Best Ever Waldorf Salad Recipe

Salads in summer is a classic combination, and one of the favorite salads in our home is the classic Waldorf Salad. Even though this salad has been around since the late 19th century it still ranks in the Top 10 of America’s favorite salads – and with good reason. The combination of flavors and textures is fabulous, it’s healthy without trying too hard, and it’s so easy to make! My HH likes this as a quick guilt-free snack and requested it the other day so I did a quick Pinterest search and found this Pin for the Best Ever Waldorf Salad Recipe by Daniela of My Gorgeous Recipes. I had to know the difference between my version and the “Best Ever” recipe so let’s get to the Pintesting.

Pintesting Best Ever Waldorf Salad - ORIGINAL PIN

Some interesting history on the Waldorf Salad: It came from the famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel in 1896 and was created by Oscar Tschirky who was not a chef but the dining room manager or “the maître d’hôtel.” It was a huge hit and has stayed on the menu ever since with a minor tweak. History can be delicious.

The Pintesting:

The ingredients include those of a traditional Waldorf Salad and added Greek yogurt to the dressing.

Pintesting Best Ever Waldorf Salad

The salad ingredients are apples, celery, grapes, and walnuts. I was so happy to find the walnut pieces which I think are easier to mix into a salad.

Pintesting Best Ever Waldorf Salad

Pintesting Best Ever Waldorf Salad

Next add the dressing ingredients; lemon juice, mayo (I recommend using real mayonnaise instead of “salad dressing” for this), and Greek yogurt.

Pintesting Best Ever Waldorf Salad

The variation that I had been making just used vanilla Greek yogurt which made it a little sweeter. The mayo and lemon juice gave a nice tanginess.

Pintesting Best Ever Waldorf Salad

Now comes the hard part; toss everything together until it’s mixed well.

Pintesting Best Ever Waldorf Salad

That’s it! You can chill it or serve it immediately (which is what we did).

Pintesting Best Ever Waldorf Salad

Normally Waldorf Salad is served on a bed of lettuce; this recipe uses spinach. However, we were going more for the snack version so we skipped this and just dug in. One of the things that I liked about this recipe is that it makes two very generous servings rather than a huge amount. You can easily be double or triple the recipe, but since it’s just the two of us we had four snack or side-salad servings.

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Results:  4.85 Pins

Pintesting Seal 5 Pins

Accuracy: Daniela’s recipe is the classic with a fresh update. The Greek Yogurt and lemon juice give a nice tang and lighten the heaviness of straight mayonnaise without compromising the original version. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty: There is nothing hard about this recipe but it does require a bit of chopping. 4 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time: This recipe is very quick to put together. You can make it ahead of time but it’s not necessary to chill it to develop the flavor. That’s perfect for when you need something quick. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Cost: Although its origins are from the Waldorf Astoria in New York City, a 5-star luxury historic hotel, this classic is inexpensive to make. The total cost was less than $2 for 4 snack/side-salad servings. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality: Whether for a snack, side dish, or light meal, the Best Ever Waldorf Salad Recipe is perfect for any salad occasion. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Pintesting the Best of Italy with Pizza

October is NATIONAL PIZZA MONTH! Did you know this? I didn’t until the month was nearly over. Pintesting Monini Mutti Pizza I’ve wanted to do a pizza recipe post for quite some time but with so many unique kinds of pizza, I wasn’t sure which would be the best one to start with. There’s the Neapolitan style Margherita, the large thin crust New York style, the deep-dish Chicago style, the thick crusted square shaped Sicilian style, grilled pizza, French bread pizza, regional tomato pies, and so many variations of crusts, sauces, and topping… it’s a bit overwhelming. But then I thought about what Italian pizza from Naples would be like. While at the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Show, I was introduced to Italy’s favorite tomato company, Mutti, and their sister olive oil company, Monini. After tasting them I know why they’re the best of Italy. And now they’re coming to America so that you can cook with the best Italian ingredients, too!

2016 Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show Mutti Exhibit

Below are a few of the appetizers and even a dessert that was made using the Monini and Mutti products.

2016 Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show Mutti Collage

I was given some wonderful products to try at home including a ready-made pizza sauce and a squeeze bottle of olive oil that’s not supposed to drip. Let’s see what Italy’s favorites taste like on a pizza.

