Crunchy Mandarin Orange-Chicken Salad

Crunchy Mandarin Orange-Chicken Salad

This recipe was semi-inspired by the Chinese Chicken Salad at The Cheesecake Factory. I fell in love with dish in eighth grade—it made me feel grown up and sophisticated. Twenty something years later, I still find the salad delicious. It’s sweet, savory, refreshing, and extremely crunchy. (I’m a huge sucker for iceberg lettuce.)

The History of Chinese Chicken Salad

The exact origin of “Chinese Chicken Salad” is unknown. However, legend has it that it was invented in the 1960s at Madam Wu’s in Los Angeles because Cary Grant requested it. Sunset magazine published a recipe in 1970, and Wolfgang Puck created his own version of it in the 80’s.

The salad itself is much more American than it is Chinese. In her book, The Seventh Daughter: My Culinary Journey From Beijing To San Francisco, chef Cecilia Chang says, “In China, lettuce was imported and rare and salads were things that were pickled.” Because my recipe is based on a American chains version of a very American dish, I decided to change the name to more accurately describe what it is: a crunchy salad with chicken and mandarin oranges.

The Crunch Factor

Many restaurant versions of the dish, including The Cheesecake Factory use wonton strips and crispy rice noodles. I sub in a block of broken up ramen—the cheap, dried stuff, not the fresh noodles that come refrigerated. Broken up, the crunchy, wavy noodles act as croutons. The almonds can be easily swapped for cashews or roasted peanuts.

The Chicken 

Leftover rotisserie chicken works wonderfully for this recipe, but if you have chicken breasts on hand, follow our easy guide to poaching chicken.

Mandarin Oranges

I’m a sucker for the syrupy sweetness you get from a can of mandarin oranges. But fresh mandarin oranges (aka clementines) will add the perfect pop of brightness to your salad.



YIELDS: 8 SERVINGS              PREP TIME: 0 HOURS 15 MINS             TOTAL TIME: 0 HOURS 20 MINS





  • 3 c. finely chopped romaine or iceberg lettuce
  • 2 c. shredded red cabbage
  • 2 c. shredded chicken
  • 1/2 c. jarred mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1 instant ramen packet, crushed (flavor packet discarded)
  • 1/2 c. shredded carrot
  • 1/3 c. sliced green onions
  • 1/4 c. sliced almonds


  • 3 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. minced ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 c. vegetable oil



  1. Make salad: In a large bowl, toss together lettuce, red cabbage, chicken, mandarin oranges, crushed ramen noodles, carrots, green onions, and sliced almonds.
  2. Make dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, honey, sesame oil, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic. Slowly drizzle in vegetable oil, whisking constantly until emulsified.
  3. Before serving, drizzle dressing over salad and toss to combine.



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Star Wars: Bantha Kabobs Cave Tools

Star Wars: Bantha Kabobs Cave Tools

Need a Star Wars inspired recipe to feed the whole crew? These Bacon Bantha Kabobs are loaded with fresh fruits and veggies, grilled with a touch of bacon wrapped goodness using. Oh, and bonus: this Star Wars food is paleo and clean too!

With Star Wars: The Force Awakens opening later this month, all things are Star Wars Level 10 all the time in my house.  The paleo force has grown strong with us since we got back on the wagon in late November so we’ve been cooking at home more, trying to add new recipes to our repertoire besides spaghetti squash spaghetti.  Since we don’t have Bantha meat here on Earth, we opted for bacon instead to create a Wookie style meal that everyone from kids to adults will love.

While the kids are waiting to dig in, make these …



I received a set of skewers from earlier this month to try. Immediately Xaver wanted to grill with them! We decided to go with bacon wrapped skewers. Nothing’s better on paleo than eating nitrate free uncured bacon on all the things!


The skewer set from Cave Tools comes with 5 skewers on a rack. The rack is awesome because you can cook the skewers on the grill without worrying about them sticking or the food falling off – the skewers are suspended in the air by the rack. Close the lid of the grill and the food cooks as it is surrounded by the heat of the grill and infused with delicious smoky flavor.



  • 2 Apples
  • 1 lb D’Artagnan Foods Hickory Smoked Nitrate-Free Pork Bacon
  • 2 cups Pineapple Chunks
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 Bell Pepper
  • 24 Mushrooms


Chop all of the ingredients to 1.5″ square pieces except for the bacon and mushrooms. Leave the mushrooms whole. Thread one end of the bacon onto the skewer. Then add a vegetable or fruit piece. Wrap the bacon around the vegetable or fruit, pressing the skewer through the bacon again. Repeat until the skewer is filled. Lay the skewers on the Kabob Set rack and place on a hot charcoal grill. Close the lid of the grill and cook until the bacon is crispy and the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Use the disc on the skewer to slide the vegetables, fruit, and bacon from the skewer.



