caesar dressing … it’s not just for Romaine

The not-so-littles in our house LOVE Caesar Salad.

Love.

It.

And not just because of the crunchy herby croutons that are super satisfying coated in garlicky, citrus-y, creamy Caesar Dressing. (Although I would be ignoring the facts if I didn’t admit it was the crispy bits that got our oldest, most bread-loving and significantly salad averse to try it.)

I wish I could tell you that she made the discovery of her love of this salad at home … eating lettuce grown in our garden … with croutons that I loving made with staling homemade bread …

No.

It was at our local favorite pizza joint Gil’s Goods, in Livingston, MT. Firstly, I am a huge fan of Gil’s, who, as far as I’m concerned, offers the best S.O.L.E. food around… (Sustainable, Organic, Local, Ethical). If we’re going out to eat pizza (or pretty much anything on their homey menu), Gil’s is definitely my place of choice.

And secondly, I’m not suggesting this would work for you, but in my experience the littles are sometimes more willing to try new flavors at a restaurant than if I just plop it on their plates and tell them to dig in. It doesn’t matter that I’ve been making this simple and delicious Caesar Dressing for nearly 20 years … Until they tried it at Gil’s, there was no getting them to even take a bite at home. (I don’t fight them over food … they either eat what’s on their plates or they don’t eat … sometimes they don’t eat.)

Now, though, we’re past that hurdle and we’re all enjoying more salads at home … which is lucky since the lettuce is starting to grow and it’s my favorite food of Spring and Summer.

And I’m here to tell you that this Caesar Dressing is NOT just for Romaine lettuce.

Seriously.

We’ve had it on mixed greens and power greens and spinach and kale …

Actually, my favorite way to have a Caesar these days IS with kale.

Remember two (maybe it was three) years ago when Kale was the new super food?

There was all sorts of excitement about how antioxidant and awesome it is? How it’s a great source of calcium and manganese and phosphorus? It’s high in iron, has Omega fatty acids and a healthy dose of fiber? Sounds too good to be true, right? But then there were all those concerns about how uncooked kale is challenging to digest and not good for folks with Thyroid issues?

Yeah … well … I like kale. And I don’t want to cut it out of our diet because the good things are just too good to ignore!

And happily(!), there’s science that shows doing a fine chop on kale and either cooking or adding citrus like lemon juice or apple cider vinegar breaks down the bad and makes all the good available to us!**

Whew!

Which makes me even more happy to share this SUPER SIMPLE  (only 5 ingredients!) family favorite recipe with you all.

CAESAR SALAD DRESSING

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 large Cloves Garlic (grated)
  • 1/2 cup Avocado Oil (or Extra Virgin Olive Oil is nice, too)
  • 2 TBLS Mayonnaise
  • Juice from one lemon (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3-4 cups loosely packed Ribbon Chopped Kale or Romaine Lettuce (or any other lettuce you like)
  • 1/2 cup Shredded Parmesan & Asiago Cheese
  • 1/2 cup herbed pita chips

DIRECTIONS:

For the dressing: Combine the garlic, olive oil, mayo, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce in a jar and shake until well-combined.

For a KALE Caesar:  If you’re using baby kale, just make sure it’s cleaned and dried before chopping. If you’re using “adult” kale, de-vein after cleaning and chop into fine ribbons.

If you’re using adult kale, cut into ribbons and then coat with about 1/4 cup of the dressing and massage it well. Let it rest for at least 30 minutes (up to 2 hours in the fridge). Just before serving, toss with the rest of the dressing (or dressing to taste), cheese and croutons.

Extra dressing lasts in the fridge for about a week.

(PS – the Kale version is a GREAT salad to bring to a pot-luck because the longer it won’t get soggy and limp while sitting on the food line.)

For ROMAINE or any other lettuce, just toss and go …

Eat it up, YUM!

-J.

PS – here’s another (oft-requested) dressing I make at home because I haven’t bought salad dressing in more than 2 decades!

Warm Red Cabbage Salad with Mason Jar Ranch Dressing

 

 

on gratefulness* … happy thanksgiving!

I was 25 years old the first Thanksgiving I spent alone. It was the latter half of the 90s. I had recently moved to Los Angeles. I was two weeks into a new job (my very first job in the movie business, which was a huge deal to me at the time) so I couldn’t get the time off to travel home. And, to be totally honest, I didn’t have the cash to spend on an airline ticket … and I was too proud to ask my parents for help.

In retrospect, I think I thought it was something I wanted. I wanted my roommate to disappear for a few days. I was desperate to have our 550 square foot apartment to myself. To be able to read a book without interruption or have to listen to “bad” music coming from the other room. I looked forward to eating whatever food was in the fridge without worry about who paid for the milk. To not have the television on 24 hours a day. I was looking, I thought, for some quiet.

