Braised Taco Turkey

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I like roasting turkey breasts that still have the wing attached.  The breasts seem to be bigger, and have more flavor and juiciness due to the bone.  I then cut the wing from the breast and have the wing left over.

I also like buying rotisserie chickens from my neighborhood natural foods store, to add to a dinner salad or a different meal.  I often have leftover wings or legs that I wrap and freeze.  Once I have a plethora of frozen leg and wing pieces, I braise them and use the meat for tacos, soups, or burritos.  It’s quite simple, it just takes time.  Here I’ve used Southwestern flavors, but you could make any flavor combination you like.

First, take your wings or legs.

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Place them in a large roasting pan.

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I like to add green salsa.  You could also add red sauce, herbs, or other seasonings of your choice.

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I also add about a quart of chicken stock and a quart of water.

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You want the meat to be covered about half way with liquid.

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I usually don’t add salt until after they are cooked.  Most likely, the meat has already been seasoned, and you don’t want to make it too salty. Cover with foil and place in a 325 degree oven for at least three hours.

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Once the meat is cooked, I allow it to cool on my counter for a bit. I then let it cool overnight in the refrigerator. This will allow any fat to rise to the top of the liquid, which makes it very easy to remove.  The liquid will probably be solid due to the high amount of collagen.  This is really good for flavor and nutrition.

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The meat should fall right off of the bone.  Take the time to pick through the meat while shredding it, removing any skin or tendons.

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Once the meat is picked through and shredded, you can add in the liquid to add more flavor and moisture.  Feel free to re-season the meat with salt and spices as I have done with chili powder, cumin, and salt.    Use the taco meat in my previous post, Kale Tacos.  You can also use the meat for other meals.  Below is a Sweet Potato and Brown Rice Bowl with Braised Turkey and Chilis that I threw together.  Enjoy!

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Kale Tacos with Sour Slaw, and Apple Salsa

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Today is National Kale Day.  Kale has come a long way. Who would have thunk it?  Remember when it was just a mere garnish for Shoney’s and Pizza Hut salad bars?  Who knew that it was easy to grow and extremely bountiful?  Who knew that it carried super powers that would make you feel fabulous about your body and soul after eating it?  Who knew that it was even edible?

Even in the early days of kale’s coming out, I had trouble selling it.  In the early 2000’s, the farm for our restaurant, Sugar Snap, was cranking out kale at an epic pace.  I was putting out kale chips, kale fillings for burittos and frittatas, tons of garlic sauteed kale, red wine braised kale, and the ever popular cheesy kale bake.  Kale was (and still is) a rock star of locally-grown crops in Vermont.  I thought it was a Vermont thing.

 Upon moving to North Carolina, I realized that the “Kale Kraze”  was universal, and it had hit hard.  My biggest seller at Chef Katie’s Cafe was the Kale and Sweet Potato Salad.  I was processing a case a day.  There are places where the most popular sandwiches have kale pesto as the main ingredient. Even at our local pizza joint, Marco’s, the “Kale Pizza Special” has been on the board since we moved to Asheville. I admit – it’s what I order every time – and its delicious.  Let’s face it people – you can’t take kale down, King Kale cannot be beaten.  Just face it, celebrate and embrace kale!

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These Kale Tacos are gluten free, low calorie, ultra tasty, quite healthy, and easy to make.  You can use any protein you like.  I like to take chicken or turkey legs and braise them with green salsa and Mexican spices.  You can also use the Mexican chicken from my previous post, Mexican Chicken Dinner Salad.    Blanched kale is the base of the taco, taking the place of a tortilla.  I top the kale “tortilla” and braised chicken with fresh sour slaw, apple salsa, and pickled jalapeno.  The slaw and the apple salsa give the tacos a nice crunch.  Cheese is optional.

Place vinegars, 2 tbsp kosher salt, and ground cumin into a saucepan.  Bring to a simmer.

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Thinly slice cabbages and add to a bowl.

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Pour hot liquid over cabbage, mix well with tongs, and cover with a plate.

