Sweet Strawberry Broccoli Salad

So it’s become apparent, undeniably apparent at this point, that the youngest son does not like dinner. We’ve verified that he likes food. He eats every other meal. He will be for food between his afternoon snack and dinner. But no matter what you put on his plate at dinner time he will insist he doesn’t like it, or that he’s full. The older sons enjoy fighting over his leftovers. While at any other meal, even if not happily or even willingly, he will eat his veggies, this whole dinner time protest thing has left me struggling to find new ways to re-present some of his A.M. Favorites.

Sweet Broccoli & Strawberry Salad

All the sons, and I do mean ALL have inherited there Daddy’s sweet tooth. Even the hubs is a picky veggie eater, but I figured if I knew him then anything, no matter how ‘good’ for you, in the guise of something sweet would be a surprising hit. And I know our little apples didn’t fall for from the paternal tree. So, this is what I came up with. Totally tasty, with some ‘tiny trees’ as they’re known around these parts tossed with some farm fresh fruit, and a sweet (but good for you!) yogurt-based ‘dressing’.

My game must still be good, because the sons all ate it, and I watched the hubs as he kept eating bite after bite, talking in between about how he doesn’t even like broccoli or strawberries, but he just couldn’t stop eating it.

Sweet Broccoli Strawberry Salad

Sweet Broccoli & Strawberry Salad

4 cups of fresh, chopped broccoli florets
2 cups of chopped fresh strawberries
¼ cup of chopped pecans
1/3 cup of goat cheese, crumbled
5 oz plain Greek yogurt
2-4 tsp maple syrup or honey, to taste
1 tsp lemon juice
salt, to taste
½ tbsp poppy seeds

Directions

1. Combine the broccoli, strawberries, cheese, and pecans in a large mixing bowl.
2. In a small bowl, mix the yogurt, maple syrup or honey, and lemon juice, stirring until everything’s evenly incorporated.
3. Fold the dressing into the broccoli and strawberry mixture until all the fruit and veggies are evenly coated.
4. Add some salt and the poppy seeds and stir them in.
5. Refrigerate until ready to serve. I also like to omit the pecans and instead garnish with slivered almonds.

recipe adapted from Will Cook For Smiles

Skinny Buffalo Potato Salad

If you’ve followed us for any amount of time you know that I’ve got a thing for traditions. Every holiday has its own little nuances and little things that, come hell or high water, we are going to adhere to. Another Easter just came to pass, and it’s no exception to the ‘mom is a crazy lady who is dying to make memories’ rule.

For example, every year we go to a local historical park that features a variety of animals and gorgeous gardens and views. It’s a big affair, complete with grandparents and aunts too. Each year we kick the whole shebang off with a picnic lunch. Really. Every year. Sadly though, like everything else it seems, I was pretty sure the older sons had aged out of caring this year, and I purposefully didn’t bring it up because I didn’t want to be all emotional when it was time for us to argue about it and for me to finally have to force them to go by pulling the ‘because I said so, and you’re gonna like it dammit’ card. I mean family time is family time. Right? Non-negotiable. But, to my surprise and utter delight, when I didn’t bring it up and Easter was creeping closer and closer, the older sons started to have a mild freak out.

Umm, excuse me? Of course we’re having an Easter picnic/park day. Duh. How could you doubt me? I was prepared to drag you there by the scruff even if you complained the whole way there, because tradition! But it made my heart so happy that you were that adamant about going yet again.

So, with that emotional crisis averted for all parties involved, we got back to the next most important thing. The food. After all, that’s our biggest tradition and the memories made around it one of our greatest legacies. For us no picnic lunch, especially an Easter Sunday picnic lunch, is complete without potato salad. It’s a staple. We’re not even real picky on the kind as long as it has the same style base. Potatoes, and something creamy, like mayo.

