BLT Chopped Salad

BLT Chopped Salad
It’s hard to get my husband behind the idea of salad for dinner. I mean, he never complains if I serve it, but it’s just one of those things you pick up on after being married for 15 (oh wait, almost 16!) years. But if it’s hard to get my husband on board, then you can only imagine how hard it is to get my kids on board! But this right here does it. I’m giving the bacon full credit. I mean, who doesn’t love  a good BLT? But  being able to have that same delicious BLT flavor without the added carbs is guilt free eating if I’ve ever seen it. My two oldest couldn’t shovel it in fast enough and in between bites kept saying, “this is so good”, “no, this is really good”. In my book that goes down as a success.

BLT Chopped Salad

2 cups green leaf lettuce, chopped
2 cups fresh arugula, chopped
1 pint grape tomatos, quartered
4 slices thick-cut bacon, fried and crumbled
1 cup sweet corn
1 cup black beans
1 avocado, chopped
4 ounces feta, crumbled
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lime, juiced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
ranch dressing

Prepare ingredients. In a large bowl, combine lettuce, arugula, tomatoes, corn, black beans and avocado. Add in salt, pepper, olive oil and lime juice then toss well to coat. Fold in bacon and feta then drizzle with ranch dressing. Serve immediately.

Source | How Sweet It Is

{Flashback Friday} Craisen Spinach Salad with Candied Almonds and Citrus Vinaigrette

How’s that for a long food title? I just wanted to sound fancy. Really it should say “the most freaking delicious spinach salad you’ll ever have”. I know there are like 452,693 spinach salad recipes floating around pinterest, but this just might be the best one you’ll ever have. My sister passed this along to me years ago and it always gets rave reviews.  Grandma Judy especillay loved this stuff, she would grab a fork and eat it straight out of the bowl and would give the stink eye to anyone who came near. I miss that Grandma Judy, and New Zealand. But I love that it is summer here in the states so that we can enjoy this delicious salad once again. So if you have any barbecues planned for the weekend, make a big bowl of this and you will be loved!

1 pkg spinach
1 chopped apple
1 can mandarin oranges
½ C crasins
1 C sliced strawberries
½ C slicedAlmonds
¼ C sugar

Dressing:
zest of one lemon
2 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 Tbs vegetable oil
2 1/2 Tbs sugar
1/2 tsp mustard seed

Put almonds and sugar in a small pan and heat over high heat. Stir constantly until sugar melts, coat evenly then transfer to a single layer on a plate and refrigerate. Mix dressing ingredients well then set aside to let the sugar dissolve. Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl then top with almonds. Right before serving, stir dressing then drizzle on salad and mix well.

Source | Janessa Cazier

Original post here

{Flashback Friday} Broiled Cheesy Garlic Bread

I have a confession. I’m a carboholic. And I may have to seek counseling for this cheesy garlic bread. I mean, there’s garlic bread and then there’s THIS garlic bread. There’s a secret to making the garlic bread absolutely unbelievable. Let the garlic saute in butter until fragrant and golden, then bake until the bread is buttery and soft before adding the cheese and broiling it to perfection.   Ever since I came across this recipe years ago, it’s the only garlic bread I’ll make. The few extra steps are what hit this recipe out of the ball park!

5 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried parsley
1 loaf of french bread, sliced in half horizontally
1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (or cheese of choice)

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400. In a small nonstick skillet, cook the garlic, 1 tablespoon of the butter and water over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is straw colored, 7-10 minutes. It is important to keep the heat low or the garlic will burn and turn bitter. The garlic should be lightly browned but not burned! In a small bowl, place the remaining 7 tablespoons softened butter, parsley, basil, salt and pepper. Mix in the hot garlic mixture and stir to combine. Using a rubber spatula, spread the butter mixture on the cut sides of bread. Sandwich the bread back together and wrap the loaf in foil. Place the wrapped loaf on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and turn the oven to the broil setting. Sprinkle the bread with the shredded cheese. Broil until cheese has melted and bread is crisp, about 2 minutes. Transfer the bread to a cutting board and slice into angled pieces and serve.

Original post here

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{the best} Chicken Fried Rice

My husband is Chinese, so when we get together with his side of the family there is a lot of authentic Chinese food involved.  I’m not too adventurous when it comes to eating duck head or chicken feet, so it’s become sort of a family joke to make sure there’s always fried rice on the table for me.  It’s a safe bet. And if there’s going to be fried rice, it better be good. I’ve become quite the connoisseur of fried rice, and I can tell you that they are not all created equally. I’ve tried recreating it many times over the years, but finally landed on my favorite version. And I haven’t looked back since.

{the best} Chicken Fried Rice
2 cups prepared rice
1 chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces and seasoned with salt & pepper
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
2 green onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 egg
2 tablespoons + 1 tsp sesame oil, divided
3 tablespoons soy sauce (or more)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste

For best results cook your rice the day before then keep covered in the fridge overnight until you are ready to make the fried rice. It helps it dry out and gives it a better texture, not so sticky. To make the fried rice, whisk egg with 1 teaspoon seasame oil in a small dish then set aside. Heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil in a large wok or skillet over med-high heat. Add seasoned chicken then stir fry until cooked through and remove to a plate. Heat remaining tablespoon sesame oil in the wok then add frozen mixed vegetables and green onions. Stir fry until tender, about 2 minutes, then add garlic and cook for 30 more seconds. Push vegetables to the side of the wok then add egg and sesame oil mixture into the center and scramble. Add cooked chicken, rice, vegetable oil and soy sauce to wok then toss well to combine and stir fry until heated through. Season with salt and pepper (or a little more soy sauce) to taste.

