Broccoli Salad

My week days consist of me telling  people they can’t eat broccoli.

Or brussel sprouts or kale or god-forbid any greens – including but not limited to turnip and collards.  And do not even think about spinach.

But I feel really bad about the broccoli.

I blame the drug they’re on…it is the main reason.  Or perhaps it’s their heart that isn’t functioning as it should or maybe they have blood clots in their legs or lungs or somewhere in-between or perhaps it because they had a knee replaced….I place the blame on one of the above….but I think the patients blame me.  Because I am telling them ‘ no dark green vegetables’.  I am the bad guy.  If only vegetables didn’t contain vitamin K…because that is the true suspect.

It is hard to be angry at a vitamin…

 

The other month (yes, I made broccoli salad weeks ago and just haven’t found the time to post ) when I was explaining to an elderly women and her daughter, with whom she lived, that she would need to hold off on the broccoli, she turned to her daughter and shouted (either from pure distress over no broccoli or she damn near deaf…) ” DOES THAT MEAN NO MORE BROCCOLI SALAD FROM HEINENS’?!?!?!?! (note: Heinen’s is a local grocery store with a lovely prepared food/salad bar and their produce is top- notch, but their parking lots are death traps and they don’t let you remove their carts from the store…drives me bonkers)  She was visibly upset by this fact.  And I instantly had to agree with her…that stuff is like crack.

Dopamine triggering goodness.  Bacon, cranberries, red onion, creamy dressing, and of course – crunchy, vitamin K rich broccoli.  I felt the need to hug this lovely old women, with graying hair, and wrinkly thin skin…because I too, would be unconsolable.

Honestly, I hadn’t given broccoli salad much thought in some time…I am not a frequent salad bar at the grocery store type.  I grab my veggies, coffee, head down the baking aisle for flour and sugar, grab my almond milk, eggs, and butter in the dairy and I am out the door…But I knew of the concoction she was mourning over.  I’ve been to summer picnics and church dinners…places where broccoli ALWAYS makes an appearance.  And I have had my fill…trust me. And it is delicious.

The thought of broccoli salad stuck with me and before long I found myself in my kitchen rendering bacon, chopping onion, and nibbling on cranberries…I needed a fix before I got too old and needed to be placed on Coumadin, which I think is the prize that is awarded for becoming elderly.  Can.  Not.  Freaking.  Wait.

Until then…I am loading up on broccoli salad.  I think you should too.

 

 

Broccoli Salad
 
Serves about 4-6 as a side.
Ingredients
  • 2 Heads Broccoli, stems removed and florets chopped into bit sized pieces
  • ½ lb Bacon
  • ⅔ Cup Cranberries
  • ½ Cup Walnuts (or pecans or almonds)
  • ½ Small Red Onion, diced or thin half moons
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Dressing
  • ½ Cup Buttermilk, well shaken
  • ⅓ Cup plus 2 Tablespoons Mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 2-3 Tablespoons finely diced red onion
  • Pinch of salt and Pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spread walnuts (or your nut of choice) evenly on a baking sheet. Place in preheated oven for about 5-8 minutes until fragrant (keep close eye). Remove from oven and let cool and then roughly chop. Set aside.
  2. Place a large skillet over medium heat and cook bacon until brown and crispy. Place bacon on a paper towel lined plate to absorb extra grease. Let cool and then roughly chop.
  3. In a large bowl, combine bit sized broccoli florets, bacon, cranberries, roasted walnuts, and red onion. Toss to combine. Salt and pepper to taste.
  4. In a large measuring cup or bowl, combine ingredients for dressing and whisk to combine - if you would like a thicker dressing, decrease buttermilk and increase mayonnaise.
  5. Pour over salad and toss to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste as needed.
  6. Place in refrigerator to chill. Serve cold.

 

Asparagus and Shrimp Stir Fry w/ Farro

Morning shows are not generally my thing…unless we are talking Sportscenter – then I am totally game.  As a female, I feel the need to explain this habit.  You see, I grew up with brothers…therefore, mornings were comprised of Frosted Flakes and SportsCenter and after 18+ years of this ‘torture’, don’t ya know I found myself actually enjoying the darn show.  To the point that I continued to watch it throughout college (where I then insisted that my roommates watch – a childhood without control of the remote makes you quite the dictator later in life).  During my pre-cable-lessness days (aka Amish living) – I have begun dating my life pre and post cable... ESPN/SportsCenter is what you would find on my TV, all morning long – because as you know (or maybe you don’t), SportsCenter will replay, hour after hour, until about noon.  It restarts without much warning and before you know it – you have watched the Top Ten Plays 3 times and the morning is gone.  It happens to the best of us.  But post cable world…I am SportsCenter-less.  Whomp, whomp!  And honestly, it was the hardest part to the whole no cable thing…ESPN.  But I have survived and while my mornings aren’t the same (besides being a tad bit more productive) I have found a replacement of sorts, NBC.  It isn’t a fair trade or even remotely a good substitution…but it is what it is and I am too damn stubborn to return to cable because of the remarks from the peanut galleries of the world.  And in all reality, I don’t miss paying the cable bill.  So NBC it is.

What does ESPN have to do with a stir-fry?  Well hold your panties…I will tell you… had I been watching SportsCenter I would not have seen this dish being prepared on Hoda and Kathy Lee – ya know, the 20th hour of the Today Show.  In the 20th hour, there is a lot of wine and mishaps and bad jokes – my kind of morning entertainment.  Cooking on morning shows generally drives me up-the-wall- bonkers…you can not properly show how to roast a chicken (with 3 sides) in a 10 minute time slot.  You are not serving any purpose and confusing/intimidating instead of encouraging folks to don an apron and get cookin.  But a stir fry…these are meant for 10 minute time slots…and perhaps that is why this recipe caught my eye.

Asparagus season is upon us and I am jumping whole heartedly into this shindig.  I have eaten it nightly for the past week or so -which also means that my pee has smelled gawd-awful for the past week or so – but you probably didn’t need to know that, but whenever someone brings up asparagus, talk of pee is sure to follow.  But let’s get back to the tender skinny stalks of green with the spiky spear heads that just asked to be sauted or roasted.  Or made into soups or dipped into a creamy hollandaise sauce.

Asparagus is what dreams are made of.  At least until I eat so much that I can’t stand to look at another spear…but that takes a bit of time.  And when it is mixed with the fresh bite of ginger and toasted sesame seeds and tossed with briny sweet shrimp and nutty farro…I may never tire.

I recommend this served hot for a quick and healthy week night meal and then eaten cold the next day as a cold farro salad in the lunchroom – surrounded by drooling co workers who wish you had made extra.

And I was just thinking…red bell peppers would be a great addition to this.  Toss it in if ya got one hanging about.

 

 

Asparagus and Shrimp Stir Fry w/ Farro
 
4 Servings.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup Farro, cooked according to package instructions
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon Toasted sesame seeds (you can toast them or buy already toasted)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut diagonally into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 pound large shrimp, cleaned and pre-cooked (found in the frozen section of grocery)
  • 1 teaspoon Asian (toasted) sesame oil
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, rice vinegar and grated ginger. Set aside.
  2. In a medium sized skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add asparagus and cook until tender, but still crisp (taste one to test) - about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir frequently.
  3. Add cherry tomatoes (keep whole, I cut mine in half and it produced too much liquid.). Cook mixture for another 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Stir in the soy sauce mixture and add shrimp to skillet. Cook for about 1 to 2 minutes to heat through.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in sesame oil.
  6. Toss with cooked farro and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.
  7. Serve immediately (also, very good cold!)
Notes
recipe adapted from The Today Show

Roasted Vegetable and Caramelized Onion Farro Salad

I stood at my kitchen sink yesterday, elbow deep in hot sudsy dish water, cleaning the dishes that couldn’t be stuffed into the dish washer, no matter the configuration of the other dishes already piled in there.  I had just turned the dish washer on and it was rumbling along and I was above it clanking along, we were in harmony.  Note:  A single gal should not have as many dirty dishes as I end up with on a daily basis.  I think someone is sneaking in when I leave and dirtying all of my forks and spoons and cups and wine glasses and plates….sigh.  I wish they would clean up after themselves.  Anyway…there was double duty dish activity happening and I was tapping my foot (and a bit of sporadic all out dancing) along to the playlist I had created the night before, which consisted mainly of Zac Brown Band and Ryan Bingham.  All in all…I could not have been happier.  I was in my element.  Not so much the dishwater and dirty water, but the kitchen.  Moments earlier, I had dirtied those dishes making muffins and then a salad.  And they would need washing again later when I tried my hand at hummus and then a salad dressing and so on and so on …. My apron would not be hung up until late evening.

