3 Easy Salad Dressing Recipes

Roasted Garlic Parmesan Dressing Everything is always better homemade (at least in my opinion), and salad dressing is no exception. A homemade dressing is the difference between a salad that’s just a salad, and a salad that’s delicious and explodes with flavor in your mouth. And of course, without all the added preservatives, you won’t feel quite so badly when you want to slather one of these dressings on your vegetables, or marinate your meat in it, dip your bread in it, or just plain eat it off the spoon (What?? Who?? Me?? Never!). 

Two of these salad dressing recipes (the Italian and the Shaker), have been made in my family for years (Great-Grandmother, Grandmother, Mom). In fact, my Grandmother always has a bottle of each in her fridge, and when I was younger, and she would prepare mashed potatoes for dinner, I would always sneak a couple of the potato skins and dip them in the shaker dressing (so yum!). The roasted garlic dressing I recently made up solely based off my obsession with roasted garlic. The creamy texture you get without having to add mayonnaise has quickly made it a favorite of mine not only for salads, but also for dipping bread.

I hope you enjoy these easy salad dressing recipes to jazz up your next salad, and I’d love to know- what’s your favorite salad dressing?

Shaker Salad Dressing Creamy Balsamic Italian Dressing

Roasted Garlic Parmesan Dressing
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Total Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 head of roasted garlic (about 12 cloves)
  2. 1/2 cup olive oil
  3. 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  4. Juice of half a lemon
  5. 2 tablespoons of water
  6. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  7. Dash of pepper
  8. 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a Cuisinart or immersion blender. Pulse for a few seconds, until all ingredients are blended together. Store in a glass jar (or other airtight container) in the refrigerator for up to one month. Shake before using.
Notes
  1. To roast garlic- cut the top off a head of garlic. Place it, cut side up, on a foil lined baking sheet, then drizzle about a teaspoon of olive oil on top. Wrap the foil loosely around the top, then bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour.
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/
Shaker Salad Dressing
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Total Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup olive oil
  2. 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  3. 2 teaspoons salt
  4. 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  5. 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  6. Pinch of thyme
  7. 3 dashes of Tabasco sauce
  8. 4 cloves of garlic
  9. 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  10. 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  11. 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  12. 1 tablespoon parsley, fresh (or 1 tsp. if dried)
  13. 2 tablespoons onion, minced
  14. 2 tablespoons green pepper, minced (optional)
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a Cuisinart or immersion blender. Pulse for a few seconds, until all ingredients are blended together. Store in a glass jar (or other airtight container) in the refrigerator for up to one month. Shake before using.
Notes
  1. This will solidify in the refrigerator so make sure to remove it about 30 minutes prior to using, or run the bottle under hot water for a few seconds.
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/
Creamy Balsamic Italian Dressing
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Total Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup olive oil
  2. 1/2 cup mayonnaise (I've also done this with 1/4 c. Greek yogurt, 1/4 c. mayo)
  3. 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (you can also use apple cider or red wine vinegar)
  4. 1 tablespoon sugar
  5. 3/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning (I've also used a handful of fresh basil)
  6. 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt (regular salt will work too)
  7. A dash of pepper
  8. 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese, optional
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a Cuisinart or immersion blender. Pulse for a few seconds, until all ingredients are blended together. Store in a glass jar (or other airtight container) in the refrigerator for up to one month. Shake before using.
Notes
  1. This will solidify in the refrigerator so make sure to remove it about 30 minutes prior to using, or run the bottle under hot water for a few seconds.
Adapted from My Great-Grandmother
Adapted from My Great-Grandmother
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/

Grown-Up Dirt Cake Cups

adult dirt cake cups My Mom is a gourmet cook, and used to spend hours (sometimes even days) preparing fancy birthday cakes for family members. There was of course the multi-step Black Forest Cake for my dad. Then there was the snake cake, per my sister’s request….green fondant dyed different shades of green to look like the skin, a red fondant “tongue”, and even black eyes. I have no idea why a little girl would want a cake shaped like a big green snake for their 5th birthday (or however old she was), but nonetheless my Mom made it. And then there was me. Me, who could have any fancy cake in the world, and what do I ask for? Dirt cake! Don’t get me wrong, dirt cake is delicious, and I could eat buckets of it (which I’m sure I probably did), but looking back now I wonder what I was thinking choosing dirt cake….

