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Princess Alethea’s Power Salad

I keep making these salads and eating them before I remember to take a picture. OOPS. 🙂

My family has always eaten salads. When I was a kid, my salad consisted of cucumbers, with Creamy Cucumber dressing (which, of course, Kraft doesn’t make in the US anymore…but apparently you can still get it in Canada). I hated the lettuce–I just thought it tasted like nothing. Little did I know, Greek folks had been eating salads without lettuce long before I came along…I just didn’t realize that until I actually WENT to Greece.

See, I like my salads with STUFF in them. Taco Salads, Black Bean Salads…drag it through the garden. The more junk the better. The greens in my salad are almost garnishes. My salads are dense, HEAVY things.

I came up with the idea for the power salad when I was visiting Mom & Dad earlier this year. We all chip in to cook (this time even moreso since Mom had just had shoulder surgery), and it happened to be my job that particular night to make the side salads. I informed my parents that I would be making MY salad, and hoped they’d be okay with it.

Then I rummaged through the refrigerator. See, my parents are fabulous home cooks, which means they have fabulous leftovers. (In our house we often had “pikilia”  [pronounced “picky Lia”] for dinner, Dad’s fancy Greek way of saying “leftovers.”) When I delivered the salad, it was devoured with  multitudes of praise…also common in Greek households. And enough to make me go “hmmm…”

So, without further ado: This is MY power salad. YOUR power salad may differ. Heck, even my own differs depending on what I’ve got in the fridge. But I’ve bolded the “usual” ingredients.  I urge you to try your own!

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A mini power salad!Greens:
*Spinach. My favorite.
*Second choices: Mixed Greens, Romaine, Other Fun Stuff. As mentioned before, Amanda Havard prefers Kale on hers, but to be honest I haven’t tried that yet. Would like to try both Kale and Swiss Chard.

Protein:
* Salmon
* Goat Cheese (Also love BellaVitano Balsamic, when I can afford it.)
* Baked, Grilled, or Pan Fried Chicken (aka “leftover”)
* Shrimp
* Morning Star Farms Chik Patties (on the days I feel like being vegetarian–must be crispy oven-baked, not microwaved)

Veggies:
* Beets! Possibly the most important part of my salad. I take a can of sliced beets and put it in a Tupperware container along with the juice. Then I throw in some garlic cloves, olive oil, and rice vinegar. Mom taught me this (Thanks, Mom!). This concoction lasts FOREVER in your fridge. When you use it, drizzle the beet juice vinaigrette over your salad for an instant dressing. VOILA. (Also, it turns your salad pink. AND WHO DOESN’T LOVE PINK FOOD?)
* Bell Peppers — I prefer red, gold and orange, diced.
* Asparagus — I often make extra asparagus, just to chop up the leftovers for my salad
* Sugar Peas
* Brussels sprouts
* Broccoli (not my favorite, but useful in a pinch. I like the florets best)
* Chickpeas
* Avocados (just be careful — if you go with goat cheese, additions like tomatoes and avocados can make your salad mushy pretty quickly)
* I could go on forever. Any leftover veggie I have in the fridge is fair game.

Other Fun Stuff (if I have it, I’ll add it):
* Nuts (which I always have to add to my oatmeal–they stay freshest in the freezer)
* Dried fruit (ditto on the oatmeal, not the freezer)

Dressing
* Garlic Beet Juice Vinaigrette (see above)
* Green Goddess (this dressing is usually pretty thick, so I use some, and then dump Beet Juice Vinaigrette back in the bottle to thin it out a bit…they go magnificently together!)

***

This salad may seem like a lot of work, but I assure you, it’s not. If you don’t cut everything directly into the salad bowl, use a separate plate — no need for cutting boards and the like, unless you’re going all out making salads for ten people.

Even if you do feel like this is too much time for you to spend, let me assure you — IT’S WORTH IT. Every time I eat this salad, I sit around with garlic on my breath thinking “Man, that was so good…and I feel so great right now. I need to eat those more often!”

Seriously. I think this EVERY TIME I EAT THIS SALAD. (Would I lie to you about something this dumb?)

Drag it through the garden, folks. You’ll thank me later. xox

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Nifty Site of the Day

Kat Cooks the Books: In which Kat, a Florida librarian, makes food based on her favorite kids books…and posts the recipes. Why, yes, it is as fun as it sounds. And there are pictures! Definitely worth the pit stop.

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Fool for Recipes

Hello, everyone! As promised, here is my March contribution to the Fool for Romance Giveaway Extravaganza!

