Archive for June, 2013


As I’ve mentioned before, my family gets sick of salad pretty quickly during the summer. We don’t mind eating it as a side dish fairly often but eating it as the main course has to be resorted to sparingly. I try to make it interesting by laying out a salad bar with lots of toppings & add-ins, but I still can’t make salad for dinner more than once or twice a month. One of the things I do to make salads more interesting is so simple it’s ridiculous… I make my own dressings. The decision to do so was two-fold. The first reason is that we were tired of the boring, often harsh, cookie cutter flavors of store bought dressings. I’m sure you’ve guessed the other reason if you’ve read more than one post here on The Humble Food Snob. I’ve been pretty vocal about all the nastiness found in store bought… well… just about everything that isn’t found in the fresh foods departments. Salad dressings are some of the worst offenders. Go to your fridge and really look at the ingredients. Unless you buy one of very few (comparatively speaking) organic brands, odds are what you will find is a very long list of very nasty ingredients that should never be available for consumption. Up until a couple of years ago I never looked because I didn’t want to come to terms with that fact. I thought making my own salad dressings was going to be tricky. I put it off and put it off, convinced that it was beyond me. Finally I’d had enough. I put a bite of salad with store bought French dressing in my mouth and it was so harsh that it hit the spot in the back of my mouth where my salivary glands are and stomped on them. I literally couldn’t chew for a moment. There had to be a better way. So I tried my hand at two dressings initially- our favorites: French and Thousand Island. They were SO good! And SO easy! All you need is more than likely in your fridge and pantry already and all you do is mix and let sit for awhile. How could it be any easier?!

We’ll start with the Thousand Island. This is all you need.

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There is milk in the little cup there on the right. Put it to the side- you may not use it at all. It depends on how the dressing comes out and how thick you want the final product to be. And as for the sweet chili sauce, it’s perfectly acceptable to use sugar instead- or you can use a little of both which is how I make mine. Everything else is pretty mundane. Completely unintimidating! Now mince your onion super fine and put everything in a bowl…

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That really is all that’s supposed to go into thousand Island dressing. Now grab a whisk and mix this together for about 10 seconds. That really is all it takes!

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Now you just have to check the consistency. If you like your salad dressing super thick and more dip like (try dipping chicken tenders in this- it’s amazing!) then you can leave it as is. If you want it to be a little more pourable then add the milk, a little at a time, up to about 1 tablespoon. Let this sit in the fridge for at least a few hours and you’re good to go!

Next up is French dressing. This is NOT the neon orange, sickly-sweet-yet-strongly-sour french dressing you find in the bottle from the store. This is a thick, slightly spicy (which is completely adjustable), mildly sweet dressing that does just as well as a dip for veggies or chicken and a spread for sandwiches as it does for salads. I had already made a batch about 2 weeks ago so what’s pictured below is how it will look after it has been sitting for a little while. Here’s what you need to get started…

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Yes- that is oil behind the ketchup. Canola, to be exact. And you need a full cup of it. French dressing is an emulsion. Don’t be afraid. You can use any light oil you’d like and it’s not as if you’re going to be drinking this stuff by the cupful. It’s not as unhealthy as the food police would have you believe! All you have to do is put all the ingredients except the oil into the blender (or food processor), mix a bit, and then- with the machine running- add the oil in a thin stream until all of it has been added and everything has mixed completely. You CAN do this without a machine! You’ll need to use an old fashioned hand powered egg beater or use a regular old whisk and whisk like mad while adding the oil until everything emulsifies. You end up with a beautiful reddish-orange jar of really excellent French dressing…

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Definitely not your average neon grocery store French Dressing! This has such a smooth flavor you will wonder why you ever bothered buying French! For dinner last night I enjoyed the Thousand Island while my husband stuck with his favorite- the French…

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Now those salads are anything but boring! I love my salads with cheese, dried cranberries and cashews but last night my husband wanted just croutons & cheese. They would have been plain Jane ordinary had it not been for these fantastic homemade dressings! Go ahead- give them a try. They are good for more than just salads too! Try a ham & Swiss sandwich with French or a turkey & Cheddar (or better yet, Brie) sandwich with thousand Island. SO good! And at less than 5 minutes each to make, there’s no excuse not to make your own 🙂

The Recipe, Thousand Island:

1 C Mayonnaise

½ C Ketchup

2 T Sweet Pickle Relish

1 t Worcestershire Sauce

1 t Thai Sweet Chili Sauce

1 t Sugar (or 2 t if omitting Chili Sauce)

1 T Lemon Juice

1 T Milk if needed

2 T Onion, minced VERY fine

½ t Kosher Salt

The Method:

*Combine all ingredients except milk in a medium bowl.

*Whisk until well combined.

*Add milk to think if desired.

*Chill at least 4 hours before serving.

The Recipe, French:

1 C Oil (Light oil of your choice)

1 C Ketchup

½ C Sugar

¼ C Apple Cider Vinegar

¼ C Water

3 t Mustard Powder

2 t Paprika

1 t White Pepper (adjust as necessary, a full 1 t gives this a very small kick)

1 t Garlic Powder

1/2 t Kosher Salt

The Method:

*Combine all ingredients except oil in a blender or food processor.

*Mix for 10-20 seconds, or until well combined.

*Using the tube of the food processor or the hole in the lid of the blender, SLOWLY pour the oil in with the machine running. The oil should be a very thin stream running into the machine.

*Run the machine only until all of the oil is incorporated.

*Chill at least 4 hours before serving. Best if chilled overnight.

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*I have decided that instead of trudging through my least favorite season here on this blog, attempting to adapt some of my recipes to summer cooking, I would just embrace the fact that Summer sucks and start a series of the same name. You can find the first recipe in this series (Strawberry Soup), here. All Summer I will be posting recipes to help beat the heat and make this awful season a little easier on all of us!*

Welcome to installment two of the “Summer Sucks” series! I was talking to my BFF this morning and telling her that I had 3 bunches of bananas to cut up and put in the freezer for later. She had no idea why I would do such a thing, so I explained to her that there are SO many things you can do with frozen bananas. She had never heard of a couple of the things I told her and seemed pretty excited about the prospect. I thought maybe you would be interested as well 🙂 This was also my inspiration for creating the “Summer Sucks” series. Recipes that will help all of us keep a little cooler in the kitchen & make things a little more bearable seemed like a good idea!

So get yourself a bunch of bananas. Or, in my case, 3 bunches of bananas (I got them for a really good price and knew I could use them). Peel them, cut off any really brown and/or mushy parts, and then slice them into 1/2 inch thick slices. That way you can eat them as they are out of the freezer and have a cold, tasty treat without making your teeth or mouth hurt from the extreme cold. In a perfect world, they would be arranged on some wax paper on a cookie sheet. In my world at this time I was out of wax paper. Sigh. So I improvised and used plastic wrap sprayed with a bit of cooking spray. You HAVE to spray or otherwise lightly lubricate the plastic wrap or the plastic will stick to the bananas and you’ll end up with tiny bits of plastic wrap on them that you can’t get off. Yuck!

Once you’ve arranged your bananas in rows on your covered cookie sheets, put them in the freezer until they are solid. For my deep freeze this takes about 2 hours. Once the slices are frozen solid your imagination is the limit! My kids love them straight from the freezer as a super healthy popsicle-type treat. Or you can melt some chocolate of your choice (dark, milk, white- they all work), dip your slices using a fork, put them back on the wax paper-lined pan, and return them to the freezer in a freezer safe container.

If you want a treat that is a little more decadent, make a sandwich out of two frozen banana slices, putting about 1 teaspoon of peanut butter in the middle, return them to the freezer until the peanut butter is firm, then dip them in chocolate & keep them in the freezer. SO GOOD!!

Smoothies are, of course, a perfect use for these little gems! If you use frozen bananas you don’t need to use ice cubes in your smoothies and they turn out a little richer and creamier.

