Wild Rice Salad with Miso Dressing

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This was pretty much perfection. Salty, sweet, filling, nutritious. I’ve been gobbling this up the last few days and I think I might need to make another batch this weekend for my dad to try!

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The best part for me was the tofu. Pan fried in coconut oil. Now, coconut oil is a staple in my kitchen but it is usually reserved for an oatmeal topping – I’ve never really known what else to do with it and in all fairness, I never really looked into it because the damn jar has a shelf life that is like a year long. And I , for some reason, didn’t ever consider actually cooking with it. I figured that it wouldn’t do well on high heat. But my word. This recipe changed my life. Or at least my life in the kitchen. Sweet and crunchy tofu? Heavenly.

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I paired it with simple pan fried cod (done in the same pan as the tofu so it had a little residual coconut oil, plus a little sesame oil, salt, pepper), and steamed snap peas tossed in soy sauce and ginger. Dare I say they were perfect accompaniments?

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Wild Rice Salad with Miso Dressing

1 cup wild rice blend

14 oz. block extra firm tofu
2 tsp. coconut oil
2 tsp. soy sauce or gluten-free tamari
fresh ground pepper

1 heaping cup shredded carrots
3/4 cup cooked, shelled, organic edamame
3 Tbsp. sesame seeds
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

2 Tbsp. white miso
2 Tbsp. agave nectar or brown rice syrup
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
2 1/2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
4 oz orange juice

Rinse the wild rice blend. Bring two cups water to a boil. Add the rice, turn the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until all the water is absorbed (about 35-40 minutes), adding a bit more water if necessary to finish cooking. You will see a tuft of white pop from the center.

Wrap the tofu between a few layers of paper towel or a dish cloth and set it aside to drain for 10-15 minutes. Cut it into a 1/2” dice. Heat the coconut oil over medium high heat. Add the tofu and sauté for about five minutes. Sprinkle the soy sauce and a few grinds of fresh pepper over the top and sauté another few minutes until the edges are browned. Turn off heat and set aside.

Whisk all of the dressing ingredients together.

In a large bowl, combine the rice, tofu, sliced carrots, edamame. Toss everything with the dressing. Add the sesame seeds and cilantro and give it another toss. Serve room temperature or chilled.

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CSA Weekly + Wilted Green and Pea Salad

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Ah, more greens. (I must admit, I’m getting a bit sick of them!)

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The one fun new item this week was fresh garlic! Not sure what I’ll do with it just yet.

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One of my favorite things about our CSA is the weekly newsletter we get.

Besides listing what to find in your weekly bag, there is usually a little article about produce or local farming, news about the farm, and then a few recipes on the back. When I’m stumped for what to do with our bag of greens, I always make sure I check out their recipes. Last week, one in particular caught my eye!

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Wilted Greens and Pea Salad

1 Tbls olive oil
2 cups pea pods
1 Tbls fresh mint, chopped
4 cups greens, thinly sliced (I used chard)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large skillet to medium low temperature. Add peas. Stir to coat with oil. Cover skillet and cook, about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add mint then stir in greens. Cover and cook for one minute. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.

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Yep, that’s the green mess that I paired with last week’s grilled peppers and eggs. It made for a nice light lunch – the fresh mint was the key. (Boy, am I glad to have my fresh herbs!)

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Cashew Cream Caesar

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Ever since I discovered cashew cream, I’ve had a good Caesar salad on my mind.

The day has come!

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Cashew Cream Caesar Dressing

Ingredients

    1/2 cup raw cashews
    1/2 cup water
    10 cloves garlic, peeled
    3 anchovies
    1 Tbls lemon juice
    1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
    1/3 cup shredded parmesan

Directions

In food processor, puree cashews and water until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary.

Add the garlic, anchovies, lemon, and pepper and puree for two minutes.

Just prior to serving, add parmesan and puree one more minute.

Serving recommendation: toss in romaine lettuce with croutons and top with grilled chicken breast.

Serving Size: makes 4 3-tablespoon servings
Number of Servings: 4
Nutrition

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Warning! This dressing will put hair on your chest! And you will be burping up garlic for three days. But it’s amazing. I want to make it every week. Just. Like. This. Tossed in romaine and topped with chicken.

Mediterranean Salmon Antipasto Salad

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This week is a semi-accidental Mediterranean Week in our kitchen! I was halfway through meal planning for the week when I realized I had selected all Mediterranean-flare dishes so I just decided to go with it! Apparently, my body was craving salt kalamatas and capers, fresh bell peppers, chickpeas galore, and lots of seafood!

