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Here are the tastingspoons players. I’m in the middle (Carolyn). Daughter Sara on the right, and daughter-in-law Karen on the left. I started the blog in 2007, as a way to share recipes with my family. Now in 2022, I’m still doing 99% of the blogging and holding out hope that these two lovely and excellent cooks will participate. They both lead very busy lives, so we’ll see.

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BOOK READING (from Carolyn):

Have only begun Geraldine Brooks’ brand new book, Horse. Oh my, is it a page turner. Loving it so far. It’s a fictional creation but based on a real racehorse owned by a black man, back in the 1850s. Technically, the story is about a painting of the horse but there are many twists and turns. If you’ve ever enjoyed Brooks’ books in the past, this one won’t disappoint.

The Book of Lost Names, by Kristin Harmel (no, not Hannah). Certainly a little-known chunk of history about a woman who becomes a master forger during WWII to help get Jewish children out of France. Not easy to read, meaning the difficulty of anyone finding the means and place to DO the forgery and right under the noses of the Nazis. Really good read.

Liane Moriarty’s first novel, Three Wishes, follows the travails of adult triplets, so different, yet similar in many ways. Two are identical, the third is not. So alike, and so not. It takes you through a series of heart-wrenching events, seemingly unrelated, but ones that could bring a family to its breaking point and test the bonds of love and strength.

Recently I’ve read both of Erin French’s books, her cookbook, The Lost Kitchen, and since then her memoir, Finding Freedom. About her life growing up (difficult) about her coming of age mostly working in the family diner, flipper burgers and fries (and learning how much she liked to cook). Now she’s a very successful restaurant entrepreneur (The Lost Kitchen is also the name of her restaurant) in the miniscule town of Freedom, Maine. She’s not a classically trained chef, but she’s terrifically creative. See her TV series on Discover+ if you subscribe.

Migrations, by Charlotte McConaghy. To say that this book stretched my comfort zone is the least of it . . .think about a time in the not very distant future, when global warming has done it’s worst and nearly all animals are extinct. No bird song in the air or fish in the sea. There’s this woman, Franny, who is on a quest to follow the very small, but last migration of arctic terns, who fly from pole to pole each year. She somehow sees this migration as a paean to her own life (of many travails). Is this book a foretelling of what our world will be like?  There’s a lot of angst going on here in this book, with her marriage, with her career, with her perpetual need for travel . . . always needing to go somewhere else other than staying at home and finding peace and happiness there. Then this final, gritty, illegal at-sea voyage trying to find the terns. Very much worth reading if you can stomach the sadness in it. Soul-searching is a common denominator here, but then aren’t a lot of books?

Jo Jo Moyes has a bunch of books to her credit. And she writes well, with riveting stories. Everything I’ve read of hers has been good. This book, The Girl You Left Behind, is so different, so intriguing, so controversial and a fascinating historical story. There are two timelines here, one during WWI, in France, when a relatively unknown painter (in the style of Matisse) paints a picture of his wife. The war intervenes for both the husband and the wife. A German Kommandant enters the picture in this tiny berg in France. Knowing her husband is in a camp, most likely a death camp, she compromises her morals to save the picture and possibly save her husband’s life. Jump to somewhat current day and the painting, which has survived all these years, and is in the hands of a young widow who has an extraordinary connection with the painting. A lawsuit ensues having to do with art stolen by the Nazis and a convoluted trail of how the painting traveled in the intervening years. Even though this was WWI, not WWII, but the law encompasses the past. It’s a heart-wrenching story. There’s a love interest too. Well worth reading. Would make a good book club read.

Memoirs are such fun, especially if you really enjoy/love the author. This was the case as I read Rachael Ray 50, an ode to  her age. So I read online, Rachael discloses more about her personal life in this book than she has done in her many other cookbooks. I really enjoyed reading the book, as she told stories about her growing up, including some of her mother’s recipes and from other family members. She and her family eat tons of pasta, so lots of the recipes I probably won’t prepare, but okay, I still enjoyed reading all the stories.

Eli Shafak’s Island of Missing Trees. This book was just a page turner. If you’ve never read anything about the conflict in Cyprus (the island) between the Turks and the Greeks, you’re in for a big history lesson here. But, the entire story centers around a fig tree. You get into the head/brain/feelings of this big fig tree which plays a very central part of the story. You’ll learn a lot about animals, insects (ants, mosquitos, butterflies) and other flora and fauna of Cyprus. I’m not a gardener at all, but I found the story just fascinating. It chronicles the love story between a young couple, human ones, not trees, one a Greek, one a Turk and their relationship (verboten back in the 70s). It goes back and forth between the 70s (when the real conflict was going on) and current day (2010ish). Loved this book from page one to the last.

If you’re a fan of Kazuo Ishiguro, you’ll find his newest book a league apart. Klara and the Sun. It takes place in the near future when we humans can go to a store and buy an AF (artificial friend). These robotic humanoid “things” have knowledge and personalities. The book follows along as a family buys Klara, an AF with perhaps a better personality than some. She has feelings, but not very many needs. The reader never really “sees” Klara except for a few descriptions of her human-type shape. You get into Klara’s brain (her PC chip) and know how she feels about her family. Her main job is to be a friend to the daughter, Josie, who has some kind of unnamed illness. The AF must spend a part of every day in the sunshine (some kind of hidden solar unit must be within Klara). There are any number of other characters in the story (mostly human, not AFs) which add dimension. I was quite mesmerized by the story and am in awe at the creativity of this author. Loved the book. May not be for everyone. I’m not a science fiction fan at all, but this was believable. And you’ll fall in love with Klara who wants so much to be wanted and loved.

Also read Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty. Ohhh my, such a good book. I couldn’t put it down. Whatever you do, do not read the ending before you start the book. I’ve never understood people who do this. The book chronicles the day a mom just ups and disappears. The grown children come back home, in panic. The dad isn’t much help, and he becomes the prime suspect of foul play. There is no body, however. The husband and wife own a tennis school (this takes place in Australia) and the children grow up surrounded by tennis everything. The children don’t necessarily get along. The parents haven’t always gotten along, either, although through many years the parents were quite besotted with each other, to the detriment of the parenting. Much travail from all the family members. But oh what a story. It had me riveted and wondering, until the last 5 pages of so when the resolution occurs. Big surprise.

Amor Towles’ new book, The Lincoln Highway: A Novel. Literally it’s a page turner. I think it’s still on the best seller list. A young man, Emmett, is released from a youth work camp (back in the day) and is returned home (by the camp warden) following the death of his father, to find that the home they’d lived in was in foreclosure. His mother abandoned them years before. His intent is to pick up his 8-year old brother and they will head off for Texas, but then he discovers two of his work-camp-mates had hidden themselves in the trunk of the warden’s car. Oh my goodness, such a tangled web. Fascinating, and Amor Towles has such a way with words. His sentences are like blooming flower vines, with metaphors in nearly every sentence. Such a gifted writer.

