Monday, July 29, 2013

Special, Yet Simple Summer Salads

     Jenn lives in what most people would call an "upscale" suburb community while Caroline lives in a big city, but both have discovered farmer's markets this summer. There is only one in Jenn's  little town, but it's a good one.  It has fun breakfast options like walking waffles and breakfast crepes that people munch on while they walk around and look at the local produce.  Caroline has her choice of many different locations and she and her friends get there more on the lunch end of the market times. Both girls have been experimenting with all the veggies they bring home; Caroline even made pickles with some little cucumbers she bought!  I have also been having been having a lot of fun experimenting with all the wonderful produce summer has to offer. The "caprese" salad posted here developed when I discovered how good balsamic vinegar is on watermelon!  The gazpacho salad is cool and refreshing - it's yummy like the soup it's named after and makes an impressive salad for company.  The last salad in this post is our neighbor and friend John's invention.  It tastes great either still warm or room temperature.

Watermelon "Caprese" Salad 

Ingredients for each serving:

Seedless watermelon

Handful of arugula leaves

Fresh mozzarella cheese slice

Several fresh basil leaves, chopped

A few green grapes, sliced in half

A drizzle of olive oil

A drizzle of balsamic vinegar


For each serving desired, cut out a watermelon round by using the open end of a glass like a "cookie cutter".  Place a handful of arugula on each individual serving plate. Place the watermelon round on top of the arugula. Place a cheese slice on top of the watermelon. Sprinkle the basil over the cheese and place some of the grape halves on top of the basil. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar before serving.

Gazpacho Salad


Ingredients for Four Servings:

For Salad:

1 (5 oz,) carton of cherry tomatoes

1/2 large cucumber

1/2 large green bell pepper

2 tablespoons chopped white or yellow onion

For Dressing:

1 large tomato

1 tablespoon chopped white or yellow onion

1 clove garlic, put through press

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper


Cut each cherry tomato in half and place in a bowl along with the onion, diced  green pepper and seeded and diced cucumber.  Place the tomato, 1 tablespoon diced onion, garlic, oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a blender or food processor.  Liquefy until well blended. Pour 1/2 cup of the dressing over the vegetables in the bowl.  Reserve the rest of the dressing to drizzle on top of each serving. 

John's Salad

Ingredients for Four Servings:

1 large white or yellow onion

1 large red bell pepper

1 large avocado

1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper


Peel and slice the onion. Slice the pepper into strips.  Place the onion and pepper in a skillet along with the olive oil.  Over medium heat, sauté the vegetables are tender and soft, but not mushy.  Meanwhile, peel and chop the avocado.  Roughly chop the cilantro leaves.  When the onion and pepper are ready, toss in the avocado, cilantro, salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Grilled Flank Steak with Ginger Lime Coleslaw

     Our little lake cabin has been in our family for over 50 years.  Now my sister, brother, and I share, maintain, and try to visit it as much as we can.  It's on a breathtakingly beautiful lake in upper Michigan and there is truly nothing better than being "at the lake".  Over the years we have seen the nearby cottages change hands a few times, but for the most part we have had the same neighbors for quite a while.  The "Dad" of us all is Terry who organizes at least one gathering  each year where everyone pitches in and brings something yummy to share.  Tables are set up right next to the lake, and it's a great opportunity for everyone to catch up.  

Caroline, enjoying a game of Ladders at the lake gathering

     I always love hearing what Terri's and Melanie's kids are doing since they are about the same age as my girls.  This year we were lucky enough to be there when everyone got together.  Ann, Terry's wife, grilled chicken and made great baked calico beans.  Julie and Lyle supplied brats and other delicious sides. Everyone brought terrific dishes but the hit of the night was Sue's Chipotle Cilantro Slaw from Southern Living Magazine.  It was the inspiration for the Ginger Lime Coleslaw in this post.  The spicy heat in the coleslaw goes really well with the flank steak that has been marinated in a healthy mixture (no oil) of pineapple juice, soy sauce, and spices.  Enjoy!

For the Flank Steak

     Ingredients for the Flank Steak Marinade

1/2 cup pineapple juice

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 cloves minced garlic or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons sliced green onions

1 teaspoon dried ginger or 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger


Combine the ingredients and marinate the flank steak for 10 minutes room temperature or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.  Grill over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes per side according to desired doneness.

For Coleslaw:


2 cups shredded green cabbage

2 cups shredded purple cabbage

1 cup matchstick or shredded carrot

1/4 cup sliced green onions

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1/2 cup light mayonnaise

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/4 cup lime juice

1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon Sriracha Hot Sauce

1/4 teaspoon salt


Combine the cabbages, carrots, onions, cilantro, and ginger in a bowl.  Whisk together the mayonnaise, yogurt, lime juice, ginger, hot sauce, and salt. Pour the dressing over the slaw mixture and toss to coat.


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Grilled Peach Salad with Herbed Goat Cheese

     This past Fourth of July, Roy and I were lucky enough to be able to spend it at the lake. We were happy that Caroline and her boyfriend Adam were there with us and glad that Jennifer had worked out a way to join us. However, it started out to be an unusual type of day. When we woke up, the sky was overcast and gray with the threat of rain. Adding to that minor disappointment (the lake is still beautiful, whatever the weather is), was a phone call from Jenn saying she had gotten a flat tire on her way up to join us. The morning was spent watching the sky and talking with Jenn about the how her rental car didn't have a spare and the steps she and her travel companion were going to take to get back on the road. Thankfully, the sun came out about noon, but Jenn didn't resume her trip until three o'clock. Our point of rendezvous was Traverse City and Jenn's ETA was about 7 p.m. We were planning to see the fireworks there that night, so we packed some sandwiches and hopped in the car. We also wanted to see the parade that started at 6:30. And - the National Cherry Festival was also going on. When we drove into town, there were people everywhere!  We found a space to park and made our way through the crowd to a spot to watch the parade. It happened to be right by one of those olive oil/flavored vinegar places that tourist towns seem to have. Of course I went crazy and bought lots of wonderful stuff such as peach balsamic vinegar and basil olive oil.  Just as I was checking out, Jenn texted me that she was trying to locate us, and I went to find her with all my purchases in my arms.  The grilled peach salad in this post is a result of playing around with my impulse buys, but any vinegar or olive oil could be substituted.

Grilled Peach Salad with Herbed Goat Cheese



4 ripe peaches

1 tablespoon olive oil (I used basil infused)

1 large package of salad greens

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

3 green onions, sliced

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes

4 ounces goat cheese

1 teaspoon finely chopped basil

1/2 teaspoon finely chopped thyme

1 fresh baguette, sliced and toasted

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup any white vinegar (I used peach infused white balsamic vinegar)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Optional: 3 to 4 chicken breasts grilled and sliced



Cut the peaches in half and remove the pit. Brush each side with the one tablespoon of the olive oil and grill over medium heat  for about 10 minutes per side to achieve nice grill marks.

While the peaches are grilling, combine the lettuce, 1/4 cup basil, and green onions. Place the greens mixture on a serving platter or on individual plates.  When the peaches are done, cool slightly, slice and add to greens. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half and place them on top.  If using, add the grilled and sliced chicken.

Combine the goat cheese with the 1 teaspoon basil and 1/2 teaspoon thyme.

The herbed goat cheese is great served to the side with the toasted baguette slices or even sprinkled on top of the salad.  It is especially yummy spread on a toasted baguette slice and topped with a grilled peach slice.  Drizzle a little balsamic over that, and it's heaven!

For the dressing combine the 1/2 cup olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.