Fresh Summer Chopped Salad with Homemade Seedy Crackers

Sometimes I hate flying.

Here are some of my thoughts from my flight yesterday.

1) Why yes, I was hoping to pay $3.50 for greek yogurt since I can’t bring in my own.

2) I have to go to the bathroom, but I didn’t want to disrupt everyone in my row. Twice. So I will sit here.

3) Dude sitting beside me, don’t worry about covering your cough. I was hoping to get sick anyway.

4) Wow, what a cute 5-year old you have! They would be even cuter if they would stop screaming. It’s just, I only slept about 4 hours last night and I was really hoping to get a bit of a nap. But it’s okay, I prefer to feel like I am in a horror movie.

5) No thank you, I don’t want a $7 snack pack. I already spent my rent on the breakfast I bought in the terminal.

But it’s not all bad. When I finally landed, I was in gorgeous San Diego. The breeze softly blowing my hair; the temperature comfortably 20 degrees lower than in Arizona; the ocean a deep blue in the distance.

Soon I had forgotten about my flight and was floating through a massive Trader Joes (like, the biggest I’ve ever visited) and then Whole Foods collecting the ingredients to make dinner.

Being in San Diego brings me back to this salad. It is overflowing with ripe avocado, grilled corn and chicken, sweet berries, tangy feta cheese, and a sweet, slightly tart vinaigrette.

Oh, and I made some homemade crackers. They were the bomb-diggidy.

Make this. Eat this. Enjoy the last days of summer.

Fresh Summer Chopped Salad

This salad pays homage to the last days of summer. It is full of everything wonderful and delicious. Oh yeah, and it’s gorgeous (just look at all those colors).

Ingredients

For the salad

  • 2 1/1 cups romaine, chopped
  • 2 ears fresh corn, shucked
  • 2/3 cup blueberries
  • 2/3 cup strawberries, hulled and chopped
  • 1 grilled chicken breast, chopped
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, stems removed and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

For the dressing

  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

Method

1. Lightly coat corn cobs with olive oil. Grill corn cobs over an open flame (I used the burner on the stove) or on a grill. Once the kernels appear lightly charred, remove from heat. Place the corn cob flat on a cutting board. With downward motion toward cutting board, cut of the entire length of one side. Continue this, rotating the cob around. Once most of the corn has been removed, take the back of your knife and run it down the length of the corn to remove the remaining bits of corn. **Alternatively, the corn can be served fresh cut off the cob**

2. In a large bowl, mix together lettuce, corn, chicken, avocado, blueberries, strawberries, and feta. Sprinkle with salt and pepper then toss thoroughly.

3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together lime juice, honey, olive oil and vinegar. Pour over salad, then toss once more. Serve with Homemade Seedy Crackers (or other chip/cracker), recipe below.

Recipe lightly adapted from How Sweet Eats

Homemade Seedy Crackers

These Crackers come from the Daring Bakers July Challenge. They are wonderfully crunchy, overflowing with seeds and flavor. Before baking, I sprinkled them with a bit of dried minced garlic and pressed it down with the rolling pin. Next time I will experiment with more topping flavors: caraway, minced onion, rosemary. 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm/5 oz) whole wheat four
  • 1 cup (240 ml) 140 gm/5 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) (50 gm) (1¾ oz)poppy seeds
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) (40 gm) (1¼ oz) sesame seeds
  • 1½ teaspoons (7½ ml) (9 gm) table salt
  • 1½ teaspoons (7½ ml) (8 gm) baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) olive oil
  • ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon (195 ml) (6½ fl oz) water

Method

1. Mix the flours, seeds, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. Add the oil and stir until combined. Add the water until the dough comes together.

2. Kneed the dough 5 or 6 times and allow to rest, covered, on the counter for 15 minutes. You can also chill the dough at this point and come back later.

3. Preheat the oven to hot 450°F/230°C/gas mark 8.4. Working with a quarter of the dough at a time, either use a rolling pin to reach a desired thickness (thick or thin) or roll out in your pasta rollers. If you use pasta rollers, ensure the dough is well-floured so as not to stick. Place strips of dough on a sheet pan lined with parchment.

5. If the crackers are thick, bake for 7 minutes, flip them over and bake for 7 minutes more. Then cut or break into crackers shapes while still warm. Return to the oven for a further 5 minutes until crispy (although for some of my crackers needed less than 5 minutes). If not crispy enough when cooled, crackers can be returned to the oven. Store in an airtight container and eat within 2 weeks.

