Saturday, May 28, 2016

May is National Salad Month


May is National Salad Month, and before it gets away (Can you believe that June is next week?), I wanted to share some of my favorite salads with you. This is a tasty and diverse group. Some are hearty, some are light, all are unique and satisfying, and sure to earn you lots of compliments. To get to the recipe, click on the name of the salad beneath each picture.

Fava Bean and Cherry Tomato Salad

 Pear and Walnut Salad

 Muffaletta Pasta Salad

 Tarragon Chicken Salad with Champagne Grapes

 Baby Greens, Beet, Walnut, and Blue Cheese Salad

 Mexican Cobb Salad

 Waldorf Salad

 Sorrel & Watermelon Salad with Feta


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Thursday, May 26, 2016

White Russian Sorbet

When the heat is on (and, boy, is it!) it's time to cool things off with a frosty summer cocktail. It's even better when that cocktail is turned into a tasty frozen dessert.

This White Russian Sorbet is a breeze to make. The flavors explode in your mouth, leaving you wanting more...much more. Sorbets are made with just a touch of cream, so you are in for a major brain freeze if you try to eat it too fast, but this is really for the best, because you are going to want to savor every luscious spoonful. Plain old vodka works just as well, but treat yourself to the whipped cream variety. It does amazing things to drinks and desserts!

Slightly adapted from epicurious.com, this adults only dessert looks especially pretty when served in punch cups.
 White Russian Sorbet

1-3/4 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
3-1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon dark corn syrup
1/2 cup whipping cream
3 Tablespoons Whipped Cream vodka
3 Tablespoons Kahlúa

Stir water and sugar in heavy medium sauce pan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and bring to a boil; remove from heat. Add espresso powder and stir to dissolve. Pour into medium bowl. Whisk in corn syrup, whipping cream, vodka, and Kahlúa. Refrigerate mixture until cold, about 2 hours.

Transfer sorbet mixture to ice cream maker; process according to manufacturer's instructions. Transfer sorbet to container; cover, and freeze until firm, about 2 hours, but overnight is best. (Can be made 2 days ahead.)

Freeze 4 coffee cups for 30 minutes. Scoop sorbet into frozen cups. Garnish with coffee beans and serve immediately.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Spinach Salad with Blueberries & Candied Pecans


I'm not sure just what I like the most about this salad, the fresh baby spinach, the sweet, juicy blueberries, the pungent bleu cheese, or the toffee-like crunch of the candied pecans. Whatever it is, this salad is a can't-stop-eating-it winner.

Based upon a recipe I found on Allrecipes.com, my version has a slightly sweeter, more complex dressing that really brings everything together. Easy enough for every day, it is also elegant enough for company. This salad can't miss.

Not a fan of bleu cheese? Substitute an equal amount of feta.
Spinach Salad with Blueberries & Candied Pecans

For Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
½ cup olive oil
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
Pinch of kosher salt

Combine ingredients in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid, and shake it, baby, shake it.
  
For Salad
1 pound fresh baby spinach
1 pint fresh blueberries
4 ounces crumbled bleu cheese
1 recipe candied pecans

Toss salad ingredients together in a large bowl. Drizzle with dressing to taste. Serve immediately.

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Monday, May 23, 2016

Candied Pecans


It's going to be heating up this week, so, cold soups, crisp salads, and frosty drinks and desserts will be on the menu. I have a different salad planned for every night this week in honor of National Salad Month. I found this recipe on epicurious.com as a component of another salad, but decided to do my own thing with the salad (that you will see later in the week), and just use the nuts. They were amazing! Not only are they the perfect addition to a salad, but they're also wonderful atop ice cream, bread pudding, on their own, or broken and served on top of oatmeal whether you eat it warm or cold. You must try this simple recipe, and then try to stop eating these nuts.
Candied Pecans

 Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 cup pecan halves

Spray sheet of foil with nonstick spray. Stir sugar, oil, and vinegar together to blend in heavy medium skillet. Cook over medium heat until sugar melts and syrup bubbles, about 3 minutes. Mix in pecans. Stir until nuts are toasted and syrup coats nuts evenly, about 7 minutes. Turn nuts out onto prepared foil. Using fork, separate nuts and cool completely (coating will harden).

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Friday, May 20, 2016

Green Bean Salad


When I was younger I loved going to school; when school wasn't in session I played school. In college I took classes every semester they were offered -- spring semester, winter semester, intersession, summer semester.  If classes were offered, I took them, and, in the doing, I built up a pot-load of credit hours. So much so, in fact, that I defied categorization and, eventually, they asked me if I would just graduate and leave. It was with great reluctance that I did, and I felt set adrift when it came time to sign up for coursework again. Not daring to show my face on the university campus, I grabbed a course catalog from the local community college, and signed up for a couple of extension classes, one of which was Gourmet Barbecue.

Looking back, I can't imagine what possessed me to take this class. I was the only young, single female in a class of, largely, forty-year-old men and their wives. As you can imagine, I was quite popular with the men, not so much with their wives. All's well that ends well, however, once they realized I was actually there to learn, and not shopping for a husband. I ended up learning quite a lot about grilling, and came away with a vast array of recipes. In addition to learning specialty grill recipes, we were also provided with side dishes suitable for whatever main dish we were working on that week. One of my favorites was this green bean salad. Mother loved it as well because the two of us were absolutely ga-ga over green beans, liking them so much that we would often eat them right from the can.

This recipe, a product of the late seventies, calls for canned green beans, but it is so much better when using fresh, and even more fun when using a variety of interesting beans as I have done here using both yellow and purple (they turn green when you cook them -- kids love to watch these) wax beans from Melissa’s Produce. Use whatever you like to make this salad colorful and interesting, and in keeping with your family’s tastes. Serve it chilled or at room temperature. It makes a great addition to picnics, barbecues, salad bars, or serves as an excellent side dish.
Green Bean Salad



1 pound fresh string or wax beans, trimmed, blanched, and cooled

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

½ red onion, thinly, and I’m talking THINLY, sliced

1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Homemade croutons (or store bought, if you must)

Italian Dressing



Toss together beans, tomatoes, onion, and Parmesan cheese, and refrigerate, covered, for an hour, or up to eight hours. When ready to serve, add croutons and dress with your favorite Italian dressing or vinaigrette.  Personally, I use low fat Italian dressing and love it in this recipe.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Heavenly Hash Clusters

Last month I made some Heavenly Hash Fudge for my dad.  Boy was that stuff good. I was craving it again today, but didn’t want the hassle of having to measure and cook and cool and wait! So, I thought that I’d just make a small batch of “Heavenly Hash Clusters.” I’m not going to lie, these are not as good as the fudge, but in a pinch they work for me. 
Heavenly Hash Clusters

1-1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup pecan halves
2/3 cup miniature marshmallows

Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper (or a Silpat).

Melt chocolate chips in the microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring after each 30 seconds. When chocolate is melted, stir in pecans, and marshmallows. Drop in globs (for lack of a better word) onto your parchment paper, or Silpat, and allow to harden at room temperature, or in the fridge for about 10 minutes.
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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Tropical Chicken Salad (Served in a Coconut Bowl)


It’s the season for spring and summer lunches, featuring fresh and delicious salads. As May is National Salad Month I thought it the perfect time to share this recipe for chicken salad with you, along a fantastic way in which to serve it. This version of a lunchtime favorite has a tropical bent thanks to the inclusion of coconut, macadamias, and fresh pineapple. Anyone can serve it on fresh leaves of lettuce or sandwiched in a flaky croissant, so why not come up with something unique and serve yours in a coconut half? I used coconut hearts from Melissa’s Produce. Because they are shelled and skinned, they are easy to slice in half (saving the delicious coconut water that is inside) and use this as your serving bowl. Who wouldn’t be in awe of a beautiful lunch like this?
Tropical Chicken Salad

¾ - 1 cup mayonnaise
¼ teaspoon curry powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ cup macadamia nuts, rough chopped
½ cup fresh pineapple, cut into ½-inch dice
½ cup diced celery
2 cups cooked chicken, cubed

In a large bowl whisk together mayonnaise, curry powder, salt, and paprika. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in nuts, pineapple, coconut, and celery. Gently fold in chicken. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight, to allow flavors to meld. Serve on top of lettuce leaves, or in a coconut half.

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