Category Archives: Starters

Super Easy Super Creamy Hummus

img_6460-2.jpgHummus could probably be considered a “luxury item” here in Costa Rica. It is very expensive and can be challenging to find. For this reason, I started making my own.  I’ve only made two varieties, plain and roasted red pepper. To be honest, I’m not sure the roasted red pepper is that much different and might not be worth the extra steps, but often I roast peppers for a variety of uses, so when I do, I throw one into the batch of hummus.

I can’t remember where I stumbled across this particular hummus recipe, but I do remember my skepticism when I first encountered it. The trick to this hummus, and its creamy texture, is that you don’t drain the chickpea/ garbanzo bean liquid, and you microwave the the chickpeas with garlic, infusing them with the garlic flavor. I love a lot of garlic flavor to my hummus, but it can add a bitterness; this method eliminates that bitterness. One thing to keep in mind with this recipe, however, is to make it in advance so that it has a chance to cool before serving.

For reasons I have not yet discovered, (it seems like all types of citrus fruits grow spectacularly here) lemons are also a luxury item here. Limes (called “limons”) are the standard and the most common variety is the mandarin variety which has an orange fruit but a green peel. If you prefer lemons and have easy access to them, by all means substitute lemon juice for the lime juice (maybe decrease the amount a little at first since lemons tend to be more sour than limes- you can always adjust accordingly).


1 Can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans) undrained

1/2 Cup Tahini

4-5 Cloves whole, peeled, fresh garlic

Juice of 1 lime

1/2-1 tsp. salt (to taste)

1 TBS. Olive Oil * (I’ve discovered this to be an optional ingredient because the time I forgot to add it, the hummus was just as good; so my thinking is, why add the extra fat?)




Pour chickpeas (with liquid) into a microwave safe bowl. Add garlic cloves. Microwave for about 5 minutes.

Add chickpea and garlic mixture, tahini, lime juice and salt  and olive oil (if using) to blender or food processor. Blend on high (scraping down sides as needed) until hummus is smooth and creamy. Taste and season with additional salt or lime juice as desired. The hummus will seem a bit thin, but it will thicken as it cools. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

*If you would like to make roasted red pepper hummus, simply add a roasted red pepper  (skin removed) to the blender with the other ingredients. There are tons of other add-in (cilantro is one I will likely try); get creative and just throw it in the blender.

Cream of Asparagus Soup

cream of asparagus soupJPGI typically serve Cream of Sorrel Soup at Easter, but Spring was slow to arrive here in Michigan and there wasn’t enough sorrel.  So the logical alternative, for a great spring soup was cream of asparagus. Well, that was a great choice. It was definitely a highlight of the meal, even with the kids.  Cream of Asparagus soup at Easter 2014Not only is it delicious, but it’s super easy to make, and you don’t even need good asparagus. I was a little disappointed at how large the asparagus at my local grocery store was, but because the asparagus gets cooked down and pureed, you don’t need to seek out those tender thin stalks that can often be challenging to find. You can adjust the amount of cream in this soup – I went pretty easy on the cream because I loved the flavor of the asparagus. I used chicken stock as my base because I love the flavor (it’s in no way “chickeny”), but you could easily make this vegetarian by substituting vegetable broth. I served this as a small starter soup, but this would be great for a spring lunch on the patio, or as a weeknight dinner paired with a simple salad and bread, or with a sandwich.


  • 2 Lbs. (about 2 bunches) Fresh Asparagus- cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 Large Sweet or White Onion -chopped
  • 3 TBS. Unsalted Butter
  • 5 Cups Chicken Broth (use Vegetable Broth for Vegetarian version)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 Cup Heavy (Whipping) Cream
  • Kosher Salt
  • White Pepper


Heat the butter in a stock pot over medium low heat, add chopped onion and saute until tender. Add chopped asparagus and cook for about 5 more minutes. saute asparagusAdd broth and simmer, covered, until asparagus is very tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

Working in batches, purée soup in a blender until smooth. Return pureed soup to pot and stir in 1/4 cup of cream; add more to reach desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Heat and serve. Garnish each bowl with an asparagus tip if desired or fresh snipped chives or parsley.

