Mason Jar Salad

I’ve got a gigantic list of things to try on my Pinterest boards. Backpacks to sew, Peep Easter wreaths to hot glue, drippy caramel desserts to taste. The list of things I WANT to try is endless. The list of things I’ve actually tried is not as long.

This weekend after my trip to the land of bulk foods, I had to figure out something to do with all the fresh veggies I bought. Something OTHER than vacume seal them. So I went with salad. I chopped up tons of veggies and put them in containers for the week. I grabbed my fancy dressing container and whipped up some gorgonzola dressing. And I grabbed a mason jar. Finally, trying something I’ve found on the end all be all of awesome websites.

The giant mason jar salad is pretty great. You can customize it any way you want (Asian style with soy-peanut dressing and mandarin oranges, Mexican with black beans and corn, Cobb with hard boiled eggs and bacon crumbles). I tossed a ton of veggies in mine along with salted sunflower seeds and gorgonzola. It made for an awesome lunch and was totally convenient AND tasty.

Give it a whirl for yourself. Let me know how it turns out!

Mason Jar Salads

from My Pins, My Pinterest

Tips:

If your lettuce and dressing mix, you’ll end up with a slimy mess. Put your dressing in first, layer in the rest of your veggies or mix-ins and put the lettuce on top.

Something like carrots or peppers will hold up well against the salad dressing at the bottom.

Do NOT put croutons in the jar. Pack them in a sandwich baggie for later. They will most certainly turn soggie and nasty and then you won’t want to eat the salad at all.

GET CREATIVE!

Garlic Dill Wheat Croutons

Listen, my dearest readers. I need a favor from you. It’s semi-important.

For the next 40 or so days, can you just be sure I don’t eat any candy? None. Not even gum. I’m not sure how I’ll last without gum, considering I chew almost a pack a day. It’s almost as dangerous as a cigarette habit.

Either way, Abby and I both vowed to give up candy for Lent this year. We figure that the Easter treats will taste so much sweeter if it’s been a long time since we last indulged. And with Abby in CCD and making her First Communion this year, she is very into giving something up for Lent. I guarantee she’ll be better at this than I will be. I mean, it’s candy.

Candy, for gosh sakes. I can’t remember the last time I attempted to give up my favorite treats. But I bet it was a hard as this will be…

So can you just check in on me every once in a while to ensure I keep my vow? If not for Lent, for Abby. I did promise, after all.

Now, about these croutons. They are better than any store bought crouton you’ll have. They jazz up any salad and taste fab. Give them a whirl!

 

Garlic Dill Wheat Croutons

Makes approximately 2 cups of croutons

Ingredients:

2 slices whole wheat bread

1 Tbsp. garlic powder

1 Tbsp dill weed

1-2 Tbsp. olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Slice the bread into chunks. Place it on a foil-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle the garlic powder and dill weed evenly on top of the bread. Drizzle the olive oil all over the bread. Toss to coat.

Bake in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, turning at 6 minutes or so.

 

It’s Too Hot Salad

It’s too hot to cook.

It’s too hot to even eat.

This morning, I left for work at 6:40.  It was 80 degrees.

The air conditioning in my car is malfunctioning and blows out hot air..

I don’t want to cook.

It’s Too Hot Salad

4-5 leafs of rainbow Swiss chard

1 -2 handfuls of arugula

1/4 red onion

1/4 head of fresh broccoli

5-6 cherry tomatoes

Dressing of your choice

Run your knife down the stems of the chard, cutting the leaves off.  Roughly chop them and then stems.  Admire their beauty, then toss them in a salad bowl.

Toss in the arugula.  It has a nice, peppery sort of taste.

Thinly slice the red onion.  Stop crying.  Toss it in the bowl (anyone willing to share non-crying onion tips?).

Trim the broccoli, cutting off the florets. Add them to your salad.

Roughly chop the tomatoes and add them too.

Gently toss.  Slather it with the dressing of your choice.  Pick up the bowl and move in front of the air conditioner.  Eat.

Happy Birthday To ME!

Today’s the day.  I am no longer a carefree youth, doing things with reckless abandon.  Not thinking before I act.  Speaking out of turn.  Acting on impulse.  I am now a mature, boring adult with an early bedtime.  Because today, I am 27.

Eh, who am I kidding? I still speak out of turn and act on impulse.  I laugh at inappropriate times and try not to take anything too seriously.  But yes, I do have a much earlier bedtime than I used to.  I like to think that I’ve aged like a fine wine.

Not that I ever drink wine. Or even really know anything about wine.

Cheese. How about I’ve aged like a good cheese?  That’s an analogy I can really get on board with.  I like to think that in my 27 years on Earth, I’ve accomplished quite a bit.  For example, in my 27 years, I’ve accomplished the following:

– Gave birth to and raised a daughter who is already smarter, taller, more beautiful than I will ever be.  The kid is more gorgeous than Heidi Klum and more intelligent than Madame Curie.

– Married a movie-star-good-looking guy who makes me laugh all day, every day.  Isn’t the ultimate goal to laugh a lot? And no, I haven’t gotten any wrinkles yet, despite the eternal laughter.

– Purchased and raised my very own dog, who despite her aloof and stubborn nature, finally comes to me when I call her across a sea of other dogs.  This is a big victory for me.

– Got promoted from a lowly part-time position to a senior position and managed to dig my roots in, despite the fact that I add smiley faces at the end of every e-mail.

– Have seen U2 three times, once with Bruce Springsteen making a cameo appearance.  Yes, this is an accomplishment for me.  Or at least something I like to brag about as often as possible.

