Quick & Easy Ginger Sesame Asian Salad

With all this beautiful weather and sunshine, I’ve been craving light weight, easy salads. Maybe it’s being in the garden, or just the simple idea that salad’s are so refreshing this time of year, either way I find myself making more salads. This is a great thing as I have lots of greens growing in my garden!

It’s been a while since I played around with an Asian salad and I don’t know why, as they are quite tasty! The first time I ever made homemade ginger sesame dressing I remember thinking, this might be the best homemade sauce I have EVER made. Yes this sauce does happen to be one of my absolute favorites. This recipe introduced me to dates a little over a year and a half ago, and I use them in so much of my cooking now!

The items used for making this sauce have become staples in our house as we’ve learned to make most of our own sauces instead of buying store packaged ones. Coconut aminos, sesame oil, rice vinegar, fresh ginger, EVOO, minced garlic, dates, red curry paste, and fish sauce.

I always double this sauce recipe as its perfect for a meat marinade, a salad dressing, or a dipping sauce for veggies!

For my salad portion of this recipe I usually use a coleslaw mix. You can mix in a broccoli slaw as well, which is also delicious! Depending on how quick I am trying to be sometimes I add extra lettuce and sometimes I don’t. It’s perfectly fine to just use coleslaw mix, KEEP IT SIMPLE!

I do however, always add red pepper slivers and red onions slivers. I just simply slice half a red pepper as thin as possible and half a red onion as thin as possible as well. Mix in with your coleslaw mix and your good to go.

Adding Protein?

This batch I added shredded chicken right in with the coleslaw and it was so tasty. I cooked my chicken in the InstantPot because I love the way the chicken comes out. I cook it in about 1 cup of chicken broth with Italian seasoning and salt and pepper for about 10 minutes. Chicken comes out perfectly moist!

You could add steak tips as well! I might add that for my next batch.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of coleslaw or 4 cups
  • 1/2 red onion sliced thin
  • 1/2 red pepper sliced thin
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded chicken
  • 2-3 scallions
  • sesame seeds

Dressing: (This is for two batches, I always double to make a little extra!)

  • 1/2 cup coconut aminos
  • 4 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 4 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 5-6 large pitted dates
  • 2 tbsp red curry paste (optional)
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce (optional)

Instructions:

  • Add all dressing ingredients to your blender and blend well.
  • Mix your chicken, coleslaw, red onions, and red peppers in a large bowl.
  • Pour half your sauce into coleslaw mixture and mix well. If you need to add more sauce add a little at a time to ensure you don’t add to much.
  • Top with scallions.
  • Serve cold and enjoy!

Spring is Here! Spring is Here!

Building Raised Garden Beds & Transplanting Your Garden Outdoors

New Raised Garden Bed

How excited are we to finally be enjoying some consistent Spring weather! I am pumped for the season and ready to go with a flourishing garden window. As I type I hear a lawn mower off in the distance, the sun is shining on my kitchen table, and I can hear faint bird chirping… Life is Good.

Over the weekend my fiance and I build a raised garden bed outback to accomadate more of my herbs and vegetables. I must say this was an easier task then I expected. We chose to use cedar for our garden bed for a few reasons. The first being it is rot resistant. The chemicals in cedar protect it against rot. Cedar is also insect repelling which you cannot go wrong with in an herb or vegetable garden! Another reason is how dense it is. Cedar holds up very well and will serve its purpose for a long time.

Just built and Callie is quite curious!

Once you figure out where you want your raised garden bed you have to take a few things into account. How high do you want your bed? How wide/deep do you want it? How long do you want it? Once you figure out your measurements you can calculate the amount of materials you need.

Before we prepped it for the Raised bed.

We decided to buy 1″ by 6″ by 8 feet cedar planks and stacked them three tall. I wanted my bed to be at least three feet deep if not more so we measured out the sides to be 3 feet 6 inches. We ended up buying 15 cedar planks for 1 bed (1 plank being $11). Our bed is 16 feet by 3 1/2 feet.

It is very easy to construct! We used small pieces of wood to nail together the three planks standing up. We did one wall at a time and then nailed them all together. We did not build a bottom as I want my herbs to root as far as they’d like.

Before adding soil.

We read a few different articles and talked to a few different gardeners on what type of soil mix to start with. We ended up throwing some leaves/sticks at the bottom (really not much) then some compost/hummus/manure on top. We mixed that in with some soil and tilled it quite a bit. Then we finished by dumping a whopping 14 bags of soil into the bed. We made sure to till it well and make sure everything was broken up and mixed well.

Only a few more bags of soil left to add!

Once we had all our soil in there we watered and watered and watered until it wasn’t bone dry anymore. This took about 10 minutes! I decided before planting to let it sit and soak overnight.

