Taffy Apple Salad

Since Christmas is almost here I should probably backtrack to Thanksgiving and share with you what my contribution was to one of the Thanksgiving celebrations that we attended this year. I love the combo of apples and chocolate.

Taffy Apple Salad
Source: Illinois Farm Bureau Cookbook

6-8 large apples, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
6 snickers bars, chopped
1 container of Cool Whip
1 box (3.4 oz) of instant vanilla pudding
2 cups milk

Chop the apples and candy bars and place in a large bowl. Prepare the instant pudding with the milk then fold the cool whip into the pudding. Pour that over the apples and candy. Stir to coat. Chill until ready to serve.
Best if eaten within 24 hours.

Christmas Salad

Tim’s cousin made this salad for a family function a few months ago and I tried to recreate it at home not long ago.   I kick myself for not getting the exact recipe from her because I know there is something different about the way she made it.  I can’t quite put my finger on exactly what it is though.  For one thing, I know she soaked dry chickpeas, but I went ahead and used canned.  In any case, it is still delicious.   I’ll caution that you start small on the amount of onion that you use.  I have found that a little bit of raw onion goes a very long way.

Instead of a salad, I could see this used like a relish for grilled or roasted meat such as pork tenderloin.  And I could also see it used as a salsa.  With the addition of chopped tomato it would be fantastic scooped up with tortilla chips.

Named for the red and green colors, it is a beautiful salad any time of year that pomegranates are in season.  Not just at Christmas time.

Christmas Salad

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

seeds from one large pomegranate

1/2 of a small red onion, very finely chopped {or less}

bunch of cilantro, chopped {about 1/4 cup}

juice of one lime

s & p to taste

1 tsp cumin or to taste

drizzle of extra virgin olive oil {about 2-3 tablespoons)


Combine everything in a large bowl and allow flavors to meld for 1 hour before serving.

Honey Poppy Seed Dressing

As I mentioned previously, I am in love with making my own salad dressings.  This one is my current favorite.

Honey Poppy Seed Salad Dressing

Source:  adapted from Woman’s Day Magazine, September 15 2009


1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar

1/4 cup honey

2 Tbsp olive oil

pinch of salt

1 Tbsp poppy seeds

Whisk all of the above in a small bowl or shake up in a jar.  Enjoy over salad greens or fruit.

Honey Orange Vinaigrette

I’m all about making my own salad dressings this summer!  This is the one that I’m hooked on right now.   I love the honey flavor!

I’m going to experiment with omitting the ground red pepper though.  I can’t believe I’m going to omit heat in a recipe, but it almost detracted from the other flavors and I could feel a little sting on my lips from it.  This is weird because I have never said anything was too hot for me before!  So, I’ll probably leave it out next time and just add a tiny pinch of cracked black pepper instead.

{Haha, that pitcher looks huge!}

Honey Orange Vinaigrette

Source:  Jenny Craig Cookbook


2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 Tablespoons orange juice

1 {heaping} Tablespoon honey

2 tsp vegetable oil

1/8 tsp onion powder

scant 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper – optional?

Whisk all ingredients together and serve over chilled greens.  Makes 1/4 cup.

Chopped Summer Salad

We love side salads with our dinners or sometimes just as our dinner.  And I take a nice big salad to work for my lunch several times a week, so I’m mixing them up quite a bit.

I start with green leaf lettuce or mixed greens from our garden, then I mix and match from the following toppings:

chopped celery

chopped carrots

chopped bell pepper – any color

sliced green onions

sliced cucumber


sunflower seeds

nuts – walnuts, sliced almonds, peanuts, or cashews

bacon bits

shredded cheese – any kind! {I’m diggin’ bleu cheese right now, but Tim is NOT}


chow mein noodles

golden raisins

Asian Cabbage Salad

Next to my broccoli salad, this is probably my second signature salad.  I’ve been making it for at least 4 years and people always ask me for the recipe.  It is so bright and refreshing.  The vinegar in the dressing is sharp and perfectly balanced with the sugar.  And the black pepper may seem like an insignificant thing, but it really comes through in the aftertaste.  Total perfection!

I’ve found that it is best to make this right before serving.  Or at the very least, keep the dressing separate until just before serving.  A lot of times I will just keep the dressing on the side for people to add their own.  That way, if there are any leftovers they won’t get soggy.  The dressing will separate as it sits, so shake or stir before serving.

Add cooked chicken or shrimp for a complete meal.  Enjoy!

Asian Cabbage Salad

{source:  Healthy Recipes cookbook from State Farm Insurance Agents}


1 large head of Napa Cabbage, shredded {I’ve substituted lettuce before}

4-5 carrots, shredded {I almost always skip these}

3-6 green onions, thinly sliced

1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds, toasted

1/4 cup sesame seeds or to taste, toasted

2 packages dry ramen noodles, broken up and seasoning pack discarded {I’ve gotten by using just one package before.}


1 cup salad oil {light olive, canola, etc}

4 T. sugar

4 T. seasoned rice vinegar

1 tsp black pepper

2 tsp salt


Chop up the cabbage so that it resembles ribbons and throw it in a large serving bowl.  Slice the onions and shred the carrots (if using) and add them to the bowl.  Crush up the ramen and add to the bowl {remember to discard the seasoning pack or save it for another use}.  Add the almonds and seeds too and then toss it all together.

Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a container that can be shaken.  Test the seasoning and sweetness of the dressing on a leaf of cabbage before serving and adjust as needed.

Taco Salad

Can one of my 3 readers let me know if you can see the picture? I can’t see it from home, but see it at work ?! Thank you!

