Get Excited About Salad!

Get Excited About Salad! | Once Upon a Recipe

So I have this pet peeve. Something that really irks me. You wanna know what it is?

I’m going to tell you anyways. I mean, that’s why you’re here right? You allow me to talk incessantly about the crap that runs through my brain 18 hours per day and I reward you at the end of it all with a tasty recipe. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship we’ve got going on here. Capiche?

Back to the pet peeve. Restaurants that serve you a bowl of lettuce with a sprinkle of shredded carrots and call it a side salad. Dude, that’s not a salad. That’s lettuce with some shredded carrots on it.

Get Excited About Salad! | Once Upon a Recipe

In fact, I blame restaurants that make fake salads for turning people off of salads. Giving them a bad rep. Lettuce with shredded carrots on it isn’t exciting! It’s rabbit food!

But adding fun toppings like nuts, cheese, veggies, dried fruit, and a delicious dressing? Now that’s something to get excited about. Take the salad you see here, for instance. A bed of mixed greens is totally more exciting than plain ol’ lettuce. Toasted walnuts – yes. Dried cranberries – wicked. Creamy goat cheese – yes siree. Crumbled bacon – heck yeah. Top it off with a homemade vinaigrette and a hardboiled egg or two for some added protein and that right there is a complete and fantastic meal.

Get Excited About Salad! | Once Upon a Recipe

Dudes will like this salad too! (I credit the bacon for that one) I took this salad to a dinner party to serve as its own course (minus the hardboiled egg). It was a HUGE hit with the ladies and the dudes. The flavors work really well together and the whole thing is just so darn satisfying. I also included halved cherry tomatoes, but didn’t have any on hand when I made it again last weekend. I highly recommend that you add them as they provide a sweet little juicy pop.

Get Excited About Salad! | Once Upon a Recipe

Feel free to play around too! Think of this recipe as a guideline for creating a really well-balanced and flavorful salad. If you don’t like walnuts, try almonds or pecans. Not a fan of goat cheese? Try feta or parmesan cheese. Want to make this vegetarian? Omit the bacon. If you’re making a meal out of it, trying adding grilled chicken in place of the egg. Or grilled tofu! Tuna or salmon! The possibilities are endless. Get into it!

Get Excited About Salad! | Once Upon a Recipe

The Get Excited About Salad Salad (adapted from

The cherry tomatoes aren’t shown here, but please add them if you can. As mentioned, if you’re making this as a side salad or for a salad course, the hardboiled egg or added protein can be left out. But if you’re making this salad into a meal, definitely add your protein of choice to ensure hunger satisfaction. The dressing is wonderful and could really be used on any salad. It will make more than you need for this recipe, so store any leftovers in a tightly sealed jar in the fridge and use on other salads throughout the week.

For the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

For the salad (serves 2 as a meal, 4 as a side):

  • 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 3 cups mixed greens
  • 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 ounce of goat cheese, crumbled
  • 4 strips of thick-cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 eggs, hardboiled (optional)

To toast the walnuts, spread them out onto a baking sheet and toast them in the oven at 350°F for about 8-10 minutes. Combine all of the dressing ingredients, minus the olive oil, in a small bowl. Slowly add the olive oil, whisking constantly as you do so. Set aside.

Combine the mixed greens, toasted walnuts, cherry tomatoes, and dried cranberries in a large bowl. Add the dressing (to taste – you will not need all of it) and toss to coat. Split the salad onto 2 (or 4) plates and then evenly sprinkle with the goat cheese and bacon. Slice the hardboiled egg and add one egg to each salad. Enjoy!

PS. I totally just made this again for dinner last night and added a fried egg. It was mega!

PPS. What makes a salad great for you?

Guest Post: Kristy @ Gastronomical Sovereignty | Rough & Rustic Stuffing

Hi friends! Special treat for you today – Kristy from Gastronomical Sovereignty is here to share a festive recipe. Kristy is one of my favorites. Check out more of her blog after this post and you’ll see why. Bonus: She’s a fellow Canadian. Cheers to that!

Good morning Amanda’s darling readers!