  • Serving Size: 1 skewer
  • Calories: 431
  • Sugar: 16.3
  • Sodium: 19.9
  • Fat: 38.2
  • Carbohydrates: 20.2
  • Protein: 4.9
  • Cholesterol: 36.6



Everything on the skewer slides off easily by sliding the disc from the handle towards the open end of the skewer. It’s such a smart design feature! The metal at the end of the skewer is pressed so that disc cannot accidentally slide off of the skewer.

Remove kabobs from skewer



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Round Up of Star Wars Inspired Recipes for Your Event

Round Up of Star Wars Inspired Recipes for Your Event

star wars inspired recipesHear we go again!  Another Star Wars movies was recently released.  Yes Disney’s Han Solo movie is a Star Wars story, meaning it’s not part of any of the Star Wars trilogies.  Instead it’s a stand alone movie designed to enhance or explain the major characters or story lines.  In this case Han Solo’s beginings.  We all wondered about his early years before he joined up with the Rebel Alliance, didn’t we? Regardless if you had the burning desire to learn more about Han or not one thing is certain the new movie has renewed interest on all that is Star Wars.  This means more Star Wars themed parties and events which need of course Star Wars inspired recipes!

So I’ve rounded up some Star Wars inspired recipes for you to try at your next Star Wars movie night or Marathon.  (At our house we have Star Wars Marathons on rainy weekends. )

These Star Wars inspired recipes are super cute and mostly fairly easy to make.  It might just make you the super cool parent of the year when you roll them out at your kid’s Star Wars themed birthday party!

star wars inspired recipesCarbonite Jello

Ok I couldn’t resist so I posted this jello picture I found on Pinterest twice.  After  it is the Han Solo movie and the most memorable thing that ever happened to Mr. Solo, at least in my book, was when he was entombed in carbonite by none other than Darth Vader at the end of episode V The Empire Strikes Back.

I’m sure exactly which site has the recipe for this jello, but do you really need one?  All you need is a box or two of jello and a Han Solo action figure.  Place him at the bottom of the pan and follow the directions on the jello package.  Pour the jello over the man and let it gel!

Personally I’d use green jello simply because I like lime jello.  But we all know carbonite is gray and I don’t think there’s gray jello, maybe you can use blue.  Or if you’re really inspired use Knox unflavored jello, add fruit juice and a few drops of black food coloring, you could possibly end up with gray colored gelatin.  It might work.  But me I’d stick with green lime jello.

star wars inspired recipes

Star Wars Pizza

Another Star Wars inspired recipe that doesn’t really need a recipe.  The picture says it all.  Arrange toppings on a homemade or frozen pizza to make BB8, use a half a pizza crust topped with tomato slices and olives for his head.

Use your imagination and turn pizzas into the Death Star or planets!

If you want to get creative shape the dough into your favorite Star Wars character, Yoda, R2D2, C3pO, Darth Vader, Chewbaca, or whoever.  Remember shape the dough, spread with sauce, sprinkle with cheese, add toppings, and bake.

You can even use refrigerated or frozen pizza dough!



star wars inspired recipesBB8 Quesadilla

Prefer quesadillas to pizza?  Never fear here’s a recipe from Totally the Bomb for this BB8 Quesadilla using cheese and colored cream cheese.

Click here for the recipe![spacer height=”-20px”]






star wars inspired recipesStar Wars Rice Krispy Treats

I think everyone loves rice krispy treats.  They’re a great snack and they’re pretty easy to make.

Here’s the recipe from Mom Endeavors![spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]









star wars inspired recipesstar wars inspired recipesStormtrooper Cupcakes

Here’s the recipe and directions from Yummy Mummy Club! They use food writer pens to make the faces on marshmallows.

If you don’t want to make the cupcakes then just make the marshmallow pops!  It’s made the same way as the cupcake toppers using the food writer pens, just stick them on lollipop sticks instead![spacer height=”-20px”]




star wars inspired recipesPrincess Leia Oreo Truffles

Seriously yummy!

Make these Leia Truffles by The Cookie RookieClick here for the recipe![spacer height=”-20px”]






Princess Leia Cupcakes

Paintbrushes and Popsicles has an awesome recipe for Leia Cupcakes!

Click here for recipe and directions![spacer height=”-20px”]






star wars inspired recipesStar Wars Macaroons

This one’s probably the hardest to make if you’re going to make macaroons at home.  I’m not that patient!  But you can use store bought macaroons.  (I get a box of frozen ones from Sam’s Club or Costco, they’re pretty inexpensive).

If you use store bought macaroons then all you need is a steady hand.  Just pipe the colored icings on the macaroons to make R2Dc, the Death Star, or Chewbacca.


star wars inspired recipesDeath Star Watermelon

Ok this one takes skill, carving skills that is!

Find yourself a round watermelon and get out the carving knives!

