A Salad Buffet

My youngest son and his family (including their dog) come to visit every summer around the end of July.  He graduated from college, married his fiancee, moved to St. Louis and began his engineering career all within a month’s time in 1982.  This is my favorite picture of them taken quite a few years ago.  The girls have both graduated from college by now….


…and the dog, Brandy, passed away and has been replaced by Maggie.


Each year, there’s the decision of what to cook, particularly for the big family meal when everyone gets together.  It’s always blistering hot, of course, and I don’t want to spend all of my time in the kitchen.  This year, I decided to serve corn-on-the-cob from my local farm market and a Salad Buffet.  All but one of the salads have been posted previously on my blog and are old favorites:

  • Vegetable Pasta Salad.  This is an adaptation of the Tuna and Veggie Salad posted previously.  I omitted the tuna so I could have one plain pasta salad.

  • Thai-Inspired Chicken and Noodle Salad.  This is a new salad this year and we all like it very much.  It’s good either room temperature or chilled.

THAI-INSPIRED CHICKEN AND NOODLE SALAD

  • 8 oz. ( 4 cups) LoMein noodles (or thin spaghetti)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup Teriyaki sauce
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 3 Tblsp. granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • few gratings of black pepper
  • 2 chicken breast halves, baked and shredded
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook until al dente according to package directions.  Drain pasta and rinse with cold water.  Transfer pasta to a large bowl.

In a small bowl, combine canola oil, Teriyaki sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, peanut butter, ginger and pepper.   Mix well until smooth.  Pour dressing over pasta and toss to coat evenly.  Gently mix in chicken, cilantro and toasted sunflower seeds.

This makes a big bowl of salad – 6 to 8 servings.

For dessert we had a sundae bar and then went out on the patio to work off the calories.  My daughter-in-law brought water balloons and small fireworks and the visit ended with a flourish.

Already, I’m wondering – what can I cook next year?

Warm Chicken Salad with Cantaloupe

My youngest daughter is a busy stay-at-home mom who always finds time to get together with me on Fridays for lunch.  I try to make meals that are tasty, quick and easy, and reduced in fat and calories.  Here is what we enjoyed this week.

This recipe is adapted from one in a favorite cookbook, Elsah Landing (Grafton, Illinois).  Their recipes are from their restaurant menu, so attention is paid to making the dish look pretty.

WARM CHICKEN SALAD WITH CANTALOUPE

  • ½ cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken breast, warm
  • 3 green onions with tops, diced
  •  8 Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
  • 1/4 cup light mayonnaise (Hellman’s Olive Oil)
  • 1/2 Tblsp. soy or teriyaki sauce
  • ½  tsp Greek seasoning
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 ripe cantaloupe melon
  • Leaf lettuce – 4 pieces

Spray a small non-stick skillet and saute mushrooms until tender, drain.  Place mushrooms in a medium bowl, Add chicken, onions and olives.

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, soy/teriyaki sauce, Greek seasoning and pepper.  Gently fold the dressing into the chicken mixture.

Cut chilled melon into rounds, remove seeds/rind.  Place lettuce leaf on each plate.  Put melon round on top and fill center with warm chicken salad.

4 servings

It’s really great to take a bite of cold melon along with some of the warm chicken salad.

Nutritional count according to my Diet Power software:  169 calories, 6.8 g fat, 12.7 g carb, 1.3 g fiber
Weight Watchers PointsPlus:  4

To round off the meal, we had Toffee Angel Food Dessert – 5 Weight Watchers PointsPlus.

Greek Potato Salad

I fell in love with Susan Branch with the first cookbook I bought, published in 1990, Christmas from the Heart of the Home.  Her artwork is so charming and her recipes are excellent.  Susan offered this potato salad recipe on her F.O.S.B (Friends of Susan Branch) Facebook page and it is also in her 1995 cookbook, The Summer Book.  I made a few minor adjustments (used new potatoes, less sweet pepper and feta cheese, and added a bit of honey to the dressing) and served it  for our Fourth of July lunch along with the usual hamburgers, hot dogs and baked beans.  It was great.

GREEK POTATO SALAD

  • 2 lbs. red new potatoes
  • ½ cup red sweet pepper, seeded and chopped
  • ½ cup green onions, chopped
  • ½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • ½ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved

Dressing:

  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano
  • ½ tsp. dried rosemary
  • Salt/pepper to taste

Cover the potatoes, unpeeled, with cold water and cook over medium heat until tender.  Drain thoroughly.

Place the dressing ingredients in a pint jar with a cover and shake vigorously to blend.

When cool enough to handle, cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces and place in a large salad bowl.  Add chopped vegetables, cheese and olives.

Pour dressing over salad and toss lightly.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least ½ hour.  Serve at room temperature.  Makes 8 servings. 

Susan has a wonderful blog, www.susanbranch.com.

Tuna and Veggie Pasta Salad

My youngest daughter is a busy stay-at-home mom who always finds time to get together with me on Fridays for lunch.  I try to make meals that are tasty, quick and easy, and reduced in fat and calories.  Here is what we enjoyed this week.

I’ve been making this salad for several years, adjusting and lightening it as I went.  It’s a good salad to make for a quick lunch, using whatever fresh vegetables are on hand.  A nice-sized serving is 6 Weight Watchers PointsPlus.

TUNA AND VEGGIE PASTA SALAD

2 cups of dry pasta, cooked and drained
½ cup light mayonnaise (Hellman’s Olive Oil)
1 Tblsp. granulated sugar
3 Tblsp. red wine vinegar
Sprinkling of salt and pepper
One cup of assorted chopped vegetables (red or green peppers, tomatoes, onion, celery,  cucumber, etc.)
One 5 oz. can of white albacore tuna in water, drained and flaked
2 Tblsp. chopped cilantro (optional)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sugar, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper.  Add the pasta along with the chopped vegetables and tuna.  Add cilantro or other fresh herbs if desired.

Chill for at least an hour.

Makes 6 generous cups of salad 

A serving of 1-1/3 cups = 235 calories, 8.0 g fat, 31.4 g carb, 9.2 g protein, 1.5 g fiber

Weight Watchers Points Plus = 6

For dessert, we enjoyed Grandma Martha’s Rice Pudding and Lemon Sauce – 6 Weight Watchers PointsPlus.

Chicken and Noodle Salad–5 Weight Watchers Points/Plus

My youngest daughter is a busy stay-at-home mom who always finds time to get together with me on Fridays for lunch.  I try to make meals that are tasty, quick and easy, and reduced in fat and calories.  Here is what we enjoyed this week.

I found the recipe for this salad on Delightful Country Cookin’.  The original called for Ramen noodles, but they are much too high in fat.  I substituted Lo Mein noodles, but any kind of thin pasta would work fine.

Chicken and Noodle Salad

3 oz. Lo Mein noodles (about 2 cups dry)
2 cups tart apple, chopped
1-1/2  cups cooked chicken breast, chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
½ cup red pepper, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. dried minced onion
1/2 tsp. ground mustard
1/2 tsp. poppy seeds
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tblsp. sour cream
2 Tblsp. apple cider vinegar

Prepare noodles according to package directions.  Drain and rinse in cold water, then drain again.

In a large bowl, combine the noodles, apples, chicken, peas, and pepper.

In another bowl, combine olive oil, sugar, minced onion, ground mustard, poppy seeds, salt, sour cream and apple cider vinegar.

Pour dressing over noodle mixture and toss.  Refrigerate at least one hour before serving.

Yield:  8 one-half-cup servings or 4 large servings 

Nutritional count based on 8 servings:
Per my DietPower software:  189 calories, 10.2 g fat, 15.8 g carb, 1.5 g fiber, 9.0 g protein
Weight Watchers Plus/Points:  5

For dessert, we had some delicious Butterscotch Kahlua Mousse.

Summer Lunch for the Ladies

My two daughters were here for lunch before going swimming in my neighborhood pool.  I wanted to have something summery and light and decided to have corn-on-the-cob, Pecan Spinach Toss Salad, and Pineapple Cups.

PECAN SPINACH TOSS SALAD

  • Servings: 6 generous servings
  • Print

  • 2 cups orzo pasta
  • 3 cups boiling, lightly salted water
  • 5 cups fresh baby spinach (about 5 oz.)
  • 5 oz. crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 cup toasted pecans
  • 3 Tblsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tblsp. lemon zest
  • 3 Tblsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Grinding of black pepper

Add orzo to the boiling water, bring to a boil again and cook for 6 minutes.  Rinse in cold water and drain.

Put spinach, cheese and pecans in a very large bowl or pot and add orzo.

In a small jar, mix together the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper – put a lid on the jar and shake well.  Pour this dressing over the salad and toss well.  I let the salad set for about 30 minutes and served at room temperature, although cold leftovers were also good.

WARNING:  This makes a lot of salad – it would be good to take to a potluck or family gathering.  We three each had a big serving for lunch and each one had another large serving to save for supper.

This recipe is adapted from one in Susan Branch’s AUTUMN cookbook.

I’ve been organizing my huge collection of cookbooks and this dessert recipe jumped out at me from a 1939 Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook.  There are a lot of recipes in the cookbook, but my favorites are always the Round Table Recipes from readers which were clipped from the magazine and inserted in the cookbook binder.  This one is from someone in Connecticut in November, 1940.  Her comment, “Double surprise!  Comes cake, then custard hiding pineapple!”, which describes the dish exactly. This is a nice, tasty, light dessert – just right for lunch or supper.

