{Summer Quinoa Salad}

This salad is so delicious and easy! So many fresh ingredients in one bowl. This is perfect for any side dish or pot luck.


2/3 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/3 cups chicken broth
1 cup black olives (6-ounce can, drained and sliced in half)
1 cup diced roasted red bell peppers (8-ounce jar, drained)
1 cup diced cucumbers, about 8 ounces
1 cup chopped tomatoes, about 8 ounces (I use cherry tomatoes and cut in half)
2-3 green onions, finely chopped
1/4 to 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled, about 4 ounces


3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 clove garlic, finely minced
Pinch of dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste, start with about 1/4 teaspoon each and add more, if needed


Rinse the quinoa very well in a fine mesh strainer; drain well. Combine the quinoa and broth in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook for 14-15 minutes until the quinoa is tender and the liquid is absorbed. Let it rest off the heat, covered, for 10-15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and let cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, add the cooled quinoa, olives, roasted red peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, green onions and fresh basil. Whisk the dressing ingredients together and pour over the salad. Toss to combine.

Sprinkle with the feta cheese and toss lightly.

Serve immediately. If refrigerating to serve later, consider making extra dressing to drizzle over the salad before serving as it may dry out a bit in the refrigerator as the quinoa absorbs the dressing.

Recipe adapted from: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe


Orzo Summer Salad

Hands down one of my favorite salads ever! I make it for dinner, BBQ’s, potlucks…you name it, it never lets me down.



1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
1/3 cup olive oil


12 ounces orzo pasta
6 cups chicken broth
2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
4 tablespoons thinly sliced chives or green onions
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 cup baby spinach, coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
½ cup pine nuts, toasted (heat them in a dry skillet over medium-low heat, tossing often until golden)


For the dressing, whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, honey and oil. Season to taste with a bit of salt and pepper. Set aside.

For the salad, cook the orzo in the chicken broth until tender according to package directions. Drain well but do not rinse. Let the pasta cool to room temperature, tossing often so it doesn’t stick together. Toss the cooled pasta with the tomatoes, chives or green onions, basil, and spinach.

Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and stir to coat the ingredients with the dressing. Season with salt and pepper, if needed. Sprinkle the feta and pine nuts over the top and toss lightly. Serve at room temperature.



Recipe Source: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

{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.