Advertisements

strawberry and balsamic chicken summer salad

Good morning, friends!

I made this recipe last week, just sort of opened the fridge and it all came together.

We liked it SO much,that I made it again this week!

And you should too!

Start by making your marinade

20140724-091958.jpg

1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 TBSP low sodium soy sauce ( use GF soy suave to make the dish GF)
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
1/8 c olive or canola oil
1 handful fresh parsley
1 small onion roughly chopped
Dash sea salt

20140724-092333.jpg

Dig out your trusty smoothie maker. And blend

20140724-092402.jpg

Reserve about 1/4 cup of marinade for dressing base , being careful not to contaminate.

Pour the rest of the marinade over the chicken and let sit for 3-4 hours

20140724-092602.jpg

When ready to cook, discard marinade that chicken was hanging out , and preheat girl to 375 ish

20140724-092703.jpg

Grill chicken breasts for about 7-8 minutes per side. Use a meat thermometer to make sure internal temp gets up to 165.

You’ll get some color on these, don’t worry! It’s the sugars in the balsamic and brown sugar carmalizing. And, it’s delicious!

When chicken has reached 165 in the thickest part, remove from heat and let rest.

Make your dressing…

To the reserved marinade mix, add 1/4 cup of extra virgin oil oil, and black pepper. Re-whirl the dressing in your smoothie maker ( it should look a bit creamy due to the oil emulsifying )

Next, assemble your salad

Place greens of your choice in a serving bowl. Chop up about 1/2 pound ( or more) of fresh strawberries. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts ( toast them first for a deeper flavor) then add about 1/3 cup of soft cheese sprinkled all over the top.

( first time I made this I used goat cheese, second time, I used a soft feta.. Both were amazing! … Use what you have )

Next, slice your chicken ( it should still be warm) and top on top of the cheese and let sit for a minute ( your cheese layer is getting very happy )

20140724-093639.jpg

Drizzle the dressing atop chicken and toss when ready to serve

Yeah. You should totally make this.

20140724-093819.jpg

Advertisements

Colorado whiskey-peach glazed smoked turkey breast

friends. I have a recipe for you. I have a recipe that has SO much flavor, it’s crazy.

 

Last summer, Scott and I bought a Big green Egg. For those who don’t know what that is, Its a Grill/smoker/pizza oven.

It’s a dream.  I’ve wanted one for years. 

It’s my personal ‘Green Monster’ … a little bit o’ Bosssston right here on my back porchbig green egg

Since owning this sweet little darling, I have become more adventurous with my outdoor cooking. I actually cook outdoors all winter long.

 

Snow storm? Kewl…. let’s fire that baby up a get a steak on there!

I was slow to start to smoke things, but since I’ve actually learned, I’m hooked.  ( or as my friend from River Cat Chili says, I’m smokin’ crazy)

Since Scott was home doing taxes this weekend ( big time boo 😦 ) I was able to get out of the house to go food shopping ( must be something wrong with me,becauseI REALLY enjoy grocery shopping! )

I didn’t have a plan

I didn’t have a list

I was just so excited to get out of the house after being pup-bound all week

( our girl is healing really well 😉 Fenwayall decked out in her Easter-inspired bandana 🙂

 

I stumbled upon a half turkey breast and that was it. I knew what I was doing.

sort of.

I began by brining the turkey ta-ta.

I used kosher salt,( 1/2 cup)

agave ( 1/8 cup ) ( you can swap out for sweetener of your choice)

pepper (dash)

and herbs de Provence ( 1 tablespoon )

If you want to make this, use what you have, just start with the salt/ water/ sugar mixture

 

I boil about 1/2 cup water, mix with the salt and agave , then add about a gallon of ice water to chill mixture and spices of choice.

In the past I’ve added various citrus, fresh herbs.. use what you have.. make it your own!

 

Brine turkey breast for 24 hours in the fridge.

about an hour or two before cooking, soak wood chips in water ( you need the water to create the steam to create the smoke 😉 )  I found pecan wood chunks and that was what I used. Check your hardware store, they are lousy with different flavors…. all of which I want to try

I set up my smoker so that it was at a steady 225 degrees

NOTE * if you do not have a smoker, you can bring your grill to this low temp or your oven and soak wood chips of choice and make a foil packet with      the chips and a bit of water. this will create the smoke and as long as you grill top is closed and over door is shut, the smoke will create a smoky taste in your food. Just make sure that the temp stays low.. 250 max.

I inserted a meat thermometer ( an absolute necessity )  

 

and place turkey breast on grill, add the soaked ships to the fire and shut the lid… and inhale.

