Apr 072015

When I asked my sister-in-law what I could bring to our Easter dinner, I was told all was covered off except a salad or vegetable.  With a simple main course of pineapple ham and scalloped potatoes, I decided to make a classic layered salad. With so many crunchy vegetables in it, there would be no need for another vegetable dish!  I love making (and eating!) layered salads.  For this one, I added a cream dressing with avocado added.

Classic layered Salad with Avocado cream

Classic Layered Salad with Avocado Cream

Layered Salad Variations

I have been making layered salads for years.  The beauty of a layered salad is you can add whatever you want or have on hand making each one unique.  Some popular items I DID NOT include are:

  • chopped hard boiled eggs
  • spinach
  • green onions
  • shrimp or shredded chicken
  • shredded cabbage – red or green
  • mushrooms

I have also seen Mexican and Asian versions.  The sky is the limit.

Classic Layered Salad with Avocado Cream

I started with a mixture of ripped iceberg and romaine lettuce.  I also mixed in some parsley and topped it with a light layer of slivered red onion.  Many people add a thicker layer of onion but personally, as much as I love the flavour, I find it over powering.

Classic layered Salad with Avocado cream

MIxed lettuce with parsley and topped with red onions

I followed the green layer with a layer of colourful red peppers.

Classic Layered Salad with Avocado Cream

Over the lettuce and onion, I added a colourful layer of diced red peppers.

Peas seem to be a staple in layered salads.  In fact some recipes call them “Seven-Layer Pea Salad”.  I almost always include peas.  I love the texture and freshness they provide.

Classic Layered Salad with Avocado Cream

Thawed frozen peas are classic in this type of salad.

Afer the peas, I added a layer of a combination of chopped celery and cucumber.  I put them together because I didn’t really want enough of either to make it a noticable layer.  Instead, I decoratively arranged the cucumbers along the then filled the layer with chopped veggies.

Classic Layered Salad with Avocado Cream

Pea layer was topped with cucumber and celery followed by shredded carrots.

The Avocado Cream dressing tops the layers.  It is important to smooth the dressing right out to the edges to seal the  layers underneath to keep them crisp. For this salad, I used light sour cream, mayonaise, mashed avocado with a splash of lime juice.

Classic Layered Salad with Avocado Cream

Avocado Cream dressing seals the veggies under it.

I do love cheese!  So this salad received a nice thick layer of mixed shedded cheese!

Classic Layered Salad with Avocado Cream

Cheese layer

The topping consisted of crispy crumbled bacon (second favourite after the cheese), seeded and diced fresh tomatoes and sliced green onions. 

The bowl was then tightly covered in saran wrap and refridgerated for a few hours to meld the flavours.  This also give you time to walk the dog, shower, style your hair before you leave!

TOMATOES:  some recipes make a tomato layer further down but I find it can make things soggy, even if seeded.  In fact, I added the tomatoes jsut before we left the house.

Covering and refridgerating the completed salad for a few hours
or overnight is essential to meld the flavours.

Classic Layered Salad with Avocado Cream

Toppings of Bacon, Tomato and Green Onion

So pretty!

Classic Layered Salad with Avocado Cream

Love the colours!

Classic Layered Salad with Avocado Cream

This style of salad never ceased to impress! AND you make it ahead of time.

These salads are great for picnics and potluck meals.  I also see numerous pinterest posts where they are made in mason jars.  I need to try that sometime!

Do you make Layered Salads?

What’s your favourite must-have ingredients? 

I hope you had a joyful Easter weekend
filled with family and great food!

Please be sure to leave a comment and follow me by using the buttons on the sidebar!




