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Wild Rice Salad

Wild Rice Salad overheadHow much time do you spend thinking about rice? I mean, where does it come from? Do you know how it grows and is harvested? I must admit that I hadn’t given it much thought until I read Amy Thielen’s Give a Girl a Knife and she talked about her husband harvesting wild rice near their home in Minnesota. Be sure to check out the video below that shows two guys in a canoe harvesting wild rice. You will never look at wild rice the same again.

Inspired by the harvesting process, I picked up a bag of wild rice at Trader Joe’s. Wild rice is low-carb and gluten-free, so this wild rice salad might be a welcome addition to your Thanksgiving table. Which brings up a topic that I am endlessly curious about, Thanksgiving menus. Are you a traditionalist or do you like to mix it up with new recipes?

I have always been a new recipe kind of girl and didn’t realize how contentious that could be for people. Who knew that replacing the traditional green bean casserole with haricots vert with a lemon almond gremolata could have ruined Thanksgiving for some of my family members a few years back? Oops!

Wild Rice Salad Vertical ShotWild rice has a chewy texture and nutty taste and makes a hearty base for this salad. Truth be told, when I created this recipe recently it was because I needed a dish to bring to a potluck gathering. My goal was to make a dish using only ingredients that I had on hand so I wouldn’t have to go to the grocery store. The good news is that most of these ingredients are pantry items that you might have in your kitchen.

I will cut to the chase, this wild rice salad got great reviews!  The dried fruit adds a little bit of sweetness to the salad while the green onions and parsley add freshness. The almonds lend some crunch.  Whether you make this for a potluck or for Thanksgiving, the good news is that you can make it a day ahead of time. I think it tastes better after sitting for a day. If you make it ahead of time, I would reserve a little bit of fresh parsley to garnish the salad just before serving.

How to Make Wild Rice Salad

If you are looking for other holiday recipes, check out:

Wild Rice Salad Long Image for Pinterest

Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts

Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts

I have been making Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts for years, well over a decade, in fact. This is one my go-to recipes that is in heavy rotation especially during the summer months when I crave cool, crisp, and refreshing meals. I prefer to use English (or hot house) cucumbers for this recipe because of their thin skin and few seeds but if you grow your own cukes, by all means, use them.

The funny thing about cucumbers is that I didn’t like cucumbers (at all) until I was an adult. I adored pickles as a kid but wouldn’t touch cucumbers with a ten-foot pole. That’s weird, right?

Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts is super easy to make. You combine a few ingredients like rice wine vinegar, water, sugar, crushed red pepper flakes in a small sauce pan and simmer until the sauce is reduced by half. The dressing is terrific blend of sweet, spicy, and acid.

While the dressing cools, slice the cucumbers very thin.  Using a mandoline makes this job a snap and results in perfectly uniform slices. The video below shows how to use a mandoline and features the exact same OXO brand mandoline that I use. I love it because I can set the width of the slices and it makes slicing so easy, just be very careful because the blade is sharp. Always use the included safety guard when using the mandoline.

After slicing the cucumbers, I recommend putting the slices into a colander and sprinkling them liberally with salt. The salt will draw the moisture out of the cucumber which results in crisp slices in your salad. Be sure to rinse the salt off the slices and then use a paper towel or clean kitchen towel and pat the slices to remove excess moisture before adding the dressing.

Just before serving Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts, sprinkle the salad or individual servings with chopped up dry-roasted peanuts. The peanuts add that salty crunch which is the perfect foil for the cool, crisp cucumbers.

Sometimes I will make a pot of rice and serve the Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts in a bowl with a scoop of rice. I love to make Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts to accompany Hawaiian Poke. Check out my recipes for Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke or Ginger Salmon Poke with Mango and Avocado. Grilled meat or fish would also make a great accompaniment to this salad.

How to Make Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts

Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts

Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts

Cucumber Sunomono Salad

Cucumber Sunomono Salad

Raise your hand if you currently have more cucumbers in your fridge than fingers on one hand. Am I the only one raising my hand here? I doubt it. I don’t know what happened but a whole bunch of them come on at once. So, now I am busting out all the cucumber recipes that I love and eating cucumbers all the time. You have probably had a version of this cucumber sunomono salad one time or another at a Japanese or sushi restaurant.

Sunomono salad is a perfect side dish to accompany meals. It is light, crispy, and refreshing. The vinegar dressing is a perfect foil for any richness you may serve alongside it. For example, sunomono salad is perfect with spring rolls and a peanut dipping sauce. Or, I adore sunomono salad with Hawaiian Poke salad. You can find my recipe for Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke here. One of my friends makes sunomono salad as a side dish alongside a marinated grilled flank steak or ribs. I think it would be terrific paired with grilled salmon too.

