My parents came over for dinner tonight. Tomorrow is their last day visiting and they will wake up early Sunday morning to drive back to Arizona. We’ve enjoyed having them around the past 2 months and will miss them. I don’t like growing up, things just seem so much different as you get older. People move around so much these days (me especially).
My mother is the one who taught me at an early age how to bake and cook. She is an amazing baker and she is a powerhouse in the kitchen. You don’t get in her way or you’ll get run over. She bakes every day and often multiple times per day. She bakes bread, then cinnamon rolls, then maybe cookies or cake. This is how I was raised. By age eleven, I whipped up pies all on my own.
My goal with dinner was to make a light and healthy meal. Both of them have dietary restrictions (i.e. due to baking multiple times a day …) so I wanted to keep that in mind. Admittedly, there was a part of me who wanted to try out a few new recipes. My parents are usually good guinea pigs and honest in their reactions.
The menu included a vegetarian soup accompanied with a hearty salad. I found a low-fat recipe for an asian-style vinaigrette from a Weight Watchers cookbook — it seemed like something we would all enjoy. I tend to like fruit in my salads and the dressing sounded like it would pair well with both lettuce and fruit.
I enjoy playing with textures, colors, and flavors (sweet and savory) – so, with these thoughts in my head, I decided to use romaine lettuce and picked a few oranges from our tree to add sweetness and soften the somewhat bitter romaine. I pulled the leaves off from a handfull of cilantro and added it to the mix as well. To pump up the color and sweetness further, I threw in a few plump raspberries.
Since everything was turning out vegetarian, I decided an extra boost of protein would be good (and I knew my father and Joe would both complain if there wasn’t any meat). I poached a few chicken breasts and allowed them to cool before cutting into thin slices. I figured the texture of the chicken would counterbalance the crunch of the lettuce and the juicy fruits.
I tossed everything (with my fingertips) in a light coating of the dressing and it made for a delicious (and eye-catching) salad. Raspberries are pretty fragile, so I wouldn’t recommend tossing with tongs. Alternatively, you could leave them out and add them to the top of each salad.
Joe harassed me and pretended to be offended when I called it an Asian-style salad. He claims that it has nothing to do with his Chinese heritage and that I was racist or some other such nonsense. Geesh. It’s just a salad. For me, anything with sesame oil is ‘asian’. Here’s the vinaigrette recipe …
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons chicken broth
I put the ingredients into a small jar and shook it up. Because it’s low-fat, there isn’t much oil, so the dressing is thin. I might play the ingredients a bit next time to try and make it thicker. Regardless, it tasted good and my parents enjoyed it.
My parents are leaving just in time — we’ve been having small earthquakes this past week. I only felt one of them, it was a 3.1. Supposedly, these are aftershocks from a larger earthquake we had back in October. Who knew that aftershocks could be so tardy. Let’s hope the ‘big one’ isn’t on its way anytime soon.
This next week I’ll put up a post on Project Runway, one of my most favorite shows. I’ve been having a conversation about the show in the comments section for one of my older posts. Maybe there are others of you who would like to join into the discussion. I look forward to watching it on Wednesday nights, but no one else I know watches it … bummer. So, keep your eyes peeled for my non-food post to discuss Project Runway next week!
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