Raspberry Vinaigrette

I went Raspberry picking the other morning with my friend Chris.  We have been going every year pretty much since I moved to Indiana.  Picking them fresh is always a great way to eat more.

Three years ago on our annual picking trip, I was minding my own business and calmly picking away when this man approached me.  I smiled and said hello.  It was mid-week, therefore not too many people were in the fields.  Chris was a few yards away.  The man looked straight at me (get ready for this) and started to yell at me.  Not a quiet yell, no a full on in my face type of yelling.  I was frozen, nothing was making sense.  I was trying to understand what he was saying, and I guarantee you I had the dumbest most confused look on my face.

Here’s what he was saying/yelling: “Don’t you know picking etiquette?  Don’t you know, you don’t ever pick in the same row as someone else?  You have no clue what you are doing, this is unacceptable!”  WHAT?  Are you kidding?

My reaction?  Typical Isabelle’s nervous reaction…I started to laugh.  He didn’t like that.  NOT at all.  He was yelling more and walking away.  In retrospect, I wish I could have simply said: “sir, this is a family orchard, lots of kids and people picking and enjoying the fresh air.  Should you wish to have your own row of raspberries to pick, maybe you should plant some at your house.”  But I didn’t…

He would have not liked it this past Saturday, kids and adults everywhere, not just picking in the same row but some on the same bush as me.  I didn’t care.  There’s always plenty to go around.  Sometimes you meet nice people and have the most interesting conversation.  He wouldn’t know that!

Raspberry Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

1/2 cup fresh raspberries

4 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons basil, thinly chopped (see pic)

1 teaspoon agave syrup (or honey…if that’s how you roll)

Salt and Pepper

How to:

Easy way: put everything in a blender and push on….there you have it: vinaigrette

Other way or the Isabelle likes to make her life complicated way: Using a mortar and pestle, crush your berries until you have a nice puree.  Transfer your crushed or pulverized berries to a large bowl.  Add your vinegar and mix well.  Constantly whisking slowly add your olive oil and make an emulsion.  Add the rest of your ingredients and mix well.   There you have it: vinaigrette!

The not so easy way...but a lot more fun way ;)

Nicely chopped basil....basil + raspberry =awesomeness

Note: this is very much to taste, I like my vinaigrette quite tart (like me!) but if you like it sweeter go ahead and add a bit more of the agave or honey. Try using the organic stuff…it does taste better!

delicious and so pretty

Serve over a bed of fresh organic lettuce, arugula, a few walnuts, dried cranberries and feta cheese….OH MY…so fresh, what a sight!

This vinaigrette is also delicious over grilled chicken or pork.

Printer friendly: Raspberry Vinaigrette

Peace and not in my row,

Isabelle

Oh! Happy Day Fruit Salad!

Bright and Cheerful Fruit Salad!

The past few days have been filled with extreme highs and lows.  I feel like I am on an emotional roller coaster….I don’t like roller coasters.  I like slow and steady!  One of our great highs this week was finding out that our freshman daughter made the J.V. soccer team for her high school.  She worked really hard to get there.  We are extremely proud of her and would have been even if she hadn’t made the team, because we know how hard she tried.

That being said the stress of every day life with a teen has been affecting our home.  I don’t mean to sound so harsh but if you have teenagers in your home then you understand.  Even the best kids have “stuff” and although we all have been teenagers at some point…well, everyone is so different and they don’t come with an instruction booklet!  To add to this, once you have one kid figured out then the other one is completely different with a whole other bucket of issues!

The one thing that gets me through the day: humor.  That’s it.  Just try to laugh about anything and everything.  Oh and good friends to talk to always helps!  Thank you Jennifer ;)

To celebrate the girls’ effort and to come together as a team (in fact 2 teams: Varsity and J.V.) we are having a Family Fun Day.  The freshmen are responsible for fruits and vegetables.  I decided to make a special HUGE fruit salad with an orange & agave sauce.  Fresh, sweet and healthy, great for athletes :)

Ingredients:

Fruits and lots of them ;) 12 cups total (had 2 cups each: grapes, blueberries, strawberries, pineapple, apple, bananas)

1 cup orange juice

Juice 2 lemons & zest 1 lemon (keep the juices of each lemon separate)

1 teaspoon almond extract

4 tablespoons agave syrup (preferably organic) or honey (also organic and local if possible)

Shredded toasted coconut (optional, for serving) about 1/2 cup

How to:

Put all your fruit in a very large bowl.  Toss fruits with the juice of one lemon.  Set aside.

In a medium saucepan put your orange juice, lemon zest, lemon juice and agave syrup.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  Let this cook until reduced by 1/3.  Add you almond extract and mix well.  Let this cool to room temperature.  Please do not put hot sauce over fruits….it’s just a bad idea!  When your glazed has cooled, pour over your fruits and toss gently to cover all.

