Warm Brown Rice Salad

My mom used to throw cold leftover white rice into salads, like “side salad” type of salads with iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and onions with sweet and tangy French dressing. Those salads would be main meals in the summertime. I loved them as a kid! They were the best on a hot summer day. But it’s December and it’s cold out, yet I’m craving a salad. And I thought that warm brown rice with bitter arugula, walnuts and tart cranberries would make a nice salad. It was so good! So quick to make, surprisingly satisfying and healthy too. Enjoy!

  • 2 cups cooked brown rice 
  • 2 cups tightly packed baby arugula, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces
  • 2 heaping teaspoon dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar with pear pulp (found in the vinegar aisle)
  • 2 teaspoons roasted walnut oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh orange, clementine or tangerine juice
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper

To your cooked rice, add in the arugula, walnut pieces and cranberries. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, orange juice. Season with sea salt and ground pepper. Pour over the salad and combine well. Serve nice and warm. Serves 2.

Cranberry Vanilla Ice Cream

I can never get enough cranberries on Thanksgiving day. When I was little, one of my favorite memories was getting together with my cousin on the Wednesday before and we would make apple pies, one classic and one studded with cranberries. The next day, I couldn’t wait for a slice of my favorite pie, the apple-cranberry. The best part was finding those tart berries among the cinnamon-sweet apples. Last year, I put dried cranberries into the stuffing (it would have been helpful if I written down the recipe, lol, it was so good) and this year it’s cranberry vanilla ice cream for dessert. Mmm…creamy and tart. A perfect ending to a Thanksgiving day feast. Enjoy!

Recipe for cranberry vanilla ice cream: makes four 1/2 cup servings.

  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream
  • 1 teaspoon Frangelico liqueur
  • 1 cup prepared whole berry cranberry sauce

Bring your ice cream into the refrigerator and let it sit for 1 hour and then combine with the cranberry sauce and the Frangelico liqueur. Scoop into a freeze proof container and freeze overnight. It’s nice to top your apple pie with or to have by itself. Top it with a crushed snicker doodle cookie, crushed hazelnuts or dried cranberries to make it extra special. Below you’ll find a recipe for whole berry cranberry sauce, if you need it.

Recipe for whole berry cranberry sauce: makes a little under 2 cups.                                   

  • 12 oz. cranberries
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar (plus 2 tablespoons if you want your ice cream sweeter)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • generous pinch pumpkin pie spice

Combine everything in a heavy bottomed pot and cover. Bring to a boil on high heat. Once it comes to a boil and your cranberries start popping, lower the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, occasionally stirring, especially towards the end. Allow to cool. You can use 1 cup for the ice cream and reserve the rest for the table for dinner or double the ice cream recipe if needed and use it all.

Fried Cambozola Cheese over an Autumn Salad

Did I enjoy this salad, it was just so good! I’m so happy that I did the dishes before posting this because I’m sure I would have been dipping another slice of Cambozola into the panko crumbs followed by the hot oil, once again. I love Cambozola cheese and think at one point in my life it could have been considered a love affair, lol. We met every Friday night with wine and it always ended with a smile. During the autumn, salads can get pushed to the end of the table, while savory filling dishes get all of the attention but this salad can be the star of the meal. It’s really delicious and celebrates fall flavors with bitter greens, sweet pears and tart cranberries. Let’s not forget the creamy melted Cambozola on top, slightly warming the salad up. It’s a nice salad for an informal party, in a cozy setting, where everyone can wait (hardly wait) for the Cambozola to fry up, to be enjoyed. Happy weekend all!

