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Posts tagged “Heart healthy

Black Grape, Walnut, & Blue Cheese Salad

with Vanilla Ginger Yogurt Dressing

Black Grape, Walnut & Blue Cheese Salad with Vanilla Ginger Yogurt Dressing

I found some gorgeous big, juicy, crunchy black grapes at the grocery store the other day. I am not really much of a grape lover (unless it’s WINE!), but my kids like them, so I decided to bring some black grapes home for the teenagers. But my kids didn’t eat them. I even put some in a little container for my daughter for a before-dance snack, but she didn’t touch them. I kept reminding my son that they were there … no luck.

So it seems like I’m stuck eating the grapes. I tried to think of a way to eat them that I would actually enjoy and the first thing that came to mind is a salad. I thought if I added some crunchy walnuts and blue cheese, that would probably make them palateable. And you know what? It worked! I think I may actually start LIKING grapes …

Black Grape, Walnut & Blue Cheese Salad with Vanilla Ginger Yogurt Dressing

Black Grape, Walnut & Blue Cheese Salad with Vanilla Ginger Yogurt Dressing

Red or green grapes would work nicely in this salad too. Red ones would add more color, too!

  • Mixed greens
  • Black grapes, sliced or halved
  • Walnuts, toasted
  • Blue cheese crumbles
  • Vanilla Ginger Yogurt dressing (recipe below)

Prepare the dressing and set aside. Fill your salad bowl most of the way with mixed greens. Add a generous amount of grapes and toss to mix. Top with some toasted walnuts and blue cheese crumbles and drizzle with the Vanilla Ginger Yogurt Dressing.

Black Grape, Walnut & Blue Cheese Salad with Vanilla Ginger Yogurt Dressing

Vanilla Ginger Yogurt Dressing

  • 1/3 cup vanilla lowfat yogurt
  • 1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger root
  • milk or rosewater, to thin

In a small bowl, mix the vanilla yogurt with the grated ginger root. Add milk or rosewater as needed (I used a little of each) to thin out the yogurt to the right consistency to drizzle properly.

This recipe was shared at Fit & Fabulous FridaysScrumptious SundayAll my Bloggy FriendsTuesday Talent Show, Tasty Tuesday, Newlyweds Recipe Linky, Show & Share Wednesday and Lifeologia’s Birthday Party Potluck.


Fairy Tale Tomato, Corn & Bread Salad

with Great Northern Beans & Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing

Fairy Tale Eggplant, Tomato  and Bread Salad: something's missing ...

Have you ever made something once and thought “it’s good, but it really ought to be better?” Yeah, that’s what happened here. The first time I made it I used a great big eggplant and I tried cooking it on the grill. Except my coals ran out of heat and the eggplant didn’t get properly cooked and it was this awful rubbery texture. I ended up picking all of the eggplant out of my salad that night and just eating the tomatoes with the corn and bread … not that that was a BAD thing, it was quite delightful that way. I just hated wasting the lovely eggplant …

So: take 2. This time I used a couple of my fairy tale eggplant. If you’ve not seen fairy tale eggplant, they are those tiny purple eggplant that look SO adorable because they are about finger sized or a little bigger, maybe half my hand size?  You never have to peel them or salt them because their skins are perfectly tender and they are never bitter. If you’re inexperienced with eggplant, fairy tale eggplant are a good place to start. This time was definitely better … but something was missing … oh my gosh! the corn! I totally forgot the corn. Okay, so I went and grabbed some corn from the freezer, cooked it up and added it … ah! much better!

Fairy Tale Eggplant, Tomato, Corn and Bread Salad

Fairy Tale Tomato, Corn & Bread Salad

Adapted from Williams Sonoma. For one hearty serving or two small “sides”:

  • 2-4 fairy tale eggplant (about 1/2 cup after roasting/chopping)
  • 1 cup fresh garden tomato, chopped into bite-size chunks
  • 1/2 cup cooked white beans, drained
  • 1/2 cup cooked corn, drained
  • 2 slices of sweet onion, chopped coarsely
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups toasted whole wheat bread cubes (about 1 inch in size … or smaller … to your liking)
  • A few fresh basil & tarragon leaves
  • A few roasted sunflower seeds
  • Tahini yogurt ranch dressing (recipe below)

Directions:

  1. Slice the fairy tale eggplant lengthwise in 1/2-inch slices. (You can use other eggplant in place of Fairy Tale, but you may need to peel them first.) Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and set the eggplant on the baking sheet. Spray them with cooking spray and sprinkle with a bit of salt or Red Robin Seasoning. Roast the eggplant in the oven or toaster oven at 400 for about 10 minutes or until they are tender.
  2. While the eggplant are cooking, chop the tomato and onion and heat the white beans and corn up. Also, set the bread cubes on another oiled baking sheet  and let them toast in the oven for the last few minutes of the eggplant roasting or until the cubes are lightly browned and toasted.
  3. Chop the eggplant into bite-size chunks. In your salad bowl, toss the eggplant, tomato, corn and onion till well mixed. Gently fold in the toasted bread cubes, drizzle with tahini ranch dressing and sprinkle with fresh herbs and sunflower seeds.

Fairy Tale Eggplant, Tomato, Corn and Bread Salad

Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing

  • 1/2 cup nonfat greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons tahini
  • 1 Tablespoon light mayonnaise
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup mixed fresh herbs (I used rosemary, basil, thyme, tarragon, oregano, parsley … dill would be wonderful too, but my dill plant has died off)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon salt (start with 1/4 teaspoon and add more to taste as needed) + freshly ground pepper to taste.

In a handi chopper or food processor, blend all ingredients till the herbs and garlic are well chopped and the mixture is fairly smooth. Taste the dressing and add salt and/or pepper to taste. Store any leftover dressing in a covered container in the fridge.

This recipe was shared at Cast Party WednesdayFriday Favorites and Newlyweds Recipe Linky.


Chocolate, Fruit & Nut Energy Bytes

Chocolate Fruit & Nut Energy Bites

Chocolate craving! Time for something chocolatey good. With nuts. Yes LOTS of nuts. Oh and some peanut butter. Dried fruit in there … ah yes. And to add a little bit more healthy yumminess, some oats.

Roll it all into a little ball and what do you have? A quick, healthy snack. Not one you want to eat a LOT of at one sitting because they are a bit calorific, but something you can grab on the go when you need a little energy, especially before or after a good workout. An energy byte! (Terrible geeky pun intended.)

I like to eat one of these for a bit of dessert after a good meal, or when I am running out the door and need something fast to grab for a quick bit of energy. Or when you need a quick chocolate fix, but you don’t want to totally destroy your healthy eating plan. A little bit of chocolate and a few nuts every day are very good for your health.

Chocolate Fruit & Nut Energy Bytes

Chocolate, Fruit & Nut Energy Bytes

You could use a good quality dark chocolate in place of the almond bark and cocoa powder. I just didn’t have enough on hand, so I decided to make my own “chocolate”!

  • 2 squares of almond bark (or white chocolate)
  • 4 Tablespoons dark cocoa powder
  • 3 Tablespoons of Chocolate PB2 powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 2/3 cup nuts (I used a mix of peanuts and cashews)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped into bits
  • Coarse sea salt

Directions:

  1. Melt the almond bark in a medium mixing bowl in the microwave by microwaving on high for 1 minute, stir, microwave for 30 seconds, stir again, keep microwaving for 30 seconds/stirring until the white almond bark is completely melted.
  2. Stir in the dark cocoa powder, PB2 powder, vanilla and peanut butter and stir until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
  3. Stir in the oats, nuts, cranberries and apricot bits until everything is coated in chocolate. Form the mixture into balls and set on a tray. Sprinkle the bytes with a bit of coarse sea salt.
  4. Set it in the fridge until the chocolate is set, then transfer to a covered storage container. You can store these at room temperature or in the fridge, as you prefer. I like to eat them at room temperature so I’m not bothering to refrigerate mine. They aren’t going to last that long anyway!