The Pintesting:

In our house, we normally make our own pizza dough, but on this busy weeknight I picked up a pack of pre-made crusts and our toppings will be cheese, sausage, and pepperoni.

Pintesting Monini & Mutti Pizza

I brushed the dough with the Monini olive oil in their new squeeze bottle. This is SO MUCH BETTER than having the olive oil drip onto the counter or down the side of the bottle. No Leaks! No Drips!

To really boost the flavor, I cut a garlic clove in half and then rubbed it on the oiled dough. If you love garlic but have trouble with heartburn, this is a great way to get that great taste and be gentle on your stomach.

Pintesting Monini & Mutti Pizza

To get real authentic Italian pizza flavor you need a real authentic Italian pizza sauce.

Pintesting Monini & Mutti Pizza

Cheese Please!

Then we added the toppings. The HH worked at a pizza place many years ago, so he does this part. The sausage is raw when put on the top of the pizza, but it will cook through while the pizza is cooking.

Pintesting Monini & Mutti Pizza

Then we baked it per the crust instructions.

Pintesting Monini & Mutti Pizza

This is how it looked when it came out of the oven. The sausage is perfectly cooked. The cheese is all melted. The hardest part is waiting for it to cool enough to taste it, so I’ll get one more picture while I wait.

Pintesting Monini & Mutti Pizza

The Results:

So THIS is what pizza in Italy tastes like… Monini & Mutti made this pizza incredible. The no-drip squeeze bottle really worked; there was no olive oil anywhere it wasn’t supposed to be. The pizza sauce was very fresh and tasted like real tomatoes – not overprocessed or artificial. I can see why they are the favorites in Italy. The good news is that both of these products will soon be available at grocery stores across the U.S. so watch for them!

The Recipe:

Pizza

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 2 Pizzas (using the 2 mini crusts)

Pizza

Ingredients

  • Pizza crust of choice (I used Boboli Mini Original Pizza Crusts, but you can use home-made)
  • Monini Olive Oil
  • 1 Garlic clove, cut in half
  • Mutti Pizza Sauce
  • 8-oz Mozzarella, shredded
  • Toppings of choice

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven per your crust instructions (450 degrees for the Boboli crust).
  2. Place crust(s) on a baking sheet.
  3. Brush 1-2 teaspoons of Monini Olive Oil on the crust to coat evenly.
  4. Rub the garlic clove all over the crust for great flavor.
  5. Spread the Mutti Pizza Sauce in an even layer on the crust.
  6. Top with shredded mozzarella and toppings.
  7. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Notes

Pizza is personal, so you can use whatever kind of crust and toppings you like to make it completely your own.

http://pintesting.com/pintesting-the-best-of-italy-with-pizza/

 

Pintesting Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake

This is the post that wasn’t going to be and then wrote itself. I made the cake and took some pictures, but didn’t really intend on doing a proper Pintesting – until I shared the pics. The response was mind blowing, so here’s the post complete with my first recipe.

The Pintesting:

It started with this picture of a pineapple upside down cake in a bundt pan on Pinterest. Because it’s my HH’s favorite cake, I wanted to surprise him with this.

Pintesting Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake

Sadly, the link went to a picture. Can we take a moment to talk about responsible pinning here? Check the pins before repinning them, folks.

I did a search for an original source, but only came back to the same picture that was on Pinterest.

UPDATE: I found the original source for the picture! Her name is Tina Carver, this is her original idea, and she is very happy that her cake is getting so much fame. 😀

Pintesting Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake

Luckily, the picture was enough this time. Pineapple upside down cake traditionally starts with melted butter and brown sugar, then an arranged layer of the pineapple and maraschino cherries, over which the cake mix is poured. When the cake is baked and inverted onto the serving plate, then you see the design of the fruit. This is no different other than it’s in a bundt pan, and the pineapple rings are halved and arranged vertically.

I wanted to ensure that the cake would come out of the bundt pan cleanly, so I really greased the pan with my favorite pan release. (The recipe will follow.) I used a stick of melted butter and sprinkled a half-cup of brown sugar on top of it, then alternated the halved  pineapple rings and cherries. I think it turned out just like the original picture.

Pintesting Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake

Substituting pineapple juice and milk for the liquid and adding a box of instant vanilla pudding makes this cake incredibly moist and flavorful.  The cake batter gets poured on top, and then the cake gets baked, cooled, and flipped.

And let me tell you, you’re going to flip for this cake.

