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Mostly NOT Potato Salad

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Mostly NOT Potato Salad

It’s getting HOT and making pasta every night is killing me. I’ve been trying to branch out to more salads now that it’s summer.

Pre-tofu

This is a really tasty dish to take to a cookout! For those of you who are convinced that potatoes are inherently EVIL in their white starchiness – this salad’s for you. **Also great for mayo haters.**

All you need:
4 small pink or red-skinned potatoes, unpeeled, quartered
large handful of green beans, trimmed and sliced into 1″ pieces
2 TBSP coarse mustard
2 TBSP red wine vinegar
Olive oil
1/2 tsp sugar (or agave nectar)
Salt
1/4 c chopped dill (use dry dill if that’s all you have – about 2 TBSP)
1 small leek, trimmed and thinly sliced
6 stalks celery, trimmed & diced
1 cucumber, unpeeled, seeded and diced (I peeled mine – whoops!)
1 TBSP fresh chives
OPTIONAL: 6 oz baked or extra firm tofu cut into small cubes

This is definitely a chopping intensive salad but more special than the old mayo-laden potato salad I grew up with. [And I like mayo!]

First, set water to boil for your taters. Once it’s boiling, they need to cook until just tender. This should take about 10 mins. Set your timer for 9 minutes so you can toss in the green beans for the last 30 seconds. You just want them to turn bright green. Then drain the potatoes & beans.

Make your dressing: in a small bowl, combine 1 TBSP olive oil, the mustard, vinegar, sugar & salt. Whisk together. Taste & adjust to your liking!

Heat about a TBSP of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high. Add the chopped dill, add a few pinches of salt

and add the leeks.

Saute for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a large bowl (because of time constraints I usually go right into a large lidded container!) combine the potatoes, green beans, celery, cucumber, chives and half of the leek with most of the dressing. Toss gently, taste and add salt as needed. Serve with remainder of leek and dressing atop. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

OPTIONAL: Not every uses/is comfortable with tofu but it adds a benign presence of protein to this salad and is virtually unnoticeable. I bought a block of organic tofu at Trader Joe’s. Before I even boil the potatoes I drain the tofu, wrap it in a paper towel and place in a kitchen towel with my cast iron skillet on top. The presses the extra water out of the tofu so that it can absorb the flavors of the salad dressing. Press it for about 30 minutes if you think of it. Then dice it and add to salad. Try it this once time if you have never used tofu before! (Or don’t!)

This salad is a very pretty dish to take to a summer cookout/party.

Pre-tofu

Maddie ate a small bowl of it before dinner. Bea spit the potato out.

Mostly NOT Potato Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4-6
 

Bright, pretty summer salad that takes potato salad to a new level!
Ingredients
  • 4 small pink or red-skinned potatoes, unpeeled, quartered
  • large handful of green beans, trimmed and sliced into 1″ pieces
  • 2 TBSP coarse mustard
  • 2 TBSP red wine vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • ½ tsp sugar (or agave nectar)
  • Salt
  • ¼ c chopped dill (use dry dill if that’s all you have – about 2 TBSP)
  • 1 small leek, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 6 stalks celery, trimmed & diced
  • 1 cucumber, unpeeled, seeded and diced (I peeled mine – whoops!)
  • 1 TBSP fresh chives
  • OPTIONAL: 6 oz baked or extra firm tofu cut into small cubes

Instructions
  1. First, set water to boil for your taters. Once it’s boiling, they need to cook until just tender. This should take about 10 mins. Set your timer for 9 minutes so you can toss in the green beans for the last 30 seconds. You just want them to turn bright green. Then drain the potatoes & beans.
  2. Make your dressing: in a small bowl, combine 1 TBSP olive oil, the mustard, vinegar, sugar & salt. Whisk together. Taste & adjust to your liking!
  3. Heat about a TBSP of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high. Add the chopped dill, add a few pinches of salt and add the leeks.
  4. Saute for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. In a large bowl combine the potatoes, green beans, celery, cucumber, chives and half of the leek with most of the dressing. Toss gently, taste and add salt as needed. Serve with remainder of leek and dressing atop chilled or at room temperature.
  6. OPTIONAL: Not every uses/is comfortable with tofu but it adds a benign presence of protein to this salad and is virtually unnoticeable. I bought a block of organic tofu at Trader Joe’s. Before I even boil the potatoes I drain the tofu, wrap it in a paper towel and place in a kitchen towel with my cast iron skillet on top. The presses the extra water out of the tofu so that it can absorb the flavors of the salad dressing. Press it for about 30 minutes if you think of it. Then dice it and add to salad. Try it this once time if you have never used tofu before!

