Persimmon Pear Fall Salad

IMG_0069

On the eve of Thanksgiving, I’m sitting down to share this salad recipe with you before the madness of cooking Thanksgiving dinner ensues.  I finally learned a few years ago to start cooking for Thanksgiving a day early.  That made me so much more relaxed and (I’ll be honest) just nicer to be around on the actual holiday. You’d be cranky too if you had to make 8 side dishes in one day all by yourself!

With that said, if you have been tasked with being the person to bring a salad to your Thanksgiving potluck and you want to really impress your family and friends, well, I have the perfect salad for you!  It has all the quintessential fall flavors that you didn’t know you wanted in a salad, at least I didn’t.

photo

It all started because I have a persimmon tree in my backyard.  We had quite a large harvest this year and I was trying to find all kinds of ways to eat this fruit.  Come to find out, not many people know what a persimmon even tastes like.  The kind that I have is called a Fuyu Persimmon.  It has a firm but creamy bite with notes of cinnamon and clove.  It is a warm sweet spice.  I don’t think I’m doing it justice, but you must give it a try.

IMG_0075

This bowl I’m using is my “go-to” salad bowl for serving lots of people.  It is very wide, but a bit shallow.  I like it because I am able to layer my greens and toppings.  I actually have 4 layers in this salad.  The bottom is mixed greens, then the fruit, nut, cheese layer and another layer of greens and fruit, nut, cheese on top.  This way, every salad tong full will get an even amount of the tasty ingredients.  Genius huh?

This fall salad has all the flavors and textures you want in a good salad.  The greens are a little bitter. The pear is cold, sweet and crisp. The persimmon is creamy and sweet.  The sliced almonds are nutty and crunchy. The crumbled feta is nice and salty. What more can you want?

Well, you’d want salad dressing, of course!

IMG_0006

This is the maple balsamic dressing that ties this whole salad together.  It is super easy to make and I bet you have all the ingredients in your home already.  I suggest that you make this dressing in a mason jar or one of these lovely dressing bottles. It’s called the Pampered Chef Measure Mix Pour.  I swear I’m not getting any money by mentioning this product, I just love it that much.  It has a mixing whisk attachment that you want to emulsify the ingredients, because over time when the dressing sits, the olive oil will separate.  I just set the bottle by my salad bowl and each person poured on what they wanted.  I can’t believe that 6 simple ingredients can be so tasty! You can’t go wrong with maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard and olive oil.

I hope this beautiful salad makes it to your Thanksgiving table. It not only tastes amazing, it’s beautiful too.  Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

 

Persimmon Pear Fall Salad

Salad:

4 small or 2 medium persimmons, peeled and sliced thin

1 brown pear, sliced thin

½ cup sliced almonds, toasted

½ cup feta cheese, crumbled

16 oz. baby spring mix salad greens

 

Dressing:

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

2 tsp. balsamic vinegar

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tsp. maple syrup

Kosher salt

Fresh ground black pepper

 

In your salad bowl, put down a first layer of salad greens.  On top of that, arrange the fruit, almonds and feta cheese.  Finish with another layer of greens, then fruit, almonds and feta again.

For the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a mason jar or dressing bottle and shake until emulsified.

 

Advertisements

Homemade Lemonade Concentrate = Perfect Lemonade

lemonade2

If you have a mature lemon tree in your yard like my parents do, then I bet you’ve got lemons coming out of your ears.  My parents were nice enough to share their abundance of lemons with me.

As the cliche goes, the best thing to do when you have lemons really is to make lemonade!  And this is the recipe you want to use.

lemonade3

Start with a quart mason jar and add in the zest of one lemon.

lemonade4

Juice the lemons until you get one and a half cups of pure lemon goodness.

lemonade5

One tip for your electric juicer is to place a grippy sheet thingy under it so it doesn’t run around all over your kitchen counter tops.  No one wants a crazy juicer running around, ya know!

lemonade6

Next, add the juice to the zest in the jar.

Marvel at how the cute little bits of zest swim around in that lovely juice.

lemonade7

Add your sugar to a small pot.

lemonade8

 

Then add the water and place it on medium heat until all the sugar is dissolved.  Good job, you’ve just make simple syrup!

 

lemonade9

Add the simple syrup to the jar and allow it to steep until all the flavors combine and cool down.  It’s ready to use once it’s cooled.

To make lemonade from this concentrate, combine 1 cup of concentrate to 3 cups of cold water into a pitcher.  Then, pour over a glass of ice and enjoy the fruits of your labor………literally!!

Also, because this concentrate looks so lovely and fits so nicely into a mason jar, it also makes a great gift!