Even though summer has drawn to a close, I still wanted to post this taco salad recipe since we made it so often this year.   It is certainly one of our favorite summertime meals.  It is super easy to throw together with fresh vegetables from the garden or farmer’s market.


Taco Salad

leafy green lettuce, torn or chopped

shredded cheese {we like pepper jack}

seasoned taco meat {beef, turkey or chicken}

onion, chopped

peppers, chopped {bell or jalapeno}


crushed taco or tortilla chips

fresh dressing {or ranch}

sour cream


additional topping options:  chopped red onion, black beans, quacamole


Cook meat with chopped onion and peppers.  Drain.  Season as you like for tacos.

Create a bed of lettuce in a bowl or on a plate.  Top lettuce with cheese, then meat.  Then layer on a handfull of crushed chips.  Drizzle with salsa and french or ranch dressing.

Top off with sour cream and cilantro leaves {or other toppings of your choice}.


Cucumber and Penne Pasta Salad

To me, this is a perfect summertime picnic salad.  I’ve taken it to our block party before and it got rave reviews.  It has a surprisingly sweet and tart dressing that is very different, but perfect nonetheless.


Cucumber and Penne Pasta Salad

{Source:  my Mom}

Serves a crowd!


1 pound penne pasta

2 large cucumbers, thinly sliced

1 large onion, sliced

1 medium green bell pepper, thinly sliced – optional

1 can black olives, sliced – optional

1-1/2 cups sugar

3/4 cup plain white vinegar

1/4 cup oil

1 Tbsp dry mustard

1 Tbsp dried parsley

1 tsp salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 tsp garlic powder


Cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente.  Drain and rinse with cold water.

Meanwhile, slice veggies and place in large bowl.

Make the dressing by putting the sugar, vinegar, oil and seasonings into a large bowl.  Whisk until sugar is dissolved.  {Or place dressing ingredients in a large jar with a lid and shake to combine.}

Add cooked and cooled pasta to bowl of veggies and pour on dressing.  Stir to combine.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.  It may seem like a lot of dressing, but a lot of it will be absorbed by the pasta, stir well to coat before serving.

Broccoli Salad

I can’t believe I haven’t put this on the blog yet because I make it so often!  It is without a doubt, my signature salad.  I made it for my husband’s family when we first started to date, and I’m pretty sure it is one of the reasons they liked me so much.  🙂  I have been making it for many years and I got the recipe from Mom.  I’m not sure of the original source.

I make it so often now that I don’t even measure the ingredients, I just go by eye and dump it all together!  I have also found that you can omit and/or substitute quite a few things too and it is always delicious.  For example, when I made it last night I left out the onion.  I’ve left out the bacon and cheese before too.  Regular raisins or dried cranberries can be substituted for the golden raisins.  And lastly, you can add about 3/4 cup of sliced grapes or chopped apples for a change if you would like.  Enjoy!

terrible pic

terrible pic

Broccoli Salad – makes approx. 10 servings


7 cups chopped fresh broccoli florets (about 3 large bunches)

1/2 cup golden raisins

1 small red onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup shelled sunflower seeds

1/2 pound bacon (about 8 slices), cooked, drained and crumbled (store-bought real bacon bits work just fine too)

1 cup mayonnaise – I use reduced fat

3 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons white vinegar

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese for optional topping


Cook and crumble the bacon and set it aside.  Clean the broccoli and then chop it into florets.

Mix the mayo, sugar and vinegar together with a whisk in a small bowl (or put in a jar with a lid and shake) until sugar is dissolved.

In a large bowl, combine the broccoli, seeds, raisins, onion, and bacon.  Pour the dressing over the top and stir to combine.  Top with the shredded cheese and refrigerate before serving.

Also a blurry picture...

Also a blurry picture...

Southwestern Corn Salad

I had this salad at our neighborhood block party a year or two ago and I immediately asked my neighbor for the recipe.  It is fantastic and unlike any corn salad I have had before.  Most corn salads that I have had are more like corn salsa.  This one is creamy and crunchy and spicy…quite a party for the mouth.  And an added bonus is that it is really easy to prepare and can be made in advance.


Southwestern Corn Salad 8-10 servings

Tonight I halved the recipe and made several modifications that I will list at the end of the post. Below is the full, unmodified recipe.


2 cans (15 oz each) whole kernel corn (or fresh sweet corn)

1 cup finely chopped red onion

1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper

1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper

1 cup mayo*

1 cup (or more!) shredded cheddar cheese

3/4 bag of chili cheese Fritos, slightly crushed


Combine everything except chips in a large bowl.  Refrigerate several hours or overnight.  It may seem like there is too much mayo, but it will be fine once the chips are added.  Stir in the chips right before serving.

Unfortunately, leftovers are not ideal because the chips get soggy so plan on reducing the recipe if serving less that 10 people.


Tonight, I modified this recipe A LOT based on what I had on hand!  It still made 4 large servings.  I used:

one 11 oz. can of Mexi-corn, drained

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1/2 cup mayo

1/4 cup taco seasoning

1/2 of a can of black olives, sliced

2-3 Tablespoons of sliced jalapenos – optional

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

enough plain/regular Fritos for serving (NOT mixed in), crushed or uncrushed would be fine – we left them whole.


In a small bowl, combine mayo and taco seasoning and set aside.  In a medium bowl combine Mexi-corn, cheese, olives, jalapenos, and onion.  Add the mayo to the corn and stir to coat everything.  Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.  When ready to serve, place desired amount of chips on plate and top with corn salad.

By adding the chips to individual portions, they don’t get soggy and leftover salad is fine the next day.

* If you don’t eat mayo, you could substitute ranch salad dressing.  I’ve never done this, but my neighbor said it is good.

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