Garden Salad

IMG_2461After our weekend family gatherings with meals that inlcuded a Saturday dinner of smoked pork tenderloin, roasted corn, roasted green beans, a lunch of sausage,vegetables, and rice, baking (and eating) breakfast scones, root beer popsicles, ice cream treats, and our Memorial Day feast of grilled hot dogs, Kielbasa, smashed potatoes and all the trimmings – we were more than ready to have salad for a meal.  All the food was pretty healthy, there was just alot of it!  If you begin to feel that way as summer arrives, there is no tastier choice than a fresh vegetable salad.

If you are going to avoid a long session of prepping, remember to save those small amounts of leftovers that sometimes get tossed.  Of course you can always make soup, but think salad and stash those left behind cooked vegetables – green beans, corn, beets, asparagus, Grilling and roasting vegetables is very popular, and nothing tastes better topping your fresh ingredients. Quantities suggested below will vary according to what is in your own frig. I love it when I have a few things from my own garden. The combination of colors, textures, and flavor make this crunchy salad a feast!  Top with make-your-own or bottled Balsamic Vinaigrette, recipe below photograph.

Garden Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

2 cups mixed leaf and Romaine lettuces

2 carrots, sliced

4 -5 radishes

2 ears roasted sweet corn, cut from cob

1 cup roasted green beans left whole or cut into pieces

1 small yellow squash, sliced

1 small green pepper, chopped

2 tomatoes, chopped

chopped red onion (optional)

Prepare all vegetables and place on top torn lettuces in large bowl.  Add Balsamic Vinaigrette and toss.  Serve with a crusty baguette.

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Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup olive oil

Put all ingredients in a jar, tighten lid, and shake!   Taste and adjust amount of vinegar or seasoning as you wish.

Apricot Scones

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I fell in love with scones in 1991 during a trip to Scotland. While we were living in Indonesia, I read an enchanting article in Victoria Magazine which featured a tearoom in the Highlands housed in a 200 year old cottage. When we planned soon after to include a trip to the UK on summer trip back to the US from Jakarta, I hoped to add a visit there. Joe managed to find Shore Cottage (not easy), and he and I and our youngest son, Ben had tea there. I bought a Shore Cottage Tearoom Book of Recipes which still holds a place of honor on my shelves of cookbooks. Tell me, wouldn’t you be drawn to go to a place with this description?

“Through a periwinkle gate and a rose-bedecked door, one enters the white cottage where Lilly McNaught was born Perched above Loch Etive, it is now a tearoom noted for the sweets Lilly bakes with her daughter and granddaughters.”

This recipe is not in Shore Tearoom’s little blue book, but it comes from an intrigue with scones begun there in the Scottish Highlands.  When I think of baking them, I am reminded of the Shore Tearoom and our scones there. As you can see, I still have the article which drew me there.  I keep it folded inside the recipe book. I don’t know if Lilly still bakes with her granddaughters, but tomorrow I plan to bake scones with mine!

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Apricot Scones

2 Cups flour

3 Tablespoons. sugar 

3 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons orange zest

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 Cup dried apricots, chopped

1/2 Cup white chocolate chips

1 1/2 Cups whipping cream

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 Cup powdered sugar
2-3 Tablespoons. orange juice

Preheat oven to 400°. Line with silpat or grease baking sheet. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, orange zest, salt, apricots and vanilla chips.Stir to coat apricots. Add the whipping cream and almond extract all at once and stir just until ingredients are moistened.

Turn out the dough on a lightly floured cloth, turning a few times until smooth. Divide the dough in half and pat into two 6-inch rounds. Cut each round into 6 wedges. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Bake at 400° for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 5minutes. While the scones cool, combine powdered sugar and orange juice. Drizzle over warm scones. These are best served warm.

Lobster Bisque on a Budget

IMG_2345One of my favorite treats when we go out for a special meal is Lobster Bisque. We rarely cook fresh lobsters at home and when we do there is seldom enough leftover to add to a bisque, but now I have found a way to use other white fish in a way that will put this particular bisque on our table more often!  Joe and all three of our sons spent last week fishing near Homer, Alaska.  Happily, they brought back plenty of salmon and halibut to add to our freezer.  They also brought back a method for cooking what they call Poor Man’s Lobster!  The first fish Joe cooked was halibut cooked like this. I found there are recipes everywhere with many variations.  Almost any type firm fleshed white fish can be used – cod, haddock, monkfish.