It’s been years since I had my last birthday dirt cake, but for some reason, when I was making sugared flowers last week, memories of crushed Oreos and layers of fluffy, creamy pudding came to my mind. Except this time, it was sans worms, with a dash of alcohol mixed in, and topped with pretty edible flowers.

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Grown-Up Dirt Cake Cups
Serves 4
A grown-up version of the childhood favorite dirt cake
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Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs
  2. 8 ounces of cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  3. 1/2 cup mascarpone
  4. 2 tablespoons of vanilla
  5. 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  6. 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
  7. Edible flowers, for garnish
Instructions
  1. If you haven't already, start by pureeing the chocolate wafers in a Cuisinart until they turn into fine crumbs. Pour into a bowl and set aside.
  2. Dust any extra cookie crumbs out of your Cuisinart, then add in the cream cheese, mascarpone, sugars and vanilla. Blend for a few seconds, until creamy.
  3. In small glass cups or jars (or mini flower pots, if you want to be really authentic), begin layering the cookie crumbs and the cream mixture. I did one heaping tablespoon of cookie crumbs, then one heaping tablespoon of cream mixture, then repeated that, ending with the cream mixture on top. Finish the top off with a light dusting of cookie crumbs and an edible flower.
  4. These can either be served immediately or stored in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap, for up to 24 hours (although keep in mind, the cookie layer won't be quite as crunchy after several hours).
Notes
  1. To make these really grown-up, simply replace the vanilla with the alcohol of your choice. My favorites are: Baileys, Kahlua, Amaretto, or Grand Marnier.
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/

The Basics of Edible Flowers

edible flowers Once upon a time, many years ago, my sister and I used to think we were flower fairies (we were strange children, I know). We spent many spring days flitting around the garden in flower crowns and fairy skirts (aka costumes that my Mother had made for us). We even had a garden “cookbook” (yes, it was a real book) from which we would whip up tasty treats, such as mud pie and grass salad (I mean, if that doesn’t get your appetite going, I don’t know what will!). The finishing touch to almost everyone of our “dishes” was a pretty flower (because let’s be real, who would want to eat rock soup without a pretty flower on top?!).

While we were cooking up our flower fairy dishes, my Mom was making real flower dishes, everything from sugared violets to decorate a cake to salads with dandelion greens to stuffed squash blossoms. Luckily for you, the only flower cooking that I’ve taken into adulthood is the one my Mom taught me.

Flowers are a great way to accessorize your food in the spring (surprisingly, they do make things, besides rock soup, look good!). Here are some basics on edible flowers to get you going-

how to store edible flowers To keep your edible flowers nice and fresh, line a plastic container with a damp paper towel. Gently place the flowers in a single sheet on top of the paper towel, then fold the edges of the paper towel over the top, forming a tent so as not to crush the flowers. Keep the container refrigerated.The flowers should last 7-10 days stored this way. You can also spritz them with ice-cold water if they need a bit of reviving.

how to sugar flowers how to sugar flowers To sugar edible flowers you will need: fine sugar (you can pulse granulated sugar in a Cuisinart several times), an egg white, tweezers, and a clean paintbrush (optional, but helpful). Make sure your flowers are clean and dry. Beat the egg white with a fork until slightly frothy and some bubbles form (you can add a few drops of water if you need a thinner consistency). Then use the tweezers or your fingers (depending on the size of the flower) to gently dunk the flower into the egg white. Alternately, you can use the paintbrush to paint the egg white onto the flower. Next, gently press the flower into the sugar or sprinkle sugar on top of the flower (again, this depends on the size of the flower). Lay it out on wax paper and let dry for at least 24 hours. Store in an airtight container lined with a  paper towel for up to a year.

3 ways to use edible flowers There are many ways to use edible flowers, from topping soups (pea soup is my favorite), tossing in salads, and freezing into ice cubes for a springtime cocktail. Here are 3 other ways they can be used:

how to use edible flowers To top a cake or cupcake

ways to use edible flowers Stirred into tea (hot or cold)

three ways to use edible flowers  To top off a cheese appetizer (the one pictured is goat cheese)

For a complete list of edible flowers, click here.

