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August 14, 2015 Edition Resembling a drunk, my granddaughter Charlotte teeters back and forth on unsteady legs as she walks towards me. Deciding to carry the largest and heaviest toy in the room, she makes frequent balance adjustments as she plows her way through a minefield of toys on the floor. I smile at the scrunched-up-nose grin on her face; that happy grin appears during moments when she is most proud of herself. “Slow down little one,” I say to her, not wanting her to fall, but, in a grander sense, not wanting her to grow up too fast. Although she’s not quite a year old, it’s hard for me to remember what life was like before this precious bundle of joy blessed it.

#1 – Stop Complaining!
How to Complain Less Some days I watch Charlotte for 15 hours straight, but I’m not complaining. I consider myself lucky that I’m physically able to do it and that my son and daughter-in-law trust me enough to care for their child. The act of complaining zaps the joy out of life, so stop complaining or at least do it less frequently. Read What It’s Like To Go Without Complaining For a Month and learn a few tips on how to complain less.

#2 – Coloring Stress Away
25 Free Coloring Pages Back in the “good ol’ days” before the invention of televisions, computers, and cell phones, kids would entertain themselves by coloring in their favorite coloring books. Remember the happy feeling you had after buying a new box of crayons and a new coloring book? Regain that happy and carefree feeling of being lost in art as you color away your day’s stress. Check out The Country Chic Cottage’s list of free coloring pages. Coloring is not just for kids!

#3 – Salads in a Jar
20 Recipes for Salads in a Jar Vacations are over. It’s back to school or back to work we go. And that usually means back to routines. Break the monotony of bag lunches by taking out unappetizing sandwiches and substituting tantalizing salads. Better yet, make the salads ahead of time in a jar and the next morning grab a jar and go. These 20 Mason Jar Salads to Pack for Lunch will give you a few recipe ideas for next week.

#4 – Admiring Glass
#0 Most Amazing Glass Artists Alive Today One would think that glass is a cold and lifeless medium, but not in the hands of these 30 Most Amazing Glass Artists Alive Today. In their hands molten glass solidifies to become expressions of emotions and beauty. Ikuta Niyoko, one of the artists featured in the article, says this of her work, “My motifs are derived from feelings of gentleness and harshness, fear, limitless expansion experienced through contact with nature, images from music, ethnic conflict, the heart affected by joy and anger, and prayer.”

#5 – Be Surprised
“We get a limited number of milestones in life, but we never run out of opportunities to be surprised by joy.”
Connie Schultz

Now go and spread joy!

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Southwest Quinoa Salad Like Superman, quinoa possesses super powers. Well, maybe not, but quinoa is an excellent source of protein and it contains all eight essential amino acids. If you’re looking for a tasty way to prepare this “superfood,” look no further. Boasting the southwestern combination of corn, peppers, beans, cilantro and lime, this colorful and nutritious salad might disappear from your plate “faster than a speeding bullet.”

Southwestern Quinoa Salad
Recipe From Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood by Patricia Green & Carolyn Hemming

INGREDIENTS
2 cups water
1 cup quinoa
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 to 3 limes)
4 tsp apple cider vinegar
2½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp finely minced jalapeño, Fresno or Mirasol pepper (optional)
1¼ cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 cup diced red bell pepper
One 14 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS
1. Bring the water and quinoa to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave the covered saucepan on the burner for another 4 minutes. Fluff with a fork and allow the quinoa to cool.

2. Whisk the oil, lime juice, apple cider vinegar, cumin and jalapeño (if using) in a small bowl.

3. Place the cooled quinoa in a large bowl. Stir the dressing into the quinoa.

4. Toss in the corn, red pepper, black beans, cilantro and salt.

5. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 3 days.

Serves 4 to 6

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. Quinoa naturally has a bitter coating of saponins. As a matter of habit, I always rinse quinoa in a strainer under cold running water prior to cooking to remove any residual saponin. Some brands of quinoa state that they are pre-washed.

2. I added some fresh ground black pepper.

3. I also added a pinch of sugar to counterbalance some of the combined acidity of the vinegar and lime juice.

4. I prefer serving this salad chilled. It seems more refreshing that way.

Enjoy!

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Roasted Artichoke Salad Mounds of colorful roasted artichoke salad, drizzled with basil vinaigrette, sat on a bed of fresh mixed greens. With roasted red peppers and artichokes hearts, capers, red onion, and parsley leaves, this salad made a perfect side dish for my mom’s Italian-themed birthday celebration. Don’t limit this spectacular salad to Italian dinners, though. You’ll want to serve this versatile dish at al fresco dinner parties, family barbecues, holiday brunches, and more!

