Saturday, December 26, 2015

Breaking From Tradition: Part 1

This Christmas, people were pretty busy and had a lot of family visits to make. As a result, my mom changed up her Christmas dinner. Rather than doing a traditional turkey dinner, she had some turkey and ham on hand as well as these very non-traditional, but tasty, sides.


Couscous Salad with Cucumber, Red Onion and Herbs


1 cup couscous
1 1/4 cups boiling water
1 cup loosely packed cilantro, finely chopped
1 cup loosely packed Italian parsley, finely chopped
1/2 English cucumber, cut lengthwise and very thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, cut in half and cut extremely thin
1 lemon, zested and juiced, about 3 tablespoons
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey or agave syrup, warmed
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
3 ounces feta cheese, optional
Salt and pepper, to taste


Put the couscous in a large bowl and pour the boiling water over it. Cover with a lid or a plate and set aside for 5 minutes. Then remove the lid and fluff with a fork.

Toss the finely chopped herbs with the couscous, as well as the sliced cucumber, onion, and lemon zest.

Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, honey, chili powder, and cumin, then toss this dressing with the couscous. Stir in the pine nuts. Crumble the feta and stir that in as well. Taste and season generously with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately, or refrigerate until ready to serve. Store leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Source: The Kitchn. You can find it here.

Notes: This was a nice and bright change of pace in the midst of winter.


Spaghetti Salad


1 pound thin spaghetti, broken into 3-4" pieces
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 medium yellow zucchini squash, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 red onion, diced
1 cucumber, diced
2 (2.25 oz) cans sliced olives, drained
 8 oz cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes


1 (16 oz) bottle Italian dressing
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder


1 teaspoon Salad Supreme or Johnny's Seasoning, optional


Cook spaghetti according to package directions, then rinse in cold water and drain. Set aside and let cool. 

Place tomatoes, zucchini, squash, peppers, onion, cucumber, olives, and cheese in a large bowl. Add cooled spaghetti noodles and mix well.

In a small bowl, mix together dressing, Parmesan cheese, paprika, and garlic powder. Pour on top of the spaghetti and vegetables and mix until completely combined. Sprinkle the top with Salad Supreme.

Let sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving (this salad gets better with time, as the flavors meld together).

Source: Six Sisters' Stuff. You can find it here.

Notes: We broke our spaghetti into shorter pieces, but the longer pieces would work better for this pasta salad. Be sure to check the Six Sisters site to see their picture so you can see what I mean.

Cold Noodle Salad with Creamy Peanut Sauce


6 cups low-sodium beef, chicken, or vegetable stock.
1 tablespoon kosher salt
12 ounces Chinese wheat noodles or other flat-style noodles
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)
1-2 bell peppers, cut into thin slices, divided
1/2 cup roughly chopped peanuts, divided
Cilantro leaves and lime wedges, for garnish


In a large pot, bring the stock and salt to a boil. Add the noodles and cook until al dente, according to package directions. Reserve two cups of the cooking broth before straining. Run the noodles under cold water and shake to remove excess liquid before returning them to the empty pot.

In another bowl, combine the peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and 1/4 cup hot cooking broth and whisk vigorously until mixed. (It will be quite thick.) Toss the peanut sauce with the noodles until coated. Stir in additional hot cooking broth--a few splashes at a time--until the dish is smooth and creamy. (You will probably not need all of the reserved broth.) Taste and season with red pepper, additional soy sauce, and rice vinegar, if desired.

Fold in 2/3 of the bell peppers and 1/4 cup peanuts. Transfer noodles to serving dish and garnish with remaining peppers and peanuts. Garnish with cilantro leaves and lime wedges. This can be served warm, cold, or at room temperature.

Recipe Notes: You can use a combination of stock and water, if desired.  A mixture of green, yellow, and orange bell peppers work great. However, you could also use carrots, cucumbers, and green onions equally well.

Source: The Kitchn. You can find it here.

Notes: I thought I had taken a picture of this, but it appears that if I did, I no longer have it. So be sure to check out The Kitchn site to see those pictures.

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