( your neighbors will come out of the woodwork 😉 )

smoked turkey breast

 

The finished temp on the turkey ( or any poultry, including ground) needs to be 165 degrees.

When the temp reached 155, I placed some Peach- whiskey jam in am oven safe stoneware dish and place next to turkey so that it can melt a little

 

colorado peach whiskey jamthis is what I used. Scott and I picked this up at the farmers’ market this summer ( along with some other fun flavors  jalapeno-tequilia anyone ? )

 

you can buy it Here or you can use peach jam and add your own whiskey.

It is a bit on the pricey side, but trust me, this is like no other jam that you’ve ever tried. And a little bit goes a loong way.

 

smoked turkey and baby carrotsafter about 5 mintues, baste the trukey with the melted jam, ( reserve a little for the carrots )

remove stoneware and add some carrots

I  peeled baby carrots , tossed them in olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs de Provence  and place around the turkey

 

close lid and when temp comes up to 165, using tongs, remove turkey from smoker ( don’t pull the thermometer out just yet )

 

Place under broiler for about 4 minutes to get a final crispy crust

 

place on cutting board to rest and close lid to finish cooking carrots ( I like mine al dente.  cook to what your preference) when cooked to your desired crunch, glaze carrots with remaining melted jam

 

Colorado peach whiskey glazed turkey breast

 

look at that baby!

When ready to serve, cut the entire breast off of the bone by carefully insert knife along the breast bone, then slice horizontally so that each piece has a small bit of that amazing glazed crust

 

peach glazed turkey breast

 

here’s a napkin for you 😉

 

A friend asked me recently what was the biggest thing that I took  away from culinary school

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about this.  The number one thing that I learned?

 

I love to write. One of the core classes that I had to take was English Lit and I was scared to death. I hadn’t written since high school ( I was 32 when  I attended J & W )  My first paper that I had to write was about myself.  I approached it in the 3rd person and wrote a summary of my life on 2 pages

When the professor handed it back to me he said, ” I’ve been teaching for over 30 years, this was one of the best papers that I have ever had the pleasure of grading”

those were his exact words. I’ll never forget them.

From then on  I looked forward to every writing assignment.

 

The second thing that i took away.. not so much recipes, but Flavor Profiles. I understand what flavors complement each other. How to take simple ingredients and bring them together to make some tasty food.

 

Like here.. you notice that I used the herb de Provence in both the turkey brine and the carrots. I used the same glaze on both.

I made a kale salad to go along with this, and added golden raisins and slivered almonds, adding about a teaspoon of the jam to the dressing to bring the whole dish together.

 

I learned how to make a dish mine and to have fun in the kitchen!

So go ahead, use some of my recipes as a guide, but fins a way to put your personal touch on them. You’ll start to see how much fun it can be and you’ll go from making dinner to making a little bit of love on a plate.

bon apetit!

mock~tails, home made fruit vinegars annnd..

Spaghetti squash casserole.

yes.

again.

After help from my friends and family on facebook, I think that I’ve fixed the issue. Now I’m sure some of you are downright sick of hearing about it ( I’m kinda getting sick of typing it) but I still feel the need to share that post in its’ entirety, so we will start with that.

 

( feel free to skip if you just can’t bear to have your eyes view it again~ it’s ok, I’ll still love you. Like lots. )

 

friends. If you are connected with me on my  facebook page , then you’ve had a sneak peak at what’s cooking in my kitchen

Get yerself a sketti squash, because trust me, you will want to make this!

I mentioned in my massaged kale salad post how I am obsessed with True food kitchen

I’ve eaten here many times and have tried many things on the menu. ALL fabulous.

Twice now, I’ve had friends order the spaghetti squash casserole, and both have raved about how good it was.

( truth be told, both friends offered me a bite, of which I accepted  and wow! I just knew I had to make it at home)

I did a little research * puffy heart google* and voila! found the recipe!

click the link for complete recipe

Dr Andrew Weil, Spaghetti Squash casserole

 

Ingredients
1 spaghetti squash
2 large carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
Red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch of ground allspice
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 pound part-skim mozzarella
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheesenow since I’m home with a healing pup, I had to improvise the recipe just a littleI did not have the peppers, but I did find a sad little jalapeno in my crisper drawer, and we like it hot 😉 so I used that in place of the red and yellow peppers.

spaghetti squash casserole ingredients

Start by cooking the squash. The recipe says to add entire squash into a big pot of water, bring to a boil for 50 minutes.

 

check on pup 

Now, I usually cook squash in the oven but I was intrigued to try this method. So I did.

