Summer salads ~ Easy and delicious carrot salad

The weather has been amazing so it has been hard to sit at a computer and write. If I had the photographic talent of others like Saltypalatte, I would be sharing pictures…but suffice it to say I have been drawn outdoors by that big beautiful spherical source of light and joy.

LET THE SALADS BEGIN!

This is a time to put away warm comfort foods and bring on the salads!! I started this weekend with one of the easiest and most delicious… Carrot salad. Now this salad has three – yes I said three – ingredients. That’s it. Two of these ingredients my husband dislikes, but the combination is so yummy it even pleases him.

You need
~ carrots, shredded
~ raisins
~ mayonnaise

Yup. That’s it. Put the shredded carrots in a bowl, add raisins to taste. Barry likes quite a few, so probably 2 cups carrots to nearly a cup of raisins. (You can also use craisins instead.) Put a healthy dollop of mayonnaise on top and mix. Taste a little. If you want more mayo, add a little more.

image

The only ingredient Barry likes is raisins. But the mixture of flavored makes a light and tasty salad. And it gets my hubby to eat carrots. This is amazing!

There are so many tasty salads and it is only May!!

Try this one. You can even buy the carrots already shredded … Can’t get much easier!

Ok, back outside in the sunshine to … Enjoy!

Advertisements

Food is Love ~ Making soup

Barry loves all things soup. He could eat soup every day! He loves everything about it. And add some warm bread and he is in heaven! ❤

I made a super simple minestrone soup today and he is going to love it. Now don’t freak out, but I added beef to it. Sorry. Barry loves the minestrone, but he loves meat in his soup. Beef minestrone it is.

BEEF MINESTRONE SOUP

So into the dutch oven:

  • 3 cups broth ~ I used veggie today because I had a box open from the other day when I made quinoa
  • 1 28 or 35 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can cannellini beans (navy beans) – oh, and I used 2 cans because Barry LOVES beans
  • 1 large or 2 small carrots ~ diced or chopped to desired size ~ I grated a large one into the pot so the pieces would cook down
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp sage
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • beef cubes ~ browned and seasoned (optional really)

Bring to boil. Reduce to simmer. Cover and allow to cook. Really. No kidding. If you used a Dutch oven, you can put it in the oven on 225 or on top on low. I made this at 2:00 and we will eat at 5:00. This is also perfect for the slow cooker! Low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 if you use the slow cooker.

Minestrone

About 30 minutes before you want to eat it, add ditalini – 2 cups cooked. I will add less because I doubled the beans and Barry prefers that. You can also add zucchini (which Barry detests, so I won’t LOL). And you can also add a box of frozen chopped spinach.

When you are ready to eat, take out the bay leaves!!! And then taste a little, see if it needs anything and add a little more…

To serve you can garnish with grated parmesan and torn basil.

Ok, so while I was in the kitchen I whipped up lunch…chicken salad and avocado slices! Mmmmm…. try the soup. You’ll like it. Time for me to go have lunch and enjoy!

LUNCH!

 

Beef lentil soup

Finally, Barry will get that lentil soup he is “hankerin” for! I tried – unsuccessfully – to convince him that lentils and ham are a better match, but he would not be dissuaded. So here we go….

soup!

For this recipe you need:

  • beef – your choice ground or cubed, I used cubed beef
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup dried lentils, rinsed well
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 bay leaves

I began with the beef. Brown it in oil and season with salt and pepper. I also used some garlic powder for flavor, but that is optional. Remove the beef and drain on a paper towel. Remove the drippings from the pot in this case.

Now, this is the simple and amazing thing…. add the beef back to the pot and then add the can of crushed tomatoes, the water, dried lentils, carrots, celery, onion, diced peppers, salt, pepper, and the 2 bay leaves. Stir and bring to a boil. Simmer for an hour to an hour and a half. Check the vegetables, and check for flavor.

Seriously.

So there are certainly a bazillion variations. You might add thyme. Or beef bouillion. I saw recipes with frozen chopped spinach. I also saw cabbage. None of these options would please Barry’s palate. You will make soup to please yours. So taste a little, then if you wish, add a little more!

Barry wanted potatoes in this too. Lentils and beef are hearty enough so I will likely disappoint him in that. But there will be toasty bread to dip and that will make him happy.

