Posted by: scootrah | August 18, 2016

A Summer of Salads: Roasted Corn and Tomatillo Salad

This is a little something that’s quick and easy, and makes the most of delicious, fresh corn that’s really abundant this time of year. Of course, it’s SO DELICIOUS you’re going to want to keep making it for the rest of your summer BBQs, picnics and family reunions!

ROASTED CORN & TOMATILLO SALAD

ROASTED CORN & TOMATILLO SALAD

The longest part about assembling this salad is grilling the corn. The dicing and grating of the other vegetables and mixing the dressing help fill that time pretty quickly. I love how grilling the corn brings out so much sweetness in it, and the contrast/bite of the vinegar, lime juice and red onion in the salad is a great complement to it. This is delicious on its own, or throw some grilled chicken or pork with it and wrap it in a tortilla for a quick lunch or afternoon snack. If you’re feeding more people, you can easily add (or substitute) diced red and/or green pepper, grated or julienned jicama, diced cucumber or even black beans to make a meatless main dish (depending on how much you add of the other ingredients you may need to increase the dressing accordingly).

Roasted Corn and Tomatillo Salad

  • 2 cups grilled corn kernels (corn from about 2 large ears)*
  • 3 medium tomatillos (about 2 oz. each), husked, rinsed and diced
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 1 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 large red onion, chopped

dressing

  • 3 Tblsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 Tblsp rice wine vinegar
  • juice and zest of 1 medium lime
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • pinch of red pepper flakes

Mix together all ingredients for dressing and whisk until combined.

Toss together remaining ingredients with dressing. Refrigerate at least 15 minutes before serving.

Divide into 6 equal servings about 1 cup each.

*Note: If you can’t find fresh corn-on-the-cob, you can substitute canned or frozen kernels. If using frozen, thaw first; if using canned, drain it well. Toss into a hot skillet (preferably cast iron) with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and cook four to five minutes until cooked through and the kernels get some nice brown/char to them.

Posted by: scootrah | August 8, 2016

Live longer with BACON!

bacon

Posted by: scootrah | July 15, 2016

Checking your work is SO important…..

children's thighs

Posted by: scootrah | July 14, 2016

A Summer of Salads: Orange & Lime Rice Salad

I love summer. It brings back memories of childhood spent at my grandparents’ house on the beach and pool parties, scavenger hunts, miniature golf, croquet tournaments and big family parties filled with delicious food. I celebrate summer today with BBQs at my own house, marshmallow roasts on our patio, attending my nephew’s baseball tournaments, time spent with friends and the abundance of fresh produce available at the farmer’s market and the grocery store.

But I also love summer because of YARD SALES! We can hardly be in the car for five minutes on a weekend outing without me yelling to Rolland “Pull over! There’s a SALE!” Beyond the crazy stuff I’m always looking for – vintage linens, mid century furniture, old paintings of people and/or dogs, vintage Barbie dolls – I love finding old church and hospital guild cookbooks or boxes and notebooks stuffed with handwritten recipes, items ripped from magazines and newspapers and glued onto index cards. They’re entertaining – who would EAT this stuff?! – and every so often, I find something I want to try out.

This recipe was inspired by one of those recent yard sale cookbook finds – It uses my favorite comfort food – RICE! Give me a steaming bowl of white rice with some butter, salt and pepper, and I’m a very happy guy. I’m constantly looking for new ways to prepare rice, and right now I’m on my salad kick. I also like dishes that require minimal cooking because it’s been unusually hot for a Seattle summer and the last thing I want to do is heat up my tiny, un-air conditioned house any more than it already is. When it gets this hot, I find I want to cool down with something citrus, so to combine rice with citrus is a home run for me.

I streamlined this a bit and made a couple changes from the guild cookbook (a few too may canned vegetables in the original for my taste), and I love the result. The colors are so fresh and vibrant! I like the vintage taste of this with the mayo dressing. It looks terrific served in a big lettuce cup.

You start with 2 cups of uncooked white rice – I use the juice and zest of a lime in this dish, so start with the juice of your lime in your measuring cup, then add water to make 4 cups, add a teaspoon of vegetable oil and cook for 15-20 minutes. You want to cool the rice after it’s done – if you’re using a metal pan to cook your rice in, remember that metal is a heat conductor, so it won’t cool quickly in the pan. Just spread it out on a plate – it shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to cool enough to use in the salad.

