A cold pasta salad using rotini pasta that has grapes, celery, crisp apples, smokey Gouda cheese and toasted almonds. All topped with a creamy poppy seed mayonnaise dressing for a perfect dish

Best Chicken Pasta Salad

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A cold pasta salad using rotini pasta that has grapes, celery, crisp apples, smokey Gouda cheese and toasted almonds. All topped with a creamy poppy seed mayonnaise dressing for a perfect dish

Carrie’s Chicken Pasta Salad

My husband and I love a really good pasta salad, so I tweaked and experimented and created the Best Chicken Pasta Salad, which I named after me:) 

With it’s creamy perfectly balanced flavored dressing, crisp  tart apples, smoky Gouda cheese, velvety avocado, crunchy almonds; combined with the other scrumptious ingredients, we think you will agree too that this is the Best Chicken Pasta Salad!

This will generously serve 4-6 adults with a loaf of crusty bread.

It’s a great recipe for a picnic, just be sure to keep it cold because of the mayonnaise and the chicken.

Carrie’s Chicken Pasta Salad

Salad Ingredients:

2-3 green apples, cored and cut into small bite-sized pieces; my handsome hubby prefers I peel the skin off, so that’s a personal preference too (the tart balances the other flavors and compliments the smokey cheese)

3-4 cups of cooked chicken,  A rotisserie chicken is fabulous here and what I generally use.

3/4 – 1 cup celery, chopped into small pieces

8-12 oz. Gouda cheese, cut into small pieces (the package of sliced is the usually the most cost effective, just dice it up)

2-3 avocados, diced

2 cups seedless red grapes, cut in halves (they look pretty, but can use green grapes if they are sweeter and in season)

1 cup sliced almonds, toasted* and cooled

16 oz / 1 lb. package of Rotini style pasta (corkscrew type to hold all the good dressing in and sturdy enough for the other ingredients – use a GOOD brand or it falls apart when you add in the other ingredients.  I prefer Barilla pasta)


Dressing Ingredients:

16-18 oz. light mayonnaise (2 – 2 ¼ cups), only real mayo here, please don’t use Miracle Whip.  You can use regular if you’d prefer over light

1/2 cup light sour cream (you can use regular instead of light)

1 ½ Tbl. poppy seeds

2 Tbl. honey

5 Tbl. lemon juice (bottled or fresh)

3 Tbl. seasoned rice vinegar

1/2 tsp. Montreal Steak Seasoning

1/2 – 1 tsp. roasted garlic seasoning, optional, but balances the sweet nicely – I use McCormick Grill Mates Roasted Garlic & Herb

1/2 tsp. Emerill’s original seasoning


First toast the nuts as shown below*

Cook pasta as directed on package.

When the pasta is al dente (not mushy or too soft), rinse and drain to remove the starch so it isn’t sticky and clumpy later after it sits.

While the pasta is cooking, combine the salad ingredients in a large bowl.

Combine all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.

Pour the dressing ingredients over the salad ingredients and combine gently.

Gently toss in the pasta and fold till all mixed through.

 It is best to serve this salad chilled for at least an hour. It sits well over night too.

Carrie's Chicken Pasta Salad *To toast nuts, pour them into a non-stick pan and cook over medium to high heat, stirring constantly until the nuts are a slightly browned.

It only takes a few minutes but it brings out a delicious deep flavor.


My Carrie’s BEST Chicken Pasta Salad would be perfect to take to a neighbor, friend or family member in need.  If you’d like to know more, I have this post:  What You Need To Know About Taking In A Meal They Will Want To Eat

And even more information at    How Can I Help When Someone Is Sick And Show I Care?

A cold pasta salad using rotini pasta that has grapes, celery, crisp apples, smokey Gouda cheese and toasted almonds. All topped with a creamy poppy seed mayonnaise dressing for a perfect dish

Carrie’s Chicken Pasta Salad

Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2015, 2018

Copyright and recipe by Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2013, 2018

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Raspberry Heaven

Raspberry Heaven Salad or Dessert

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Raspberry Heaven

Raspberry Heaven

My friend Natalie brought this bowl of heaven to our book club and called it a salad, but I think it could be a dessert or midnight snack.  It is absolutely amazingly light and delicious.  I am so glad she brought this to share and allowed me to bring it to you!


Raspberry Heaven


2 (3 oz each) boxes of Jello brand Tapioca pudding

1 small box Raspberry jello

3 cups water

8 oz. cool whip

12 oz. frozen raspberries or mixed berries


Combine the water both boxes of tapioca pudding and jello in a saucepan.

