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


Smoky Garlic Lemon Kale

The first time I tasted kale, I must admit, I spit it out and threw it away.

But my vegan daughter continued to wax eloquent about the virtues of kale: its texture, its taste, its nutrition!   Then one day I tasted a bite of kale, cooked right. I was an instant Kale Convert.  Now I also say, “All hail to kale!” It keeps a nice, un-mushy texture in soups and stews and I love the little bit of chewiness.  Like spinach that never turns to slime.

Recently Rachel snapped this picture of her baby, Jackson, overjoyed with his fist full of kale. If this face doesn’t convince you to try it,  I’m pretty sure nothing will.

Kale Baby! "Mmmmm...."

This recipe is a wonderful side dish that I like so much, I could honestly eat the whole bunch for lunch.  (And in fact, I just did.)  It reminds me of the southern-style greens from my childhood that were cooked all day with bacon.  But this recipe adds smoky flavor without bacon, richness without added fat, and only takes about ten minutes to whip up.

Image

Becky’s
Smokey Garlic Lemon Kale

Ingredients:

1/2 c. water
1 1/2 t. vinegar
1 bunch kale
2 cloves garlic
1/4 t. smoked paprika (see picture below)
1 t. olive oil
1/2 t. brown sugar
1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Tear stems from kale, then rinse and rough chop into about one inch pieces.  “Massage” these pieces with your hands for about five seconds to tenderize them.

Into a skillet put: water, vinegar and 2 peeled cloves of garlic, chopped into about four to six slices each. Boil this mixture and then add the kale.  Turn heat down to medium and simmer for about 7 minutes.  Check it about 1/2 through cooking to make sure there is enough liquid in the pot to keep the kale from burning.  The tricky part is to babysit the kale so that the kale itself absorbs as much liquid as possible, without going dry and burning.

When kale is tender, add olive oil, juice from one half a lemon, and brown sugar.  Season with salt and pepper and serve.  Serves about 4 people, unless you are me, and ravenous, then it only serves one.

Rachel introduced me to smoked paprika, essential for this dish. Adds a wonderful smoked flavor to veggies, beans or meats.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Smokey Garlic Lemon Kale
The URL: https://welaughwecrywecook.wordpress.com/2012/03/14/smokey-garlic-lemon-kale/
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Tomato Basil Stackers

Last week I picked up some vine ripened tomatoes and my heart went pitter patter when I cut one open and saw that they were just as vibrantly red in the middle as they were on the outside. Better yet, they were sweet and flavorful and tasted like a tomato should taste. Blah tomatoes make the winter feel so long, don’t they? I can taste summer coming around the corner when I bite into my first juicy tomato.

To me, there is no better way to enjoy a nice ripe tomato than letting its flavors shine in between fresh basil leaves and sliced avocado on a garlicy toasted English muffin. Garlic toast brings any savory sandwich up a notch. It has amazing health benefits too. My mother swears that garlic cures everything from a head cold to a stumped toe. When she came to visit last week I had a sinus infection, and she made me swallow a garlic pill every time she caught my eye. Her parting gift to me was a bottle of odorless garlic tablets. I am now cured.

Mother knows best.

Anyway, I could eat this simple sandwich every day. I always buy the Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain English Muffins.  You can find them in the freezer section of most stores that carry the Ezekiel line of breads. Not only does their nutty flavor taste delicious when toasted, but they bring 8 grams of protein, 6 grams of fiber, and a mere 160 calories to the plate.

Ezekiel English Muffin toasted to perfection with EVOO and garlic


Rachel’s
Tomato Basil Stackers

Serves 1

Ingredients

1 Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted English Muffins, sliced through the middle
1 Garlic Clove, Minced
1 tbs EVOO
1 Vine Ripened Tomato
6 Fresh Basil Leaves
1/2 Avocado
Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
Drizzle of High Quality Olive Oil

Directions

Turn your oven on broil low, in a small bowl mix EVOO with minced garlic. Spread garlic and oil onto the inner side of the english muffin slices. Place on the top rack of your oven and broil until the edges just start to brown and crisp up. Stay close, it won’t take long.  You don’t want this to happen.

Meanwhile, slice the tomato and avocado into slices, and gently tear the basil leaves a few times to release their flavors.

Layer the avocado, basil, and tomato onto one slice of the toasted english muffin. After each tomato layer, sprinkle with salt, fresh cracked pepper, and a small drizzle of high quality olive oil. When finished layering top with the other side of the English muffin.

I like to layer it like this: bread, avocado, tomato, basil, tomato, basil, tomato, basil, avocado, bread. I kind of spread the avocado onto the bread to keep it from sliding off. But layer to your hearts content or do two open faced ones if you don’t like a high stacker.  I like to stack it high and then just lean over my plate and dive in. It will be messy, but oh so delicious!

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Tomato Basil Stackers
The URL: https://welaughwecrywecook.com/2012/03/13/tomato-basil-stackers/
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Hello Mother, Hello Daughter

“My mother burns the toast as surely as the sun rises each morning. In fact, I doubt that she’s ever made a round of toast in her life that failed to fill the kitchen with plumes of throat-catching smoke. I am nine now, and have never seen butter without black bits in it.”   Nigel Slator, Toast

Becky (“The Mother”)

Though I’m now a truly good cook, I’m still not always an alert cook, which means that I tend to burn food. The smoke alarm, for many years, was basically our dinner bell.

When my second born Zeke was about five years old I handed him a perfectly golden piece of toast. He took the toast and a dinner knife and walked over to the trash can and started scraping it. “Zeke, Honey,” I said. “You don’t have to scrape your toast today. Mommy didn’t burn it!” To which he looked at me, eyes wide and said, “Oh. I thought we always had to whittle our toast.”

******

We recently visited at Jared and Rachel’s home in Texas, having driven a couple of days from Denver to get there. With my adorable grandbaby flashing us a dimpled smile from his highchair, Rach and I couldn’t wait to roll up our sleeves, get into the kitchen, and cook!

Rachel made an amazing butternut squash soup for our lunch, and while it was simmering, she popped a pan of homemade croutons in the oven, giving me one job: to guard them. Then she disappeared to rock Jackson and put him down for his nap.

Rachel (“The Daughter”)

As I settled into the rocking chair with my sleepy baby, I was going over our lunch menu in our head. The soup was simmering, the side dish was all chopped and ready for consumption, the croutons were toasting.

Oh no. I left the croutons on 450 degrees!

Sure, a high temperature is a quick way to crisp up the chunks of bread lightly coated in olive oil and Italian seasoning, but they need to be watched closely with this quick cook method. The problem: my mom, notorious for burning the bread, was in charge of them. I considered texting her from the nursery to remind her to keep an eye on them, but I’d only asked her to do that one thing…surely she hadn’t already forgotten. I told myself, “Surely, Mom will smell them browning before they get too crisp. I can live with a little char.”

Before I’d finished the argument in my head (“Should I, or should I not, text her?”) I heard a loud “BEEP, BEEP, BEEP!!” coming from the kitchen, an all too familiar sound from my childhood. This was not a kitchen timer, not the microwave, not an annoying cell phone ring…this was none other than the smoke alarm.

Still holding Jackson, who had been on his way to dreamland but was alert and wide-eyed now, I rushed to the kitchen. Through a smoky cloud, I see Mom carrying a pan of black char to the back patio.

Like the “Saturday Night Live” skit, “Really!? with Seth and Amy,” all I could say was “Really, Mom? Really?!”

Shoulders scrunched, an innocent smile on her face, mom sheepishly replied, “Soooorrry. I think I may have slightly over-cooked the croutons.”

How can you not forgive a face like that? It’s a little bit childlike, mixed with a lot of ditzy blonde, sprinkled with a dash of Steve Urkel. Did I do thaaaat? I may not need this sweet innocent face as often as my mom has used it,  but it’s a family skill I’m proud to have learned.  It works wonders on my husband…especially after he looks at the credit card bill. Did I buy thaaat?

Becky

The soup was amazing even without the croutons, especially with a garnish of Rachel’s homemade Cowboy Caviar and tortilla chips.

Cowboy Caviar. This tangy black-eyed pea, avocado, corn relish is a staple at potlucks in the South.

Sweet & Spicy Butternut Soup garnished with vegan sour cream, cilantro, and tortilla chips

What occurred in the kitchen that day is a small window into the dynamics of our Mother-Daughter relationship. I have what a brain doctor called “Inattentive ADD.”  Which means I’m not particularly hyper, but I’m ditzy, easily distracted and over-optimistic about things like time, limits, and reality.

Rach has always enjoyed rules and order and minimalist décor with the same enthusiasm that I enjoy flying-by-the-seat-of-my pants, ignoring messes, and filling every space with vintage clutter. My daughter owns a kitchen timer and actually knows where it is and how to use it. This astounds me.

Rachel’s
Sweet & Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

This rustic soup is just enough sweet and just enough spice to warm you up on a chilly winter day or to eat around the fire pit on a cool summer night. You could even simmer it over the fire in a dutch oven and serve it up in over-sized mugs if you want a really rustic presentation and experience.

Ingredients

Drizzle of Olive Oil
½ red onion, diced
1 poblano pepper, seeded and diced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
4 cloves of garlic, diced or minced
½ cup baked sweet potato, mashed
2 cups of baked butternut squash, mashed
4 tbs white wine (divided)
2 cups veggie stock
1-3 cups water
Salt to taste
2 pieces of candied ginger (optional)
Garnish suggestions: croutons, tortilla chips, cilantro, sour cream (regular or non-dairy)

Directions

Heat olive oil on medium heat in a large pot (enough to lightly coat the bottom of the pan). Sweat the onion and peppers in olive oil with a sprinkle of salt until soft, add garlic and sweat for two more minutes. Add two tablespoons of the white wine and stir. Add the veggie stock, 1 cup of water, squash, sweet potato, and candied ginger (leave whole). Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer on med-low for 20 minutes. Remove ginger (unless you like the flavor a lot—I prefer small traces of it). Transfer to a food processor and blend until smooth. Transfer soup back to your pot and add more water if you would like a thinner consistency. Finish with remaining white wine and salt to taste. Garnish with your choice of toppings.

Notes: I happened to have leftover baked sweet potato and squash from making baby food when I first made this. As a quicker alternative, I’m sure you could chop up peeled sweet potato and squash and just simmer with the soup until they are soft all the way through. Though I think baking or roasting root vegetables brings out their best flavors.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Hello Mother, Hello Daughter
The URL: https://welaughwecrywecook.wordpress.com/2012/03/12/hello-mother-hello-daughter/
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved