Archive | salads

Go-To Light Sesame Ginger Dressing for The Salad Impaired (Like Me)

I’m salad dressing combo-making inept.

I grew up in a culture and age where salads were mostly either made with vinegar + salt + pepper or mayo. I don’t remember salads being a big part of our meals in Manila when I was young. We had our double starches (rice, bread and noodles — any combination of those) to go with the main courses. Fresh or steamed vegetables were dipped in sauces like vinegar with anchovies, soy sauce and calamansi (my favorite), or mayo and ketchup. I have a very good taste memory, but without any childhood recollection of taste combinations, I’m at a loss in a salad-inclusive North America. I even avoided volunteering to bring a salad to potlucks. It stressed me out just to think about it. [It still does.] I would gladly make you pie or cake. You can just see my deer-in-the-headlights look.

One of my cooking-related goals this year is to get in there, try as many dressings/salads (sorry, friends and family), and make some more until I can whip them together with ease. I have a 50% failing rate as far as my own rating system goes–I’m hard on myself, but that helps me keep improving. I still have a lot to learn.

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We’ve been enjoying the summer bounty from our local farmers markets. Here I used shaved carrots, radishes and a variety of tomatoes.

This dressing I’m sharing today is not one of those failures. This is my go-to recipe over the past year, my saving grace when my mind is blank at the end of the day and we have some beautiful vegetables to eat fresh. It’s a light sesame ginger dressing that has been well-received during family dinners. If we can make the kids eat a few bites of veggies, it’s considered a win.

It tastes similar to the light dressing that comes with the house salad at a Japanese restaurant. If you like that, you will love this. There’s just enough boost of flavor, but it lets the vegetables shine. It’s good to start with some lovely produce.

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Posted in appetizer, dressings and sauces, featured, healthier choices, quick & easy, raw, salads, vegetables, vegetarian0 Comments

Quick Lunch: Tuna Pineapple Macaroni Salad

Chicken macaroni salad was one of my favorite party side dishes as a child. Back in Manila, it was dotted with raisins, which I’ve grown to dislike through the years. I’ve come to embrace it’s blushing cousin, the dried cranberries, which I simply adore in salads and use as often as I can. I love it with the tuna mac because it adds a touch of sweetness and tartness that complements the tuna and pineapple well.

Tuna Pineapple Macaroni Salad

Tuna is my preferred alternative to chicken in salads for convenience–just drain and voila, you’ll have flavorful protein to add. And thanks to that, you can make this salad in 15 minutes or less, not including the time to wait for the water to boil. To save time, I put the pot of water on maximum heat while I start chopping vegetables to make good on time.

This is a substantial lunch or a good snack to pack for work, but watch out for the tuna smell. The chicken would be less offensive to the olfactory senses for some, for sure. It keeps well in the fridge for up to 3 days if you keep it in the coolest corner, so it’s a good make-ahead dish as well.

I’m making slow and steady progress on the eating-healthier-lunch front, and even smaller steps on blog posting, but I’m getting there. I’m almost ready to make this again for lunch, actually.

I’ve included meat and vegan alternatives in the recipe. Hope you enjoy!

Tuna Pineapple Macaroni Salad



4.0 from 1 reviews
Tuna Pineapple Macaroni Salad
Recipe type: Salad
Active prep time: 
Cooking/Baking time: 
Total hands-on & cooking/baking time: 
Serves: 4 to 6
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) elbow macaroni, uncooked
  • salt for boiling pasta and to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped red onion
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 120-gram can tuna, drained of water or oil
  • ¼ cup and 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1½ tablespoon sugar
  • freshly ground pepper
  • ⅓ cup dried cranberries (optional)
  1. Cook elbow macaroni in salty water according to the package directions for al dente pasta and drain. Transfer pasta into a large bowl and add all the ingredients except for the cranberries. Add salt and pepper as desired. Add cranberries last.
Meat Alternative: Chopped cooked chicken, especially if you have leftover rotisserie chicken. Vegan Alternative: You use "simulated" chicken meat sauteed with a little bit of chicken bouillon powder or cube to add some flavor. For the mayo, Earth Balance has a "Mindful Mayo" that is dairy free.

Posted in appetizer, make-ahead, nut-free, original Gourmeted recipe, pasta, quick & easy, salads, seafood, snacks4 Comments

Fuss-Free Fridays: Red Wine Vinaigrette Recipe

Earlier this week, one cool afternoon when the sun was still up and the nearby running track oval was empty, I was doing my usual afternoon jog, getting back to my regular schedule after a couple of weeks break. It was just Mother Nature and I. You know when dogs stick out their faces out from a moving car and you can see happiness on their faces (and a shampoo commercial in there somewhere)? That’s sort of how outdoor running feels to me, wind against my skin and combing through my hair, foot to earth one step at a time. I was on my 8th lap, feeling all Zen and going with the flow, when I opened my eyes in slow-mo and my brain started screaming: “HOLY SH**…IT’S COMING AT YOU!!! WATCH OUT DON’T OPEN YOUR MOUTH…!!!” SPLAT. PBBBTTTT. Gigantic dragonfly recomposes itself mid-stumbling-flight and I in the verge of punching my fist up to the skies and breaking into insane laughter. Way to ruin the moment Mother Nature!

So that’s one of the simplest, grounding things I do: jog or run. After completing a beginner’s running program similar to Couch to 5K and running my first 5-km race, I’ve transitioned from being all about yoga to someone who craves running. I can slip into my shirt and shorts, lace up my shoes and I’m good to go. No fuss, just get up and go. It’s easy. Sometimes, I just get smacked right in the face by bugs or insects.

And that’s how I like my Fridays, too, minus the bugs and insects.

It’s an ongoing life project to balance work,  having a life outside of work, and then blogging. I love doing all three. I don’t want to be flighty or have any one of them become a chore, because they all require time. So, in an effort to balance what could sometimes be a very insane blogging schedule when I get so much into it, I’m going to start doing what I call Fuss-Free Fridays. This is when I’ll post easy recipes. Those that you won’t have to stress about — and let’s face it, some could trigger fears just from a quick glance at the length! I won’t have to sweat writing long and winding step-by-step procedures and you won’t have to bug your eyes out reading all that. Fair deal?

If you want to join me for Fuss Free Fridays: leave a link to your easy recipe blog post in the comments OR if you don’t have a blog, leave the recipe in the comments. If there’s enough participation, perhaps we can do this on a regular basis. What say you?

Now here’s an easy one to make and something that you can just use as a loose guide for creating your own vinaigrette. Admittedly I’m not a huge salad person, but when I do fall in love with a dressing or a salad, I become loyal to it.

Let’s start the weekend right and relax. Happy Fuss Free Friday!

   Get the recipe for the Red Wine Vinaigrette

Posted in appetizer, dressings and sauces, Fuss Free Fridays, quick & easy, salads10 Comments

4th of July Munchies

I rarely make lists as posts, so consider this a treat.I didn’t even make one for Canada Day! Shame shame. Anyway, if you’re still looking for ideas for the weekend, here are some easy peasy suggestions, ye American neighbors.

Here are recipes for dessert (or snack) that require a little more work, but you will get a lot of love from the people who will enjoy it:

Or if you want to bake something that’s easy and still be good, try these Eggless Chocolate Cupcakes or Honey-Cheese Corn Muffins.

Yes, it’s true, when you come to my party you won’t see the usual fares. :p

Happy Independence Day weekend, friends!

Posted in appetizer, chocolate, dessert, dips and sauces, events, frozen treats, fruits, healthier choices, original Gourmeted recipe, poultry, quick & easy, salads, sweets0 Comments

Oven Roasted Potatoes with Beets in Garlic-Lemon-Thyme Dressing

Sorry about that long title, but serves its purpose of telling you exactly what you get. :-)

As I said earlier, I am participating in this summer week’s “Eating Down the Fridge” over at Kim O’Donnel’s A Mighty Appetite. I have to admit that this is indeed a “challenge” for me. When I am cooking for one or two, it’s very easy to slide into that It’s-Easier-To-Eat-Out Zone, especially when the weather is just plain seductive and it feels criminal to stay home.

If you only have a few weeks of semi-uninterrupted sunshine (as I type this, it is raining…welcome to our world), you enjoy every bit of it.

Kitsilano Beach

See what I mean?


We do our best to appreciate the glorious summer days of Vancouver. :-)

And then I find myself with a well-stocked fridge and pantry at the end of the week, except that 50% of the fresh food will probably go bad soon. Does that sound familiar?

I go back and forth this same old story. I’ve already confided on this blog that I still have this Waste-Not attitude with food because of the way I was raised. It’s really just common sense and practicality: simply eat what you buy.

I’m already seeing the benefits of Eating Down the Fridge:

1. I make an effort to eat breakfast these days. Usually, I’ll just skip it, which I know is bad, but I couldn’t help it. Now, I try harder. I want to finish the loaf of whole wheat bread instead of offering it up to the mold gods. And I pay more attention to the gala apples I bought that I meant to eat for breakfast or as snacks.

2. I am starting to remember stuff I froze that I still need to use. For example, the fresh-now-frozen thyme that went into this simple salad. I still have frozen peeled bananas that could easily go into banana bread or muffins.

3. The ‘limit’ of not going out to shop for more food, is stirring up my creative juices. What can I do with what I have? I still have a box of strawberries, a lonely floppy stalk of rhubarb and lots of gala apples. I can smell something in the oven already. :-) Have I told you I haven’t made any dessert out of rhubarb?! Never. So here’s my chance to prove to Amy that I am from this planet (she jokingly asked from which planet I was when she learned of this…haha), just that I’m discovering food that are common to most of you, but so new to me!

4. I resist the compulsion to buy more and more food. It’s like with clothes, you keep buying them because one day you think you have nothing to wear. You just have to look into your closet (in our case, pantry/fridge) to see that you have a lot!

5. I am more thoughtful of food. Sometimes life gets really too busy that the kitchen is acts like a pit stop where you grab something you can instantly eat and leave empty-handed and go to the store if there’s none. I think about food, what to prepare so I wouldn’t go hungry in the middle of the day (I work from home) and commune with food. Food is something to enjoy sitting down on the table, with friends and family.

6. That said, I feel like a child finding ingredients in the kitchen that I didn’t know I had. Two jars of baking powder anyone? I see things in doubles and not because of my eyesight. Time to do some inventory around here.

7. At the end of the week, I will have an almost-empty fridge that’s much easier to clean. A clean fridge to work with! I love it already.

During the day, I eat toasted bread with sunflower butter or butter. The other night I just cooked the flank steak with salt and pepper and a wine-soy gravy (still debating if I should post the bad photos…haha). I also had plain red-leaf lettuce salad with garlic dressing (that my brother calls my “Shawarma sauce” when he tasted it during our family dinner a few weekends ago). I’m proud to announce that I also saved that tub of organic vanilla yogurt before it expires in a week, and started eating it. I always get hungry and I didn’t realize I had all this food enough to satiate my every-3-hours hunger.

Last night, I made this simple salad of roasted Yukon Gold potatoes, boiled beets and a homemade garlic-lemon-thyme dressing made with those ingredients glended with olive and coconut oil and just salt and pepper. I love food that is easy to prepare and yet captivates you with comforting flavors and textures — homey, not complex.

Oven Roasted Potatoes with Beets in Garlic-Lemon-Thyme Dressing

A  little something about Yukon Gold Potatoes:

These are yellow-fleshed potatoes, compared to the whitish ones. Yukon Gold is a crossbreed between the North American white potato and a wild South American yellow-fleshed variety and was registered in Canada in 1980. They are good for boiling, baking, french-frying, but unsuitable for chipping. It has medium starch content and disintegrates when overcooked. Excellent for storage and holds well for long without sprouting (bonus for me).

I love their thin, smooth skin and buttery flavor. I overcooked some of the smaller pieces and the flesh separated from the prime real estate of a skin (read: roasted Yukon Gold potato skin is like flavor bling to my taste buds), into a soft, pillow-y mulch. It didn’t bother me at all because it was a nice kind of mush, and you’ll forget about it once you taste it. I should remember to buy more of these, seeing that it stores well and my sprouting russet family in a bag is testament to why I shouldn’t rely on them all the time.

Once I baked it, I tossed the thyme sprigs and the dressing while they were hot. Mmm. Once it cooled, I put some in a bowl with beet chunks and some greens and enjoyed it with a glass of chardonnay. What a great way to spend the rainy evening.

Oven-Roasted Yukon Gold Potatoes and Beets with Garlic-Lemon-Thyme DressingDownload the print-ready PDF recipe

Ingredients (serves 2 to 3)

•    8 Yukon Gold potatoes, cut in quarters (or more if they are big). Try to cut them about the same size.
•    2 whole medium beets, boiled and cut into chunks the same size as the potatoes (you can boil it at the same time you are oven-roasting the potatoes)
•    1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
•    1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
•    1 tbsp olive oil
•    3/4 tsp sea salt, divided
•    1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper, divided
•    1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
•    4 large cloves (or 6 medium) of garlic
•    8-10 sprigs of thyme
•    Optional: fresh greens


1.    Pre-heat the oven to 400°F. In an oven safe glass baking dish, mix together potatoes, olive oil, 1/4 tsp ground pepper and 1/4 tsp sea salt making sure all the surfaces of the potatoes are coated with oil. Add more oil if needed. Carefully position potatoes with the flesh down, not the skin. The skin is too precious to have to stick to the pan.

