Spicy steak salad

When I add a new cookbook to my collection, I hope for 3 – 5 inspirations. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t. One of my very successful purchases was the Cooking Light Big Book of Salads. I have used it so many times that it is falling apart. That doesn’t stop me from turning to it for further ideas.

I gave it to Samantha on Sunday and asked her to choose a salad. She picked a spicy beef and rice noodle salad. She ended up being a little disappointed because the recipe calls for habanero pepper and I had to substitute jalapeno. The bright side is that you can add the peppers after the fact so I skipped the heat altogether and let Keith and Samantha divide the minced jalapeno.

Spicy beef and rice noodle salad

  • 4 oz rice-flour noodles
  • 12 oz flank steak, trimmed of fat
  • salt and pepper
  • cooking spray
  • shredded lettuce
  • sliced red onion (or scallion)
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and chopped
  • 1 jalapeno or jabanero pepper, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 TB sugar
  • 1 TB fish sauce
  • fresh basil leaves

Cook needles according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking. Chop.

Freeze steak for 5- 10 minutes. Remove from freezer and slice thinly across the grain. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat a nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray and cook steak until done (about 4 minutes).

Combine steak, noodles, lettuce, onion, cucumber and peppers. Whisk together lime juice, sugar and fish sauce and pour over salad. Top with basil. Serve.

Beach dinner salad bar

Last night’s dinner was designed to offer something for everyone. I wanted tuna because the tuna at the beach is so good. Samantha doesn’t like tuna but we had leftover grilled chicken so that offered her a protein she liked. I had a variety of things and set them out with dressed lettuce and let everyone assemble their own plate. Here is what I did:


  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 egg
  • about 3 TB white Balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil

I whisked together the mustard and egg and then whisked in vinegar (I would have used sherry vinegar but they didn’t have it at the market here.) Then I slowly whisked in olive oil until it was emulsified (and I checked to make sure it tasted good.)

Salad options

  • grilled tuna
  • grilled chicken
  • leftover bacon from breakfast
  • hard-boiled eggs
  • sliced tomatoes
  • sliced peppers
  • warm goat cheese rounds (dipped in olive oil and panko and heated until just soft)
  • cooked potatoes (I used a package from the Little Potato Company and cooked them in the microwave)
  • croutons

Here is a picture of my plate:

Salad night

I was looking through a salad cookbook searching for inspiration.  I found an Italian salad with salami, prosciutto and Fontina cheese that sounded interesting.  I showed my husband and he pointed out a tuna with Asian slaw.  I was surprised as he usually isn’t as big a fan of tuna as I am but was happy to accommodate.  I tweaked a bit and here is what I did.  This is a nice healthy dinner if you are trying to eat lighter in the New Year.

Seared Tuna and slaw

  • 1 head Napa cabbage thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 TB mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp honey Dijon mustard
  • 1 TB low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 4 TB canola oil
  • 2 TB sesame oil
  • 3/4 lb tuna steaks
  • additional canola oil for searing

Combine cabbage and scallions in a large bowl.  Whisk together vinegar, mayonnaise, mustard, soy sauce and ginger.  Combine oils in a measuring cup and whisk into vinegar mixture, pouring slowly and steadily.  Toss dressing with cabbage and scallions.

Season tuna with salt and pepper.  Heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat and add about 1 TB canola oil.  When oil is hot, sear tuna about 2 – 3 minutes per side.  Remove from heat and slice.

Place slaw on plate and top with sliced tuna.




Spinach salad with grilled salmon

Tonight was healthy eating night – spinach salad with grilled salmon.  I cooked the salmon on the stove on a grill pan.  It definitely helps to cover the salmon with a pan lid.  This salad is very adaptable and can easily incorporate leftovers or favorite elements (olives, nuts, other veggies, etc.)

Spinach salad with salmon

  • baby spinach
  • 1 minced shallot
  • 3 TB olive oil (I used some flavored olive oil)
  • 1 TB white wine vinegar
  • salmon fillet (about 6 oz per person)
  • pine nuts
  • goat cheese

Combine the shallot, olive oil and vinegar in a jar and shake to combine.  Brush salmon with olive oil and cook on a grill pan over medium heat about 5 minutes per side covered.  (I started with the skin side up).  Put spinach on plates and pour dressing over spinach.  Heat goat cheese in a hot oven for 3 – 4 minutes until warm but not melted and toast pine nuts.  Top dressed spinach with pine nuts, warm goat cheese and cooked salmon (and whatever else you like – we had the leftover garlic smashed potatoes on the side).


Eating like rabbits

Poor Keith!  I think he is starting to feel like a bunny rabbit with all of the salads.  I did another different entree salad tonight.  Trying to get lots of flavor helps to keep it from being too mundane.  He liked both dinners so we’re building up more variety on the salads for dinner.  It is important to pound the chicken breasts – that way they grill quickly and they stay moist.  It is very easy to overcook chicken breasts and dry chicken is no fun.

Grilled lemon chicken with arugula

  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast per person
  • 1 shallot minced
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 TB olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • arugula
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, finely chopped
  • additional 4 TB olive oil
  • 1 TB red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 TB dijon mustard
  • 1/2 egg

Pound chicken breasts flat between sheets of wax paper.  Whisk together shallot, lemon juice, 3 TB olive oil and pepper.  Marinate chicken in mixture for 1 – 4 hours.  Combine arugula, tomatoes and onion in a large bowl.  Shake 4 TB olive oil, vinegar, mustard and egg in a jar.  (If you have dogs they will happily eat the remaining egg!)

Grill chicken about 3 minutes a side.  Toss arugula mixture with dressing and divide between plates.  Top each plate with grilled chicken and serve.



Spicy shrimp salad

I adapted this from a recipe I found in a book.  We both love the taste of chipotle peppers.  Buy a can of the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (you can find them in the Mexican food section of your grocery store.)  You can either puree the whole jar in a food processor or blender and keep them in a container in the fridge or keep them in a container in the fridge in their whole state.  We love them in mayonnaise, in quesadillas, in marinades, etc.  They seem to go really well with shrimp!

Chipotle shrimp salad

  • 3/4 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • fresh ground pepper and kosher salt
  • 1 celery stalk, minced
  • 2 tsp chopped red onion
  • 3 TB mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 tsp pureed chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (buy a can, puree them in a food processor and keep in the fridge in a jar)
  • salad greens (I used mache)
  • sliced tomato

Preheat oven to 425.  Toss shrimp with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast for 7 – 10 minutes (depending on the size of the shrimp) or until cooked through.  (If you line the pan with aluminum foil, there is nothing to clean up.)

While shrimp are cooking, whisk mayonnaise and chipotle pepper together (or combine in a food processor or blender.)  Stir in celery and onion.  When shrimp are cooled, cut in half lengthwise and toss with mayonnaise mixture.  Serve on top of greens with sliced tomato.

Spicy shrimp salad

Spicy shrimp salad

Chicken Caesar Salad

By Thursday everyone is fading.  It’s been a hectic week and I’m tired.  It’s one of the reasons that I find the menu planning to be so helpful.  The temptation to bail on cooking and get carryout or something from prepared foods is strong but knowing that I have all of the ingredients (including leftover cooked chicken) for Chicken Caesar Salad helps me gather the energy to pull this together.

Caesar Salad

  • Romaine lettuce
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic pressed
  • 1 egg (I use raw egg and have never had a problem)
  • Juice of 1 lemon or about 1 TB Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • anchovies, optional
  • croutons, optional

Combine olive oil and garlic and let sit for up to 4 hours.  Strain garlic, reserving olive oil.  Wash and dry lettuce and place in a bowl.  Grind pepper over lettuce and toss with oil.  Add egg and toss well.  Add lemon juice and toss.  Add parmesan cheese and toss.  Serve with anchovies and or croutons if desired.  Top with leftover chicken or other protein of your choice.

Chicken Caesar Salad

Chicken Caesar Salad

We’ll save the carryout for tomorrow night after Samantha’s lacrosse game!

Southwestern Cobb salad

I found a recipe in the Cooking Light Big Book of Salads that I liked in concept.  I made some changes to it and we loved it.  Also found that although I constantly see adds on the Food Network for Queso Fresco, it is not that easy to locate.  After two unsuccessful ventures, I substituted goat cheese crumbles.  It was excellent but I am now on a mission to track down Queso Fresco!

Southwestern Cobb Salad


  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp dried chipotle pepper
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 1 tsp honey

Shake all ingredients together in a glass jar with a lid.


  • 1 bone in chicken breast per person
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • pepper

Preheat oven to 375.  Toss chicken with oil and salt and pepper in a ceramic baking dish.  Bake at 375 for 30 – 40 minutes.  Remove skin and slice.


  • dressing (see above)
  • chicken (see above)
  • romaine lettuce, washed and dried
  • 1 avocado, pit removed and sliced
  • 3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • cheese (preferably Queso Fresco but you can substitute goat cheese or feta)
  • salsa

Mound plates with lettuce and top with dressing.  Line up chicken, black beans, avocado, cheese and bacon.  Serve.  Delicious and pretty!

Southwestern Cobb salad

Southwestern Cobb salad

Arugula salmon salad

I adapted this from a recipe in a salad cookbook.  I think you could easily tweak based on what you like.  Here is what I did:

  • 2 salmon fillets (4 – 6 oz each), rinsed, dried and seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 4 tsp Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 large (or 2 small) minced shallots
  • 1 package grape tomatoes, washed, dried and halved
  • 1 package arugula

Whisk olive oil, vinegar and shallots together. Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat.  Toss tomatoes with salt and pepper and cook 3 – 5 minutes, stirring.  Add tomatoes to olive oil mixture and whisk to combine.

Season salmon fillets with salt and pepper.  Wipe nonstick pan and heat over medium heat.  Add app. 1 tsp olive oil and cook salmon skin side up about 3 minutes, each side about 2 minutes and skin side down about 2 minutes.  Remove and cover with aluminum foil.

Pile each plate with arugula.  Top with a cooked salmon fillet and tomato vinaigrette.

Salad for dinner

Salad for dinner



Another big salad

We keep trying to make up for overindulgence with big salads.  Tonight we went for a Caesar salad with roasted shrimp.

Caesar Salad

  • 3/4 lb shrimp, cleaned and deveined, tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted at 425 for about 10 minutes
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • 1/4 cup good Olive Oil
  • 1 clove Garlic pressed
  • 1 Egg (I use raw egg and have never had a problem)
  • Juice of 1 lemon or about 1 TB Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • Anchovies, optional
  • Croutons, optional

Combine olive oil and garlic and let sit for up to 4 hours.  Strain garlic, reserving olive oil.  Wash and dry lettuce and place in a bowl.  Grind pepper over lettuce and toss with oil.  Add egg and toss well.  Add lemon juice and toss.  Add parmesan cheese and toss.  Top with cooked shrimp.  Serve with anchovies and or croutons if desired.

A healthy dinner!

A healthy dinner!