Green bean, Carrot, Chickpea Salad

When I was a kid, we used to pick green beans from my grandma’s garden in MI. I liked green beans so much so, I couldn’t wait until we got in the house to wash them, that I’d just eat them straight after picking them. My brother hated green beans, and still does to this day. So, more for me! I wasn’t a fan of green bean casserole that always seemed to make an appearance at family holiday dinners. I like my beans steamed or sauted with olive oil or butter and some lemon juice. Or, I love them raw in a salad. Originally, I was just going to do an olive oil and red wine vinegar dressing, but decided upon a creamy dressing of mayo, ground yellow mustard, olive oil and lemon juice (this is the same dressing from the previous recipe here This would be a great side dish any time of the year…but, it makes me think of summer because it’s fresh and crisp.

  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed, washed
  • 1/2 a red onion, minced
  • 8-10 baby carrots, sliced thin
  • 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • handful of chives

Dressing

Whip together the following in a small bowl:

  • 2 TB dijon mustard (I used OrganicVille brand)
  • 2TB Mayo
  • healthy glog of extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of half (or a whole) a lemon

Rinse and trim the green beans, cut them in half and put them in a large bowl. Add diced red onion, cut carrots and can of chickpeas. In a separate bowl, combine dijon mustard, mayo, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and whip together until smooth. Add dressing to veggies and stir until well-coated. Add some fresh chives too if you like.

Kale, Black Bean and Sweet Potato Salad with Spicy Avocado Dressing

Kale, black bean, onion, sweet potato salad with spicy avocado dressing!

Kale, black bean, onion, sweet potato salad with spicy avocado dressing!

I was going to make guacamole, but decided to make a creamy and spicy avocado dressing for a kale salad. (I’m trying to be good and eat lighter dinners. We’ll see how long that will last. wink). I also added a can of black beans and half of a diced sweet potato. I think this salad would also be good with some corn and roasted pumpkin seeds, but I didn’t have either on hand.

For the salad:

  • 1 head of lactino kale
  • 1/2 of a roasted sweet potato
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4C. minced white onion
  • 1/2 of a red/orange/yellow bell pepper, chopped

For the Dressing:

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • juice of one lemon
  • handful of chopped cilantro
  • 1/2tsp chili powder
  • 1/4tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4C olive oil (eyeball it, you may want to use more to have a thinner dressing, or use water to have a thinner dressing
  • 2TB water

Make the dressing: I used my mini food processor (which is an awesome addition to my kitchen). Add avocado, oil, lemon juice and spices and blend until creamy. You may have to add a little bit more oil (or water) to thin out the dressing. Adjust spices to your taste.

Thoroughly rinse and pat dry kale leaves. Fold leaves in half, then cut into strips a few times so the kale is in bite-sized pieces. Add chopped kale to large bowl, drizzle with dressing and massage into the kale until it’s well coated. Add remaining ingredients and toss. Add some crumbled Bulgarian feta too…that might be good. I wish I had thought of that when I made the salad!

Reasons Why I Bake/Cook

Beyond cooking and baking for pleasure, I also realized that I might be a stress baker. (No, I don’t consume all of what I make; I take the items into the office and keep a few pieces for myself. If I didn’t, I’d weight 200 pounds). Let me explain…When I’m working through a issue at work, sometimes I take a walk, or run in the morning, or, if I’m working from home, I go into the kitchen and flesh out the problem. While doing so though, I have come to realize I’m not even thinking about the issue, but rather immersed in the task itself, which frees up my brain-space (yes, that is a real word in my lexicon). For me, baking is akin to running…it’s another form of Zen. When I run, I don’t think about anything and am totally in the moment (random thoughts are, ‘ooh, look at those flowers,’ ‘wow, look at the sunrise and moon setting’, etc). I come home refreshed and clear headed, able to better go about my day. Same thing goes for baking. I read the recipe (or make one up), follow steps and then produce the end result, clean up and get back to the computer. It seriously helps and I feel much better afterward.

X-Mas Cookies Invasion

Just a heads up: Christmas cookies are coming! I’m trying to figure out what I should bake this year though. I love the process: put on some jazz (Oscar Peterson and Louie Armstrong or John Coltrane) or this Christmas cd from my friend Jen and bake away. I make dozens of cookies, usually about 4-5 kinds and then give them away to friends. Last year I dove into dark chocolate truffle making. That went fairly well for a novice. Anyway, I’ll be back to share my recipes…