Strawberry Avocado Salsa #ImprovCookingChallenge

It’s strawberry season here! The kids and I spent yesterday morning at one of our favorite local farms picking a whole flat of gorgeous berries – so now we’re making everything strawberry.

Strawberry Avocado Salsa 2

Do you want to take bets on how many things I can stick strawberries in over the next few days?

Continue reading

Italian Chopped Salad

Did you know May is National Salad Month? It seemed like the perfect reason to round up some food blogger friends – today we’re sharing all kinds of awesome salads to celebrate!

Italian Chopped Salad 1

The salad I’m sharing today has been one of my go-tos for the last few months.

Continue reading

Broccoli Apple Salad

Does anyone else crave fresh produce in the summer? I’d blame it on pregnancy, but this happens every year. Farmers’ markets become crazy dangerous because I just want to buy everything.

Summer also makes me lazy, though. I can’t tell you how many times I end up cooking up those impulse farmers’ market just before they go bad. Salads like this that require no cooking are always my best bet.

To my surprise, the toddler really liked this too. I fully expected him to just pick out the cranberries and apples, but the dressing was just sweet enough that he would happily eat it all.

BroccoliAppleSalad

Broccoli Apple Salad
(from The Recipe Critic)
Serves 6-8 as a side

4 cups fresh broccoli florets
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup diced red onion
2 large Gala apples, chopped
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

In a large bowl, toss together the broccoli, carrots, onions, apples, pecans and cranberries.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Pour over the broccoli mixture and toss until evenly coated.

Refrigerate until serving.

Pomegranate and Avocado Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette

So far, Jake is not a picky eater. I know we’re just getting into toddler-battle territory so it may change but for now we’re still happily surprised every time he tries and loves a new food. One of our recent finds is pomegranate. I bought one to make this salad and tossed him a few arils while I was prepping things. He devoured them and screamed for me.

At this point, the kid would probably eat his weight in pomegranates if we let him. I’ve bought more pomegranates in the last few weeks than I have in all my previous years of grocery shopping combined.

While the pomegranate was the standout for Jacob, he did eat some of the bacon, goat cheese and avocado too. The adults happily ate everything, of course! This salad is going to make a repeat appearance at our Thanksgiving table this year.

PomegranateAvocadoSalad

Pomegranate and Avocado Salad
(Adapted from Gimme Some Oven)
Serves 6-8

1 large head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 pear, diced
1 pomegranate, seeded
1 avocado, diced
6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup of goat cheese crumbles

Toss together in a large bowl and serve with citrus vinaigrette.

 

Citrus Vinaigrette

1/3 cup orange juice
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil.

Whisk together and serve.

Pomegranate Avocado Salad

Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Quinoa Salad Jar

While we’re really only a few days into October Unprocessed, I think I already found my favorite dish of the month. This salad is fantastic. I whipped it up on a day that baby boy was particularly needy so it literally took me all day to get it finished. When Mark walked in from work at 8 pm, he’s like, “Is that dinner?” and when I said, “No, its today’s lunch” he knew better than to ask too many questions (and graciously helped do the dishes when I finally finished). I had really thought about ditching these once lunch time passed and I didn’t have anything more than some burned sweet potato, but I’m really, really glad I didn’t.

Much like the oats I shared a few days ago, I suggest multiplying the recipe and making several at once – it’s just more efficient to cook a few days worth of sweet potatoes and quinoa in one shot if you’ll be eating this for several days.

QuinoaSalad

Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Quinoa Salad Jar
(from Popsugar Fitness)
Makes 1

1 small sweet potato, unpeeled, diced into bite-sized pieces
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup quinoa
1/2 cup black beans
1/4 red pepper, diced
2 cups baby spinach
1 Tbsp. dried cranberries
1 Tbsp. pumpkin seeds

For the dressing:
1/4 cup mango, fresh or frozen
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp. water

Preheat the oven to 400F degrees. Toss the diced sweet potato with the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast until the potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the quinoa to a covered pot along with half a cup of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the water is all absorbed and the quinoa is tender.

