It’s All About The Dip, No Lettuce!

Last week walking into my kitchen I was greeted by a strange sight. Liam was standing on a chair inside the refrigerator rifling through the top shelves. When I asked what he was trying to reach he said he wanted ingredients to cook his favorite salad dressing. How proud was I? Earlier in the week I had taught Liam a recipe for “Russian dressing” that my mother had passed down to me. Simply mix mayo and ketchup and voila! Two things every child loves combined to create a pink dipping sauce.

Clearly, our dressing is a loose interpretation of the real thing but it works for us. As for a real salad I’ve tried to introduce all sorts of lettuce with little success. So I’ve lowered my expectations and we now include any cut up vegetable with a dressing as a “salad.”

At our house, it’s not about the vegetable, it’s all about the dip. Even though Liam probably ate an obscene amount of mayonnaise that morning he also at two whole cucumbers in the process. A small victory for me and some green for him!

Sorta Salad

A salad that combines fruit, veg, healthy fat and some protein!

Ingredients

1 cup cucumber, diced

1 cup apple, diced (we prefer Fuji, Gala, or Honeycrisp for crunch!)

¼ cup shaved parmesan cheese

Dressing

Juice of one lemon

1 Tbsp maple syrup

1 tsp honey mustard

¼ cup olive oil

Salt & Pepper to taste

Method

Toss the cucumbers, apples and parmesan together in a mixing bowl and set aside.

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Whisk together the lemon juice, maple syrup, honey mustard and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle 2 Tbsp of the dressing over the cucumber/apple mixture and toss to combine.

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Refrigerate the remainder of the salad dressing in an airtight container. The dressing will keep for two weeks, just shake well before serving.

And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 8): “Yeah, I like it”

Liam (age 6): “Tastes like fruit”

Dylan (age 6): “It is just okay”

In A Pickle

Need some last minute gifts but have no time to shop? Instead of dragging your kids to the mall, get them into the kitchen and cook some gifts. The beauty of giving a food gift is that it will never be the wrong size. You don’t have to wait in long lines to pay for it and there are never any shipping costs. 

This year we decided to try our hand at pickling and make some jars of sweet pickles. In our house we call them pickle chips but the traditional name is bread and butter pickles. They are delicious on a sandwich or burger, but just as good straight from the jar.

Making pickles is surprisingly easy, although it may take a few attempts until you get just the right spice level for your taste. Our first attempts were a little too vinegary but after we had perfected the recipe, our pickles tasted as good as the Pickle Man at our local farmer’s market. (well, almost…)

All you need to get started is a few simple ingredients, small glass jars, labels and ribbon to dress up your gifts. We opted for a very kid-friendly, not so spicy pickle but there are so many spices that work well in this recipe; celery seeds, cinnamon sticks, cloves, or coriander seeds just to name a few. Experiment with a variety of combinations to see what works for you.

Sweet Pickles Chips

Ingredients

Note: Recipe yields about 2 small jars of pickles

6 mini or 2 regular size cucumbers

2 Tsp Kosher salt

1 1/4 cup water

3/4-cup rice wine vinegar

1/2-cup sugar

1 Tbsp mustard seeds

 

Method

Wash cucumbers thoroughly and pat dry. Cut cucumbers into coins, 1/8 thick.

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Place sliced pickles into a colander. Sprinkle with the salt and toss to evenly coat. Place the colander over a bowl and let sit in refrigerator for about an hour. Rinse off the salt and pat the cucumbers dry. Place the slices in your jars and set aside.

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In a small saucepan add the water, vinegar, sugar and mustard seeds. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and allow the brine to cool. Pour over the cucumbers in jar. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

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Note: Unless you are sterilizing your jars and following proper canning procedures these pickles are only good for up to 2 weeks, and must be kept refrigerated.

And the VERDICT is: 

Matthew (age 6): “Much better than our first batch! Not as good as Pickle Man”

Liam (age 4): “Too spicy, don’t like these little balls”

Dylan (age 4): “I l sure do love these pickles”