Comment on my blog here today for a chance to win a spot in the Great Big Giveaway. At month’s end, the winners for each day will have a chance to win a HUMONGOUS prize pack from all the contributing authors for the month…including a Kindle! It’s a fun and fabulous event, there are plenty of ways to win, and I’m so happy to be a part of it!

My contribution to the prize pack: A signed (by both me and Sherri) Dark-Hunter Companion, along with assorted other fun D-H buttons and bookmarks and ornaments and stuffage!

So let’s get to today’s entry: RECIPES. After all, what’s the one thing most of us love even more than romance? FOOD!

In the Greek section of The Dark-Hunter Companion, I broke a bunch of rules and printed some of my family’s recipes. I just don’t think great recipes are meant to die along with their creators…and since I probably won’t have the opportunity to personally cook for every single one of you, why should you never be able to taste my Greek Chicken or Baklava?

Today I share with you a new recipe — and because I have a migraine this morning, it’s going to be GLUTEN FREE. This delicious recipe can be enjoyed by both my sister and myself without us regretting it later with stomach aches and headaches.

My mother perfected this recipe and passed it along–Soteria and I pretty much shared an entire batch of these over our Greek Christmas holidays. I hope you enjoy the recipe. And if you know of any other great gluten-free recipes, please link to them or post them here in the comments so that we might all share in the yumminess!

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DATE LAYER BARS (gluten free)

Date filling:
1 pound pitted dates (Costco usually has great dates)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water (or 1/4 cup orange liquor (Triple Sec) and 1/4 cup water)

Stir constantly over medium heat until mixture boils and thickens. Cool. Just before using, add 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts.

Crust:
3/4 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup almond flour (or just superfinely chop up 3/4 cup of any kind of nuts)
3/4 cup Gluten Free All Purpose Flour (they sell this at the grocery store – it’s easy to find)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
2 Tbsp water

Cream together sugar & butter. Sift dry ingredients & stir into creamed mixture. Add oats & water; mix until crumbly.

Firmly pat 1/2 of the mixture into a greased 9×13 baking dish. Spread with date filling. Drop remaining 1/2 of crust mixture on top and pat smooth.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes. Cool and enjoy!

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Remember — please comment and/or share a recipe in order to participate in the contest!

Dark-Hunters Rule!!

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Superbowl Smorgasbord

I went to bed with a migraine last night and woke up with it this morning–to say I’m feeling decidedly out of sorts is an understatement. While I hobble like an old woman through my daily chores and decide which fairy tale to read for tomorrow that won’t kill my brain, I thought I’d share with you one of the recipes from our amazing Superbowl Sunday.

There are a bunch of Eagles fans in this apartment, so we didn’t care too much about who was playing the game and concentrated instead on what we were going to eat. Each of us chose a dish to make, so that everyone would be sure to enjoy something.

Our Munchie Menu:
Deviled eggs (Ariell)
Nanny’s potato salad (Kassidy)
Strawberry Pizza (Kassidy)
Spinach & Artichoke Dip (Joe)
Wings (Joe)
Date Layer Bars (Lee)
Mom Kontis’s Sticky Garlic Spare Ribs (Lee)
Buddy Valastro’s Bananas Foster (Joe)

We decided on all of these things earlier in the week and made the definitive list on Saturday — we made sure we had all the recipes and put together a list for the grocery store. And then we realized the dishwasher was broken.

Oh, fun.

I emailed a service request to the apartment complex on Sunday morning, and we headed off to the store.  When we got back, we decided what needed to be prepped first (the Strawberry Pizza crust) — Kassidy started working on that while I did the dishes and Joe cut up the massive pile of ribs we got from Costco into finger-sized pieces.

Kudos to all of us for being an amazing work force — with a kitchen the size of a walk-in closet and no dishwasher, we did a darned fine job and EVERYTHING turned out wonderful. We did scrimp on the chicken wings and bought ready made since we didn’t find any good wings at the store, and we didn’t end up making the bananas foster because we were all SO incredibly tired (and stuffed) by the 3rd Quarter that no one cared.

It was tough to say which dish was the star of the show because everything was so delicious — personally I think WE were the stars of the show for pulling it all off. We all went to bed tired, exhausted and grumpy…but we had a wonderful time.

I put a link to the bananas foster recipe in the menu — here’s the one for Sticky Garlic Spare ribs. The key to this one is getting good spare ribs — the first time we tried this one the ribs were too large and unevenly cut and it was disappointing. This time, it was PHENOMENAL. My mother got a priest drunk to steal this recipe, and it was totally worth it. The best part is how incredibly easy it is to make.

