Friday, July 8, 2011

Watermelon, Arugula, and Feta Salad

This salad is a great summer salad combining fresh watermelon, tangy feta cheese, and peppery arugula topped with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing- perfect for a hot summer evening! The salad tasted refreshing and was delicious. 


Watermelon Arugula and Feta Salad

Ingredients: 
  • 3 cups seedless watermelon, cubed and chilled
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 7-oz arugula (Can substitute with baby spinach)
  • 1/4 small red onion, sliced very thin
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt and fresh pepper
Directions:
  1. Wash arugula and dry well. 
  2. In a large bowl whisk vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.
  3. Toss with the remaining ingredients and serve

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Bacon Macaroni Salad

Photo courtesy of Food Network


We had plans to head out to a BBQ party on Saturday over 4th of July weekend and Darin asked me if I could make something to bring to it- what's more traditional 4th of July food than a side of traditional macaroni salad?


The original recipe serves 4-6 servings. I knew this party would have a large showing so I did double the recipe (though, the original recipe is listed below). I thought it was the perfect blend of crunchy and creamy, and I also added bacon which I definitely thought it added some great flavor. Another option would be to add cubed cheese... maybe next time I will add some bacon to half the dish, and reserve some to add some cubed cheese. 



Ingredients:
  • 12-oz bacon, center cut- cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 cups cooked elbow macaroni (~3/4 cup dried elbow macaroni)
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 2 Tbsp diced green onions
  • 1 Tbsp chopped pimento
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp lemon pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper


Directions:
  1. Cook the bacon- I cooked mine in the oven for ease (I cooked mine at the recommended temperature on the back of the package but cooked for 21-22 minutes total).
  2. Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Add more salt, if needed.
  3. Cover and put into the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Source: Adapted from Paula Deen

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Cream Cheese and Pecan Stuffed Strawberries


No matter how much you clean, it's as if it never truly ends. We clean our home every weekend- that includes vacuuming, steam cleaning, dusting, etc. Even though we don't have children and we're good about picking up after ourselves, by week's end, it's time to do it all again. 

Leading busy lives (and being dependent on the weather), our backyard gets somewhat neglected and can take hours to mow, run the weed trimmer, and make it look nice. However, our neighbors next door are always mowing our yard for us- Chester is retired, and he just loves to ride his mower. (Or, maybe he's just tired of looking over at our overgrown grass??)

Regardless, it is so sweet of him to do this for us, and as a thank you- I wanted to make something for him and his wife. We don't know them very well, but who doesn't love strawberries, right?

These took very little time but looked sophisticated and tasted wonderful. With berries being in full bloom, these are the best times to make berry desserts. The recipe is from Paula Deen, and only has 5 ingredients and takes 15 minutes to prep!


UPDATE: Please check out many other wonderful desserts and sweets on Sweet as Sugar Cookies blog!

Cream Cheese and Pecan Stuffed Strawberries
Ingredients:
  • 20 whole large strawberries
  • 8-oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla or almond extract
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans
Directions:
  1. Cut a thin slice from the bottom of each strawberry so the berries stand upright. Place berries, cut side down, on a serving platter. 
  2. Carefully cut the berries into 4 wedges, cutting almost to, but not through, the bottoms with a criss-cross cut. Fan wedges just slightly, taking care not to break them. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until combined but still stiff. 
  4. Using a teaspoon or pastry bag with decorative tip, fill the strawberries with the cream cheese mixture. 
  5. Sprinkle chopped pecans on top of the stuffed strawberries. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Source: Paula Deen
 
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