Apple, Bacon, & Goat Cheese Salad

Nothing beats a really good salad in the summertime. Whether it’s a simple Greek salad with grilled chicken – or something a little fancier like this apple, bacon, and goat cheese salad…they always go over well with our family after spending a day outside in the hot summer sun!

Crispy smokey bacon, crunchy apples, tangy goat cheese, candied walnuts – and the pièce de résistance, a delicious apple butter vinaigrette. I think it may be my new favorite salad dressing!

Musselman's Apple Butter

First off, it acted as an awesome emulsifier – it truly was the perfect consistency for a dressing. It also added wonderful flavor. The sweet and spicy notes in the apple butter really worked well with the salad, and combined with apple cider vinegar – there was definitely a ton of apple flavor going on.

I think the recipe for the dressing would also be an amazing marinade for chicken or pork. Looking forward to trying that soon, will report back! In the meantime, enjoy this wonderful salad.

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by the good folks at Musselman’s Apple Butter. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

Classic Pasta Salad

This one has been a long time coming, guys. Whenever I go to a cookout or gathering, this is my most requested dish to bring. And I can’t believe that I don’t have it here on the site yet. Friends are always asking for the recipe, and it will be great to have the link handy from now on!

At any rate, it’s the classic version. Tri-colored rotini, tomatoes, onions, cukes, black olives, cheese, and Italian dressing. But, there area few things that I’ve added it to it to the years that make it special…

First off, fresh herbs – chopped basil, parsley, and oregano bring a ton of freshness to the dish. I usually have an abundance of all of them in the summer, and it’s a great way to use them. Also, celery seed – the brightness and crunch it adds to the dish is on point.

I take a shortcut and use the powdered Italian dressing. I’ve made my own, and used bottled – but nothing compares to the Good Seasons Italian in this application. For someone who makes most of her dressings at home – I love the stuff. I’ve always got a packet in the pantry.

Sometimes I’ll add chopped up pepperoni or salami, or pepperocinis, or chopped bell peppers…but this is my standard. I could live off this stuff in the summertime, and many weeks – I do. It’s my favorite, and I know it will be one of yours too!

Classic Pasta Salad

1 lb tri-color rotini pasta
5 roma tomatoes, diced
2 cucumbers – peeled, seeded and diced
1 red onion, small diced
1 can black olives, drained and olives halved
1 tsp celery seed
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh oregano, chopped (or 2 tsp dried)
16 oz shredded cheese (I like a blend of cheddar and mozzarella)
1 packet Good Seasons Italian Dressing (I like the Zesty kind!)
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper

Prepare salad dressing according to directions on packet.

Cook the pasta in salted water for 7-8 minutes until al dente, and drain.

Combine the veggies, olives and pasta in a large bowl. Add the salad dressing, and toss to coat everything.

Add in the celery seed, fresh herbs, the cheese, and salt and pepper to taste.

Fridge it for an hour or so to let the flavors blend.

Source: adapted from my good friend Crystal’s mom, Ms. Ginny. We miss you, but rest assured your pasta salad lives on!

Blackberry Basil Vinaigrette

Have you guys taken note of all of the gorgeous berries in stores right now? I’ve been enjoying all of them, but hard pressed – I’d say juicy, plump blackberries are my favorite. And, they’ve been REALLY good this year. So when Driscoll’s reached out to me and ask me to come up with blackberry recipe to share with you guys, how could I say no?

While I’ve had my usual fun baking with them, I thought a more savory application would be a fun twist. In an effort to shed a few pounds before sandbar season, I’ve been trying to eat more salads. I always make my own dressings, but have never made one with a fruit puree as the base before. Wow, I’ve really been missing out!

I added a handful of fresh basil to the blackberries before I pureed them, which added a wonderful aroma and freshness. The thick puree acts as a wonderful emulsifier, and the sweetness from the berries really rounds out the flavor. I also used champagne vinegar, for it’s subtle flavor…to really let the blackberry and basil shine. But, white wine vinegar would be an excellent substitute.

I like to serve it over a bed of mixed greens with some candied walnuts, herbed goat cheese, and plenty of fresh blackberries. Makes the perfect simple salad for these warmer days we’ve been having! Would also be wonderful to use as a marinade for chicken or pork. I’ll definitely be trying that in the very near future!

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by the good folks at Driscoll’s. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Mexican Chorizo and Corn ChowderA few weeks ago a huge box of goodies arrived on my door sent by the good folks at V&V Supremo. They specialize in Mexican products – chorizo, cheeses, cremas ans sour creams. I have a hard time finding good, authentic Mexican ingredients here in my rural area, so it was a real treat to have so many yummy ingredients at the ready!

I’ve long wanted to make a spin on my Southwestern Potato & Corn Chowder using chorizo for a Mexican twist. So, that’s pretty much what I did. The flavor from the chorizo just melts down into every bite of the soup. Chunks of tender potato and crunchy corn make for a filling soup that fills you up, but doesn’t weigh you down. I used some quesco fresco to crumble on top, and a little fresh cilantro. It was amazing!

I’ll definitely be stocking up on more of their chorizo next time I’m doing a stock-up trip in the big city. It’s great to have around for so many applications, and has so much more flavor than traditional sausage…that isn’t spicy either – just intensely flavored. If you’ve never used chorizo in your kitchen before, this soup is a great place to start! Make this one soon, guys – it’s a winner!

Disclaimer: I was provided with products courtesy of V&V Supremo. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.