Monthly Archives: June 2015

Summer Salad with Maple Balsamic Dressing

Summer Salad with Maple Balsamic DressingGreens, greens, greens! They are everywhere.  Plus, strawberry season has been outstanding.  I can’t stay away from my local farm where they have pick-your-own strawberries.  You can easily pick 5 pounds of strawberries in about 15 minutes.  GREENS and STRAWBERRIES must be prioritized so do what you can to get those two items to the top of the list.  Then once you have all these fresh greens and berries at home, why not combine the two in this wonderful and easy summer salad.  

This salad that will take you 4 minutes to put together….yes, literally 4 minutes. You shred some fresh lettuce, slice some strawberries, sprinkle with nuts (I used salted, roasted pistachios), and add a little feta cheese. Voila, you’re done. Oh, right, you still have to make the dressing….okay, so maybe it will take you 15 minutes, tops.

Make the salad, cook some pasta with pesto, toast some bread on the grill and you have a quick easy summer meal that can’t be beat. I just ate this for dinner and it was so light and nice.

Enjoy the long days and all your beautiful salads!

Ingredients

12 cups fresh greens
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
3/4 cup toasted nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, or whatever you like)
1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced

Vinaigrette:
1 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

Method

In a large bowl, toss fresh greens with cheese, nuts and fruit. To prepare the vinaigrette, mix together all ingredients except olive oil until well blended. Add oil in a slow, steady stream until incorporated. Toss greens with dressing.

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Ooh la la Meringues…from a can

No chickens were robbed in the making of this meringue.

No chickens were robbed in the making of these meringues.

And this just in from the land of weird food science… Don’t pour that chickpea liquid down the drain! That murky stuff has a name (Aquafaba) a purpose (egg white imposter), it’s own site and of course a few facebook pages, of which this is the prettiest.

Does it work in making edible confections? When it comes to edible, I am not the best one to ask (I eat pineapple cores, chunks of raw ginger and watermelon seeds), but trust the 16-year old boy who is skeptical of every “secret ingredient” and super food in his mother’s kitchen. In two days I made two batches of these, and only salvaged three to take to book group. He definitely approved!

So yes, this indeed works. Should you make them? Well heck yes! Here’s the thing. I’m, not really sure what is in chickpea juice, or if it is any better for you than egg whites. This recipe still involves all the same sugar you’d be using with the real thing.

BUT, it may save you: if you run out of eggs, because chances are pretty high you have a can of chickpeas in the pantry; if by dessert time you still need a conversation starter; if Vegans come a visitin’. They will be especially grateful specially if you whip up some coconut cream to go with the meringues.

In honor of French chef Joël Roessel the original aquafabaliste, I give you my version of…

Ooh la la Meringues

Yield: 30 to 35 meringues
Time: About 2 hours, mostly and happily unattended

Ingredients:

  • Liquid from one 15-ounce can of chickpeas (about ¾ cup)
  • 1 heaping cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup mini chocolate chips (optional)

Method:

Heat the oven to 250°F and line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Pour the chickpea liquid (aquafaba) into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat with the whisk attachment until stiff peaks form, about 15 minutes. Gradually beat in the sugar, then the vanilla. Gently fold in chocolate chips, if using.

Scoop or pipe the aquafaba mixture into mounds onto the baking sheets and bake for up to 90 minutes. Start checking them at 1 hour, to make sure they do not start to brown. (The meringues will be hard to the touch.)

Let meringues cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then serve. (Meringues can be stored in an airtight container for up to three days.)

 

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Hot-cha-cha Pineapple Avocado Salad

A spicy little taste of the tropics

Sweet, spicy, juicy, creamy, crunchy…oh yeah baby. Serve me up some paradise!

Feeling hot hot hot? Wanna be cool cool cool? Yes my pretties, you can be both with this little taste of the tropics. This salad, when made exactly as directed, is on the spicy side, so use your discretion on the habanero. You can easily sub in jalapeno for less bite. You know your people. Or, if you live with a bunch of mild-mannered, mild-salsa-eating Yankees go for it with the habanero and get all the leftovers for yourself.

 Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbs. fresh orange juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 habanero chile, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 large Florida avocado or 2 medium Haas avocados, sliced 1/4 inch thick lengthwise, then cut crosswise into halves or thirds (here’s a clinic on finding ripe avocados)
  • 1 small pineapple (about 2-1/2 lb.), peeled, quartered, cored, and sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick (and here’s what you need to know about selecting and prepping pineapple.) PS I am among the freaks who enjoy eating the fibrous core. 
  • scant handful of chopped, toasted almonds, cashews or macadamia nuts (optional)

Method:

Whisk the oil, lime and orange juices, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper in a medium bowl. Add the onion and habanero and toss. Set aside at least 10 minutes and up to 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, shingle the pineapple and avocado on a very large flat platter or 2 smaller platters. Using a fork, scoop the onion slices out of the vinaigrette and scatter them over the avocado and pineapple. Drizzle the remaining vinaigrette over the entire platter. Sprinkle with nuts if desired.  Season with a little salt and serve within 1 hour.

Bringing it:

This salad is easy to bring anywhere, deconstructed. It’s also a great salad to bring and prep on a weekend away, because the whole elements travel well and do not need refrigeration. Yes, that means more room in the cooler for vitals.  (I’m looking at you, frozen daquiris and Hero Slaw.)

 

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Banana Berry Smoothie

Banana Berry SmoothieThis recipe is really cool – both temperature cool and hipster cool. And just in time for the start of summer which is only a couple days away!  It is simply frozen bananas and berries in a blender with a touch of almond milk (or whatever milk you have on hand).  Yes, that’s right – bananas, berries, milk, blender. That’s it!  It’s smooth and frosty, light and healthy.  Not to mention good for all ages and can be served any time – breakfast, lunch, snack, or dessert.  What are you waiting for-  get that fruit in the freezer asap so you can make this smoothie soon.

And, wait, there is a bonus, you can add in anything like.  The frozen bananas are merely a vehicle for anything else that floats your smoothie boat.  You can add coconut, chocolate, cherries, strawberries, ginger, nuts, sprinkles, cinnamon, mint, cacao powder, vanilla, almond, Nutella, caramel, sprinkles, whipped cream, blueberries, carob, and oh gosh, I almost forgot – peanut butter (how could I almost forget peanut butter – shame on me!). The list goes on…  

And so, here you go, the recipe (although you don’t really need one -just throw the stuff in the blender, it practically makes itself!).

Rah, Rah Summer!

Ingredients

2 ripe bananas, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 cup berries (I used a mixture of raspberries and blueberries)
1/4 cup almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk or any milk of your liking (more as needed)

Method

Place bananas and berries in freezer for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Take bananas and berries out of freezer and let thaw for approximately 45 minutes to an hour (they need to soften a bit before you put them in the food processor but you still want them to be somewhat frozen – you may have to experiment a bit to get the right consistency).

Place bananas, berries and almond milk in food processor and pulse until desired consistency. You will need to stop and scrape down the sides intermittently. Add more milk as needed.

Stir in any add ins such as chocolate chips or nuts, OR blend in any add ins such as peanut butter or vanilla extract.

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A Hopeful Toast to the Triple Crown

 

Get ready to giddyup! Silky trousers will help.

Get ready to giddyup! Silky trousers will help.

Tonight may be the night that we have a Triple Crown winner for the first time since 1978. (To put that in context, we took a break from Happy Days, the $6 Million Man and a whole lot of Bee Gees music to watch that particular Derby). We came agonizingly close last year with California Chrome, and got a fine drink out of the deal, but no real satisfaction. This could be it people—don’t be caught without a proper cocktail, mocktail or working television for the occasion.

Shockingly (to some of us) the Belmont does not have an official cocktail. The Kentucky Derby of course has the Mint Julep, the Preakness the Black-eyed Susan, a recipe that has been altered but whose name has remained the same. The current version (now that Finlandia is a sponsor) involves vodka, St. Germain liqueur, pineapple juice, orange juice and a squeeze of fresh lime.