Next venture is the cauliflower pizza crust…. what is going on in your kitchen!?!??! Whatever it is…. enjoy!

 

***Author’s note: If you decide to expand the pot of soup by adding liquid, make sure to taste and add flavor too…so if you decide to add water, consider beef bouillion as well. Remember to taste!! 😉
ENJOY!!!

More chicken goodness – Chicken Salad!

I came home from an appointment this morning and eagerly went to the fridge knowing my Dutch oven chicken was waiting… already shredded. I made a quick chicken salad I am going to share.

In a bowl (…in my eagerness, one that was almost too small!) I mixed 2 large dollops of mayo, a heavy pinch of salt, a few grinds of the pepper mill, a heavy shake of garlic powder (better in the salad because you get the flavor without the pieces) and a heavy handed shake of dill. Mix well. Taste a little of course, because now is the time to add a little of anything you might want. Then add the shredded chicken. I had about a cup or so. Then I chopped up about a third of an English cucumber and put that in for crunch. Finally, I added a handful of dried cranberries for chewy sweetness. Mix together and YUM!

dressing

add cukes

add craisins

LUNCH

I was talking to Tammy about the impending storm, Nemo, and I said, “Well, my grocery shopping is done!” Then I had to laugh and say, “Sorry, you know with the blog everything revolves around food!” LOL But I confess I did prepare so that I am ready if we are snowed in a day or two. I have the makings for pizzas and that lentil soup I have been talking about. I am also giving Barry another day or two to relent and admit he is happy with whatever I make for your romantic dinner on the 14th. 😉

I must also tell you I came across something on a FB friend’s page that I am really excited about and will be making next week… Cauliflower Pizza Crust! I know, imagine that! No flour, very few ingredients, and LOW carb/HIGH protein. Winner! We shall explore that next week. And I promise to share!!

Meanwhile, today’s portion of the chicken salad is gone…ALL GONE

… but there is another half of the salad for planned leftovers tomorrow! 😉

See you back here tomorrow! Meanwhile… enjoy!

Planning…

I am always thinking and planning ahead when it comes to food. If I don’t I am in great danger of eating badly… really badly. I used to be able to eat my way through any day with only carbs… but you know I am a carb addict so I digress.

I must admit that for all of my cooking and baking and healthy endeavors, my skinny husband likes his comfort food. This has been a bonanza week for him! I not only made him grilled cheese and tomato soup, but also chicken soup and BLTs last night! And tonight there are planned leftovers of chicken and broccoli mac & cheese.

For me though, there is lighter fare. I slow roasted chicken breasts in the Dutch over the other day. This yummy meat makes many meals for me. Some of the tender goodness is in the freezer. Some of it made chicken salad which I enjoyed yesterday. And today there will be cream chicken and peas with cole slaw on the side. Cole slaw. In the winter. There I go again advocating summer salads! LOL

It’s the slaw I will share today. There are so many recipes for cole slaw, but for me there is one thing you won’t find in it ~ vinegar. Barry and I really like a good slaw, but with a creamy, sweeter dressing. So today I am using:

  • nappa cabbage ~ one small head chopped
  • red cabbage ~ 1/2 of one small head chopped
  • carrots ~ one large, shredded
  • pine nuts ~ 1/4 to 1/2 cup, lightly toasted in a dry pan
  • dried cranberries ~ about 1/2 cup

…and for the creamy dressing:

  • Greek yogurt ~ one small container
  • mayonnaise ~ equal to the yogurt
  • sour cream ~ 2 tblsp
  • honey or maple syrup ~ 1 tblsp
  • minced garlic ~ 1 clove 
  • kosher salt ~ 2 healthy pinches
  • dill (optional for you, but not me!) ~ 1 tsp
  • lemon pepper ~ 1 tsp

I know most recipes call for two bowls, and then mix together. Call me lazy, but if you make the dressing in the bottom of the bowl and then throw in the other ingredients, it tastes the same! So, put the creamy dressing ingredients in the bowl and whisk. Taste a little, then if there is something ‘off’, add a little more. Note: the honey or maple syrup is a taste preference. I used maple syrup this time. It makes it richer and warmer. In the summer, I would likely go for the honey, or even clear agave.