Anyone who knows me knows I love me some Christmas. The tree, the music, the presents, company, that glowing feeling that starts deep in your stomach and radiates through your every pore – that could be the wine. But still, I love me some Christmas! And best of all, at this time of year, I love a good, filling, rough & rustic stuffing.

from above christmas stuffing

There are lots of things you can stuff right now. Stockings. Packages. Feather down pillows. Your face. Random body parts that will remain un-named because not everyone appreciates me talking about vaginas on their blogs. Oops. Sorry Amanda! I said vagina. Oh no.
But most importantly – at least while we’re in the presence of family – birds! This year it’s just me and the boyfriend so we aren’t roasting a full turkey. Instead we’re thinking about just 2 breasts. Turkey breasts. What’s wrong with me?
You could stuff this stuffing inside a bird if you like but this recipe was simply baked in the oven all by itself. Is it still called stuffing if it isn’t stuffing something? Hm.
This was also less goopy than most stuffings I’ve had. You could add another 1 – 2 cups of liquid if you like your stuffing heavier but this is a nice light-feeling alternative to everything else we eat at Christmas dinner but still loaded with flavor to-boot! Boots are another thing you can stuff. With socks. Or presents. Or….
Rough & Rustic Stuffing

(printable recipe) – Serves 6.

1 loaf of sourdough bread, roughly chopped into 1” pieces
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup carrot, skin on & diced
1 cup celery, sliced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
2 cups apple, skin on, cored & diced
2 cups chicken, beef, or veggie stock
1 lb. chorizo sausage (approx. 3 large links), removed from casings
Handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
Handful of fresh sage, roughly chopped
2 TBSP. butter
2 pastured eggs, lightly beaten
Coarse sea salt & fresh cracked black pepper
What to Do:
Pre-heat your oven to 300°F. Place chopped bread on a couple of baking sheets. Place in oven and toast until golden, approx 30 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.Turn the heat up to 350°F and grease a casserole dish with Tbsp of butter and/or non-stick spray. Set aside.Place a large pan over medium heat with 1 TBSP. of butter. Once hot, add the sausage and break up into small pieces. Cook until almost all the pink is gone, stirring often.
Add the onion, celery, carrot, mushroom and a good helping of salt and pepper. Allow for the veggies to soften, stirring regularly, until just barely fork tender, approx 10 minutes.
Pour in the apples, stock and herbs. Bring to just a boil, scraping any bits off the bottom of the pan. Mmm flavor! Remove from heat.
Toss the bread into the casserole dish and pour eggs over top. Mix well. Add the sausage/veggie/stock mixture. Make sure everything is combined.
Cover and place in oven. Bake for 45 minutes, remove the cover, and cook a further 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
Buen provecho!

All Choked Up | Grilled Artichokes with Lemon Garlic Aioli



















Friends, can you believe that August is nearly half over? That these glorious, hot, sunshine and thunderstorm-filled days are whipping by us at break neck speed? And before we know it, we will be trudging through another long, cold, snowy winter? *sigh* My apologies for the pessimistic ‘tude that I’m rocking right now. Summer just ain’t long enough!



















However, I do have some advice for making the best of the rest of these summer days. Ready?

1.Get outside. Spend as much time out there as you can! Eat outside, drink outside, be active outside (emphasis on eat and drink). Have a bonfire, roast marshmallows, and devour s’mores. Sit outside and read a book. Get out there and soak up summer!

2.Make these. Don’t ask questions, just do it. Preferably in combination with #1.



















3.Go to the farmers’ market. Summer farmers’ markets are fabulous. Fresh produce in its prime. Delicious local goods. Supporting your community. All the things!

4.Eat more ice cream. This should not require an argument, but if you have your doubts, Em has you covered. And if you require any inspiration, look no further.



















5.Sleep in. It is summer, after all. And while we might not be 16 anymore, with the glory of summer holidays to waste away by sleeping until 1pm, try to sneak in an extra hour or two of slumber and savor a lazy weekend morning. Preferably followed by pancakes and hot coffee.

6.Get away. Even if you can’t swing an exotic summer holiday, get out of town for a weekend. Enjoy a change of scenery! Go to the beach, the mountains, go camping. Just get out. Your mind will thank you.

7.Grill up some artichokes and then dip them in lemon garlic aioli and stuff them into your face. Seriously.

Artichokes are delicious (and beautiful!) things. I had never bought or eaten a whole artichoke prior to trying this recipe. Canned artichokes often find their way into my grocery basket for use in a spinach and artichoke dip or onto homemade pizza. But there’s more to artichokes than their lovely little hearts! They’ve got cute little leaves that you can dip into a tasty aioli and then pull the flesh from with your teeth. With simple flavors like lemon and garlic, and the wonderful char created by a hot grill, these are a great appetizer or side to any summer meal. Get grillin’ friends, and enjoy summer!



















Grilled Artichokes with Lemon Garlic Aioli (barely adapted from Food For My Family)

For the artichokes:
3 whole artichokes
2 lemons
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Fill a large bowl with water, and add the juice from one lemon, saving the rind. Cut the artichokes in half and immediately submerge in the water (to prevent browning). Bring a (very) large pot of water to a boil and add in the squeezed lemon rind. Transfer the artichokes to the boiling water. Boil for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Fire up the grill. In a large bowl, add the juice from the other lemon, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. When the artichokes are done boiling, drain them on a paper towel and then toss them around in the bowl to coat them.

With the grill on medium heat, add the artichokes to the grill. Brush the artichokes with the remaining oil mixture in the bowl. Turn every five minutes until artichokes start to char (mine took about 15 minutes). Remove from heat.

For the lemon garlic aioli:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 cloves garlic, minced
Juice from 1/2 of a lemon
1 green onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Mix together all ingredients in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve with the grilled artichokes.



















Things might get messy. Have your napkins ready.

The photos in this post were taken with Instagram, an iPhone app. If you are an IG user and want to follow my daily foodie (etc.) life, you can find me at @onceuponarecipe.

This Year… | Morrocan-Style Turkey and Chickpeas













….I will drink more water. I will not be deterred by the fact that I may have to visit the little ladies’ room 132 times per day, but that’s the price you pay to be hydrated. Now, if you’ll excuse me for a moment, I have to pee.

…I will find more reasons to celebrate. After the most fantastic New Year’s Day (full of lobster tail and steak, and champagne with wild hibiscus flowers – mega-awesome start to the new year), I have concluded that it’s important to celebrate more often. Obviously not every day, and not to the extent of overpriced shellfish and bubbly, but…who says you need to wait until a holiday to celebrate? This year, I will find more reasons to celebrate. Big and small. And I will drink more champagne (duh).

…I will be more kind. To others and to myself.













….I will challenge myself more in the kitchen. I’m going to stretch a little outside of my comfort zone this year. Watch out yeast! You’re mine. Scallops, I’m going to learn how to cook you into mouth-watering goodness. And I will become a better cupcake decorator.

…I will be more organized. People who know me would probably roll their eyes at this statement. Most people think I’m super organized. But it’s all a big front…I’m floundering just as much as the rest of you. But this year, time to tighten up. I’m going to start by tackling that dang room.

…I will get more sleep, so that I need less caffeine to get through the day. I’ve developed an unhealthy coffee habit that needs to be brought under control. I blame my lovely little french press.

…I will try to achieve at least one of the aforementioned goals. Goals, people. Not resolutions. Resolutions tend to fail before the words even leave my lips. But these are just goals, and the world ain’t gonna end if I don’t achieve them. But I’m gonna try.

That is all.













As part of my “get more organized” goal, I have been making weekly meal plans for myself. I make my plan, buy my groceries, and try to follow the plan for each day. Hopefully this will translate into healthier meals, and less eating out. And of course, fewer dinners comprised solely of cereal or cookies. 

Moroccan-Style Turkey and Chickpeas (adapted from Cooking Light magazine, Dec. 2011)

1 pound ground turkey

1 TBSP. olive oil

2 medium onions, sliced vertically

1 large carrot, peeled and cut diagonally

1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin

3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

1/2 tsp. black pepper

Pinch cayenne pepper (or more if you like it hot)

2 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup raisins

3 TBSP. tomato paste

Zest of one lemon

1/2-1 tsp. salt (to taste)

1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Juice from half a lemon

1/2 cup fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the ground turkey until browned. Remove from the pan and set aside. Heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and carrot, and saute for about 4 minutes. Add in the spices (cumin, cinnamon, coriander, black pepper, and cayenne) and cook for another minute, stirring constantly. Return the ground turkey to the pan. Add in the chicken broth, raisins, tomato paste, lemon zest, salt, and chickpeas. Allow to simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat, add in the lemon juice and cilantro or parsley (if desired). Enjoy immediately over rice, couscous, quinoa, or whatever your little heart desires.

