Monthly Archives: May 2012

Slow Cooked Lamb and Mascarpone Polenta

Lamb and Mascarpone Polenta

Yesterday morning Bruce and I made the decision to spend our Memorial Day afternoon down at the river.  By mid day, we were on our way to the 53rd annual Boatnik Memorial Day Celebration on the Rogue River in Grants Pass, Oregon.  Before we headed out the door, I had a pound of fresh Oregon free range lamb that I tossed in the slow cooker to cook low and slow for an easy dinner when we got back home.

If you don’t own a slow cooker, I highly suggest that you go out and get one.  Slow cookers are perfect for busy people such as Bruce and myself.  They are inexpensive to buy and really easy to use.  Just toss in your ingredients, plug it in, disappear for a few hours, and when you get back, dinner will be nearly done!

In all the years that I have lived in Oregon, I never once attended Boatnik…  I am now asking myself what the heck was I thinking?  Boatnik is three days of carnival rides, food, boat races and tons of family fun!


Bruce and I found a shady spot under a tree along the river with a great view of the jet boat race.  The weather was perfect and we sat right before the finish line.  We ate our lunch and watched the jet boats fly by on the surface of the water.

These little jet boats go crazy fast!  During one part of the race, a boat driver caught a bit too much air and crashed his boat.  Fortunately, he’s doing okay.

What fun!  I really want one…  I’m quite positive that Bruce would say nope, uh-uh, no way, no how, not happening Tess…  Oh well, I’m not gonna argue.  I know when to save my bullets :).

By the time we got home, we had tender lamb waiting for us in the slow cooker.  I added a splash of white wine, some flour to thicken the sauce, prepared the mascarpone polenta, picked lettuce for the green salad and less than an hour later, dinner was ready.   It was simply delicious!  Enjoy!  Tessa

Slow Cooked Lamb Ingredients:

  • 1 pound lamb stew meat (I used local Oregon free range)
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp seasoning salt
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 white wine
  • 2 Tbs flour
  • 2 tsp garlic paste

Begin by grabbing a nonstick fry pan.  Place on stove and heat to medium high heat.  Add lamb, onion and canola oil.  Cook until lamb is golden brown and the onion is cooked.  Add mixture to slow cooker.  Add black pepper, seasoning salt, thyme, 1 cup water, and 1 chicken bouillon cube.  Cover and cook on low for about 6 hours.

When you get back, whisk together the 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup white wine, 2 Tbs flour and 2 tsp garlic paste.  Add mixture to crock pot, give a quick stir and cover.  Cook for another half an hour or until the sauce has thickened to your liking.   Taste and correct your seasonings.  Meanwhile, prepare the Mascarpone Polenta…

Mascarpone Polenta Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2/3 cups polenta
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese

Grab a covered sauce pan and bring to water, salt and olive oil to a boil.  Add polenta and whisk to mix.  Cover, turn heat down to low and cook for about 20 – 30 minutes stirring occasionally until polenta is cooked and thickened.  Stir in the mascarpone cheese.

Ladle hot polenta onto four plates or shallow bowls.  Divide lamb mixture and add to top of the mascarpone polenta.  Garnish with fresh sprigs of thyme.  Serve with a fresh green salad on the side.  Makes 4 servings.

“Stove Top” Baked Beans

“Stove Top” Baked Beans

Late yesterday afternoon Bruce and I were invited to a backyard barbecue at my sister’s home with family and friends.  We never go to somebody’s home empty handed so I offered to make some Baked Beans to share.  My sister made pulled pork sandwiches and coleslaw so the Baked Beans were a perfect addition to the feast.  We socialized with friends, played bean bag toss games and competed ferociously at foos ball for hours.  We all had a wonderful time!

