Sunday, May 23, 2010

Happy One Year Blog-o-versary!

Today is the one year anniversary of my blog. It started out as a place for me to write about life and keep in touch with friends, it quickly became an outlet for the passion that rules our household - FOOD! Truth be told food and all that goes along with it - shopping at the farmers market, cooking, having friends over, and eating - are the most exciting parts of my grad student life.

In honor of the big O-N-E, I'll offer a quick update on the non-food related facets of my life, and then share a couple of festive summery salad recipes. First and most exciting, I am about a year away from THE END of grad school - can I get an AMEN? If all goes according to plan I'll be leaving Purdue, Ph.D. in hand, next May. This summer I'm super duper busy with school/career stuff. I'm currently teaching Maymester - a month long two-hour-a-day intense social science research methods course - three weeks left! Then I'll be researching, dissertating, and preparing to enter the academic job market in the Fall! Yikes! I'm also looking forward to a visit from my Dad in just a couple of weeks, my 4th wedding anniversary on June 11th, a trip home to Tejas at the end of summer, and I'll be turning a quarter of a century old in July! In short, I have lots to be grateful for and many things to look forward to!

Okay, now on to the food. I've decided to share a couple of our favorite salads, which also happen to be colorful fiesta appropriate dishes.

Shirazi Salad

This is a perfect summer salad - fresh mint makes it wonderfully refreshing, garden fresh cucumbers and tomatoes are also a plus, and should be abundant soon! This is a salad Alfred grew up eating in his hometown, Shiraz, Iran, for which the salad is named. We enjoy it at least once a week during the summer.

2 Persian Cucumbers or 1 Large Seedless/English Cucumber, diced
2 Medium-sized tomatoes, diced
1 Medium-sized sweet onion (e.g., vidalia), diced
1 large handful of fresh mint, chopped
Juice from 1 Large Lime
Salt to Taste

Combine all the ingredients and let sit at least 1 hour for the flavors to develop. Enjoy!

Black Bean and Mango Salad

(My sweet cousin Melissa helping me prepare this dish last summer)

2 Cans Black Beans, drained and rinsed
2 Large Ripe Mangoes, flesh diced
1 Large Poblano Pepper, seeded and diced
2 Medium Tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 Medium sweet onion, diced
1 Large Handful or Cilantro, chopped
Juice from 1 Large Lime
Juice from 1 Large Orange
Salt to taste (will depend on whether the beans you use contain salt or not)

Combine all the ingredients and let sit at least 1 hour for the flavors to develop. Enjoy!

Yummy Variations: Substitute the mango with 2 cups of diced sweet potatoes, or substitute the mango with 2 cups of frozen (thawed) corn kernels and add in the flesh from 1 avocado diced. Add diced jalapenos for more heat!

I wish you all a very happy summer and thanks for all your comments and encouragement!

As usual, I've included this recipe as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays and Tuesdays at the Table. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Strawberry Season




Spring brings with it so many wonderful fruits and vegetables – we have been eating as much asparagus and Swiss chard as we can get our hands on. Ruby red, irresistible strawberries have also begun to show up at our farmer’s market. As a child I absolutely adored strawberries – during the height of the season I would head out into the berry patch with two bowls, one filled with water, the other a bit of sugar. I would camp out, carefully picking the reddest, ripest fruits, giving them a brief wash and a little dip in sugar before gobbling them up. I have since given up the sugar, but not my love for strawberries. In addition to enjoying the perfectly ripe berries on baby greens, I made a couple of honey-sweetened strawberry treats this week (you could easily substitute agave nectar to make these vegan friendly and lower glycemic, but my tummy seems to tolerate honey better). First a strawberry and peach crumble (gluten free and dairy free), and second a strawberry rhubarb refrigerator jam (also gluten and dairy free). Both are really simple and super yummy.

Strawberry Peach Crumble
*sorry no picture – I took this to a dinner party and cooked it at the hosts home so it would be nice and warm at dessert time

Filling:
Juice from half a large lemon (about 2 Tablespoons)
2 Tablespoons Arrowroot (could substitute cornstarch, but probably use a little less)
11/2 Pounds of Strawberries, rinsed and halved
1 Pound Peaches, sliced (I used frozen – gasp!)
¼ Cup Honey or Agave

Topping:
2/3 Cup Almond Meal or Flour (if you can have wheat you can also use regular flour, but you will probably need to add a little more oil - a couple tablespoons)
2/3 Cup Old Fashioned Oats
½ Cup Sliced Almonds
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ Cup Honey or Agave
¼ Cup Olive Oil (or melted coconut oil or grape seed oil)

For the Filling:
In a large bowl, use a whisk to thoroughly combine the lemon juice, arrowroot, and honey. Add the strawberries and peaches; toss to coat them evenly with honey mixture

For the Topping:
Combine the almond flour, oats, almonds, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda – taking care not to break the sliced almonds. In a separate bowl (or large liquid measuring cup) combine the honey and oil. Add the honey mixture to the almond flour mixture; use a fork to create a crumbly mixture.

Assembly:
Place the filling in a deep pie pan or square glass baking dish. Use your fingers to sprinkle the topping evenly over the filling.

Cooking:
Bake the crumble in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes (the fruit will still be a bit toothsome at this point). Keep a close eye on the topping – the honey makes it brown quickly, so you may need to tent it with a piece of foil. Allow the crumble to cool at least 10-15 minutes. Serve warm.

Strawberry Rhubarb Refrigerator Jam
*This would also make a nice sauce for ice cream, yogurt, pancakes or a simple cake

1 pint strawberries, rinsed and quartered
2 large stalks of rhubarb, thinly sliced
1/3-1/2 Cup of honey or Agave (depending on the sweetness of the fruit and your taste preferences)

Combine the berries, rhubarb and honey in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring often until the berries and rhubarb breakdown completely and the mixture thickens – about an hour. Store jam in a clean glass jar in the fridge.

Other Ideas:
If, like me, you just can't get enough of these jems toss some onto salads, oatmeal/cereal, fold into muffins batter or make a fruit salad!

I'd love to hear your favorite strawberry recipes and ideas too!

By the way, I've included this recipe as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays and Tuesdays at the Table. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Spicy and Sweet Chipotle Chicken


This yummy chicken has become one our favorite meals in recent weeks. The preparation requires very little time. The recipe requires one “special” ingredient – chipotle chilies in adobo sauce. Chipotle’s are roasted jalapenos, they pack quite a punch of heat, but are also amazing flavorful. You can find them (they come in cans) at Hispanic grocers and most well stocked super markets. Our favorite brand is La Morena.

Recipe:





1 Whole Chicken, skin removed (you can cut it into pieces or leave whole – we’ve done it both ways)

Chipotle Glaze:
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 Tablespoon Olive Oil
From a can of chipotle chilies in adobo sauce: 3 Tablespoons of Adobo Sauce + 1-2 Whole Chipotle Peppers (depending on how spicy you want it)
¼ Cup Tomato Paste
2 Tablespoons Honey or Agave Nectar
2 Whole Dates (optional for a little extra sweetness and depth of flavor)

Wash the chicken and pat it dry with paper towels.

In a food processor pulse together the salt, oil, chipotles, adobo sauce, tomato paste, honey or agave and dates. Alternatively, finely mince the chipotle pepper (and dates if using) and use a whisk to thoroughly combine all of the glaze ingredients.

Put a large sheet of aluminum foil (enough to wrap around the chicken) inside a baking dish large enough to hold the chicken. Place the chicken on the foil, pour the glaze over the chicken and use your hands to rub the glaze all of the chicken. Wrap the foil around the chicken so that it is fully enclosed. Let the chicken marinade for at least one hour – preferably overnight.

When you are ready to cook the chicken:

Move a rack to the second row in your oven (about 2-3 inches from the bottom of the oven) OR Use an outdoor grill(and keep your home cool)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees or heat your grill up to that equivalent.
Place the chicken (in the foil) in your oven or on the grill. If grilling, make sure to close the lid on the grill.
Cook the chicken for about 90 minutes (60 minutes if the chicken is cut apart).
Let the chicken rest 10 minutes before opening the foil.

I like to serve this with a green salad dressed with lime juice, salt and some diced avocado. Roasted sweet potatoes are also a great side-dish (I’m pretty sure I could live on sweet potatoes!)

*You will likely have some leftover chipotles in adobo – they also make a great addition to hummus!

By the way, I've included this recipe as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays and Tuesdays at the Table. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sweet and Sour Coleslaw



This coleslaw is super crunchy with a nice balance between sweet and sour flavors. It is a snap to make, and yet another great picnic food - though of course it is equally good indoors (where the rain has been keeping us lately). I didn't measure any of the ingredients precisely, so the amounts below are estimates. Needless to say you don't need to follow them exactly, just use them as a guide.

Sweet and Sour Coleslaw:
4-5 Cups Shredded Cabbage (I used half green, half purple - mostly to make it more colorful and pretty)
1 Large Apple Thinly Sliced and cut into strips (I used Fuji)
1 Large Carrot, cut into matchsticks or shredded
1/2 Fennel Bulb, thinly sliced (optional - I was using up leftovers)
1/4 Cup Raisins
1/4 Toasted Sunflower Seed Kernels

Dressing:
1/4 Cup Mayonnaise (I used light mayonnaise made with olive oil)
Juice from 1 large lemon
1 Tablespoon Honey or Agave
1/2 - 1 teaspoon Sea Salt (to taste)

In a large bowl combine the cabbage, apple, carrot, fennel (if using), raisins, and sunflower seeds. In a separate bowl combine the dressing ingredients, whisk to combine thoroughly. Toss the cabbage mixture with the dressing. Let sit at least 30 minutes for the flavors to marry. Enjoy!

By the way, I've included this recipe as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays and Tuesdays at the Table. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!