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Place diced apples in a bowl.  Add chopped onion, cilantro, pepper, and salt.  Mix well.  Squeeze  the orange and lime into the mixture, discarding any seeds.  Mix well.  Meanwhile, bring a bot of salted water to a boil.  Prepare a bowl of ice water.  Dip the kale leaves in the boiling water, and immediately add to ice water.  Remove leaves, gently wring out extra water, separate leaves, and drain on a clean kitchen towel.

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Build tacos:  Lay kale leaves down.  Top with hot chicken or turkey, sour slaw, apple salsa, and then jalapeno.  Enjoy!

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Kale Tacos with Sour Slaw and Apple Salsa

Makes About Eight Tacos

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked protein of choice (braised chicken or turkey, sliced seasoned chicken breast)

1 bunch lacinato kale

1/4 head red cabbage

1/4 head green cabbage

1/2 cup rice wine vinegar

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp Diamond Krystal Kosher Salt

2 tsp ground cumin

2 fresh apples (Gala or Macintosh), peeled and diced small

1 fresh orange

1/2 fresh lime

1/4 cup finely chopped sweet yellow onion

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1/2 tsp Diamond Krystal Kosher Salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 cup pickled jalapeno

Procedure:

1.  Make slaw:  Place vinegars, 2 tbsp kosher salt, and cumin in a small saucepan.  Bring the mixture to a simmer.  Finely slice cabbages with a knife.  Add cabbages to a bowl and pour hot vinegar liquid over the top.  Toss the mixture well with tongs, and cover with a plate.  Set aside.

2.  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Prepare a bowl of water with ice cubes.  Carefully and quickly drop the kale leaves in the boiling water, and immediately remove with tongs, and dunk into the ice water.   Wring the kale leaves out without ripping them.  Separate the leaves and drain on a clean kitchen towel.  Set aside.

3.  Place diced apples in a bowl.  Add sweet onion, cilantro, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, and mix well.  Squeeze the orange and lime over the salsa, removing any seeds.  Toss well.

4.  Gently heat chicken, turkey, or other protein.

5.  Build tacos. Lay kale leaves flat on a plate.  Top with chicken, turkey, or other proten.  Top with sour slaw, apple salsa, and pickled jalapeno.

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Bittersweet End of Summer

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The end of summer is always bittersweet.  The cool air in the evening, and crisp mornings that faintly smell like burning wood, always bring on excitement for back to school and football.  Saying goodbye to summer is always difficult, however.  I will miss not having to get the kids up at six am, camping and beach trips, extended time outdoors, grilling, and of course, all the summer produce.  Tomatoes, I will miss you most of all.  

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The Fiore family had an amazing summer.  I feel as though the kids have gotten independent enough to really do some fun stuff.

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We had trips to the grandparents house, a long weekend at a beautiful mountain lake with cousins, tons of swimming, canoeing, mountain biking,  whitewater rafting, and an amazing week at the beach which has become our favorite week of the whole year.

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Of course, we cooked up some great food.  My favorite being a fresh caught whole grouper that Kirk grilled to perfection.

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Change in the season also brings some change for me.  Some work changes…I have closed the cafe, and I am going to be focusing on being a personal chef.  I love cooking clean and healthy food for people.  It is so gratifying to cook delicious food for clients while helping them lose weight or stay on a restricted diet.  I am also going to be working part time as a pastry chef.  I know it is shocking – but I really enjoy baking and making desserts.

This blog is also going through a change.  Apparently, there’s another “skinny chef” out there that owns the trademark.  Please look to re-follow me at either “Chef Katie Cooks,”   or “Chef Katie Cooks Clean.”

Lastly, we met some great new friends at the beach.  Sadly, they must have gotten our phone number down wrong.  We would love to get together sometime.  N. and D. if you are out there, please find us!

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For the Love of Oatmeal

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My mother didn’t serve much oatmeal while I was growing up.  To be honest, we were more of a cream of wheat family.  When I first started my clean eating crusade, I ate greek yogurt for breakfast and an energy bar for my mid-morning snack.  My guru for clean eating and all things fitness, Kim, taught me to eat oatmeal for breakfast and then greek yogurt for my mid-morning snack.  I’m not sure about the science of carbs versus protein, and eating either one first thing in the morning versus the mid-morning, but I do know that I feel a lot better.  I have a lot more energy for my morning workouts, and throughout the day.

The double chef factor in our household leads to a lot of debate, trial and error, and pondering of even the simplest of cooking techniques. This is one thing I LOVE about having cooked professionally for so long.  Cooking is such a vast subject of which you can never stop learning and discovering new things.  Anyway, we came to the conclusion that cooking grains in the same method as one would cook risotto, leads to a nutty, yet creamy and delicious oatmeal.

I like to start with steel cut oats.  The typical ratio for oatmeal is 4 to 1.  One cup oats to four cups water.  I cut that ratio down a bit, because I add water periodically during the cooking process. I start with three cups of water and two cups of oatmeal.

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Pour the water into a large saucepot or dutch oven.

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Add a pinch of kosher salt.

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Bring the water to a boil.

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Sprinkle in the oats while stirring constantly.

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Keep stirring until the oatmeal is getting thick. Pour in a bit more water, about 1/2 a cup.

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Keep stirring and cooking, adding water three more times.

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The extra water will equal two cups.  At this point, I like to add a handful of quick cooking or thinly cut oats.  This adds a whole extra dimension of texture.

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Stir the quick oats in and cook for a bit more.

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This might seem like a long process for oatmeal, but this oatmeal is fabulous, and it makes about eight cups which will last you a few days.  I recommend one cup of cooked oatmeal for a breakfast serving size.  Garnish with cinnamon and about 1/2 cup of fresh or 1/4 cup of dried fruits of your choice.  Enjoy!

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BREAKFAST OATMEAL

2 cups steel cut oats

pinch of kosher salt

3 cups plus 2 more cups water

1/4 cup, or small handful of quick or thinly cut oats

Procedure:

Place three cups of water in a medium sauce pot or dutch oven.  Add a pinch of kosher salt, and bring to a boil.  Sprinkle in the steel cut oats, stirring constantly.  Keep stirring and cooking until the oatmeal is thickening.  Add more water, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring after each addition, and cooking until thickened.  After the extra two cups of water have been added and cooked down, add the quick oats.  Stir and cook a bit longer, about five more minutes.  Serve and add desired garnishes.  Allow extra oatmeal to cool.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

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Chef Katie Cafe and Catering

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Hello friends!  Long time, no post.  I’ve been a little preoccupied, opening a cafe and catering business!  My business operates out of the Asheville Racquet Club.  A perfect opportunity for me – I LOVE MY NEW JOB!  I get to cook “real” food that is made from scratch for people that really appreciate it.  I feel as though my whole career has been prepping me for this opportunity.  All the work I have put into making light and healthy food taste good is really paying off.  I’ve met so many great people that are members, employees, and friends of the club.  I’ve been open less than three months, and I already feel as though I’m  an important part of a great community.

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 I’ve also been taking advantage of working out of a health club, and I’ve become a part of a special group of women that work out together.  We do spinning classes, weight lifting classes, “boot camps,” and go running together.  We swap notes on everything from exercise, to diet, to being a mom, to cooking for a family, to what restaurant we should try next,  to what kind of wine to buy for the weekend.   Our fearless leader is a certified bad ass.  She is the manager of group fitness at the club. She teaches the classes, is a personal trainer, and has introduced me to the notion of “clean eating.”  Clean eating is the practice of eating “clean”  foods.  It eliminates any foods with any preservatives or chemicals, sugar, red meat, dairy (other than yogurt or cottage cheese), alcohol, and absolutely no processed foods.  It focuses on plant foods (tons of fruits and veggies), whole grains (no white rice, bread, or pasta), and lean meats (chicken, turkey, and fish).

Kirk and I recently did a three week “clean eating challenge.”  Although we had maintained  an acceptable range within our original weight loss, we had gotten off track a bit.  Moving, and moving, and then moving again, can knock you off track.  Once we felt we were finally getting settled, the holidays hit.  And let’s face it…one can not diligently stay on track during the holidays.  You can only weather the storm.  Let me rephrase, YOU CANNOT BEAT THE HOLIDAYS.  THE HOLIDAYS WILL ALWAYS WIN.

