Salad Series Day 3: Chicken Apple Salad

Friday, May 28, 2010

This is yesterday's lunch, but I had no time to post it until now. I wish I could say I made this salad, but I did not.
I had the lovely chance to spend my afternoon with my mom, two sisters, and a dear family friend who was in town. We went to Mimi's Cafe, which is a staple in my family. The menu is extensive (meaning even Cassie finds things she likes) and the food and service are always good. As some of you may know, I cannot stand chain restaurants. What a really mean is I am a snob and like to frequent places that are their own- no one else can claim they are the same. Mimi's is definitely a chain, which should tell you how great it is if I am singing its praises.
Yesterday we were all surprised to see they added to their already lengthy menu. There must have been 12 salads- hallelujah! I went for the honey dijon chicken salad with apples, tomatoes, some other bits of deliciousness I can't remember, and brie croutons. I was skeptical of these because of my cheese dislike, but brie is a cheese I still appreciate, so I went for it. The two large croutons were more like fried cheese sticks and for me they were a ""take em or leave em" kinda thing, but you cheese fans should be salivating right now.
Oh, and the salad was served with balsamic vinaigrette on the side.

Salad Series Day 2: Cous Cous and Grilled Artichoke Hearts

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

This is an "everything sounds good and I should use it up and not be wasteful" kinda salad.
I did not grill these artichokes myself and have no idea how to do it, sorry.
I suppose I would boil them first, to get them soft, and then grill them with olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, yes? I am unsure because I bought them at Nugget and they only have them in summer and they are so freakin' good, I could not resist.
I also had cous cous left over from dinner last week and I thought some pecans would add a nice crunch (I toasted them in a skillet first). Finally, I added a sprinkle of blueberries for a little rendevouz with antioxidants. Throw all of that on a bed of spinach and call it lunch.

Salad Series Day 1: Unwrapped Chicken lettuce wrap salad

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

That's quite a name, but this is quite a salad.
Last night I made chicken lettuce wraps, but have no pictures or posts on that front. Here is the recipe, which I modified very little. The only additions/changes were: NO water chestnuts (I hate those things and have vivid unpleasant memories of eating them in stir fry as a child, bleh.) I added chopped cashews to the chicken mixture and topped the whole thing with bean sprouts.
I had lots of left over chicken mixture, so today I topped a bed of lettuce with the chicken and bean sprouts and served it with a side of edamame.

The Salad Series

Monday, May 24, 2010

FYI- I eat a salad for lunch almost every day. Boring? No way.
Sometimes I get tired of it, but salads are versatile. But, a word of caution: salads are like frozen yogurt (another love of mine). You CAN go overboard on the toppings and wind up with a giant mess that leaves you too full and saying, ""omg, what was i thinking with this concoction?!"
In any case, this week I'll be doing a salad series- showing you the salads I eat every day for lunch. Where's Monday you ask?
Being that school is OUT and I don't work on Mondays, my lunch was enjoyed (and scarfed down) between pilates class, grocery shopping and a hair cut- no time to photograph it. Therefore, the series will start tomorrow, but I thought I'd give you the (lettuce?) heads up tonight.

Not dry turkey burgers

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I've always liked turkey burgers, but there are two problems always complained about- they're too dry and they stick to the grill. After some online research by my mom a few weeks ago, I think I've solved both of those problems (enter the savior; olive oil) Adding this to the meat, and also bushing a little on the formed patties, helps the dryness and sticking problems. I've also experimented with some add-ins that really make these delicious. I serve them with a grilled veggie salad and those funny looking things are buns, believe it or not- they are called the one bun. I find that buns are such an excess of bread- these are the right portion.

Perfect Turkey Burger
Makes 4 burgers
1 lb. ground turkey breast
1/4 yellow or sweet onion
1/2 green apple
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
dash of: salt, pepper, basil and parsley

Chop onion, apple and garlic in a food processor, vitamix, etc. In a bowl, combine meat with chopped ingredients. Then add olive oil and soy sauce followed by spices. Mix with hands or spoon. If the meat seems dry, add more olive oil. Then form the meat into patties- you be the judge of proportions. Lay on a plate and brush with a touch of olive oil. Refrigerate until ready to bar b que.
Heat grill to about 450 degrees. Lay burgers on grill and close grill lid. Of course, I did not pay attention to how long I cooked these, but let them go at least 4-5 minutes on one side and flip. You should know when they're done- they'll be whiteish tan in color, with nice grill lines. If needed, cut one in half to check for doneness.

Fondant cake decorating

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mom and I decided we're going to get ambitious for Cassie's high school graduation cake. I cannot tell you how we're decorating it, but I can tell you we're using fondant for the first time. Since fondant seems to be the holy grail of cake toppers, we were nervous to use it. Sure, Buddy can do anything with fondant, but what about us?
Yesterday we decided to do a trial run- a little "let's figure out what we're doing so we don't look like idiots for the real deal."
While you can make your own fondant (I'm sorry I have a life) so mom found a cake store with pre-made fondant.
We were both surprised at how easy it is to work with.

I kneaded it into a pliable consistency- think the days of playdough here, people.

Then I rolled it to a thin layer with a special fondant rolling pin. Make sure to toss some cornstarch (I use tapioca starch) on your work surface. The fondant feels so smooth.
Then you roll the fondant into the rolling pin, like a scroll and lay it gently over your cake- mom did this part because, well, I would probably have messed it up.
Next you carefully smooth down the top, then the sides, taking extra care when you get to the corners.
The key is to freeze the cake earlier in the day and cut really sharp edges so the fondant hugs them and gives you those sharp creases.
Finally, using a pizza cutter (no need for a special fondant cutter- do they even make one?) cut off the excess fondant and try to use it for decoration, as not to waste the crazy gum like substance.

