerator. This will prevent a mess in your refrigerator if the bag should leak.
  4. ALTERNATE METHOD: Place the steak into a baking pan, pour the marinade over the steak and turn the steak around with tongs so coated all over with the marinade. Cover the top of the pan with foil or plastic wrap.
  5. Let the meat marinate for at least an hour before cooking.
  6. Heat 1 side of your grill to high and keep the other side off (no direct heat).
  7. Brush the grill grates with olive oil to prevent sticking.
  8. Place the steak on the grill on the high heat side. Sear the steak for 3 minutes on each side until nice and browned.
  9. Transfer the steak to the non-heat side of the grill and grill for an additional 3-5 minutes per side until internal temperature reaches 125-130 degrees for medium rare. Move the steak to a plate with aluminum foil tented over it.
  10. Let the meat rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting it.
  11. Place the veggies on the high heat side of the grill and cook until nice grill marks appear then turn the veggies over again until grill marks form and the veggies are tender. Approximately 3-5 minutes per side.
  12. Remove the veggies from the grill
  13. Place the lettuce in the bowls.
  14. Slice the steak against the grain. That is, perpendicular to the long, fibrous muscle fibers running along the meat.
  15. Top your lettuce with the grilled veggies, tomatoes and crumbled blue cheese.
  16. Serve with your favorite dressing.

 

Salmon Salad, a 20 minute meal

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Yes I’m a food blogger.  Yes I love to cook.  And, yes there are nights that like everybody else I just don’t want to even think about cooking.  Nights when I have no motivation or energy to do so and no idea what to make.

Sometimes I turn to take-out but the question of “what do you want to pick up?” is often worse than “what are you making for dinner?”  I swear sometimes by the time we finally decide on what to order for takeout I could have cooked a four course gourmet meal.

This is where your pantry, freezer and refrigerator really come in handy.  One of my favorite items to keep on hand are salmon burgers.  They are delicious, packed with protein and very versatile.  I serve them with some instant brown rice and a vegetable (frequently a frozen veggie also from the freezer) and a complete meal is on the table in 20 minutes.  They’re great put on a bun with a couple condiments of your choice with a side salad.

This particular salad was thrown together by looking in the refrigerator for miscellaneous produce and items in jars in the refrigerator door.  I started with a bed of arugula (any green would do) and added a handful of broccoli slaw mix from a bag, mild banana pepper rings, some chopped fresh basil from the garden and  some chopped cucumber.  The salmon burger cooks from frozen in the oven in 20 minutes.  Top the salad with the dressing of your choice and the salmon burger and you’ve got a great meal; delicious, nutritious and best of all super quick!

This same no brainer meal can be duplicated with a veggie burger, chicken burger or sirloin burger.  I just really love these salmon burgers though.  They seem a bit more gourmet and they feel like a real treat as they’re so meaty and tasty.

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