This lightened up, buffalo style version is one of our favs. Soon it’ll be one of yours too 😉

Light/Skinny Buffalo Potato Salad

Light Buffalo Potato Salad

recipe adapted from The Weary Chef

2 lbs red and/or russet potatoes, diced into 1/4″ cubes
generous 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
generous 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2-4 tbsp buffalo wing sauce, we prefer a mild sauce
salt and pepper, to taste
1/3 cup diced red onion
2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and diced (optional)

Directions

1. In a medium sized pot, add the potatoes and add water until it just covers them. Add about 1 tsp salt, and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Allow the potatoes to boil for about 10 minutes, or until fork tender. Transfer the potatoes to a colander to drain, and gently rinse with cold water for about one minute to stop the cooking process and cool them off.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, yogurt, buffalo sauce, and salt and pepper. Using a spatula, gently fold in the remaining ingredients, stirring just until everything is evenly incorporated. 3. Serve as is, or refrigerate until chilled.

Cucumber Grape Salad with a Light Strawberry, Poppy Seed Dressing

Do you ever just need to eat something refreshing? Where each bite is a vibrant explosion of fresh flavor for your tastebuds? Every now and then I start to crave just that. Especially during the annual post-holiday over-eating guilt trip. But, I’m not always that great with the whole self-control thing in between meals, and I’ve never been able to sacrifice taste for fewer calories. Luckily, little beauties like this recipe exist so that I don’t have to.

Whether you’re looking for a yummy snack, or a healthy dessert, this is sure to do the trick.

Cucumber Grape Salad and a Light Strawberry Poppy Seed Dressing

 Cucumber Salad with grapes and a Light Strawberry Poppy Seed Dressing

recipe adapted from Oh, Sweet Basil

2 cups grapes, we prefer black but red or green should work also
2 cups baby cucumbers, sliced
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved

For the Dressing

1 tbsp vinegar
2 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup strawberry flavored Greek yogurt
1-2 tsp poppy seeds
salt to taste

Directions

1. In small bowl, combine all of the dressing ingredients and stir until fully incorporated. Season with salt to taste. We used a scant pinch.
2. In another, larger bowl, toss the cucumbers, grapes and tomatoes with a few drizzles of the dressing until every thing is well coated but not so much so that everything’s swimming in the dressing. Chill or serve immediately. If you’re making this for a crowd, it can be made up to a day ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until needed.

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad Sandwich

Today’s post is another episode of ‘things we actually eat all the time.’ I was stumped this weekend on what to share today and was about thisclose to throwing my hands up when I remembered that whole concept/thing about cooking with easily accessible ingredients I keep on hand all the time and quick fixin methods so that we can all be a bit healthier and happier, faster, especially during the meal time rush. That’s the thing that I love and grilled-chicken-Caesar-something is a dish that we eat weekly, in one form or another. When a recipe or ingredient combo repeats and cravings/excitement are still detectable, it’s time to share, no matter how simple it is. I’m excited to share more of those meals that are thrown together with regular pantry fare (and even some seasonal items), but still have an overall vibe of goodness too. Hope you can feel me on this. Big hugs and some fist bumps for everyday good eatin’.

Chicken Caesar Sandwich

So, what’s better than a chicken caesar salad? A grilled chicken Caesar sandwich on a fresh ciabatta, or torta, roll. These make a perfect lunch food without giving you food coma and it’s entirely customizable. Looking for a lighter dinner option? Grilled Chicken Caesar’s your guy. This recipe makes 4 solid-sized sandwiches. When we’re having it for dinner we double the recipe. Somehow, even when we’ve doubled it, there still aren’t ever any leftovers. But, if the sons are eating all their greens (with relish!) then that is fine by me.

