Browsing Category: salads & dressings

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing Recipe

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Looking for things to do with summer’s last abundance of garden tomatoes? When you’re tired of BLT’s (is that possible?), this is one delicious way to serve up the same flavors with a twist.
This recipe is based on Ina Garten’s (aka Barefoot Contessa) buttermilk ranch dressing. I’m not saying I could improve on her: these changes were just made to accommodate my being short on fresh basil, my husband’s aversion to too much mustard flavor, and our taste for less salt in things. Also, I prefer the taste of yogurt to that of mayo, so I tweaked that proportion a bit.
I loved how it came out! I ate this salad or some variation of it for four days straight! I hope you’ll love it, too.

Recipe: Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

3 green onions, white and green parts, chopped
2 T. chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed (or 2 t. dried)
2 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 t. Dijon mustard
1 T. good olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 t. kosher salt
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 cup Greek-style yogurt
1/2 cup buttermilk, shaken
—-
3 small Bibb lettuces, cut in half through the core
   (or 6 hearts of romaine, cut in half through the core, or equivalent loose-leaf chopped)
2 large ripe tomatoes, cut in large cubes, or smaller tomatoes thickly sliced
1 red onion, sliced (optional)
bacon, amount to your liking (optional, but highly recommended)
Place the green onions, basil, lemon juice, mustard, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Puree for 15 to 20 seconds to make a smooth mixture. Add the mayonnaise, yogurt, and buttermilk and blend until smooth. Transfer the dressing to a container, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, for the flavors to develop.
Arrange the salad ingredients on salad plates and drizzle with the dressing. Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper if desired, and serve.
Serves 6.

Ina Garten’s “guacamole” salad

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The recipe is Ina’s; the photo is mine!
Looking for a quick, easy dish to take to a Fourth of July party today? This is it! You can whip it up in about 10 minutes, and although it might taste better if it sits for a bit, you can serve it right away. And because it has no mayo, you don’t need to worry about it sitting at room temp for a few hours. Perfect for a potluck, barbeque or picnic! Plus, it’s just chock full of healthy stuff, and has no sugar in the dressing!
The recipe is from Ina Garten, and although she calls it “Guacamole Salad,” I think of it as avocado salad.
I do make a few minor tweaks. Being the spice wimp I am, I leave out the jalapeno and cut back on the cayenne. But I also add in some chopped cilantro. And after making it the first time, I think I’ll double the avocado next time.
It’s so yummy, I could eat it straight out of the bowl. For lunch. And I have!

Six yummy salads with chicken

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It’s summer, and that means salad! Now that you know how to make easy roasted chicken breasts, here are six of my favorite salads with¬†chicken breast:

salads with chicken - club salad

Orange-cranberry chicken salad

salads with chicken - Asian chicken salad
30-second Caesar salad — shown here with deli turkey, but you could make it with shredded or thinly sliced chicken, too.
salads with chicken - Almost-Panera's Asian chicken salad
Do you have a favorite salad that uses already-cooked chicken?

Recipe roundup: Mother’s Day menu ideas

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Here’s a little gift for you: instead of wandering all over the internet for the perfect Mother’s Day menu ideas, here are four different options for you, each with its own theme. Almost all of these recipes can be made ahead, so you can enjoy the day without last-minute panic. And all (except the shortbread) are low carb. You get enough guilt from Mom; you don’t need any from your food! ūüėČ

Note: Most of these entrees are Paleo, or nearly so. None of the desserts are, but most can get closer with small tweaks.

Light lunch, light flavors

Want to treat mom to just a little something, perhaps before you head out to tour a local garden — or mall? Serve this easy, make-ahead orange-cranberry chicken salad on lettuce leaves or in soft pita pockets…

…with this elegant, lightly-sweet and super tender almond poppyseed shortbread.

Neither of these dishes will weigh you down, but they will both delight Mom with their flavors!

Classic ladies’ lunch, done low carb (or paleo)

What could be more classic than quiche? If Mom is doing South Beach or some other low-carb diet, you’ll be happy to know that a crustless spinach quiche¬†(here’s a Paleo version) can be just as delicious as one with the traditional but high-carb pastry crust. I added a little Canadian bacon to the original recipe.

Mother's Day menu ideas: quiche and fresh berries

Serve a fruit salad on the side. Here, I’ve just drizzled fresh strawberries and blueberries with some sweetened cream. (To make it Paleo, use coconut milk and skip the Splenda.) One cup of heavy cream or half-and-half (or coconut milk), one packet of Splenda, 1/2 t. of vanilla extract. That will be enough for about six servings, and possibly some leftovers. So simple, but elegant and delish!

Oh, and about the quiche… be sure not to overcook it. You want it only just done, or maybe slightly underdone, in the center when you take it out. It will continue to cook a bit as it cools, and you want a creamy, custardy texture, not one like over-done scrambled eggs. A thin knife inserted in the center should come out looking pretty clean.