Slightly adapted from: Super Natural Every Day

 

Hang in there!

Remember this poster?

That kitten = my family right now. We are struggling this past month or so. My dear father in law has been in the ICU for several weeks from a brain hemorrhage. In addition to that, add 2 ER visits, a nasty cough/bronchitis, a car accident (no injuries but car is totaled), stomach flu, and asthma.

Besides my father in law, things could be a lot worse. Even his situation could probably be a lot worse. Lucky for Medicare – an efficient government-run national healthcare program that works really well, he’s been receiving top notch care at UCLA. If he had been relying on private insurance my in-laws would be bankrupt by now.

Every spring I look forward to a newish tradition: our Easter Egg Hunt & Brunch. I have enjoyed planning & executing it for the friends we don’t see enough. It’s a really fun day for us and I’ve been wracking my brain every night trying to figure out how I can do it this year. But I finally concluded that it’s just not do-able this year. G’s turning 40 the day before Easter and I don’t want to be totally stressed during his birthday. I’d rather take the kids and let him go off on a bike ride that day. So it’s with great regret that I cancel our 3 year old tradition for this year. However, we’ll be back next year!! Mark your calendar for Easter 2014!

As for that adorable kitten, HANG IN THERE!

The First Days are the Hardest Days

…don’t you worry anymore.
– Grateful Dead

I listened to that song over & over & over again when I started an ill-fated & short lived boarding school stint. Now with M starting school for the first time, it keeps looping in my head. On a side note, does anyone know what “Uncle John’s Band” is actually about?

My “you could do MORE if you really wanted to be a good mother” voice (inspired by Pinterest) made itself heard the first morning of pre-school. You know what I’m talking about

It seemed simple: Maddie would hold up this adorable sign:

in her perfect outfit, with hair in two neat pigtails & a cheery smile on her face.

PINTEREST’s VERSION:
[I am unable to find the origins of this pic - seems the blog it came from has been taken down.]

OUR VERSION:

Oh well, Maddie has never been able to go with the flow and that’s what I secretly like about her. But it can make all our lives harder at times. Like yesterday for example.

As we waited outside the classroom for the teacher to let the children in, I had that sick feeling I always had on the first day of school. I tried like hell not to project it but I’m sure I failed.

M seemed to be in relatively good spirits.

Do I look as ill at ease as I felt?

As we walked in the teacher gave each child a name tag (masking tape, actually) to wear on their shirt.

Bea ran right in and took over the play kitchen.

Bea, you are not a student here.

I’ll spare you the details except to say that after staying on a bench for 30 minutes with Bea who was in desperate need of a nap, I finally gave M a hug goodbye. She was really good about it, even gave me a kiss (which she doesn’t do), then thought better of it, grabbed my hand and let out a shriek from the bowels of hell. I felt like I was in Sophie’s Choice as she was wrenched from my arms and I walked out with Bea. I wept in my car for a minute, then headed home.

When I arrived later the teacher told me that she cried “often & LOUDLY” adding, “She’s got some lungs on her!”

Egads. I know. You think I don’t know that?

When M saw me through the window, wouldn’t a normal person come running & try to get out of there as soon as possible? What does M do? She smiles at me and yells, “NO!” and runs back inside to play in the kitchen.

Frog Pillow had a very important seat.

On the way out M showed Bea how to drink from the water fountain.

When we got home M pronounced pre-school fun.

“Do you want to go back tomorrow?”

“No.”

Native Foods – Happy Fridays

**UPDATE: Native Foods no longer has this happy hour! Very sad as we looked forward to it every Friday. Maybe it will come back periodically?**

Last night I took the girls to Happy Hour at Native Foods. It opened about a month ago on Ocean Park Boulevard between 29th & 30th. We used to go to the one in Culver City once in a while. Like twice a year. Since it opened here a month ago, G’s been once and I’ve already been twice (two Fridays in a row!)

