Category Archives: Salads

Homemade Ranch Dressing

I can’t believe I have never tried making homemade ranch before. It was SO worth the less than 10 minute effort that I had to put in! The original recipe called for fresh herbs, I use dried for the sake of time, and it’s great.

I highly recommend you use this dressing on a homemade Porta salad (you Madisonites know what I’m talking about). Aaron and I love to recreate the Porta salad from Paisans. It is loaded with amazing toppings including: salami, turkey, ham, garbanzo beans, shredded cheese, diced green peppers and diced tomatoes. We also like to add cucumbers and hard boiled eggs to make it more filling.

And yes as you can see from the picture I like to make salads at home in a big mixing bowl, ha!

Homemade Ranch Dressing


  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 cup real mayonnaise
  •  1/2 cup sour cream
  •  1 teaspoon dried parsley
  •  1 teaspoon dried dill
  •  1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  •  1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
  •  1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chives, finely chopped (optional)
  •  Dash hot sauce (optional)
  •  1/4 buttermilk or milk (as needed for desired consistency)


  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Add milk or buttermilk if needed to reach desired consistency. Chill for at least an hour before serving to allow the flavors to meld.

Makes about 8 servings.

Recipe adapted from Food Network




Filed under Salads

Brussel Sprout & Cranberry Salad


I’ve been on a roll lately, cooking up a storm! November and December are most definitely my favorite months to cook and bake. Thanksgiving and Christmas food = THE BEST!

This salad could easily be added to the Thanksgiving menu. To jazz it up for a holiday I would also add something that makes everything better… bacon!! Even my Dad went back for a second helping, and he isn’t always easy to please 😉

Now, how ridiculously adorable are these two?! 

Brussel Sprout & Cranberry Salad

  • 3-4 cups brussels sprouts, tough outer leaves pulled away
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese crumbles (I like to buy the brick and crumble it myself)
  • 1 apple, chopped
  • 2 jumbo shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • For the Maple-Balsamic Vinaigrette:
    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
    • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    • salt and pepper, to taste


  1. To shred the brussel sprouts hold the brussel sprout by the core and thinly slice it with a very sharp knife. Discard the cores. Place shreds in a medium bowl. Add cranberries pecans, feta and apple.
  2. To make dressing combine vinaigrette ingredients in a small mason jar. Shake well to combine.
  3. When you’re ready to serve the salad prepare the shallots. Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Add olive oil and butter. Add half of the shallots and caramelize until just golden. Remove and place on a plate with paper towel. Do the same with the second half of the shallots. They get kind of crispy and really make the salad great!
  4. Add shallots to the salad and toss with the dressing.

Makes 6-7 servings.

Recipe adapted from Iowa Girl Eats.

Leave a comment

Filed under Salads, Side dish

Pecan & Grape Salad


Can you tell I’m a lover of summer side salads? My last post was broccoli and cauliflower salad, have you tried it yet? I have received some great positive feedback on it’s deliciousness!

I had never heard of grape salad before one of my wonderful coworkers brought it to one of our potlucks (yes, my workplace is awesome because we have occassional celebratory potlucks).

This “salad” really belongs more in the dessert category. But hey, I live on the edge and eat it right along side of a meal. 😉

Pecan & Grape Salad

  • 7 or 8 cups red seedless grapes, washed & stemmed (about one very large bag, or two small bags)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Pecan Topping

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup toasted pecans, chopped


  1. Combine sour cream, cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Stir in the grapes until well coated. Pour the grape mixture into a large serving bowl.
  2. In a small bowl combine the brown sugar and pecans. Evenly sprinkle the sugar and pecans on top of the grapes. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

Makes about 10-12 servings.

Recipe adapted from Deliciously Sprinkled

Leave a comment

Filed under Salads, Side dish, Sweet indulgences

Broccoli & Cauliflower Salad


Now that summer is in full swing, so are summer salads! How can you go wrong with fresh summer veggies covered in bacon and cheese?! 🙂 The slightly sweet (from the raisins and dressing) and salty combination is spot on.

This recipe makes a ton and is easily made the night before a party or cookout.

Broccoli & Cauliflower Salad

  • 3-4 small heads of broccoli, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 of a red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 7 slices of thick cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup  sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • pepper, to taste


  1. In a large bowl combine the broccoli, cauliflower, red onion, shredded cheese, bacon and raisins.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the mayo, sugar, vinegar and pepper. Slowly add the dressing until you have the desired about of dressing mixed in. I usually don’t use it all, but it also depends on how much broccoli and cauliflower you use.
  3. Refrigerate the salad for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Makes 10-12 servings.

Recipe adapted from Life in Pleasantville


Filed under Salads, Side dish

Whole Foods Copy-Cat Curried Chicken Salad

photo (36)

I have to tell you that I am pumped about this recipe! Have you ever had the curried chicken salad at Whole Foods? It’s deeeelicious! One day I wrote down all the ingredients to attempt to remake it. Months later I have finally recreated it and I don’t know why I waited so long!

This recipe certainly isn’t as good as the real thing, but it’s close! It does not have any mayo, but I don’t miss the mayo at all. It has a pretty bold flavor, so if you like your chicken salad a little milder just reduce the spices and leave out the cayenne pepper. My favorite way to serve it is over spinach. It’s also great with crackers, in a sandwich, the options are endless 🙂

Curried Chicken Salad

  • 2 chicken breasts, shredded or diced
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup almonds, chopped or slivered and toasted
  • 1/4 cup currants (optional)
  • 2 (5.3 oz) plain non-fat greek yogurt containers
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon celery seed
  • dash cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • baby spinach for serving, if desired


  1. To make dressing combine yogurt, honey and spices in a medium bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. Stir in the chicken, green onions, celery, raisins, almonds and currants. Serve over a bed of spinach or in a sandwich or wrap.

Makes 5-6 servings.


Filed under Main dishes, Salads

Southwest Black Bean Quinoa Salad

I have mentioned before that I can’t get enough quinoa, in particular quinoa salads. Lots of fresh raw veggies and gluten-free quinoa all covered with a delicious dressing, it’s perfection! This southwest and black bean salad is one of my favorite recent creations. It has the perfect hint of lime and smokey cumin in every bite. I love that it is a meat-less dish, but is still filling enough even for dinner. And it almost requires no heat to make (except for 20 minutes to cook the quinoa) … which makes it great for a hot day when the last thing you want to do is use the oven!

Southwest Black Bean Quinoa Salad

Southwest Black Bean Quinoa Salad

  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 1 – 14 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 of a 14 oz. can of corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 5 green onions, sliced
  • 1 or 2 avocados, diced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped


  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin (I actually used 1 1/2 teaspoons because I love cumin)
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Rinse the quinoa thoroughly and place in a medium sauce pan with 2 cups of water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes. Put quinoa in a large bowl to cool.
  2. While the quinoa cools chop the peppers, onions, and cilantro and place them in a large bowl.
  3. Prepared the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, lime zest, lime juice and spices.
  4. Add the quinoa, black beans and corn to the large bowl of veggies, stir to combine. Pour the dressing over the salad and stir well. Gently fold in the diced avocado, or top each serving with diced avocado. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Makes 6-8 servings.

1 Comment

Filed under Salads