Finish things off with a vintage-y lemon icebox pie, updated by serving it in a cute little Mason jar! Just use my no-bake lime cheesecake recipe, use lemon instead of lime, freeze them a day or so ahead, and set them out on the counter 45 minutes before serving time.

(Note: I hope to update and Paleo-ize this recipe soon, but for now, you would need to sub out the dairy and Splenda, or skip dessert. Or just go with a little splurge!)

Mother’s Day with a Mexican twist

For something different, serve up my easy but elegant ancho-crusted salmon with avocado crema¬†(which is Paleo if you omit the yogurt from the crema)…

a make-ahead Tex Mex salad

and no-bake lime cheesecake mini-desserts. Add a wee bit of triple-sec (if you’re not philosophically opposed), and call it margarita pie.

Elegant and — dare I say? — impressive

If your mom is the fine china and real silverware type — or you just want to treat her so — here’s a sure-fire trio. For the main dish, quick pork tenderloin with seasoned rub.

For a side dish, green beans with pine nuts — which, trust me, is so much more than the sum of its parts, and as delicious as it is simple.

If you’re not low-carbing it, some good bread would round things out nicely, then finish with a flourish by serving individual mini tiramisu cups.

And if mama ain’t happy after one of these, well then, mama ain’t gonna ever be happy at all!

Recipe review: Hummus salad dressing, Mediterranean salad

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Last week, Kalyn’s Kitchen posted a recipe for Mediterranean Salad with Hummus Dressing, and I made it for dinner that night. I mean, hummus-based dressing — how genius is that?

To suit our tastes, I made a few tweaks.

  • Added a sliced roasted chicken breast, for added protein. (Picked up at the deli.)
  • Swapped out red wine vinegar for the lime juice in the dressing. (To suit the hubs’ taste.)
  • Added a little Splenda; again for my husband. I love things sour; him, not so much. (I mean he doesn’t like things sour; not that I don’t love him so much!)
  • Substituted sun dried tomato slices for the olives, since neither of us are olive fans.
  • Sprinkled a little zaahtar seasoning on top.

It made a tasty, easy-to-throw together meal. Still plenty zesty, even with the tweaks. Two thumbs up!

Seven-layer dip as salad

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I love seven-layer dip — sometimes called taco dip — and the dip itself is a pretty low carb treat. Plus, it’s got some decidedly healthy ingredients: avocado (15 grams of heart-healthy unsaturated fat, and only 2 grams saturated fat, plus potassium and vitamins C and K); tomatoes (lycopene, vitamins A and C); and the beans are a good source of iron and fiber — though they’re often made with trans fats. But the chips for dipping are not healthy in any way!

So I thought this would be another great dish to make into a salad on a romaine spear. (Which I’ve done before. More than once.)

This isn’t so much a recipe as it is a guideline. The base is a heart-of-romaine leaf, and you’ll probably want two to four for each person. This makes a great “assemble yourself” meal, letting everyone customize their own.

Just lay the leaf on the serving plate and smear it with your choice of one or more items from this list:
– refried beans (or just used canned beans for a later layer)
– ready-made guacamole
– sour cream or Greek yogurt, plain or mixed with taco seasoning

Then top that with your choices of:
– canned beans, rinsed and drained; pinto and/or black
– shredded cheese: monterrey jack, cheddar, queso fresca, or a mix
– chopped tomatoes
– diced bell pepper
– sliced green onion or diced red onion
– sliced black olives
– minced cilantro

As you can see, this can end up being more than seven layers — or less — depending on your taste and/or what you have on hand.

Here’s mine:

Seven-layer dip as a hand-held salad

You might also like:
Make-ahead Tex-Mex salad
Chicken club salad with creamy balsamic vinaigrette
Ginger-peanut salad dressing for Asian salad

Chicken club salad with creamy balsamic vinaigrette

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Working from home has its perks and its challenges.

One of the perks is making yourself lunch every day.

One of the challenges is making yourself lunch every day.

For me, answering “What’s for lunch?” usually starts with a peek in the fridge to see what protein options I have on hand. With the weather warming up, I feel like a salad pretty much every day, but it’s got to have some protein.

On this particular day, I had a bit of roasted chicken, but just a small portion; not enough to make even one serving of orange-cranberry chicken salad.

So what else was in there for protein? Some fully-cooked bacon. I’m okay with using bacon as a flavor accent, but it’s not really healthy enough to be the main protein in a meal, IMHO. Hard boiled egg would round things out nicely. Now we’ve got a chicken club salad!

