Tag Archives: lettuce

Fruit and Veg Therapy

28 Sep

There’s a part in the movie “Up In the Air” where George Clooney’s character comments that he is surrounded, rather than isolated, in the traveling life that he leads.  Physically, yes.  There are people everywhere!  But emotionally?  I think he needed a bit of a reality check.

That’s just what I got the last two days.  I have always enjoyed traveling, even for work.  Educational conferences are usually beneficial and have me leaving with a sense of cognitive renewal.  At 6:17 tonight, I returned from one of those conferences that, while started out a bit rocky, ended up leaving me with some new insight and information.  But the travel?  I needed my own bit of therapy at the end.

It started with a four-hour drive, mostly in the dark with the first Oregon Autumn rain.  Pouring rain.  Then, arriving to our destination close to 11:00pm, I drove up and down the same ½ mile of street looking for the small motel that would serve as our residence for the following two days.  Once the motel (that shall remain nameless due to liability reasons) was found, and we were properly checked in, the overwhelming smell of cigarette smoke and pet urine overwhelmed the fact that there were no doors on the bathroom.  I’m not recalling a four-hour rain-soaked delusion – it really smelled.  And had no doors on the bathroom.  Really.

So, with a few quick phone calls and a small argument with the lovely lady at the front desk, another hotel was promptly booked, which, in educational standards “met” (rather than “did not meet,” nor “exceeded”) what we needed for our stay.

After two NyQuil-induced nights, one of which was restless, another four-hour drive home, and the residual effects of conference food (while tasty at the time, you know what I’m referring to), there was something left to be had: my own therapy.  Veggie therapy.

So I whipped up a spesh.  A lovely fruit and veg salad that not only hit the spot, but reminded me that the lovely fall air was still crisp and comforting.  Combined with my favorite sweatpants, a good glass of wine (Oregon’s first Baco Noir), and a DVR’d Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, the night erased all travel stiffness.

Please, don’t wait for a memorable travel experience and vegless conference food to make this salad; it’s easy, comforting (thanks to the oh-so-wonderful sharp cheddar cheese), and slightly unexpected on the taste buds.  It’s good for any night, not just a veggie therapy night.

Fruit and Veg Salad with Lavender Balsamic Dressing (serves 2) 

For the salad:

  • 2 c torn baby red lettuce (I prefer the tender tops rather than the inside ribs) 
  • 1 medium sweet apple, cored and diced (I used Gala – their season is just starting up here)
  • ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 c red grapes, sliced
  • 1 med head broccoli (or two small heads), stems removed and cut into florets
  • about 3 oz sharp cheddar cheese, diced (really, use as much cheese as you want – the cheddar flavor pairs perfectly with the onion, apple, broccoli, and apple).
  • 1 large sprig basil, leaves removed and thinly chopped

For the dressing:

  • 1 tsp good quality honey
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ tsp fresh lavender buds, rubbed between your hands to release oils
  • 1 ½ extra virgin olive oil
  • s&p

Mix the dressing by adding the honey, vinegar, and lavender buds.  Pour in the extra virgin olive oil while whisking to emulsify.  Season to taste, and set aside. 

Put all of the ingredients for the salad into a bowl and quickly mix to combine.  Pour over the dressing, and toss again, just so the dressing lightly coats the ingredients.  Taste for seasoning (I found I needed more pepper), and serve.



14 Jul

I haven’t been cooking a lot this summer, much to my dismay.  But here’s a bit of what’s been going on, as well as a couple easy, fast, summery, feel-good recipes that I’ve managed to sneak in.

Number of hours it took to move out of my classroom: 10 (I think it’s a new record)

The opportunity to experience a new job opportunity: taken (and got the job!)

Number of days of a relaxing summer before getting very sick: 1

Number of weeks on the couch with germy, residual horrible kiddie germs: 3

MPH of a wind gust that tried to blow over our Farmer’s Market Artisan Bread tent (and me): 30

Number of minutes wide-awake on a red-eye fight to Boston: 270

Remember to order this when getting a BLT in the North End of Boston: bread (or else you’ll just get a plate of B, and L, and T)

Number of inches of rain per minute in the worst thunderstorm Cape Cod has seen all season: 4

The amazing number of miles the tide goes out on the bay side of the Cape: 2

The number of crabs seen: hundreds

Number of crabs stepped on: 1 (and that was enough!)

Number of inflamed bug bites: 27

Pounds of Cape Cod Salt Water Taffy purchased: 5

Number of pieces of taffy I ate: 4

Number of disgusted looks from husband while eating said pieces of taffy: 4

Types of fish delivered from a commercial fishing boat off-load: 3 (skate, dogfish, and the largest lobster I’ve ever seen…. Seriously, this thing could have taken out Sig).

Number of trains needed to get to the Samuel Adams brewery: 2

Number of free beers given on a Samuel Adams brew tour: 3

Number of miles needed to walk after having 3 beers at the Sam Adams brew tour: 2

Number of hours sitting in Logan airport waiting for a broken plane: 6

Feeling of lungs when sprinting through the airport to make a 5-minute connection: burning

The look on a Father-In-Law’s face when surprised by his 4 children, their spouses, and the 5 grandkids for his 70th birthday: priceless.

Spicy Red Leaf Salad with Gouda Dressing (serves 2 realistically, but I ate the whole bowl; a great fresh comfort after traveling.  There is something about the super tender red leaf lettuce – especially when it comes right out of the ground – that makes this salad so satisfying to eat.)

  • 4 c red lettuce leaves, torn
  • 2 stalks of celery, sliced into very thin half-moons
  • 1 red chili, seeded and deveined (to remove the heat), and very finely diced
  • 8-10 toasted almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1 oz gouda, diced
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
  • s&p 

Place the lettuce, celery, chili, and almonds in a serving bowl.  In a blender, add the gouda cheese, mustard, red wine vinegar and a bit of the extra virgin olive oil, and blend.  While the blender is on, add in the rest of the olive oil.  Blend until slightly chunky and a bit creamy, and taste for s&p.  

Pour the dressing on top of the salad, and serve.  

NOTE: by seeding and deveining the chili, it takes away a lot of the heat.  What you are left with is the flesh, which adds a great amount of flavor to the salad.  But, if you don’t like the taste of raw chilis, then leave out and add a few drops of red Tabasco to the dressing mixture.  


Honey and Sea Salt Popcorn (makes a large bowl which can serve many, but again, I ate the whole bowl) 

  • 1 c raw popcorn kernels 
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp good quality honey (I use local Meadowfoam) 
  • finely ground sea salt 

In a large, covered pot, heat the olive oil and the popcorn over medium heat until kernels are popped (the popping noise will subside, and after 5 seconds of no popping noises, immediately take off the heat).  Note: if you like burnt popcorn (like I do), heat the same way, only over high heat. 

In a saucepan, heat the butter and honey over med-high heat until melted.  The butter mixture will start to bubble; just lift off the heat and swirl – do not stir with a spoon.  

When popcorn is done, pour into a bowl and, while stirring, pour the honey and butter mixture over the popcorn.  While still sticky, sprinkle the sea salt (and mix) to taste.  

Warning: this popcorn is addictive.  ENJOY!  

I Think My Detox is Making Me Fat

23 Feb

So I originally planned this “detox” to cleanse my body of all the heavy foods I’ve been indulging in over the last month.  Temporarily going back to my vegetarian ways, I’ve even sided more on the vegan outlook, minus the sweet touch of honey now and again.  I must say, this diet change has been revitalizing!  Rejuvenating!  I feel born again into the wonderful world of herbivores!  So why, with this plethora of fruit and veg, is my belt tightening?

Because I have a problem – a cooking problem.  Can anyone else subscribe to Indulgence Anonymous?  Anyone?  Here’s the situation: I so LOVE cooking and food and eating that I am tastifying stereotypically dry nut-and-berry diets, thus filling myself to capacity.  Maybe I can coin the next fad diet: Overeating Detox.  Hmm… kind of sounds like Jumbo Shrimp.

Take, for example, last night’s Chinese Peanut Lettuce Wraps.  All raw veg – carrots, mushrooms, cabbage, red peppers, iceberg lettuce – accompanied by a peanut sauce.  Sounds pretty blah, right?

Rob and I were *this* close to licking the plate.  There is something so innate about enjoying fresh food straight from the ground – it’s difficult to equally compare it to a grilled steak.  And Rob was so sweet to give me the leftovers for lunch today, not that there was much leftover. We both ate way more than our share.  Our meal was healthy for sure, and a cinch to whip up, but our overindulgence negated any healthy change we were initially aiming for.

With our bellies full and warm (from the addicting spiciness of the peanut sauce), we slept like babies and woke up excited about what today’s detox cooking adventure would bring (well, at least I was excited).  Next up, Spicy Black Bean Burgers.  I’ll try to be more European in serving size, but with such lovely fresh ingredients, I can’t make any promises!

Chinese Peanut Lettuce Wraps (serves 4, about 2-3 wraps each – well, it’s supposed to, but if you eat like Rob and I did, you won’t have much leftover)

  • 1/2 a small Napa Cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • about 7-10 crimini mushrooms, wiped, stalks removed, and thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce, leaves carefully removed 1 at a time.
  • 1/4 c hulled peanuts, roughly chopped (cashews work well, too)
  • Sweet and Spicy Peanut Sauce
  • lime wedges, to serve with wraps

Sweet and Spicy Peanut Sauce

  • 2 tbsp all natural creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Sriracha (or more for more heat)
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ginger
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lime

To make the peanut sauce, add all ingredients into a blender and mix until smooth.  Taste for seasoning (if too strong or pungent tasting, add a bit more olive oil).

Pour sauce into a salad bowl and mix with the chopped veg and nuts.  Taste for seasoning.

Serve with a plate of refreshing lettuce leaves, to act as a perfect fresh wrap for the sweet and spicy veg.  Pile them high, squeeze over some lime juice, and lick your fingers of any dripping sauce.


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