Chocolate Fruit & Nut Energy Bytes

This recipe was shared at Katherine Martinelli’s Nut BloghopShare it SaturdayLunch Box Linky and Scrumptious Sunday.


Cantaloupe Walnut Salad w Maple Mint Yogurt Dressing

Cantaloupe & Toasted Walnut Salad with Maple Mint Yogurt Dressing

I went into the kitchen to get a cup of chai this morning. It was nearing lunchtime and when I reached into the fridge to grab the milk, the cantaloupe reached out to me. I came out of the kitchen with this salad. I got so caught up in the salad that I had to go back into the kitchen for the tea.

You must try this salad. It is pure simplicity to make, but tastes like heaven, especially if you can find yourself a really good juicy sweet cantaloupe. The sweet maple syrup with the mint and the tangy yogurt perfectly balance the juicy muskmelon and the crunch of the nuts. The mixed greens just round it all out, adding crunch, color, and variety.

Not to mention your body will love you for it. Every ingredient in this simple salad pitches in to help you feel energized and alive.

Cantaloupe & Toasted Walnut Salad with Maple Mint Yogurt Dressing

Cantaloupe & Toasted Walnut Salad with Maple Mint Yogurt Dressing

Inspired by my Maple Mint Cantaloupe Lassi

  • Mixed greens
  • Fresh cantaloupe, cut into chunks
  • Toasted Walnuts
  • Maple Mint Yogurt Dressing (recipe below)

Mix up the dresssing. Fill your bowl most of the way with greens. Add a generous pile of cantaloupe chunks. Sprinkle with a couple tablespoons of toasted walnuts. Drizzle with the Maple Mint Yogurt dressing to your heart’s content. Garnish with fresh mint leaves or edible flowers if you like. Revel in the wonderful taste of this ultra simple salad.

Cantaloupe & Toasted Walnut Salad with Maple Mint Yogurt Dressing

Maple Mint Yogurt Dressing

  • 1/4  cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
  • About 1 Tablespoon fresh mint leaves, chopped fine

In a small bowl, stir together all ingredients. Drizzle generously on the salad. Store any remaining dressing in a covered container in the fridge.

This recipe was shared at Newlyweds Recipe LinkyTastetastic Thursday, Fit & Fabulous Friday and Share it Saturday.


Grilled Chicken Stuffed with Eggplant Tarragon Cream

and a Mushroom Cherry Tomato Quinoa Pilaf

Grilled Chicken Stuffed with Eggplant Tarragon Cream

Ever since I made Baba Ghanoush, I’ve been wondering: what else could you do with eggplant puree? And then I picked up these HUGE chicken breasts at the store and was marinading them in buttermilk for my daughter and I for dinner … and it occurred to me that these babies would be really good stuffed with something wonderful and creamy. Eggplant puree, with cream cheese! and fresh tarragon and basil! Ah yes! How wonderful would THAT be?

Um yeah, completely wonderful … especially when you serve it over a pilaf of nutty quinoa with garlicky sauteed mushrooms and fresh garden cherry tomatoes.

Grilled Chicken Stuffed with Eggplant Tarragon Cream

Grilled Chicken Stuffed with Eggplant Tarragon Cream

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Marinade: buttermilk + seasonings

Eggplant Tarragon Cream Filling:

  • 3/4 cup chopped roasted (or grilled) eggplant
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 oz light cream cheese
  • About 1 Tablespoon fresh chopped mixed basil & tarragon leaves

Directions:

  1. Put the chicken breasts in a bowl and add enough buttermilk to cover them completely. Add seasonings as you like: I added a couple teaspoons of Mrs. Dash and a couple teaspoons of a basic rub seasoning I like to use. Let the chicken marinade in the buttermilk for at least an hour … I left mine in there overnight.
  2. To cook the eggplant, I took a couple of the little purple tender eggplant from mom’s garden, sliced them lengthwise, sprayed them with cooking spray and set on a baking sheet that I’d sprayed with cooking spray. (If you’re using a larger eggplant, you probably want to peel it and slice into 1/4 inch slices.) Bake at 400 for about 10 minutes or until the eggplant is soft and tender. Chop the eggplant roughly and toss them into a handi chopper with a couple cloves of garlic, the cream cheese and some fresh tarragon and basil leaves. Pulse to mix it all well and make a good creamy filling.
  3. Now, take the chicken breasts and slice into them horizontally with a small knife, not cutting all the way through so you make a little pocket in each chicken breast. Fill each pocket with half the filling, then close the open end with a toothpick.
  4. Heat up your grill and sear both sides of the chicken breasts on the hot part of the grill, then move them to the cooler part of the grill to cook until they are cooked through.
  5. Serve over a bed of the mushroom cherry tomato quinoa pilaf (recipe below), garnished with a few fresh basil or tarragon leaves.

Grilled Chicken Stuffed with Eggplant Tarragon Cream

Mushroom Cherry Tomato Quinoa Pilaf

  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup of mushrooms sauteed with red wine, garlic, and bruschetta seasoning (see my Chardonnay Mushrooms recipe for instructions)
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
  • Roasted sunflower seeds

Sautee the mushrooms with a couple cloves of garlic and a splash of red wine like I did with my Chardonnay Mushrooms. Add the hot, cooked quinoa, then the cherry tomatoes and stir gently to mix. Cook for just a few minutes to let the cherry tomatoes heat up. Serve the pilaf sprinkled with a couple tablespoons of sunflower seeds for a nice salty crunch.

This recipe was shared at Cast Party Wednesday, Weekend Potluck1 Month of Fun and Talent Show Tuesday.


Cantaloupe Lassi with Vanilla

Cantaloupe Lassi with Vanilla

My dad loves cantaloupe. He loves it so much that one time he even built a “cantaloupe accelerator” so that his cantaloupe plants would start producing fruit earlier in the season. He doesn’t do the “accelerator” anymore, but he still grows cantaloupe every year, and he has perfected the art of growing them to the point where eating cantaloupe from dad’s garden is almost a spiritual experience. It is the sweetest, most flavorful cantaloupe you have ever tasted …

So we went to visit my parents the other weekend and his cantaloupe are ripe (but he’s having trouble with the gophers eating them … can you blame them for wanting a bite?) He mentioned to me that he and mom have been blending up the cantaloupe with some yogurt and drinking it just like that. I said to him “you mean like a lassi?” … well, he didn’t know it was called a lassi; he just knew he liked blending his cantaloupe with yogurt.

For those of you who don’t know, a Lassi is a drink made with yogurt. It is common in India and Pakastan. I was most familiar with the Mango Lassi which is a blended mango drink with yogurt, but I did a little research and discovered there are many ways to make a lassi: some are spiced and savory, some are fruity and sweet, but all of them are made with yogurt.

Anyway, my dad gave me some cantaloupe to bring home, so I had to try making his Cantaloupe Lassi. I added vanilla because I just love vanilla so much. I also froze some of the cantaloupe chunks to make it extra cold and smooth, almost like a milkshake. My dad is right (as usual!) … a Cantaloupe Lassi is truly a wonderful thing. It’s healthy, it’s cold, it’s quick, it’s easy, but most importantly: it’s delicious!

