Monday, May 29, 2017

Southwestern Pasta Salad


Here's a pasta salad for you if you like a little southwest flavor to your food. The flavor of your pasta salad will largely be determined by what barbecue sauce you use. So, you can tailor it to your tastes. If you want something hot and spicy, use a hot and spicy barbecue sauce. If you want something sweeter, you can go that direction. It's really up to you!


Barbecue Chicken Pasta Salad


3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
2 cups barbecue sauce, divided
1 (16 ounce) package small whole-wheat pasta shells

1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon ground cuin
1 cup jicama, peeled and diced
2 red bell peppers, seeded and diced
2 orange bell peppers, seeded and diced
1 (15.25 ounce) cans whole kernel corn, drained
3/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped (optional)
1 small red onion, chopped (optional)


Place the chicken breasts into a saucepan over medium-low heat and pour in 1 cup of barbecue sauce. Simmer the chicken until the meat is no longer pink inside, about 15 minutes. Allow to cool, and dice chicken meat.

Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain well and rinse with cold water until chilled. Drain again thoroughly.

In a large salad bowl, whisk 1 cup of barbecue sauce with mayonnaise until thoroughly combined. Mix in the cumin, then stir in cooked chicken. Place cooked pasta, jicama, red and orange bell peppers, corn, cilantro, black beans, jalapeno peppers, and red onion into the salad bowl, and gently fold to combine with the chicken and dressing. Serve warm or chilled.

Source:, submitted by nenithel. You can find it here.

Notes: Ours was a sweeter pasta salad because of the barbecue sauce we used. It was great as a sweeter pasta salad, but would also be great if you opted to go more on the spicy side, or the smoky side, etc. Just use your favorite barbecue sauce and enjoy!

Dress That Salad

Here are a few homemade salad dressing recipes that we have found. You can't beat the convenience of store-bought bottled dressing, but you can't beat the taste of homemade salad dressing.

My apologies, but I can't find any of my pictures for these dressings. I will have to post them when I find them, or make these again and take pictures again!

Lighter Green Goddess Dressing


1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1/2 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts (3 to 4 scallions)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
1 medium clove chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Put the mayonnaise, sour cream, scallions, basil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper into a blender or food processor and whirl just until silky smooth.

Store in the fridge for up to four days.

Source: We found this at Mom's Kitchen Handbook. You can find it here. On that site, it says it was adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Garten. (Clarkson Potter, 2006).

Notes: This makes a thick, creamy dressing that can be used as a vegetable dip or a salad dressing. If you like thinner dressing, you can thin it down with a little olive oil and vinegar, or add a little milk.

Green Goddess Salad Dressing


2 cloves garlic
1 scallion
1 handful (about 1/2 cup) fresh herbs (parsley, dill, basil, or cilantro are good options)
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup water (omit if you prefer a thicker, dip-like consistency)
Salt and pepper, to taste


Add all ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth and creamy. If you don't have a food processor, mince the garlic and herbs with a knife and add in some finely chopped chives instead of the scallions.

Notes: Experiment with the combination of herbs to find what you like best. If needed, you can add a pinch of sugar, to taste. You can also substitute half of the mayonnaise with fat-free Greek yogurt to lighten this up.

Source: Busy in Brooklyn. You can find it here.

Miso Dressing


1 rounded tablespoon white or yellow miso
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar, or 1 tablespoon rice vinegar and 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 small garlic press, minced or put through a press
Pinch of cayenne
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
2 tablespoons peanut oil or grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons low-fat yogurt


Combine the miso and vinegar (or the vinegar and lime juice) in a small bowl and whisk together. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk until amalgamated. You can also mix this in a blender.

Toss with the salad of your choice.

Source: NY Times by Martha Rose Shulman. You can find it here.

Notes: The recipe suggests that this dressing is great for cooked vegetable salads, spinach salads, tofu and noodle salads, and that it is also delicious with a simple bowl of rice.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Summer is for Salads


Bring on the veggies! This is a salad that will round out your meal nicely. I like salads with a lot of stuff in them, and this is definitely one of those salads.

Lemon Artichoke Romaine Salad


10 cups torn romaine
4 plum tomatoes, sliced
1 (14 ounce) can water-packed artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained, and quartered
1 (2.25 ounce) can sliced ripe olives, drained
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese


In a bowl, combine first four ingredients. Combine water, lemon juice, oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Pour over salad; toss to coat. Sprinkle with cheese.

Source:, submitted by Kathleen Law. You can find it here.

Notes: I love artichoke hearts. I could go for some of this salad right now!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Gooey Sugar Cookie Bars


Here is a dessert that will hit the spot. It is the perfect dessert if you are craving fresh strawberries.

Gooey Sugar Cookie Bars



1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup butter, melted


3 cups coarsely chopped strawberries (about 1 lb)
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped


Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray bottom of 13x9-inch pan with cooking spray.

In large bowl, stir cookie mix and 1/2 cup softened butter until mixture forms coarse crumbs. Spread mixture evenly in pan; press lightly.

In large bowl, beat cream cheese, 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, eggs, and vanilla with electric mixer on low sped until blended; scrape bottom and side of bowl. beat on high speed until smooth. Beat in 1/3 cup melted butter until blended. Pour over cookie mixture; spread evenly.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely, about 2 hours.

Just before serving, in medium bowl, mix strawberries, 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, and the lemon juice. Let stand 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. To serve, cut bars into 5 rows by 3 rows. Top each with strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream. Cover and refrigerate any remaining bars.

Source: Betty Crocker website. You can find it here.

Notes: This was really tasty and addicting.

Another Great Slow Cooker Potato Recipe

I love potatoes in every form and prepared by every cooking method. They just never get old for me. Here's a great slow cooker mashed potato recipe for you to try.

Crockpot Three Cheese Mashed Potatoes


5 pounds russet potatoes or Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed (you can leave the peels on, if you like)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
3 cups whole milk
1 cup low sodium chicken broth or water
1 teaspoon salt and pepper, plus more to taste
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded gruyere cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
6 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon sage


Add the potatoes, garlic, 1 cup milk, the chicken broth, salt, and pepper to your slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 5-6 hours, or on low for 6-8 hours. When the potatoes are fork tender, mash them using a potato masher or a hand held mixer until completely creamy, adding the remaining 2 cups milk, if needed, to thin. Stir in the cheese, cover and cook another 15 minutes or until melted and creamy.

Meanwhile, in a skillet, melt the butter over medium heat until just browned, whisking the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Stir in the sage and let cook for 30 seconds. Pour the browned butter into the warm mashed potatoes. taste and season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Source: Half Baked Harvest. You can find it here.

Notes: You can serve with the butter poured over the top, or you can stir the butter in to mix it throughout. One picture shows pools of butter while the other shows the butter mixed in.