Fantastic Food Friday- DIY Dressings

Nothing screams summer more than a huge salad. Crisp romaine lettuce, juicy grilled chicken, cucumber rounds, carrot slivers and sugar peas are just… perfect for summer evenings. Taco salads are wonderful for picnics and potlucks. Fruit salads are the warm weather dessert of choice.

But those dressings can get you into trouble. Store bought ones can be full of sugar, salt, chemicals and who knows what else. So here is a roundup of my current favorites!

First up… Catalina Dressing. If you make taco salad, you gotta have Catalina dressing. I modified this recipe from Simply Scratch. Husband now prefers this over store bought. And so do I.

Catalina Dressing

½ sweet yellow onion
½ cup ketchup
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup honey
¼ cup brown sugar
½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Rough chop the onion and then throw that onion into your food processor and whirl it around a few times to mince it. Add in everything else, except the EVOO. Blend that all up. When it’s good and mixed, SLOWLY, SLOWLY, EVER SO SLOWLY drizzle the EVOO in while the food processor is running. Blend a few more seconds. Store it in the fridge, but I think it’s best served at room temperature.

Next up… Copycat Applebee’s Asian Dressing. I’m so sorry, I don’t have my original source for this. But is so much like the Applebee’s dressing, it’s scary. And if you close your eyes and serve it with romaine lettuce, grilled chicken, crispy noodles, slivered almonds and shredded carrot, you can almost imagine you are out for lunch instead of your kitchen!

Asian Salad Dressing

6 tablespoons Honey
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ tsp sesame oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Blend everything up with a mixer. I use my immersion blender and it works perfect!

How about Lemon Poppyseed dressing? It’s the same one from this post. But here it is again!

Lemon Poppyseed Dressing

1 tbsp mayo
2 tbsp honey
½ tsp poppy seeds
1 tsp lemon juice

Whisk it all together. Pour it over fruit salad, or on romaine tossed with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and pecans.

I haven’t found a great ranch dressing yet. I’m still looking. But two other recipes I’d like to try soon are Creamy Sweet Onion and this Russian dressing.

What’s your favorite dressing to make? Do you have a great ranch dressing you make you want to share with me?

Fantastic Food Friday- Sweet and Spicy Cucumbers

Do you have cucumbers coming out of your ears yet? I have a confession. I don’t really like cucumbers. If they aren’t pickled or in relish or have loads of dip on them, I probably won’t eat them. But I will eat these sweet and spicy cucumbers from Our Best Bites, because… YUM!

Watch your cucumbers go from boring to WOW! In about two hours, you have a terrific spicy side dish or snacks throughout the week and is also great to take on picnics.

But me being me, I’ve made some modifications to the recipe based on what I usually have in my pantry and to clean it up a little.

So go here first and check out the original recipe. Then come back and see what I did!

Here’s what you need!

3-4 cups peeled, sliced in half-moons cucumbers
1 tablespoon salt
½ cup apple cider vinegar
½ c water
3 tablespoons coconut sugar (You can use white sugar, but coconut sugar keeps it clean!)
2 tablespoons finely diced red onion (I run mine through the food processor)
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Put cucumbers in a colander and toss with salt. Let drain at least an hour. If you skip this your final dish will be watered down. Who wants that?

While it’s draining, bring the vinegar, water, sugar and red pepper flakes to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce to a simmer. Let simmer until its reduced to 1/3 to 1/2. Let cool to room temp. Stir in onions.

When the cucumbers are done draining, place in bowl and combine with the marinade. Let it chill out in the fridge for another hour or so.

Too spicy? Try this cucumbers salad!

1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
½ cup ice cubs
¼ cup white vinegar
½ teaspoon sea salt

Mix cucumbers, vinegar and salt in a quart mason jar. Pour ice cubes over the cucumbers, cover and put in fridge. I usually let it sit until the ice cubes are melted.

How do you like your cucumbers?

Fantastic Food Friday- Tangy Turkey Mac n Cheese

August 1st! To me, August 1st is the official kick off to canning season, which is silly because the best jam making happens in June when strawberries are plentiful. Maybe that’s preseason. Getting us warmed up for August. Getting are muscles into shape for lifting heavy buckets of produce and full canner loads.

And if you are like me, you way underestimate the time needed to make something and then all of the sudden your kids and husband want dinner! Aaagghhhh! Need something fast and healthy!

So you open the fridge and see…. Nothing. Oops, so caught up in canning you forget to get groceries. I’m not the only one, right? RIGHT?!

But, sometimes, the best dishes are the ones I just throw together. Usually, they are made up of random things I have in my pantry or fridge. Like, last week, my mom came over. We needed to make lunch, but since it was the day before grocery shopping, pickins’ were pretty slim. Luckily, she brought a package of ground turkey, so I used that has inspiration. I knew my girls would eat pasta and I wanted something creamy. Homemade mac n cheese had come to mind, but I didn’t have milk to make a roux… so… this is what I came up with….

 

Tangy Turkey Mac n Cheese

1 20 oz pack ground turkey, cooked, scrambled, seasoned with salt and pepper, garlic, onion powder and parsley. Really, use whatever you want. How about some Italian seasoning on there?

½ box of whole wheat pasta pasta, like elbow macaroni, cooked and drained

1 bag frozen broccoli, cooked (or add it to the pasta to cook at the same time) (I like Kroger’s dinner starters)

1 6 oz container of plain Greek yogurt

1 8 oz package shredded cheddar cheese

 

Once everything is cooked, stir it all together in one big pot over low heat until cheese is melted. It was tangy, creamy, cheesy and pretty darn good! The ingredients are staples in my house and I usually have them all- even at the end of the week!

 

Have boxed macaroni and cheese? We love Annie’s Homegrown! Here are some stir in ideas!

 

Tuna and peas

Shredded chicken and broccoli (so good on white cheddar!)

Cut up hot dogs

Tomato (How about some basil too?)

Mushrooms

Ground beef and pepper

Left over taco meat and salsa

Diced ham

 

What do you put in your mac n cheese?

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