Rabbit for a day
Since Jeremiah worked a double yesterday, I was off (insert evil laugh here) and Nana had Ryley for the night, I made a mile-long Mus-Git list (pronounced “musket.” My must-get-done list is usually high priority items that have sat on too many unfinished To-Do lists in a row) and set off to tackle the items one by one. Naturally, after running 6 of the errands out in public and then putting all the groceries and purchases away, I ran out of steam. I wanted a lunch that would be filling and give me enough energy to keep crossing off the list items, but not be so heavy as to throw me into a food coma for the next few hours. So I opted for salad. The problem is that homemade salads tend to wilt in comparison to the exciting flavors of many of those expensive restaurant salads with their exotic ingredients and fancy dressings. Any one of the salads at my work could kick a house salad’s butt, and then it would post a video of the beat-down on youtube!
Luckily, to avoid getting halfway through a boring salad and then giving up and resorting to some hot dogs or frozen chicken nuggets, I thumbed through an old Pampered Chef cookbook called Casual Cooking and found the Strawberry Spinach Salad. I had just bought fresh organic berries and produce the day before, so it was a match made in Farmer’s Market Heaven! I still have plenty of that delicious Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar from the La Quinta Olive Oil Company, so I wanted to work that into the dressing as well.
Since I often like to try things the original way first, I made the dressing mostly according to the recipe (just traded EVOO for the veggie oil and then doubled the ingredients for a second use), but found it to have way too much sugar. It was seriously like eating a lemon meringue pie (but maybe that’s because sugar is my arch nemesis and I rarely do battle with it), and who knows, some people may love it that way!
I wondered if it was because I couldn’t find poppy seeds (which may have broken up the sweetness a bit) and figured my fresh strawberries would be sweet enough, though, so I added another ounce of olive oil and 2 ounces of the raspberry balsamic. Delicious! I had to slap my own hand after realizing I’d spooned about 5 or 6 “tastes” and hadn’t even made my salad yet!
I skipped the red onion because although I’m starting to develop a taste for them, I still don’t generally like a lot of onion trying to take over my meal (and my day if I’m toothbrush-less).
I also didn’t have sliced almonds because Fresh and Easy has a very limited nut area. I bought the little pre-packaged bags again for future snacking and popped one open for the salad. I threw a few whole ones in for substance, but then used my Microplane Adjustable Coarse Grater (with the safety attachment from the Fine Grater) to grate some shavings that I could toast and finish with. Washed the fresh spinach in the big bowl of my Salad and Berry Spinner, and then used the stain resistant smaller one for rinsing the strawberries.
Overall, absolutely delicious. I knew Jeremiah wouldn’t be interested in it (he tends to make obnoxious comments about my foofoobougiegirl food), so the timing for a Strawberry Salad was great! There were also a few seedless watermelons that Ryley had decided not to eat once she discovered they were softening, so I cut off all the rinds and put the watermelon through my juice extractor. It was a bit thick because of how quickly the chunks flew through the blades (I believe they’re 80 or 90% water so I didn’t even have to push on them like other fruits and veggies), so I ran the juice through a strainer to keep just the liquid. Delightfully refreshing and the perfectly sweet complement to my tasty salad!
After attacking a few more time-consuming items on the Mus-Git, I conveniently breaked for dinner. Keeping with my light but satisfying theme I chose to make a second salad. This time one that I knew he would enjoy with me after work – a Southwestern Cobb Salad.
He loves Cobbs with the typical meat, cheese, veggies and bleu cheese, but I wanted to trump his previous experiences with the amped up flavors of this one. It was awesome!! I even put a few of the red onions on mine (finely chopped, so it was more like salsa-grade onions)! Unfortunately, I pulled a Heather and forgot to add the milk to the dressing. I put it in the fridge for over an hour to let the flavors blend, and thought it was a little thick when I pulled it out to dress the salad. I didn’t even realize it until I went back for seconds and realized I had never put it in… and that I forgot to add the beans. I mixed a tiny amount of milk into the dressing and rinsed a smaller portion of the beans and put them in my next plate and they were tasty, but I honestly loved the salad either way. I also added some of the Southwestern Seasoning to the chicken while it grilled, figuring it couldn’t hurt to keep with the theme.
I also took it upon myself to add cheddar cheese, which we loved, but you can skip if you have lactosism – hate/no tolerance for those that come from dairy island – and yes, I made that word up. I included tomatoes, made 1 extra hard-boiled egg so Jeremiah wouldn’t complain about it being uneven, cut a second avocado so I could have my own full one, and then topped the salad with chopped cilantro because it just didn’t seem right to have a Southwestern food party without inviting it. Cilantro is great in everything, and leaving it out would just be rude!
It truly was a great day for salads, and I wasn’t disappointed with all the interesting flavors. Today I lived like a rabbit king!! Too bad I don’t have any bunny servants to finish this stupid list…
Here are the originals:
Strawberry Spinach Salad
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
1/4 cup sliced natural almonds
8 ounces strawberries
1/2 medium cucumber
1/4 small red onion
1. For dressing, zest lemon using Zester/Scorer to measure 1/2 teaspoon zest. Juice lemon using Juicer to measure 2 tablespoons juice. Combine zest, juice, vinegar, sugar, oil, and poppy seeds in Small Batter Bowl. Whisk until well blended using Mini-Whipper. Cover, refrigerate until ready to use.
2. Preheat oven to 350F. For salad, spread almonds in single layer over bottom of Small Bar Pan. Bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly toasted. Remove from oven, cool almonds in bar pan.
3. Meanwhile, hull strawberries using Core & More; cut strawberries into quarters.
5. Place spinach in large serving bowl; add strawberries, cucumber and onion. Whisk dressing; pour over salad, gently tossing to coat using Bamboo Serving Tongs. Sprinkle with almonds. Serve immediately.
Yield: 10 servings
Low Fat! Nutrients per serving (1 cup): Calories 70, Total Fat 3g, Saturated Fat 0g, Cholesterol 0mg, Carbohydrate 10g, Protein 1g, Sodium 15mg, Fiber 1g.
Diabetic exchanges per serving (1 cup): 1/2 starch, 1/2 fat (1/2 carb)
1. The thin brown skin on sliced natural almonds makes these nuts an attractive choice in this salad. Oven toasting gives them extra crunch and flavor.
2. Always toss salad greens with the dressing just before serving to avoid soggy, limp salads.
Southwestern Cobb Salad
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon Pantry Southwestern Seasoning Mix
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3-4)
Salt and ground black pepper
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
3 hard-cooked eggs
1 large red bell pepper
1 cup canned black beans
1 package (10 ounces) torn romaine lettuce
1/4 small red onion
6 slices bacon, crisply cooked and cut up (optional)
1. For dressing, pour milk into Measure, Mix, & Pour. Add mayonnaise, sour cream, lime juice and seasoning mix; mix until well blended. Refrigerate at least 1 hour to allow flavors to blend.
2. Meanwhile, for salad, season chicken breasts with salt and black pepper. Heat oil in Executive (10 in.) Skillet over medium heat. Add chicken breasts; cook 5-7 minutes on each side or until chicken is no longer pink in the center. Remove chicken from skillet; cool slightly. Cut chicken diagonally into thin strips using 8″ Chef’s Knife. Wrap tightly and refrigerate until ready to assemble salad.
3. Prepare hard-cooked eggs as directed in Cook’s Tip. Slice eggs using Egg Slicer Plus. Cut avocado in half; remove pit and peel. Cut avocado into 1/2-inch cubes and dice bell pepper. Drain and rinse beans in small Stainless Mesh Colander.
4. Place lettuce in serving bowl. Slice onion into thin wedges; toss with lettuce. Arrange remaining salad ingredients in rows on Oval Platter. To serve, top lettuce with salad ingredients using Chef’s Tongs. Drizzle with dressing.
Yield: 6 servings
Nutrients per serving: Calories 350, Total Fat 21g, Saturated Fat 6g, Cholesterol 170mg, Carbohydrate 15g, Protein 26g, Sodium 360mg, Fiber 7g
Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1/2 starch, 4 meat, 2 fat (1/2 carb)
1. To prepare hard-cooked eggs, place eggs in Stainless (1 1/2-qt.) Saucepan. Cover with water about 1 inch above eggs. Bring water to a boil. Remove saucepan from heat. Cover and let stand 20 minutes. Immediately run cold water into pan to cool eggs. Peel shells.
2. Toss cubed avocado with a little fresh lime juice to prevent it from turning brown.
**Both recipes have been modified by exchanging some kitchen tools with comparable tools currently offered.
Both recipes copyright 2002 The Pampered Chef, Ltd. All rights reserved.