I had only a couple of hours to prepare the beans so I thought I’d cook them in a dutch oven on the stove rather than firing up the oven.  And I am pleased to say that the stove top method worked.  My “Stove Top” Baked Beans were delicious and I completely sold out by the end of the evening.  My Baked Beans are an interesting combination of black beans, great northern beans and little sweet aduki beans.  They are similar to a Southern Style Baked Beans but with a distinct Asian flair.  Instead of molasses, I used sweet Indonesian Soy Sauce.  I also added zesty Sriracha and floral scented Szechuan pepper for a bold and unique flavor.  These beans tasted so good that the “carnivores” in the crowd had no idea that the beans were vegan too!  Makes 12 servings.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 15 ounce can black beans (drained)
  • 1 – 15 ounce can great northern beans (drained)
  • 1 – 15 ounce can aduki beans (drained)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 – 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Indonesian Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbs Sriracha sauce
  • 3 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1 tsp ground Szechuan pepper
  • 1 cup water
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Begin by grabbing a dutch oven or cast iron pot with a lid.  Heat dutch oven on stove with a medium flame and add canola oil.  Add onions and cook until translucent or about 10 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients, turn stove down to low and cook partially covered for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours stirring occasionally.  Add water if the beans are too thick, or remove the lid and cook longer if the mixture is too thin for your liking.  Taste and correct your seasonings and serve.  Makes 1 1/2 quarts or 12 servings of “Stove Top” Baked Beans.

Sesame Broccoli Snap Pea Salad

Sesame Broccoli Snap Pea Salad

When I got home from work this evening, I stopped at my little garden on the side of our home to see what I could gather for our dinner tonight.  I was surprised to see that my broccoli was ready to pick and that I had a bunch of sugar snap peas on the vines.  The cool wet weather we have had lately here in Southern Oregon has been perfect for my little garden!

Broccoli growing in the garden…

I’ve never been really successful at growing broccoli until this year.  The broccoli heads were beautiful and I did not have any problems with aphids.  I grow everything in my garden organically without the use of herbicides or chemical fertilizers.  We compost as much of our kitchen scraps as possible and I rotate the plants every year.  I believe that growing organic vegetables is better for you and tastes so much better than chemically treated vegetables.

Fresh picked broccoli

I found it interesting that the broccoli florets that I picked were not as dense or tightly packed as you would see with store bought broccoli.  I’m not really sure why.  Maybe it was the variety that I planted.  Regardless, the broccoli tasted amazingly fresh and delicious!

With my fresh picked broccoli and sugar snap peas I decided to make an Asian inspired Sesame Broccoli Snap Pea Salad.  My Sesame Broccoli Snap Pea Salad has fresh crunchy red bell pepper, bright red onions, sweet shredded carrots and tossed with a sweet and tangy sesame seed vinaigrette.  Makes 4 servings.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces broccoli florets (cut into bite sized pieces)
  • 8 ounces sugar snap peas (cut in half)
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell peppers
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 Tbs canola oil
  • 1 Tbs Mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine)
  • 1 Tbs each black and white sesame seeds
  • 1 Tbs rice wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • salt and white pepper to taste

Prepare your vegetables and set aside.  Grab a 4 quart pot, fill with water and add a big pinch of salt.  Put the pot on the stove and bring to a boil.  Get another bowl and fill with ice cubes and water.  Add broccoli to boiling water and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon and add to ice water to stop cooking.  Do the same with the sugar snap peas but cook only 1 minute.

Drain broccoli and snap peas and add to a mixing bowl.  Add remaining vegetables.  Grab a small bowl and whisk together the canola oil, Mirin, sesame seeds, rice wine vinegar, honey, garlic paste, salt and white pepper.  Add to vegetable mixture and toss to coat.  Serve immediately.

Mango Barbecue Sauce

Mango Barbecue Sauce

I love it when the weather here in Southern Oregon starts to warm up.  Warm weather is perfect barbecuing weather.  Don’t get me wrong, I barbecue at all times of the year and I even have been known to barbecue in the middle of a snowstorm…  It’s just that it so much more pleasant and enjoyable when the weather is nice.  Standing next to the BBQ, chatting with friends or family, grilling dinner with long stainless steel tongs in one hand and an ice cold beverage in the other hand.  You get the picture…

The other day at the local Food Coop, I found this gorgeous organic mango for a dollar and a half.  It was twice the size as my fist and was perfectly ripe.  I could not pass it up…  At first, I was going to make a dessert, I then quickly changed my mind after thinking about making a sweet and tangy Mango Barbecue Sauce.  I wanted a sauce that I can easily brush on grilled chicken or pork tenderloin during my busy work week for a fast and flavorful dinner.

