Tag Archives: salad

Balsamic Vinaigrette Experiment

Well, Thanksgiving is over. From what I can tell, the majority of my friends had a wonderful holiday. I am no exception.  It was a wonderful time with family and friends around our table.  We all were responsible for bringing an item to the table for the meal.  I chose to make a salad.  Thinking ahead to overstuffed stomachs and excessive amounts of tryptophan, my choice was to go lighter.

My decision was based on kale.  It’s the hot green right now, but besides that, it’s really delicious! Then I was led to dressing choice.  Balsamic was the way to go.  It is a rarity that I buy ready made dressing, and this time was no different.  I haven’t made any balsamic in ages, but knew I didn’t want the straight oil and vinegar.  Too boring.

So, I started experimenting.  I made a base dressing of two parts oil and one part balsamic. (I used half olive oil and half canola oil as my olive oil was almost out.) A little later, I had four different types of dressing! I will tell you most about the one I ended up using, but will describe the others in case you are interested.

Ingredients going in.

Ingredients going in.

Dressing after the blender.

Dressing after the blender.

Per the norm, measuring was at a minimum, but I tried to eye it and keep track as I knew I would be writing about it. So, here goes.

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

2/3 cup oil (stick to a neutral flavored oil such as canola, safflower, or a good quality olive)

1/4 cup natural apple juice (no sugar added)

1 heaping Tbsp coarse ground mustard

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

2 tsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp sea salt or kosher salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend well until the mixture well combined.  It will be quite light brown in color.  Longer it sits, the better it gets. So, let it sit a while before you eat it.

The salad itself was quite simple.


Butter lettuce

Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

Fresh pear slices

Toasted pecans

I assembled on the plates, as not to bruise the pears and to have better presentation. I wanted pumpkin seeds to start with, but could not find them in my county. Ha! Didn’t think far enough ahead to get any. I will try this again and with the seeds.

The other variations I made had the following ingredients: I made tiny amounts and have no measurements here- so you are on your own. This can just be a starter for you.

1. First was the same oil and vinegar base (2:1. You can do 3:1 if it’s too tart for you)

To that, I added nutmeg, allspice, cumin, pureed pumpkin (leftover) salt, and pepper.  I would use probably 1/4 tsp of each of these spices and maybe 1/4 cup pumpkin.  Blend and let rest.

These other two were a little different.  I tried walnut oil instead.  Different and very much an autumn flavor.

2. 2:1 Walnut oil to vinegar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, lots of fresh cracked black pepper, quite a few dashes of bitters. (This one was really different, but I loved it).

3. Last was the walnut oil and bv, along with Dijon mustard, brown sugar, black pepper, and cinnamon.

Plated and ready!

Plated and ready!

Give some of these a whirl and let me know how they turn out! If they are too tart, just add a little more oil.  No problem!

Cheers, O


Posted by on November 29, 2013 in Food, What's For Dinner?


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Trying a New Vinaigrette


This, ladies and gentleman, is one of the best salads I’ve made and had in a very long time. Tired of the mundane oil & vinegar or ranch that I often eat, I was ready for something fresh and different. I browsed around on the net and came across a couple of salads that looked yummy. Of course, based on what I had and what I liked, I combined and modified them. The salad has a multitude of flavors, combining far east, the South, Southwest and turning into nothing less than American. Here is the end result of my experiment.

Ingredients for the salad:

butter lettuce
bleu or gorgonzola cheese

As usual, there is very little measuring with me. I just put each salad together on the plate rather than tossing it and prepared it for either one, two, or three people at a time. I put the greens down first, then sprinkled the rest of the ingredients on top.

You can roast the corn on the grill or on the stove top. I chose the stove top. The kernels went into a medium hot dry iron skillet and were stirred occasionally to obtain the blackened edges. Do not use any oil, butter, or liquid. The purpose is to brown, not cook/fry the corn. Keep an eye on it. You want the kernels to be darkened but not burned to a crisp. They can go from browned to burned in a flash. The day I took this picture, I used frozen corn. A different day, I used fresh, but just made sure to have as little liquid as I could in the skillet.

Here is the dressing. It can be halved or doubled at your leisure. It should not be a problem.
1/2 c. olive oil
2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar (or white balsamic vinegar)
4 Tbsp. lime juice
2 Tbsp. honey
2 tsp. chili garlic sauce (Sriracha)
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin

Mix and drizzle over the top of the salad. You could toss it in a big bowl as well, but the presentation seems prettier when the ingredients aren’t damaged in the toss.