Pretty much the perfect day off.

The salad bit was not in my original game plan, as I had planned to post the recipe days ago.  Imagine my horror Wednesday evening when, as I was eating the last morsels of farro from my dinner plate, the very last tidbit of the salad itself, as in no more leftovers remained hidden in my fridge…I realized that I had deleted the pictures of the salad that I had just finished devouring.  Doh!

I had planned to make it again, just not twice in one week.  But since I am an avid salad eater, repeating this dish wasn’t exactly a problem.  To waste, it would not go.  Plus, too much salad is probably better than too many cookies or too many muffins or too many brownies…OK, I lie.  Too many brownies isn’t possible.  Never.  Ever.  God, I love brownies.

 

We are gonna need some veggies.  Duh, it is a salad after all!  Round up some green beans, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, and onions.  Done.

 

A drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper … all ya need for magic.

Well, not real magic.  I can’t even do card tricks.  I just roast vegetables.  Kinda like magic.  It feels like magic.

 

Oh!  And onions.

We are gonna cook these down until they become sweet and down right, melt in your mouth good.

But seriously, they will melt in your mouth.

 

 

It takes time.  Time we have.

Oh caramelized onions are glorious things.

 We could stop right here and pile these puppies atop goat cheese slathered on a crusty thick cut baguette and call it a day.

But hey, we have a salad to finish.

 

Now comes the tossing.  I am a terrible salad tosser.

More on the counter than in the dish.

I am messy.

Don’t tell, but after I ate the small bowl, I took my fork and continued right onto the skillet.

I have no manners.

Roasted Vegetable and Caramelized Onion Farro Salad
 
Ingredients
  • 1 large bunch green beans (about 2 cups), ends trimmed
  • 2 Cups Cherry Tomatoes, a mixture of red and yellow
  • 8 ounces Mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 Medium Yellow Onions, medium slice
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 2 - 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Cup Farro, uncooked
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and evenly spread out green beans and tomatoes on baking sheet. Drizzle with 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil and toss to coat vegetables. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in preheated oven and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until tomatoes begin to split open.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a pot water (about 4 cups worth) to a boil and then add farro. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes until al dente. Drain and set aside. (when this is ready, everything else should be close to finished)
  4. While the vegetables are roasting and farro is cooking, start the onion and mushroom caramelization. Place a cast iron skillet (or any heavy bottom skillet) over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil and butter. Once the butter is melted, add sliced onions and mushrooms and toss to coat. Let cook, untouched for 5 to 7 minutes. Toss. Let cook for another 5 to 7 minutes, untouched. At this point, add a pinch of salt and toss. Remove skillet from heat, add balsamic vinegar, and toss to coat. Return skillet to heat and continue to cook, tossing occasionally, until onions are browned and broken down (another 10 to 15 minutes).
  5. In a large serving bowl, toss together the roasted green beans, tomatoes, caramelized onions and mushrooms, and farro. Serve warm.

 

 

These days…

I like to eat food out of large bowls.

Or large plastic containers, when it comes to eating lunch at work.

Some of my favorite dishes to eat out of large bowls are:

anything pasta related

 salads…I am Elaine-esque when it comes to salads…

anything with mashed potatoes

 a favorite combo is mashed potatoes, turkey, and corn… all mixed up – Thanksgiving in a bowl!

Ice cream…duh.

Especially cake and ice cream or pie and ice cream…..

Chicken and Noodles…over mashed potatoes of course

Mac and Cheese… 

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Brussel Sprout and Radicchio Salad w/ Bacon Vinaigrette.

Facts…well, facts in my little world.

1.  I just worked rocked out nine 10-hour overnight shifts…this caused me to sleep A LOT last week.  Hint, no blog last week.  I slept.  And then I slept some more.  It was for the best.

2) Fact, I wish I didn’t have to sleep.  There is just too much to see and do in our short lifetimes to be spending at least 6 hours of each day resting our eyes.  Argh, sleep.

3)  I made cake balls last week ( just because I didn’t blog, doesn’t mean I didn’t bake).  I now understand the cake ball/pop craze….those things are crazy good.

4) Fact, Stanley is growing like a weed.  Plus, my pony tail is an adequate toy to be swatted about.  Glad I spent money on legit cat toys…who knew I had one growing from my own head this whole time.

5) Wine for lunch is worth working nights.  ( Plus, I get every other week off…)

6) Fact, bacon becomes super healthy if you combine it with vegetables.  Swear.  You will see later.  Promise.

7) I bought Great Lakes Christmas Ale today.  It is in the fridge (next to the extra bacon).  Dinner…beer, and maybe bacon.  Life is good.

8)  I have this crazy urge to put up my Christmas tree this week.  Is it too soon?  I don’t think so.  I don’t want it to be.  I love Christmas.  I even bought a Christmas mug today.  Suppose Stanley would look good in a Santa’s hat?  I have Christmas on the brain.

9) Fact, I adore Mark Harmon.  Go ahead, laugh.  You know you like him too.

10)  Fact, I once ate enough carrots to turn myself orange.  I might be on my way there again.  It is true.

There you have it, ten little insights into my world.

Let’s chat about #6.  Bacon!  You know that commercial where the dog is running around like a nut job, talking human, which dogs can’t do (huge bummer), where he is screaming ‘ BEGGIN STRIPS!!!’, which is meant to be heard as ‘BACON STRIPS!!!’ to us humans.  Is it strange I feel like doing the same thing when I am cooking with bacon?  Is it strange that I cooked a whole pound of bacon today and will ‘snack’ on the remaining bacon slices until zero remain, which will be sooner than I would like to admit.  Is it strange that I whole-heartedly believe that when I combine bacon with vegetables, it becomes super healthy?  Hmmm….

Today, I used brussel sprouts and radicchio to make bacon healthy.  A brussel sprout radicchio salad to be exact.  It is ridiculous and would be great for any fall dinner or say that one big fall dinner coming up soon.  Ya know…Thanksgiving.  Did you know it is only two weeks from Thursday?  Holy Turkey Batman!  Crazy how time just keeps on flying by.

Let’s make a salad yo.

Brussel Sprout and Radicchio Salad w/ Bacon Vinaigrette

Adapted from Bon Appetit October 2011

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

Vinaigrette

  • 3 Tbsp Bacon Fat – yeah bacon fat.
  • 1 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 Shallot, minced
  • 2 Tbsp Walnuts, crushed/finely chopped
  • 1 +1/2 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 4 Tbsp White Wine Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Salad

  • 4 Cups Brussel Sprouts, halved and cored.  Leaves separated.  ( about 15 Brussel Sprouts)
  • 1 Medium Head Radicchio, cored and thinly sliced
  • 6 Slices Bacon, cooked.  (reserve bacon fat for dressing). Roughly chopped.
  • 1/4 Cup Gorganzola Cheese

Directions

Cook bacon until crispy.  Place bacon on a paper towel lined plate to drain.  Reserve 3 tablespoonful bacon grease.  When bacon is cool enough to handle, roughly chop 6 slices and set aside.

Meanwhile, blanch brussel sprout leaves in boiling water for 30 seconds.  Remove from boiling water and place directly in an ice water bath.  Drain and dry with either a salad spinner or a kitchen towel.  When completely dry toss with thinly sliced radicchio.  Set aside.

Prepare vinaigrette.  Heat bacon grease and olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add minced shallots and crushed walnuts.  Cook until shallots are tender.  Whisk in the Dijon mustard, vinegar, and sugar.  Remove from heat.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pour salad dressing over brussel sprouts and radicchio and toss to combine.  Top salad with gorgonzola cheese and chopped bacon.  Serve immediately.