Salads & Vegetables

Shrimp & Ceasar Salad


Oh Momma! This salad is a specialty my mother serves at our family gatherings. Her favorite entrees to pair it with are marinated grilled pork or grilled herb chicken breasts. Mom’s secret is in the bottled creamy dressing she blends with a smidgen of milk. She’s tried them all and says this brand is the best! I do agree, because her version of Caesar salad is better than any I’ve ever had.


I served it up with leftover baby shrimp and added fresh basil from the kitchen, but the extra herb is not necessary. You can add any meat or fish you like of course and it’s amazing with marinated grilled kabobs. Mom says it’s divine with Greek olives, too!

Shrimp & Ceasar Salad

2 whole romaine lettuce stalks, washed, leaves removed and lightly chopped
1/2 seedless cucumber, peel on, sliced thin, cut in half
1/2 onion, sliced thin, ringlets cut in half
1 cup small red grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup cooked salad shrimp, peeled and ready-to-serve
3/4 cup Ceasar dressing (Marketside Classic Caesar Dressing available in produce dept. at Walmart).
1 tbsp milk
Bacon bits (optional)
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
6 fresh herb leaves of choice (optional)
salt & pepper to taste

In large bowl combine lettuce leaves, cucumber, onion, tomatoes and shrimp. In separate bowl mix dressing, milk and bacon bits to combine. Pour dressing over salad and toss. Sprinkle sunflower seeds over the top and add fresh herb leaves (optional). Salt and pepper to taste and serve. Also delicious with grilled chicken breast or marinated pork.

Don’t forget to enter my Better Homes & Gardens Magazine 1-year subscription giveaway. Look in the right sidebar on this page for the contest.


Asian Summer Rolls With Savory Dipping Sauce


Asian summer rolls are the perfect salad wrapped in soft rice sheets and dipped in a spicy, sweet, savory sauce. I added red bell pepper slices for color, crunch and natural sweetness.

After searching all over my grocery store for the rice sheets, I finally found them in the healthy and organic refrigerated section.  This recipe, like so many, calls for fresh herbs and lettuce and I was able to pick them straight from my container garden, which I wrote about starting several weeks ago.   I can’t tell you how often I have snipped a few leaves for sandwiches, burgers and quick salads with one step outside the back door. Two green-thumbs up for container gardens!

Asian Summer Rolls With Savory Dipping Sauce

Dipping Sauce
1-1/4 tblsp sugar
2 tsp warm water
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tsp chili sauce, such as Sriracha
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp finely shredded carrot
1 green onion, finely chopped
Dissolve sugar in warm water, combine with other ingredients, and chill until ready to use.

Summer Rolls
1 cup (approx 40) small salad shrimp, peeled and cooked (from 12 oz bag)
2 oz Vietnamese or Thai rice noodles (about 1 cup dry)
6 rice-paper rounds (about 8-1/2 inches in diameter)
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
12 fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup shredded carrot
12 large fresh mint leaves
3 red-leaf lettuce, spines removed, making 6 halves

Line up ingredients in small bowls before beginning to make rolls. Fill a large bowl or saucepan with very warm water. Place a rice paper round in the hot water. Soak for between 30 seconds and 1 minute, or until rice round is pliable and pattern on the round is barely visible. Remove and place on a clean, slightly damp kitchen towel. (Rice sheets tend to stick to solid surfaces and plates.)

Place 2 basil leaves on the inner edge of the rice round, top with approximately 1/4 cup cooked rice noodles and several red pepper slices. Place 6-8 shrimp halves on top. Top with about 2 tablespoons carrots, then 2 leaves of mint. Fold 1 piece of lettuce leaf and place on top of pile. Bring the edge over filling and tuck underneath. As you continue to roll, fold in the sides. Finish rolling, repeat with the other rolls, and reserve under a damp cloth or paper towel. When ready to serve, slice in half and serve, cut ends up, with dipping sauce.

Ellie Krieger from the Food Network inspired me to make these delicious, healthy Asian rolls.

