Kid Friendly Salad

Am I the only mom in a constant struggle to get more veggies into my kids? I feel like it’s a never ending battle. My kids are SO picky. I heard a mom say the other day that her child would eat anything put in front of him…brussel sprouts, broccoli, just whatever. Well, I have had no such luck with any of my three children. My middle child is better about trying new things than my other two, but there is still no lovefest with vegetables going on around here. That’s why I try to be a little creative at getting them to eat more. Especially greens.

My family, and this includes myself, prefer raw vegetables over cooked. This means that we eat a lot of salads. However, my kids’ version of a salad is generally iceburg lettuce, cucumbers and carrots. And cheese. My oldest will drown everything in cheese if I let her.

I decided to change things up one night. I put the things I knew they liked in a salad on a plate, but I also placed some different things on there too. (I also had a few other things in separate dishes, like cheese, mandarin oranges, raisins.) I let them prepare their own salads. They thought it was very odd that I had chicken and potatoes and boiled eggs on the plate, but I told them to just give it a try. I didn’t force the issue or make them choose everything. The plate looked so pretty, I sent a picture to my sister. She responded with “are those chicken nuggets?” Why yes, yes they are. I knew I had to start things off with things they already liked. Grilled or boiled chicken would not have gotten a good response, but I’m working up to that!

My kids devoured their salads! They were much more adventurous when preparing their own salads than had I done it for them. My son wouldn’t eat the potatoes or eggs, but even he did better than I expected. Next time, I’m adding even more variety and see how it goes.

Are your kids good veggie eaters? If not, how do you get them to eat more or try new things? I’m open to suggestions…my 6 year old is my pickiest kid yet! {Of course, he did actually try something new the other night…he put hamburgers in gravy on a bun and called it a crabby patty! But hey, at least he ate it. First time ever eating any kind of hamburger!)

By the way, chicken nuggets and potatoes are actually really good in a salad ūüôā

Copycat Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad

I’ll admit, I’ve been somewhat obsessed with copycat recipes of late. I’m not sure if it is because I live so far from restaurants now, or because I just want to see if I can replicate restaurant food at home. I imagine it’s a little of both! This particular salad is my husband’s favorite thing from Applebee’s Restaurant, so I wanted to give it a try. There are several versions of the recipe on line, but I based mine off of one from¬†Mandy’s Recipe Box.Looks good, right?! ¬†What’s even better…it is very easy to put together with some pre-packaged items from the grocery store.

Copycat Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad

Dressing –¬†
3 Tablespoons honey
1 1/2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
1/4 cup mayonnaise (*I use¬†Hellman’s with Olive Oil)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon sesame oil
 
Salad –¬†
6 crispy chicken strips, cooked
Pre-packaged salad mix (w/romaine lettuce, carrots, and cabbage)
Pre-packaged coleslaw mix
3 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted (I used toasted sesame seeds instead)
1 cup Chow Mein noodles
 
  • For the Dressing¬†
Whisk all of the ingredients together in a small bowl.
Refrigerate while preparing salad.
 
