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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Orange Balsamic Wild Rice Salad

Chicago has the highest sales tax in the country- seriously ridiculous. However, the trade off is all the amazing, cool free shows, fireworks and concerts through the year. Last week was the showing of Psycho in the middle of Grant Park; thousands of people bring blankets, a picnic and bottles of wine to watch the big screen outside with the city lights in the background. Super fun experience!

With 30-some people in our group, the only way to go is a potluck picnic. My contribution was an Orange Wild Rice Salad. Wild rice is so nutty, flavorful and nutritious (technically not a rice, but a water seed), yet rarely used!
I love it and am hoping my Mom reads this and sends me more from the great state of Minnesota (hint, hint).

The salad was a huge hit; but not actually planning to post this recipe I didn't write down the ingredients until days later. So just remember it's a salad and the ingredient listing below will get you close. Have fun with it- if you like different nuts, change it! If you want to add a spoon of muster for a little snap, do it. Do whatever works for you. And since there isn't any mayo in this it's a great salad for hot days. Toss it together the day before (wait to add the nuts so they don't get soggy) and your picnic day is set to be easy, simple and fat and happy!

Orange Balsamic Wild Rice Salad

3-4 cups of cooked wild rice
Since wild rice takes about 45 minutes of simmering, make the wild rice according to the package first. When finished, set aside to cool.

While that is simmering, toast:
1 cup mixture of sunflower seeds, almonds, pecans. Set aside

Then sautee just to soften, do not not cook more than a few minutes:

1 tbls olive oil
1 tbls butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup each, chopped orange and yellow pepper
1 small shallot, sliced
1 tbls dried thyme

Set aside to cool.

Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette:

Whisk together:

1 cup orange juice
zest of 1 orange
1-2 Tbls of lemon juice
1/4- 1/2 cup of Pomegranate balsamic (plain balsamic is fine)
2 Tbls honey
salt and fresh ground pepper

While continuing to whisk, drizzle in, to emulsify the dressing:
1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil (I used a walnut olive oil for even more nutty flavor!)

Add to the vinaigrette:

2 Tbls finely diced shallots
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 Tbls chopped mint
2 Tbls chopped fresh oregano
2 Tbls chopped fresh thyme
1 orange, segmented
1/2 chopped dried cherries

Combine the wild rice, the sauteed onion mixture, the toasted nuts and the vinaigrette.
Serve immediately or let sit up to one day for the flavors to meld.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Grilled Fruit with Butter Rum Sauce

Celebrating summer on the Chicago beach- does it get any better? A lot of sun, volleyball, potluck and grilling. Don't forget the sangria! (For today's sangria, I took my classic red version and made a few tweaks including substituting white wine for the red.)  It was the classic summer day that you don't want to end.

My contribution to this summer party was dessert. It needed to be somewhat light, but I wanted to utilize the grill as well. Grilled fruit seemed a given- but also a little plain, a twist was needed. Skewering the fruit onto cinnamon sticks was step one. Slathering the fruit with a caramel rum butter sauce topped it off. This is so good! Clearly you can use whatever fruit you want, I went with pineapples, plum and peaches which paired nicely with the rum.

I can see this butter rum sauce will have other applications as well; you'll see it again on this blog. Right now I'm thinking how good it would be to soften a grilled pine nut or pound cake topped off with a scoop of homemade ice cream. Mmmmhhh, I'm drooling at the thought- and that is fat and happy.

Grilled Fruit with Hot Butter Rum Sauce

Place ingredients in a sauce pan, and simmer:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup rum
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

While the butter caramel rum sauce is simmering, clean and skewer fruit onto cinnamon sticks. I used  small sticks which only hold about two or three pieces of fruit, but you can get longer ones if you prefer. Use a metal skewer to start the hole in the fruit if you are having a hard time pushing the cinnamon stick through.

Simmer the sauce about 10 minutes to meld all the flavors.  Brush the fruit with the rum sauce and place on the grill over medium heat for a few minutes per side. You're goal is to soften the fruit, impart a smoky flavor and get those great grill marks. Brush more rum sauce on as your grilling. Serve remaining rum sauce on the side.

**I did list this dessert recipe under the healthy category - if you went easy on the sauce, this is relatively healthy. But if you're like me, you'll douse the fruit with the rum caramel sauce because this sauce is so fricken' good!


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