Crispy Oven Baked Buffalo Style Chicken Wings

spicy buffalo wings plated 4My kids and I  love spicy (Buffalo style) chicken wings. My kids actually love the restaurant Buffalo Wild Wings; I hate it (for a variety of well-founded reasons). So, my solution is to make spicy wings at home. As my blog followers know, I am not afraid to fry- I have a fryer and will use it! However, for just a quick batch of wings, I’d rather avoid the mess and the hassle (and the waste of oil). Typically when I do fry, I fry in big batches that make it worth my while. Now, you might think that wings baked in the oven just won’t be good; I ask that you keep an open mind and give these wings a chance. One advantage of cooking the wings in the oven is that you can cook the sauce right into/onto the wings – of course, you add more sauce at the end- which given the wings a more in depth spice and flavor. I used fresh wings – they were on sale at my grocery- but I most often use frozen wings (sometimes labeled Wing Dings, Drummies, Drumettes). You can make this recipe with full-size chicken wings (or any chicken parts, for that matter), but I prefer the little wings. You could adapt this recipe to accommodate your favorite flavor or sauce (barbeque, terriyaki etc.) because it’s so simple.


  • 3-5 Lbs. Chicken wings  – fresh or frozen and thawed
  • 2 TBS. Vegetable Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Non-stick Cooking Spray
  • 2 TBS. Unsalted Butter – Melted
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/2 Cup Hot Sauce (favorite brand – but typically a red hot sauce)


Preheat oven to 400 Degrees. Spray a wire rack (I use my cookie cooling rack) with non-stick spray or coat liberally with vegetable oil. Position the rack over a baking sheet (foil lined for easy clean-up). Coat the chicken wings with vegetable oil, season lightly with salt and generously with pepper and place on the baking rack. chicken wings on rackBake for 35 minutes. baked chicken wingsIn the meantime, prepare the sauce by combining melted butter, cayenne pepper, about 1/2 tbs. black pepper, and hot sauce. spicy buffalo sauceAfter the wings have baked for 35 minutes, remove from the oven and coat with sauce (I just roll them around in the sauce bowl) and return to the oven – bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until the wings are thoroughly crisped.coat with sauce and return to ovensauce baked on wings Dredge the wings in sauce one more time before serving. Serve with Blue Cheese or Ranch dressing and a side of fresh carrot and celery sticks.


Sushi and Sushi Rolls

A Variety of Rolls

A Variety of  Sushi Rolls

Ahi Tuna, Mahi Mahi, and Gian Clam

Ahi Tuna, Mahi Mahi, and Gian Clam

We love sushi and enjoy if often. Believe it or not, our local grocery store has great fresh sushi available, and we have a few good sushi restaurants in the area. Our favorite sushi restaurant is in the back of a tiny Japanese grocery store called Noble Fish. If you go at lunch, the sushi bar is packed. In the grocery area they carry all of the ingredients needed to prepare sushi at home; it is the only place I would purchase fish (sushi grade) to serve raw. Of course if you just want to make vegetable rolls, California rolls, or even Philadelphia rolls, you can get all of those ingredients at a regular grocery store. Most large chain grocery stores now have a specialty.ethnic food section which has most of the necessary ingredients. I used to make my own sushi rice seasoning (it’s not hard, but it can be hard to find the kombu seaweed), but it’s just one more step in the process and you can buy great quality sushi rice seasoning in a bottle. I’m not going to lie, preparing sushi at home is a labor of love – there’s a ton of cutting (somewhat precision) and the rolling takes some practice, but I promise you, that if you love sushi, you will love sushi you have prepared – it just doesn’t get any fresher! I am often asked to bring a sushi platter to gatherings (the ex-boyfriend’s family loved it), and everyone always raves about how good it is! This past weekend I hosted a small group for a sushi making dinner party – nothing like being invited over to make your own dinner. 🙂  If you love sushi, you’ll know what ingredients you’ll need; there are some pretty consistent cast of characters like cucumber, and avocado, but feel free to mix in other vegetables (especially if you want to make veggie rolls). I prepped the rice and the veggies and fish before people arrived and then just set everything out on platters. I basically do the same thing if we’re making it just for ourselves. For the party I provided Ahi tuna, mahi mahi, giant clam, and smoked salmon and, of course, fake crabmeat. I also made some spicy mayo and put out cream cheese (not traditional, but good for Philly rolls). I cut up cucumbers, avocado, scallions, and carrots. Look on-line if you need suggestions; we’ve done all sorts of crazy combinations – that’s the fun of making it yourself. You will also need a bamboo sushi rolling mat and some plastic wrap, as well as a really sharp knife. If you’ve never rolled sushi before, it’s probably best to watch a video or pay close attention to the sushi chef next time you go to a sushi bar (they make it look effortless). Here’s a good video that shows how to make an inside out California roll:  You can modify to make other rolls. One thing I do differently from the video is that I only use a half a sheet of Nori because I like smaller rolls.  I also use the entire mat to help roll, not just the saran wrap as shown in the video. Maybe one of these days I’ll just make my own video.  For the non-rolled sushi – you essentially just place a piece of cut fish on pad of rice that has a little bit of wasabi paste on it. You can purchase a little plastic box type utensil that helpssushi rice shaper you form the rice pads – I love this little gadget. When it comes to wasabi, I prefer to prepare my fresh, using dried wasabi powder mixed with water. You can, however, purchase wasabi paste; most grocery stores carry that, but you may have to go to a Japanese or Asian market for the powder. I’ve listed ingredients for California Rolls, Philadelphia Rolls, and Spicy Tuna Rolls (can make regular tuna rolls by omitting the spicy mayo). Again, once you get the basic idea of rolls down, you can experiment with whatever ingredients and combinations appeal to you. The rolls listed below are all inside out rolls which means that the rice is on the outside of the roll. This is NOT traditional – it is traditional to have the nori on the outside. If you want to make the traditional style rolls, skip the step of flipping over the nori sheet on the bamboo mat. If you like fish roe, you can make inside out rolls and then roll the finished rolls in fish roe to get a nice layer on the outside. Again, there are a ton of on-line resources, so explore and experiment.