This really is a warm and comforting dish, and so easy to prepare. I ate leftovers for a couple of days afterwards, and the flavors really become more pronounced after a little nap in the fridge. Apologies for the horrendous lighting situation (the sun is still setting before I drag my butt home from work), but a solution is on the way! And no, I’m not quitting my job. 

Pleasure in the Belly | My Spaghetti Sauce

Spaghetti is one of my favorite comfort foods. Nothing feels quite as wonderful and comforting as a belly full of spaghetti and homemade sauce. This recipe originally came from my Nana, but it has evolved as it has been passed down through the generations. To be honest, I never make it the exact same way twice! There is room for some flexibility, depending on personal preference. Therefore, I give you the basic recipe, and suggest possible additions. Plus, it is so quick to prepare – perfect for the days before Christmas when you’re running around and barely have time to think about what to make for dinner!

When I made this batch of sauce a few weeks ago, honey and I were still in the throes of our no-grains challenge, and so we ate the sauce over spaghetti squash. It certainly wasn’t better than pasta, but it was definitely a good substitute!

My Spaghetti Sauce

1 onion, diced small

6 cloves of garlic, minced

1 pound lean ground beef

1 large can of diced tomatoes

1 can of condensed tomato soup

1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup

1 tsp. dried basil

1 tsp. dried oregano

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Add-in options: 2 stalks celery (diced small), 1 green pepper (diced small), 20 mushrooms (sliced), 1 cup frozen peas, a couple of handfuls of fresh spinach.

Brown the ground beef and drain. Set aside. In a big pot, saute the onion for a couple of minutes in a little bit of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. If using celery, green pepper, or mushrooms, add them in now. When the veggies are tender, add the cooked ground beef, followed by the tomatoes, soups, and spices. (If you like your sauce really tomato-y, feel free to add a second can of diced tomatoes). Simmer over low heat for at least 30 minutes, longer if possible. If using the peas and/or spinach, add in at the end and allow to warm (peas) or wilt (spinach). Serve over your favorite pasta (or spaghetti squash), and enjoy with fresh bread. Happy eating!

PS. Only 1 more sleep until Christmas!

Get Fresh | Broccoli Slaw Salad with Five-Spice Tofu

Honey and I decided to challenge our bodies and minds in 2009 and go the entire year without eating meat. A “vegetarian” diet. We continued to eat fish, but stayed away from chicken and red meat. It was a great challenge and really opened our eyes (and stomachs!) to different kinds of vegetables and legumes. We have since returned to our carnivorous ways, but continue to try to eat vegetarian a couple of times per week. I came across this recipe in the latest edition of Vegetarian Times magazine, and decided to give it a try. We made a meal out of it, but it would also go well as a side dish. Makes for great lunch leftovers as well! I would recommend making the salad the day before you eat it – only because I think the flavors really developed by sitting in the fridge overnight. I enjoyed it much more the second day than I did immediately after throwing it together. And for those of you out there who are afraid of tofu – give it a shot! Tofu takes on the flavor of whatever you cook it in/with, so get creative! This recipe calls for pre-packaged five-spice tofu, but I’m not a fan of the pre-marinated tofu, and prefer to marinate it myself. Either way…happy eating!

Broccoli Slaw Salad with Five-Spice Tofu (adapted from Vegetarian Times, Nov./Dec. 2010)


2 TBSP. roasted sesame oil

2 TBSP. Chinese black vinegar (or 1 TBSP. rice vinegar plus 1 TBSP. balsamic vinegar)

1 tsp. sriracha or any chile-garlic sauce

1 tsp. sugar

To make the dressing: Whisk together all ingredients into a small bowl. Season with salt (and pepper), if desired.


1-lb. package broccoli slaw (I used half broccoli slaw/half broccoli florets)

1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced

7 ounces five-spice pressed tofu, sliced into matchsticks

1/2 chopped cilantro

2 green onions, chopped

4 TBSP. chopped roasted peanuts

To make salad: Toss together all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Add the dressing and toss well. Eat immediately, or put in the fridge overnight to let the flavors mingle.  *You may also use plain extra-firm tofu, and let in marinate in your own mixture (ie. 1 TBSP. sesame oil, 1 TBSP. soy sauce, 1 tsp. chinese five-spice) for at least 30 minutes. I also fried the tofu in a little bit of vegetable oil before adding it to the salad, just enough to brown it and add some crispness.

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