Sunday, August 21, 2011

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

The perfect dressing for a Wedge Salad...

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch Buttermilk dressing
1 c mayonnaise
1 c buttermilk
1/2 c crumbled Feta cheese
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1/4 t garlic powder
salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and blend until incorporated. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving.

Wedge Salad

Oh yeah baby. This salad is SO SIMPLE and SO DELICIOUS. I recently read an article on iceberg lettuce and how it gets such a bad rap - for no good reason. I'll try to find the article and link to it soon. Anyway... the wedge - here we go...

Wedge Salad
Iceberg lettuce (1 head = 4 servings)
1 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 avocado, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
grape tomatoes
3 hard boiled eggs, diced
cheddar cheese, shredded
Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

Cut the core out of the head of lettuce. Divide head into 4 wedges. I like to drizzle the wedge with dressing before adding my toppings - so that it gets in all those bitty cracks. Add all other toppings to taste - enjoy!!

Friday, August 19, 2011

School Lunch Ideas

I taught a little class on ideas for school lunch. Nerve wracking eh? I thought I'd share my thoughts with you all!! Sorry I didn't take pictures of the samples I served - but I'll make those sandwiches again soon and take pictures then!

First Things First
Give your kids choices. What will they eat – what do they eat? Include them in the meal planning for the week. Let them explore food and encourage them to try new things before packing it in their lunch. My kids are always more open to trying something if they know what is in it – and if they’ve had a hand in making it. I always tell my kids “just try a bite – if you don’t like it – that’s fine – you don’t have to have any more” and that's it. This little sentence has gotten my kids to realize that they love things like beets and asparagus!!! I usually don't try to get them to eat that particular item for another 6 months to a year. Maybe they'll never like a certain food - but if they are willing to try different foods that's all I can ask.

Hot and Cold
Soup – use a coffee thermos cup
To keep things warm – use a heat pack
To keep things cool – use a freezer pack, frozen juice box or water bottle

Sandwich Ideas
Homemade Lunchables: English muffin, pepperonis, shredded cheese with a side of pizza sauce or marinara
Easter Ham, cheese and crackers
Cucumber and cream cheese on bagel thins
Sushi wrap – tortilla, rice, carrots, cucumber, wasabi mayo, avocado
Salad wraps
*Turkey, raspberry chipotle, cream cheese, lettuce wrapped in a tortilla
*Ham, cheese, pesto and bread

Warm or Cold Pasta
Pasta + Dressing + Veggies + protein = fast, easy lunch

My son loves BBQ Sauce. One of his fav sandwiches is whole wheat bread, ham and BBQ sauce. Not appealling to me AT ALL - but it's something he'll eat. Work around their likes and dislikes. Just because it may not be conventional doesn't mean it isn't out of bounds - right?

This is a big one for me. Think about what your kids like. If you can find a dip that your child likes - you have the key to having them love fresh veggies or fruit for the rest of their lives. Seriously. My son is allergic to eggs, so he can't have most salad dressings. I started drizzling honey on his salads a few years ago instead of dressing and he ate it up like crazy. He is at the point now that he knows which veg he likes and will eat them with or without honey - b/c he knows he likes the vegetable - pretty amazing hu?

Mayo - tons of flavor options out there
BBQ Sauce
Ranch dressing
Salad dressing
Honey Mustard
Sweet and Sour
Cream Cheese
Peanut Sauce

Grape Tomatoes
Small sweet peppers
Celery Sticks
Trail Mix
Bag of nuts
String Cheese
Dried Fruit

Beat The Soggy Effect
Pack bread and condiments separately OR put condiment in the middle of the sandwich –put the cheese or lettuce (pat dry) next to the bread.

Fun ideas
Cookie cutters for sandwiches or fruit and veg
Little notes – offer encouragement, give reminders, share your thoughts, show appreciation, etc.

So there you go - a few ideas - I'd love you to share your ideas too!!

*For those of you that were there - these were the samples we ate

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Mexican Verano (Summer) Salad

I was at a local fav restraunt called the Flying Star Cafe the other night and saw an advertisement for this amazing salad (after I had ordered my dinner). It looked so good though that I wrote down the ingredients then and there - I knew I had to try it.

Verano means Summer and that is the perfect word to describe this salad. Crisp, refreshing, light and different. Ahhh the dog days of summer have some redeeming qualities don't they?

Mexican Verano Salad
1 c Jicama, shredded, diced or julienned
1/2 c White Cheddar, shredded
1 c Roasted Corn
3 or 4 c Romaine lettuce
1 c Grape Tomatoes
1/2 c Avocado, diced
Blue Corn tortilla strips (or chips)
*Grilled chicken
*Carrots, diced

Add all ingredients together and serve with Chipotle Honey Dijon Dressing - so delish!

