Strawberry and Goat Cheese Salad

I am the worst blogger ever.  It’s fourteen days into 2013 and this is my first post of the year.  Oops.

I wish I could say it was because I was busy.  But actually, it’s mostly due to the fact that I’m having the hardest time getting back into a routine.  My schedule has been all thrown off since the holidays and due to having to go into the city for an appointment last week.  Hopefully things will start to get back to normal soon.

So basically, lately I’ve been working on eating all the candy I got for Christmas, pinning up a storm on Pinterest, and trying to watch the entire season of Project Runway that my DVR so thoughtfully recorded for me on Christmas Eve Eve.

Let’s just take a minute and reflect on the fabulousness of Heidi Klum.  Not only does she look amazing, even after having four kids (I bet she doesn’t eat Christmas candy or log way too many hours on Pinterest instead of exercising), but she gets to wear some fabulous outfits!  And sometimes she just wears them for like two minutes.  Just long enough to show up on the runway and tell the designers what their challenge is going to be.  She wore some fabulous sparkly dresses in season 10.  And her hair is always done so nice too!

Now let’s take another minute to reflect on how I want a makeover and for the Project Runway designers to make me clothes.  Someone needs to teach me how to accessorize and put creative outfits together.

Anyway, so now that I’ve finished off Season 10 of Project Runway, perhaps I can get on with my life and find some motivation to be productive again.  I’ve got a lot to do in the upcoming months!  I need to start practice teaching some yoga classes to real people.  Eep!  This is a feat that is proving challenging for a couple of reasons.  1.  I need to find time to plan a class.  2.  I need to find people to teach, which is hard both because I don’t know many people in town and the ones that I do, I don’t know if I want to embarrass myself in front of them.  3.  I need to find a time that works for both me and said people to actually do the class.  I had two people lined up for yesterday, but it was postponed due to both my potential students being ill.

And I also need to feed myself.

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And that’s where this salad comes in.

I needed something for supper that wouldn’t make me feel like a gluttonous sinner, because I’ve been doing enough of that for the past couple of weeks, but I still didn’t want to deprive myself on taste (hence the goat cheese).  Plus I wanted something easy, because I wasn’t feeling overly motivated to actually cook anything.

Strawberry and Goat Cheese Salad

Serves one

1 cup of mixed salad greens, I used a Mesclun mix

3-4 large strawberries, sliced

1/4 of a 113 gm log of goat cheese, crumbled

1 tbsp of pine nuts (toasting optional)

Balsamic Dressing (adapted from Chef Michael Smith)- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar, 1 1/2 tsp honey.  Put all ingredients in a container and shake it up.

Place all ingredients except dressing on a plate or in a bowl.  Drizzle desired amount of dressing on top of salad and toss (you will have dressing left over).

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Maybe not a plateful of chocolate, but it will do.  Would be delicious served along a nice piece of grilled chicken.

Miami Vice Cupcakes

It’s my birthday!

Let’s celebrate with cupcakes!

If I had to pick my FAVORITE flavour of cupcake, and I’d only be able to eat that kind for the rest of my life, these would be it.  As much as I love the Irish car bomb cupcakes and the pina colada cupcakes, I’d rather eat these cupcakes.

And while I actually made these cupcakes a couple of weeks ago as a farewell to one of my coworkers who was leaving to go back to school, if I’d had time to make myself birthday cupcakes and wasn’t making Michael birthday cupcakes tomorrow, I’d have made another batch of these for myself.

Hands down best buttercream frosting ever!

I think one of the reasons I love these so much is because it was my favorite drink at the first Carribbean resort I stayed at.

I’d never even heard of a Miami Vice before, but I saw some people on my grad trip drinking them, and once I found out they were like a strawberry pina colada, I knew I had to try them.

Strawberry, pineapple, and coconut flavours?  You know I’m in!