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad Sandwich

 Grilled Chicken Caesar Sandwich

1 cup romaine lettuce leaves, roughly chopped
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced thin
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
4 ciabatta/torta rolls, toasted, for serving
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated or shredded, for serving
red onion, sliced thin
Caesar dressing

Directions

1. In a small bowl, toss the romaine lettuce with 1 tablespoon of your caesar dressing, and set it aside.
2. Season both sides of the chicken breasts with the desired amount of salt and pepper. Add olive oil to a large skillet and heat it  up over medium/high heat. Add the chicken and cook, flipping once, until cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side. Let the fully cooked chicken rest 5 minutes before slicing across the grain. For a more authentic taste, season the breasts and then grill until completely cooked before cooling and slicing.
3. Serve sandwiches on ciabatta/torta bread with romaine lettuce, sliced chicken, red onion, Parmesan cheese and additional caesar dressing, each in your desired amount.

Do you love the strong, rich, and creamy taste that a good caesar dressing can bring to a recipe? Here’s some of our favorite caesar recipes: 

4 Sons 'R' Us: Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

4 Sons 'R' Us: Tortellini Caesar Salad

Tortellini Caesar Salad

4 Sons 'R' Us: Caesar Dressing

Homemade Caesar Salad Dressing

Homemade Caesar Salad Dressing

A great Caesar salad gets it’s greatness from a great dressing. This easy, homemade version will knock your socks off. The hubs, a self-proclaimed Caesar salad connoisseur , approved of the authentic taste. Bonus for him? He didn’t have to worry about being served a ‘chemical cocktail’ (aka processed dressing) over his bed of lettuce for dinner ever again. The hubs can be touchy about such things.

Even better for me? This recipe doesn’t have anchovies. Anchovies give me the creeps. I didn’t even know that’s what gave Caesar the tangy bite I loved so much until my early twenties when a friend told me mid-bite of, you guessed it folks, Caesar salad. First I freaked out, then I had a mild panic attack, and felt like my throat was constricting blinking back tears and trying not to gag. Then I couldn’t even look at my salad, let alone eat it. It was a whole year before I could even think about eating it. Not my finest hour, err year. But hey, time can fix anything, right? Wrong. You did know Caesar dressing usually has anchovies in it…right? If not, sorry I told you. Spoiler alert!

A long while later a quick search of the all-knowing Google proved that I could still get the taste I craved without getting the willies. A host of tangy ingredients, and a good bit of garlic, cover beautifully for the absent anchovies.

Caesar Dressing (without anchovies)

4 Sons 'R' Us: Caesar Dressing

recipe adapted from BigTigger on Chow Hound

3 tsp minced garlic
3/4 – 1 cup mayonnaise
1+ tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp dry mustard
2 1/2 – 3 tbs red wine vinegar
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions

1. Add all of the ingredients to a food processor or blender, and blend until completely incorporated.
2. Slowly add in a little bit at a time, while continuing to blend, 1/4 cup of olive oil. Blend until the dressing has emulsified.
3. Refrigerate until chilled, so that the dressing thickens, and continue to refrigerate any leftovers for up to a week.

Love the zesty, tangy taste of Caesar dressing? Give these recipes a try next:

4 Sons 'R' Us: Tortellini Caesar Salad

Tortellini Caesar Salad

4 Sons 'R' Us: Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

Tortellini Caesar Salad

 I feel like I need to spread the love and not horde this amazingly simple scrumptious creation. I may be jumping the seasonal ‘gun’ a bit, but this meal just says summer to me. Summer (noun) as in, “it is too hot, and I am too tired to cook”. This meal is freaking awesome! This salad is a delicious combination of complementary flavors. You’ll enjoy the creamy, tangy Caesar dressing in this recipe. Though calling it an actual recipe is a bit of a stretch, it’s still sure to do the trick.

