Thursday, December 29, 2011

Quick & Easy - "Whole Bunch'a Crap" Fruit Salad

What is Christmas without a little disaster??

When my mom found out on Christmas morning that our neighborhood grocery store wasn't opened for business - even though it said it would be - she quickly came up with a plan to make a homemade fruit salad using only 5 ingredients.

The name "Whole Bunch'a Crap" came about when my cousin's boyfriend asked me what was in the salad & I didn't feel like explaining so I said "there are apples, cucumbers, and...uh...a whole bunch'a crap."  Nothing clever, I know.

This delicious concoction was made using these 5 things...
     Apples - We used 2 fuji apples & 2 granny smith apples to get the red/green as well as a little bit of tang.
     Cucumbers - We used the baby kind since cucumbers are not in season anymore (I think).
     Dried fruits - We have a big bag of mixed dried fruits @ home so we tossed in all some raisins, dried peaches, & dried pineapples.
     Nuts - The  nuts we used came in the same bag as the mixed dried fruits but if you want to need to get nuts in addition to the fruits, we used peanuts, almonds, and toasted walnuts.
     Mayonnaise - We would've preferred another dressing (i.e. poppy seed) but the stores were closed & all the Chinese supermarket had was mayo (ew).

Putting all this "crap" together...
     Cut the apple into segments, remove the core, & then cut into chunks.  We left the skin on & kept the chunks pretty big so people actually have something to bite into.
     Put the apple chunks into a big bowl of salt water as you're cutting them (this prevents browning).  Leave the chunks in for about 10 minutes, rinse them off, & let them drain.
     Cut the cucumbers into the chunks also, keeping them about the same size as the apples.  Set them aside in a bowl (no need to soak them).
     Once the apples are rinsed/drained, toss them together with the cucumbers, the dried fruits (cut up the larger pieces), & the nuts.
     Mix the mayo - about 0.5 to 0.75 cups - with a about 0.75 teaspoon of sugar (this cuts down the tangy'ness) & dress the salad.

That's really all there is to it.  If you like, you can add celery, mixed canned fruits, or even potatoes (yep!).  The key thing is not to over'dress the salad because then it would just be goopy, tangy, & just plain gross.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Weekend Dinner - Squash Beans & Kale "Minestrone"

My partner's mother got me a butternut squash a couple of weeks ago & I finally have time to cook it.  Coincidentally I had read about a recipe in Self magazine that I wanted to try out that uses butternut squash.  Perfect!  I ended up deviating quite a bit from the original recipe because I didn't have all the ingredients.  But the end product was still delicious.

Here are the ingredients I used...
     1 quart of chicken broth
     2 cups of water
     1 can of diced tomatoes with the juice (I was feeling lazy)
     1 can of cannellini beans (the original recipe calls for kidney beans)
     5 cups of butternut squash, cubed
     7 oz of kale, chopped (I used a 10oz bag of chopped kale from Trader Joe's for $1.99)
     Salt & black pepper to taste (I also added some chipotle powder for kick)

And this is how it went...
     In a small pot, boil some water & blanch the cannellini beans for a couple of minutes.  I did this to get rid of the gooey gunk that canned beans usually sit in.
     In a large soup pot, bring to a boil the chicken broth, water, & tomato.
     While waiting for the soup base to boil & for the beans to blanch, peel & cube up the butternut squash.  This was 1 of the hardest things I have had to do in cooking.  I did find out though, that my ceramic knife is far superior to my metal one.  I used the entire squash which came out to about 5 cups even though the recipe asks for only 3.

     Once the soup base is boiling, add in all of the butternut squash cube.  Season with a little bit of soil & let it all boil for 15 minutes.
     After the 15 minutes, add in the kale (making sure to submerge it into the soup) & the beans.  Once the soup comes back up to a boil, season with black pepper & a tiny bit of chipotle powder.

There you go!  A delicious, healthy, warming meal...all in 1 bowl.  Oh, & did I mention it's anti-cancer too??