My only comment would be that cooking it in the oven it was easier to separate the seeds from the flesh, but over, I would cook the squash either way.

while the squash is cooking ( whichever way your little heart desired) Chop up your veggies

Add a small amount of olive oil to a pan ( I’m a die hard believer in cast iron.. I’ll explain why if ya wants to know 😉  )

 

add the onions and carrots to hot oil, season with a bit of salt and cook for 5 min

 

check on pup 

next, I  added the the pepper and celery with a dash of red pepper flakes

squash filling

allow to saute for about 10 minutes, until veggies were soft. Taste for salt, if it needs a little more, go ahead and knock your self out 😉

* I kept adding little bits of water throughout so that the veggies didn’t dry out and stick while softening.. maybe 2 tablespoons at a time each time I stirred it ? )

 

check on pup 

The recipe called to squeeze the garlic in, but I rid myself of my garlic press years ago, as it only had that one purpose, and its easy enough to smash garlic with the side of a chef’s knife. garlic smash

f you have a press, by all means use it

add the crushed tomatoes m sprinkle of allspice (the secret ingredient, we discovered) , the garlic.

now you may have noticed the dish of roasted tomatoes.  I had some maters that were to ripe to eat raw, so I roasted them like I did when I made my

roasted garlic and tomato soup

 

 

squash filling

I  added these sweet babies  in addition to the crushed tomatoes

I also added a sprig of rosemary.

I hate to follow directions 😉

spaghetti squash

 

and btw~ this smelled heavenly 

Next I used a pair of tongs to remove squash from boiling water ( CAREFULLY) and place on a cutting board until cool enough to cut

 

scoop out seeds ( if you cooked it in the oven, you’ve already done this. great job, you overachiever, you  😉 )

 

spaghetti squash filling

 

 

add to tomato mixture and stir

 

check on pup 

Now full disclosure… since I was cooking this for just Scott and myself, I spooned out half of the tomato mixture and reserved for another recipe ( veggie chili, perhaps? ) and only used half of the spaghetti squash itself.   Had I known I could have halved the recipe, but being my first time making it, I wasn’t thinking.

 

spaghetti squash filling

 

 

I mean just look at this! Incredible.

 

next, layer 1/2  the squash mixture in baking dishes , add 1/2 the cheese, the rest of the squash mixture, and top with remaining cheese

 

 

baked spaghetti squash

 

guess which one was mine 😉

 

As far as the cheese goes, I used shredded because I had it and on Sunday when I played around with

smoked tofu crumbles, I smoked a few mozzarella balls as well ( just curious how it would come out) so I cut those up and topped  our dishes with a bit of that crazy cheese flavor.

I baked it in a 350 over for about 20 minutes, topped with shredded basil and a tiny drizzle of olive oil

 

Baked Spaghetti Squash

 

do I have your attention yet?

 

baked Spaghetti squash

 

yeeeeeaaah…  this was pretty awesome.  and healthy? CRAZY healthy!

If you would like to make this vegan, substitute Daiya cheese. simple!

My friend, Cindy stopped by yesterday to visit with me and brought me lunch. From where? True food of course!

I had the edamame dumplings and they were incredible. Together we disected the taste and came up with what we think would be a good recipe.

 

I have my next challenge!

 

true food edamame dumplings

 

Thank you, Cindy, for lunch and the company 😉

My next immediate project is making puppy ice cream or peanut butter biscuits  With all of the treats I’ve been given Fen, I’m starting to run low and need to last until the weekend when Scott is home

 

healing Fenway

 

 

my sweet girl ❤

 

 

al’ight….  since I’ve spent 46,000 hours writing,losing,finding,re~losing, re~ finding,fixing and re~ posting this…. you just might wanna make this… and let me know 🙂

 

ok. next. While I was hanging out with my sweet pup this week, I watched a lot of Food Network I came across a show that was focusing on Mocktails… you know, cocktails sans alcohol.

 

Kelsey Nixon made blackberry sipping vinegar to use as a base for a mocktail recipe.

I was curious, so I used the base/ idea of her recipe to make Strawberry~basil vinegar.

( because that is what I had in~ house ..

 

strawberry~basil vinegar

start by using equal parts fruit-sugar. I used a cup of each and added shredded basil

 

mash fruit and sugar up well and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate ( I love re- using rubber bands from veggies all over the kitchen 😉 ) for 2 days , stirring occasionally

On day 3, add equal amount ( 1 cup )  of apple cider vinegar ( I swear by Bragg’s.. highly worth the extra buck or two ) and stir.

