GRADUATION SALAD

My mother and sister flew in for Junior’s graduation. Though I had planned to grill ribeye steaks, the hour was late and it seemed better to enjoy steaks on Friday night instead so we could linger over them without having a work day hanging over our heads. So I opened my newly-stocked refrigerator and tossed together this salad–pretty, tasty, and light. As for dressing, I turned to our favorite standby, Ken’s Steak House dressings: Blue, Ranch, and Raspberry Vinaigrette. Perfect!

Graduation Salad

8 cups fresh spinach

4 cups iceberg lettuce, shredded

2 mini bell peppers (read and yellow), sliced thin into rings

1 cup matchstick carrots

1-1/2 cups strawberries, sliced

1 mango, peeled, pitted, and chopped

1 orange, peeled and diced

2 kiwis, peeled and chopped

1-1/2 cups deli-sliced turkey breast, diced

3/4 cup reduced-fat feta

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

1) Easiest recipe ever (well, aside from the chopping, slicing, and dicing). Put everything in a large salad bowl, toss, and serve with your favorite dressing or a nice variety of dressings

Servings: 6

NOTE: This is a “repeat” recipe featured on my original “Kitchen Novelist” blog 05/18/12.

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PECAN-CRAISIN-LEMON CHOCOLATE ‘N CHOCOLATE BARK

This is a variation on Pistachio-Craisin-Orange Chocolate ‘N Chocolate Bark . It’s delicious (though I do lean more toward the pistachio version), and just as easy to make. Add or subtract toppings to your heart’s desire and you’ll have a beautifully sweet treat to share.

Pecan-Craisin-Lemon Chocolate Bark

12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

12 oz white chocolate chips

zest of one lemon (I used a Meyer lemon), divided

1/3 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries (Craisins)

1) Line a large  (12×17″) cookie sheet with parchment paper

2) Pour semi-sweet chocolate chips in microwave-safe bowl; microwave, pausing and stirring every 30 seconds until chocolate melts; remove from microwave and stir in half the lemon zest (reserving half for topping); pour melted chocolate onto prepared baking sheet and smooth into a rectangle

3) Pour white chocolate chips in microwave-safe bowl; microwave, pausing and stirring every 30 seconds until chocolate melts; remove from microwave and drop by spoonfuls on semi-sweet chocolate; using a knife or wooden spoon, swirl chocolates together until your swirl is just right

4) Sprinkle pecans, Craisins, and remaining zest over top and lightly press into chocolate; if you have the space, cool in fridge 30-40 minutes until chocolate is hard; if you don’t have the fridge space, cool on counter to room temperature; break into pieces of whatever size you think you can limit yourself to and serve (we like it cold, but it’s wonderfully tasty at room temperature)

PISTACHIO-CRAISIN-ORANGE CHOCOLATE ‘N CHOCOLATE BARK

It was the picture that made me give this Swirled Chocolate Bark from www.inspiredtaste.net a try. With minor changes, I presented this impressively decadent dessert to a houseful of what proved to be very happy Halloweeners. Not only was it incredibly easy to make, but you can add or subtract toppings to your heart’s desire. This recipe will definitely be hanging around my kitchen, especially with Christmas in the forecast.

12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

12 oz white chocolate chips

zest of one orange, divided

1/3 cup shelled and roughly chopped pistachios

1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries (Craisins)

1) Line a large  (12×17″) cookie sheet with parchment paper

2) Pour semi-sweet chocolate chips in microwave-safe bowl; microwave, pausing and stirring every 30 seconds until chocolate melts; remove from microwave and stir in half the orange zest (reserving half for topping); pour melted chocolate onto prepared baking sheet and smooth into a rectangle

3) Pour white chocolate chips in microwave-safe bowl; microwave, pausing and stirring every 30 seconds until chocolate melts; remove from microwave and drop by spoonfuls on semi-sweet chocolate; using a knife or wooden spoon, swirl chocolates together until your swirl is just right

4) Sprinkle pistachios, cranberries, and remaining zest over top and lightly press into chocolate; if you have the space, cool in fridge 30-40 minutes until chocolate is hard; if you don’t have the fridge space, cool on counter to room temperature; break into pieces of whatever size you think you can limit yourself to and serve (we like it cold, but it’s also amazing at room temperature)