Garden-fresh summer salad with oil and vinegar

Garden-fresh summer salad with oil and vinegar
Garden-fresh summer salad with oil and vinegar

By the time summer finally rolls around here in the Twin Cities, I’m craving fresh, delicious vegetables. One of my favorite (and easy!) ways to eat them is in a giant side salad — I’ll make a big bowl of it and we’ll have it alongside several meals during the week. The great thing about this type of salad is that you don’t need to measure anything, and you can add any ingredients you like.

Instead of making or buying a dressing, I like to drizzle oil and vinegar over the individual servings. My favorite combination right now is cinnamon pear balsamic vinegar with Arbequina olive oil — both from Fustini’s Oils and Vinegars (online store and several locations in Michigan).

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Cobb salad with homemade lemon vinaigrette

Cobb salad with homemade lemon vinaigrette
Cobb salad with homemade lemon vinaigrette

I’ve made Cobb salad several times this spring (and finally summer), and it’s a great main dish salad. Wikipedia tells me that the best way to remember the ingredients in Cobb salad is with the mnemonic EAT COBB: eggs, avocado, tomato, chicken, (green) onion, bacon, and blue cheese.  We ended up making a couple changes from that (like ham instead of bacon), but it’s still great!

The salad dressing for this recipe is also delicious. We haven’t been buying salad dressing at the store lately — most of it has high-fructose corn syrup in it, and if it doesn’t it’s simple enough to make myself. The fresh tang of the lemon makes this a great dressing for summer salads.

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Palak paneer

Palak paneer
Palak paneer (served with chicken rogan josh and basmati rice)

When Michael and I were in Washington earlier this month, we stopped by Appel Farms in Ferndale and bought some paneer. Paneer is a delicious cheese that is used in Indian dishes — it doesn’t melt, so it is often cubed and then simmered in flavorful sauces.

The cheese made it safely back home in my carry-on bag,  and I decided to use some of it to make palak paneer, which is one of my favorite Indian dishes. In this dish, paneer is simmered in a spinach and tomato-based sauce, with yogurt added at the end for a creamy flavor. I served it with chicken rogan josh, basmati rice, and naan bread. It was delicious!

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Thai yellow curry with chicken or fish

Thai yellow curry with chicken or fish
Thai yellow curry with chicken or fish

This delicious Thai curry is one of my new favorite recipes. I usually make it with chicken, although the original recipe (from Eating Well magazine) calls for tilapia. We tried it with halibut fillets this week, and it was great as well. I tend to make it on the stove with chicken, and in the oven with fish, so I’ll give directions for both methods.

Also, it’s easy to vary the amount of spice in this recipe — simply add more or less curry paste, to taste. I prefer to use around 2 Tbsp, and add a bit more if I use full-fat coconut milk.

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Salisbury steak with paprika cream sauce

Salisbury steak with paprika cream sauce

This recipe probably has the best sauce that I’ve ever made. It’s definitely a 10 out of 10, and we cleaned the last drops out of the pan after dinner tonight. The salisbury steaks were delicious too, and the fresh basil is a perfect garnish. We definitely recommend that you give this recipe a try for a great weekend meal!

I found this recipe in our latest Eating Well magazine, and immediately made a mental note to put it on our menu. I did made a few slight modifications so that I could use my new birthday present (a braisier!) and make it a one-dish recipe. We also served it over rice, instead of the suggested egg noodles.

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Chicken pot pie with biscuits

Chicken pot pie with biscuits

Chicken pot pie is delicious comfort food, but it can be a hassle to make and roll out the pie crust. So I decided to make the filling into a creamy stew, and serve it with biscuits for sopping up the sauce. My favorite biscuit recipe is quick and easy to make, and bakes while the stew is simmering, so this delicious dinner can be on the table in about 30 minutes.

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Skillet chicken and mushroom pasta

Skillet chicken and mushroom pasta

I bought the ingredients for this new pasta recipe last weekend, and looked forward to making it all week. Well, I made it for dinner tonight, and it definitely lived up to expectations. It’s an easy skillet meal, but it’s fancy enough that I would certainly serve it for company.

The tarragon in this recipe gives it a slight anise-like flavor, so if you don’t like that, feel free to use another herb like basil or Italian seasoning. I also used campanelle pasta — it has a bell shape that is perfect for capturing the sauce. Finish this meal off with a green veggie like peas or asparagus, and you have a great dinner.

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Saffron rice

Saffron rice

One of my favorite small appliances in the kitchen is our rice cooker, because it makes perfect rice every time. But sometimes we like to change it up and make a savory, flavored rice (like our Mexican rice or pulao rice recipes) instead of plain rice. This saffron rice recipe, made with raisins and cashews, is the perfect blend of savory and sweet — and it’s a snap to make in the rice cooker.

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Cooking and Dining in the Twin Cities