When in Mexico…

So I got to accompany my sweet and fun sister to Mexico last weekend for the wedding of some dear friends. Mexico in February is the place to be! It was absolutely beautiful! It was such a treat to jet … Continue reading

Maple Vinaigrette

OK – Here is the recipe for my maple vinaigrette.  This recipe is SO simple (and delicious).  I use it in several different applications.  The easiest way to use this dressing is, as a dressing!  The cool thing about this recipe is that it is great for a winter or a spring salad.

For a winter salad, slice some pears, add some craisins, crumbled blue cheese and cinnamon spiced pecans to assorted salad greens.

For a lighter, spring version, sliced strawberries, fresh blackberries, candied walnuts and crumbled feta added to baby spinach and tender leaf lettuce make a perfect sweet and crunchy salad.

I also like to use this dressing to make a veggie side dish.  Here’s how… Toss together a bag of baby spinach, some toasted, slivered almonds, and a handful of crumbled, cooked bacon.  Heat the maple vinaigrette in a saucepan until it is hot, but not boiling.

Pour the hot dressing slowly over the spinach and other ingredients, tossing and lightly coating them as you go.  (Don’t over-dress it)  The spinach will heat up and start to wilt creating a warm spinach side dish to go with any main entrée you are making!

Maple Vinaigrette

  • 1 Cup dark balsamic vinegar
  • ½ Cup pure maple syrup
  • ½ Cup water
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper

Simple Directions:

  1. Whisk all ingredients together well
  2. Store in frig.  Bring to room temp before using and whisk again to blend

Lazy Weekend

What a lazy weekend.  It was rainy and cold all weekend.  (Yuck!) I did my best to stay inside and dry.  I spent lots of time curled up the couch with my favorite furry friends.

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But to alleviate the boredom and in an effort to salvage some of my time off I indulged in some of my favorite local Waco restaurants.  I think it is really important (and fun) to support my local community.  There are a variety of local restaurants that offer types of food I don’t always get the chance to enjoy.  As you will figure out, Mexican food is my favorite non-bakery café food!

Saturday morning started off with a trip to Leal’s.  A family-run taqueria in Hewitt.  They have the best tortillas.  Their salsa verde is spicy and smoky and really delicious on a giant breakfast taco.  It warms you up from the inside out. Saturday night was a football game at Rosatti’s pizza.  It is a Chicago style pizza joint that specializes in homemade dough and deep dish pizzas.  I shared a pepperoni and sausage pizza with friends and added lots of spicy jalapenos to the top of the crispy double dough crust.  After church on Sunday, I got treated to Lolita’s.  Yes – another family-run taqueria.  They use a Monterrey jack cheese that makes all the difference.  They freshly shred huge blocks of it and generously melt it all over their flavorful taco fillings.  I love their crispy bacon.  Their salsa is served warm and is so delicious made into queso with the same Monterrey jack cheese.   Sunday night was the ultimate indulgence at Ninfas.  A bowl of hot chicken soup and a fresh green salad alongside a fajita beef taco on a homemade flour tortilla…

Don’t you worry, tonight is grilled tuna and salad. Back to the real world.  Spin class this morning was ROUGH!  I hope all of you enjoyed your weekend.  I’ll be working on some new recipes this week as we look forward to a special Valentine’s Day Dinner here at The Olive Branch.  Make plans now to attend if you can!  We will have limited seating and a special menu.

Healthy Dressing of Summer Love

Have I told you that I love summer?!  I was able to sneak away today to our “big” grocery store.  I spent 30 minutes wandering around the produce section.  The smell of the fresh Texas peaches hung heavy right in the entrance.  Who could resist picking them up and giving them a little squeeze before dropping 2 or 3 into their basket?  (look for a fruit salsa recipe soon!)  Then came the assortment of melons and fresh berries, followed by ears of fresh, sweet corn, and tomatoes still on the vine.  Everything looked “extra.”  Extra green, extra plump, extra juicy… you get the picture!  All of this produce fanfare inspired me to create another salad.  It is so much easier to eat healthier and lighter when veggies actually look tempting!

I am creating a salad dressing that will hold up to a beautiful, grilled tuna steak.  The first time I had a grilled tuna steak I was in middle school.  It is a vivid memory because it was served to me and my sister by my grandma.  This was highly unusual.  My grandma was a good Southern woman.  Her idea of healthy was a veggie dinner… creamed corn, fried green tomatoes, fried okra and of course biscuits.  This particular summer, my sister and I were visiting her and granddaddy at a condo they rented on Lake Tahoe in the beautiful mountains.  Picture crystal clear streams and an ice cold lake, lots of tall green trees, and quaint little farmers’ market stands scattered across the town.  I’m guessing that the serene scene inspired even her to experiment with fresh, new foods.  She grilled it on a little hibachi on the tiny balcony outside of her condo.  It was delicious!

For this tuna salad, I knew the dressing flavors needed to be bold enough and bright enough to balance that delicious fish.  I am going to use bright and juicy lemons for acidity, feta cheese for richness, a medley of olives for saltiness, and a good white wine vinegar for balance.


  • Lemon-olive vinaigrette
  • ½ Cup white wine
  • ¼ Cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove fresh garlic
  • 5-6 pitted calamata olives
  • ¼ Cup olive juice or brine
  • 1 oz feta cheese
  • Fresh pepper, Pinch of salt (to taste)


  1. Toss in some dark red campari tomatoes, quartered artichoke hearts and, of course, olives and feta over a bed of baby spinach and you have a perfect background for a beautiful, healthy, grilled tuna steak.
  2. Place all ingredients into a blender and process until it is blended.  (One serving of this dressing has approximately 40 calories!)