Classic Layered Salad with Avocado Cream
Serves 12
A delicious make ahead salad filled with crunchy vegetables and a variety of textures. The best feature of this recipe is you can adapt it to include as many of few layers as you want and vary the ingredients to your taste.
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Prep Time
40 min
Prep Time
40 min
For the Avocado Cream Dressing
  1. 2 mashed avocados
  2. 1 tablespoon of lime juice
  3. 1 cup low fat sour cream
  4. 1 cup low fat mayonaise
  5. Salt and pepper to taste
For the Salad
  1. 6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
  2. 6 cups of salad greens (iceberg or romaine or a mixture) ripped
  3. 1/2 cup of chopped parsley
  4. 2 red peppers, chopped
  5. 2 cups of rinsed frozen green peas (they will thaw in the salad)
  6. 1/2 an English Cucumber, sliced or chopped
  7. 3 celery stalks, chopped
  8. 3 carrots shredded (2-3 cups)
  9. 3 cups of shredded cheese (cheddar or your choice)
  10. 3 green onions, chopped
  11. 3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
For the Avocado Cream
  1. Mash the avocado and lime juice in a large bowl.
  2. Stir in sour cream and mayonnaise.
  3. Season with salt and pepper
  4. Set aside or refridgerate
For the Salad
  1. Cook the bacon, drain, allow to cool and crumble. Set aside.
  2. Mix lettuce with parsley.
  3. Beginning with the lettuce followed by layers of peppers, peas, cucumber, celery and carrots.
  4. Top these layers with the Avocado Cream dressing, smoothing right to the edge to seal the layers below.
  5. Add the toppings of bacon, green onions and tomatoes.
  6. Cover tightly with saran wrap and refridgerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
  1. Personally, I find a tomato layer can make it mushy so I add it just before serving as a topping.
  2. I also really love this salad with a layer of chopped hard boiled egg.
Nicer Than New http://www.nicerthannew.com/
Oct 292014

As I revealed in a recent post, I think I have the “original” crockpot from the 1970s.  In fact, it is being described as “vintage” on ebay!

Regardless, I have been using a crockpot / slow cooker for years!  So much so,  I often don’t use recipes for some of the standbys like Beef Stew.  I just buy the beef and whatever root vegetables I feel like and throw them in the pot and turn it on.

But when my  daughter  was home from university  for Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, she asked “So what’s the recipe for this?” 

It was then I realized perhaps I should write out the basics and share a few tips I have accumulated  over the many years of slow-cooking.

Easy Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Easy Slow Cooker Beef Stew


My Tips for Slow Cooker Beef Stew

To Brown or Not to Brown?

Many slow-cooker recipes for a BEEF dish tell  you to brown the meat  but I have found it is not  necessary.

Let’s face it, once meat has been simmered in a crockpot for 6-8 hours, do you really notice if it was browned or not… Not in my family.

Precook the vegetables?

Many recipes also say to precook the onions until soft and add in the root vegetables, etc. This too, I have found unnecessary for a stew. 

It is all about layering.

I put the onions and root veggies on the bottom and the meat on top.  The juices and liquids go to the bottom and the onions and veggies  come out perfectly cooled!

Broth or other Liquids?

For my simple, throw it together beef stew, I try to add very minimal liquid.  For the stew pictured above,  I added a 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes, STRAINED.  Adding too much liquid makes the gravy thin and then you feel as though you need to thicken it.  I like my beef stew hearty and robust.  In my opinion. adding more than 4-8 oz. to a pot makes the gravy runny and dilutes the flavors.

What about you? 

Do you use recipes or just throw it together?

I would love to hear your tips and success stories with slow-cooker dishes.


Easy Slow-Cooker Beef Stew
Serves 8
This is an anything goes kind of recipe, requiring NO PRE-COOKING. You can add vegetables and herbs which suit your taste. This stew makes a lot and can be frozen for later meals.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
6 hr
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
6 hr
  1. 3 lbs Stewing Beef cut in 1.5" cubes
  2. 1 medium onion, sliced
  3. 4 cloves of garlic minced
  4. 4 cups of root vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, potatoes, celeriac cut in 1 inch chunks
  5. 1 tsp each thyme, oregano, basil, salt, pepper
  6. 1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes, with most of the liquid drained.
  1. Wash the meat and dry in a paper towel.
  2. Prepare all the vegetables.
  3. Place the onions on the bottom, followed by the chopped root vegetables and garlic
  4. Place the meat on top
  5. Sprinkle the herbs and salt and pepper over the meat.
  6. Pour the tomatoes over the top.
  7. Cover the slow cooker and turn on to the low setting.
  8. Cook 6-8 hours until done.
  1. For the stew pictured, I used 3 large carrots and 3 large parsnips. I did not have any potatoes.
  2. This method also works with Pork and Lamb stews.
Nicer Than New http://www.nicerthannew.com/
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