So I grabbed a few eggs and boiled them. It just takes a few minutes, and ever since I got this handy little egg timer, my hard boiled eggs come out perfect every time. The product description says it best:

¬†Simply add the egg timer in with your eggs and boil… There’s an easy-to-read scale within the timer. During the course of boiling, the timer changes colors, from red to purple, starting from the outside edge and moving to the center. When the color change reaches your desired spot on the scale, the eggs are cooked accordingly.”

So although I just wanted one egg for my salad, I make a couple extra for deviled eggs, tomorrow’s lunch, or who knows what. While the eggs were boiling, I fried up some of the bacon. Since it’s fully cooked, that’s not really necessary, but I like it crispy.

I chopped up some romaine, and sliced a little red onion very thin. Then, to whip up the dressing.

This is based on a super-simple dressing recipe I learned from a friend…

Dressing option 1:

1-2-3 Dressing

1 part sugar (or maple syrup or honey)
2 parts balsamic vinegar
3 parts olive oil

You just combine those in a jar and shake them up. Easy-peasy, right?

But there are two things I don’t like about that. First of all, it’s got sugar. And although you can sub another sweetener, I’ve found that sweetener-based dressings don’t cling to the greens like the sugar-based version does.

Also, it tends to separate easily. So here’s my solution:

Dressing option 2:

Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette

2 packets Splenda or 4 t. natural sweetener of your choice; I like maple syrup.
2 T. balsamic vinegar
2 T. mayo
2 T. olive oil

Put the sweetener and the vinegar in a small jar. Swirl it around until the sweetener is mostly dissolved.

Then add in the mayo and shake it up well, until no more white flecks can be seen on the inside of the jar. Then add the olive oil and shake again.

This makes enough for the generous dressing of one good-sized salad, or two smaller ones.

The addition of the mayo helps both with making the dressing cling to the salad, and keeping it from separating.

So, by this time, your eggs should be done. Rinse them with cold water for a minute or so, then shake the pan so the eggs smack against each other, to crack the shells. Then remove the shells, and slice up as many as you want for your salad.

Assembly time: romaine, chicken,¬†egg slices,¬†bacon, sliced onion. I wasn’t in a cheese mood on this particular day, but you could certainly add feta, bleu, Swiss, or shredded cheddar to this. Then drizzle dressing over the top and toss lightly.

Chicken club salad, with bacon and hard-boiled eggs

There you have it: a fresh, healthy, delicious salad, in less time than it would take you to drive to a bistro and read the menu!

I call that a perk.

You might also like:
30-second Caesar salad
Ginger-peanut salad dressing
Make-ahead Tex-Mex salad

Sugar-free poppy seed dressing

Make-ahead salad: Tex-Mex or taco salad

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On days when I know I’m going to be busy the last few hours before dinner — or on days when I’m not sure exactly when the hubs will get home, but I want to have dinner ready to go at a moment’s notice — I have several recipes that I can get all prepped earlier in the day, then throw together in a matter of minutes. A make-ahead salad is a great option.

This is one of them: call it taco salad, or Tex-Mex salad, or easy ensalada… it’s yummy in any language!

The first step is to chop the romaine. I use about 3/4 to one whole heart-of-romaine head for each person. And since I’m just prepping for two people, I go ahead and put the chopped romaine right into the bowls we’ll be eating out of. (I’m just showing one bowl here, but I make two. Cross your eyes if you want to see two.)

Next I whip up the salad dressing. This is easy-peasy!

I put a big plop of sour cream or Greek yogurt in a small mixing bowl, then add an approximately equal amount of salsa. I don’t measure it, I just eyeball it, but I’m guessing I probably use about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of each. Then I add in a teaspoon or two of taco seasoning. (Try my recipe for sugar-free, gluten-free taco seasoning.) Stir it all together; you’re done!

Then all that’s left is to rinse and drain a can of black beans, slice some red onion nice and thin, and set out a small bowl of pepitas (de-hulled pumpkin seeds that have been roasted and salted). If you’re not watching carbs, you could use some tortilla chips, but I think the pepitas give a nice little crunch and saltiness while being a little healthier option.

I also take a couple of cooked chicken breasts and slice them up. Some days (if I’ve planned ahead), I’ll use chicken that I’ve roasted or grilled. Some days (if I don’t feel like so much cooking), I’ll pick up a couple roasted chicken breasts at the deli counter at the grocery store.

Then I cover the perishables with cling wrap and stick them in the fridge.

And when it’s time for dinner, pull everything out, pour some shredded cheddar-jack cheese in a bowl — or if you’re lazy like me, just set the package out — and each person can assemble their salad as they like.

Make-ahead salad: Tex-Mex fixin's

(The chicken was not present for picture day.)

Since this dressing is so thick, I like to put it on the greens first then turn it over a few times to coat all the leaves, just like you would a Caesar dressing.

Sorry; no pic of the finished salad. We were too hungry! Mmm-mm!