White is boring, but there was no need for us to dye the fondant for a simple trial cake. But, we can do nothing simply, so we made some cherries for the top and mom steamed it with an iron to give it that glossy look.

I'm sure after a few more cakes we will be thinking this first one look sad, but as of now, I am super impressed with our guinea pig fondant cake.

*These photos are courtesy of my mom and her fabulous, professional, photography skills.

Mother's Day = A day of food

Sunday, May 9, 2010

I'm not really sure that's what Mother's day is SUPPOSED to be about, but when do I ever care?
I decided for my mom I would make her brunch and dinner/dessert. (Before and after seeing a sneak peek showing of Letters to Juliet, which was awesome. See the movie and the word awesome will make you laugh. I could go on about it, but you will get bored of my drooling over the Brit actor and wanting that movie to be my life.) Back to the point...
Brunch is an old stand by (and by old I mean I've been making it for 5ish years.)
Creme Brulee french toast...yes, it is as good as it sounds. The recipe comes from here and I highly recommend it. It is not healthy. I repeat, go for a run after you eat this, but it is well worth it. It's super easy because you prep it the night before and bake it the morning of. I serve it with fruit salad and it rounds out the meal nicely. The only adaptation: the recipe calls for challah bread and I use a ciabatta or puglese or something like that. I think it soaks up the cream mixture better and has a nice crusty texture. I am working on a lower cal recipe for htis, but not for Mother's Day- I did the real deal.

For dinner I made fish tacos. Nota Bena- I never, ever fry things. I don't see the point and I usually find it disgusting, but we recently had fish tacos at a friend's house and they were so good, I had to try. I just dredged them in flour with spices, egg wash and some panko bread crumbs. I also wanted to make another kind of fish- I love this one. Tilapia with lime tequila marinade. This was fresh tasting and especially good with the cucumber avocado pineapple (say that 3 times fast) salsa.

Grilled Tilapia
1 lb. tilapia filets
1/4 cup olive oil
1 lime, squeezed
1 tsp chile spices
1/4 cup tequila
1/2 tablespoon honey
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients, except fish, in a bowl. Add tilapia and let marinade for 30 minutes. Place foil on a hot grill (do this so you don't have to worry about your fish falling through the grill.) Place tilapia on grill and cook for 3-4 minutes. Flip and cook for another 3-4 minutes until fish is white and slightly golden on the outside.

Last but not least- here is the most delicious cheesecake. I don't usually like cheesecake, but this is fab. The recipe, from a neighbor is pretty basic, but lemon is infused in the crust, cake and glaze...oh the glaze. I can't post this recipe because I didn't ask my cooking goddess neighbor if I could, but just enjoy the picture or stop by the house for a slice.

Happy Mother's Day, mom- I love you.

Run: May 2010

I didn't realize how long I'd been absent from writing. I apologize to the three people who read this. This is the last week of school so races have been none and recipes have been leftovers, bbq pizza and salad- real original.
Later today I will post some Mother's Day recipes that I am quite fond of, but for now...the May race.

I'm happy to say that this month's race supported the fight for breast cancer. I ran this with my 20-30 twin Erin, and her mom. We were saying that it seems so natural for everyone to know at least one person who battled breast cancer. I am sad to say I know two currently fighting. But, I am happy to say, they are both winning and proving that anything can be overcome with a band of supporters, optimism and a kick ass will power. So to these two women, I thought of you during this race and I thank you for that.

The goal for this 5K was to run it in 30 minutes. If you run a 7 minute mile, that is no big deal for you, and i hate you. Ok, maybe I'm jealous.
I didn't get a time chip for this race because it cost $10 extra- my bank account said "we support breast cancer awareness, but no thanks." I looked at my watch when we started and it was 8 o'clock. Since there were 30,000 people it started slow. Fighting through walkers and joggers proved to be a challenge, but about 2 minutes in we found some room and a steady stride. The weather warmed up quickly and I was thankful I wore my bright pink shorts, rather than pants. There was no mile 1 marker, so I was guessing what pace I was going (this is why I need that heart rate monitor) but by the beats of my breath, I could tell we were going fast. The mile 2 marker came faster than I expected and the three of us talked pretty steadily, which made it more fun. Then "YMCA" played and the volunteers cheered and screamed for everyone- both of which livened up the race and made it fun. Then, at about 2.5 miles I felt terrible. I had a pain in my side, thirst was killing me and I just wanted to see the finish line. This was the first time I'd run with Erin and I didn't voice any of my "omg God I want to die" thoughts because I am competitive and timid when it comes to honesty and I just wanted to keep up with my friend and do what I set out to. With these thoughts going on in my head, the finish line came slowly, but I kept saying "just to that pink balloon" "check your watch at the pole" "you can make it to that volunteer section", etc. and I found that last bit of energy to push it to the finish. I was relieved when it was over, but felt how hard I'd worked. It paid off because we finished in 30 minutes. The race was at Cal Expo and there was lots of room for people to sit and drink water, eat the yummy yogurt and fruit they provided and they even had booths inside. (Notice the pics we took on the cool giant chair)
June's race isn't until the 19th. That's another 5k. I haven't decided on my goal yet, but maybe 30 minutes without wanting to kill myself is a good one.

Yes, I know my face is the same color as my outfit...and the chair...I try to support the Breast Cancer color any way possible, what can I say?