Sushi Rice:

Prepare sushi rice (small grain sticky rice – purchase specific sushi rice if possible) according to manufacturers directions. Standard is 2 Cups of water combined with 1.5 cups of rice. Combine water and rice in a pot, bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook covered for 20 minutes. cook the sushi riceRemove from heat and allow to sit covered for 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork. If you have a rice cooker: cook according to suggestions on rice cooker. Add 1/4 Cup sushi rice seasoning while rice is hot; mix gently with a fork until well combined. season sushi riceAllow rice to cool completely before using for sushi. For homemade sushi rice seasoning:


  • 4 Cups Sushi Rice- Prepared, Seasoned, Cooled
  • 6-10 Imitation Crab Sticks- sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1/2 English Cucumber- peeled, seeded and cut into 1/4″ strips
  • 1 Avocado – peeled, pit removed and cut into thin slices
  • 3-6 Sheets of Nori (Roasted Seaweed) Sheets – I use 1/2 sheet per roll
  • Roasted Sesame Seeds (light or black)- optional
  • Prepared Wasabi
  • Pickled Ginger
  • Soy Sauce for dipping

ingredients 2


Lay a piece of Nori on a bamboo sushi mat covered with plastic wrap. Gently press an even layer of rice over nori until completely covered; you’ll want to keep a bowl of water around to rinse your fingers frequently because they will become to sticky from the rice. Sprinkle with sesame seeds (if using) and flip the rice coated piece of nori over on the mat. About 2/3 of the way down the piece of nori, lay two pieces of imitation crab next to each other so that they reach the outer edges of the nori. If they extend over, trim them to fit. Lay 2 cucumber slices just above the crab slices (again, make sure they reach the edge without going over). Lay a 2-3 slices of avocado over the crab and cucumber. Using the mat, roll the edge of the nori (the edge closest to you) over the other ingredients, pulling the mat backward, continue rolling until the entire nori sheet has been rolled. (Watch the video referenced above, or another on-line video if you have never done this – it’s easier to understand visually). Use a very sharp knife to cut the sushi roll into 6-8 pieces; you will probably find it best to wipe the knife clean in between cuts. Serve with prepared wasabi, sliced pickled ginger, and soy sauce.


  • 4 Cups Sushi Rice- Prepared, Seasoned, Cooled
  • 6 Slices of Smoked Salmon – cut into pieces about 3/4″ wide.
  • Cream Cheese – softened
  • 1/2 English Cucumber- peeled, seeded and cut into 1/4″ strips
  • 8-10 Scallion (green parts only) strips
  • 3-6 Sheets of Nori (Roasted Seaweed) Sheets – I use 1/2 sheet per roll
  • Roasted Sesame Seeds (light or black)- optional
  • Prepared Wasabi
  • Pickled Ginger
  • Soy Sauce for dipping


Cover nori with rice and sesame seeds and flip on mat as directed for California rolls. Spread about a 1/2 layer of cream cheese across the nori (about 2/3 of the way down the sheet) Lay slices of smoked salmon on top of spread cream cheese and add strips of cucumber and scallions just above the layered salmon. Roll and slice as directed for California rolls.


