Well Dressed

My gpa makes the best salad dressing ever. It’s tart and just the right bit acidic, and it seems to make salad taste fresher instead of heavy like some dressings. I finally got his recipe this year…after about 15 years of asking what was in it.

I tried to layer the liquids and make a pretty, stripey photo, but the lemon juice is too close in density to the vinegar, and it mixed in a very ugly way. Shot glasses it is, then.

Ready for it? It’s so simple, and 1/4 of it is pre-fabbed.

1 part each of:

extra virgin olive oil
balsamic vinegar
lemon juice
Wishbone Italian dressing (or Robusto Italian if you’re feeling spicy)

This goes best on a salad with lots of leafy greens, chopped celery, onions, and parsley, and fresh garden veggies (peppers, tomatoes, whatever’s in season). Top with fresh ground pepper. Fresh is the key word here, if you couldn’t tell.

Feel free to play with the ratios — I definitely enjoy a very tart dressing, so I like the 1:1:1:1, but mix and match to what suits you.

Serving suggestion: have some bread with your salad, so you can dip it in the dressing once the salad part is gone.


Unorthodox Techniques (Part 3: How to Melt Butter)

Sometimes, I forget to melt butter, and by the time I realize it should be softened instead of straight from the fridge, I’ve already poured sugar or something on top.

And that is how this technique was born:

Because metal bowls can’t go in the microwave.

Dear commenters, please please tell me that I am not the only person ever to melt butter with a space heater (or a hairdryer, because that was my first choice).

The Rice Stuff

One of my very favorite passed-down family recipes is for a simple, versatile side dish — rice pilaf. My gpa makes this at family gatherings, my mum would make it by request when we were kids, and now I make it.

Make extra. Trust me.

When I was small, I would eat at least half a batch myself. Most of the time, I’d just grab a spoon and eat it straight from the pan, which caused my family to set the rule of “Jenny gets pilaf only after everyone else has some.” Now, the rule goes something like “Jenny makes a double-batch because The Boyfriend eats as much pilaf as she does.”

Here’s enough for two very hungry people, or 3-5 not-as-hungry people.

The Recipe:
Rice Pilaf

1 tbsp butter
handful of fine egg noodles
1 cup long grain rice (not the instant kind!)
2 chicken-flavored bouillon cubes
2 cups water, boiling

Do This

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Once the butter is liquid, toss in a handful of fine egg noodles — I put in enough noodles to cover the bottom of the pan. Turn the heat up to medium, and brown the noodles, stirring with a fork. The butter should bubble up and foam a little bit.


While the noodles are browning, boil some water in a kettle or another pan. Measure out a cup of water, and dissolve the bouillon cubes in it.
Once the noodles have browned, pour the bouillon water, another cup of water, and 1 cup of rice into the saucepan with the noodles. Turn the heat to high, and bring the contents of the saucepan to a boil.
Turn the heat back down to low, and cover the pan with a lid. Let the pilaf simmer for 15-20 minutes (until the rice is cooked through). Fluff the pilaf with a fork, and enjoy!

This is an easy under-20-minute side dish, and it goes well with everything. Chicken, fish, beef, pork, salad, Krispy Kreme donuts…you name it. Feel free to double or triple the recipe as needed.

Apples and Onions (and Squash)

I had a sore throat the other day, and I wanted something that was soft and mashy, but that wasn’t applesauce. Something warm. That wasn’t heated-up applesauce. I was also independently craving acorn squash, onions, and tart granny smith apples.

Apples and onions. I can’t be held responsible for what my sore throat is craving.

Guess what I made?

The Recipe:
Onion Apple Squash Mash

1/2 cup chopped white onion
1/2 cup chopped granny smith apple
1 acorn squash
pinch of salt
pinch of fresh ground pepper

Do This:
Chop the acorn squash in half, and place each half face-down in a shallow microwave-safe bowl. Pour an inch or so of water over the top, and microwave the squash until it’s mashy and soft and separates from the outside (skin? rind? I’m not sure). I blasted mine at 3-minute intervals until it became appropriately mushy, and I think the total cook time was a bit over 12 minutes.
You’ll want to let the bowl hang out in the microwave for another 5 minutes or so, just to let it cool off a bit. Most of the water will be gone, but drain off what’s left, and use a spoon to scoop out the soft squash. Transfer the squash flesh into a small saucepan.
Chop up a small white onion (or a third of a large one) and a small granny smith apple. Put 1/2 cup of each into the saucepan with the squash. Add a pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper, and turn the burner to low heat.
Let it hang out for a bit on the stove. To be completely honest, I got distracted by something on tv and let at least 20 minutes go by, but I’m not sure about the exact cook time. Once the apples and onion bits are soft and the whole mixture is soft and mashy, turn off the heat. Transfer the onion apple squash mash to a bowl, and eat with a spoon while still warm.

Squash Mash. Go ahead, say it out loud. It’s fun. Squash Mash.

It was much better than applesauce. The warmth was very soothing to my throat, and I managed to knock out three random cravings at once. Plus, while acorn squash is great on its own, it’s a little less bland this way. I can’t promise that anyone else will enjoy this flavor combination, but I felt better after eating it.

Keeping It Cool

Welcome to my new fridge!

I know, it’s empty. Well, except for baking soda. It smells fresh, though!

And freezer!

So. Much. Space. Love it.

Welcome To My Kitchen!

Here are some shots of the new kitchen!

Yep, the oven is set to 350 — I’m baking right now!

I love love love my new kitchen!

Well, one side of it, at least. I need to take a not-so-blurry photo of the other half.

I have granite countertops and a flat stove! Hooray!

Kitchen Things I Can’t Live Without

T-minus 3 days until I move into the new condo and have kitchen access again!

Lone Starr: What’s this? I told you to take only what you need to survive!
Princess Vespa: That’s my industrial strength hairdryer. AND I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT IT!!!!

Get psyched…I have a lot of cooking to do: I pulled a Princess Vespa and insisted that I needed my mandoline, cupcake tins, loaf pans, pie pans,  round cake pans, and my awesome blue frying pan to survive. The trade-off for slipping these things into easily accessible suitcases instead of packing them away in boxes with everything else (to be unpacked who-knows-when) was that I promised to use each piece at least once within a month.

What are your kitchen essentials?