IMG_7043

There aren’t a lot of complicated steps to this dish – HOORAY! – so while the rice is cooling, get out two stalks of celery, three green onions and a large can of Mandarin oranges. I like to use no sugar added because Rolland is diabetic and the sugar in the oranges along with the carbs of the rice is plenty for him, but if you prefer to use oranges in syrup, that’s fine. Drain the oranges really well….

IMG_7044

…chop the celery and onions – I like to split the stalk of extra-wide celery and then cut it. When you’re done cutting it up, toss the vegetables into a large bowl with the oranges…

IMG_7045

…next you’ll add the cooled rice to the bowl and stir gently to combine. Don’t worry, the oranges are going to start breaking apart as you mix it up. That means you’re going to get that delicious orangey taste throughout the salad rather than in just big bites of orange segments…

IMG_7046

…now add 1/2 cup mayonnaise, the lime zest, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and stir everything to combine. You should let this chill at least an hour, but if you’re like me, you’ll already be sampling it before it gets to the fridge…

IMG_7054

…just before serving, put the rice in a favorite serving dish and garnish with a little of the green part from the onion – beautiful and DELICIOUS!

ORANGE RICE SALAD

  • 2 cups uncooked white rice
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • zest and juice of one lime
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 3 green onions
  • 1 15 oz. can Mandarin oranges
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Directions:

  1. Put the two cups rice into a saucepan – put the juice of the lime into a large measuring cup then add water to make 4 cups. Cook 15-20 minutes until tender. Pour onto a plate to cool for about 30 minutes.
  2. Drain the Mandarin oranges well while you chop the celery and green onions, then them all into a large bowl.
  3. Add the cooled rice and mix it all together gently.
  4. Add the mayonnaise, lime zest, salt and pepper and mix them gently into the salad ingredients.
  5. Chill for at least an hour.
  6. Before serving, adjust seasoning, transfer to a serving dish and garnish with green onion of desired.

IMG_7048

Posted by: scootrah | July 7, 2016

A Summer of Salads: “Faux-tato” Salad

If you are a diabetic, cook for/live with a diabetic, or you just watch your carb intake, you know how frustrating it can be to attend a company picnic or family reunion where the table is loaded with delicious stuff that’s a disaster for blood sugar levels. You can take the safe bet and bring a vegetable tray, but that’s not the best option if you know you’re going to be tempted by classic high-carb picnic favorites like potato salad. Potato salad is difficult to include in a diabetic diet without strict portion control. And when it comes to potato salad, I’m really not interested in portion control. But wouldn’t it be awesome to add a carb-friendly version to the feast that people rave about, rather than another tray of radish roses and carrot sticks?

fauxtatoOne of things I make to accommodate the low-carb needs of our household is “mashed faux-tatoes” – if you’re not familiar with these, you substitute some of the potatoes for cauliflower. Once it’s boiled, seasoned and mashed with the potatoes, it’s difficult to tell you’re not serving 100% of Idaho’s finest. I usually use about 1/3 cauliflower and 2/3 potatoes for this. Because it’s not as dense, I throw the cauliflower in halfway through the potato cooking time to make sure it still has some body left when it’s time to mash them. Add a little chicken (or vegetable) broth and/or non-fat sour cream, salt and pepper, and you’re good to go.

So if I could do that with mashed potatoes, I wondered, couldn’t I do the same thing with potato salad? YES! After a little experimenting, I found the key to it is using a waxy potato and not overcooking the cauliflower, which I think is much easier to accomplish in the microwave.

