Salad Daze!

The weather is warming up and I’m turning to more vegetable based meals.  Salads are the perfect meal for my family!  I have to watch which cooked vegetables I serve due to a couple of picky eaters, but they’ll eat any vegetable raw.  So I take full advantage of local produce that is officially coming our way and plan yummy salads that provide protein and a deliciously light meal  I’m sharing three of my favorites with you today.  Serve them with grilled meat or on their own…it’s your choice!

Mexican Mixed Salad

Panzanella Salad

Arugula with Zucchini with Fresh Lemon Vinaigrette

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Mexican Mixed Salad

My friend, Holly McClure, has cooking origins that go back to her Native American heritage and her travels all over the world.  We recently joined her for dinner and she served the most delicious salad.  She shared the ingredients she used that evening.  This is a salad that is flexible.  You can add black beans, or any bean for more fiber, the nuts can be varied or you might want to add pumpkin or sunflower seeds.  Let your pantry be your guide!  The interesting thing about this salad is that part of the vegetables are lightly sauteed in coconut oil, a very healthy addition to our diet.  That same oil becomes the base for the dressing…it’s really yummy!

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 yellow onion finely diced

2 stalks celery finely diced

1 red pepper, peeled, seeded and diced

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 cup fresh or frozen corn off the cob (When corn is in I buy the organic variety otherwise I use the same, but frozen)

1 can white hominy, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup pecan pieces or nut of choice

1 head butter lettuce

2 cups thinly sliced fresh cabbage, red or green

2 cups organic baby spinach

1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half

1 avocado, cut in chunks

Juice of 2 limes or lemons

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

Pink Himalayan salt and cracked black pepper

Heat the oil until just warm and add the onion, celery and peppers.  Lightly saute until the onion is just transparent.  Add the garlic, corn, hominy, beans (if desired) and nuts.  Heat through until then corn is just tender.  In a large bowl tear the salad greens and toss with tomato and avocado.  Pour the contents of your saute pan over the salad and toss with the lime juice and seasoning.  Serve with warm tortillas or flat bread.

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Panzanella Salad

Nothing says warm weather more than fresh, vine ripened tomatoes and basil.  There always seems to be part of a baguette from dinner the evening before in my kitchen.  This salad is the perfect solution for a dinner everyone loves, serve with your favorite grilled meat of leave it as a healthy plant based meal!

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 baguette, day old (1/2 of the longer baguettes serves about four, if you have more to feed use the entire baguette), cut into 1 inch cube

1 teaspoon Pink Himalayan salt

2 ripe tomatoes, seeded and cut into chunks

1 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced

1 large seedless cucumber, peeled, halved and sliced

1 cup fresh basil leaves, hand torn

1 cup pitted black olives, I like to use Kalamata’s because of the salty factor they add to the mix

1/2 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the bread cubes, sprinkle with salt and allow to cook, tossing the often, until they are golden brown all over.  Toss the cubes in a large bowl with the remaining ingredients and top with the following vinaigrette.

Vinaigrette:

1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Pink Himalayan salt and coarsely ground black pepper to taste

Whisk all ingredients together and toss with bread mixture.  Enjoy!

zucchini carpaccio

Arugula with Zucchini with Fresh Lemon Vinaigrette

This is one of my most favorite summer salads.  I’ve been preparing it for years and it’s always a hit.  I like to make zucchini ribbons by using a potato peeler to cut long, thin strips for this dish, but you can always cut it in slices or chunks.

1 box of organic, baby arugula

1 large zucchini, washed and cut in strips, slices or chunks

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

shaved Parmesano Regianno for garnish

Wash the arugula and gently pat it dry with paper toweling, chill until ready to assemble the salad.  Prepare the zucchini to your liking and chill.  Whisk the olive oil and lemon juice with the garlic and seasoning.  Place the arugula and zucchini in a large bowl and toss with the dressing.  Garnish with the cheese and serve with crusty bread.  This is also good topped with grilled shrimp.

Wednesday Word

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This is a powerful word.  I chose it today in reference to how we do or do not nurture ourselves.  My personal journey has led me on a path of realizing how I have abandoned myself and my needs for everyone else in my life.  My parents, my husband…..caring for everyone BUT me.  I have landed on my feet, eyes wide open, realizing I have to nurture myself, to find self love without feeling selfish.  It isn’t selfish to care for ourselves.  In fact it is essential to our well being.  Take some time today to quietly go within and listen to your self talk.  Love who you are and find ways of expressing that.  Do something to nurture yourself and feel free to let me know what you experience!

Feeling Greatness

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Simple Sundays

 

“Miracle River” is a beautiful song written by Amy Holland.  The video I am featuring today has Judy Colllins and Michael McDonald singing together.  This is a cut from Judy’s CD “Strangers Again”.  I am sharing the lyrics here as well since I think they have special meaning to those of us who have lost someone special.  I think you will love the song and enjoy the message as well.