And lastly (for this post anyway), you can make a fantastic soft-serve out of them! I’ve read several blog posts about “one ingredient banana ice cream” where you just puree frozen bananas. I tried it. It doesn’t work. At all. My problem is that I don’t have a food processor- I only have a blender (for now). Does NOT work in a blender!! But I added some milk and some vanilla yogurt (how much of each depends on what consistency you want your soft serve to be) and the kids LOVED it! Here is what you can get out of simple frozen bananas, a little milk, and a little yogurt…

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It was every bit as creamy and delicious as it looks! So if you have a food processor, just toss your frozen bananas in and you have one ingredient ice cream. If not, add some milk & yogurt and you’ll have super creamy soft serve. I have a feeling I’ll be doing this alot this summer! And now that I think about it, this would be divine served as a topper for the aforementioned Strawberry Soup!

Hopefully these tips have given you some inspiration to help keep you and your little ones a bit cooler this summer. I’ll be back again with another way to cheat the heat & count down the weeks until Fall comes back this way. Only 13 weeks to go!

Summer is, by far, my least favorite season. I am 75% Irish thanks to my Dad having been born there and I certainly look it with my deep red hair and very pale skin. Skin that does not play well with lingering, glaring sunshine. I’ve taken to carrying an umbrella to block the sun and I wear a loose-fitting white shirt everywhere now so I get as little “summer color” as possible. And the heat… oh the heat. Currently I am overweight (and working to correct it) so the heat is even worse, but even when I was a decent weight I was rather heat intolerant. Needless to say, the drought last year was a nightmare! This year is better so far. We’ve had a little rain and currently it’s a pleasant 60 degrees- so nice! But I know it won’t last. It never does around here anymore. Keeping that in mind, I have made the shift from warm, comforting, satisfying, wonderful fall/winter food to cooler, lighter, fills-up-the-tummy-without-weighing-you-down summer foods. This recipe fills that bill and is fun besides! There are a number of meal “positions” it can fill: breakfast, dessert, side dish, or snack. Serve it with homemade egg english muffin sandwiches and it’s breakfast. Serve it with grilled chicken & potatoes and it’s a side dish. Serve it with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream alongside some vanilla wafers or pirouette cookies and it’s dessert. I’ve done all 3 and it fits perfectly with all of them!

Start with fresh strawberries and remove the leaves. You can hull them if you like but I just took off the leaves since they are going to be pureed. Slice them in half and add lime juice and sugar.

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Those are beautiful, are they not?! Let these sit in the fridge for 30 minutes to macerate then puree them in a blender or food processor. If you wanted to you could puree half and dice half of them fine to give some texture to the soup but I like mine completely smooth- like so…

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Now you have a choice to make: soup now or soup later. Put this puree in a freezer safe container and you can put off making the soup until later (which is what I did by the way- hence the omission of the ingredient photo). That way you can buy strawberries when they are on sale and have this soup in the off season 🙂 Or you can proceed with the recipe and enjoy this wonderfully refreshing soup immediately.

We’ll assume you’re proceeding with the recipe and continue 😉 To this puree add plain yogurt, heavy cream, sour cream, and honey. Whisk together, chill thoroughly, and you’re ready to go.

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Super easy, super light, and super tasty! And perfect for this wretched season we call summer with all it’s heat & glaring sunlight 😉

The Recipe:

1 Lb. Strawberries

1/4 C Sugar

2 T Lime Juice

1/2 C Plain Yogurt

1/2 C Heavy Cream

3 T Sour Cream

3 T Honey, to taste

The Method:

*Wash, trim, and slice the strawberries and place in a bowl.

*Sprinkle sugar and lime juice over berries.

*Toss and let macerate for about 30 minutes.

*Put the strawberries in the blender and process until pureed.

*Add the rest of the ingredients and process until smooth.

*Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours until chilled.

*OR if using thawed puree mixture: transfer thawed mixture from freezer safe container to an adequately sized bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Whisk well to combine. Chill and serve as desired.