Monday Mixture

IMG_4234Okay I feel the need to write since Mr. Mixture keeps referencing things I can put on the blog.  Yes ,I am calling him out on this.  I have not written recently and there is no specific reason for my lack of writing, except I have not been in the mood to write, and wait I have been trying to work on some other random projects around the house and for the family.  Wonder if Mr. Mixture or Little Miss Mixture would notice if I forgot to do those other things?

Apparently Mr. Mixture is not the only one as some other family members seem to miss my post showing up in their inbox.  How great it is to feel missed and loved.  So here it is an update of things that have been going on in the life of “Let’s Have Mixture.”

1. What We Are Eating – yes here it is an account of all the food we have been enjoying.  Even though I have not been snapping photos and writing post, I have been busy in the kitchen this month with some old favorites as well as some new meals.

Week of 10/5

Sunday – Enchiladas

Monday – Spinach Ricotta Pizza

Tuesday – Ham & Cheese Homemade Hot Pockets, Fruit Salad

Wednesday – Leftover BBQ and Pizza from our weekend festivities

Thursday – Leftover Enchiladas and Salad

Friday – Tony’s De Napoli (NYC)

Saturday – Mercer Kitchen (NYC)

Week of 10/12

Sunday – Catch (NYC)

Monday – Pumpkin Ravioli with Sauteed Spinach in Brown Butter Sauce

Tuesday – Spinach Salad with Chicken, Avocado, and Bacon

Wednesday – Scrambled Eggs and Fruit Salad

Thursday – Grilled Chicken and Pineapple Sandwich on Challah Rolls, Cauliflower with cocktail sauce

Friday – Sandwiches on the go before Homecoming Football Night

Saturday – BBQ Chicken Pizza

Week of 10/19

Sunday -Pizza @ a Camp Open House

Monday – Collard Wrap with Tuna Salad, Veggies and Naan bread with Garlic Hummus

Tuesday – Srirachi Chicken over Couscous

Wednesday – Waffles and Sautéed Maple Syrup Apples

Thursday – Little M and a sitter had Macaroni & Cheese and Veggies with Ranch Dip

Friday – Dinner out before the Lower School Football Game

Saturday -Collard and Black Bean Soup with Cornbread

Week of 10/26

Sunday – Tacos

Monday – Raisin Challah French Toast

Tuesday – Grilled Chicken and Peach Salad

Wednesday – Leftover Collard & Black Bean Soup, Cornbread and Salad

Thursday – Chicken and Shrimp Fried Rice

Friday – Halloween Pizza Party in the neighborhood

Saturday – Braised Short Ribs over Polenta, Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Apple & Blue Cheese Salad, Turtle Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream

2. New York City Eats – Recently we went on a trip to the Big Apple.  Being the foodie family that we are, we are always searching for good eats when we travel.  We started and ended our time in the city at a favorite – Shack Shack.  Who can resist a good hormone free burger, chicken sausage, and caramel shake when it is a block and a half from your hotel.

For lunch one day we happened upon a great food court where we enjoyed sandwiches from Num Pang, based on a recommendation.  The sandwiches were more than just a sandwich and definitely hit the spot.  Little Miss Mixture and Mr.Mixture like cupcakes, so it was hard from them to pass up Sprinkles.  The infamous cupcake shop out of Los Angeles lived up to the hype for this family.  We each got a mini cupcake and they were so moist and full of flavor they left us wanting more.

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What I love about NYC is how easy it is to find good food and a variety of it.  Some of our meals were healthier than others, but all were very good.  We enjoyed different settings from a family style italian restaurant, to a kid friendly spot, to more eclectic choices that focused on sushi and seafood tapas.DSC_0929

 

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3. GOTR – I have done it, I have signed up for my first ever race.  Little Miss Mixture is participating in the Girls on the Run program and it culminates with a 5K.  I began training about five weeks ago to be her running buddy.  Unfortunately I have learned the cooler weather is not a big motivator for me, which does not fair well since our race is in early December.  Wish me luck as this is definitely a bucket list item.

