Vinaigrette Matrix

IMG_0864Cook’s notes: I am fairly obsessed with making my own salad dressing and often browse recipes and instructions on this topic. The Best Recipe: Small Batch Italian Dressing post has several notes about ratios and emulsifying. I recently found a terrific recipe for a sweeter apple cider vinaigrette, which is perfect on a salad with mixed greens, carrots, and sliced apples. And I still love the Best recipe: Small Batch Balsamic-Rosemary Vinaigrette with rosemary.

I’ve pulled the recipes for these three dressings, the ones I rely on the most, into the matrix below. Read the linked posts for more details.

First, pick which type of vinegar you want to use, and then follow the grid:

Apple Cider Balsamic Red Wine Amount
Oil 2.5 2 3 Tablespoons
Vinegar 2 1 1 Tablespoons
Lemon juice 1 None None Tablespoons
Honey 1.5 None 1/2 teaspoons
Mustard 1.5 1 1 teaspoons
Garlic powder 1/2 1 1/4 teaspoons
Salt 1/8 1/8 1/8 teaspoons
Pepper 1/4 1/8 1/4 teaspoons
Dried herbs None 3/8 1/4 teaspoons

Ground Turkey Sausage

IMG_0748Cook’s notes: I found a wonderful recipe online for a spice blend to use in homemade turkey sausage. I omitted the brown sugar but left in the red pepper flakes.

On its own, the turkey sausage had a bite, but we used it in several dishes and found it delicious: scrambled eggs with cheese, on top of pizza with red and yellow bell peppers, and on spiralized zucchini with red sauce and mushrooms.

In a small bowl, combine all spices and set aside:

  • 1.5 teaspoons Italian seasoning (or equal parts dried basil, oregano, and thyme)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground or whole fennel seeds

When you’re ready to use it, brown 1 lb. (16 oz.) ground turkey in a large pan on stovetop. Add 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar and stir.  Add spice mix and stir to combine.

Adapted from newleafwellness.

Tuna Zucchini Noodles

Cook’s notes: Adapted from several recipes to make a quick weeknight dinner. You could increase the vegetable content by adding baby spinach to the zucchini. Top with Feta cheese, if desired.

TunaZucchini

3 zucchinis, spiralized (or cut into thin strips)
Olive oil for sautéing
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Topping:
1 can (6 ounces) light tuna, packed in oil
1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 large lemon (zest and juice [3 Tablespoons])
2 Tablespoons olive oil

Heat a large skillet over a medium-high burner. Gently cook the zucchini noodles until tender, about 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

In a large bowl, combine the cooked zucchini, tuna, chickpeas, parsley, lemon juice and zest, 2 Tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine. Serve immediately, or cover tightly and refrigerate up to 2 days.

5×5 Lunches

food-vegetables-meal-breakfast
Photo courtesy pexels.com

Cook’s notes: I saw some lovely bento box photos on Pinterest and started jotting notes. All of the lunches had 5 common elements, which means they could easily go into a table. Each row represents the original meal. Mix and match to create new lunches.

(“Five by five” is a phrase I first heard on the show Buffy The Vampire Slayer. It comes from radio communications and means “the best possible quality and strength.”)

There are several vegetarian options, and all of the lunches are nut-free.

Protein Starch Veggie Fruit Dessert
Turkey Kielbasa Brown rice Sliced cucumbers Diced mango Yogurt pretzels
Deli turkey roll-up Pretzels Baby carrots Apple slices Macaroon
Cubed chicken Cheese and crackers Red bell pepper strips Blueberries Dark chocolate
Teriyaki chicken Noodles Pea pods Orange slices Chocolate raisins
Tuna salad Potato salad Zucchini Watermelon Carrot cake
Hummus Pita triangles Cherry tomatoes Grapes Cookie
Quesadilla Tortilla chips Guacamole Jicama slices Pineapple chunks
Quinoa salad with veggies Popcorn Steamed broccoli Pear Brownie

 

Infused Mint Water

IMG_0740Cook’s notes: I had a small package of mint from the grocery store and found a drinkable way to use it. Very refreshing on a hot day. Keeps in the refrigerator for about a week.

Add 1 package (~18g) mint leaves, diced and stems removed, to a jar. Cover with water.

Refrigerate water mixture, stirring once per day, until flavors have infused, about 2 to 3 days. Strain before drinking.

Nut-free Snacks with Protein

 

Cook’s notes: Here is a list of snacks that are balanced with carbs and protein but don’t rely on nuts. I’m not allergic to nuts, but it’s nice to have nut-free snacks. I put nuts in my morning smoothie and don’t always want to eat them again in the same day. Hard-boiled eggs are also high in protein, but I can’t stand their texture, so they are not listed here.