Source | Iowa Girl Eats

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Puff Pastry Cheese Straws

These are such a delicious and simple twist to traditional bread sticks. With no kneading and no rising, they are just about as easy as they come. The cheese and paprika give it such a good flavor and the flaky texture just melts in your mouth. The entire pan was inhaled in no time at all!

Cheesy puff pastry bread sticks- so light and flaky they melt in your mouth, and with no kneading or rising they're not only the tastiest, but also the easiest bread sticks you'll ever make!!

Preheat oven to 400. Roll each sheet of puff pastry a little thinner. Sprinkle with cheese and paprika.

Cheesy puff pastry bread sticks- so light and flaky they melt in your mouth, and with no kneading or rising they're not only the tastiest, but also the easiest bread sticks you'll ever make!!
Fold each sheet into thirds then roll out again until flattened

Cheesy puff pastry bread sticks- so light and flaky they melt in your mouth, and with no kneading or rising they're not only the tastiest, but also the easiest bread sticks you'll ever make!!
Brush both sides of each sheet with beaten egg

Cheesy puff pastry bread sticks- so light and flaky they melt in your mouth, and with no kneading or rising they're not only the tastiest, but also the easiest bread sticks you'll ever make!!
Slice into 1-inch strips and twist each strip. Place on a greased baking sheet

Cheesy puff pastry bread sticks- so light and flaky they melt in your mouth, and with no kneading or rising they're not only the tastiest, but also the easiest bread sticks you'll ever make!!
bake for 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned and puffed.

Cheesy puff pastry bread sticks- so light and flaky they melt in your mouth, and with no kneading or rising they're not only the tastiest, but also the easiest bread sticks you'll ever make!!

Cheesy puff pastry bread sticks- so light and flaky they melt in your mouth, and with no kneading or rising they're not only the tastiest, but also the easiest bread sticks you'll ever make!!

Cheesy puff pastry bread sticks- so light and flaky they melt in your mouth, and with no kneading or rising they're not only the tastiest, but also the easiest bread sticks you'll ever make!!

2 sheets puff pastry
1-2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated
1-2 tsp paprika
1 egg, beaten
Ranch or marinara sauce for dipping (optional)

Preheat oven to 400. Roll each sheet of puff pastry a little thinner. Sprinkle with cheese and paprika. Fold each sheet into thirds then roll out again until flattened. Brush both sides of each sheet with beaten egg, then slice into 1-inch strips and twist each strip. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned and puffed. Eat plain fresh out of the oven, or dipped in ranch or marinara sauce.

Source | Gran’s Kitchen  Dulcie May Booker

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{slow cooker} Refried Beans

I’m a simple girl with simple needs. Give me a bean and cheese burrito and I’m happy all day. Give it to me smothered and that could buy an entire week of happiness. Unless of course the kids start fighting over who had the lego light saber first and then all happiness bets are off. I digress. So it has been hard living here with limited access to Mexican Food and certain ingredients (tomatillooooossss and limes that don’t cost $42/kg!). Every once in a while I have splurged and paid $5 for a can of refried beans, because some occasions in life just call for seven layer dip and there’s just no way around it. But what I was really missing was dry pinto beans so that I could make THE most delicious homemade refried beans ever. I mean, sometimes if you venture to think outside of the El Paso Refriend Beans can then life will reward you big time. My friend passed this little gem along to me years ago and it has never left my side. As we were planning our menu for girls camp (are you tired of hearing me talk about girls camp yet??) we were planning on nachos and I groaned about the fact that our budget probably wouldn’t allow for $30 worth of refried beans. And that’s when after 22 months of living here I learned where to buy dry pinto beans. Such a shame to have missed out on this recipe for so long, but I’ll tell you what, making them for the first time after so long was like falling in love all over again. So. Freaking. Good.

The best refried beans ever!

3 C dry pinto beans (rinsed)
½ onion, peeled and cut in half
9 C of water
5 tsp salt
1 ¾ tsp pepper
2 T minced garlic
1/8 tsp ground cumin
Put all ingredients in crockpot and cook on high for about 8 hrs. After they are done, drain all the liquid and save the liquid. Mash beans with potato masher or beaters then add liquid a little at a time until desired consistency. You want them a little runny because they thicken after being refrigerated. Serve warm, cover and refrigerate left overs then reheat in microwave.

Source | Chelsea Figgins

{dreamy} Banana Cream Fruit Pudding

I have a big debate going on with my kiwi friends about this very dish. Is it a dessert or a side dish? They claim it’s a dessert because it is so sweet, but for years I’ve served it as a side dish at Thanksgiving, barbecues, church potlucks, neighborhood get-togethers and our own dinner table. But whatever you want to label it, one thing is for sure- it’s absolutely delicious and there will be a fight to lick the bowl clean!

{dreamy} Banana Cream Fruit Pudding
Seasonal fruit: bananas, apples, grapes, strawberries, etc.
1 can mandarin oranges, drained
1 can pineapple chunks, drained
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
1/8 C powdered sugar
1 (3.4 oz) package banana cream pudding
1 1/2 cups milk

Beat milk into pudding mixture until it starts to thicken then cover and refrigerate. Whip cream until stiff peaks form,  add powdered sugar and beat until blended, cover and refrigerate. Dice and prepare fruit. Gently fold pudding into whipped cream then add prepared fruit and gently stir. Serve immediately (or the bananas will begin to brown and the pudding will get runny).