 

Homemade Lemonade Concentrate

1 ½ cups sugar

1 ½ cups water

Zest from one lemon

1 ½ cups fresh lemon juice

 

Measure the sugar and water into a sauce pan. While stirring with a wooden spoon, bring the mixture to a boil until all the sugar is dissolved. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Let cool slightly.

Add fresh squeezed lemon juice and lemon zest to the sugar syrup.  Allow it to cool. Pour the lemonade syrup into a quart jar. Cover tightly with the lid. The syrup can be kept in the refrigerator for 2 or 3 weeks.

Chickens = Eggs


I have always wanted to raise chickens for fresh eggs.  We’ve finally moved to an area where we are able to do that, so we are very excited to announce that we’ve added two new members to our family.

This is our Rhode Island Red chick, which my daughter named Ribbon.  She’s one week old here in the picture.

Isn’t she the cutest thing you’ve ever seen?

This is Chocolate.  She is an Ameraucana chick and she is 2 weeks old here.  She will lay blue-colored eggs and Ribbon will lay brown.   Of course we have about 5 months before they will be old enough to lay eggs, but in the meanwhile the kids are having a great time with our new pets!

I look forward to posting lots of egg-related recipes in about 5 months.

Stromboli

I would be bold enough to say that I like stromboli more than pizza.  Technically they are the same thing, but with the stromboli you get more toppings.  And I am all about the toppings!

Stromboli is a made on a rectangular piece of pizza dough, filled with anything you would put on a pizza.  It’s then rolled up and baked until the dough is browned and crispy.

I also love how I can peek through the slits on top and see the filling all nestled up inside, bubbling away.



When I’m in a hurry for dinner, I usually go to my local mom and pop pizza restaurant and buy their premade dough balls.  So good and cheap.  I can get one large dough ball for $4.00 and make three stromboli from it.

Roll it out to a rectangular-like shape, spoon on your favorite pasta sauce and go crazy with your fillings.  Here I have spinach, cooked Italian sausage, artichoke and pepperoni.

And, what’s a stromboli without cheese?  Sprinkle on your mozzarella cheese.

Roll the whole thing up and lay it seam side down.  Make sure to pinch the ends closed so all the goodness stays inside.  I also sprayed a sheet of aluminum with oil to help with the sticking.

Make sure you cut some slits into the top of the stromboli to release the steam.  You don’t want this thing busting open in your oven!

If I had remembered, I would have taken a picture of this baked beauty cut open and shown you yummy inside.  But trust me, it was beautiful and just as delectable as it’s flat cousin, the pizza.

Stromboli

3 (10 ounce) pizza dough ball

1 (14 ounce) jar pizza sauce

1 (8 ounce) package sliced pepperoni sausage

5 links Italian sausage, cooked and crumbled

1 jar marinated artichokes, sliced thin

1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed squeezed dry

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

olive oil

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Roll out pizza dough flat into a rectangle on cookie sheet. Spoon on the pizza sauce on over the surface of the dough (some may be left over). Place your toppings as desired.   Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Fold dough over and place seam side down.  Pinch ends and sides together. Cut slits in the top and brush with olive oil.

Bake in a preheated oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Slice into individual sections to serve.   Enjoy warm, but watch that first bite.  It will be hot.

Farfalle Pasta Salad

I had a version of this pasta salad for the first time at my monthly scrapbooking club get-together.  My friend Tina is known in our group for her pasta salad.  That night I think all the ladies talked more about this pasta salad than we did scrapbooking, or anything else for that matter.

This is a very pretty dish with lots of color and texture.  It’s also great because you can serve it cold or at room temperature.  This would be great at your next church potluck too!!  Just saying……..

Tina’s original version does not include the use of meat, but since this pasta salad was the main dish I was serving to my family for dinner, I had to throw in some protein.  Here I have salami, turkey and ham.

Dice up the colby jack cheese.

Here is the farfalle pasta all cooled down and tossed in the creamy sauce.

My Italian friend told me that farfalle actually means butterfly, not bow-tie.  I had no idea for all those years.

So here’s the butterfly pasta!

Add in the cilantro and fresh tomatoes for freshness.  In this pasta are also black beans, sweet corn, shredded carrots and black olives but I forgot to snap some shots of that.  Please forgive me, thanks!

Farfalle Pasta Salad

 

12 oz box farfalle (bowtie) pasta

1 can sweet corn, drained

1 can black beans, drained

1 can black olives , drained

1 cup ham, cubed

1 cup turkey, cubed

1 cup salami, cubed

1 cup cheese, cubed

1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

1 carrot, shredded

 

Dressing:

4 tbsp mayonnaise

1 tsp sugar

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

1 envelope of Italian dressing

3 cloves pressed garlic

2 tbsp olive oil

salt & pepper to taste

 

Cook pasta in salted water until al dente, drain and cool.  Meanwhile, combine the dressing ingredients in a large bowl.  Add the noodles once they have cooled off some and then toss.  Add remaining ingredients.  Allow pasta salad to sit for one hour refrigerated for flavors to marry.