Fruit Salad and optional toasted coconut

To serve, scoop your fruit salad into bowls and sprinkle with coconut.  I love the contrast of the fresh fruits with a bit of sauce and the crunchiness of the coconut.

Printer Friendly: Fruit Salad with Orange and Agave Sauce

Peace and Laughter,

Isabelle

Recipe also linked on these lovely pages:

Lemon Pasta with Chicken and Pine Nuts

This is inspired by an email I received the other day from my friend Kim at A little lunch.  She mentioned that her kitchen looked like an air-traffic-control center trying to coordinate bowls and pans, stuff in and out of the oven.  I could completely relate.  Often when I have people over for dinners or barbecues…or just because, I tend to decide on a menu that leaves me no room, sort of speak.  Instead of choosing a few items to bake and some to grill, I choose 5 items to bake or everything to grill.  I’ve been in the “having” people over business for many moons now…one would think I’d know better!

I keep learning my lessons! Everyday I learn and learn…

So for tonight’s dinner, I decided to really think this through.  Make a few items ahead of time, prep and marinate in the afternoon.  I should really only have to grill a few things.  Good to go!

Lemon Pasta with chicken and pine nuts

To make my life even easier I am making a favorite of mine;  Lemon Pasta with chicken and pine nuts.  I found this recipe in my Bon Appetit magazine back in July 2000.  I absolutely love this recipe.  It is easy to make and always a crowd pleaser.  This salad can be served chilled or at room temperature.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons plus 2/3 cup canola oil or vegetable oil (in a pinch I use olive oil)

3/4 pound skinless boneless chicken breasts

12 ounce lemon-pepper fettucine or regular fettucine (linguine, or spaghetti works)

2 1/2 cups snow peas cut into matchstick-size strips

3/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

3/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley (I prefer basil)

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

How to:

Here are my snow peas:

Snow peas…matchsticks size!

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large nonstick pan over medium heat.  Add chicken and cook until no longer pink.  Set aside and let chicken cool.  Once cooled cut into 1/4-inch-thick strips.

Cook pasta according to directions on the box.  Once cooked toss with 1 tablespoon oil.  Add your chicken, snow peas, pine nuts and parsley (or basil in my case).  Toss ingredients together well.  Set aside

In a medium bowl whisk your lemon juice and mustard.  Slowly add your remaining 2/3 cup oil in a stream while whisking constantly.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Toss pasta with dressing, serve cold or at room temperature.

So good and easy as can be:

Taste test…delicious

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Peace and Planes,

Isabelle

P.S. I also linked this recipe on Julie Eats & Treats…go check out her blog :)

Here is the link: Julie\’s eats and treats

And also here:

Hot Water and a Salad

No, don’t worry I am not about to post about how to boil water.  I will however tell you a story that might put me in some….

A while back, a friend of mine was telling another friend about how she had just returned from her parents house.  Much to her dismay, her mother was putting ice…yes ICE in her wine.  She was shocked.  I was just standing by, minding my own business but I could feel Matt’s eyes on me.  I could even hear his “inside” laughter.  Because as you would have guessed it….I put ice in my wine…a lot.

To my defense…no wait a minute….it’s my business, it’s my glass of wine, I like it cold!

OK, so I know people who keep their red wine in the fridge.  I drink mine at room temperature.  I now like my margaritas with a splash of light beer (it tones the sweetness down).  My friend Janine sometime drinks her wine with beer in it, I think they call it a “shandy” in Australia….and she KNOWS wine, she sells wine for living!  She has never been on my case about putting ice in my chardonnay….she doesn’t care because it’s my drink!

My point is: do what you want, drink it the way you like it and eat it so it makes you happy!

Chicken Ramen Salad

Here is something about doing the same as everyone else:  Chicken Ramen Salad.  I love this salad.  I have been to several parties where people have brought it and yet I am always unable to get a recipe from whoever brought it.  So I made up my own!  I guess, I am still not doing the same as everybody! ;)

Ingredients:

5-6 cups Cole Slaw; make your life easy go ahead and get the bagged stuff.  Also I sometime will use Broccoli Cole Slaw.

2 chicken breasts cooked and shredded (about 3 cups)

3 green onions finely chopped

2 packages Chicken Ramen Noodles, broken or crushed but not cooked

1/3 cup slivered almonds

Dressing ingredients:

1 packet Chicken Ramen Noodles flavoring (if you really like it you could use 2 but it is LOADED with salt…be careful)

1/3 cup canola oil (or your favorite but not olive oil)

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon soy sauce (I use low sodium)

1 tablespoon sesame oil (optional)

1 tablespoon pepper

How to:

In a large bowl mix all you salad ingredients.  Set aside.

For the dressing: In a medium bowl add your packet (or 2) of Ramen Seasoning, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce and pepper.  Using a whisk slowly add your canola oil and mix well.  Finally add your sesame oil (if using) and whisk well again.

