Vinaigrette Matrix

IMG_0864Cook’s notes: I am fairly obsessed with making my own salad dressing and often browse recipes and instructions on this topic. The Best Recipe: Small Batch Italian Dressing post has several notes about ratios and emulsifying. I recently found a terrific recipe for a sweeter apple cider vinaigrette, which is perfect on a salad with mixed greens, carrots, and sliced apples. And I still love the Best recipe: Small Batch Balsamic-Rosemary Vinaigrette with rosemary.

I’ve pulled the recipes for these three dressings, the ones I rely on the most, into the matrix below. Read the linked posts for more details.

First, pick which type of vinegar you want to use, and then follow the grid:

Apple Cider Balsamic Red Wine Amount
Oil 2.5 2 3 Tablespoons
Vinegar 2 1 1 Tablespoons
Lemon juice 1 None None Tablespoons
Honey 1.5 None 1/2 teaspoons
Mustard 1.5 1 1 teaspoons
Garlic powder 1/2 1 1/4 teaspoons
Salt 1/8 1/8 1/8 teaspoons
Pepper 1/4 1/8 1/4 teaspoons
Dried herbs None 3/8 1/4 teaspoons

Spiralized Cucumber Salad

IMG_0865Cook’s notes: This refreshing salad is good for hot summer days. We brought the components to a dinner party so guests could choose if they wanted olives or cheese in their salads.

Top butter lettuce leaves with:

  • Spiralized English cucumber
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Black olive slices
  • Crumbled feta cheese

Dressing: Best Recipe: Small Batch Italian Dressing (make a double recipe)

Best Recipe: Small Batch Italian Dressing

IMG_0864Makes about 2.5 oz (5.2 Tablespoons; about 3 servings). Serving size is 1 to 2 Tablespoons.

Favorite Italian Dressing

  • 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Italian herb blend without salt (such as Penzeys Pasta Sprinkle, which blends basil, oregano, thyme and minced garlic)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
Place ingredients in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake vigorously. Serve immediately, or store in the fridge for up to a week. Stir again before serving if needed.

Continue reading “Best Recipe: Small Batch Italian Dressing”

Review: Chicken with Honey-Beer Sauce

Not just for husbands

Cook’s notes: I was looking for an easy dinner that uses chicken breasts and a pan sauce. It’s way too hot to grill outside. This recipe fit the bill: the chicken breasts cooked perfectly at 6 minutes per side, and the sauce had a lot of flavor. Use a good-flavored beer, such as white ale, for this recipe.

Served with green beans and brown rice.

Source: Follow the recipe posted to myrecipes, with these changes: 1 Tablespoon dried shallots instead of 3 Tablespoons fresh, 2 teaspoons dried parsley, and omit the salt:

1/2 cup white ale
2 Tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
1 Tablespoon whole-grain Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon dried shallots
2 teaspoons dried parsley leaves


Sweet Potato Noodles with Peanut Sauce

IMG_0755Peeling is optional, but do wash and dry the sweet potatoes. Use your spiralize tool (or KitchenAid attachment or julienne peeler) to spiralize 1 -2 sweet potatoes. Saute the noodles in olive oil, 5-7 minutes, stirring until noodles are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

I combined the cooked noodles with chickpeas (rinsed and drained) and this amazing peanut sauce (below), which is a combination of several recipes found online.

Resources: Dozen of recipes for sweet potato noodles at the inspiralized site.

Peanut Sauce

Stir all ingredients together in a medium-size bowl. Add more Sriracha to taste if desired.

1/3 cup peanut butter without added sugar
1/3 cup water
2 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 Tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1 garlic clove, crushed (1 teaspoon minced garlic)
1/8 teaspoon Sriracha chili sauce

Yellow Squash Noodles (“Squashetti”)

“Squashetti” noodles served with brown rice and teriyaki meatballs

Cook’s notes: Make the vegetable “noodles” with a spiralizer device (I use a KitchenAid attachment) or a julienne peeler. Saute lightly in olive oil for a few minutes until tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

You can serve spiralized veggie noodles with any sauce you would put on regular pasta.


The Slender Kitchen site describes 3 ways to make these noodles with different tools. The about Southern Food site has a lovely recipe for these noodles with garlic and parmesan.

3-2-1 Salad

IMG_0743Cook’s notes: This recipe is loosely inspired by the “Build your own salad” at Bruegger’s Bagels. Their menu says “choose 3 veggies, 1 meat [protein], 1 cheese & 1 topping, tossed with field greens & the dressing of your choice.” I have simplified this to the following formula:

  • 3 vegetables
  • 2 cups (60 g) mixed greens and lettuce
  • 1 protein: 3 oz. lean chicken or 3 oz. drained tuna or 1/2 cup canned beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 topping/extra: a sprinkle of cheese (up to 1 oz.); 3 to 6 olives; 1 Tablespoon sunflower seeds, nuts, or dried cranberries; or croutons if you like them
  • Dressing of your choice, up to 2 Tablespoons

Shown here:

  • 3 vegetables: Shredded carrots, cherry tomatoes, shredded cabbage
  • 2 cups mixed baby greens
  • 1 protein: 1/2 cup chickpeas
  • 1 topping: 1 Tablespoon unsalted sunflower seeds
  • Buttermilk ranch dressing made with Greek yogurt (recipe from Ellie Krieger)

Review: Easy Rice Pudding

IMG_0744Cook’s notes: An article on epicurious gives directions for making rice pudding with leftover rice. The instructions were easy to follow and the results were delicious. I like that it only used a small amount of sweetener. I also appreciate that it doesn’t call for a lot of extra ingredients, such as egg, sweetened condensed milk, bourbon, or cream. It’s simple and delicious.

This pudding was a great way to use up leftover rice from Thai takeout. I used a can of light coconut milk and added a touch of cinnamon. It would be vegan if you used maple syrup instead of honey.

In case you can’t read my handwriting on the index card in the photo, the ingredients were:

  • Leftover rice (about 2 cups)
  • 15 oz. can light coconut milk
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Broth Sauce for Pasta

Cook’s notes: This simple sauce was wonderful on pasta. It’s a great way to add veggies to your main dish. It would be really good on squash noodles (or “zoodles”) made with a spiralizer.

  • Whisk together 2 to 3 Tablespoons of flour into 3 cups of broth until flour is dissolved.
  • Sauté 2 to 3 minced cloves of garlic in olive oil or butter in a skillet over medium-low heat for a few minutes.
  • Add fresh vegetables of choice (broccoli, green beans, mushrooms, onions, sliced red pepper, etc.) to the skillet with the garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste and cook until vegetables are tender, but not mushy.
  • Pour the broth-flour mixture over the vegetables in the skillet. Stir over medium heat until sauce thickens.

Serve the veggie and broth sauce over pasta.

Source: Eryn Lynum (link)