Tag Archives: easy cooking for a crowd

Spring Spinach Salad with Pears, Walnuts & Chicken, & Pear Mustard Dressing

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ImageYou know some of us bloggers – you hear nothing for weeks then boom! Blogger frenzy! I’m just in a salad/low calorie/lose a few pounds mode, so I am making a lot of soups and salads. Spring always provides some good fresh ingredients, like pears! When you buy what’s in season, you sometimes end up with a 10 pound bag of whatever from Costco, and that’s exactly what I had, along with a huge container of fresh baby spinach. I used a similar recipe from Whole Foods, but made some subs and changed it up a bit. ENJOY!

Spring Spinach Salad with Pears, Walnuts, Feta and Cucumber

Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients:

  • 3 Anjou pears
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon deli-style mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 3/4 pound spinach, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 4 ounces low fat feta cheese
  • 1/2 large english cucumber, sliced
  • Optional: shredded rôtisserie chicken
Chop 1 pear and slice the remaining two. Put chopped pear, oil, vinegar, mustard and honey into a blender and purée. If needed, stir in 1- 2 tablespoons water to thin for a pourable dressing. Put spinach, onion, walnuts, feta, sliced pears, cucumber and dressing into a large bowl and toss gently to coat. Plate and top with a toasted walnuts and handful of shredded chicken. Serve immediately.
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White House Kale Salad

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My garden is overflowing with kale – I’m not complaining! It just gave me more incentive to try a new version of kale salad. This recipe was served at the White House to the Obama’s on Thanksgiving and was written up in the Washington Post. I made it a couple nights ago (it’s perfect for spring time) and it was BOMB! We had some leftovers, which made an amazing lunch the next day – not too soggy and the flavor maybe even better. Having not been acquainted with fennel, it was really a nice addition and not too overpowering. And don’t leave out the fresh jalapenos! I also used regular toasted almonds spiced with cumin and smoked paprika, since marcona almonds are not available at my local market.

White House Kale Salad

6 servings
MAKE AHEAD: The dressing can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Whisk to recombine before serving.

Ingredients:

For the dressing

  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • Juice of 2 medium lemons (about 6 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the salad

  • 2 bunches young kale, washed and spun dry, stacked and cut into thin slices
  • 1 bulb fennel (fronds, stems and outer layer removed or reserved for another use), cored and thinly sliced
  • 4 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 scallion, white and light-green parts, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved or cut into slivers
  • 4 ounces spiced marcona almonds (one cup; see NOTE)

Directions:

For the dressing: Combine the shallot, lemon juice and vinegar in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in the oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the salad: Place the kale in a large serving bowl. About 10 minutes before serving, add the dressing to taste and toss to coat evenly. (You might not use all the dressing.)

Add the fennel, radishes, jalapenos, scallion, cheese and almonds, tossing to incorporate.

Serve immediately.

NOTE: Spiced marcona almonds might be hard to find in a store, but you can make your own. Whisk an egg white in a medium bowl, add 1 cup of marcona almonds and toss to coat. Combine 1 teaspoon of brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin and 1/4 teaspoon of smoked paprika in a separate medium bowl. Add the almonds and toss to coat. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees until lightly browned, about 15 minutes, watching carefully to make sure they don’t burn. Cool before using.

Pad Thai with Lime, Chicken & Shrimp

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Gulliver’s Creamed Corn w/Parm

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Time to pull out the favorite recipes for Thanksgiving dinner! I started making this 12 years ago, and it’s a hit every time. This morning my Colorado friend Mac asked me to email it to her, so thought I would post for you as well! The recipe is adapted from the famous Gulliver’s Restaurant in Los Angeles, CA.

Gulliver’s Creamed Corn with Parmesan

Serves 8

2 (20 oz.) packages frozen corn kernels
8 oz. whipping cream
8 oz. milk
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 good pinch cayenne pepper
4 tablespoons melted butter
4 tablespoons flour

1 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Directions:

1. Combine ingredients up to cayenne pepper in a pot and bring to a boil.
2. Simmer 5 minutes.
3. Blend melted butter with flour.
4. Add to the corn and cook on low until thickened, about 5 minutes.
5. Mix well and remove from heat.

Put finished corn in heat proof casserole, sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake for 15 min at 350′, then lightly brown under broiler.

Succulent!

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Succulent…What a great word with a variety of meanings! When trying to come up with a name for this blog, I started with one idea – my love for the many varieties of succulent plants! But in looking up the definition, the meaning of succulent is also “full of juice, juicy, moist and tasty, toothsome (now there’s one I haven’t heard in a while!) and especially love…rich in interest!

The past two years I became interested in the new assortment of succulent plants and their unique variation, colors, textures and ease of care. My yard is basically made up of all the same fifteen or more plants, which I cut and replant (more on this to come.) I have planted them in pots, in a vintage wood ice cream maker, in flower beds, margarita glasses, crates, inside frames, and on wood blocks. I can’t wait to share with you many ideas on the joy of succulents.

Another passion I have is cooking! Back in the early 80’s I got married and only knew how to open a can of Spam and make scallop potatoes from a box – that was the extent of my know-how. But over time, I was inspired to try new things, thanks to great magazines like Cooking Light  and Bon Apetit. Things didn’t always turn out perfectly, but I found out there was more to cooking than canned pork and dehydrated vegetables.

Succulent also says in a word the location in which I am blessed to live: San Clemente, California. It’s a small beach town on the far end of Orange County and just north of San Diego. Our family vacationed here over the past several decades, and when we had an opportunity to move here two years ago, we jumped on it. Known for it’s amazing climate and small surf town feel, it’s a place I hope you can come and visit. I can’t wait to write and tell you all about the great little finds in my neighborhood: eateries, consignment stores, “locals only” spots, the best hidden beaches, and striking sunset locations!

One way we spend many of our weekends is hitting the variety of yard sales in the southern Orange County area! I go looking for new and inexpensive ways to display plants, plate food, and decorate the yard. I would love for you to share your great finds as well! It’s good for the planet when we reuse, recycle, and repurpose old junk!

Well this is a good start! I hope you enjoy reading and exploring. Please join us for updates!