Sunomono salad can be dressed up or down. Vegetarians can skip the imitation crab altogether and consider adding chopped peanuts instead. You can kick the sunomono salad up a notch by adding shrimp to the salad. If you add shrimp, don’t use the little salad shrimp. Buy something bigger and then slice them in halfThe possibilities are endless!

I often make up a batch of sunomono salad on the weekend and enjoy it for lunch during the week. The cucumbers will soften as they sit but if you are using fresh cucumbers, the salad will remain crisp and flavorful. The salad also comes together so quickly that you can make it as a side dish on a weeknight and pair it with something that you’ve grilled.

How to Make Cucumber Sunomono Salad

Cucumber Sunomono Salad

Cucumber Sunomono Salad

Grilled Mexican Corn with Spicy Mayo

Grilled Mexican Street Corn with Spicy Mayo

Fresh corn on the cob, it’s like baseball, apple pie, and the Fourth of July! Stopping by a farm stand and picking up fresh corn is one of life’s simple pleasures. Sweetie and I recently stopped by a new-ish restaurant in the Heber Valley called Main Street Social.  We enjoyed a delicious Mexican-inspired street corn dish. Obviously, I had to try to recreate this tasty meal at home. Grilled Mexican Corn with Spicy Mayo is the result.

Summertime corn has a sweetness and crunch that cannot be found any other time of the year. So, for the weeks in the summer that is it on, I try to utilize it in every way that I can imagine. I would love to hear about your favorite ways to eat corn in the comments below.

Three Ways to Grill Corn

While testing the recipe for Grilled Mexican Corn with Spicy Mayo, we wanted to try a few different ways of cooking the corn on the grill.  So, we bought a dozen ears, fired up the grill, and tried three different ways:

  1. Silks and husks intact
  2. Silks removed and husks pulled back over cob
  3. Silks removed and husks pulled back (or away) from the cob (see photos below)

Grilled Mexican Street Corn with Spicy MayoSweetie and I both decided that we didn’t care for the second option. But, from here we disagreed. I preferred the corn that had the silks removed and then the husks pulled back like a handle. This method gives the corn that beautiful char from direct contact with the grill. Sweetie preferred the first method which results in a moist, steamed cob of corn. The choice is yours.

Once the corn is grilled you can decide if you want to serve the cob whole or cut into smaller pieces. If you prefer the corn cob whole, then I would drizzle the spicy mayo over the whole cob and top with onions, cheese, and chives. If you want to serve the corn in bite-sized pieces, I like to pour the spicy mayo in the bottom of a serving dish and arrange the pieces of corn on the sauce. Then, top the corn with the onions, cheese, and chives.

Corn-lovers may want to check out these recipes for Shrimp and Corn Ceviche and Fiesta Buddha Bowls.

Grilled Mexican Corn with Spicy Mayo

Mediterranean Spring Mix Salad

Mediterranean Spring Mix Salad

Is anything more exhilarating than watching the Earth come back to life in the spring? No matter how challenging things are in the rest of the world, a walk around the block can have me whistling a tune in no time. Daffodils and tulips are popping up from the ground, forsythia bushes burst out their bright yellow flowers, and one of my favorite ingredients, spring mix salad greens, make an appearance in my garden. One of my favorite ways to serve spring mix salad is to combine it with Mediterranean flavors of roasted red peppers, olives, pine nuts, and feta.

Spring Mix Salad

Spring Mix Salad is typically a combination the following lettuce types: romaine, oak, leaf, butter, chard, spinach, and arugula. The greens are small and tender. They are also quite delicate so you will want to handle and dress them with care. I like to make a light vinaigrette and sparingly drizzle it over the greens.  A spring mix salad is not the salad to pour a glumpy ranch-style dressing over. You will want a hearty romaine or iceberg to stand up to the weight of those types of dressings.

Mediterranean Spring Mix Salad

Put the ingredients for the simple Mediterranean-inspired vinaigrette into a Mason jar and shake vigorously to combine. You can make the dressing ahead of time and then shake it up again just before serving.

You can either use jarred roasted red peppers for this recipe or roast your own. If I am not in a mad rush I usually roast them myself over one of my gas burners. You can also roast the red pepper under the broiler or on your BBQ. The key is to let the skin of the red pepper get nice and charred. Then, you place the pepper in a brown paper bag or in a bowl with a cover to steam for 10 minutes. The skin will peel right off.