Pintesting Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake

Normally I give my Pintesting results at the end of each post, and this would get 5 Pins. Instead, I’m sharing my recipe. Enjoy!

The Recipe:

Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 1 Cake = 17-18 slices

Serving Size: 1 slice

Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Cup butter (1 stick), melted
  • 1/2 Cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 Can pineapple rings in 100% juice (reserve the juice)
  • 1 Jar maraschino cherries
  • 1 Box yellow or pineapple cake mix
  • 1 4-serving box instant vanilla pudding
  • 3 eggs
  • Vegetable oil
  • Milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Prepare the bundt pan by generously applying pan release (recipe below) or non-stick spray.
  3. Melt the butter and evenly pour into the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with the brown sugar.
  4. Cut the pineapple rings in half and alternate with the maraschino cherries around the bundt pan as shown in the picture. Set aside.
  5. In a stand mixer or large bowl, stir the cake mix and pudding mix together. Drain the pineapple juice into a measuring cup and add enough milk to make 1 Cup of liquid. Add this with the eggs and the amount of oil called for in the recipe to the cake mixture; following the instructions on the box.
  6. Carefully pour the batter over the fruit. Place the bundt pan on a baking sheet and bake as instructed for a bundt cake on the cake mix box. The cake is done when an inserted knife comes out clean.
  7. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Slide a knife around the edges including the inner ring.
  8. Invert the cake onto a serving plate. Slice between the pineapple rings and serve warm or room temperature.

Notes

Several people have commented that they had the butter and brown sugar overflow their bundt pans causing a big mess in the oven. Just say no to messes. Make sure to put the bundt pan on a baking sheet.

Also, use the baking time for a bundt cake that's listed on the cake mix directions. This will vary by brand. My times are approximate - go by the box.

In order to prevent problems with the cake being too moist, soft, or cracking, cover the pan with foil half way through baking and then uncovering for the last 10 minutes. This will also keep it from over browning. (Thank you, Barbara!)

http://pintesting.com/pintesting-pineapple-upside-down-bundt-cake/

Best Ever Pan Release: from I Am Baker

Mix equal parts of vegetable shortening, vegetable oil, and all-purpose flour until smooth. Using a pastry brush or paper towel, apply to the pans paying special attention to corners, nooks, and crannies.

 

 

Chicken Gnocchi Soup (Olive Garden Copycat)

Some of the best things in life can come from the most random and unexpected places. For example, a couple of weeks ago some colleagues and I were talking about Pinterest while sitting around the lunch table. I had mentioned the Olive Garden Copycat Minestrone Soup recipe that you make in a crock pot. Two of them piped up and mentioned the Olive Garden Chicken Gnocchi Soup – how it was the best thing EVER. Did I like it?

*Cricket. Cricket. Cricket.*

How had I missed this? I’ve eaten at the Olive Garden more times than I can count, but can’t remember seeing this on the menu, much less having had this soup. “Well, can’t you find a recipe on Pinterest?” And of course, I did in about 2 seconds. This Pin by Reeni of Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice came to the top of the search list.

Chicken Gnocchi Soup - Original Pin

Fast forward to Mother’s Day. My girls are on the other side of the country and the handsome hubby had to work. This year I was on my own, so I did what I wanted to do without any guilt. I thought about this soup and decided that it’s what I wanted for my Mother’s Day supper (along with a pitcher of Sunset Sangria – post to follow).

Wait, did someone ask, “what’s gnocchi”??? Gnocchi is this wonderful pasta made from potatoes that cooks into fluffy light clouds of pillowy pasta perfection. I went shopping and found this gnocchi at my Super Target. It was in the pasta aisle along with the rest of the Archer Farms brand pasta. I was lucky enough to hit the jackpot of savings that day; it was on sale, there was a Cartwheel discount, and I used my Red card. I love getting a good deal!

Chicken Gnocchi Soup - Gnocchi

The Pintesting:

Here are the rest of the ingredients. Reeni suggested using a rotisserie chicken, so that’s what I did. I used the breast meat for the soup, and the rest went to other uses.

Chicken Gnocchi Soup - Ingredients

I regret to say that I made the soup and forgot to take the pictures. The good news is that it was such a basic soup recipe that I know you can do this.

Heat the butter and olive oil, saute and season the aromatics, make a roux, add liquids and chicken, then the cooked gnocchi and spinach.