“Faux-tato” Salad w/Cauliflower

  • 12 small new potatoes (red, white, Yukon)
  • 3 cups bite-sized cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion (or green onion if you prefer)
  • 2 small stalks celery, sliced
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 2 Tblsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 Tblsp olive oil
  • 3 Tblsp chopped chives
  • 1/3 cup crumbled Gorgonzola
  • 3 slices bacon cooked and crumbled (omit for vegetarian, or substitute vegetarian bacon)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 – 4 Tblsp chopped parsley for garnish
  1. Scrub the potatoes and cut into bite-size pieces – potatoes should be small enough that “bite-size” is only two or three cuts each. Place in a microwave-safe bowl and cook on high for 3 minutes. Stir and cook on high for 3 minutes longer – potatoes will continue to cook after removing from microwave, so don’t cook until soft. If after resting 5 mintues potatoes aren’t “fork tender”, microwave on high an additional minute.
  2. In a microwaveable bowl with lid, put in the cauliflower and 1 Tblsp water. Microwave on high for 2 minutes, stir, and cook 2 more minutes on high. Remove from oven, drain and allow to cool. As with the potatoes, these will continue to cook once removed, if not fork tender after 5 minutes, microwave on high 1 minute longer.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the sour cream, lemon juice, zest, oil, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Stir in the Gorgonzola and chives and set aside.
  4. In a large serving bowl combine the potatoes, cauliflower, onion and celery. Stir in the dressing and refrigerate for at least one hour.
  5. Just before serving, taste and adjust seasoning, fold in bacon crumbles and garnish with chopped parsley.

Serves 8

Remember, just because it has fewer carbs doesn’t mean there’s no need for moderation. You’ll WANT to eat the whole thing, but share with several others for optimum benefits to your health.

P.S. You can easily adjust this for your vegetarian and vegan eaters by removing the bacon (or substituting veggie bacon), a vegan-friendly cheese and mayo. 

 

Posted by: scootrah | July 1, 2016

Better health with wine!

mem1

Posted by: scootrah | June 30, 2016

A Summer of Salads: Curry Pea and Almond Salad

I’ve had this recipe for years and like to make it for summer BBQs. A lot of pea salads with a mayonnaise-based dressing include bacon, but this one will keep the vegetarians happy too. It’s great with grilled chicken, unexpected to serve with burgers and just plain delicious on its own. Even eaters who aren’t sold on curry enjoy this, and you can always add more if you’re curry-crazy! Oh – did I mention it takes about 5 minutes to make? Awesome!

Step 1: Put the peas, chopped almonds and green onion into a bowl

Step 1: Put the peas, chopped almonds and green onion into a bowl

Oh yeah – while I prefer Best Foods or Hellman’s mayonnaise for this, if you use vegan mayo, your vegan diners will love it too!

Step 2: Mix the mayo and curry powder together

Step 2: Mix the mayo and curry powder together

Curry Pea Salad with Almonds

10 ounce package frozen peas thawed and drained
6 ounce can smoked almonds, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/2 Tblsp curry powder

Combine peas, almonds and green onions. Combine mayonnaise and curry and pour over the peas and almonds. Toss well, being careful not to crush the peas.

Step 3: Pour the dressing over the salad, stir together gently and EAT!

Step 3: Pour the dressing over the salad, stir together gently and EAT!

Posted by: scootrah | June 27, 2016

Remember when?

Remember when you were a kid and your mom was baking something and when she was done she’d let you lick the beaters and nobody freaked out because it might contain raw eggs? Good times…..

beaters

 

Posted by: scootrah | June 23, 2016

A Summer of Salads: Sweet ‘n Tangy Broccoli Slaw

It’s finally here – the REAL start of summer! I’ve got my shorts and flip flops on and am planning our first big BBQ bash and marshmallow roast of the season. And the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of a  BBQ is salad. So many salads to make for picnics, family reunions, BBQs and lunch or dinner when it seems just too hot to cook!

This year for our first BBQ I’m smoking up a big, juicy brisket, and nothing goes better with it than this Sweet ‘n Tangy Broccoli Slaw. Not everyone is fond of mayonnaise-based slaw dressings, so I created this to appeal to a variety of tastes. besides being delicious, it’s VEGETARIAN AND VEGAN-FRIENDLY! There’s a great balance of sweet and tart – sweet from the dried fruit and sugar, and tart from the vinegar. You can use rice wine vinegar in place of the apple cider vinegar in the recipe for a more subtle taste, but cut back on the sugar a bit as it’s not as tart. I also found that using half the paprika gives it more vinegar bite, but that may not be a hit with all of your diners. This is quick and easy (see my speedy hint below), and I also make it during the week to go with fried chicken, meatloaf or pork chops.

Let the BBQ’ing begin!