Roasted Artichoke Salad
Recipe courtesy of Ina Garten

INGREDIENTS
4 boxes (9 ounces each) frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted
Good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 shallot, minced
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
5 tablespoons white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar, divided
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
6 tablespoons capers, drained
2 roasted red peppers, sliced thin
1/2 cup minced red onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 pinches hot red pepper flakes, optional

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Place the artichoke hearts in a bowl with 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss until the artichoke hearts are coated. Dump the artichoke hearts onto a sheet pan and spread out into 1 layer; roast in the oven for 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette. Place the minced shallot, lemon juice, mustard, 1 tablespoon vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process for 5 seconds. Add the basil leaves and process into a green puree. With the processor running, slowly pour 1/2 cup olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube until the ingredients are finely pureed. Set aside.

4. Place the roasted artichoke hearts in a bowl and toss with enough vinaigrette to moisten. Add the capers, red peppers, red onion, parsley, 4 tablespoons vinegar and red pepper flakes, if using, and toss gently. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and let stand for 30 minutes for the flavors to blend. Serve at room temperature.

Serves 6

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. I couldn’t find frozen artichoke hearts, so I substituted canned. I let the artichokes drain in a colander. Before using, I gently squeezed any excess liquid from them.

2. I doubled the recipe, but probably should not have doubled the salt. I normally eat a low-sodium diet, so this recipe seemed a bit salty to me, especially with the addition of the capers, which I rinsed and drained first. I used one 4-ounce jar of capers, which amounted to 7 tablespoons of capers. The doubled amount would have been 12 tablespoons worth of capers.

3. If you double this recipe, make sure you roast it in a single layer in two separate baking sheets.

4. To get a good roast on the artichokes, I needed to roast them 30 minutes longer than specified.

5. In step 4, I cut the amount of vinegar by half and did not add any additional salt.

6. Although the photo doesn’t show it, one of my favorite ways to serve this salad is on a rectangular serving platter. Place a mound of greens lengthwise on the platter and then mound the artichoke salad on top of the greens. Additional basil vinaigrette may be drizzled on top.

7. I made this salad the day before the party. Because it can be made ahead of time, it is a great salad for entertaining.

Enjoy!

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Blueberry Tamari Greens Bowl A bowl of salad should contain wholesome and healthy ingredients. Not all do. With spinach, tofu, almonds, blueberries, and cucumbers as its primary ingredients, this Asian-inspired salad is loaded with nutrients and exotic flavors. Plus, this recipe is actually three recipes in one: a salad with salad dressing, Lemongrass Tofu, and 5-Spice Tamari Almonds. All the parts are wonderfully versatile and will enliven your ho-hum salad repertoire.

Blueberry Tamari Greens Bowl
Recipe from Salad Samurai by Terry Hope Romeo

INGREDIENTS
For the Salad
1 pint blueberries
3 Persian cucumbers, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
2 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced
4 cups baby spinach, washed and spun dry
3 tablespoons tamari
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup 5-Spice Tamari Almonds (recipe below)
Lemongrass Tofu, chopped into 1-inch cubes (recipe below)

For the Lemongrass Tofu
1 pound extra-firm tofu or super-firm tofu (no pressing needed)
2 tablespoons maple syrup
4 teaspoons tamari
1 heaping tablespoon finely chopped fresh lemongrass
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons peanut oil or olive oil

For the 5-Spice Tamari Almonds
1½ cups raw whole almonds, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons dark agave nectar
3 tablespoons tamari
2 teaspoons Chinese 5-spice powder
About 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt (such as Maldon)

DIRECTIONS
For the Salad
1. Place the blueberries, cucumbers, scallions, and greens in a large salad bowl.

2. In a glass measuring cup or bowl, whisk together the tamari, maple syrup, sesame oil, sesame seeds, ginger, and red pepper.

3. Pour the dressing over the salad, toss to coat, and divide among serving bowls. Top with almonds and tofu, if using, and serve.

Serves 2

For the Lemongrass Tofu
1. If using extra-firm tofu, press the tofu first:
A. Slice 1 pound of tofu in half and slice each half again. Slice each remaining piece in half for a total of 8 slabs of tofu of equal thickness.slicing tofu

B. Layer a large cutting board with clean towels or paper towels. Arrange the tofu slices in a single layer on the towel.tofu slices

C. Spread another towel over the tofu, and then press another cutting board on top of the towel. Stack a few heavy things on the cutting board: cans, cast-iron pans, 300-page cookbooks, etc.Pressing tofu

D. Press tofu for 20 minutes, or up to an hour. Tofu will ooze water, so it’s best to arrange this near a sink, propped on a slight angle on the edge of the sink to drain.

