Hand Held Chicken Caesar Salads with Anchovy Caesar Dressing

Hand held caesar salads

Hand held Caesar salads are made with baby romaine leaves and they are the perfect buffet item for a spring feast. You just pick them up and eat them just like you would Asian lettuce wraps – but less messy. And more garlic-y.

I started out to make a REAL Caesar dressing – just because I read the label on my purchased dressing and couldn’t pronounce half of the ingredients. I turned to America’s Test Kitchen, an organization that has taught me so much, with recipes and culinary history that I trust. My well- worn The New Best Recipes cookbook in my kitchen is my proof.

I followed their recipe very precisely – and it did not disappoint. The dressing is what makes this recipe sing – so creamy and tart you  will want to eat it with a spoon. Not that I’m saying I did that. Ok, I did that.

When I could only find a package of baby romaine leave sin my grocery store, this idea hit me: make a hand-held salad. This works great for a party – or for the kind of group I have on most Sundays: big, come and go groups.

Happy Brunch Easter Week, everyone!

– posted by Donna

Read More »

Roasted Asparagus Mimosa

Roasted Asparagus Mimosa

A side dish that screams “Welcome spring!” So pretty on your buffet table, and so fresh and clean and tangy. This classic spring dish got its name from the Mimosa tree, because  the grated eggs resemble the blooms of the Mimosa tree in springtime.

So what could be better for your springtime feast?

I love the lemon vinaigrette on this asparagus – it really brings out the freshness of the spears beautifully.


2 pounds asparagus, trimmed
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon minced shallot
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon minced capers
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large hard boiled eggs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Toss the asparagus in coconut oil and then spread on a baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast at top of oven for about 12 to 15 minutes, until softened and lightly browned. (Time may need to be increased if your asparagus is thick.)

Whisk together the vinegar, shallot, mustard, honey and capers. Whisk in olive oil and then add salt and pepper to taste.

Remove the asparagus from oven and toss with the vinaigrette. Spread on a serving platter. Grate the eggs and sprinkle on top.

See also:

Roasted Asparagus with Dijon Vinaigrette, Cookin Canuck
Roasted Asparagus and Mushroom Carbonara, Closet Cooking
Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan Crust, Jeanette’s Healthy Living
Roasted Asparagus Hummus, The Perfect Pantry
Slow Roasted Asparagus, Kalyn’s Kitchen

Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts

Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts

I am a convert to Brussels sprouts. I never knew how to cook them, and once in a blue moon when I would try, they would turn out like mushy, sulfury blobs.

The key is cooking them quickly and adding bold flavors that can stand up to the sprouts. Some folks use bacon or other fatty meat, but I wanted to try a vegetarian version. Actually, turns out, this dish is vegan!

I love Kung Pao chicken, and order it often at Chinese restaurants. There is something magical about the sweet, sticky, hot, spicy, crunchy goodness in this dish – and it makes an amazing rendition of Brussels sprouts.

This version is very low prep – and delicious results. We have already made these three times since I first made this dish 3 weeks ago. Yes, they’re that good.

A yummy Easter or spring side dish!


2 pounds Brussels sprouts
3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted and divided
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 cloves garlic, pressed
2 tablespoons grated ginger
1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce ( or other Asian chili sauce)
2 dried chiles de arbol, lightly crushed
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 cup lightly salted roasted peanuts

Pre heat oven to 425 degrees.

Toss Brussels sprouts in 2 tablespoons of oil and spread on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast at top of oven for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring halfway through baking time, until lightly browned.

Mix cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of water and set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Add garlic and ginger and cook about 2 minutes. Add chiles, soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar and 1/2 cup water and bring to a simmer for 2 minutes. Add cornstarch mixture and cook until thickened. Remove the chiles and if you like a lot of heat, dice them and discard the stem and seeds and then stir them back into sauce. To keep this dish mild, discard the chiles.

Remove brussels sprouts from oven and toss with the sauce. Serve sprinkled with peanuts.

Other clever veggie renditions of kung pao:

Tofu and Vegetable Kung Pao, Eats Well with Others
Tofu and Vegetable Kung Pao, Archana’s Kitchen

Broccoli Squared: Broccoli Stem Puree topped with Roasted Broccoli Florets

If you’ve never tried broccoli stems – especially this way – prepare to be amazed.


Broccoli Squared

Broccoli Squared: Roasted Broccoli Florets over Broccoli Stem Puree

I wish I could travel back in time and retrieve all the broccoli stems I’ve so blithely tossed aside over the years. Here I was thinking the florets had all the fun. I had no idea! Why did no one tell me?

Okay, to be fair, I knew of using the stems for slaw, but had never even thought of using them in a puree. Then, a few weeks ago, a recipe from the 21 Day Sugar Detox turned me around. Diane Sanfilippo blew my mind by combining roasted florets with pureed stems. I’ve made it three times since then, adding my own tweaks. Try this and you’ll seriously never throw another stem in the compost again.

