Super Green Spring Salad

Super Green Spring Salad // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

It’s spring! And my garden is blooming and booming. I’ve been eating this Super Green Spring Salad every chance I get since all of the ingredients are directly from my garden… delicate lettuce, baby kale, bright broccoli with pretty tiny yellow flowers, crisp sugar peas, mint, chives. This salad is less of a recipe, and more of a throw-together spring green treat!

Super Green Spring Salad // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Super Green Spring Salad // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

But, I should pause and preface this delicious garden post with the fact that I am not a good gardener. Seriously. I’m bad. Plants shrivel at my touch. They tell their other plant friends to run and hide when I decide to buy them. Any success I have at gardening is not my doing. Plants thrive in my garden in spite of me. I just wish I was a good gardener like my grandmother was. She could make anything grow and she could make you think that you could do it too. *sigh*

The first year we moved to Kansas City, I decided that I wanted to BE A GARDENER! (p.s. I said this with both hands on my hips and in a booming voice).  This is a laughable statement because at the time I killed anything in a pot in my house and at one point was scared to even get a pet because I couldn’t even keep a plant alive!

But, dangit, I was going to finally try to grow a garden and feed myself and eat healthy and get dirt in my fingers and sweat and love it and bring bushels of food in at the end of the day and sigh and say “way to go me!”.  So I bought three tomato plants and marched into the backyard of our new rent house with a shovel and a prideful grin on my face.  Like a blind settler deciding on their perfect plot of land, I just shoved my shovel into the hard clay ground next to the fence and dug three holes. That’s it. I just stuck the tomato plants in the ground as if I were planting flowers.  But, despite my ineptitude and lack of reading up on “how to grow tomatoes“, I ended up with some darn good tomatoes that year. Those plants grew over 8 feet tall! I even canned tomato sauce! Yeah. All that from just digging three holes…..and praying like hell and battling thieving squirrels!

Super Green Spring Salad // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Basically, I kill any plant that is not in the ground. If it is up to me, all plants would die. However, after I put the plant in the ground, I cross my fingers that mother nature will take over and that she’ll be the true gardener.  I depend on her to water my garden too. I’m not saying that’s the right thing to do…it’s just what I do…as a bad gardener!

Also, as a bad gardener, I don’t weed. I should…but I don’t. I feel like everything should be given a fighting chance.  My husband goes out to my garden and tries to weed things and I freak out. FREAK out. I’m scared that he’s going to pull a baby beet or a baby kale or maybe just a baby, hell I don’t know. “NOOOOO! That’s a blah blah blah and I wanted it there…. yeah. I WANTED that weed.”

Sorry, I’m super protective of my garden… even if it’s a weed box. Back off!

As a bad gardener, I plant things too close together. My husband always tries to correct my eagerness to cram as much as possible into our tiny raised beds. But I tend to say, “Space shmace. If you want to survive, you gotta try harder Mr tomato!!!!”.   This doesn’t always work out….buuuut, I won’t admit that to him.

But this year, six years into BEING A GARDENER, my garden is growing like a REAL garden!  Thank you again, mother nature. I have one of the biggest lettuce crops (which love these cool temps and tons of rain that KC has gotten this spring). I also have gorgeous broccoli heads! Oh and peas! I have snow peas climbing a trellis (actually it’s a defunct hand rain I pulled off my outdoor stairs) and tiny pea pods dangling everywhere! Kale is coming up like a champ! Baby beets are gearing up and their greens are getting taller.  I’m even growing brussels sprouts and cauliflower for the first time. Way to go me! I hope my grandma would be proud. I think she’d also really love this Super Green Spring Salad that I’ve been making from all of my garden goodies!

Super Green Spring Salad // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

I mention my lack of gardening skills in order to encourage anyone that loves fresh produce but may be scared to begin their own garden because, like me, they are terrible with plants. But don’t be scared. Just go do it!  What do you have to lose? A few bucks on a pack of seeds? You’ll fail, but you will also succeed and learn from those mistakes.  Man, I sure sound like an after school special, don’t I?  Anyways, I love seeing what new things I can grow. Nothing is better to me than walking outside my door to my own farmer’s market!