 

Pick one dairy or protein serving: Match with one fruit, veggie, or grain:
1 oz. cheese (2 Babybel cheeses, 1 Laughing Cow wedge, 1 string cheese) 1 cup berries, blueberries, cherries, grapes, or pineapple chunks
Black beans with salsa, 1 cup 1 piece of fruit: apple, banana, nectarine, orange, or peach
Canned tuna, 3 oz. 2 small fruits: Mandarin oranges, plums
Cottage cheese, 1/2 cup Applesauce, 1/2 cup (unsweetened)
Cream cheese, 2 Tbsp. Dried fruit (1 oz.): 9 apple chips, 4 dried apricots, 1/3 cup dried fruit, or 2 Tbsp. Craisins or raisins
Deli turkey, 2 oz. 1 low-fat [black bean] brownie
Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup Bread: 1/2 bagel, 1 corn muffin, 1 slice whole-wheat bread, 1 English muffin, 1/2 pita pocket
Hummus, 2 Tbsp. Plain oatmeal, 1/2 cup
Low-fat milk, 1 cup Popcorn, 3 cups
Roasted chickpeas, 1/2 cup Tortilla chips, 10 each
Sunflower seed butter, 2 Tbsp. Whole-wheat Fig Newton cookies, 2 each
Sunflower seeds, 3 Tbsp. 1 cup raw veggies: Baby carrots, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, red bell pepper, or sugar snap peas
Turkey jerky, 1 oz. 1/2 cup cooked veggies or baked sweet potato

Sample combinations:

  • 1 cheese stick with 1 serving of crackers
  • 1 cup lowfat milk with 1 banana
  • 1 Laughing Cow cheese wedge and 1 cup raw red bell pepper strips
  • 1 oz. Brie with 1 cup cherries
  • 1 oz. cheddar cheese and 1 cup grapes
  • 1 oz. turkey jerky and 1 orange
  • 1 string cheese with 3 whole-wheat crackers
  • 1/2 bagel [or 1 rice cake] with 2 Tbsp. cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup black beans with salsa and 10 tortilla chips
  • 1/2 cup roasted chickpeas with 1/2 cup baked sweet potato
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese and 1/2 cup pineapple chunks
  • 1/2 cup plain oatmeal with 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup yogurt and 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 cup yogurt and 1/2 cup berries
  • 2 Tablespoons hummus with 1 cup baby carrots
  • Half sandwich: 1 slice whole-wheat bread topped with mustard and 2 oz. turkey or chicken
  • 2 ounces deli turkey, 1 ounce aged cheese, 1 cup mini pearl grape tomatoes, and 4 pitted Kalamata olives (EatingWell:  October/November 2005)
  • Mix 3 oz. canned salmon with low-fat mayonnaise, and eat with 1 serving of whole-wheat crackers

 

7-layer Greek Dip

IMG_0867Cook’s notes: Loaded with veggies and wonderful for parties. Serve with raw vegetables and pita chips for dipping.

Layer the following in an 8×8-inch dish:

  • 2 cups hummus
  • 1 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt, mixed with 1 teaspoon dried shallots and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Diced cucumber, about 1 cup (we spiralized 1 English cucumber and cut the spirals into bite-size pieces)
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved (1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled Feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup sliced Kalamata olives
  • Sprinkling of dried herbs

 

 

Spiralized Cucumber Salad

IMG_0865Cook’s notes: This refreshing salad is good for hot summer days. We brought the components to a dinner party so guests could choose if they wanted olives or cheese in their salads.

Top butter lettuce leaves with:

  • Spiralized English cucumber
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Black olive slices
  • Crumbled feta cheese

Dressing: Best Recipe: Small Batch Italian Dressing (make a double recipe)

Review: Fluffy Blueberry Pancakes

CIMG_0818ook’s notes: There’s a reason this recipe on allrecipes has more than 8,300 positive reviews. Follow the recipe as written, but reduce the sugar to 1 Tablespoon.

Then, following advice from King Arthur Flour, add 1 Tablespoon frozen blueberries to each pancake after you pour the batter on the hot skillet. Flip gently.

Updated 31-Jul-2016: We had a pancake emergency this morning. I woke up with a craving for these pancakes, but the allrecipes site was under maintenance, and we didn’t have any eggs in the house. I got a backup version of the recipe from a cache on allrecipes, and then found a lovely vegan pancake recipe on cookie and kate  that used the same amount of flour. Revised and combined recipe below.

Makes about 8 pancakes – no egg required!

1 cup milk (almond milk or 2%) and 
2 Tablespoons white vinegar
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon white sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
cooking spray
Frozen or fresh blueberries

  1. Combine milk with vinegar in a medium bowl and set aside for 5 minutes.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Whisk oil and vanilla into vinegared milk. Pour the liquid mixture into the dry mixture. Stir until combined, so only a few lumps remain (don’t over-mix or your pancakes will be tough).
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and coat generously with cooking spray.
  5. Pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the skillet, add blueberries to each one, and cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side.