Chicken Fajita Salad

Chicken Fajita Salad

I’m about tired of tasteless lettuce from the market.  I can’t wait for the lettuce seeds in my garden bowl to grow and I will have some fresh greens.  In the meantime, I still needed to come up with something for dinner.

Since Mexican food is always at the top of my list – not the diet’s list – I first chopped a big bowl of lettuce and then put half of it in a zip lock bag for later. (That was entirely too much of a good thing.)  The battle was what to fix with it.  So I came up with a Chicken Fajita salad.  What I did was bury the lettuce with strips of fajita flavored chicken breast, red and yellow peppers and onion.  Then I threw in some sliced baby bellas and drizzled it all with a low fat Ranch dressing.  Not bad for a 20 minute dinner.  Dinner done!

Chicken Fajita Salad

Favorite Family Sides for Easter

Holiday Meal Side Dishes

I don’t know about you but in my family there are certain sides that must accompany each holiday meal.  At Easter, Andy equals broccoli rice, Amy equals deviled eggs, Krista equals rolls and mashed potatoes.  No one would say anything but it would be akin to disowning them.  So, I have whipped up some of these to be ready for Sunday.  We are adding fruits and vegetables because that is what Cameron (my oldest grandaughter) likes.  Maddie must lick the bowl when I am baking…see all of my cupcake recipes.  Oh yeah…there is ham.  That is a given, but really my group gathers round for their favorite side dishes.

Broccoli Rice Casserole

Deviled Eggs


KiStrawNana Salsa

I am taking all these family favorites to Saturday dishes which starts tomorrow morning.  I hope you will join us there.  It promises to be a grand collection of side dishes if you are still making your shopping list.

Saturday Dishes

Happy Easter



Cauliflower Cakes with Avocado Ranch Cream

Time to eat our vegetables again. I created this dish for the Alphabet Challenge. This challenge is organized and coordinated by Brenda at Meal Planning Magic. What a great idea! This is where on or around the 15th of each month I will publish vegetable recipes and share them at the link party with other bloggers. If you are interested in joining us you can find out more here.

I picked the letter C for cauliflower. Cauliflower is very popular right now. I have learned many, many new ways to make it. I got this one and changed it just a little from the Healthy Foodie. I can’t be as healthy as she can so I added this avocado cream to it (its kind of healthy).

Cauliflower Cakes with Avocado Cream

I got nutritional information about cauliflower here: Cauliflower per cup has 25 calories, 30mg of sodium, 5g of carbohydrates and 2g of protein.

Check out the link party below (must be registered to enter) and don’t forget to check out the Eating the Alphabet Pinterest board. There you can keep track of all the recipes that are added month-to-month but also find new recipes from last year too. What’s your favorite fruit, vegetable, grain or legume that starts with the letter C or D?

Quinoa Beet Salad

This is definitely a new favorite thing of mine.  Quinoa does have a lot of carbs but also TONS of vitamins and minerals for you.  So, where I would easily use rice or potatoes this fills in nicely.  It is also smoother and absorbs the flavors of what is being fixed more readily.  You will note that earlier I made chili with it.  It tasted like chili.  Now I am using an asian-orange-beet combination.  A lovely and healthy combination.  Enjoy this.

We are about done being healthy.  Pretty soon we will focus on SUPER BOWL food and Valentines Day.  Maybe some of this healthy stuff will make it in there though!

Ham Salad from Leftovers

I saw a recipe very similar to this on The Southern Lady Cooks and it reminded me immediately of the ham salad my momma made on Mondays after we had ham on Sunday for supper.  I think she could make a ham last forever.  We had ham on Sunday, ham salad sandwiches on Monday for lunch during the summer, ham and scalloped potatoes one day, and then she would use the ham bone in ham and noodles or ham and beans.  She was thrifty.  With a family of 6 to feed she had to be.  Most of all it was all soooo good!  She didn’t have recipes.  They just came to her and she made it from what she had on hand.

I have a lot of leftovers around here.  I had all the children and their families here during the Christmas holidays.  You would have thought I was feeding an army with the amount of food I prepared.  While the main meal was good, the leftovers in small portions are sometimes even better.  We had a clean-out-the-frig dinner one evening and had a little of all our favorites.  It was really good to eat a little of some things again.

