Monday, August 21, 2017

Poppyseed Egg Salad

A few weeks ago, with my nieces in town to hang out with my girls for what is known as Cousin Camp, we had a tea party with some other friends. I made PB&J and cream cheese and jam sandwiches in the shapes of hearts and flowers. But what about for the adults? I hadn't thought that far ahead. Fortunately, egg salad popped to mind, because all of the ingredients — including poppyseeds, which give this version a subtle nutty flavor and crunch — are always on hand.

My friend Ashley, who brought her girls to the tea party, and I were like "Omigosh, egg salad is sooooo good." There wasn't a whole lot of talking during the eating, actually.

Why don't I make egg salad more often? Well, the hubby is watching his cholesterol, and the kids won't eat it. But I'm here to tell you, my friends, that it's good to make dishes for just yourself (and a like-minded friend) sometimes. Besides, taste buds change, too. I now have one kid, Lucy, who absolutely loves this egg salad. I found out about Lucy's new love of egg salad when the leftovers that had my name (figuratively) all over them for a late post-cycle class lunch were half eaten when I got to them.

I hope you enjoy this simple, classic dish with a twist. I hope that sometimes you make something that only you like ... for now.

XOXO,
Amy



Poppyseed Egg Salad
12 hardboiled eggs
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon poppyseeds
Salt and pepper, to taste

Peel and cut up eggs; transfer to bowl. Add rest of ingredients and stir gently (so as not to make the eggs a mushy mess) until combined.

Question: Do you know how to boil eggs? That is, do you know how to boil eggs so that the yolks are perfectly cooked without any greenish hint of being overdone? And do you know how to boil eggs so that the shells come off easily, without taking out hunks of egg white?

No? Well, here is what to do. Place eggs in a pot and add water so that it there's at least an inch of water over the tops of the eggs. Add some salt to the water and set pot over high heat. Once the water comes to a rapid boil, allow water to continue its full-paced boil and the eggs to cook for another two minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove eggs and transfer to a bowl of ice cubes and cold water. Peel eggs immediately after they are cooled, within about 10-15 minutes.

Oh, and here's Lucy enjoying an open-faced egg salad sandwich.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Grilled Eggplant Caprese

Oh, sweet eggplant. Paired with tomatoes, basil, oil and balsamic, this purple beauty really shines.

If you are enjoying an abundance of tomatoes from your garden or farmer's market, this dish is a great way to put that fresh summer taste to work. The eggplant caprese makes a great side salad, appetizer or vegetarian main dish.

Never grilled eggplant before? It's a quick way to get a mellow, smoky flavor, and the eggplant will hold up well the next day, too. If you like, you can grill the eggplant ahead of time.

If you are like me and just can't get enough of grilled eggplant, try these dishes, too — Grilled Eggplant with Chimichurri Sauce or Grilled Eggplant Salad

Mangia! Mangia!
Andrea


Grilled Eggplant Caprese

1 medium eggplant, sliced into 1/4 slices
Olive oil (about 1/2 cup, plus more for drizzling)
Balsamic vinegar (about 1/2 cup, plus more for drizzling)
4 to 5 medium tomatoes, sliced
15 basil leaves, divided
1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh salad greens, optional

Heat your grill to medium. Brush both sides of eggplant slices with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Place eggplant slices on grill and cook until lightly browned, about 3 to 4 minutes. Turn over and grill another 3 minutes or so, until eggplant is softened and nice grill marks appear. Remove from grill and set aside.

Layer salad greens on a serving platter. Arrange eggplant slices on greens. Top each piece of eggplant with a slice of mozzarella cheese, 1 basil leaf and a slice of tomato. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Slice any remaining basil leaves into thin strips and sprinkle on top of eggplant stacks. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Jack Fruit Three Ways

My youngest son Sam is on a mission to try a new fruit whenever possible.

This means picking something exotic from the produce section at our local grocery store and trying it out. Sam's quest is known by our regular cashier and the produce manager. They often give us tips and previews on what we'll find inside a small spiky orb or a giant bumpy-skinned melon.

Some of the delicacies we've tried this summer are:

Passion fruit.
Dragon fruit.
Prickly pear.
Rambutan.
And then there is the Jack Fruit. At just $2, this baby supplied us with enough fruit for more than a week. It took some work, but it was totally worth it.


If you're a vegetarian, you might eat jack fruit all the time, as the yellow bulbs inside this behemoth can be used as a meat substitute in tacos and many slow cooker dishes. The seeds are edible, too, if you cook them.

The fruit is somewhat firm and tastes like a cross between a mango and a peach.

We went online to learn how to open this baby and harvest the edible parts. This video from Instructables.com was pretty helpful. A note if you watch the video: Do not be deterred! Our jack fruit was not as sticky as predicted and we were able to pry it open with just a knife.

It took me, Sam and my husband about an hour to remove all the fruity pods and seeds from the tough shell. We tackled the job on our patio to make clean-up easier.

Cut the jack fruit in half, and then into quarters.
Once your jack fruit is in quarters, you can start peeling away the stringy white pulp to reveal the yellow pods.
The jack fruit.
Jack fruit seeds can be seasoned and cooked.
The aftermath of our work.
Jack Fruit Salad


Once your jack fruit is ready to use, you can dice it into a fruit salad with strawberries and some mint.

Jack Fruit Salsa


Jack fruit holds up really well in a salsa, adding a sweet note.

2 cups jack fruit, diced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, diced
1 bunch green onions, sliced
Juice of 1 lime
2-3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir to combine. Chill or serve right away with tortilla chips.

Jack Fruit Fries



If you like sweet potato fries, you'll love this side.

2 cups jack fruit, sliced into 1/4 inch strips
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a medium bowl, toss sliced jack fruit with the oil until the fruit is well coated. Spread jack fruit on a large cookie sheet, leaving space between each piece of fruit. You may need two cookie sheets depending on the size of your pans.

Roast for 10 minutes, then flip fruit pieces over with a spatula and bake for another 10 minutes or until fruit is crispy and browned.

Remove from oven and let cool. Add more salt if needed. Enjoy!



Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Tequila by the Slice

A fellow baseball mom shared a recipe for this handheld cocktail in the middle of our summer season. So, so glad she did!

These adult "drinks" are light and refreshing on a hot day. Since I'm on vacation this week, they are top of mind (again!)

One tip: If you bring these to a gathering or party where children will be present, be sure to have some slices for the kids, too. This way you can avoid a little one taking a bite of "grown-up watermelon."

Another option: A friend added a drizzle of basil simple syrup when she recently served these. Also very yummy.

If you don't use a whole watermelon when you make this, you can use the rest for some delicious Watermelon Raspberry Rum Punch.

Mangia! Mangia!
Andrea



Tequila by the Slice
Inspired by KitchenFunWithMyThreeSons.com

1 seedless watermelon, quartered
Silver tequila
2-3 fresh limes, sliced
Coarse salt for topping

*Note: It is best to add the lime juice and salt right before you eat the watermelon slices. Doing so in advance makes the watermelon too salty.

Slice each watermelon quarter into 1-inch triangles. If you like, cut each piece in half to get smaller triangles.

Place watermelon slices on a large cookie sheet.

(Please pardon the drywall. Kitchen still a work in progress!)
Splash each slice with some tequila. Eyeball it. I used about 1/3 a bottle of tequila for a medium sized watermelon. Let sit 15 minutes. Turn over each slice and soak for another 15 minutes.

Serve each piece with a lime slice and some coarse salt.

To enjoy, drizzle with lime juice, sprinkle with salt and repeat!


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Mini Cherry Pies

Nothing says summer like cherry pie, so here you go!

If your family likes cherries, these sweet little tarts will hit the spot for dessert or a hearty snack.

And if you don't have a cherry pitter, I recommend investing in one. I found a model that pits 6 cherries at a time for under $20. My son Sam gets great satisfaction out of using it; I love having a helper in the kitchen.

This recipe calls for a homemade crust, and I recommend taking the small amount of extra time needed to make it. So yummy.

Mangia! Mangia!
Andrea



Mini Cherry Pies
Inspired by this recipe from Cooking Light

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
4 1/12 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut in chunks
1/4 cup ice water
2 tablespoons chilled vodka
5 tablespoons, plus 2 teaspoons turbinado sugar, divided
2 tablespoons corn starch
5 cups fresh cherries, pitted and halved
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Optional: 1 large egg white, lightly beaten

Items you will need:

  • Baking sheet lined with parchment paper. 
  • Six 4-inch tart pans. 

No tiny tart pans? Use mini foil pie dishes instead.

Place flour and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse a few times until mixture looks crumbly. Add 1/4 cup water and vodka. Pulse about 6 times or until the dough comes together.

Place dough on lightly floured surface and knead 2-3 times. Divide dough into 12 equal-sized balls.

Roll each ball of dough out into a roughly 4-inch cycle. Arrange on the lined baking sheet. Cover with parchment or plastic wrap and chill for 1 our or until firm.

Preheat over to 375 degrees. Move oven rack to middle position.

Combine remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 5 tablespoons sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl. Add cherries and lemon juice, gently mix to combine.

Divide pie filling among the 6 tart or pie pans. Top each with second pie crust, or let your kids cut out fun dough shapes and use those instead.


Brush top crust, if using, with egg white. Sprinkle remaining sugar over crust or dough cut-outs.

Line a baking sheet with foil. Place tarts on baking sheet and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until mini pies are golden and bubbly. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes.

Take pies out of pans to cool completely.

Serve warm or at room temperature. My boys liked these with ice cream on top.

Wrap and refrigerate leftovers.






Monday, July 17, 2017

Mom's Potato Salad

We had tons of family gatherings when I was growing up. That was a big plus to living where all of our relatives were within an hour's drive.

In the summer, potato salad was usually on the menu. My mom added a little twist to her recipe and I still love it — a chopped apple. The fruit gives the side salad an unexpected sweet crunch.

I remember my mom served it to a college friend's family when they were visiting. When I saw my friend's step dad again more than a decade later, he remembered the potato salad!

My recipe here may differ a bit from my mom's (because I make it for a family of 4 and she was usually serving 30+ people), but you'll get the same effect.

Mangia! Mangia!
Andrea



Mom's Potato Salad

1.5 or 2 pound bag of small yellow potatoes
1 bunch green onions, sliced and chopped
2 hard boiled eggs
1 large apple, peeled and diced (use Granny Smith, Honey Crisp of Fuji)
1/2 cup of your favorite mayonnaise
1/4 cup dijon or champagne mustard
1 teaspoon dill (fresh or dried)
*1 teaspoon dried spice mix for Green Goddess Dressing
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: 1/2 cup diced celery or bell pepper

*If you can't find this, use another 1/2 teaspoon dried dill, 1/2 teaspoon dried onion, 1/2 teaspoon dried celery flakes and 1 teaspoon minced garlic.

Peel the potatoes. Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Set the pot to boil. Once thee water boils, lower the heat a little and cook until a knife easily inserts into the potatoes.

Remove potatoes from heat and drain. Then rinse with cold water. Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, dice them and place in a large bowl.

Add egg, green onions, apple and any other vegetables, if using. Add mayonnaise, mustard, dill and Green Goddess spices.

Mix to combine, until everything is coated in the dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve right away or chill before serving.

I liked this potato salad with barbecue chicken and grilled squash.


Refrigerate any leftovers.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Arugula, Beet, Quinoa and Orange Salad

Salads that work for lunch and dinner are my best friends this summer. Here's another one I'm loving. So delicious and so easy to make.

My husband and youngest son love beets. When I spotted these sweet little containers of the ready-to-use veggies I snapped up a few.

This colorful dish is great as a side salad or a main entree. It holds up well the next day, too, but the quinoa will start to turn pink.

Mangia! Mangia!
Andrea


Arugula, Beet, Quinoa and Orange Salad
Inspired by a recipe in Diabetes Focus Spring 2017 issue

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 large orange
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
4 cups cooked quinoa
5 ounce package baby arugula
1 seedless orange, peeled and diced
2 6.5 ounce packages prepared beets, diced

In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, orange juice, salt and pepper.

Add quinoa, arugula, orange and beets. Gently stir to combine. Fold ingredients together until everything is coated with the vinaigrette.

Serve right away or chill until needed. Refrigerate any leftovers in an air tight container.