If you’d like a mystery read, try Dete Meserve’s The Space Between. It’s just the kind of page-turner I enjoy – a wife returns to her home after being away on business for a few days, to find her husband missing and what he’s left for her is an unexplained bank deposit of a million dollars, a loaded Glock in the nightstand, and a video security system that’s been wiped clean. Oh there are plenty of twists and turns. Couldn’t put it down.

Read Alyson Richman’s historical novel called The Velvet Hours. Most of the book takes place in Paris, with a young woman and her grandmother, a very wealthy (but aging) woman who led a life of a semi-courtesan. Or at least a kept woman. But this grandmother was very astute and found ways to invest her money, to grow her money, and to buy very expensive goods. Then WWII intervenes, and the granddaughter has to close up her grandmother’s apartment, leaving it much the way it had been throughout her grandmother’s life, to escape the Nazis. Years go by, and finally answers are sought and found. An intriguing book, based on the author’s experience with an apartment that had been locked up similarly for decades, also in Paris.

Susan Meissner is one of my favorite authors. This book, The Nature of Fragile Things tells a very unusual story. About a young Irish immigrant, desperate to find a way out of poverty, answers an ad for a mail order bride. She moves to San Francisco and becomes the bride, and mother to the man’s young child. But all is not right with the world. Sophie senses an undercurrent about her husband’s life. He’s elusive, leaves her alone for days on end, doesn’t share her bed, and she begins to feel the only reason he wanted a wife was to care for the child. Then the world turns upside down with the 1906 earthquake. And then there’s more. . . and more. . . very gripping read.

Also read Rachel Hauck’s The Writing Desk. You could call this a romance. A young professional, a writer of one successful book, has writer’s block. Then she’s asked to go to Florida to help her mother (from whom she’s mostly estranged) through chemo. She goes, hoping she can find new inspiration. Oh the various twists this book can give you. There’s a guy she meets, but she’s keeping her boyfriend at home on the string, sort of. Then there’s the desk itself, that has history. Oh my, does it have history. Really interesting story, light reading.

One of my book clubs has us reading Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library: A Novel. What a premise for a book. About a library you can whiz to in the middle of the night and discover other lives you could have lived. And experience them. To find out the answers to those questions we ask ourselves sometimes, “I wonder what would have happened if I’d . . . .” taken that other job, gone out with that guy, taken that trip. That kind of thing. You’ll find out what happened to one particular woman who thought she had nothing left to live for. Good read. Very different. A bit space-agey. Sort of time travel, but not really. But yes, maybe.

James Shipman has written an intriguing book, It Is Well: A Novel, about a man who has lost his wife. And about a woman who has lost her husband. But their relationship stalls, big time, because the guy made a promise to his wife, and he feels duty-bound to honor it. There is much angst about it all. Much wringing of hands, some tears on her part. Nice book; good read.

I wrote up a post about this book: Most Spectacular Restaurant in the World: The Twin Towers, Windows on the World, and the Rebirth of New York by Tom Roston. Go read the full write-up if you’re interested. The book is a complete history of the famous restaurant on the 107th floor of one of the Twin Towers.

Also recently finished The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish. The book goes backwards and forwards in time, from the 1600s in London with the day-to-day lives of a group of Jews (who had to be very careful about how they worshiped) to current day as an old house is discovered to hold a treasure-trove of historical papers. The story is mostly about a young woman, educated, a Jew, who is the scribe (in secret) to an aging religious leader (in a time when women would have been verboten to hold such a position). And about her own curiosity about her religion and how she eventually begins writing letters (using a male pseudonym) to various Jewish leaders abroad, questioning their religious beliefs. The book is extraordinarily long – not that that kept me from turning a single page! – and complex with the cast of characters from the 1600s and the cast in today’s world of highly competitive experts analyzing the ancient papers. Altogether riveting book. Loved it from beginning to end.

I’m forever reading historical novels. The Lost Jewels: A Novel by Kirsty Manning is a mystery of sorts, going back in time in London in the time of aristocrats and their jewels (pearls, diamonds, gems of all kinds) sometimes made it into the hands of the digger or a maid. Then to current time as a young woman tries to ferret her family history and particularly about some old-old jewelry that they can’t quite figure out – how the grandmother came to have them. Fascinating tale.

Not for the faint of heart, Boat of Stone: A Novel by Maureen Earl tells the true tale of some misplaced Jews at the tale-end of WWII who ended up on Mauritius.

Colleen Hoover has written quite a book, It Ends with Us: A Novel, with a love story being the central theme, but again, this book is not for everyone – it can be an awakening for any reader not acquainted with domestic violence and how such injury can emerge as innocent (sort of) but then becomes something else. There is graphic detail here.

Erin Bartels wrote quite a complex story in The Words between Us: A Novel. We go alongside a young girl as she goes to high school, trying (somewhat unsuccessfully) to be anonymous (because her mother and father are both in prison), taking on a fake name. She meets a guy and they share a bond of reading and some romance. Years go by and she’s now owner of a failing independent bookstore (and married, or separated) and suddenly begins receiving a used book (that she recognizes) every day from a different place in the country. A message for sure, but where will it lead? Yes, it’s a romance. Lots of introspection going on. Enjoyed it.

Nicolas Barreau’s novel Love Letters from Montmartre: A Novel  is very poignant, very sweet book. Seems like I’ve read several books lately about grieving; this one has a charming ending, but as anyone who has gone through a grave loss of someone dear knows, you can’t predict day to day, week to week. “Snap out of it,” people say, thinking they’re helping.

Another very quirky book, that happens to contain a lot of historical truth is The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World: A Novel by Harry N. Abrams. Set in Japan just after the tsunami 10 years ago when 18,000 people died. At a private park miles away, some very special people installed a phone booth, with a phone (that didn’t work) at the edge of the park, and the survivors of the tsunami began wending their way there to “talk” to their deceased loved ones. Very poignant story.

No question, the most quirky book I’ve read of late, a recommendation from my friend Karen, West with Giraffes: A Novel by Lynda Rutledge. Back in the 1930s a small group of giraffes were brought across the Atlantic from Africa to New York, destined for the then-growing San Diego Zoo. The story is of their journey across the United States in the care of two oh-so-different people, both with a mission.

Riveting story of post-WWII- Japan in Ana Johns novel, The Woman in the White Kimono: A Novel. About a young Japanese girl who falls in love with an American serviceman.

Also read Rishi Reddi’s novel, Passage West: A Novel with a very different take on the migration of Indians (East India) to the California agricultural lands east of San Diego during the 1920s and 30s.

Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, but the Mary Morris book, A Very Private Diary: A Nurse in Wartime tells the true day to day life of a young Irish girl who becomes a nurse, in England, France and Belgium in the midst of WWII and immediately after the war.

Could hardly put down Krueger’s book, This Tender Land: A Novel. Tells the harrowing story of a young boy, Odie, (and his brother Albert) who became orphans back in the 30s. At first there is a boarding school, part of an Indian (Native American) agreement, though they are not Indian. They escape, and they are “on the run.”

Just finished Kristin Hannah’s latest book, The Four Winds: A Novel. What a story. One I’ve never read about, although I certainly have heard about the “dust bowl” years when there was a steady migration of down-and-out farmers from the Midwest, to California, for what they hoped to be the American Dream. It tells the story of one particular family, the Martinellis, the grandparents, their son, his wife, and their two children.

Brit Bennett has written quite a book, The Vanishing Half: A Novel. It’s a novel, yet I’m sure there are such real-life situations. Twin girls are born to a young black woman in the South. Into a town (that probably doesn’t exist) that prides itself on being light-skinned blacks.

What a book. The Only Woman in the Room: A Novel by Marie Benedict. A novelized biography of Hedy Lamarr, the famous actress.  Very much worth reading.

Also read The Secret of the Chateau: Gripping and heartbreaking historical fiction with a mystery at its heart by Kathleen McGurl. There are two stories here. The historical part is just prior to and up to the French Revolution, and the second in current day as a group of friends purchase a crumbling chateau. Very interesting. I love historical novels like this, and this one in particular does have quite a mystery involved, too.

Also finished reading Sue Monk Kidd’s recent book, The Book of Longings: A Novel. It is a book that might challenge some Christian readers, as it tells the tale of Jesus marrying a woman named Mary. I loved the book from the first word to the last one. The book is believable to me, even though the Bible never says one way or the other that Jesus ever married. It’s been presumed he never did. But maybe he did?

Jeanine Cummins has written an eye-opener, American Dirt. A must read. Oh my goodness. I will never, ever, ever look at Mexican (and further southern) migrants, particularly those who are victims of the vicious cartels, without sympathy. It tells the story of a woman and her young son, who were lucky enough to hide when the cartel murdered every member of her family – her husband, her mother, and many others. It’s about her journey and escape to America.

Also read JoJo Moyes’ book, The Giver of Stars. Oh gosh, what a GREAT book. Alice joins the Horseback Librarians in the rural south.

Frances Liardet has written a blockbuster tale, We Must Be Brave. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Although the scene is WWII England, this book is not really about the war. It’s about the people at home, waiting it out, struggling with enough food, clothing and enough heat.

William Kent Krueger wrote Ordinary Grace. From amazon: a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God. It’s a coming of age story.

Follow the River: A Novel by James Alexander Thom. This one is also based on the history of a woman (married, pregnant) who was captured by the Shawnee, during the early settlement days east of the Ohio River, about 1755. And her eventual escape.

A Column of Fire: A Novel by Ken Follett. It takes place in the 1500s, in England, and has everything to do with the war between the Catholics and the Protestants, that raged throughout Europe during that time, culminating in the Spanish Inquisition.

My Name Is Resolute by Nancy Turner. She’s the author of another book of some renown, These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (P.S.). Resolute is what I’m discussing here. It’s fiction, but based some on a true story. Resolute, as a young girl from a privileged life on a plantation in Jamaica, was taken captive by slavers, eventually ended up in Colonial America.

The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape by James Rebanks. This is a memoir, so a true story, of a young man growing up in the Lake District of Northern England, who becomes a shepherd. Not just any-old shepherd – actually a well educated one. He knows how to weave a story.

 

Tasting Spoons

My blog's namesake - small, old and some very dented engraved silver plated tea spoons that belonged to my mother-in-law, and I use them to taste my food as I'm cooking.

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Posted in Salad Dressings, Salads, on June 22nd, 2022.

So simple and easy to make at the last minute. Love serving anything on that tomato plate I bought in Cortona, Italy about 10 years ago, which I wedged carefully into my suitcase to bring home.

A post from Carolyn.  A week or so ago I’d bought a container of burrata cheese, with no particular plans for it. As it sat in the frig for several days, I decided one day at lunchtime that I should make a salad with part of it.

Here at left is the salad I made for lunch. I knew I wouldn’t eat all of the burrata (it was 8 ounces) but it looked so pretty on the plate. For myself I added one Roma tomato, one egg, quartered, and I opened a package of the vacuum-sealed cooked beets (from Trader Joe’s). Then I went out into my garden and cut some fresh basil, which I sliced up and sprinkled on top, then I drizzled some lemon white balsamic vinegar and EVOO on top. Finally, I added freshly ground black pepper and Maldon flake salt.

Oh my. It was SO delicious. It was so good, in fact, that I made it as a side salad (the picture at top) for dinner. I cut up the half of the burrata that was remaining, added avocado to the plate too (didn’t use the egg as we were already having a protein for dinner) and drizzled again with the same dressing. For dinner I also gathered some mint and added it to the basil.

There at right you can see the same lunch plate with the oozy burrata after I’d cut into it. Oh so good.

For dinner I’d made a ground beef casserole and it was just ho-hum, so I won’t be posting that recipe. But this salad was a hit – with me, of course, with granddaughter Taylor and with my friend Judy who came to share it with us.

What’s GOOD: everything about this was sensational. So seasonally good, the fresh oozy, gooey cheese, the tomatoes, even the beets.

What’s NOT: nothing whatsoever.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Burrata Salad Platter

Serving Size: 6

8 ounces burrata cheese
3 Roma tomatoes — cored, sliced
3 small beets — cooked, peeled, sliced
1 medium avocado — sliced
2 eggs — hard boiled, quartered (optional)
3 tablespoons fresh basil — sliced
1 tablespoon fresh mint — sliced
DRESSING:
2 tablespoons lemon white balsamic vinegar
5 tablespoons EVOO
Freshly ground black pepper and flake salt

1. Mix up salad dressing (using white balsamic vinegar if possible) and EVOO in a small jar with a lid.
2. Arrange cheese as the centerpiece on platter. Place rows of tomatoes, beets, avocado, eggs (if using) around the cheese.
3. Shake dressing, then drizzle over the top of the salad; add freshly ground pepper and flake salt on top, then scatter with herbs. Serve immediately.
Per Serving: 320 Calories; 26g Fat (74.4% calories from fat); 11g Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 92mg Cholesterol; 302mg Sodium; 5g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 28mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 405mg Potassium; 76mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Salad Dressings, Salads, on September 13th, 2021.

What a beautiful summer bounty. 

A post from Carolyn. Following Ree Drummond’s recipe for this wasn’t quite going to work for me – – as I needed to change in/out a few things. Believe it or not, I couldn’t find green beans that day. Really? So asparagus had to work. Salmon I bought at Costco, multi-colored cherry tomatoes I had; hard boiled eggs are always in my frig as well as Kalamata olives. And Romaine too. All I did was change the salad dressing from Ree’s bottled dressing with a few add-ins, to one of my favorite Caesar dressings, the Caesar Caper Parmesan that uses mayo as the base. That recipe came from Phillis Carey, many, many years ago. Only thing I did this time was add a tetch of anchovy paste, which amped-up the full-bodied garlicky flavor of the dressing.

What fun I had making this. I’d invited four women who used to work for me, decades ago, at the ad agency I co-owned. I’d been part of the hiring of each of them, and one of my jobs, always, was training new hires. We also FaceTime(d) with another one who currently lives in Arizona, and it had been about 20 years since I’d been in touch with her. We told so many stories, shared so many laughs. It was a warm day and serving a salad was a given. I’d watched Pioneer Woman make a similar one. So I used her base recipe as the start.

