Giada's Tuscan Salad

This salad is one of the lightest yet most satisfying salad recipes out there, in my opinion.  I first saw this salad on a re-run of Giada At Home on Food Network and I knew I had to try it out.  No meat to weigh it down, but plenty of great texture and flavor to make a person feel like they are indulging themselves.  It's officially one of my favorite salad combinations of all time.  

This salad is so good it could really be a light meal on it's own.  Case in point:  On the evening I made this salad, my husband (who is a grill-aholic, by the way) grilled some delicious, perfect baby back ribs, chicken sausages, corn-on-the-cob, whole sweet potatoes and zucchini.  He worked at this meal for hours and it was a barbecue feast fit for a king!  Well, I decided to throw this salad together as a light accompaniment or starter. We enjoyed it so much that we ate two servings of salad each and we were spent.  We ate barbecue for days... 

Lesson learned and next time I serve this salad it will be with just a warm slice of fresh, buttered bread at the most.  It is filling. 

Also, I made just a couple of small adaptations.  The original recipe has this salad dressed with a simple homemade dressing of lemon juice and olive oil. However, I wanted a little more pizazz so I served mine with my favorite recipe for homemade balsamic vinaigrette.  I also used grated parmesan cheese that I had on hand for a topping.  

Tuscan Salad
  • 2 cups fresh green beans (about 8 oz), rinsed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 head Romaine lettuce, torn or cut 
  • 1(15 oz) can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup black olives, sliced
  • 1/2 half red onion, cut into thin slivers
  • homemade balsamic vinaigrette or other dressing of your choice
 1.  Cook the green beans in a boiling pot of salted water for about 2-3 minutes, until just tender.  Drain the beans and rinse with cold water and set aside. 

2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients in layers and then, lightly toss.  Serve with dressing and enjoy.     


Salad with Romaine, Berries, Feta and Balsamic Vinaigrette

The heat of summer always make me think a little bit lighter when it comes to food.  During the Texas heat wave between June and September, I tend to serve lot of sandwiches, light vegetable soups and salad...lots and lots of cool, crisp salad!  

I like to get a little adventurous with my salad though and many of my favorites actually include fruit or whole, cooked beans and and some kind of wonderful, crumbly, sharp cheese.  No one said salad had to be a plain, boring, one-slice-of-tomato-on-the-side garden side salad!

I made this salad for my husband a few days ago, and when saw it all put together, he said "What a weird salad, but it looks pretty".  True story.  But, guess who ate the final serving from the big bowl?  

There will be lots of salad served-up here at my house over the next several weeks and as a result, (watch out readers, my food-geekiness is really showing here) this recipe marks the first of a short series of posts on salad! 

Salad with Romaine, Berries and Feta (to serve 4)
  • half head of romaine lettuce, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cup of fresh blue berries, rinsed and patted dried
  • 4-5 fresh strawberries, rinsed, patted dry, and sliced
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • a few thin slices of red onion
1.  Place all ingredients, in the order listed, in layers in a large bowl or individual serving bowls.
2.  Top or serve with balsamic vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • pinch of salt and pepper
1.  Combine all ingredients in a container with a lid and shake until well-mixed.  

Simple Apple Crisp

See those pretty, shiny apples?  They are destined to be something greater in my opinion.  Fresh fruit rarely stays in it's original form for long at my house.  I can eat raw vegetables on a tray all day long, but any sort of fruit I get my hands on gets turned into a sweet dish or a smoothie.  

I don't have a theory to explain my little streak of madness when it come to fruit and desserts other than the obvious:  fruit is great in dessert!  If you're not satisfied with the obvious explanation, well then, I guess I can safely blame my mother.  She made her delicious peach cobbler and apple pie a bunch when I was growing up and I remain strangely addicted to fruit-based desserts....especially when served warm and topped with vanilla ice cream.  Thanks Mom!

I typically like to keep it simple and just dress up fresh, beautiful fruit with wonderful, warm spices and a simple topping or pastry.  This super simple apple crumble has become one my favorite little treats.  It's good for a quick evening dessert or to impress friends at your next barbeque. 

 This recipe is great with other fruit fillings too.  Substitute blueberries, mixed berries (about a cup for each small baking dish) or fresh peach slices for the apples.

Simple Apple Crisp

 For the filling:
  • 3 large sweet apples (I used Gala), peeled, cored and sliced or chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon apple juice
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • pinch of table salt
1.  Pre-heat oven to 375°.  Prepare 4 small soufflĂ© bowls (5 in diameter) with non-stick spray. (or just place everything together in a greased 8 x 8 in baking pan)
2.  In a large bowl, mix and coat the apple slices with the ingredients as listed.
3.  Fill bowls with the apple slices.   

For the topping:
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1/4 cup of flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup of melted butter
1.  Mix all ingredients with a fork until moist and then spread evenly over the apples in baking dishes
2.  Place the baking dishes on a baking sheet and bake for about 35-40 minutes.
3.  Allow to cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes.  Serve warm (but, truthfully it's delicious cold too)
3. Enjoy!

Bandanna Style Cookies...For a Homesick Texan

Well, I won't keep you all waiting any longer.  Here is the finished product from Tuesday's cookie post!  I really enjoyed decorating these little beauties.

These cookies are being shipped and given away to a family members and friends who were members of our wedding party.  My mother-in-law lives in the New York City area and she seems to stay incredibly homesick for Texas.  I thought this little bit of Texas -style would cheer her up or at least give her a good conversation piece at the office.

 It's also significant because we were married on the Texas coast... if you don't know me personally, then you don't know that I got married on May 4!  As I mentioned in the previous, brief post, lots have changed since my last blog update over a year ago.  And they are all good changes. 


 Here is another variation on the same bandanna-style cookie in simple flower shape.  I love mason jars and when I happened upon a mason jar shaped cookie cutter I actually squealed.  Yes, it's true... I squealed out loud like school girl!  Luckily, it was a slow day at the mall.

Mason jars were a huge part of our simple wedding reception decor.  I hand-painted a bunch of them, 36 jars to be exact, in bright, spring colors and made them look "weathered".  It was fun... and that tutorial is for another post. 

This bandanna-country style for cookies is so versatile.  It could work for weddings, birthday parties, and if paired up with a cookie as a sort of plaque, like my mason jar, it will be perfect for all kinds of personalized cookie assortments.  Next time I decorate in this style I'm planning to use pastel colors... turquoise, pink, yellow. Little cowgirl party decor? It would be a hit!

Well, my family, cooking and now decorating cookies and cakes are still the primary focus here on Little Fish and in real life, although not always in that order.  Updating my blog...another dream come true, has made it's way back on the grid as well.   I have collected and written many recipes... I have lots of catching up to do!

My husband will be thrilled to see me back to obsessively photographing food.  I'm just being sarcastic.  He doesn't care really as long as the meal eventually makes it to the table.  


Cookies For a Homesick Texan

And, just like that, without warning... I post!  I've been meaning to post for weeks and weeks! Life and fatigue keep getting in the way.  I just had to take a minute to break the ice here.  Lots of things have changed around the old homestead in the last year. 

I bake a lot lately, and not just for me and mine, but for others too.  I've taken Texas up on their passage of a cottage food law in 2011 and I run a small baking business from home.  Cakes are cool, but my true love is decorating cookies.  In fact, it's fair and right to say that I'm completely addicted to it.   

 These cookies will be decorated and sent to a homesick family member in New York.   I hope to cheer them up!  And, yes, you will see the "after" pic when I get them all good and pretty. 
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