This would make an awesome centerpiece for your dessert table![spacer height=”-20px”]





star wars inspired recipesStar Wars Popcorn

Two Sisters Crafting makes this yummy popcorn.  Awesome snack for that Star Wars Movie Marathon!

Click here for the recipe!



star wars inspired recipesLighsaber Pretzel Rods

No Star Wars themed party or movie night would be complete without lightsabers.

How about these Lightsaber Pretzel rods from Two Sisters Crafting?

Hey they’d make awesome party favors if wrapped in clear treat bags!

Click here for recipe!

Need some Star Wars inspired party stationary and decor?  Contact Savvy Nana Crafts, they’ll design the perfect invitations, favor tags, banners, and signs for your Star Wars themed event!


Pea, Mint & Spring Onion Soup with Parmesan Biscuits

Pea, Mint & Spring Onion Soup with Parmesan Biscuits

Prep:20 mins                 Cook:25 mins               Easy               Serves 6


The parmesan ‘tuiles’ make this soup stylish enough for entertaining – but they take just a few minutes to make



Nutrition: Per Serving

kcal 213         fat 9g          saturates 4g         carbs 20g         sugars 8g          fibre 8g          protein 15g        low in salt  0.72g



  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • knob of butter
  • ½ bunch spring onion , sliced, plus a few extra to serve
  • 1 potato , cut into small dice
  • 1l hot vegetable stock
  • 900g frozen petits pois
  • ½ small bunch mint , leaves picked, plus a few extra to serve
  • 85g parmesan (or vegetarian alternative), very finely grated




  • STEP 1

    Heat the olive oil and butter in a heavy based pan. When foaming, add the spring onions and potato. Gently fry without colouring for about 5 mins. Stir in the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 mins or until the potato is tender.

  • STEP 2

    Stir in the peas, bring to the boil again, then cook for about 3 mins until they are just done. Remove the pan from the heat, add the mint leaves and whizz in a blender or food processor until smooth.

  • STEP 3

    To make the parmesan biscuits, heat the grill to high. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment and divide the grated parmesan into 6 long strips. Grill for 1 min or until the cheese has melted and is lightly golden. While still warm and a bit flexible, release the biscuits from the baking parchment with a palette or cutlery knife, then cool until firm.

  • STEP 4

    To serve, heat the soup and divide between 6 bowls. Scatter with mint and sliced spring onions, if you like, and serve with the parmesan biscuits on the side.

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One-pan Salmon with Roast Asparagus

One-pan Salmon with Roast Asparagus

Prep: 20 mins              Cook: 50 mins                Easy                 Serves 2



For an easy side dish to complement a spring roast, just cook this recipe without the salmon


Nutrition: Per Serving

kcal 483      fat 25g       saturates 4g        carbs 34g       sugars 6g         fibre 3g        protein 33g         low in salt 0.24g



  • 400g new potato, halved if large
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 asparagus spears, trimmed and halved
  • 2 handfuls cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 salmon fillets, about 140g/5oz each
  • handful basil leaves



  • STEP 1

    Heat oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Tip the potatoes and 1 tbsp of olive oil into an ovenproof dish, then roast the potatoes for 20 mins until starting to brown. Toss the asparagus in with the potatoes, then return to the oven for 15 mins.

  • STEP 2

    Throw in the cherry tomatoes and vinegar and nestle the salmon amongst the vegetables. Drizzle with the remaining oil and return to the oven for a final 10-15 mins until the salmon is cooked. Scatter over the basil leaves and serve everything scooped straight from the dish.



One-pan Salmon with Roast Asparagus
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Feta-Brined Chicken Sandwiches

Feta-Brined Chicken Sandwiches

Chicken and whipped feta sandwiches are the ideal addition to any springtime picnic basket.


The secret to incredibly flavorful chicken cutlets is a quick marinade in feta brine in advance of grilling. Food & Wine’s Justin Chapple then whips the feta cheese with lemon juice and olive oil to use as a spread for the excellent sandwiches here.



Active: 30 mins         Total: 1 hr           Yield: 4




1/2 pound feta, crumbled, plus 3/4 cup of the brine
1 tablespoon Louisiana-style hot sauce, preferably Tabasco
Four 4-ounce chicken cutlets
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
Kosher salt
Four 6-inch ciabatta rolls, split and toasted
Arugula (not baby), sliced cucumber, red onion and seeded piquillo peppers, for serving




Step 1

In a large resealable plastic bag, mix the feta brine and hot sauce. Add the chicken cutlets, seal the bag and turn to coat. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Step 2

Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse the feta cheese and lemon juice. Slowly blend in the 1/3 cup of oil until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Step 3

Preheat a grill pan. Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry; discard the brine. Brush with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the cutlets over moderately high heat, turning once, until cooked through, about 5 minutes total.

Step 4

Spread the rolls with some of the feta. Top with the chicken, arugula, cucumber, onion and peppers and serve.



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