{Lemon Tarragon Pasta Salad}

One of my favorite places to eat in Utah is Plates and Palates in Bountiful. Everything is so fresh and delicious. This is the salad I order Every. Single. Time I eat there. I was so excited I found the recipe, and it was a big hit at our family Easter party.

1 (16 ounce) box of bowtie noodles
2-3 C red grapes
1 C celery, thinly sliced
1/2 C sliced almonds
1/3 C green onions, chopped
2 C rotisserie chicken
1 1/4 C mayonnaise (not light)
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 lemons juiced and zested
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tb fresh tarragon, minced (Make sure to use fresh and not dried)
1 Tb sugar
2 Tb honey


 Cook 1 pound of bowtie noodles according to package directions. Pour them into a colander and run cool water through them to lower the temperature.

Into a large bowl, place the drained pasta, 2-3 C red grapes, 1 C thinly sliced celery, 1/2 C sliced almonds, 1/3 C chopped green onions and 2 C rotisserie chicken.

To make the dressing grab some fresh tarragon. Don’t be tempted to use dry tarragon, this recipe is really best with fresh.This is what it looks like out of the package. It has an amazing smell and flavor!

Chop 2-3 Tb of the tarragon and place it in a small mixing bowl, or large glass measuring cup.

Add the zest and juice of two medium sized lemons. Add 1 1/4 C mayonnaise (not light), 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 Tb sugar

and 2 Tb honey. Stir it well to combine. Give it a taste and add a bit more sugar if needed. (Depending on the size of your lemons you might need a bit more sugar).

Add half of the dressing to the salad and stir to combine. Cover the salad and dressing and chill for 1-2 hours. Pour the rest of the dressing over the salad just before serving. Give it a nice stir, making sure everything is well incorporated. Add a few fresh tarragon leaves for garnish if you so choose.

Serve and enjoy!

Recipe adapted by: Jamie Cooks It Up


{Candied Cinnamon Pecans}

I feel like its really not the holidays without some candied nuts around. Plus we make these for salads too. They are so easy, and delicious!


You take 1-2 cups of pecans and put them in a small sauce pan with 1 cup of sugar and 1/3 cup of water.
Stir to dissolve the sugar and bring to a simmer.
Simmer 5-7 minutes. After awhile the liquid will dissolve the pecans will start to get a candy coating on them at this point add 1 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp cinnamon.
Keep stirring until completely coated. If they are runny at all they aren’t done yet.

{BBQ Chicken Salad, with BBQ Cilantro Lime Dressing}

I love this salad, I always keep the ingredients on hand for a quick weeknight meal. I like to serve it up with the uncooked flour tortillas from Costco, that only take 30 seconds to cook 🙂
    • 3 cups cooked, shredded chicken
    • 2 cups BBQ sauce, I used sweet baby rays
    • ½ head iceberg lettuce, cored and chopped
    • 2 romaine hearts, chopped
    • 1/2 red onion diced
    • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
    • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
    • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
    • 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, cubed small or shredded
    • 4 ounces Monterey jack cheese, cubed small or shredded
Creamy BBQ Cilantro Lime Dressing:
  • 1 cup mayonnaise, light or regular
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup BBQ sauce
For the salad, combine the cooked chicken and BBQ sauce in a medium bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.
In a large bowl, toss together the iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, red onion, cilantro, corn, black beans and cheese. Toss the mixed salad with about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the dressing, if desired. Otherwise, you can serve the dressing on the side. Place salad on plates and top with the prepared BBQ chicken and additional dressing.
For the dressing, combine all the ingredients together and whisk (or shake, if using a jar) vigorously to combine. You could also run this through a blender to make it even more smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Recipe Source: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

{My Favorite Rice Pilaf with Almonds}

This is such a quick and tasty pilaf and perfect to serve on the side with almost anything. I love it. I have tried several different recipes for rice pilaf and this one blows them all away.