The salad comes together quickly and makes a great accompaniment for dinner or I love to take it to work for lunch. Just tote your dressing along separately and pour on just before serving. The spring mix salad greens will wilt rather quickly after being dressing so plan accordingly.

Mediterranean Spring Mix Salad

How to Make Mediterranean Spring Mix Salad

Mediterranean Spring Mix Salad

Lemon Roasted Potatoes

Lemon Roasted Potatoes

Perhaps it is my Irish roots or maybe it is just because potatoes are damn delicious, but either way, I love potatoes. And, as long as I have potatoes in the house, I know I can put a satisfying meal on the table in no time. You do not need me to enumerate all the amazing things that you can do with potatoes. Okay, I will anyway. I love them roasted, mashed, baked, fried, shredded, spiralized, scalloped, or hasselbacked.

As you can see in my previous posts for Roasted Carrot Hummus and Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce and Pomegranate Seeds, roasted vegetables are my absolute favorite. The roasting process brings out incredible flavor and texture in vegetables and these lemon roasted potatoes are delightful.

Lemon Roasted Potatoes

The potatoes in this Lemon Roasted Potatoes recipe get crispy and golden brown on the outside and stay tender on the inside. The flavor of the garlic and lemon mellows in the roasting process and actually develop a sweetness. I have added the chipotle chili powder and cayenne to balance the sweet with a little bit of heat. The rosemary adds an earthy fresh flavor. But, if rosemary isn’t your thing, feel free to swap it out with some parsley but don’t add it until the end of the cooking time.

Lemon Roasted Potatoes are a lovely side dish to accompany any number of protein-filled main dishes. They would be a delicious side to salmon or chicken. On the other hand, if you are looking for a meatless menu idea, I think the potatoes would be delicious served alongside a Middle Eastern mezze platter of cut up veggies, pita wedges, hummus, and olives.

Alternatively, you could toss some asparagus spears in the oven while the potatoes are cooking. I would add them to the oven when you have about 20 minutes of cooking time left on the potatoes. Then, poach or fry an egg and serve on top of the potatoes. So good, right?

How to Make Lemon Roasted Potatoes

Lemon Roasted Potatoes

Southwestern Potato Salad

Southwestern Potato Salad

Once the sunlight grows long in the evenings after Daylight Savings Time, my brain automatically moves into summer mode. The sloth in me suddenly disappears and I want to do all the things outside.

One of those things that I must start doing immediately is cooking out of doors. I dust off the BBQ grill and start planning get-togethers with family and friends. BBQ time means potato salad time. However, this Southwestern Potato Salad recipe is not some ordinary potato salad, it is a kicked up version full of flavors you love from southwestern cuisine.

Southwestern Potato Salad

Bobby Flay’s recipe for Southwestern Potato Salad on the Food Network website was the inspiration for this recipe. Once again, I found the photo associated with the recipe on their website lacking. Admittedly, potato salad is not the most photogenic dish in the world but I challenged myself to improve the recipe and photo.

I added roasted chilies to the potato salad that I am surprised that Bobby had not included in his version. I also added hard-boiled eggs to garnish the top of the potato salad because my people love hard-boiled eggs. If your people do not love hard-boiled eggs, you can omit them.

Southwestern Potato SaladHere are few other recipes that I found on Food Network’s website that I had to make and photograph in order to pin it to Pinterest. You will understand why this important if you are a Pinterest user. If you are not an avid Pinterest user, but want to be (and you should) then hit me up. I will help you down the rabbit hole that is Pinterest. It is so fun, I promise!

If you ever see any Food Network recipes that have no pictures or worse yet, terrible pictures, drop me a note with the link. I am up for the challenge!

Southwestern Potato Salad

Spicy Mango Sauce

Spicy Mango Sauce

Oh, just imagine all the foods that you can dip in this delicious spicy mango sauce! Coconut shrimp? Yes! Asparagus fries? Yes! Spring rolls? Of course! How about spicy mango sauce served with roasted cauliflower? I think that there is potential there. In the comments, let me know how else you might use spicy mango sauce.

If you stop by Hello Fun Seekers from time to time, you probably know how much I love the sweet and heat flavor combination. Here are a few of my favorite sweet heat recipes.

 

Spicy Mango Sauce

This spicy mango sauce exemplifies that sweet heat idea perfectly. The mango and coconut milk provide the sweet. You will want to use the canned coconut milk found in the ethnic food aisle of the grocery store rather than the coconut milk in the carton found with other nut milks. The heat comes from the Sriracha and chipotle chili powder.

This spicy mango sauce comes together very quickly. Once you cut and peel the mango, you just blitz everything else in the blender. I have included a tutorial on peeling and seeding a mango if you need a refresher.

See? Peeling and seeding a mango isn’t that bad. Give it a try if you haven’t. You will be so happy that you did! Below is a photo of my coconut shrimp recipe served with the spicy mango sauce. Delicious! You can find the link to the coconut shrimp recipe in the first paragraph of this post.

Coconut ShrimpA

 

Spicy Mango Sauce

Golden Beet, White Bean, and Orange Salad

Golden Beet, White Bean, and Orange Salad

I went through the first twenty-five years of my life thinking that I didn’t like beets. My only point of reference was the pickled beets that I encountered sliced up on salad bars. Those pickled beets just didn’t do it for me and never made their way to my plate.

Believe me when I tell you that back in the day, I knew a lot about salad bars. When I was in high school I worked at Burger King and back then BKs had salad bars where diners could make their own salads. I was the queen of that salad bar. I took pride in making sure that the salad bar looked fantastic when I was working. I would painstakingly arrange the kale (which was decorative in those days) around the containers of salad fixings. I would also make sure that the salad bar items were fresh and full and oh so tempting. I took it as a personal affront when people ordered hamburgers instead of a salad! But, I digress; let’s get back to this salad.

Golden Beet, White Bean, and Orange Salad

I can’t remember the exact moment when I first tried a roasted beet but it was well after my BK days. I just know that at some point I became a roasted beet fanatic. That discovery then led to me realize that I also love steamed beets, especially small beets. Their texture and flavor are well-suited to steaming.  In the notes section below you will find cooking directions for steaming, roasting, and microwaving beets. Yes, microwaving. Who knew? I tried the method listed below and it works well. But, I included all three methods because I wanted you to have a few options so you can pick your favorite cooking method.

Beets bring an earthy flavor and wonderful texture to salads. In this salad, I chose to use golden beets for a few reasons. Firstly, I prefer working with golden beets because my kitchen and I don’t end up looking like a crime scene which sometimes happens when working with red beets. Also, don’t the yellow beets look gorgeous with the orange segments and pieces of green pistachios? I can’t help it; I like my food to be colorful and coordinated.

Golden Beet, White Bean, and Orange Salad

Once your beets are cooked, this salad comes together in a snap. You could cook your beets ahead of time if you need to get dinner on the table quickly during the week or if you want to serve this salad as part of your menu for a dinner party.

The combination of the beets and beans gives this salad some heft making it a light and satisfying meal on its own. But, it can also be paired nicely with fish, chicken, or pork.

If you are a beet lover should also check out my recipe for beet gazpacho.

Golden Beet, White Bean, and Orange Salad

Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce and Pomegranate Seeds

Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce and Pomegranate SeedsSteamed cauliflower stinks. Growing up I couldn’t stand the smell that would permeate beyond the kitchen when my Mom would steam cauliflower. So, for years I didn’t think that I liked cauliflower because it would never make it past my lips based on the smell alone.

Then, one day I discovered roasted cauliflower and my entire world view of cauliflower completely changed. Suddenly, I couldn’t get enough of the stuff. I often have cauliflower in my grocery cart during the winter months especially when the availability of fresh locally-grown produce is sparse.

Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce and Pomegranate SeedsHave you tried roasting cauliflower? I want to urge you to give it go if you’ve only had it steamed and didn’t care for it. You might find that roasting cauliflower changes your mind. I love cauliflower roasted simply with olive oil, salt, and pepper. But, sometimes you want a dish that has a little more pizzazz.

Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce and Pomegranate SeedsI think this roasted cauliflower with tahini sauce and pomegranate seeds could be a star of your holiday table. Or, it would brighten up a dreary winter meal. The pomegranate seeds make the dish sparkle!

The cauliflower is seasoned with an array of warming spices including sumac. Sumac is commonly used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking. If you aren’t familiar with sumac, it is well worth adding this lemony-flavored spice to your pantry.  Sumac can be found as Middle Eastern markets or ordered online.  Buying new spices is one of the reasons I love shopping at ethnic markets.

Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce and Pomegranate SeedsTahini is crushed sesame seed paste and a crucial ingredient in hummus, baba ghanoush (roasted eggplant dip), and halva (a sweet confection which was a childhood favorite of mine). Tahini is available in most supermarkets in the ethnic food aisle. You will want to give the paste a stir before using because much like natural peanut butter, tahini can separate when sitting on the shelf.

Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce and Pomegranate

Roasted cauliflower with tahini sauce and pomegranate seeds

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