Recipe from Dana McFarlane on Daring Bakers

Related Recipes

Cabbage Salad with Ginger-Sesame Vinaigrette, Roasted Almonds and Cara-Cara Oranges

Caesar Salad

Summer Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Dressing

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Whole Wheat Challah Bread {Daring Bakers}

I ran a 5k yesterday. It was absolutely perfect: 60-ish degrees (although my “ish” could vary quite a bit), a lovely course, lots of people cheering.

I didn’t place, I didn’t PR (personal record) either. But, I ran hard and I had such an amazing time running through my hometown’s downtown (say that 10 times fast).

I think I’ve forgotten how pretty and lush Tennessee can be. I was in awe of the flowers and trees. Since I’ve been home I feel like one of those awkward tourists who want to take pictures of every novel thing they see. Perhaps that’s what living in the desert for two years does to a person.

The novelty and beauty of home kind of reminds me of homemade bread. I feel that I often forget how delicious it is. For convenience, I purchase artisan breads (like ciabatta, challah, focaccia) from the grocery store. But when I make it at home, I can taste the difference (maybe it’s all of the extra blood, sweat, and tears that I carefully knead in…)

Fortunately for me and my homemade bread-loving appetite, this month’s Daring Bakers challenge was Challah Bread. Challah is an delicious lightly sweetened egg bread. It is a very important part of Jewish traditions like the Sabbath and other holidays. I won’t go into the history here, but the background and process of making the bread is very interesting, especially for a woman in a Jewish household.

The challenge offered up three different challah recipe. I wasn’t feeling too adventurous so I just stuck to baking one, the Ruth’s “Go-To” Whole Wheat Challah.

It was easy to make and very delicious. The texture was a bit more dense than challah made with white flour, but it didn’t feel heavy. The recipe was not hard to follow, but like any yeast bread, it takes time and patience. There are three rises for this challah which help the flavor of the yeast to really develop and shine through.

I definitely would want to make this recipe again or try one of the others that were posted for the challenge.

Feeling Yeasty and wanting more?

Focaccia Bread

Pumpkin Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread

Ruth’s “Go-To” Whole Wheat Challah

Ingredients

  • 2 (.25 oz.) packages (4. teaspoons) (22. ml) (15 gm) (. oz) dry yeast
  • 1 cup (240 ml) warm water (100°F/38°C)
  • . cup (120 ml) (100 gm) (3. oz) brown sugar, firmly packed
  • . cup (one stick) (120 ml) (115 gm/4 oz) margarine or unsalted butter – room temperature (I used butter)
  • 2 tsp. (10 ml) (15 gm) (. oz) salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups (480 ml) (280 gm/10 oz) whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups (480 ml) (280 gm/10 oz) all-purpose flour
  • . cup (120 ml) (50 gm) (1. oz) rolled oats (Old Fashioned work just fine!)
  • Additional flour for kneading (. to 1 cup) (120 to 240 ml) (70 to 140 gm) (2. to 5 oz)
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water for glaze
  • Optional Seasonings for top of challah (I made my challahs with sesame, “everything” seasoning, and rosemary and salt)
Method

1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, dissolve yeast in warm water. Allow to stand about 5 minutes until creamy/foamy.

2. With paddle attachment beat 3 eggs, sugar, margarine (or butter), whole wheat flour, all purpose flour and oats into the yeast mixture. Or, if mixing by hand (ok, spoon), combine eggs and margarine/butter with yeast mixture until well mixed. Add flours and oats and mix until it becomes difficult to mix.

3. Once combined, switch to the dough hook and knead for 5 to 10 minutes until smooth and elastic, adding flour as/if needed. If kneading by hand, this should take about 10-12 minutes.

4. Form dough into a round, compact ball. Turn in oiled bowl, cover with a kitchen/tea towel. Let rise in warm area (I put it in the oven with the light on) until doubled, approx. 2 hours.

5. Once dough has doubled, punch down. Recover with towel, allow to rise again for an hour, but even 30 minutes will be fine if you’re in a hurry.

6. Punch the dough down again, divide in two (I divided mine into three small loaves).

7. Shape each half as desired (3, 4 or 6 strand braid, rolls, etc.). Place shaped loaves onto parchment covered baking trays. Cover with the towel and allow to rise another hour.

8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

9. Brush loaves with egg wash. (Sprinkle with vanilla sugar/sesame seeds/poppy seeds/other topping here if desired). The leftmost loaf is everything seasoning with dried garlic, dried onion, caraway, salt, and sesame. The middle is rosemary and salt, and the last loaf is sesame.

10. Bake 30 to 40 min. until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

11. Transfer loaves to a wire rack to cool before serving.

 This month’s Daring Bakers recipe comes from Ruth at The Crafts of Mommyhood

Armenian Nutmeg Cake {Daring Bakers}

I used to have a dog named Snowy.

