Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Spring Fever

The snow has melted here in Iowa, and the weather is beautiful. I officially have spring fever, and I'm making my spring/summer race sheet. I'm well on my way to making 2011 the Best Race Year Ever.

The 7 Days of Salads Challenge ends today, and in case you missed the previous posts in the series, here they are:
Sneak Peak: 7 Days of Salads
It's the freakin' weekend!
Salads Continue

Let me tell you, I saved the best for last. But wait, it's not over. I'm announcing a temporary extension of the Salad Challenge. There is still time to jump in! I'm going to continue salading 2x per day until Sunday. That is how successful the salad challenge is! The fiance has even agreed to allow to eat salad for 4 extra days!

I've realized that my original goal of eating a different salad at every meal was a little extreme, so there have been some repeats. Especially the tuna salad. We made a little too much of that.

Leftovers aren't bad, I mean it's kind of like going to the salad bar and taking a small portion of every available salad. It's quite satisfying.

Mixed salad greens with broccoli, tomato, red pepper, julienned carrot, and balsamic. Leftover curry raisin and cauliflower, a smidge of mushroom risotto, and a mini grilled cheese sandwich.

And then there was the old standby, taco salad:

And don't worry, there are new recipes...and they are epic.

Broccoli salad is a treat around here...because it requires bacon and I don't like bacon and somehow I am the only person on earth who manages to burn bacon. So, I need to convince someone else to cook the bacon and yet not eat it all. The fiance likes broccoli salad enough to comply.

 Fresh broccoli, fined chopped red or white onion, raisins, sunflower seeds, bacon crumbles, and poppyseed dressing.

Basically, for every bunch of broccoli you buy at the store, you need 1/3 c raisins and 1/3 c sunflower seeds, 1/2 a small onion, and 2-3 strips of bacon. I add about 1/3 bottle of poppyseed dressing and I like Newman's Own.

I ate this for lunch with the rest of the tuna salad on spinach. I am also taking it with a ham sandwich and some cherry tomatoes for lunch tomorrow.

Valentine's Day is typically eat-at-home, and the fiance was nice enough to make most of the dinner for me while I went on a quick run and did my first bodyrock workout. I did the 'hot mess' workout, and it was AMAZING. I'm already planning on pairing my short runs with those workouts during my training this spring! So intense!

Dinner started with an appetizer:

Pretty, eh?

Then we had baked flounder with roasted Mediterranean vegetables (the 'salad') and cheesy asparagus rice.

All I did was make the veggies, and I really want to tell you about how I spiced them. They were hands-down the BEST roasted veggies I've ever made! I had 1 zucchini, 2 red peppers, 1 onion, cloves from 2 garlic bulbs (we like garlic, ok!), 2 roma tomatoes, one can of quartered artichoke hearts, and about 20 kalamata olives. I cut everything bite sized, but I left the cloves whole.

Garlic hint: They actually have less 'bite' the less you process them. Their distinctive smell (kind of sulfurous, like a skunk for some people) is caused by a chemical reaction that happens when you crush the cells, which releases gases with sulfur molecules (volatile allicins). If you cook them whole or just barely crushed, the taste is much milder.

I added about 1 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tbsp parsley, 1/2 tbsp fennel seeds, 1 tsp black pepper, 1 tbsp thyme, the zest of one lemon, and salt to taste. Roasted at 400 for about 30 minutes. Oh wow! It was incredible. I got seconds on that part!

Finally, the piece de resistance was tonight! I made crab cakes on salads with homemade lemon vinaigrette.

I honestly didn't think this was going to be good enough to post, and now I'm so sorry that I didn't take pictures of the step by step on the crab cakes, but it was so good, and it was reasonably healthy, that I really feel strongly that you should try this.

 Crab Cakes on Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
2 cans fancy crab meat, drained
1/3 brick light cream cheese
1/3 c light sour cream
1/2 c bread crumbs
2 green onions, minced
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp thyme
1 egg

Mix and coat in 1/2 c bread crumbs with 2 tbsp flour and spices from above.
Set aside on bread-crumb coated plate. 

1 bag spinach
1/2 head of romaine lettuce, chopped
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
10 kalamata olives
1 red pepper, chopped small
3 green onions, chopped

1/3 c olive oil simmered or roasted with garlic (or garlic olive oil)
Juice + pulp of 1 lemon
1/4 c water
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp thyme
1 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp stoneground or dijon mustard

To cook the crab cakes, we fried them in a small amount of oil in a nonstick skillet. You can also brown them, but I would at least spray them with olive oil to get a nice crust. They take about 1 minute per side and then I held them in a warm oven until ready to serve. 

Assemble salad and set aside. In blender or food processor, add together ingredients for vinaigrette. Blend until smooth. Taste...if it's too strong, add more water. Should be mellow lemon with strong garlic taste. Hold at room temperature. 

Assemble salads on plate, add salt and pepper (very important), top with warm crab cakes and drizzle with vinagrette. Serve immediately. 

We got 8 crab cakes out of this recipe, and you can see that I ate two. Because of the lowfat dairy, they aren't that bad for you and have a high amount of protein. Especially served on a salad, they are both filling and balanced. I also ate some leftover mushroom risotto on the side (maybe 3/4 c).

Ok, tomorrow will be leftovers and another amazing salad! Plus, the fiance and I really are excited to have some of our favorite salads - Roasted Beet Salad, Asparagus and Egg Salad, and Cobb Salads!

What is your favorite salad?

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