A Vintage Picnic & TV Appearance – Fresh Ambrosia Salad

Fresh Ambrosia Acini di Pepe Salad

by Holly on May 21, 2012

UPDATE: Here is the link to the video from my Studio 5 segment that includes the recipe for the Fresh Ambrosia Salad!

While some girls day dream about weddings, prom nights and things like that, I’ve always had this vision of going on an old-fashioned, bring your blankets and pillows, make-it-special kind of picnic. This photo shoot I was able to have with my good friend and professional photographer, Angela Lilyquist (Angela Lilyquist Photography), is the closest I’ve come so far. It was a gorgeous evening, the kids behaved (mostly) and had a great time (check out the gallery at the bottom of this post for the really fun shots Angela was able to capture!). The only step up from this picnic for me will be the one someday where I get to go really old-school and get some more blankets, pillows, tents, etc. and wear a pretty dress and sun hat. When that day comes I know I’ll want Angela there to capture the memories in action because I don’t know anyone better at that type of photography!

We decided to put this picnic together for our kids at the last minute. My three you’ll recognize as the ones in the middle – doesn’t Kayla look like she’s holding court? The other two boys are Aidan’s best friends – we call them the three musketeers – not a particularly original name, but nicer than calling them the three stooges… which, again, check that gallery at the bottom and perhaps this evening that would have been more appropriate!) 😉

I love Angela as a friend, but I have to tell you, the main reason I love her photography is because she goes out of her way to not only get great pictures of your family, but she helps create an experience that captures the memories of your kids that you really want… those moments of magic when they are being themselves and it just shines through. 

I was invited to appear for a cooking segment on KSL Studio 5 today to make an updated version of an old-fashioned recipe that would be perfect at any picnic or bbq gatherings this coming holiday weekend or throughout the summer!

The recipes is one that is rather ubiquitous in that it goes by many names and there are many arguments about what is traditional and what is not. Bottom line, I couldn’t find a definitive answer and I’m not that worried about it. Some call this Ambrosia, some will tell you it’s not. Some call it Frog Eye Salad, some call it Acini di Pepe Salad.

Since I’m partial to the name Ambrosia, that’s what we’ve got here… only modern and fresh! Really fresh. Not just a recipe that says ‘FRESH!’ and then tells you to crack open a bunch of cans of fruit. (Perhaps there should be a ‘no canned fruit was harmed in the making of this salad’ disclaimer here… but then I’d have to include a ‘only real, fresh fruit was used’ disclaimer as well. The disclaimers could just snowball from there, so let’s just leave it at when I say FRESH! I actually mean FRESH!! 

The original salad involves tiny pasta (Acini di Pepe – but you could use tiny stars, or even alphabet pasta), canned pineapple and coconut. Traditionally from several recipes I’ve seen at this point you would add canned mandarin oranges, and maraschino cherries.

For this updated version we decided to use only fresh fruits and to punch up the colors a bit and have some fun with it. We decided to ditch the canned oranges all together (but you could use fresh citrus too, I just chose to take a tropical approach.

For the updated version I’ll be showing on TV today we used pineapple, mango, bananas hit with a little fresh lime juice, flaked coconut, kiwi for some pretty color and some of the first red cherries of the season (you could easily swap out strawberries or raspberries too!). The creamy part of this salad traditionally comes from whipped cream and sometimes a pudding, but with a whole lot of sugar in it!

We wanted to make this recipe a bit more health friendly while we were at it too, so we’ve replaced all that refined sugar with more fresh fruit, greek yogurt for creaminess, and a quick vanilla bean and cinnamon pudding made from coconut milk. You could still use regular milk if you prefer, it would work the same. I just liked the idea of continuing that tropical theme throughout.

I’ve been making a slightly different version of this recipe for a couple of years now and it always gets rave reviews. I hope if you give it a try to let me know what you think!

After I’ve done the show I’ll do another post linking up to the recipe and will also be sharing the recipe for that Fresh Cherry Limeade – another family favorites of ours!

Ahhhh…. pretty, pretty picnic. That picture just makes me happy!

My sweet baby K has never looked so stinkin’ cute! She LOVED exploring at the picnic!

He’s so deceptive when he is looking calm, and nice and sweet!

Yeah. That’s Aidan for you. Bright blue socks, blowing bubbles in the cherry limeade.

Good times. Good times.  I’ll be back with more recipes after I take this show on the road, or technically, after I take the road to the show this morning….




more recipes to come





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Becky @ Project Domestication May 21, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Great job, Holly! I just watched the segment. This looks seriously yummy. I love how fresh and real you made this retro salad .

Angela May 21, 2012 at 3:02 pm

Oh Holly I just love you so much! Not just for your kind words about me and my work but for who you are! Your enthusiasm and generosity come through in everything you do. You are an amazing friend and exceptional person. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share in such a magical evening. The stars aligned to produce something truly spectacular! I know of no better way to show someone I care about them than to photograph them. I love your sweet kids so much and I am so blessed to have been able to capture their vibrant spirits in a way that made you smile. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!

Emily May 21, 2012 at 10:00 pm

LOVE this! What a fun and wonderful day! I can’t wait for the recipes. And the photography is absolutely STUNNING!

Adelina Priddis May 22, 2012 at 9:52 am

I agree the photography is stunning, and your little girl is just adorable. I have dreams of old fashioned picnics too 🙂

jyl johnson pattee May 22, 2012 at 8:37 pm

Love the pics! Such a cute idea!

Barbara @ Barbara Bakes May 23, 2012 at 11:19 am

Such fun pictures! Your kids are getting so big. You did a great job on both the remake of the salad and the segment.

Whitney May 24, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Holly! It’s Pink’s wife. I saw your segment on KSL. Way to go! I’m excited to try the recipe. Thank you for creating a healthy version! We think about you guys often and would love to catch up sometime. I’m trying to convince Pink to get back in to skydiving. It was fun to see you on TV. You are a natural. Keep the recipes coming!

IndianaAnna May 25, 2012 at 6:43 am

Just checked out the linked recipe. That looks delicious! Can’t wait to try it!

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