2.    Place in the oven for 15 minutes then turn the potatoes and bake for another 10-15 minutes until the corners and skin of the potatoes. Total baking time depends on the sizes of your cut potatoes.

3.    In your small food processor (or magic bullet), blend together extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp ground pepper, garlic cloves, and 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice. Add more salt and pepper to suit your taste I personally just add more pepper, because I like the flavor of the garlic and lemon to take center stage). Pulse until the dressing is smooth and uniform. Set aside.

4.    As soon as you take the dish out of the oven, toss in the thyme sprigs and dressing with the potatoes in the dish. Let it cool down before serving with the beets and greens.

Posted in dessert, dining, healthier choices, original Gourmeted recipe, quick & easy, salads, vegetables11 Comments

The BRT Salad

By BRT Salad I mean: Beet-Rhubarb-Tuna Salad. Yes, you read that right.

[Note: Much thanks to Emily, who not only believed this seemingly-ghastly combo, but also reminded me to post about it! :)]

Before you think I’m completely off my rocker (well, I am but that’s beside the point) and unsubscribe or close your browser window or listen to your brain’s warning: Abort! Abort! Hear me out. It might sound completely ridiculous but not only is it completely doable–it’s surprisingly good.

It might not look much, either (unless you’re like me who likes this kind of pink not only on her hair but with her food as well):

Beet Rhubarb Tuna Salad

Reserve your judgments for now as this could be your unexpected love affair this summer. Truly. What an amazing burst of flavors and textures. So fresh and juicy! I finished two…TWO big bowls of this right after I took this photo.

How in the world did I come about this unlikely flavor combination? Well, back in the Philippines, we eat a chicken macaroni salad that has chicken shreds and pineapple tidbits in a mayo base. It’s the usual fare in our family events. In Hawaii, you’ll find something similar as a side dish in their plate lunch. You might be thinking: ‘Well, that still doesn’t mention any of the BRT ingredients, Joy…” Yes, but the taste combination was what I was after. This recipe was my very first rhubarb cooking experience and from which I realized that when cooked in sweet syrup, it tastes like canned pineapple. So there’s my first substitution: rhubarb for pineapple. Second, the tuna instead of chicken.

The beets?


Well, they’re the real variables here. I happen to have a bunch of beets that needed to be eaten. I also added celery, which I’ve always found to be very good with tuna, and carrots for crunch and a variation in sweetness on top of the rhubarb and beets.

Celery and Carrots

It really almost tastes like the chicken macaroni salad with strawberry jell-O, except that instead of jell-O, you have beets that taste like corn.

I’m sure I’ve confused you by now! However, if I still have your attention and you’re willing to indulge me by being adventurous and trying this recipe, please do. I’ll be a very happy experimenter, and hopefully, you’ll be a happy and fulfilled tester. I made the ‘mistake’ of mixing the beets with the mayo-ed mixture. For your and your family/friends’ sakes, just top your salad with the beet cubes if you prefer not to have an electrifying pink salad. I like it personally, but it’s all up to you.

Do you dare take the BRT challenge? ;-) Don’t worry, I’ve eaten this many times and it’s been served to very satisfied ‘customers’ (a.k.a. family and friends) the past two weeks! C’mon, it’s not like I’m telling you to try offal

Here’s the recipe:

The BRT (Beet-Rhubarb-Tuna) SaladDownload the print-ready PDF recipe


  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup white or brown sugar (I’ve tried both)
  • 1 stalk rhubarb, chopped
  • 1 170-gram can of tuna chunks or flakes
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (I used homemade)
  • 3 medium sized beets, boiled, peeled, cut in  1/2″-3/4″ cubes
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • lettuce, washed and cut or ripped by hand
  • salt and fresh ground pepper to taste


1. Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan on medium heat. Wait for the sugar to completely dissolve before adding the chopped rhubarb. Once it starts boiling again, time for 1.5 minutes and take off the heat to cool.

2. Quickly drain the now-mushy rhubarb (keep the syrup to use for sauce or meat marinade) and place in a medium size bowl. Add mayonnaise, tuna, celery and fresh ground pepper (I use a lot). Mix them together first and add salt to sut your taste. You can either add the beets now or just top your salad with it to avoid having a bright pink salad.