When I found this recipe in the Betty Crocker Big Book of Cupcakes, I was reminded of that delicious cocktail and it sealed the deal and convinced me to buy the book.  Did I need another cupcake cookbook?  No.  But I needed these cupcakes.

And they didn’t disappoint.

Miami Vice Cupcakes

(Slightly adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything, as found in Betty Crocker Big Book of Cupcakes)

Makes 12 cupcakes

3/4 cups strawberries, hulled and cut in half (I’ve used both thawed frozen and fresh, either work)

1/4 cup lite coconut milk

3/4 tsp coconut extract

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 cup minus 2 tbsp flour

1 tsp baking powder

6 tbsp butter, softened

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp sugar

1 egg

2 tbsp crushed pineapple, from a can, drained

Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare cupcake tin with cupcake liners.

Blend berries in a blender until smooth.  The puree should measure 1/2 cup.  If not, puree more berries.  Pour 1/3 of the puree into a small bowl and add coconut milk, coconut extract, and vanilla.  Stir.  Save the rest of the puree for later.

In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients: flour and baking powder.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer for two minutes until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and beat well.  Then add a third of the flour mixture alternating with half of the berry mixture, mixing on low speed in between additions until just blended.  Once finished, stir in pineapple.

Scoop batter into prepared tin.  Bake 18-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.

Frost with Miami Vice Frosting.

Miami Vice Frosting

1/3 cup butter, softened

1/3 cup shortening

4 tbsp lite coconut milk

2 tbsp reserved strawberry puree

1 tsp coconut extract

1 tbsp pineapple juice

1 tsp vanilla

4 cups icing sugar

Beat together butter and shortening with an electric or stand mixer.  Add all other ingredients except sugar and mix to combine.  Add the sugar in two additions, mixing to combine.  Beat until light and fluffy.

You need these in your life!  I promise you won’t regret making them!

Grilled Asparagus And Strawberry Salad

I don’t know what it is about summer, but it makes me want to have treats!

Like ice cream and nachos and slushy drinks.

And I don’t have strong power so I usually end up giving in.

I felt like I needed a detox.

So I made this salad.

It’s inspired by a salad I had at a restaurant in Washington that had spinach, asparagus, avocado and feta in it.

I’m sure bacon would make a delightful addition if you’re so inclined.  I didn’t because I was trying to be less gluttonous.

Grilled Asparagus and strawberry Salad

Serves 1 entrée size

2 cups salad greens (I used a spring mix)

10 asparagus spears, woody parts of stems removed

Olive oil

1/2 avocado, diced

6-8 strawberries, stems removed and sliced

1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Your favorite raspberry vinaigrette, to taste

Heat grill or grill pan to medium heat.  Toss asparagus spears in a small drizzle of olive oil.  Grill until tender and lightly marked with grill lines (about 5 minutes).

Put greens, berries, avocado, asparagus, and cheese in a bowl or on a large plate.  Top with desired amount of vinaigrette and toss to combine.

Coconut Lime Chicken Tacos With Mango Strawberry Salsamole

Along with coconut, pina coladas, avocados, the beach, and sunsets, tacos are something that I think I need more of in my life.

And that is why I am sharing this recipe with you folks today.

It combines many of my favorite summery flavours: coconut, lime, strawberry, and mango.  Oh and avocados!

I used to be strongly opposed to the whole fruit as part of my entrée.  That was until I had Jessica’s tacos with strawberry avocado salsa (which you simply must try!).  Then I realized it was a good idea and ate those tacos two nights in a row and put strawberries in my salad for the rest of the week.

I know it’s getting a bit hot for the oven.  My apartment building has the worst air circulation ever!  It was 28 degrees in here yesterday and I thought I was going to burst into flames.  Thankfully, today is much cooler and I’m actually getting a breeze in my window.  I made these a couple of weeks ago before the heat wave struck.  But you could totally marinate the chicken breast whole instead of in strips, and grill it on the BBQ and then slice to be used in tacos.

