Main Dishes, Recipes, Salads, Sauces

Greek Dressing

Who says simple is boring? This quick and easy greek dressing takes just a few minutes and a few ingredients but is so good that you’ll never want to buy bottled dressing again!

Greek Dressing | thepajamachef.com #simple #healthy #salad

 

Greek salad has been my LIFE recently. I’ve eaten a huge bowl for lunch everyday the past couple weeks, and think that’s going to happen again soon. [But I need more tomatoes!] My philosophy is… a big salad for lunch means dinner can be whatever I want. Even mac & cheese from Panera. That stuff is so good and I’d never ordered it myself until last Wednesday, much to Ben’s relief [on Panera dates before I’d always steal like half his bowl]. Because salad for lunch = indulgence for dinner. Or something like that. Right?!?

Greek Dressing | thepajamachef.com #simple #healthy #salad

Anyways, salad. And this dressing. I just can’t get enough! It’s creamy and tangy and so so fresh. I know my Greek salad isn’t exactly authentic and this dressing isn’t either, but it’s close enough. It’s full of flavor–all garlicky and lemony and herby! Just perfect. Some salad dressings are a little too oily without enough vinegar and acid to balance things out, but this half and half combo is just how I like it. I adapted a grandma recipe [not my grandma, but Laurie’s] so that’s why it must be so good! ūüôā

Greek Dressing | thepajamachef.com #simple #healthy #salad

I use this dressing to top off a simple Greek salad of romaine, tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas, red onion, and feta. Heavy on the chickpeas and feta for me, please! If you like, you can add olives or chicken or whatever else sounds good. Apparantly the dressing is also a killer chicken marinade. Filing that bit ‘o info away for next time! BTW this dressing keeps for about a week in the fridge, so feel free to make a double batch. You’ll need it!

three years ago: Cinnamon Bacon Carbonara
four years ago: Lime Yogurt Cake with Raspberry Sauce

Greek Dressing

  • Servings: 8 ounces
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adapted from Simply Scratch
Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup oregano, loosely packed [or 1 teaspoon dried oregano]
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • generous amount of freshly ground black pepper
  • to serve with a simple salad: torn romaine, tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas, red onion, feta

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth. I love my immersion blender for this! Taste and season with additional salt or pepper if necessary.

You can also finely chop the oregano and mince the garlic and shake all ingredients together.

Store in a jar, refrigerated, for up to a week.

Linked up with Weekend Potluck.

30 Before 30, Beans, Chicken, Main Dishes, Other, Recipes, Salads, Sides

Mystery Dish: BBQ Chicken Salad with Jalapeno Basil Ranch Dressing

Today I have the BEST SALAD EVER to share with you!! I am so psyched, I can hardly wait to tell you about it [even though it is not original at all. But that’s okay.] But first, this recipe qualifies for not just one, but two challenges. Woohoo! First of all, I created this recipe for Mystery Dish. But since it includes a fantastic homemade ranch dressing, it also helps fulfill one of my 30 before 30 goals. Score!

BBQ Chicken Salad with Jalapeno Basil Ranch Dressing | thepajamachef.com #mysterydish #salad #summer

This month for Mystery Dish, Chez Catey Lou is our host. Cate is so sweet and gave us such a creative list to work with! We had to use at least two ingredients from this list: raspberries, peanut butter chips, edamame, lemon, yeast, whole wheat pastry flour, bacon, buttermilk, basil, and zucchini. There were a thousand ways I thought about going [I probably say that every month…sorry] but my craving for a salad won out in the end. I used a few of Cate’s ingredients [lemon, buttermilk, and basil] to make an awesome Jalapeno Ranch Dressing to dress up a BBQ Chicken Salad.

BBQ Chicken Salad with Jalapeno Basil Ranch Dressing | thepajamachef.com #mysterydish #salad #summer

I have long searched for a good homemade ranch dressing. I’ve made this recipe once before and let me tell you..it’s a keeper! It’s creamy, spicy, and best of all… clean! No weird mystery ingredients in the powder, thankyouverymuch.¬†The key to this recipe is the jalapeno. It just elevates this creamy, herby dressing with a bit of spice. Oh so good!

BBQ Chicken Salad with Jalapeno Basil Ranch Dressing | thepajamachef.com #mysterydish #salad #summer

You know what else is good? This salad!¬†I know a zillion restaurants have variations of BBQ Chicken Salad and this was mine. I just used seven ingredients so it’s pretty basic: lettuce, chicken, BBQ sauce, corn, tomatoes, black beans, and ranch dressing.¬†You could also add avocados, onions, bacon, or anything else that strikes your fancy.

BBQ Chicken Salad with Jalapeno Basil Ranch Dressing | thepajamachef.com #mysterydish #salad #summer

I kept it simple though so the flavors could really shine. You will really want to make it again and again. One bite of this and Ben was swooning. Seriously! This is a man’s salad, and definitely fancy enough for a restaurant. Hope you enjoy it as much we do!

BBQ Chicken Salad with Jalapeno Basil Ranch Dressing | thepajamachef.com #mysterydish #salad #summer

one year ago: Strawberry Muffins
two years ago: Sweet-Tart Quinoa Salad
three years ago: BAST sandwich

BBQ Chicken Salad with Jalapeno Ranch Dressing

  • Servings: 4 meal-size salads or 8 side salads; 2 cups dressing
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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked chicken [leftovers from a roasted chicken work great]
  • 1 cup bbq sauce [I used Sweet Baby Ray’s]
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 2 cups black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 cups fresh corn, cut from 3 ears of corn
  • 1 head romaine lettuce
  • Jalapeno Ranch Dressing, recipe below

Directions:

Stir together chicken and bbq sauce in a skillet set over medium-low heat. Heat for 5-7 minutes or until heated through, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, toss together romaine lettuce and Jalapeno Ranch Dressing in desired amounts. Divide lettuce between four plates, then top each with a quarter of all ingredients: chicken, tomato, black beans, and corn. Toss together and enjoy!

Jalapeno Ranch Dressing [slightly adapted from The Lively Kitchen]

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk¬†[for this I use real buttermilk, a substitute could be kinda weird]
  • 4 green onions, chopped, with white bottoms removed
  • 1/2 of a chopped, deseeded jalapeno [~2 tablespoons]
  • 3 tablespoons ¬†fresh parsley, chopped¬†[or 1 teaspoon dried parsley]
  • 1/3 cup fresh Thai basil,¬†chopped [or cilantro, basil, etc.]
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

DIrections:

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. An immersion blender works great!

Dressing thickens in the fridge so add some extra buttermilk before serving leftovers as desired.

Please check out the other awesome recipes from this month’s Mystery Dish!

May Mystery Dish Collage

1. Raspberry Lemon Sweet Roll Cake with Buttermilk Glaze – Baking a Moment
2. Twice Baked Zucchini Boat – Chelsea’s Messy Apron
3. Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Raspberry Mint Compote – Blahnik Baker
4. Lemon-Raspberry Bundt Cake – I Dig Pinterest
5. Peanut Butter Chip Cookies – The Dessert Chronicles
6. Mini Coconut Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting – I Want Crazy
7. Zucchini Noodles with Meat Mushroom Tomato Sauce – Joyfully Healthy Eats
8. Baked Wonton Cups Filled with Edamame Corn Salad – The Well Floured Kitchen
9. Easy 30 Minute Orange Rolls – Yummy Healthy Easy
10. BBQ Chicken Salad with Jalapeno Basil Ranch Dressing – The Pajama Chef
11. Mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cupcakes – Culinary Couture
12. Zucchini Muffins with Lemon Glaze – The Weary Chef
13. Lemon Bundt Cake – Chez CateyLou

Main Dishes, Recipes, Salads, Sides, Vegetables

Grapefruit Arugula Salad

Once I tasted a bite of this awesome Grapefruit Arugula Salad, I knew I had to photograph and share it, even though it was late and I was making this salad when all the natural light had already bid Nashville farewell. [translation=indoor photography :(] My sister and brother-in-law were visiting, and this salad was the perfect accompaniment to our roasted chicken and vegetable dinner.

Grapefruit Arugula Salad | thepajamachef.com

I know there are a million variations of grapefruit arugula salad out there, and this is the first version I’ve ever had, so I can’t say it’s¬†the best, but I can say it’s¬†MY¬†best. ūüôā How’s that? Well, it’s just so much yumminess in one bowl! You’ve got your juicy citrus, your tangy feta, and your peppery arugula all dressed in a lemon vinaigrette dressing. Basically an explosion of flavors. I totally wish I had made bigger salads so don’t make the same mistake I did. This is one salad I know I’ll be coming back to time and time again. Enjoy, friends!

one year ago: Herb, Tomato, and Cheese Crackers
two years ago: Smoky Fried Chickpeas
three years ago: Pantry Pasta for Two

Grapefruit Arugula Salad
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 1 large grapefruit
  • 3 ounces arugula
  • 1 ounce crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • lemon¬†pepper
  • salt

Directions:

Using a sharp paring knife, section the grapefruit into segments. I tried to do this without a tutorial and it didn’t go so well, so check out this tutorial and your grapefruit will look better than mine. ūüôā

Divide arugula between four bowls, then divide grapefruit between the bowls as well. Top with feta cheese.