On this Memorial Day weekend, I encourage you to branch out, dig a whole, plant something.  Plant something in honor of the one’s that you have loved and in their memory.  And then every time you go out to tend to it and get dirt on your fingers and sweat on your brow and harvest your fresh amazing produce, you can remember them and realize that their memory lives on. But also, don’t forget to give yourself a high-five from them and say “way to go!” (but say it with both hands on your hips and in a booming voice).

Super Green Spring Salad // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Super Green Spring Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 5 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Note – This salad does not really have a set list of ingredients and can morph into whatever you have on hand. I have provided a gentle guide for what I like to use, but feel free to mix and match with whatever greens you have on hand or can spot at your local farmer’s market.  

Ingredients for the Salad

  • Four generous handfuls of spring greens mix (such as, leaf lettuce, baby kale, arugula, beet greens, etc.), gently rinse and dry
  • Handful of fresh sugar snap peas or snow peas
  • Two small heads of broccoli
  • Handful of fresh herbs (such as mint, dill, chives, cilantro)

Ingredients for the Lemon Vinaigrette 

  • Juice of 1 large lemon (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon of finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Slice the snow peas or sugar peas in half or into bite-size pieces if they are large. If they are small, you can keep them whole. Whatever you choose.
  2. Chop the broccoli florets from the stalk. Chop the florets into small portions. Cut off the bottom fibrous portion of the stalk and chop the tender portion into 1/4-inch bite-size pieces.
  3. Place the lettuce, peas, broccoli, and herbs into a large bowl.
  4. Place all vinaigrette ingredients into a lidded jar. Shake vigorously until well mixed. Just before serving, drizzle about 1/3 cup of the dressing over the salad and toss gently. Place leftover dressing in the fridge or add more if needed.

Suggested toppings:

  • Optional Protein Toppings: chicken, quinoa, boiled egg, chicken sausage, fish
  • Optional Misc Toppings: sunflower seeds, roasted nuts, crumbled feta, shaved parmesan, goat cheese

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Rhubarb Strawberry Curd

Rhubarb Strawberry Curd // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

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I still remember the first time that I tried rhubarb.  It was probably 10 years ago. I had wanted to try it, but just hadn’t had the chance (I guess) living in suburbia Oklahoma and just didn’t have the inclination to go hunt for it.

But one summer night, I was out working a 12 hour shift doing field work for my Master’s degree and my husband was babysitting my littlest sister who was only 6 at the time. Since they are both the adventurous type, and neither of them really knew how to cook…. they decided to make me a rhubarb cobbler as a surprise treat for when I got home.

I was so surprised when I walked in the door and smelled that amazing smell. It was seriously the best cobbler I had ever eaten. (Maybe it was because I had just worked 12 long hours in the hot summer sun.) But it really was the perfect blend of tartness and sweetness. Just like my husband and my sister Olivia. Sweet and tart! 🙂  They began my obsession with this fabulous spring plant…ooooh rhubarb!

Rhubarb Strawberry Curd // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Rhubarb Strawberry Curd // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Since that first magical cobbler that they made for me ten years ago, I have had quite a love affair with rhubarb. Rhubarb is a perennial that will come back year after year when planted in a good location. My rhubarb plant always lets me know when spring is near, because it begins to sprout its long stalks and leaves when temps rise above 40 F.

Rhubarb can be used in so many recipes: tarts, cobblers, pies, salsa, sauces, and this amazing curd! Yeaaaaaaaaah. Curd doesn’t have to be reserved for citrus! This Rhubarb Strawberry Curd is hands down my favorite. I decided to add some frozen strawberries that I had in order to boost the pink color of the curd.  Feel free to adjust the ratio of rhubarb to strawberries to suit your own tastes.

Rhubarb Strawberry Curd // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

This Rhubarb Strawberry Curd can easily be used to fill a pie or tart crust for an easy dessert. The extra egg whites can be whipped up as a meringue for the top too! I went the easy route this time and I mixed mine in greek yogurt for a delicious breakfast and midday snack! Either way, I know that this will be a favorite for all you rhubarb lovers!

Rhubarb Strawberry Curd // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Rhubarb Strawberry Curd

  • Servings: 2 cups
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
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Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh rhubarb, sliced 1/2-inch thick (about 5 trimmed stalks)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 4 eggs, yolks separated (reserve whites for another use)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Instructions

  1. In a heavy saucepan placed over medium heat, cook rhubarb, strawberries, water, and 3 tablespoons of honey for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently and smashing the fruit with the back of spoon. Mixture will begin to fall apart and look mushy. Turn off heat and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.
  2. Transfer mixture to the bowl of a food processor and puree smooth. Set aside.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, cream the butter and the honey together until fluffy.  Beat in the eggs slowly. Slowly add the rhubarb and strawberry mixture, whisking constantly until completely combined.
  4. Transfer mixture to a medium-sized, non-reactive saucepan. Place over medium-low heat and stir constantly with either a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until the mixture has thickened to jelly consistency, about 10-12 minutes.  Do not let the curd boil! Pull the pan off the stove before it gets to that stage. The curd is done when it coats the back of a spatula or leaves a clear path when pulled through the mixture.
  5. Remove from heat allow to cool for about 5 minutes. Pour curd mixture into a clean glass jar, but let it cool completely before you screw on the lid. You can even place the filled jar in the freezer (without the lid) for about 15 minutes and then remove from freezer and place the lid on the jar. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Note – Recipe adapted from Dolly and Oatmeal.

Carne Asada Salad (Paleo Friendly and Gluten Free)

Carne Asada Salad / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Have you ever lost your mojo? Felt lost?

If you are frequent reader or friend of mine or even someone I have passed on the street, it has been a bit too obvious that I have lost my mojo.  I’m typically so goal-driven, mega type A, and awesome…or anal, whichever you deem it. But not for sometime. For a while I have felt like a feather in the wind with no direction, which is TERRIFYING to me. I think we all have a threshold of how much willpower we have and how much we can endure. And then one day you snap…for me it was the lack of ketchup in our house when I had made sweet potato fries…. FOR THE LOVE OF PETE WHY CAN”T I HAVE WHAT I WANT!

Too dramatic? naaaah.

Carne Asada Salad / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

But there has to be a certain point when you just have to realize that life just is what it is. We get handed certain things in life and we can either roll around in it like a stinky pile of poop or we can make poop pie and throw it at someone that deserves it. I’ve decided to quite rolling in poop and throw it. Wait…I don’t think that came out right.

Well, you get what I’m saying right?  Take out your frustrations on others, am I right? That’s what friends are for? right? Friends? Thanks for being there for me. 🙂 No really. Thanks.

This week has been operation “get my mojo back”. If you have often felt like your mojo is gone, I challenge you to get it back by realizing that we can’t compare ourselves to others (even past versions of ourselves). We are where we are and we have to try to enjoy these moments, even the hard ones, because our time is short and our love is vast.

Carne Asada Salad / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Here are a few of the things I did to get mojo back this week that you can try:

  • Exercise – Go for a walk. Listen to the birds, see the trees in bloom, embrace the now.
  • Treat Yo’ self – Hello mani/pedi.
  • Cook – Try something simple and fresh for yourself and family. Your belly will thank you.
  • Laugh – This is the most important thing of all.

As part of my “get my mojo back” week, I decided to cook something fresh and simple. I thawed out a strip steak from our purchase of 1/4 of a COW. (I don’t know which fourth I got, but he’s tasty.)  Strip steaks are nice and thin and are great for carne asada! So I whipped up a quick carne asada marinade when I got home from work. Fresh limes are key to the marinade. Let your steak marinade for at least an hour and up to 4 hours. Fresh greens are abundant in the farmers market and in my garden so I decided to create a fresh salad instead of tacos.  I used fresh baby butter lettuce, baby kale, and cilantro that is growing in our garden and some other goodies that I picked up at the market to create a Carne Asada Salad that was quick, delicious, and something that I will be making many times during this grilling season. Feel free to modify your toppings, but focus on fresh and good quality items.

Carne Asada Salad / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Carne Asada Salad / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Strip steaks are thin and will not require a long time on the grill. For medium, you will likely only need to grill it 4 to 5 minutes per side, or less. Keep an eye on it. You could even cook your steaks inside in a cast iron skillet or grill pan if you don’t have a grill.

Carne Asada Salad (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Paleo Friendly)

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Time: 30mins + 1 to 8 hours for marinade
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Marinade Ingredients

  • 1 lb strip steak (flank steak would work too)
  • 1 large clove of garlic, smashed and minced
  • juice of 1 large lime
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Salad Ingredients

  • Mixed greens (baby kale, spinach, arugula, butter lettuce, etc)
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • green onions, diced
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, diced
  • crumbled feta (optional)
  • fresh limes
  • avocado
  • salsa

Instructions

  1. Place the strip steak in a large glass bowl or baking dish.  Do not use metal because it may react with the acids in the marinade. Salt and pepper on both sides. Combine the marinade ingredients in a small bowl and pour over the steak. Make sure that all of is covered and saturated with the marinade. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 4 hours. Pull out of the refrigerator and allow the steak to come to room temperature (about 30 minutes). 
  2. Preheat your grill or grill pan using medium-high heat or flame. Brush the grates of your grill with a bit of olive oil so that the steak does not stick to the grates. Remove the steak from the marinade and place onto the hottest part of the grill and cover the grill. Grill until the underside of the steak is browned, about 4 minutes depending on the thickness of your steak.  Flip the steak and cook on the other side for another 4 minutes.
  3. Remove the steak from the grill and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Thinly slice the steak across the grain on a diagonal. This will help the steak from being chewy.
  4. Prepare four salad bowls and place sliced steak on top. As another option, prepare these as tacos using grilled corn tortillas. Mmmmm! Happy eating!

 

Swiss Chard Wraps

Quick and easy meals are the focus in my house lately. And for the coming future….well, for the next three months.  I am feverishly preparing to take the professional engineering (P.E.) exam this coming October. The PE exam is the final step in the licensure process for engineers.

It’s a massive 8 hour exam and I am quite out of practice in the studying department.  SO to dedicate the most time and be as efficient as possible, I study every ounce that I can and end up taking only a few breaks to eat and squeeze in a few runs. I’m basically M.I.A. So if you need me in the coming months, send smoke signals or slide a note under the door.

My recipes and posts in the coming months will likely reduce in quantity but not quality. I will be featuring quick breakfast/lunch/dinner recipes for folks on the go (or chained to a desk studying).  I got ya’lls back people.

These swiss chard wraps were a quick linner (lunch/dinner) that we enjoyed over the weekend using leftover smoked chicken and a few chard leaves.  They are similar to burritos, except the chard leaf serves as a fresh “tortilla”, making it both gluten free and grain free. They come together in a snap.  You could use whatever leftovers you have on hand such as taco meat, or grilled veggies, or even scrambled eggs.  Top similar to tacos, using avocados, fresh tomatoes, salsa, and cilantro. 

Swiss Chard Wraps 

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 8 large swiss chard leaves, cleaned and extra stem removed
  • 2 cups of grilled veggies (red bell pepper, zucchini, onion, etc) 
  • 2 cups shredded chicken or beef
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 avocado
  • cilantro
  • salsa

Instructions

  1. In a medium skillet or microwave, reheat veggies and meat.
  2. Assemble the swiss chard wraps like tacos, layering the shredded chicken mixture with the desired toppings. Wrap the chard leaf around the filling and dive in!