PINEAPPLE CUPS

  • 8 oz can pineapple tidbits, drained (reserve juice)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tblsp. all-purpose flour
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/3 cup juice drained from an 8 oz. can of pineapple tidbits
  • 1-1/2 Tblsp. lemon juice
  • 1 Tblsp. grated lemon peel
  • 1 Tblsp. butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tblsp. milk
  • 2 egg whites, beaten stiff

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Have 3 small ungreased individual baking dishes at hand.  Boil water to pour into a flat pan with a lip that will hold the 3 dishes.

Drain juice from pineapple can into a cup – should measure approximately 1/3 cup.  Set aside

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, flour and salt.  Add the lemon juice, lemon peel, cooled melted butter and milk, whisking until smooth.

Fold in the beaten egg whites.

Place tidbits in the bottom of three individual casseroles.  Divide batter among the three dishes and pour over the pineapple.  Place the dishes in a pan with a lip containing an inch of hot water.

Bake @ 325 degrees F for 45 minutes.

Pineapple cups are best served warm or at room temperature.

The buttered corn-on-the cob, the Pecan Spinach Toss Salad and this Pineapple Cup dessert made the perfect ladies’ summertime meal.

Yukon Chicken Salad

This is a combination of a couple of favorites, made with the little Yukon Gold potatoes.  My husband was growing Yukon Golds in his garden in the late 1990s, before they became so popular on all of the cooking shows.  We loved them then and I’m happy they’re available in all of the grocery stores now.  Combined with chicken, gorgonzola cheese and walnuts – what’s not to like?

YUKON CHICKEN SALAD

  • 10 small Yukon Gold potatoes (2-2-1/2″ diameter), unpeeled
  • 1 large tart apple, thinly sliced (Golden Delicious)
  • 1/4 cup sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, coarsley chopped
  • 1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
  • 1 cup chopped, cooked chicken breast
  • 1 Tblsp. fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • Salt/Pepper to taste

Wash potatoes and put in a large pot.  Cover with cold water and cook over medium heat until tender (30-45 minutes depending on size).  Set aside to cool.

When potatoes are cool, cut into bite-size pieces and place in a large bowl.  Add apple and onion slices, toasted walnuts, gorgonzola, cooked chicken and fresh basil.

In a jar or other container with a lid, mix the olive oil, vinegar and honey.

Pour over the potato mixture and toss to mix.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Makes 4-6 servings

This is not a very photogenic salad, but it sure is good.

Along with the salad, I served an old favorite summertime pie, Nancy’s Chocolate Lime Pie.

It was a nice summer lunch for my two daughters and two grandchildren.

A Summer Supper from Leftovers

sunflowerAfter cooking dinner for guests on Sunday, I had some leftover grilled chicken and some pasta – very small amounts.  I also had one large ripe peach and a little bit of rhubarb from my garden.  I thought if I put all of the small amounts together in the right way, I might have a nice supper for myself.

I used the peach and rhubarb along with some staples to make a Fruit Betty.  I found this recipe in a 1976 Redbook cookbook which I had gotten way back in the day for subscribing to Redbook magazine.  It’s been a good source for me all these years, although I had never made this dish before.

While the dessert was cooling, I put together a simple  salad with the chicken, pasta, some onion, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and one of my favorite dressings.

It was a very easy, fast and tasty meal.  I might have to come up with these particular leftovers again sometime.

RHUBARB AND PEACH BETTY

  • 1-1/2 cups fresh rhubarb, cut in 1″ pieces
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh peach slices
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 4 slices white bread, cut in 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 Tblsp. granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

In a medium bowl, combine rhubarb, peach slices and 1/2 cup granulated sugar.

In a small skillet over moderately low heat, melt the butter.  Add the bread cubes and raise heat slightly, toss cubes with butter and heat until golden brown, stirring occasionally.  Watch the bread cubes so that they don’t get too brown.

Place half of the fruit in a 4 to 6 inch buttered baking dish.  Top with half of the bread cubes.  Repeat layers.  Sprinkle top with 1 Tblsp. granulated sugar.

Bake uncovered @ 375 degrees F for approximately 40 minutes.

Serve with half-and-half cream. 

withcreamI really enjoyed this dessert.  It’s good warm from the oven or at room temperature and the cream is perfect to temper the tartness of the fruit.  Actually, I have more leftovers to contend with since the recipe made 3 servings, but I don’t mind a bit.