They are quite easy to make by the way. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!


Fresh Greens & Herbs For Easy Container Gardening


Do you garden? I grew up with grandparents who worked hard in their gardens and my mother has a small garden she tends to every growing season. Back then bowls of freshly picked vegetables sat on our kitchen counter for anyone to help themselves to.  My sisters and I snacked on raw vegetables just like we ate our apples — whole and with the peel on.

We have a good size backyard with plenty of room for a garden, but it faces south towards the hot sun and has proven difficult to keep the grass watered and green, as you can see from this photo. We also get four legged visitors, like hungry rabbits and other small critters, I don’t care to know about slithering running around doing their business back there.


All the hard work necessary for a thriving garden overwhelms me, so I’m going to try container gardening.  Just simple herbs and  a mix of lettuce leafs. I’ll visit my local farmer’s market for tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers.


Right outside the backdoor I have planted mixed, red and lettuce leaf varieties. The peppermint plants will go in with them and the pretty lavender will go into a large antique bowl of Hens and Chicks on the front porch. I’m not sure how I will use the lavender just yet, but I do hope to catch their sweet scent when I’m nearby.


I tucked cilantro, basil, rosemary and dill herbs into a large flower pot. There’s a lot going on in that container but I do like how it looks and it saves space and watering time. I also have a small terra cotta pot of sweet basil near the kitchen window that is doing well. I pinch leaves from it almost daily for cooking, topping sandwiches and flavoring iced tea.  I especially like fresh basil with sliced strawberries.




I’ve already made my first salad with clippings from the lower leaves of the plants, and tossed in a few of the herbs, diced tomatoes, cucumbers, Kalamata olives, and green onions. It was so fresh and delicious!


I’m looking forward to more mature greens and lots of summer salads this season. It’s not too late to start your own easy container garden. Check with your local farmer’s market, grocery store or greenhouse for starter plants.

How about you, do you container garden and what do you grow in yours? How do  you use fresh lavender? I would love to hear from you.


Fresh Pineapple Mango Chutney



My family and I recently celebrated a monumental adjustment to my life when I “retired” from the newspaper business after 25 years. Of course our favorite way to celebrate any big (and small) event, birthday, or holiday is to enjoy a nice meal out on the town at a favorite restaurant.  This particular evening the entrees we ordered came with a small side of fruit chutney. I enjoyed dinner, but it was the delicious petite, chopped salad that stuck in my head. I like the texture of a smaller chopped salad versus the big-leaf lettuce or large chunky fruit salad we often throw together.  This tropical fruit and vegetable chutney is simple, light and refreshing.

Fresh Pineapple Mango Chutney

Fresh mango, removed from pit, diced small
1/2 a cucumber, peeled, diced small
Cup of fresh pineapple, diced small
3 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 lemon or lime

Dice first 3 ingredients and toss. Add chopped basil and squeeze lime or lemon citrus juice over the top. It’s that simple. Serve next to your favorite main entree. Enjoy!



Roasted Garlic Couscous with Chick Peas


Cous Cous


A tasty, quick and easy side dish for those nights when you need to get dinner on the table fast!  Also great for lunch, or a light meal.

Roasted Garlic Couscous with Chick Peas

1 tbsp olive oil
1  green onion, chopped fine
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper seeds
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup Craisin brand cranberry raisins
1/2 cup Chick peas (garbanzo beans), drained
1 – box (5.8 oz) Near East brand Roasted Garlic & Olive Oil Cous Cous, 5 minute Quick Cook. (Usually found in the rice aisle in stores)
1/2  fresh cut lemon

In medium saucepan sauté first 5 ingredients together over medium heat for one minute. Add Craisins and chick peas, saute one more minute then remove from pan to a separate dish and set aside.

Fill the same pan with the amount of water as directed on couscous box, plus 1/2 cup more and bring to a boil. Add the dry couscous and sautéed chick pea mix, bring back to boil and stir.  Remove from heat, cover and let sit several minutes until liquid is absorbed. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over couscous and serve. 

