Monday, October 08, 2018

Homecoming 2018: Chiapparelli's-Style Salad on the Menu

Um, yes, I mispelled Chiapparelli's on our chalkboard.

We recently hosted my son and his friends for a Homecoming Dance Dinner Party.  This salad was on the menu because it is a proven crowd-pleaser.  Below are some pictures of our evening.  What a sweet group we had here in our home.  It's also VERY sweet when the older brother includes the younger sister and her date.  It was his dinner party after all.
That same little sister likes to take this salad to school for lunch.  She adds toasted, sliced almonds and roasted, salted chickpeas to make it extra-special. (see details at end of this post)
This salad dressing gets better with time although I suspect you will use it up within a week.  It's just that good!

Chiapparelli’s-style Salad
Recipe adapted from several recipes found online

3 to 4 heads of Romaine Lettuce, chopped
1 small clove of garlic, crushed with a pinch of kosher salt
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup white wine vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
1 ½ teaspoons sugar
Juice of ½ a lemon
½  teaspoon kosher salt
½  teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (grated)
¼ cup Pecorino Romana cheese (grated)

In a large measuring cup whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, and salt.  Once sugar/salt are dissolved whisk in the olive oil, oregano, pepper, and crushed garlic.

Toss lettuce with grated cheeses and then toss again with dressing to coat– not too much!  

Store chopped Romaine Lettuce in Mason Jars - keeps for a week!

Just press knife down at slight angle to crush garlic - salt will help with crushing action.

A small pop of purple for school spirit!
Everyone through the buffet line - always makes it easy to serve a crowd.

Ready for the Lunch Box
Sea Salt Crunchy Chickpeas
This is what their packaging used to look like and below is their new packaging.

This is the brand we like best.  We found them at Whole Foods and My Organic Market.

I like the compostable bowl because it fits easily into her lunchbox.

We keep roasted sliced almonds in our pantry at all times - easy to do See How to Toast Nuts



Thursday, September 13, 2018

Healthy After-School Snacks: A Grandparent's Request

My dear friends Ann and Gerry are wonderful grandparents.  They moved away a few years ago to be close to their grandchildren.  They are blessed to be involved in the daily lives of their grandchildren.  I hope, some day, to have the same connection with my grandchildren.
Gerry recently asked me about healthy options for snacks.  Being the awesome grandparents that he and Ann are they want to provide the most delicious and healthiest food options to their grandchildren.  Ann is worried about the high levels of sugar in baked goods.  I agree, with her concern.  Kids are offered lots of treats on a daily basis- school snacks, birthday treats, etc.  My kids are teenagers and I like to have lots of healthy(ish) options ready for them to grab when they get home from school.  Teenagers are ALWAYS hungry. 
I do love to bake! Many recipes do indeed have lots of sugar but for the most part the amount is substantially less than a store-bought/processed treat.  Homemade cookies are always appreciated by my kids but so are ready-to-go fresh fruit options.  The "ready-to-go" is the key.  If you slice up the apple (especially for little kids) they will eat it and perhaps choose it over the candy or cookie.  (YES, I have experienced this in real life!)  I prepare little mason jars filled with berries ready to pop into a lunch box or grab for snack anytime of the day.  These are always a hit with kids and adults.
Whether you are making snacks for a school treat or after-school offering, here are some good options that are lower in sugar or are fresh-fruit ideas.

No-bake Chia Seed Granola Bars

Frozen Grapes

Chia Seed Pudding with Fruit Compote

Kiwi Bowls


Pears filled with Berries

Energy Muffins

The BEST Irish Soda Bread

American and German Soda Breads (YUM!)

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Perfect Pot of Black Beans

Yep, it's been another wonderful summer.  My kids go back to school next week so this is our last week to enjoy the random, no-schedule, lazy days of summer.  

A highlight of this summer was hosting dinner for two of my favorite friends and their kids.  We all enjoyed Black Beans and Rice with all the necessary accoutrements (i.e., tomatoes, avocado, cheese, sour cream, cilantro, etc.).  I finally found the best way to cook dried black beans!  The key is NOT to do the overnight soaking but rather the quick boil/hour soak.  I will never used canned black beans for this type of recipe ever again.  I mean it.  This recipe is too easy and the results are too delicious.  
Pot of Black Beans
Adapted from an Epicurious recipe.

2 lb. dried black beans, rinsed under cold water, picked over to remove any debris
1 onion, halved
3 garlic cloves, peeled, lightly crushed
2 bay leaves
1-2 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. ground cumin

Place beans in a large heavy pot and cover with water by 2". Cover pot and bring to a boil over high heat, then remove from heat. Let sit 1 hour.
Uncover and add more water if needed to cover by 2". Stir in onion, garlic, bay leaves, salt, oregano, and cumin. Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat. Partially cover beans with lid, reduce heat to low, and simmer, checking after 1 ½ hours until beans are tender and creamy, 1 ½ –3 hours total.  If you like lots of liquid with your beans then add water to beans to cover half-way through cooking process.  I like mine to have very little liquid at the end.
Serve beans immediately or let cool completely, then transfer beans and cooking liquid to airtight containers.  
*Beans can be made 5 days ahead. Cover and chill, or freeze up to 3 months.
*The oregano and cumin can be modified easily - add more or less to suit your tastes.  But don't add extra salt!  It really cooks down so more would be too much.
*I also had great success making only 1 pound of dried beans at a time.  I used only 1 teaspoon each of salt, oregano, and cumin, 1 garlic clove, but still used the 2 bay leaves and one onion.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Kiwi Bowls with Ribbon - Ballerina Farewell

Yes, tie a little ribbon around a kiwi and serve with a mini spoon!  Why not?

The rest of the treats are all packed up and ready to transport to the ballet studio.

Just a little farewell treat for a special ballerina.  Good Luck, Brittany!  We will miss you!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Art Show Reception: Fresh Fruit Reigns!

The art show at my daughter's high school was truly AMAZING!  The credit for this inspiring show goes to the talented artists and one very special art teacher.  The reception buffet table included homemade baked goods and many fresh fruit items. My homemade cookies and cakes were certainly a hit but the fresh fruit items were even more popular with the artists and their guests!  

It is important to taste all of your fruit items before creating a fruit platter, cups of berries, or other fresh fruit offerings.  The above pears were purchased several days before the show to make sure they had time to ripen but also not get too ripe.  I love the way these pears look and they were so delicious!  This dish is so easy – see my previous post Concord Pears filled with Raspberries.  Squeeze just a small amount of fresh lemon juice over the surface of the pears to keep them from browning.  For all of the pears above (12) I squeezed only half of a lemon and then spooned a little juice over each pear - and I had a little juice leftover.  I prepared these several hours before the show and stored them in the refrigerator.  So easy and what a hit!