For me, I prepped most of the ingredients the day before – the asparagus, the hard boiled eggs, the tomatoes, even the Romaine lettuce that I carefully cut into 1/3-cut wedges. I made the dressing, cooked the potatoes (although you’ll notice, I forgot to put them on the platter – geez!), chopped the Italian parsley. The day of – an hour or so before – I roasted the salmon. It’s put onto a baking sheet lined with foil, sprayed with EVOO, salt and pepper and baked for a mere 10 minutes at 425°F. Once cooled, I forked it into small to mid-sized flakes.

Digging out the largest platter I own (it’s really big, usually used for Thanksgiving turkey) I began composing the salad. I placed the Romaine down first, then began adding the colorful parts around the sides, with salmon at one end and eggs at the other. Then I plopped globs of dressing down the center of the Romaine and sprinkled it all with Italian parsley. Done. What this salad isn’t is a true Nicoise, which must contain green beans, and usually uses canned tuna (you can order Nicoise at most French cafes any day of the week). And potatoes are included, plus some kind of Mediterranean olive, usually Kalamata, but could be other types too. And it’s usually done with a vinaigrette of some kind. Not Caesar.

Same salad, this time with ahi tuna, seared quickly, green beans, asparagus, hard boiled eggs, more tomatoes plus  avocadoes. 

This salad was a real winner. For sure. The picture above is the same meal, but made with  ahi tuna – very quickly seared with just a little rub of EVOO, salt and pepper. Since this was a dinner, I used halved Romaine hearts (for a bit more lettuce on each serving). This time I did have green beans, and I had sufficient salad dressing left over to serve it. No potatoes since I try to do less carbs. It made for another lovely, colorful platter of food which was almost all polished off in one sitting. The tiny bit of leftovers I had for lunch the next day. Yum. I bought one pound of fresh ahi, seared it in my stovetop grill pan for about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side, then sliced thinly with a very sharp straight-edged knife.

What’s GOOD: everything about this was good, in my book. The dressing was perfect for the lively flavors (salmon or ahi, tomatoes, Kalamata olives, even asparagus). Loved how beautiful the platter came out – it’s a stunner! Most everything can be done the day before which makes for easy plating.

What’s NOT: does require a moderate amount of prep work (cooking green beans or asparagus, potatoes, hard boiled eggs, even the salmon (the ahi was extra-simple to do), also cutting the tomatoes, pitting olives if you need to do that – I buy pitted ones – and carefully cutting the Romaine into 1/3 wedges), packaging everything up until the right moment to plate and serve. But worth the trouble. Everything except the salmon (or ahi) and cutting avocadoes can be done the day ahead.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Salmon Nicoise Caesar

Recipe By: Adapted from Ree Drummond, Pioneer Woman
Serving Size: 4

12 ounces Yukon gold potatoes — baby sized, traditional, but optional
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces green beans — or asparagus
1 pound salmon fillet — skinned (can also be made with seared ahi tuna)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lemon — zested and juiced
3/4 cup Caesar Caper Parmesan Dressing (below)
2 hearts Romaine lettuce — whole, cut in third/wedges and cored
4 hard-boiled eggs — cooled, peeled and halved
2 cups cherry tomatoes — halved lengthways
1/4 cup Kalamata olives — or other Mediterranean olive of your choice
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — grated, for garnish
parsley leaves — for garnish
CAESAR CAPER PARM DRESSING:
4 whole garlic cloves
1 cup mayonnaise — Best Foods
2 1/2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon capers — heaping, drained
1/4 teaspoon anchovy paste — or more if you like the flavor
2 1/2 tablespoons EVOO
1 1/4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/4 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1. Boil the potatoes in a pot of salted water until tender, about 10 minutes, then halve and set aside to cool.
2, Cook the green beans or asparagus in a small pot of boiling salted water for 2-4 minutes, then remove and plunge into ice water. Drain and pat dry. Set aside.
3. Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with foil. Put the salmon on the prepared baking sheet, skin-side down. Brush with the olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bake until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Squeeze the juice of the lemon over the salmon and set aside to cool slightly, then flake into large chunks with a fork.
4. Make the dressing: Combine all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl – start with the anchovy paste to make sure it is dispersed, then mix well.
6. Arrange the Romaine wedges in the middle of a very large platter. Group the green beans, eggs, potatoes, tomatoes, olives and salmon on top and around the lettuces. Spoon globs of the dressing on the Romaine wedges. Garnish with Parmesan and parsley leaves. Serve with more dressing at the table.
Per Serving (assumes you use all the dressing): 704 Calories; 38g Fat (47.0% calories from fat); 42g Protein; 55g Carbohydrate; 17g Dietary Fiber; 284mg Cholesterol; 776mg Sodium; 18g Total Sugars; 1mcg Vitamin D; 319mg Calcium; 10mg Iron; 2444mg Potassium; 667mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Salads, on May 8th, 2021.

A lovely, very curry-centric green salad with chicken, fat glossy grapes, fresh asparagus and toasted pine nuts

To digress just a little bit – the blog has now been “migrated,” they call it, to a different platform, and I won’t be getting any of those overage charges. Whew. I’ve lost sleep over this whole thing. So stressful. Mostly the hard work is done now, although I still need to figure out the email subscriptions and some other things. I was shocked to discover that 487 of you have subscribed to the blog. Wow. Thank you, friends and readers! The subscription function doesn’t work the same on this platform, so soon I’ll be adding email subscriptions (in the background) and you may get some kind of email asking you to authorize it. Don’t know about that, as I haven’t delved into it deeply enough yet. And the window where readers input an email address (on the home page) doesn’t function correctly, so I’ve got to figure this out. There are several other things I’m not able to access or accomplish, but hopefully I’ll get it figured out eventually. Need to understand it well enough so I can teach Karen and Sara how to do it too.

So, on to salads. Last weekend I went out to the condo in the desert (Palm Desert) to spend the weekend with daughter Sara and her husband John, and son Powell, his wife Karen and their son, Vaughan. We had a busy weekend, with them visiting an air museum in Palm Springs, and another day all of them going out into the deep desert to go shooting at targets. Not my thing, so I stayed home and did some cooking. We went out to a nice restaurant one night, cooked burgers another (with birthday cake for two family members). It was beastly hot, unfortunately (unseasonably), but we still enjoyed being together as a family. Do note, the new photo on the sidebar of the blog. New picture of the three of us.

When Karen and family arrived it was 106° outside. It was nice and cool inside, thank goodness, so I’d made this salad. Originally, the recipe came from Kalyn’s Kitchen, but I did a lot of tweaking of the recipe itself, adding other ingredients to both the salad and the dressing.

First off, I had really huge chicken breasts, so I poached them – really I steeped them. I mixed orange juice and water, with some salt and pepper, brought it to a boil, slid in the chicken, brought it back up to a simmer, covered it, turned off the heat and let it steep (like tea) for an hour. The chicken was fully cooked, and so very tender and juicy. Once cooled, I cut the chicken into cubes and bite-sized pieces. The dressing I’d made ahead, but I’d added some vinegar (my Meyer lemons were too sweet, so thought the dressing needed a bit more acid), some EVOO too. I tossed the salad with the grape halves, arugula, Romaine and also the asparagus I’d cooked earlier and chilled. The toasted pine nuts sprinkled on the top made for nice texture too. The picture above doesn’t do it justice, really. The family thought the salad was well worth blogging about.

