Tag Archives: scallions

Cookies and Salads

23 Aug

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The other day, Rob and I did some Back To School grocery shopping, and it happened to be a date-night of sorts. We had already eaten dinner, and flashbacks of our Coos Bay days of taking a stroll down the fun-house halls of Walmart at 10 pm rushed in our minds as we stood in the Publix cookie aisle with two other couples. Hushed conversations evolved and we noticed the other couples, slowly and closely meandering, stopping and short-pointing with only a pinky, then whispering some more, were having the exact same musings as Rob and me.

“Remember these?”

“Oh, I ate a box of those ones once.”

“Huh, the packaging has changed on these ones.”

“Strawberry Oreos? Really?”

“Ooo these look so goooooood.”

Then, super-stealthily that short-pointing pinky turned into a swift grabbing hand snatching that Back To School treat. One couple got always-recognizable-even-when-cleverly-stuffed-under-the-16oz.-bag-of-baby-kale Pepperidge Farms cookies, the other couple further down settled with an audible let’s-be-responsible sigh on a cookie/cracker thing, and Rob and I chose Fig Newtons. The original. Always a Back To School classic, at least in my lunch box.

Seams harmless, right? Then, what’s with all the whispering and sideways glances? After further investigation of our late-night cookie aisle recon, this Back To School treat shopping was not for the kids. It was for the adults.

Who knows what happened to the other couples, but Rob and I waited until we got home (there is some restraint), and I dove into the little squares of fruit and cake. After a couple, the “fix” was over, and all was right and just in the world.

Teaching Kindergarten can be a different kind of crazy at beginning of the year, and even in this hot, hot, hot Jacksonville heat, a craving for comfort food spikes at the end of the day. Rather than turning to the cookies, I’ve actually found myself becoming increasingly adventurous with salads. Yes, salads. With the help of our farm basket, I have been experimenting with hot and cold salads, sweet and savory salads, grain and paleo salads, and many more. Come to realize it, more often than not, I have written about salads throughout the years. Well, hold on to your carrots, my friends, cause here comes another.

I called this the Chop Chop Salad, before I realized that there were actually many variations of an actual salad called a Chop Chop. So, I guess I’m adding another variation to the many recipes out there (although I’d like to continue to live in my ignorance that I actually came up with the really cool name). Literally, take every single vegetable that you love and toss it in a bowl. Add lettuce or any other green you’d like, or not. Add grains like quinoa, barley, or spelt, or not. Add a dried fruit or nuts, or not. You get the picture. Pour the contents on a big cutting board. With two chef’s knives, chop chop the heck out of it. Pour it all back into the bowl. Top with your favorite dressing. Voila! Chop Chop Salad! For such an incredibly unrefined technique, it creates such a beautiful presentation, and it’s fabulous for fun entertaining. Here’s how I made mine (everything was just a small handful, fresh and raw, unless otherwise stated):

  • Roasted kale
  • Corn
  • Carrots
  • Crimini mushrooms
  • Roasted green beans
  • Tomatoes (seeded)
  • Celery
  • Green onions
  • Manchego cheese

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The very best part of this salad happened to be the interesting dressing. To me, a big, full Chop Chop salad needs a hearty dressing. These days, however, cream and mayo-based dressings haven’t been making much of an appearance in our house due to the calories they add to the otherwise healthy dish. So to keep the creamy need, yet lose the bulk, I made a Cauliflower Dressing: ½ head of raw cauliflower, ¼ c extra virgin olive oil, ¼ c water, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, 2 tbsp agave nectar, 1 tbsp fresh dill. Throw it all into a blender with some s&p, whir until smooth and pourable, and taste for more seasoning. Pour a desired amount on your Chop Chop Salad, mix, and sit back and crunch away.

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This salad made for a great lunch the next day at school, and I told my kids all about it. At 5-years old, they weren’t so interested in a bowl chalked full of veg. Although I did get many oohs and aahs when I said “corn.” I think even a couple of excited claps.