Tortellini Caesar Salad

4 Sons 'R' Us: Tortellini Caesar Salad

recipe adapted from Amuse Your Bouche

2 cups tortellini (I used a spinach and ricotta flavor)
1/2 cup lettuce, roughly chopped
1/4 cup  Parmesan-style cheese, shaved
3/4-1 cup of Caesar dressing
black pepper

Directions

1. Boil the tortellini according to the instructions on the packet. Fresh tortellini takes just a couple of minutes to cook, so make sure you don’t overcook it – you want it to be slightly al dente. Once cooked, drain the tortellini and give it a rinse under cold water. Set aside to cool fully.
2. When the tortellini is cool, add it to the remaining ingredients, and mix gently to combine. Serve immediately.
3. Note: if making this salad in advance, only add the dressing when ready to serve. Also, if serving a crowd, this meal easily doubles.

 

 

Asian Pasta Salad

This pasta, tossed in a sesame oil and soy sauce-based dressing, is a refreshing, Asian-inspired side dish perfect for picnics.  This is great for lunch, a light main meal, or even a supper-time side dish, so serve it for the family, or make ahead for your next Bar-B-Q.

Do you ever roast a whole chicken, and then wonder what you’re going to do with all the leftover meat after dinner is over? This is perfect for a chicken dinner day after. Pick those bones clean! Don’t let anything go to waste. As my mom always said, ‘A penny saved is a penny earned.’ That, and some juicy, leftover pieces from your roast chicken would be the perfect reason to whip up this dish.  Vegetarian or looking for a meatless meal idea? Omit the chicken. All the original tangy flavors will still infiltrate every bite.

Summer will be here before we know it, and this quick, colorful, and oh-so tasty cold, oriental noodle salad will pair perfectly with the season!

Asian Pasta Salad

4 Sons 'R' Us: Asian Pasta Salad

recipe adapted from Lil Luna

1 lb.  Tri-Color Rotini
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1 tsp. sesame oil
3 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 cups diced or shredded chicken breast
2 cups baby spinach
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup sliced red bell pepper strips, optional

Directions

1. Make pasta as directed and set aside.
2. Cook sesame seeds in a skillet on medium heat for 1-2 minutes until lightly toasted. Set aside.
3. Mix together vegetable oil, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, sesame seeds and pepper with a whisk until mixed well.
4. Pour dressing mixture over pasta and mix until coated evenly
5. Add chicken, cilantro, spinach, carrots, and peppers, if using. Toss and serve.

Crunchy Pea Salad

Spring has sprung. Or so we thought here in the good Old Dominion, but Spring apparently only decided to hang around for seven days, before high-tailing it back to parts unknown. That however, and the much cooler temps, didn’t stop the first BBQ get together of the season. I always have a few go-to barbecue, grill-out get together style go-to dishes to make for any function we’re going to or get invited to. While a pasta-based salad may be more traditional, this pea salad doesn’t disappoint. A cool twist on an old classic, with a great crunch from both the peas and the crispy bacon bits.

I know you may be looking at this recipe and thinking ‘a whole salad made out of peas’? really?! Well, it’s true you really can make a totally tasty salad out of peas! On first reading this recipe, you will have no idea how good it is. So don’t read it. Don’t doubt. Just plow ahead, make it, and see for yourself.

4 Sons 'R' Us: Crunchy Pea Salad

recipe adapted from Sugar N Spice Gals

2-3 cups frozen peas
1/4 thinly sliced green onions
1 lb bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp sugar
salt & pepper, to taste
1/8 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/8 tsp soy sauce

Directions

1. In a bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, Worcestershire, & soy sauce.
2. Stir in the remaining ingredients, mixing well.
3. Chill for at least one hour before serving.

Optional add-in ingredients: 1 cup chopped cauliflower, 1 cup craisins, 1 cup peanuts or sunflower seeds, 1/2 cup diced celery. Keep in mind though that if you opt for add ins you will need to increase the sauce ingredients to compensate.

Creamy Tuna Noodle Casserole–Served Hot or Cold!

Every now and then I’m looking for a change from our typical chicken or beef-based meals. A lot of times I will just go meatless, but last week I was still craving something meaty. This hot tuna noodle casserole hit the spot at dinner time. Everyone liked it so much that we made it again, over the weekend, as a cold pasta salad for lunch.