The next day, using a fine~ mesh strainer, strain all solids out, using a flexible spatula  to press out every last bit of liquid ( you do NOT want to waste any )

 

strawberry- basil vinegar

to make your life easier ( because let’s face it, it’s all about you 😉 ) strain it into a dish or measuring cup with a spout for easy pouring.

Pour into a jar and store in fridge!

 

( I have a batch with Meyer lemons in the fridge now. I’ll let you know how it comes out )

 

strawberry-basil vinegar

I made a mocktail by pouring about an ounce of the vinegar over some ice, topping with sparkling water and a wedge of lime.

 

strawberry-basil mocktail

 

There is something about the vinegar that really elevates this drink., It feels like a special drink

In the show, Kelsey used an infused tea as well ( click the link up there for complete recipe) but I’m a simple girl and this drink suited me just fine.

So for my friends out there who don’t drink alcohol, for one reason or another, here’s a new option for you!

 

It is also a Crazy- delicious base for a salad dressing..  more on that tomorrow.

 

On another note, my PT is going well. Really well. my PT recommended that I get a theraputtic massage to break up some of the scar tissue in my hamstring from the tears. ( not my torn ACL leg that i just had surgically fixed, the OTHER leg that went into crazy hyper horrificness thanks to being on crutches post- surgery

The massage therapist ( This was NOT a relaxing massage AT ALL, btw) worked on my hips, glutes, ( where one of the tears are) and then she moved to my back.

She discovered that I have a muscle along my spine ( not the spine itself) that is all twisted up and is sending pain signals down my leg.

After 60 minutes with her, I noticed a difference ( the next day)

I was shocked to realize halfway through the day that I wasn’t struggling while doing simple things like just walking 

So my PT is also working on this and is having me start some strength training , lots of squats, single-leg squats and lunges of all angles.

and I’m feeling good for the first time in a LONG time.

I asked Matt ( PT) about possibly training for a 5k. He said he’ll let me start jogging ( under his supervision) on the treadmill in 2 weeks.

He humbling shared with me that he came in in the top 20 of the Boston Marathon last year. Not percentage, but overall.

I’m uber- impressed.

Friday I made a last minute descison to sign up for an Earth- Month 5k around the corner from my house. ( with his approval)

I went into this knowing that walking was the only option and that my time would not matter.

I had 2 friends who signed up with me.

we finished dead last, but that didn’t matter. We did it.

I had my first benchmark for races here in Colorado and the only thing that I can expect from here is to get better and move forward..

I’m ready

Aveda earth day race

I hope that your weekend was fabulous!

xo

roasted beet and goat cheese salad

friends, I was having a bad day today.

some days are just like that

But I had a great conversation with a couple of friends, and a nice text from an old friend that I haven’t chatted with in awhile, and just like that… I’m feeling better 🙂

and that brings me back into the kitchen. ( barefoot, of course 😉 ) to make this salad for you. IMG_0577

look intimidating? I promise you, it isn’t. In fact it’s quite simple.

IMG_0573

you’ll need

2 beets ( red or yellow, I used one of each)

1 tsp olive oil

2 ounces of goat cheese

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 red onion

1/4 cup cashews

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

fresh thyme sprigs

I was inspired to make this after we went to the Farmers’ market and found a bunch of beets that had both the yellow and red in it

IMG_2103

( I’m still in shock that I can walk to the market from my front door)

start by roasting your beets  ( you can do this a day ahead of time)

cut the greens off of the beets and wash the bulb under cold water to remove any excess dirt. dry.

add  each beet to a piece of aluminum foil , drizzle with olive oil and wrap up like a Hershey’s kiss

* just like we did when we roasted the onions *

IMG_0474

*** side note… as you may have noticed I use a lot of foil ‘ packets’ especially when I’m grilling which is like every day these days.  I used foils from the beauty supply store. ( the kind used to highlight hair).. they are pre cut and make the perfect size for packet making.  One box will last you years, I promise 😉 ***

roast the beets either in a 375 oven or on the grill for about 20-30 minutes or until tender ( the smaller the beet, the faster they will cook.)

remove from heat and cool.

once the beets are roasted, the skin will pretty much slip right off of the beet without skipping a beat 😉

HA! I made a funny!

* dead silence*

Ok.. I’m a 7 year old at heart.

annnyhow… have a bowl of soapy water handy, of using red beets your hands will get red.

meanwhile, slice red onion very thinly and place in a small bowl and pour red wine vinegar over. toss to coat and let the onions marinate.

chop the cashews ( I would have liked to use pistachios, but didn’t have them.. thus the cashews)

roast the nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat for a few minutes until fragrant and beginning to toast

next, slice the goat cheese. ( slice the cheese before you slice the beets, because your cutting board will get as red as your hands 🙂

next, assemble salad.