  •  red leaf lettuce leaves, torn into bite size pieces
  • 1 small Belgian endive, julienned and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 heaping tablespoons julienned radicchio
  • about 10 walnut halves
  • 1/2 D’Anjou pear, peeled and sliced thin
  • dried cranberries
  • 2 slices Cambozola cheese, about 1/4 inch thick
  • milk
  • less than 1/2 cup panko crumbs
  • canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons roasted walnut oil*
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar with pear pulp
  • squeeze of lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper

This recipe is for two servings, so triple or quadruple as needed. And all of the ingredients in the salad can be adjusted to your liking. Begin by piling the red leaf lettuce in a bowl or on a plate. Add on the Belgian endive and radicchio. On half of the greens, place your pear slices. If they are going to sit for a while, brush with a little lemon juice so they don’t brown. Dry pan roast your walnuts on hot heat for 5 minutes, stirring them around occasionally, until nice and brown and set aside. (I pan roasted them with a few rosemary leaves, I’ve been obsessed with rosemary lately. It makes the house smell great and I added the rosemary leaves to the vinaigrette.) Place the walnuts and cranberries on the pear slices. Next make your vinaigrette by whisking all of the ingredients together and set aside. (*You can use extra virgin olive oil if you aren’t a fan of roasted walnut oil.)  Season your panko crumbs with ground pepper and sea salt and set aside. Dip your slice of cheese into a little milk followed by the panko crumbs. Use a spoon to lightly press the crumbs into the cheese. Heat up a little canola oil in a non-stick pan on medium-high heat. Make sure your oil is nice and hot before placing the cheese in it. Fry for a few seconds. You will see the loose panko crumbs brown and you’ll know when it’s time to flip the cheese. Brown on the other side and remove with a slotted spatula and drain over the paper towel. (Don’t put the cheese directly on the paper towel because it will stick.) Blot the top of the cheese lightly with a paper towel and place on the other half of the salad. Spoon the vinaigrette on the greens and serve the rest on the side. Enjoy!

Cranberry Sauce: 3 Ways

I never met a cranberry sauce that I didn’t like. And I have it as a side dish on my plate on Thanksgiving day, not as a condiment. I seriously love the stuff and when I saw those familiar bags at the supermarket, back in October, I had to bring one home to make a fresh cranberry sauce. I enjoyed it slightly warm and it was so tart, that every bite puckered my lips. I love the tartness of cranberries. Don’t worry these sauces are nicely sweet and not too tart. You can make all three recipes for the cranberry sauce lovers of the family or double or triple the recipe that calls your name. The rosemary is fun and a little unexpected and savory. The classic is pretty basic with a vanilla twist and the Sriracha is hot and spicy. Enjoy!

Rosemary & Frangelico Cranberry Sauce

  • 1 cup cranberries
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon Frangelico liqueur
  • 1/8 teaspoon finely minced fresh rosemary, plus a few leaves for garnish
  • ground black pepper
  • sea salt

Almost Classic Cranberry Sauce

  • 1 cup cranberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • generous pinch of cinnamon
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • sea salt

Sriracha Cranberry Sauce

  • 1 cup cranberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
  • a slice of jalapeno pepper plus one for garnish
  • freshly grated 70% dark chocolate
  • ground black pepper
  • sea salt

The easiest way to do this is to use 3 small lidded pots. Have them set up on the stove and drop the ingredients into each one. Bring each pot to a boil on high heat, cover right away and lower the heat. Simmer each pot for 5-10 minutes on low to medium heat. (If using a heavy bottomed pot, like enameled cast iron it’s closer to 10 minutes. If using a thinner pot, like stainless steel, it’s closer to 5 minutes.) Keep an eye on them and stir occasionally. Serve warm or chilled. Because this takes up 3 burners, it’s good to make ahead, if you would like to make these for Thanksgiving day.

*One 12 oz. bag of cranberry gives you 3 cups of cranberries. For the recipes that uses 1/4 cup of sugar, you can increase it to 1/3 cup if you like your sauce sweeter. Each recipe makes about 1/2 a cup of cranberry sauce. The sauces are nice not only with turkey but with pork and chicken also. Increase the vanilla extract to 1/2 teaspoon and it would be nice served warm over vanilla ice cream for dessert.