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First up:

Mediterranean Tuna Salmon Antipasto Salad

from Eating Well (original recipe here)

Ingredients

    1 cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed
    1 5-ounce can wild salmon
    1/2 large red bell pepper, finely diced
    1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
    2 teaspoons capers
    1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
    1/4 cup lemon juice, divided
    2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
    Freshly ground pepper, to taste
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    4 cups mixed salad greens

Directions

Combine beans, salmon, bell pepper, onion, capers, rosemary, 2 Tbls lemon juice and 1 tablespoon oil in a medium bowl. Season with pepper. Combine the remaining 2 tbls lemon juice, 1 tablespoon oil and salt in a large bowl. Add salad greens; toss to coat. Divide the greens among 2 plates. Top each with the salmon salad.

Servings: 2

Nutrition

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We ate this for lunch following a pretty heavy breakfast and it was perfecto! I’m sure that it would be great with tuna as originally written but that’s on my “no-no list” and I’m all for getting omega-3’s where I can!

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True story: I was making this for my lunch and was going to have Huz eat other leftovers because I’m a terrible wife he generally doesn’t care for salads but I made him have a bite and he promptly changed his mind!

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Be on the look-out for more Mediterranean dishes all week long!

Weekends Are For Bacon

I am very proud to say that we had bacon at every meal yesterday – oh yes we did.

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Breakfast

Pancakes and bacon!

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Breakfasts are pretty much the best thing about the weekend. Obviously, yesterday we got a little creative and pulled out our Christmas pancake molds – very fun but definitely a bit of a pain in the ass.

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We’ll probably use them once a year and then call it good until next season. Note to self: next year, spray the molds with no-stick before filling with batter.

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I went to town on decorating our little friends – it made them more fun to eat!

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Powdered sugar for our totaled snowflake – that sucker was so hard to get out of the mold:

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Peanut butter and M&M’s for our gingerbread man. (Unfortunately, we had no gum drop buttons in the house.)

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Craisen ornaments for the Christmas tree. (Spreading it with wasabi – the only green sauce of sorts in the house – just sounded wrong.)

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And my favorite – the snowman! Topped with unsweetened shredded coconut and carob chips!

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Lunch

Most days of the week, well, lately anyway, I find myself craving a Cobb Salad. I think the reason I crave it is because it always has a hard boiled egg and I adore eggs. And of course, they typically have a nice pile of bacon on them. Two of my favorite things in life, topping a bed of greens and loaded with some extra yummy veggie deliciousness? Yes, please!

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I omitted cheese in my version, and the creamy dressing that is usually associated with Cobb’s.

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Other toppings included avocado, mushroom, green onion, and capers. Holy yum!

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I ended up drizzling mine in a Huz-made vinaigrette and it was divine perfection.

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The bacon, egg, and avocado was the best part. I think I’ll have this for lunch again today.

Dinner

The grand finally for my bacon filled day was a wonderful comfort food – potato soup.

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Potato soup is one of the few things that I don’t use a recipe for – that, chili, spaghetti, and maybe my tortilla soup now. It’s ridiculously easy – boils some chopped potatoes, skins and all, drain it out. Sauté onion and garlic in bacon grease, add the potatoes in, mash them up a bit, add (soy)milk and chicken broth to desired consistency then season with salt, pepper, and some garlic powder.

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I’ve found, through all my years of consuming potato soup, that it really is best to just top the soup with bacon instead of mixing it in. It gets lost if it is mixed in but when it is piled on top, you can select a crumble for each bit and if you ration successfully, your last couple bites will be bacon loaded and amazing.

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Mmmmm, bacon!

The best part of a day of bacon is that your house smells delicious all day long and for some reason, your pooch is especially friendly in the kitchen.

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I can haz bacon?

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HUZ IN THE KITCH: Blackened Salmon Caesar Salad

Surprise, it’s me again! 

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It’s been awhile since I last put together a guest post for Leah.  She usually lets a few months go by before she politely “suggests” that I “volunteer” to put another post together.  The only other guest posts I’ve produced have been to show you one of my work trips to San Diego and to tell you about my journey to becoming healthy

Leah’s new bright idea (among her many bright ideas) is to have me be on dinner duty at least once a week and then to blog about it.  Fun, huh?  I sure think so.  In all seriousness, I do appreciate the opportunity to hone my cooking skills and share (at least a small portion of) the cooking around here.  Plus, there’s the added benefit of Leah getting a much-deserved night off from cooking every now and then.

