Avocado Cucumber Sesame Salad

My sister and my nieces, Whitney and Tori, age 9 and 11, are here this weekend and we are enjoying them so much!  The youngest one, Whitney,  is quite the  food connoisseur, and has made me feel like the best cook on the planet with her over-the-top compliments.  She describes the food on the end of her fork as one would describe a fine wine, “I can taste the layers of flavor! The hint of coconut, the tang of pineapple…”

As soon as she arrived from Texas she asked if we could make my sweet n’ spicy meatloaf again, together.  She remembered it from three years ago, when they last came to Colorado!  We did, and she said she loved squashing the meat and the seasonings together with her bare hands.   When she took a bite of the cooked finished meatloaf she raised her hands, rolled her eyes heavenward and exclaimed, “This is even better than I dreamed it would be!”

Yesterday, I let the girls paint pictures outside under our tree and beach umbrella,  and then made them each virgin cocktails. (Cranberry Sprite, OJ and slices of lemon, lime and orange on ice.)  Whitney took one sip and said, “This is delicious!  In fact, it is as good as meatloaf!”   I wonder how many bartenders have had compliments like that.  “This Long Island Tea is as tasty as meatloaf!”  Gotta love kids.

With such an appreciative food critic in the house, it really spurred me on to bring out my inner chef.  This is a very simple Asian salad that packs a powerful burst of flavor with very few ingredients, one the whole family loved!   The key is the salt.  Be sure to use sea salt, the best you can find. McCormicks now has a sea salt grinder, where you can grind fresh flakes of sea salt on to your food.  It is quite good!  You will be amazed how good fresh sea salt can be and the “layers of flavor” that come from using the finer, gourmet versions of it.   This dish combines the smooth, richness of avocado with the crisp crunch of cucumber, the warmth of sesame oil and sesame seeds, and that final touch of freshly flaked sea salt.   So easy, but so gourmet at the same time.   I guarantee you, it is even as good as meatloaf!

Avocado Cucumber Sesame Salad

Serves two to three

Ingredients

1 ripe but still firm  avocado, cut in bite sized pieces (we like a lot of avocado, so I sometimes double the avocado in this recipe)

1/2 English cucumber (or regular cucumber with seeds removed , but peel left on) cut in bite sized pieces

1 t. fresh lime juice

pinch sugar

1 T. sesame oil

1 t. sesame seeds (toasted,  white or black seeds –black seeds are actually quite pretty, but I did not have them on hand)

fresh sea salt to taste

Directions:

Gently coat the sliced avocado and cucumber in a bowl with lime juice, pinch sugar, sesame oil and seeds. Sprinkle generously with sea salt. Serve in a low-rimmed edge blow or plate.

Advertisements

Crunchy Asian Cucumber & Tomatoes

Becky’s Crunchy Asian Cucumbers and Tomatoes

My husband Greg and I often travel together for business and fun; and this often yields a good bit of comic material.  On a recent trip home,  we were hauling around enough luggage to outfit the entire cast of Glee for a week, plus golf clubs.  (“Learning to pack light,” is on my To Do List.) As is often the case,  when we are in a hurry trying to catch a plane,  Greg exits the elevator with his suitcase and golf clubs, unaware that I am scrambling to get my suitcases turned around and facing the right direction — when the door closes and takes me to some strange floor, not of my choosing.  I always get tickled when this happens. Greg is patient, but doesn’t see as much humor in it as I do.

Last summer he was about to walk off the elevator in Arizona, and in some uncanny feat of timing, both of his lens popped out of his only pair of glasses and one lens rolled, then disappeared down a small crack near the elevator door.  Greg stood looking stunned, his eyes wide through his lens-less spectacles. I found this hysterical, could hardly stand up straight I was laughing so hard — but Greg… not so much. (He did however smile when he found a maintenance guy who was able to help him retrieve the lost lens from the basement.)

Last week we were on a plane together, but had to sit in separate seats. Upon descent, a rogue lap top computer went zipping down the aisle.  The limber and alert flight attendent expertly caught it right before it hit the cockpit door.   Guess who’s lap top it was?  The look on Greg’s face as his wife’s computer went whizzing by his seat, then looked over at me, was priceless.

