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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Healthy Lunch Bunch ~ Spring Edition

 
 
It's HERE! It's HERE! Flowers a-bloomin', trees a-leafin' warm and sun ......ahhhhh, who am I kidding? We got an inch of snow last night. This makes me feel, well....like this
 
Angry growling smiley face clipart picture.
 
Well, in an effort to combat the winter blues/weight gain/no sun issue, I realized that sometimes, one has to make Spring happen, just for yourself. Whether or not Mother Nature is cooperating. That's about the same time I noticed the first, beautiful bunches of asparagus cropping up (hahahaha! get it?) in yonder emporium of grocery-ness.  I needed no further provocation to make one of my favorite dishes...a lovely grilled asparagus and sun-dried tomato salad. It's from Aaron McCargo, over at the Food Network. Click here for his recipe....this is my adaptation of it. First, let's get our ingredients ready as per usual here in Pixie Land.
 
 

 
Sun dried tomatoes (don't buy those uber-expensive ones in oil! The dried are much cheaper! Plus, we can make our own....another post, another time). Bleu cheese, salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, olive oil, asparagus, garlic, mushrooms. First, soak a few sun-dried tomatoes in hottest tap water (raisins are a fabulous substitute, by the way)...
 
 
 
 
Not pretty, I know...but, it is their sweet flavor that matters, here! Now, trim off the very ends of the asparagus...this was a nice, tender bunch and did not need a lot taken off..save those ends for vegetable stock!
 
 
Now, I have previously made this with the whole stalk intact, and while pretty, it just does not make it really fork-friendly. That's seriously going to be my new term....fork-friendly...I love it! Anyhoo, where was I? I'm so easily amused...ahem, just um, cut them in half.
 
 
Now, place them in a bowl...
 
 
Then, mince up your garlic...
 
 
Throw that in the bowl, along with the thyme, rosemary, salt & pepper...
 
 
Then, toss the whole kit and caboodle (the official term) with a few Tablespoons of olive oil...
 
 
Now, oil up ye a grill pan...a broiler might work for this, too.
 
 
Now would be a good time to dice those sun-dried tomatoes, and slice your mushrooms up. Note: the recipe called for shittake mushrooms, I just happened to be out..the regular kind work just as well.
 

 
It's also a good time to crumble up that lovely bleu cheese...not a lot, mind you....this is supposed to be healthy, remember?
 

 
Now, get that grill pan just a-blazing hot, and place the asparagus (with the oil, garlic, etc.) on it in a single layer..
 
 
Grill them about five to seven minutes...you don't want them all soft & loopy now, do you? No loopy asparagus! Just sayin'...anyway, once grilled and crisp-tender, place them back into the bowl from whence they came.
 
 
Now, add a bit more olive oil to the grill pan, and grill the mushrooms..
 
 
Turn them after about five minutes, and add a little salt...here are mine at the halfway point.
 
 
Now, toss the asparagus with the diced sun-dried tomato...
 
 
Plate on an attractive platter, and add the mushrooms and crumbled bleu cheese...my results?
 
 
Oh...my. Let's just say that even if the outdoors was not blooming, my lunch certainly brightened up my day! The crisp-tender asparagus, with the meaty mushrooms, sweet sun-dried tomatoes, and creamy bleu cheese....it was just fantastic. I also squeeze a wedge of fresh lemon over the top, right before serving, as it brightens all these deep, rich flavors marvelously. Next time, I'm trying it with dried tarragon instead of the dried rosemary...I'm just not crazy about dried rosemary, it always seems like I'm eating twigs....just my humble Pixie Prerogative. It was fabulous! The moral of the story is that Spring may be more of a state of mind...especially when it is taking it's merry old time. Eat well my friends, and stay tuned tomorrow for what I could POSSIBLY do with the rest of that cheese.......hmmmmm. Love and kindness to all,
 
Pixie
 
 


Monday, March 4, 2013

Something From Nothing ~ To Go!

 
You know the feeling...you've just got a little of this and that left, and you hate to waste food. I feel your pain. Not only that ~ I have a huge problem on errand day, because I live in such a small town, that the only options for lunch are fast-food, deep-fried and unhealthy.  So, I was recently cruising through the "free" issue of a certain "club of cooking" magazine and I saw my solution staring me in the face! A mason jar salad! How unique! How healthy....how well, portable! So, here are the ingredients, including the little handful of green beans, and a few new potatoes that I needed to use up. I also subbed the mayo with the yogurt, and the kalamata olives for capers.
 
 
Red onion, salt, pepper, tarragon, green beans, grape tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar, an egg, some Greek yogurt, and Dijon mustard. Vegans and vegetarians may use vegan yogurt, like So Delicious™ , or Silk™
 brands. Now, dice your potatoes, cut your green beans, and mince your garlic, and a few Tablespoons of red onion.
 
 
Simmer the cut potatoes in a pot of salted water, with the egg...they will both be done at the same time!
 
 
Now, mix the yogurt and Dijon mustard...
 
 
Add the red wine vinegar, and the pressed clove of garlic...
 
 
Now, add the tarragon and salt and pepper to taste...
 
 
Mix it all together until creamy and lovely...
 
 
It was at this point, that I decided I simply must add some dill...I loves me some dill with potato salad of any kind..
 
 
Now, pull your potatoes and hard-boiled egg about eight minutes into the process...you do not want those taters getting over cooked. In fact, run some cold water over them all..and drain..
 

Now, in that same boiling water (I pulled the potatoes and egg out with a slotted spoon), blanch the green beans for about three minutes...just until crisp-tender...
 

 
Then, drop them into some ice water, to stop the cooking, and preserve their bright green color.
 

 
Now, place the potatoes and onion into a bowl...
 
 
Add the dressing...
 
 
Mix gently, so as not to break up the potatoes...
 
 
I chopped only the egg white into small dice. That yolk has a lot of cholesterol..
 

 
Now the fun part.  Layer your green beans in the bottom of the mason jar
 

 
Then, the chopped egg (I added some salt & pepper here, too).
 
 
Then, some capers...
 
 
 
Now, load in that delicious and creamy potato salad..
 
 
Finally, add the quartered grape tomatoes...
 
 
Finally, put some plastic wrap on the top, and take with you to work, the park, school...wherever!
 
 
 
This would be great for kids (in plastic, of course) as well...I must confess, I made a smaller one in a coffee cup as I built this one, and ate it to see if it was any good. Oh.....my.....gosh! I am going to make this (with a gazillion variations on the vegetables, of course), over and over again! The creamy (but healthy) dressing coats everything, the capers and red onions give a little crunch and piquancy, and just knowing it is portable lets me know that I can eat healthy when I am out and about! Enjoy!  Eat well my friends, and stay tuned for that amazing grilled asparagus salad, and the properly built cheese board.  Love and kindness to all,
 
Pixie