Tag Archives: walnuts

Spinach and Salmon Salad

24 Apr

On Friday, the BF and I had the day off, and we took a little time to try to throw together a nice lunch. We wanted something light and healthy because we were anticipating a weekend’s worth of delicious, fatty food, what with Betsy Bundt‘s wedding on Saturday (don’t fret… I’ll have more cupcake and decorating gossip on that later) and Sunday supper with the family. So we hopped on our bikes and rode to Trader Joe’s to pick up some veggies.

Upon our return, the BF fired up the George Foreman and seasoned the salmon with a dusting of chili powder while I assembled the salad. Actually, the truth is, he pretty much did all of it while I moped around the kitchen in a post-exercise, hunger-induced daze. I did, however, manage to make us each a fruit and yogurt parfait for dessert, and then consume every last bit of mine while he made lunch.

In our salad, we had a bed of organic spinach (a seasonal ingredient available in North Carolina March through December!), carrots, walnuts, goat cheese, and croutons. I found that if you scrape the goat cheese with a fork instead of try to cut it with a knife, then nice little crumbs will fall evenly all over the salad, instead of clumping together.

After the BF finished mastering the electric grill (he suggests medium-low heat, about 4-5 minutes on each side), we added a salmon fillet right on top. Carrots + salmon… weird!? But hey, there are no rules in this kitchen. I drizzled mine with some Italian dressing and the BF chose a light cucumber ranch dressing. It was super delicioso!

"Parfaits got layers! Everybody loves parfaits!" Too old? Too lame? Yes.

As I said, for dessert we had a yogurt and fruit parfait, though I had already eaten mine by this point. I mixed 1 part nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt and 1 part store-bought cream cheese fruit dip (to sweeten it a bit — this is dessert, after all) in a small bowl. I filled the bottom of these cute little glasses with grapes, then a spoonful of my yogurt mixture, then blueberries, then yogurt, then mandarin oranges. A small dollop of yogurt on top made it camera-ready.

Healthy Lunch!

How Sue Sees It:

  • I know this recipe is a bit of a scam, since most salad recipes are lame. I mean, does anyone really need a recipe to make a salad? Put vegetables on a plate and top it with salmon. There, you’re done.
  • If you don’t want to buy the fruit dip, you can easily mix your own — my mom, Susie Senior, makes a great one with one part marshmallow creme/fluff and one part strawberry cream cheese. So your overall mixture would be one part marshmallow fluff, one part cream cheese (choose your flavor), and two parts yogurt.

6/7/8 Layer Magic Bars

1 Feb

Seven-layer bars are not anything new or exciting, but I had been craving these “magic bars” for days. I have no idea why — I haven’t had a seven-layer bar in years. But I pulled out my bar pan, and two trips to the grocery store later (I forgot stuff), I set to work on the bars. This is a classic recipe and can be found anywhere online or even on the back of a can of sweetened condensed milk. I probably know this one of the top off my head now, it’s so easy.

Graham Cracker & Butter Mixture
Once it was completely mixed, I pressed a small amount into each  of the 12 cups of the bar pan, pressing flat to make a solid crumb layer along the bottom.

Graham Cracker Crumb Layer
Then I set about filling up the layers. What I like about using the bar pan is that you can change up the ingredients. Someone doesn’t like nuts? Leave out the nuts on one row. No coconut? Leave out the coconut. What I don’t like about using the bar pan is that it takes more time, it’s difficult to spread the layers evenly, and it can be hard to remove the bars too. So if you want to use a normal baking pan and cut them into squares, that’s cool too.

Bar Layers
I managed to pry out a few bars and keep them whole, and they look delicious. (All the bars that I broke I dumped into a bowl and I just eat them with a fork. Talk about guilty pleasure.)

Magic Bars
I picked out the three best-looking bars and packaged them in a gift bag with a ribbon. Adorbs!

Magic Bars Gift Bag

I consider these true seven-layer bars because they include seven layers: graham cracker crust, white chocolate chips, dark chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, walnuts, coconut, and sweetened condensed milk. Other recipes do not include the white chocolate chips, but still call it seven layers by counting the butter that’s mixed into the graham cracker crust as a layer. And I call b.s. on that.

Be careful not to add in too much sweetened condensed milk, which is really easy to do in the small bar cups. I definitely should have used a spoon to drop in a small amount rather than being impatient and trying to pour it in. Some of my bars ended up with WAY too much sweetened condensed milk — these looked funny, and they were the ones that wouldn’t come out of the pan in one piece. Check out this picture — the bars in the front of the shot are nearly overflowing with sweetened condensed milk. Too much!Too Much!And next time I’ll probably add in the coconut at the end, after I spoon in the sweetened condensed milk. The coconut got kind of mushed under the weight of the milk, and it looks better when the coconut is fluffier.


