Sunday, June 25, 2023

Summer of Salads #5: Smoky Halloumi and Couscous Salad


Sometimes it's all about the cheese. Burrata cheese. Feta cheese. Gruyere cheese. Halloumi cheese. They are all my favorites. A salad with any of those cheeses...well, it's just an excuse to eat more cheese!

This salad was originally written to be served with quinoa, which I'm sure is just fine. However, I've had a similar salad with fried halloumi before and it was served atop veggies and pearled couscous so I've subbed pearled couscous here. I'm sure either would be delicious.

You could go wild with veggies in this salad, but Donna Hay calls for simplicity with baby spinach and tomatoes. I've had a salad like this before that was loaded down with veggies: sliced red onion, sliced peppers, zucchini, baby spinach, tomatoes, etc. The sky is the limit! Make it your own, but MAKE THIS SALAD!

Here's the thing...we inhaled this! This salad is hands down one of my favorite things to eat! Something about all the textures here are just addictive. The squidgy, squeaky fried cheese with the little balls of pearled couscous that pop in your mouth. The sweet tomatoes and the leafy greens. That smoky paprika dressing that has a zing with all the lemon. It is so insanely delicious! Can't recommend it enough!

Smoky Halloumi and Couscous Salad

Adapted from Donna Hay Website

Serves 4

 For The Salad

1 cup cooked pearled couscous*

1-1/2 cups tomatoes, chopped

1 cup baby spinach leaves

1 package Haloumi, sliced

6 sprigs thyme, finely shredded

zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon olive oil

Smoked Paprika Dressing

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
Note: Donna Hay's recipe is written as a Smoky Halloumi and Quinoa Salad. I prefer pearled couscous and I've had a similar version before with couscous so I went with that. If you'd rather make this with the quinoa, follow the link above to her complete recipe.

Cook the couscous to package directions. You will need 1 cup of cooked pearled couscous. 

To make the dressing, place the lemon juice, paprika, oil and honey in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add the tomato, spinach and couscous and toss to combine. Set aside.

Place the halloumi, thyme, lemon zest and oil in a bowl and toss to coat. Heat a non-stick frying pan over high heat. Add the haloumi and cook for 2 minutes. Turn and cook for a further 2 minutes or until golden. 

To arrange: Spoon the couscous salad down into a bowl. Top with the fried halloumi. 

Summer Salads @ I Heart Cooking Clubs

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Ina Garten's Chocolate Pecan Scones

 When King Charles was coronated back in May, the Barefoot Contessa Facebook page just blew up with these scones. Everyone was making them to celebrate the coronation. And everyone was singing their praises.

I think Ina is trying to feed all of England with these scones because her recipe says it makes 14-16 scones, but my batch made more like 22 scones. Scones for everyone! Scones for the freezer, and for the neighbors, and for all the friends!

Too many scones is a really good problem to have because these suckers are delicious, especially warm straight out of the oven with a little butter!  I mean just look at the cross section of the scone with all the pecans and chocolate studded throughout. It's almost like having a cookie, but not quite. 

We really enjoyed this recipe and I would definitely make them again, EXCEPT next time I would halve the recipe for sure. Ten scones would be plenty, unless of course you really do need to feed an army, or all of England.


Chocolate Pecan Scones

Adapted from Cook Like A Pro

by Ina Garten

Makes 14-16 large scones

3 tablespoons plus 4 cups all-purpose flour, divided

1-1/2 cups medium-diced bittersweet chocolate, such as Lindt (8 ounces)

1 cup chopped pecans

2 tablespoons sugar, plus additional for sprinkling

2 tablespoons baking powder

4 teaspoons kosher salt

3/4 pound cold unsalted butter, 1/2" diced

1 cup cold heavy cream

4 eggs, lightly beaten

1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water or cream, for egg wash

Preheat the oven to 400F. Arrange two racks evenly spaced in the oven. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, combine the 3 tablespoons flour with the chocolate and pecans and set aside. 

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the 4 cups flour, the sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter and, with the mixer on low speed, blend until the butter is the size of peas. Measure the cream in a 2 cup glass measuring cup, add the eggs, and beat until combined. With the mixer still on low, pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and combine just until blended. Add the chocolate and pecan mixture and mix just until combined. The dough will be very sticky.

Dump the dough out onto a very well-floured surface and knead it a few times to be sure the chocolate and pecans are well distributed, adding a little flour so the dough doesn't stick to the board. Flour your hands and a rolling pin and roll the dough 3/4 to 1 inch thick. You should see lumps of butter in the dough. Cut the dough with a 3 inch plain round cutter and place the scones on the prepared sheet pans. Re-roll the scraps and cut out more scones. Brush the tops with the egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, and bake for 20 minutes, switching the pans halfway through, until the tops are lightly browned and the insides are fully baked. Serve warm or a room temperature.

Finger Foods @ I Heart Cooking Clubs

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Summer of Salads #4: Dill Pickle Chicken Salad w/ Croissant Croutons

  Calling all PICKLE LOVERS... have you ever had Dill Pickle Chicken Salad?

If not, it might be something you'd love to try! This Dill Pickle Chicken Salad packs a punch in the pickle department.

One and a half cups of chopped chicken plus 2/3 cup chopped dill pickles and then another 2 tablespoons of sweet relish, which is almost a 1:1 ratio of chicken to pickles. It is a real Picklepalooza

I also love that this recipe is lightened up by using Greek yogurt instead of mayo. Although, if you so chose, feel free to sub mayo instead of Greek yogurt. Either one works very well.

This Dill Pickle Chicken Salad would be wonderful served on croissants, but I wanted to get creative with a salad so I added some sliced tomato and cucumber and dreamed up some Homemade Croissant Croutons and let me tell you...they did not disappoint!

If you're looking to change up your chicken salad recipe, give this one a go! It's a refreshing twist on the standard classic and it makes for a lovely summer meal!

Dill Pickle Chicken Salad

Recipe adapted from How Sweet Eats

Serves 4

1-1/2 cups cooked, shredded or chopped chicken

2/3 cup chopped dill pickles

1/4 cup diced red onion

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons sweet relish

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon dried chives

1/2 teaspoon dried dill

Lettuce: Spring greens, tomato slices, cucumber slices, croissant croutons (recipe below)

Place the chicken, onions, and chopped pickles in a large bowl. In another bowl whisk together the yogurt, mayo, relish, mustard, chives, dill and a big pinch of salt and pepper (I'd go easy on the salt as the pickles are already salty). Add the mixture to the chicken and pickles and toss well. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed.

Serve on salad greens, toast, croissants, crackers, in lettuce cups, etc.

Croissant Croutons

a Stirring the Pot original

1-4 croissants, chopped into 1" cubes

olive oil, to lightly coat

1-1/2 teaspoons dried dill or any other seasoning

Parmesan cheese, if desired

Turn oven to 350F. Toss chopped croissant cubes with olive oil to coat, dried dill, and Parmesan cheese if desired. Bake at 350F for 3-5 minutes, flipping for color on each side. 


Sunday, June 11, 2023

Summer of Salads #3: Arugula, Watermelon and Feta Salad


Cruising right along with the third salad of the summer is this refreshing Arugula, Watermelon and Feta Salad from Ina Garten. I've been wanting to try my hand at the watermelon and feta combination for years and I am definitely pulling up late to the game.

This salad is simple enough. Baby arugula is mixed with mint (and if your herb garden is anything like mine - you have mint in spades), then you toss in cubes of watermelon and feta and drizzle a citrus shallot vinaigrette over top. It's easy peasy and it certainly is pretty!


This salad has very high ratings on the Food Network and everyone loves the mix of sweet from the watermelon with the salty tang of the feta cheese. They say it pairs very well with the peppery arugula, the added mint, and the citrusy vinaigrette. 

I thought the salad was good and I definitely enjoyed it, but I am not completely sold on the combination of watermelon and feta cheese and I don't understand how this combination has the following that it does. For example, this recipe is rated five stars on the Food Network site and if I were rating I'd give it a solid three stars. Again, it's good and I enjoyed it, but I wouldn't give it a five star rating.

However, if the combination of watermelon and feta are your thing, then I'm guessing you'd love this recipe!  

Arugula, Watermelon and Feta Salad

Recipe adapted from Food Network

by Ina Garten

Serves 4-6


1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice 

1/4 cup minced shallots 

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 cup good olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


6 cups baby arugula, washed and spun dry

2 cups watermelon cut into 1-inch cubes

12 ounces feta cheese, 1/2" diced

1 cup (4 ounces) whole fresh mint leaves, julienned

Whisk together the orange juice, lemon juice, shallots, honey, salt and pepper. Slowly pour in the olive oil, whisking constantly, to form an emulsion. If not using within an hour, store the vinaigrette covered in the refrigerator.

Place the arugula, watermelon, feta, and mint in a large bowl. Drizzle with enough vinaigrette to coat the greens lightly and toss well. Taste for seasonings and serve immediately. 

Saturday, June 10, 2023

Summer of Salads #2: Strawberry Crunch Salad w/ Champagne Vinaigrette

  This is THE SALAD to make during STRAWBERRY season! Go buy yourself some local strawberries and get ready to delight in this fruity, creamy, crunchy delight of a summer salad!

I mean come on....this is like the perfect combo of ingredients that you never knew you craved! You get the crunch from the candied almonds and chopped pistachios and the creamy from the avocado and the goat cheese. The fruity strawberries and champagne vinaigrette bring all the freshness and help to round out this delightful salad. This just might be the top salad of the summer, folks!

I knew this salad was going to be delicious, but it exceeded my expectations with its textures and flavors. If you're looking for a salad to take to a potluck or get together this is your recipe!

Highly delicious!

Strawberry Crunch Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette

Adapted from How Sweet Eats

Serves 4


2/3 cup sliced or slivered almonds

3 tablespoons sugar

10 ounces arugula or spring greens

 8 ounces strawberries, hulled and quartered or chopped

1 avocado chopped

2 ounces crumbled goat cheese

1/3 cup roasted salt pistachios, chopped

Champagne Vinaigrette

3 tablespoons champagne vinegar

1/2 lemon, juiced

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 garlic clove, freshly grated

pinch of salt and pepper

1/2 cup olive oil 

For the Salad: Place the almonds in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Stir in the sugar and cook, stirring often, until the sugar melts and is caramely, coating all of the almonds - about 6 to 8 minutes. Don't take your eyes off of this as they can burn quickly! Transfer the almonds to a piece of parchment paper to let them cool. Break them into pieces if they are clumped.

Toss the arugula, or spring greens, with a pinch of salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add in the strawberries, avocado, goat cheese, pistachios and sugared almonds. Drizzle on the dressing and toss well. Serve immediately.

For the Vinaigrette: Combine vinegar, honey, lemon juice, Dijon, garlic salt and pepper in a large bowl and whisk together. Stream in the olive oil while constantly whisking until the dressing comes together. Store in the fridge for up to one week.