Monday, June 25, 2012

Salad. And more salad.

I'm quickly running out of backlogged meals, which means I'll probably have to start cooking things that are blog worthy again instead of old standby's - yes, that's right.  I've been cheating Yummy Mondays lately.  See?  The blog's not the only thing to get the shaft...  I suppose it's a good thing.  My family will be excited not to have Idaho Spaghetti for the 5th week in a row.

So anyway... after looking through the following photos, I realized this was a night of salads. Unintentionally.  But still.  Salads worth making, though.  Just thought I'd point that out.

Starting off:  A fruity salad of my own creation - Banana-Berry Salad.  It's rather similar to this fruit salad of last summer.  But more healthful.

Banana-Berry Salad
1 package blackberries
1 package raspberries
1 package strawberries
3 bananas
1/2 C Greek Yogurt, Vanilla flavor
2 T C french vanilla dairy creamer (for coffee)
2 T milk

Wash everything thoroughly.  Cut up the strawberries and bananas.  Toss the berries and bananas gently in a bowl.  In another bowl, stir together the yogurt, creamer and milk.  Pour this over the berries and bananas and mix gently.  Chill.  Serve cold.

You might have noticed that I've been using some french vanilla dairy creamer in quite a few things lately.  The truth is, I bought it a while ago for flavored whipped cream, and since we don't drink coffee it's just been sitting in my fridge.  Not wanting it to go to waste, I've had to get creative in adding it to things.  Although, they all have the same general features... creamy saucy type things.  Anyway, it was pretty yummy, and the yogurt allowed me to not feel guilty about calling it a salad.  bug liked it very much, except for the "gross parts" which I assume meant the rasp- and black- berries since they have lots of seeds.

I found the Oriental Chicken Salad on Pinterest (of course).  Now, I know what you're thinking.  "Oh, that same old, same old raman/cabbage/almonds/crunchy salad-y thing but with chicken, eh?" (except maybe you aren't using a Wisconsin accent.  I don't know.)  But it's not!  Oh, no!  This is something new and different for us!  (name that movie...)  You can find the original on Cook Lisa Cook.

Oriental Chicken Salad

For the salad:
2 packages (3 ounces each) ramen noodle mix, Oriental flavor, flavor packet set aside for dressing
½ cup sliced almonds
1 package (16 ounces) tri-color coleslaw mix
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
1 large bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
6 green onions, whites & green, chopped
3-4 each, mini red, orange & yellow sweet peppers, cut in long strips
vinaigrette dressing (recipe below)

Heat oven to 350 F.  Break up the ramen noodles and place them and the almonds on a baking sheet.  Bake for about 6 minutes, or until the noodles and almonds turn light brown.
Place slaw mix, chicken, cilantro, green onions & sliced peppers in a large serving bowl.  Toss to combine.
Just before serving, pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat.  Scatter the toasted almonds and noodles on top and serve.

Vinaigrette dressing:
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 1/2 TBS fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons honey
Freshly ground black pepper
1 reserved flavor packet from the ramen noodles
1/2 cup olive oil

Mix the vinegar, lemon juice, honey, pepper and one of the reserved flavor packets from the noodles in a blender.  Once combined, with the blender running, gradually blend in the oil.

We especially liked this take on a vinaigrette dressing.  It was very light and fresh tasting - not heavy.  Not overbearing.  The whole salad had a refreshing quality to it - very fresh, nice and crunchy.  All the tastes worked together and nothing overpowered anything else.  A nice balance.  Listen to me, holy cow.  I sound like a food critic.  Honestly, though, that really is what we all thought.  Well, except bug, who was just trying to figure out how to look like he'd eaten his dinner while still avoiding the peppers, the meat and anything green.  And mr who just thought, "Mmmm.  Gooood."  (Kidding.  He's much more articulate than that...)

And for dessert?  Another pinteresting find!  This one is Mint Brownie Cupcakes.  The original can be found at Simple Girl At Home, which was actually a spin off of Martha Stewart brownies, here.  Martha Stewart makes the brownies, Simple Girl makes them into cupcakes.  

I won't include the recipe, because the Martha link takes you right to it, and I added nothing.  But I will tell you my experience with these which includes a fair amount of disappointment.

The picture on Pinterest looks amazing.  Obviously.  Why would you pin it otherwise?  But my brownies did not turn out so fluffy and gooey.  In fact, most of the york peppermint patty centers cooked right out.  Much of the minty cream stuff hardened and glued itself to the cupcake papers.  Honestly, this could very well be all my fault.  Maybe I cooked them too long.  Maybe I beat them too hard.  I don't know.  All I know it, it was another Martha fail as far as presentation.  (remember how I don't like her?)

But, BUT, they tasted pretty darn good.  I suppose I can't write them off completely, because they were eaten - every last one.  I just don't think I'll be making them again, personally.  Too tired of scraping off cupcake paper to get to the chocolate.  Too opposed to accidentally eating more cupcake paper that didn't come off and went unnoticed.

I give the salads two thumbs up.  The cupcakes get one.  But, you can go ahead and see for yourselves.

*Be sure to check the right sidebar for all the fun parties I link to!

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