Gorgonzola Grape Salad

Gorgonzola Grape SaladHave you ever been to one of those Brazilian or Argentinian Steak Houses?  You know, when you have to prepare yourself days ahead eating light foods so that you can enjoy, or at least get a portion of your money’s worth, at these all-you-can eat Churrascaria restaurants!

Since my return to Florida, I’ve been invited several times out to dine till I die at Texas di Brazil, which is coincidentally located at The Villages of Gulfstream Park, so that once you’re filled up on food, you can stroll all the shops, boutiques and casino.  (Feel free to click on the Village link and listen to the music as you read this…just as I am while typing this out! Continue reading “Gorgonzola Grape Salad”

Sun-dried Tomato and Basil Flatbread

I thought I’d share with you how I use some of the prepped foods I had previously posted.  As I mentioned before, each week I like to prepare different mixes of ingredients that I can use to compliment recipes or meals I’ll make through the week.  Some of these can be purchased, as in marinated artichokes or sun-dried tomatoes.  But to me, the flavor cannot ever compare to homemade nor do they have the personal touches that I like to add.  Continue reading “Sun-dried Tomato and Basil Flatbread”

Citrus Red Quinoa Salad

When the Carnival Season comes to a close with Fat Tuesday’s feasting and all that is left from my King Cake is crumbs and jewels, it’s definitely time to slow down the pace, clean up the eating and begin the Lent Season.  I do observe these 40 days of Lent starting on Ash Wednesday and leading up to Easter.

Abstaining from meat on Ash Wednesday and every Friday, I am looking forward to cooking and sharing many of my fish and seafood recipes and veggie main dishes.  And so my daughter doesn’t feel like her only option is eating tuna fish, I’m posting this salad for her as I heard the slight panic in her voice the other day when we were chatting over the phone about meatless meals.  Her long busy day running from classes to work to all her activities does make it hard for her to take the time to eat well.  And she knows that getting enough protein in her meals helps her stay fuller longer.

Quinoa is a perfect little grain, actually a seed; that is a complete protein and a great source of nutrients.   I’ve purchased both the white quinoa and red quinoa, now preferring the red more for salads.  But either will work well, as I used the white in my Quinoa Tabbouleh .  For this salad I kept it light and citrusy with chopped oranges, green onion, bell peppers and pine nuts for crunch, but the possibilities are endless; from dried fruits to chopped raw or cooked veggies, various fresh herbs and chunks of cheese.

Citrus Red Quinoa Salad

2 cups red quinoa, rinsed well
3 1/2 cups water

Pinch of Kosher salt

Zest from 1 large orange, then peel and roughly chop orange segments

1 red or orange bell pepper, diced

1-2 green onions, finely chopped

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts or slivered almonds

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

For the vinaigrette:

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice or lemon juice

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ teaspoon minced fresh ginger

Pinch of cumin

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine well rinsed quinoa and water in a saucepan.  Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for approximately 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.  Fluff the quinoa with a fork and spread out evenly on a baking sheet to cool completely.  Prepare the vinaigrette by combining all in glass jar and shaking well.  Combine the cooked quinoa with the remaining ingredients, dressing lightly with some of the vinaigrette tossing to combine well.   Season to taste with the salt and pepper.  Serves 6.

Broccoli Cranberry Slaw plus the healthy benefits of raw cider vinegar

In between all the rich desserts and indulgences that fill up this holiday month, I make sure healthy soups and salads balance out my meals, plus an extra few miles on my bike ride!   Recently I’ve begun adding raw apple cider vinegar to many of my dishes after reading several articles on its health benefits. 

It is suggested to add the vinegar to a glass of water and drink it before each meal.  Now, I follow one motto in my life…I’m all about pleasure!  In my eating, my exercise routines and whatever else I add to my busy day, I strive to make them as pleasurable as possible!  Drinking a glass of water with vinegar simply is not! 

But the allure of a flat belly along with several other health benefits to look and feel better and more energized had me intrigued….

  • smoothes skin texture and tone
  • promotes a healthy immune system
  • improves digestion and helps eliminate toxins
  • speeds up metabolism

So, while I’m not pouring myself a vinegar cocktail before my meals, I am incorporating it into marinades for meats and vinaigrettes as used in this salad.  A good quality raw apple cider is recommended; such as Bragg’s Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar.  

This salad is a great side for Panini’s and by itself with the addition of leftover grilled or roasted chicken makes a nice lunch to take to work.  The flavor improves overnight so it’s a perfect make ahead dish. 

(The “drink” taken prior to each meal consists of 2 tablespoons of vinegar to a 8 oz glass of water with agave or organic honey to sweeten to taste.)