Help the Hale Family

To all my foodie friendsout there, this is a very special post which I hope will move you to action.   It is about a family who is close to my heart.  Please take a minute to read about the Hale Family’s story in our local newspaper.

Cherie, the mom in the picture is a friend of mine.  I’ve known Cherie for 4 years now.  Her children have been in school with my kids and we’ve shared many memories together in the past years.  Unfortunately, some of those memories have not all been good ones.

In 2008, Cherie’s son Xavier was diagnosed with leukemia.  This was devastating news and I could not imagine the feeling of helplessness a parent experiences when watching a child battle cancer.

In 2009, her husband Jared was laid off from a job in construction.  Due to Xavier’s medical bills and the job loss, they are also in the process of losing their house.  Either of these issues would be more than enough for any family to suffer.  But, the story goes on……..

The summer of 2010, Cherie found out that she had a malignant brain tumor.  After brain surgery to remove the tumor, she underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatment.  Family and friends brought the family meals for weeks to come. At Cherie’s request, I made her some chocolate-dipped coconut macaroons.  In the following weeks, I also made chocolate whoopie pies for her.  It was a joy to cook for her family and know that I could give her some joy with my food.

On one of the trips to her house with a meal in hand, Cherie asked if I wanted to see her incision.  I will never forget the day we sat together in her kitchen and she braved my reaction as she removed the scarf hiding her shaven scalp and 8-inch surgical scar.  I’ve never tried so hard to fight back tears in my life.  I wanted to be strong for her.   When I got home, I let the tears flow.

Family and friends saw Cherie through a year of recuperation, but she is in need of our help once again.  Last month, she went for a followup MRI exam and the doctor found the tumor has returned!

We are in an effort to raise money for her to have her second brain surgery.  Please consider contributing to the Hale Family at this critical time in their lives.    Click on this Help the Hales website link for information about how to give.  You can make an amazing difference in Cherie and her family’s life today.

Would you also consider praying for the Hales?  We know the Lord hears our prayers and we believe on the life-changing power of prayer!!!

100th Post – My Cupboards Are Empty

This is the kitchen cabinet where I keep most of my baking pans and as you can see, it is empty (and dusty).  It’s not because I got tired of baking and threw them all away.  It’s not because a baking burglar came and stole them all.  It’s because……….

I’m moving!!

I’ve been packing for the past few weeks and slowly saying good-bye to the kitchen I’ve come to know and love for the past 8 years.  I will miss the kitchen island with its uba tuba granite, where I rolled out all those pie crusts and sugar cookies.  It’s where I piped the frosting onto hundreds of cupcakes and made my children’s birthday cakes.

It will hold many memories for myself and my family.  Memories of holiday gatherings and everyday meals.  Parties with friends and family and the sounds of children’s feet racing in and out.

This is where I taught my daughter to wash rice for the rice cooker.  This is where I taught my son to peel a carrot into the kitchen sink.  This is where life happens in my house!

This kitchen is where I started this blog.

So friends, it may be a few more weeks until another post, but  I look forward to my 101st post from my new kitchen and I hope you do too!!

Happy 1/1/11!!!

Like most Southern Californians, I started this morning in my jammies, watching The Tournament of  Roses Parade in Pasadena.  I love the familiar voices of Stephanie Edwards and Bob Eubanks on January 1st.

Although, Stephanie did sound like she was coming down with a cold or something.  Hope you get better Steph!

I love new starts, don’t you?!  Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing bad about 2010, but January 1st just gives me a sense of being able to start fresh again…….

Fresh ideas, fresh experiences, and fresh recipes of course!

Speaking of fresh recipes, I’m kinda running low on ideas.  I would love to ask you all for some help in this area this year.

If you have a prized family recipe or just something you love, please send it my way and I would love to try it out and post the recipes  and pictures for all to share.  I can’t wait to see what you all come up with!

May your new year be filled with love, joy, peace and good food!!

I’m officially a blogger!!

For the past year or so, I’ve been posting pictures of my baking and cooking ventures on my facebook site for all my friends to look at and drool over.  I’ve been told by so many to start a blog and I’ve said, “I have no time for that kind of stuff!”  Well, for some reason on October 5, 2010, I found the time.  I have no idea why I chose today, there’s nothing special about this day, but here it is.  For all my FB friends out there, thanks for encouraging me to get this thing goin’!