This is what it looked like in the pot when I remembered to grab a picture.

Chicken Gnocchi Soup - Soup

This is what it looked like in the bowl topped with fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Chicken Gnocchi Soup - Done

And THIS is what it looked like with the garlic bread, salad, and Sangria. Happy Mother’s Day to me!

Chicken Gnocchi Soup - Supper Served

The taste was AMAZING! I completely agree with my work friends. The soup was creamy and rich, but not heavy. The gnocchi was light and almost creamy. It was so good that the handsome hubby had two and a half bowls.

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Results: 4.55 Pins

Pintesting Seal 5 Pins

 

Accuracy: Having never had the original soup, I’m basing this solely on Reenie’s recipe and her blog description. “It doesn’t matter if you’ve eaten this soup before or not. You’re bound to like it. It’s the kind of soup that hugs you from the inside out and the outside in.” The soup was restaurant quality, flavorful, and surprisingly easy to make. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins

Difficulty: This is a simple soup recipe, as stated above. The “worst” part, if you can call it that, was cooking the gnocchi in a separate pot. Many soup recipes have you to cook the pasta/noodles/rice/etc. in the soup. I have a feeling that due to the cream, it would have made the gnocchi heavy instead of fluffy. This would be a good recipe for a culinary novice. 4 PinsRated 4 Pins

Time: Reeni gave a prep time of 20 minutes and cook time of 45 minutes. My prep time was about 10 minutes, perhaps because I cooked the gnocchi while the rest was cooking, and I used a rotisserie chicken? Start to finish I made the soup in about 30-35 minutes. 4 Pins

Rated 4 Pins

Cost: The most expensive ingredient for this recipe was the rotisserie chicken, which I got in the cold deli section, at a cost of less than $6. I only used the breast meat, so figure about half of that. I already mentioned that I hit the savings jackpot on the gnocchi. The recipe made enough soup for supper plus a couple days of lunch leftovers. 4 Pins

Rated 4 Pins

Practicality: This is a delicious soup that’s hearty enough to serve for supper with a salad and bread (as I did), but light enough that it can be served as a soup course if you’re entertaining with a multi-course meal. It came together easily and didn’t require any special equipment or cooking skills, and you don’t have to run to the Olive Garden every time you get a craving. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins

***Just a note: I received no compensation from the Olive Garden or Target. All opinions are my own.***

 

 

 

The Amazing Amish Cinnamon Bread Alternative

As I’m writing this post, I’m memory-listening to a little boy singing his favorite song from his favorite movie. Memory-listening, for those who don’t know, is a lot like when you get a song stuck in your head (now referred to as an earworm), but it’s a song you’ve heard in the past. In this case, it’s a little boy from my day care, about 2-3 years old, singing “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from Toy Story. I’d hear him sing it over and over again. He’s rather grown up now and probably getting ready for his first car, but I hear a little boy’s voice singing.

I have been blessed with some amazing friends, and I am most thankful for this great gift. One of the best things about the gift of friendship is that it comes in so many shapes and sizes. I’m not referring to the shapes and sizes of the friends, but the kinds of friends. New friends. Old friends. Friends that are close by. Friends that live far far away. Work friends. Gym friends. Zumba friends. (YES, they get a special category!) Church friends. Neighbor friends. High School and College friends. Cooking and baking friends. Blogging friends that you’ve never met in person, but look forward to meeting someday friends. Random-stranger-that-you-met-at-the-wine-shop-and-have-been-hanging-out-together-since friends.

My point is that no matter how or when or where you met, friendship is a precious gift.

And every now and then a friend will gift me with the gift of friendship bread. Except it doesn’t look like bread. Actually, it looks more like a bag or tub of goo, or the science experiment from the back of their fridge.

Appropriate response, “Um, gee thanks”. (Insert big sincere looking smile that ends up looking like a grimace.)

It’s a starter that needs to be fed and stirred in the fridge or on the counter for about 2 weeks before you can divide it, then share and bake. I don’t know about you, but if I want to bake bread, I don’t think about it 2 weeks in advance. “Wow, I think I’d like to bake in a couple of weeks.” Nope! Nope! Nope! I can be patient for some things, but I’m an instant gratification kind of girl. If I want to bake, then I’m going to bake now!

This is an example of traditional friendship bread with daily instructions of what to do for 10-14 days.

Photo by tizzie from Flickr, from The Curvy Nerd blog.

