Showing posts with label festive salad. Show all posts
Showing posts with label festive salad. Show all posts

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Holiday Lights or Lites??


Okay, have we had enough sugar this season? You haven't? Not yet? Neither have I, but I have to think healthy for at least a few minutes during the holidays. One meal. That's all it takes. One meal.

I try to make sure that my characters in A Cheese Shop Mystery series eat healthy foods every once in a while. I mean, yes, cheese is healthy, but all by itself? As a constant diet? Well, c'mon. Even I can't buy that. So it's important to shake it up. Add some greens. Add some texture
. Add some fun to a meal.
Something pretty.

It's like reading. You can't read romance all the time. (No? some of you shout!) You need mystery. (Yes, yes, yes.) You need thrillers. You need sci-fi. You need non-fiction. (Argh, please don't tell me I need to read that too often. I didn't like all the history I had to read during school. And then as an adult author, I realized history was important to my research. Honestly. Now I get it.)

Side note re: veggies. In the new book due out in May, Lost and Fondue, Charlotte offers a blue cheese fondue that works like a dip with veggies. {Recipe to come soon.}

Back to today. In an effort to keep all of you balanced, and in an effort to make sure that veggies aren't feeling left out during this sweet-laden season, here's a very satisfying salad, for lunch, for dinner, for a side dish.

And, yes, it has cheese! Big surprise from "The Cheese Shop Lady." LOL.

Change it up as you will. Substitute asparagus for the beans, sweet potatoes for the potatoes. Goat cheese or a sharp Manchego for the blue cheese. The beauty is in the variety.

Enjoy and...

Say cheese!



{Serves 4}

20 green beans

4 ounces blue cheese crumbled

1 yellow potato, baked, diced

4 large mushrooms, sliced

2 tablespoons oil

1 teaspoon black pepper, ground

1 teaspoon salt


Bake potato (can do this a day ahead and reheat), until tender.

Set in preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes to hour.

Remove and let cool slightly. Dice.

Cook green beans as follows: Put 1 cup of water and 1 teaspoon in sauce pan. Bring to boil. As water heats, snip off tips of green beans. Set green beans in boiling water for 4 minutes, with lid on top. Drain off boiling water and cover. Replace lid. Let stand for 2 minutes longer. Rinse with cold water to stop cooking process.

In the meantime, slice mushrooms and stir fry in oil until browned, flipping once.

On a plate, arrange mushrooms, then diced potatoes, then green beans.

Top with crumbled blue cheese, sprinkle with ground pepper, and serve warm.

*** I promise to give you a sweet recipe soon. In fact, in my latest newsletter, I've included a candy cane cream cheese cookie. And I just made the most incredible goat cheese truffles. Recipe coming soon.

If you really need a sweet now, right now, this very minute, here's a link to one of Krista's cookie contest recipes: PECAN LACE - a sandwich cookie.

As is Cleo's Holiday Grind. There's a recipe in it I absolutely must try. No-bake Mocha Rum Balls. Perfect for the holidays, right? And sweet!!


If you'd like to know more about A Cheese Shop Mystery series and want to download a few other recipes from me (on recipe cards), click on this link to my website: Avery Aames. I've posted recipes in the "morsels" section. There's lots of other fun stuff, as well. And sign up for the mailing list (which includes the newsletter) to get in on the next contest...coming soon.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Barley, Red Pepper & Corn Salad

This is one of my favorite summer salads. It's great in the winter, too, but for some reason, it screams outdoor eating to me. Unlike some of its summer salad cousins, it's very healthy. The main ingredient is barley, a food that is woefully underrepresented in our diets. Cholesterol-free and lowfat, it supposedly aids in prevention of heart disease and diabetes. It's rich in fiber and minerals, too. You'd think we would eat more of it.

Aside from my personal fondness for the flavor and texture of this salad, it's pretty and colorful. Bring it to a gathering, and you won't find that 15 other people have brought it, too! For some reason, men seem to like it a lot, though as Julie would say, your mileage may vary on that! It's a nice change from the mayonnaise-dressed salads.

The original recipe came from an old Gourmet cookbook. Over the years, I've tried to improve on it, but this is one of those recipes that was nailed by the folks at Gourmet. I always go back to the original.

I have a dog who is allergic to grain and can't eat dog food, so barley (which is a grain but doesn't contain the thing that triggers grain allergies) is one of the foods that I cook for him every week. Consequently, I've cooked a lot of the stuff. I've discovered that the pearled barley in the bulk bins at my health food store is much nicer quality than the bagged barley at my regular grocery store. It expands more and has a better texture. I have not prepared this dish with hulled barley, which is supposed to be even better for us. I find hulled barley to be a bit like eating bark straight off the tree. Enough said about *that*!

Note also that I have tried making this with a variety of vinegars over the years, basically whatever I happened to have on hand. Stick to white wine vinegar. Red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, herbed vinegars, and apple cider vinegar simply don't work. The flavor is not right.

Barley, Red Pepper and Corn Salad

1 cup barley
1 red bell pepper
1 bag frozen yellow corn
fresh parsley
2 tablespoons and one teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil

1. Spread double paper towels on a counter or baking sheet and pour the frozen corn onto it. Spread out and allow to thaw. (No cooking!)

2. Rinse the dry barley and drain.

3.Bring salted water in a large pot to a boil. Slowly add the barley. Return to a boil and turn the heat down so it boils gently but doesn't boil over. (Watch out -- barley boils over rather easily.) Remove the foam by skimming it. Cook for 30 minutes or until soft but not mushy.

4. Meanwhile, slice the red pepper into bite-sized pieces and chop parsley.

5. Drain the cooked barley and rinse under cold water. Let stand until cool.

6. In a small mixing bowl, add salt and pepper to the vinegar. Add the olive oil slowly, whisking it to blend.

7. Combine the cool barley, thawed corn, and red pepper in a serving bowl. Pour the oil and vinegar mixture over top and toss to coat.

8. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley just before serving.

Enjoy and have a delicious Memorial Day weekend!

Hurry! This is the last week to enter Julie's Contest!

Julie’s first book in The Manor House Mystery series, Grace Under Pressure (starred review in Publishers Weekly!), debuts June 1st!
To help launch the book and to celebrate its release, she's running a very special contest: Pre-order Grace Under Pressure any time before May 31, 2010, and you're eligible to win a $25 gift certificate from Mystery Lovers Bookshop! (and if you've already pre-ordered, you just need to let Julie know!)
No receipts required. Just email Julie at with the date that you
pre-ordered and the name of the bookstore you
ordered it from, and your name goes in! (Please
put "CONTEST" in the subject header. Thanks!)

Here are a few helpful links to get you started:

Independent Bookstore List: here

- Mystery Lovers Bookshop (free shipping on book orders over $10!)
- Centuries & Sleuths (Julie's local mystery bookstore)

-Barnes & Noble