Raspberry Heaven

Bring this to a boil stirring constantly; boil for 1 minute.Raspberry Heaven

After the 1 minute, transfer to a bowl.Raspberry Heaven

Cover with a lid or plastic wrap, then let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.Raspberry Heaven

Just before serving, fold in the cool whip and bag of frozen berries.  (I poured the jello and tapioca mixture into a larger bowl for this step)Raspberry Heaven

Serve and enjoy!

Raspberry Heaven

Recipe from Natalie Woll, Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2015

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Refreshing Cranberry Mousse Dessert

Scrumptious Cranberry Mousse

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Refreshing Cranberry Mousse Dessert

Cranberry Mousse

This is a beautiful salad for the holidays, but perfect for anytime of the year.  Light, refreshing and can be made smooth by pureeing the ingredients or left a bit chunky – your choice.  ENJOY!


Cranberry Mousse


6 oz. package strawberry gelatin

1 cup boiling water

20 oz can crushed pineapple

14 oz. can whole-berry cranberry sauce

3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon fresh lemon rind, grated

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 cups (16 ounces) sour cream


In a large bowl, dissolve the gelatin in boiling water. Stir well for THREE minutes.cranberry mousse 1Wash the lemon with soap and water then grate the lemon rind, using care to ONLY grate the top of the top of the yellow layer and not the white pith, which will make it make the mouse bitter.cranberry mousse 2Now cut the lemon in half and squeeze out the juice by twisting a fork inside the flesh to extract all the juice possible into a cup.  Then measure out 3 Tablespoons. If necessary, add in bottled juice to make up the difference.cranberry mousse 3

Drain the pineapple well; using a spoon to press out the juice, reserving the pineapple juice and set aside.cranberry mousse 4In a mini processor puree the cranberry sauce. cranberry mousse 5To the dissolved gelatin, add in the reserved pineapple juice, 3 Tbl. lemon juice, nutmeg, drained crushed pineapple and sour cream.  cranberry mousse 6Pour into a large serving bowl or individual serving cups, the gelatin mixture and chill until set; at least 2 hours.  serves 16-20.cranberry mousse 7OPTION:  Puree the pineapple and the cranberry together for a smooth mousse.

Adapted slightly from Taste of Home

Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2014

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Salad made with Fresh Fruit

Glorious Fresh Fruit Salad

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Salad made with Fresh Fruit

Glorious Fresh Fruit Salad

Do you love the fresh fruit?  

This recipe takes the naturally sweetened fruit and sends it easing into this light and slightly tangy glaze, to skip across your taste buds, so you’ll be singing of summer, no matter what time of year it is.

It’s a great make-ahead for any gathering or family dinner.  I have the perfect recipe for you!



20 oz. can of pineapple tidbits, drained

2  1/2 cups strawberries, hulled of the tops and cut into quarters

4 kiwi, peeled and quartered

2 – 11 oz. cans of mandarin oranges, drained – optional; I show them with and without in this recipe 

1 –  1  1/2 cups black berries, optional

1  1/2 cups seedless grapes

1 – 1  1/2 cups blueberries

1/2 cup orange juice

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp. grated orange zest

1 tsp. vanilla



First grate the lemon zest.Glorious Fresh Fruit SaladPour the orange juice, lemon juice, orange zest and brown sugar into a pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.Glorious Fresh Fruit SaladTurn the heat down to a simmer and cook until the mixture is slightly thickened; which will be about 5 minutes.  Glorious Fresh Fruit SaladPour in the Vanilla.Glorious Fresh Fruit SaladSet this sauce aside to cool completely.

Now, put all of the prepared fruit into a beautiful bowl.  Pictured with the mandarin oranges.Glorious fresh fruit salad Mix the fruit together, very gently.  Pictured without the mandarin oranges, and instead with the optional blackberries to give you an idea of how it can be made this way.Glorious Fresh Fruit SaladPour the cooled sauce over the fruit.Glorious fresh fruit salad

Cover with plastic wrap or a lid and place in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours before serving.  

Stir gently just before serving to redistribute the sauce over the fruit.

Serve the same day as preparing as the fruit will tend to break down. 

Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2016

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Chopped Salad Fiesta Style

Fiesta Chopped Salad

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Chopped Salad Fiesta Style

Fiesta Chopped Salad with Homemade Dressing

This salad is sssoooo good.  You will crave it, want it, make it once a week!  It’s healthy, satisfying and so tasty.  The combination of flavors from the roasted corn are easily done in your oven to the crunch of fresh veggies.  Add the bit of sassy from the dressing which makes this an off the charts amazing salad that is great for a crowd or for individual plates. I’ll show you just how amazing and healthy this is!