I’m continually amazed by my wife’s ability to produce meal after meal, while ensuring that each one is mostly healthy and that we get plenty of variety in the foods that we eat.  And although I do my best to help out with the chopping and dishes, I know she deserves more of a contribution from me.  It’s about darn time I “volunteer” for cooking duty don’t you think?

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Years ago, when I had to cook for myself.  The healthiest meals I made were different variations of CAESAR SALAD.  For whatever reason, I was in love with them (and still am).  I rarely measured anything and almost never followed a recipe.  Tonight, I thought I’d challenge myself by trying to follow a recipe so that I could better document the ingredients for you, and help Leah with her calorie counting.

I decided to use this recipe from AllRecipes:

6 cloves garlic, peeled
3/4 cup mayonnaise
5 anchovy fillets, minced
6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cups day-old bread, cubed
1 head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces

Mince 3 cloves of garlic, and combine in a small bowl with mayonnaise,
anchovies, 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese, Worcestershire sauce,
mustard, and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
Refrigerate until ready to use.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cut the remaining 3
cloves of garlic into quarters, and add to hot oil. Cook and stir
until brown, and then remove garlic from pan. Add bread cubes to the
hot oil. Cook, turning frequently, until lightly browned. Remove bread
cubes from oil, and season with salt and pepper.
Place lettuce in a large bowl. Toss with dressing, remaining Parmesan
cheese, and seasoned bread cubes.

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Almost every one of my Caesar salads are different, but here are some of the basics that I always try to adhere to:

  1. Always use fresh garlic!
  2. Always use freshly squeezed lemon juice.
  3. Never use anchovy paste!  Stick with the fillets.
  4. The longer the dressing sits, the better it gets.
  5. Add freshly grated parmesan to the dressing right before you’re ready to eat.

The fresh ingredients make more of a difference than you’d realize.  And waiting to add the cheese until the very end helps provide the perfect consistency.

Unfortunately, the only parmesan we had in our house was the tub of already graded cheese we got from Costco.  Also disappointing was that the last head of garlic we had in the house had gone bad and I was forced to use the tub of already minced garlic (also from Costco) that we had lying around.  Oops!  That’s what I get for not planning properly.

One of the best things about making Caesar Salads is that you would have to work very hard to make a bad Caesar dressing.  Stick with the basics, but don’t be afraid to get creative.  For instance, I’ve found that (for the most part) you can use eggs, mayo, and plain yogurt interchangeably.  Feel free to tweak almost any recipe to your desired level of healthiness by making minor substitutions.  Or, simply tweak any recipe because you’re feeling adventurous.

Here are the substitutions I made tonight:

  • I pretty much DOUBLED the garlic
  • I used 3/4 cup plain yogurt and 1/4 cup mayo instead of 3/4 cup mayo
  • I used 8 anchovy fillets instead of 5
  • I TRIPLED the Dijon
  • I TRIPLED the lemon juice
  • I used boxed croutons instead of making my own

I basically threw everything into a food processer and played around with the ingredients until I got it just the way I wanted it. Turns out, I’m not very good at following a recipe. Oh well, maybe next time.

While I was obsessively altering my Caesar recipe I dry-seasoned a salmon fillet, put a little olive oil in a skillet, and blackened each side of the fillet for about 4-5 minutes each side.

Right now you’re probably thinking…

Where are all your photos?

Sorry for neglecting my camera duties.  I got distracted by making dinner.  My bad.  I’ll try to be a better multi-tasking, wanna-be foodie in the future.

Anyways, if you’re still reading this…..here are the pics I did get of our dinner:007 010 014 013

Well, that’s probably enough about Caesar salads for now. I’ll try to think of something more exciting to make for dinner next time.

Scrabblin’

I think today is devoted to Scrabble now. Jodus beat me, AGAIN!

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I can’t be having any of this! When we very first started playing together over a year ago, I would annihilate him. And he was soooo slooooow. He’s so much better now. Practice, practice, practice!

Lunch was a quick and easy between games.

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Spinach salad with smoked salmon, tomato, and cilantro lemon dressing with a few croutons.

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I am chasing it with some Ginger Ale and FSTG chips. 😀

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I hope your Saturday is going as fabulously as mine! 😉

-L4L-