melinda’s vegetable salad with apples, bacon & honey apple vinaigrette

My grandma taught me how to make a wonderful salad last week that is perfect for autumn! She got the recipe from her friend Melinda, who she plays bridge with at the senior center every week. 🙂 This salad makes a perfect side dish, but is also hearty enough for a main course. I brought the leftovers to my writing “office” {i.e. the local library} for lunch the next day and they were terrific!

melinda salad

for the salad:
– cauliflower*
– broccoli*
– brussels sprouts*
– 1 tbsp minced garlic
– 1 package baby spinach
– 1 apple {we used a granny smith}
– 4 slices bacon
– 1 cup chopped walnuts
– 1 cup dried cranberries
– 1/2 cup feta cheese
* Feel free to use a combination of your favorite vegetables, and the amounts can vary of each. We used an equal amount of cauliflower, broccoli, and brussels sprouts, about 2-3 cups chopped of each.

for the dressing:
– 1/4 cup apple juice
– 1/4 cup olive oil
– 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
– 2 tbsp lemon juice
– 1 tbsp honey

1. In the oven or on the stovetop, cook the bacon until it is very crispy. Set aside.

2. Finely chop the cauliflower, broccoli and brussels sprouts. Thinly slice the apple.

3. Saute the minced garlic in a bit of olive oil in a large pot. Add the chopped vegetables and cook 8-10 minutes, until tender.

4. Add the sliced apple and baby spinach and cook another 2-3 minutes, until the spinach is wilted. Then remove the salad from heat.

5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients: apple juice, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, and honey, until well combined.

6. Toss the salad with the dressing, crumbled bacon, walnuts, dried cranberries and feta cheese. Serve warm, with salt and pepper to taste.

Hope you enjoy!

my 3 fave ways to use chia seeds

chia seeds

In the past year, thanks to some of my favorite bloggers {I’m looking at you, Julie and Lindsay!} I’ve been introduced to a nutritional powerhouse: chia seeds! In just one tablespoon of chia seeds, you get six grams of fiber, three grams of protein, and 2.9 grams of Omega-3 fatty acids.

Here are three of my favorite, no-fuss ways to use chia seeds in my daily life:

1. Smoothies. Just sprinkle some chia seeds on top of your fruit and ice and blend away! A smoothie combo I’ve been loving lately is strawberry + banana + mango.

smoothie

2. Salads. I love adding a tablespoon of chia seeds on top of my favorite healthy chicken salad.

chicken salad lunch

3. Baked goods. Stir a spoonful of chia seeds into your muffin or bread batter — or hey, why not even try some in brownies, cookies or cakes? I just made a batch of chocolate-chip banana muffins with some chia seeds added in!

banana muffins

When the weather cools down a little, I know I’ll be switching out my breakfast smoothies for a warm bowl of oatmeal — another great dish to sprinkle chia seeds on! I’ve yet to try overnight oats but I’ve heard chia seeds are a crucial ingredient in helping the oat mixture thicken overnight. This and this are both on my “to try” list of recipes!

Have you ever tried chia seeds? If so, what are your favorite ways to use them?

2-ingredient pulled pork in the crock pot

I have another recipe to share with you today as part of the crock-pot challenge issued by Julie at Peanut Butter Fingers! This is actually from a recipe I found on Julie’s site. I’m a big fan of bbq pulled pork sandwiches — but it seemed like a dish that took a lot of time and some sort of fancy meat cooker to pull off, so it’s always been something I’ve ordered in restaurants but never attempted to make on my own.

That is, until now! Julie’s recipe made it look so easy I had to try it. I am SO glad I did!

This is now one of my go-to crock-pot recipes! And perhaps my favorite part: it only needs TWO ingredients! {Plus whatever else you want to use to dress it up!}

pulled pork

2-ingredient pulled pork in the crock pot

– 1 pork tenderloin {I used one that was about 4 pounds}
– 1 can of low-sodium beef broth

1. Place the pork tenderloin in the crock pot and cover with the beef broth.

2. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4 hours, until pork is cooked through and juicy. Tear it apart with a knife and fork and transfer to a plate for serving.

And that’s it! Here’s what my pork looked like when I arrived home from school:

pork in crock pot

And it smelled DIVINE! Here’s the result when I turned off the crock pot and transferred the pork to a plate for serving:

pulled pork

Then all I did was plop some pork on a bun, add some Famous Dave’s BBQ Sauce, and I had a delicious homemade dinner to enjoy! The sandwiches paired nice with a light salad and fruit. I’m thinking next time I might add pineapple slices to the top of the pork to make Hawaiian BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches!

bbq pork sandwich

Another reason I love this recipe? There’s plenty of leftovers for lunch tomorrow! Score! 🙂

What are some of your favorite crock-pot recipes? Have any of you made pulled pork in the crock pot before?

Have a wonderful Wednesday!
-Dallas

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If you liked this post, you might also enjoy:
crock-pot chicken with black beans & corn
easy honey-lime chicken enchiladas
cilantro-honey salmon
favorite mashed potatoes

***This post is featured on Menu-Plan Monday!

MPM-Winter

chicken & quinoa salad

A few weeks ago, Mike and I went down to Indianapolis for the day. We went to California Pizza Kitchen for lunch, one of my favorite restaurants — I used to eat there all the time when I lived in California, but since moving to Indiana the closest one is in Indianapolis about an hour away. Whenever we go there, I always get my favorite pizza, the Barbeque Chicken Pizza. This time I tried something a little new: the Hawaiian Barbeque Chicken Pizza {pretty much the same pizza, but with pineapple added. YUM!}

Another item on the menu, however, did catch my eye: a healthy and delicious-looking chicken quinoa salad. I ended up sticking with my tried-and-true fave pizza, but I made a mental note to sometime come up with my own version of the salad inspired by the CPK version.

I tried out this recipe tonight, and it turned out great! Both Mike and I give it two thumbs up!

{This recipe currently serves two people, but can easily be modified to serve more.}

chicken & quinoa salad

– 2 chicken breasts
– 1 cup uncooked quinoa
– 1 and 1/4 cups water
– 4 cups arugula {or your choice of lettuce}
– 1 cucumber
– 2 roma tomatoes
– 1 tsp chopped garlic
– feta cheese to taste
– pine nuts to taste
– salad dressing to taste {I used fat-free sesame; I think a balsamic vinagrette would be nice, too}

1. Cook chicken in a pan on the stove until golden brown; I used a nonstick pan, but you might want to use a little olive oil if you’re worried about it sticking to the pan.

2. While chicken is cooking, boil 1 and 1/4 cups of water. Stir in quinoa and garlic and cook about ten minutes, until all the water is absorbed.

3. Slice up the roma tomatoes and cucumber and cooked chicken.

4. Serve quinoa and chicken warm over bed of arugula. Top with tomatoes, cucumber, feta cheese, pine nuts, and salad dressing.

YUM!

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Time spent: 25 minutes
Cost: about $6.00