Make these.  You’ll be glad you did.

Coconut Lime Chicken Tacos with Mango Strawberry Salsamole 
(inspiration from How Sweet It Is)
 
4 chicken breasts, cut into strips lengthwise
8 whole wheat/multigrain tortillas
Monterary jack cheese, shredded
Cilantro
 
Marinade:
(adapted from Coconut Lime Chicken)
 
2 cloves garlic, grated
1/2 cup green onion, chopped (I used a spring onion I got at the market)
1/2 cup cilantro
1/8 tsp cayenne
2 tbsp honey
1/2 cup coconut milk
Juice and zest of one lime
 
Mango Strawberry Salsamole:
(adapted from Mango Salsa from Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publications Ultimate Mexican 2011 ed.)
 
1 small red pepper, chopped
1 mango, chopped
1 spring onion or 3-4 green onions, chopped
1 jalepeno, chopped finely
4 large strawberries, chopped
1 avocado, diced
Juice of one lime
 
Put all marinade ingredients in bowl of food processor or blender.  Process until smooth.  Pour into a Ziploc bag and add chicken strips.  Give it a massage to coat all chicken pieces.  Refrigerate for 2 hours or so.
 
Preheat oven to 450º.  Line a baking sheet with foil and place wire cooling rack on top.  Put the chicken strips on the rack and bake for 20 minutes.  Flip strips.  Bake another 10-15 minutes until chicken is cooked through.
 
While chicken is baking, make the salsamole by combining salsamole ingredients in a bowl and stirring.
 
Heat a frying pan or grill pan over medium heat.  Warm tortillas by placing in the hot pan for about 30 seconds per side or until it starts to brown.
 
Build tacos by placing 2-3 chicken strips on tortilla.  Top with cheese, salsamole, and cilantro.  Fold in half and enjoy!
 

 I could go for one of these right now.

 

Fresh Strawberry-Limeade

I’ve never really considered myself as up-to-date on the latest trends.  Usually when some new fad comes out, I think it’s hideous and wouldn’t be caught wearing it.

But then somehow, once it’s been around for a while, it grows on me, and I find myself wanting to be a part of the trend.

Case in point – brightly colored pants.

In the spring, I couldn’t stand them.  Fast forward to last weekend when I decided I wanted a pair of coral cropped pants.

After scouring three malls, I found the perfect pair!  And for $20 no less.

So I bought a pair in teal too.

Michael thinks they’re hideous.  I’m not sure if he’ll be seen with me in public if I’m wearing them.

But what does he know?  Now I am trendy and young and hip and cool.

I plan on wearing them everywhere all summer.

He better get used to it.

Anyways, so now that I am a cool kid, perhaps I will find some summer BBQs or pool parties where the other cool kids are at to go to.  And if I was going to such an event, I would likely bring something to drink, such as this delicious strawberry-limeade.

Now, I made the PG version, as I enjoyed mine in the afternoon sun on my deck while reading Matched, but the possibilities for hooch-ing this up for after dark are endless!

You could add rum, vodka, or tequilla or swap out some of the plain old boring water for club soda or sparkling water.  I bet the strawberry mixture would even be delicious mixed with some sort of sparkling wine (like prosecco) and leaving out the water completely.

It’s Friday.  Find the cool kids and drink some of this.

Fresh Strawberry Limeade
(adapted from Chatelaine)
Serves 2, easily multiplied
 
1 cup strawberries, quartered
6 tbsp sugar
Zest of 1 lime
1 1/2 cups water, divided
Juice of two limes
Ice
 
Put strawberries, sugar, zest, 1/2 cup water into blend and puree until smooth.  Pour mixture through fine mesh sieve into a pitcher.  Add remaining 1 cup water.  Stir.
 
Pour into glasses filled with ice.  Garnish with lime slices if desired.  Best if drank the day it’s made.