‘Winging it with salad’

My daughters used to beg me to take them to Target.  Oh how they love that place!  I did too, once upon a time, but it is difficult for me to peruse those aisles these days. The last bit of my apron string is caught somewhere between the accessory and make-up aisles.  If I’m not careful,  I can find myself expecting to see one of the M’s standing right beside me, asking if they can put their latest must-have treasure into our bulging basket.

Needless to say, it has become necessary for me to adopt a new hang-out, one that doesn’t tug so tightly on the last bit of stitch to the the that binds.

Two or three years ago (sorry, I guess I could look the date up, but why be that specific…lol), a Central Market grocery sprang up in my neck-of-the-woods.  It is a sweet escape, therapeutic and rejuvenating for all things necessary in celebrating the joys of a foodie. They also sell make-up and accessories, but without the M’s hanging court-side, I generally don’t visit those aisles.   Generally you’ll find me over in the coffee aisle, smelling and sampling the coffee.  The nuts and chocolates area can hypnotize me, as does the bread bakery and the deli.

And so this week our vegan journey is a make-it-up-as-you-go, recipe.  An imitation, if you will, plus a bit of creative Zen.   It was in that very deli that I would become smitten with the idea for this adventure.  Hit by a guilty pleasure that was so refreshing and tantalizing, I knew that the recipe must be duplicated.  Mr. Google, Mr. Jeeves/Ask, and the likes of another local ya-hoo, cousin Yahoo, left me with promises, but no real, died-in-the-wool, item.  So, I winged it, and I asked M1 and Nana B, to wing-it too.

Kale salad

One head of fresh kale, washed, dried and ripped or sliced into salad-serving bites, bruised and sweated with one teaspoon of Kosher salt, drained and chilled.  (Process takes about one hour, start to finish.)

one teaspoon freshly ground pepper

one teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (fresh minced garlic would be even better.  Use a couple of cloves).

2 to 3 Tablespoons freshly minced ginger

1/2 cup dried cranberries (soak in 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice)

1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup blanched, then roasted, almonds (diced or slivered before using)

4 Medjool dates (sliced in long slices)

1 or 2 thinly sliced jalapeño peppers (fresh)

1/3 cup oil-packed, thinly sliced, sun-dried tomatoes

1 cup  fresh cucumber, diced

1 bunch green onions, diced

1 large avocado, sliced and used as garnish to finish salad

Dressing

4 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

4 Tablespoons sesame seed oil

The quest for the perfect recipe

is coded into my DNA.  It hangs in the hood with my apron string(s), along with M1 and M2.

😉

……

I had so much fun “creating” this week.  It was fun to throw caution to the wind and not follow any rules.  One of my co-workers just returned for Hawaii (lucky duck) and brought me back a packet of salad dressing mix.  I knew I would save it for my blazing burners salad and I was so excited when the day came to use this little packet of wonder. I went to the grocery store and loaded up on lots of fruits and veggies and when it came time to make the salad I chopped, chopped, chopped and mixed that yummy dressing.  Though I LOVED the dressing, it was not at all what I expected.  I assumed it would be a sweet, fruity dressing, but it turned out to be very savory.

I started with a spinach base because I had a massive amount in my fridge and it needed to be used up ASAP!

I then chopped up some mangoes, bell pepper, red jalapeno, avocado, and red onion.

I threw in some black beans for some protein.

And the final product…

Okay, I’m off to Hawaii now because I’ve got to obtain several more packets of this yummy dressing!

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Celebrating…

A most joyous occasion, the birth of M1, 27 years ago, today.

Happy Birthday!

(I think we should have cake, don’t you?)

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Tabouli aka “Tapoopi”

I grew up loving tabouli.  It’s probably an odd dish for children to like, but I was never very normal.  The first time I made tabouli by myself was in college.  It was also the first time my boyfriend (now husband) had ever tasted the dish.  He was a big fan of it, but could never remember its proper name so he called it “tapoopi”.  I’ve made it several times since then and it has always turned out great.  I suggested we make it this week because I had an Easter potluck to attend and thought it would be a good dish to take.  Unfortunately, my local Safeway was not very accommodating in quest for the perfect potluck dish.  They didn’t have any bulgar wheat!  Tragic, but I made do with some quinoa that I had hiding in a cabinet.