Why no Belmont drink? It’s not for lack of trying. In 1975 race the marketing crew made a run at an official drink with the Big Apple—some combo of fruit juice, an apple liqueur and rum. That was supplanted by the overly fussy White Carnation—a combination of vodka, peach schnapps, orange juice, soda water and cream, named after the blanket of carnations in which the winning Belmont Stakes horse is draped.

In 1997 the Belmont Breeze made the scene, but one look at the ingredient list bangs the gong: bourbon or rye whiskey, sherry, lemon juice, orange juice, pimento bitters, fresh mint and orange zest. Really? Pimento bitters? Sherry? Headache anyone?

In 2011 the breeze was replaced with the Belmont Jewel a “more fan friendly ” combination of bourbon, lemonade and pomegranate juice over ice. Sounds easy enough. I’m game for that.

Here’s the recipe for the Jewel. I have to say I appreciate its simplicity:

Belmont Jewel

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 ounces of bourbon (the race track recommends Knob Creek, but use what you like)
  • 2 ounces of lemonade
  • 1 ounce of pomegranate juice

Method:

Combine ingredients and shake that all together with ice. Pour into a rocks glass and garnish with a cherry or lemon.

Pictured above is another fine drink, which is fully appropriate for this occasion. The Whiskey Peach Smash has elements of drinks associated with all three races: Mint in honor of the Derby; yellowness to honor Preakness’s Black-eyed Susan; peach to acknowledge the Belmont’s White Carnation; lemon for a taste of both the Belmont Breeze and the Belmont Jewel; and of course Bourbon to honor the fact that it’s a horse race after all.

Whiskey Peach Smash

Note: a barspoon is an inexact measurement, often equated to a teaspoon.

Serves 1 (as if you are alone tonight!)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 ounces Bourbon
  • 1 heaping barspoon peach jam
  • 1 barspoon honey
  • 1 fat lemon wedge
  • 4 to 6 mint leaves

Method:

Muddle the herbs and lemon wedge, then add the jam, honey, and spirit and stir.

Add ice and shake hard for 5 to 10 seconds, depending on the size of your ice. Strain into a rocks glass over crushed ice. Garnish with more mint.

With booze or without, put on a fancy hat and mix yourself a fun fruity drink to cheer on American Pharoah.

 

 

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Peanut Butter Coconut Bites

These are so easy they practically make themselves.

These are so easy they practically make themselves.

These are tasty little energy bites that go a long way with flavor and energy. They are super easy to make, no bake and a vehicle for any flavor, chip, dried tidbit, or other food item you have on hand. I made half of these with chocolate chips and the other half with cinnamon chips. Both worked really well.  I bring them on hikes. bikes, or other vigorous outings. They travel well and provide a “zip” when you need it.

I got this recipe from a friend of mine who likes to eat super healthy and bring ‘good-for-you’ goodies to all those around her. She brought these to work one day and everyone raved about them. The original recipe is adapted from the Oh She Glows cookbook which we know and love at Bring It Eats!

These take about 10 minutes to make. Go for it and share. You will be happy with the results and they are a fun food to pass around at any time.

Ingredients

1 cup rolled oats (not instant)
2 TBSP coconut oil
2 TBSP peanut butter (or almond butter)
1/4 cup maple syrup (or other sweetener)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup almond flour (or use whole wheat pastry flour – remember previous posts, we should not use almonds right now because of the drought in CA)
1/4 tsp salt (go light)
2 TBSP chocolate chips or any flavoring you like.

Method

Blend oats in blender until a fine flour forms.

Combine coconut oil, peanut butter, maple syrup, and vanilla with a hand mixer. Add almond (or other) flour, oat flour, and salt. Beat until combined. Add chocolate chips.

Form into 14 balls and freeze on parchment paper. Store in Tupperware in refrigerator until you are ready to eat. You can eat them cold or bring to room temperature.

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