I know everyone has their brands they prefer and remain loyal too, but tuna is one of those things where I will pay for quality. This meal deserves a quality tuna. I go with Costco’s solid white albacore. Less fishy flavor, more actual tuna meat, no oil or grease, and I haven’t come across a bone yet.

Creamy Tuna Noodle Casserole

 4 Sons 'R' Us: Creamy Tuna Noodle Casserole

recipe adapted from Sugar Dish Me

12 ounces whole wheat egg noodles, cooked according to package instructions
1 cup red onion, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
12 ounces canned tuna, drained and flaked (tuna packed in water works best)
1/2 of a lemon, juiced
salt & black pepper to taste
1 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (use your favorite! I go with a sharp low fat white Cheddar)
2 teaspoons spicy mustard
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 tsp lemon pepper
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs

4 Sons 'R' Us: Creamy Tuna Noodle Casserole

Directions

1. In a large bowl, combine the cooked pasta, onion, celery, peas, and tuna. Squeeze the lemon juice over the contents of the bowl (being careful not to drop seeds in). Sprinkle with the salt and pepper, to taste.
2. In a smaller bowl, mix together the Greek yogurt, Cheddar cheese, spicy mustard, red wine vinegar, parsley, and lemon pepper. Pour the sauce over the pasta/tuna mixture in the larger bowl and stir or toss to coat.
3. If you are serving this casserole cold, empty the contents into your serving dish, sprinkle the top with the Panko breadcrumbs, and refrigerate for at least an hour (to let the flavors meld).
4. If you are serving this hot, then preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a 9 x 13 casserole with non-stick cooking spray or vegetable oil. Spread the noodle mixture evenly in the prepared pan and sprinkle the Panko bread crumbs over the top. You can also sprinkle with a little extra cheese if you like.
5. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, just until it’s heated through and the sauce begins to bubble a little.

Loaded Baked Potato Salad

It’s that time of year again. Time for hot grills, good friends, picnic foods…it’s cookout time! I discovered this potato salad last summer, when I was searching for an alternative to my go-to mustard based recipe. I had been assigned to bring it as a dish, and I just wanted something a little different. Most likely due to the fact that I’d already been to two cookouts in the last 24 hours and didn’t want to eat the exact same thing again. I was a bit shocked, and saddened, to discover that there is such a thing as too much potato salad. I couldn’t have asked for more from this version. Although the recipe makes enough for roughly 4-6 people, depending on serving size, the ingredients easily doubled to make enough for a larger party. I was equally pleased to see that not only did my family love it, but so did everyone else. Who said change was a bad thing? Now, as you get ready to host or attend, a cookout (or cookouts) in the coming weeks of Summer, give this side a try. It’s a rich, creamy potato salad with all the tastes and textures of an actually loaded baked potato. This recipe is sure to be a hit at your next soiree, and I assure you that you will be asked for the recipe. Repeatedly.

Loaded Baked Potato Salad

008

  •  4-5 large Russet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (or Greek yogurt)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup green onions, thinly sliced
  • 6 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the mayonaise and sour cream until evenly combined.
  2. Stir in 1/2 of the green onions (1/4 cup), the cheese, salt, and pepper.
  3. Let this sit in the fridge to chill while you prepare the potatoes.
  4. Wash, peel, and then cut potatoes into bite-sized pieces.
  5. Put cut potatoes into a large pot, cover with water, and boil until just fork tender, about 15-20 minutes. Don’t over boil, or potatoes with mush and become loaded mashed potatoes.
  6. When potatoes are done, drain, and let cool.
  7. Put potatoes in a large bowl and combine with the sour cream mixture.
  8. Stir, or fold, in about 3/4 of the crumbled bacon.
  9. Top with remaining green onions and crumbled bacon.
  10. Serve chilled.