Photo by tizzie from Flickr, from The Curvy Nerd blog.

So when this pin came across my radar, I was so ready to try the bread and make a new friend – or at least feed the ones I already have. Melissa at Redfly Creations showed this quick recipe for a short-cut cinnamon bread. Yes! I’m in.

http://www.redflycreations.com/2012/10/the-amazing-amish-cinnamon-bread.html

http://www.redflycreations.com/2012/10/the-amazing-amish-cinnamon-bread.html

Here are the ingredients. I had everything on hand.

Amazing Amish Cinnamon Bread - Ingredients

First cream the butter, sugar and eggs.

Amazing Amish Cinnamon Bread - Cream butter, sugar and eggs

I like to start creaming the butter and sugar, and then add the eggs.

Amazing Amish Cinnamon Bread - Sour the milk

Next, sour the milk (if you don’t have buttermilk) by mixing the lemon juice and milk.

Amazing Amish Cinnamon Bread - Add flour mixture and milk

Combine the dry ingredients and the milk to the butter mixture.

Amazing Amish Cinnamon Bread - Sprinkle with Cinnamon, add reamaining dough

Pour half of the batter into the baking pans, sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar, and repeat.

***A note here. Melissa says to pour into two bread pans, but doesn’t specify the size. Since she also mentions that muffin tins work well, I used one 5×9 bread pan and a half-dozen mini loaf pans.

Amazing Amish Cinnamon Bread - Cinnamon Sprinkle #2

Swirl with a knife…

Amazing Amish Cinnamon Bread - Swirl Cinnamon

Then bake for 45=50 minutes.

Amazing Amish Cinnamon Bread - Bake

Your house will start to smell amazing!

Amazing Amish Cinnamon Bread - Done baking

Cool the breads a bit before removing from the pans.

Amazing Amish Cinnamon Bread - Cooling Bread

Sadly, the large loaf had sunk in the middle. The mini loaves seemed to do rather well, though.

Amazing Amish Cinnamon Bread - Sunken middle

I left the large loaf to finish cooling in hopes that it would help the texture.

Amazing Amish Cinnamon Bread - Plated to eat

One of the sliced mini loaves was eaten with our Sunday brunch. We ate some of the larger loaf the next few days, but found the extreme denseness of the sunken middle too much. Oh the other hand, the remaining mini loaves were brought to work and devoured with many thumbs up. In this case I think the smaller sizes worked better.

Now, for the Pintesting results.

Overall Rating: 4.3 Pins

4 Pins Overall

Accuracy:  This was a delicious quick bread recipe. Unfortunately, the sinking in of the large loaf, which might be attributed to the lack of specific pan size, didn’t give us great results for half of the dough. Otherwise the texture of the smaller loaves was wonderful; moist with a nice crumb. I love cinnamon and the swirled cinnamon sugar. Done in the two layers, it really distributed the yumminess throughout the bread. I might have cut back a little of the cinnamon sugar, or maybe drizzled a bit of melted butter on the topmost layer to give it a more streusel-like topping and to keep it from baking dry. 4 Pins

Rated 4 Pins

Difficulty: The recipe was well written (except for the lack of loaf pan size), and the most difficult part was the process of dividing the batter and cinnamon sugar for the two layers of cinnamon-y goodness. 4 Pins

Rated 4 Pins

Time:  The recipe calls for softened butter. Since I knew that I was going to make this on a Sunday morning, I put enough butter out before going to bed on Saturday night to soften properly. My own trick is to stick it into the microwave (NOT turning it on, just to keep it free from any kitties that might want some yummy butter) and close the door overnight. I’m not including the 8-hours of butter softening time. The actual prep and baking time was just under an hour, with another 20 minutes for cooling time. 4 Pins

Rated 4 Pins

Cost: There are no expensive ingredients on this recipes list. No special trips to the store – especially since Melisssa gave the alternative of soured milk for the buttermilk. (Good job!) 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins

Practicality:  I could see this as a great recipe for either muffins or mini loaves; perfect for breakfast, brunch or an afternoon snack. I especially like that the smaller sizes are perfect for freezing ahead and having on hand. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins

 

 

PF Chang’s Mongolian Beef Copy Cat Recipe

I love Chinese food! From the time I was a very little girl, my parents would make my brother and me use chopsticks to eat at the Chinese restaurants. They said the food didn’t taste as good if you used a fork. To this day, I believe it. When I saw this pin from Six Sister’s Stuff, I knew I had to add it to the Pin Test list.

