Grilled Fig and Halloumi Salad

July 25, 2014 in Healthy Fare, Side Dishes

This salad gives a whole new meaning to Grilled Cheese.

What's better than grilled figs and grilled cheese?

What’s better than grilled figs and grilled cheese?

I just tried halloumi cheese for the very first time a few weeks ago and now I just crave it. When you sear or grill this cheese, the texture is truly remarkable: crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside. Another foodie milestone: halloumi cheese tasted. Check!

I used a Finnish cheese similar to halloumi,I used juustoleipa, a word that means ”bread cheese.” If you live in my neck of the woods, I highly encourage you to check out Heber Valley Artisan Cheese  - and their juustoleipa alone is worth the drive!

The flavors and textures of this simple summer salad mix together perfectly. I like to grill the figs, but I cooked the cheese slices in a skillet over medium heat – to get a nice crust on the outside of the slices and melt the inside of the cheese. This is a salad I will make again and again – and will definitely try new ways to use grillable cheese!

Grilled Fig and Cheese Salad

Grilled Fig and Cheese Sal

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Lemon Tarragon Watermelon Salad

July 22, 2014 in Appetizers, Side Dishes

Watermelon Salad gets a new flavor profile with lemon and tarragon.

A fresh take on Watermelon Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette and Tarragon.

A fresh take on Watermelon Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette and Tarragon.

I love that classic watermelon and feta combo, and I make this salad often in the summer. So sweet/salty/tart – and few things are better in the summer than cold, crunchy ripe watermelon fresh in the summer.

So I decided to try out some new flavors with this salad. Lemon and Tarragon pair perfectly with this watermelon salad. You just whack up a little lemon vinaigrette – and Voila! – instant watermelon salad. I tried a new method of plating this salad as well – just lay a watermelon slice on a plate and then cut into cubes, leaving the round watermelon shape intact. Pretty and yummy for a light summer dinner.

Happy Summer all ~

– posted by Donna

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Japanese Crab and Cucumber Salad

July 16, 2014 in Appetizers, Healthy Fare, Side Dishes

Easy. Refreshing. Elegant. And stunningly delicious.

Light. Refreshing. Elegant.  Crab and Cucumber in a match made in heaven.

Light. Refreshing. Elegant. Crab and Cucumber in a match made in heaven.

This delightful crab and cucumber salad is simple and elegant and just stunningly delicious. I have made this salad three times this week alone – it’s that good. And, Okay, my garden is overflowing with cucumbers right now. So, yeah. Cucumbers on the menu every night. It is a very flexible salad – I have used the paper thin cucumbers as a base and then put different things on top – nectarine slices, feta cheese and green onions are two different combos I have tried. All yummy.

There are three ingredients plus a dressing so delicious I may have eaten half a bowl of it with a spoon. Not confirmed, just sayin’.

The key to the salad is the dressing – it is sweet, sour, tangy and smokey – full of umami and a perfect ying-yang dressing. The Japanese name for this salad is Sunomono – which literally means “Vinegared Thing.” I made a whole bottle of the dressing just to keep in the door of my fridge.

Also, the cucumbers have to be sliced paper thin so that they are soft and pliable. Use chilled cucumbers and crab (or shrimp!) and toss with the dressing at the last minute. Amazing. And Addicting.

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Kale Apple and Toasted Walnut Salad

June 8, 2014 in Appetizers, Healthy Fare, Side Dishes, Vegan Recipes

Kale, Apples and Walnuts in a (creamless) creamy walnut dressing.

Kale Apple Walnut Salad

Make it ’cause it’s healthy. Eat it ’cause it’s YUM.

Walnuts? In June? I know, walnuts are often thought of as a fall ingredient, but they are available year round and add an amazing toasted taste and crunch to a salad. So. They can be a summer food, too.

We are joining the California Walnut Vistual Salad Party with other bloggers this week, so be sure to check out the other recipes at walnut.org

I have been a huge walnut fan for the last 12 years. Walnuts are one of the healthiest things you can put in your mouth, especially with heart health. Since my husband had a severe heart attack in 2002, I have made an effort to get lots of walnuts into our diet. We even make walnut butter, and yes, I know, a little over the top – but it’s YUMMY, and easy to do in your handy food processor. Just toast and then whirl with a little oil.

I fell in love with Aida Mollencamp’s Kale, Apple and Walnut Salad. I was especially intrigued with the [creamless] Creamy Walnut Dressing. It is so delicious you will want to eat the dressing with a spoon. I left out the pancetta and made the salad vegan. Another change I made was to toast the walnuts to give them a more intense flavor. NOTE: Do not skip the toasting of the walnuts – this totally transforms their taste and their texture. Just spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees, or until they are fragrant and browned.

– posted by Donna 

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Melon Slices with Lemon Walnut Gremolata

June 3, 2014 in Side Dishes, Vegan Recipes

Melon slices just got a whole lot more interesting.

Melon Slices with Lemon Walnut Gremolata

Melon slices with a lemony walnut gremolata topping.

Summer brings delicious sweet juicy melon, which can be a little boring at times. But then, I saw a brilliant idea to make plain old melon slices a little more sophisticated on one of my favorite food blogs, The Perfect Pantry. Lydia’s Melon with a Peanut topping looked so intriguing, I had to try my own spin.

This topping with walnuts, lemon zest and mint is so delicious you will be tempted to just skip the melon and eat the topping out of a bowl with a spoon. It has crunch, it has zip and it has tang – a perfect match for the sweet soft melon goodness.

Classic Italian gremolata has three ingredients: parsley, lemon zest and garlic. Italians use it to add zip to most any savory dish. The same concept is used with this sweet walnut gremolata – it adds zip and texture to the melon slices. Or pretty much any fruit salad you can dream up.

Happy Melon Season, everyone!

– posted by Donna

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Why Cooking Matters and Family Heirloom Baking Powder Biscuits

May 9, 2014 in Side Dishes

Baking Powder Biscuits – with my kitchen buddy.

biscuit bakers

Biscuit Bakers Grandma Donna and Miss Ruby

Most Sundays I can be found puttering in my kitchen – my little corner of the world where I retreat to relax, to cook, to create. And on those Sundays when I am really lucky I feel a little tug on my pants near my knees and then I hear “Uppie!” “Uppie!”

I reach down and throw little MIss Ruby into the air and then onto my counter.

At 18 months, my granddarling Ruby is my little shadow and my best kitchen buddy. She loves the feel of flour on her hands and the poof of white in the air that happens when you clap floury hands together.

We scoop flour, we cut in shortening and we stir in buttermilk. And then the most fun part – we roll. Ruby’s hands are too tiny to hold the rolling pin, so she holds her hands flat on top of  the roller and she giggles when it rubs her little hands while I roll. We cut the biscuits into circles and plop them on a baking sheet. Ruby dips the brush into melted butter and together we both brush the biscuits. Often the brush somehow winds up in her mouth as buttery goodness dribbles down her chin and I laugh out loud.

And then the hard part: the waiting. We impatiently wait, and wait. I hold Ruby up to press on the oven light every minute or two to see how the biscuits are puffing.

When finally the biscuits are done we squeal with joy and eat one straight off the pan, breaking it open as the steam poofs out. It is not just good, it is heaven.

baking powder biscuits

Our family heirloom baking powder biscuits.

After Ruby leaves, my heart still happy, I wipe down, clean up the kitchen and pack away leftovers. And I think about food and family and things that matter most in life. One of those things is cooking.

Cooking is so much more than just creating fuel for the human body. It is about connecting, about sharing, about creating who and what we are.  It’s about creating shared memories – memories that I hope will stay with my sweet little Ruby long after I have gone on to cook in more celestial venues.

When you cook for someone, you give them a little piece of yourself, your time, your creativity. You give them you. It shows them that they’re important to you, and that changes everything.

I am so excited to have Ruby in my life – so, so happy to have a little one to share my passion for cooking and to create memories with that will last through the eternities. Some of my happy times as a kid were cooking with my mom and my sisters, and I will cherish those memories and those flavors forever.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you Moms and Grandmoms, Aunts and Cousins, female kitchen mentors out there!

My heartfelt wish for you is that you have a kitchen buddy as fun as mine. If you need a fun recipe that will totally mess up your kitchen, try this one that is our family biscuit recipe. It is sure to please. And to give your kitchen that fine white dusting that shows you really, really did cook!

– posted by Donna

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Parsley Salad with Lemon Zest Vinaigrette

April 28, 2014 in Side Dishes

 Parsley – more than just weeds – with Lemon Zest Vinaigrette.

Parsley Salad

Parsley: No longer just a throw away garnish!

Do you think of parsley as just a throw away garnish on the side of the plate? I did, too.

Once I was with my three-year-old son at a restaurant that has photos on the menu. He pointed at one of the sandwiches and said he wanted to eat that. But he added “But Mom, I don’t want the weeds,” referring to the parsley at the side.

This salad will make you look at the “weeds” in a whole new light. The lemon zest vinaigrette is what makes this salad bright and flavorful. It is a perfect symphony of spring flavors and textures – carrots for sweetness, almonds for crunch and the parsley for earthy tang. And, bonus: parsley is one of the healthiest things you can put in your mouth.

Try this piled next to a grilled meat or even a casserole – so refreshing!

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Beet Deviled Eggs

April 1, 2014 in Appetizers, Holidays, Side Dishes

Double duty beets: flavor inside and color outside deviled eggs.

Beet Deviled Eggs

Deviled Eggs, flavored and colored with beets.

Beets add sweetness and flavor to the classic deviled egg – and a bonus: soak your peeled hard boiled eggs in beet water to add a rosy hue to the outsides of the eggs!

Once a year in early spring I become a deviled egg fanatic. I have tried all kinds of mix-ins to the yolks, and I have to say that it was a surprise how delicious the sweetness of the beets was mixed into the yolks. They are delicious mixed with a little Dijon to balance the sweetness.

There are lots of food bloggers doing naturally dyed eggs – so beautiful! I just added my beets in two places!
See How to Dye Easter Eggs the Natural Way, Simple Bites
Tea Stained Easter Eggs, Yummy Mummy
Vegetable Dyed Eggs, Weelicious

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Caulicannon: Irish Comfort Food – minus the carbs

March 16, 2014 in Gluten Free, Healthy Fare, Holidays, Side Dishes, Vegetarian Entrees

A low-carb, nutrient-packed version of the Irish comfort food classic for St. Patrick’s Day.

Caulicannon: The Irish Comfort Classic made low-carb.

This is certainly a last-minute entry for the St Patrick’s Day recipe bonanza that’s blown up the foodblogosphere all week, but the brainstorm just hit me yesterday and it would be remiss of me not to share it with you posthaste. I was hanging out on Pinterest with my morning coffee as per usual, thinking how lovely a nice bowl of creamy, starchy colcannon would be. Wait a minute, I’ve come to love cauliflower rice, why not use cauliflower mash as the foundation of a low-carb colcannon?

All on its own, I do generally prefer either ricing cauliflower or roasting it,  rather than the pureed version that can be substituted for potatoes, but in this instance, it really hits the spot. My only regret is not doubling the recipe so I’d have more leftovers.

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Broccoli Stem Salad Recipe

January 16, 2014 in Healthy Fare, Side Dishes

Broccoli stems – rescued from the scrap pile!
You'll never throw out a broccoli stem again.

I am not a huge broccoli fan. The flavor of the florets is so strong that I choose other veggies when there is an option. So I was surprised how much I love this slaw that uses the stems of the broccoli stalk instead of the much prettier tops.

I have seen this slaw/salad in several places, and the the directions called for just shaving thin strips of the stems without ever cooking or blanching the stems in any way. I thought this was a mistake, and so for the first try of this slaw I cooked the stems, cooled them and then took my vegetable peeler to them. It was good.

But then, I tried the raw version – and liked it even better. When you peel the stems into paper-thin slices, raw works just fine. And is, in fact, YUM. I love the very mild hint of broccoli flavor and the crunch of the thin raw slices. This combination is the perfect blend of soft goat cheese, tangy vinaigrette and crunchy broccoli slices.

I really love this easy salad – and feel so good about making a dish out of something that would otherwise wind up in the scrap pile. I like parsley and a little goat cheese (that’s what I had on hand when I made this unique slaw) but you could add pretty much any vegetables you like. And of course your favorite vinaigrette.

Happy Winter Everyone!

– posted by Donna

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