Monday, April 16, 2012

Salad? Isn't that with lettuce?

Salad isn't just made up of lettuce anymore, folks!

I'm a big fan of all types of salad. Pasta, bean, potato, egg, fruit and your traditional leafy greens. My last post included a fruit salad, but this time I'd like to dive into a hybrid salad. I only bring salad back up because I had an uh-maaaazing southwest taco salad at one of my local digs this past weekend. Best part? Half price on Groupon! Dear goodness, if you have yet to try to find a deal on there... GO! I'm waiting to redeem the one I just picked up for Mellow Mushroom pizza.. mmm pizza & beer. Oh right, back to salad!

"Hybrid salad, you say?". Why, yes! It's a bean & pasta mixture. Sounds kinda weird, I'm sure. But try it - you'll like it!

Salmon tortellini salad

»1 package/can of wild caught Salmon
»1 can of garbanzo beans [or boil the heck out of dried beans like I do]
»1 package of tortellini [I use whole wheat Bertolli - found in the 'fridgerated section]
»handful of sundried tomatoes
»couple leaves of fresh basil
» Parmesan cheese
»Italian dressing [or your choice of a similar vinaigrette]

[pasta is on the stove - the picture of that was boring]

•While the pasta cools, put your beans into the bowl or storage container you plan on using
•Chop up your basil and sundried tomatoes. If your tomatoes are in oil, drain/dry them [mine come dry].

•Strain out the pasta if you haven't already and add them to your bowl. Gently fold the two together.
•If salmon is in water, drain it out and also gently fold into your mixture [some cans have bones, be careful].
•Add your dressing choice [I don't measure, but if I had to guess... ½ cup or so] until everything is nice and coated
•Sprinkle in the Parmesan until you feel like stopping
•Add the basil & tomatoes.

•Try not to ravage the whole container in one sitting.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Caramel Apple Crazy

Oh caramel apple, I love you so.

Do you ever think about that luscious sweet and tart creation... but then realize it's nowhere near Fall and you can't find one anywhere? Sigh.. me too. Well, some local confection shops carry them year 'round but I find that $6 a pop is a bit steep.

I actually worked in one of those shops for over a year - and have decorated a couple hundred apples. Snickers, rocky road, Almond Joy, peanut, pecan, walnut, black & white chip, Butterfinger, apple pie, cheesecake.. and onnn and on.

Drooling yet? Try this on for size.

Caramel Apple Salad

»2 granny smith apples
»handful of mini marshmallows
»handful of peanuts
»caramel sauce [recipe here - it makes a ton! So either half it or make sure you have another use for it.. like topping ice cream or swirling in brownies/cookies!]

•Make your caramel according to directions. It'll look nice and lovely like this when it's ready. Set it aside to cool.

•Chop up the peanuts into bitty little pieces. This is fun because they like to roll away.
•Chop the apples into nice little squares. Tip? Cut a tic-tac-toe grid on the top of your apple for perfect slices [the core being the center square].
•If you don't have mini mallows on hand, yes, you'll be chopping these too! Prepare for lots of knife rinsing and sticky fun.

Toss everything into a bowl and you're almost there to caramel apple bliss. Once the caramel is cooled enough, start drizzling until you're satisfied. Mix it all up and enjoy! And yes, your apples will still turn brown! But that caramel goodness will cover it up. I believe you can work some magic with citric acid to prevent the oxidation.. but not like your apples will be any less delicious when brown. 

Fun story from my confection store job: Can you believe how many people would try to return a half eaten caramel apple because it started browning? It happens probably more than you think! Some people would ask for it sliced even if they weren't eating it right away. Naturally, we would warn them about oxidation [so they wouldn't try for a refund] and their faces would twist in confusion about apples "turning brown?" then say "never mind, don't slice it". But that's not the worst... getting asked what a 'chocolate dipped Twinkie or cherry' is, or what it tastes like is mind boggling. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

You scream, I scream

We all scream for...


Wait, that's not how it goes! Ah, who cares.

I've decided to get on the homemade popsicle train early this year. The Florida sun never sleeps, and with March setting damn near record highs.. yeah, it's time! I picked up two molds at Wal-Mart for $2 each. They have silly little "sippers" on them (for the melted liquid - good if you have kids, I guess) but they do the job. I really wanted to mimic these delicious babies since I haven't been able to find them in a few years. My version got the job done, but it wasn't as rich and the coconut shreds all settled in the bottom of the mold [being the top of the pop]. I had also just cut a fresh pineapple the day before so I figured pina colada was also in order.

Coconut and Pina Colada Paletas:
[Note: this recipe was used to fill both molds - each with 4 cavities. If you are only filling 1 mold, omit the extra milk]

»1 can of coconut milk
»approx ½ of the can refilled with So Delicious plain coconut milk [dairy alternative, not the canned stuff like above]
»1-2 tablespoons of powdered sugar

•Mix this up in a bowl and pour into the molds - easy breezy! Take what's left over and either add pineapple juice or puree' the hell out of some fresh pineapple until you have enough to fill them up [which is what I did].

And then about a week later...

I had some fruits that have been hanging out for a bit too long, so I made use of them as well.

Strawberry Lemonade Pops
[Note: these are tart! You can sugar your mixture up but I wanted mine without]

»approx 5-6 large strawberries, cut up
»4 Meyer lemons, cut in half (or any lemon, really)

•Juice & squeeze the lemons into oblivion, then add ¼-½ cup of water
•Toss the berries into the blender with a touch of water - pulse until they look more like a pulp and add the lemon juice. Puree' the hell out of it and dump into your molds. Voila!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Yaaay, blog!


I've been meaning to create a blog for weeks now! Life has been busy [good] and I've not even had time to do the things I keep thinking about [also blame Pinterest]. Not to mention I'm now in the middle of moving from my bitty apartment to my childhood home. Great time to start blogging, right?

Where to begin? Oh dear.. where DO I begin? Well, as an introduction, this blog will focus on things I like to do in the little spare time I have. I'm into everything home made and trying to venture into as many avenues as possible. My successes and fails will end up here, so as long as I give a glimmer of inspiration to someone else - I'm happy :]