While my Mango Barbecue Sauce was simmering away on the stove, I snagged my camera and headed out the back door.  The photo above is the backside of a perennial herb called “bloody dock” or “bloody sorrel”.  Yeah, I know, it’s a gory name for a lovely little plant. But when I bought them I was told that you could eat the leaves in a manner similar to spinach.  We’ll see.  The plants are not quite big enough for me to harvest a bunch of leaves yet.  Maybe in a few weeks I might be able to do that…

Up in the corner of the backyard, I heard all of this squawking…  It was a young blue jay that fell out of the nest a few days ago.  The parents were taking turns flying back and forth to feed their little down covered youngster.  The baby jay would hide in the bushes and only come out when its parents were around with their beaks full of food.  I’m hoping that within a week or so it will be able to take care of itself and be able to fly around on its own.  In the meantime, my Jack Russell Terrier is not allowed out in the back yard without a leash…  Poor dog!

My Mango Barbecue Sauce is easy to make and takes about an hour to prepare. I like to brush it on grilled chicken or if I have a more time on my hands, brushed on  succulent barbecued pork ribs.  Makes about 3 cups and it will keep up to a week in the refrigerator.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 large mango (peeled and diced)
  • 1 cup tomato ketchup
  • 1/2 cup champagne vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Indonesian Soy Sauce
  • 1 can Pepsi (you can use Coke if you want)
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1 tsp Szechuan pepper
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1/4 tsp red chili flakes (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp cracked black pepper (or to taste)

Grab a saucepan and add all the ingredients.  Cook on low, stirring occasionally for about an hour or until the mango is cooked down and the sauce has thickened.  If it is too thin, cook a bit longer.  Too thick, then add water.  Be sure to taste and correct your seasonings.  Remove from heat, blend with a hand or stick blender until smooth.  Brush on grilled chicken or pork.  Makes about 3 cups.  Keep in the refrigerator covered for about a week.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Egg Salad Sandwich

Egg Salad Sandwich

Years ago when I was a cook while working my way through college, one of the things that I had to make on the menu was an egg salad sandwich.  I was taught to make them with hard boiled eggs, miracle whip, yellow mustard and sweet relish on white bread.  It was served with a handful of plain potato chips and a dill pickle.  Some people just loved it.  Me, on the other hand, I thought that it was simply anemic looking and disgusting…

Heirloom Tomatoes

I love preparing eggs so I thought I would try to improve upon the egg salad sandwich recipe that was taught to me years ago.  First of all, I ditched the miracle whip and used a good quality mayonnaise instead.  I swapped the plain yellow mustard for Dijon mustard and omitted the sweet relish.  I added capers, fresh chopped celery and fresh snipped chives.  I also added chopped roasted red bell pepper, a pinch of curry powder and fresh cracked pepper.  I serve my egg salad sandwich on whole wheat bread with sliced heirloom tomatoes and fresh picked lettuce.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 2 hard boiled eggs
  • 2 Tbs light mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbs chopped celery
  • 1 Tbs chopped roasted red bell pepper
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp capers
  • 1 tsp chopped chives
  • big pinch of hot madras curry powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 slices whole wheat bread
  • garnish with fresh picked lettuce and sliced heirloom tomatoes

Begin by grabbing a small bowl.  Using a fork mash the eggs in the bowl.  Add all ingredients except bread and garnishes.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Divide egg mixture and place on two bread slices.  Add tomatoes, lettuce and top each sandwich with a bread slice. Cut sandwiches in half and serve.  Makes two sandwiches.

Bok Choy Shiitake Mushroom Soup

Bok Choy Shiitake Mushroom Soup

With all the warm weather we have been having here in Southern Oregon, my little garden is going nuts…  Just a few weeks ago, I planted some bok choy starts and in no time I am completely inundated with bok choy.  As I would say, I have “enough to choke a goat”.  The problem is that there are just the two of us in the home and what do we do when all the heads of bok choy need to be harvested at the same time?  Well, first of all, share with friends, family and neighbors.  Second, share with coworkers.  Third, I start cooking everything I possibly can with bok choy!

For those who do not know what bok choy is, this is what it looks like.  Bok choy is also known as Chinese cabbage. It has a wonderful delicate flavor and goes great in stir-fries, soups and main dishes.  I love it because it is easy to grow and it’s super low in calories.  It has crunchy white stalks and beautifully flavored green leaves.

While picking bok choy in my garden this afternoon, I took my camera with me to photograph some of the beautiful plants in my yard.  This is a photo of a red Japanese maple tree.  We have a several Japanese maples planted around our koi pond.  They are without a doubt, my favorite specie of deciduous tree.

Next to my kitchen window I have an arbor covered in tiny pink roses.  I believe they are called “Cecile Brunner”.  You would not know it from the photo but the plant is twenty feet tall and covered with hundreds of blooms!  It’s just gorgeous!

On the back patio I have a big pot of Sweet William flowers.  Sweet William are adorable little biennials that are fragrant and look wonderful cut and placed in vases.  I like the bright pink color and the jagged edges on the petals.

After photographing plants in my yard, I harvested a few heads of bok choy.  One of the heads of bok choy was going straight into a light and tasty Bok Choy Shiitake Mushroom Soup for my lunch.  The other head of bok choy that I picked will be used in a dish for tomorrow’s dinner.

Next time you have an abundance of bok choy, be sure to try my Bok Choy Shiitake Mushroom Soup.  It’s light, flavorful and really easy to make.  Makes 4 servings.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups bok choy (chopped)
  • 2 cups shiitake mushrooms (sliced)
  • 1 cup onion (chopped)
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 2 Tbs low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp. Szechuan pepper
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 6-8 drops sesame oil (use sparingly)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh chopped chives for garnish

In a large pan cook onion and canola oil on medium low.  Stir constantly until onion is opaque.  Add remaining ingredients except sesame oil, salt and pepper.  Cook until shiitakes are tender, about 15 minutes.  Add sesame oil, salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish with fresh chopped chives.

 

Lamb Chili Baked Potato

Lamb Chili Baked Potato

Bruce and I just got back from a much deserved three day road trip over the past weekend.  A few weeks earlier, he asked me if I wanted to take a 5 hour scenic drive down south to the state of Nevada.  Of course I said yes!  We booked a few nights in a hotel in Reno and spent the day on Saturday in an old western mining town of Virginia City.  That morning, as we drove up to Virginia City we saw a sign on the side of the road that indicated that the main road through town was closed due to a special event…

To our surprise (and to my delight) the event that shut down the road was the annual “Great Virginia City Chili Cook Off”!  Too cool! There were dozens of street vendors and chili cook off contestants.  It was a blast!  Live music, street food and people walking around the town wearing typical western wear such as cowboy boots, big silver belt buckles and cowboy hats.  For 5 dollars you could taste 7 different chili recipes and vote for your favorite.  I was like a kid in a candy store with all the different varieties of competition quality chili to choose from!

Well over a hundred years ago, Virginia City was once a bustling mining town where prospectors mined for gold and silver ore.  There’s old mine shafts, wood sidewalks, museums, saloons, gift shops and so much more to see.

There were lots of old wood buildings and brickwork.  The peeling paint and crooked roofs added to the charm.

Do you see the wood sidewalks?  They were not level and you had to constantly watch your step as you walked on top of them.

The “Bucket of Blood” Saloon.

The front door of the Union Brewery.

Okay… This was really interesting… I saw this gentleman walking along the main street, leading a donkey, dressed in red union suit underwear (the kind with the flap in the back), cowboy boots and a cowboy hat.  When I snapped their photo, I just missed the kiss.  It was beyond hilarious!

On our way back into Reno, I saw this herd of over a dozen wild horses on the side of the road.  I yelled at Bruce to stop the car and before he knew it, I was dodging traffic with my camera and telephoto lens to get the shot.  Seeing this herd of wild mustangs was the highlight of my day.  What an amazing opportunity to see and photograph such beautiful creatures.

Another shot of the mustangs.  Before long, they were down the hill and out of sight.

Back to chili…  My Lamb Chili Baked Potato was inspired by the many flavors of chili that I tasted at the annual Virginia City Chili Cook Off.  It’s made with tender bits of lamb, onion, tomato and tasty spices all ladled on top a hot baked potato topped with shredded cheddar cheese, fresh picked green onions and slivers of sweet red bell pepper.  It’s a simple, tasty and hearty meal.  Makes 6 wonderful chili stuffed spuds.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 6 baked potatoes (washed, pricked, baked at 450 degrees for about an hour)
  • 3/4 pound lamb stew meat
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 Tbs canola oil
  • 2 Tbs dark chili powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp Szechuan pepper
  • 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 4 ounce can green chilies
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 Tbs garlic paste
  • 2 Tbs brown sugar
  • 1 tsp special dark cocoa
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • garnish with shredded cheddar cheese, chopped green onions and slivered red bell pepper.

Grab a heavy bottomed medium sized pot with a lid.  Heat the pot on the stove and add canola oil until hot.  Add lamb and onion and cook until the lamb is lightly brown and the onions are beginning to caramelize.  Add chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, coriander and Szechuan pepper.  Cook for a few minutes or until spices are fragrant.  Add crushed tomatoes, green chilies, vegetable stock, garlic paste, and brown sugar.  Stir, cover and cook until lamb is tender or about an hour.

Meanwhile, bake your potatoes and prepare your garnishes.  Before the chili is done cooking be sure to taste and correct your seasonings.  Add additional stock if necessary.  Serve by ladling hot chili on split baked potatoes.  Garnish with shredded cheddar cheese, green onions and red bell pepper.

Tequila Lime Chicken Soft Tacos

Tequila Lime Chicken Soft Tacos

During the work week I always try to make dinners that are fast and easy.  I like to make extra servings of a meal on the weekend and re-purpose the leftovers later on in the week.  Late Sunday afternoon I barbecued a big batch of my Tequila Lime Chicken for an early dinner.  Knowing in advance that my work week was going to be ridiculously busy, I made sure that I grilled up some extra chicken for Tequila Lime Chicken Soft Tacos.

Whenever I am out on the back patio next to my kitchen, I always make sure that my camera is close at hand.  Last year I planted some giant allium in large containers and their gorgeous purple flowers were attracting dozens of honey bees.  So, I put my camera to good use while I was waiting for my Tequila Lime Chicken to finish cooking on the grill.  I have to admit, when I took this shot, I was just a tad worried about getting too close to my subject.  Lucky for me, he did not care that I was taking his picture :).

Earlier this spring, I planted a bunch of chives in a pot and they are blooming too.  The chive blossoms are much smaller and not as brightly colored as the giant allium.  However, whenever I need fresh chives I simply walk out onto the back porch, scissors in hand and I snip whatever I want.   Planting fresh herbs in pots saves a bunch of money at the grocery store.  Plus, they always seem to taste better and fresher.

My recipe for Tequila Lime Chicken is here.  For the Tequila Lime Chicken, I marinate boneless, skinless chicken thighs in lime juice, tequila, cilantro, cumin, coriander, chili pepper, garlic and smoked paprika.  I marinate the chicken for several hours and then cook the chicken on my barbecue or indoor grill.  I like to use any leftover Tequila Lime Chicken warmed up in soft tacos with shredded carrot, lettuce, cilantro, tomato, lime and drizzled with a tangy cilantro sour cream.  Sometimes, I chop it up the grilled Tequila Lime Chicken and place it on a heap of fresh picked lettuce leaves for a healthy salad.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups chopped Tequila Lime Chicken (warm)
  • 6 corn tortillas (warm)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped lettuce
  • 1 cup chopped tomato
  • 1 cup thinly sliced carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 lime cut into 6 wedges
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 2 tsp cilantro chopped
  • big pinch of cumin
  • drizzle with hot sauce or salsa (optional)

In a small bowl whisk together sour cream, lime juice, cilantro and cumin.  Set aside. Heat up the tequila lime chicken (I used a microwave).  Fill warm tortillas with chicken, lettuce, tomato, shredded carrots and drizzle with cilantro sour cream.  Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro and lime wedges.  Makes 6 tacos.

Quinoa Black Bean Lettuce Wraps

Red Quinoa Black Bean Lettuce Wraps

If my little garden was any bigger than it is now, I would be in a heap of trouble.  I try my best to plant vegetables such as lettuce, spinach and chard in various stages so they all don’t mature at once.  It’s called succession planting.  Succession planting is a method of utilizing space and time.  No matter how much effort that I put into planning my garden it seems like there are times when certain vegetables really get away from me.  Today, my problem is lettuce.  And I sure do have lots of it…

The problem with lettuce is that you can generally only eat it fresh.  You can’t freeze it.  And, you can’t can it.  I guess technically, you could, but why?  And once the warm weather hits, it bolts. And once it bolts, it’s bitter.  Fortunately, what I don’t use, I give away to family, friends and coworkers.

