Thursday, July 30, 2009

CEiMB: Cobb Salad

I am a Cobb salad connoisseur. Big time. Obsessively.

Yet, for some reason, I've never made one at home. I attribute that to the long list of ingredients. But I know that if I did keep everything on hand, I would probably eat a Cobb salad daily.

Needless to say, I was pretty excited to try this recipe. Plus, it hot as an oven here right now (101 degrees yesterday, a virtual inferno for us tender Pacific Northwesterners), so a salad was a perfect dish to 'cook' (or not cook).

Though I did have to boil some eggs. That was rough.

I made a few substitutions. First of all, I do not like ham. I simply need BACON on my Cobb salad. Sorry. It's true and it's an abomination to leave out the bacon. End of story.

And, I used lettuce from my garden, which is butter, I believe, and used spinach in lieu of watercress to up the nutrition factor.

Here is the original recipe.

Here's my version:

For the Dressing:

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 small clove garlic, microplaned
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:

5 strips bacon, crumbled
2 hard-boiled eggs
6 cups butter lettuce (about 6 ounces) torn into bite sized pieces
2 cups baby spinach
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced (about 2 cups)
1/2 avocado, diced (about 3/4 cup)
1 cup cooked diced chicken breast 1 (6-ounce) breast
1/2 cup crumbled Roquefort or Blue cheese (about 2 ounces)

Directions In a small bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients and set aside.

Remove and discard the yolk from 1 of the hard boiled eggs. Chop the remaining egg white and whole egg and set aside.

In a large bowl toss the lettuce and spinach with 2/3 of the dressing. Put the dressed greens onto a large serving dish. Place the tomatoes on top forming a row down the middle. In strips on either side of the tomatoes place the avocado, chicken, cheese, diced egg, and the bacon on top of the greens. Drizzle with the remaining dressing and serve.

So, I have to admit I'm not crazy about the dressing. I like a blue cheese dressing with my Cobb. I think what threw me off was the Worcestershire - I usually love it, but it was a little too strong in the dressing.

That said, overall, very good salad. A good staple recipe to pull out on hot days.

A few notes:

- I did my bacon on the grill - 300 degrees, flipping every 5 minutes. This got rid of a ton of fat, the bacon was super crispy, and my house didn't smell like a Denney's.

- Use a rotisserie chicken! I was so glad I picked one up, there was no way I wanted to cook chicken in this heat!

P.S. Excuse my picture. I was ravenous and couldn't be bothered to take a proper, in focus photo!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

CEiMB: Aromatic Noodles with Lime Peanut Sauce

I love love love Asian food. And my husband doesn't.

Which was FINE BY ME this week, because I got to eat the AMAZING dish all by myself. It took me three days to eat through the entire thing, and it was better each day (it is good cold and hot).

Last Sunday I had an afternoon to myself. My lovely husband watched the kiddo and I was able to go shopping child free.

I took the opportunity to hit an Asian market near our home I'd never tried, but had heard the produce was incredible.

And, wow. Just wow. Super fresh, beautifully displayed and CHEAP. Heaven. Hunks of ginger the size of my forearm. Every chili known to mankind. Gorgeous fresh herbs.

Let's just say I'm NEVER buying produce at my regular grocer again.

So, armed with this recipe, I set out and was able to find all my ingredients.

For the noodles, I found fresh spinach noodles in the refrigerated section. I also mixed the veggies and the noodles together, rather than topping the noodles with the veg. I'd like to say that was a stylistic thing, but honestly I'm kind of ADD and didn't read the recipe thoroughly. Oops.

Other than that, I really made no substitutions in this recipe. I had read some reviews saying this was too peanutty, so I cut the nuttiness with extra lime juice in the dressing, and also doubled the red pepper flake - cause I like it SPICY.

(I wouldn't particularly call this toddler friendly, what with nuts and spice. For my little man, I just cooked a larger amount of noodles and vegetables, and tossed the extra with a little sesame oil and soy sauce. He gobbled it right up.)

So, without further ado, I present Aromatic Noodles with Lime Peanut Sauce (original recipe is here). You really need to make this. I'm not even joking.


3/4 pound spinach linguine or whole-wheat spaghetti
2 cups (about 9 ounces) broccoli florets
2 cups (about 6 ounces) snow peas, trimmed
2 cups (about 6 ounces) sugar snap peas, trimmed
1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 scallion, cut into pieces
3/4 inch fresh ginger, finely grated
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts, chopped

Cook the pasta in a large pot of water according to the directions on the package. Drain and rinse with cold water.

While the pasta is cooking put the broccoli in a steamer basket over a large pot of boiling water and steam it for 3 minutes. Add the snow peas and sugar snap peas and steam for 2 minutes more.

Make the sauce by pureeing the peanut butter, soy sauce, water, vinegar, lime juice, scallion, ginger, sugar and red pepper flakes in a food processor or blender until smooth.