This time I took the kids solo. We parked our massive stroller outside, walked in & ordered at the counter. All the starters & sides are 50% off during Happy Hour. We ordered accordingly:

Saigon Roll. A really tasty wholesome wrap accompanied by a spicy/sweet dip. YUM! I love these.

Bowl of Black Bean Soup. I could take or leave the soup. I make a fair amount of soup myself in the wintertime and found this one to be just so-so. It had some croutons in there that immediately turned to mush. Plus, the flavor was very one-dimensional. Can you tell I’ve just watched “Around the World in 80 Plates?”

Seasoned fries. (I recommend the sweet potato fries but my kids don’t like them. Bea liked the seasoned fries.)

Sweet Potato Fries (Photo taken last visit…)

Native Chicken Wings with Ranch. (I got these instead of the kids’ chicken nuggets b/c I knew my kids wouldn’t eat the rice and they didn’t need the lemonade.)*

Mini Greens Salad. This is an excellent, pretty little salad that is piled precariously high in an adorable little bowl. I dumped mine out on the large plate so I could toss it in the dressing better. This is no lame-o salad you typically get for $5.00. (Keep in mind – you get it for $2.50 during Happy Hour!)

I also got a glass of chardonnay for 50% off. Nice!

NOTE: I do NOT recommend the kids’ Macaroni & Cheese. It’s in a milky/watery sauce. Last time I was there, neither of my kids liked it and they were really hungry.

I took the pix LAST Friday when we went with our friend Elsie. Last night I was the only ahem…adult there and I had NO free hands to take pix!

My bill came out to $16 and change. Of course I had to leave a big tip for the greasy booth we left behind but still a great deal! We were all stuffed full of mostly healthy fare (‘cept for the fries) + a nice glass of wine. Not bad.

NOTES:
- Although there is patio seating, wine & beer are currently only allowed inside.
- Be sure to get a Native Foods frequent diner card. I have been twice and already got a free non alc drink.

Btw: G is a meat-a-tarian and he likes it!

Native Foods
2901 Ocean Park Blvd.
(310)450-3666
Park behind (off of 29th Street), at a meter on Ocean Park OR take the #8 Blue bus which goes from Westwood to Main Street (and not sure where it goes from there). I highly recommend the bus so you can have a couple of glasses of wine!

NATIVE FOODS
Happy Hour:
Fridays
3-6PM
50% off all appetizers, beer & wine.

Let me know how you like it!

*Incidentally – they also have Native Foods in Boulder and at several locations in Chicago! Check their site for more.

Southern Caviar

My friend Nina once described her food tastes and “high-low brow.” The same can be said of me. I was raised on Steak Ums, Ortega taco kits, Fluff N Nutter on Wonder Bread, Rice Krispies, Creamy Italian salad dressing over iceberg lettuce and canned wax beans but we were also fed fresh corn & blueberries from the roadside stand and my mom always had lots of fresh fruit around the house for snacks.

Although I like to eat healthy for the most part, I still have the taste for some of the old style food.

This bean dip serves to capture both worlds and you can make it healthier if you want to! G and I both LOVE this dip!! We can’t get enough of it. I had it at my friend Charlotte’s daughter’s birthday. I literally stood next to the bowl devouring it like a hungry wolf. Lucky for me she told me how to make it. Thanks, Char!

 

You need to make this the night before you plan on serving it.

All you need:

3 cans of black-eyed peas (or about 2 c dry beans)
3 bell peppers (you can do whatever colors you like! I like it colorful.)
1 small onion, finely diced (I recommend a red onion for its looks)
2 ears corn, shucked & the corn cut off (or 1 can white shoe peg corn)
1 small bottle Paul Newman Italian dressing (I used “Lite”)
handful cilantro, chopped
OPTIONAL: fresh or jarred jalapeños
OPTIONAL: 1 small jar sliced pimentos

Finely chop the peppers. You’ll want them small enough to be easily scooped up onto a chip!

Cut the corn off the cobs. Finely chop your onion too.

Drain & rinse your black eyed peas.

Love these!

Here’s the weird part. Trust me here.

Remember these things? I think my mom used them for her Chicken A La King.



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