Asian Noodle Salad

You are going to LOVE this yummy and versatile recipe.  We make this as a side dish, or add a little grilled chicken or poached shrimp and turn it into a meal!  We get mad raves on this easy to make salad… we’re sure you will too.

What makes it so easy is that we use this yummy bottled dressing.  As we’ve said before, we love to make yummy food, and we love it when we can find a product that makes the job of preparing that yummy food easier.  This is one of those products… Soy Vay Toasted Sesame Dressing and Marinade.  It can be found in most grocery stores, in the salad dressing isle.  I use about half the bottle on the salad and then throw the rest in a ziplock bag with some chicken breasts to marinate for grilling.

Asian Noodle Salad

  • 1 pound angel hair pasta, broken in half and cooked to Al Dente, then immediately flushed with cold water in a colander
  • 3/4 cup Soy Vay Toasted Sesame Dressing
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup snow peas, diced to 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup baby peas (frozen is fine)
  • 1/2 cup chopped water chestnut

In a large bowl, toss all the ingredients, and enjoy!

*I will also sometimes add some chopped brocoli and/or salted peanuts

Mom’s Chicken Salad

Hello Friends! How are you? We apologize for the lack of postings recently. We have been enjoying our summer vacations and have been busy creating memories with family and friends. However, now that school has started for some of us, it is back to the usual routines and chaos of dinnertime!

I spent 3 weeks up in California with Shannon this summer. We were actively typing our cookbook and were able to get a lot of it done. It has been such an exciting AND tiring process. They never really tell you how much work it is going to be. Luckily, this is our love and our passion, and now it is our little baby. We have high hopes of finishing this book within the next month or two! Woohoo!!

My awesome mom also lives in CA in the summertime and so I was able to spend some time with her as well. One Sunday evening she made her famous chicken salad and it made me happy for summer. Happy for all the yummy fruit, fresh vegetables and summer desserts. So if you are not sure what to make for dinner tonight, try this. And then pair it with some yummy fruit or fresh veggies. Yum!


  • 5 cups cooked chicken, cubed
  • 1 (10 ounce) can artichokes, drained and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons grated onion
  • 1 ¼ cup diced celery
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice
  • ½ cup chopped almonds
  • 1 teaspoon Lawry’s seasoned salt
  • 1 teaspoon dill weed
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup sour cream

In a large bowl combine all ingredients except mayonnaise, sour cream and almonds. Cover bowl and let marinate so flavors mesh together. After 1 to 2 hours mix in mayonnaise and sour cream. Add almonds just before serving.

Eat as a side salad, or serve on fresh bread or roll of your choice. May be served warm or chilled. Store in an airtight container. Refrigerate.

Homemade Ciabatta Croutons

I love croutons on salads and soups, and up until recently it had never occurred to me to make my own. Then one night while my kitchen was in the throngs of the remodel, a friend, who is a wonderful cook, brought me dinner  (I know, I have nice friends, don’t I?). Besides the other yumminess, she brought a caesar salad with these homemade croutons on top. Oh, to die for!!! Croutons are so easy to make and taste so much better than even the best store bought. Once you make these, you’ll never go back!  I now keep these on hand at all times.

Homemade Ciabatta Croutons

  • 1 loaf good ciabatta bread (I prefer Semi Freddies)*
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons garlic salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Slice the Ciabatta loaf into bite sized pieces, then place in a large bowl.  Drizzle with 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil and toss.  Then drizzle another Tablespoon oil and toss again.  Repeat a third time until all the bread is coated.  Sprinkle with the garlic salt and toss again to disperse evenly.

Spread the bread cubes onto a jelly roll pan in a single layer.

Bake at 350 degress for 15 minutes, or until croutons are crisp and golden brown.

Remove and let cool.  Store in an airtight container.

*Note: You could substitute any good crusty bread to make the croutons.  I’ve used french baguettes, sourdough, pugilese, rustic italian.

Cranberry Wild Rice Salad

We have this wonderful deli downtown.  It serves the best sandwiches I’ve ever had, hands down.  But what makes them truly unique is the beautiful salads displayed in their cold case.  I always have to get one on the side.  They are all so yummy!  This is one of my favorites, recreated by me… try it, it’s a  winner!

Cranberry Wild Rice Salad

  • 3 cups cooked wild rice
  • 1 box  (1 lb) orzo pasta, cooked as directed
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup whole pecans
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ½  cup chopped green onion
  • 1 cup blush wine vinaigrette, more or less to taste

In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients.  Serve cold.  Serves 14.

Linking up at Stuff and Nonsense, It’s a Keeper Thursday, Somewhat Simple, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, The Shabby Creek Cottage

Farm Fresh Yumminess = THE BIG SALAD

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I just have to say again how lucky I am to live in the San Francisco Bay Area, where good food is plentiful and fresh food is easy to find.  I have 3 outstanding weekly Farmers Markets within a couple of minutes of my house, not to mention all the fabulous grocery and speciality food stores.  One of my favorite things is a little farm called  Capay Organic Farm, and the service they offer called Farm Fresh To You .  They are a completely organic farm that delivers fresh food straight to my door.  I subscribe to a once a month delivery, and I’m fully in love with the service!  In my delivery box each month are all the in-season vegetables , fruits, and even flowers.  It’s always such a treat to have the box arrive at my door.  I take it in the house, place it on the kitchen counter and tear into it to see what delicious fresh foods I’ll get to enjoy!  This month my box was full of pink lady apples, grapefruit, navel oranges, eureka lemons, mandarins, Haas avocados, strawberries, red leaf lettuce, cauliflower and carrots.  Can you imagine my delight?

Organic produce, on the whole, tends to go bad more quickly than say, produce you’d buy at a grocery store.  I’m not bashing grocery stores, they serve a purpose and most times the produce I buy there is really good, but getting this organic stuff make me feel like I’m doing something good, for the environment and for myself.  One of my favorite things to do is take the veggies, chop them up and crunch them down in a yummy BIG SALAD, like on Seinfeld, remember that?

There really nothing better than fresh lettuce, it’s just so sweet and light.  And farm fresh carrots?!?!  Carrots, like tomatoes, are one of those things that just taste entirely different when they are fresh.  They are earthy and crisp and so so yummy!  And this month I got cauliflower, which I prefer to eat raw, rather than cook all the flavor out of it, so of course that got chopped up and put in the BIG SALAD.

So, ok, this is more of a post than a recipe, but it’s just me, reminding you to eat fresh.  Eat organic.  Put good food in your body so good things can come out of you!  Food is the fuel for our productive days, so I say, eat the good stuff!  EAT A BIG SALAD!


Red Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

Quinoa os all the rage right now, right?  It’s popping up in recipes all over the place.  So, what’s the big deal?  Well, from what I’ve learned it’s an amazing grain because it is the only grain that is also a protein.  It’s a “super food” that we should all be eating.  I tried it plain once, and didn’t care much for it that way, but incorporated into a lovely salad like this it is delicious!

Red Quinoa, Black Bean, Corn & Avocado Salad

  • 1 cup red quinoa, cooked with broth
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1, 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups sweet white corn kernels, frozen or canned
  • 1 avocado, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ cup red onion, finely diced
  • ¾ cup Trader Joe’s Cilantro Salad dressing
  • ½ bunch cilantro, chopped
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • zest of 1 lime
  • sea salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

Cook quinoa with broth according to package directions.  In a bowl, combine beans, corn, avocado, tomatoes, red bell pepper and onion.  Add salad dressing and toss to coat.  Add salt, pepper and lime zest.  Add ½ the cilantro and toss again.  Set aside.

When quinoa is cooked, toss with olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside to cool.  Once cooled, add to other ingredients and toss to combine.  Garnish salad with remaining cilantro.

*** I like to add 1 cup of the lemon pepper chicken to this salad to make it a meal for lunch!

Fresh Heirloom Tomato Caprese



Many years ago, my brother-in-law lived in Italy for a few years, and this is one of the many culinary delights he shared with me when he came back home.  He made a killer caprese before caprese was cool.  Seems like every upscale, casual restaurant now has a caprese salad or sandwich on the menu, and I think we all know why.  The flavors are seriously just so perfect together.  The acidity of the tomato, the creaminess of the fresh mozzarella finished off by the nuttiness of the olive oil and a zing of salt.  Add a drizzle of Balsamic vinegar and you’ve really got something!

Caprese salad is one of my favorite quick and easy lunchtime meals… don’t feel like salad?  Put it on some artisan bread and press it in a pannini press.  Delicious both ways!!!!  Yum.

Heirloom Tomato Caprese

  • 3 cups small heirloom tomatoes, halved
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 Tablespoons high quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces fresh buffalo mozzarella, sliced
  • 20 micro-basil or small basil leaves (or 10 large sliced)
  • Seas salt, to taste
  • High quality balsamic vinegar
Mix tomatoes, salt and oil in a medium bowl.  Let stand, tossing occasionally until juices release from tomatoes and become sauce like.  (About 15 minutes)
Place mozzarella on plate, arranging individual slices to line the bottom of the plate.  Spoon tomatoes and juices around the sides of the cheese and over the top.  Scatter basil over the top of that.
Finish with a sprinkling of sea salt and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
Serve with crusty, toasted artisan bread.
Serves 4


Tossed Cobb Salad

I love a good salad for lunch.   The trick for me is that it has to be filling, and I mean filling, which for me means there has to be protein of some sort on it.  Lunch is my “meal” of the day.  I eat a small breakfast, and a small dinner, but always a good, healthy and filling lunch.  This salad fits the bill, especially when paired with a crusty piece of buttered artisan bread (look for our recipe for peasants bread in a future post.)  This will hit the spot and have your taste buds singing!  Here’s a hint, if you want to eat this salad all by your lonesome for a couple days straight, as I like to, leave the dressing off, and add it only to individual portions, that way the salad stays fresh!

Tossed Cobb Salad

  • 4 cups mixed spring greens
  • 1 cup thick cut bacon, cooked and sliced cross-wise
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 cup blue cheese
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 cup cooked chicken breast, shredded (I will sometimes use leftover rotisserie chicken for this)
  • 3 eggs, hard-boiled & sliced

In a large bowl, combine the ingredients above.  Then add dressing below, to taste.

Creamy tarragon dressing

  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped green onion
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon

Whisk together first 6 ingredients in a small bowl until combined. Gradually whisk in oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until smooth. Whisk in green onion and tarragon. Use immediately, or store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 2 days.

Spinach Apple Salad




You may notice that this recipe calls for a “bag” of pre-washed spinach and a bottled salad dressing.  Some may say that this is cheating.  I say, work smarter, not harder.  Why hand wash your own spinach when you can buy it done for you?  And could I recreate the salad dressing on my own?  Of course I could, but why?  It’s delicious just as it is, and saves me an extra hour of prep time, not to mention the cost of the ingredients, that would, in the end, cost more than the bottle of dressing does.


So, as we go along, you’ll notice that some of my recipes are semi-homemade, meaning I use a store-bought item.  When I find an ingredient or component of a recipe that is just as good as something I could create on my own, and cuts down on time for me, I use it!  Yes I do!  Why fight it?  Good food is good food.  And I promise not to steer you wrong!


Apple Spinach Salad with Candied Spicy Walnuts

  • 1 bag pre washed baby spinach
  • 1/2 honey crisp apple, washed and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup currants
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 1 cup candied spiced honey walnuts (see recipe below)
  • Briana’s bottled salad dressing (the one with the strwaberry on the front), to taste
Candied Spicy Walnuts
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups walnut halves
  • Vegetable oil (for frying)
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Combine 2 cups water, sugar, and cayenne in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves and occasionally brushing down sides of pan with pastry brush dipped into water. Add walnuts to pan; reduce heat to medium and cook until syrup boils and bubbles thickly and vigorously and nuts are very sticky, about 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour enough vegetable oil into heavy large saucepan to reach depth of 4 inches; heat vegetable oil to 350°F. Drain walnuts, discarding syrup. Working in batches and using slotted spoon, transfer walnuts to hot oil and cook until well browned, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes per batch. Using slotted spoon, transfer walnuts to rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse salt; cool completely. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.)