Easy, Crunchy, Spicy, Asian Slaw

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(Becky, the Mama)
It was only four years ago that I discovered  that I am, in fact, a wee bit Irish! My great-grandmother,  who died when my paternal grandfather was just sixteen years old , was named Mary Kathryn McNally.  My grandfather loved her fiercely and my Aunt Ann told me that  his mother’s passing would remain, for most of his years, the saddest day of his life.  Saint Patrick’s Day took on new meaning once I realized I was part of the Irish clan.
Of course, like most Americans I am my own walking Melting Pot:  a Dash of Irish, a Sprinkle of  Spanish, a dollop of English  and who knows what other ingredients are mixing around in my gene pool?
To celebrate diversity, I decided to share my recipe for an Irish-Asian-Cajun fusion slaw today.   How’s that for eclectic?  It’s base is shredded cabbage and carrots — a nod to the Irish.  But it’s quickly marinated in an Asian-sesame dressing with hints of Cajun red pepper spice for added kick.
My son popped in the other day, found a large bowl of this slaw in my fridge and ate nearly the whole thing!  He loved it and asked for the recipe, a high compliment since he is a talented cook and foodie. This crunchy, refreshing slaw is a perfect Spring and Summer side-dish, a nice alternative to a lettuce salad and even easier to throw together.
Some of you may be stumped on how to decorate your table for tonight’s meal or event.  So I wanted to suggest this green themed table decoration for your Saint Patrick Day’s Party:
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(If you’ve not already heard us shout it from the mountain tops:  our newest book, Nourished: A Search for Health, Happiness and a Full Night’s Sleep is out and available everywhere books are sold, in stores and online!)
And now, an Irish blessin’ for all our beloved readers!
May your hearth be warm, your holidays grand, and the Good Lord hold you in the palm of his hand. 
Crunchy, Spicy, St. Patty’s Day Slaw 
1 lb ready-shredded cabbage slaw (green and purple cabbage and carrots)
1/3 cup rice vinegar (or any mild white vinegar)
3 T. sugar
1 T. water
1 t. salt 
1/2 t. Cajun seasoned salt (I like Tony’s Cajun Seasoning)
1 /2 t. pepper 
1/2 t. celery seed (optional)
2 T. sesame oil
1 T. black sesame seeds
2 T. sliced almonds or sunflower seeds 
Optional for added heat: few shakes of Tabasco or other pepper sauce
Directions:
Whisk all the ingredients above, except for the coleslaw and almonds (or sunflower seeds).  Pour over coleslaw in a big roomy bowl, and toss with tongs, turning until the dressing has coated the slaw.  (The slaw will absorb the dressing and get a bit softer and juicier as it sits a few minutes).  Just before serving,  toss in the almonds or sunflower seeds. Check seasonings and add a few shakes of Tabasco if you want more heat.
Store leftovers in an air tight container.
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Crunchy, Easy, Refrigerator Pickled Cucumbers & Red Onions

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(Becky, the Mama) Now that summertime is here in Colorado,  it is hard for me to stay away from the  perfect weather on our inviting back porch!

 

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We nap, visit and eat outside as much as humanly possible.  Yesterday, we hosted a group of young couples and little ones for an outdoor brunch.  A friend dropped by last night and we enjoyed a plate of nachos and cool drinks as we rocked and swung and chatted in the evening breeze. Tonight we had some dear friends and their little girls over for an old-fashioned supper-on-the-porch that brought back memories of meals around my own grandmother’s table.  I made garlic & lemon roast chicken, baked sweet potatoes, Asian peanut buttery green beans (recipe to come soon!), corn, and my simple rustic, pastry-style cherry-blueberry cobbler (a festive July 4 recipe, by the way, with a little scoop of vanilla ice cream and raspberrg sorbet).

But it was the refreshing side-dish that I prepared for tonight’s meal that made me wax nostalgic for potlucks and  picnic tables of my childhood: sweet n’ sour refrigerator pickled cucumbers & onions.  I updated this beloved Grandma dish by using the small Asian or Persian cucumbers that are often sold in little packages of six to twelve, and becoming increasingly popular in grocery stores everywhere.   Sliced a little on the thick side they hold their crunch for days in this pickling liquid. I like to keep a container of these marinated cucumbers and onions hand in the fridge all summer long to add a crisp, cold delightful punch to almost any meal.

You can get creative and  add some diced fresh tomatoes, olives, artichoke hearts or any kind of cooked beans and a handful of fresh chopped herbs to this basic dish to create a quick, pretty, refreshing marinated salad for potlucks, picnics and summertime side-dishes. Crunch on and enjoy!

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Crunchy, Easy, Refrigerator Pickled Cucumbers & Red Onions

 

 6 to 8 small Asian or Persian cucumbers, sliced about 3/4 inch (leave peel on)

1 small red onion, peeled and sliced thin, pulled apart in strands

1 cup white vinegar

1 cup water

1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar (depending on desired sweetness)

1 T. sea salt

T. dried dill (or 2 T. fresh chopped dill)

1 T. celery seed

1 T. black sesame seeds (optional)

 

Directions: Mix all of the above together in a dish with a lid.  Let the mixture sit on the counter , with lid on top, at room temperature for about an hour and then put in fridge to chill until ready to serve. (Let the veggies marinate at least 3 hours for the best flavor through-out.)  Will keep in fridge up to a week, maintaining its crunch.

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Juicy, Grilled Pineapple Teriyaki Flank Steak

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Although it is raining today,  just a few days ago this was the view from my backyard porch swing in Denver Colorado.

view from porch swing

And yes, that probably is a yellow flower blooming from big toe — because that is just how happy I am to finally see Spring come to the Rockies.

With the coming of warm weather,  I get to dust off the ol’ grill and make some of my favorite summer recipes.   This easy recipe for steak marinade works just as well for chicken breasts. The longer you let the beef or chicken bathe in the bag, the happier it gets, but for the steak even four hours will do the trick.

Years ago when I had more energy, lots of kids and a big need for income, I was a caterer and this recipe for marinated chicken or steak was my number one, never fail, go-to main dish. People loved it and requested it again and again!

I am not sure why but it really does bring out the most tender flavor in grilled meat.  It is not overly sweet either, as some teriyaki marinated meats tend to be — but just the right the balance.  The pineapple juice adds a touch of flavor,  but it is a fresh and light background note.   Doesn’t cloyingly ring of pineapple.

Nothing says, “Summer is on its way!” like the smell of food on the grill,  and a gathering of friends on the porch.  This would be absolutely perfect to make for Mother’s Day, which is coming up soon.  And by the way, if you are looking for a pretty perfect Mother’s Day Gift — something to entertain and inspire and cheer your mom (or your wife or your daughter or grandmother, or your daughter is now a mom herself),  may we recommend a copy of We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook?

For any of you who may live near Alexandria, Indiana (or know someone who does),  Rachel and I will be speaking and doing a food demonstration at the Annual Spring Tea, this Saturday May 13, 2014, at 11:00 at Gaither Family Resources.   (Click on the link “Gaither Family Resources” and scroll down to the Spring Tea information box for ticket prices and the number to call to make reservations.)  We would love to see you, hug your neck and possibly sign a book for you or your mother in person!  Ya’ll come! 

Add a little "happy" to your days with this funny, uplifting mom-daughter memoir. (Perfect gift for Mother's Day, too.)

Add a little “happy” to your days with this funny, uplifting mom-daughter memoir. (Perfect gift for Mother’s Day, too.)

 

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Juicy, Grilled Pineapple Teriyaki Flank Steak

1 flank steak

Grill Seasoning, about a teaspoon (or enough to season both sides of the steak)

1/2 cup white wine

1/4 cup light soy sauce

1/2 cup pineapple juice (or drain the juice from a can of pineapple rings)

1 T. olive oil

2 T. Worcestershire Sauce

2 large cloves of garlic, smashed with side of knife

Oil for grill pan, if cooking indoors

Ziploc bag

Directions:

Season both sides of a flank steak with Grill Seasoning (or salt, pepper and garlic powder). Add the rest of the ingredients to a large, Ziploc bag and carefully squeeze the contents to mix.  Place the flank steak in the bag of marinade, seal the bag then squeeze and turn the bag to coat both sides of the steak.  Put in fridge to marinate, turning  once or twice in the process and marinate anywhere from four to 10 hours.

Fire up the outdoor grill or use a grill pan over high heat (put a little olive oil in the pan if cooking indoors).  Place steak on the grill and sear one side until golden brown with nice dark grill marks.  Turn over and grill the other side.  Then cover the grill pan or close the grill and let it cook for another minute or two.  Remove and put on a plate,  cover the meat with foil and let it sit so that juices distribute throughout the meat.   While the meat is sitting, lightly grill small slices of pineapple (fresh or canned), and bring the leftover marinade to a boil.  Spoon some of the marinade over the steak and decorate with pineapple to show it off!    When you are ready to serve, remove pineapple slices, cut the steak in thin slices across the grain, giving each person a pineapple half and a drizzle of sauce.

The nice thing about serving a big piece of steak like this is that you serve the outer slices to those who prefer their meat more done, and for those who prefer their meat more on the rare side, serve them slices from the middle of the steak.

Depending on the size of the steak,  it will usually feed anywhere from 4 to six people.  Delicious with rice or mashed potatoes or pasta;  a green salad or steamed/roasted  green veggie is tasty and beautiful.

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Easy Moo Shu Veggie or Chicken Wraps

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“Come, let’s be a comfortable couple and take care of each other! How glad we shall be, that we have somebody we are fond of always, to talk to and sit with.”  Charles Dickens

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My husband Greg and I love our little pleasurable routines.  It really doesn’t take much to make us happy.  We don’t need high adventure, fast cars, tall mountains, or Broadway plays.  We get a kick out of watching Jay Leno’s “headlines” segment on Monday nights and reruns of “30 Rock”. We can’t wait to snuggle up on Sundays to watch Downton Abbey when it reappears on PBS this winter.  He often watches sports, while I contentedly piddle on Facebook from a comfy loveseat nearby.

We enjoy quiet road trips with Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra playing in the background more than attending rousing stage concerts.  Greg stands and greets me with a kiss every morning as I stumble into the kitchen; me waking up to my first cup of coffee two hours after he’s greeted the morning. We watch Brian Williams tell the news every evening (in his friendly voice,  even the worst disasters sound less terrible).  Then I serve our suppers,  all prettily plated,  as we eat in living room, our feet up, hearts at ease. We usually clean up the unbelievably messy kitchen, afterwards, together.

 During the summer we meet outside on the porch swing for Happy Hour and conversation at 5:00 p.m.  We go to bed, each reading our e-books, a glass of ice water on my bedside table.  I slather on Lemon Cream Lotion and Greg always says I smell like lemon pie before he kisses me goodnight, wishing me sweet dreams. Then he hands me the treasures that have somehow gathered on our bed during the day: hair clips, reading glasses, books, jewelry, pens and notebooks, stray socks, apple cores — clearing room for us to ease under the quilt and fall asleep.

We’re mostly One-Note Nellys without much need for variety or grand adventures.  We find, in the comfort of each other’s company, all the thrill we generally need.  A free evening with nothing planned  is typically our idea of perfection.

Our date night’s are inevitably to our favorite Asian restaurant, John Holly’s, followed by a movie. At John Holly’s I always order the same thing:  Moo-Shu Veggies. I pile them up on thin rice pancakes with a drizzle of thick salty-sweet Hoison Sauce and dash of sriracha, then rolled the delicious stuff up like a burrito.

This quick and savory-sweet recipe for Moo-Shu uses thin uncooked flour tortillas (easier to find than rice pancakes) and has become one of my favorite veggie based cook-at-home meals now.  Greg likes it with chicken but you can substitute edamame, tofu or scrambled egg (or combo thereof) to avoid meat and make this easily vegetarian or vegan.

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Easy Moo Shu Veggie or Chicken Wraps  

1 16 ounce package of pre-shredded  Asian or colorful Cole Slaw mix

1 cup fresh snow peas, chopped into ½ inch pieces

1 cup fresh chopped mushrooms, any kind

1 cup chopped or shredded cooked chicken (or sub 1/2 cup diced tofu, edamame or raw egg, whisked)

1 large clove garlic

1 T. olive oil

1 T. sesame oil

3 T. soy sauce

1 T. maple syrup, honey, molasses or brown sugar

salt & pepper to taste

4- 5 uncooked Tortillas (or the thinnest pre-cooked tortillas you can find)

½ cup Hoison Sauce (in Asian sections)

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¼ cup hot chili sauce or sriracha (optional, if you like heat)

1/2 cup cashew pieces or sliced almonds

Directions:

In a large skillet or walk, heat oils and 1 minced fresh garlic clove.  Toss in slaw, chopped snow peas and mushrooms.  Add chicken and/or tofu/egg. Cook until tender-crisp. Add soy and your choice of sweetener. Heat through.  Add salt or pepper if needed to season.

Lightly cook/brown the tortillas on a flat skillet.  Put about ½ cup of the hot veggie mix down the middle of each tortilla. Sprinkle with 2 T. sliced almonds or cashew pieces.  Drizzle on Hoison and dot with a little hot chili sauce or shriracha if you enjoy some heat with your Asian food.

 

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Roll up like a burrito and slice on the diagonal, in half to serve.

moo shoo pork 012Variations: Use any veggies you like: peppers, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, celery, some fresh grated ginger – use your taste and imagination.  Try using leftover beef, pork or shrimp instead. Experiment with different nuts or sesame seeds, sliced green onions, crispy Chinese noodles or fried won ton strips, perhaps a squeeze of fresh lime.


Savory Turkey Burgers with Quick Mango Red Pepper Chutney

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(Becky, the Mama.)

A family story pops up almost every Thanksgiving.   Decades ago, my adorable cousin Kenny, about age five, tiny and wearing enormous glasses took a bite of the day’s celebrated roast bird, smiled, and then with a slow southern munchkin voice, asked my mom, “What kind of chicken is this Aunt (pronounced “Ain’t”) Ruthie?  Tur-key?”

I must confess, I’m not a big fan of turkey (even cousin Kenny’s “chicken kind of turkey”) — as it too often tends toward dry and flavorless.  I’ve found three exceptions, however.  One is a  recipe for marinated grilled turkey tenderloin. Moist, delicious,  a family favorite.  Another is a savory-sweet recipe for Asian turkey meatballs.  Finally there is this creation for savory turkey burgers loaded with flavor and topped with a sweet and spicy quick mango red pepper chutney.  It’s beautiful on a serving plate, plus budget and waistline friendly dish. Yummy paired with a side of jasmine rice and my simple sesame avocado  cucumber salad.  For vegans or vegetarians,  trying grilling Field Roast Apple Sage Sausages, and then simmer them in the sauce a few minutes before serving.

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Savory Turkey Burgers with Quick Mango Red Pepper Chutney

Makes 6 to 8 patties depending on size you prefer

Burgers

1 lb ground turkey (you can also use ground beef if you prefer)

1 lb  sweet Italian turkey sausage, out of casing and crumbled

2 t. seasoned salt or grill seasoning

1 egg

1/3 c. soft bread crumbs

Sauce

½ cup chicken or veggie broth

1 /4 c. brown sugar

1 T. Dijon mustard

1/3 c. red wine or balsamic vinegar

Pinch salt and pepper

1 fresh mango diced (Or 3/4 c. fresh pineapple, chopped, is also delicious if you prefer)

1 roasted red pepper, diced

2 green onions, chopped

Directions:

Mix the ingredients for turkey burgers together and form into patties, any size you like.   Grill or sauté with a little olive oil until brown and caramelized on the outside, cooked through on the inside.  (You can cover the pan once the burgers are brown on the outside and let simmer a bit more if they need to cook through more on the inside.) Remove from pan to a plate, cover with foil to keep warm and let juices redistribute.   To the same skillet, add veggie broth, brown sugar, mustard and vinegar to skillet. Turn heat on high to bring to boil and then back heat down to a simmer,  until sauce begins to get thicken.. Add mango, red pepper and onions, pinch salt and pepper continue to cook until the chutney is hot again.  Serve a spoonful of warm sauce over turkey patties.

Vegan or Vegetarian Alternative: Use Field Roast Apple Sage Sausages, split down the middle length-wise. Brown in a little olive oil, then continue recipe above.

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This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Savory Turkey Burgers with Quick Mango Red Pepper Chutney
The recipe URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-ZD
This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook


Sweet and Spicy Snap Peas in a Snap

These sweet and spicy snap peas are ready in minutes and make a perfect side dish or healthy snack.

These sweet and spicy snap peas are ready in minutes and make a perfect side dish or healthy snack.

I cannot seem to get enough snap peas lately. Since I started working out again, I’ve craved something cool and quick after I exercise. A handful of cold snap peas is a perfect little sweet and crunchy snack for a post workout cool down.

I challenged myself to workout every day for 30 minutes outside, rain or shine, this month. It seemed like an awesome idea the first week when the weather was in the 70s and 80s, reaching record highs for December. As Texas weather does, it abruptly turned from gorgeous 70s to the 30s this weekend. I went from a tank top and shorts and a lovely workout in the park on Sunday…

Resourcefully using the playground equipment for a Sunday afternoon workout/jog with the family.

Resourcefully using the playground equipment for a Sunday afternoon workout/jog with the family.

….to a headwrap, multiple layers, down vest, and gloves on Monday.

Bundled up for our first cold front of the season.

Bundled up for our first cold front of the season. 

Instead of needing a crisp snack to cool down with, I needed something to help me thaw out after that workout. Like a hot bath for starters, and these warm sweet and spicy snap peas that are literally made in a snap.

Two ingredient, five minute side or snack. Sweet, spicy, delicious.

Three ingredient, five minute side or snack. Sweet, spicy, delicious.

Sweet & Spicy Snap Peas in a Snap

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 c. Sugar Snap Peas

2 T. Sweet Chili Sauce (in the Asian aisle of most grocery stores)

1/4 t. sea salt or kosher salt

Directions

In a sauce pan, bring the sweet chili sauce to a boil, stirring constantly until it reduces by about half. Add in the snap peas and stir until coated and just warmed through. Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.

Here’s a closer look.

Sugar Snap Peas are easily found in most super markets.

Sugar Snap Peas are easily found in most super markets.

I've seen this in the Asian aisle of many grocery stores and at specialty stores like World Market.

I’ve seen this in the Asian aisle of many grocery stores and at specialty stores like World Market.

Bring sweet chili sauce to a boil, stirring constantly.

Bring sweet chili sauce to a boil, stirring constantly.

Add snap peas and stir until coated with sauce and just warmed through.

Add snap peas and stir until coated with sauce and just warmed through. Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately. 

Serve alone as a snack or appetizer, or as a side with something like rice and Teriyaki Tofu or Chicken.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Sweet and Spicy Snap Peas in a Snap
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-Qg
This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook


Super Healthy Almond Kale Salad with Clementine-Maple Dressing

(Becky, the Mama. )

Greg and I just spent two days on a road trip, driving from snow-covered Denver to the blue skies, hot air balloons, rusty-red mountains, green grass, gorgeous flowers and warm sun of Arizona.  As soon as we pulled into the parking lot, I grabbed my bathing suit from the suitcase (still in the car) ran into the condo and threw it on, then dashed to the swimming pool. The sun was still in the sky, but sinking, so I arranged my lounge chair just so, where I could get the maximum rays, then sat down and basked and beamed with happiness. For as long as I can remember I’ve been a sun and a water baby. I wore my dark hair in two braids, as a little girl, and by summer’s end I always looked like Pocahontas, my skin as “brown as a berry,” my mother said.

To this day, I wonder if I am part Indian, as I disdain shoes and socks, preferring to be bare foot, even in the winter. I seek out sun like a lizard, anywhere I can find it. I do know that my grandmother Nonny and her family came to Sweetwater, Texas from New Mexico. Her eyes were a twinkling blue, her hair a stunning natural silver, and her skin turned a deep olive every summer.  She loved being outside in her garden, always in a flower print dress (I never saw her in slacks), and if we grandkids were lucky, she’d see and catch a baby horned toad, which us we loved to hold and play with more than any store-bought toy.

But I digress.  Back to the pool.  When I could see the sun dipping in the sky, I jumped out of the lounge chair, hurried back to the condo, grabbing this and that from boxes of food stuffs and ice chest we brought from home – kale, dried cherries, hemp seed,  sliced almonds, Clementine oranges – quickly creating the world’s fastest salad. Then photographing it while there was still natural light on the patio overlooking an emerald green golf course. After two days of road trip food burgers and fries, my body was craving something green and healthy.  This is truly a Super Salad, loaded with nutrition – and it was soo yummy, I know I’ll be making it again and again.  The nice thing about using kale in salads is that the salad still has lots of chew and crunch the next day, and in fact,  it seems to get even better as it has time to sit and soften a bit in the dressing.

Super Fruit & Almond Kale Salad with Clementine Maple Dressing

Ingredients for salad:

2 to 3 cups of chopped kale, leaves only – no stems (I was able to find it pre-chopped and mixed with some shredded carrots in the grocery produce aisle)

2 Clementine oranges, peeled and pulled apart in sections

2 T. dried cherries or cranberries

1 T. hemp, flax, or chia seeds

2 T. sliced or slivered almonds

1/4 cup sliced water chestnuts

Ingredients for Dressing:

¼ cup red wine or rice wine vinegar

Juice from 1 Clementine orange

1 T. pure maple syrup

1 t. soy sauce

2 t. good mustard

¼ cup olive oil

dash garlic powder or about 1/4 of a fresh garlic clove, grated

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

Put kale in a large  bowl and knead and massage it with clean hands for a minute. This will break down the fibers and make the kale tender enough to eat raw.  (Sometimes I run hot water over it in a colander to soften the kale first, knead it, and then rinse again in cold water.)  Add all the rest of the ingredients for a salad and serve in a pretty flat platter.   Whisk all the ingredients for the dressing together and drizzle over the salad.  Serve and enjoy.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Fruit and Almond Kale Salad with Clementine-Maple Dressing
The URL:http://wp.me/p1UwM9-M9
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