Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Mexican Chopped Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing

Today was the last day of school.  Andrew signed Elizabeth’s yearbook with “It’s good to have a sister in the same grade.”  I hope that sentiment lasts forever.

As I am shopping for the ingredients for this salad, I see a guy at the grocery store with “Fuel City” on his knit shirt.  “Fuel City as in Fuel City Tacos?” I ask (I am doing my best “Louise” – that’s my mom and no one is a stranger; in 5 minutes or less, she can uncover your whole story and then she’ll probably offer to give you a tour of Fort Worth and make you some homemade sourdough bread and jam.)  Back to Fuel City, the guy is the general manager; I tell him about being taken there for my birthday lunch; cooking barbacoa in an attempt to recreate; he laughs and gives me a coupon for a free car wash.

Is it still swimsuit season?  Better eat another salad.  This salad is packed with lots of vegetables and a light, flavorful dressing. 

Mexican Chopped Salad
with Honey-Lime Dressing

1.      2 1/2 C chopped romaine lettuce
2.      1 can (15.5 oz) black beans, rinsed and well drained
3.      3/4 C chopped seeded tomato
4.      3/4 C fresh or canned corn kernels
5.      Half a ripe avocado, diced
6.      1 red bell pepper, chopped
7.      Optional add-ins: grilled chicken; 3/4 C chopped peeled jicama or cucumber; 3/4 C thinly sliced radishes or red onion; 1/4 C crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese

Honey-Lime Dressing
1.      1/4 C fresh lime juice
2.      1/4 C olive oil
3.      2 Tbsp honey
4.      2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
5.      1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
6.      1 tsp chopped jalapeƱo pepper
Toss all salad ingredients in a large bowl.  There are a lot of optional ingredients to choose from and customize this salad to your favorite tastes. 

Using a mini food processor, combine all ingredients for the dressing.  (When done, try not to spill it on the counter like I did.)
Pour salad dressing over the salad mixture.  Toss again.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Raspberry Clafoutis

Summertime means lots of fresh, local fruit.  For a fun activity, head to a local pick-your-own farm or a farmer’s market (or your nearest grocery store).  My friend, Marlene, made this dessert recently for a dinner party.  It was devoured and she sent me a picture of the last remaining morsel.  We made it for friends this past weekend and there was only a morsel left too (difference was, I took a picture BEFORE it was gobbled up.)  The custard essentially is there to hold the raspberries together.

Clafoutis is a traditional baked French dessert of black cherries.  When other kinds of fruit are used instead of cherries, the dish is properly called a flaugnarde.  I can pronounce neither so will stick with clafoutis and the raspberries.

Raspberry Clafoutis
1.      1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2.      1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3.      Salt
4.      3 large eggs
5.      3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
6.      Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
7.      1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
8.      1 1/2 pints raspberries (12 oz container or 3 cups)
9.      Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a 9-inch gratin dish (I used a deep pie dish instead). In a bowl, whisk the flour, sugar and a pinch of salt. Whisk in the eggs, butter and lemon zest until smooth. Add the milk and whisk until light and very smooth, about 3 minutes. Pour the batter into the gratin or pie dish and top with the raspberries.
Bake for about 30-35 minutes, until the clafoutis is set and golden.  Let cool slightly.  Dust with confectioners' sugar, cut into wedges and serve.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Asian Summer Salad

I’m in the mood for salad.  With the warmer days, more time to play and the dread of having to put on a swimsuit, it is logical to see where this is coming from.  This recipe has been adapted from a Pampered Chef cookbook.  Did you go through that phase in your life too (or perhaps still are) where your friends had home shows and you went to be supportive and bought something?  I'm a sucker for a cookbook!
Happy Memorial Day weekend!

Asian Summer Salad
1.      8 oz vermicelli pasta or thin spaghetti
2.      ¾ c julienne-cut or shredded carrots
3.      1 ½ c your choice and combination of vegetables – like snow peas, julienne-cut zucchini, chopped red bell pepper, broccoli bites, asparagus
4.      1/3 c green onions with tops
5.      ¾ c baked/grilled chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces (or for a vegetarian option, firm tofu)
6.      Optional toppings: Coarsely chopped peanuts or cashews, fresh cilantro, sesame seeds, and/or rice noodles

1.      1/8-1/4 c vegetable oil
2.      3 T rice vinegar
3.      3 T soy sauce
4.      2 t sugar
5.      1/8 t ground red pepper
6.      1 t finely chopped, peeled fresh gingerroot (or sprinkle of ginger powder)
7.      1 garlic clove, pressed (or 1/8 t garlic powder)

Break pasta in half or quarters and cook according to the directions.  When cooked, drain, rinse under cold water and drain again.

Combine all the ingredients for the dressing and whisk, 

Combine the pasta, chicken, and your choice of vegetables (I actually cooked the snow peas – boiled some water, threw the snow peas in for about 30 seconds, removed, drained and cut into pieces).  Pour some of the dressing onto the pasta, chicken, veggie mix and stir.  Add more dressing as needed.  Place the salad on a plate and top with your choice of peanuts, cashews, cilantro, sesame seeds and/or rice noodles.