CHICKEN AND PASTA SALAD FOR ONE

  • 1 cup cooked pasta
  • 2 oz. grilled chicken breast
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped sweet onion
  • 4-5 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Red Wine Dressing
  • 2 Tblsp. fresh basil for garnish

RED WINE VINEGAR DRESSING

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (I like Hellman’s Olive Oil Mayonnaise)
  • 2 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 Tblsp. red wine vinegar
  • Sprinkling of salt
  • Grating of black pepper

Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.

Toss together the pasta, chicken and vegetables.  Add the Red Wine Vinegar Dressing and garnish with fresh basil. 

chpastaforoneThis is a very good light salad.  Of course, any vegetables and herbs could be substituted – this was what I happened to have in the refrigerator.

Being frugal and using up all the leftovers is a pretty good idea.

A Picnic at Cincinnati’s Coney Island

For generations, Cincinnati families have been going to Coney Island on the Ohio River for picnics, rides and swimming.  Until the mid-1940s, there was a beautiful boat which made the trip, bringing people from the public landing in downtown Cincinnati to this lovely spot just outside Coney’s old riverside entrance.

Then, up the hill and through the stone entrance to a day of fun.

Everyone enters  Coney Island these days by car, coming in the main front gate, but it’s still a fun way to spend a few summer hours.  I came along with my youngest daughter and her two children to see Lake Como….

….try out the ferris wheel….

…and bounce up and down on The Frog.

The best feature of this old park is the abundance of big, leafy trees and lots of shade.  We picked a shady spot to eat the picnic lunch I had prepared – chicken sandwiches on foccacia bread, brownies and our favorite Broccoli Salad.  Here’s the recipe for the broccoli salad which is a little lower in fat than the original:

BROCCOLI BACON PECAN SALAD

  • 3/4 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tblsp. red wine vinegar
  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • 3 strips bacon, fried and crumbled
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped
  • 1/4 cup raisins

Blend mayonnaise, granulated sugar and vinegar and refrigerate until ready to mix with vegetables.

Blanch broccoli by steaming for just a few minutes – just until the broccoli turns bright green.  Place broccoli, bacon, cheese, onion, pecans and raisins in a large bowl and refrigerate until ready to mix.

AT LEAST ONE HOUR BEFORE SERVING, mix mayo dressing with salad and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Yield:  4-6 servings.

A Good Sunday Lunch

I offered to fix lunch for my two daughters and two grandchildren before they headed for the large pool at Coney Island in Cincinnati.  One daughter suggested an oriental style pasta salad would be good and I found one on Allrecipes.  This is my edited version with a few changes.

SESAME PASTA CHICKEN SALAD

  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 8 oz bow tie pasta (Barilla Piccolini)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup Teriyaki sauce
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 3 Tblsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • few gratings of black pepper
  • 2 chicken breast halves, baked and shredded
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds

Heat a small skillet over medium high heat.  Add sesame seeds and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly toasted.   Remove from heat and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook for 7 minutes.  Drain pasta and rinse under cold water.  Transfer pasta to a large bowl.

In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine canola oil, Teriyaki sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, sesame seeds, ginger and pepper.  Shake well.  Pour dressing over pasta and toss to coat evenly.  Gently mix in chicken, cilantro and toasted almonds.

The three adults loved this salad – it was exactly what I was looking for in flavor and I would suggest that you not omit the fresh cilantro.  It just adds so much to the salad.

For dessert, I pulled out a recipe for a pie that myoldest daughter had made for a pie contest at the Hamilton County Fair (Cincinnati) in 1985.  She won an award and as soon as we tasted it, we could see why.  It’s incredibly rich, so plan on at least 8 servings.

NANCY'S CHOCOLATE LIME PIE

  • 16 chocolate sandwich cookies, crushed (Oreo)
  • 2 Tblsp. butter, melted
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 14 oz. sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
  • 2 envelopes of Nestle Choco-Bake pre-melted chocolate
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 3 egg whites
  • 7 oz. jar of marshmallow creme

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

Crust:

In a 9″ pie pan, combine crumbs with melted butter.  Press onto bottom and up sides of pie plate.  Bake @ 375 degrees  F for about 8 minutes.  Cool while preparing filling.

Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees F.

Filling:

In mixer bowl beat egg yolks at high speed about 4 minutes.  Add condensed milk, pre-melted chocolate and lime juice, mixing well.  Pour into prepared crust.

Meringue:

Beat egg whites to soft peaks, gradually adding marshmallow creme, incorporating well and beating to stiff peaks.  Spread over filling.

Bake @ 350 degrees F for 12 minutes until meringue is golden brown.

Chill for 2-3 hours.

Note: It’s important to chill the pie well and to chill any leftovers to make the pie easier to serve.