Poor Man’s Lobster

  1. Fill a pot with water, at least 2 quarts of water..
  2. Add 1 cup sugar and 1/3 cup salt and bring to a boil.
  3. Do not ever stir the mixture.
  4. Add chunks of halibut, do not over crowd.
  5. They will sink to the bottom, and then rise to the top when they are done.
  6. It should take just a few minutes.
  7. Remove with slotted spoon.
  8. Remember do not stir the mixture.
  9. Continue until all the halibut is cooked.
  10. Dip in melted butter and eat!

We had plenty of this, drizzled with lemon butter, and heaped on some crusty French bread. It really does taste like lobster!

We had a sandwich bag of leftover fish, so I made this wonderful Lobster Bisque the next day for our lunch. Feel free to use the real thing, but the Poor Man’s Lobster worked for us. Don’t let the long list of ingredients and directions fool you.  It is easy, and the results are worth any effort!

Lobster Bisque on a Budget

  • 6 to 8 ounces lobster broken into small chunks
  • 2 shallots,  minced
  • 2 green onions, sliced thin
  • 4 garlic gloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup  white wine
  • 1 T Worcestershire  Tabasco
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 4 ounces tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cups whipping cream
  • 2 cup half and half
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  1. Saute shallots, onions, and garlic about a minute in a sauce pan
  2. Add white wine and stir to combine..
  3. Add Worcestershire, Tabasco, and thyme and saute for another minute.
  4. Add sherry and stir
  5. Add the paprika, hot water, bay leaves, and tomato paste, combine well.
  6. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  7. Whisk in whipping cream,half and half  and the butter and bring to a simmer
  8. Add the lobster and heat through.
  9. Serve with crusty garlic bread.

Opal’s Mexican Cornbread with Ground Beef

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It is Mother’s Day weekend.  I have had both smiles and tears on my face as I cherished memories of the birth of each of my sons and thought about sweet times with them.  They are all fathers themselves now and are wonderful, caring husbands. They still show me they love me too!  Also,  I have thought often of my own mother this week, so I thought I would share one of her recipes with you.  This one, as others that I cherish which are written down in her beautiful handwriting, is written in pencil on a half sheet of what she would have called “scrap paper.”  She didn’t start making this until after I was married, but it was one of her favorites, always delicious.  It is still, after many years and many variations, one of our favorite ways to fancy up cornbread. I have presented it as much as possible in the same format as her writing.

Opal’s Mexican Cornbread with ground beef

from Patsy Hopkins (mother’s across the street neighbor)

Mix together:  1 cup cornmeal (she always used yellow)

1 #303 can cream style corn   (#303 can contains 16-17 ounces)

Add:              3/4 cup sweet milk, 2 eggs, 1/2 teaspoon soda and salt

 this recipe originated from the days when there was butter milk or sweet milk!

Mix above & set aside. Brown 1# ground meat & drain. Prepare spearately 1/2 lb. American cheese grated,  2 Jalepeno  peppers, 1 large chopped onion. (I add some chopped celery) – her note.

Grease a big iron skillet,sprinkle a little meal & let slightly brown. Pour half of batter.Sprinkle cheese, there (the?) meat onions, peppers. Pour rest of batter. Bake 45 min. or less or until brown.

Posted in honor of Opal Terrell Teal, 1913- 2006.

I will make this soon. Thank You, Mother!

Tuscan Salad

IMG_2238I like to make salad or side dishes that can be stored in the refrigerator and dipped into for quick suppers. This is one that I tried last week and it has been named one of our “Kitchen Keepers” – quick and easy to prepare, and even tastier in the next few days as the ingredients soak up flavors.  Canned cannellini from the pantry along with Kalamata olives and sundried tomatoes from the refrigerator tossed with Italian dressing make a perfect accompaniment to roasted or grilled meats and fish. I found a similar recipe on Epicurious that also added chopped fresh spinach.  That would be good, but the fresh greens would not keep well.  I like my version because we can have it later for lunches or dinner later in the week.