I arrange it in a semi- circle ‘ cause I wanted to make it all purty.

in this order

beet

goat cheese slice

beet

goat cheese slice

etc..

remove onions form vinegar and place alongside.

add balsamic vinegar to a small sauce pan and heat until reduced by half & it should thicken.

drizzle over beets and cheese and top with cashews

voila!

IMG_0576

see.. wasn’t that easy?

I wanted to share this picture just for fun

IMG_2104

thanks for reading!

click for some more salads!

spinach salad & dressing tutorial

prosciutto- cantelope salad

massaged kale salad

grilled watermelon salad

the next food network star ( possible spoiler depending on when you are reading)

hands up.. who is watching this season?

 

* raises hand* 

If you are watching then you know that tonight is the season finale.  Ryan and I have been watching since the beginning, and the very first episode, he looked at me and stated, ” Demaris should be the winner” .

 

At first  was unsure, I mean she did a few things that I kind of thought were on the outrageous side..

 

but as time went on I realized that I LOVED her outrageousness and here we are at the finale, and she is one of the last 3! 

We watched her pilot last week, and Ryan turned to me and said, ” mom, you MUST make this”

 

* for those of you who do not know, Ryan is our middle child, on summer break from college, and a huge foodie ( like his mama 😉 ) *

 

so guess what i did last night? 

yuppers.. I made her recipes.

Sweet Potato Biscuits with Peppered Pork Loin, Apple Mustard Butter and Salad

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/damaris-phillips/sweet-potato-biscuits-with-peppered-pork-loin-apple-mustard-butter-and-salad-recipe/index.html?oc=linkback

 

ImageImageImageImage

 

 

trust me. you should too!

 

this was my first time making biscuits ( go ahead, be shocked, Ryan was) and ya know what? they came out really good!  Demaris does a good job of explaining how to not make them *humpy*

yes, Humpy. She said that on tv…  which is why I hope she wins, I would LOVE to watch her show. 

Image

 

 

I know that I promised you a recipe yesterday, but the weekend got away from me and I spent a lot of time outside, enjoying the perfect weather.

I promise, tomorrow… Roasted onion, garlic and red pepper sauce.

so simple, so good 🙂 

Make the most of the rest of your weekend! 

oxox

jax love

happy sunday , friends.

 

Scott and I were headed out for a walk when a good friend of mine happened to call at the exact time I was turning the key in the engine to inform me of a marathon running right by my house.

 

Back inside we went.

 

So last month, life unexpectedly had me take a last minute trip to go to Jacksonville, Fla to be with my daugther in law, Amanda… you may remember her  from THIS POST

 

while I was there to help her through some medical issues ( my Son is still on deployment until NEXT WEEK!!!)  She and were able to spend a bit of time doing silly things that we both enjoy ….

(not a great pic of either of us, but we were having a blast)

Health Food Shopping!!!!  For about a year now, Amanda has educated herself on non-gmo foods and how to eat a healthy, balanced diet and has lost 30 pounds!!  Let’s here it for how amazing that is!!!

No lie, over my 2 1/2 day visit with her, we hit 5 health food stores !  silly silly fun ❤

 

And of course… we found time for food.

 

hold on to your hats here… even thought I posted pictures when I was Colorado about going  out for frozen yogurt.. But that was only for Scott and Ali.

 

*I* still had not caught onto the ‘fro yo’ craze…

 

until jax.

 

Amanda  has 2 places that she wanted me to visit with her. One was 

 

YOBE!!!

 

yum 🙂  in the event that I am NOT the last person on earth who has not got out for for yo.. I will share..

 

 

Here, we went to a wall o fun……  you serve yourself whatever flavors ( go wild with your combinations..) into your cup

* our favorite was Fat Free ‘taro’  made from a tropical asian plant that has similar nutritional values to spinach… trust me.. this was AWESOME!!!!!*

then you head over to the toppings bar

 

and go WILD!

 

 

 

 

yum 🙂

 

the other place that we went was called COZY TEA

Amanda had told me a few weeks back that when I ever got to jax again that we both must go. ( she loves tea as much as I do)  Neither of us had dreamed that I would actually be there so soon…..

 

but I was… so we went..

 

and it was a phenominal experience!

 

nestled in an amongst other shops in an older part of Jacksonville, it this darling tea shop.

 

 

the room is beautifuly eclectic…. with mis matched dishes, and linens and even chairs, it has all the feeling of a very special living room…

 

you begin by picking your tea..