Miracle River

They say that when you get there
That’s when the real magic starts
Go through the plains of desire
Past the waterfall of sparks
Ten thousand burning deserts
Will weed the taker from the giver
But it’s less about arriving
Than the journey to miracle river

Some live for the sparkle of the water
That will heal their achin’ souls
Turn back the restless hands of time
And make their broken spirits whole
But sometimes promises of love are sweeter
Than the visions they deliver
So bless the good and the bad
On the journey to miracle river

When you’re finally free
You will see
The diamond’s a child of the mine
Not just a prize you saved
From the jaws of fate
It was in your heart all the time
When you finally reach your destination
Fall down on your knees and thank your maker
For all the crosses and the blessings
On the journey to miracle river

Every heartbeat is a piece in the puzzle
We’re all here to solve
You can face it or just turn away
But either way one day
You’ll see it all
Oh winding in the distance
Like shimmering molten silver
It will wash away the shadows
Of your journey to miracle river

When you’re finally free
You will see
The diamond’s a child of the mine
Not just a prize you saved
From the jaws of fate
It was in your heart all the time
When you finally reach your destination
Fall down on your knees and thank your maker
For all the crosses and the blessings
On your journey to miracle river
For all the loves and the losses
On the journey to miracle river

Staying Fit!

I’m sharing a tried and true recipe that I’ve been preparing for years.  Marilyn Diamond wrote the “Fit for Life” cookbook to partner with her then husband, Harvey, as they led many devotees to a healthier lifestyle back in the 1980’s.  I’ve got both the small paperback’s as well as Marilyn’s “American Vegetarian Cookbook” that is filled with some of the most delicious recipes.  I’m not a vegetarian, preferring to think of myself as a “Flexitarian”.  I eat red meat when my body craves it, which is not often.  This particular recipe is enough to sate anyone’s appetite with delicious fingerling potatoes mixed in with all sorts of greens, all topped off with a yummy lemon garlic vinaigrette.  You can easily bring meat into the meal with a grilled steak, chicken breast, fresh fish or seafood.  So, here is one of all time favorites, updated a bit from the original recipe!

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Award Winning Potato Lover’s Salad

1/2 pound yellow, fingerling potatoes

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika

2 cups broccoli florets, slightly steamed, substitute with string beans or asparagus if you’re not a broccoli lover

4 cups butter lettuce, chopped

2 cups organic baby spinach

1 cup radicchio, shredded

1/2 purple onion, finely diced

To assemble the salad:

Steam the potatoes in a vegetable steamer until just fork tender.  Remove the potatoes, save the water for the broccoli to steam.  Melt the butter and combine with sea salt and paprika.  Toss the tender potatoes in this mixture.  Break the broccoli into two inch pieces and steam for about 3-4 minutes, drain and rinse in cold water.  Place all of the salad greens and onion into a large salad bowl with the brocolli.  There are two methods you can choose from to prepare the potatoes.  I saute them in a skillet until they are a bit crusty and browned.  You can also put them under your broiler, on medium high, and cook them that way if you choose.  When the potatoes have cooked, scattered them over the top of the salad and drizzle with lemon garlic vinaigrette.

For the dressing:

1 large clove garlic

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

Freshly ground black pepper.

Crush the garlic and put into a small mixing bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients and whisk to combine.  Drizzle this dressing over the salad with more on the side if needed.

That’s it!  Simple and really delicious!  I’d love to know if you try the recipe.  Happy Thursday!

Wednesday Word

As a writer I am constantly searching for interesting new words.  Words that are not common, that speak to how I feel and to what I believe.  Today’s word is from ancient Greece.  Agathist …..a person who believes that everything will ultimately turn out for the good.  Similar to the word optimist, an agathist focuses on the positive instead of dwelling on the negative “what ifs”.  The longer I live the more aware I become of the absolute fact that we are in charge of our attitudes.  We are in charge of choosing happiness, positive thought patterns and the people who make us feel good about life and about ourselves.  Yes, there are people who are literally toxic for us and we need to distance ourselves from them.  When you realize you are not a victim of anything except the thoughts you think and the decisions you make it is extremely freeing.  It takes practice.  The more you practice the more you’ll become aware of the many negative patterns and imprints you allow into your thoughts.  But they can be erased and reworked.  Being an agathist is a wonderful goal.  It doesn’t mean things we consider negative or “bad” will not happen to us, but our reactions to these things can be shifted so that we accept and move on.  Harboring negative thoughts is damaging mentally and physically.  So ponder on today’s word and see how it makes you feel.  Quiet your mind and focus on the positive.  Miracles can occur when you begin a daily practice of this!  I can guarantee it!

Do You Believe?

Veranda

I’m putting together a list of “must visit”places now that I am living in historic Louisiana.  As I make the journey to the various locations I’ll post my own personal experiences.  For now I’m beginning by sharing several of the destinations that entice me and call out to be at the top of my list.

The Myrtles Plantation

The Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana is number one on my list of places I want to explore.  This lovely plantation sits on a hill overlooking the city of St. Francisville.  But don’t be fooled by its quiet exterior.  There are tales of ghost sightings and actual photographs of several.