I’ve adapted this recipe to my taste.  I used prepared mustard and no eggs in mine.  (That’s how Momma made it.) The paprika is my addition and it adds a nice spiciness that I like.  It took me right back to a summer afternoon lunch.  Sandwiches on white bread, potato chips and Kool-Aid.  Good times and good memories and good food.

Ham Salad

Bananas for Banana Salad!

Salads!  Sometimes if I even look at another piece of lettuce I’m going to scream!  I know salads are good for me.  I know they can be made with lots of fresh veggies that I do like.  I can even make a decent salad dressing with very few calories or fat.  But come on……..there comes a point where a salad should just be good.  Not good for you.

The Banana Salad came into my life in Kansas on one of those family vacations we took every summer.  I don’t know how it got the name salad.  It truly should be considered a dessert.  Custard made with cream, sliced bananas and ground peanuts.  Grandma only made a small bowl for a big gathering.  It wasn’t good leftover and you should really only eat a small spoonful as a serving. We learned that over time.

Posting this one for This Week’s Cravings, The King’s Court IV, Thursday’s Favorite Things and Mouthwatering Monday’s.  Have a look at some more delicious banana recipes.

My grandmother, Grandma Birdie as we affectionately loved to call her, was a collector of recipes.  Her recipe box was stuffed full of delicious sounding things.  The recipe cards were neatly written in her handwriting with the name of the person who gave her the recipe on the corner.  Most of these did not have instructions to follow.  Have you noticed that most good family recipes just have the ingredients (and not always the quantities).  You had to be in the kitchen and watch or be invited to help to know how some of these treasured family favorites came together.   Writing the ingredients, instructions (not to mention taking pictures today) takes some time and effort to get it all right.  My mother’s recipe file was much the same.

This is one of those recipes.  I have written the instructions.  Grandma Birdie’s says to layer the bananas, custard and peanuts.

Banana Salad 


Layer 1 – fresh, ripe bananas




Layer 2 – Custard (make this the day before to allow to chill)

    •  3 level tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • 2/3 cup sugar
    • 1 cup whole milk
    • 1 egg, well beaten (room temperature)
    • pinch of salt
    • 1 tablespoon butter
    • 3 tablespoons white vinegar


Layer 3 – ground salted peanuts






For the custard,Make a paste with milk and flour in a heavy sauce pan.  Add the egg and salt.  Cook until very thick.  Add the butter.  (Grandma Birdie’s recipe does not specify how much butter, but I’m guessing about 1 tablespoon.)  After the custard has cooled completely mix in the vinegar very well and place in the refrigerator.  (She always had a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the custard so a film didn’t form.)

Grind the peanuts in the food processor.  Not until they form peanut butter.  Just until they are finely ground.  These can be stored in the jar they came from until ready to prepare.  Then you better find another recipe to use them in because there will be lots left over, such as a topping for an ice cream sundae or in peanut butter cookies.


Slice a single layer of the fresh sliced bananas, sufficient custard to make a nice layer and a scant amount of ground peanuts sprinkled on top of the custard.  Usually two layers of each was the size she made. Finish with ground peanuts on top of the custard.

Prepare for serving just as much as you want to serve.  It doesn’t store as a leftover.  The bananas get dark and watery in the custard and the peanuts get soggy.

Soup, Salad and Laundry?

This week we are hopping with Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays (a gluten free gal!), HomesteadSimple and Haute Mom.  I am also getting ready to take this to Strut Your Stuff Saturday with the Six Sisters.  I just love them and their stuff.  You should check them out.  Such a sweet story and a fun blog with lots of great ideas.

I got a call from my son, Andy on Saturday morning.  We had planned to get together over the weekend, but I didn’t know when he might decide to come over.  His call was to ask if he could come for lunch.  Oh, and by the way, could he bring his laundry?  While I am doing his laundry he tells me he needs to go to the outlet mall to get some new jeans.  So off he goes to the mall.  He comes back with new jeans and three new shirts.  He asks me for washing details for his new clothes.  I don’t know why he asks me about those details.  I’m glad he is trying to take care of his new shirts though.

