Saturday, July 25, 2009

Summer Chopped Salad

So far this summer, I've had enough trouble just getting off the couch, let alone summoning the energy to cook a real meal. This chopped salad is a great solution--all you have to do is cut everything up and throw it together! Plus it's got a little bit of everything in it, so you don't need any side dishes.
I topped everything with the simple vinaigrette I've been making to go on everything. We don't even have any bottled salad dressing in our fridge any more, because this is so quick to whip up. There's no recipe per se, but the basic procedure is simple:

Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

1 shallot, chopped (or garlic if you prefer)
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp honey
1 tbsp red wine vinegar (or whatever you have on hand)
2-3 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

In a small bow, mix together shallot, mustard, honey, vinegar, and salt & pepper. With a fork or a whisk, gradually mix in olive oil. That's it!

The chopped salad itself is also difficult to write a recipe for. Basically, just cut everything into similar-sized pieces and layer in a salad bowl. Then toss with dressing and serve! If you want to keep leftovers in the fridge, I suggest adding croutons and cheese to individual plates, since the salad will keep better separate from those ingredients.

Summer Chopped Salad

Romaine lettuce
Red cabbage
Cherry tomatoes, halved
Toasted almond slivers
Dried cranberries
Homemade Croutons (or store-bought, if you prefer)
Cubed gouda
Crumbled Feta

Start with the lettuce, cabbage, and spinach--cut each into bite-sized slivers and layer into serving bowl. Next chop cucumber, carrots, celery and cherry tomatoes into bite-sized pieces and add to serving bowl. Finally, top with remaining ingredients, drizzle dressing over, and toss!

This salad is addictive, probably because of all the cheese! I'm not sure how good for you it actually is, given all the toppings, but I do know that it's fresh and tasty. And if you make a ton you can eat it for like a week without having to cook again.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Nectarines in Cedar Falls

Well, Allison, while you've been off cooking for teenagers this summer at your camp job I've been... pretty much doing nothing. So much nothing, in fact, that I felt the need to get out of town and do nothing somewhere else. So I visited our friend Amanda in Cedar Falls! I won't get all mushy and say that visiting Iowa was like coming home again, but I will say that the cool temperatures and actual clouds were a welcome respite from what has so far been a searingly hot summer in Oklahoma.

While I was in Cedar Falls, Amanda's family was way too generous in treating me to a ton of delicious food. There was Chinese, burritos, waffles, and more. The morning of the day I left, though, Amanda and I got a chance to do a cooking project of our own... well, as long as you use the term "cooking" loosely.

It all started when we were leafing through the Williams-Sonoma Kid's Cookbook, which was laying on Amanda's kitchen table. The peril of this book is that the recipes are all super-easy, and the photography is gorgeous, so it's easy to get drawn in. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though! Anyway, we saw a recipe for Apricot-Ginger parfaits which looked too good not to make. Plus, we were lucky enough to have a bona fide kid (Amanda's little brother) there to help us by licking the bowl that the cream was whipped in.

In the end, these are a little different than the recipe. We used nectarines instead of apricots, because that was what we could find, and we didn't garnish the parfaits with fresh mint, much to Amanda's dismay. We did, though, eat them on the front porch on a vintage table runner. And after breakfast we hiked into the nature reserve behind Amanda's house and went swinging in a playground and relaxed on quilts and read books until the heat of the sun became overwhelming. So I'd say they were basically a success.

Nectarine-Ginger Parfaits

A bag of store-bought gingersnaps
4 or 5 nectarines
heavy cream

This is basically self-explanatory. Slice the nectarines, and put the gingersnaps in a plastic bag and use a rolling pin to crush them. Sweeten and whip the cream (or if, like us, you forget to sweeten the cream, whip it and then add some powdered sugar). Layer everything in parfait glasses and enjoy! You're supposed to let them sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours so the cookie crumbles become moist, but we were too impatient, and, after all, I think the crunch added a certain something to our gustatory experience.