Six Sister’s Stuff is a great blog. Just read their “about us” page and you can feel their family love. Now, my mother was one of 5 sisters and they had some fantastic stories to tell. I used to love listening to them. They loved to joke and laugh. I can only imagine what that would be like since I only have the one brother. Don’t get me wrong – I love my brother… well, like a brother. (Oh, so cliché) He likes Chinese food, too. Actually, he likes any kind of food but let’s not go there. Which brings us back to the Pin Testing.

http://www.sixsistersstuff.com/2012/03/pf-changs-mongolian-beef-copycat-recipe.html

The Pintesting:

After reviewing the recipe a few times, I started the rice before starting anything else. It looked like it wouldn’t take very long, as most Chinese food cooks quickly. It was a wise decision. Then I got the rest of the ingredients together.

's Mongolian Beef Copycat Recipe

Heat the oil in a medium pan and saute the garlic and ginger for a minute or so.

's Mongolian Beef Copycat Recipe

Add the soy sauce, water, and brown sugar.

's Mongolian Beef Copycat Recipe

Whisk it together and bring it to a boil for a couple of minutes to thicken.

's Mongolian Beef Copycat Recipe

While that’s starting to boil, thinly slice the flank steak on an angle, as the instructions say.

's Mongolian Beef Copycat Recipe

Then dip the steak slices in cornstarch. That’s a new one for me. I’ve always dredged in flour. I love learning something new!

's Mongolian Beef Copycat Recipe

By now the sauce will have boiled for a bit, so remove it from the heat.

's Mongolian Beef Copycat Recipe

Once all the meat is dusted with cornstarch, let it set for about 10 minutes while the oil in the Wok gets hot.

's Mongolian Beef Copycat Recipe

Cook the meat in batches since it will not all fit into the wok at once.

's Mongolian Beef Copycat Recipe

Cook it just until it browned, then remove it with a slotted spoon and drain it on paper towels. Once it’s all done, add the meat into the saucepan with the green onions and heat through.

's Mongolian Beef Copycat Recipe

I served it over the hot rice and with stir fried veggies.

's Mongolian Beef Copycat Recipe

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Rating: 4.15 Pins

Pintesting Seal 4 Pins

 

Accuracy: The recipe execution was as the directions instructed, but most of the Mongolian Beef I’ve had at PF Chang’s and other Chinese restaurants had substantially more onions, both green and/or yellow. It tasted good, but it needed more onions to balance the sweetness of the sauce. 4 Pins

Rated 4 Pins - SMALL

Difficulty: This recipe requires some knife skills in order to thinly slice the flank steak. Also, flash frying the meat in oil raises the level of danger to novice cooks. 3 Pins

Rated 3 Pins - SMALL

Time: It took a little longer than I expected to get all of the steak slices dusted with the cornstarch, but start to finish it took about the same or less time than to send someone out to get Chinese take out – roughly 40 minutes. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Cost: The flank steak is about $10-$15 unless you can find it on sale. I debated including the cost of a wok since it’s not common to most kitchens (I have 2, but I don’t have a common kitchen). Since the recipe said you can use a skillet, I let that go. 4 Pins

Rated 4 Pins - SMALL

Practicality: This is a good homemade alternative to Chinese take-out, and you don’t have to leave a tip. Although, the next time I make this, I’ll add the extra onions. 5 pins

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Tomato Tortellini Soup

Today is National Tortellini Day, hooray! I love a day to celebrate pasta, and such a versatile one at that. Since I didn’t find out about this until I was at work for a couple of hours, I was thankful for the pinner who said of today’s recipe “apparently the best soup in the WORLD!” Challenge accepted. Let’s get cooking.

This was the original pin on my board. It originated from Krysten’s blog, Mrs. Schwartz’s Kitchen.

http://pinterest.com/pin/207869339022855635/

http://pinterest.com/pin/207869339022855635/

I did have to stop at the store after work to pick up a few ingredients, but nothing was out of the ordinary.

Tomato Tortellini Soup Ingredients

I sauteed the minced garlic in olive oil until it was sweating and just starting to brown,

Saute garlic in EVOO

then I added the rest of the ingredients except the tortellini and Parmesan cheese.