– Have published articles in the local newspapers as a freelance writer, complete with the byline “By: Kim Ropars, Freelance Writer”.

– Bought and then returned a very expensive mascara because I was adult enough to realize I didn’t need it.

– Mastered the art of using chopsticks.

Ah, yes.  These are just a few of the many accomplishments I’ve got to brag about in my life. I also graduated from college despite the fact that I had to take calculus, statistics and physics.  I bought my very first brand new car.  I’ve tried oysters!

Man, my life is full!

And yet, I can still think of things that I want/need to do in my remaining years on this planet.

– Have my writing published in a magazine, preferrably Mental Floss.

– Get the ultimate dream job, working from home while spending the days writing and possibly cooking/eating.

– Own a bloodhound (and if B were any type of awesome man, he’d let me get the one that is only 25 minutes from our house…).

– See U2 again.

– Send Abby to the best college possible and then watch her surpass me in the career world as well.

– Eat at wd-50 and meet Wylie Dufresne.

– Bake a 3 layer cake with raspberry filling, iced with buttercream icing.

And now, on this day that I switch from pop to classic rock, I present you with one of my new-found favorite recipes.  You know sushi, right? The California Roll.  One of the greatest foods on the planet.  I want to spend all day sitting around, watching trashy tv and eating sushi.

Never going to happen.

So instead, I’ve made some portable sushi that can go with me to work.  A California Roll in a Bowl, if you will.  Now, I’ve taken some creative liberties here.  Instead of using any sort of rice, I used farro.  And since there isn’t anything remotely resembling the seaweed wrapping in here, you might not consider it a California roll.

It does have all the other elements, however.  Imitation crab, avocado, cucumber, a rice-ish substance (the farro).  Top it with a little soy sauce and wasabi and you’re good to go! Feel free to add the ginger as well, but ginger makes me want to gag.

And if you’re asking “Well, Kim. Why no cake?”  The answer is simple.  I hate cake.

Bowl of California Roll

Adapted from Spark Recipes

1/2 cucumber, seeded and chopped into matchsticks

1 small carrot, peeled

1 cup cooked farro

8 to 10 pieces imitation crab, chopped

1 avocado, diced

Optional: soy sauce, wasabi, pickled ginger

Step one is to cook your farro.  It took me about 25 minutes and so while that sat cooking on the stove, I completed all of the other steps.  Check your package for instructions.  I used 1 cup farro and about 2 cups water to cover in a sauce pan.

Seed your cucumber.  A great tip is to use a soup soon and just scrape on the inside of the cucumber.  Do it over the trash can so the guts of the cuke can fall right into the trash.

Then slice your cuke in half, then in half again.  Very carefully cut those halves into match sticks.  I cut the matchsticks in half lengthwise so they weren’t as long.  Toss those matchsticks into a bowl.

Next, grate your carrot into the bowl.

Grab your imitation crab and give it a rough chop.  This part is all about preference.  I preferred smaller chunks.

Right around now, your farro should be finished! Take that off the stove top and let it cool a bit.  Then, once it is cooled, toss that in with your crab mixture and stir it well.  Dish some of your mixture into a serving bowl, top with some chopped avocado and serve with soy sauce and wasabi on the side.

I just poured some soy sauce right on top.  It was so tasty!  And yet, still healthy! Wahoo!

Lemony Chickpea Orzo

I’ve never been big into the organic kick.  To me, food is food.  And I can get the same nutrients from organic milk and plain old, regular milk.  Sometimes, however, I find that I can get certain specialty-type products at the organic foods store around the corner.  I wandered into Mom’s Organic one day while B was in Advanced Auto Parts.  It was either Mom’s or the gym.  I chose to check out Mom’s.

I was pleasantly surprised at the interesting food items they offered.  Sure, they had the typical organic lemons that cost a ridiculous amount of money.  They also had an array of veggies and fruits that I can’t get at Giant.  3 different types of kale.  Kohlrabi, fennel, rainbow chard.  Dozens of different flavored fruit preserves and jams. Grains that Giant only rarely offers.  It was interesting, to say the least.

This Sunday, I ventured back over to Mom’s on a mission.  Kale, farro and pomegranate juice were on my list.  I wandered down the aisle where the grains are kept and right next to the farro, I found my new favorite product… Whole wheat orzo.  I absolutely adore orzo.  My mom makes the world’s best homemade chicken noodle soup and uses orzo in it.  It’s seriously fab.  My dad used to make chicken with orzo and Asiago cheese.  Can you say yum? I seriously love this little rice-shaped pasta.  So obviously, I tossed some into my recyclable shopping bag and made my way to the front of the store.

Be forewarned, it was expensive, especially as pastas go.  $6.00 for one pound of whole wheat orzo.  But it was worth it.  Already, I’ve made orzo with chickpeas, lemon sauce and feta cheese.  It was awesome and so healthy.  I can’t gush enough on the health benefits of beans.  And the lemon sauce gave it just the right amount of zing!

Garbanzo Orzo

Adapted slightly from Epicurious.com

1 1/2 cups whole wheat orzo

1/4 cup olive oil

3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 garlic clove, minced

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 tsp. oregano

2 Tbsp. feta cheese

Boil a pot of water and cook orzo according to package directions.  Drain.

In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, garlic and lemon juice.

Add chickpeas and oregano to the sauce.  Once orzo is cooked and drained, add that to the chickpea mixture.  Stir well, combining all ingredients.  Transfer to your serving bowl and top with some feta cheese.

This dish is healthy, incredibly filling, full of great nutrients and delish! Enjoy it and stay  healthy in May!