Fiesta Chopped Salad


1 package Hidden Valley Fiesta Ranch dip mix

1 cup buttermilk

1 cup light or fat free sour cream

2-3 Tbl. milk

12-16 oz. frozen corn (plus 1/2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. sugar)

2-3 bunches of hearty lettuce such as romaine

2-3 tomatoes

1 can black beans

1 can pinto beans

1 red bell pepper

1 can sliced olives

8 oz. shredded cheese

1/2 – 1 whole rotisserie chicken

Avocado, chopped – optional

Tortilla chips, blue corn are great with this dish


Make the Fiesta Dressing by mixing the Fiesta Ranch dip dry packet, sour cream, buttermilk until completely combined. 

Add in milk a tablespoon at a time until the dressing has the consistency of medium thin sauce so it will pour but not too runny. 

Cover and put in the refrigerator to sit until ready to use to allow the flavors to marry.

Fiesta Chopped Salad 2Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Roast the corn by lining a jelly roll or cookie sheet with tin foil and coat with non-stick cooking spray.

Spread the corn out in a single layer. 

Sprinkle with the salt and sugar.Fiesta Chopped Salad 3Cook for 10 minutes and stir, then spread out to a single layer again. 

Continue this for a total of 3 times or until the corn is nice and lightly brown and golden colored.

When done, set aside and prepare the rest of the salad.

Rinse and drain well the pinto and black beans. 

Set aside and pat dry with paper towels.Fiesta Chopped Salad 5

Chop the lettuce and clean thoroughly in a salad spinner or using other means as needed.

Chop the tomatoes, bell pepper, olives, chicken, avocado if using.

Assemble ingredients in a large bowl with chips as a layer or at the side OR have all the ingredients for each person to assemble their own salad so they can choose their own ingredients.

 Serve with Fiesta Ranch Dressing.Fiesta Chopped Salad 6Carrie Groneman’s recipe. Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2015

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Roasted Squash Salad

Roasted Squash and Green Salad

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Roasted Squash Salad

Roasted Squash Green Salad

This recipe caught my eye and I’m telling you I just had to try it.  Result:  F.A.B.U.L.O.U.S!  My  family loves it.  It’s very unique to combine roasted squash with lettuce, but it works in all the best ways.  Besides being healthy, it’s such a great lunch or side dish.

Roasted Squash & Green Salad
 2 – 2 1/2 lbs. butternut or winter squash (approx. 8 cups), can use packaged cubed or cube yourself
1 large onion, chopped
2 Tbl. brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. Montreal Steak Seasoning
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
1 Tbl. balsamic vinegar
8 – 10 oz. fresh baby spinach
8 – 10 oz. chopped romaine lettuce
1/2 – 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 oz. sliced almonds, toasted (see below)
6-8 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
1 cup seasoned croutons
Poppy Seed Dressing, reduced fat/lite (regular is much too sweet and overpowering)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Line a jelly roll pan with tin foil and coat with non-stick spray release.
If using a whole butternut or other winter-type squash, cut, take out seeds, peel then cut into cubes.Roasted Squash Salad 1
Roasted Squash Salad 2Chop the onion.Roasted Squash Salad 3

In a small bowl combine brown sugar, salt, garlic powder, Montreal Steak Seasoning, smoked paprika and balsamic vinegar and mix well.
In a large bowl combine the chopped onion and cubed squash.  Add in the seasoning mixture and combine well.Roasted Squash Salad 4Pour squash mixture onto the prepared pan and spread to be single layer.Roasted Squash Salad 5Bake for 22-28 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender, stirring twice while cooking.  You want the squash to be tender but not mushy; a tiny bit resistant when stuck with a toothpick.Roasted Squash Salad 6

Meanwhile toast the almonds by pouring them into a dry fry pan and turn heat to medium-high.  Keep stirring until the almonds are toasted.  Allow to cool while squash is cooking.Roasted Squash Salad 7
Cool slightly.Roasted Squash Salad 8
Two ways to serve this:
Option One – Serve individually on plates

Option Two – Combine in a large bowl to serve family styleRoasted Squash Salad
On a plate or in a large bowl mix together the spinach, lettuce, cheese and squash mixture.  Add in a bit of the Poppy Seed Dressing and toss.  Top with croutons. 
Recipe from Taste of Home.  Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2014
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Click HERE for instructions on how to cook Winter Squash

Click HERE for Winter Squash Soup
DSC_1168 - squash soup

Click HERE for Streusel Topped Squash Muffins
Muffins 1

Click HERE for Caramelized Roasted Winter Squash
Squash 1


Tasty German Potato Salad

German Potato Salad

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Tasty German Potato Salad

German Potato Salad

This is an amazing  potato salad for an outing since there isn’t mayo any in it and it is best at room temperature.

The flavors blend for a wonderful taste that everyone will enjoy, and the caramelized onions take it over the top.

German Potato Salad


1 ¼ lbs. red skinned potatoes

2 ribs celery, sliced lengthwise, then into small pieces

1 small red onion, chopped small

2 green onions, sliced thin

1 Tbl. canola or olive oil, your preference (add 1-2 Tbl. more IF it is too dry)

3 Tbl, rice wine vinegar

1/8 tsp. celery salt

1/4 tsp. Montreal Steak Seasoning

1 Tbl. oil

1/4 tsp. sugar


Place potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with water.German Potato Salad 1Bring to a boil; simmer until tender enough to be able to insert a toothpick with a tiny bit of resistance.German Potato Salad 2Drain and place back in pan. Do not turn the heat back on, but the warmth still in the pan will draw out excess water from the potatoes so they are not mushy later.German Potato Salad 3

In a fry pan, heat the 1 Tbl. oil and add in the chopped onionGerman Potato Salad 4Cook for 5 minutes.

Add in the ¼ tsp. sugar and cook until the onion is tender and caramelized.German Potato Salad 5Cut the potatoes into bite sized pieces.German Potato Salad 6In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, celery, caramelized red onion and green onion.German Potato Salad 7

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, salt and Montreal steak seasoning.German Potato Salad 8


Pour the dressing over the potato mixture and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to sit for 1 hour before serving to allow potatoes to soak up the yummy dressing.

If time to serving will be longer, store in refrigerator.  Serve at room temperature.German Potato Salad 9

German Potato Salad 10

Carrie’s recipe, Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2014

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Fruited Spinach Salad

Strawberry-Orange and Spinach Salad

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Fruited Spinach Salad

Fruited Spinach Salad


Strawberry-Orange and Spinach Salad

Looking for a FABULOUS salad that’s quick, light and especially DELICIOUS?  

This is the ONE!  Just toss this salad together for a quick lunch, or as a side to make any meal special.

My homemade dressing compliments the salad perfectly; not too sweet or tangy, and it’s healthy too!

I really think you will love this one, so make it up today and see if you don’t make it on a regular rotation:)

If you are looking for a more substantial salad for a meal, you could give this Spinach Dinner Salad a try, it’s really good and filling too.

For a really unique and scrumptious twist, this Salad with Roasted Squash and Poppy Seed Dressing is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!!!

If you prefer a meal in a bowl type salad, you are going to really enjoy this Fiesta Chopped Salad with it’s south of the border flavors and hearty goodness. 

Definitely a salad for every occasion and every taste, but this Strawberry-Orange and Spinach Salad hits the spot every time.

Strawberries and Mandarin Oranges in a Spinach Salad with Homemade Dressing



1 Tbl. honey

2 Tbl. seasoned white wine vinegar

1 Tbl. juice from the mandarin oranges

1 tsp olive oil

1/4 tsp Montreal steak seasoning

Pinch of ground nutmeg, fresh is best



½ pound fresh spinach leaves, stems removed and torn into bite-size pieces

One can (10 ½ oz) mandarin oranges packed in juice, drained

1 – 2 cups fresh strawberries, halved


Combine the honey, seasoned vinegar, 1 Tbl. juice from mandarin oranges, olive oil, montreal steak seasoning and nutmeg in a small bowl; mix well.

When grating the fresh nutmeg, this is what fresh nutmeg looks like. It is a nut/seed and if you have a grater that will make a fine grate, that will work best as you want it grated very finely. The nutmeg seed like this will keep for a very, very long time so don’t be afraid to purchase it.Fresh Fruit and Spinach SaladArrange spinach in large bowl.

Top with oranges and strawberries.Fresh Fruit and Spinach SaladPour honey mixture over top and toss to coat.

Or arrange spinach and fruit on individual salad plates as shown.Fresh Fruit and Spinach Salad

 Serve Fresh!

Carrie Groneman’s recipe, Copyright Carrie Groneman, 2014, 2018

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