 

 

so many to chose from ! it was hard to make the choice ( so hard in fact that I  bought some loose tea to bring home with me 😉

 

 

I chose the lemon grass  Chai. I forget what Amanda chose….  I think it was fruity..

 

 

 

 

the food is all home made and without a doubt some of the best that I’ve ever had…

 

 

 

everything is home made and the chef-owners were right there in the kitchen… a delight to to talk to.

 

 

 

 

and when your tea is done, there are so many hand made truffles to chose from!  Of course I brought a bunch home.

She and I also each picked out a freshly baked scone with cream and jam to bring back for after dinner that night

 

 

 

we headed back to her house to hang with the pups, Bruin & Kallie and to just hang out and relax. Relaxing was much needed 😉

 

we ended the night by toasting to Jason, knowing he’s be home soon..

 

 

I did a little cooking while I was there.. I’ll share that in the next post….

 

aren’t they adorable?? she looks a lot like her little sister in this picture :0

 

so pretty !

 

on a final note.. I finally have my own suitcase.  This may sound silly to some, but it has me feeling all grown up.  With all of the traveling that I have been doing recently, as well as much more to come, I’ve gotten pretty good at the packing thing and have discovered some handy tips that I will be sharing soon.

 

I feel like such a big girl when I am maneuvering through the airport..

 

ya know.. a big girl who still takes her blankie with her at 42 years old 🙂

 

smooches friends.

 

enjoy your Sunday ❤

banish boring salads

well… maybe not banish but know that there are options out there.

You know how when you got to a restaurant and some of the fancier salads look sooo good… but you have a hard  time shelling out 13 bucks for a salad..

yeah  me too.  Here’s the thing.. you can make these at home!!  Now I know some of you are like, “duh? is she going to seriously walk us through salad making 101?”

yes. Because I have a few friends whose diets have changed and they need to add more fruits and veggies into their diet & want to show the amazing amount options that are out there. If you already know all of this.. I apologize…. just scroll to the bottom to help answer a question about my next giveaway.

WHOA!!! wait.. YOU!… get back up here.. I’m not done yet.

We’ll start with making a dressing….  yes.. making it is super simple.. and there are 17,000 combinations that you can create… just use a basic formula and add the flavors that you like!

you will need

1~ an acid.. either vinegar, lemon or lime juice, wine….  1/8 cup

2~ an oil…. olive oil, canola oil, sesame oil.. coconut oil ( my new FAVORITE! ) 1/4 cup

3~mustard… again… SO many flavors out there… play with it! 1 tsp

4~ honey.. or maple syrup ( the real stuff) or agave…. 1 tsp

5~ (optional) herbs.. fresh or dried… or sesame seeds, or crushed garlic….. 1/2-1 tsp.. depending on how strong you would like ( always start with less then add more)

6~ sea salt and pepper…..  I have a slight salt obsession as well…..  we’ll chat about this later 🙂 remind me if I forget.

simply add everything to a small ball jars

   put the top on the jar and shake….

you just made dressing 🙂

trust me.. you can’t get that out of a bottle…. anywhere.

I don’t like overly dressed salads, so I usually use about a tablespoon per salad.. if you like more, then add more… I mix it with whichever greens I am using so that they are coated, then place in serving bowl… top with toppings…

like the quiche ‘recipe’  ( are you starting to get my method of cooking… it’s always a formula, then playing with ingredients… because I am a firm believer in  play!  <—- please read this post, it’s one of my favorites 🙂

so.. you will want

1~ green of choice… baby spinach, arugula, mesclun, romaine, butter lettuce..

2~ dressing of choice

3~ ( optional.. ) protein of choice… ( chicken, beans, salmon, beef, tofu, edamame.)

4~ other veggies.. just pile them on!

5~ (optional ) cheese

6~ (optional) something for crunch.. croutons, sunflower seeds, pepitas, sliver almonds

7~ (optional) dried cranberries or apricots or mandarin orange wedges

and  you, my dear have just made a killer salad worthy of any restaurant.

here’s your 13 buckaroos back 🙂

This salad  has

baby spinach

basic vinaigrette

topped with edamame ( I used trader Joe’s ).. about 1/2 cup

black beans .. about 1/4 cup

1/4 avocado, chopped

1/4 cup cranberry goat cheese ( if you are vegan, by choice or m=by force, eliminate it…  the avocado give the same mouthfeel… and you probably wont miss it)

1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes

finish with sea salt and pepper..

I ate this for lunch yesterday and it kept me full all afternoon!  ( and peeps ask me all the time where I get my protein from 🙂  )

so be brave…. look beyond iceburg, cukes and tomatoes ( not that there is anything with it, it’s the only way I can get my kids to eat a salad, so I still make it… ) and have fun!!!!

