Thursday, June 16, 2011

Food Friends for Life- Val So Cal

Much to my husband's dismay, I have been cooking a lot lately!  Having a baby that I want to eat healthy has forced me into the habit.  I've always loved cookbooks and beautiful food photography, but now I'm actually inspired to cook.  We've been eating spinach and goat cheese stuffed portabella mushrooms, shrimp pasta with pesto and tomatoes, lasagna, caprese salad, spaghetti, roasted veggies, and grilled chicken.  

My sponsor and fellow blogger Val of Val So Cal has dished up some deliciousness at her blog recently that I wanted to share with you.  I've been particularly enamored with her salads since summer has me wanting a lighter bite.  I think the avocado one is my favorite.  P.S. She takes these photos herself!

     Val says: This time of the year I try and eat salads with every meal. I love salads, especially with
     fruit. What is not to love about this one...Raspberries, Cashews, Kiwi's and a homemade
     dressing. I'm sold and I might be making this, weekly. You can also make cinnamon-
     sugar croutons and take to the next level. Enjoy!

      6 -7 cups baby spinach
      2 cups fresh raspberries
      3 kiwi's peeled and sliced
      1/2 cup red onion, diced
      a handful of cashews or toasted almonds
      1/4 teaspoon pepper
      3 tablespoons olive oil
      2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
      3 tablespoons raspberry jam

        In a jar with a tight fitted lid, combine the oil, vinegar, jam and pepper, shake well.
        In a large salad bowl, gently combine spinach, 1 cup raspberries, onions, and some of
        the cashews. Top with kiwi, berries, nuts and croutons if you made them. Drizzle with

     Avocado Feta Salsa

      1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
      2 avocados, peeled, pitted and chopped
      1/4 cup red onion, chopped
      1 garlic clove, minced
      1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
      1 tablespoon olive oil
      2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
      1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
      salt and pepper
      4 to 5 ounces crumbled feta

       1) In a bowl, gently stir in tomatoes , avocados, onion and garlic. Mix in parsley
       and oregano. Gently stir in olive oil and vinegar. Then stir in feta. Cover, and
       chill for 2 to 4 hours.

       Greek Pasta Salad

         1 package pasta - your choice
         1/4 cup olive oil
         one yellow onion
         4 garlic cloves, minced
         2 cups of mushrooms, sliced
         4 chicken breasts, cut into strips
         1 (14 oz) jar artichokes in water, chopped
         2 tablespoon oregano
         1 tablespoon basil
         1 tablespoon parsley
         1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
         1/4 cup white wine ( optional)
         3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
         the juice of one lemon
         8 oz feta cheese
         handful of cherry tomatoes
         salt and pepper

        1) Cook pasta and set aside. Meanwhile in a skillet heat olive oil on med-high heat.
        Cook chicken until cooked through and set aside. In the same skillet add onion, garlic
        saute for 5 min and then add mushrooms and cook until mushrooms have color.
        Add veggies and artichokes to the pasta.
       2) Mix white wine, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice and spices. Mix well
        and add to the pasta. Top with Feta cheese and tomatoes.

Val is a mommy to an adorable daughter and fellow coffee and Target addict.  She really stole my heart, though, when she posted this:   

         Val says:  Ok ladies, it's time to get the dust off of the blender. Grab the keys to the car and go
         to the market.....All you need to buy are 3 ingredients and you will have the best
         shake experience, ever!!!! Ha.

      1 bag of large marshmallows
      2 cups of milk
      2 cups vanilla ice cream

       Line a large cookie sheet with tin foil. Place marshmallows on cookie sheet and broil
       in oven until toasty. About 1 to 2 min. Stand by the oven. It happens fast.
       Place milk, ice cream and most of the toasted marshmallows in the blender, save a few
       for the top. Blend until smooth and serve with cute straws.

If you want to show Val some love, you can become a follower of her blog here.


  1. Those salads look SO good ! I'm a big fan of big salad meals in the summer ! That first one sounds amazing although I'd have to switch it up a bit since I'm allergic to kiwi.

    Thank you for sharing those recipes !