Broccoli Cranberry Slaw

½ cup organic raw apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons agave – or more to your preferred sweetness

½ teaspoon Kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon ground mustard

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

12 oz bag of broccoli slaw

2 organic apples, diced – remove skin if not organic

1 cup dried cranberries

½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Combine all dressing ingredients, from the vinegar to the olive oil in a jar and shake well.  In a large bowl, combine the slaw, apples, cranberries and nuts.  Pour vinaigrette over the slaw and mix well.  Best to make several hours ahead or overnight to marry the flavors well.  Makes about 8 one cup servings.  For a main meal, add in chopped leftover turkey or chicken.

On a side note, I’m looking at self-hosting and totally confused..does anyone have any advice for me??

Apple, Walnut Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette

For Thanksgiving this year I plan on starting the dinner off with a fresh, crisp salad.  As there will be so much good food to look forward to, I like the starter salad to be light and flavorful with ingredients to compliment the meal that is coming.  The cranberry vinaigrette’s  lightly sweet tangy taste is balanced by the distinct gorgonzola cheese, crisp apples, greens and nuts.

Since I will be having a small gathering, I will keep my salad plates in the refrigerator until serving time and plate up a small serving for each guest.  If I were to have more than 8 guests, I would present the salad on a platter or bowl to be passed.  I’ve adapted Ina Garten’s tip on making the salad a few hours ahead of time putting the dressing on the bottom of the salad bowl and keeping it chilled.  When it’s time to serve, toss the salad incorporating the dressing from the bottom and then sprinkle on the toppings.

I’ve made this salad so many times over the years; I’m almost embarrassed to say it’s adapted from an old Bon Appetite recipe from 1995!   My Gina was 5 and Adam was 3.   It’s funny I remember past memories best when I associate the years on the ages of my children.  And I recall holidays from the menus I kept of those that I hosted.  That Thanksgiving must have been either at my sister or brother’s house as I don’t have a menu saved from that year!

Apple Walnut Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette

For the vinaigrette:

¼ cup fresh cranberries or frozen thawed

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon chopped red onion

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 full teaspoon dried herbs de provence

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

For the salad:

10 cups mixed baby greens

2 Red Delicious apples, cored, thinly sliced and tossed with a tablespoon of lemon juice

¼ cup dried cranberries

¼ cup gorgonzola or goat cheese, crumbled

½ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

To make the vinaigrette:

Puree the cranberries in a food processor until smooth.  Add in vinegar, onion, honey, herb and mustard and process until well blended.  With the processor running, slowly add the olive oil.  Transfer to a medium bowl, season to taste with salt and pepper.  Can be made on day ahead, cover, chill and bring to room temperature whisking before using.

To make the salad:

Combine the greens and apples in a large bowl.  When ready to serve, toss with enough dressing to lightly coat.  Sprinkle on the dried cranberries, walnut, and cheese.  Serve remaining dressing separately.  Serves 6 to 8.
This salad is part of my Thanksgiving Countdown.  If you’d like to share your favorite salad for Thanksgiving, please use Linky Tools here

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(I’ve just found out that WordPress doesn’t allow the links to show on my blog, but can be viewed by clicking on the above ‘Click Here” Linky Tools for a listing of those submitted. Also, below I will add the listing of submitted recipes. Just click on the title to view the recipe. I apologize for the glitches but don’t let that stop you from seeing some great recipes!)

Pumpkin and Couscous Rocket Salad by Eat, Play, Love

Warm Kale Salad with Apples, Cranberries and Pepitas by Smart Food and Fit

Mint and Arugula Melon Salad

When I need to pamper myself, I think of spa-like, light meals, based on fresh fruits, nuts and salads.  A pretty presentation, nice ambiance, calming music and a glass of red wine for its heart-healthy antioxidants!

As I work for a major health care provider; I receive alot of information on staying healthy and keeping fit.  Much of our pain comes from inflammation.  Foods high in saturated fats, simple sugars and white flour actually trigger inflammation throughout our bodies.  Right now my body needs all the necessary vitamins, antioxidant rich foods, lean protein, whole grains and healthy fat to heal my hurt ankle and reduce the inflammation.

I’ve got a few weeks of healing ahead of me, so I’m planning on preparing lots of healthy dishes.  Not that I don’t always keep a healthy diet, just that I’ll be focusing more on these types than others.  The same goes for my physical fitness as bike riding will be replaced by swimming and yoga moves will be limited to floor positions than standing!

This melon salad is as pretty as it is tasty!  The light minty vinaigrette pairs beautifully with the melons.  A surprise bite of cucumber in the salad is an unexpected delight and the arugula adds just enough delicate peppery flavor.  As a side for breakfast, brunch or lunch it’s a bright and fresh compliment.  For a light meal, I added some walnuts to balance out the fruits natural sweetness.