NEEEEXXXXTTT…

I have fallen in LOVE with Greek Yogurt. Have you tried it yet? I buy the non fat plain and it tastes just like sour cream. I sub it out for sour cream all the time.  It is also a perfect base to make granola parfait but also… to make some ‘creamy’ sauces!  like this

Chipotle cream sauce

I used about 1/2 the can of peppers.. if you like it more mild, use less

about a cup of the Greek Yogurt

half a lime

I put them all in the magic bullet looking thing and blended

if you don’t have one of these babies, you could use a blender, just keep scraping down the sides.. or use a food processor.

that’s it folks… does it get simpler than that? I think not.

The girls had this on their tacos last night & I topped my tostada with it.

the girls’ taco filling is made with lean ground chicken, then when I add the taco seasoning ( only half the package… it’s so loaded with sodium.. a little goes a long way.. you also can make your own, considerably knocking the sodium down, but I had it so I used it) and when I add the water I add a can of refried beans. They blend in perfectly… it stretches the filling and boosts the protein 🙂 I’ve been doing this for years..

It also freezes and defrosts well, so you can make double the amount and have it in the freezer for a super quick dinner…. If you need to cook for one, make a batch and freeze it into individual portions…  again.. quick dinner for one

*if you have dinner for one, please do me a favor and do it by candle light.. you are special and should have a nice dining experience.. if you want you can face time me and we can eat dinner together 😉 *

My filling was chopped mushrooms, sautéed  in oil, then  I mashed some back beans and lime juice in, seasoned with sea salt, cumin & chile powder

I placed it on a small flour tortilla that I heated in my cast iron skillet ( I CANNOT say enough how much I love  cast Iron to cook with)

top with cheese ( if vegan, try the daiya cheese shreds.. it’s very good, melts and stretches like cheese and can be frozen.. It is on the pricey side ( $5 a bag) but it does freeze, and I just pull out what I need when I need it )

the I added avocado.. fresh salsa.. Chipotle cream sauce and some plain Greek yogurt..  YUM!  ( and sooooooo easy )

As far as the rest of the chipotle peppers ( I’ve never had a recipe that I’ve used the whole can ) I take a freezer bag & label it… place in a jar

then press out the air & seal

Whenever I need some for a recipe, or a burst of flavor, I just break a piece off! No waste here.. yo!

so now that I’ve made you hungry… I have a question for all of you.

I have a fun company that has offered for me to give away one of their products.  I have the choice…

1~ 1 big gift for one lucky recipient…

OR

2~ 10 small gifts ( of the same item) so that TEN of you can win….

so whatcha all think? 1 big winner or 10 smaller ones???

smooches friends!!  oxooxo

tofu newbie

Yup. that’s me!  A dear friend of mine encouraged me to try tofu a few months back.  I’ll be honest…  I was scared.

Really, it doesn’t look all that appetizing.  Then again, many foods dont prior to preparing right?

right.

A few of you may know that I participated in a 21(plus) -day cleanse earlier this summer.  Without getting into too many details (other than it was the single best thing that I’d ever done for myself) the idea was that over a 3 week period of time, I eliminated foods from my diet until I was down to eating only raw foods, then I chose to also do the optional 7 day liquid/ juice part. After the 7 days I slowly added foods back in, giving my body 3 full days to adjust to each food.

Why am I sharing this with you? Because meat was the last thing that I added back in (only in extreme moderation and I’m seriously considering eliminating it permanently)

So I’ve been exploring other protein options. And Tofu just keeps popping up in so many recipes!

I’ve done quite a bit of reading about the different kinds and how to prepare it and I’ve found 2 excellent tutorials.. (forgive me for those friends of mine who follow these ladies’ blogs & have already seen these)

Emily\’s crispy tofu and  Mama Pea\’s broiled tofu

psst…….  Mama Pea just released a wonderful  COOKBOOK! last week.. I highly recommend it 😉

I just cooked up the crispy tofu to top my salad for lunch and it was a winner!

Once I sauteed it & put it on my salad I just drizzled it with a bit of balsamic vinegar & evoo.

Spot. On.

I see this appearing on  plate with many different flavor combinations in the future!

as for Mama’s broiled tofu recipe…..  that’s tomorrow night’s dinner already marinating 🙂

Onto other business.  This blog began when Scott & I decided to join a local organic CSA last year. Our farmers Dave and Sasha from Plato\’s Harvest Organic Farm were not able to run a CSA this summer.