It’s Back To School – a time for new beginning and taking risks. This salad isn’t risky at all, but try it anyway. It’s easy! It’s your own creation of tastiness! It’s healthy (which means you can dive into those cookies afterwards)!

Enjoy!

Not Your Typical Thanksgiving Leftovers

7 Dec

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Never before have I had a whole week off from school during Thanksgiving.  Not having to work the Monday through Wednesday before the most important food day of the year was honestly an amazing treat.  Not only was I able to pretty much cook everything in advance (except the turkey, of course), but also I was able to enjoy the season with friends and family.  The Florida weather was perfectly seasonal, and even a deep-freeze warning one night brought back memories of cold, Oregon mornings, where Rob and I first started celebrating this holiday together.

As I looked around my living room last Saturday night, there were all the signs of the weekend after Thanksgiving: a couple dishes with creative leftovers lunches on the coffee table, Rob in and out of naps, college football on the TV, Sig and his cousin, Turner, also in an out of naps (but trying really hard to stay awake thus something, just something, happens where us humans will need their K-9 expertise – like cleaning up turkey bits), Jenn uploading silly pictures of us on her computer, and just as dusk was creeping up over the golf course, we are all probably very thankful that some lights were accidently left on because none of us were getting up from our comfy, blanket-nested spots on the couches.  Well, I know I wasn’t.

As always, my Turkey Day Trials did me well, and while I may have gone overboard on the amount of food we had, it made for a very festive, and belly-growing holiday.  Here was the menu:

Appetizers:

  • House Cocktail: mulled cranberry cider topped with brut and frozen cranberries
  • Spiced nuts
  • Boozie olives (olives warmed in the oven with gin, orange peel, and peppercorns)
  • Brie with onion jam, fig chutney, and water crackers
  • Pigs in a blanket (because they are simply awesome)
  • Shrimp cocktail

The Main Event:

  • No Fuss Turkey

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Sides:

  • Rob’s mashed potatoes
  • Spicy Leek and Sweet potato soufflé (with browned marshmallows!)  – some of these ended up on the wall.  Not exactly sure what happened.
  • Celery and Onion Stuffing
  • Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon, Apple, and Rosemary
  • Steamed farm-fresh corn and green beans
  • Parker House Rolls
  • Jellied cranberries (yes, in the can, ridges and all)

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Dessert:

  • Pumpkin Pie (from Costco – the best!)
  • Pumpkin, Amaretto Custard and Whipped Cream Trifle.  SO GOOD.

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And finally….. food coma.

Ok, so Thanksgiving food is wonderful, obviously.  But Jennifer and I indulged in a leftover that was unlike the standard midnight turkey sandwich (don’t get me wrong, that sandwich is probably the most perfect thing I could eat – ever.  Like, ever, ever.).  So, after a couple glasses of wine, a lovely combination of the French-Canadian Poutine dish, American Thanksgiving, and a late-night Mexican tradition all found themselves together in a happy little co-mingling of sorts, creating an indulgence perfect for only the days after Thanksgiving.  There was honestly not a lot of thought to this dish, so there wasn’t much measuring.  Actually, there was no measuring at all.  But with these ingredients, you only need to go with what you like.

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I preheated the oven to 350 degrees, and put blue corn tortilla chips on an ovenproof plate.  Then, I spooned some leftover turkey gravy (the Poutine part), and sprinkled an abundance of leftover turkey meat over the chips.  Taking a shredded Mexican cheese blend, I spread the cheese evenly over the chips and popped it in the oven to melt.  When the OMG-amazing-super-delicious-ooey-gooey-cheesy-turkey-smell wafted through the kitchen, I took out the Turkey & Gravy Nachos, topped them with scallions and hot sauce, and Jennifer and I devoured them.  Really, not a morsel left. 