6/7/8 Layer Magic Bars

1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter
3/4 cup butterscotch chips
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup shredded coconut
1 can of sweetened condensed milk

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Mix the graham cracker crumbs and butter together. Press into the bottom of a bar pan or a 9×9 baking dish.

Layer on the chips and nuts evenly. Pour in the sweetened condensed milk. Spread the coconut evenly over top.

Bake for about 18 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown.

Let cool completely, and then carefully cut into squares and remove from pan.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

18 Dec

I’ve made two carrot cakes with cream cheese icing from scratch by request in the past couple months, and if I don’t make one for my dad soon, he’s going to be sad. Maybe he will get one as a Christmas gift next week. In the meantime, here’s the story:

I set the oven to 350 F, which was a mistake. I was nowhere NEAR to being ready to put the cake in the oven, so the oven just ran for an hour. Electricity suck. Oh well, it kept me warm. ANYWAY…

I greased a bundt pan. I like to bake cakes in bundt pans because it makes for a prettier and fancier presentation without any extra work. Problem is, I didn’t grease it enough, and I probably should have floured it too. I’ll remember that next time. The cake cracked a bit when I took it out. Still looked and tasted great, though.

I first set about grating 2 bunches of carrots. It took quite some time, but was kind of fun. Hold the carrot like a pencil at an angle to the grater and work at it until you get a wide, flat carrot end to work with. Then it’s easy to grate it from there. 2 bunches of carrot turned into almost 4 cups of grated carrots, which is what the recipe called for. I probably could have used a couple extra carrots — they were a little puny, being winter and all — but it was good enough.

CarrotsGrating Carrots
I also went ahead and chopped up 1 cup of walnuts. Here’s a little tip for chopping nuts: Instead of making a mess by dumping them on a cutting board and trying to chop them with my horrendous knife skills, I sealed them in a zippered plastic bag and beat the hell out of them with a soup can. It chops up the nuts pretty well and is pretty fun in an anger- and stress-relief sort of way.

I whisked together 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 2 teaspoons of baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon. The recipe said to sift them, but as I’ve said about sifting before, it’s boring and takes too long. Whisking is good enough.

In another bowl, I whisked together 2 cups of white sugar and 4 eggs until it got thick and pale in color.

Sugar and Eggs
Then I stirred in 1 cup of vegetable oil and then mixed in the dry ingredients on low a little at a time. I folded in the grated carrots and the chopped nuts. After it was all mixed up, I poured it into the bundt pan and made sure it was spread evenly.

Carrot Cake Batter
I popped it in the oven for somewhere between 40 and 45 minutes. I took the waiting time to clean the carrot bits off the kitchen floor, and then I took a shower, since I found carrot bits in my hair.

Once a toothpick came out of the cake clean, I pulled the cake out. I flipped it onto my cake carrier pan and let it cool overnight — it was getting late.

Carrot CakeThe next morning, I whipped up some cream cheese icing and covered the entire cake. I topped it off with some more walnut pieces.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

How Sue Sees It:
– Grate the carrots before you turn the oven on. It takes a while. Also, if you’re going to make a carrot cake from scratch, take the time to grate the carrots. Otherwise, just use a box mix. If you try to use pre-shredded carrots, the kind you can buy a bag of, the carrot chunks will be too big.
– If your cake breaks, just put it back together and frost it — no one will notice. When someone goes to cut or move the cake, you can pretend that it cracked in transport, or that they did it. (Hopefully my friend Cathy, the recipient of this cake, isn’t reading this right now.) To avoid this problem, make sure you grease and flour the cake pan really well, even if you’re using a nonstick pan. Better safe than sorry.
– If I plan to frost a cake, I like to go ahead and put the cake on the platter I will serve from, and frost it from there. It’s nearly impossible to move a frosted cake without messing it up.
– It’s a good idea to put something on top of a dish that represents what’s inside it — in this case, the walnuts. It not only gives people a clue of what they’re cutting into, but it also serves as a warning that there are nuts inside — really important when nut allergies are so widespread and can be severe. Similarly, I’ll top a quiche or something like that with a few bacon crumbles so that it’s very obvious it’s not a vegetarian dish.
– This cake is deelish — sweet and very moist. I wouldn’t recommend it, but if you’re counting calories, you can always substitute apple sauce for vegetable oil.