3. Serve on a bed of lettuce or on its own. Enjoy the lovely seasonal flavors!

Posted in appetizer, experiments, healthier choices, original Gourmeted recipe, salads, seafood, snacks, vegetables3 Comments

Valentine’s Recap

I’ve never had a Valentine’s day Cook-In before, but rest assured this will not be the last. Dinner was wonderful. And instead of roses, Dan gave me lilies which I adore.

Valentine's Day dinner of salad with gorgonzola vinaigrette, seared scallops, grilled rib eye steak, linguine with tomato basil sauce, wine

Recipes are coming soon, including chocolate dipped strawberry marshmallow cones and boiled beef soup (a Filipino dish). I tried to recreate my childhood favorite (junk) food, the mallow cones, which turned out into a whole different food project. I’ll tell you more about that this weekend. But for now, we’re off to Sedona.

Wish you all a great weekend! And you US government employees, you lucky chaps with your long weekend, enjoy! [You know who you are…you Vegas-bound peeps. :p]

Posted in appetizer, beef, pasta, salads0 Comments

Simple Meal: Spinach Salad with Orange and Avocado

We’re obviously not vegetarians. In fact, we eat vegetables mostly in the form of salads or appetizers and not like, “Oh, we’re going to have veggies tonight!” kinda thing. When we do have them, we make the best of the occasion both in flavor and in presentation. We are LOOKavores® after all: we eat with our eyes first. [Don’t bother Googling the word, I just made it up.]

These days having food magazines at home is almost like having menus from restaurants at our coffee table and ordering cooking what we want. In the February Bon Appétit issue they have a salad called Asian Spinach Salad with Orange and Avocado, which we thought looked and sounded delicious. So we tried it.

You know us by now and our penchant for substituting what we have with what’s called for in the recipe. This time, I replaced the sesame oil with Liostasi** which is a soy/olive oil mix, and for the avocado we just got what was at the store, most probably a Haas avocado.

The results?

A very light and refreshing salad that is quite filling. [I can have this for dinner on its own.] Biting into the different textures and flavors of orange, avocado, and spinach is a wonderful experience in itself. Just imagine how good the oil-based dressing with shallots, ginger, and rice vinegar is. It’s absolutely delicious! And the good thing: you can have it in no time.

Dan made Herb Crusted Flat Iron Steak that night and it was perfect with the salad! Add wine. Voila! Homemade dinner that’s so satisfyingly good!

Here’s the recipe for you to try at home:

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Posted in beef, healthier choices, quick & easy, salads, vegetables3 Comments

Spinach Pancetta Salad with Gorgonzola Vinaigrette

One of our favorite new places to eat, Sauce, has an awesome salad: Chopped Chicken, Pine Nuts, Cherry Tomato & Gorgonzola. It was my idea to replicate that salad and its dressing. But I also wanted to make it something of my own. I did not write down anything for this recipe, so I’m going on sheer recollection of the dish.

I give you my first attempt at this dish, that I have entitled:


Yields: 5-6 servingsDownload the PDF recipe for Spinach Pancetta Salad with Gorgonzola Vinaigrette


For the vinaigrette:

  • 4 ounces crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

For the salad:

  • 9 ounces of baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup (or 2.25 oz package) pine nuts
  • 1/4 pound thin sliced pancetta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


1.  Vinaigrette: In a food processor or blender, combine and pulse the olive oil and canola oil. Add the Gorgonzola, salt and pepper next and mix well, pausing a few times to scrape the sides. Add the lemon and lime juice, pulse. The resulting consistency is similar to that of Caesar salad dressing.

2.  Salad: Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Fry the pancetta to golden brown. Transfer the cooked pancetta to a paper towel-lined plate and let it cool. Crumble when cooled.

3.  Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread pie nuts over a cookie sheet evenly and place in the oven to toast it for about 5-8 minutes. Keep a vigilant eye on the nuts. When you can smell them outside the oven, take them out and allow them to cool by placing the cookie sheet on a cooling rack.

4.  In a large serving bowl, pour the vinaigrette. Add the spinach, crumbled pancetta and pine nuts and toss together using salad forks or tongs. Make sure to reach from the bottom. Serve immediately.

This recipe, although nothing was written, was a massive success. Even the guest we thought would not touch it finished her serving and gave it a rave review. I am not sure I would change much about the recipe, but one thing is for sure, we will be serving it often. I hope it brings as much enjoyment to your table as it has to ours.

Posted in Christmas, dining, experiments, fun, healthier choices, original Gourmeted recipe, salads, vegetables0 Comments