 Mint and Arugula Melon Salad

1/2 small honeydew melon, cut in small cubes
1/2 small cantaloupe melon, cut in small cubes
1 large wedge of watermelon, cut in small cubes
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 cup fresh arugula
For the vinaigrette:
3 tablespoons light olive oil
1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon agave
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
Prepare the vinaigrette: Combine all ingredients.  Whisk to blend well.
In a large bowl, combine the honeydew, cantaloupe, watermelon and cucumber.   Pour in the vinaigrette and toss to coat.  Cover and chill for one hour.  Add the arugula to the chilled fruit bowl and gently toss.  Transfer to a serving bowl. Optional:  sprinkle on chopped walnuts.

Shredded Asian Chicken Salad

When my daughter came home for her bday weekend, I had this salad  ready for her arrival with her cousin and roommate.  I knew it would be well received by her as she likes Chinese/Asian influenced foods and was perfect for me as I could make it ahead.  It’s an easy, portable salad great for picnicking as it contains no mayo (which also pleases those mayo haters, and you know who you are).

The chicken breasts were poached for this recipe.  I normally do not like to poach my chicken as I feel the flavor just simmers away, but leaving the chicken in the liquid to cool, it soaks in the flavor and stay so very moist.  A gentle shredding of the chicken, a quick chopping of veggies and simple whisked vinaigrette blends all the flavors together.

I overheard my daughter’s roommate commenting that Gina should make this and my daughter’s reply was that it’s about not having all the ingredients on hand.  So, my dear little Gina, see below, the ingredients are not all that uncommon to keep in your pantry and when I visit you next, I will, as always, fill your frig and pantry.

Shredded Asian Chicken Salad

For the salad:

4 boneless chicken breasts

Small cabbage, thinly shredded, about 2 cups

1 small red pepper, thinly sliced

2 carrots, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks

2 green onions, diagonally sliced, green tops included

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted for garnish

For the vinaigrette:

2- 3 tablespoons soy sauce

¼ cup rice wine vinegar (unseasoned)

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon peanut butter or almond butter

Pinch of sugar

Pinch of Chinese hot mustard

2 tablespoons Sesame oil

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, or slightly less

In a medium skillet, place in chicken breasts covering with water.  Bring to boil, reduce to simmer and gentle simmer until no longer pink, about 10-13 minutes.  Remove pan from heat and allow chicken to cool in its liquid.  Can be made ahead and refrigerated.

Drain the chicken and shred using two forks into thin strips.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the chicken and remaining salad ingredients.  Pour over vinaigrette and mix well.  Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.  Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until serving time.

For the vinaigrette:  In a bowl, mix together all the ingredients up to the oils.  Slowly whisk in the oils until combined well.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

Shrimp Scampi Salad

Easy dinners are what I’m all about these summer days.  Okay, even Fall, Winter and Spring I’ll take easy over complicated.  Salads though definitely rank first choice through the hot weather months.  While I love a crisp, chilled salad, I like to pare it with a warm topping.  Kinda like my thing about topping pizza with a salad.

Shrimp Scampi is a quick dish to pull together and normally served with pasta.  I had a craving for Shrimp Scampi the other day but really didn’t want the heaviness of the pasta nor did I want to just have a little.  I was HUNGRY and I wanted a nice full serving of whatever it was that I was going to make!  I’m definitely familiar with a Caesar salad topped with grilled shrimp or chicken, so why not top it with scampi instead!  The bonus too is that there is no vinaigrette or dressing to make as the garlicy sauce from the scampi is poured over the greens.

I made this with the tails on, however, next time I may remove the tails.  It’s pretty much a presentation thing leaving the tails on as the tails really don’t impart any flavor into the dish.  Leaving the shells on while cooking the shrimp do though, but I would not suggest that method for this dish!  Save that tip for another recipe.

Shrimp Scampi Salad

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 lb. uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, leaving tails on is optional

1 medium green onion, thinly sliced

9 oz frozen artichoke hearts, thawed

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped, I add up to 5 cloves!

Pinch of crushed red pepper

Juice from 2 lemons, about ¼ cup

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

½ lb. mixed salad greens

Freshly grated parmesan cheese or gorgonzola cheese for sprinkling on top of salad

Arrange mixed salad greens on a large platter and set aside, or refrigerate to keep greens crisp.  In a large skillet, heat olive oil.  Add in shrimp, artichoke hearts and green onion, sauté until shrimp begins to curl and turns pink.  Add in garlic, crushed red pepper, lemon juice and cook just a few minutes more to incorporate all the flavors, scrapping up the bottom of the pan for any bits of the sauteed shrimp or artichoke.  Sprinkle on the herbs, gently toss and pour over the salad greens, spooning on the garlicy sauce too.  Top with either freshly grated parmesan cheese or crumbled gorgonzola.  Serve immediately.