I was quite pleased with the results.  It wasn’t as fabulous as regular tabouli, but the texture was very similar.  It was just missing that nutty flavor I suppose.  I’m not sure, is tabouli even “nutty”?

This is the second potluck I’ve taken tabouli to.  It might be the last though because I always end up with a lot of leftovers.  I think people are hesitant to try it because it’s not something they see every day.  But maybe if we start spreading the word about this wonderful dish then more people will discover how amazing it really is!

So simple and so good for you!

…..

M1 zapped me a note at mid-week, and delivered the news to me.  Our recipe for this weeks adventure calls for bulgar wheat, but since there was a drought in the H. household, word of using a pearl barley option came forward.  Then, as women are suspected in doing, we threw caution to the wind, setting our sail toward the mighty quinoa, ancient grain, mega-dosed with all things good for the body.  And while this may not offer the deep, nutty-flavor the bulgar wheat does, it is beautiful and tasty, glorious all on its own.  I wouldn’t hesitate to punt with it again.

I never had to force-feed M1 when it came to this lovely salad.  If anything, she would ask that I make some for her, because she loved it so.

(If you were fortunate enough to try your hand at the mango pickles from last weeks rendezvous, I recommend you grab a few to fluff your dish of tabouli.  OH MY GOODNESS!)

Folks are not aware of how important this dish is to the state of Oklahoma.

Really?

you say.

Yes.

It’s downright normal to eat the stuff, whether one pulls their Conestoga into the bar ditch for the picnic, or find themselves table-side in the likes of,  Jamil’s Steakhouse.

How the heck did those Oklahoma folk decide that this was such a good eat?  Well, I’m not exactly sure, but I do know that these folks had a whole-heapin lot to do with it. http://www.bishoptaboli.com  Travel through any local grocer (Oklahoma, local), and you’ll see the little plastic bags of dried bulgar with, or without the seasonings.

Tabouli is very easy to fix.  One boils hot water, soaks the bulgar (if using quinoa, cook as you would a regular grain, white rice), drains it, and simply gets down to the business of chopping a cucumber or two, some onions, garlic, bell pepper and a few (or several) good quality tomatoes.  Dressing consists of equal parts of olive oil and fresh lemon juice (in these quarters), along with a teaspoon of salt and a hefty grind of fresh pepper.  AND, the salad actually ages quite well!  That is if you can keep your hands off of it, and tucked sweetly into a covered dish in the Miss G.E.

There is that little rumor that some folks…

just don’t get it!

… I’m sorry if you find yourself among those ranks.  I rather think you are in the minority.  You know, in that group that hates liver, can’t stand calf brains and could really give a-flying-fig about a mustard green.

Oh wait a minute.  I’m in that group on a few of those items.  Scratch that last part.

(I know this guy likes it!)

😉

Today’s recipe comes via The Food Network, an item featured from an episode of Diners, Drive-In’s and Dives.  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/diners-drive-ins-and-dives/tabouli-recipe/index.html

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Something to bank on

This weeks adventure finds us trekking off the beaten path.  There wasn’t a need to blaze the burners of stove top, nor oven.  Today was all about the chill factor.  We opted to pickle a bit of fruit, and in its own rite, it will become

our bit of a blazing burner.

Once upon a magical time, I found a food blog, a very special food blog.  It stands in the expanse of space-and-time referred to as, userealbutter.com.

for today’s challenge:

http://userealbutter.com/2011/03/28/vietnamese-pickled-green-mangoes-recipe/

Find yourself in the midst of a pickle recipe, and while you’re at it, peruse Jen’s beautiful blog. Whenever the urge to visit home strikes me, I rendezvous by way of her blog.  She can cook and bake, but her most amazing talent is her photography.  As they say,

Every picture tells a story.

WOW!

🙂

……

This was a nice change of pace!  So easy and such a nice little snack.

Despite being green, my mangoes were a bit ripe, but I’m happy to report that they turned out just fine.

Most importantly, I found a use for one of my blue mason jars!  I’m currently using another one right now to hold some fresh flowers.  I really can’t get enough of these.  So pretty!

I’m going to make some (non vegan) fish tacos later this week and I think I’ll dice up some of these mango bites into a relish to add a little zip to the meal.

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Picnic Sandwiches & Green Bean Salad

I’ve been wanting to go on a picnic for a while now.  Spring has finally sprung (at least for this week)  and outside is the place to be.  So when I was flipping through Vegan Yum Yum to chose our recipe for the week, I thought picnic sandwiches were a great idea.  And since it seemed like such an easy dish, I suggested we make the green bean salad to go with it.  Both were wonderful recipes, and very picnic worthy, but I’m sad to report that we didn’t actually go on a picnic.  We had a very busy day yesterday and have spent most of the day inside recuperating.  We did manage to make it outside to the back patio to eat though so it was a semi picnic!

I started with the green beans….

The sauce for the green beans was so easy and delicious.  However, I don’t think I cooked my beans long enough because they were a bit too crunchy.  The recipe requires you to steam the green beans, but I don’t really have the necessary tools to do this so I kind of winged it and it didn’t turn out quite as planned, but they were still good and I’ll definitely make them again.

I set the beans aside and began the sandwiches….

The recipe called for a french baguette, but once I smelled this rosemary and olive oil bread at Whole Foods, I knew a substitute would be just fine.

I cooked up my zucchini  and then decided to do some onion as well.  The onions and artichokes weren’t in the original recipe, but I thought they’d be great additions.  I was going to add some leftover mushrooms too, but they didn’t look so hot so they ended up in the trash.

The spread on the bread is just pine nuts and sun dried tomatoes, but I think a basil pesto would be wonderful on this too.

Time to head outside!

This is the second time this week we’ve eaten outside and both excursions have resulted in Jacob pruning the grapes.  I guess if he looks at them long enough they start to bother him.  Maybe if we start eating in the bathroom he’ll want to scrub the tub!  I’ll let you know if that every happens!

…..

No picnic for us, we settled down in front of the t.v. screen to watch the evening news. It’s a bit too windy for a picnic, not to mention a tad bit too warm. Funny how we went from a lovely cool spring, into a blazing summer, all in the span of two weeks. I did a last-minute magic trick with the sandwich recipe, opting for a salad with those tasty ingredients.  A grilled (orange), bell pepper, and three zucchini squash, made for a fresh and tasty respite amidst the barrage of the sandwiches consumed these past few days.  I whipped up my sun-dried tomatoes with:  olive oil, lemon juice, and dried thyme, with the help of my mini food processor. Once the peppers and squash were grilled, I mixed them with a bit of onion and fresh tomato, adding some crushed pine nuts.  While the dish was still hot, I sprinkled some non-vegan (for shame, for shame!), five-Italian cheese atop, mixing the whole thing together before serving.

Earlier in the afternoon I’d compiled the green bean salad, and not unlike M1, mine too was a bit crunchy.  BTW, you don’t need special equipment to steam, M1.  All you need is to follow instructions once you find a microwave or stove-top method you prefer.  When you get that technique down, come home and instruct your mama, cuz she ain’t got no idea about following directions from the Internet or the printed page.  She be stubborn!

Let’s have some pictures, shall we?

 

I wouldn’t change a thing on either of these recipes,

heck, what am I saying?

I took so many detours on that ‘Sandwich’ Salad, that I’m pretty sure the culinary roadmap can’t be located with any GPS instrument.  Red pepper flakes found their way into the pulsing action of the baby Cuisinart, as did a copious amount of virgin olive oil. The thought of a red Thai chili pepper came crusing-for-a-brusing too, but the proceeds were delinquent in the confines of the wench, Miss G.E.

All-in-all, this household thoroughly enjoyed the journey of both salads, and with Hades approaching the tarmack of this shack, you can bet we’ll be earmarking the pages of our favorite cookbook so that we can cool our heels again, soon.

…..

Our thanks to the lovely Lauren Ulm, www.veganyumyum.com, for her book, Vegan Yum Yum. Her wonderful recipes are our guidebook for today’s offerings.

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Chipotle Basil Corn Chowder

No room in any dwelling holds more voodoo than the kitchen, this is the real reason folks hang kitchen witches and braids of garlic. Begin any endeavor haphazardly and you’ll soon be visited by black magic.