As that was a week ago, since then all the leftovers have been creatively constructed and eaten – some great, some not so much.  Christmas is well on its way, and I’m starting to get ready.  This weekend calls for making cookies and chocolates, sending out holiday cards, and constructing a wreath.  And just wait until you hear about what happened with our Christmas tree.  Let the O’Donnell – Tamminen Holiday Craziness begin!  Until then, I have two more weeks of school, lots to do, and feeling a little like Joey Tribiani at the moment:

“I’m thinking about starting an ‘I Hate Turkey Club.’  Although, I do love a turkey club.”

So, we’re eating a lot of sushi.  Happy Holidays!

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Flavors of Summer

8 Aug

We are back now from all our traveling, relaxed, and yes, a bit more tan.  Expecting to come back to the frigid Oregon Coast summertime winds, we have actually had quite a few days of beautiful sun, mild weather, and gentle breezes.  It has been more than pleasant, and Rob and I are taking advantages of the best of it.  The many hikes, lead to long days, sometimes not even showering until mid afternoon (it’s not gross, it’s “natural”).  We’ve been doing some small entertaining, enjoying close friends in intimate conversation over simply good food.

One of the things I will miss the most come our goodbye next summer, will be the amazing Oregon produce.  Wow, this place has got it down.  The berries are incredible, and our CSA farm basket (yielding not only great zucchini and greens, but inspired the cheeky name for this blog), has been overflowing our crisper.  It’s awesome.

Through the lazy days of summer (and I do mean lazy… Sig is snoring under the table at the moment), I have enjoyed cooking from my roots – simple, easy, tasty dishes celebrating the greatness of food.  We’ve kept some staples in the house: herbed chicken salad (above), blueberry sauce, white bean puree (a great companion for blanched green beans), good quality mayo (for the healthy shmear on a ripe summer tomato), pluots and blueberries for cold, sparkling sangria, and most recently vegetable cream cheese.  With the tons of veg we’ve been getting, combined with our undying and unconditional love of bagels and cream cheese, I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of this sooner.  Super simple, incredibly flavorful, and a fantastic way to get some raw veg into the system first thing in the morning.

Right now, I’m waiting for some overripe peaches (there are always a couple in a lug – why waste?) to do their infusing magic with some vodka, anticipating a ginger peach cordial sometime in the next couple of days.

With albacore swimming like crazy right now, one found it’s loin on my dinner plate, grilled with lime, brown sugar, smoked salt, and served with a simple lime balsamic dressing.

And with so many beautiful zucchinis around, a tart was just calling out to me (with a fried egg, oui chic!)

Today’s farmer’s market yielded beautiful blackberries, and the juices are already flowing (no pun) as to what to make next.  Suggestions are welcome. 🙂

Vegetable Cream Cheese (makes 8 oz) 

  • 8 oz room temperature cream cheese (I used the “whipped” kind; it made incorporating the ingredients very easy) 
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled 
  • 1/2 green bell pepper
  • 1/2 small zucchini 
  • 2-3 scallions, white and light green parts only 
  • a handful of parsley 
  • s&p

This requires some patience chopping, but chop all the veg into a very small dice.  First, make thin slices, then slice again into matchsticks.  Then, line up the pieces, chopping them across to make very small pieces.  HERE’S A TRICK: with the carrot, use the vegetable peeler to make the thin slices, and then continue cutting from those “peeled” slices.  It’s much easier than trying to keep a I-want-to-be-free-and-roll-all-over-the-place carrot still.  

Chop the scallion into thin slices, and chop the parsley until fairly fine.  

Mix all the veg and herbs into the cream cheese, and season with s&p.  Depending on the brand of cream cheese you use, you may not need much salt.  

Generously spread on a freshly toasted bagel, lick the excess off your fingers, add more to the bagel once you realize how great it is, and enjoy! 

**The longer the cream cheese mixture sits, the more incorporated the vegetable flavors become.  The second, third, fourth days are the best – if it lasts that long.  

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