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The Salad for All

This has been an emotional week for all, this whole election cycle has been quite a production and Tuesday was the finale. There seems to be a lot of divide on social media regarding the outcome – however, if there’s one thing I know is that nobody can disagree on good food. The kitchen and table are both places where we can all come together despite our differences. To help you find some solace in your week, I decided to try to find a recipe that I think anyone would like (this included either subbing or leaving out some ingredients, because of special diets and such).

While skimming through Back to Basics, I looked for a recipe this week that would easily appeal to all. I KNOW that some hate the idea of salad but this one is very easy and can be adapted to fit both carnivores and vegetarians alike.  Of course I am referring to the Cape Cod Chopped Salad. It has all the flavors of the season with maple syrup, orange, walnuts, blue cheese and cranberries. For the meat eaters, it has bacon which can easily be left out for a vegetarian option.

It's still healthy if it's still technically a salad, right?

It’s still healthy if it’s still technically a salad, right?

The dressing is very easy to make ahead has tons of flavor – orange zest & juice, maple syrup, dijon mustard, vinegar and olive oil. I’ve noticed that Ina is super into using dijon mustard in her vinaigrette recipes. I know that it has great flavor, but I’ve learned that the mustard helps the dressing emulsify. When you mix vinegar and oil alone, they never incorporate into one homogeneous mixture. The mustard helps to bind it all together and give it some creaminess that helps the dressing coat the salad just right.  I mixed it all up in a mason jar and I think I’m going to save it to have for lunches or dinner next week.

Using a jar makes me feel so hipster!

Using a jar makes me feel so hipster!

For the maple syrup, you’re going to want to choose the real stuff. This isn’t the time to use pancake syrup which is honestly just corn syrup with maple flavorings and dye. Real maple syrup is actually the sap of the maple trees. It is less viscous – kinda like a sugar water mixture and has much more sweetness and flavor over the generic version. I have some stocked in my fridge that I had picked up a few weeks ago from a local farm. You can find it in most supermarkets these days, however it is relatively pricier. Totally worth it though. Go ahead, splurge.

 

So pure

So pure

So this month in my Winc wine shipment, I was surprised to see something new. A Winc Journal. Typically they would send a card with each wine you received that told you about it with a recipe. This is a full on wine magazine with all kinds of interesting articles.

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This month includes several articles some of which are: the different kinds of reds wines that are good for drinking in the fall, a nice chart with pictures describing the different kinds of grapes used to make wine, some fantastic recipes and a listing of their wines they have to offer with a little bit of information about each. I enjoyed sitting down and reading it with the salad and a glass of wine to go with. 🙂

So pretty!

So pretty!

I paired the salad with a special Winc wine this week. They recently released a collaboration wine with a new up-and-coming clothing line, Baja East based in NYC. You can check out their website and clothing at: http://www.baja-east.com/. According to Winc, the designers of the brand wanted to make a wine that was perfect for the fall season. This is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot, both are pretty full bodied wine which means that this is quite hefty with the tannins and will do well with some time to mingle with the air. It pairs well with this salad especially with the smokiness and meatiness of the bacon which mirror the flavors of the wine.

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The sweetness of the dressing contrasts the heft of the wine and brings out the fruit flavors. Honestly, this is a fantastic wine to save for a special occasion, I mean the bottle is pretty cool looking right? It features one of Baja East’s signature prints from their clothing line. I figured an election week is a pretty special occasion and putting recipe number 19 in the books is cause for a celebration, even if it is by myself, in the middle of the day, on a Thursday. Don’t judge. 😀 Check out Winc’s new website and get a discount on your first order of wine using my link: https://hi.winc.com/2lhy61q4ll7.

Stay thirsty, friends!

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Print Recipe
Cape Cod Chopped Salad
From Back to Basics by Ina Garten, page 78.
Course Lunch
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
For the Salad
For the Dressing
Course Lunch
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
For the Salad
For the Dressing
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place a baking rack on a sheet pan (or line the sheet pan with aluminum foil) and lay the bacon slices on the rack. Roast the bacon for about 20 minutes, until nicely browned. Allow to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss together the arugala, apple, walnuts, cranberries, and blue cheese.
  4. For the dressing, whisk together the vinegar, orange zest, orange juice, mustard, maple syrup, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt, and the pepper in a bowl (or mason jar). Slowly whisk in the olive oil.
  5. Chop the bacon in large pieces and add it to the salad. Toss the salad with just enough dressing to coat it lightly. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon salt and toss well. Serve immediately.
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Rise and Shine On the Go

Hello everyone! I hope everyone had a great week. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make it out the Farmer’s Market this weekend, so no interesting produce to work with for a recipe. Back at the end of the summer, I started a 200 hour yoga teacher training program, and this weekend is training number 3 of 7. I got started in yoga a few years ago when I started running. As I progressed in my distance with running, my left knee started bothering me more and more until it became unbearable. I iced it, tried doing warm-ups, and even got fitted for running shoes and nothing worked. I ended up going to the doctor who took x-rays which revealed that nothing was really wrong other than my kneecap would shift around when I moved. His solution, yoga. I needed to build strength in my quads and flexibility in my hamstrings. One groupon later, I was hooked. I have always admired the teachers at the studios I’ve been to and love the practice so I finally decided to take the plunge, put in the work, and deepen my practice to eventually become a certified teacher.

Each studio which offers the 200 hour teacher training operates on different schedules, the one that I go through, Spark Yoga in Arlington offers the training one weekend per month for seven months along with several assignments outside of class time and logging classes regularly as well.  Our training is literally all weekend long and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s like a retreat. I love all of the students that are in the training with me and all of the teachers we have. I decided we needed some major snackage for one of these weekends and while looking through Back to Basics, I found a recipe for Homemade Granola Bars.

Ina states that she prefers to make her own homemade granola bars because store-bought ones have a plethora of artificial ingredients, many of which are difficult to pronounce. This resonates with me because I actually prefer to make my own homemade granola versus buying store-bought. First of all – granola is EXPENSIVE. It’s mainly just oats, sweetener, nuts and fruit. Why is it like $7-$10 for a bag of it? I can purchase a whole bag of almonds at Whole Foods for less. Second, I control what goes in it. That means, using coconut oil as the fat versus butter or dried blueberries instead of raisins. I’ve also added egg whites to it to add extra protein. Third, and lastly, it’s easy. It’s essentially mixing ingredients together in a bowl and baking them.

Beginning stages of some awesome granola bars

Beginning stages of some awesome granola bars

This granola bar recipe is very similar. It is oats, nuts, fruit, some fat and some sweetener which are baked in a pan and allowed to set and cool into bars. I went rouge a little on the recipe and for the fruit I only used dried apricots and dried cherries versus the dates and cranberries that Ian suggests. I do believe that a recipe is more or less a suggestion of ingredients. One should cook to taste and not be afraid to experiment with subbing out similar ingredients. You never know what you might come up with. Could be gross it could be delish. One way to find out. The apricots and cherries end up being delish, you can ask my yoga friends as they enjoyed them yesterday for sustenance during one of our breaks!

Post bakeage

Post bakeage

I encourage you to give this recipe a go. Try it on a Sunday evening, cut them up and wrap in plastic wrap and you can have them for breakfast or snacks throughout the week or send them in  your kids’ lunchboxes.

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Print Recipe
Homemade Granola Bars
From Back to Basics, by Ina Garten page 242
Course Breakfast
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Passive Time 3 hours
Servings
bars
Ingredients
Course Breakfast
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Passive Time 3 hours
Servings
bars
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8 x 12-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper.
  2. Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the wheat germ.
  3. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees.
  4. Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the dried fruit and mix well.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours to set before cutting into squares. Serve at room temperature.
Recipe Notes

You can sub out any dried fruit you want for this recipe. Also, wheat germ can easily be found in the isle of your grocery store with the cereal/breakfast items. It's typically sold in a glass jar near the oatmeal.

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In Season Salad

So apparently THE Ina Garten was in DC this week. I must have missed her invite for lunch this week 😀 hahaha. One can dream. I’m not sure what she was up to as she used to live in the area before she bought the Barefoot Contessa, so maybe she was visiting for old times’ sake or maybe she was here for her show. DC could be on the map on her next season of Barefoot Contessa! That’s exciting!  DC is really becoming a foodie paradise and is very up-and-coming with new restaurants, stores and bars popping up all over the place. One thing I love about DC is the weekly Farmer’s Market that they hold at City Center every Tuesday. This allows me to get out and see what seasonal items are available from local stores and farms mid-week so that I can pick up something to make versus having to plan it on the weekend.