Planting Your Plants Into Your Bed

Bringing everything out to get ready!

Then it was the fun part. Over the past week I have been designing my garden based on what grows well together and sun/watering needs. I also wanted to make sure the things I had planted last year went into my new bed this year so I didn’t plant them in the same spot again this year.

Things That Tolerate A Light Frost

The last frost date for my area is May 7th, though I doubt we will see another frost. To be mindful of that I focused on getting the things out that could survive a light frost if they had to: kale, spinach, lettuce, mint, parsley, asparagus, onions, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, broccoli, dill, and garlic.

Garlic and asparagus I probably won’t see this year but they will provide for next. Everything else I had been growing strong in my garden window and it was ready to get outdoors. Here are some pictures of things once I planted them

Companions: What Pairs Well With What?

I used a few resources to figure out how I wanted to design my garden. The biggest resource I used was the Garden almanac. I learned that Cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts, and Broccoli work well together and require full sun so they are in the same bed. I paired my asparagus with my Tomatoes since they grow well together. I have plans to plant my peppers near my tomatoes as another companion. My potatoes will go with my pole beans, bush snap beans, and basil as good companions. My kale, lettuce, dill, and parsley are all together as they grow well together.

I was very cautious to not plant the same things in the same spots as last year. Making a new garden bed was perfect for this as I really just rotated what I did last year.

What About The Rest?

Now that most of my herbs and vegetables are outside my garden window has lots of space. I still have red peppers, yellow peppers, jalapenos, thyme, basil, and strawberries growing in the window. We have plans to get one more garden bed outback so I started some more seeds in my garden window. Those include: cucumber, zuchinni, squash, more dill, more peppers (currently have 3 of each kind growing), pumpkin, and pole beans. Once these are mature I’ll transplant them outback as well. Cannot wait to keep up with all the delicious growth this summer!

Anything I must add to my garden? Any questions I can answer? As always email me or contact me on Instagram: appetiteforlifee

Starting Your Garden Indoors…

Six weeks after planting seeds.

Alright if you’ve been following along on my Instagram you know I get very giddy over my garden window and these cute little sprouts! This is my second year filling in this window and I’ve already experienced more successes than last. My peppers sprouted this year! Yippeee!!

So let me walk you through the steps I took to set this indoor garden up. I promise you, you will find joy in checking in on it everyday and keeping it watered! It also brings Spring into the house.

I have the perfect spot for it as I have a garden window in my kitchen. However this can be done just as easily on a window sill or on a countertop that gets direct sunlight throughout the day.

The first thing I did was head over to the Garden Almanac. https://www.almanac.com/gardening

I looked up my area and looked up when the best time to plant seeds indoors was based on the last frost. Based on that information I planted my seeds indoors on February 23rd. But you can start yours indoor now! I wanted to get a head start as this is my favorite hobby :).

I bought my seeds @HomeDepot along with these cheap pots!
A shot of everything I planted. Lettuce, Kale, Spinach, Onions, Peppers, Parsley, Dill, Tomatoes, Arugula.

When planting the seeds I learned that its important to make sure the soil is moist enough. So I start by placing soil in the pot, filling it about halfway, and then I water the soil and mix it around. I proceed to put more soil in and then I plant my seed according to the depth and spacing instructions on packet. Always water immediately once you plant seeds.

What To Plant?

I knew exactly what to plant based off of things I like to eat and what I planted last year. Ask yourself what do you regularly buy at the grocery store? Lettuce, kale, spinach, dill, parsley, rosemary, green beans, tomatoes, the possibilities are endless. Maybe start with 5 of your favorite things. This year I added a few new things to my garden which I am quite excited for.

My first signs of sprouts came on March 1st, only 7 days from planting! Another week later just about everything had sprouted and was growing healthy.

2-3 weeks after planting
1-2 weeks after planting

Last year my biggest failure was my water upkeep. I either over watered them and then waited too long and they become under watered. This year I knew this had to be a better focus of mine. So each day I simply placed a finger in the soil to see if it was dry or moist. I also started to get used to how heavy the pots felt by touch. When they are dry they feel significantly lighter. Thats when you know its time to water! So far so good using this method. It’s easier than you think so don’t feel overwhelmed like I did at first. Even if you forget a day here or there they will forgive you!

Here’s What my Plants Look Like Now….

Tomato
Spinach
Russian Kale
Dill
Kale

When Do I plan To Transplant Outdoors?

I decided the perfect date to start transplanting outdoors is April 28th. The next step is planning out the layout of my garden. For example, some things grow better next to other things. I also have to be careful to not plant the same things in the same spots as last year. I plan to use the the Garden Almanac again as they have a fun garden planner app. Once my plans our set I will share!

Let me know what you think! Share your garden ideas! Ask me questions!