1 3/4 cups rice
1/4 cups carrots, finely chopped
1/4 cups celery, finely chopped
4 Tbs butter
4 1/4 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp dried parsley
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Chop up your carrots and celery. Put 2 Tbs of butter into a large skillet. When the butter has melted, add the veggies and rice to the pan. stir it together to combine. Let the rice and veggies cook in the melted butter until some of the rice turns golden brown. Add in the broth and a little salt and pepper to taste. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan and let it simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the rice is cooked through. When the rice is cooked, remove the pan from the heat. Add 2 Tbs butter and sliced almonds and the parsley flakes. stir to combine. Add a little more salt and pepper if needed.

Recipe Source: Jamie Cooks It Up

{Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing}

My good friends brought a delicious salad to one of our girls nights, and this is the dressing she used. We were all raving. Yum!

2/3 cups apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups sugar
 1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 tsp dry mustard
2 tsp salt
3/4 cups mayonnaise
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3/4 cups canola oil
1 Tbs poppy seeds

Put all ingredients but the oil in a blender and blend together. While the blender is still going, carefully add the oil slowly, when the oil is all added blend on high for 2 minutes. Turn off the blender and stir in the poppy seeds with a spoon. Serve or cover and refrigerate.

Recipe Source: Alisa Reid

{Creamy Fruit Salad}

Such a classic holiday salad. Did anyone else grow up with this? It’s prefect for pot lucks as well.

1 10oz can pineapple chunks, drained
1 11oz can mandarin oranges, drained
1 medium apple, cored and cut into bite size pieces
1 cup grapes, halved
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup mini marshmallows
1/2 cup walnuts (optional)

Combine the fruit in a large bowl, tossing well so the apple can get coated in the pineapple and orange juice to prevent browning. Stir in the sour cream and coconut, gently tossing to coat. Add in marshmallows and nuts (if using) stir. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours prior to serving to allow the flavors to meld together. Serve chilled. Sometimes I have noticed a lot of juice at the bottom of the bowl after this sits for awhile. I usually just drain it carefully out.

{Cookie Salad}

This is always a hit at any potluck or family gathering. It literally takes 2 minutes to throw together. You can also add other fruit like bananas, grapes etc.

  • 2 (3.4 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 12 ounces frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1 (20 ounce) can pineapple chunks, drained
  • 2 (11 ounce) cans mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1/2 package fudge stripe cookies
  • In a large bowl, mix together the pudding mix and the buttermilk. Fold in the whipped topping. Mix in the pineapple chunks and mandarin oranges. Chill until ready to serve. Crush cookies and mix in just before serving.

{Asian Salad}

Another summer favorite. It has a lot of flavor and is really easy to make. Sometimes I will add chicken too, either way it’s still good!

For The Salad:

1 Package of cabbage slaw mix (In the produce section by the bags of salad)
2 Tbs toasted sesame seeds
1/4 cup sliced almonds
3 green onions, chopped
1 package chicken flavored Ramen Noodles, crushed. (Reserve the seasoning packet)

Throw all of these ingredients into a large bowl.

For the Dressing:

2 Tbs Vegetable Oil
3 Tbs white wine vinegar
2 Tbs sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 chicken flavored Ramen noodle packet.

Whisk together and pour over salad and mix till combined.

{Cafe Rio’s Creamy Cilantro Ranch Dressing}

I used to live in Utah, now I live in Minnesota. One of the things I miss terribly about Utah is Cafe Rio. Oh man there is really nothing like it, I have tried other places and they just DO NOT compare. So I have started getting desperate and making some copycat recipes from home, which still are not quite the same but a girls gotta do what she’s gotta do. I did make this cilantro ranch dressing and I was amazed at just how much it tastes like the real thing! It is delicious. I also have THIS recipe for their cilantro lime rice that is pretty close to theirs also. Last night I made sweet pork salads, ( I will post the pork recipe soon) It was really good too.

1 packet traditional Hidden Valley Ranch mix (not buttermilk)
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup buttermilk
2 tomatillos, remove husk, diced
1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro
2 clove garlic
juice of 1 lime
1 jalepeno (we keep it mild so I remove the seeds, if you like spice keep the seeds in)

Mix all ingredients together in the blender. It will thicken as it sits in the refrigerator for a couple hours 

*Adapted from: Favorite Family Recipes