4. Girls Rock – Little Miss Mixture got to celebrate her birthday with several different groups of people in her life.  She took cupcakes to school, we had a family gathering, and she had a sleepover.  The one cake she wanted was a cookie cake for the family celebration.  She was very specific on what she wanted, so we placed an order.  On the day of her birthday, we were less than thrilled with the purchased cake.IMG_4060

Luckily I had all the necessary things at home from making cupcakes to turn this not so great creation into one that did in fact rock.  Honestly though regardless of how it looked.  It is hard to go wrong with a chocolate chip cookie cake.

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5. Package sizes – I try not use use a lot of processed products, but there are a couple of recipes I find it necessary.  We have a favorite cake that calls for Devils food cake mix and caramels.  Last year I noticed the size of the cake mix box had decreased based on the recipe.  This year I decided to give my hand a try and make the cake from scratch, but I still needed the caramels.  I have always used Kraft and I like the bits that can be found seasonally, but I was unable to locate them.  I grabbed a bag of the individual wrapped squares as the recipe simple stated one 14oz package, but as I started at a bowl that looked low in volume, I realized the current bag size is 11oz.  I cannot recall what the cost of the bag used to be, but I am sure it is more now and you get less.  Be careful during this baking season as you will need to purchase more packages to make sure your recipes came out correctly.

On other note two stores in the same shopping center are selling this package at different prices.  One local based large chain grocery store seems to think it is worth $.75 more than another major retailer.  #thingsthatannoyme  The change has even confused one of the retailers in their marketing.  Look closely here they are selling a 13oz package, but the actual picture shows differently.

Caramels

6. Halloween candy while this sits in the pantry and probably gets untouched.

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I am scanning recipes on how to use the candy in a way it may get consumed or just not tossed in 6-8 months.  Here Are some great ideas I pinned this weekend.  I also love the idea of using the candy in non edible ways – science experiment, decorate gingerbread houses.

I hope you enjoyed catching up on what Let’s Have Mixture did throughout the month of October.  I will try and post more this month as we continue to enjoy fall and its flavors.

 

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Spinach, Apple & Mushroom Salad with Maple Vinaigrette & What we are Eating

DSC_0606 DSC_0604I hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend. It is officially time to put away the white pants and linen and begin to enjoy football, apples, and pumpkins. It may not be fall per the calendar as yet, but in the South we have rules.  I just love this that I found while perusing my social media last night. I guess I really am a southern girl as I do in fact live by most of these.  I will admit to continuing to wear strappy sandals and sundresses for another week or so, but really how can you not when the thermometer is inching up to the mid 90’s.  White however is a no and I completely agree with the author of this piece as I struggle with whether or not white jeans work.  Regardless of what the fashion industry said, us southern girls remember what our mom’s taught us.

So to kick our fall off, we went apple picking this weekend.  We had a great time, though I wish it had been a few degrees cooler.  It is hard to enjoy yourself and get ready for fall when you are sweating your way through the apple orchard.  Apple Cider YES please, just make it a cold one.  There is no way to enjoy hot apple cider when it is a blazing 88 on top of a mountain.  Regardless of the weather our family tradition still stands.  We had a picnic lunch, picked a bushel of apples, bought and enjoyed some apple cider, and indulged on apple cider doughnuts.  Not a bad way to enjoy the long weekend.  Now back at home the apples have been sorted and stored.  I prefer to refrigerate most of the apples as they keep for longer.

DSC_0608Tips for Storing Apples

1.  Sort apples by variety, as different varieties ripen at different rates

2.  Make sure to check apples for bruises and punctures as these apples need to be eaten first

3.  Apples will keep best if stored in a cool environment cellar or the refrigerator fruit drawer are good choices.  Most apples will keep 3-5 months when kept this way.