Mom Kontis’s Sticky Garlic Spare Ribs
A bunch of Spare Ribs (boneless are fine–cut finger size, if possible)

Syrup:
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
3/4 cup soy sauce

Boil the ribs for 45 minutes, and then drain. Sprinkle liberally with garlic powder. Pan fry the ribs in syrup (you’ll probably need two pans) until the syrup becomes thick and sticky. (Watch carefully — if the sugar reduces too much, it will burn!)

Enjoy!

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TV Fail, Cookie Win

I’ve heard some good things about this Warehouse 13 show on Syfy (I still hate typing that spelling), so I downloaded the first episode to watch it. I don’t think I made it twenty minutes. Saul Rubinek is not John Noble, the secret agent guy is not David Boreanaz, and I have no idea who the secret agent chick was trying to be, but she was failing miserably, poor dear.

There was far too much exposition and far too many questions, instead of just throwing our main characters in a box and forcing them to learn what’s going on to get out….whatever. This is not a review of the TV show (since I didn’t watch enough to warrant an educated & objective opinion). This is about what the TV show brought into our lives.

As a throwaway line to convince the agents to come inside the warehouse, Saul Rubinek offers them cookies. (To which the male agent says, “Ooh, cookies!”) Thusly lured inside, Saul begins the exposition and starts answering an endless stream of silly questions, answered equally as sillily, and once by a ferret in a magic pot. Yeeeeah. I, the writer, is still wondering when said cookies would appear, since if *I* had been the agent on the scene, I would be expecting them.

Said cookies DID appear, finally, after the female agent stomps off. “Oatmeal Scotchie?” Saul offers.

“What the heck is an oatmeal scotchie?” I exclaimed, not worried that I was distracted enough from the show to care. It sounded like an oatmeal cookie made with scotch…and I was all for it. Turns out, it’s an oatmeal cookie made with BUTTERscotch. Even better.

I am one of those folks–stop reading here now if I’m going to offend you–who doesn’t care for raisins. I’ll eat them politely, but they’re not my first choice. Putting them in an oatmeal cookie just ruins them. Who thought of that?? And who thinks it’s still a good idea? Put chocolate or something in them for gods sake, if you have to put something. Raisins just throw off the consistency.

But butterscotch? Now there‘s a plan.

I then, of course, had to find a recipe. A GOOD recipe. (“Good” typically means ignoring calories. Just don’t go crazy.) I searched a couple of websites that told me following the recipe on the butterscotch package was just as good as anything (hmm), and a lot of the recipes I saw had the same basic ingredients. Ultimately, I based mine on a recipe from Paula Deen — I would paste the link here, but I tried to Google it later and could not find it. I’ve never met Paula, nor do I watch her show, but her sons were rather wonderful to me once, so I have a soft spot in my heart for the Deen family.

These are some of the best “cookies” (we just spread them out in a pan and made them like brownies) I’ve ever had. I highly recommend them. Be sure you’re making them for about 20 people, or there’s a real danger of eating yourself sick on them.

Ingredients:

1 c butter (melted)
1 c brown sugar
1/2 c white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract (vanilla flavoring is *not* the same…extract is stronger, and better)
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 c Quaker oats (or store brand, whatever)
1/2 bag butterscotch chips
1 c pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease your pan (I use butter & flour, or a little bit of olive oil.) Mix everything (start by beating the eggs really well) & dump it in the pan. Depending on your oven, this should take about 20 minutes.

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Tracy’s Famous Monkey Bread

I’ve had more than a few requests for this since I extolled its virtuesas my birthday cake….so Tracy has given me permission to share her Monkey Bread recipe with the world.
Ask and you shall receive!

Tracy’s Famous Monkey Bread

1 bundt pan (If you don’t have a bundt pan you can use a 9×13 cake pan. If I do this size I usually do 4 cans of cinnamon rolls.)
3 large cans of Cinnabon/Pillsbury Cinnamon rolls
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
cinnamon
2 sticks butter (not margarine, you crazy people)

Preheat oven 350, spray pan with baking spray
Cut up your cinnamon rolls into smaller pieces
In one cup of sugar add some cinnamon; do this in a bowl big enough to waller your cinnamon roll pieces around in.
Drop in a few pieces of cinnamon rolls at a time and waller ’em around real good until they are coated, start dropping them in the pan. When all pieces are waller’d you should have some white sugar left. To that add the 1/2 cup brown sugar. Cut up butter and nuke for about 30 seconds. Stir and nuke until butter is all melted.
Stir really well then pour over the monkey nuggets. Bake for about 30 minutes.
When the bread has cooled down enough to turn over, turn out the bread then pour the cream cheese stuff that came with the cinnamon rolls all over the top.

("waller" = Texan for what pigs do in the mud. You know.)

Goes great with coffee…and Mary Robinette Kowal’s "Evil Robot Monkey."

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