My boss and her fiancé had offered the “new kid” an obligatory invite to dinner at their home. But I turned it down, completely confident it would be awesome to not have any plans. I didn’t know many people in Los Angeles at that point, but the thought of spending it with my 30-something boss, her boyfriend and their parents made me cringe with anxiety way more than the thought of spending the day alone.

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But waking up in Sunny Southern California on what in my past had always been a chilly November day … on a day that had always been one of my favorite holidays … separated from the people that I love and with no plans on the horizon … It was strange. A noiseless void and a deeper quiet than I had known before. In my apartment. On the streets. In the nearby park where I walked my dog. In my mind’s eye, it was an emptiness not unlike a post-Apocalyptic world that is both serene and eery and full of a loneliness I hadn’t known possible.

Twenty years later and I’m still surprised by the length of that day and how much I missed my Mom. I missed slicing apples and making pies while my sister chopped celery for the stuffing. (It was always my job to make the pies.) I missed the laughter in the kitchen. I missed my Grandmother’s constant wiping up water spots on the coffee table made by sweaty glasses of soda and cider and beer and wine. I even missed the bickering and the flare-ups of old family arguments that seem to only rear their head at holiday gatherings.

At 40-something, with two kids, and having spent more than my share of holidays at home with all our family here in Montana, you’d think I’ve be over the emotional trauma of that one singular day.

But each year, as we fall into Daylight Savings Time and the Holidays loom large, it always comes rushing back. And while it wasn’t clear to me then (or for years after, for that matter), I now realize the Truth of what that day was. That day was, by far, my most utterly grateful Thanksgiving because it made me truly aware of what’s important and worth being thankful for.

Wishing you a Thanksgiving filled with love and laughter and gratefulness …

xo,

J.

Three of my favorite Thanksgiving Recipes:

 

*note: reprinted with permission from the Neighbors of South Bozeman Magazine, Nov. 2016 issue

changes at O’Mamas

Ahhhh growing pains …

We’re going through some changes at O’Mamas.

Nothing that’ll blow your mind.

We’re still committed to organic gardening, good and good for you food, simplicity and sustainability. But Abby’s spending a lot more of her time on her photography business and less time here.

She took these pics of our littles just before Thanksgiving …

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I love that Abby captures their personalities perfectly in this photo.

So if you’re local (in Montana in the Gallatin Valley or in the Dallas, Texas area) and are looking for a family photo, or your kid needs a senior casual, or your daughter-in-law is about to give birth and you want perfectly precious photos of your grandchild … you need to contact Abby. Schedule a session and mention this O’Mamas post and Abby said she’ll include 3 extra digital photos in the deal.

xo,

Jeanne

 

cinnamon coconut custard cake (a GF recipe review)

cinnamon coconut custard cake
Every once in a while I find myself pinning something and going back to it again and again and again …

and again …

and again …

… until someone gives me an excuse to make it.

Like today, when it just so happens that the husband of one of my BFFs is having a birthday and my very pregnant friend’s kitchen is mid-remodel and she can’t bake a cake for the love of her life.

Thursday also happens to be a very unscheduled homeschool day for us. No ballet. No violin lessons. No skiing or horseback riding. No piano or art. Perfect time to have school in the kitchen (measuring, weighing, blendering, baking, chemical reactions … can you think of a better way to introduce science and math to a 3-year old? Me either!!)

You see, since the New Year I’ve been working to eliminate grains from my diet. I’m not going “strict” paleo, but more paleo. Lots of veggies, some protein, good fats (like Coconut Oil and Ghee) and limited grains and sugars.

And if I’m gonna make a cake for someone, I would like it to be a cake that I can eat, too!

So this is the pin that caught my eye …

cinnamon coconut custard cake

Looks pretty moist and cake-like for a grain-free cake, doesn’t it??

Guess what? … it IS!

It’s moist.

It’s just this side of sweet perfection.

And if you like coconut, it’s deliciously coconutty goodness.

But I have to admit I struggle to follow recipes. I mean … I saw white chocolate chips in this cake and I don’t like white chocolate, so … no white chocolate. I didn’t even replace them, although I THOUGHT about swapping in some pecans or hazelnuts.

I imagine it’s because we’re at a higher altitude than the original baker, but it took at least 10 minutes longer in our oven to firm up and cook through.

And of course, I made this to celebrate a birthday, which to me means it needs frosting. So I whipped up a quick cream cheese vanilla coconut icing and sprinkled it with shredded coconut.

Happy Happy Happy Happy Happy Happy Happy Happy.

The hardest part of today was waiting to sing Happy Birthday!

