Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Ramen & Bok Choy Salad

This recipe is a bit of a classic. I've been making it for 14 years — ever since a good friend whipped some up during my bachelorette weekend in Myrtle Beach.

This summer's trip with my husband's family reminded me of this salad as my sister-in-law and I reminisced about that long-ago girls weekend.

When we got home from vacation, I wanted to see if my kids would like this dish, especially since Sam still loves ramen noodles.

The verdict? I still find this salad addicting and my husband still enjoys it. Not so much for my boys. But hey, more for me!

This recipe makes enough for a crowd. Leftovers still taste good on Day 2, but the ingredients will be a little less crunchy. If you want to make less, cut the recipe in half by using a small head of bok choy or 4-5 baby bok choy.

Do you make a version of this salad? Let us know how you do it at your house!

Mangia! Mangia!

Ramen & Bok Choy Salad
Inspired by my friend Claire

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 packages ramen noodles, broken into small pieces (Set aside seasoning packet for another use.)
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 large head of bok choy
1 bunch green onions, sliced (5 or 6 stalks)
1/2 cup olive or vegetable oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup white sugar

Note: You can prep this salad in advance, but don't add the dressing until you are ready to serve it.

Heat oil over medium heat in large sauce pan. Add ramen noodles, almonds, sesame seeds and sugar. Still until lightly browned. Set aside to cool.

Chop the bok choy leaves and the white stalks into small pieces and place in large bowl. Add green onions. Stir to combine. Set aside.

To make the dressing, combine oil, vinegar, soy sauce and sugar in a container with a tight lid. Shake to mix. Set aside.

When ready to serve, combine ramen noodle mix with bok choy mix. Add half the dressing and stir to evenly coat. Add more dressing as needed. (You may not need all of it.)

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.


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!

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.
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 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!