Balsamic Vinaigrette with THREE Bonus Recipes


The first official day of summer break for my kids was yesterday.  The weather got the memo too because it’s been HOT and HUMID the last two days!  Right now I should be weeding my garden buuuut…I think it’s probably best to wait till this evening when the sun chills out and I won’t pass out from the heat (dramatic much?!).   What’s this got to do with the recipe you may be asking yourself?  If you’re thinking because of garden fresh produce then you win the prize!  Hey, don’t get too excited, the prize is just a free, simple recipe!

This recipe is super versatile, can be used in countless ways, is customizable to your liking and the ingredients can be found anywhere.  This vinaigrette is so easy to make yet tastes gourmet.  If you’ve always wanted to make your own salad dressing but feel intimidated or think it’s too hard then you’ve come to the right place because I’m here to help you out!

Ways to use this Balsamic Vinaigrette:

  1. As a salad dressing in any kind of salad.  *Recipe below for a show-stopping salad.
  2. A marinade for kebabs.  *Check below for another bonus recipe for this!
  3. A dressing for an Italian Pasta salad.  *Toss together cold pasta with the cucumber tomato salad (recipe below), add some uncured sliced salami and olives.  Double the dressing recipe for this or make one full recipe and whisk in 1/2 cup mayo.
  4. Dressing/Dip for all kinds of veggies and vegetable salads. *Recipe below for a cucumber tomato salad with a few more options.
  5. Mix with mayonnaise for a sandwich spread.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 2 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A simple, delicious, versatile salad dressing that’s healthy and Paleo with no crazy ingredients needed!

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. raw honey or real maple syrup
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • pinch of sea salt and black pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. Whisk together all ingredients until the olive oil and vinegar emulsifies (fancy word for the oil and vinegar come together and don’t separate).   You can also use a mini blender such as a ninja or bullet.  This method works better if you add herbs.
  2. Refrigerate until ready to use.  The olive oil will solidify some but once it reaches a warmer temp just give a little stir and it’ll come right back together.

 

*CUSTOMIZE IT:

  • Add fresh herbs, like 10 leaves of fresh basil or mint.
  • Add dried herbs, about ½-1 tsp of choice.
  • Use another type of vinegar such as red wine vinegar.
  • Add ½ tsp garlic powder or 1 small clove fresh garlic (either mince if you’re whisking or throw in the mini blender).

*Recipe for Peach Avocado and Goat Cheese Salad

  • 4 cups greens of choice (arugula is my choice but romaine is always a crowd pleaser too)
  • 1 peach, diced
  • ½ avocado, diced (feel free to use the whole thing!)
  • goat cheese crumbles
  • *optional: add grilled chicken or salmon to make this a full meal
  • *optional: chopped pecans or candied pecans/walnuts
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinaigrette

Toss the lettuce with the dressing.  Top with remaining ingredients and serve!  Recipe makes 2 side salads or 1 dinner salad.  

 

Above is the side salad with arugula and goat cheese.  Below is a dinner salad with chicken thighs and romaine.

*Recipe for Kebabs

  • 1 lb. chicken (breasts or thighs)
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 recipe for balsamic vinaigrette
  • *optional: fresh peach slices or pineapple chunks
  1. Cut everything into equal sized pieces, about 1″ in size.
  2. Place chicken in a bowl to marinate with 1/2 of the dressing.  Marinate for 30 minutes or longer.
  3. When ready to grill, skewer alternating pieces of chicken and vegetables/fruit.
  4. Grill over medium heat, brushing the remaining dressing over the kebabs as you grill.

*Recipe for Cucumber Tomato Salad

  • 1 medium cucumber (seedless work best), diced into small pieces
  • ½ pint of grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • ½ recipe of balsamic vinaigrette (make the full recipe and save the rest)
  • *optional additions: fresh herbs such as mint, basil, or chives.  Soft cheeses such as goat cheese, feta cheese or bleu cheese.  Very thinly sliced red onion or green onions.  Sliced black olives.

Combine all ingredients. Boom, done!

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Cider Braised Maple Bacon Cabbage


With Thanksgiving right around the corner this recipe is perfect to add to the menu.  It’s a crowd pleaser, and it’s easy to make so you’re not stuck making a time consuming difficult dish along with 20 other dishes.

You could shave even more time off prep work and buy bagged shredded cabbage or use your food processor to shred the cabbage.  I just chop mine up really quickly though.

Peel outer layers and discard. Cut cabbage into quarters and slice the core out.

Thinly Slice

This dish would also pair beautifully with pork or chicken.  You could have dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes by starting the cabbage then cooking some pork chops!  Increase the serving size and let this dish be the star of the plate.


Cider Braised Bacon and Maple Cabbage

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Time: 35 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A perfect dish for Thanksgiving or a quick and easy family dinner with a simply cooked pork chop.

INGREDIENTS

  • ~2 lbs cabbage, thinly sliced or shredded
  • 3/4 cup apple cider (not vinegar)
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped into ½” pieces
  • 1 ½ Tb. maple syrup

DIRECTIONS

  1. Prepare cabbage and bacon.
  2. Place the cabbage and cider in a large cast iron skillet or wide pan, over medium heat.
  3. Sprinkle with sea salt.  Cover and cook for about 10 minutes. Stir (I use tongs) and break up any pieces that are stuck together.  Continue to cook with the lid off for another 5 minutes or until the cider is all cooked out.
  4. Turn the heat to Medium/High and add the chopped bacon to the pan.  Stir to incorporate.  Continue to stir every minute or so to let the bacon render the fat and fully cook.
  5. Once bacon is cooked, pour in the maple syrup and stir to even distribute.  Let cook for about a minute.
  6. Serve!