2. Slice the pressed tofu into thin 1/4-inch strips.

3. Preheat the oven to 400° F and coat the bottom and sides of a 13 x 9-inch ceramic or glass baking dish with cooking spray.

4. Combine the maple syrup, tamari, lemongrass, garlic, and oil in the baking dish and whisk together. Arrange the tofu slices in the marinade and set aside while the oven is preheating, about 15 minutes. Occasionally stir the tofu strips.Marinating pressed tofu

5. Bake the tofu for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and flip the strips over. Bake another 15 to 20 minutes, until the strips are golden and the marinade is absorbed.IMG_2433

6. Serve warm or chilled. Store chilled and consume within 2 days for best flavor.

Serves 2 as a salad topping

For the 5-Spice Tamari Almonds
1. Preheat the oven to 325° F.

2. In a 13 x 9-inch metal or ceramic baking dish, combine the almonds, agave, tamari, and 5-spice powder. Stir until the nuts are completely coated. Sprinkle with salt.

3. Roast the nuts for 16 to 18 minutes, stirring occasionally, until a sticky glaze forms. Remove from the oven and immediately transfer the nuts to a lightly oiled sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil, and use a fork to break apart any clumps of nuts.

4. Once completely cool, store the nuts in a tightly covered container. Use within 2 weeks.

Makes 1½ cups

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. Chinese 5-spice powder is a blend of star anise, cinnamon, fennel, cloves, and Sichuan pepper. Jars of it can be found in the spice aisle of Asian markets.

2. Tamari is a Japanese soy sauce. If you follow a gluten-free diet, look for bottles of tamari that are wheat-free/gluten-free.

3. Save yourself a step and purchase pre-toasted sesame seeds at your Asian market.

4. I made the 5-Spice Tamari Almonds, the salad dressing, and the Lemongrass Tofu the day before serving.

5. My Lemongrass Tofu had absorbed the marinade and was golden-dark brown by the end of the first 20 minute cook time.

6. I felt that making the nuts not only added work, but also an added another tamari-flavored ingredient. The next time I make this salad, I will add freshly toasted plain almond pieces to the salad.

7. I added a splash of rice vinegar to the salad dressing, because I felt like it needed it.

8. Do not toss the salad with all of dressing. You will only need a fraction of the dressing or it will overwhelm the other ingredients. Keep in mind, also, that all the ingredients will take on the color of the dressing.

Enjoy!

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Holiday Recipe Round-Up It’s down to the wire in Santa’s Kitchen and I’m helping him sort through popular holiday recipes featured in this blog. Reminiscing about these dishes, we force ourselves to stop salivating and start prepping food. Santa needs to start eating holiday foods now in order to build up his stamina for the long hours ahead!

Here are Santa’s picks for this year:

The holidays are not always about sweets. Bowls of Reindeer Snack Mix empty magically, so make sure you make plenty of this salty, sweet, and spicy treat. It also makes a great snack for any casual get-together or game-day viewing!

If mornings are not your thing, try sitting in front of a hot stack of Gingerbread Pancakes with Maple Cream. Your senses will be teased and tickled. Smell the ginger and cinnamon. Look at the light fluffy pancakes. Taste the spice and molasses mixed with the sweet maple cream. You’ll be wide awake in no time!

As much as he would like to, Santa cannot survive only on sweets. One of his favorite salads is not only gorgeous to look at, but is packed with healthy ingredients. Crisp slices of Asian pear mingle with juicy slices of pink grapefruit, crunchy slices of Fuyu persimmons, and beautiful red pomegranate arils. Toasted pine nuts and a fat-free dressing top off this wonderful Fall Fruit Salad.

Finally, here’s a recipe for one of Santa’s favorite cookies. With a buttery crust that’s topped with red currant jam and a lemony-nutty meringue, this cookie is a triple threat. Easily made in a 9 by 13-inch pan, these Yugoslavian Christmas Cookies will undoubtedly become one of your family’s holiday favorites!

This will be my last post of the year, because I will be enjoying the holidays with my family. May your holidays be filled with laughter and love and may the New Year bring peace and joy to you and yours. Thanks for following What About This and see you next year!

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Greek Salad with Orzo and Black-Eyed Peas Better together? Sometimes marriages work and sometimes they don’t. But magic occurs when two entities come together and bring out the best in each other. That is exactly what happens in the case of this Greek Salad. In actuality it is composed of two distinct salads, each possessing the substance and flavors to stand alone. The orzo component is light and refreshing with hints of lemon and oregano. By comparison, the black-eyed peas component brings in a certain earthiness with its flavors of tomatoes and parsley. Combining all components together creates a more interesting flavor-complex. This marriage definitely works.