Pour your dressing over your salad and toss to cover everything.  I like to make this salad at least 1-2 hours prior to eating it.  The dry Ramen will not get soggy that fast but all the flavors will blend together nicely.  The salad is also delicious the next day but by then your noodles will have definitely softened…still good…in my opinion! :)

My taste test portion...before serving it to my guests!

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Peace and Ice-Cube,

Isabelle

Also linked on:

Inspired Macaroni Salad

In my previous life, I was a decorator/interior designer.  I am not one to take offense on what I was called…I was busy making a living.  I was really really busy…then the economy went “kaboom”.  When I was in the decorating business I would get LOTS of decorating magazines.  I would get very inspired and excited every time I saw a new idea.  As you can imagine those ideas can get pretty expensive!  Re-do a room here, paint here, change a cabinet here and there…you get the idea.

In this life, I get cooking magazines…a lot…so I get inspired still but frankly the cost is a lot more bearable!  This is exactly what happened this morning, I got my copy of Everyday Food and I was inspired!

In fact, I was inspired to make my macaroni salad lighter.  I didn’t do much different than what I normally do but I did used greek yogurt instead of just mayonnaise.

Lighter Macaroni Salad

Ingredients:

1/2 pound macaroni noodles (or any short noodles you prefer)

2 hard boil eggs

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1/4 cup mayonnaise (light if possible)

splash of hot sauce

1 tablespoon relish

1  celery stalk finely diced

1/2 cup frozen peas thawed

2 tablespoon finely chopped chives

Salt and Pepper

How to:

Boil your noodles according to package directions.  Set aside.

Chop your hard boiled eggs and set aside.  Trust me they don’t have to be pretty or exactly perfect.  The yolk will “mesh” with the dressing so no worries.

In a large bowl mix your yogurt, mayonnaise, hot sauce, relish, salt and pepper (to taste).  Add your cooled noodles, peas, 1 tablespoon of chives and celery.  Mix VERY well.  Add your chopped eggs and gently fold in.  Taste and adjust salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with last tablespoon of chives.

Note: I am always forgetting to thaw my peas.  Easy fix, when I drain my noodles I throw my frozen peas in and they thaw while the noodles cool.

Serve immediately or chill in your refrigerator until ready.

Printer friendly:  Inspired Macaroni Salad

Cooper being Cooper

Cooper our “pretend to be” chocolate lab.  He is also an inspiration….an inspiration to be goofy!  I realize this has nothing to do with macaroni salad but I love this picture.

Peace and get inspired,

Isabelle

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Summertime Love

I know it’s not technically summer yet but as you know I am a big fan of summer.  We get along just fine.  I don’t even mind my sweaty armpits, my not so cold glass of wine, a few bugs here and there, my butt sticking to my car seat….really it’s all good to me!

To go along with this beautiful weather, I like to treat myself to fresh summery recipes.  Here is a simple and fun salad. (my definition of fun might be greatly different than yours…I do apologize for that)

Grilled Romaine Salad with Ice Box Buttermilk Dressing…double and triple YUM!

Ingredients:

2-3 heads Romaine Lettuce

6 slices bacon cooked and crumbled

Ice Box Buttermilk Dressing; recipe to follow or use your favorite store bought…if you must ;)

How to:

Start your grill, let it get really hot.  (Wow! such technical terms)

Cut the end of each romaine lettuce and then cut in in half length wise.  Lightly brush with olive oil and place on your hot grill for 30 seconds per side.  Turn the heat down to low as not to burn the lettuce.

Place your grilled lettuce on a platter.  Drizzle with your dressing and scatter your cooked bacon.  Enjoy!  The tartness, creaminess and overall fabulous flavors are enough to make me cry.  I love this homemade buttermilk dressing and I wish I could drown my sorrows in it.  Although, I don’t really have any sorrows…

Delicious grilled romaine, such a treat!

Ice Box Buttermilk Dressing from (yes again) Back to the Table; A Reunion of Food and Family by Art Smith

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons grainy mustard

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons chopped rinsed capers

2 tablespoons minced shallots (I didn’t have shallots so I substituted with white minced onion)

2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano

1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil

1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon

1 teaspoon sugar

Salt and hot red pepper sauce to taste

How to:

Place all ingredients in a jar and shake well to blend.  The dressing can be prepared up to 1 week ahead, covered, and refrigerated.  Simply give a good shake to mix everything up before serving.

Did I mention how good this dressing is?  I absolutely love it.  I am in love with buttermilk, yes another one of my southern fascinations.  I wish I could come up with daily recipes using buttermilk.  I always have it in my fridge, it’s a must!  Can one bathe in buttermilk?  :)  I know…I didn’t need to share that…I have a soft spot for buttermilk!

Printer friendly: Grilled Romaine Salad with Ice Box Buttermilk Dressing

Peace and Buttermilk,

Isabelle