Our  “clean eating challenge” involved what I stated above.  No processed foods, no sugar, no dairy (other than yogurt and a bit of cottage cheese).  It also involved eating 5-6 small meals a day (every two and a half to three hours).  Once we read the program, we were patting ourselves on the back.  This was almost exactly what we had done in our original 9-week, 1500 calorie program we started in April of 2012.  We were thinking and saying to ourselves, “We got this.  We’ve done this before.” We were surprised to find, however, that the three week challenge was really hard.  We realized how far off track we had gotten.  The first four days of the challenge, I felt like crap.  I contemplated whether or not I was getting sick.  On the fifth day, I bounded out of bed with lightning speed.  I felt fabulous and full of energy.  We both lost all the post-moving and holiday weight that we had gained.  We are back on track, sticking to the program, and having a really fun cheat day once a week. I’ve got muscles popping out that I never knew existed. It works for us and we feel great.

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Moving forward, Chef Katie is expanding.  I hope to open the Asheville Racquet Club’s downtown location cafe in the next couple of months.  Once summer, tennis tournament, and pool season hits, Chef Katie will have her hands full.  Stay tuned for some great new posts and recipes coming your way.  Now that I have a new fan club and support group – the inspiration and ideas are flowing. I am trying to stay focused on a goal of running a well oiled machine, with plenty of time to be a good mom, wife, friend, athlete, daughter, and sister.  Sometimes I have to remind myself to breathe.  Luckily, there are some yoga classes going on right down the hall from my work kitchen.  Most importantly, I try and stay grateful.  Grateful for all that I have…family, shelter, ability, smarts, warmth, friends, food, laughter, and the list goes on and on….

My "meals."

My “meals.”

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Cooksnap’s Contest

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My life has been crazy as of late, and I like it. I seem to function better and I’m more productive at a busy pace. I seem to attract the busy craziness. Not letting the crazy busy get the best of me is the challenge. Anyhow, exciting developments are happening to yours truly…stay tuned!

Some other fun news, I have been entered in a cooking contest of sorts. Cooksnaps.com, an international recipe sharing website has chosen my Chocolate Pumpkin Seed Crunch Recipe for their pumpkin seed cooking contest. The contest is to get as many people as possible to make the recipe, take a picture and post it to Cooksnaps. Go for it. I promise you won’t regret having it around!

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Grilled Mexican Roadside Chicken

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I first discovered this chicken recipe on Serious Eats, one of my favorite food blogs, and it is slightly adapted from there.  The recipe originally comes from Rick Bayless’s Mexican Everyday.  This recipe, if you execute it correctly, might be the best chicken you ever make.  I cook this once a week.  My kids love it. They ask what we’re having for dinner,  I say, “grilled chicken,” they say “Yay!!!

Executing this recipe correctly, embodies what I have come to learn is key to cooking, after my fifteen plus years of professional and non-professional cooking experience.  The recipe is simple, but it comes down to the technique.  It is not rocket science, it is the subtle intuition that comes from doing something over and over again.  It is finding joy in tweaking one thing or another in a recipe you’ve cooked dozens of times, to make it slightly more delicious.

The marinade is unique and simple.  I have always been a fan of the method of butterflying chicken, also known as, “spatchcocked” chicken. “Spatchcocked,” simply means to remove the backbone, which flattens the chicken.  This promotes even cooking, and allows a shorter cooking time for a whole bird.  The other key to this recipe is cooking the chicken slowly, over indirect heat, on a charcoal grill.  Basically, the longer you can keep the coals going, the better.  My minimum cooking time goal is one hour, and I have cooked a chicken for up to two hours.

Start by making the marinade.  I like to mix the marinade in a large wet cup measure.  I can easily whisk the marinade and pour it over the chicken.  The recipe calls for 1/4 cup of fresh orange juice.  I can usually get this out of one orange, but I usually buy two, just to be safe.

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Add 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar.

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Add 1 1/2 teaspoons ancho chili powder.

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Two garlic cloves, peeled and chopped fine.

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1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican.

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1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, and a big pinch of ground cloves.

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Whisk the marinade well, and set aside.

Next, get a fresh chicken.  I always give any meat a good rinse with cold water, and pat dry with paper towels.  To keep “raw chicken funk” off of my counter tops and cutting boards, I place the chicken in a large baking dish.  Place the chicken breast-side down in the dish.

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Using kitchen shears or clean household scissors, cut a straight line up the back of the chicken, starting just to the right of the tail.

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It might be difficult to cut all the way through.  Start the cut, and use both hands to press down on the scissor handles, cutting all the way through.

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Continue cutting a straight line up the left side of the tail.

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Finish cutting and remove the backbone from the bird.

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Turn the chicken over, spreading out the sides, placing it in the pan breast-side up.

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Using your hand, apply pressure on the breast bone of the chicken and press down until you hear the breastbone crack, flattening the chicken more.

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Pour the marinade over the bird, covering the breast side of the chicken.

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Turn the chicken over, coating the other side completely. Allow chicken to marinate at room temperature, about 30 minutes.

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While the chicken is marinating, prepare the charcoal grill.

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Oh yeah, look at that baby.  The Weber kettle is the only way to roll…

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Once the coals are mostly grey in color, place them on one side of the grill.

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Toss some fresh charcoal over the hot coals.  Be careful not to smother the fire, but put enough to keep the coals going for a while.

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Place the grill grate over the coals and oil the grill.  Pour some oil on a dry paper towel, and, using tongs, rub the paper towel along the grate.

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Place the marinated chicken, breast side down, on the opposite side of the grill as the hot  coals.

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Place the cover on the grill and cook for 45 minutes.

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After 45 minutes, remove the cover and flip the chicken over.

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Return the cover to the grill and cook another 30-45 minutes, adding new coals if needed. Once the cooking is done, allow the chicken to rest about 10 minutes.

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Serve the chicken however you like. I’ve served it with homemade tortillas, southwestern slaw, and salsa, as a “make your own taco” dinner.

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This night I just threw some extra vegetables on the grill, tossed them with a little vinegar, salt, and pepper, and sprinkled a bit of feta over.  I’m a dark meat kind of girl.  Delicious.

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GRILLED MEXICAN ROADSIDE CHICKEN RECIPE

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ancho chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • A big pinch of ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped or crushed through a garlic press
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 1 /2 teaspoons Diamond Krystal kosher salt
  • 1 large chicken, about 3 lbs

Procedure:

1.  Make the marinade.  Place the orange juice, apple cider vinegar, chili powder, oregano, cloves, cinnamon, garlic and  salt in a large wet measuring cup.  Whisk to combine, and set the marinade aside.

2. Prepare the chicken.  Rinse in cold water and pat dry with paper towels.  Place chicken in a large backing pan, breast-side down.  Using kitchen shears or clean household scissors, cut the backbone out of the chicken, cutting a straight line up either side of the tail.  Turn the chicken over, and apply pressure to the breast bone to flatten the chicken out a bit more.

3.  Stir the marinade once more.  Drizzle about half of the marinade over the top of the chicken, making sure to evenly cover it.  Flip the chicken over and drizzle the remaining marinade, covering the entire bottom side of the chicken. Let the chicken marinate at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.

4.  Prepare a charcoal grill.  Once the coals are ready,  pile them up to one side of the grill.  Toss some extra charcoal on top of the hot coals.  Place the grill grate over the coals, and using tongs, oil the grate by rubbing a paper towel soaked with a bit of oil over the grate.

5.  Place the chicken breast side down on the opposite side of the grate from the hot coals.  Place the cover on the grill, and cook for 45 minutes.  After 45 minutes, flip the chicken over and cook the other side at least 30-45 minutes more.

6.  Remove the chicken from the grill and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.

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Greek Salad Pita

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My new favorite afternoon snack:  Greek Salad Pita.  I like my snacks to be satisfying.  This snack is like a second lunch.  I looove Greek Salad.  My husband discourages me to order it in restaurants.  He’ll say, “I know how much you love Greek Salad.  I just don’t want you to be disappointed.”  He’s right.  It’s difficult to find a good one.  It’s so simple…why is it so hard to find a good one???  Just stick to the basics.  Don’t change or substitute.  Don’t use canned black olives, bell peppers, or weird grated cheese.  Cucumbers, tomatoes, feta, greek olives, pepperoncini, a bit of salt, pepper, and vinegar.  When it’s done right, it is oh so good.  Crunchy.  Salty.  Fresh.  Delicious.

This recipe is quick, easy, and simple.  Stick to the basic Greek Salad rules listed above and you can make it your own.  Leave out the pita and add some extra greens for a gluten free version.  Add some fresh herbs for a little punch.  Dill, basil, parsley, or chives.  Add some leftover chicken and make it lunch.  Enjoy!

Start with half a cucumber.

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Peel it and chop it up.  Medium dice.

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Chop up half of a tomato, medium dice.

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Finely slice three pepperoncinis.

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Olives. Beautiful olives.  Pit them and chop them up.

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Cube up one ounce reduced fat feta.

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I like to add a little chopped fresh spinach.

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Put it all in a bowl.

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Squeeze a bit of lemon.

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1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and a pinch of coarsely ground pepper.

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Finally, add a splash of red wine vinegar and stir it all up.

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Cut one whole wheat pita in half and fill it up.  250 calories.

GREEK SALAD PITA RECIPE

1/2 cucumber

1/2 medium tomato

3 each pepperoncinis

3 each greek olives

1 ounce reduced fat feta

1 lemon wedge

1/4 teaspoon Diamond Krystal kosher salt

generous pinch coarsely ground black pepper

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

one whole wheat pita cut in half

Procedure:

1.  Peel and cut cucumber into medium dice.  Cut the tomato into medium dice.  Finely slice the pepperoncini.  Pit and chop the olives.

2.  Place all of the above ingredients into a bowl.  Squeeze the lemon into the bowl.  Add the salt, pepper, and vinegar.  Stir well to combine.  Fill the pita with the salad.  Enjoy!

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Cucumber and Apple Slaw

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  I have an obsession with slaw.  I just love trying out different kinds.  Bright and fresh combinations of  vegetables and herbs with creamy and tart dressings.  There is not a lot that ranks more exciting in my book.  This recipe should probably be classified as a salad, but the flavor and texture remind me more of a slaw.  The cucumbers are tossed in kosher salt, and set aside to marinate and release their liquid.  When paired with the apples, herbs, and other seasonings; the result is a salty, sweet, and crunchy late summer delight.  I like to serve the slaw very cold. The salty-sweetness and crunch will surprise your taste buds with an explosion of flavor.  At only 42 calories/cup, the slaw is virtually a free food.  Make some today, and eat all you want! I wouldn’t recommend eating more than two pounds.  It might result in loose stool, due to fiber overdose.

Start with three large or five small cucumbers. Peel them.

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Remove the seeds and cut them into medium dice.

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Place the diced cucumbers in a bowl.

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Add 1 Tablespoon Diamond Krystal Kosher salt to the bowl.

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Toss the mixture until the cucumbers are completely coated with the kosher salt.

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Place the salted cucumbers in a strainer or colander, set over a bowl.  Refrigerate the bowl for at least two hours or overnight.

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Once the cucumbers have marinated, rinse them with cold water.  Allow them to drain well.  Place in a bowl and set aside.

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Take two large apples.  Peel them and cut them into medium dice.

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Add the apples to the bowl with the cucumbers.

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Add 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar.

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1/2 Teaspoon celery seed.

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1/2 Teaspoon extra virgin olive oil.

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1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper and 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley. Stir well and enjoy.

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Simple, easy, and delish!

CUCUMBER AND APPLE SLAW RECIPE

3 large cucumbers

1 Tblsp Diamond Krystal kosher salt (use half the amount if using Morton’s)

2 large apples

1 Tblsp apple cider vinegar

1/2 Tblsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp celery seed

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Procedure:

1.  Peel, seed, and cut the cucumbers into medium dice. Place in a bowl.

2.  Toss the cucumbers well with the kosher salt.  Place the cucumbers in a colander or strainer set over a bowl.  Allow the cucumbers to marinate and drain for at least two hours and up to eight hours.  Rinse with cold water and drain well.  Place the cucumbers in a bowl and set aside.

3.  Peel and cut the apples into medium dice.  Add to the bowl with the cucumbers.  Add the apple cider vinegar, olive oil, celery seed, black pepper, and parsley.  Stir well and enjoy.

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Summer Quinoa Salad

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Quinoa is one of the hippest super grains on the market these days.  It’s protein content rivals meat, and it’s packed with other vitamins and minerals.  I like to eat it hot for breakfast with almond milk, blueberries, and a touch of honey.  This salad has been one of my favorites for years. It’s one of those things that makes me excited about summer, and it’s hard to say goodbye once the weather turns colder.  Like most grains, cooked quinoa comes in at around 200 calories/cup.  This salad comes in around the same.  Enjoy it for a snack, side dish, or a meal.

Cooking quinoa can be a little tricky.  The ratio is 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water.  For this recipe, it’s 1 1/4 cup quinoa to 2 1/2 cups water.  Place the quinoa and water in a saucepan or small dutch oven.  Add one teaspoon of kosher salt and turn the heat to medium high.

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When the mixture comes to a boil, turn the heat down so it remains at a low simmer.

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Continue cooking until most of the water is absorbed.  Turn the heat to very low, cover, and continue to cook, stirring often.  Cook until all of the grains appear cooked and darker.  It’s important not to over cook the quinoa as it will turn into mush.

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Place the cooked quinoa in a fine strainer, and rinse quickly with cold water.  Allow to drain.

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Spread the cooked quinoa in a thin layer on a sheet pan so it continues to cool.

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While the quinoa is cooking and cooling, prep the vegetables. Cook the fresh corn in boiling salted water for 3-5 minutes.  Remove from the pot, and set aside to cool.

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Peel and remove the seeds from the cucumbers.  The best way to do this is to cut them in half lengthwise and remove the seeds with a small spoon.

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Small dice the cucumbers and set aside. Small dice the red onion. Set aside.

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Cut the grape tomatoes in half.  A great tip is to lay them flat on a cutting board, hold them in place with your hand, and cut through them horizontally.  This method is much more efficient than cutting each one individually.

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Set the tomatoes aside.

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Once the corn is cooled.  Cut the kernels off the cob.  Set aside.

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Chop the herbs and set aside.

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Okay.  Gather the olive oil, vinegar, and lemon.  Also gather all of the prepped vegetables you have set aside. Place the cooled quinoa in a large bowl.

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Add the cucumbers,

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tomatoes,

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red onion and corn.

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Add the herbs.

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Stir the mixture until combined.  Squeeze in the lemon.

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Add the oil, vinegar, kosher salt, and pepper.

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Stir mixture well and serve.  Delicious!

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SUMMER QUINOA SALAD RECIPE

1 1/4 cups quinoa

2 1/2 cups water

2 ears fresh corn, cleaned

2 cups grape tomatoes

1/2 medium red onion

2 large cucumbers

1/2 cup packed flat leaf parsley, washed

1/2 cup packed fresh dill

juice of 1/2 a lemon

1 Tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons Diamond Krystal kosher salt (use half if using Morton’s)

1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

1.  Place the quinoa, water, and one teaspoon kosher salt in a saucepan or dutch oven.  Turn the heat to medium high.  Place a second pot of salted water on the stove and bring to a boil for cooking the corn.

2.  Bring the quinoa to a simmer.  Lower the heat and lightly simmer the quinoa until most of the water has been absorbed.  Turn the heat to very low, cover the pot, and stir often.  Keep cooking until all of the quinoa is cooked.  Do not over cook.

3.  Transfer the quinoa to a fine mesh strainer and quickly rinse with cold water.  Drain well and spread the cooked quinoa in a thin layer on a sheet pan until cooled completely.

4.  Cook the corn in the boiling salted water for 3-5 minutes.  Remove the corn from  the pot and set aside to cool.

5.  Prepare the vegetables. Peel the cucumbers, remove the seeds, and cut into small dice, Set aside.  Cut the cherry tomatoes in half, set aside.  Small dice the red onion.  Set aside. Cut the kernels off the corn, set aside.  Chop the herbs, set aside.

6.  Place the quinoa in a large bowl.   Add the cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, and corn.  Add the herbs and toss the mixture to combine.  Add the lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper.  Toss well to combine and serve.

Makes about eight cups of salad.  191 calories/cup. Salad can be refrigerated for several days.

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