*Not in the original salad

Chipotle Honey Dijon Dressing

This dressing is another new found fav!! Don't you just love that?? I found it on the 'DOLE' website. Sorry the picture isn't so great - I had a hungry family to feed!

I used 1 tsp of Chipotle Chili Pepper for this recipe and it gave it a real kick. My husband LOVED it! I'm not a huge fan of real spicy food and I liked the dressing too. I'd start with 1/2 tsp then add to your liking from there...Chipotle Honey Dijon Dressing
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 to 1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder (or pepper)

Whisk together all ingredients and refrigerate until ready for use. Serve on the Mexican Verano Salad.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Caramel Butter Bars

I don't post desserts often - I'm not a baker and I'm not a huge dessert fan - BUT - this dessert is worthy of blogging about.

In fact, one of my guests told me that his family rates food on a 1 - 5 stars level and he rated this dessert as a 4.5. He even asked for the recipe to take home to his wife... thanks Cookies and Cups for this awesome recipe!!

Salted Caramel Butter Bars
For the Crust:
1 lb. salted butter room temp
1 cup sugar
1½ cups powdered sugar
2 Tbs vanilla
4 cups flour

For the Filling:
1 bag (14 oz.) caramel candies (about 50 individual caramels), unwrapped
1/3 cup milk or cream
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 T. coarse sea salt (optional)

To make the crust:
In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugars. Using mixer on medium speed, beat together until creamy. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. Sift the flour into the butter mixture and beat on low speed until a smooth soft dough forms.
Spray a 9×13 inch baking pan lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Press one-third of the dough evenly into the pan to form a bottom crust.
Preheat to 325F.
Bake until firm and the edges are a pale golden brown approx 20 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool about 15 minutes.
While the bottom crust is baking and the remaining dough is chilling, make the caramel filling. Place the unwrapped caramels in a microwave-safe bowl. Add the cream. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Remove from the microwave and stir until smooth. If caramels are not completely melted, microwave on high for 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until smooth.
Pour the caramel filling over the crust. If you are going to salt the caramel sprinkle it on caramel layer now.
Remove the remaining chilled dough from the refrigerator and crumble it evenly over the caramel.
Return the pan to the oven and bake until the filling is bubbly and the crumbled shortbread topping is firm and lightly golden, about 25 – 30 minutes.
*Let cool before cutting into squares.

*I made this dessert for guests and the bars didn't have time to completely cool before I served them - they were so stinkin' good a little warm. In fact, we had a few left the next day and I warmed them in the microwave before we ate them.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Twisty Breadsticks

A while back, HERE I received a couple of Rhodes Bake N Serv cookbooks and a bunch of FREE coupons for their products because of one of the recipes I posted. So - Rhodes Bake N Serv rolls have become a staple in our house.

I was making pizza and wanted a new 'twist' on breadsticks. So I made these...Twisty Breadsticks
Rhodes Bake N Serve White Dinner Rolls (2 per twist)
Kabob Skewers (12" used here)
3 T melted butter
1/4 t oregano
1/4 t parsley
1/4 t garlic salt
1/4 t garlic powder
Grated parmesan in a can

Thaw rolls according to package directions. Once thawed, knead 2 rolls together and roll out into a thin(ish) rope. Twist the dough around the kabob skewer, pinching the ends to secure them in place. Place each kabob stick over a roasting pan (or cake pan) so the wood on the kabob rests on the top of the roasting pan and the dough is suspended. Cover with plastic wrap (coated w PAM) and let rise until doubled.

Bake at 375 degrees for 10 - 12 minutes. Pull them out when lightly browned and brush with combined butter, oregano, parsley, garlic salt and garlic powder.

I also sprinkled them with shredded parm, asiago and romano cheeses (from a can) BUT - I really wish I had grated parm from a can - the powdery texture would've been perfect for these rolls.

BIG hit with the kids!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Fabulous Red Wine Vinaigrette

I just can't get enough of it.

I like vinaigrette's well enough, but I usually go for the creamy dressings. This dressing - is my new favorite FOOD. I have had it on absolutely everything I can lay my hands on in the last week.

It's sweet and acidic and peppery and mouth watering and seriously to die for. It's so good - I even renamed it - adding FABULOUS to the title.Fabulous Red Wine Vinaigrette:
2/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup red onions, finely grated (about 1/4 of a large red onion)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons salt
ground pepper to taste
2 cups canola oil

Add all ingredients except oil in a blender. Blend well. While processing, slowly add the canola oil and blend well. Transfer dressing to a jar or cruet. It keeps well in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks (although I've found it gets a little thick if it is too cold so I'll pop it in the microwave for 5-10 seconds to help thin it out before I use it if it has been in the refrigerator for several days).
Make it. Love it. You will thank yourself daily.


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