I was glad I had the chicken and fixings for a light salad, and I had the soup made up.  So lunch was a cinch to put together.  He’s been watching his weight so a full cooked meal was not necessary.  Thank goodness, because I was in the middle of mixing up some oatmeal cookies because it was a nice cool morning.  I like to bake cookies on those rare cool summer days like my momma used to do. I got them baked about 4:00PM and it had warmed up some by then.

I have enough soup and salad left over for another meal or two for me.  It should serve 4 easily.  This chicken salad would be great served on some hoagie rolls with sliced tomatoes and leaf lettuce too.   It was soup and salad for us.  It was nice.

Spicy Chicken Salad

  • ¾ * of a rotisserie chicken, diced, bones and skin removed
  • 1 large stalk celery, diced
  • ½ medium cucumber, seeds removed, diced
  • ¼ red onion, diced
  • 3-4 tablespoons Heinz Hot Relish
  • ½ cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • ½ cup mayonnaise, low-fat (if you like your salad a little more moist add more mayo)
  • ¾ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • baby spinach

*I reserved ½ the breast for another meal.  You can use an entire chicken.  Combine the chicken, cucumber, celery, onion, relish, pecans, and mayonnaise.  Adjust the salt and pepper to your taste.  Mix lightly to combine.

Store in an air tight container to chill for at least an hour in the refrigerator.  Serve on a bed of spinach or your favorite salad greens along with a cup of the Summer Squash Soup served hot or cold.

I served Breton Multigrain crackers with the soup and salad to make it a full, cool and easy lunch.

Since I have an abundance of squash from my garden, (I guess you have figured that out by now.) I am in search of any way to use it.  This idea came from a cream soup recipe, which I adapted and made into a clear squash soup.  It is tasty and served warm is a nice addition to a salad.  I’m not to keen on cold soups, but this one might be ok.  I’m going to give it a try.  I think I have finally found a spot to grow German thyme in my garden.  Lots of things are getting that added lemony taste this summer.

Summer Squash Soup with Thyme

  • 3 tablespoons butter or Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium leek, white and green parts, chopped
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 pounds mixed summer squash (green or yellow zucchini, crookneck,      pattypan), chopped into medium pieces
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup plain yogurt, low fat or full fat

Heat butter or oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until melted. Add leek and garlic and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until leek and garlic begin to sweat but do not brown, about 5 minutes.

Add summer squash and season to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until squash begins to sweat. (Do not brown.) This should take about 7-10 minutes. Add enough water so the squash is almost, but not fully, covered, about 3 cups. Cover saucepan partially and lower heat to medium-low. Simmer until squash is just tender, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Use a hand blender to blend soup until smooth or blend soup in a blender in two batches. Blend until totally smooth (again, working in batches if using standard blender), about 1 minute. (Strain soup through fine mesh strainer if desired.)  I didn’t do this.  I like a little crunch to my soup.

Let the soup cool at room temperature for one hour, stirring occasionally. Transfer to refrigerator and let cool, stirring occasionally, until well chilled, about 45 minutes.

Check soup and adjust for seasoning, adding more salt, pepper.  At this point it can be served with a drop of Greek yogurt or thyme to taste.

Makes 2 quarts, serving 4 to 6.

Pizza Haters Pizza-Fresh from the Garden

Almost too pretty to eat....ALMOST!

A Guest Post from BigSister

Can you believe The Tumbleweed Contessa doesn’t like pizza?  How does one not like pizza?  I don’t understand.  Accordingly, I keep trying to invent combinations to trick her into liking something pizza like.  Let’s see if she likes this one.  She also claims not to like goat cheese but sometimes she likes things that have goat cheese as an ingredient.  Huh?  Welcome to my world of trying to please your mother.

The beets, garlic, rosemary and arugula are fresh from my garden.  I killed my squash.  Apparently I did not get the TWC’s squash growing genes.  I got most of the other ones from her though.