Right before serving, toss the pasta and vegetables with the peanut sauce. Divide into 6 serving bowls. Coarsely chop the peanuts, sprinkle them on top and serve.


Use fresh ginger for this. If I ever catch you using ginger powder in lieu of fresh I will beat you with the spice jar. Fresh ginger is CHEAP and keeps in the freezer forever. Rant over.

Did I mention this is the greenest dish I have ever made? I think throwing in some chopped cilantro would make it even better, and even greener. And maybe serve with lime wedges for a little extra citrus kick.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Pesto Chicken Breast Over Greek Salad

I had a ton of basil sitting in the fridge yesterday, on the verge of going bad.

Which was great, because that means PESTO!!

I didn't have pine nuts on hand (if you are one of those people who does - wow - I am impressed), but I did have blanched, slivered almonds.



2 cups fresh basil leave
1/2 cup shredded parmesan
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup almonds (without skin)
3 medium sized garlic cloves
salt and pepper to taste

Throw everything except the olive oil in the food processor. Pulse it a few times, then turn it on and slowly drizzle the olive oil into the mixture as it blends. DONE.

So, dinner rolls around and I've got this pesto. And it's WAY too hot out for pasta. And I really want to grill.

I had chicken breast in the fridge - and thought I'd give the pesto a try as a marinade.


Four boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup almond pesto
olive oil for grill

Combine the chicken and pesto in a ziploc bag. Squish it around a bit to cover all the chicken. Allow to marinate for at least one hour, up to overnight.

Heat the grill to medium high heat. Brush the grill grates with olive oil. Place the chicken breasts onto the grill. Try to leave as much of the pesto coating on as possible, the almonds make a nice crust.

Don't overcook! Dry chicken is gross. But don't undercook, salmonella is grosser.

This chicken would be lovely with rice, or some nice roasted potatoes.

But I wanted a salad. I had fresh lettuce from the garden.

(2 meal sized servings, 4 side servings)

2 cups lettuce, torn - I like a softer lettuce for this, like green leaf or butter
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1 english cucumber, chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes - I leave them whole - you could slice in half
1/2 cup crumbled feta
10 pitted kalamata olives
Olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon, salt & pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Dress with the olive oil, red wine vinegar, and fresh squeezed lemon. Season with salt and pepper to taste - remember, you'll get quite a lot of salt from the feta.

Top with the warm pesto chicken breast.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

CEiMB: Breakfast Cookies

Cookies for breakfast? Yes please!

I've always been a breakfast cookie fan. Erin Baker's Breakfast Cookies are from the town where I grew up. In fact, I was a personal assistant for a short time and would almost weekly drive to their little production kitchen (when they were still a small company) and pick up 4 dozen for my boss. Yes, he ate that many.

Of course, Baker's Breakfast Cookies are all over the place these days (even Costco!). I've always wanted to try my hand at making breakfast cookies - because seriously, who wants to drop $1.50 per cookie? Not me.

I have to say, I am SO happy with how these cookies turned out. I was a little skeptical, as I always am with anything perceived to be a 'healthy' baked good. But really, these are REALLY good.

I did make a couple of substitutions - I used chocolate chunks and dried cranberries in lieu of raisins and walnuts. My son hasn't tried nuts yet and I wanted him to be able to have a cookie or two without the worry of sending him into anaphylactic shock. Plus, HELLO? Chocolate. Always necessary in most cookies involving oatmeal.

I also used some baby puree from the freezer leftover from when G was still eating strained foods. There were a few varieties to choose from - yams were tempting - but I settled on a pear and carrot mix.

The original recipe is here. And the recipe with my substitutions is below:


3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup carrot and pear puree (you could used jarred baby food)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup bran cereal flakes (I used Wheaties, I had them in the house)
1/3 cup chocolate chunks
1/3 cup dried cranberries (I bet dried cherries would be FANTASTIC!)

Place rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk together flours, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Combine butter, oil and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on high speed, scraping down sides if necessary, until sugars have dissolved and mixture is light in color, about 1 minute. Add egg, carrot puree and vanilla and beat an additional 30 seconds. Add flour mixture and beat an additional 30 seconds. Add oats, flakes, raisins and walnuts and mix over low speed just until incorporated. Dough will be slightly sticky and less cohesive than traditional cookie dough. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using between 3 to 4 tablespoons of batter, form a ball and place on cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining batter, leaving about 3 inches between cookies. Wet hands and use palm of hand to flatten cookies until about 1/4-inch thick. Bake for 12 minutes, until cookies are fragrant but still soft. Let cookies cool slightly, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

A few notes:

- Double the recipe and freeze the cookies for a quick and healthy breakfast
- Please try the freshly grated nutmeg. It is SO much better than the pre-ground stuff, and whole nutmeg keeps FOREVER in you cupboard. Just sayin.
- These are good enough to pass for a real cookie - not just for breakfast!

Head on over to Craving Ellie in My Belly for more reviews and recipes.