What’s GOOD: lovely for a warm summer’s evening, tender juicy chicken, powerful curry dressing (if you aren’t enamored with curry, either eliminate it or reduce the quantity of curry powder), and the texture from the asparagus, grapes and pine nuts.

What’s NOT: only that there are several steps (steeping the chicken, cooking the asparagus and the other general prep).

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Curried Chicken Salad with Asparagus, Red Grapes and Pine Nuts

Recipe By: My adaptation of a Kalyn’s Kitchen recipe
Servings: 6

1 pound asparagus spears — trimmed and cut into diagonal 2 inch pieces
1 whole lemon — (zest the skin and squeeze the juice)
3 large chicken breasts without skin — to yield about 4 cups
1 cup orange juice — mixed with 2 cups water
1 cup green onion — sliced
1/2 cup pine nuts — toasted
1 cup red grapes — halved
salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste
2 cups arugula — or more if needed
3 cups romaine lettuce — chopped or torn, or more if needed
DRESSING:
5 tablespoons Greek yogurt, full-fat — may substitute sour cream or buttermilk
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons EVOO
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice — or more if desired
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons white vinegar — or more lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1.  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Cut off woody ends of asparagus.  Cut asparagus on the diagonal into pieces and then cook in salted water for 3 minutes.  Do not overcook – you want the asparagus to be tender-crisp.
2.  Zest the lemon then cut lemon in half and squeeze the juice.  Set aside.
3.  In another saucepan, combine the orange juice and water.  Season liquid with a sprinkling of salt and pepper.  Bring to a simmer.  Gently slide the chicken breasts into the water.  Cover, bring the water back to a simmer, and remove from the heat.  Set pan aside for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.  The chicken will have poached/cooked during that time.  Remove chicken, drain, allow to cool.  Discard the cooking water.  Cut chicken into small bite-sized pieces.  You may also use any leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken for this salad.
4.  Whisk together yogurt, mayo, lemon juice, curry powder, Dijon mustard, EVOO, vinegar (or more lemon juice) lemon zest and sea salt to make the curry dressing.  Taste for seasoning.
5.  Drain asparagus into a colander.  Then lay out a paper towel on the counter and spread out the asparagus on the towel.  Cover with another paper towel and gently blot away as much water as possible.
6.  Slice green onions on the diagonal and toast the pine nuts.
7.  Combine diced chicken, asparagus, green onions, grapes, arugula and Romaine with desired amount of dressing; you may not need all the dressing if you prefer your salads to be fairly dry.  Gently stir in the green onion and grapes.  Season the finished salad to taste with salt and fresh-ground black pepper, and serve, sprinkling the toasted pine nuts all over the top of the salad.  If you have any extra dressing you might want to add a bit more right when you serve the salad.  If you prefer, you can leave the asparagus whole, and serve the spears on top of the salad – with the toasted pine nuts – for a pretty appearance.
Per Serving: 411 Calories; 20g Fat (43.5% calories from fat); 37g Protein; 23g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 107mg Cholesterol; 285mg Sodium; 13g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 103mg Calcium; 5mg Iron; 1183mg Potassium; 458mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Salads, Veggies/sides, on March 12th, 2021.

jamie_deens_green_bean_salad

Just lovely. So tasty.

Make this. It’s not that hard – although you do have to cut up tomatoes, toast the almonds, and shake together a very simple vinegar/oil combo, mince some fresh basil, red onion, and mince a clove of garlic. But that’s all. Get everything ready ahead of time – then cook the green beans in salted water. Drain them, dry them a bit, then toss them with the dressing.

The recipe comes from Jamie Deen, Paula’s son. Since I had green beans in my frig, and I had red onion – well, I had all the ingredients. The almonds toasted in my toaster oven for about 5 minutes. I went out into my garden and grabbed a nice little sprig of basil, I shook up the red wine vinegar, EVOO and garlic in a jar and let it sit for about 10 minutes. The beans were drained, I rinsed them well under cold water, then to cool to room temp (within about 10 minutes). I put the green beans in the little dish (pictured above) and added the vinaigrette and used my hands to mix it well. A little salt and pepper were added, then I piled on the tomatoes, goat cheese (his recipe called for feta, but I’m in a rut with crumbled goat cheese). Nuts sprinkled on top, the basil and it was ready to eat.

green_bean_salad_jamie_deenTruly, I could have eaten that whole dish full of them, they were that good. But I didn’t. I started with about 1/2 pound of beans, so I have enough for another day. If you’re not going to eat them all in one sitting, don’t put the dressing on the beans as the acid in the vinegar turns the beans kind of gray-ish. Not very pleasing to look at, although the taste isn’t impaired at all. This would make a lovely company side dish – it could easily go on a picnic, and can be assembled at the last minute at someone else’s home. Versatile. Just package everything separately.

What’s GOOD: everything about these were so tasty. Loved the vinaigrette. None of the flavors overwhelmed – just enough of everything. And did I mention how pretty the finished dish is? Gorgeous. Make more than you need so you can have leftovers  – although as I mentioned above, keep everything separate until ready to toss and serve.

What’s NOT: nothing, other than needing to do some prep work.

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Green Bean Salad – Jamie Deen

Recipe By: Food Network – Jamie Deen
Serving Size: 5

salt to season the water
1 pound green beans — use slender ones, if available, ends trimmed
1 cup goat cheese — crumbled, or feta
1 cup cherry tomatoes — sliced in half
2 tablespoons red onion — minced
1/2 cup slivered almonds — toasted
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 large clove garlic — minced
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Boil a large pot of water with a generous amount of salt added. Add the green beans and cook until tender crisp, 1 to 4 minutes. Drain and remove to a bowl of ice water. Or rinse well under cold tap water.
2. Allow to rest for about 10 minutes, pat dry and place the beans in a large bowl.
3. In small jar combine red wine vinegar and oil, then add garlic. Shake. Set aside.
3. Pour the dressing over the green beans and toss well. Sprinkle with the toasted almonds. Add the goat or feta cheese, tomatoes and red onions. Garnish with slivered fresh basil.
Per Serving: 344 Calories; 28g Fat (71.4% calories from fat); 15g Protein; 11g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 37mg Cholesterol; 205mg Sodium; 5g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 211mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 431mg Potassium; 275mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Salads, on February 2nd, 2021.

mixed_lettuce_snap_pea_salad

Nice, refreshing salad with Meyer lemons.

We had a gathering at my house a week or so ago, finally celebrating Christmas with my two families who live here in Southern California. All done outside except for some food prep. My son Powell brought a beautiful, big smoked ham he’d done in his fancy barbecue. I made Ina Garten’s zucchini gratin, a favorite of mine. We had a casserole of smashed sweet potatoes, and then I made this salad. Karen brought some fresh strawberries that could be dipped in crème fraiche and brown sugar, and I’d put out a big cheese platter ahead of time.

meyer_lemon_cream_dressingAn entire package of sugar snap peas is in that salad, above, but I don’t think you can see a single one of them in the picture . . . but they’re there. And there are more lemons than I thought, but each serving maybe had two slices of them (halved). I used a combination of Romaine lettuce and baby spinach. Then tons of radishes (an entire bunch) were added too. But the crown of the recipe is the lemon cream dressing. It starts with a minced shallot, then Meyer lemon juice, EVOO, salt, pepper, and lastly, a big glug of heavy cream. The dressing made enough to dress two big salads, so I used it on my dinner salad for a few days. Taste the dressing with a leaf of lettuce – if you think it’s too tart, add another little jot of EVOO. The recipe came from Sunset Magazine some years ago.0

All of the salad could be made ahead and tossed at the last minute. And it could easily be taken to someone else’s home and assembled there.

What’s GOOD: the lemony flavored tart dressing. I actually enjoyed eating the little thin wedges of lemon too. It made a very pretty salad with lots of crunch (from the sugar snaps and radishes) and the dressing was just lovely. Definitely I’d make this again. Loved the mint in the salad too. Such a nice addition to salads.

What’s NOT: nothing, really. I might put in even more radishes and sugar snaps next time.

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Lettuce Snap Pea Salad with Meyer Lemon Cream

Recipe By: Sunset 1/15
Serving Size: 6

1 whole Meyer lemon
1 1/4 pounds lettuce — mixed types, ends trimmed; or use 10 oz. salad mix
1 cup sugar snap peas — thinly sliced on a diagonal
3/4 cup radishes — thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves — torn into small pieces
DRESSING:
2 tablespoons shallot — finely minced
1/4 cup Meyer lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt — divided
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil — plus 2 tbsp.
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

1. Very thinly slice lemon crosswise, using a handheld slicer and removing seeds with a knife tip as you go. Discard ends. If the lemon is large, you may only use half the lemon. Cut lemon slices in half.
2. Toss lettuces in a large bowl with about 1/2 cup dressing. Add snap peas, radishes, and a little more dressing and toss again. Arrange salad on chilled plates and tuck in lemon slices and mint. Serve with more dressing if you like.
3. DRESSING: To a jar add shallot, lemon juice, and 1/4 tsp. salt and let stand 5 minutes. Add oil, then cover and shake well. Add in 1/2 tsp. more salt, 1/8 tsp. pepper, and the cream. Taste and add more salt, pepper or EVOO (if it tastes too tart) if you like. Shake before using. Make ahead: up to 3 days, chilled.
Per Serving (you don’t use all the dressing on this salad above, so calorie count is way too high): 236 Calories; 23g Fat (84.3% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 7g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 15mg Cholesterol; 334mg Sodium; 3g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 74mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 346mg Potassium; 55mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Salad Dressings, Salads, on November 3rd, 2020.

spinach_cabbage_herb_slaw

What a super salad! Perfect for a barbecue. It’s kind of a mixture between a green (spinach) salad and a cabbage (slaw) salad. Note the cashews, halved red grapes and the grilled pineapple on top?

A couple of weeks ago my son and his wife invited me to their house for a Saturday dinner. Powell was smoking a whole beef brisket. I didn’t want to miss out on that. The last time he prepared a smoked brisket, Karen sent me home with a big chunk of the brisket and I made a recipe that’s a favorite in her family (and now for me, too) for Smoked Brisket Chili. Oh my goodness was that something special. So I made this salad to go along with the meal.

The recipe came from a cooking class more than 2 years ago with Phillis Carey. I don’t know why I hadn’t posted it before – for whatever reason I didn’t have a picture of this salad from back then. I’ve modified the recipe just a tad – I didn’t have bean sprouts (none at the market when I shopped), didn’t have green onions, either, because I forgot to buy them. Everything else I had – and since I’d purchased a big, beautiful fresh pineapple, I grilled it (stovetop) and chopped up some of it in the salad, and most of it we had as dessert.

I made the dressing the night before (it’s easy as long as you have the oranges – – I used OJ concentrate, diluted correctly — and fresh limes). I used EVOO in the dressing, so it needs to sit out at room temp to warm up and homogenize correctly – otherwise the oil sits on top. Be sure to mix it well before pouring over the salad. I was a bit startled at how much the cashews cost – I think I bought about a cup of them from a bin-type dispenser, and they were nearly $4.00. Wow. Really? You could easily use almonds in this, or even peanuts. I expect they’d be cheaper than these dear cashews! The herbs are fresh mint and cilantro. Lots of both. And of course, the fresh spinach. I ended up adding a little bit more cabbage to this salad, so the recipe has been altered to change the little things I did differently. Everything can be prepared ahead of time, except for tossing it.

You don’t want to let this sit – the citrus juices will wilt the spinach and herbs – so if you happen to make a big portion of this – only put out in the salad bowl what you think you’ll eat, no left overs. The dressing amount makes more than you’ll need – but I’m happy to have some leftover dressing for a salad on another day. I won’t have any cashews or grilled pineapple, but everything else I do have on hand now.

What’s GOOD: everything about this salad was wonderful. My son said this was, by far, his most favorite slaw he’s ever had. Nearly everyone at the table had seconds, so I’m glad I made salad for 8 people (there were 6 of us). We ate it all.

What’s NOT: only that you might not have everything on hand to make this. You can eliminate the pineapple (it wasn’t in the original) but I really liked that addition.

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Spinach, Cabbage and Fresh Herb Slaw with Spicy Ginger-Citrus Dressing

Recipe By: Adapted from Phillis Carey
Serving Size: 6

DRESSING: (makes about twice what is needed for the salad)
1 cup fresh orange juice
1 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup avocado oil — or grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons serrano chile — minced
4 teaspoons fresh ginger — minced
SLAW:
4 cups fresh spinach — shredded
4 cups cabbage — green type, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups red grapes — halved
1 1/2 cups bean sprouts — optional
1 cup sugar snap peas — julienned or snow peas
1 cup red onion — thinly sliced, acidulated
1/2 cup green onions — julienned
3 cups fresh pineapple — grilled, chopped (optional)
6 tablespoons fresh mint — chopped
6 tablespoons fresh cilantro — chopped
2/3 cup cashews — salted, toasted, for garnish

Note: How to acidulate onions: Soak red onion in cold water to cover with about a tablespoon of vinegar – soak for 10 minutes to take away the sharp, raw taste.
1. DRESSING: Whisk together orange juice, lime juice, brown sugar, soy sauce and salt in a medium bowl until sugar dissolves. Whisk in oil or shake all in a jar. Stir in serrano chile and ginger. Cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours.
2. SALAD: Mix all vegetables, grapes, pineapple and herbs in a large bowl. Toss with dressing and serve with cashews sprinkled on top. Serve immediately. This slaw won’t keep, so dress only the amount of salad you’ll eat at that meal.
Per Serving: 517 Calories; 30g Fat (49.1% calories from fat); 9g Protein; 61g Carbohydrate; 7g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 142mg Sodium; 41g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 126mg Calcium; 5mg Iron; 905mg Potassium; 252mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Salads, Veggies/sides, on October 1st, 2020.

shaved_carrot_salad_poppy_seeds

An easy something-different, colorful side salad.

You may remember at least a month ago I mentioned that on September 1st, I was going to dig into my big plastic storage bin and bring out my fall décor, no matter that the temperatures here in SoCal are still hovering around 90 nearly every day and our state is being ravaged by wildfires. And I did get out the plates and décor. So the plate the carrots are resting upon are my fall/pumpkin plates that I’ve been using all month. I simply love this set of plates I bought at Williams-Sonoma last fall. They were on sale, so they weren’t as “dear” as they could have been. I’ll use them through Thanksgiving, then they’ll get put away and I’ll bring out my old Christmas set. Albeit I may be spending the holidays alone. Hope not, but all depends on Covid.

Anyway, when I had read the recipe for this carrot salad it just sounded different and relatively easy. I don’t buy big, honkin’ carrots anymore, but I get the smaller ones, so my “ribbons” weren’t quite as big as they might have been. But that makes no difference in the taste or texture. The carrot strips are tossed with salt and microwaved briefly – just until crisp-tender. Do NOT overcook them or you’ll lose the whole point of making this salad. Poppy seeds are toasted – let me just say that it’s kind of hard to determine that poppy seeds are toasted, unless there happen to be some white ones in the mix – and even then it was difficult. You’re not toasting them for color, merely for the toasted flavor. I don’t think I’ve ever in my cooking life toasted poppy seeds. Have you?

The dressing is made in the same saucepan you used for the poppy seeds, then that’s poured over the carrots and tossed. Once cool, you add the poppy seeds and parsley. Done. There is no reason this couldn’t be made hours ahead. I made a smaller batch and had enough for two servings, and it was fine the 2nd day.

What’s GOOD: loved the colorful quality, and enjoyed the just barely crisp tender texture. The lemon juice and EVOO dressing was lovely with the moderate hint of garlic. I couldn’t really taste the star anise. It was delicious altogether. Nice for guests, or a picnic too.

What’s NOT: only that  you do have to prep the carrots – not difficult. Even children who are safe with a vegetable peeler could do that part. You need to use a Y-shape peeler for this, in order to get the wide ribbons.

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Shaved Carrot Salad with Poppy Seeds and Parsley

Recipe By: Milk St. Magazine
Serving Size: 5

1 1/2 pounds carrots — peeled (about 4-5 large)
3/4 teaspoon salt — or more if needed
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/4 cup EVOO
2 medium garlic cloves — peeled, smashed
2 whole star anise
1/4 cup lemon juice — or more as needed
1 teaspoon sugar — or substitute
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley — chopped

1. Using Y-style vegetable peeler or mandoline, shave carrots from top to bottom into long, wide ribbons, rotating carrot as you go. If using smaller carrots it may be easier to go from bottom to top. Discard cores. Place ribbons in a large microwave-safe bowl and toss with 3/4 tsp salt. Cover and microwave on high until crisp-tender. Depending on the thickness of the carrots, this may be 1 1/2 to 3 or up to 5 minutes total. Stir once during cooking time and taste – don’t overcook. Set aside, uncovered, leaving any juices in the bowl.
2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, toast poppy seeds until they are darkened just slightly, about 2 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and set aside. In the same saucepan over medium heat add oil, garlic, and star anise, stirring occasionally, until the garlic begins to brown on the edges, 1-2 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add lemon juice and sugar, then whisk occasionally until sugar dissolves. Cook for about 3 minutes. Remove and discard (spoon out) the garlic and star anise.
3. Pour warm dressing over the carrots and toss. Let stand for 15 minutes. Add poppy seeds and parsley, then toss again. Taste and season with salt, sugar or more lemon juice as needed. Transfer to serving bowl and add more parsley as garnish.
Per Serving: 173 Calories; 12g Fat (59.5% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 16g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 446mg Sodium; 8g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 86mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 511mg Potassium; 72mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Chicken, Salads, on September 25th, 2020.

chicken_salad_grapes_dill

Maybe I’m bored with my own cooking of late. Decided to do something outside the box.

As I’ve mentioned many times here, most days I have soup (laden with lots of veggies) for lunch. But you probably heard earlier this month here in SoCal, the temps were in the 100s. One day it was 108 here at my house. Even though I have AC in my house (thank you, Lord!) I could still feel hot around the edges. I didn’t want hot soup, and the soup I had in the frig wasn’t one that could be eaten cold. So I decided to fix myself an open faced sandwich. I didn’t even have leftover chicken – so I used canned chicken. I do that sometimes when I’m not wanting to cook a chicken breast. Costco’s canned chicken is very good, if you’ve never tried it.

These days, with the pandemic still keeping me at home (oh, I’m so very tired of it), I don’t always have food items I need to make something new. So I used what I had and created a chicken salad and served it atop a nice wheat type thin slice of toast, some sliced avocado (hidden under the greenery) and with arugula. So, I thought about what I could do to make this salad different. Well, I had dill. Good, that would work. I had almonds in the freezer, so that was easy, although I didn’t toast them (it was just too hot even to turn on the toaster oven). I combined the chicken, Best Foods mayo, some minutely diced celery, lemon juice, a minced up green onion, some red grapes that I diced up (optional) and then I threw in a heaping tablespoon of mango chutney. That chutney was just the ticket. It added that slight bit of sweetness and flavor variation that I was seeking. I had enough to make this sandwich three times, although only the first time did I use the toast and avocados.

It took me very few minutes to make the salad, toast the bread, slice the avocado, chop up the arugula, mince the dill, and it was done. Don’t add salt until after you’ve tasted it – the mayo has some already – so I didn’t add any, though I did grind in some pepper.

What’s GOOD: very easy and quick to make. The mango chutney was the surprise flavor here, and I really liked it. The dill was another flavor profile I enjoyed. I don’t suppose this recipe will win any county fair prizes, but it was just the answer to my wish for something easy and different.

What’s NOT: well, during a pandemic, you might not have all the ingredients. I always keep Major Gray’s mango chutney in my refrigerator – it virtually keeps forever, and the other ingredients were all staples, except for the dill. I wish I could grow dill at my house, but it’s always too hot. This sandwich isn’t low calorie – I was kind of surprised when I looked at the nutrition count. Must be the mayonnaise!

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Chicken Salad – for open faced sandwich

Recipe By: My own combo, 2020
Serving Size: 3

CHICKEN MIXTURE:
1 1/4 cups cooked chicken — chopped
1/3 cup mayonnaise — Best Foods
1 tablespoon lemon juice — or more to taste
2 tablespoons red grapes — chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons mango chutney
1/4 cup celery — minced
1 tablespoon fresh dill — chopped
1 whole green onion — diced
freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
SANDWICH:
3 slices whole grain bread — toasted
1 avocado — thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups arugula — chopped
3 sprigs fresh dill — for garnish
2 tablespoons sliced almonds — for garnish

1. In a bowl combine all the chicken salad ingredients, reserving some of the almonds. Taste for seasoning. It may not need salt, but pepper for sure.
2. Place toast on individual plates, add avocado slices, mound arugula next, then spoon the chicken salad on top. Garnish with additional almond slices, and a sprig of dill.
Per Serving: 490 Calories; 24g Fat (43.5% calories from fat); 38g Protein; 32g Carbohydrate; 8g Dietary Fiber; 89mg Cholesterol; 406mg Sodium; 6g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 120mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 817mg Potassium; 378mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Salad Dressings, Salads, on May 27th, 2020.

crunchy_asian_cabbage_salad_chicken

A great way to get a Chinese chicken salad but without the carbs.

Before Mother’s Day, my daughter Sara drove to my house, and we visited. Albeit, shelter-in-place style. We sat outside (without masks, but 6 feet apart). I made lattes for each of us and we just visited. SO nice. SO fun. So needed. I was just sorry I couldn’t hug her!

I made a salad for us to enjoy outside for lunch (it was a lovely day). I started with a recipe from Kalyn’s Kitchen. But I veered off a little bit from her recipe – I wanted chicken, and I added a few other ingredients, and used some different proportions of things also. Technically, it’s not a “pure” Chinese chicken salad. It’s got asparagus in it and arugula. But during this shelter-in-place, we use what we have, right?

crunchy_asian_salad_chicken_dressingThe dressing starts with mayo – but then you add in a little sugar or sweetener, white wine vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, freshly grated ginger, mashed-up garlic and a bit of Sriracha. Oh, that dressing is wonderful. I’m sorry I didn’t make more! I recommend you make DOUBLE of it, use what you need for this salad, and keep the rest for another day.

Taste the salad as you add the dressing – it might need a bit more. Then serve on plates and sprinkle the top with sliced almonds (I should have toasted them – forgot). And don’t forget the cilantro garnish too – to me that’s an essential ingredient in any semblance of a Chinese chicken salad. It’s in the salad itself, but you can add more as a garnish also.

What’s GOOD: loved everything about it – the crunchiness of the cabbage, all the different textures. And loved-loved the dressing. As I mentioned – make double so you can use it on another salad a day or two later. No crunchy won ton strips on this, unfortunately, but I didn’t miss them. There’s very little sesame oil in this, but it adds a lovely flavor.

What’s NOT: nothing at all.

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Crunchy Cabbage Asian Slaw with Chicken

Recipe By: Adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Serving Size: 4

4 cups Napa cabbage — thinly sliced then coarsely chopped
1 cup sugar snap peas — ends trimmed, sliced
1/2 cup radishes — sliced into half-moon shapes
1/3 cup green onion — sliced
1/2 cup cilantro — chopped
2 cups cooked chicken — cubed
1 cup fresh asparagus — steamed and cooled
3 cups arugula — chopped
1/2 cup sliced almonds — toasted, for garnish
1/4 cup cilantro — for garnish
ASIAN MAYO DRESSING:
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Monkfruit sweetener — or sugar or honey
2 teaspoons soy sauce — low sodium if possible
1 teaspoon garlic — smashed and minced
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger root
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
1/3 cup mayonnaise
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Thinly slice Napa cabbage, then coarsely chop. Add to a large bowl.
2. Add sugar snap peas, radishes, green onion, cilantro, asparagus, chicken and arugula.
3. DRESSING: In a bowl or glass measuring cup stir together the white wine vinegar, sweetener, soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil, ginger puree, and Sriracha sauce. Whisk in the mayo until ingredients are well combined.
4. Toss salad ingredients, add enough dressing to coat ingredients, and toss again. Add salt and pepper to taste.
10. Toast the sliced almonds in a dry pan over high heat for 1-2 minutes (just until the nuts are fragrant). Add almonds as a garnish to the salad. Add more cilantro on top if desired.
Per Serving: 432 Calories; 30g Fat (59.1% calories from fat); 30g Protein; 17g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 66mg Cholesterol; 370mg Sodium.

Posted in Salads, Vegetarian, on March 25th, 2020.

veg_sheetpan_bowl_arugula_wh_beans

A great combo of flavors – all tasty by themselves, but tossed with a light balsamic dressing, it takes it to a tastier level.

When this veggie bowl was served to me I was certain I wasn’t going to care for it. I was at a cooking class, and often this instructor includes a vegetarian entrée at her classes. Then I took a bite, and decided it was really quite wonderful. I don’t eat very many beans (carbs) and I definitely don’t eat hardly any potatoes, either (more carbs) so I ate a bite or two of those things and devoured the rest of the bowl. It’s the dressing that pulls it all together.

Truly, I love sheetpan dinners – and this one is very easy – it’s just done in stages – pine nuts first (and removed), then potatoes and garlic, and zucchini last. Meanwhile, you make up the dressing – adding the roasted garlic to it once you take the sheetpan out of the oven. The arugula adds a lovely texture to this – making it equally a salad rather than just roasted vegetables, and as I mentioned, the dressing just enhances it all. When I make it myself, I’ll probably use sweet potatoes since they are healthier for me.

I’ve adjusted the recipe to use fewer potatoes (and added the sweet potato option). Do chop up the arugula – if it’s mature arugula it can be quite unruly to eat – easier to eat if chopped. The cold halved tomatoes also add a nice textural contrast. Making it for myself I’d add more zucchini and fewer beans, but that’s totally up to you. I don’t think you can buy half cans of cannellini beans!

What’s GOOD: for me the dressing brought all the various ingredients together and made it more of a salad than a sheetpan dinner, exactly. Loved the dressing element. Liked the contrast using chopped arugula and fresh tomatoes.

What’s NOT: only that it helps to have everything out and ready when you start – you make this in stages, but still, all on one pan. Yeah!

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Sheetpan Veggie Bowl with Cannellini Beans and Arugula

Recipe By: Cooking class with Susan V, 2/2020
Serving Size: 4

1/4 cup pine nuts
1 1/4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes — cut into 1-inch cubes (or substitute sweet potatoes)
4 cloves garlic — unpeeled
1/4 cup olive oil — divided
3/4 teaspoon salt — divided
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper — divided
2 zucchini — quartered and cut into 1-inch slices
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
15 ounces canned cannellini beans — drained and rinsed
3 cups baby arugula — chopped
1 cup grape tomatoes — halved

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200 degrees C).
2. Spread pine nuts on a sheetpan; roast until golden and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.
3. Place potatoes and garlic on the sheetpan. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bake 20 minutes. Add zucchini and rosemary, toss, then continue roasting until vegetables are tender and browned, about 20 minutes. Let cool about 5-10 minutes.
4. Squeeze roasted garlic out of its skin into a small bowl, mashing it slightly with a fork. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil, balsamic vinegar, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper; whisk to combine.
5. Toss roasted potatoes and zucchini in a large bowl with beans, chopped arugula, tomatoes, and dressing. Serve in bowls sprinkled with toasted pine nuts.
Per Serving: 670 Calories; 19g Fat (25.0% calories from fat); 32g Protein; 97g Carbohydrate; 20g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 436mg Sodium.

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