IMAG0054

Meanwhile, I will tell you that I have asked Barry what he wants for our Valentine dinner. He will consider it for a few days and then tell me he will love whatever I make! LOL! I am also ready to make beef lentil soup and will share that with you shortly… What are YOU planning!? Whatever it is….enjoy!

Flavor Seeker ~ Black bean and quinoa burgers

I am making two dinners tonight. Moose and Kenz are on their way for a visit. There will be black bean and quinoa burgers. And I am making beef stew with red wine and green beans; an unusual addition to stew, but Barry’s favorite veggie. This is no imposition as I love to cook and love to see my family enjoy my food!

I started with the burgers… that is what I am sharing with you today!

Here is what you need:

  • 1 – 15 oz can black beans ~ be sure to rinse and drain them!!
  • 1/4 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 cup veggie broth (you can use water – see below*)
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup minced bell pepper – I used red today
  • 2 tablespoons minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder – or you can use fresh, but for this, the powder is better
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 egg
  • olive oil for the pan

Open and rinse the beans first. They can drain well while you cook the quinoa. Now if you are like me, quinoa is never made in small amounts. I made a pot of quinoa and used what I needed. The rest is cooling to put away to eat later! * I also always use veggie broth for my quinoa but you can use water.

If you are only making enough for the burgers you put the 1/4 cup quinoa in 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil and reduce to medium heat. Cook for 18 minutes, stirring occasionally. While that is cooking, mash the black beans with a fork leaving some whole black beans in a paste-like mixture.

Rough mash the beans!

Rough mash the beans!

When the quinoa is ready, mix the quinoa, bread crumbs, pepper, onion, garlic powder, paprika, salt, hot sauce, and egg into the black beans. Mix well.

Mixing the ingredients

Mixing the ingredients

Now since there is raw egg in this, you can’t taste a little to see if it is good, so make a small patty. Put it in a hot pan with olive oil. Cook 2-3 minutes per side. Making a test patty lets you decide if you need to add a little more of anything before you cook the rest.

Burger time

Mmmmm….. Lunch!

My test patty made a lovely lunch and was perfect as is. The rest of the batter is in the fridge for dinner later. This will allow it to stiffen and actually make better burger patties.  Moose will love these.

Off to start the stew, but I encourage you to try these yummy and nutritious burgers.

As always… enjoy!!

Flavor Seeker ~ Winter Salad & Simple Balsamic Dressing

If you haven’t tried making your own salad dressing, you should. I will continue to encourage this as I did before with the tarragon dressing. Perhaps a more robust ‘winter’ salad could include dark greens and a balsamic dressing.

What greens? I always like to mix them up. I might use spinach, kale, and Romaine. Chop them and mix them together. Add whatever you like: red onion, cherry tomatoes, shredded carrots, or chopped celery. I would also add a nut; in this case walnuts. And I would put some blue cheese on this.

Now for the dressing. I am going to give you approximate measures, but please add a little, taste a little, then add a little more of the flavor you enjoy.

I always advocate putting the dressing in the bottom of the salad bowl, whisking it, and adding the salad on top. Then toss.

So begin with about 2 tablespoons of a nice balsamic vinegar. Add a pinch of salt (1/4 teaspoon) and the same of fresh ground black pepper. Now add 1/2 tablespoon of chopped garlic. Are you still whisking? Good! Now add about a teaspoon of brown sugar. The sweetness will cut the sharpness of the vinegar. I am usually an advocate of agave, but in this case, the flavor match is better. And finally, while you whisk, stream in olive oil, about 1/3 cup. Taste a little. Now if you like, add a little more.

When you put your salad ingredients on top, toss gently.

I used to put out a salad and several bottles of dressing. Bottled dressings aren’t as healthy and people inevitably use their favorite on any salad instead of matching flavors. Choose for them. Dress the salad with just the right amount. I like putting a salad on the table that is beautifully dressed and ready to eat.

Give this a try. If tarragon was not your flavor, maybe balsamic vinaigrette is! This salad is robust enough for a meal.  In the holiday season of heavy food and indulgences, this is a light and healthy meal option.

Give it a try! And as always… enjoy!