Peach & Arugula Salad with White Balsamic Vinaigrette

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The power of suggestion can be a beast, can’t it?

On the way to the grocery store, I was listening to Anne Bogel’s What Should I Read Next? podcast. And in an ad, she mentioned a recipe for arugula salad with peaches, goat cheese, and almonds. Once I got into Publix, I couldn’t stop thinking about an arugula salad with peaches. I love both of those ingredients a lot, and it sounded so good.

I’m not a huge fan of goat cheese, though, but feta – I could eat feta on everything. And adding a crunchy bagel chip (I got for dirt cheap with a sale plus coupon) for a “crouton” and an amazing vinaigrette due to some locally made white balsamic vinegar? Mr. V and I ate all of ours plus any the kids didn’t eat.

(Which, if you know my kids, was most of theirs. Surprisingly, David and Libbie did actually try arugula and at least ate peaches and the bagel chips.)

As with most salads, I recommend throwing in whatever quantity of ingredients looks good to you. This recipe is an approximation of what I used, but make it to your tastes. And then enjoy the applause of those around you, because SO YUMMY.

(Want to have peaches for dessert, too? Try Peach Pie Coffee Cake with Maple Buttercream or Fresh Peach Cake!)

Peach & Arugula Salad with White Balsamic Vinaigrette

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: one entree-sized portion or four side salads

Peach & Arugula Salad with White Balsamic Vinaigrette

Peppery arugula, tangy feta, sweet peaches, crunchy almonds, and a balanced vinaigrette come together for a delicious summer salad.


  • half of a 5-ounce clamshell of arugula
  • one peach, thinly sliced
  • 2 T crumbled feta cheese
  • a handful of whole almonds, roughly chopped, or sliced almonds
  • 3 to 4 bagel chips, roughly chopped (optional)
  • Vinaigrette
  • 3 T white balsamic vinegar, preferably peach-flavored
  • 3 T salad oil of choice (I used a cold-pressed combination oil from ALDI but olive oil would work, too)
  • 1/2 tsp. dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper, to taste


In a bowl or plate, layer arugula, peaches, feta cheese, almonds, and bagel chip crumbles.

Whisk all ingredients for vinaigrette together until uniform.

Drizzle vinaigrette over salad right before serving.

What is your favorite summer salad? We’re trying to introduce our kids to having a salad or cold vegetable course before our dinner, and I’d love your suggestions!

Roasted Salmon with Creamy Dijon-Shallot Sauce

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Salmon with Dijon-Shallot Sauce

Let’s be honest: despite the shelves of cookbooks, I get nearly all my recipes from blogs. A couple of weeks ago I made a menu plan, went to the store, and came back and cooked those meals I had written down. But when I got to this one I absolutely could NOT find the recipe!

I searched my computer histories to no avail. I checked a couple cookbooks I knew I had referenced in the last week. Nada. Well, I decided, I would just have to improvise.

And this sauce was so dang delicious! I am glad I didn’t give up on it. I knew the recipe I’d seen had shallots (because I bought one), Dijon mustard, and sour cream. I went from there. I ended up eating the sauce on the salmon, asparagus, AND the rice.

Roasted Salmon with Creamy Dijon Shallot Sauce

Yield: 4 servings, with extra sauce for vegetables or rice

You can cook the salmon any way you like, but I prefer roasting in the oven to pan-frying. I feel like it's easier to catch it before it overcooks.


  • 4 salmon fillets
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 large or 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. dried dill
  • about 2/3 c. sour cream


Preheat oven to 400F. Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper. If you want to roast asparagus or green beans along with the salmon, toss them in olive oil, salt, and pepper as well. Lay on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Bake 10-13 minutes, until salmon flakes easily. (Time will depend on the thickness of your fillets. May take longer.)

Meanwhile, heat 1 T olive oil over medium heat in a small skillet. Add minced shallot and cook until very soft. Turn heat to low and stir in mustard and lemon juice.

Remove from heat and gently stir in sour cream and dill. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Plate salmon and drizzle/pour/dollop sauce over it to serve (or serve on the side, if your husband is nuts and doesn't like sour cream, like someone I know).

What’s your favorite way to have salmon? My daughter LOVES salmon, so I try to cook it once a week.

It’s Freezer Cooking Time in Tennessee

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stocking the freezer

We are nearing the end of our school year here in Chattanooga. I’m sure public school lets out sooner, but the private school where we live ends May 31.

That makes me very, very excited because it means Mr. V is home! All the time! So we can each spend some one-on-one time with the kids, have family outings, take trips. But it also means: THE DINING HALL IS CLOSED.

Which, really, is OK with me right now. I look forward to cooking meals and not having to drag the baby to the dining hall in the sling and dropping food on him while I try to eat. But it sure is convenient not to have to cook or clean up.

So right now I’m using minutes here and there to throw some meals together for the freezer. As you can tell, our freezer is not very big so I can only do so much at one time. But every bit helps for the future.

Here’s what I’ve made this time around:

All of these either go in the slow cooker or the grill, which is great for the summer. (The pancakes can go in the microwave or toaster.)


I also made this lovely Roasted Red Pepper Butter Sauce! I froze the extra sauce and will use it to drizzle over vegetables or fish sometime later in the summer.

Roasted Red Pepper Butter Sauce

Yield: 2 cups

Roasted Red Pepper Butter Sauce

Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers.

I used about 1 1/4 cups of this for 1/2 a pound of pasta. The authors also suggest drizzling over fish, vegetables, or polenta.


  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, left whole, or 1 T minced
  • 12 oz. bottle roasted red peppers
  • 1/2 c. butter, room temperature
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt


In a small saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, until garlic is golden.

In a food processor or blender, mix red peppers, butter, lemon juice, and salt until smooth. Stream in oil/garlic and continue to blend until uniform.


Here are some other favorites for freezing:

What’s your favorite recipe for freezing? Do you do a lot of make-ahead meals?

Dried Cherry Biscuits and Vanilla Lemon Curd: Secret Recipe Club

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Welcome to another installment of the Secret Recipe Club! My assigned blog for this month was Culinary Adventures with Camilla. I really wish Camilla had about About Me page (hint, hint!), because from what she cooks I think she must be a fascinating person!

Girl seems to have limitless energy and creativity in the kitchen. Butternut squash bread? Quails in almond sauce? Apricot soup? Camilla has made them all and lived to tell the tale. I take it her kids are willing to eat a little more adventurously than mine.

Being not quite that brave, I chose a cherry biscuit recipe that I thought my family would devour. I love biscuits in any shape or form. I’ve always wanted to make lemon curd, too, and that is what Camilla recommended to go along with the biscuits.

Because I didn’t have any ginger syrup or any idea where to find some, I made a vanilla-lemon curd using plain old vanilla syrup like you find in the coffee aisle. I’m not a huge ginger fan, anyway.

I found that: (a) if you use raw (turbinado) sugar in your lemon curd, it’s going to be brown, not yellow; and (b) it’s really hard not to let the eggs scramble. I had my stovetop on the lowest setting and I STILL had to pick out a few strands of scrambled egg. I was going to strain it, but then I would have lost all my lemon zest.

[Camilla’s lemon curd is yellow even though she said she used raw sugar. Maybe there is a lighter color of raw sugar I don’t know about. You can substitute plain old white sugar, too, and I’m sure it will be fine.]

All in all, I think the dish turned out lovely. The biscuits are less fluffy than a normal cut-in-the-butter one, but they’re easier! And I adore the super-tart lemon curd. It has the slightest hint of vanilla. If you wanted to up the vanilla factor, you could add in some good vanilla extract or the inside of a vanilla bean or more vanilla syrup.

Dried Cherry Biscuits

Yield: about 16 small triangle biscuits


  • 4 c. white whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 c. packed brown sugar
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 c. butter, melted
  • 1/2 c. warm water
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. dried tart cherries


Preheat oven to 425F.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar.

Make a well in the center. Add eggs, melted butter (cooled), warm water, and vanilla.

Stir together to combine. Knead with hands until uniform (there may still be some flour in the bottom of bowl).

Work in the dried cherries with your hands.

On a cutting board, press the dough into a 9 to 10 inch circle.

Cut into small wedges. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 425 for 18-20 minutes, until brown. (You may brush them with egg wash or melted butter before baking to enhance color.)

Vanilla Lemon Curd

Vanilla Lemon Curd


  • 3 small or 2 large lemons
  • 1/3 c. turbinado sugar (can sub white)
  • 4 T butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla syrup
  • 4 egg yolks


Zest the lemons, then juice over a fine-mesh strainer to get rid of any pulp. (I had about 1/2 c. lemon juice and 1/3 c. zest.)

In a small saucepan, combine lemon juice, zest, sugar, butter, and vanilla syrup. Bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks. Stream some of the boiling liquid into the eggs, whisking rapidly, to temper the eggs. Turn your stovetop down to low to medium-low, making sure liquid is no longer boiling. Add eggs/liquid back into it, whisking continuously. Continue to whisk until mixture is slightly thickened, never letting boil.

Pour into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap onto the curd so a skin won't form. Cool completely. Use as you would jam or jelly. Keep refrigerated.

Secret Recipe Club: Homemade Pizza Sauce

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pizza sauce

Welcome to another installment of the Secret Recipe Club! My assigned blog for this month was The Pajama Chef. I was REALLY excited, because I have seen many recipes from Sarah’s blog during my run with the SRC.

As always, there were tons of recipes to choose from on The Pajama Chef. (P.S. Sarah is studying to be a librarian. You know how I feel about books, right?) I finally decided on homemade pizza sauce.

The sauce jumped out at me because it originated at Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures and Lynn is a good blogging buddy of mine. She had never led me astray, and this was no different!

We love homemade pizza around here, and having a great homemade sauce is the icing on the cake! This sauce is nice and tangy from the vinegar, and I love all the herbs. Mine sat for about 5 days before I used it, which really allowed for it to marinate. Perfect!

I didn’t make Sarah’s cornmeal crust … mostly because I didn’t have any cornmeal. I fell back on my favorite Pioneer Woman perfect crust. But I did try one deep-dish style according to Sarah’s instructions. YUM!

Homemade Pizza Sauce


  • 28 oz. tomato puree
  • 1 1/2 c. water
  • 1 T dried parsley
  • 2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 T garlic powder
  • 1/4 c. red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tsp. salt


Combine all ingredients except salt in a large mixing bowl. Add 1 teaspoon salt and taste. If it needs more, add about 1/2 a teaspoon. (I used the whole 1 1/2 teaspoons. I like salt, what can I say?)

Use on homemade pizza immediately, or refrigerate up to a week. Freeze any extra in a ziploc bag for later use.

David’s reaction to the delicious sauce on this pizza? MMMMMM.

David likes pizza

Added to the Pizza Blog Hop.

Thanksgiving Recipes: Cranberry Chutney and Cherry Cheesecake Pie

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I shared these recipes on Vanderbilt Wife … three years ago! They are still two of my favorite holiday recipes and make an appearance pretty much every Thanksgiving and Christmas. The cranberry chutney makes canned, jellied sauce seem laughable and can be cooling in the fridge in 15 minutes. The lattice crust on this pie seems fancy but is simple; and because it is served cold, you can make the pie a day or two ahead and have extra time – and oven space – for your holiday feasts!

From our kitchen to yours, enjoy.


Cranberry, Cherry, and Walnut Chutney

Yield: about 1 quart cranberry sauce

From Cooking Light, November 2005


  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 c. water
  • 1/2 c. port, sweet red wine, or 100% grape juice
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/2 c. dried tart cherries
  • 1 pkg. fresh cranberries
  • 2/3 c. chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1/2 tsp. grated orange rind
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract
  • orange rind strips, optional


Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Add cherries and cook 1 minute. Stir in cranberries; Return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, until all cranberries pop.

Remove from heat. Stir in walnuts, rind, and extract. Garnish with orange rind strips if desired. Cover and chill.

[Combine leftovers with a can of mandarin oranges and pour over raw chicken, then bake in the crockpot on low 6-8 hours for an amazing dinner!]


Cherry Cheesecake Pie

Slightly adapted from Woman's Day Magazine


  • 1 box refrigerated pie crusts (2 crusts) (or homemade)
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 T cornstarch
  • 2 (8 oz.) bricks cream cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 can cherry pie filling
  • 1 egg white, beaten


Heat oven to 350.

Fit 1 crust in a 9-inch pie plate. Cut other crust into 1-inch strips.

Mix sugar and cornstarch in a medium bowl. Add cream cheese; beat with mixer until smooth. On low speed, beat in egg and extract.

Spread batter evenly in crust; spoon pie filling on top.

Brush crust strips with egg white. Place strips over top in lattice pattern.

Bake 50-60 minutes, until crust is golden brown.

Linking up with:
Sweet Tooth Friday
Mouthwatering Monday
Tasty Tuesday
Ingredient Spotlight: Cream Cheese and Fruit