Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Homemade Copycat: Trader Joe's Harvest Salad

Oh, hi! After a major break from blogging, I'm finally back. And this time, I have a bachelor's degree! Pretty cool, huh? I've been really freaking busy writing IEPs and creating interventions for students and interning full-time in a 1st and 2nd grade classroom. Whew! I get exhausted just thinking about all that work. It feels great to be done and to have a little free time for blogging and exercising and holding babies.

The other big change around here is that I am eating meat again. And I'm not eating gluten. Or grains. Or legumes. I eat some dairy and corn (as you'll see in the recipe below) but am not going too overboard.

I'm cuckoo bananas for salad right now. We make it at least twice a week and eat it for dinner, then have the leftovers for lunch. This salad comes from a ready to eat container of salad I tried at Trader Joe's last week called Harvest Salad with Grilled Chicken. I was a little skeptical of the creamy Dijon dressing I saw in the package at first, but I instantly fell in love with it once it touched my tongue. It tasted just like the dressing my mom makes for Chopped Salad! I was able to get that recipe from her and it's what I used to make the homemade version.

This recipe has quite a bit of prep work, but it comes together easily if these ingredients are the kind of things you have ready in your fridge. Hard boiled eggs, steamed green beans, and a few chunks of leftover grilled chicken all happened to make their way into my life this past week, so this salad was a go.

Here's how to make it! I really hope you do. The dressing recipe makes about 1 1/2 cups; enough to dress 8 salads. That means you'll make it once for you and your loved ones, fall in love, and have enough dressing to make it again the following week!

Harvest Salad with Dijon Dressing

To make the dressing, you'll need:
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons dry oregano
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup olive oil

1. Combine the egg yolk and water in a small bowl and whisk well. Cover the bowl with a small plate and microwave on high for 10 seconds. Whisk it. Microwave for another 5 seconds. Whisk it. Microwave another 5 seconds. Whisk it. Keep the plate over the bowl and let the yolk sit for 1 minute.
2. In a food processor or blender, combine the egg, garlic, Dijon, salt, pepper, dry mustard, sugar, red wine vinegar, and lemon juice. Process to blend.
3. Slowly add the olive oil with the motor running. I like to pour from as high as my arm will go, creating a thin stream of oil that emulsifies beautifully with the other ingredients.
4. Cover and refrigerate dressing until ready to use.

To make the salad, you'll need:
1 head of lettuce, such as red leaf
1 cup chicken, such as TJ's organic chicken tenders
1/2 pound green beans
1 cup corn
4 eggs
1 tomato
1/4 cup sharp white cheddar cheese, such as TJ's Canadian extra sharp white cheddar

1. Chop up your lettuce. Divide evenly in four dishes.
2. Grill your chicken. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Let it cool. Cube.
3. Steam beans. Or roast them, if you're fancy. Cool.
4. Steam corn. Cool.
5. Hard boil the eggs. Slice in half. I like my hard boiled eggs fairly yolky. Here's my method for hard boiling: Put eggs in pan. Cover eggs with cold water. Turn on burner. Once boiling, set timer for 5 minutes and 55 seconds. Ding! Place eggs in ice water bath. Peel once cool enough to handle.
6. Slice tommy the tomato.
7. Cube cheese.
8. Now arrange everything as gorgeously as you are capable of atop the lettuce. Drizzle with spoonfuls of the Dijon dressing. Sprinkle eggs with black pepper. Sit outside with a fork and a glass of ice water and fall in love with this salad.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Pumpkin Smoothie

I've been making this pumpkin smoothie every week for the past couple of weeks. The recipe is easy, vegan, and gluten free! If you don't have cacao nibs, a tablespoon of semisweet chocolate chips works well too; you just may have to blend for a bit longer.

Pumpkin Smoothie
Recipe adapted from my friend Liz

1 cup pumpkin puree
1 banana
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1 tablespoon cacao nibs

Blend all ingredients in a blender. Makes one divine smoothie.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Tofu BLTs

Check this out: fake bacon! I am thrilled with how these sandwiches turned out.

Gather your ingredients for making BLTs. You'll need tofu, bread, tomatoes, lettuce, mayo, oil, and some special seasoning salt.
Begin by slicing the tofu super thin. I used a ruler to make sure each slice was thin enough. Ruler sponsored by Premarin estrogen tablets, thank you very much.
Lay the sliced tofu on paper towel to dry.
Douse these puppies in special seasoning salt! For reals, lay it on pretty thick. I used nearly two tablespoons on these.
Now heat up a pan with some oil and cook 'em up!
Lay them on another paper towel for some chill time.
Now build a sandwich! You won't be disappointed with these. They taste strangely similar to bacon and have lots of crunch, thanks to those thin slices and that Premarin ruler. It always comes through just when you need it!