This salad can be prepared up to 1 day in advance.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Quinoa with Pine Nuts and Currants

I expect more. I am not saying "gimme" - some things have to be earned.  But I expect more.

More respect.  More gratitude.  More customer service. More patience. More trust. More belief.  More humor.  More communication.  More sportsmanship.  More manners.  None of these cost a thing but the impact is invaluable and unforgettable.

Call it the Golden Rule.  Call it Pay It Forward.  Call it More.

I expect more. I deserve more.  I commit to doing my part because heaven knows that I am not perfect. Now you do yours.

Here is a dish that you will want more of.  The original recipe includes garlic which of course David likes but I think is a bit overpowering so it has been marked as “optional.” 

Quinoa with Pine Nuts and Currants
1.      1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
2.      1 ¾ water or low-sodium chicken broth
3.      1/4 cup pine nuts
4.      2 T extra-virgin olive oil
5.      2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced (optional)
6.      1/4 cup currants (or raisins)
7.      1 T fresh lemon juice
8.      Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Place the quinoa in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until toasted, about 2 minutes. Add 1 3/4 cups water (or use low-sodium chicken broth) and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until the liquid is absorbed, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, about 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a skillet over medium-high heat, stirring, until golden, about 3 minutes; transfer to a plate. If using, add the olive oil and garlic to the skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring, until golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer the garlic to the plate, reserving the oil.
Fluff the quinoa with a fork.  Add the pine nuts, garlic (if using), reserved oil, currants and lemon juice.  Season with salt and pepper and toss.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Chocolate-Dipped Frozen Bananas

This is Travis Elizabeth and Andrew.  We are going to write the blog post today.  We are going to let Mom take a break.

So to start with we will give you a Mother's Day laugh: For Mother’s Day do we give you presents or do you give us presents?

These are some of the things that we like that Mom cooks: blackberry cobbler, butterfinger pie, ribs, fish tacos, cheesecakes, and brisket tacos.

Now we are going to write the top 11 things we like about our Mom.  She is awesome, kind, out of this world.  She lets us eat her foods that go on the blog.  Mom is a great cook.  She lets us eat out of the house.  She is the best Mom ever.  She lets us swim early in the year.  She lets us go to different states.  She lets us eat pies.  She lets us have a fun time everywhere.  She is great for a Mom.  She is a sweet, kindly and awesome Mom

Since we are in charge today, we chose to make frozen bananas – it is easier than making sloppy joes.
Happy Mother's Day!!!!

Chocolate-dipped Frozen Bananas
and my three little monkeys
1.      4 bananas, peeled  and cut in half
2.      8 popsicle sticks
3.      2 C semisweet chocolate chips
4.      2 Tbsp vegetable oil
5.      Assorted toppings (optional) like sprinkles, nuts, sweetened coconut, granola, or toffee bits

Line a baking sheet with wax paper, nonstick foil or parchment paper. Cut the bananas in half and insert a Popsicle stick into each half. Place them on the baking sheet and freeze for at least 15 minutes.

Place the chocolate with the oil in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 1-2 minutes, until melted.  Check and stir every 30 seconds.  Or melt the chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water.  Once melted, stir in the oil until smooth.
Roll each banana half in the chocolate, then quickly sprinkle with your topping (if using).  Freeze until the chocolate sets, 30 minutes or up to 8 hours.  Serve or freeze in an airtight container for up to a week. 

Another option is to cut the banana into bite size pieces and use a toothpick as a stick.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Cheater Pralines, aka Candied Pecans

Last week, Elizabeth had a little challenge with a homework writing assignment.  She was getting frustrated about not creating the “right” or “perfect” sentence.  At bedtime we reflected on the episode with discussions about “doing your best,” “learning from your mistakes,” and “we don’t expect perfect.”  Our little philosopher replied “You cannot change what has happened in the past” – and I am expecting her to say something about changing the future – instead she continued with “unless it is written in pencil.”   Well, ok then....

To commemorate Cinco de Mayo, I decided to make pralines.  In doing my research, most of the recipes were marked as “difficult.”  Who do they think has the time or patience for difficult?  Instead, try these cheater pralines.  All the flavor and fiesta; no candy thermometers or perfect humidity required.  These would probably also be really good in a salad or on top of ice cream!

For other festive Mexican inspired recipes, try these or search labels for "Mexican":
·         Guacamole
·         Shrimp Ceviche Cocktail
·         Carne Asada
·         Chicken Enchiladas


Feliz cumpleaƱos Catherine!


Cheater Pralines
1.      2 cups pecan halves
2.      1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
3.      4 Tbsp heavy cream
4.      1 tsp vanilla
5.      Cinnamon
6.      Cooking spray like Pam

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl combine ingredients #1-4, stir, sprinkle with cinnamon, and stir again. Spread into a square baking pan, sprayed with cooking spray. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until coating is dry, and slightly crystallized, stirring once. Remove from oven to cool and stir once more. If not serving immediately, store in an airtight container.