Tuscan Salad

1/4 cup olive oil

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes

1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives

1/4 cup (more if you wish) bottled Italian vinaigrette

shredded fresh basil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a skillet, add the onion and cook and stir until slightly brown, about 5 minutes, turn off heat. Toss the beans, onion,, sun-dried tomatoes, and olives in the skillet with the vinaigrette until just combined. Season with salt and pepper. Top with shredded fresh basil leaves.  Serve at room temperature.

Roasted Green Beans and Fennel

IMG_2141Fresh green beans paired with a huge bulb of fennel from the farmers’ market is a new favorite side for me, just as roasting is my new favorite way of cooking vegetables.  These were so pretty before they went into the oven that I posted this before image. They looked great after roasting as well, but we served them up with leftover baked chicken and they disappeared before having their picture taken. I will definitely serve this dish again soon and might experiment with adding some chopped shallots but the flavor was excellent with just the toss of olive oil and sprinkles of sea salt and freshly ground pepper!

Roasted Green Beans and Fennel

4 cups fresh green beans, washed, ends snipped and broken in pieces

1 large bulb fennel, greens and root trimmed, cut into small chunks, rinsed carefully and       patted dry

olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place green beans and fennel pieces in baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with  sea salt and ground pepper.  Roast for 20 to 25 minutes.

Warm Green Lentil Salad with Shallot Vinaigrette

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I have cooked brown lentils in one of our favorite soups for many years.  When I was experimenting with various Indian foods, I used different colors and kinds of lentils, even grinding them once to make a lentil flour in my attempt to make a good masala dosa.  But when I saw this recipe a few months ago on one of my favorite blogs I knew I wanted to try Green Lentils! These tiny dark green lentils are harder to find, but Whole Foods has them in their bulk food section.

Another attraction to the recipe posted in http://www.backroadjournal.wordpress.com was its billing as a French Bistro meal.  For that recipe, spicy lamb sausages called Merguez  were used, but I used what I could find, which was a lovely Italian spicy sausage.  So maybe my version of the salad is an Italian bistro meal!  Serve with a crusty loaf of bread.  Leftovers can be eaten cold (the flavors have already been soaked up in the lentils and vegetables) or warmed.

Warm Lentil Salad with Shallot Vinaigrette

4 servings, or 2 generous ones!

Shallot Vinaigrette

2  Tbsp. of either sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar

pinch of sea salt (about 1/8 tsp.

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. finely minced shallot

2 tsp.Dijon mustard

1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil

Mix vinegar, salt, pepper and the minced shallot.. Let sit for about 5 minutes to soften shallots. Stir in the mustard, then whisk in the oil in a slow, steady stream. Taste and adjust for more oil or more vinegar, salt or mustard if needed.

Lentil Salad

1 or 2 spicy sausages, sliced

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 large onion, diced

1 stalk of celery, diced

1/2 small bulb of fennel, diced (optional)

2 cloves of garlic, minced

3/4 cup green Lentils de Puy, rinsed well

2 cups chicken broth

1 teaspoon dried French Thyme (I use Penzey’s)

1 bay leaf

1 potato (I used Yukon Gold), peeled and diced

1 carrot, peeled and diced (here I used a lovely yellow carrot from the Farmer’s Market)

salt and pepper, to taste

fresh chopped thyme or parsley for garnish if you wish

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the sausages and brown until they are a little crispy. Remove from the pan and keep warm. In the same saucepan, add the onions, celery and fennel, sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook about 1 minute. Add the lentils, and broth to cover by about 2 inches. Add thyme, bay leaf, and season with salt and pepper. Raise the heat to medium high, bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Partially cover the pan with a lid and simmer the lentils until they are just tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, cover the diced potatoes and carrots with cold, salted water. Cook over moderately high heat until the potatoes and carrots are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain well and place in a large bowl, toss with a little of the vinaigrette.

When the lentils are done, drain well, place in the bowl with the cooked potatoes and carrots. Discard the bay leaf. Add the rest of the vinaigrette and toss well. Let sit for a few minutes until the vinaigrette is absorbed, taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. If the lentils seem dry, you can drizzle with a little olive oil. To serve, transfer the lentils to individual plates or bowls and top with the sausages.

Be sure to add the vinaigrette while the lentils and vegetables are hot so that they can absorb all the flavors.

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Poppy Seed Rolls

 IMG_1781 IMG_1779Crescent roll dough found in the refrigerator section of the supermarket is one of the most versatile ingredients to be found!  Hundreds of uses can be found online and in cookbooks, featuring the dough in everything from savory starters to desserts.  Stuffing the dough with poppy seed paste or filling is only one of the many fillings that result in easy to do, tasty pastries.  These are close to homemade poppy seed kolaches!  We also use chocolate chips, apple slices sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, and separate the dough triangles into smaller pieces to wrap little sausages for pigs in a blanket!

Poppy Seed Rolls

2 cans (8 oz each) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
1 can poppy seed filling
For Glaze:
1⁄2 cup

confectioners sugar

1 1⁄4 tablespoon milk
1⁄4 teaspoon fresh lemon zest

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line large baking sheet with silicone liner or lightly butter. Separate dough along perforations into 16 triangles. Spread poppy filling over triangles. Roll up, starting at wide end. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until golden brown. To make glaze, combine confectioners sugar, milk, and lemon zest in small bowl, and stir until smooth. Drizzle glaze over top of rolls while they are warm

Mary Ann’s Oriental Ambrosia with Celery Seed Dressing

The ingredients for this recipe are too colorful to skip a photo this time. So I borrow this similar photo from Flickr user Ben Brown. Ingredients shown vary slightly from my recipe.

Oriental AmbrosiaToday is the first day of Spring and although I am still pretty much house bound I am watching the greening of our garden from my window, planning seed planting for someone else to do, and thinking of delicious salads we have enjoyed in the past.  This shrimp salad is a wonderful addition to your Easter buffet, and delicious for light meals through Spring and all summer long.  I first made it over 40 years ago when I was introduced to the flavor combination by a friend.

Mary Ann’s Oriental Shrimp Ambrosia

2 cups of peeled, cleaned, and cooked shrimp (fresh is best, but frozen works well)

1/2 cup toasted cashews

1 cup pineapple tidbits, drained

1 cup mandarin oranges, drained

1 small can sliced water chestnuts, drained

4 cup torn romaine or butter lettuce

1 cup diced celery

1/2 cup sliced green onions

1/4 cup chopped green peopper

1/4 cup coconut flakes

Place torn lettuce in large bowl.  Combine other ingredients and place on top. Serve with following dressing. If you prefer, set each ingredient out in a separate bowl and let those at your table choose and mix their own.  However, tossing everything together results in a beautiful, tasty combination!

Celery Seed Dressing

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon grated onion

1 cup salad oil

1 teaspoon celery seed

Combine first 4 ingredients in blender and mix. Add 1 cup oil gradually, until mixture thickens.  Add celery seed.

Funnel Cakes

I am sure most of you have seen these because they are so popular at booths in county and state fairs. This is one recipe I really not regret having a photo as well as a video to share with you!  The process is fun, the results dramatic, and very quickly disappear at our house.

Funnel Cakes

1 1/4 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4  teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon soda

1 egg

3/4 cup milk

your preference salad oil for frying

powdered sugar to use as topping

Mix dry ingredients in bowl, combine egg and milk, add to dry ingredients, and beat until smooth.. In a deep cast iron skillet,,heat 1 inch of oil.  Pour 1/4 cup batter into a funnel using your finger to cover the opening. .

Hold the funnel filled with batther over the heated oil, being careful not to spatter hot oil , remove your finger and slowly release the batter beginning in the center of the skillet and moving outward in a spiral. Brown 2 minutes, until golden crisp and puffy.  It will not be perfect, but the uneven spiral with its crispy goodness is perfectly delicious!  Repeat the process until all your batter has been used. You will have 5 or 6 funnel cakes, depending on size.  Drain well on paper towels, slide onto serving dish with wide spatula, and sift or sprinkle powdered sugar over top. Serve while hot.

YouTube videos of this are available for watching if you wish before you try this on your own.