4.  Be sure to keep apples away from onions and potatoes as they hasten the ripening.

We have made apple picking a tradition for the past five years or so.  With about 30lbs of apples in the house  we have learned to enjoy them in a variety of ways.  Little Miss Mixtures lunch included fresh apple slices with peanut butter and honey for dipping.  Sometimes we eat them with a slice of cheese.  I baked them with cinnamon and raisins to enjoy with yogurt.  I mix them into salads, make cakes, and applesauce.  Aside from just biting into them, this is how we enjoyed our fresh Jonagold apples this weekend.

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Spinach & Apple Salad with Maple Vinaigrette

3 cups fresh spinach

2 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled

1/4 cup red onion, sautéed in the bacon fat

1/4 cup sliced mushrooms

1 small apple (jonagold, gala, or other sweet variety work best)

Maple Vinaigrette

1 oz Maple Syrup

1 Tbsp Shallots, minced

1 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard

1 tsp garlic, minced

Combine all ingredients for vinaigrette and whisk together.  Allow to sit while you prepare the rest of the salad.

In a skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until 3/4 of the way done.  Add the sliced red onion and continue sautéing together until bacon is crispy and onion is soft.  In a large salad bowl mix spinach, apple slices, and mushrooms.  Top with bacon and onion mixture.  Pour vinaigrette over salad and toss well.  Serve and enjoy.

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* adapted from Spinach Salad with Maple Dijon Vinaigrette in Cooking Light Magazine

 

What we are Eating (August 24 – August 30)

Sunday – Italian Chicken Sausage Pepper & Onions,  Made from Scratch Sweet Potato Fries, Heirloom Tomatoes

Monday – Better than Take Out Pizza

Tuesday – Nachos with Black Bean Corn Salsa

Wednesday – Taco Salad

Thursday – Cilantro Serrano Pasta with Chicken

Friday – Anytime Salad with Chicken

Saturday – Date Night Out

Treasure Chest Thursday: Any Season Salad

IMG_3737Being a salad person, I have about ten salads that we rotate through as main meal salads depending on the season and the local produce available.  In a recent post, I told of never having made a chopped salad until recently.  I need to apologize as apparently I told a small little story.  I have been making a chopped style salad for years without realizing it and this is a salad that can be made any season.

Many years ago, when valentine’s day was more about two of us than three of us, I planned out Valentine’s Date.  It was actually an evening at home.  I happened upon a cookbook that sort of set the evenings plans into play.  Intercourses, yes go ahead laugh a little as we have, but that is the name of the book.  It is a cookbook that focuses on aphrodisiac foods and recipes that incorporate them.   I am not sure how much I believe in the power of food in romance, but the book includes a lot of my favorite foods – avocado, chilis, pine nuts, strawberries, and more.

Anyway cute little me thought how fun to cook a meal based on some of these recipes and give the book as a gift.

Over the years we have tried several of the recipes in the book.  There are others that I have not been brave enough to try, partly due to their uniqueness and my uneasiness that Mr. Mixture wouldn’t enjoy.  Mr. Mixture’s taste have definitely grown and he is always willing to try new things I make, so maybe I will get adventurous.  Anyway one of the first recipes, I tried was a salad that included pine nuts.

Pine nuts are said to be “a deft kernel of love.”  Apparently the northwestern Himalayas are said to have one of the highest birthrates and they relate it to pine nuts and their power to increase fertility.

Being that I can never follow a recipe or so Mr. mixture seems to think, dinner became this one night.  It began as a side salad, but I turned it into a wonderful main meal.  A salad that would become a treasure chest recipe for us.