Traveling is not only great for gathering funny material, but it affords me the opportunity to try new foods in new cities that I often try to duplicate at home. On a trip to California, we went out for sushi, and the restaurant served the tastiest crunchy cucumbers as appetizers before the meal. They were small cukes, but sliced thick, peel left on, which gave them a great crunch. This is my version of those yummy Asian cucumbers, with the addition of red tomatoes.  It would also be fabulous with thinly sliced red onions if you are a fan of onions. (I am, but alas, Greg is not.)

It makes a nice alternative to green salads, especially for picnics or potlocks.

Becky’s Crunchy Asian Cucumbers and Tomatoes

Ingredients:

I got the small cucumbers at Sprouts, but have also seen them at Whole Foods and Sam’s Club. There’s only a small amount of sesame oil, but it really packs a punch of flavor.

4 small cucumbers sliced thick, peel on

2 Roma tomatoes, cut in chunky slices

1 T. fresh dill or 1 t. dried dill

1/4 c. rice or other light vinegar

1 t. sesame oil

1 T. water

1 T. sugar

1 t. salt

1/2 t. pepper

1 T. sesame seeds, toasted

Directions:

Place chopped cucumbers and tomatoes in a bowl.  Mix the rest of the ingredients in another small bowl and whisk.  Pour dressing over cukes and tomatoes  Let set for about 30 minutes in the fridge before serving.  Keeps well in a Tupperware-like container for at least one more day.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Crunchy Asian Cucumber and Tomatoes
The URL: https://welaughwecrywecook.com/2012/05/03/crispy-oriental-cucumber-tomato-salad


Bacon Apple Salad with Brown Sugar Dressing

Becky's Bacon Apple Salad with Brown Sugar Dressing

Here is my Facebook status from last night, which drew a crowd of friends volunteering  to join the experiment:

“I really do think I could live the vacation life all year long. Sleep late, coffee & toast, to pool to read and swim, lunch, check email, etc., more pool reading and swimming. Happy Hour. Cook dinner or go out to eat. Relax some more. Bedtime. Repeat. Why aren’t we all on this schedule all the time? The world would be such a happy place if it were. I think it might even wipe out PMS.”

I’m on the sixth day of this schedule and I can tell you the world seems brighter, my heart seems happier and people, in general, of all shapes and sizes and ages seem especially adorable.  I think I may have discovered the cure for world peace.  Yesterday at the pool, with some sort of soft jazz playing in the background I looked up into a blue cloudless sky and, I kid you not,  someone was  sky-writing,  “God loves you. Jesus forgives you.”  I started wondering if perhaps I had stepped into the Christian version of the Truman Show.  But I’m going with it.

I have come to the conlusion that the cure for World Peace is for all of us to be on perpetual vacation. Well, that, and bacon.

I cooked up a mess of bacon from the remaining contents of our condo fridge this morning.  Bacon alone makes my normally laid-back husband want to dance me around the kitchen.  But I needed to make something lunch-worthy out of it.  I spied an apple. Lettuce.  Italian Dressing. Brown Sugar. Voila!  Bacon Apple Salad with Brown Sugar Dressing. Seriously,  how could this not be amazing?  Let me assure you it is!

And in keeping with keeping me out of the kitchen and at the swimming pool, it is also easy.  Enjoy it and visualize, “World Peace. God loves you. Jesus forgives you. Bacon is good stuff.”

Becky's Bacon Apple Salad with Brown Sugar Dressing

Becky’s Bacon Apple Salad with Brown Sugar Dressing

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 small head of lettuce or spinach, chopped (1 to 1 1/2 cups per person)

1 large apple, cored and sliced thin

6 pieces of bacon, cut in small pieces and “stir-fried”

1 t. bacon drippings

1/3 c. your favorite Italian Dressing

1 T. brown sugar

Directions

Divide lettuce into two salad bowls. Arrange apple slices over each.  Top with crumbled bacon, dividing evenly.  In small skillet put 1 t. bacon drippings,  Italian dressing and 1 T. brown sugar. Warm just until brown sugar melts, cool slightly then drizzle desired amount over each salad.

Variations: Try this vegan version of baconmade with wide pieces of coconut, liquid smoke, and soy sauce.  Add avocados, dried fruit or use crisp pears instead.

This was printed from:

We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook

The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com

The Title: Bacon Apple Salad with Brown Sugar Dressing

The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-eS


Three Pea Salad

We had the most wonderful, relaxing Easter this year. Jared’s parents and brother came over to our house and we enjoyed a beautiful spread of food for vegans and omnivores alike.

Easter Lunch

Rhonda, my wonderful mother-in-law, brought ham, and homemade macaroni and cheese, delicious roasted corn, and an apple pie. Jared and I weren’t short on choices though! I made zucchini basil risotto, balsamic roasted veggies, cranberry orange kale salad, cashew queso in a bread bowl, and three pea salad. We washed it all down with peach iced tea and Bogle Chardonnay. It was quite a feast for the five of us.

We meandered through lunch, then headed out for Jackson’s first Easter egg hunt before heading to the evening church service.

I could have just eaten him up in his little Easter duds. Lucky for him, I was pretty full from lunch.

(Jared and I just got Iphones so I can now do fun things like this with my phone pictures. I’ll try not to share a nostalgic shaded picture of my baby in every post. But know, each time I don’t, it took major restraint. Jared, on the other hand promptly dropped his phone in the toilet and ruined the camera. Thanks to Apple Care, a new one is on the way.)

I’ll share most of the recipes I made on upcoming posts, but I’m starting off with the one I finished off first, the Three Pea Salad. I was trying to come up with a vegan version of the old classic Spring Pea Salad with mayonaise and cubes of cheese, but I was afraid Jared wouldn’t go for just peas in a salad, so I veered off of that path pretty far. What I ended up with was a filling, tangy, spicy side dish. It’s one of those salads that gets better the longer it sits. I ate a bowl for dinner last night and then finished it off for lunch today.

Sweet Peas, Chick"peas," and Black Eyed Peas in a creamy tangy dressing.

Rachel’s
Three “Pea” Salad

Ingredients

1 16 oz can of Chickpeas, drained & rinsed
1 16 oz can of Black Eyed Peas, drained & rinsed
1 1/2 cups of Frozen Peas, cooked & cooled (put in ice water to quickly cool off)
3 T. Sweet Onion, minced
1/4 c. Vegenaise (or mayo of choice)
1 T. Rice Vinegar (any vinegar would be fine)
2 t. Frank’s hot sauce
A few splashes of Tabasco (optional for extra heat)
1 t. Salt
1/2 t. Pepper
1 t. Garlic Powder (or one minced garlic clove)
1/4 c. Parsley, chopped

Directions

In a medium sized bowl, mix all the ingredients together. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (overnight is best). Check for seasoning. Serve cold.

Although this dressing uses mayo, it doesn’t call for very much and results in a nice light coating of dressing (the way I  prefer). If you want a thick creamy dressing, you may want to add more mayo and seasonings.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Three Pea Salad
The URL: https://welaughwecrywecook.com/2012/04/10/three-pea-salad

Sesame Broccoli Slaw

Today, a new mom friend asked when she would ever feel like herself again after quitting her job and becoming a mother full time. At first I chuckled and thought about saying, “I think it will be about 30 years from now!” Then I recalled there was a moment after Jackson was born, when I first felt like my old self again.

He was about three months old and Jared and I were desperate for a night to ourselves. Money was tight, though, now that I wasn’t working and bills for the two day hospital visit were piling up. The amount we owed to doctors was growing faster than Jackson was! Despite our empty bank account, we called the grandparents and asked if they could watch Jackson for the evening. They happily obliged.

We couldn’t afford to go out to eat, but with the few groceries we had on hand and a little creativity I planned to turn our patio into the finest bistro in town. (The competition isn’t too steep in Small Town, Texas!) Before we dropped Jackson off, Jared and I prepped all the food, cleaned the house, hid all the baby gear away, and set up a table on the back patio. I got dolled up, putting on a dress and heels for the first time in months, thrilled to fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes.

When we returned to our home “bistro,”  all was ready for wining and dining. It was a perfect fall evening with just the slightest chill in the air. A bowl of delicious homemade vegetable soup and a bottle of Pinot Noir kept us plenty warm while we chatted the night away.

I remember stopping mid-sentence and saying to Jared, “We are talking, like really talking, and I’m actually able to focus on what we are saying!” The newborn haze had lifted for at least an evening and I felt like my old self again. I’d forgotten how much I loved spending the day in the kitchen, and evenings together, with the first love in my life. It was in that moment I realized though motherhood will forever change me, and in ways I’m really grateful for, I still need to make room in my life for the things that inspire and energize me. I’ll be a better mother for it.

One of my favorite creations from our romantic evening was an Asian-inspired Sesame Broccoli Slaw I served as our appetizer salad. It was crunchy, tangy, sweet, and easy to make ahead so it was waiting for us when we arrived at The Back Porch Bistro.

Rachel’s
Sesame Broccoli Slaw

Serves 2 as a side salad or appetizer, probably up to 4 as a side dish.

Ingredients

2 cups Broccoli, thinly sliced into ribbons
2 cups Carrots, thinly sliced into ribbons
4 tbs Rice Vinegar
2 tbs Olive Oil
2 tbs Organic Sugar
2 tbs Sesame Seeds
1 tsp Sesame Oil
1 tsp Salt

Directions

Slice the broccoli and carrots into ribbons as thin as you can. (A vegetable peeler works great to “cut” the carrots really thin. Just start about half way up the carrot and peel, peel, peel lovely little ribbons. Then start over with the upper half of the carrot.) In a bowl, add all of the ingredients and toss. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors mingle and the carrots and broccoli soften up. Can be served chilled or at room temperature.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Sesame Broccoli Slaw
The URL: https://welaughwecrywecook.com/2012/03/20/sesame-broccoli-slaw/
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Refreshing “Lemon Drop” Berries, Walnut & Greens Salad

Not long ago, I enthusiastically wound up my Cuisinart salad spinner, a gift from my efficient salad-loving daughter. What I did not do was read the instructions, which I’m now guessing said something like, “Wait until the inner whirling colander comes to a complete halt before removing the lid.” If you remove the lid early in the spinning process, I can testify that you will immediately give your entire kitchen, including ceiling and floor, a certain lettuce-based Rain Forest look. However, if you use it correctly, a salad spinner is quite the nifty item to dry the lettuce mix for this recipe below, one of my favorite salads.

The “dressing” is mixed as you toss the salad, no need for a separate bowl.

Becky’s
Refreshing “Lemon Drop” Berries, Walnut & Greens Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 to 6 cups of early spring mix lettuce (rinsed, patted, or spun dry)
½ c. toasted walnuts or pecans

1/2 c. fresh blueberries
1/2 c. sliced fresh strawberries
Juice of one small lemon or ½ large lemon
Olive oil (about 2 T. or to taste)
Sea salt (to taste)
Organic sugar (to taste)
(Blue cheese , feta, goat cheese or  Gorgonzola crumbles can also be added if you want a heartier salad.)

Directions

In a large salad bowl place the greens, berries and toasted nuts. Squeeze juice of one small lemon over all. Toss. Sprinkle the leaves with sea salt and sugar to taste.  (Hint from professional chefs: salad always tastes better and you use less dressing if you lightly salt the greens just before serving.) Toss. Finally squiggle about 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil. (My good friend Lucille gave me a bottle of Meyer Lemon Olive Oil featured in the picture- so good in this recipe!) Toss gently again. This is a taste-as-you-go salad. The dressing should taste sweet & sour — like lemonade or “lemon drops” — with just enough salt and olive oil to make it savory.

This salad is a light go-to side dish that goes especially well with heavier main dishes. Once you get the method down, it is also one of the fastest, easiest salads you can throw together – and everyone loves it!  Try using sliced green or red apples or sliced peaches in place place of berries, for a salad that refreshes in all seasons.

I made a huge version of this salad on a big oval platter fothe holiday. Not a drop of salad left, and it was so beautiful. Looked like a Spring garden! Added some goat cheese to this version. Yum!

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Refreshing “Lemon Drop” Berries, Walnut & Greens Salad
The URL: https://welaughwecrywecook.wordpress.com/2012/03/16/refreshing-lemon-drop-apple-walnut-greens-salad/
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved