7-Layer Salad

This salad positively screams the 60’s.  I have a copy in my recipe box, there’s a copy in mom’s.  It was at every holiday meal and everyone would have been disappointed if it wasn’t.  You could change it up with crab or shrimp.  You could turn it into a Chef’s salad.  My favorite part was having the dressing on top when you were ready to go.

How do some recipes become such a ubiquitous part of an era?  And then, where do they go?  When was the last time you saw a 7-layer salad?  Well, I’m going to change that at our house.  Ever since I spotted the recipe cards, I’ve been possessed to make one.   I’m pretty sure it’s going to be part of my summer rotation especially adding a layer of crab.  Num!

The other thing that makes this special is the bowl.  Yes, I’m a bowlaholic, but there aren’t any meetings to help with this and I wouldn’t go if there were.  I love bowls big and small.  (Don’t even start me on my drinking glass selection.)  Back when this salad was first popular, I remember it was served in a 9 x 13 inch pan.  Awkward.  The first serving was always a mess waiting to happen.  Now I’ve found the perfect straight sided bowl making it possible to see all the layers plus have some room to mix in the dressing.

In a 9 x 13 inch baking dish or a straight sided bowl layer:

½ head iceberg lettuce, shredded

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

½ red onion, sliced and separated

½ pound ham, sliced or cubed

1 cup corn kernels

½ pound bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 to 2 cups grated cheddar cheese


1 cup mayonnaise

Juice of 1 lemon

2 teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon pepper

Combine dressing ingredients and spread on salad.  Keep chilled until ready to serve.  It will stay fairly crisp for a goodly amount of time on a buffet table.

* From the Recipe Box:

Crab or shrimp makes a good layer instead of the ham.

I like romaine and shredded cabbage as the first layer as well.

and remember:  Everything becomes funnier when you aren’t allowed to laugh.  Big kiss, Lynn 

Broccoli Salad

Bear with me, I’m on a salad kick.  I love salads.  They follow soup as my favorite thing to eat.  Eating one forkful of sameness bores me.  I want to see how many flavors I can get onto each fork and that’s what salad provides.  Plus, summer is salad season and the sun is shining here and I’m ready for picnics and parties.

When I’m standing at a buffet table, I stop and scope it out before I make any snap decisions.  I look for old favorites.  Next, I look for something unique with ingredients I like.  That’s how some of my recipes evolve.  I’ve been making this salad for 20 years.  And then, one day, I was at a bridal shower and some genius included red grape halves in their recipe.  I immediately pulled out my notebook (yes, I always carry a notebook), and wrote that incredible idea down.  I’ve not made broccoli salad since then without including grapes.  They add just the right touch of sweetness.  Yes, the craisins add sweet, but they add tart as well.  The grape addition is mellow.

I know I’m getting a little too gung ho about salads, but be open to changing your recipes.  Keep an open mind about additions or subtractions to what you’re making.  You might find just the thing to take your creation over the top.  And remember, broccoli is a super food, so eat lots!

Combine for salad:

4 to 5 cups broccoli flowerets

1 cup raisins or craisins

1 cup red grapes, halved

1 cup salted sunflower seeds or sliced almonds

10 slices bacon, fried hard and crumbled

Combine for dressing:

½ cup mayonnaise

3 to 4 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Mix and add right before serving.

* From the Recipe Box:

I double or triple the dressing amounts.  Everyone prefers the salad moist.

Craisins add a nice color contrast.

I like diced red onion in it as well, but I’m in the minority so I only occasionally add it, but you should.

Sits on a buffet a long time without getting icky.

and remember:  There is a super hero inside all of us; we just need the courage to put on the cape.  Big kiss, Lynn

Bean Salad

My mom and her sisters were big on bean salad.  Growing up in Minnesota, salads either had mayonnaise, whipping cream or vinegar in them.  This recipe from her infamous recipe box is of the vinegar variety.  She was always looking for ways to pump up the flavor volume and Feta cheese won this round for me.