Tofu BLTs
Adapted from the Penzeys Spices catalog

1 pound extra firm tofu
2 tablespoons Mitchell Street seasoning
2-4 tablespoons vegetable oil
Bread for toasting
Ripe tomatoes
Mayo and mustard

1. Remove tofu from package and pat dry with a paper towel. Slice with a cheese slicer or knife about 1/8" thick; about 20 to 24 slices of tofu. Lay the tofu on another paper towel and blot dry.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pan over medium heat.

3. Season the tofu with Mitchell Street seasoning pretty heavily on one side. Once the oil is hot, lay the tofu in the pan and sprinkle the other side with more seasoning. Cook 4-5 minutes and flip carefully.

4. Cook another 4-5 minutes on the other side. Transfer immediately to a paper towel lined plate.

5. Make your sandwich with remaining ingredients and eat the heck out of it!

The seasoning I used for this recipe is called Mitchell Street. I purchased it from a Penzeys store here in Seattle. You can find a store near you or order from them online! The seasoning is a combination of:

dill weed
lemon peel
citric acid
natural smoke flavor

I bet Bacon Salt would work well on these too.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Meal Planning

Howdy folks! Today we're going to take a real intense look inside my brain. I'm going to show you how Charlie and I have conquered our weekly dinner schedule ... by meal planning! This is one of the greatest tools I've acquired in the last year. It's made a huge impact on the way we eat, the intentional time we spend together, and has made grocery shopping super efficient. Watch and be amazed.

Step One: Write down the days of the week. Simple enough. We always do our shopping on Sundays so it works out nicely.
Step Two: Check your calendar! We had dinner on the island and a wedding this week, so I wrote those in. No cooking nights!
Step Three: Gather recipes! Go to town! Open up every possible resource. I scour cookbooks, open every tab of my bookmarked recipes, and look through ones I've saved on my computer. An added bonus, now that we've been meal planning for nearly a year, is the accrued meal plans from previous weeks. Charlie likes to look through these for ideas.
Step Four: Write down your meals! You don't want to tofu two nights in a row, no sirree. Make sure you don't have two nights of Mexican or pasta or ... you get the idea.
Boom! You've gotcherself a menu!  Let's celebrate with ...

Step Five: Making a grocery list. Look at each night's menu individually. Check your fridge and pantry for the ingredients you have already. Write down the ones you need. Your grocery list may end up looking something like this:
With or without the bones.

Now you are ready to take your list to the store, purchase ingredients, and make all sorts of wonderful planned meals. I really don't know how we'd do it without this menu. We eat the food we buy and don't waste the way we have in the past. It has worked wonders for us! I hope you try it and like it too.

By the by, Tracy has some awesome meal planning tips over at Homefries. Check it!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Brown Butter Plum Cake

I made a cake for you.

I made it a long time ago and am finally taking time to write about it.

I ate all of it! It was delicious. Sorry for not saving you any.

(Not sorry.)

This is a cake I make all the time. It's definitely my go to summer cake.

Bob adores this cake. Any five year old that scarfs down brown butter is a real homie in my book.

Here's the stuff you need!
Browned butter, flour, sugar, plums, baking powder, cinnamon, and milk. So easy!
Put some plums in a nice pan. Don't be like me though! This is WAY too many plums!
Dry ingredients get mixed together.

Wet ingredients also get mixed together, but the photo of that turned out gross looking, so you'll just have to believe me.

Put it in the oven for baby and me!
Look at all that crumbly cake goodness! Mmm baby!

Brown Butter Plum Cake
Adapted with a heavy hand from The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond

1 stick salted butter, browned
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
3 medium ripe plums sliced into eight slices

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a nice square cake pan and arrange your plums in the bottom. Be sure not to overcrowd the pan. Doing so will result in a soupy cake!

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Whisk in the milk. Whisk in the melted butter. Add the batter to the prepared square pan.

Bake for 35 minutes, until slightly golden and bubbling. Remove pan when a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Serve slightly warm with vanilla ice cream. Store covered, at room temperature for two or three days.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

What We Ate: Vacation at the Lake

Here are some of the delicious foods we concocted on our most recent jaunt to Lake Chelan. I didn't document everything, as much of our time was spent soaking up sun, swimming, and enjoying the company of family. So nice to set the camera down for a little while and just live.
Breakfast pizza: A frozen cheese pizza baked with asparagus, then topped with a fried egg, fresh chives, and green onion.
Salted Chocolate Pretzel Toffee sprinkled over vanilla ice cream.
Also known as Crack Bark! Please use responsibly.
Here's the Herbed Ricotta Bruschetta I made before the trip, then served again and again throughout the week!

Other delicious foods we made:

After you've perused these favorites, you should totally check out my Tried and True Recipes board on Pinterest. It's full of recipes I love to use over and over again.

This post was inspired by the awesome What We Ate posts done by my friend Kate over at Mi Piace Kate.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

I'm Not Dead

Yikes! I haven't updated this dear, darling blog in nearly two months. Sorry folks. I'm not dead ... not yet, at least.

I've been drowning in schoolwork this summer and dabbling in some travel as well. Summer school ended yesterday, and tomorrow I am heading across the mountains to spend some much needed time with my family, including my newborn niece.

To be clear, that's not my newborn niece, that's my best friend, Kelly. I recently visited her in California, where we traveled with our significant others to the desert and stayed in a rainbow hotel.

It was epic and beautiful and just the recharge I needed.

I'll be back soon, I promise. I haven't stopped creating in the kitchen, I've just stopped documenting it. It's been a nice break. In the meantime, you can follow me on Instagram, if you swing that way. My username is alliwri. I have no idea how to link to that here, though.

See you real soon!
All photos courtesy of my dear friends Kelly and Sam.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Brown Butter Blueberry Muffins

It's been a few weeks since I wrote about making almond milk and since then, I bet you've been thinking, "What the heck should I do with this little jar of mulched almonds I've been saving?"

So glad you asked!

I tried making these muffins from Joy the Baker for Easter. I liked them, but found the topping to be too sweet. This time around, I've incorporated almonds into the topping and reduced the sugar significantly. I also added coconut spread into the topping, which gives just a hint of coconut flavor to the muffin. YUM!

I use Uncle Harry's Coconut Spread. If you can't find this amazing treat, coconut oil will work too!
Creamy goodness!
I added more blueberries than the recipe calls for; almost 3 cups. I just love blueberries!
Here's the topping. I blended it with a fork, which worked well.

Divide the batter.
Top with almond delight!
Bake it up!
Crunchy! Brown butter and almond heaven!
Whoa! Blueberry overload!
Brown Butter Blueberry Muffins
Adapted from the Joy the Baker Cookbook

For the muffins:
7 tablespoons butter 
1/3 cup milk
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoons salt
2 cups fresh blueberries (I did a little more because I am cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs)

For the topping:
3 tablespoons coconut spread
1/2 cup mulched almonds (saved from your most recent batch of almond milk!)
1 teaspoon flour
1 teaspoon sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray muffin pan. Set aside.
To make the muffins, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Keep an eye on the butter. It will melt, froth and begin to crackle. That’s the water cooking out of the butter. The crackling will subside and butter will begin to brown fairly quickly. Remove from heat when butter solids become a medium brown color and butter smells slightly nutty. Immediately pour hot putter into a small bowl or it will continue to cook and possibly burn in the hot saucepan. 
Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt (if using) in a medium bowl. 
Whisk milk, egg, yolk and vanilla until combined. Add brown butter and whisk to combine.
Add the milk mixture all at once to the flour mixture and stir gently to combine. Gently but thoroughly fold in the blueberries. Divide batter among prepared muffin cups.
To make the topping: combine all the ingredients in a bowl and combine with a fork until crumbly. Sprinkle topping evenly over the muffin batter in cups.
Bake 18-20 minutes until golden and crisp and a skewer inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool muffins in the pan for 15 minutes before removing. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Muffins will last, at room temperature in an airtight container, for up to 3 days. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Coffee Syrup

When I saw this recipe for coffee syrup, I knew it was something I had to try. Since then, I've made it four times! Now that it's (finally) warm out, iced coffee really hits the post in the morning. Or the spot. Whichever you prefer.

You really can drink this iced coffee anytime. No judgement!

Start with water, sugar, freshly ground coffee, and vanilla.
Boil the sugar, vanilla, and the water. Stir it a little ... to encourage it!
Stare at the coffee. Mmm, coffee! (I'm on day 3 of a cleanse right now, so this is extra torturous!)
Once your sugar and water has boiled for a bit, add the coffee.
It's gonna boil like crazy! Adjust the temperature if needed. For safety.

Let it boil!
The boiling times may vary for you. On my bunk electric coil apartment stove, I let it boil a bit longer. On my boss' crazy divine Viking gas stove, I go a little short with the boil. Whatever you've got, you want to achieve a slight caramelization with the sugar and water. It took some practice, but I finally found that sweet spot, and trust me, once you taste this syrup, you will keel over. And die!  JUST DIE!

Now that your whole apartment smells nutty and warm and complicated, you gotta let the syrup cool down. I know, more torture.

I put the syrup outside to cool down, not only because it cools faster, but also because the coffee smell was super intense! My nose holes needed a break.
Finally, you strain it. Then it's time to make an iced coffee!

Put some ice in a cup.
Add the coffee syrup.
Top with milk! Hmmm ... perhaps some almond milk?
Stare at your beautiful drink.

Coffee Syrup
Adapted from Get It Ripe by Jae Steele

3 cups filtered water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup ground coffee

1. Combine the water, vanilla, and sugar in pot on high heat and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes.
2. Add the ground coffee to the boiling liquid, stir, and allow to boil for another 4 minutes. Watch the pot closely, mine almost boiled over.
3. Remove from heat and allow the syrup to cool. Once cool, strain into a clean jar and store in the fridge.
4. Serve over ice with your favorite nondairy milk.