Monday, March 12, 2012

Sonoma Turkey Salad

This recipe is a riff on the Whole Foods Cookbook recipe which actually calls for chicken instead of turkey. I picked turkey, however, because first of all I prefer the taste and second, it's also a SuperFood. I always try to get a few SuperFoods in each day, and this is one easy way to do it (in fact there are three SuperFood ingredients within this recipe, which I note with an asterisk).

This dish is tremendously easy to make and also extremely summery. It would be great at a potluck or eaten as a light entree with a crisp white wine or an ice cold margarita. I also imagine adding a bit of horseradish to the dressing would give it some interesting punch -- though I have yet to try it. Excellent stuff! My grade: A+

Sonoma Turkey Salad



2 lbs turkey breast, cooked, cubed, chilled * (I buy mine cooked from Trader Joe's, but you can make your own, or use chicken breasts)
2 cups seedless red grapes, halved
1/2 red onion, diced
3/4 cup roasted pecan halves *
(sunflower seeds would probably also be great in this)


1 cup mayonnaise
5 teaspoons good honey (the darker the better) *
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
4 teaspoons red wine vinegar (I use raspberry red wine vinegar for added dimension)


In a bowl, combine mayonnaise, honey, poppy seeds and vinegar. Mix until thoroughly combined and there are no lumps.

In a separate bowl, add cubed turkey, pecans, diced onions and halved grapes. (Celery would also be good in this for some nice crunch.) To this mixture add the dressing, a quarter of a time. I never use all the dressing I make, but would rather have it on hand then not have enough. I usually use about three-fourths of the dressing for this entire dish. (The rest of the dressing is great on salads or can even be used as a marinade for fish, etc.) Mix well. Serve chilled as an entree (with a nice spinach salad) or in a sandwich.

Difficulty: Easy
Prep/cook: 20 minutes (unless cooking your own turkey or chicken)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Delicious Caprese Paninis

Have you ever had a Caprese salad? They're delightful, really; thickly sliced tomatoes piled with fresh buffalo mozzarella and sweet basil leaves, and drizzled, typically, with balsamic vinegar and fine olive oil. They're fabulous in the summer. I sometimes add a little salt to my Caprese salads, but not always, since fine herbs and good vinegar/oil usually does the trick.

I decided to kick my Caprese salad up a notch, making a panini sandwich out of it. I thought I'd incorporate my Easy Breezy Every Day Pesto into it to add some nice punch and flavor. Because it's important, I made sure that all the ingredients were as fresh as possible.

The result was something out of this world -- fresh, light and even healthy. I made mine in a waffle maker because honestly? Do you think I'm going to spend $50 for a panini maker? Hardly. A waffle maker will do just fine, and if you don't have one of those, try toasting the sandwich in a cast iron skillet, the sandwich weighed down by another heavy pan or pot. Works expertly. My grade? To the moon and beyond! A++

The Most Delicious Caprese Paninis


3 Roma tomatoes
Good balsamic vinegar
Good extra virgin olive oil
1 container buffalo mozzarella in water
15 - 20 leaves fresh sweet Basil
1 loaf sliced Italian bread (or ciabatta)

About an hour before panini making, marinate thinly sliced Roma tomatoes in balsamic vinegar and olive oil. The tomatoes will let off liquid into the oil and vinegar, creating a nice marinade.

About ten minutes before panini making, turn on waffle maker or begin to heat pan.

One hour later, arrange two bread slices for sandwich making. Slather both pieces with homemade pesto (the more the merrier, depending on how much you like the green stuff). Atop the pesto create a layer of marinated Roma tomatoes. Atop the tomatoes layer thinly sliced buffalo mozzarella. Atop the mozzarella drape the sweet basil leaves. Create sandwich, lightly buttering the outsides of both pieces of bread, and then brushing on a light layer of olive oil.

Place sandwich into waffle maker and close lid. Watch closely, making sure cheese melts and tomatoes and basil become sufficiently wilted. Pull sandwich when bread is golden brown. Cut in half and serve immediately.

Difficulty: Easy
Prep/Cook time: 30 minutes prep, 5 minutes cooking (per panini)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Rice with Pecans and Cranberries

I know, I know, I just recently posted a rice recipe good for just about any occasion, but now I have another. Believe me, you'll thank me, it's that good. This one is adapted from the Whole Foods Cookbook and has a bit more crunch than the other, I'd say, mainly due to the raw vegetables. It's just as delicious and versatile (think lunch, dinner, potluck, debauched face-smothering).

And did I mention easy? Because easy is the best part. My grade: A

Rice with Pecans and Dried Cranberries



6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
6 tablespoons raspberry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 - 2 tsp sugar


1 cup rice (I use calrose because I'm a Hawaii girl and addicted to calrose, but wild would probably be even better and you could also use brown)
water, enough to cook rice (see instructions according to rice used)
1 cup pecan halves, toasted
1/2 red onion, diced
1 yellow or orange pepper, seeded and diced
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup minced parsley
8 green onions, chopped


For dressing, combine vinegars, olive oil, sugar, salt and pepper and mix well. A blender is good for this.

For salad, cook rice according to specifications and reserve. Let cool.

Once rice is cool, add pecan halves, pepper, cranberries, parsley and green onions. Other nice bits for this salad might be celery and carrot. Combine the dressing with salad ingredients, starting with a quarter of the dressing and increasing until you are comfortable with the taste. For example, I do not use all the dressing called for this recipe -- probably about 3/4ths, actually.

Chill before serving.

Difficulty: Easy
Prep/Cook: 45 minutes for rice, 20 minutes for chopping/dressing -- 1 hr 5 min, all in