She was terribly cute and completely white (hence the insanely creative, original name).

Sometimes she would be the sweetest, most charming dog you’d ever met.

Most times, though, she wasn’t (just look at the photo below for evidence). It may have something to do with her wardrobe. But, what dog wouldn’t love to always being primped and dressed?

Don’t answer that.

I may also be forgetting to mention another part of the story.

Snowy wore a diaper too. I won’t get into the logistics, as mentioning her incontinence on the web might embarrass the late canine, but I think that maybe she felt that this diaper recked her style. Here she was, a nine pound, 18 inch wonder with no hope for a social life.

Because she wore a diaper and a parka.

And sometimes sunglasses.

If Snowy were still alive today, I’d bake her this cake and ask her to forgive me for putting her into all of those darling outfits. It is April’s Daring Bakers Challenge and it’s perhaps one of the most amazing treats I’ve ever tasted. It’s rich and buttery with a caramely sweetness. The staring ingredient, nutmeg, is prominent, but in the most perfect way.

This cake is a hug from a friend. It’s sleeping in on Saturday morning. It’s the feeling you get when you sit in front of a roaring campfire in the depths of summer. It can cure a broken heart or fix a flat tire. It would totally make Snowy feel better about her clothing predicament.

The crust is delicious and buttery. It reminds me of soft baked shortbread.

And nutmeg. I can’t even begin to describe it. I do like nutmeg, but often I’ve found that it can be overpowering. In this cake though, it is poi-fect! I only used a teaspoon, but if you enjoy the nutmeg-y flavor, add an additional 1/2 teaspoon.

The only modification I made to this glorious cake was using unsweetened vanilla almond milk. I’m certain regular milk would work just as well, but I wanted to try it.

Walnuts are an excellent addition to the top of the cake. They add a bit of a crunch and they become fragrant and nutty after baking.

It is so moist and tender. I’m sure it would pair excellently with coffee or tea or even cardboard.

Obviously I didn’t like the cake… ;)

Looking for other cake recipes?

Summer Strawberry and Peach Cake

Chocolate Chickpea Cake

Pumpkin Cake with Caramel, Chocolate Chips, and Walnuts

Armenian Nutmeg Cake from Jason at Daily Candor

Makes 1 9-in cake (about 12 slices)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (240 ml) milk (I used almond milk)**
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) baking soda
  • 2 cups (480 ml) (280 gm/10 oz) all-purpose flour**
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) (10 gm) (⅓ oz) baking powder
  • 2 cups (480 ml) (400 gm/14 oz) brown sugar, firmly packed**
  • 3/4 cup (1½ sticks) (180 ml) (170 gm/6 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature and cubed
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) (55 gm/2 oz) walnut pieces, or more to taste
  • 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons (5 to 7 ½ ml) (5 to 8 gm) ground nutmeg (I used 1 tsp.)
  • 1 egg
Method

1. Preheat your oven to moderate 350°F/175°C/gas mark 4.

2. Mix the baking soda (not baking powder; that’s for the next step) into the milk. Set it aside.

3. Sift together the flour and the baking powder into a large bowl. Add the brown sugar. Mix the flour and brown sugar together. Toss in the cubed butter. Mash the butter with a fork into the dry ingredients (you can also use your fingers too). You’ll want to achieve a uniform, tan-colored crumbly mixture.

4. Take HALF of the crumbly mixture and press it into a 9-in (23 cm) springform pan to form a crust (I used a cake pan with a removable bottom, like this one). Set remaining mixture aside.

5. In a mixed or a bowl, crack the egg and toss in the nutmeg. Start mixing slowly with a whisk attachment and then increase to medium speed, or mix with a hand whisk if you’re doing it manually. Once it’s mixed well and frothy (about 1 minute using a standing mixer, or about 2-3 minutes of vigorous beating with a whisk), pour in the milk and baking soda mixture. Continue to mix until uniform. Pour in the rest of the crumbly mixture that you set aside earlier. Mix well, with either a paddle attachment, or a spatula.
6. Pour the batter over the base in the springform pan. Gently sprinkle the walnut pieces over the batter. Bake for about 30-40 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the top is a golden brown, and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan, and then release the sides of the springform pan or remove from cake pan. Enjoy!

** Notes **
** I used almond milk instead of real milk because it was what I had. I thought that it was so incredible (although I haven’t tried it with real milk to know the difference).
**I weighed my ingredients. I found that there was quite a different between ingredients like flour and brown sugar that were measured in cups and measured on a scale. If you have access to a scale, I’d recommend it for this recipe.