Any Season Salad

3-4 Cups Mixed Greens, Dark Leaf Lettuce, or Butter Lettuce, Chopped

1 avocado, peeled and chopped

1 tomato, chopped

4 Tbsp. Toasted Pine Nuts

1/2 cup Alfalfa Sprouts

1/4 cup minced Red Onion

1/2 cucumber, peeled and chopped

3 Tbsp. Mozzarella Cheese, grated or chopped

1/4 cup Cilantro, chopped

1-2 Chicken Breast, grilled or baked and cut into chunks*

* I marinate the chicken in olive oil, fresh ground black pepper, dried basil, lemon juice

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Toss all ingredients into a large salad bowl and toss well.  You can either add the chicken to the salad or top individual salads as desired.  This salad is also versatile in the moisture from the vegetables allows the salad to toss nicely and decrease the amount of dressing needed.  You can choose to toss with the dressing to serve or allow individuals to dress to their desired taste.

Dressing 

2 Tbsp White Wine Vinegar

4 tsp Dijon Mustard

2 tsp Honey

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

6 Tbsp Olive Oil

Whisk all ingredients together.

Printable Recipe and Nutrition info here

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Grilled Peach, Goat Cheese, & Arugula Salad Pizza

IMG_3528The other night I had some friends over and I seem to always over think the food thing, but that is just who I am.  I knew it would be a small crowd, but I find often this is the only chance I get to try what may be considered more girly type foods or appetizers and desserts.  Don’t get me wrong Mr. Mixture is typically game for trying most things, but I know there are certain foods that I enjoy more than he would.  I could easily make a dinner out of cheese, crackers, and other pick me up type things.  Add a glass of wine and a sweet bite and I am a happy girl.

To make myself happy, I put out some food and decided I would make a simple dinner for the family that I could use for my guest as well.  I had thought about making a basic pizza as we love pizza and really have not had one in awhile, but then I got creative and things got more appropriate for a ladies night.  I had some grilled peaches that I had planned to use for a salad, but then our menu got moved around a bit, so I decided a pizza with peaches would go perfect with some good friends and wine.  I figured Little Miss Mixture would enjoy it as her dinner as well.

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Grilled Peaches, Goat Cheese and Arugula Salad Pizza

1 Pizza dough (I used Trader Joe’s)

2 oz. Arugula Pesto (optional – this could be substituted with olive oil)

3 Grilled Peaches, Halved and sliced

2 oz. Goat Cheese

2 oz Mozzarella Cheese

6 oz Arugula

1 Tbsp. Balsamic Dressing

1 tsp. Olive Oil

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Prepare pizza dough as per package directions.  I always allow dough to set out in order to get to room temperature so it is easier to roll.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees and allow to heat for 15-30 minutes with pizza stone.  This will help to cook the dough thoroughly in a shorter time when it is placed on a hot pizza stone.

Roll out pizza dough and transfer to hot pizza stone that has been prepped with about 1 tsp. olive oil.  Place pizza dough in preheated oven until it begins to rise and start to turn golden.

Remove pizza dough and brush with arugula pesto.  Dollop the goat cheese around the pizza dough and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese as well.  Place grilled peaches around the pizza dough and return to oven.  Cook for about 15 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Meanwhile toss arugula and balsamic dressing together.

Remove pizza from oven and top with arugula salad.  Slice and serve.

IMG_3530IMG_3523IMG_3526Well the pizza was a success.  Everyone enjoyed it including Mr. Mixture who arrived home late and was hungry.  Lucky for me since I have way too many peaches from our family adventure peach picking this weekend.  Looks like we may be seeing this again soon.  Might be perfect for our next meatless monday meal.

CHOPPED and so happy about it

You are CHOPPED!  

Do you watch this show?

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I go through phases with food tv, recently I am not really into the shows that come on when I seem to have time to watch television or have it on in the background.  I like competition shows and there are quite a few out there.  I was a big Top Chef fan at first, but sadly my DVR still holds the last seasons episode as I was not that into it.  In fact I completely stopped following it when I was more into other shows and have no idea who the last Top Chef was.  I personally think I was turned off because it became more about the people and the drama (ie. Josie – I was never a fan the first time, so a second time was too much).  I liked it when it really spotlighted more the food being prepared and the different challenges.  Chopped is a show that my daughter got into a couple of years ago and I still find it entertaining to watch.  I especially like that each episode is its own so I can randomly watch it when I want and not be lost or behind in a series.

Enough about my random television habits, the reason I am on this Chopped tangent is I finally made a chopped salad and we loved it.  I love a good entree salad.  In fact I could eat meals like this multiple times a week though to be fair to the other family members I make other things.  I have always been a fan of a good salad.  There are only a handful of restaurants that in my opinion have always had a good entree salad.  They are definitely more widespread these days, but fifteen years ago when we were younger and eating out more it was not so common.

I have never really been a huge fan of chopped salads.  That is not to say I avoided them.  I just have always gravitated toward certain types of salads.  I used to order salads with chicken tenders just as a change when eating out.  They seem to always have the good stuff – bacon, avocado, and cheese on them.  I am a huge mexican fan so any salad with a mexican flair catches my eye.  For years I have been a fan of a good caesar salad, especially at a restaurant because up until this year I had never attempted to make one at home.  As a dietitian I have known even before the dark green veggies became fashionable that these were better for you, so spinach based or mixed green salads have always had a place in my diet.  When I was living on my own or eating alone since Mr. Mixture used to work a lot of evenings, I would just make a big salad using whatever protein we had in the house – leftover meat from another dinner, beans, cheese, or a combination of them all.  Over the years I have come up with a lot of great combinations and learned many different flavor profiles and what dressings and things work well together.

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Last summer there was a pin that kept showing up in my pinterest home for a Summer Chopped Salad.  It looked good and did a nice job of incorporating fresh vegetables and fruit.  I tried it as my first chopped attempt, but for our family it just did not have enough flavor or wow.  I never removed the pin from my salad board, so I decided to give it another try but find a dressing that would work better for our taste.  Well I had the ingredients to make the pictured salad, but I got side tracked after making a dressing and ended up with something a little different… a chopped salad that was a hit.  Phew this dinner did not get the chopping block.  It has been added to my recipe book. 

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Chopped, a salad that deserves to stay on the Chopping Block

Romaine Lettuce, 1-2 heads

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Grilled Corn, 1 ear cut off the cob

Avocado, 1

Cucumber, 1 kirby

Red Pepper, 1/2

Tomato, 1 medium ( I prefer heirloom for the flavor when available)

Mozzarella Cheese

Bacon, 2 slices

Salami, 6 slices

Poached Chicken, 1 breast

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All ingredients should be chopped to a similar size, about 1/2″ to 1 inch pieces work best depending on the ingredient.  Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  Pour dressing over and toss the salad, ensuring even coating and serve.

Chopped Salad Dressing (* adapted from a recipe for California Pizza Kitchen Chopped Salad Dressing)

1 tsp. fresh garlic, minced

2 tsp. fresh shallots, minced

3 Tbsp Dijon Mustard

2 tsp Italian Herb Mixture (This particular mixture was a gift and is from a restaurant in Alabama) The mixture is basil, parsley, rosemary, garlic, oregano, pepper, salt)

1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar

1 1/3 cups Olive Oil

3 Tbsp Parmesan Cheese

Combine all ingredients in a glass container and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.  Shake well and pour over salad.  This recipe makes enough for two family size chopped salads.  I always make extra dressing when I make salads so I can use it throughout the next week on small lunch salads or dinner salads.

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This is a great salad.  A mixture of a lot of foods.  You could easily make some changes to this salad and use up some leftovers that may not be enough for an serving or meal .  I can see putting grilled zucchini or roasted peppers in the salad, just as easily as leftover boiled corn or grilled chicken could be tossed in.  In fact this could just as easily be made similar to our dinner a couple of weeks ago which really was a salad from leftovers and it was fabulous.

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Want a different type of salad.  Try one of these.

Caesar Salad

Mixed Greens with Grilled Peaches

Blackberry, Yellow Squash and Goat Cheese

Grilled Fattoush