(Oh and yes, that is a dish in the shape of the lovely, verdant state of Oregon. I thought this recipe paid perfect tribute to its lush greenness.)…

Read More »

Twice Baked Four Leaf Potatoes for St. Paddy’s

Four kinds of greens jazz up these cheesy classics for St. Patrick’s Day. 

twice baked potatoesTwice Baked Potatoes are always crowd pleasers, and adding some emerald greens makes them even more fitting as St. Patrick’s Day fare. Kale, chard, spinach, and parsley add up to four “leaves”.  Get it? I know you do. This recipe was a hit with adults and veggie-reluctant kids alike. I used the twice baked method recommended by the good people at America’s Test Kitchen. They might even be lucky!

Included is a tested and approved dairy-free version in the notes after the main recipe, made using Daiya products, which are soy-free and by far the best non-dairy cheeses I’ve ever tried. …

Read More »

Tandoori Style Rainbow Carrots

Tandoori Rainbow Carrots

Spicy hot roasted vegetables can combat the frozen winter blues, guaranteed. And Tandoori spices fill your house with fragrant anticipation!

The rainbow carrots in the produce department have been calling out to me lately, so I took home a bunch and decided to give them an Indian twist.

Tandoori is a style of Indian cooking that uses a tandoor oven. I don’t have one handy, so I cranked up the heat in my regular old oven and hopes to get the same high heat roasted effect. Carrots are perfect for high heat roasting because their dense texture stands up to high heat – and their insides cook to a perfect softness while the outsides are a little blistered.

Traditional Tandoori Chicken is marinated with a spicy yogurt mixture to tenderize the meat. I used the yogurt in my recipe by just spreading it on the serving platter – to get scooped up when you serve the carrots. This also makes for a very easy and beautiful presentation.

I love this recipe – it is sweet and spicy and packed with flavor – to beat the winter blahs. (It was about 20 degrees for a high at my house yesterday – and with the howling winds, the cold went right to my bones!)

– posted by Donna

Read More »

Onion Slice Gratins

Onion gratinDo most of your favorite recipes start with these words: “Saute onions and garlic in butter?” Yeah, me too!

How to tell if you’re an onion addict (like me): 1) You choose burger joints by how yummy their rings are; 2) You actually  like the lingering smell of onions in your kitchen; 3) You eat green onions raw; 4) You eat caramelized onions just all by themselves, with or without crostini.

And how about this one: onions are not just thrown in – they are the star of the recipe! These pretty little rounds are so easy to make and look so great next to a main dish as a sassy side.

My inspiration came from fabulous low carb blogger Kalyn at Kalyn’s Kitchen. She did and Onion Gratin with Rosemary and Thyme in a 9 by 13 dish that I have made several times, and my family loved this dish. I decided to make individual servings by slicing the onions into 1-inch slices and baking them on a baking sheet. Same great flavor – in individual servings!

 — posted by Donna

Read More »

Baked Curly Fries for Superbowl Sunday

baked curly friesI’m hosting my first ever Sportsball Party this weekend, so of course I’m most looking forward to the food. Lucky me, I just got a spiffy new addition to my kitchen gadget collection, the Paderno Spiralizer. Along with making oodles of zoodles, the first thing I looked forward to making was a baked version of a curly fry. The widest setting on the Paderno was perfect for this! It worked with both sweet and regular potatoes, and I plan to experiment with other root vegetables in the future. Perfect lighter fare for your game day plans, whatever other decadence is served alongside them. …

Read More »

Hoppin’ John Salad for a Lucky New Year

A salad spin on the traditional New Year’s Day dish

Hoppin’ John Salad to start your New Year off right!

Even if cornbread, collards and blackeyed peas with bacon or ham weren’t reputed to bring one wealth, luck and overall prosperity in the the year to come when eaten on New Year’s Day, I’d still enjoy eating them all. Hoppin’ John is the component of the  New Year’s meal from the American South that brings prosperity, and if you save some for leftovers the following day, it becomes “Skippin’ Jenny”, which demonstrates your commendable frugality and further increases your chances of manifesting that prosperity.

We though we’d try a salad variation of Hoppin’ John, and since it’s a bean salad, it definitely keeps well and even improves for a next-day reprise. There’s one collard leaf in there, less for flavor and more for tradition, though I love any extra green in a salad like this. You could also omit the ham for a still-totally-flavorful vegetarian version. …

Read More »

DIY Jeweled Rice Pilaf Mix for a Gift from Your Kitchen

Jeweled Rice Pilaf Mix

Give a Savory Food Gift this Holiday Season

Persian Jeweled rice is a dish that is made for special occasions, I am guessing because it looks so festive, and the taste is exotic and unexpected. It’s not just plain old rice pilaf.

I love to give gifts from my kitchen for holiday gifts, but I wanted to make something that isn’t just the usual cookie or brownie mix in a jar. I wanted something savory that will require minimum fuss to go from jar to table.

This jeweled rice pilaf mix fits the bill perfectly. It only takes a few  minutes of prep time, and then your friends and family will think you have been slaving for hours.

I did substitute a few things to keep the cost down. Traditionally, saffron would be used, but I added a little curry powder for taste and color. And, the traditional nut is pistachios, but I like pecans. You can use whatever spice and whatever nut you like.

The flavors and textures are such an unexpected treat – sweet and salty, soft and crunchy – a party in your mouth!

Just put this mix in layers in a pretty jar and attach the directions and there you have it – the perfect food gift!

Read More »