mixed greens salad with dijon champagne vinaigrette, toasted walnuts, and herbed goat cheese wrapped in basil leaves

via she likes to eat

a little over a year ago, my other half took me to a cooking class at whole foods for a birthday present. it was, truly, one of my favorite gifts he has ever given me.

we went together, after leaving the girls at home with my parents, and cooked an incredible menu with about 5 other couples. we laughed, ate well, drank good wine, and met new people while learning a few new things in the kitchen. for real, it was one of my favorite nights ever.

the menu included a wonderfully hearty beef stew with wild rice, a rustic berry tart, buttery biscuits, and this lovely salad. the whole technique with the goat cheese really intrigued me, as i had never seen it done before but thought was crazy brilliant. at our station we had a little bit of the goat cheese leftover after wrapping the rest in the basil leaves.. you can bet i ate that straight out of the bowl. and the dijon vinaigrette has become a staple in my house, one of my favorite basic vinaigrettes that can go on pretty much any salad.

mixed greens salad with champagne dijon vinaigrette, toasted walnuts, and herbed goat cheese wrapped in basil leaves
makes 6-8 salads


6 cups mixed greens (i like to use a combo of bibb, romaine, and spinach), cleaned + rinsed

1/3 cup walnuts, toasted + chopped

3/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup champagne or white wine vinaigrette

1 tbsp dijon mustard

1 tsp agave nectar, or honey

4 oz plain goat cheese, at room temperature

small bunch basil leaves (you’ll need about 8-10 large-sized leaves)

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped*

1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped*

olive oil

coarse sea salt & freshly ground pepper


1. in a small bowl, stir together the goat cheese, lemon juice, and a drizzle of olive oil. (if your goat cheese is harder, add a little more olive oil to soften.) add a small pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper – a couple twists of the grinder. mix well, cover with saran wrap, and place in fridge to chill.

2. preheat oven to 350. spread out walnuts on a dry cookie sheet. roast in the preheated oven for 5-7 minutes. place on drying rack to fully cool.

3. in a mason jar, mix 3/4 cup olive oil, vinegar, dijon, agave/honey, and another small pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper. shake vigorously until well incorporated.

4. after the goat cheese mixture has had at least 15-20 minutes to chill, remove from fridge. on a clean surface or cutting board, remove stems from basil leaves and roll each leaf out flat. place a bit of goat cheese mixture onto the base of each leaf, and then roll the leaf up, wrapping the goat cheese mixture completely with the leaf. once rolled, using a serrated or very sharp small knife, carefully (saw the knife gently back + forth as to not break the leaf) slice the rolled leaf into small sections (you should get about 3-4 slices per leaf.) continue until all basil leaves have been used and sliced.

5. in six or so salad bowls, begin to assemble the salads. first the greens, then the basil leaf/goat cheese slices, sprinkle with toasted walnuts, and drizzle generously with vinaigrette.

*i stress using fresh herbs here, if possible.

homemade ranch dressing

homemade ranch dressing | via she likes to eat











during the summer, my husband directs a family kamp. on saturday mornings, not many people are around and the pool is almost deserted. so we take the opportunity to crash the pool, bringing friends, floats, and snacks – trying to last as long as we can until the kids are all melting down for naps. one time, my good friend whitney brought veggies and ranch dressing for the kids to snack on, only her ranch dressing was made from scratch. my daughter, the one whose love language is sugar and who will not touch veggies thanks to her genetics from her dad, gobbled up carrots dipped in the ranch. i was GIDDY.

so i begged whit for the recipe, which is a family recipe, and it has become my favorite ranch dressing – storebought or not. i have edited it just a bit but have not strayed from the original ingredients. the kicker, in my opinion, is the saltine crackers – GENIUS! – which gives the salty flavor and makes it a little thicker so it’s never runny. this makes enough mix for a lot of dressing, so i store the mix in a mason jar and use it as i need it. it will keep for a few months in an airtight container.

mrs bartlett’s homemade ranch dressing


7 saltine crackers (or a heaping cup of the oyster-size saltines)

1 tbsp garlic salt

4 tsp onion powder

1/4 cup dried parsley

1 tbsp garlic powder

1 heaping tbsp dried dill


1. pulverize the saltines in the blender until fine. pour into a medium sized mixing bowl.

2. add all of the dried herbs and whisk to incorporate. store in an airtight container.

3. to make dressing: mix 1 tbsp ranch mix with 1/2 cup buttermilk and 1/2 cup mayonnaise. use milk to thin, for desired consistency.


homemade caesar dressing (anchovy-free)

homemade caesar dressing (anchovy-free) via she likes to eat

i am not a huge salad person.
yeah, i know i’m a girl and so i should order salads all the time and think they’re awesome and be like “oh, all i want is a salad”. but honestly, i’d rather have a steak. and bring me some A1 sauce.

but there are a few exceptions to my not-fully-on-the-salad-team self: homemade salad dressings and a really good caesar salad. i love a rich, true caesar salad – anchovies and all. that crispy romaine lettuce, the crunchy croutons, and i adore the thinly sliced chicken that you find on the caesar from some cafes. although not everyone likes the anchovies – namely my husband – and often i gravitate more towards a caesar dressing without them.

one cold night, not very long after i’d had my second baby, a friend brought over a gorgeous casserole with a homemade caesar salad. this was that dressing – i had never had a caesar dressing that i got cross-eyed over while eating it, it was that good. seriously, after i first made this myself, i could be found randomly going over to the fridge, opening the door, unscrewing the jar it was in just to smell it. inhaling its perfect lemon and garlic scent = bliss.

deelee’s homemade caesar dressing


1/4 cup half & half, plus more for thinning

1 tbsp dijon mustard

4 cloves garlic, peeled

2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)

1 cup mayonnaise (duke’s is my favorite, if you can find it)

1/3 cup freshly & finely grated parmesan cheese

2 tsp worcestershire sauce

salt & pepper


1. in a small food processor, puree the half & half, dijon mustard, and garlic cloves. then add the lemon juice, mayonnaise, parmesan cheese, and worcestershire sauce – puree about 20-30 seconds. add salt & pepper to taste (i don’t add much at all). thin the dressing with the extra half & half, to the consistency desired.

2. store in the fridge for at least 3 hours, preferably, before serving (the flavors will meld and become stronger). toss with romaine lettuce and croutons. top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.


central market’s kale, pepita, and cranberry salad



kale isn’t one of those things where i go “OH KALE?! i love kale!” i mean, in the last few years i have been on my way there. almost;) ultimately my goal is to be more like my mom, who has a shirt that just says KALE (like YALE, get it?). #wholefoodsnerd

well, one fine day i experienced a kale salad that i fell in LOVE with. i actually went around telling people about this salad, making them promise me that they would go as fast as they could to go get this amazing salad. KALE salad.
if you know me, this would have seemed odd.

but it’s true. this kale salad is amazing. and anyone who has been to h.e.b. or central market in texas and tried this salad can attest to this. i had a little help (from this blog and this blog) to get the ingredients straight and then i adapted it, getting it just right to my taste. hope this makes you like kale too.

*if you are wanting to make this recipe whole30 friendly, just sub coconut aminos for the soy sauce, omit the agave, and make sure there is no added sugar in your OJ.

central market’s kale, pepita, and cranberry salad
serves 4 as a side dish


6 – 7 cups raw kale, washed & chopped (i chop mine pretty well, like the greens in a chopped salad)

1/4 cup orange juice

3 tbsp rice wine vinegar

2 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp sesame oil

1 tsp agave (scant)

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup pepitas

1/4 cup sliced almonds


1. after washing (and drying off a little) & chopping, place kale in a serving bowl or glass dish.

2. in a mason jar, combine orange juice, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, agave, and ground ginger and give it a good shake (or you can whisk it all together in a small bowl). pour dressing over kale greens, add cranberries, and toss a bit.

3. you can serve immediately, or ideally, refrigerate and serve the next day so that the flavors really soak in and the kale absorbs the dressing and softens (if you can’t refrigerate overnight, let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour or two to soften the kale). while it’s marinating in the fridge, stir it a few times, every 3-4 hours if you can to redistribute the dressing. before serving, top with pepitas and almonds.


pear & blue cheese salad with champagne vinaigrette

this is such a refreshing summer salad and one that i crave often.
maybe it’s the crisp pears. maybe it’s the creamy blue cheese.
methinks it’s probably the sweet & tart champagne vinaigrette that marries so perfectly with everything.

if possible, don’t substitute anything else for the champagne vinegar – it is so worth it.

pear & blue cheese salad with champagne vinaigrette

ingredients for the vinaigrette:

1 shallot, quartered

1 clove garlic

1 tbsp dijon mustard

1 tbsp sugar

1/8 tsp salt

dash of ground white pepper

1/2 cup champagne vinegar

1 1/2 cups olive oil (or canola oil)

ingredients for salad:

1 head romaine lettuce, trimmed & torn into bite sized pieces

10 oz. mixed baby greens

2 ripe Bosc or Anjou pears, cored & cut into 3/4 inch dice

1 red bell pepper, seeded, de-ribbed & sliced thinly

2 cups (1/2 lb.) blue cheese (maytag is best), crumbled


1. to make the vinaigrette: in a food processor, blend the shallot and garlic until finely minced. add the mustard, sugar, salt, pepper, and vinegar. process to combine the ingredients thoroughly. with the machine running, gradually add the oil in a thin, steady stream to form an emulsion. taste and adjust seasoning to taste.

2. to assemble the salad: in a large bowl, combine the romaine, baby greens, pears, bell pepper, and blue cheese. add the vinaigrette (as much as you like/to taste) and toss gently to coat. add more dressing if needed.

: a chilled salad bowl or plate makes a big difference, keeping the salad cool & crisp. simply pop a few into the freezer or refrigerator before beginning to cook.

recipe courtesy nordstrom family & friends cookbook
photo via food network

asian vinaigrette with sesame oil + black pepper

asian vinaigrette with sesame oil + black pepper | via she likes to eat

this weekend, i made this dressing because i was in serious need of change from the regular dressing stock in our fridge. and, i need to confess, it was because we had no fresh garlic and no fresh herbs – things you uuusually need to make a fresh vinaigrette. so i grabbed my trusty dressing shaker that has recipes on the outside and chose this one (adapting it a little), since the ingredients were all things i had on hand.
yeah, i know, so boring.
BUT it was so good! it has an awesome balance of tartness from the rice wine vinegar and sweetness from the brown sugar. and then the pepper hits your tongue… seriously. so good.

*to make whole30 friendly, sub coconut aminos for the soy sauce, and sub pure date syrup for the brown sugar.

asian vinaigrette


1/4 cup olive oil

3/4 cup rice wine vinegar

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

1 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp dark brown sugar


1. place all ingredients in a mason jar and shake to blend. pour over a salad of arugula, spinach, carrots, and broccoli (and tomatoes…if you’re into that kind of thing) or toss with cut up veggies.