I popped the lid on the jar of adobe sauce and quickly set the mayhem into motion.  Does it matter that I was befuddled by the mere contraption of a lid from the get-go?  It looked to be one of those pop-and-go jobs, but the first utensil I grabbed from my implement drawer couldn’t pry that little sucker away from its meld.  Quickly, diving into the drawer for a second pry-and-go item, I found the trusty little can opener with the its obvious lid-snapper.

Close the drawer after you grab something.  It’s not safe to navigate around the unnecessary, let alone, add another chore to your personal to-do list.

…..

I love the color orange.  It’s been one of my favorites since 2002. Before that date, I barely knew that it existed, and if it did, it was always associated with Halloween.

…..

I hate grease

I absolutely hate orange grease.

…..

One needs to learn to walk away, quietly.

Just exit the kitchen.

Swiftly move toward any known exit.

Return to the action when you’ve built up your reserves, purchased that kitchen witch and braided strands of endless garlic.

Soup, the comfort food.

Generally.

Okay, not today and definitely not in this house.  The wind is whipping the dickens out of the world around us.  Temperatures flamed toward 90.  Oh, and the ingredients for a comforting, hot and tasty cup of soup, some of them were missing, or added, or forgotten. At this point I’m not sure what happened and when it occurred.  Let’s just say I can’t be the judge of any known effort that came out of that room today.

I’m still cleaning.

…..

Oh mom, I’m so sorry for your mishaps.  Fortunately, our outside temps weren’t as high as yours today so we were able to enjoy ours a little more.  In fact, think this is one of my favorite Yum Yum recipes.

However, it was almost the recipe that never happened because I was trying to think of any reason I could to not go to the grocery store today.  I finally pulled myself off of the couch around 3:00 PM and set off to get the necessary ingredients (and food for the rest of the week).

I got started almost immediately after returning from the store.  Well, I started after I hate all the yummy junk food I’d just purchased.  But as soon as I was full, I started on dinner 😉

Not only did I use a whole Chipotle Chili (it called for only a teaspoon), but I also used Habanero Olive Oil to saute everything.  The intense spiciness made me cough a bit, but don’t worry, the end result wasn’t too hot for us to handle.

I also strayed from the recipe a bit and added some vegan cheese during the food processing step.  I would recommend this step to others as well.

I served my soup with taco salad.  We have taco salad at least once a week in this house.

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Golden Chickpea and Artichoke Salad

Our recipe for this week comes from pages 121-122 of Lauren Ulm’s Vegan Yum Yum cookbook.

I’ve found that most of the recipes we’ve made so far have been fairly easy to prepare, though occasionally time consuming.  Well this one is super, super quick…and yummy too!

The recipes suggests cutting whole artichoke hearts in half, but I chopped mine up a bit more because, although I love artichokes, I really dislike getting a huge bite of one in any dish.

The chickpeas are cooked on the stove until they brown up a bit.  Same goes for the artichokes so this dish can be served warm or at room temperature.  I currently have some in the fridge though so I’m hoping it’s good as a cold salad as well.

I love this dish because I feel like you could serve it with just about anything.  I snacked on some pita chips and hummus with mine.  And now I’ve probably exceeded my chickpea limit for the day. Just kidding, that’s impossible to do!

…..

I knew it would be good, there was never any doubt in my mind.  I love the humble little chickpea, worship the beautiful artichoke, and simply can’t say enough nice stuff about the glorious almond.  To find all three of these buds hanging out in a salad is noteworthy, and to find them sharing their gloriousness with fresh parsley, well, the whole thing leaves me speechless.  It doesn’t hurt that my mouth is stuffed full with this feast and I’ve been trained not to talk with my mouth full.

But back to basics.  When M1 gave me the heads-up on the menu for this weeks venture I knew that I could bank on success.  This dish doesn’t call for an extraordinary array of spices, just a balancing act of stir-frying and a little bit of timing.  Which was good, for the most part.  I held it all together until the final act.  Where, at some point, I simply tossed the required lemon juice (freshly squeezed), right into the sink, out of sight and mind.

Hey, it’s a senior moment, get used to it!

No one noticed, especially me.  It wasn’t until clearing the dishes that it struck me:

Where did that lemon juice go?

Oh well, not to fret.  There’s always next time.  You know?  When I make the recipe again.  😉

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