Greek salad with Orzo and Black-Eyed Peas
Paul Grimes and Shelley Wiseman, Gourmet (August 2008)

INGREDIENTS
3/4 cup orzo
1 (15-ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 large tomato, diced (1 cup)
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided use
1/2 seedless cucumber, halved lengthwise, cored, and diced (1 cup)
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, slivered
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped oregano
2 to 3 cups coarsely chopped romaine
1/2 pound feta, crumbled (1 cup)
4-8 peperoncini
Salt and freshly ground pepper

EQUIPMENT: 4 (16-ounce) wide jars or container with lids
ACCOMPANIMENT: pita chips

DIRECTIONS
1. Cook orzo according to package instructions. Drain in a sieve and rinse under cold water until cool. Drain well.

2. Toss black-eyed peas, tomato, and parsley with vinegar, 1 tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Marinate, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, toss together orzo, remaining tablespoon oil, cucumber, olives, onion, lemon zest and juice, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl.

4. Divide black-eyed pea mixture (with juices) among jars and layer orzo salad, romaine, and feta on top. Add 1 or 2 peperoncini to each jar.

Cooks’ note: Assembled jars can be chilled up to 6 hours. Serve at room temperature.

Makes 4 servings

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. I only had Meyer lemons on hand and the results were wonderful.
2. I chopped a few small springs of basil from my garden and added it to the orzo mixture. I loved the added flavor it brought to the salad.
3. If you don’t want to serve the salad in jars, try layering the components in a clear glass salad bowl.
4. For a vegan version, leave off the feta cheese.

Enjoy!

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Quinoa and Apple Salad with Curry Dressing If you are looking for a salad that is a little bit sweet, a little bit spicy, a little bit crunchy, and quite a bit healthy, look no more. Serve this easy-to-make salad year-round. But with the abundance of freshly-harvested apples here in North America, the best time to serve this salad will be in the fall. With flavor powerhouses such as curry, honey, lemon, and mint you wouldn’t expect this salad to be so mild and delicately balanced. On the nutritional side, this salad’s no slouch either. Per serving, as provided on the recipe’s original site, it contains: 304 calories, 14 gr fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 38 g carbs, 154 mg sodium, 8 g protein, and 5 g fiber. Good for you and great tasting – that’s what I call a win-win recipe!

Quinoa and Apple Salad with Curry Dressing
Martha Stewart Living Cookbook, Volume 2

INGREDIENTS
1/4 cup raw whole almonds
1 cup white quinoa
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons dried currants
1 small McIntosh apple, cut into 1/8-inch-thick wedges.
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped, plus more for garnish

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spread almonds on a rimmed baking sheet; toast in oven until lightly toasted and fragrant, about 7 minutes. Let cool; coarsely chop nuts.

2. Rinse quinoa thoroughly in a fine sieve; drain. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add quinoa; return to a boil. Stir quinoa; cover, and reduce heat. Simmer until quinoa is tender but still chewy, about 15 minutes. Fluff quinoa with a fork; let cool.

3. Whisk together honey, shallot, curry powder, salt and lemon juice in a large bowl. Season with pepper. Whisking constantly, pour in oil in a slow, steady stream; whisk until dressing is emulsified. Add quinoa, currants, apple, mint, and nuts; toss well.

4. Garnish with mint.

Serves 4

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. Here’s a time-saving tip: I roast different varieties of nuts (almonds, walnuts, and pecans) in bulk and after they’ve cooled, I put them in separate airtight bags and store them in the freezer. When needed, I just reach into the freezer and remove the required amount. Except for chopping the nuts, I was all but done with step 1.

2. The amount of curry specified results in a very mild curry flavor. For those of you who prefer a more distinct curry flavor, more curry powder can be added in step 3.

3. I couldn’t find a McIntosh apple, so I used a Honey Crisp. I cut the apple into 1/8-inch thick slices and cut those slices in half crosswise. I felt the whole slices would be too large in proportion to the rest of the ingredients. Thanks to the lemon juice in the dressing, the apples do not turn brown in this salad, even when refrigerated overnight.

4. The recipe just doesn’t taste as good without the mint leaves. It makes a difference – the cool mint flavor balances the slight spiciness of the curry very well.

5. I served the quinoa salad on a bed of baby spinach and arugula leaves. Next time I think I will make a double batch of the dressing and toss a little bit of it with the greens just prior to plating. The dressing will help the other salad ingredients cling to the leaves better.

Enjoy!

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