    Bisous :)

  2. It's 7am here, but I am ready for some SALAD for breakfast! Yummm!!!! Thanks for sharing! :-)

  3. That rasberry salad is right up my ally! And a toasted marshmellow milkshake-what!? Yuuuumm

  4. ValSoCal is one of my faves!!!

  5. Thanks for sharing this Megan! I am so excited to find her site! My tummy is seriously growling as I look at all that tasty food!

  6. LOVE Val!! I made that raspberry salad last weekend. I made enough for two, but I ate the WHOLE thing! So good...

  7. Nice, I def want to eat more salads this summer!

  8. Neat recipes!! I think the avocado salad looks really tasty. :)

  9. Bookmark, bookmark, & bookmark! Oh, WOW, these salads all sound delish!

  10. ummmm WOW!!! that salad! I almost licked the screen! and she takes some beautiful pics too!

  11. Yum! I love a good salad in the summertime. Great as a side, and the leftover is perfect for lunch the next day.

  12. Gosh those look amazing. I am a huge salad eater in summer as well. Those photos are fantastic. What a talent.

  13. Wow, everything looks amazing!! Thank you, Megan!! You are the best!

  14. yum yum and yum!! definitely will be trying those salads I am addicted to Feta!- thanks for sharing!

  15. I just LOVE Val's blog!! She has to best recipes and her photos are amazing!!!

  16. I've been cooking a lot lately too! And I'm actually enjoying it so much that I'm signing up for a few classes at Surlatable. Those salads look so yummy! BTW, if you're ever in need of delicious healthy recipes and wonderful pictures check out I've cooked a bunch of her recipes and have never been disappointed!

  17. Val SoCal is my fave recipe blog! - I make her dishes all the time and constantly go back to them again and again :)


  18. How did I miss those milkshakes??? Delish!!

  19. My stomach is grumbling so loud, it's embarrassing.

  20. LOVE her blog. The Raspberry Salad ingredients are on my shopping list right now! You've got to try her Cayenne Rubber Chicken with Avacado Salsa. Soooooo simple and tasty. It's my summer go to meal.

  21. I've been following Val's blog for awhile. Her stuff always looks AMAZING. I hate to cook but she's making me kinda think about it!!

  22. Wow, I love cooking, I love salads and I´ll definitely try these recipes! Superb!
    I´m so happy that I´ve stumbled upon your blog! I´m following you :) And I´m going to check Val´s blog immediately! Hope that you´ll find some time to check out my lifestyle blog!

    xx Ivana

  23. Ooh great post - always on the look out for new salad recipes and these are fab! Thanks hun xx

  24. You had me at milkshake! And that raspberry salad is looking pretty fantastic too.

  25. Def printing a few of these! Especially since I busted out my ice cream maker yesterday,..need to balance with some salad!

  26. Wow, these look amazing! I am definitely going to have to try the Avocado Feta Salsa, it has all of my favorites.

  27. I want to try all of these. They look so awesome. The photos are incredible. Looks like I could reach right onto the computer and take a bite!

  28. If you are ever in Atlanta, try Flip Burger (restaurant)... they make a burnt marshmallow nutella milkshake that is out of this world!!!!!!! :)

  29. What refreshing and delicious salads Val. I love the style and the uplifting feeling I get when I visit your blog. You rock :)

  30. These look so very yummy - I am a total salad junky in the summer too! Can't wait to try these {minus the chicken of course}!

  31. Wow the milkshakes look unbelievable!

  32. im not a huge salad eater, but hearing about the cinnamon sugar croutons could make a convert.

    and the toasted marshmallow shake? excuse me? delish!

    xo- lauren

  33. Made the avocado tomato salad yesterday. It was so yummy!
    I enjoy your blog, but I wish you had a home button for easy reading of new blog posts. I have to search out your new posts everytime I pursue your blog

  34. Hi Megan - I started looking at Val's blog every so often after you posted this and now it seems her site is open to invited readers only? She had a few recipes that I tried, LOVED and never printed... so I can't access them anymore. Any thoughts? Thanks!


Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, I read every one! I try to answer questions in the comment section since many readers are "no reply" and so everyone can benefit from the response- so please check back. :)

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