Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Simplicity of Salad

We eat a lot of salad, at least a couple times a week for dinner and I frequently take salad for lunch. I love making salad because no two are ever the same. What goes in depends on the time of year and what I have on hand. To keep it easy I buy big tubs of spring mix or baby spinach at the grocery store. The tubs are easy because I literally throw a handful on everyone's plate or in my lunch container and add whatever else I feel like. If I have other lettuces from our CSA then I add that too, just for variation. My typical combination includes lettuce(s), some other veggies, cheese, nuts/seeds.

Too many times we get stuck doing the same old thing because it is easy and we just need to eat. Below are some of the things I put in my salads regularly. And remember this applies to any salad, pasta, chicken, tuna or other wise. Add a few walnuts to your fruit salad and taste the difference.

  • cucumber
  • fennel
  • carrots (usually the preshredded ones)
  • radishes
  • pepper
  • celery
  • mushrooms
  • asparagus (raw or cooked)
  • tomatoes (grape, cherry or otherwise)
  • cooked leeks
  • squash
    • zucchini, summer or cooked butternut
  • peas
  • snap peas
  • snow peas
  • sprouts
  • apples 
  • pears
  • raspberries
  • blueberries (dried and fresh)
  • dried cranberries
  • mandarin orange
  • clementines
  • cherries (dried and fresh) 
  • grapes
Nuts and Seeds:
  • walnuts
  • almonds
  • pecans
  • peanuts
  • cashews
  • sesame seed
  • sunflower seeds
  • flax seeds (grind first)
 Cheese: Just a little goes a long way! Think a tablespoon per person
  • cheddar
  • parmesean
  • bleu
  • gruyere
  • swiss
  • feta
Note: Please do not buy crumbled cheese. It tends to spoil more quickly and be of lesser quality

  • chick peas
  • black beans
  • cannelli
Note: I used Bush canned beans most of the time. The last time I read the ingredient label there was no salt added.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dinner Ideas: What We Are Eating This Week - part two

So what else are we eating besides Turkey and Black Bean Soup?

Tonight we are having Salmon w/ Pepita Lime Butter, and Curried Squash. The Salmon is from Eating Well and the Curried Squash is from Clean Eating Magazine. It has brown basmati rice, acorn squash (although I'm going to use butternut squash) and baby spinach in it. I thought the combination of the flavors of Mexico/Latin America and India might be fun to try. We'll see how everyone else likes it.

Rustic Genovese Basil Pesto Pasta:  Again this is from Clean Eating Magazine. This is pasta (multigrain) with  basil pesto,  1 russet potato, cherry tomatoes and green beans. I'm going to add parsely to my basil pesto because I don't have enough fresh basil to make pesto. Of course you can buy pesto too and just add the other ingredients. 

I'll also be serving a huge salad with this too. Probably mixed field greens and cucumbers and who knows what else. I always do something different!

Black Bean and Feta Quesadillas:  I'm planning to make this on the weekend. It's quick, easy and really good.  I saute a little onion, add a 15oz can of tomatoes, one 15oz can of black beans and mash it together so that it becomes a really rough paste.  Add a little salt and pepper, about one teaspoon of chili powder and a tablespoon of chopped parsely. Mix altogether and add to whole wheat tortillas. You can cook them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or put them in a saute pan with a tiny bit of oil heat them that way.

Enjoy and I hope you try something new.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Dinner Ideas: What We Are Eating This Week

It's been warmer here the last couple of days and I'm really dying to grill. The grill, however is in the gargage surrounded by the sub-floor, the bamboo floor, and bathroom fixtures for the basement project we've been working on for a couple of months. There is a small path from the back door through the garage and out the garage door, so getting the grill out isn't going to happen for at least another week when we should have the sub-floor down. So since I'm stuck cooking inside for the next couple of days, this is what we are having:

Turkey and Black Bean Soup: This is a staple at our house. It's easy to make, you can double recipe, it freezes and frequently it's something I give as a gift. Even Brian, my oldest and my sister, who claim they don't like beans, love this. The original recipe is from, but I have changed enough to call it my own.

The Recipe:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion chopped
1 lb ground turkey
1 tablespoon chilipowder
1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons oregano
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
several dashes tabasco
1 15oz can diced tomatoes
1 15oz can black beans
1 quart chick stock
10oz spinach, kale or other steaming greens, washed, stems removed

  1. In a large stock pot or dutch oven add olive oil and ground turkey. Brown turkey until completely cooked. Remove turkey.
  2. Add onion and saute over medium heat until translucent
  3. Add turkey back to pot and add spices. Let cook for several minutes to allow flavors to blend
  4. Add chicken stock, tomatoes and beans. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer for 15 minutes
  5. Add spinach or kale. Cook until wilted and serve.
Serve with at little parmesean as garnish.


I prefer Kale when I know I'm going to freeze this. The kale holds up better and doesn't get mushy.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Chicken Pot Pie

Last week in my post I wrote that I was going to make Chicken Pot Pie from a Bon Appetit magazine that I have had for quite some time. Well, I didn't thoroughly read the ingredients or the directions for this recipe, which by the way, is not my usual menu planning method. I went to make this Sunday afternoon, and read the instructions only to find that it required three, yes that's THREE sticks of butter. Now I remember why the last time I made this was about seven years ago. All that butter, two for the cream cheese crust and one for the  sauce in the filling, not exactly on my healthy list. The pot pie was outstanding, we were all falling all over ourselves to have the last bite, but now that we have eaten it, I'm going to have exercise twice as much this week

The reason why I chose this recipe, artery clogging that it is, and what you will see here over and over is to try something different! Just a little change can be inspiring. Add a little something different to a recipe that you make all the time. Try a food that you thought you might not care for. As I always tell my guests when I'm serving something new "You can always spit it out" and I hand them a napkin.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Dinner Ideas: What We Are Eating This Week

The holidays are over and we are getting back to our regular schedule. As I do every year, I endeavor to seek different things to try. This week is no different, most of what I'm cooking this week, I have never made before. I have chosen pretty simple meals during the week and a couple of more time consuming recipes this weekend. So, this is what we are eating:

Minestrone Soup with Quinoa: I found this in January issue of Clean Eating Magazine and it was amazing. It took a total of 30 minutes and even Brian who is rather particular went back for seconds. The recipe included tomatoes, carrots, cannelli beans, spinach, and of course the Quinoa (pronouced KEENwah) I added chicken broth and celery.

Stuffed Butternut Squash: Around Thanksgiving we saw an article about stuffed pumpkins and what to put in them. I have been planning to do something similar since then, but hadn't gotten to it. Tonight I stuffed butternut squash with wheatberries, sausage from one of the local farms, brown rice, leeks (I had these left over from something I made a couple days ago) dried cranberries, a couple mushrooms and chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. I cut the squash in half, scooped out seeds and a little of the middle and spooned the wheatberry and rice mixture over. This was perfect tonight. It has been so cold and this warmed us all.

Chicken Pot Pie with a Twist: I'll be making this during the weekend. You can forget the standard peas and carrots here. This is a recipe from an old issue of Bon Appetite and has roasted red peppers, shitake mushrooms, and green beans. I bought a whole chicken so I'll probably make two and freeze one pie.

Coq Au Vin: Last weekend Garth and I watched Julie and Julia. Watching Meryl Streep as Julia Child inspired me to give one of Julia Child's recipes a try. I have never made coq au vin, which is a chicken stew made with red wine. I googled Julia's recipe and will be making this over the weekend too.  Here is the link to the recipe I will be making

Happy Cooking!!

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