Make the dressing: combine mango, vinegar and water in a blender and pulse until smooth.

Assemble the salad in a jar: Place the black beans at the bottom and then layer on the quinoa, dressing, red pepper, spinach, sweet potatoes, dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds.

Cover jar and refrigerate until ready to serve. When you’re ready to eat, shake the jar or dump it into a bowl and toss to combine.

Berry Kiwi Salad with Sweet Balsamic Dressing

The latest recipe swap theme was Summer Salads – I’m not sure there’s anything better than a great salad this time of year so I’m super excited to see what everyone made!

This simple salad came from Jaida at Sweet Beginnings.  It was delicious. I made it for my summer book club meeting and everyone raved about it! The dressing was almost dessert-like, but paired with the bitterness of the spring greens it worked really well. And I’m not sure who wouldn’t like a salad with all that gorgeous summer fruit!

20276943893_70a9f8401d_o

 Berry Kiwi Salad with Sweet Balsamic Dressing
(from Sweet Beginnings)
Serves 4-6 as a side

4 c. Spring salad mix
1 c. strawberries, hulled and halved
1 c. blackberries
2 kiwis, peeled and cut into wedges
1/2 c. white balsamic vinegar
2 T. sugar
1/4 c. heavy whipping cream

To make the dressing: Whisk together the vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium for 6-8 minutes, until mixture is reduced by half. Slowly whisk in the cream. Cook without stirring for 2 minutes. Removed from the heat and cool. Cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To assemble the salad, toss the berries and kiwi with enough dressing to lightly coat. Top the spring mix with coated berries.

You can check out what the rest of the swap participants made below. And as always, thank you to Sarah for organizing!

// <![CDATA[
document.write(”);
// ]]>

Loaded Baked Potato Salad

Have I mentioned it’s been a bad summer for grilling yet? Because it struck again yesterday. We had plans to have a BBQ on the deck – and then it drizzled all day! What a kill joy.

I had bookmarked this recipe at the beginning of the summer and thought I was finally getting my perfect opportunity to make it! This is a really fun side – a mash-up of potato salad and a loaded baked potato. It’s the perfect cookout dish. (Even if you’re eating inside!) I’m sure this will be making repeat appearances on our summer table.

LoadedBakedPotatoSalad
 

Loaded Baked Potato Salad
(slightly adapted from Will Cook for Smiles)
Serves 8-10 as a side

2 1/2 lbs. potatoes
1 lb. bacon, cooked crispy
1/2 c. chopped Green Onion
1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 c. mayo
1/2 c. sour cream
Salt/Pepper
1 T. minced fresh dill weed

Cut the potatoes into 1/2″ cubes. Add them to a pot and cover with cold water. Cook until just barely fork tender. Drain and rinse under cold water until cool.

Combine the potatoes, bacon crumbles, green onions and cheddar cheese in a bowl. Add in the mayo, sour cream, salt, pepper, and dill and toss until evenly coated. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Garnish with additional green onions or bacon crumbles if desired.

BLT Corn Salad Wrap

Grilling is such a perfect theme for a summer recipe swap! I love using the grill during the summer – it just seems to make everything faster and easier.

I always think meat when I think grilling, but I was lucky enough to get a veggie-heavy recipe to shake things up. This easy salad is great warm or cold – which makes it the perfect dish for summer. Wrapped in lettuce leaves, it’s a great lunch or light dinner – but even on it’s own it’s a great side salad.

Thanks for submitting the recipe, Christine! We really enjoyed it.

BLTCornSaladWraps

BLT Corn Salad Wrap
(from Christine’s Kitchen Chronicles)
Makes about 5 cups of corn salad

3 ears of corn, shucked of their husks and silk
1 c. cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1/2 c. chopped green onions
4 slices cooked bacon, diced
Juice of 1 lime
1 T. olive oil
Salt and pepper,  to taste
A good sprinkling of chili powder and smoky paprika
Butter lettuce or iceberg lettuce leaves

Grill the corn and when it has cooled enough to handle, cut off the cob.

Toss the corn in a bowl with the tomatoes, green onions, bacon, lime juice and olive oil. Season to taste with salt, pepper, chili powder and paprika.

Serve with lettuce leaves as wraps.

 

You can check out the rest of the Grilling Swap recipes below. Thanks, Sarah, for hosting!

 

// <![CDATA[
document.write('’);
// ]]>

Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Salad

I’ve made a few quinoa dishes before, and I’ve never loved them. They were ok, but nothing I’d make again. I started wondering if all the hype about quinoa was just that – hype – and it really wasn’t as good as everyone was making it out to be. And then I made this and took it all back.

This was delicious. I actually loved the veggies in the hot sauce dressing more than the chicken – I think next time I make it, it’ll be a vegetarian version to take for lunches. And even though this was buffalo, it didn’t seem that hot to me. Even if you’re not into very spicy, I think this is worth trying.

The recipe makes 2-3 large servings, but it reheats like a dream so doubling it is a fantastic idea.

BuffaloChickenQuinoaSalad

Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Salad
(slightly adapted from Half Baked Harvest)
Serves 2-3

for the salad:
1 c. quinoa
2 c. water
1 T. olive oil
1 c. broccoli florets
3/4 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
1/4 c. hot sauce
3/4 c. shredded carrots
1/2 c. blue cheese crumbles, plus more for garnish

for the dressing:
1/2 c. olive oil
1/2 c. hot sauce
1 t. seasoned salt
For the dressing, whisk all ingredients together and set aside.
For the salad, rinse the quinoa well and add to a saucepan with two cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, until all water is absorbed.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the broccoli and cook for about 5 minutes, until slightly softened. Remove the broccoli and set aside. Add the chicken and 1/4 cup hot sauce to the pan. Cook until the chicken is cooked through and the hot sauce is absorbed.
In a large bowl, toss together the cooked quinoa, cooked chicken, cooked broccoli, carrots and blue cheese.  Add as much dressing as desired (I used about half) and toss to coat. Top with additional blue cheese before serving.

Panera-Style Asian Sesame Chicken Salad

I think it’s the summer heat, but I’m loving big dinner salads lately. This is one of my most recent favorites. It’s based on one of my favorite Panera salads and while I don’t think it’s dead-on, it’s a really great at-home option.

Warm, grilled chicken along with cold mandarin oranges and a great dressing – this salad is a winner.

AsianSesameChickenSalad

Panera-Style Asian Sesame Chicken Salad
(from Iowa Girl Eats)
Serves 2

Romaine lettuce
2 medium chicken breasts
6 oz. can mandarin oranges, rinsed and drained
2 oz. slivered almonds
Wonton strips

For the chicken marinade:
3 T. soy sauce
2 t. brown sugar
1 t. sesame oil
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. garlic powder

For the dressing:
1/2 c. rice vinegar
1/4 c. sugar
2 T. canola oil
1 1/2 t. sesame oil
1/2 t. salt
Pepper, to taste
1/2 t. sesame seeds, toasted

 

In a small bowl, whisk together the chicken marinade ingredients.  Add the chicken breasts and marinade for 15 minutes. Grill over medium-high heat for about ten minutes, until cooked through and let the chicken rest for 5 minutes. Cut into slices.

Meanwhile, make the dressing. Bring the vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan. Turn off the heat, then add in the sugar and stir until dissolved. Once it’s cool, combine the vinegar and sugar mixture with the rest of the dressing ingredients in a jar, and shake to combine.

Toss the lettuce with a few tablespoons of dressing and divide between two plates. Top with sliced chicken, mandarin oranges, almonds and wonton strips.