Cantaloupe Lassi with Vanilla

Cantaloupe Lassi with Vanilla

  • 1/2 cup fresh cantaloupe chunks
  • 1/2 cup frozen cantaloupe chunks
  • 1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt … I have tried both plain (with no sweetener) and vanilla yogurt … I think I like the vanilla better, but they were both really good!
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth. Pour and drink!

Here’s another delicious variation …

Maple Mint Cantaloupe Lassi

  • 1/2 cup fresh cantaloupe chunks
  • 1/2 cup frozen cantaloupe chunks
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • Several fresh mint leaves

Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth. Pour and drink!

Cantaloupe Lassi with Vanilla

This recipe was shared at Manic Monday, Melt in your Mouth MondayTotally Tasty Tuesday, 1 Month of Fun and Cast Party Wednesday.


Bulgur Black Bean Salad with Tomato & Avocado

Bulgur Black Bean & Fresh Tomato Salad with Avocado & Jalapeno

My friend gave me some cooked bulgur when we went camping together … in a way, I wonder if she gave it to me just so she could see what I would do with it. I brought it home. It sat in the fridge till I was nearly sure it must have gone bad already … and then, suddenly, I was craving Mexican food. Something with black beans and jalapenos and tomatoes and cilantro and onions. And then it occurred to me what to do with the bulgur: give it a KICK! I made this salad one day last week and munched, munched, munched all afternoon.

Last weekend my friend came up to my parents’ place for the first time EVER, with her hubby and youngest son. We ate antelope & venison that my dad cooked on the grill, dad’s garden potatoes mixed with peppers, spices and cheese and my tarragon roasted vegetables. Then the next day we munched on Dad’s fabulous fresh garden melons. I fed them caramel peach bread pudding, chocolate zucchini cake, and sandwiches made from the roasted veggies and grilled meat (yes, in that order).

And after we had eaten all of that, I remembered  the bulgur salad. Everyone was stuffed, but I made my friend taste a bite of it anyway, since she had given me the bulgur. She loved it, so I sent it home with her.

Bulgur Black Bean Salad with Avocado & Fresh Tomato

I played around a little with stuffing a couple tomatoes with the salad for a pretty presentation … what do you think? (Vegies in the background are stray bounty from my mom & dad’s garden … it’s everywhere!)

Bulgur Black Bean Salad with Fresh Tomato & Avocado

This is a hearty, spicy, flavorful salad that you could serve as a meal all by itself.

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked bulgur
  • 3/4 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 1 cup cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 or 2 medium fresh garden tomatoes, chopped

Dressing:

  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • Fresh cilantro or parsley
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped jalapeno (use more or less jalapeno according to how hot & spicy you like it)
  • 1/2 – 1 whole avocado, peeled, pitted, and chopped (I only had about 1/2 an avocado, but I think the salad would be tastier with more!)
  • Garnish: cilantro or parsley leaves and a slice of fresh lime

Directions:

  1. Toss together the cooked bulgur, onion, black beans, and tomatoes in a bowl and set aside.
  2. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, cumin, honey, and cilantro (or parsley) until well blended. Gently fold the avocado pieces into the dressing to coat. (This will help keep the avocado from turning black.)
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently to mix. Garnish with a twisted slice of lime and some cilantro (or parsley) just before serving.

Bulgur Black Bean Salad with Fresh Tomato, Sweet Onion & Avocado

This recipe was shared at Fit & Fabulous Friday.


Chicken & Blueberry Salad

with Goat Cheese, Sweet Onions, Toasted Almonds and a Cherry Malbec Vinaigrette

Blueberry Chicken Salad with Goat Cheese, Almonds & Cherry Malbec Vinaigrette

I went to the kitchen the other day to find myself some lunch … started pulling things out of the fridge and this is what came of it. I made my daughter a pretty salad with just lettuce and strawberries too while I was at it. I cooked her up a piece of salmon too. I thought about putting some salmon on my salad, but decided that chicken would go better with the blueberries.

For the dressing, I decided on my Cherry Malbec Vinaigrette … I think you could probably make the dressing with blueberries in place of the cherries and it would go even better with this particular salad, but the cherry taste was quite nice on there too.

Blueberry Chicken Salad with Goat Cheese, Almonds & Cherry Malbec Vinaigrette

Chicken & Blueberry Salad with Goat Cheese, Sweet Onions & Toasted Almonds

  • 1 hot, cooked chicken patty (or boneless chicken breast if you prefer) for each serving
  • Mixed greens
  • Fresh blueberries
  • Sweet onions, sliced thin
  • Almonds, lightly toasted
  • Goat cheese crumbles
  • Cherry Malbec Vinaigrette Salad Dressing (recipe below)
  • Violets or other edible flowers for garnish (optional)

Cook up your chicken. While that’s cooking, fill a salad bowl most of the way with greens. Top with as many blueberries as you desire, then sprinkle with sweet onions, almonds, and crumbles of goat cheese. Chop up and add the chicken, drizzle with the dressing, and  garnish with flowers just before serving.

Chicken & Blueberry Salad with Goat Cheese, Almonds & Cherry Malbec Vinaigrette

Cherry Malbec Vinaigrette

This is the dressing I used in my Cherry Beef Salad. You can make it with blueberries in place of the cherries if you prefer.

  • 10 sweet cherries, pitted
  • 1/4 cup Malbec (or other red wine)
  • 2 Tablespoons cherry (or berry) syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • a few fresh basil leaves
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • a few sprigs of fresh dill
  • 1/4 teaspoon Sriracha
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds (optional, but they add nutritional value and help thicken the dressing)

In a handi chopper, blender or food process, blend up all the ingredients well till the cherries and garlic are fully pureed. Store in a covered bottle in the fridge.

This recipe was shared at Scrumptious Sundays, Summer Salad Sundays, Manic Monday and Made it by Monday.


Smashed Chickpea & Avocado Salad Sandwich

Smashed Chickpea & Avocado Sandwich

Why does the idea of smashing a chickpea sound so appealing?

I think it’s for the same reason that hitting something hard at TaeKwonDo feels good. It’s all those little things in life that just make you angry that you will never mention to the person that is bugging you because you’re just too nice to say it or you don’t want to make waves. It’s often better left unsaid … so much better to walk away, not say anything, or let that person find their own truth, their own karma. But still there are these little bits of anger that build up inside of you and you need to let it out somehow.

For me, yoga helps, but it’s not enough. I need to really smash something, something that isn’t going to care if I hurt it. Ah, and even better if I get to eat it in the end!

Come here, little chickpeas! I will smash you into a sandwich … oh and you too, little avocado!

… but seriously, though, this is quite a delicious sandwich. And if you can relieve a few frustrations in the process, that’s even better.

Smashed Chickpea & Avocado Sandwich

Smashed Chickpea & Avocado Salad Sandwich

Adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod. Makes 2 – 3 sandwiches.

  • 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 2 Tablespoons sundried tomato ranch dressing (recipe here - or use regular ranch and add a couple finely chopped sundried tomatoes to the mixture)
  • 1 tablespoon sweet onion, chopped fine
  • Cilantro (a few sprigs if you can gather it … mine is so pathetic all I can get is a few leaves … sigh. )
  • 1/2 an avocado
  • juice of a wedge of lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sriracha
  • lettuce leaves, onion, tomato, whatever you like to put on a sandwich

Directions:

  1. In a  bowl, using a fork or potato masher, smash the chickpeas and avocado together. Let out your frustrations … really, it’s ok.
  2. Add in the cilantro, onion, and squeeze the lime over top. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. Toast your bread, spread both sides with the smashed chickpea/avocado mixture, then put your favorite sandwich toppings inside.
  4. Enjoy every bite!
You can use the smashed chickpea/avocado mixture as a dip, too. ;)

Smashed Chickpea and Avocado Sandwich

This recipe was shared at Totally Tasty TuesdaysHearth & Soul Bloghop, Foodie FridaysSummer Salad Sundays, Weekend Potluck and Manic Monday.


Cherry Beef Salad with Cherry Malbec Vinaigrette

Cherry Beef-Salad with Toasted Pecans & a Cherry Malbec Vinaigrette

I’m SOooo excited … there are sweet cherries in my house! I almost never have sweet cherries. They just don’t grow here, and I can’t bear to pay $4 to $5 per pound for them so I very very rarely buy them. But this year must be a good cherry year because I’ve seen them for $2.50 – $3.00/pound. So I bought some! Three times now! The first time my daughter ate all of them. The second time she ate most of them, but I got a few. THIS time must be my turn because she hasn’t touched them yet. So I seized the opportunity and put them in my salad. And while I was at it, I made a cherry red wine vinaigrette, which turned out even better than I ever dreamed it would. I just started throwing things together and up came this brilliant-tasting cherry red sweet/tart vinaigrette that’s just super yummy.

Cherry Beef-Salad with Toasted Pecans & a Cherry Malbec Vinaigrette

Cherry Beef Salad with Toasted Pecans

I think some goat cheese would be nice on this salad too, but I’m all out of it!

  • Mixed greens with spinach
  • Pitted sweet cherries
  • Sweet onion, sliced and roughly chopped
  • Sweet bell pepper, chopped
  • Toasted pecans
  • Chunks or slices of cooked beef or venison (I used some leftover Spiedies)
  • Cherry Malbec Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Fill your salad bowl most of the way with greens. Toss on a bunch of cherries, some onion, a little bell pepper and then sprinkle with a few toasted pecans. Drizzle generously with cherry malbec vinaigrette and enjoy.

Cherry Beef-Salad with Toasted Pecans & a Cherry Malbec Vinaigrette

Cherry Malbec Vinaigrette

  • 10 sweet cherries, pitted
  • 1/4 cup Malbec (or other red wine)
  • 2 Tablespoons cherry (or berry) syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • a few fresh basil leaves
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • a few sprigs of fresh dill
  • 1/4 teaspoon Sriracha
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds (optional, but they add nutritional value and help thicken the dressing)

In a handi chopper, blender or food process, blend up all the ingredients well till the cherries and garlic are fully pureed. Store in a covered bottle in the fridge.

This recipe was shared at Summer Salad Sunday, Hearth & Soul Bloghop and Manic Monday.


Triple Tomato Ranch Pasta Salad

Triple Tomato Ranch Pasta Salad with Meat & Feta

This was the salad I had in mind when I created the sundried tomato ranch dressing. A super simple, very tomato salad bursting that really focuses on the tomato. I forgot to put the feta cheese on BEFORE I took the pictures … ooops! But don’t forget to add the feta. The tangy salty feta is so good with the juicy tomatoes and ranch.

Triple Tomato Pasta Salad with Feta Cheese Crumbles & Sundried Tomato Ranch

Triple Tomato Ranch Pasta Salad

You could add other fresh vegies to this salad as well … this recipe made enough for two meals for me, but I’m not a big eater.

  • 1 cup dry cellentani pasta (rotini, bowtie, or penne would work well for this too)
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet onions
  • 2 red ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • Mixed greens
  • 1/4 cup sundried tomato ranch dressing (recipe here)
  • Several sundried tomatoes, chopped into bits
  • Feta cheese crumbles
  • Leftover grilled meat (optional … I tossed in some of my Spiedies) … or try some cooked chickpeas (or other beans) instead and maybe some sunflower seeds?
  • For garnish: Green onion, snipped

First, make the dressing and set it aside while you create the salad.

Cook the pasta in boiling water till done, then drain. In a bowl, mix together the pasta, sweet onions, tomatoes and ranch dressing.

Cover your salad plate (or bowl) with a layer of mixed greens, then add a healthy bunch of the pasta salad mixture. Top with the chopped sundried tomatoes, chunks of meat, feta cheese crumbles and snipped green onions.

Enjoy! (I did take ONE photo after I added the feta … I had already started in on devouring the salad by then though …)

Triple Tomato Pasta Salad with Feta Cheese Crumbles & Sundried Tomato Ranch

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This recipe was also shared at Manic MondayCast Party Wednesday, and Tastetastic Thursday.


Mulberry, Goat Cheese & Avocado Salad

on Mixed Greens with Ginger Grapefruit Vinaigrette

Mulberry, Goat Cheese & Avocado Salad with Pinons & Goat Cheese

Hey guess what?  I’m guest posting on Carrie’s Experimental Kitchen today … it’s a yummy salad I made with my mulberries.

Mulberry, Goat Cheese & Avocado Salad on Mixed Greens with Pine Nuts & a Ginger Grapefruit Vinaigrette

Go on over to Carrie’s blog and check it out!

Mulberry, Goat Cheese & Avocado Salad on Mixed Greens with Pine Nuts & a Ginger Grapefruit Vinaigrette

This recipe was shared at Fit & Fabulous FridaysFoodie Friends Friday, EveryDay Mom’s Meals and Summer Salad Sunday.


Rhubarb Salad with Gorgonzola & Goat Cheese

Rhubarb, Walnut, Goat Cheese & Gorgonzola Salad

Do you ever get bored with your ingredients? I asked my mom for some rhubarb because I wanted to make some rhubarb crisp and try chia seeds in place of the tapioca, but then that just didn’t sound good. I wanted to try something DIFFERENT with my rhubarb.

So the idea struck me … could you put rhubarb in a salad? Why not? I did a quick search on google and found a few different recipes for rhubarb salad. They all involved roasting the rhubarb in sugar or honey. Honey sounded better to me than sugar. I added some sweet onions and gorgonzola to the recipe to kick it up a bit, and a few chrysanthemum leaves to the greens to add that peppery taste and topped it off with a honey lemon ginger vinaigrette.

Rhubarb, Walnut, Goat Cheese & Gorgonzola Salad

Rhubarb Salad with Gorgonzola & Goat Cheese

Adapted from yumsugar. This amount of rhubarb is about right for a big one-person salad or two side salads.

  • Chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup rhubarb, washed and cut into chunks
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • Mixed greens (throw in a few chrysanthemum greens if you happen to have an organic chrysanthemum plant about)
  • Sweet onion, sliced and quartered
  • Gorgonzola & goat cheese crumbles
  • Honey Lemon Ginger Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Spray a small baking sheet with cooking spray. Set the walnuts on the tray and toast in the oven on the bottom rack at 400 for about 5 minutes … or until they are fragrant and slightly browned. Watch them carefully so they don’t burn. Remove the walnuts from the baking sheet.

Mix the rhubarb with the honey and place it on the baking sheet. Bake at 450 on the top rack for about 5 minutes or until the rhubarb is just beginning to soften. Let the rhubarb sit for a few minutes in the fridge to cool.

Once the rhubarb has cooled a bit, fill your bowl most of the way with mixed greens, toss in the sweet onion and rhubarb, sprinkle with the cheeses and toasted walnuts and drizzle with the vinaigrette.

Rhubarb, Walnut, Goat Cheese & Gorgonzola Salad

Honey Lemon Ginger White Wine Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • Juice of 1/4 of a lemon
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 Tablespoons spicy brown mustard
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped fine
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Mix everything except the olive oil together in a bowl till well mixed. While whisking, slowly pour the olive oil into the dressing in a small stream. Keep whisking until the olive oil is well mixed into the dressing. Refrigerate any leftover dressing in an airtight container. Before use, take it out of the fridge for a few minutes to let the olive oil “melt” again (it will solidify in the fridge) and shake well.

This recipe was shared at Newlyweds Recipe LinkyFit & Fabulous Fridays and Summer Salad Sundays.


Walnut Date Nasturtium Salad

with Gorgonzola cheese, sweet onions and a Honey Lemon Ginger White Wine Vinaigrette

Walnut Date Nasturtium Salad with Sweet Onions and Gorgonzola Cheese

I am totally enthralled with edible flowers … so I planted some nasturtiums this year. I soaked the seeds overnight, planted them, watered them, waited. And waited. Watered some more. Waited. Weeks passed and none of them grew. I was so disappointed … but I took the pots and planted other things.

And then one day I noticed something growing in with my celery plant. It didn’t look like a weed to me so I let it grow … and grow … and it produced a flower. A brilliant red flower.  There was a little tickle of recognition in the back of my mind, but I had never seen a red nasturtium before so I couldn’t quite figure out what this gorgeous flower was. I took a picture of it and posted it on facebook and asked my friends what it was. I was almost embarrassed when my friends pointed out to me that it was a nasturtium. Silly me! So one of my little seedlings DID grow … she just took her time doing it.

My Surprise Nasturtium

My daughter asked if we were going to eat it, but I just couldn’t bring myself to eat this lone pretty flower. I let it stay there on the plant. However, my sweet little plant heard my silent wish and made me more flowers. A bunch of them. Enough for a salad. I didn’t act quick enough and the heat killed several of them off, but still I collected enough for one salad. Maybe she’ll make me some more again? I’ll be happy either way. I’m so glad this little plant graced my life with her beauty. Her flowers tasted pretty good too. Slightly peppery, but mildly flavored. The leaves are little more peppery. I only used a few leaves; my sweet plant is just a little one and I want to let her grow. The flowers turned more orange over time.

Walnut Date Nasturtium Salad with Gorgonzola Cheese and Sweet Onions

Walnut Date Nasturtium Salad

  • Mixed greens
  • Toasted walnuts
  • Pitted Dates, sliced
  • Crumbles of Gorgonzola cheese
  • Sweet onion, sliced thin and quartered
  • Several nasturtiums (and toss in a few of the leaves too … why not!)
Fill your salad bowl 3/4 full of greens. Toss on some walnuts, sliced dates, crumbles of gorgonzola, and sliced onion. Tuck in Nasturtium flowers (the whole flower or just the petals, either way … I kept one whole and tossed the petals from the not-as-pretty flowers in there). Drizzle with the honey lemon vinaigrette (recipe below) and serve.
Walnut Date Nasturtium Salad with Honey Lemon Ginger Vinaigrette

Honey Lemon Ginger White Wine Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • Juice of 1/4 of a lemon
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 Tablespoons spicy brown mustard
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped fine
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Mix everything except the olive oil together in a bowl till well mixed. While whisking, slowly pour the olive oil into the dressing in a small stream. Keep whisking until the olive oil is well mixed into the dressing. Refrigerate any leftover dressing in an airtight container. Before use, take it out of the fridge for a few minutes to let the olive oil “melt” again (it will solidify in the fridge) and shake well.

This recipe was shared at Weekend PotluckManic MondaysKatherine Martinelli’s Nut Bloghop and Melt in your Mouth Mondays.


Mulberry Rhubarb Baked Oatmeal Crumble

Mulberry Rhubarb Baked Oatmeal Crumble

Is this baked oatmeal breakfast or dessert? I styled it like a dessert, with a pouf of whipped cream on top because it TASTES like a decadent fruity dessert, a lovely warm fruity crumble with a crunchy topping and a fruity sauce on the bottom. But really (if you skip the whipped cream) it is a quite healthy breakfast full of fruit, fiber, and protein. I love breakfasts like that.

This is something I’ve been meaning to try ever since Ann at The Fountain Avenue Kitchen posted her Strawberries & Cream Baked Oatmeal. When I met mom and dad for lunch last Sunday, they brought me some rhubarb. To me, that seemed like the perfect opportunity to try out this “baked oatmeal thing”. After trying this delicacy, I may never go back to eating regular oatmeal again …

Mulberry Rhubarb Baked Oatmeal Crumble

Mulberry Rhubarb Baked Oatmeal Crumble

Adapted from Nutmegs, seven

  • 3 cups rhubarb, cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 4 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (100g) old fashioned oats (not instant oats)
  • 1/3 cup (30g) almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup (60g) brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (250ml) milk
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the top:
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons flaked almonds
  • 1/2 Tablespoon or so of raw (Turbinado) sugar
  • 1/2 – 1 cup mulberries (or other berries)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 F. Spray a small casserole dish or 8×8 inch square baking dish with cooking spray. Scatter the rhubarb over the bottom and toss with the sugar and vanilla.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, mix together the oats, chopped almonds, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, milk, egg white and almond extract.
  3. Sprinkle your oat mixture over the rhubarb evenly, then pour the milk mixture over the oats as evenly as you can. Sprinkle with mulberries, raw sugar and 1 1/2 Tablespoons of flaked almonds.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes or until the dish has set and turned a lovely brown and crunchy on top. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

If you want to serve it for dessert, serve in wedges with a little dollop of whipped cream. Or just scoop it out in warm spoonfuls into a bowl for breakfast with your coffee or tea in the morning.

Mulberry Rhubarb Baked Oatmeal Crumble

This recipe was shared at It’s a Keeper ThursdayFull Plate ThursdayFit & Fabulous Fridays and Weekend Potluck.


Cinnamon Chocolate Chia Pudding

Cinnamon Chocolate Chia Pudding

So I have these chia seeds that I won from Lauren at Nutri-Savvy and Ruth’s Foods and I’ve heard they make a nice pudding … tapioca-like. Well, of course I had to try a chocolate version. I added a little cinnamon because I love the taste of cinnamon and chocolate together: the taste combination reminds me of Mexican hot chocolate.

The chia pudding does have a tapioca-like texture, except there is a slight crunch from the seeds. And it’s much easier to make than tapioca. I think I still prefer the texture of tapioca, but this is a nice, simple, and very healthy pudding. I thought it was really interesting how the little chia seeds seemed to absorb most of the chocolate. It’s so healthy you could eat it for breakfast and even pat yourself on the back for taking good care of your health. The chia seeds give it fiber, protein, and healthy omega-3 fatty acids (which are very good for your heart).

Cinnamon Chocolate Chia Pudding

Adapted from Oh She Glows

  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup fat free half & half + 3/4 cup milk (or use 1 1/4 cups milk of your choice)
  • 1 Tablespoon honey (or more to taste)
  • 2 Tablespoons dark cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 very ripe banana, mashed (optional, but hey if you have a ripe banana sitting there that needs to be used, toss it in. I always seem to have some over-ripe bananas about that need to be used up)

In a bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients until the clumps are gone. Place in fridge for 1-2 hours (or overnight), until it’s thick. Add milk if you want the pudding a little thinner, or more chia seeds if you want it thicker (then chill again for a while …).

Serve it cold or heat it up in the microwave for a warm pudding.

Cinnamon Chocolate Chia Pudding

This recipe was shared at Scrumptious Sundays and Fit & Fabulous Fridays.


Rosemary Cucumber Barley Lentil Salad

Rosemary Cucumber Barley Lentil Salad

The idea of a chopped cucumber salad with rosemary popped into my head the other day. I had some cucumber I bought for my daughter, but she hasn’t shown much interest in eating them lately, so I decided to go ahead and use them up. I cooked up some barley and red lentils to go with it and they took over and outnumbered the cucumbers, but all in all, I was very pleased with the results. Barley is something I usually think of putting in soups, but I thought it would be fun to try it in a salad. It’s a very healthy grain, full of fiber.

Dressed with lemon juice and olive oil and seasoned with a little Moroccan seasoning and some cumin, it turned out to be quite a nice salad. Great for lunch or as a nice side dish to serve with fish or meat.

Rosemary Cucumber Barley Lentil Salad

  • 1/2 cup dry barley
  • 1/2 cup dry lentils (you can use any color: I chose red ones)
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced and chopped cucumber
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet onion (like a Vidalia)
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onion
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Moroccan seasoning (I used some I purchased from Mystic Blue Spice Company, but if you are in a pinch, there is a recipe for making your own here)
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • For garnish: About 2 Tablespoons toasted pinons (pine nuts), lemon slice(s) & fresh parsley leaves

Directions:

  1. Cook the barley and lentils (in separate pots) according to package directions.
  2. While they are cooking, chop the cucumber and onion and gather the herbs.
  3. Zest and juice the lemon into a small bowl. Add the garlic, rosemary, cumin and Moroccan seasoning, then whisk in the olive oil.
  4. In a larger bowl, mix the cooked barley and lentils, the cucumber, onion, parsley and green onion, then drizzle on the dressing and stir to mix. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh lemon slice(s), toasted pine nuts and some fresh parsley leaves. Serve hot or cold. It’s good both ways.

Rosemary Cucumber Barley Lentil Salad

This recipe was shared at Newlyweds Recipe Linky, Full Plate Thursday, Fit & Fabulous Fridays, and Summer Salad Sundays.


A Forager’s Thai-style Peanut Chicken Stirfry

A Forager's Thai Peanut Chicken Stirfry

I have been fascinated with foraging since I was a little girl. My parents instilled this trait in me … I remember as a child, when we were driving along somewhere, my mother would sometimes suddenly exclaim that we needed to stop.  And my dad would stop the car. We would just stop and pick asparagus out of the ditch … or wherever it was she discovered it. I remember her stopping to pick wildflowers sometimes too. We also went mushroom hunting, which is the ultimate in foraging, and if you have never gone, find yourself a friend who hunts mushrooms and tag along with them sometime. Mushroom hunting is great fun … you just have to know what you are looking for.

Back then I think foraging in general was much safer. The sprays that are used in parks, lawns, and ditches these days (in the US) can be pretty toxic. So you need to be more careful where you forage … but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t forage. You can forage in your own yard, where you have control over what goes on your plants. And I totally think you should … I mean, what is better than free food that you picked fresh from the landscaping? (By the way, if the idea of foraging in your yard scares you, skip over to the recipe … I provided substitutes for the “foraged” parts of the meal.)

I used the word “landscaping” very intentionally there, because the foods I foraged for this dish are commonly used in landscaping in many yards in the city:  hostas and day lilies. I long suspected that hostas are edible … because my deer love them … and whatever my deer love to eat, I start wondering about … so I went searching about the internet and I discovered that I was right! Ha! In fact, hostas are a common food in Japan, called Urui or Yuki-urui. Thanks to Miss Modish, I know this now. The day lily discovery I made the other day and I will point you to my Stella de Oro salad post to learn more about them. Do NOT try to eat just any old lily from your yard. Some lilies are poisonous. Make sure you are eating a DAY lily. Google “eating day lilies” if you aren’t sure of the difference and do some reading before you start picking. Also if you have food allergies, I would suggest eating a small bit first to make sure you are not allergic.

Hostas and Day Lilies are Edible!

Notes on picking: for day lilies, pick the fresh buds, unopened pods and fresh (unwilted) flowers. It’s best to pick them fresh, right before you plan to eat them, but if you can’t eat them right away, put them in a plastic bag in your vegetable crisper. Day lilies only last a day, so if the flower looks “spent”, don’t bother trying to eat it. DO pick them off the plant, though, because the plant will produce more flowers that way. When picking hostas, choose the smaller, tender leaves in the center of the plant. The larger ones tend to be a little tough.

I had tried the day lilies raw and tasted the hosta leaves (yeah, they taste like a leaf), now it was time to discover how well they cook up … and it turns out they do cook up quite beautifully. Both of them. Together. With a little garlic and olive oil. Oh, and I threw in some carrots from my dad’s garden too. And just a splash of white wine.

What do they taste like? The day lily pods when cooked taste a bit like green beans. The flowers are slightly sweeter and more tender/wilty. The hostas taste sort of like spinach. (I tasted them after they were cooked and before I put the sauce on to get the “true” taste of the day lilies and hostas.)

Stir Frying Day Lilies & Hostas

A Forager’s Thai Peanut Chicken Stirfry

This was enough for little old me for a big, hearty lunch. Pick more for multiple people!

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Half of a very large carrot, peeled and thinly sliced and cut in half-moon shapes (or 1-2 regular sized carrots)
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • A small mixing bowlful of small, tender hosta leaves, chopped (they cook down like spinach does, so you’ll want quite a lot) … if you don’t have hostas, substitute some spinach
  • Several handfuls of day lily pods and blossoms (see picture for amount … I’m not quite sure how many there were) … if you don’t have day lilies, substitute green beans
  • A splash of white wine
  • 1 cooked chicken breast, sliced or chopped
  • 2 -3 Tablespoons of Super Simple Thai Peanut Sauce (recipe here)
  • Hot cooked Basmati rice (to serve the lovely stirfry upon)
  • Chopped peanuts and cilantro for garnish, if desired (I had no cilantro and totally forgot about the peanuts … not that it NEEDS garnish because the dish is so beautiful already!)

Heat a frying pan to medium heat and add the olive oil, swirling around to coat the pan. Add the carrots, garlic, hosta leaves (or spinach), and day lilies (or green beans) and sautee for a few minutes. Throw in a splash of white wine and the chicken and cook until the carrots are crisp tender, the hosta leaves are wilted and the chicken is hot. Stir in the peanut sauce and served over the hot rice. Garnish with chopped peanuts and cilantro leaves, if desired, or a fresh (uncooked) day lily flower would be a beautiful garnish.

Forager's Thai Peanut Chicken Stirfry

This recipe was shared at Weekend Potluck.


No-cook Strawberry Chia Jam {a Berrylicious Post}

No-Cook Strawberry Chia Jam

I found this recipe on the blog Eating Bird Food and I was so intrigued by it. Could you really make jam without cooking, with no pectin and no sugar? Yes, you can! The chia seeds work so well as a thickener and they don’t need to be cooked at all; they just start thickening as soon as you add the liquid. And if you’re intimidated by making jam or canning it, you can skip all of that with this super simple jam!

If you’re not familiar with chia seeds, here’s a little background I found on Eating Bird Food:

“Chia is an edible seed that comes from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family that grows abundantly in southern Mexico. You may have seen chia sprouts growing on the novelty planters called Chia Pets, but historically, the seeds have been the most important part of the plant. In pre-Columbian times they were a main component of the Aztec and Mayan diets and were the basic survival ration of Aztec warriors. I’ve read that one tablespoon was believed to sustain an individual for 24 hours. The Aztecs also used chia medicinally to stimulate saliva flow and to relieve joint pain and sore skin.” - Quoted from Dr.Weil

Chia seeds are an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acid (the good kind of fat), protein, antioxidants, fiber, potassium and magnesium. 1 Tablespoon of dry seeds have about 60 calories, 5 g of Fat, 6 g of Carbohydrate, 6 g of Fiber, and 3 g of Protein. They do add a little crunch to the things you put them in, but with strawberry jam, you normally expect a little crunch from the berry seeds, so the crunch from the chia seeds isn’t even noticeable. (Not that it’s a bad thing anyway, I really love the tiny crunch of chia seeds in everything I’ve tried them in so far!)

No cooking, no canning Strawberry Chia Jam

No-cook Strawberry Chia Jam

  • 1 cup strawberries (frozen or fresh)
  • 1 Tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Honey, to taste (or other sweetener, like stevia … I used 3 teaspoons honey)

Directions:

  1. If you are using frozen strawberries, let them thaw. Mash the strawberries with a fork or blend them. If you are using fresh berries like I did, unless they’ve gotten very ripe and mushy, you will probably have to blend them because they don’t mash very well.
  2. Mix in the chia seeds, vanilla, water and honey (or other sweetener). Use the honey or sweetener to suit your own taste. I found just 3 teaspoons of honey gave it just a light sweetness and it let the fresh strawberry taste shine through, but it definitely isn’t as sweet as your typical jam.
  3. Cover the jam and put it in the fridge for at least 30-60 minutes to thicken.

That’s it! Your jam is ready to use once it has thickened up. Keep it in the fridge in a covered container and use it just like you would any other jam.

I created this post for Berrylicious. Look at these other lovely berrylicious posts!

Berrylicious Recipes

  1. Joan, Chocolate Chocolate and More – Lemon Blueberry Pound cake
  2. Charity, Foodlets – Strawberry – Banana Popsicles
  3. Jamie, Green Beans & Grapefruit – Mixed Berry & Cookie Butter Clafouti
  4. Hani, Haniela’s – Red Currant Meringue Cake
  5. Katrina, In Katrina’s Kitchen – Frozen Blueberry Basil Lemonade Pies
  6. Sue, Munchkin Munchies – English Matrimonials
  7. Bia, Rich and Sweet – Blueberry Blackberry Orange Streusel Scones
  8. Sam, Sams Kitchen – Eton Mess Mini Cheesecakes
  9. Sherron, Simply Gourmet Photography – Mulberry Syrup
  10. Ann, Sumptuous Spoonfuls -  Strawberry Chia Jam
  11. Karen, Trilogy Edibles – Meringue Nest with a Bumbleberry Compote

This recipe was also shared at I’m Lovin’ It and Weekend Potluck.


Wilted Kale, Quinoa & Bacon Salad

Wilted Kale, Quinoa & Bacon Salad

So we got back from vacation last night after a long long 14-hour drive. I needed some GOOD food today, something that not only tastes good, but has all those super-nutritional things in it that are hard to find when you’re travelling. So I threw together this wilted kale salad. It has just the right mix of protein, fiber, grains, greens and herbs, with a little salty smoky taste from the bacon and cheese and a bit of crunch from the sunflower seeds. This was just what I was missing while I was on vacation!

The trip to Yellowstone was lovely, the scenery was spectacular, and it was great to spend time together with my kids where we actually TALKED to each other and joked around and just enjoyed each other’s company … we really had a good time … but there were a few aspects of a normal “vacation” we kind of missed. Trips to the coffee shop. Eating exceptional food. We ate our meals in the car or the hotel for the most part. The first night I tried to get the kids to go out with me, but they were exhausted from the drive and just wanted to chill (and play on their computers) in the hotel room. The second and third days we ate sandwiches in the car and breakfast & dinner in the room. The resort we stayed at had a gas grill, so I cooked up grilled salmon one night and chicken and hot dogs the next, but by the third night we were dying for some really good food OUT. So Wednesday after the tour of my favorite brewery, the Grand Teton Brewing Company (which was wonderful!), we decided to try a brew-pub in Jackson, the Snake River Brewing Company. We were disappointed. The food was okay, but the pretzel was cold and hard, the pizzas and fish and chips were mediocre. It wasn’t the really good food we were hoping for at all on our “big night out”. And after visiting Grand Teton, even the beer tasted kind of blah. The whole experience just made us want to go home.

Oh but before we go on, you need to see the awesome beer I had at the Grand Teton Brewing Company … this is the Wake Up Call Imperial Coffee Porter. I really wanted to bring some home with me, but they didn’t have any bottled for sale … I’m hoping like mad that they DO send some our way soon because I really loved this deep dark beer! The other cool part about our brewery tour was my teenagers each got a bottle of the Black Cherry soda straight off the bottling line, which was REALLY cool. It made them feel much more welcome.

Wake up call Imperial Coffee Porter

(No, there’s no beer in this dish … I just wanted to TELL someone about this awesome beer and the great time we had at the brewery … if you want an awesome recipe for dark beer, check out the Black Cauldron Imperial Chocolate Stout Cake)

Okay, anyway, back to the topic at hand … what were we talking about? Oh yes, the quinoa, kale & bacon salad …

So my daughter and I went shopping for shoes and groceries today. (Way fun on both parts!) I had to get some kale. Kale is my new favorite food. It crisps up delightfully to make kale chips, but you can also quick-steam it for omelets and salads. My friend Sonali, the Foodie Physician can tell you how wonderful kale is for your body … and how to make those crispy fun kale chips. But kale also tastes good, and because kale is so good for you, it makes your body feel wonderful all over when you eat it. The bacon and cheese might even win over some of your more skeptical eaters.

Wilted Kale, Quinoa & Bacon Salad

Wilted Kale, Quinoa and Bacon Salad

for each serving, you’ll need:

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 2 slices lean bacon
  • 2 stalks of kale, stems removed, then take the greens and chop or tear them into smaller pieces
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • About 3 Tablespoons fresh basil leaves
  • Red robin seasoning (or your favorite seasoned salt) & freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • A few very thin slices of Dubliner cheese (you could substitute Parmesan or Romano if you don’t have Dubliner)
  • About 2 tablespoons roasted sunflower seeds

Directions:

  1. Cook the quinoa.
  2. While the quinoa is cooking, in a frying pan, fry the bacon until it’s crisp, then remove from pan and set on a clean towel to soak up the excess fat. If there’s any excess fat in the pan, drain it out, but don’t wipe out the pan … leave a micro thin coating of bacon fat on the bottom.
  3. Over medium high heat, throw in the kale along with a splash of water. Stir them around a little. The kale will soften and turn a brilliant green almost immediately.
  4. Add in the quinoa, bacon, vinegar, oil, basil and season to taste.
  5. Pour the salad into a bowl and top with the cheese shards and sunflower seeds.

For me this was a full meal, but you could serve it as a side with some meat if you prefer.

Wilted Kale, Quinoa & Bacon Salad

This recipe was shared at Fit & Fabulous Fridays, Manic Mondays, Best Healthy Salad Recipes, Recipe of the Week and Summer Salad Sundays.


Avocado Artichoke Hummus

Avocado Artichoke Dip from Mia's Domain

Hello my dear visitors! I am so excited about my guest blogger today … Mia from Mia’s Domain has agreed to share one of her precious recipes. Mia ‘s recipes truly inspire me. I can’t remember a single post of hers that I didn’t absolutely LOVE … she leaves me drooling just about every time! In fact, Ally and I are arguing over who gets to go live in Mia’s spare room. If you’re not familiar with Mia’s Domain, go visit her beautiful blog or look her up on facebook or Pinterest and you will see what I mean.

Mia sent over this beautiful recipe for Avocado Artichoke Hummus! I love hummus! I am really wishing I had some of this to munch on today …

I hope you’ve enjoyed my guest bloggers this week. I’m having so much fun seeing what they have to share, I’m wondering if I should come back? … just kidding. I’ll be back in my own kitchen very soon!

In the meantime, enjoy this lovely recipe from my sweet friend Mia.

Avocado Artichoke Hummus

  • 1 cup baby artichoke hearts in olive oil
  • 1 cup avocado
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup cooked pinto beans
  • 4 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Handful fresh Italian parsley
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper
Blend artichoke hearts, avocado, almonds, beans, onion, garlic, tahini, lemon juice, and parsley, while streaming in oil until you’ve reached the consistency you desire. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Keep refrigerated.
Drizzle extra virgin olive oil on top to serve.

Balsamic Roasted Zucchini & Mushrooms

{Guest Post from Carrie’s Experimental Kitchen}

Balsamic Roasted Zucchini & Mushrooms

It’s Day 4 of my vacation and Carrie from Carrie’s Experimental Kitchen is such a sweetie … she is tending the kitchen here today. Carrie is a fantabulous cook and great “virtual” friend that I am so pleased to know. And did you know she’s publishing a cookbook? I’m so excited for her!!! This dish that she is sharing is right up my alley … I can’t wait for zucchini season now.

Anyway, without further adieu, here’s Carrie!

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Carrie-Farias-of-Carrie's-Experimental-KitchenHi everyone, I’m Carrie behind Carrie’s Experimental Kitchen and I am thrilled and honored to be a guest here today at Sumptuous Spoonfuls! I just LOVE Ann’s blog and the fact that she uses fresh ingredients in her dishes (just like me!), it truly does make the world of difference! I love looking around the kitchen, seeing what I have on hand and creating a meal that is simple yet delicious, whether or not your an experienced chef or a kitchen novice. I have been married for 17 years and am the mother of two girls, ages 15 and 10, who I lovingly refer to as my food testing “guinea pigs”. I reside in a small town in Northwestern NJ and graduated from Johnson & Wales University with a B.S. in Hotel/Restaurant Management. I am also awaiting the release of my first cookbook called “Carrie’s Experimental Kitchen: A Collection of Mediterranean Inspired Family Meals”; which is scheduled to be released in the late summer, early fall of 2012.

And now for the recipe…

Two of my favorite vegetables combined together with garlic and balsamic vinegar make this a must try side dish the next time you’re looking to try something new and easy! I LOVE roasting just about anything, and this was no exception. Just look at the beautiful color and the taste was incredible!

Balsamic Roasted Zucchini & Mushrooms

  • 2 Zucchini, washed and sliced into 1/4″ thick slices
  • 8-10 Large Mushrooms, rinsed and quartered
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
  • Kosher Salt, to taste
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper, to taste

Add the zucchini, mushrooms and garlic to a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper and pour over the vegetables. Mix well then place on a baking sheet. Bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes, turning halfway. Serves 4.

*Nutritional Information: Calories 94, Carbs 7g, Fat 8g, Protein 3g

Enjoy!

*Calculations based on ingredients entered into MyFitnessPal and may not be 100% accurate.

Carrie Palladino Farias
Carrie’s Experimental Kitchen

Website: http://www.carriesexperimentalkitchen.blogspot.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/CarriesExperimentalKitchen
Twitter: www.twitter.com/CarriesExpKtchn
Pinterest: CarriesExpKtchn


Asparagus Pesto Rotini with Shrimp & ‘Shrooms

Asparagus Pesto Rotini with Shrimp & Mushrooms

So of course I had to make some pasta with my new love: Asparagus White Bean Pesto! I tossed in some fresh shelf mushrooms my dad gave me, but you can use any mushrooms of your choosing. I chose Rotini because the ridges in the little swirly pasta will “catch” the pesto nicely, so it won’t all slide off of the noodles.  It is a tasty, healthy meal that is fancy enough to  serve to company, but quick enough to have any weeknight.

Asparagus Pesto Rotini with Shrimp & Mushrooms

Asparagus Pesto Rotini with Shrimp & ‘Shrooms

If you have the pesto pre-made, this meal takes about 15-20 minutes to put together. If you don’t, it might take another 15 minutes to make the pesto. This makes two servings.

  • 2 servings (about 7 oz.) rotini pasta (I recommend using whole grain or high fiber pasta of some kind … it will keep you energized longer.)
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups chopped asparagus
  • 1/2 – 1 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 heaping cup of shrimp (I used frozen pre-cooked shrimp, but fresh is even better)
  • 1/2 cup Asparagus White Bean Pesto (recipe here)
  • For the top: Freshly shredded parmesan, toasted Pine nuts, and fresh basil

Directions:

  1. Boil the water and cook the pasta. While the water is heating, chop the asparagus, mushrooms, and garlic.
  2. When the water begins to boil, add the pasta and heat a frying pan up for sauteeing the shrimp & vegies. Spray the pan with cooking spray, and when it’s hot, put in the asparagus, mushrooms, and garlic and sautee just a couple minutes, then add 1/4 cup of the wine. Cook a few minutes or until the asparagus is starting to look a little cooked (but still bright green), then add the shrimp and the rest of the wine and cook a few minutes longer or until the shrimp is cooked and the asparagus is crisp-tender. (It only takes a few minutes.)
  3. By now the pasta should be about done. Test it to see if it is. If it’s not, remove the shrimp/asparagus mixture from heat, and wait a minute or two. When the pasta is done, strain out the water, then return the pasta to the pan. Add the pesto and asparagus/shrimp mixture and stir until everything is mixed up well.
  4. Serve topped with a few toasted pine nuts, a bit of freshly shredded parmesan, and basil leaves for garnish.

Asparagus Pesto Rotini with Shrimp & Mushrooms

This is a #pastalove post!

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This recipe was also shared at Mealtime MondayTuesday Talent Show, Delicious Dish TuesdayTotally Tasty Tuesdays, Cast Party Wednesdays, and Fit & Fabulous Fridays.


Chive Flower, Mushroom, White Bean & Walnut Salad

Chive Flower, Mushroom, White Bean & Walnut Salad

My chives are growing like crazy right now and they’re in full bloom with big, beautiful purple flowers. They’ve taken over a big chunk of my raised bed already … Mom warned me that they would, but I’ve never had anything grow like that here . Perhaps it’s because the deer eat everything … except for the daffodils and the chives.

Their loss! I love them. Besides that they are gorgeous, I think chives taste marvelous. And chive flowers even moreso. While chives add sort of a subtle onion taste to a dish, chive flowers are more intense, little bursts of flavor.

And Dad gave me some beautiful fresh shelf mushrooms he found … I thought they’d go perfect with the chive flowers.

Chive flower, mushroom, white bean and walnut salad

Chive Flower, Mushroom, White Bean & Walnut Salad

  • Mixed greens
  • Cooked white beans
  • Fresh mushrooms, sliced or torn into chunks
  • Fresh cut “shards” of parmesan cheese (thinly cut slices)
  • Toasted walnuts
  • Chive flowers
  • Avocado ranch salad dressing (recipe here)

Fill your bowl most of the way with greens, then toss on some beans, fresh mushrooms, parmesan, and walnuts. Tuck in the chive flowers and drizzle with avocado ranch.

Before you eat the salad, make sure you take a moment to savor the beauty of these flowers. Then dive into the taste of them … You might want to pull them apart and scatter them all over your salad.

Chive flower, mushroom, white bean and walnut salad

This recipe was shared at  Tastetastic ThursdaysFit & Fabulous Fridays, Weekend Potluck, and Manic Mondays.


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