The Legend of Chloe is fascinating.  This photograph has been inspected and dissected only to be found real.  There is no trick photography, no photoshop….nothing but the appearance of a slave girl between what once was the General’s store and the butler’s pantry.  You can clearly see her standing in the breezeway between the two buildings.  If only she could tell us her story!

The Myrtles Plantation

The history of The Myrtles Plantation dates back to 1796 when “Whiskey Dave”, General David Bradford, fled the United States following the Whiskey Rebellion.  He purchased The Myrtles, then a 650 land grant from the Baron de Corondolet.  Thus began life on this beautiful property.  The general’s son-in-law, Judge Clark Woodruff, sold the plantation in 1834 to Mr. Ruffin Stirling who brought the property up to its current grandeur.  Wrought iron porches were added, French chandeliers and marble hearths are just a few of the improvements made by Stirling.  The grounds of the plantation are full of flora and fauna visitors now enjoy as they walk along the pathways under centuries old live oak trees laced with Spanish moss.

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There are many stories and tales of ghosts that play into the history of this grand property.  I cannot wait to visit!  This photo of a young girl was taken with a digital camera.  Do you see the clear from of the child, dressed  in Antebellum clothing?  Oh how I would love to see this myself.  Who knows!  All of the ghosts may appear when I make my journey to The Myrtles!  I’ll have a full report when they do.  Oh….don’t forget!  When you visit this historic plantation save time to wander through the charming town of St. Francisville.  Its many shops and eating establishment may entice you to spend a few days in this historic town located right on the banks of the mighty Mississippi River!  Here’s to living in Louisiana!

 

Simple Sundays

It’s Sunday and I am sharing a beautiful piece by the fabulous composer, John Williams.  John Williams, in my estimation, is the most brilliant composer of our time.  The many soundtracks he has gifted us with have brought the screen to life and given meaning to many a  script.  Without his music the stories we have loved and continue to watch would have nothing to pull them together and capture our attention.  “Where Dreams Are Born” is the name of this work by Mr. Williams that was part of the soundtrack for the movie, “A.I. Artificial Intelligence”.  The soloist is Barbara Bonney.  I think you’ll love listening to this calming music.  It’s the perfect way to start the day!  Wishing you a wonderful day of relaxation and enjoyment!  Do something just for you!

So Delicious!

 

I am officially back in the business of catering.  Since I never do anything halfway I made my local debut yesterday when I catered brunch for 55 people at the home of a friend.  I’m sharing a recipe today that was a huge hit AND it’s gluten free!  The rest of the menu might not have been quite as health oriented, but it was delicious and the event was a big success.  This recipe is for a quiche with a shredded sweet potato crust instead of the traditional crust made with flour.  It went so quickly I didn’t get a chance to photograph it so I am sharing a photo I found on Google Images that is as close as I can come to what I created.  The recipe is all mine and I think you’ll love it!

quiche with sweet potato crust

Google Images

Quiche with Shredded Sweet Potato Crust

Preheat oven to 425

1 large sweet potato, peeled and shredded

1 egg beaten

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Sea Salt and Cracked Black Pepper to taste

Combine the ingredients and pat them into a glass pie dish or spring form pan that has been lightly greased.  Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes.  Reduce the heat in the oven to 350 degrees.

For the filling:

2 cups shredded Swiss Cheese

4 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cups half ‘n’ half

1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg

Sea Salt and Cracked Black Pepper to taste

Place the shredded cheese in the prepared crust.  Beat the eggs then add the half ‘n’ half and seasoning.  Place the pan on a baking dish to prevent spilling.  Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees or until a knife, inserted in the middle of the quiche, comes out clean.

I know you probably wonder what the rest of the menu was so I’ll share that as well!  Creme Brulee French Toast, Creole Mustard Ham and Hashbrowns with the Cajun Trinity.  Bloody Mary’s and Mimosa’s were flowing and it was a wonderful time.  I’m thrilled to be “back in the saddle” again!  Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Word

I’ve been thinking of this word a lot lately.  I am a creative soul.  I thrive on being creative.  The only times I find myself feeling low or down are times when I have neglected this all important part of my spirit.  If I allow myself to become depressed or overly concerned about daily living it literally negates my ability to create.  And, in the same turn, when I allow myself to let my imagination soar and I put my fingers on the keys of my computer, my pen on paper or my brush on a canvas all of the little things that really mean nothing disappear.  For this reason I am extremely concerned about the constant hacking away at the arts in our world today.  In schools the arts are not given the emphasis they deserve.  Children must be creative!  They cannot be put in a box and be expected to fit in.  They are each individuals just we all are.  Without creative expression we are just lost souls wandering around searching for happiness.  Today think of what brings you joy!  Even if it’s finger painting…..get out the paint and go for it.  Take your camera with you wherever you go to capture things of beauty.  Start writing your memoirs or that novel you know lies deep within you….even if you never get it published….DO IT!  CREATE!