Roasted Beet and Garlic Pizza Topped with Arugula Salad

  • 2 individual pizza crusts (7 inches)
  • 1 large or 2 small fresh beets-tops removed
  • 1 head of garlic top removed + 4 cloves of garlic peeled and crushed
  • ½ cup of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • salt
  • 3 tablespoons of finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 medium ball of fresh mozzarella (in case I lose my nerve)
  • 4 ounces of crumbled goat cheese (in case I am feeling brave)
  • arugula (enough to make a salad for 2….I can’t ever figure leafy vegetable measurements)
  • 4 tablespoons of roasted walnuts
  • balsamic vinegar for drizzling

Roast the beets and garlic.  Wrap the beets in aluminum foil and put in a 375 degree oven for an hour to an hour and a half.  They are done when easily pierced with a knife.  As soon as they are cool enough to touch, peel them under running water to avoid stains in your kitchen and hands.  At the same time roast the garlic.  Slice the top off the head of garlic and place in center of aluminum foil.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Place alongside the beet(s) for about an hour.  Remove and let cool.  Leave the oven on for baking your pizza.

Slice the beets very thinly using a sharp knife or mandolin.  Holding the garlic head face down over a small bowl, squeeze the sides until the roasted cloves pop out into the bowl.  Using a fork, mash the garlic cloves to create a paste.

Make the sauce.  While the garlic and beets are roasting, create the sauce.  This is a simple infused olive oil.  Place ½ cup of olive oil, crushed red pepper, chopped rosemary plus the 4 cloves of garlic into a small pan.  Heat for 15 minutes over low heat.  Turn off heat and let sit until you are ready to assemble the pizza.

Make the toppings.  Wash and dry the arugula and tear into bite size pieces.  Also, while the garlic and beets are roasting, toast the walnuts.  Place the walnuts in a small pan over medium heat until you can smell them, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and let cool.

To assemble:  Place the crust on a cookie sheet.  Remove the crushed garlic cloves from the oil and baste the crust generously with the oil.  Distribute the garlic paste and spread evenly between the two crusts.

Place the sliced beets on top evenly.  Sprinkle with goat cheese or lay thin slices of the mozzarella on top of the beets and crust.(As pictured below, I wanted to compare the tastes side by side.)  Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the goat cheese is puffy or the mozzarella is bubbly.   Sometimes I broil it for a minute at the end.

Remove pizzas from the oven and top with arugula and walnuts.  Just before serving, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and, if you choose, leftover oil.  If not, save it for salad dressing some other time.  Serve with a knife and fork.

I am glad that I tested this before I tried it on mom.  Next time I would slice the beets even thinner (noted in the ingredients above).  The goat cheese half tasted great but so did the mozzarella so I’ll let you be the judge.  Think she’ll go for it?  I’ll keep you posted.  In the meantime…I am going to take this to It’s So Very Cheri’s Sunday Party.

A Heat Wave Recipe! Pasta Salad

It is hot here in this dusty west Texas border town.  (That sounds like the beginning of a song!)  All I can think of is iced tea and very cool salads to eat.  No oven right now in the Tumbleweed Contessa’s kitchen.  I use the outside grill some.  Most of the time I spend watering the flowers and veggies in the garden just to keep them from burning up.  This will pass soon and the famed “monsoon” season will be upon us.  We might get an inch of rain!

When I think about a summertime meal one of my favorites is pasta salad.  I can eat it all by itself or I like to serve it with a piece of roasted chicken (from the deli) or cold fried chicken (from the Colonel), but I like it served best as a side with a cold ham sandwich the second day.  It is great to take on a picnic or to a church pot luck supper too.

I had never eaten a pasta salad until I moved to El Paso.  Hank had moved here before our family did. He found a deli near one of his construction projects on the eastside of town.  Once we got here he raved about this pasta salad.  He even brought it home once or twice for us to try and for me to figure out how to make.  I gave it a try or two, but couldn’t make it taste like the deli’s version.  So, I gave up.  Later on, Jan, a teacher at the SEE School (where I worked)  had a pasta salad everyone liked.  I ask her for her recipe and she told me she got it from the same deli as Hank used to get his supply from.  Finally, that deli opened in a grocery store on the west side (my side of town) and I got to be a regular there to try to figure out how it was made.  It was the dressing or marinade that was the secret.  Finally I tried a different oil and everyone loved it!  I use the Good Season’s Spicy Italian salad dressing mix.  Two packets, one made with olive oil and white wine vinegar and one with vegetable oil and white distilled vinegar. The longer it can marinate in the frig before serving, the better it tastes.