One more time … here’s the recipe by the Holistic Health Herbalist. If you’re looking for a tasty grain-free, refined sugar-free dessert … I like it!

xo,

Jeanne

it’s not too late … to make mind-blowing cranberry sauce

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

We have so much to be thankful for this year … not the least of which is the opportunity to spend the holiday with loved ones …

… We are grateful to have health in our bodies …

… love in our hearts …

… and good food for our bellies.

And this year, I have three responsibilities at the dinner table:

Tarte aux Pommes

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Goat cheese stuffed dates wrapped in prosciutto (I still haven’t looked up a recipe for this … I might just wing it).

And cranberry relish, which happens to be one of my favorite Thanksgiving treats.

You may recall that last year I shared with you this delightful version with ginger and tangerines.

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But this year … I’m gonna mix it up.

I made the honey ginger cranberry sauce.

But I’m also making Jalapeño-Cilantro-Cranberry Relish. Go ahead. Call me nuts. I don’t care because this relish is SO delicious. Every time I make it I wonder why I don’t make it all the time.

Just like the Honey Ginger version … this is NO COOK EASY PEASY … just put everything into a food processor, pulse and voila! Yum-o-licious side dish!

jalapeño cilantro cranberry relish sauce

Jalapeño-Cilantro-Cranberry Relish

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 bag of cranberries (washed and picked through)
  • 1-2 jalapeños (seeded)
  • 4 tangerines plus zest of 1 tangerine
  • 2/3 to 3/4 cup honey
  • 1 bunch of cilantro

DIRECTIONS:
In a food processor, put two peeled tangerines and the honey. Pulse until it’s a golden liquid and then add cranberries. Pulse until well chopped. Add jalapeño (start with one … add another or half if you think it needs more kick) and the zest. Pulse again.

Remove from processor and stir in chopped cilantro, and the other two peeled and chopped tangerines.

Chill for at least 3o minutes and up to 3 days (it will firm up in the fridge).

WOOHOO for Thanksgiving!

Wishing you and yours a Blessed and Joyful Holiday!

 

my mid-year resolution is to take more photos …

Today, we are HALFWAY THROUGH 2014!!!!
So in honor of a Happy-Half-New-Year, I’ve decided to make a new resolution:
To take more photos, learn to use photoshop and print more pictures …
SnapKnot
Courtesy of: SnapKnot
What kind of big plans are you making for the second half of this year?
xo,
Jeanne
PS – This post is my blatant attempt to win a new camera … fingers crossed!

balsamic brussels sprouts – an easy and delicious side

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I heard a story on NPR a few weeks ago about impoverished Chinese women who live in remote regions of China. The story was about the struggles these women endure to raise their families and work the land as their husbands, forced by their economic situation, are emigrating to cities for months at a time to work low-wage factory jobs to send little sums of money home.

For about three and a half seconds I thought … yep … that’s my life.

You see, my husband works in the movie business and has been in Vancouver, Canada, since January working on a film. He won’t be home until mid-August. And we miss him something fierce.

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It’s so easy to feel frustrated because I’m alone with the littles all day every day. That running to the store is never just a quick stop. It involves car seats and carts and hand holding and kids asking for things we don’t need or I don’t want them to have. It means being the good guy and the bad guy (sometimes at the same moment). It means saying “no” often … and refereeing a lot of sibling squabbles. It means being strategic about finding time to take a shower. It means taking out all the garbage. Mowing the lawn (or shoveling the snow … depending on the day). Washing all the dishes. Cleaning up all the messes. It means trying to make sure the littles remember how much their dad loves and misses them.

It means not having strong arms around me when things get overwhelming.

And then I came to my senses and got over my pity party because to compare our struggles with that of a Chinese peasant who might not have a roof over her head and works in the fields every day not because she happens to like gardening, but because if she didn’t work the fields her children wouldn’t eat … yeah … I got over my pity party fast.

And then I decided I needed to step it up with regard to how I approach these months our Cowboy is away.

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You see, it’s easy to get depressed and want to just sit in the house and watch movies all day. And in the midst of our snow-heavy winter, with short days and cold dark nights, it seemed like a totally okay option.

But the littles don’t deserve to be short-changed on experiences because it might make my day a little more complicated.

And that’s not just about making sure they got to the ski hill, or get to ride horses, learn to swim and go to the park. It’s about little things, too. Like making sure we sit down to a civilized meal at least once a day. It’s about giving them opportunity to try new activities and new foods.

Because even though I’m a real food blogger and spend way more time than I should caring about the food that goes into my body and that of our littles, I am still human, and it’s easy to slip into the pattern of making something easy for dinner, which is not always the “good” choice. It might be organic pasta with butter, but it’s still pasta with butter. Or sourdough pancakes. Or egg tacos. Carb-overloaded ease. I still have a responsibility to expose the kids to a varied diet of good greens and grassfed-pasture-raised proteins even if it takes me a few minutes to prepare.

