YOU Magazine - May 2012 - Mother's Day Spa Lunch Creating a Special Day for the Mom (Or Moms) In Your Life By Kirk Leins
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Mother's Day Spa Lunch
Creating a Special Day for the Mom (Or Moms) In Your Life
By Kirk Leins

Mother's Day Spa Lunch - Creating a Special Day for the Mom (Or Moms) In Your Life - By Kirk Leins

Moms are the ultimate multi-taskers, oftentimes juggling careers with household and family responsibilities, which can leave them very few moments to themselves. That's why Mother's Day is mom's day to relax...completely.

It's only fitting that we create a special celebration on the day that honors them. After all, one duty mom need not take on is planning her own Mother's Day celebration. That's going to be your job and I am going to help you do it. Don't worry. It's going to be fun. What do you say we get started?

Considering the amount of pampering our moms do for us, it's only fair we return the favor on her big day. This may sound like a big job, but I'm going to simplify it for you by giving you two words to remember–spa day.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a mom that would not enjoy having a day of beauty. I'm serious when I say you really can't go wrong with this. Send her to the spa for a massage or a facial, or the salon to get her hair done. Even the nail salon for a manicure and pedicure, or a yoga class would work. The key is to find something she enjoys and that fits into your budget. Make her a mid-morning appointment on Mother's Day and get her out of the house for a few hours. This will give her a chance to decompress, and you a chance to put the finishing touches on a great spa-like meal.

Now, let's get cooking!

It's not uncommon for a spa day to include a healthy yet satisfying lunch, as there is nothing like eating great food after a massage and a sauna. The difference on Mother's Day is that instead of mom eating that lunch at a restaurant, she'll be able to do it in the comfort of her own home…without having to do any of the work.

I'm going to set you up with a complete spa lunch menu that will not only fit the bill in terms of good eats, but it's something I'm confident anyone can pull off. First up is the Mother's Day salad.

Mother's Day Salad (serves 2)

  • 2 hearts of Romaine lettuce (sold prepackaged in the produce section), sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1 medium to large-sized, ripe Haas avocado, sliced in half lengthwise and seed removed
  • 15 25-count shrimp (tails and shells left on)
  • 12 cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
  • Feta cheese crumbles
  • Extra virgin olive oil

For the Dressing:

  • Zest from 1 orange and the juice of 1/2 the orange
  • 1.5 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 to 1/2 C extra-virgin olive oil

Poaching Liquid for the Shrimp:

  • 3 to 4 C water
  • 1 C dry white wine
  • 1/2 onion sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 20 black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 large bowl of ice water

Poach the shrimp on Saturday evening before Mother's Day. Begin by adding all of the ingredients for the poaching liquid (except the salt) into a saucepan. Heat on a high flame until the liquid begins to boil. Reduce to a very low simmer and cover. Allow the mixture to simmer lightly for 5 to 10 minutes. Add a generous amount of salt to the water and mix well.

Add the shrimp to the liquid. The simmer should go away, so turn up the heat slightly, but do not allow the water to boil. Allow the shrimp to poach for 3 to 5 minutes, or until they are opaque. Peel one of the shrimp and cut in half to check for doneness. If the shrimp is cooked through, transfer all of them to a bowl of ice water and allow to fully cool, which should take about 2 minutes.

Remove the shrimp from the ice water and pat them dry using paper towels. Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

You can make the dressing on the morning of Mother's Day. In a bowl, add the orange zest, orange juice, vinegar, mustard, honey and smoked paprika. Season liberally with salt and pepper and whisk well.

Slowly add the olive oil to the mixture, whisking continuously until it emulsifies. Set aside.

When mom arrives home and is ready to enjoy your lunch, it's time to put the finishing touches on the salad. Start by removing the shrimp from the fridge and, using your fingers, remove the shells. The tails can either be left on, or removed. Set aside.

Preheat either a grill pan, or an outdoor grill.

Brush the cut sides of the romaine hearts and avocado with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place the avocado halves, cut side down, on the grill and cook for 1 to 1.5-minutes. Give them a quarter turn and cook for an additional minute, or until grill marks are achieved. Remove and set aside.

Place the romaine hearts on the grill and cook for 30 to 45 seconds. Rotate a quarter turn and cook for another 30 to 45 seconds, or until they are uniformly charred. Remove and set aside.

To plate your salads, place two halves of the grilled romaine onto two separate plates.  Top each salad with equal amounts of shrimp. Toss the sliced tomatoes in a tablespoon or so of the dressing, and place on top of the shrimp. Using a spoon, scoop out bite-sized pieces of the grilled avocado and arrange equal portions onto each plate. Drizzle each salad with the desired amount of dressing and top with crumbled feta cheese. Serve with slices of warm baguette.

You can always serve a chilled white wine with this salad, but for a true spa experience, how about we make mom some spa water? It's some of the most refreshing and tasty water you'll ever drink.

Spa Water (makes 1 gallon)

  • 1 lemon, sliced crosswise very thinly
  • 1/2 English or hothouse cucumber, sliced crosswise thinly
  • 1 gallon purified water

Place the lemon and cucumber slices in a gallon-sized pitcher and add water. Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.

Lunch has been served, and eaten, so it's time to give mom a little dessert. Here's the thing, though. Mom's day of beauty can't end with some over-the-top, ostentatious dessert, as it would completely defeat the purpose of a spa day. Here's my recipe for balsamic berries over vanilla gelato. It's sweet, delicious, and unbelievably easy to prepare.

Balsamic Berries with Vanilla Gelato (serves two)

  • 2 C fresh strawberries, green stems removed and sliced
  • 1 C fresh blueberries
  • 1.5 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (good quality)
  • 2 Tsp sugar
  • Vanilla gelato
  • Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

In a bowl, combine strawberries, blueberries, vinegar, and sugar. Mix well and allow the berries to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Spoon vanilla gelato into bowls and top it with the desired amount of berries and the accumulated sauce. For an interesting finish, top the berries with a little coarsely ground black pepper. I know it sounds weird but trust me it's delicious.

The roadmap has been written. All that's left is for you to follow it.

Happy Mother's Day!

PS Don't forget to do the dishes!!

Kirk Leins has been cooking his entire life. No stranger to professional kitchens, he currently devotes most of his time to cooking instruction, food writing, and producing television. Kirk also provides his services as a personal chef in and around the Los Angeles area. He has made several TV appearances on both the national and local level, and is the Executive Chef for YOU Magazine. Sign up for Kirk's free newsletter and cooking blog at

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