Pasta Salad

  • 1 package (16 ounces) uncooked pasta
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 cup broccoli cuts
  • ½ small red onion, finely diced
  • ½ cup scallions, thinly sliced (green and white parts)
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 3 small carrots peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut in half and thinly sliced into half moons
  • 1 jar marinated artichoke hearts cut in quarters, not drained too well
  • 1/2 cup green olives, sliced
  • ½ cup black olives, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 1 cup slice white mushrooms
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Italian salad dressing mix (2 packets)
  • Olive oil (according to package directions)
  • Vegetable oil (according to package directions)
  • White wine vinegar (according to package directions)
  • White distilled vinegar (according to package directions)

Cook the pasta as directed on package, adding the broccoli to the boiling water for the last 3 minutes of the pasta cooking time.  Drain; rinse under cold running water.  Drain very well; place in a large bowl to mix.( I use a bowl with a lid to seal well to marinate.)

Add the remaining veggies and toss well with dressing.  Refrigerate at least 1 hour or preferably overnight, stirring a few times.   Taste before serving to add more dressing or salt and pepper.

I serve the salad lightly drained in a separate bowl with the excess dressing reserved to store leftovers.

Out of Flour? Buy Corn Instead

Last Thursday night I decided to make some cookies to take to work because we had all survived the hardest of weeks – a short week. That’s when you enjoy your long weekend and then make up for taking a day off by doing as much work in 4 days as you would normally have to do in 5 days!   The TWC didn’t have any flour in the canister!  Can you believe that?  I checked the pantry twice and even the freezer in case I bought some ahead and stored it.  Nothing!  Walmart is just about 5 blocks from my house but by the time I got home from Walmart, I would be out of the mood to bake.  So, sorry guys, no cookies this week.

Late in the afternoon before I left work Thursday, Mike was telling me about a dish he made by wrapping quail in bacon and cooking it in wine.  I didn’t have any quail either (and am not sure I would ever have any.)  But I have chicken – always have chicken.  After work on Friday I went to Walmart to stock up on flour, eggs, and mini chocolate chips. (They were out of flour too!)  There must be a run on chocolate chip cookies due to the last week of school!

I decided to try the bacon/chicken/wine dish.  I got some lower sodium bacon, a new bottle of wine (just in case). Then I was looking for a cool vegetable idea and came upon the fresh corn. It looked tempting so nothing would do but I got 2 ears of fresh yellow corn and that is how I came up with this salad.


  • 2 ears corn cleaned
  • A pot of boiling water, salted
  • 1 spring onion
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro


  • 2 tablespoons light olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste



Clean the corn and boil for about 4-5 minutes in the salted water.  While it is cooking, prepare an ice water bath to dip the corn in to cool it off and stop the cooking.  Drain on paper towel.

Once it is cool enough to handle cut the corn from the husk.  I do this by laying it on its side and cutting all around the cob.  This avoids corn flying all over the kitchen.    Seed and dice the jalapeno and dice the onion.  Chop the cilantro and mix all these together lightly.

Mix up the dressing and toss with the corn.  I put this in the frig while the chicken cooked.  The chicken was ok, but this salad was fresh, crisp and just right!

This would be great with grilled burgers.  It is easy to take on a picnic.  I think it would be good served at room temperature.  Mine was a little chilled, but not icy cold.  It took no time to make.  A little left over with a sandwich was good too.

Give it a try. Add you own favorite herbs.  You can even mix up the vinegars for a new taste.  I think the light olive oil and white wine vinegar was light and fresh.  But try your combo and let me know how it comes out!

I still have no flour and have to bake for church.  I better get going to the store.  It may take all day to find a lonely 5 pound bag of all-purpose flour! The quest is on!