Monthly Archives: April 2014

Inspiration and a Cowboy Ciao Salad

When cooking, baking, menu planning, creating food, you never know where your inspiration might come from … who knew that an experience at a restaurant in the Sky Harbour Airport Terminal in Phoenix, an eating experience that had more going against it than going for it, would inspire a dish I made last night for supper. The dish itself isn’t very original or complicated, but the story, and the inspiration behind it is interesting.

“Tom” and I had a 2 and a half hour layover, around lunchtime, in Phoenix when flying from Vancouver to Yuma last month. We wanted to eat our lunch in a restaurant where we could sit at a table and be waited on (as opposed to standing in line at a take out stand), so chose Cowboy Ciao. The menu didn’t appear very vegan friendly at first, but a helpful and friendly server pointed out a few options and I decided to order the Stetson Chopped Salad (hold the cheese). When the salad came, the ingredients were all lined up separately on the plate and the server explained what each was before pouring on a little dressing and tossing it all together. This is what it looked like after it was tossed (she was too quick for me to snap a picture of the original lay out of the salad):

Cowboy Ciao salad

It was made of Israeli couscous, dried cranberries, arugula, avocado, some interesting crunchy freeze-dried or something corn, tomatoes, pepitas (otherwise known as pumpkin seeds), and drizzled with a simple vinaigrette. It was pretty good. What wasn’t so good was the evidence of poor hygiene and cleanliness that we saw all around us as demonstrated by the staff … a server dipping her fingers into a bag of Cheez-Its, then into her mouth, then serving plates of food, a server sniffing and coughing openly around food, dirty dishes on our table, slovenly attire such us partially tucked in shirts, exposed midrifts … Although I enjoyed the Stetson Chopped Salad, we won’t be eating at Cowboy Ciao next time we pass through Sky Harbour Airport.

In honour of the tasty Stetson Salad and the effort made by the one bright light at Cowboy Ciao – our server – I give you …

Cowboy Ciao Salad


2 carrots, peeled and grated

1 red bell pepper, chopped

several leaves of green lettuce, chopped

about 1/4 of a head of green cabbage, sliced thinly and chopped

1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (or 1 can)

several grape tomatoes, quartered

1 cup corn (1 used frozen, thawed in boiling water, then cooled)

1 avocado, sliced

Dressing (this is the same dressing I use in my Black Bean, Corn, Quinoa Salad which can be found on my other blog):

2 tbsps. lime juice

2 tbsps. rice vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp chipotle paste (you can make chipotle paste by dumping a can of chipotle peppers in adobe sauce into the blender, blending until smooth – just store the paste in the fridge and use whenever you want a chipotle flavour in your cooking)

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp veg oil

tortilla chips

Prepare all your vegetables, then portion out into two big bowls, keeping the ingredients separate and not tossed together, like so:


Put the dressing on the side and add as much or as little as you please, and toss together as much or as little as you please. You can go real Cowboy Ciao by dressing and tossing the salad for your eating partner right in front of them. (Even more authentic Cowboy Ciao would be to serve the dressing in a dirty and greasy pitcher, but you can forgo this step if you want)!  Serve with tortilla chips.



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Another Smoothie

This morning, when I went to make my usual smoothie, I discovered we were out of two of the main ingredients (banana and spinach). So I improvised and here is what I came up with:


1 tbsp. chia seeds

1/2 cup water

1 orange, peeled and chopped

1/3 of an English cucumber, peeled and chopped

a handful of frozen pineapple chunks

1 large leaf of lettuce, ripped into pieces

1/2 cup carrot juice

1/2 cup almond milk

Throw everything into a blender and blend until smooth. I use an immersion blender so I had to pause and remove the orange pulp from the blades before finishing the blending into a smooth smoothie.


Just thought I’d share!



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Chocolate Mousse Pie

This is a recipe I use for special occasions like birthdays and Valentines Day. It is really easy to make, tastes fabulous, is vegan and there are always some leftovers so “Tom” and I can have a treat the next day. I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for quite some time, but was waiting for a special holiday or something to share it with the world. It seems, however, that I’m too busy making chocolate mousse pies and entertaining to write blog posts at special holiday times, so I’m going to post this recipe now when we’re kind of in between holidays. I guess Easter is coming up, so if you celebrate then or just have a couple of stat days to enjoy, maybe you could try out this pie.





1 package vegan Oreo style cookies, crushed (I found a brand that was vegan and gluten-free in my local grocery store recently. I thought I took a picture of the package, but I can’t find it. Sorry! That’s not very helpful, is it?)

2 tbsps. coconut oil

Mix the cookie crumbs and the oil together with your hands. Press into the bottom of a pie plate. Refrigerate.


1 cup semi-sweet chocolate (vegan and organic)

1 package silken tofu

1/2 cup almond milk

1/2 tsp vanilla

pinch sea salt

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or, if you’re like me and don’t have a double boiler, melt the chocolate in a metal or pyrex bowl over a pot of hot water. Let cool a bit. Slip the tofu into a pot of boiling water and simmer for about 3 minutes (helps remove any beany taste), drain, let cool a bit in cold water. Blend together tofu, milk, vanilla and salt in a blender until smooth. Stream the melted chocolate into the blender while motor is running. Blend until well combined and smooth. Pour over the cookie crumb pie shell. Refrigerate about 4 hours.





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Cole Slaw

The other morning, when I was preparing my lunch to take to work, I realized there was no leftover salad from supper the night before. I needed to throw a salad together quickly with whatever was available in our rather depleted store of fresh vegetables in the fridge. So, I thinly sliced a chunk of cabbage, finely chopped a couple of broccoli florets, diced a green onion and tossed it all together with a bit of dressing made from vegan mayo, Dijon mustard, and a splash of a bottled salad dressing. When I ate this salad at lunch, it tasted really fresh and crunchy and satisfying. I thought I was just eating a cabbage salad until one of my colleagues remarked on my coleslaw. That got me thinking … What makes a salad a slaw anyway? Apparently, the term coleslaw comes from the Dutch word “koolsla” which means cabbage salad. In other words, a cabbage salad is coleslaw! When I chopped up some raw cabbage and tossed it together with a few other vegetables, I not only made a salad, I made coleslaw! Well, last night, I decided to refine my coleslaw recipe and make it again. Here’s what I came up with:


1/4 head of green cabbage, thinly sliced

1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped *

2 green onions, chopped

1/2 head of broccoli, finely chopped *

1/4 head of cauliflower, finely chopped *

1 1/2 tbsp. vegan mayo

1 tbsp. Renee’s Spring Herb Italian Vinaigrette (we use this dressing because it’s only 20 calories a tbsp. and tastes really good!)










2 tbsp. water

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp agave nectar

a couple of grinds of black pepper

Toss all the vegetables together in a big bowl. Mix the salad dressing ingredients together (mayo to black pepper). Pour the dressing onto the salad vegetables and toss together until evenly coated.

* I chopped these vegetables up in my mini food processor.



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