  • 4 Cups Sushi Rice- Prepared, Seasoned, Cooled
  • 6-10 1/4 inch wide strips of raw Sushi Grade Tuna
  • 1/2 English Cucumber- peeled, seeded and cut into 1/4″ strips
  • 1 Avocado – peeled, pit removed and cut into thin slices
  • 6 TBS. Spicy Mayonnaise* (to make homemade: combine mayonnaise with desired amount of Siracha hot sauce)
  • 3-6 Sheets of Nori (Roasted Seaweed) Sheets – I use 1/2 sheet per roll
  • Roasted Sesame Seeds (light or black)- optional
  • Prepared Wasabi
  • Pickled Ginger
  • Soy Sauce for dipping

* For regular Tuna Rolls – eliminate the spicy mayonnaise.


Cover nori with rice and sesame seeds and flip on mat as directed for California rolls. Spread a thin layer about 1/4 inch wide of spicy mayonnaise across the nori (about 2/3 of the way down the sheet. lay two pieces of tuna strips next to each other so that they reach the outer edges of the nori. If they extend over, trim them to fit. Lay 2 cucumber slices just above the tuna slices (again, make sure they reach the edge without going over). Lay a 2-3 slices of avocado over the tuna and cucumber. Roll and slice as directed for California rolls. Drizzle sliced sushi pieces with additional spicy mayonnaise if desired.

Enjoying some Miso Soup while we Roll

Enjoying some Miso Soup while we Roll


Blackberry Balsamic Glazed Goat Cheese and Proscuitto Toasts

Blackberry Glazed Goat Cheese and Proscuitto Toasts

Blackberry Glazed Goat Cheese and Proscuitto Toasts

This is one of my new favorite party appetizers! I went to a gathering the other night and wanted to bring an appetizer to share. I had a bunch of leftover stuff from my Christmas buffet that I wanted to incorporate and I came across a version of this on the Driscoll’s berry website (I will dedicate some time to checking out more recipes there). I happened to have all of the ingredients except for the bread. I did alter/simplify the recipe a bit, so here’s my version. The combination of flavors is outstanding – I love anything that successfully marries sweet and savory. I only wish I had made more because they were gone in a matter of minutes- the reviews were all very positive. These toasts assemble very quickly. The total hands-on time is probably less than 15 minutes, but you do have to allow time for the glaze to cool (enough time to get dressed and ready). You could, of course, prepare the glaze in advance. I had a little bit leftover and am going to try to use it on some poultry – I’m thinking duck…after all, New Year’s Eve is only a day away. This recipe makes 20 pieces.


  • 1 Loaf of French Bread – cut into 1/4″ diagonal slices
  • 20 Large Blackberries
  • 6 Oz. Garlic and Herb Goat Cheese – at room temperature
  • 4 Oz. Proscuitto – thinly sliced, cut into about 2″ pieces
  • 3/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 TBS. Sugar


In a medium saucepan, combine balsamic vinegar and sugar and bring to a boil. Boil gently for about 10 minutes until reduced by about 1/2. Add blackberries to hot vinegar mixture and mix gently until all berries are well coated.add blackberries to glaze Allow entire mixture to cool. Place sliced bread on a baking sheet and toast under the broiler for about two minutes until golden brown on top; flip and broil for another 2 minutes until the other sides are browned. Brush each toast with the balsamic glaze. brush with glazeSpread goat cheese on each toast and top with proscuitto. add proscuittoAdd a glazed blackberry to the top of each toast.blackberry glazed goat cheese and proscuitto toast close-up


Vegetarian Chipotle Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin soupAnother “re-post,” but this is a little different because I am making the soup vegetarian. This soup will be the starter course at my “Friendsgiving” gathering this Sunday. I’m expecting 26 adults and a couple of little ones, so I will be doubling the recipe. I am serving buffet style, so I will serve the soup out of a hollowed-out pumpkin, but guests will eat out of small bowls. I’m really mixing traditional Thanksgiving recipes with some non-traditional dishes for this gathering, and I’m hopeful that my guests will enjoy the eclectic  menu. Serves 8-10 as a starter, or 5-6 as a main course.


  • 3 15 oz. Cans of Pumpkin Puree
  • 4-6 Cups Vegetable Stock or Broth (homemade is ideal, but if not available use a good quality brand)
  • 1 Medium Sweet or Yellow Onion – chopped
  • 3 Cloves Garlic – chopped
  • 1-2 Chipotle Peppers (canned in adobo sauce) – chopped
  • 1 tsp. Ground Cumin
  • 1 tsp. Dried Oregano
  • 2 TBS. Olive Oil
  • 2 TBS. Lime Juice
  • Salt to taste (about 2 tsp.)
  • Creme Fraiche (optional – garnish)
  • Cilantro (optional – garnish)


Add olive oil to a large stockpot and heat over medium. Add the onions and cook until softened (but not browned). Add garlic, chipotle, and cumin and cook until garlic is aromatic (about 1 minute). Add the pumpkin puree, 4 cups of vegetable stock, oregano, and salt. Bring to a simmer and allow to simmer for 25-30 minutes. Check consistency; add more vegetable stock to thin the soup. Puree soup in blender (or use an immersion blender). If you prefer, you can skip this step (soup will have bits of onion, garlic and chipotle), but I think it’s worth the little bit of extra work to get a smooth soup. Taste, and add more salt, cumin or chipotle (if you want more heat). Return to stockpot and add lime juice. Serve warm and garnish with creme fraiche and cilantro (optional). This re-heats well, so it’s a good make ahead recipe.pumpkin soup in pumpkin


Chorizo Con Queso Dip in a Pumpkin

Chorizo Con Queso Dip Served in a Pumpkin

Chorizo Con Queso Dip Served in a Pumpkin

This is really a re-post, (click here to see the original post) but I love this recipe, and it’s so great for Halloween! If you can find festive black and orange tortilla chips to serve with the dip, they add a fun element; Black and Orange Corn Chipsblue corn tortilla chips also work well because they sort of look black. You could make this dish vegetarian by eliminating the chorizo and substituting vegetable broth for the chicken broth.

Because of scheduling conflicts, I won’t be hosting a gala Halloween party this year; however, this leaves me more time to post Halloween themed food and party ideas.

INGREDIENTS: (serves 15-20 as an appetizer)

  • 1 Lb. Ground Chorizo Sausage*
  • 4 Cups Shredded Chihuahua Cheese (can substitute mozzerella)
  • 2 Cups Mexican Cheese Blend (4 Cheese blend – NOT Taco cheese because it contains spices)
  • 1 Jalapeno Pepper (remove seeds and membranes for less heat) – finely chopped
  • 4 Oz. Can of Chopped Green Chiles
  • 1 tsp. Ground Cumin
  • 1/2-1 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/4 Cup of Flour
  • 2-3 Cups Chicken Broth
  • Chopped Fresh Cilantro – for garnish
  • 1 Large (about 3 Lbs.) Sugar Pumpkin (or medium sized regular pumpkin) for Serving- Optional

*If you can’t find loose ground chorizo, you can substitute chorizo that is cased – just chop it into small pieces. You could also substitute regular breakfast sausage, but you will have to increase your Mexican spices.


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium saute pan, cook chorizo over medium to high heat, breaking it up as it cooks. Drain off excess fat from the pan. Add jalapeno, green chiles and spices to pan, and cook until jalapeno is tender. Add flour and cook until the flour starts to brown (3-5 minutes). Add 2 cups of chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in all of the cheese, stirring until the cheese is thoroughly melted. Check the consistency and, if necessary, add additional chicken broth to thin the dip- the dip should have a creamy texture. Pour cheese mixture into a baking dish (use a baking dish you would serve out of) or an oven-proof bowl. Bake for 20-30 minutes until bubbling and golden brown on top. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with tortilla chips.

If you would like to serve out of a pumpkin, cut the top off of a 3 Lb. sugar pumpkin and remove the seeds and pulp from the pumpkin. Place the pumpkin on a baking dish, fill with the con queso, cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour (until pumpkin starts to brown and become tender). Do not overcook, or your pumpkin will be too soft to move to a serving plate. Remove foil and bake for another 10-20 minutes until cheese dip is bubbling and browned on top.


Deviled Egg Eyeballs

Deviled Egg Eyeballs

Deviled Egg Eyeballs

With Halloween just around the corner, I will continue to post some of my favorite creepy treats. These deviled egg eyeballs are always a favorite at my Halloween Party. They are easy to make (although I will never achieve the same perfection my friend Nora did the year she flew in for the party and was responsible for all blood spatter decorations involving red food coloring – Lizzie Borden Cake and Deviled Egg Eyeballs). For this popular appetizer, simply prepare deviled eggs (click here for the previously posted recipe), top each egg with a black olive slice and a caper, and use a toothpick dipped in red food coloring to add bloodshot streaks. Deviled eggs are always a favorite appetizer, so make plenty (I usually prepare 3 per person).Halloween Party 030

Mixed Green Salad with Beets, Fennel, Orange and Greek Yogurt Dressing

Mixed Green Salad with Fennel, Beets, Orange

Mixed Green Salad with Fennel, Beets, Orange and Greek Yogurt Dressing

I served this salad about a year ago when our visiting author Julie Otsuko came for dinner. I still don’t know why I feel the need to experiment when I entertain guests, but I do. I mean you really can’t go wrong with a salad if you have a good sense of complimentary flavors. I love beets, and while they’re earthy and rustic, they are also sweet. The orange, obviously, adds another level of sweetness, but the citrus balances it. The fennel, which has a mild but distinctive licorice flavor adds a really nice contrast. The creamy, cool Greek yogurt dressing just brings everything together. This was really one of my favorite salads – as I say that, I wonder why I am just now getting around to publishing it. As with all of my salad posts, I only list ingredients, not amounts. Adjust according to your preference, whether your salad is a starter or main dish, and how many you are serving.


  • Mixed Spring Greens (or your favorite greens)
  • 2-3 Beets (combination of purple and golden)
  • 1-2 Oranges – sectioned, membrane removed
  • 1 Fennel Bulb – sliced thin (use a mandolin if available)
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper

For the Greek Yogurt Dressing:

  • 3 TBS. Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 2 TBS. Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 TBS. Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 TBS. Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp. Light Brown Sugar
  • 1.5 TBS. Finely Chopped Chives
  • Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees. Cut the ends off of the beets. Brush beets with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Wrap in a foil pouch and roast in oven until tender but not too soft – about 20-25 minutes depending on size of beets. Remove beets from the oven and, when cool enough to handle, peel and slice into 1/4 inch slices. In the meantime, prepare the dressing by adding yogurt, Parmesan, vinegar, olive oil and brown sugar to a blender. Blend on medium until all ingredients are well combined and sugar is incorporated. Season according to taste with salt and pepper, and mix in chopped chives.
Assemble the salad on individual plates, adding the beets just before serving. Drizzle generously with dressing and serve.


Steak Salad

Sirloin Steak SaladThis is a classic kitchen sink recipe – it was a combination of ingredients I had available; the result was great. My daughter came home while I was eating my salad and I thought she was going to steal it right out from under me – instead she just said “I know you’re planning on making me one of those.” As always, I encourage you to modify based on the ingredients you have on hand, but remember to include a variety of flavor elements, including, if available, savory, sweet, salty, spicy. One unique ingredient that I used which may be hard to find is a rosemary pistachio cracker which I broke into small pieces and used almost like a crouton. I loved the crunch and the flavor it added – see what happens when you experiment with what you have in the cupboard? I’m including a picture of the crackers – they’re worth looking for – they are delicious smeared with goat cheese. For my local followers: they are available at Westborn Market.Pistachio rosemary crackers 002While the steak would appear to be the star of this salad, I would argue that it is the veggies that make the salad. The steak was a simple NY Strip seasoned with salt and pepper and cooked to medium rare on the grill. You can use a variety of cuts (or even substitute chicken or salmon), but make sure you use a tender but flavorful cut. As for the veggies and other toppings – I used yellow tomatoes from my garden (love the low acid and sweet flavor), English cucumbers, fresh radish slices, goat cheese, and mixed spring greens. I topped the salad with a homemade cherry balsamic vinaigrette, but use your favorite dressing. My daughter suggested using more cheese – I would agree. I think it would have been even better with blue cheese crumbles, but goat cheese is what I had. Again, I loved the addition of the rosemary pistachio crackers, but as an alternative, you could add nuts and croutons. As with most of my salad recipes, I haven’t included measurements – use whatever amounts suit you.


  • Spring Salad Mix (or your favorite greens)
  • Radishes – thinly slices
  • Fresh Tomatoes (yellow, or your favorite variety)
  • English Cucumber – sliced
  • Goat Cheese
  • Rosemary Pistachio Crackers – crumbled
  • NY Strip Steak – grilled to desired temperature (shown medium rare)- trimmed and thinly sliced

Cherry Balsamic Vinaigrette:

  •  1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Cherry Balsamic Vinegar
  • 5 TBS. Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 heaping tsp. Dijon Mustard
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Add all ingredients to a jar or container with a lid. Shake well until all ingredients are well combined.