Mandarin Orange & Candied Pecan Salad

This is my mom’s yummy salad that is so easy to make! She made it for my sister’s wedding shower last weekend and I had to share it!

Mandarin Orange & Candied Pecan Salad

  • 2 heads Boston or Bibb lettuce
  • 22 ounce can Mandarin oranges
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus more if needed

white balsamic dressing:

  • 3/4 cups olive oil
  • 1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • pepper to taste (around 1 teaspoon for me)
  • fresh parsley, chopped
  • sugar to taste

To make the candied pecans, heat pecans and 1/4 cup sugar over medium-low heat, stirring often with a wooden spoon. When sugar has melted, add other 1/4 cup. Keep adding sugar until pecans have formed a “crust” of hardened sugar on them. Don’t walk away! Lay them on parchment paper or other nonstick surface to cool.

For the dressing, whisk all ingredients together, adding sugar to taste (if you don’t like it sweet, add a teaspoon or two; if you do, add a lot more).

Break the pecans apart once cooled.

Tear the lettuce into pieces. Drizzle with dressing and toss to coat. Top with drained oranges and candied pecans. Enjoy!


No-Mayo Costa Rican Coleslaw

So I know this recipe is not unique to Costa Rica, but it’s where we first ate coleslaw mayo-free more than 10 years ago. So I’m stickin’ to my title!

I was never a fan of regular coleslaw. Too much mayo. But this is recipe is perfect…tangy, crunchy, and you can eat as much as you want guilt-free. The fresh cilantro adds a nice flavor, but you could leave it out. Sometimes I add it, sometimes not.

I made this coleslaw today for dinner at my parent’s house tonight. Yum!

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[recipe recipe title=”Costa Rican Coleslaw” servings=5]

  • 1 bag (16 ounces) shredded coleslaw mix (green cabbage, red cabbage, carrots)
  • 1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (more if you like it extra tangy)
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • juice of half a lime
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro, optional

Mix first 5 ingredients together in a large bowl. Add a generous amount of fresh ground pepper; cover and refrigerate. Sprinkle with the chopped cilantro right before serving. Enjoy![/recipe]


Greek Layered Dip

Recipe by Amy Grossi. See my blog post about this event here.

Add your own personal touch to this recipe by making your own hummus, or try using a flavored variety instead of plain!

Greek Layered Dip

  • 4 cups hummus
  • 1 english cucumber, diced
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup pitted greek olives, chopped
  • 2/3 cup feta cheese
  • handful of fresh dill, finely chopped

Spread hummus evenly on the bottom of a shallow, wide glass dish.

Top with chopped cucumber, tomato, bell pepper, olives and crumbled feta.

Top with fresh dill.  Serve with pita chips or corn chips. Enjoy!


Mini Shrimp Tacos

Recipe by Amy Grossi. See my blog post about this event here.

The chile cream sauce and cilantro combo here is to die for.  Use Tostitos Scoops tortilla chips for best results!

Mini Shrimp Tacos

  • 1 pound small peeled and deveined shrimp (50-60ct per pound)
  • bowl-shaped corn tortilla chips, such as Tostitos Scoops
  • 2 avocadoes, diced
  • cumin
  • chili powder
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 handful of fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped

for the sauce:

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 or 3 chiles in adobo (choose your heat level)
  • juice and zest of 1 lime
  • salt & pepper to taste

In a bowl, sprinkle shrimp with chili powder, cumin, lime zest. Salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat.  Cover and set aside.

Add yogurt, adobo chiles and lime juice to a food processor or blender.  Pulse until smooth. Stir in sour cream. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Heat skillet over medium-high heat.  Add shrimp, cooking 2-3 minutes or until shrimp are opaque.

Arrange corn chips on a large serving plate.  Top each chip with a shrimp and one slice of avocado. Using a spoon or a zip top bag with a very small hole cut in it, drizzle chili cream sauce over each mini taco.  Sprinkle with cilantro and serve immediately. Enjoy!


Peach & Blue Brie Crostini

Recipe by Amy Grossi. See my blog post about this event here.

Sweet and savory, any soft ripened cheese will work.  Choose your favorite!

Peach & Blue Brie Crostini

  • French baguette
  • 2 larges peaches (or try pears!)
  • Blue Brie, Brie, or any soft ripened cheese
  • 1 or 2 large garlic cloves
  • olive oil for drizzing
  • honey

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Slice baguette on the diagonal and arrange on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil.

Bake for about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and rub each piece with a raw garlic clove while bread is still hot.

Top each piece with a slice of peach and a slice of Brie. Return the crostini to the oven for another 5 minutes.

Remove from oven and drizzle with honey. Serve immediately. Enjoy!


Bubble Toast

Bubble toast. This is the garlic bread of my childhood.

There used to be a restaurant we’d go to that served this bread, but it’s long since closed.  They called it Bubble Toast.  My mom sought to replicate it at home.

It’s so simple, yet so good.  A delicious variation on classic garlic bread!

The sour cream is unexpected, but it’s like the sauce on a pizza.  It just has to be there.

Use any cheese you like – cheddar, colby jack, even provolone.  But make sure you use a thick, crusty bread, or it will never get toasty – it’ll just be soggy.

Bubble Toast!  Yum!

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Bubble Toast

Servings vary.

  • crusty bread, such as Cuban or French
  • shredded cheese of your choice (cheddar, colby jack, etc)
  • sour cream
  • garlic powder

Cut the bread loaf in half lengthwise and spread a layer of cream cheese on it.  About as much as you’d put cream cheese on your bagel.

Sprinkle with a little garlic powder to taste.  Top with shredded cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees until the cheese is melted (about 10 minutes), then use the broil function to brown the cheese.  Dive in immediately!

Enjoy!


Hash Brown Casserole

Oohhh, hash brown casserole, how we love thee!  This is my mom’s recipe, and one of the most delicious versions I’ve ever had.  A double batch is on the table every Thanksgiving and there’s never any left (gotta start making a triple batch!).  It’s not the healthiest recipe….but it’s worth the caloric compromise!

Since most canned soup is a no-no, we had to find a certified gluten free brand for my sister. You can’t tell the difference at all.  I’ve seen a few different GF brands pop up over the years, so look in the soup aisle first, or specialty foods aisle second (in our grocery store, it’s in both places).  It might be in a can or a carton (like shelf-stable milk or boxed tomatoes).  Of course, you can just use Campbell’s soup too.  It’ll be delicious either way!

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Hash Brown Casserole

  • 1 bag (about 2 pounds) frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed slightly
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter
  • 1 pint (16 ounces) sour cream
  • 1/2 cup whipped cream cheese
  • 1 can (12-15 ounces) gluten free cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 1/2 cups (more if you like!) grated cheese – cheddar, colby jack, etc.
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and stir gently until well combined.  Grease a 2-2 1/2 quart baking dish and spoon in the mixture, smoothing over the top.   Bake for about an hour or until browned on top and bubbling on the sides.  Enjoy!