Sweet ‘n Tangy Broccoli Slaw

Dressing

  • 1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. celery seed
  • 1/2 tsp. mustard powder
  • 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 2 1/2 Tblsp. sugar
  • a pinch or two of cayenne pepper

Broccoli Slaw

  • 1 1/2 lbs. broccoli
  • 1 large carrot, washed and peeled
  • 1/2 cup julienned red cabbage
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup hulled sunflower seeds
  1. Trim the florets from the broccoli and save for another use. Peel the tough outer skin from the stalk and cut into long, fat sticks that will fit in the feed tube of your food processor. With the grater of your food processor, grate the broccoli and carrots, then add to the julienned cabbage in a large bowl.
  2. Toss the raisins and cranberries with the vegetables and set aside.
  3. Toast the sunflower seeds over medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring or shaking occasionally to prevent burning. Toss in a couple pinches of salt, stir again and allow to cool.
  4. Bring the vinegar to a boil. Pull from the heat and whisk in the remaining ingredients until well combined, then cool for two minutes.
  5. Pour the dressing over the vegetables; cover and refrigerate for one hour.
  6. Just before serving, stir in the toasted sunflower seeds and adjust seasonings.

My time-saving, speedy hint: There are those die-hard chefs/cooks who insist on doing everything from scratch – I’m not one of them. Save all that time with the vegetables by buying a bag of broccoli slaw in the refrigerator case of your supermarket’s produce department – you’ll need a 12 to 16 oz. bag.

Posted by: scootrah | June 10, 2016

Are you grilling your BACON???

One of the things that got pounded into my brain when I attended culinary school was the idea of multitasking and prepping to cut down on time and have ingredients on hand when you need them. Whether that means roasting two chicken breasts rather than one, stacking vegetables together to spend less time cutting or melting butter in the oven while it’s pre-heating in order to use one less pan, the small things you save time on really can add up to big savings.

A favorite trick I have – or “food hack” as it’s currently trendy to call it – when I’m using the BBQ grill, is to make sure I get the most out of my briquets. Just because the burger’s done, doesn’t mean I can’t keep them working! People think I’m crazy when I tell them this, but I love to use those dying embers to grill BACON – yes, really! It’s so simple, you don’t have leftover grease to deal with, and it gives a wonderful smokey flavor to the bacon you don’t get from a frying pan.

WARNING! The theory with this is you’ll have super crispy, delicious bacon to use in recipes for the next couple of days, but the reality is that it’s so ridiculously good cooked this way, you may end up eating it before said recipes ever come together. Just so you know.

Rule #1 from my brother Todd who helped with this project: Buy thick-sliced bacon. Trust our mistakes in coming up with this important rule – you’ll be glad you did.

You want to wait until the coals have cooled a bit, but are still hot enough that you can’t keep your hand over them for more than a few seconds. If your coals are piled in the center, spread them out evenly on the bottom of the firebox. Lay as much bacon (as you want on your grill and put the lid on. I like to close the air intake about 70% so the coals last a bit longer and I’ve found it helps prevent flare-ups from the grease. Check them in about 10 minutes and turn them over.

The first flip - just look at those pretty grill marks!

The first flip – just look at those pretty grill marks!

You’ll be able to tell how hot your coals are by the bacon’s doneness at this point, and you may want to adjust the air flow to make them hotter are cooler.

That smoky goodness is going to make this bacon taste AMAZING!

That smoky goodness is going to make this bacon taste AMAZING!

Put the lid back on and check again in 10 minutes. You may have to/want to do this again a couple more times until the bacon is done to your liking.

Keep the lid on your grill to keep the smoke in and the temperature up

Keep the lid on your grill to keep the smoke in and the temperature up

You’re going to love the taste and texture of the bacon done this way. And now it’s perfect for a BLT, club sandwich, to add to chowder, or my favorite, to include in my “Almost Homemade Baked Beans”, which you can find the recipe for here.

Look at that - beautifully brown, crisp because the fat has drained off, and a delicious smokey flavor. Now you just need to add it into a favorite recipe (if you don't just eat it first!)

Look at that – beautifully brown, crisp because the fat has drained off, and a delicious smokey flavor. Now you just need to add it into a favorite recipe (if you don’t just eat it first!)

Give it a try – I guarantee you’ll start cooking bacon like this whenever you can!

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