Grown-Up BLT

Grown-Up BLT Sometimes something is so gosh darn good that the only thing that comes to mind is “YUM!”. This is one such case. I mean not to brag or anything, but do you see this BLT?! Do you see it?! The amount of deliciousness piled onto that fluffy bread is something that I can’t even comprehend. 

BLTs bring back memories of summer picnics in the park and simple summer suppers on my Grandmother’s back porch. They’ve always been a favorite of mine. While nothing will ever beat a classic, I couldn’t resist the chance to fancy up this childhood favorite with swiss chard in place of lettuce, sun-dried tomatoes in place of regular tomatoes, and bacon…in place of bacon (because obviously bacon is something that should never be replaced). So here’s to you “new-adult BLT”, you are welcome in my kitchen and on my plate anytime you want!

BLT BLT with egg and avocado swiss chard Fancy BLT Jazzed up BLT

Grown-Up BLT
An adult version of the classic BLT
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Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. Bread
  2. Avocado (very ripe)
  3. Goat Cheese (slightly softened)
  4. Sun-dried Tomatoes
  5. Bacon, cooked until crispy
  6. Swiss Chard
  7. Eggs (cooked over-easy)
Instructions
  1. Spread one half of an avocado onto a piece of bread. Next spread on the goat cheese (I used about 1 tablespoon). Top that with about 2 tablespoons of sun-dried tomatoes. After that layer on a piece of swiss chard and a couple of slices of bacon. Finish of your BLT with an egg. Serve immediately.
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/

Italian Stuffed Artichokes

stuffed artichoke recipes Over the weekend, while we were visiting my father-in-law in CT, we had these amazing stuffed artichokes that were filled with garlicky goodness and surrounded by a tomato sauce, instead of the typical oil or butter. Since I had some artichokes on hand, I decided I needed to recreate these by adding a few twists to my usual recipe. The results were just as good as the original, but better, because isn’t everything homemade better?!

FYI, these guys do come with a warning label: eat one of these and no human, animal, alien, ghost, or zombie will come within 300 yards of you for at least 24 hours. You see, there are 15, yes 15, cloves of garlic in these (how Italian of me). So basically, if you’re looking to play hooky, get rid of an unwanted ghost, or avoid a family reunion, you simply have to make a batch of these. It’s almost easier than making up a believable excuse…

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Italian Stuffed Artichokes
Yields 4
An Italian style stuffed artichoke recipe
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
50 min
Total Time
1 hr 15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
50 min
Total Time
1 hr 15 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 artichokes
  2. 1 lemon
  3. 3 tablespoons of olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  4. 1 1/4 cup bread crumbs (I used Italian style)
  5. 15 cloves of garlic
  6. 4 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for the top
  7. 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  8. 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  9. 1 28 oz. jar crushed tomatoes (I used ones w/salt & basil added)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Clean and prepare your artichoke hearts. Peel back the leaves until it looks like an open flower blossom. Then remove the inner petals with the purple tops, by gently pulling them out. Next, scoop out the fuzzy pieces, making sure not to take the heart of the artichoke which is underneath (I found it easiest to use a grapefruit spoon for this step). Finally give the artichoke a rinse under water, shake it out, then squeeze a little lemon juice on the center to keep it from turning.
  3. In the bowl of a cuisinart, combine the bread crumbs, garlic, cheese, salt, and red pepper flakes. Pulse for a few seconds. Add in the olive oil and about a 2 inch piece of lemon (skin and all) and continue pulsing until everything is well combined (the mixture should be slightly sticky).
  4. In a glass 13x9 baking dish lay out your artichokes, keeping them upright as much as possible. Fill them with the stuffing, putting about 1/2 cup in each.
  5. Pour the tomatoes around the sides of the artichokes then cover the pan with foil. Bake for 40 minutes, then remove the foil, sprinkle on some extra cheese (if desired), and continue baking, foil removed, for about 10 more minutes.
  6. Cool for 5-10 minutes before serving. This goes well with a salad, and make sure you have some fresh bread to soak up the leftover sauce and filling.
Notes
  1. You can also use tomato sauce in place of the crushed tomatoes, and if you can only find whole tomatoes, simply puree them in the cuisinart for a few seconds before pouring them on top of the artichokes.
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/
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