A heaping pile of cabbage served with chiccarone crusted chicken thighs

Paleo Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies


You know what we all need more of?  Cookies.  Cookies don’t argue politics or call people nasty names.  Cookies just make your mouth happy.  These cookies are a play on the popular three ingredient peanut butter cookies that have been around awhile.  Only now they are more Paleo friendly with a few simple ingredient swaps.  Peanut butter is not Paleo because peanuts are actually a legume and not a nut.  However, some people tolerate it fine.  That is one thing Paleo has taught many of us, to listen to our bodies and do what works for you!  But still making sure to eat a nutrient dense diet (with a few treats now and then like these cookies!)


Paleo Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Servings: 18 cookies
  • Time: 16 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup sunflower seed butter*
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  2. In a medium bowl beat together all the ingredients, except chocolate chips, until smooth.
  3. Stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Scoop heaping tablespoon sized balls onto the cookie sheet.  The recipe should make 18 cookies but can be made bigger.
  5. Using a fork, press down slightly to make a checkerboard pattern on the top.
  6. Bake for 11-14 minutes depending on the size of the cookies.  When the edges turn golden brown and the center is mostly set they are done.

*You can easily swap out the sunflower seed butter for regular organic peanut butter, almond butter, or another nut butter.  I find that if the batter is too thick, adding an extra egg makes them perfect.

What’s Up Wednesday #5


Crazy to think November is here already!  Even better that by the time you read this the election will be over and all the horrible mud slinging too.  It is utterly painful to listen to the radio and all the ads. Almost all of them highly inappropriate for young children to hear.  Even Instagram is flooded with ads about it.  I cannot wait for the election to be over!

God bless America. We need it.

I switched this post to every other week.  Things have been crazy busy here and it allows me to really focus on giving you guys great content!  No fluff!  Since the last post, Halloween happened.  My kids aren’t huge candy eaters, but they still love to go trick-or-treating.  My solution to all this newly acquired garbage, I mean candy, was to trade them their bag of candy for a high quality chocolate bar.  My girls were thrilled and so was I!

I dressed up as a scarecrow. First time in years I dressed up. Halloween just isn’t my jam.

Last weekend we hosted my oldest daughters volleyball team for a slumber party!   A group of ten year old girls and their teen coaches came over to eat, play, and spend the night.  I made a trip to Whole Foods and Trader Joes to buy all the food.  It was a make-your-own pizza night!  The party wasn’t strict Paleo but I kept it fairly clean and it was all gluten free.


Here’s a run down of all the food and toppings:

Pizza’s

  • Trader Joe’s gluten free frozen pizza crusts.  They come in a two pack and have super clean ingredients!  At only $3.69 a pack it’s a steal too!
  • Muir Glen organic pizza sauce.  My personal fave aside from homemade!
  • Organic shredded mozzarella, quattro famaggio, and white cheddar cheeses from Trader Joes.
  • Nitrate free pepperoni
  • Ground pastured pork sausage
  • Uncured Bacon
  • Natural black olives
  • Sautéed organic mushrooms
  • Sautéed organic bell peppers
  • Diced Pineapple

Snacks and Desserts

  • Organic snap peas, grape tomatoes, and baby carrots
  • Organic grapes and bananas
  • Boulder Canyon Avocado Oil potato chips
  • Skinny Pop
  • Trader Joes Gluten Free Brownie Mix made with a dairy free, berry cream cheese swirl
  • Rice Krispy Treats made with organic rice puffs, marshmallows from Whole Foods, and ghee.
  • Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies-this recipe will be on the blog soon!

Breakfast

  • Simple Mills Chocolate Muffin Mix
  • Trader Joes Gluten Free Pumpkin pancake mix.  The girls got to create their own design with this.  I put the batter into a squirt bottle and let them have at it on the griddle.  Served them with real maple syrup.
  • Breakfast sausage links
  • Eggs from our chickens, made however they wanted.
  • Organic strawberries and blackberries

TREATS!

My girls had a fog day off school yesterday.  I looked up how to arm knit to give my kids something fun to do!  If you suffer from adrenal fatigue or are going through a lot of stress, then try taking up knitting or crocheting.  It’s been proven to help reduce stress and heal from adrenal fatigue.  NO excuses either, you can look up videos on youtube or take a class somewhere.  Then you’re also left with a beautiful project you created!  My girls and I all made scarves and I love them!  I think we are going to make a bunch for Christmas presents.  Here’s the link to the video we used.

Our new arm knit scarves

That’s it for this week.  I will leave you with this… No matter who you voted for or how you feel about Donald Trump having won the election, the most important thing we can do now is support ALL our fellow Americans.  Many are celebrating and many are grieving.  Give love to all.  Pray for all our newly elected government officials to serve our country well.  Have faith that God’s plan is greater than anything we can imagine.  FAITH. HOPE. LOVE.