Yep, I'm FINALLY back with new recipes I've tried--all in the past week, too. Since I last posted, "Menu Monday," I have tried lots more and even took pictures of some (especially the desserts like the caramel cake I made for my birthday and the beach cookies I made for a wedding), but we have been busy as bees in springtime with my sister-in-law's wedding, other social engagements, traveling, working, keeping house, and keeping up with Hobie. *lol*

But, with the warmer weather, I have been revitalized regarding how I feel about food. I am so, so, sooo excited that fresh produce is becoming more and more readily available. So far we have been to the Farmers Market in Bentonville twice since they opened for the season; we would have been more, but it seems like we are always out-of-town on the weekends. :) The first time we went we just got lettuce and radishes as the pickings were poor, but this time around there were so many more veggies to buy! Better than that, I am looking forward to strawberries, blueberries, watermelons, and peaches. We want to go blueberry picking very badly because Zach likes berries all shapes, sizes, and forms, and I loved this homemade blueberry ice cream we had last summer. Personally I don't like blueberries unless they're in something (muffins, pie, cobbler, ice cream, etc.), so I have many baking plans in the works. *tehe*

Lately, I have been in a funk regarding meals. I felt like we were repeating the same foods over and over, and only doing slight variations on recipes. We probably were since we were waiting on seasonal spring/summer produce, and now it's here! I told Zach all were were doing this summer is eating fresh fruits and veggies and salads, salads, salads!

To the recipes:

This recipe is adapted from the current issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine. I know it sounds weird and looks weird, but it tastes wonderful! I think it is because cucumber has a slight melon undertone, so it works with the pineapple. We still have some in our fridge, but the cucumber starts to look soggy after a few days, so I took a picture of the magazine.

1/2 cored pineapple
1 small cucumber
dried basil OR 1/2 cup basil leaves
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
ground pepper

-Cut the pineapple into 1/3-in.-thick half- or quarter-moons.
-If possible, heat grill to high and grill until grill marks appear, about two minutes per side. If you don't have access to a grill, heat a little extra olive oil in a skillet, add your pineapple, and cook until each side is slightly browned. Let cool.
-Halve cucumber lengthwise and thinly slice. Toss pineapple with cucumber, basil, olive oil, salt, and a sprinkle of black pepper. (I used dried basil this time and generously sprinkled it over the salad. I guess I used about 1/2 teaspoon. *lol*)

[5-6 servings]

I promise: you MUST try this recipe. :)

Well, we ate our this second salad so fast, I don't have a picture, but I will share the recipe.
1 lb. spinach leaves (or lettuce of your choice)
1 pint fresh strawberries
2/3 purple onion

-Rinse the spinach and remove stems. Tear the spinach into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl. Slice and hull the strawberries. Add berries to the spinach. Slice onion and add to the salad.

2/3 c. white vinegar or apple cider vinegar (I used 1/3 c. of each.)
1-1/2 c. sugar
2 c. oil (I used vegetable/canola oils because my olive oil was running low. :( )
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. mustard
3 Tbsp. minced onion

-Combine the vinegar, sugar, and oil in a saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves (about three minutes). Pour the sugar mixture into a blender and add the remaining ingredients. Blend well. Cool and pour over the salad.

Rather than tossing the entire salad with the dressing, we made individual salads and added how much dressing we wanted. It makes an entire pasta jar full, so you can use it for future salads. :) Just store the dressing in a container in the fridge; I used an old jar, so I could shake the mixture before using (as the oil separates from the rest) and then pour it into a cup with a spout for drizzling. You can also add some poppy seeds to the dressing before you blend, and we topped our salads with slivered almonds, croutons, and a little shredded mozzarella. It was a wonderful mixture of flavors and textures!

[5-6 servings for the salad; infinite for the dressing]

Last, but not least:
6 medium potatoes (We bought some small red ones at the Farmers Market, and I just used the whole quart-sized container.)
1/4 tsp. salt
1-1/4 c. mayonnaise with pepper
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1/3 c. onion, chopped (preferably purple onion--I could eat it like an apple!)
1/4 c. sweet pickle relish
1/4 c. sweet gherkins, chopped
6 hard-cooked eggs, coarsely chopped (can omit)

-Bring potatoes to a boil in enough water to cover them and 1/4 tsp. salt. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Drain well; cool slightly. Cube potatoes. (I leave the peeling on.)
-In a large bowl, combine mayo, mustard, and 1/2 tsp. salt.
-Stir in the celery, onion, relish, and pickle. Add the potatoes and eggs. Toss lightly to coat. Cover and chill for at least six hours.

[6-8 servings]

You can also sprinkle some paprika on top, but I figure it will get all mixed into the salad if you do that in the large bowl...and I'm too lazy to do it for individual servings. *haha* This potato salad was sooo tasty, and it is very much like the potato salad I grew up having. I don't like mayo-only potato salad: I MUST have mustard because it gives it the right amount of tang. I thought about making a warm German potato salad--I used to have a recipe I loved--but I decided it was safer to go with the traditional. Everyone loved it at our Memorial Day celebration!

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