This would be a great addition to a low carb diet. There is very little sugar in this. The greens, avocado, and blueberries are loaded with nutrients and the berries with antioxidants. The addition of [local] honey and the chili garlic sauce will help with sinuses and allergies.

A couple of good variations would be adding some toasted nuts or seeds or changing up the fruit. Other berries or citrus would be a yummy substitute.

Probably my favorite part of this salad is the avocado and the Sriracha. The little bit of heat is such a nice addition. It makes so many things so much better or so different! I could go on and on. That’s a post for another day.

Enjoy! Let me know how it goes for you. Olivia

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Posted by on August 22, 2013 in Food


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A Fresh Summer Orzo

With the impending heat wave coming through Atlanta last week, doing a lot of cooking and heating up my kitchen was not on the short list. So, in the pattern of my mother, Fran, I decided to prepare lots of hot weather food for the rest of the week. I started with some basics of pimento cheese and chicken salad. beyond that, I wanted something new, light, and fresh. Pasta salad came to mind, but I had no interest in the same old kind I always see. So, after some brainstorming, I came up with the following idea and recipe. Orzo with asparagus, sweet peas, and herbs. This turned out to be a great dish. It is light, crisp, and fresh. I’m very happy with the finished product. The procedure and recipe follow below.

Main ingredients: Orzo, asparagus, red onion, sweet peas, dill, mint.

This recipe is another perfect example of experimentation and throwing something together. I tried to keep track of the amounts as to share with you all. Note that this recipe makes a very large amount. I didn’t measure it as a whole, but it is around 25+ servings.

1 pound orzo pasta

half bunch of very thin asparagus

1 cup frozen sweet peas

2 Tbsp fresh chopped dill

2 Tbsp fresh chopped mint

1 small red onion, chopped. Should equal about ½ to ¾ of a cup.

Olive oil or similar.

1/3 cup White balsamic vinegar

salt & fresh cracked pepper

Boil the pasta to al dente and drain. Pour back into pot or bowl and add about half the oil. Stir, then pour onto a sheet tray to cool. The oil helps to prevent sticking. The orzo I used is a longer style and very delicate. Stir every few minutes to also prevent sticking.

Blanche the asparagus for just a minute. You want it to turn bright green, then take it out of the water and immediately plunge into an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Do the same for the peas.

Chop the asparagus in small pieces, about 1/2″. Ideally, all the ingredients should be about the same size cut.

Finely chop the onion. Rough chop the dill and mint. (I rolled the mint leaves and sliced as one would basil leaves.)

Once the pasta has cooled, put in a large bowl and add the aforementioned ingredients. Stir gently.

At this point, I added the oil and vinegar. It was basically to my taste. I wanted a slight bite of the vinegar and the texture of the oil. Go easy and add a little at a time. You don’t want to pucker from the vinegar or have a greasy film in your mouth from the oil. I used sea salt at the end, just a little bit, to taste. Also I love fresh cracked pepper here, but it is not necessary if you don’t want it.

If you are wondering why I used white balsamic, there are two reasons. One is that balsamic is reduced, sweeter, and lacks the strong bite of regular vinegar. The other reason is that the color is light to clear, so it does not affect the overall color of the dish.

**Please note: Vinegar will alter the color of your veggies. They will go from bright green to a yellow-green within a few hours. No need to worry if you are serving within a few hours. However, if you are making this dish in advance, add the vinegar a little while prior to serving.

Chopped dill and mint.

Very finely chopped onion.

Blanched asparagus in ice bath.

I chopped the asparagus in small pieces, about half an inch. Notice the solor is still bright green.

The finished product! Makes for a lovely presentation on this purple glass!

What are you making that is similar to this? Do you have variations of it? Feel free to share.

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Posted by on July 5, 2012 in Food


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Wine 3 Ways

Wine is one of my very favorite things on this planet.  I drink it every single week and appreciate every drop I get.  Besides drinking it, there are lots of other things you can do with it.  Here are three to get you started. 

1.  Sauce.  Make a sauce or a reduction with it.  It is delicious over meat and accompanied by a starch and a good veg.  Mmmm. My mouth is watering right now.  Here are a couple of links to some recipes: 

Beef Short Ribs

Poached Pears with Port Wine Reduction

Roast Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

2. Dressing. Why not spruce up your salads?? Give it a try.

Riesling Wine Salad Dressing

Marinated Seafood Salad

3. Freeze it. Pour it into an ice cube tray or a plastic zipper bag and toss it in the freezer. That way, you’ll have some handy to cook with next time around.

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Posted by on May 12, 2011 in 3 Ways, Food


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