Combine everything except the cheese and tortellini

Let it come to a simmer then add the tortellini.

Stir and bring to a simmer

WARNING: your house is going to start smelling really amazing right about now. Do not give in to the urge to dive face first into the soup.

Add the tortelliniCook for 8 minutes until the pasta is done, but not mushy. Stir frequently so the tortellini will cook evenly.

Cook 8 minutesGarnish with Parmesan and serve to your hungry hubby or whoever you would like to feed. They will say “thank you”.

Serve with shredded Parmesan

 

The Tomato Tortellini Soup rated as follows:

Overall Rating: 5 Pins

5 Pins Overall - LARGE

Accuracy: The recipe had a rich flavor reminiscent of something you would find in a nice Italian restaurant. My husband commented that the chopped sun-dried tomatoes gave an almost meaty texture, adding flavor but not acidity. Note: The recipe mentioned pepper, but none was listed in the ingredients, thus the 4 pins.

Rated 4 Pins - SMALL

Difficulty: The hardest part of the recipe was chopping the oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes. Messy, but easy.

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Time: This is a good weeknight recipe. If you have everything on hand, you can have this on the table in 30 minutes or so. This includes the mincing, chopping and grating.

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Cost: I didn’t have all of the ingredients, but the grocery had everything needed (and much was on sale!). The most expensive ingredients were the oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes ($4) and the tortellini ($3.50).

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Practicality: While we didn’t think it was “the best soup in the WORLD”, we did like it very much. It is good comfort food on a cold rainy day.

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

 

Mexican Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

Like so many, I’m really trying to make an effort to eat better. Translation, eat more salads – especially ones that have more veggies, fruit and legumes. While strolling through Pinterest (does anyone else stroll through Pinterest?), I saw a pin that showed a blender with an avocado dressing recipe. I LOVE avocados. I was happy eating them sliced and sprinkled with a little kosher salt, but then my wonderful husband went and took it up a notch by making his guacamole. Talk about Holy Guacamole! Even people who don’t like the stuff love my Tony’s guac.

Sorry – sometimes I digress, then need to reign myself back in to the topic at hand.

When I clicked on the link, the recipe shown was different than the one in the comment of the pin. I thought Krista’s recipe for Mexican Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing sounded amazing and I had everything on hand, so went for it.

Here is the original pin that I posted from Pinterest.

Original Pin with altered recipe

THIS is picture from Krista’s blog, Krista’s Kitchen – I think it would have been a much better choice.

Original Pin

I gathered the ingredients for the dressing…

Dressing Ingredients WM

and the salad. (Note: I used grape tomatoes rather than slicing roma tomatoes, since I had the grape tomatoes on hand.)

Salad Ingredients WM

The dressing was very easy to make. Krista mentions using a Cuisinart CSB-76 Smart Stick Hand Blender, but I used my regular blender instead.. All of the dressing ingredients went in.

Dressing in the blender WM

Then they were blended until creamy and smooth. This didn’t take very long, which was very good since I had a hungry hubby to feed.

Blended smooth WM

Next came the salad. I didn’t have corn chips, but I did have organic blue corn tortilla chips, so I substituted them so I wouldn’t have to make a trip to the store.

Salad in the bowl WM

Krista used a big, lidded purple bowl to mix her salad in. Mine is green. I didn’t notice any difference. Once everything was in, I lidded the bowl and shook it to toss the ingredients together. (Sorry about the shadow in the picture. I’m working on the food photography.)

Salad tossed WM

Once combined, I added the dressing then shook it up to coat evenly.

Add the dressing WM

Dressed salad WM

I served it with chicken enchiladas, but this could easily be a vegetarian meal on it’s own.

Served with chicken enchiladas WM

The Mexican Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing rated as follows:

Overall Rating: 5 Pins

5 Pins Overall - LARGE

Accuracy: The recipe came together just as Krista posted. The avocado dressing was creamy and delicious, with just a hint of heat to let you know it’s there.

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Difficulty: Aside from my bowl being green rather than purple, I had no trouble with this recipe. It was very simple and the instructions were clear.

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Time: Even with all the photography, the salad came together in about 15-20 minutes. This includes removing the avocado flesh, opening cans, etc.

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Cost: I had everything on hand, but most kitchens might need a few items. None would be more than a few dollars.

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Practicality: The recipe was a household hit. I could serve this at a pot luck, as a vegetarian meal, or as a side dish.

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL