Pepper-Parmesan Salad Dressing


And a Punc update, since I feel she’s been neglected here lately.  Punc just turn eight months old last week and we are now halfway through our “Intermediate-Level” training class.  It’s been a little more difficult than her puppy class.   We did not enroll her straight away, since our holiday rush at work and our vacation would mean our absence at 3 of the 6 classes.  Then, finding a class to fit into our schedule meant waiting until February, when the only other option was full.  In the 10 weeks off from class, Punc hit “teenage phase”, generally characterized by being too smart and too stubborn for her own good.  She knew the game of all of these tricks, and would only perform when she felt like it.  The Intermediate course finally began and, while her classmates were larger dogs, as I was hoping (she’s still a bit wary of big monsters dogs), the new skills were definitely more challenging.  Heeling, Wait vs. Stay, Going to Bed are all skills that need consistent, daily practice.  Unfortunately, while we still sort out the living situation (looking at townhouses next week! Hurray!) M and I do not see her every day.  My mother has enough time to wear down her energy and review the old skills, but not the concentrated time to work on new tricks.  We were falling frustratingly behind.  We finally had a breakthrough in class yesterday (though it may have been that one dog was absent and the other couple that usually comes had only one human that day).  Punc was focused and cooperative, even attentive when we were heeling storewide, despite the many customers, animals, and M and my mother lurking around the corners of every aisle.  It was nice to have that reaffirmation after a couple of difficult classes.  Maybe we are finally moving away from the “teenage phase”…won’t that mean all of her chewing stops too? 😉


Not a chance.

But onwards and upwards.  Last week, I shared my Skillet Shrimp Scampi with you, mentioning that I’d mixed up a quick Pepper-Parmesan recipe to go on our kale salad.  I was quite pleased with this mixed and more delighted in the days following, when all of the flavors really began to meld.  It kept for about 4 days before we had used it all up.  My guess, if refrigerated and tightly sealed, this dressing should last at least a week, if not longer.  Though, if you are like me, and the barest hint of spring in the air has you gobbling greens like no tomorrow, you may find that one batch won’t last that long!

I kept this dressing fairly thick because I wanted it to stand up to the heartiness of the kale.  You can easily make it thinner by adding more milk.  Our parmesan was finely grated, but still enough to keep the dressing a little chunky.  A spell in a blender could smooth things out, if you wish.  I tend to stay away from too much mayonnaise in my dressings, but only because we almost always have sour cream and greek yogurt on hand and I love the flavor combo of all three.  If you are missing one or two, you could easily sub in the other, but the flavor will change slightly.  Looking at this recipe, I bet that I will make another batch tonight to top the salad alongside our pork chops!

scampi plate

Pepper-Parmesan Dressing

Serves 8-12 | Prep time: 10 min | Wait time: 30+ min

  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp sour cream
  • 1/4 c. greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4-1/2 c. milk (depending on thickness)
  • 1 Tbsp crushed crispy onions* or ½ tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 Tbsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne or chipotle pepper (ground)
  • 2 tsp worchestershire sauce
  • 1 dash hot sauce
  • salt

*We use fried crispy shallots found at Asian markets that are gluten-free.  Always check you ingredients to make sure they do not contain gluten.

Combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, yogurt, lemon juice, and milk into a small bowl.  Mix well.   Now is the time to add more milk for a thinner dressing.  Stir in remaining ingredients, combining thoroughly.  Set in the refrigerator, covered for at least 30 minutes.  The longer the dressing sits, the better the flavors will meld.

Skillet Shrimp Scampi

shrimp scampi prime

I feel like its been ages since I’ve posted.  I’m not sure what it is about the last ten days that seem to be double…maybe because I have so many dishes to share!  I’vr been on a bit of a creative kick lately, trying all sorts of new dishes for dinner.  A few are old familiar favorites that I haven’t gotten around to sharing on here yet, while others are some new, “scary” recipes. In fact, I have a quick and simple fajita recipe and a risotto recipe in the line-up, but last night I made this shrimp scampi and it was just too good to wait.  We’ve had a bag of raw shrimp in the freezer for a couple of weeks and I’ve been waffling about how I was going to use them.  Mostly due to the pictures I’ve seen on Pinterest, I had narrowed it down to a sweet-and-tangy skewered option or a more classic butter-based sauce.  Since skewers = grill in my mind and it has been absurdly cold the past few weeks: the grill was out.  Plus, I have some lemons to use up.  I thought that I would combine the inspiration from a few different recipes:  again and again things like white wine, butter, lemon, and garlic were added to shrimp, though (purely happenstance) never all of them together.  I figured if they all were paired with shrimp one way or another, they would all be good together.

scampi sauce

And they were.  Because white wine+butter+lemon+garlic+shrimp=shrimp scampi in it’s most basic sense.  Yes, I made a classic recipe without quite knowing it.  Laugh away.  I did!  I thought I was riffing on scampi–some new dish that was close but just different enough.  Instead, I recreated the basic idea perfectly.  I’m sure I’ve come across recipes for shrimp scampi before, and that was part of the reason those ingredient rang as “right” in my brain.  I may have even tasted it, but, truth be told, my preference for shrimp (beyond cold and covered in cocktail sauce) only started to grow shortly before I stopped eating gluten.  I’m not sure if I have ever had scampi tossed with pasta.  I hardly thought of that option when I was prepping for dinner.  I was bright lemon, zesty garlic, and glorious butter in a sauce that would coat the shrimp, pooling at the bottom of the bowl to be sopped up with french bread.  And that is exactly what I did.

scampi bowl

I think the sauce would have been delicious on my own Gluten-Free French Bread, but I didn’t have the time after work to commit to the hour-long bake time.  I wanted shrimp and I wanted it fast.  I grabbed Against the Grain baguettes, my favorite store-bought gluten-free baked good.  I knew that the decadent baguettes, made from tapioca starch, cheese, and eggs would be a perfect pairing with the butter sauce.  The insides of these baguettes remind me of popovers–soft, springy, and rich.  They were perfect!  I made a quick salad from a lettuce mix (spinach, radicchio, chard, and romaine) with a hefty portion of kale, topped with red onion, tomato, cucumber, carrots, and red pepper and mixed together a quick pepper-parmesan dressing to top the hearty greens.  I’ll post the salad dressing soon, it was delicious and quick and very easy to halve or double depending on how many you are serving.

shrimp scampi table

But onto the main event!  I thawed the shrimp completely while I prepped the salad and the dressing.  Then I tossed the baguette in the oven to warm up as I turned on the stove to medium-high under a large saucepan.  I added about a teaspoon of olive oil, just enough to coat the pan and let that heat before I added the shrimp in a single layer.  Be careful not to crowd the pan too much.  I had a very large pan and just managed to fit my shrimp in with a sliver of space between them.  Cook the shrimp for 2-3 minutes, until the downward side turns pink and the color begins to creep around the tail onto the raw side facing up.  Flip the shrimp and cook for another 2 minutes, until the shrimp are firm and completely pink.  A bit of color off the pan is fine, but keep the cooking time short, so they don’t get rubbery.

scampi plate

Remove the cooked shrimp from the pan and add the lemon slices.  The juice will begin to sizzle.  Let the lemons cook for about 30 seconds, until they are fragrant.  Add the white wine to the pan and scrape the bottom with your spatula to help deglaze and get all of the tasty bits off the pan and into your sauce.  Be gentle with the lemons as you scrape the pan.  Once the wine has settled (it should bubble pretty furiously when you first add it to the pan), add your butter, olive oil, and garlic, stirring gently until the butter melts.  Cook for one minute more, then add your shrimp back in.  Stir the shrimp to coat completely, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then remove the pan from the heat.  I pour all of the shrimp into one large bowl, or you can portion them onto plates.  Just make sure that each individual gets a healthy dollop of the remaining scampi sauce.  Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley and serve immediately, with lots of bread!

scampi close

Skillet Shrimp Scampi

Serves 4.  Prep time: 5 minutes / Cook time: 10 minutes

  • 1 1/2 lb jumbo uncooked shrimp, peeled & deveined
  • 1 lg lemon, sliced into 1/4 in slices
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced into a fine paste
  • 1/4 c. white wine
  • 1/4 c. butter
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • chopped parsley

Coat a large skillet with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat.  Add shrimp and cook about 2-3 minutes, until the pan side turns pink.  Flip shrimp and cook for another two minutes, until firm and completely pink all the way through.  Remove shrimp from pan.  Add lemon slices and cook for about 1 minute, until fragrant.  Add white wine to deglaze, stirring and scraping the pan.  Add butter, garlic, and olive oil, mixing thoroughly.  Cook the sauce for one minute more, then add shrimp back into pan.  Toss to coat in sauce.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and parsley.  Serve immediately.

Fat Tuesday = Pancakes

It’s Fat Tuesday!  And Fat Tuesday means pancakes.  The fried bread and rich traditional foods may stem from the religious preparation for Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent, but I, also, would never turn down an excuse to make and eat pancakes.  I quickly threw some together this morning and they are on the menu breakfast and lunch for today.

If you forgot about pancakes, or didn’t have time this morning, there is still hope!  You can have ‘pancakes’ and a complete meal!

As I’ve mentioned before, crepes are a long tradition in my family, and as children we called them rolly-rolly pancakes (since we rolled the thin crepes up with butter and syrup).  So, at least in my mind, crepes totally count as proper pancakes.  Why don’t you have a pancake dinner tonight?  Make a batch of crepes and serve them savoury as a main course: try asparagus and parmesan; chicken, goat cheese, spinach, and sundried tomatoes; broccoli and cheddar; mushrooms in a cream sauce; eggs and ham…pretty much any combo can be wrapped in a crepe.

You can even save a few to make a sweet dessert: my favorite (and the simplest) sweet option is to serve the crepes sprinkled with lemon juice and powder sugar.  Fruit and cream or nutella would also be easy, delicious options.

Here is my great-grandmother’s crepe recipe, modified for gluten-free.  Try your hand at it tonight, and celebrate Fat Tuesday deliciously.

Do you have any Fat Tuesday plans or traditions?

Quick ‘n Easy Recipe: Kale Chips


I feel a little bit silly giving this ‘recipe’ a whole post.  It’s one of the easiest things I have made in a long while.  But, it is also a recipe I held off from making for a very long time, but it was intimidating.  Somehow, staring down at a fresh bunch of kale, I just couldn’t believe that it would be so easy to transform them into a crispy, flavorful snack.  Don’t let you logic fool you…I’m a believer now.  Kale chips are fast and easy.  And, in this dry, cold winter weather, my chips stayed crispy overnight and through the next day after being sealed in a Ziploc bag.  I can’t tell you exactly how long they’ll stay crispy, we ate them all the next day.

It’s amazing to watch such a “tough” green turn into a shatteringly crisp chip.  I felt like I had to be careful with the fragile baked leaves, but they held up considerably well.  And they are far more filling than they seem.  I’ll be making more chips again soon!

Flavor combinations are endless.  Just keep to as little liquid as possible (here is a time that dried spices triumph) and keep testing new tastes!


Kale Chips

  • 1 large bunch of kale
  • Cooking spray (I prefer real olive oil sprays)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Additional Seasonings (I used garlic powder and paprika, see below for more suggestions)

Wash you kale leaves well and dry completely.  Wet leaves will wilt, rather than crisp, in the oven.

Preheat your oven to 275 degrees F.  Remove the stems from the kale leaves and discard stems.  Tear the leaves into slightly-larger-than bite-sized pieces.  Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray.  Spread the leaves on the baking sheet.  Mist the leaves with baking spray, then stir gently to make sure all pieces are evenly coated.  Spread the leaves into one layer on the baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and additional seasonings.

Bake for 17-20 minutes, stirring halfway, until the leaves are crisp and the edges have begun to brown.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Store at room temperature in a sealed container.

Flavoring Suggestions:

  • Cheese & Onion: Powdered cheese (parmesan, or the Popcorn Flavoring shakers) + Onion powder
  • Chili-Lime: Squeeze one slice of lime over leaves after misting with cooking spray.  Mix well to evenly distribute juice and oil.  Sprinkle with chili powder and lime zest.
  • Salt & Vinegar: Drizzle a few drops of white vinegar after misting with cooking spray.  Mix well and sprinkle with extra salt.
  • Barbecue: Use your favorite grill seasoning/dry rub
  • Rosemary & Garlic: sprinkle with crushed rosemary and garlic powder
  • Curry: Use your favorite curry seasoning
  • Old Bay: Sprinkle with Old Bay seasoning and lemon zest.

Do you have any other flavor ideas? (I’ll be eating these chips until kale goes out of season…)