Monday, January 30, 2012

"Everyone Loves It!" Kale Salad

The yummy Kale Salad
I've been seeing a lot of people eating kale salads recently. And in the winter, it's a great way to get all those vitamins from your leafy greens! I've bought some pre-made kale salads from the market before, and while some were tasty, others weren't so good, and either way, they were expensive and didn't last more than one meal! I'd been looking around for a good one to make at home, and then one day my Dad told me about this kale salad that my Stepmom makes. His main selling point was that "everyone loves it!" For a family that includes some people who aren't usually kale lovers, that statement was what made me want to give it a try!

This recipe has a lot of ingredients, but most are probably already in your kitchen. You can also play with it, leaving out things your don't like or don't have, and adding in other things that sound good to you. Be warned, it does take some advance planning to make this, as both the kale and the onions need to "marinate" for a few hours before you mix everything together and you'll need to cook the orzo or quinoa (if you're using them) in advance. But when everything is said and done, you'll have enough salad to serve 4-6 people as a main course, or more if it's a side. We enjoyed eating it the night I made it for dinner, and also very much enjoyed the leftovers a few days later. The great thing about this salad is that the longer it sits, the more the flavors blend together. I hope you love it as much as we all do!

"Everyone loves it!" Kale Salad
5C Kale (any variety is fine), chopped into thin slices
4T Fresh Lemon Juice
¼ Red Onion, thin/small slices
3T Balsamic Vinegar
1-2 Carrot, sliced into matchsticks
1-2 Celery, sliced into matchsticks
4T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2t Cumin
2t Turmeric
Pinch Cayenne
1/4C Sunflower Seeds
1/4C Hemp Seeds
1/2C Toasted Almonds (or other nut of choice)
1C Dried Cherries/Currants/Cranberries
1/2C Sun-Dried Tomatoes, sliced into strips
2T Toasted Sesame Seeds
1T Toasted Sesame Oil
2C Cooked Orzo (or Quinoa), cooled to room temperature
1/2C Feta Cheese, crumbled
Salt, Soy Sauce, Honey to taste

2-4 Hours Ahead – Slice the kale, massage with lemon juice, let sit in fridge
1 Hour Ahead – Marinate onions in vinegar, discard any leftover liquid

- In large bowl, combine kale, onion (minus the extra vinegar), carrot, celery, olive oil, cumin, turmeric, cayenne. Toss to combine. Be careful of the turmeric getting on your hands, fabrics, or other surfaces, it will stain!
- Add seeds, nuts, fruit, sesame oil, grain. Toss to combine.
- Add feta, gently toss.
- Add salt or soy if desired. If the onion is too strong, add some honey to counter it.
- Serve and enjoy!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Beets, Walnuts, Goat Cheese and Arugula...Oh, my!

I love a colorful meal!
I have to admit, I made this salad a couple months ago, when beets and arugula were in season (and arrived in my CSA box). However, if you can find these ingredients at the market, I see no reason why you can't make this salad now. It could also be altered: perhaps another type of green with roasted turnips instead. It takes a little bit of prep work, because the beets need to be cooked before you make the salad and dressing, but it's worth it! As you can see from the photo, this salad is super delicious and colorful. Remember, the more colorful your food is (without dyes, of course), the more nutrients you're ingesting, so dig in!

Beet, Walnut, Arugula & Goat Cheese Salad with Shallot Dressing
1/4C Balsamic Vinegar
3T Shallots, thinly sliced
1T Honey
1/3C Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

6 Medium-Sized Beets, cooked and cut into quarters
6C Fresh Arugula
1/2C Toasted Walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/4C Dried Cranberries, Cherries, or Currants
1/2 Avocado, peeled, pitted and cubed
3oz Soft Goat Cheese (such as Chevre), coarsely crumbled

-Line a baking sheet with foil, and preheat the oven at 450 degrees.
-Put vinegar, shallots and honey in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk until blended.
-Whisk in the oil, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
-Put beets in a small bowl, add some of the dressing, toss to coat.
-Put beets on the lined baking sheet, and bake until slightly caramelized, 10-15 minutes. Set aside and let cool.

-While beets are cooling, toss arugula, walnuts and fruit in a large bowl with enough vinaigrette to coat.
-If desired, season with salt and pepper.
-Arrange salad either in serving bowl or on four individual plates.
-Add the beets, avocado and goat cheese on top.
-Taste the rainbow!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Teriyaki Salmon

Wild Salmon, Brown/Wild Rice, Roasted Broccoli, and Maitake Mushrooms
This Teriyaki sauce recipe has been in my family for a while. I remember a very kind family friend giving us their recipe after we'd been at their house for dinner, and all of us loved it so much. Growing up, my Mom would make this sauce almost every time we made salmon. It's not nearly as sweet as the store-bought teriyaki, so I much prefer it on fish!

Wild Salmon marinating in the Teriyaki Sauce
The longer the fish can marinate, the better it will taste, so make the sauce as far in advance as you can. No more than 24 hours, but try to let it sit at least an hour before cooking. When it's time to cook the fish, scrape off as much of the sauce as possible so it doesn't burn during cooking, then cook the fish your favorite way: grill, bake, or in a pan on the stove. I like to bake salmon in my toaster oven (325 for about 10 minutes, depending on thickness) and serve it with brown rice, as this allows me to scoop up even more of the yummy sauce!

Teriyaki Sauce:
1/2C Dry Sherry
1/4C Soy Sauce
2T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1T Brown Sugar
1t Flour
1/2t Dry Mustard

-Boil all ingredients in medium-sized pot, whisking to avoid clumps.
-Once mixture has reached a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes.
-Let cool
-Pour mixture over fish, let marinate as long as possible.
-When it's time to cook the fish, scrape off the sauce and pour it back into the pot.
-Cook fish however you'd like (grill, bake, pan saute, etc.), and bring the sauce to a boil.
-Serve sauce alongside the meal, or just pour on top!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Egg-Free Mayonnaise!

Not being able to eat eggs has dramatically impacted how I eat. While a hard-boiled egg used to be one of my usual snacks for an afternoon pick-me-up, now I snack on apples and almonds. (Which are also delicious, don't get me wrong!) In the past, a lunch-time staple of mine used to be a tuna salad sandwich: canned tuna, mayo, chopped up pickles, radishes, carrot, celery, etc. But one of the key ingredients, mayonnaise, is almost always is made with eggs, and most of the egg-free versions I tried were too sweet for my taste. I've been using olive oil and balsamic vinegar in my tuna salad, and while it tasted good it just wasn't the same.
Enter: Organicville's Non-Dairy Mayo
I discovered this mayo on a recent trip to Whole Foods, and it's great! It is organic, vegan, gluten-free, and has no added sugar! Now I can enjoy tuna (or chicken) salad sandwiches, dips, and chilled artichokes again!
Tuna salad on red leaf lettuce and toasted whole grain bread, with a side of saurkraut. Yum!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Pumpkin Pie Spice

Don't spend money on pumpkin pie spice when you can most likely make it at home with items already in your spice cabinet! Use either a new spice bottle, or wash and re-use an old one. Make sure you dry thoroughly before using.

To make 4T of Pumpkin Pie Spice:
2T cinnamon
4t ground ginger
1t ground cloves
1t ground allspice
1t ground nutmeg
pinch of cardamom

- Increase or decrease amounts depending on how much you need
- Combine spices, shake or stir til mixed well
- Use in your seasonal holiday recipes, or sprinkle some on your morning oatmeal!

Vegan (or not) Pecan Pie

A perfect, delicious pecan pie right out of the oven.
The holidays are over, and as I reflect back on the delicious food I made (and ate) between Thanksgiving and New Year's I'm proud of all the new things I tried in the kitchen. Some of my experiments flopped, but others turned out fantastic! One recipe that I plan to make every holiday from here on out, and just have to share with you all, is for Pecan Pie that can be made vegan or not. As someone who is allergic to eggs, I usually find that when it comes to baking, vegan recipes are the easiest for me to modify. It's easy to replace margarine with butter, for example. In my search for a pecan pie recipe, I found a great vegan recipe resource: Post Punk Kitchen. This woman seriously has a recipe for anything!

The story about the pie goes like this. I was planning to attend a post-Thanksgiving pot-luck, and really wanted to make a pecan pie. I had not yet had one this year, and really craved it. However, I cannot eat store-made pecan pie because they have eggs, and I really did not want to use Karo Syrup. Besides the fact that I just prefer the taste of real sugar, I also am doing my best to avoid corn, as most is genetically modified. If you want to learn more on that subject, do a search for "gmo corn" and read some of the results. I made the pecan pie for the party, and it was delicious. I was a little afraid the filling wouldn't set, as it seemed very liquid-y going into the oven, but it turned out perfectly!  And don't be scared of the recipe calling for tofu in the filling, I PROMISE you will not ever know it's there. Seriously.

Maple Pecan Pie
1/2C sugar
1/2C brown sugar
1/2C pure maple syrup (the real stuff!)
1/4C margarine (I used butter since I'm not vegan)
6oz extra firm silken tofu
1/4C cold, unsweetened, plain, non-dairy milk (I used almond)
2T cornstarch
1/2t salt
1t vanilla extract
2C pecan halves
1 prepared pastry crust (do not parbake)

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
1. Make a caramel: in a saucepan over medium heat, mix together sugars and maple syrup. Stir often with a whisk. When bubbles start to form rapidly, stir consistently for about ten minutes (mine took more like fifteen). The mixture will become thick and syrupy - give it time! If it boils up the sides of your pot, lower the heat.
2. Once the caramel is thickened, add butter/margarine and stir til melted. Turn off the heat, and transfer mixture to a mixing bowl.
3. Work quickly here! Prepare the rest of the filling: crumble tofu into blender or food processor. Add milk, cornstarch and salt. Puree until completely smooth.
4. With caramel still warm, add to the mixing bowl the tofu mixture and vanilla. Mix well. (Mine got really watery at this point, but it turned out fine!)
5. Fold in the pecans.
6. Pour the mixture into the pie crust, bake for 40 minutes. It should appear to be set and no longer watery.
7. Let cool for a few hours (it will continue to set as it cools), then slice and serve!
Whisking the caramel - yum!

The pie before baking.