Whisk together oil, lemon juice, and balsamic for the dressing. Add lemon pepper and salt to taste, then drizzle over salad immediately before eating.

Time: 5 minutes.
Yield: 4 servings.

Recipes, Salads, Sides

Chopped Kale Salad with Bleu Cheese & Bacon

Kale. Seriously can’t get enough of it. Ben can’t either. No complaints here.

Chopped Kale Salad | thepajamachef.com

Normally, our kale is cooked–in pasta, fried rice, or as a base for chicken or pork. But this time, I decided to do something different and make a chopped kale salad. That’s right… raw kale, chopped into a billion teeny tiny bites and tossed with a fabulous array of toppings and the most spectacular dressing¬†ever. Intrigued?

Chopped Kale Salad | thepajamachef.com

What makes this salad special and different is ALL the tastes and textures going on. Crisp carrots, sweet apples, salty bacon, pungent bleu cheese, tart cranberries, crunchy toasted almonds. And a sweet peanut butter-maple vinaigrette that is nothing short of amazing. I was literally eating it with a spoon, for goodness sake! It has a peanut butter base, so that’s totally legit, right?

By the way, if you aren’t the biggest fan of bleu cheese, don’t let this scare you. There’s only enough to give a hint of the flavor, but if you like it you can always substitute feta or parmesan. I don’t always include cheese in my salads but it really works in this one, to make it more substantial. Just FYI.

Chopped Kale Salad | thepajamachef.com

I threw this recipe together quickly on a busy night when we were headed to a small group dinner, and it was all but polished off. Fortunately, there was enough leftovers to enjoy for lunch the next day, but the salad definitely got a little soggy on day 2 so I would recommend adding the dressing just before serving if at all possible. I only made this a couple weeks ago and am totally craving it now, as I write this at 10:27 pm. I have a feeling this salad is going to become a regular in our house and I hope it will in yours too! Enjoy!

So you tell me… have you ever had a kale salad before? What are your go-to [kale] salad mix-ins?

a year ago… Man Cupcakes
three years ago… Creamy Baked Spaghetti

Chopped Kale Salad with Bleu Cheese and Bacon [dressing adapted from Iowa Girl Eats]
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 bunches kale
  • 1 1/3 cups red cabbage
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 large Fuji apple
  • 3 ounces bleu cheese, crumbled
  • 5 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup almonds, toasted and chopped
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • freshly ground black pepper

dressing

  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter

Directions:

Wash and dry kale, then tear into small bite-size pieces, discarding thick stems. Add to a large bowl and set aside.

Wash and dry cabbage, carrot, and apple, then shred. I used my food processor but a grater would also work. Add to kale, along with bleu cheese, bacon, almonds, and cranberries.

Whisk together balsamic, olive oil, maple syrup, and peanut butter until smooth to make dressing, then drizzle half over the salad. Toss to combine, and add more dressing as desired. I used about 3/4 of the total dressing made. Season with black pepper to taste, and serve immediately.

Time: 20 minutes.

Yield: 10-12 side salads, 3-4 meal size salads.

Linked up with: Tuesday Talent Show.

Main Dishes, Recipes, Salads, Sides, Vegetables

Roasted Chickpea, Carrot, & Radish Salad with Lemon-Dijon Dressing

Last week was my spring break, and Ben and I took a quick four-day/three-night trip down to Cumberland Gap, TN.

Cumberland Gap Trip | The Pajama Chef

It’s just a short five hour drive from Bloomington, and if you’re not familiar with this area, three states come together in the park–Tennessee, Virginia, and Kentucky. We had never been before but had a blast. Even though winter is still lingering, hiking up in the woods and trails was just beautiful. The toughest hike was a 7 mile round trip hike up to White Rocks, a site that was a landmark to pioneers making the westward trek demonstrating that the Cumberland Gap pass was just a day’s walk ahead. Up top in the White Rocks area it was frosty, snowy, and terribly cold. I was so glad I chose to wear my vest instead of leaving it in the car!!