No worries! we still visit them each Thursday at the Plymouth Farmer\’s Market. The veggies are just as delicious as they were last summer & I still look forward to getting my goodies and coming home to play with new ways to prepare and enjoy them!

My point is that I’m considering re-naming the blog.  I’m re-considering a lot these days….

anyone else realize how I ramble ?

If you haven’t tried tofu and want to…the crispy tofu is a great way to start…. I’m off to prepare dinner!

ciao!

small friends & pasta party!!

Yesterday was a very busy day here at Casa Hagg.

Not only did I get to spend the day with two of my favorite kiddos in the world

~L

and

~G (peanut butter face)

but we were also having a team-building , carb-loading pasta dinner for the girls’ JV soccer team..

We spent the morning playing race-cars , coloring big empty boxes & getting the house ready for the party

and having lunch 😉

When it was time for  L to get on the school bus to kindergarten..

G & I set out on an adventure for acorns

for his favorite stuffed squirrel.. ( he now has a winter-long stash;) )

For the dinner I made a tossed garden salad ( nothing fancy, I never know who will eat what..)

garlic bread

traditional baked ziti

made with sausage, ricotta, mozzarella & tomato sauce

but I also wanted another pasta option.. so I came up with this recipe.

beware.. calorie counting is prohibited for this dish… it is comfort food at it’s best

Baked shells with a parmesan-cream  sauce & broccoli

here is what I used:

1 box of medium shells, cooked according to package, except reserve 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta water before draining.

1 stick of unsalted butter

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 pint half & half

2 cups chicken stock

nutmeg

1 8-ounce package of 5 cheese blend shredded cheese

2 cups frozen broccoli, defrosted & chopped.

here is what I did:

in large stockpot ( the same one that I boiled the shells in, they were chillin’ in the colander in the sink)

Melt the butter over medium heat; add the flour & whisk with a whisk to make a slurry.

Let cook for about a minute to let the raw flour taste cook off; slowly add the half & half, whisking constantly.. then do the same with the chicken stock.

Add a pinch of nutmeg, stir occasionally as the mixture thickens.. season with salt & pepper; Add shredded cheese & let cook until the cheese is all melty.

Add the pasta & stir to combine, adding some reserved pasta liquid, starting with 1/2 cup, then adding more if needed.

Stir in broccoli & pour entire mixture into a buttered baking dish.

Top with grated Parmesan cheese, cover with foil & bake in a 350 degree oven for 1/2 hour.

This. Was. Heavenly.

As I went for my second helping last night, I promised myself a day of all vegetables today as retribution..

I keep reminding myself of that as I know that there is just enough of this in my fridge for lunch should I decide to break my promise with myself & indulge.

Which I won’t.

I think.

Yeah, I won’t.

Probably.

Good luck Lady Saints in your first home game of 2010!!

grilled pork chops with mango -jalapeño sauce

I’ve found that some of the best recipes that I’ve made have been largely unplanned. Scott & I had bought these beautiful pork chops  but just couldn’t come up with an idea for them.

blindly heading toward my fridge without a clue as to what I was doing, I spotted the Greek yogurt.

Then I opened the freezer so see a lonely bag of Trader Joe’s frozen mango chucnks

Hmmm… I was onto something.

I grabbed my trusty blender &  added the yogurt, mango, 1/2 of a jalepeno pepper, chopped , 1/4 cup brown sugar, some salt & pepper a little bit of good ol’ H2O.. said a quick prayer to the cooking fairies & whirred my little heart out.

yumminess was happening..

I added a little bit more water to get a smoother consistency & tasted it.

perfect!

I set aside some of this yummy sauce ( and kept tasting it.. you know just to make sure that the flavors didn’t change int he 10 minutes since I had made it..)

and marinated the pork in the rest of it.

of course being VERY careful to not cross-contaminate with any of the raw pork..

I covered both of these babies & stuck them in the fridge and let the pork marinade all day long.

Dinnatime!!! I fired up my grill & grilled both chops….

OOPS.. hot spot… darn it 😦

pork chop #2…  now THAT’S what I’m talkin’ ’bout!!

dear pork police…

*no pork was wasted in this burning misadventure, the crust of that one side of burnt pork was cut off & the pork underneath was wonderful*

I grilled it to an internal temp of 145.. then pull of the grill & LET REST!!.. this is very important!

I made a salad with some Arugula from Plato\’s Harvest Organic Farm.. I added some slivered onion, goat cheese & slivered almonds. Tossed with a little bit of the marinade that I set aside..

next to the sliced pork & a bit more magic sauce on top..

I think I love mango 🙂

%d bloggers like this: