Meatless Monday Salad

Easter break means a trip to visit my parents in Florida. We’ve been heading to Indian Rocks Beach, on the Gulf Coast, since my daughter was 3 or 4 – or about a decade.

It’s always like hitting the reset button. The changing colors of the water and sky; family connections; sun; even rain. It all adds up to recharging of batteries.

It’s also a great time to reset my taste buds as well. While I have great anticipation for the bounty that will come starting in late June – I’m get stuck in a rut when it comes to food after months of seeing the same items in the grocery store visit after visit.

But in Florida, the strawberry season is just starting the close. Fresh local citrus is still available. Fish is on every menu, and in the grocery store. I see the recipes my mother has posted on her refrigerator, and stacked on my father’s desk.

I’m surrounded by inspiration.

The very act of taking a trip, of seeing things in a different (literally) light, recharges my synapses. They start firing again.

This happens whenever I have a change of scenery – and why doctors suggest taking walks outside. The very act of getting out of a rut can help change how your brain thinks. This is why I walk the dog on different routes. If I see the same thing every day, even the act of taking the walk becomes routine. Although when it’s 20 degrees outside, it is hard to find the inspiration to walk a new route.

Today – the day after Easter – as I look at the colorful hard-cooked eggs, I am seeing something different. Instead of dreading them in egg salad, I am inspired to make a blueberry and spinach salad.

This is because of what my mother clipped out of People magazine and put on the fridge. I get People, but totally missed the salad. She saw the magazine with a different eye, and, as a result, we enjoyed a delightful salad that I’m sharing today.

If you want to use strawberries instead of blueberries, go ahead. Don’t like nuts – skip them. Or try roasted pumpkin seeds, or sunflower seeds. The crunch is nice. You can add shrimp, chicken, or salmon if you need more protein. Do try the dressing. It is delightful.

This is what I leave you with today – a salad for a meatless Monday. It’s a snap to make. Use whatever time you save to take a walk. It’s beautiful out there.

XOXOXO

marnie

marnie@meadballs.com

Print Recipe
Spinach, Blueberry, Avocado, and Cucumber Salad
Instructions
  1. Whisk together honey, mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk in lemon juice. Slowly add in olive oil in a steady stream. Whisk constantly until mixture is thick. Taste. Adjust salt and pepper as needed.
  2. In a large bowl, toss spinach, blueberries and cucumber. Drizzle dressing over the salad. Toss to combine. Top with avocado, hard-cooked egg slices, and nuts
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Craving Green After Holiday Indulgences

Christmas week and the days leading into the new year are all about indulgences. We indulge our family, friends, and ourselves. Retailers count on it … who doesn’t buy a little something for themselves when out or online shopping?

And the food … please. I’ve baked dozens of cookies. And made bags of toffee topped with the best Virginia peanuts I’ve ever eaten. I made stacks of crepes, layered with Nutella, for Christmas morning. The theme for the past month was, “Why not?”

When my daughter, who is 14, asked for 365 T-shirts for Christmas, I thought, “Why not?” Why not, indeed. She was looking for an easy way to get ready for school each morning. Just put on a T-shirt, jeans, high-tops, and head to school. No worries about having worn it yesterday, or the day before.

Why not? Because American Eagle T-shirts cost nearly $30 for a plain, long-sleeved T.

When I mentioned this to a friend, she paused. “I get it,” she said. Instead of 365, she suggested 30. A month of T-shirts.

That was in November. I spent the next month hitting up every sale, both online and in stores, buying soft T-shirts. I hit the Old Navy $4 sale, 50 percent off sales, BOGO sales. On Dec. 21, I counted 24 shirts. By Dec. 23, when I wrapped, I had 28 (I would have had 30, but realized there were two duplicates). By the time Christmas Day was over, she had 37 T-shirts (courtesy of friends and family).

I bought 25 hangers (no, I wasn’t mean enough to wrap them). So each shirt has its own hanger. No more stuffing into drawers. No more “I don’t have anything to wear” (at least for a couple of weeks).

The total cost was about what I paid one year for an iPod.

Now that we are through Christmas, and the New Years is approaching, I am looking to scale back on the indulgences. Back to the budget. The extra Christmas cookies went into the trash when I realized I had eaten nothing for an entire day but cookies and toffee. And I wondered why I was bloated, had no energy, and was passing more gas than is experienced after Super Bowl party.

It’s time to switch gears and get more fruits and veggies into the system. The Utica greens recipe – named for an area of New York where they are popular – isn’t exactly dietetic. But it does make a meal based on greens. It is one of my favorites.

Enjoy your holidays.

XOXOXO

marnie

marnie@marniemeadmedia.com

Print Recipe
Utica Greens
Cuisine American, Italian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
side dish servngs
Ingredients
Cuisine American, Italian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
side dish servngs
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Bring 5-quart stock pot filled with 1 tablespoon sea-salted water to a boil. Add escarole and cook until tender (about 1-2 minutes if using Wegmans chopped escarole; about 5 minutes if yours is tougher). Drain.
  2. Reserve about 2 tablespoons each of breadcrumbs and cheese for topping. Mix remaining breadcrumbs with cheese, oregano and pepper.
  3. In a large ovenproof saute pan, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add cooked greens to pan and stir to combine. Mix in chopped peppers, prosciutto, breadcrumbs/cheese mixture. Top with remaining breadcrumbs and cheese.
  4. Heat oven to broil. Place casserole under broiler for 4 to 6 minutes until brown, checking frequently. Remove from oven and allow to rest about 15 minutes before serving.
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Feeling a lot like Christmas

gingerbread-houses2
The Florida gingerbread villiage.

The Christmas spirit visited me early this year. Sometimes it is more elusive; I have to go searching to find the spirit. One year, I found the spirit in August, which is just a tad to early since we still had plenty of summer and fall to appreciate.

My daughter and I head to Florida for Thanksgiving to visit my parents. With 70-degree days, and a beach in the front yard, you might think the Christmas spirit would be hard to find. But that was not the case. For several years now, we decorate gingerbread houses over the Thanksgiving break. It’s a great project with kids because it takes care of those witching hours: before you can get to the beach, or after the beach and before bed.

The houses stay in Florida. We give them away. This year, I bought several kits at TJ Maxx to make once we returned to Erie. It seemed a shame not to enjoy a project once we are home. By we, though, I mainly mean me. My daughter loses interest. She says it’s because I’m too intense when it comes to decorating. Whatever the reason, she finished her roof and went off to the high school play last night. This left me elbow deep in frosting and candies. I had a couple of hours to kill, so I finished hers.

She was a huge help earlier in the day putting the tree up. I measured our ceiling this year. No more shrimpy tree. I had at least 11 feet to work with (although the highest point is more like 14). The helpful folks at Mason Farms  sent us to the back lot where the church trees were. With help, we picked one, and had them tie it to the top of the car.

Once home, I realized 11 feet is 5 feet more of tree than we usually have. So I needed her help to get it up. We managed, without any significant swear words, to right the tree in the living room. It needs about 24 hours to settle down, so the gingerbread project kept me from obsessing about decorating the tree.

After that, she got a pass on Mom’s Christmas projects for the day. Today, we decorate the tree.

Hope this post find you in the Christmas spirit.

XOXOXO

marnie

marnie@marniemeadmedia.com

 

Print Recipe
Feeling a lot like Christmas
This is a very easy and very impressive dessert to serve. It can be made a day ahead of time and decorated at the last minute. Take it out of the fridge about 20 minutes before serving, so the chill comes off the chocolate.
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Passive Time 2 hours or overnight
Servings
Ingredients
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Passive Time 2 hours or overnight
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. To make small tarts, unroll the pie crusts and run a rolling pin over them until they are smoothed out. Take your tart pan and place on top of the crust. Use a small knife to cut around the outside.. Repeat. I got about 3 tarts per pie crust.
  2. You can also make a shortbread cookie recipe. Roll into a log and chill. Cut out 1 1/5 inch to 2-inch rounds and press into the bottom of the tart pans. Or use the prepared sugar cookie tubes from the refrigerated section.
  3. Press crust into the bottom and slightly up the side of the tart pan. You don't want it to go all the way to the top like a pie crust.
  4. Use a fork to piece the bottoms of the pie crust. Bake in a 350-degree oven until light brown. Bake for 15 minutes, check to see if brown. If not, bake another 10 minutes. You don't want soft and gooey here.
  5. Remove from oven.
  6. In the meantime, pour heavy cream into a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave until it starts to boil (about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes in my microwave). Remove from microwave and stir in sugar, butter, and chocolate pieces. Stir until melted. If all the chocolate doesn't melt, return to microwave for about 30 seconds. Remove and stir.
  7. Stir in milk. The chocolate should be shiny.
  8. I used a soup ladle to evenly distribute the chocolate onto the crust in the tart pans. This works best if the tart pans are on a baking sheet. Because now you need to refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow the chocolate to set.
  9. Before serving, sprinkle with sea salt (trust me on this). It shouldn't cover the whole top. Just a little bit of flaky sea salt so you get a taste with each bite of chocolate. Either serve that way or add sprinkles, crushed peppermint, or crushed nuts (hazelnuts or pistachios would be nice here).
Recipe Notes

This is adapted from Jamie Oliver.

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