All the pears

All the pears

Today I stopped by at lunch and noticed tons of pears. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but it is also mentioned in Back to Basics and is stated by Ina many, many times in her shows. In season fruits and veggies are always the best. Sure you can get them from a store any time of year and they are good, but they are REALLY good when they are from a local farm when the season is ripe. When I saw this plethora of semi-ripe pears available, I knew that I’d have to find a recipe to utilize them. Luckily, in Back to Basics, Ina included a recipe that takes a simple pear and turns it over the top into a simple, arguably elegant and extremely delicious lunch or dinner.

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I feel like pear, blue cheese, walnuts, and dried cranberry salads are a staple at many restaurants. In fact, I feel like it is a very British thing – possibly because of the blue cheese? Don’t get me wrong, the flavors are delicious, but this is not your typical salad. The pears are halved and hulled and filled with a mixture of dried cranberries, toasted walnuts, and blue cheese. When I was shopping around for blue cheese, I spotted some Roquefort from France at the store and though I’ve never had it, I knew I had to try it. It’s definitely better than any other blue cheese I’ve had. It still had the signature pungency that is well known throughout the blue cheese family. However this had a more fresh and sharp flavor, similar to cheddar to me. Note: If you can’t stand blue cheese, you could easily sub it out for some diced sharp white cheddar cheese. It’s more to balance out the sweet from the pear and cranberries.

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Once filled, the pears are basted with a syrup made of apple cider, port and brown sugar. I’m using a port that I got from a local Virginia Winery, Barrel Oak. This port is aged in whiskey barrels so it has an extra depth of flavor. Also, if you’re wondering how to open a wine bottle with a wax coating, it’s extremely simple. Just open it like you would a normal wine bottle and the cork will pop right through the wax coating. It does make a little bit of a mess though.

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While baking, I basted the pears with the liquid a few times to make sure they absorbed all the delicious flavor from the port and apple cider. Once finished and cooled, don’t throw away that basting syrup in the bottom of the pan. It gets used for the dressing of the salad, which is just some simple arugula. This is probably my favorite part of the salad. A mixture of the port basting liquid, lemon juice and olive oil with some salt and pepper is FANTASTIC on basically any salad. In fact, I used it all week for lunches at work.

I highly recommend this salad and play around with the ingredients. You could use apples instead of pears, any kind of dried fruit for the cranberries, cheddar or even gouda for the blue cheese, and if you don’t have port or wish to not use it, use all apple cider. I think that food and recipes should be easy and stress-free and I certainly don’t believe in making a special trip to a wine store to get a whole bottle of port if you know that you’ll never use it again. Cook to taste and personal preference and don’t be afraid to deviate from the recipes a little.

I hope you all enjoy and have a great week!

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Print Recipe
Roasted Pears with Blue Cheese
From Back to Basics, by Ina Garten, page 96
Course Lunch
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Lunch
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat Oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Peel the pears (or not if you wish to leave the skins on like I did) and slice them lengthwise into halves. With a small knife or melon baller, remove the core and seeds from each pear, leaving a round well for the filling. Trim a small slice away from the founded sides of each pear half so that they will sit in the baking dish without wobbling. Toss the pears with some lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown. Arrange them, well side up, in a baking dish.
  3. Gently toss the crumbled blue cheese, dried cranberries, and walnuts together in a small bowl. Divide the mixture among the pears, mounding it in the well.
  4. In the same bowl, combine the apple cider, port, and brown sugar, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour the mixture over and around the pears. Bake, basting occasionally with the cider mixture, for 30 minutes, or until tender. Set aside for about 30 minutes until warm or room temp.
  5. Just before serving, whisk together the olive oil, 1/4 cup lemon juice, and 1/4 cup of the basting liquid into a bowl with some salt and pepper to taste. Toss with the arugula and divide among 6 plates and top each with a pear half. Drizzle each pear with some of the basting liquid and serve.
Recipe Notes

You can honestly swap out the cheese in this recipe with some sharp cheddar or leave it out. I also tried this recipe with some apples instead of pears and it works perfectly!

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