Category Archives: Salads

Quick and Easy Taco Salad


I have been missing my best friend a lot lately. I mean I miss her all of the time, but lately it has been a lot! She lives in Southern California and I am in Western Washington. We haven’t seen each other in 5 years, but we can sure burn up the phone lines when we want to!! You know a true friend  (and she is more like a sister to me than a friend) when you can not speak for a while, but when you do it can last 3 hours! That’s us!!
Anyway, this is a salad that she used to make all of the time. The first time I made it for my family they thought it sounded like a weird combination of flavors, but they ate it so fast I almost didn’t get any! After that I was requested to make this at least every other week (more like every week actually). This salad is inexpensive and extremely simple to make, and a great way to get your kids to eat some veggies if they aren’t big fans. My kids hated tomatoes but ate them up like crazy when I made this salad for them. Kevin had never had it so he was skeptical about having a salad for dinner, but once he had it he said that it was like an entire meal in one bowl. He is right! Meat, veggies, dairy, yummm!! 

You can use packaged dressing and taco seasonings if you want. I make my own now so I have them on hand to use. Here is the link to my Homemade Italian Dressing Mix. I will post the recipe for homemade taco seasoning at the bottom (I don’t have a post for that yet).
Quick and Easy Taco Salad
1 lb lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 package low sodium taco seasoning or 1/4 cup homemade taco seasoning (see below for ingredients)
1 bag of chopped romaine hearts
1 to 2 vine ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 can sliced black olives
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 large avocado, peeled, pitted, and chopped
2 cups Mexican blend cheese
1 package Good Seasons Italian Dressing Mix or 2 tablespoons of my Homemade Italian Seasoning Mix
2/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons water
Tortilla chips
Hot sauce, optional
Taco Seasoning:

1/2 cup chili powder

1/4 cup onion powder

1/8 cup ground cumin
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Brown the ground beef/turkey over medium heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon in to small bits. Add the taco seasoning mix and stir to combine. You can add a splash of water here if needed. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl combine the lettuce, tomatoes, olives, green onions, avocado, and cheese. Toss to combine. 
In a shaker bottle, or medium bowl, combine the dressing mix, olive oils, vinegar, and water. Shake or whisk to combine well. 
Add the taco meat to the salad mix, toss, add salad dressing (as much or as little as you want), toss. Crush up several handfuls of tortilla chips and toss with the salad. Dish up into bowl and top with hot sauce if desired!
Serves 4 to 6

Tarragon Pea Salad with Shallot and Bacon


I have missed having my own garden this year. The last year I just planted way to much and couldn’t keep up with the weeds (in Washington they are hyperthyroid!!). Next year I am planning on doing some container gardening, but this year I have been lucky enough to have my son’s girlfriend Heather bringing us little treats here and there from her Mom and Dad’s garden. That was where I got the zucchini for my Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats. And the peas I used in this fabulous salad. There really is nothing better than vegetables that are just fresh from the garden!
When Heather brought me this big bag of snow peas and another bag of snap peas my mind started going all over the place. Most of the snap peas were eaten raw before any game plan could be dawn up for those and that is OK. But I knew I wanted to make a nice cool side dish for steak night. We have actually had a record summer this year in Washington. 40+ days with no measurable rain, and temps in the 70’s to 80’s. Being from San Diego you know I have loved it. I have been trying to plan a trip to visit CA but with the weather so nice here I have decided to put it off until I can escape the rain. So outdoor dining has been happening quite a bit. I think I have driven Kevin a bit batty with constantly wanting to be outside. I mean almost until the sun goes down! I just don’t want to miss a minute of it because I know I won’t see it again (except when I escape to San Diego for a few days) for 10 months.
So the BBQ was fired up, we did some baked potatoes and steaks on the grill and I whipped up this cool crisp salad. I am trying very hard not to say good-bye to summer, but if I had to this is the meal I would do it with!
Tarragon Pea Salad with Shallot and Bacon
1 pound snow peas, thinly sliced lengthwise
1 shallot, minced
4 slices of bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
1 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1/4 olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves, chopped
In a large bowl, whisk together mustard, vinegar, and oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the shallot, snow peas, tarragon and bacon. Stir to combine.

Mom’s Creamy Pea Salad for #BeatTheHeat #SundaySupper


I know I have mentioned, on more than a few occasions, that my mother didn’t do a lot of cooking. We had mostly boxed or canned food for dinners. But there were a few things that she made to take to parties, picnics, or pot lucks, that people requested over and over again. Her pea salad being one of the most requested. Every time we went to these functions more and more people fell in love with this salad, to the point that she would quadruple the recipe just to make sure everyone was able to get their share

I never made this salad once I was married and had kids because neither of my kids liked peas, I know, crazy kids! But just recently my son Seth has decided they aren’t so bad. The rest of us here love them so as soon as the weather warmed up I knew exactly what I wanted to make…..Mom’s Pea Salad!

This is such a simple recipe you will love it! I didn’t change it up a bit (of course) but it is still her basic recipe.  It was really a great feeling to be in the kitchen making something that reminded me of my Mother. She has been gone now for 7 years, and you know as the years go on you miss them but everyday life takes over and you think about them less and less. As soon as I decided to make this recipe so many thoughts of my Mother flooded my head. It was like she was with me all day. It really was a wonderful feeling. I even caught myself saying to her “Mom I hope you don’t mind I changed your recipe, but you know me” I know she would have laughed and shook her head.

As I said this is a simple recipe with a lot of love. I hope maybe it can become one of your family’s summer favorites! You may want to make a double batch though because a single batch went so fast people were actually licking the bowl!!

Creamy Pea Salad
1 bag frozen sweet peas (10 ounces)
5 slices smoky bacon, fried crisp and crumbled or chopped
4 green onions sliced thin,whites and greens
1/2 cup low fat mayo
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Combined all ingredient in a medium bowl and stir to combine well. Salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least and hour so the flavors meld. Adjust seasoning if needed. Allow to stand at room temp for 30 minutes if softer peas are desired.
Serves 4
*My mother would take the salad immediately to the picnic once combined so the frozen peas would keep the salad cold longer.

#BeatTheHeat Appetizers:

#BeatTheHeat Salads, Soups, & Sides:

#BeatTheHeat Main Dishes:

#BeatTheHeat Desserts:

#BeatTheHeat Drinks & Cocktails:

Wine Pairings Provided By: ENOFYLZ

    Lemony Pasta Salad with Peas and Bacon


    Last night I did not have an idea what I was going to make for dinner. It was again another day that I had no idea how many people were going to be here and what I had planned only fed 4. With a possibility of there being 5 people eating I had to quickly switch gears and come up with something on the fly. I found a chicken recipe for the slow cooker that only took 4 hours to cook frozen (yes FROZEN) chicken thighs and I will post that next week. But now I am stumped. I have my main dish but what do I serve it with. I can’t just throw the chicken on the platter and say TADAAA dinner is served.

    So into my pantry I go, thanking the Lord I chose last weekend to clean it out and organize it. Do you  have any idea how messy 4 20 year olds can get a pantry? But I digress. Yes, pantry, side dish, on the fly. Oh I am back now.

    I knew I had some frozen peas and I was thinking about a pea side dish my mother used to make with them but that would take a while because you  had to  let the peas slowly defrost in the salad. Hhmmm, OK peas, pasta, bacon, green onions, yessss I am on to something. The result was a great pasta salad that everyone loved. This is on my must make again list!

    Would be great for a Memorial Day Weekend side dish!!

    Lemony Pasta Salad with Peas and Bacon
    1 (16-ounce) package of mini pasta
    6 slices smokey bacon
    3/4 cup light mayonnaise 
    3/4 cup light sour cream
    1 tablespoon lemon zest
    1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
    4 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped (divided)
    Cayenne pepper, to taste ( I used 1/2 teaspoon)
    Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
    1 bunch green onions, chopped whites and greens
    2 cups frozen peas, thawed
    8 to 16-ounces sharp cheddar cheese, cubed (depends on how much cheese you want, we love cheese)
    Bring a large pot of water to boil. Salt the water and add the pasta, cooking as per package instructions. Drain and reserve.
    In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the bacon to crisp. Drain and let cool slightly. Chop or crumble.
    In a large bowl add the mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons fresh dill, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper, and combine. Add cooked pasta, peas, bacon, and cheese. Mix thoroughly, taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Cover and refrigerate for an hour.  
    You can see this recipe plus many more on The Newlyweds Blog

    Spinach & Artichoke Salad


    For the last weekend of summer I really wanted to pull out all the stops and celebrate the wonderful weather we had finally been having in Western Washington. I planned grilling burgers and corn and chicken. I wanted to  make some quick cool salads to beat the heat and accompany the grilled food.

    My absolute favorite salad green is baby spinach! It could be the only green I ever eat again and I would be happy. Not that I wouldn’t miss the others, it is just my favorite. Yikes now I am afraid to open my vegetable drawer in my kitchen. I may have offended a few things that are currently residing there.

    Anyway, I jumped online and started searching for a new recipe to showcase my lovely greens. I found this one by Rachael Ray (I know shocker right? Bobbi is doing Rachael Ray??). It has another of my favorite ingredients, artichokes. I prefer my artichokes fresh steamed, but I do love canned artichoke hearts on pizza so I figured “Let’s give it a try”.

    My decision was a good one. Kevin and I ate this salad up like it was candy! The kids…uuhhh not so much. But we already knew that would be the outcome. I tease them about someday having an adult pallet and appreciating something other than McDonald’s and frozen burritos. Actually I can’t complain that much. They have come a longggggggggg way in the last few years.

    Spinach & Artichoke Salad

    • 3/4 pound, 4 to 5 cups, baby spinach, packed
    • 2 (15-ounce) cans artichoke hearts packed in water, drained and sliced
    • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
    • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
    • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
    • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    • 1/4 to 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • Salt and pepper
    • A handful shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano

    Combine spinach and artichokes. Place garlic, lemon zest and juice in small dish and add vinegar. Let it stand 5 minutes then whisk in extra-virgin olive oil. Pour oil and vinegar dressing over salad and toss to combine. Season the salad with salt and pepper, to your taste. Top the salad with cheese then serve.

    Pickled Beet Salad with Walnuts and Feta


    I made this salad last week, but with Kevin’s son Dylan visiting from Job Corps and Jessi being on leave as well, I had a FULL house. Sadly my posting duties suffered.

    Kevin wasn’t feeling well on Wednesday and of course the mother in me came out full force. I mean I had a full house of kids so I just kind of lumped him into the group. I was asking all the “Mom” questions…..What did you eat today?…..Did you drink enough water…….Are you running a temperature, let me feel your forehead. He quietly put up with all of my poking and prodding and then turned to me straight faced and said very matter of factly, “I think it is because I need RED MEAT!”. I laughed, but realized I have been cooking a lot of chicken, I mean a LOT of chicken. Like I have said in the past, I could eat chicken and fish and leave red meat pretty much on the road side holding a side that says “Homeless, need a job”.

    Non the less, I felt guilty neglecting his needs, so off I went to the store to get a steak to calm his inner beast. We have a local meat market and I can tell you that once I found that I will never get steak at a chain grocery store again! Their meat it so much more flavorful it makes me actually want to eat steak (I am more of a filet girl if I eat read meat…..ya I am pricey).

    Have I mentioned that Kevin is a “purist” when it comes to a lot of things? His steak is one of those things. Oh I have made chimichurris in the past, and he has eaten them, and LIKED them 
    ( like this one for instance Rib Eye Steaks with Chimichurri and Chili Pilaf ). But given a choice he will tell you that he prefers a bit of salt and pepper and toss that meat on the grill! So I knew no fancy stuff for this meal, at least NOT for the meat. I began searching my pantry and came upon my jar of pickled beets, yesssssssss. I had mentioned this salad last weekend and then never got around to making it, so this was my perfect opportunity. 

    I was so excited to find out Kevin likes beets. My kids turn their noses up at them so I really haven’t had beets since I was a kid, you know like 10 years ago or so hehehe. Now that I know he likes them I have visions of roasted beets playing in my head.

    Kevin’s son Dylan was not so sold on the whole beets thing. He was in the kitchen and I hear a voice..

    Dylan – What’s in this bowl?
    Me – Salad
    Dylan – Whats’ in the salad….it’s ummmm PINK
    Kevin – JUST EAT IT!
    Dylan – WOW this is pretty good

    Bless his heart! Ms Picky Pants wouldn’t even try it *sigh* I tried to explain that she was in culinary now and needed to broaden her horizons. Her response? That’s what a sous chef is for! Oy Vey!!

    This salad is so good I could eat it every day. All of the ingredients play together so nicely. If you like beets, you HAVE to give this one a try!! And make sure to check out the Purdy Pickle Company, they are the ones that gave me these fabulous pickled beets and recipe!

    Pickled Beet Salad with Walnuts and Feta

    1 bag of hearts of romaine lettuce
    1 (12-ounce) jar of pickled beets
    2 tablespoons raspberry preserves
    1/2 small red onion, chopped
    1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
    1/2 cup chopped walnuts
    4 radishes, chopped
    2 rib of celery, chopped
    3 tablespoons olive oil
    2 tablespoons vinegar
    Salt and pepper to taste

    In a small skillet over medium heat, toast the walnuts about 3 to 4 minutes. 

    In a large bowl combine lettuce, onions, radishes, celery, and beets. 

    In a small bowl whisk the raspberry preserves, vinegar, and oil. Dress the salad with the raspberry preserve vinaigrette. Top with feta cheese and walnuts, and toss. 

    Adjust seasoning to taste and serve. 

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    Red Skin Potato Salad


    You can’t think about BBQing without thinking of potato salad, well at least I can’t. I love potato salad pretty much any way. I love the southern mustard style, German style, just give me a potato and I am pretty much a happy camper.

    Through the years in my family there was always the debate about mayo VS vinegar potato salad. Now days we know that mayo salads are not good for picnics and then we all know that mayo contains tons of calories. But that just can’t stop me from loving mayo based potato salad. I use low fat or fat free mayo now to try to save some calories, but if we are eating at home and I am making potato salad, out comes the mayo in a heart beat!

    I was making some chicken that had a vinegar garlic sauce so I thought that a vinegar based potato salad would go well along side of it. I was sad to think that my beloved mayo would be left waiting in the wings for this recipe but thought it would be best. Then I found this recipe! I was a happy girl all over again. Vinegar AND mayo? Hot dog!! Well hot chicken in this case…..but you know what I mean.

    This recipe is adapted from Robert Irvine’s recipe from potato salad on one of his Dinner Impossible shows. I liked the idea of it but I just tweaked the ingredients a small bit. It was a huge hit this weekend! We ate it Saturday AND Monday. I love it when the food is so good there are no leftovers! I seriously thought someone was going to lick the bowl clean, that is how much we all loved this recipe!

    Red Skin Potato Salad

    2 pounds small red skinned potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
    • 8 pieces of thick cut, chopped
    • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    • 3/4 cup low fat or fat free mayonnaise
    • 3 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
    • 6 green onions, chopped in 1/4-inch segments
    • 1/2 red onion, diced
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • Salt and pepper
    • 2 hard boiled eggs, chopped

    Place potatoes in cold water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and turn down the heat to medium, letting them cook until fork tender, about 15 minutes. In a skillet, cook bacon on medium heat until crispy. Place bacon on a paper towel and discard the grease. Drain the potatoes, but DO NOT rinse them under cold water. Rather let them cool for about 6 to 8 minutes on a sheet pan. In a small bowl combine vinegar, mayonnaise, mustard, green onions, onion, sugar, and salt and pepper. Transfer potatoes to a mixing bowl and sprinkle bacon and hard boiled eggs over them. Then fold mayonnaise mixture into the potatoes and serve at room temperature.

    Lemon Mustard and Herb Chicken and Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing


    With all of the great weather we have been having here in Washington I have been so excited about being outside and grilling instead of cooped up in the house over a stove. We have a horseshoe pit and our backyard is gorgeous when it isn’t raining. I love sunshine, good food, and the people I love all in one place at once. I want to take advantage of every second of this awesomeness!

    As you know we already made BBQ chicken this past week, and I have a burger recipe coming too, but I decided I wanted to do something totally different than your “typical” BBQ dish. I took a look at what I had in the fridge and the little voice in my head told me that this just needed to be made! Yes, as I am sure you have gathered, I do talk to myself quite a bit. I guess it can be a bit unnerving for those around me at times.

    I was a little hesitant to make this dish only because I know Jessi doesn’t like mustard very much and I wasn’t sure if Kevin’s son Dylan did. But the thought of it made my mouth water and that alone won over any crazy non mustard eating kids. So I dived right in to setting everything up for this meal.

    I had to do a tad bit of cooking for the side dish though. I had baby spinach and remembered this salad my Mom used to make. So I dug through my recipes and found it. I was such a happy camper!

    The reviews came in and even the non mustard eaters loved it. I think the lemon helps to balance the mustard flavor and the herbs just add even more tastiness. The salad was gone almost before it hit the bowl!

    Lemon, Mustard, and Herb Chicken

    2 to 3 pounds of boneless skinless chicken thighs
    2 large lemons, zested and juiced
    1 cup Dijon Mustard
    1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
    1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
    salt and pepper
    1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

    Combine the lemon zest, juice, Dijon mustard, rosemary, thyme, crushed red pepper flakes, and a couple of tablespoons of EVOO in a small bowl. Place your chicken in a shallow dish or pan. Salt and pepper the chicken and generously paint both side of the chicken with the mustard mixture. Cover chicken and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours, or overnight in the refrigerator.

    Preheat grill to medium to medium-high heat.Cooking times will vary depending on what type of grill you are using. Baste the chicken frequently with left over marinade.

    Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing

    5 slices bacon, chopped fine
    2 tablespoons shallot, finely chopped
    1/2 cup cider vinegar
    1/2 teaspoon sugar
    1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    salt and pepper
    1 pound baby spinach

    In a large skillet cook bacon over medium-high heat until crisp. Transfer to paper towel lined plate with slotted spoon to drain. Discard all but 2 tablespoons of the fat. In the remaining fat, cook shallot for 1 minute. Add the vinegar, sugar, mustard, oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, pour over spinach and toss. Serve.