So, why bean salad?  Reason #1, mom lived in constant fear of Sam and Ella and this salad could sit out safely.  Reason #2, there were so many potlucks and luncheons, I think the contributors were often hard pressed to come up with something different.  My theory is the competitive nature of the buffet table.  The only way to get rid of all that adrenaline was to bring the best dish.  Those were different time.

Bean salads came in 2 basic varieties:  beans of the legume family or from the green bean family.  Mom always used wax beans when making the second variety.  They were different, but I’ll save those for another day.  I like this type because it gave me a protein boost.  I must admit, I usually prefer plant protein to animal protein, except when it comes to cheese and then I always prefer cheese.  Those are just my taste buds not a comment on how one should eat.

3 cans beans (black, garbanzo, kidney, great northern, any kind you like), rinsed and drained

Chopped veggies:  celery, Bell peppers, onions, carrots, cucumbers, corn, tomatoes.  Your choice, but at least 1/2 cup each of several.

Firm white cheese like Mozzarella or Feta 4 to 8 ounces depending on how many veggies being used, cubed (I always use Feta.  I love the salty taste it adds)

Chopped cilantro and parsley – you can’t use too much of these

Place everything in a bowl.


Olive oil (I like mine moist so I use at least 1/2 to 1 cup)

Squeeze of lemon or a tablespoons or 2 of apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons Honey

S & P to taste

Toss dressing with salad ingredients.  Let the flavors marry for a couple of hours if you have the time.

* From the Recipe Box:

You can also go a more Mediterranean route with Feta cheese, olives, chopped dill, cucumbers, and tomatoes.

I like the vinegar bite, so that’s typically my choice.

and remember:  Some people really suck.  Avoid them.  Big kiss, Lynn


The Best Summer Salad, or Spring, or Fall, or Winter

We love this recipe.  Barbara gave it to me last century, so you know how long I’ve been making it.  She called it Chinese Chicken Salad.  I’ve been making it so long I’ve made lots and lots of changes to the original recipe.  I’ll give you the recipe I received originally and how I currently make it and we’ll discuss.

Chinese Chicken Salad

1 head lettuce cut into bite-sized pieces

3 green onions, sliced

3 tablespoons sesame seeds

2 ½ ounces rice threads

1 cup cubed chicken

Combine all ingredients except rice threads.  Rice threads need to be cooked in hot oil before adding.


1 cup vegetable oil

½ cup sugar

¼ cup white vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

¼ teaspoon pepper

½ teaspoon dried mustard

Make the dressing the night before.  Add right before serving.

* From the Recipe Box:

OK, let’s start at the beginning.  I can’t tell you the last time I bought a head of Iceberg lettuce; I usually use Romaine.  For this salad, cabbage helps maintain the crunch if it’s going to be sitting out for a while.  I usually shred it.   I use any kind of lettuce or cabbage or a combination.

I no longer use rice threads, I just use chow mien noodles.  I hated wasting all the peanut oil needed to cook the threads and the whole purpose is the crunch.  Also, I love the way black sesame seeds add a pop of color, so they are my new go-to.

Rotisserie chicken from Costco makes this easy squeezy.  What did I do before Costco?  I love you Costco!!!!  Their rotisserie chicken is the best food money you can spend, especially if you are married to someone who loves chicken skin.  Half of the chicken works perfectly for a batch of salad.

Everyone loves this.  When Chris was in high school, he always volunteered to bring this to school potlucks.  One of his teachers told me he called it the best food in the world.  Greg and I like it for dinner and eat the whole batch.

I usually have everything I need to make this salad on hand at any given time which makes it a total bonus.  I don’t even worry if the dressing doesn’t get made the night before.  It will be fine.  As you can see, it’s a very forgiving recipe and it likes you as much as you like it.

And remember:   I am fairly certain that with a cape and a nice tiara, I could save the world.  Big Kiss, Lynn