To be honest, they don’t love it all. Some nights I’m sure they would prefer pancakes. But once in a while there’s a moment when even I’m surprised by what they like.

For example:

Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups of Brussels Sprouts (quartered)
  • 1-2 TBLS Avocado Oil
  • Sea Salt & Pepper (to taste)
  • 1 Shallot (finely chopped)
  • 1-2 TBLS really good Balsamic Vinegar

DIRECTIONS:

Wash and quarter Brussels sprouts and toss in one to two tablespoons of avocado oil and then put them in a roasting pan in a single layer.

Turn the oven to 400 degrees and place the roasting pan in the preheating oven.

When the oven reaches temperature (it takes ours about 10 minutes to hit 400), stir the Brussels sprouts and let them roast for another 15 minutes.

A few minutes before the sprouts are done, sauté the chopped shallots in just a dash of oil until they are translucent. Remove the shallots from the heat, add the Balsamic Vinegar. Then take the sprouts from the oven and toss with the balsamic and shallots. Serve.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Surprisingly easy to make tasty Brussels sprouts that go great with steak or fish or chicken or on a big leafy salad. They look elegant and taste delicious. I would serve these at a dinner party, for sure, if my life was about dinner parties these days. Since it’s not, I’ll just keep sharing them with the kiddos and be grateful for whatever challenges this life has to offer.

xo,

Jeanne

SHARED on Kelly the Kitchen Kop

everyone’s talking about essential oils

It’s Jeanne.

“I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.” – Lloyd Dobler (Say Anything)

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And that sort of goes triple for me.

I mean, I am not a fan of sales people.

I once didn’t buy a Honda because the salesperson spent the entire time I was looking at the vehicle bad-mouthing the competition (Volkswagon).

I go to Rodan & Fields parties and feel pressured to buy sunscreen even though I’m freaked out by the long list of ingredients (including cancer-causing parabans and sulfates) in the formulas.

And as much as I love Pampered Chef (and I do … I LOVE Pampered Chef … I want everything in their catalog) I just can’t bring myself to “join sales team.”

In fact, it’s taken me more than five years of continuous use of essential oils to get the courage to actually write this post. (Yes, I’m that weird about multi-level marketing deals even though I know they are effective and useful ways to earn money for one’s family).

But I’m here now.

And there’s no turning back.

Because this blog is about good food, health, wellness, simplicity, sustainability and caring for our littles.

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And we’ve been relying on essential oils for years.

Specifically, we’ve been relying on Young Living essential oils for years.

When I was pregnant with our first, I was on a business trip to Russia. It was the ONLY time I had morning sickness during either pregnancy. And if it wasn’t for Thieves Oil Spray, I wouldn’t have made it through the trip. Seriously. I sprayed it on my bed and pillows when I arrived at the hotel because all I could smell was sweat and body oils in the room, even after housekeeping changed the sheets for me. (I was pregnant. I could smell EVERYTHING.)

A few hours later, when it was time to sleep, I had my first moments of relief the entire trip.

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When someone in the house has a fever, my first line of defense is peppermint oil on the soles of little feet because it has consistently brought temperatures down that critical one or two degrees that lets tiny bodies keep fighting disease, without any extras like preservatives and sugars. (This is NOT to say that I won’t turn to acetaminophen if we need it. I’m not anti-medicine. But I’m personally not into over-medicating, so if I can use a safe alternative wholistic approach, I’d much rather start there.)

When I nearly set fire to our kitchen, what did I turn to? Purification and Lemon Essential Oils made all the difference.

And most recently, I was starting out on an 18 hour road trip with the kiddos and the little one ended up with a bummer case of motion sickness.

Ew.

And I had just vacuumed the car and washed the carseats.

(I mostly felt bad for the little guy, but I’d be lying if I didn’t have my own little personal pity party right then and there …)

After a wipe down and a change of clothes, a little EO on his belly and we were good to go. No, I didn’t take a picture mid-crisis. It would have been gross and totally inappropriate! But here’s the “after” photo:

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Hooray for YL Lavender Essential Oil!!!

Anyway … you won’t get pressure from me to buy Young Living (or any other equally reputable) essential oil. But I’m passionate about living holistically and simply and sustainably and want to share with you some of the solutions I feel good about that we’ve found along the way, which includes our experiences with YL Essential Oils. Here’s an affiliate link or two to my “store.”

… And I’m here if you want to talk essential oils (selling or buying).

And I want to hear how YOU use essential oils?

 

Reminder (disclaimer): I’m not a doctor and any advice I suggest is simply based on my personal experience or that of my family. It’s not intended to replace the guidance you receive from your medical professional team. Talk to your doctor before changing your regime.