Today, I went out and picked a bunch of romaine lettuce, red radishes and parsley from my garden for my Quinoa Black Bean Lettuce Wraps.  My Quinoa Black Bean Lettuce Wraps are easy to make, fresh tasting and vegan too.  The lettuce wraps are made with cooked Red Quinoa, black beans, chopped red onions, little grape tomatoes, cilantro, parsley, radishes, with a bright tasting red wine vinaigrette wrapped up in a lettuce leaf.  It’s a great side dish or by itself for light lunch or dinner.  I’m thinking that these also would make interesting appetizers to serve at my next backyard barbeque.  Makes about 16 wraps.  Enjoy!  Tessa

 Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup red quinoa (picked over and rinsed well)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 can black beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 1/3 cup diced red onion
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes (I used red grape)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/3 cup roasted red bell pepper (diced)
  • juice of one lime
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 1/2 Tbs red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Tbs maple syrup
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp seasoning salt or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper or to taste
  • 16 lettuce leaves (I used young romaine, but bibb lettuce is probably best)
  • Garnish with lime wedges, thin sliced radishes and sprigs of parsley

Begin by cooking your quinoa and water in a covered saucepan on medium low for about 15-20 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.  Remove from heat and let cool completely.  In a medium bowl add quinoa, black beans, onion, tomato, cilantro, parsley and roasted red bell pepper.  Mix well.  In a separate bowl whisk together the lime juice, coriander, cumin, red wine vinegar, maple syrup, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Add vinaigrette to quinoa mixture.  Mix well to coat.  Chill for about a half an hour and serve spooned on top of lettuce leaves.   Garnish with lime wedges, thinly sliced radishes and fresh picked parsley.  Makes about 16 lettuce wraps.

Champagne Mango Vinaigrette

Champagne Mango Vinaigrette

It’s mid spring in Southern Oregon and my little garden is producing lettuce like crazy.  A few weeks ago I planted a bunch of different varieties of lettuce, spinach and chard and with the cool wet weather we have had lately, they really have taken off.  With the abundance of lettuce available, it’s time for me to start preparing fresh and healthy spring salads for my family.

I have to tell you that it’s rare that I purchase store bought salad dressings anymore.  I prefer to make homemade vinaigrettes and dressings as opposed to using store bought ones.  In my opinion, homemade dressings are easy to make and taste incredibly fresh and delicious.  Trust me, once you get the hang of how to make your own salad dressings and vinaigrettes, I seriously doubt that you will ever go back to using the store bought stuff ever again…

My little garden.  I planted several types of lettuce.  There’s broccoli and snow peas in the back…

A close up of an onion blossom…

A pail full of fresh picked lettuce and spinach from my garden ready to be drizzled with Champagne Mango Vinaigrette.

If you never heard of or even seen Champagne Mangoes before, listen up…  Champagne Mangoes are an exotic fruit that are a gorgeous shade of golden yellow when perfectly ripe and are smaller in comparison to the other green and red colored mangoes you see in the store. Champagne Mangoes are sweet, juicy and delicious.  Whenever I am fortunate to find them at my local grocery store, I hoard them like nobody’s business. They are hands down one of my favorite type of fruit.

The original Champagne Mango Vinaigrette recipe that I found came from here.  The original recipe was created by Chef Wayne Elias of Mark’s Restaurant in West Hollywood, California for Ciruli Brothers’ champagnemangoes.com. Chef Wayne Elias’ Champagne Mango Vinaigrette is a brilliant combination of fresh champagne mangoes, champagne vinegar, pepper and a hint of sage.  I slightly adapted Chef Wayne Elias’ recipe with the addition of 1 Tbs fresh orange juice.  Champagne Mango Vinaigrette is wonderful drizzled over fresh picked lettuce or grilled fish.  The best way to describe Champagne Mango Vinaigrette is like having liquid sunshine on your salad.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 Champagne mango peeled, seeded and diced
  • 2 Tbs champagne vinegar
  • 1 Tbs orange juice
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp ground sage
  • salt to taste

Add all ingredients to a blender and puree.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Makes about 4 servings.