Cumberland Gap Trip | The Pajama Chef

Aside from hiking, we had fun just hanging out together… reading, relaxing, and exploring a few of the nearby towns.¬†We stayed at the Olde Mille Inn Bed & Breakfast, which I highly recommend if you’re ever in the area. It is so cute, and even though it was built in the 1800s, everything was very modern and comfortable inside. I never wanted to leave our room! It was so nice, and the breakfast everyday was¬†amazing.¬†Upside down pancakes, sausage gravy & biscuits, french toast, and the best steel cut oats I have ever had! We were the youngest guests by a longshot [at least 30 years] but breakfasts were served together, and it was really fun to chat with the other guests. Can I just say that I love southern accents? ūüôā

Cumberland Gap Trip | The Pajama Chef

We ate lunch everyday at this adorable cottage turned coffeshop–Gap Creek Coffee. My favorite drink was their Peanut Butter Cup. PB in coffee sounds a lil weird, but you can bet I’ll be looking for that on coffeshop menus in the future. Our dinners were nothing compared to the other meals of the day, but we did enjoy some good Tennessee BBQ! This area of the country¬†definitely¬†wasn’t gourmet¬†restaurant¬†central, but the area’s natural beauty sure made up for it!! Be sure to visit Cumberland Gap if you can! We’d love to go back someday.

Cumberland Gap Trip | The Pajama Chef

Before we left, I made this wonderful salad as an excuse to use up as much of my produce as I could before going out of town. But seriously, you shouldn’t wait til you need to use things up…¬†adding hot roasted, crisp veggies and chickpeas on cold salad greens is my new favorite thing!

Roasted Chickpea, Carrot, & Radish Salad with Lemon-Dijon Dressing | The Pajama Chef

The¬†contrasting¬†temperatures are just perfect! I didn’t really measure the seasonings used to roast the chickpeas, carrots, and radishes but just used a little cumin, garlic powder, black pepper, ginger, and allspice to make a spicy-sweet spice mixture to rub on with EVOO.

Roasted Chickpea, Carrot, & Radish Salad with Lemon-Dijon Dressing | The Pajama Chef

The dressing is a very basic lemon-olive oil-dijon mustard mixture, which paired so well with the light greens and crispy toppings. I thought about adding some vinegar to make more of a¬†vinaigrette, but decided against it. You certainly could if you wanted, though–I just liked the tartness of the lemony dressing with the vinegary tang.

Roasted Chickpea, Carrot, & Radish Salad with Lemon-Dijon Dressing | The Pajama Chef

This is just a great salad! I meant to add some cheese, nuts, or avocado as my inspiration recipe suggested… but I forgot about the cheese and nuts after the roasted veggies came out of the oven, and my avocado was nasty inside. Sad day. But the good news is that none of those things are needed for this awesome salad. It’s a crunchy, hearty, flavorful salad that I am sure you will just adore!! Enjoy! ūüôā

Roasted Chickpea, Carrot, & Radish Salad with Lemon-Dijon Dressing | The Pajama Chef

Roasted Chickpea, Carrot, & Radish Salad with Lemon-Dijon Dressing [adapted from Baker by Nature]
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 1 15 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed, drained, and patted dry
  • 3 large carrots, scrubbed and chopped into 2-inch pieces
  • 8 radishes, scrubbed and sliced into thirds
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • cumin
  • garlic powder
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ginger
  • allspice
  • baby spring mix

for Lemon-Dijon Dressing

  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • crushed red pepper

for topping, optional

  • avocado
  • feta or parmesan cheese
  • nuts

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a large baking sheet, combine chickpeas, carrots, and radishes. Pour olive oil over top, then season with cumin, garlic, black pepper, ginger, and allspice. I didn’t measure these, but was heavy on the cumin, garlic, and black pepper, and a little lighter on ginger and allspice. Use your hands to mix oil and seasoning on chickpeas, carrots, and radishes. Bake for 30 minutes, turning once or twice.

Meanwhile, make the dressing. Whisk lemon juice, oil, mustard, and garlic powder together in a bowl or shake together in a jar. Season to taste with crushed red pepper.

After everything is roasted, combine baby spring mix with roasted chickpeas, carrots, and radishes as desired. Drizzle with Lemon-Dijon Dressing, and top with feta or parmesan cheese, nuts, and avocado if desired. Serve immediately.

Time: 40 minutes [10 minutes active].

Yield: 2 large salads or 4 side salads.

Linked up with: Weekend Potluck.