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Typically, when you hear Gazpacho you think of soup.  But it turns out, it also works great as a salad.  The fresh, crisp vegetables, spicy/sweet dressing and a touch of Spanish rice for substance, all come together to create a wonderfully light meal for two.  

Gazpacho Salad 
Total Time: 40 minutes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes (for the rice)
What you'll need
For the Salad
1 cup grape tomatoes
1/4 red onion, diced
1 bell pepper (any color), seeds removed and diced
1 cucumber, diced
2 cups baby spinach
1 cup uncooked Spanish rice 

For the Dressing 
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil 
1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard
1 teaspoon honey 
pinch of red pepper flakes 
salt and pepper

Directions
1. Cook rice according to package directions.
2. Add spinach to a large mixing bowl.  Top with cucumber, onion, bell pepper and tomatoes. 

3. Once rice is cooked, add it to the top of the salad.  
4. In a separate bowl, mix together dressing ingredients.  
5. Pour desired dressing amount over the salad.  Toss well.  Serve and enjoy!
Recipe adapted from the Food Network's The Neelys Gazpacho Salad 
 
 
The countdown to Thanksgiving is officially on.  With only three days to go, I've certainly got my Thanksgiving favorites on my mind -- turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes...oh my!

While there is much to anticipate about Thanksgiving dinner, I'm also already looking forward to the leftovers!  If your family tends to cook for a small army, like mine does, then there will be plenty to go around.  

And there are many delicious Thanksgiving leftover inspired meals that you can create, so don't be shy when leftovers are on offer.  I find, if you go in with a game plan, and think of it like a free grocery shopping trip (like my cheap, I mean frugal, self does), you'll end up saving time and money in the days that follow.  Plus, you'll have some really great dishes to enjoy all week long.

To help you with your game plan, I'll be featuring recipes that are inspired by Turkey Day favorites.  I'm going to kick things off with a Spinach and Cranberry Salad with Stuffing Croutons.  This salad is so amazingly good that I don't know where to begin in raving about it, so I'll just leave it at, this is a must try recipe!
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Stuffing Croutons
Total Time: 70 minutes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 1 hour 

What you'll need 
10 tablespoons stuffing 


Directions
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. 
2. Scoop 1 tablespoon of stuffing and form into a cube.  Repeat 9 more times to make 10 croutons. 
3. Place stuffing cubes onto a baking sheet. 
4. Bake for 1 hour.  

5. Remove from oven.  Let cool.
6. Place the croutons on a plate, and allow them to continue to cool in the refrigerator for at least one hour before serving. 
Spinach and Cranberry Salad
Total Time: 15 minutes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 0 minutes

For the salad 
4 cups spinach salad
1 cup cooked green beans 
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
slivered almonds
dried cranberries 
stuffing croutons

For the dressing
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 cup white wine vinegar
1 lime, juiced
1 shallot, pressed with a garlic press
1 clove garlic, pressed with a garlic press

Directions
1. Add spinach, green beans and onion to a large mixing bowl.  Sprinkle on cranberries and slivered almonds. 
2. Top with stuffing croutons. 
3. Mix together dressing ingredients.  Add dressing just before serving. Toss well.
*Note -- you probably won't need to use all of the dressing. I'd apply about half of the dressing, toss, taste and decide if you need more. 
4. Serve and enjoy!
Mom's Stuffing
I know everyone says their Mom makes the best stuffing, but my Mom really does make the best stuffing! It is so good, that I have to share her recipe.  Caution, the quantities aren't reduced for two.  This recipe makes 4 quarts, which should generously serve about 10-12 people.

What you'll need
2 bags unseasoned Cubed Country Style Stuffing (I prefer Pepperidge Farm)
1 package sage flavored Jimmy Dean sausage
1 package reduced fat Jimmy Dean sausage 
4 celery stalks (aka celery ribs), chopped 
1 small onion, chopped
49 ounce can chicken stock
16 ounce carton chicken stock
1 egg 
1 tablespoon butter
Directions
1. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat.  Sauté celery and onion in butter.  
2. Add sausage.  Brown sausage, while stirring frequently, until sausage is cooked through, about 15 minutes. 
3. Add bread cubes to a large mixing bowl.  Top with sausage, celery and onion.  
4. Pour in 49 ounce can of chicken broth.  Mix well. 
5. Cover bowl and refrigerate overnight.
6. Before baking, add the additional 16 ounces of broth and 1 egg.  Mix well. 
7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
8. Transfer stuffing to a 4 quart baking dish.  Bake uncovered for 45 to 50 minutes.  Serve and gobble, gobble! 
 
 
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Yesterday I showed you a recipe that required 2 cups of rotisserie chicken. Since 1 rotisserie chicken offers a lot more meat than just 2 cups, I'm going to show you 2 more great recipes that will help you use the leftover meat.  

I'm going to start with this perfectly-peanuty Asian Chicken Salad.  When my husband first tried it he told me it tasted like a salad from Panera.  Since we both love Panera I interpreted that to mean, this recipe is a keeper!

Asian Chicken Salad
Total Time: 15 minutes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 0 minutes

What you'll need
For the salad dressing
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon honey
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 teaspoons peanut butter
salt and pepper

For the salad
1/2 Nappa cabbage, chopped
1 romaine heart, chopped
2 cups rotisserie chicken, diced
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/2 red pepper, diced
3-4 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup chow mein noodles 

Directions
1. Add cabbage, lettuce, carrot, red bell pepper, chicken, scallions and sliced almonds to a medium mixing bowl. 
2. In a separate mixing bowl, combine all ingredients for the dressing.  Mix well.
3. Add dressing to the cabbage mixture.  Toss well. 
4. Divide the salad mixture into 2 bowls.  Top with chow mein noodles just before serving.  Enjoy!
The leftovers
Typically, when you buy romaine hearts they come in a package of 3, so you may end up with leftover romaine lettuce.  Don't worry though, because I have an amazing caesar salad recipe that I'll share with you later in the week, which perfectly utilizes the remaining romaine hearts.  Additionally, since you only need 1/2 Nappa cabbage I'll also be sharing a coleslaw recipe that will help pickup the leftover cabbage.  Stay tuned!
 
 
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The Main Dish
Today's featured meal idea is taco salad.  For this recipe you can use lean ground beef or lean ground turkey.  You can also mix-up the toppings, and add what you prefer most.  I personally prefer to skip the sour cream and cheese, and instead load my salad with lots of fresh vegetables.  In the end, no matter how you slice it, you'll end up with a delicious dinner for two. 

Taco Salad
Total Time: 26 minutes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 16 minutes

What you'll need 
1/2 pound lean ground beef or lean ground turkey
1/4 onion, diced
1/2 bell pepper (any color), diced 
1/2 zucchini, diced 
8 ounces yellow corn, drained
1/2 taco seasoning packet
1/4 cup water
1/3 cucumber, sliced
1 tomato, diced
1 avocado, diced
lettuce (your choice)
tortilla chips, crushed

For the dressing
2 tablespoons ranch dressing
2 teaspoons taco seasoning

Directions
1. In a medium skillet, add lean ground beef, onion and bell pepper.  Cook over medium heat until meat is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
2. Once meat is cooked and crumbled, add taco seasoning, water and zucchini.  Mix well.   Let simmer until water is absorbed, about 5 minutes.
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3. Stir in corn.  Let simmer for 1 minute. 
4. Top lettuce with tomato, avocado, meat mixture and crushed tortilla chips.
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5. In a small mixing bowl, combine ranch dressing and taco seasoning to create dressing.  Mix well.
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6. Drizzle salad with dressing as desired.  Toss well.  Serve and enjoy!
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My husband isn't the biggest fan of salads, especially as a main meal.  However, I've found if I slap on some meat they suddenly become "manly" enough for his taste buds.

The Main Dish
With this in mind,  I'll be making a sweet pepper and steak salad.  It's light enough for a woman, but with thick cuts of beef, it's made for a man.  It's the perfect couple's dish!

Sweet Pepper and Steak Salad
Total Time: 40 minutes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes

What you'll need 
For the vinaigrette
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

For the salad
oil for brushing vegetables, plus more for grill grate
1/2 medium red onion, cut into 1/2-inch wide rings
1/2 large red, yellow or orange bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into quarters
1 strip steak, trimmed
 3-4 cups baby spinach 
1/2 cup diced tomato
1/2 cup fresh mozzarella cubed or shredded 
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions
For the vinaigrette
1. Whisk the vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper together, in a small bowl, until the salt is dissolved. While whisking constantly, pour in the olive oil.
2. Set aside until ready to use.

For the salad
1. Heat the grill to medium (350 degrees F) and carefully rub the grate with a towel dipped in oil.
2. Brush the vegetables all over with oil and season well with salt and pepper. Grill the vegetables, turning rarely, over medium heat until soft and charred, about 10 minutes for the onions and fifteen minutes for the peppers. 
3. Remove the vegetables from the grill to a cutting board and let cool slightly. Cut the onion rings into quarters and cut the peppers into 1-inch cubes.
4. Season the steak generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Grill the steak until desired doneness, about 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes.
5. Cut the steak against the grain into 1/2-inch slices and add to a medium bowl. Pour 1/3 of the vinaigrette over the steak and toss to coat.
6. Combine the peppers, onion, spinach, tomatoes, mozzarella and the vinaigrette in a large serving bowl, and toss well. Top salad with the steak.  Serve and enjoy!

* Tip -- I had leftover spicy corn and peppers from the night before, so I heated it up and added it to the top of the salad.  It was a great compliment to this dish.

Recipe adapted from the Food Network's Aida Mollenkamp's Sweet Pepper and Steak Salad