It has been a busy 5 days around here. From graduation ceremonies and parties for my niece and nephew, to sports banquets and a final three-week push until school is out. Classes will run until  June 19th and then the kiddos will be out for a long-awaited summer vacation. Yay!  Hope you are well!




Toasted Sweet Corn with Avocado & Crispy Bacon


This sweet corn recipe has become my favorite summer supper.  It satisfies my husband’s hungry appetite, which is a big deal to me.  The first time I served it I had my doubts that he would like it because it’s a one-bowl dinner, and being the meat and potatoes kind of guy that he is, one bowl of food usually leaves him hungry. But we were both pleasantly surprised to find the loaded mix of flavors and plentiful ingredients to be quite hearty.  Diced red bell peppers add sweetness, fresh basil brings a peppery spice, and citrus juice gives this dish a nice zing. Add crispy bacon, creamy avocado and garbanzo beans with bits of feta to toasted corn from the cob, and this is one scrumptious meal!

This handy-dandy gadget makes shaving corn easy and safer!

This handy-dandy gadget makes shaving corn easy and safer!

Toasted Sweet Corn With Avocado & Crispy Bacon

3 – 4 strips cooked bacon, crumbled & set aside, 1 tbsp of bacon grease reserved
4 ears of fresh sweet corn, kernels shaved from cob
1/8 tsp red pepper seeds
2 green onions, chopped fine
1 small sweet red bell pepper, diced
1/2 can garbanzo beans or chick peas, drained
1 ripe avocado, removed from pit and diced
1 small bunch fresh basil or cilantro, chopped
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1/2 lime or lemon for squeezing
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

In medium sized pan on medium-high heat, saute red pepper seeds, green onions and sweet red peppers in bacon grease, about 2 minutes. Add garbanzo beans and corn and cook several minutes longer, stirring occasionally, until corn is slightly toasted, but not brown.  Add chopped basil and feta, turn to mix and pour into glass or ceramic bowl for serving.

Add avocado, bacon, salt then squeeze fresh lime or lemon juice over the top. Turn to mix and it’s ready to serve. Enough for 4 as a side dish, or 2 as a meal.

What is your favorite summer supper to serve to your family? I would love to hear from you!



Crunchy Oriental Coleslaw with Poppyseed Dressing



Hello friends! We had beautiful weekend here in Michigan, made even better by time spent with my mother, mother-in-law and sisters to celebrate the Mother’s Day holiday. Everyone has been so busy with their own families and schedules that it has become a challenge to make time for one another. Do you find that to be true with your family, too?

Last week I gave you a recipe for what might be the best turkey burger ever!  You can view The Ultimate Turkey Burger here. Coleslaw is a wonderful side dish to go along with it. I sampled one similar to this a few years ago at an outdoor barbecue, but decided to add ramen noodles and toasted almonds for more crunch. It’s super tasty!

Crunchy Oriental Coleslaw with Poppyseed Dressing

14 oz bag Dole Classic Coleslaw
1 bunch green onion, finely chopped (or to taste)
1 small bag of slivered almonds (1/2 cup)
4 tablespoons sunflower seeds
1 package of Ramen Noodles
2 tablespoons of oil

3/4 cup Marzetti Original Slaw Dressing
3/4 cup Marzetti Poppyseed Dressing

Smash ramen noodles in plastic baggie with the back of your hand/palm (discard seasoning pack).

In a small pan slightly brown the noodles in oil then add slivered almonds. Stay with the pan moving the noodles and almonds around so they do not burn. You want the almonds lightly toasted. (The almonds will brown quicker than the noodles.)

Combine the slaw, green onions and sunflower seeds in a large bowl and mix. Add dressings and mix well. (Leave the ramens/almonds out until just before serving so they remain crunchy.) Refrigerate.

Stretch leftover slaw to your next meal by topping burgers and deli sandwiches. Add more toasted noodles and almonds back in for crunch.

I have enjoyed your comments on the blog and Facebook page this past week. Please keep sharing. Thank you!





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