Grandma’s 5 Cup Salad

First, thank you for your kind thoughts and comments. We had a long but beautiful weekend with our family – lots of tears, lots of laughter, and lots of memories. We have a great big, supportive family and it was truly wonderful to be together even for such a sad occasion. We miss her but we rejoice for her.

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A few years back, I was planning and hoping to compile a family cookbook and began collecting family recipes. I still hope to do that. Instead, we had the best kind of interruption and found out that #3 was on the way very quickly – surprise! We learned of our youngest in early July and he was born mid August. His adoption was finalized in November. Whirlwind. Sometimes I still think we are recovering and he is 3. ūüôā My sweet Grandparents were some of the first people I called with the news of our eminent arrival. They were excited for us. I have pictures of my grandma holding him when he was maybe 4 or 6 weeks old. She loved babies and she got to see him quite a bit those first few months as we had 3 family weddings within 6 weeks.

Anyway, I was looking through the recipes she submitted – some were new to me and others were old standbys. This recipe is the latter. It’s quick, easy, and delicious. I most remember it coming to picnics – we are big on pitch-ins and picnics in our family. Oh and I must mention that one thing I really admired about my Grandma is that she regularly tried new recipes. A funny thing is that she sometimes apologized for her food which was, in fact, nearly always delicious. It was not fake modesty, it was genuine humility – she was definitely not a praise seeker.

So here is her 5 Cup Salad to kick off our time of tribute to one of our favorite cooks and one of our favorite people! I made it just as she wrote and chose to add pecans because I think that is mostly what she did. She really liked nuts. You could easily add both coconut and nuts but then it would be 6 Cup Salad or you could add 1/2 and 1/2 or just pick your favorite. ¬†Also, I used red grapes. I’m pretty sure this salad was served at the funeral dinner on Saturday or at least several like it.

GRANDMA’S 5 CUP SALAD

1 c. mandarin oranges, drained
1 c. pineapple chunks, drained
1 c. seedless grapes
1 c. coconut or nuts
1 c. sour cream

Mix and serve.

(P.S. I’ll add the printable link later – my computer is in the shop and I don’t have a pdf writer on my back up one.)

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Cranberry-Apple Pancakes

We are big fans of pancakes around here (in fact my gluten-free husband only really starting loving pancakes once he switched to eating gluten-free, so that is a testament to a healing body and a really good recipe). Lazy mornings often find me whipping up a batch for breakfast. I’ve made the recipe so frequently, that I have it memorized. And while we love the simple taste of lightly cinnamon-spiced pancakes with a dollop of plain yogurt and a drizzle of real maple syrup, lately I’ve been experimenting with add-ins to fancy up our pancake fare. One day it was mashed banana and a handful of chocolate chips. Another day frozen blueberries. And most recently, chopped fresh cranberries and apples.

You can of course make this recipe with regular wheat flour, but for those of you that are gluten-free this is a great recipe. Perhaps your Christmas breakfast might include pancakes this year?

CRANBERRY-APPLE PANCAKES
(adapted from The Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking)
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1 c. gluten-free all-purpose flour (if your favorite does not include xanthan gum, add 1/4 tsp to the dry ingredients)
2 to 4 Tbsp ground flax-seed (opt.)
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1 c. milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp salted butter, melted
1 small apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1/3 c. rough chopped fresh or frozen cranberries

Whisk together all the dry ingredients. Add the egg, milk, and vanilla. Stir to combine. Add in the melted butter and mix. Add in the chopped fruit and stir once more to combine.

Heat a skillet over medium-high. Grease with cooking spray. Spoon batter into rounds in the skillet. Cook until bubbles have formed on the surface of each pancake. Flip and cook until the other sides are golden.

Makes about 12 pancakes.

Autumn Chopped Salad

I enjoyed concocting this seasonal salad, packing it full of the colors, flavors, and textures of fall. And to tie it all together, a lovely fall-inspired maple vinaigrette to drizzle over top.

This would be a perfect addition to your Thanksgiving table. It will definitely be a part of our menu because right now, it’s my new favorite salad!

AUTUMN CHOPPED SALAD WITH MAPLE-DIJON VINAIGRETTE
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6-8 oz. Mixed lettuces (leaves torn or chopped)
1 pear
1 apple
1/4-1/2 c. dried cranberries or fresh pomegranate seeds
1/4-1/2 c. chopped pecans or walnuts
4 green onions, sliced (or chopped red onion, if you prefer)
2 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled (opt.)
2 oz. plain or honey goat cheese, crumbled

Wash and spin dry lettuce before placing in a large bowl. Top with pear, apple, onion, and dried cranberries. Drizzle with vinaigrette and toss to coat. Sprinkle salad with nuts, bacon, if using, and goat cheese. Serves 4.

MAPLE-DIJON VINAIGRETTE

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp whole grain Dijon mustard
1 tsp white wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a glass jar. Shake well.

Baker’s Delight: Baked Breakfast Cheesecake

In about 30 minutes you can have a crust-less, breakfast cheesecake on the table. And while cheesecake definitely isn’t for every breakfast, this lightly-sweet version makes a simple, special breakfast treat. I served this topped with fresh strawberries and bananas, with a spinach frittata to round out the meal.

The recipe calls for using a springform pan. If you don’t have one, just butter a pie dish (this will be more difficult to serve, but won’t effect the flavor at all). I actually halved this recipe and used a 7-inch pie pan and it worked great.

BAKED BREAKFAST CHEESECAKE
(from River Cottage Every Day)
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21 ounces of cream cheese or ricotta cheese
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
3 Tablespoons quick oats or flour (I used gluten-free quick oats)
pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Finely grated zest of 2 oranges, plus 1 Tablespoon juice (I used 1 Tblsp oj concentrate instead)
3 Tablespoons raisins (optional)

Serve with fresh fruit or fruit compote

Preheat the oven to 325¬įF. Generously butter a 9-inch springform pan.

Beat the cheese with a wooden spoon until smooth, then add the melted butter, oatmeal, salt, sugar, eggs, orange zest and juice, and mix well (you can mix all in a food processor if preferred or use a hand mixer). Fold in raisins, if using.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for about 25 minutes, until just set, with a slight wobble in the center.

Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature with fruit. Serves 10

Market Fresh: Melons

I will admit that I’m not very creative when it comes to melon – usually, I cut them and serve them. For this post, however, I decided to step outside the box since¬†you probably don’t need tips on how to cut your melon into 1-inch pieces.

A couple notes on picking a melons: For honeydew and cantaloupe, I smell them¬†– if it smells faintly like the fruit, it’s probably good, if it smells really strong, it’s probably past. For watermelon, I really do smack the melon and¬†I can tell by the way it feels¬†if it’s¬†likely a good one. ¬†I want to feel the juice “ripple” inside.

Now on to the recipes for today. I really liked this first one, it seemed like an unusual combination (I adapted the recipe from one I found) but the juicy melon with the classic tomato and basil combination was fabulous. It was a sophisticated and unexpected salad.

 

WATERMELON, TOMATO, & BASIL SALAD
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1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1/4 c. sugar (next time I would try honey)
1/2 watermelon cut into chunks,
1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
2 Tb. fresh basil, chopped
2 Tb. Olive oil

Combine the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Combine watermelon, tomatoes, & basil in a large bowl. Pour cooled vinegar mixture and olive oil over the fruit. Gently stir to combine. Can season with salt if desired. Chill until serving.

My sister recommended this recipe and I couldn’t resist trying another fruit soup. It’s so refreshing and quite good. It would be lovely as a light¬†dessert.


CHILLED CANTALOUPE SOUP
(allrecipes.com)
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1 cantaloupe – peeled, seeded and cubed
2 c. orange juice
1 Tb. fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

Peel, seed, and cube the cantaloupe. Place cantaloupe and 1/2 cup orange juice in a blender or food processor; cover, and process until smooth. Transfer to large bowl. Stir in lime juice, cinnamon, and remaining orange juice. Cover, and refrigerate for at least one hour. Garnish with mint if desired.

Off The Shelf: Bean Appetit

Bean Appetit by Shannon Payette Seip, Kelly Parthen, and Carisa Dixon is a captivating cookbook for children. Its goal is to get kids excited about healthy eating. It certainly did just that for my daughter who couldn’t wait to try out several of these recipes.

The chapters cover topics such as: breakfast, snacks, going to the market, outdoor eating, food art, cooking-themed birthday party, winter food, summer food, international food, tea party, and book-themed food. There are activities and games interspersed with the recipes, making for a very fun book.

We tried the Stick Stacks and the Stack ‘N’ Sip — both were much enjoyed by my children (not to mention me!).

STACK ‘N’ SIP
(Bean Appetit)
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Make 3 different colored smoothies. Pour one color in the bottom of a glass. Layer the second smoothie on top. Add a top layer using the final smoothie. It’s a triple-decker drink!

Note: We used blueberry, banana, and strawberry smoothies.

STICK STACKS
(Bean Appetit)
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1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp. packed light brown sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
2 Tbsp. flax meal
pinch of ground cinnamon
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 cup milk
4 strawberries, cut widthwise into slices
2 kiwis, peeled and sliced widthwise into circles
1/4 cup blueberries (we used blackberries)

maple syrup, for serving

Chant “Pancakes! Pancakes!” as you combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, flax meal, and cinnamon.

Combine the eggs and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Add the butter and milk. Slowly add the egg mixture to the flour mixture. Stir until smooth. Chill in the freezer for 5 minutes.

Preheat a griddle to low. Lightly spray the griddle with nonstick spray. Ladle the pancake mixture onto the griddle to make 2-inch mini pancakes.

When the pancakes start to bubble lightly and the edges turn golden brown, flip them over. all the bitty bakers should flip around the kitchen, as if they were just flipped with a spatula. Cook on the other side for 1 to 2 more minutes, until the pancakes come off the griddle easily with a spatula.

Layer the pancakes and fruit on the skewers. Dip in maple syrup and eat one layer at a time.

Makes 12 to 14 mini pancakes.

Note: This post contains affiliate links.

Weekend Fare: Summer Drinks

I love summery, fruit drinks. They are great for an afternoon playdate, for an evening dinner party, or a casual cookout. These are both incredibly easy and wonderful! My favorite was the strawberry lemonade Рso fresh and delicious.  

FRUIT TEA
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1 1/2 qts. black tea
2-11 oz. cans fruit nectar (I used peach)
Sugar to taste
Mint Leaves
Fresh or Frozen Fruit

Combine tea, fruit nectar, and sugar. Serve over ice and garnish with mint and fruit. Serves 4-6. 

STRAWBERRY LEMONADE
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1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
1/2 c. water
8-10 strawberries, halved
1 c. sparkling water
ice
mint

Combine sugar, lemon juice, and water – stir until sugar is dissolved. Add strawberries and juice to the blender and pulse. Add sparkling water and blend until smooth. Serve over ice and garnish with fresh mint. Serves 3-4.

Weekend Fare: Easter Brunch

I love holidays and Easter is the one I most often host for my great big family! Planning the menu, setting the table, designing the favors/placecards, and then actually cooking are all so fun for me.


For the past couple of years, I have done an Easter brunch with ham as the centerpiece. I’m always looking for an excuse to serve brunch. Unfortunately, I’m not hosting this year since we are still living in a hotel from the smoke damage a couple of weeks ago. We are making the best of it and I will still be helping with some of the cooking at my parent’s house and I’m planning to do the favors. Anyway, here are a few recipes that we enjoy for a special brunch.

I often use asparagus and tomatoes with a balsamic vinaigrette so I’m posting two version¬†of this recipe but only have one photo. These are both beautiful with lots of color!


MARINATED VEGETABLE SALAD
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1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 bunch asparagus, blanched and sliced into 1 inch pieces
3 carrots, peeled and sliced into coins
1 english (seedless) cucumber, sliced or diced
Italian dressing (you can buy this or make your own)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Combine all vegetables in a pretty serving dish. Season with salt & pepper. Dress with Italian dressing and toss. Allow salad to marinate for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serves 8 or so.

TOMATO ASPARAGUS SALAD
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2 bunches asparagus, blanched and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 pints tomatoes (I use cut up campari or romas, cherry, and sometimes yellow pear)
salt & pepper to taste
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar

Combine tomato and aspargus. Season with salt & pepper. Dress with twice as much olive oil as balsamic vinegar (or you can purchase a Balsamic Vinaigrette (Newman’s Own is excellent). Toss to coat. Makes 8¬†servings or so.

These tiered platters make fruit presentation gorgeous! For Easter, I would add strawberries even though it’s a little early for them, I love that they remind me of spring! You can use whatever seasonal fruits you want. Arrange them¬†on a platter and serve with this simple dip.


GREEK YOGURT FRUIT DIP
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1 – 16 oz container plain greek yogurt
1/4. honey
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Combine all ingredients. You can add more honey if you prefer it sweeter. Serve with fresh fruit.

I made these blueberry lemon scones and they were delicious! They are also beautiful! Lemon is another spring-y flavor to me. So these would be an excellent brunch addition.


BLUEBERRY LEMON SCONES

(adapted from food network)
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2 c. all-purpose flour
1 Tb. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tb. sugar
5 Tb. unsalted butter, cold, cut in chunks
1 c. heavy cream, plus more for brushing the scones
1 c. fresh or frozen blueberries
1 Tb. fresh lemon zest

Lemon Glaze
1/2 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 c. confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 lemon, zest finely grated
1 Tb. butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Sift together the dry ingredients. Using 2 knives or a pastry blender, cut in the butter to coat the pieces with the flour. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. Stir in the lemon zest. Make a well in the center and pour in the heavy cream. Fold everything together just to incorporate; do not overwork the dough. Fold the blueberries into the batter. Take care not to mash or bruise the blueberries because their strong color will bleed into the dough.

Press the dough out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 12 by 3 by 1 1/4 inches. Cut the rectangle in 1/2 then cut the pieces in 1/2 again, giving you 4 (3-inch) squares. Cut the squares in 1/2 on a diagonal to give you the classic triangle shape. Place the scones on an ungreased cookie sheet and brush the tops with a little heavy cream. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until beautiful and brown. Let the scones cool a bit before you apply the glaze.

For the glaze, combine the lemon juice, sugar, zest, and melted butter. Whisk to incorporate and remove any lumps. Drizzle on warm scones.

Gluten-Free Goodness: Desserts

Today’s post includes two of my very favorite gluten-free desserts. In fact, they are so good, that they are worth making even if you don’t have any gluten-free guests!

Pavlova is such a versatile dessert. You can invent any sort of filling combination that strikes your fancy. Most often we fill our pavlova with whipped cream and top it with berries like raspberries, blueberries, or strawberries. In the winter you can make a delectable version with poached Seckel (mini) pears and a caramel drizzle set on top of the whipped cream. And for a spring treat try mixing lemon curd with some whipped cream and topping that with fresh blueberries and/or blackberries. (Note: the picture below shows a double batch of the pavlova recipe made into one very large pavlova.)

PAVLOVA
(Adapted from Gourmet Magazine, Spring 2009)
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1 cup superfine granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
3 large egg whites at room temperature
3 Tbsp cold water
1 tsp. distilled white vinegar

Preheat oven to 300F with rack in middle. Trace a 7-inch circle on a sheet of parchment paper and put on a baking sheet.

Whisk together sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl.

Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt using an electric mixer at medium speed until whites hold soft peaks. Add water (whites will loosen) and beat until whites again hold soft peaks.

Increase speed to medium-high and beat in sugar mixture 1 Tbsp. at a time. After all sugar has been added, beat 1 minute more.

Add vinegar and beat at high speed until meringue is glossy and holds stiff peaks, about 5 minutes (longer if using hand-held mixer).

Gently spread meringue inside circle of parchment, making edge of meringue slightly higher than center. Bake until meringue is pale golden and has a crust, about 45 minutes (the inside will be like marshmallow).

Turn oven off and prop door open slightly with a wooden spoon. Cool meringue in oven 1 hour.

LEMON CURD FILLING
(adapted from Gourmet Magazine, Spring 2009)
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2/3 c. granulated sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3 large egg yolks
2 tsp grated lemon zest
1 cup heavy cream
4 cups mixed berries

Stir together sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a 2-qt heavy saucepan, then add lemon juice and butter. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, whisking, then continue to simmer, whisking constantly, 1 minute.

Lightly beat yolks in a small bowl and whisk in 1/4 cup lemon mixture, then whisk into remaining lemon mixture in saucepan. Reduce heat to low and cook, whisking constantly, until curd is thickened, about 2 minutes (do not let boil).

Transfer to a bowl and stir in zest. Chill, surface covered with parchment, until cool, about 1  1/2 hours.

Beat heavy cream until it just holds stiff peaks, then fold 1/4 cup beaten cream into curd to lighten. Spoon lemon curd into meringue and mound berries on top. Serve remaining whipped cream on the side.

Meringue can be made 2 days ahead and frozen, wrapped well in plastic. Thaw before serving.

Curd can be made 2 days ahead and chilled.

Chocolate cake is always a popular dessert. This gluten-free version has intense chocolate flavor which is balanced by the cloud of whipped cream and fruit we like to top it with. The only tricky thing about this cake is the cooking time — don’t be tempted to overcook this cake as it will be dry and rock-like when hard. Pull it out of the oven while it still has a bit of wiggle.

FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE
(adapted from Desserts by the Yard)
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8 ¬Ĺ ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
8 Tbsp. butter (unsalted)
5 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar
¬Ĺ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 10-inch fluted tart pan or a 9-inch springform pan. The pan must be at least 1 inch deep or the batter will overflow.

Melt the chocolate and the butter in a microwave-safe bowl for 2-3 minutes at 50 percent power or in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir together with a rubber spatula until smooth.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat together the eggs and the sugar on medium speed until pale and the mixture forms a ribbon when lifted from the bowl with a spatula, about 2 minutes. On low speed, beat in the cocoa powder and the chocolate mixture and combine well. Pour into the prepared pan.

Bake for 15 minutes. Rotate the pan from front to back and continue to bake for another 8 minutes, or until the cake is slightly firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a rack to room temperature.

Top with sweetened whipped cream and fresh berries or other fruit.