Easy Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette.

My go-to balsamic vinaigrette recipe–quick, healthy, and easy!

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I can’t help but think about all the holidays (also: holiday food) that will be here soon, so I’m hoping this recipe will make eating salads more exciting in the meantime! Once the weather turns cold I don’t find myself craving crisp salads as much, but thankfully here in the south we’re still having highs in the 80’s, and my tomato plant is still producing lots of tomatoes, so salads are here to stay for now!

But let’s be honest…with a vinaigrette this delish we eat salads year-round.

Making a homemade vinaigrette is easy and I PROMISE it barely takes 5 minutes, but it makes a huge difference in the end result of your salad. I’m the first to admit that I don’t aaaaaaaalways make my own dressings, but I really prefer them. Not only do you have 100% control over every ingredient (goodbye crazy ingredients you can’t pronounce!), but they just have so. much. flavor!

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I like making my vinaigrettes in mason jars because I can measure straight into the jars, AND shake ’em up right in the container before serving. I also prefer using agave nectar over honey, but if you don’t have any agave nectar you can make that substitution. I also like a tart vinaigrette, but if you taste it and find it’s too tart for your liking, simply increase the olive oil by about 1/4 cup. It will dilute the balsamic vinegar for you.

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One of my favorite salad combinations? Lettuce, homegrown tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, avocado, a sprinkle of feta cheese, and this vinaigrette. Add some grilled chicken and you have yourself a complete meal!

Easy Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette.

  • 1/2 cup EVOO
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1-2 tsp agave nectar (start with 1 and add more from there if it tastes too tart)
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • sea salt and black pepper

1). Combine all ingredients in a jar (or bowl) and shake (or whisk) to combine.

Servings: about 12. Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 90 Carbs: 2g Fat: 9g Points+: 3 Recipe courtesy of Audrey’s Apron.

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Autumn Chopped Salad

I love salads that you get at restaurants; they always include a variety of ingredients, textures, and flavors. Somehow I always have a hard time mustering up the energy to create fancy salads at home. Until this salad. This salad is awesome!

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From the picture you can’t even see all the ingredients because some are tucked away, but let me tell you about everything going on here. In addition to the chopped romaine, you add a chopped apple, pear, a handful of peanuts, a sprinkle of cooked bacon or prosciutto, crumbled feta, and some dried cranberries. What makes this combination even more unique is the dressing. I had never previously combined poppy seed dressing with balsamic vinegar, and turns out it is amazing! I used Panera’s fat-free poppy seed dressing (which apparently they sell in the stores now…woot!) and loved the result. Definitely tangy from the balsamic vinegar but there’s still a hint of sweetness from the poppy seed dressing. I’ve already made this salad 3 times, each time for guests, and everyone has raved over it (even my husband!). I’m a huge fan myself!

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As always, feel free to adjust the recipe to suit your needs. The bacon is completely optional and I still thought the salad was delicious without it. If you have a peanut allergy, feel free to omit those as well. If you love fruit in salads as much as I do, though, you’ll want to make sure to include both the apple and pear. So, so good!

I am honestly considering using this recipe as our salad for Thanksgiving this year. Yes, it is THAT GOOD! And, it makes about 8 servings from the recipe, so it is perfect for feeding a crowd.

Go make this salad!

Autumn Chopped Salad

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 2-3 slices center-cut bacon
  • 1 pear, chopped
  • 1 apple, chopped
  • 1/4 cup peanuts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 3-4 tbsp Poppy Seed Salad Dressing (or more or less. I used Panera’s fat free dressing)
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (or more or less)
  1. Cook bacon according to preferred method (microwave, stove top, or oven). Allow it to cool and then chop up.
  2. Add cooled bacon, romaine lettuce, pear, apple, peanuts, dried cranberries, and feta cheese into a very large bowl, then add salad dressing and balsamic vinegar to taste. Toss well then serve immediately.

Servings: about 8. Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 75 Carbs: 11g Fat: 3g Protein: 4g Fiber: 2g WW Points+=2

Recipe adapted from: http://iowagirleats.com/2012/09/24/autumn-chopped-salad/

Crock Pot Balsamic Roast Beef

“This is the best roast beef I’ve ever had,” my husband said as he took another bite of his sandwich.

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What bigger compliment could I want?! I definitely think this roast beef stands out as being unique and slightly tangy due to the balsamic vinegar addition. I had a chuck roast sitting in the freezer for a few weeks since i only had used half for a previous meal, and I was so intrigued when I found this recipe. It took about 5 minutes to put mix everything together and the crock pot ensured the end result was tender and delicious. I used the kitchen aid mixer trick I wrote about in a previous post to shred the roast, but two forks works just as well.

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What I loved about this recipe is that it is so versatile. My husband wanted to eat it as a french dip sandwich, so I cut a roll in half (but not all the way…leaving one edge uncut helps keep the sandwich together), melted swiss cheese on top, and he dipped it into some of the leftover gravy. I chose to eat it plain on top of quinoa with some of the gravy poured over top for added flavor. Another night we had it alongside the skinny garlic mashed potatoes and I posted recently, with the gravy on top of the potatoes. All of those ways were amazing and I’m sure there are more options we haven’t explored yet! I may never make a roast beef any other way ever again!

Crock Pot Balsamic Roast Beef

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb chuck roast
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium beef broth
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • salt and pepper

1. Spray your crock pot with pam (thank you, Robyn, for that time saving tip!!). Season the roast on both sides with salt and pepper. Place the roast in the crock pot.

2. In a 2 cup measuring cup, mix the remaining ingredients together. Pour over roast. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

3. Once roast beef has cooked, remove it and shred the meat. Mix with about 1/2 cup of gravy to add flavor. Serve with leftover gravy on the side.

4. Store remaining gravy in an air tight container in the fridge for another use.

Serves: about 4. Nutritional information per serving: Calories: 256 Fat: 5g Carbs: 12g Protein: 39g Sugar: 9g

Recipe adapted from: http://addapinch.com/cooking/2012/10/25/balsamic-roast-beef-recipe/