  • For the Salad¬†
Cut chicken strips into bite size pieces. Set aside.
Mix together about half the bag of each of the pre-packaged salad and coleslaw mixes.
Top with cut up chicken, almonds & Chow Mein noodles. 
Drizzle the dressing on top, to taste.
Makes approx. 3 large salads
You can make as much or as little as you want by altering the amounts of salad used.  The amount of dressing used per salad is such an individual preference, so you may need more or less.  The amount listed was enough for 3 salads (a dinner sized salad entree) for us, but my husband said he would have liked more dressing (he likes a lot, where I like just a little!)
I added mandarin oranges to my salad, and I used toasted sesame seeds in the place of almonds, just because I love them!¬†This was a convenient, filling and delicious salad, and I can’t wait to tackle my next copycat recipe! ¬†So far, I’ve tried¬†Copycat Chick-fil-a Chicken,¬†Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana, and¬†Chili’s Monterey Chicken.
Have you got a restaurant favorite that you make at home? I’d love to hear about it!
I’m linking up this recipe over at – (Wednesday)¬†Fluster Buster,¬†Semi Homemade Mom,¬†Adorned from Above,¬†Lady Behind the Curtain,¬†Ginger Snap Crafts,¬†Hungry Little Girl,¬†Naptime is My Time,¬†Bloom Designs,¬†Cherished Handmade Treasures¬†¬†(Thursday)¬†Project Inspire¬†,Joyful Homemaking,¬†Designed Decor,¬†Taste and Tell, ¬†Miz Helen’s Country Cottage,¬†The Mandatory Mooch, ¬†The Busy Bee’s,¬†(Friday)¬†Not Your Ordinary Recipes, ¬†Simple Living and Eating,¬†Just Us Four,¬†Bacon Time with the Hungry Hungry Hypo,¬†Diana Rambles,¬†The Better Baker,Craftionary,¬†Mummy Deals,¬†One Artsy Mama,¬†The Best Blog Recipes,¬†One Creative Mommy,¬†Michelle’s Tasty Creations,¬†Close to Home, A Peek Into My Paradise¬†(Saturday)¬†Sassy Little Lady,¬†¬†Lemons for Lulu, ¬†Or So She Says…,¬†Six Sisters’ Stuff¬†(Sunday)¬†Mommy’s Sweet Confessions¬†
Yay! This recipe was featured at The Better Baker and The Best Blog Recipes!

The Best Blog Recipes

Panzanella Salad

I can’t say I’m a huge fan of salads, but I am all about some bread. ¬†So, give me a bread salad and I’m pretty happy. ¬†Of course, ‘bread salad’ sounds boring, so we’ll call it by it’s Italian name….Panzanella Salad. ¬†That makes it sound all fancy….except I white-trashed it up by adding bacon bits. (so now it’s sorta a BLT-nella salad, but let’s not get technical.)

As you can see, I went a little heavy on the bread!¬†I also added spinach and arugula. (ok, AND bacon) ¬†What can I say? I’m not Italian.

Panzanella Salad (or BLT salad)

loosely adapted from A Foodie Affair
  • 4 cups stale (1 to 3 day-old bread) Italian-style bread, cut into 1/2‚Ä≥ cubes*
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup Balsamic Vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • 2 cups tomatoes, diced ¬†I used cherry tomatoes and cut them in half
  • 1 cup cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup red onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1-2 whole roasted red peppers in the jar¬†I omitted b/c I forgot to pick some up at the store
  • 1/4 cup diced yellow peppers I used green pepper since that is what I had on hand
  • 1/4 cup Kalamata or Nicoise olives, pitted ¬†I omitted b/c I hate olives
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese ¬†I used Asiago since that is what I had
  • Peppered bacon bits (optional)
  • Spinach & Arugula (optional)
*I bought my bread from the clearance bakery items at Wal-Mart & I think my cubes were closer to 1″ than 1/2!
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spread the bread cubes on a large baking sheet in a single layer; drizzle a small amount of extra virgin olive oil just to lightly coat cubes. Dry in oven approximately 10 minutes.
  2. Make dressing with 1/2 cup olive oil and 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar. I used an envelope of Good Seasons salad dressing based on A Foodie Affair‘s recommendation.
  3. Combine tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, green peppers, basil, coarse salt, and pepper. Toss the ingredients gently to coat; let stand for at least a half-hour.
  4. Panzanella can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated for several hours. Remove from refrigerator an hour or so before serving and bring the salad to room temperature. Before serving, add bread cubes and sprinkle with Asiago cheese and bacon if using! Add salad dressing and serve on a bed of spinach and arugula if desired.

The salad was delish, whatever name you want to give my version!

And let’s not forget…today is SEPTEMBER 11th. ¬†I don’t care how long it has been…the very thought of what happened on 9/11 sends chills down my arms, gives me a heavy heart, and makes me want to scream and cry all at the same time. ¬†I did not know anyone who lost their life during the attacks of 9/11, but I mourn for them. I remember them. And I cherish their memories and give thanks to all the heroes of that day.
I AM PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN.
MAY GOD BLESS THE USA!
 

I’m linking up today with Naptime Creations, Mandy’s Recipe Box, It’s a Blog Party, All the Small Stuff, 33 Shades of Green, Blessed with Grace
 

‘Lightened Up’ Loaded Potato Salad

Potato salad is one of those things I kind of have to be in the mood to eat. ¬†Until now. ¬†I think I could eat this as a side almost every day! ¬†Yes, it was that good! ¬†I made this for my family’s 4th of July cookout.

‘Lightened Up’ Loaded Potato Salad¬†

6-8 small to medium red potatoes – cooked*, cooled and cubed
1 cup plain lowfat yogurt
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
8-10 slices cooked turkey bacon, crumbled
6 ounces shredded cheddar cheese, divided (reduced fat to cut calories)
3 green onions, sliced
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 dash celery salt (can also use seasoning salt)
1 dash garlic powder
1 dash paprika (or cayenne pepper)
  • Gently stir together all the ingredients in a large bowl, reserving a little cheddar, green onion and bacon for garnish.
  • Transfer to a serving dish.
  • Top with reserved shredded cheddar, green onion slices and bacon. ¬†Can be served immediately while still warm, or made ahead of time and served cold. ¬†It was good both ways!
*I cooked my potatoes in a steamer bag in the microwave
 
Adapted from: Craving Comfort 
 
Verdict? This was a delicious potato salad, and an excellent side to this-
Yes, I like to see how big I can make my burger!
By making a few ingredient swaps, I was able to greatly reduce the fat and calories in this side dish, without sacrificing flavor. Not to mention, no one realized I had used yogurt and light mayo in the place of the regular stuff!  If you are not a fan of turkey bacon, you could use regular bacon, and just reduce the amount as well.

‘Lightened Up’ Apple & Snicker Bar Salad

This is one of those dishes that isn’t really ‘pretty’, but taste oh soooo yummy!¬†I was wondering if anyone would notice the apples in yesterday’s What was it Wednesday!¬†I saw versions of this all over the web, and first spotted it somewhere on Pinterest. ¬†Since I sorta winged this when I made it, I don’t have any particular person to give credit to.
¬†For Mother’s Day, I decided I wanted needed a lighter dessert, but it still had to have chocolate. (duhhh!) ¬†This fit the bill, and would be great all during the summer. ¬†Speaking of, today is supposed to be 90 degrees with 93% humidity. ¬†Yep, bring on the hot sticky NC weather!
Lightened Up Apple & Snicker Bar Salad (it seems odd to call this a salad)
4 Apples of choice (I used Granny Smith and Pink Lady)
4 regular size Snicker Bars*
1 tub of Sugar Free Cool Whip (regular size, not large)
1 small box of Vanilla Sugar Free/Fat Free pudding**
1 cup skim milk (optional – see notes)
*I used Almond Snicker Bars b/c I can’t eat peanuts
Chop apples into bite size pieces. ¬†You can dip them in lemon juice to prevent browning, but they are going to be covered in cool whip so it doesn’t really matter. ¬†If you are going to pre-cut your apples like I did, you may want to do this just so they don’t look all yucky (technical cooking term). ¬†Chop your candy bars into small bite size pieces. ¬†This is easier if you have them nice and chilled.
In a large bowl, add your container of Cool Whip and your pudding (see notes). Fold in your apples, and candy bar pieces (reserving a few to sprinkle on top if desired.)  Chill for about an hour (not really necessary if you are in a time crunch).
**NOTES: ¬†Learn from my experience….if you buy the SF/FF INSTANT pudding – you need to add 1 cup milk to your pudding mix first. ¬†Mix it together and then add to your Cool Whip. ¬†If you buy the SF/FF Cook and Serve pudding, you can just add that to your Cool Whip.
Oh yeah, and I chopped up a few Hershey’s Miniatures too, b/c it didn’t seem like enough chocolate. But it’s rare that I feel like I have enough chocolate. and it was Mother’s Day and all.
You can play around with the recipe and use whatever flavor pudding and fruits you like.
I also made an apple/strawberry version with chocolate pudding! I skipped the candy bars to reduce the calories, but it would be awesome with them! My girls love this.

I’m going to link this recipe up with these fab linky parties – The Newlyweds, It’s a Keeper, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, A Little Nosh,¬†Talking Dollars and Cents, Eat at Home

Orzo with Roasted Vegetables

My sister has been talking about how delicious Orzo with Roasted Vegetables is for a while now.¬† I love orzo, but when I heard ‘roasted vegetables’ – I sort of thought “ewww”.¬† However, if you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I have recently discovered that I actually like roasted vegetables.¬† So, I figured it was time to re-visit the recipe.¬† Especially since I still have…
I did not follow the recipe exactly, I just used what veggies I had on hand.¬† This is one of those recipes that you can change up quite a bit, depending on your likes (peppers) or dislikes (mushrooms). ¬†I don’t think there’s any hope for mushrooms.¬† They just gross me out.

Orzo with Roasted Vegetables

adapted from For the Love of Cooking 

6-8 spears of asparagus, sliced in thirds
1/2 orange bell pepper, diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced (I threw some banana peppers in there too)
1/2 red onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, leave skin on while roasting
15-20 grape tomatoes
4 tbsp olive oil (divided)
Juice of 1-2 lemons, to taste
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
1 cup orzo
2 green onions, sliced thin
1/4 cup reduced fat feta cheese
10 fresh basil leaves
 
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
For quick clean up, use a foil lined baking sheet, then spray with cooking spray.
Toss the asparagus, bell peppers, onion and garlic with the olive oil, salt and pepper on the baking sheet.

Roast for 20 minutes, then toss & add the tomatoes. Roast for an additional 10 minutes.
While veggies are roasting, prepare the orzo per instructions on box.
Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl.
When vegetables are done, carefully squeeze the garlic from their skins and mix with orzo.
Add roasted vegetables to the orzo.
Combine: lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper (to taste) and pour over orzo/vegetables.
Add the green onions, feta cheese and basil. Toss to coat evenly.

I made Whole Wheat Beer Bread to go with it.¬† I heart bread products.¬† and beer.¬† Since I have discovered the Michelob Ultra Peach flavor (and love it), I thought I’d give it a try in the bread.¬† I also added cinnamon, to make kind of a sweet bread.¬† It was very good.¬† As in, I ate 1/2 a loaf in one evening good.¬† There’s not much better than warm bread with a schmear of butta…mmmm…

So, I thought I was all that making this yummy, and very healthy meal. The hubs liked it, but the kids were less than impressed. They did like the bread however. They think I’m the craziest mother ever b/c I feed them things with beer in it. My mother-in-law would not approve. Anywho…the next night I had left overs and fixed these for the kids
They said I was the BEST cook EVER.¬† Kids are so easy.¬† Okay, not really, but this was a super easy recipe from Pillsbury.¬† I used Reduced Fat Grands biscuits and Cabot’s 50% reduced fat cheese, and ham (without added nitrates and nitrites, of course – geesh, all the crap moms have to remember).¬† I highly recommend using reduced fat ham and cheese or when you bite into them you will get grease/”juice” running out.¬† ewww

So these little gems get 5 stars in my kids’ book.¬† Guess I’ll be making them more often.¬† Grands makes a reduced fat wheat biscuit that I’ll use next time, but couldn’t find them at my regular grocery store. (what else is new?)

I’m linking up with Finding Joy in My Kitchen