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.

Where I talk far too long about my puppy, and maybe my anniversary, too

This past monday was Punc’s second puppy class.  I touched very briefly on the first session.  Here’s the scoop.  Punc is a boston terrier-mix.  Super-mix.  Her father was pure boston and her mother was a mini-shepherd-ish looking thing.  Maybe some spitz or some sheltie or some aussie and some more terrier…maybe a mix of several.  Luckily, boston-mixes are near the top of the hierarchy for creating cute puppies.  (Because, lets be honest, some mixes and even some ‘designer’ dogs actually make some funky-looking creatures).  Punc’s sister, Panda, favors the boston’s wide mouth, and otherwise looks a little hound-y.  At the right angle, she can look like a miniature pit bull.  Punc, as a baby, has a reverse bobble head.  Definitely too small for her body and suspiciously chihuahua shaped.  (Again, very strange, because we can be almost certain that these girls have neither pit nor chihuahua in them).  Luckily, she’s grown into it.  A bit small, still, but not really noticeable.

So anyways, boston terrier mix.  Right now, she about 16-17 lbs and we’re only expecting a pound or two more when she fills out.  Her head is right at my knee–I’m certain, because she is in the habit of following me closely and I’ve knocked her in the eye a time or two when I turned around.  Ooops.  So Punc is not the largest of dogs, however, she is two-to-three times the size of my mother’s two dogs and certainly outweighs E’s Arcas.  He looks bigger, but its all fur.  Long story short, Punc is a timid, underdog in her nature.  When she and Panda were puppies, we had issues getting one dog to recognize that they were dogs (just little ones).  He didn’t stop to notice the submissive behavior they were exuding, and both puppies got bitten and shaken a few times.  So the puppies didn’t trust dogs for a good long while.  Now, of course, each has adjusted perfectly to those dogs that they share a household with, though neither will ever be (nor want to be) top dog.  Punc adores all people, from toddlers to adults.  She pulls at the end of the leash when she sees one and gets upset if she cannot meet everyone she sees.

However, she is extremely wary of new/strange dogs.  She cowers and cringes and tries to stay out of the way.  So, M and I signed her up for puppy classes.  By now, she knows a good portion of what is being taught in the class, but we wanted the chance to socialize her with young (and hopefully less intimidating) dogs.  Our class has a miniature schnauzer, a teacup beagle, a wheaton, a malamute, a labradoodle, a very young shepherd mix, a chihuahua mix, and, possibly, a gigantic 5 month-old German Shepherd (may be switching to another class).  And Punc. Right now, she’s bigger than four of them, though the shepherd-mix may outgrow her by the end of class.  However big, little, young, old, aggressive, outgoing, shy, loud, quiet…Punc is scared of all of them.  She spent the first session under M’s chair, and was so distracted by the other dogs that she then wouldn’t respond much to the instructor giving her a treat.

It was actually pretty close to what we expected.  So,when week two rolled around, off we went, without much expectations.  Punc was ecstatic to enter the store and sniff around (we’re taking classes at Petsmart).  We met a lot of people and even bravely met humans while their dog was nearby, but distracted.  She balked a little bit at the entrance to the puppy class, but soon took up her usual residence under M’s seat.  But, as class went on, she moved.  She tangled herself up several times, trying to go see the humans beside us, and even crept out to sniff some butts while their owners were distracted.  She cowered if a dog noticed her, but she didn’t run away.  Baby steps.  We even got some tail wags, and crept out to sniff the instructor, even though she wouldn’t go far enough for the loose-leash-walking example.  And, at the end of class, when the instructor picked her up, Punc realized she was a normal person and was quite excited.  I’m hoping that will have a big impact on her interaction with the instructor.

These are not huge milestones.  But they are vast improvements.  I don’t need a dominant dog, but I do want one that will at least exist calmly near other dogs.  I’m quite happy that there was such an improvement in just two sessions.  Hopefully we can only go up from here.

In other news, M and I’s one-year anniversary was on Friday.  He worked a 13 hour day.  I worked both jobs and ran back to my mother’s to grab a bread pan to make even more French Bread.  Weekends are sandwich days, as we spend 9 1/2 hours at one job, then drive an hour through rush-hour traffic to get to the second job for 3-5 hours for me and 6-8 for M.  Weekends necessitate sandwiches, something I can pack for two meals on Friday night, and can keep through the day on Saturday.  So, between the work bookending our time, and my need to make bread, we were not planning anything special for our anniversary.  It wasn’t a big celebration, or unusual or surprising, but it was a nice evening.  I made him a man-bouquet, a la Pinterest.

However, I was too cheap to invest in a pot/vase and foam, and whatever people use to attach them.  So they balanced carefully in an old glass, and I did my best to arrange them in a way that hid the duct tape.  It’s the thought (and the content) that counts, right?  I got him a mix of 5-hour energy shots, chocolate, a couple of British candies, jelly beans, and whatever was the higher-priced mini-bottles of gin, whisky, and tequila.  And M still loves me, in spite of my utter ignorance regarding booze…and I think he likes everything I got him.  For me, M brought flowers, firewood, chocolate, and cheese (nice, nice brie!)  Can you tell we know each other well?  It really was a nice day for both of us, simple and sweet.  As cheesy as it may sound, I don’t need a celebration.  Hitting the ‘one year mark’ is just a reminder that we’re doing things right and making it work.  And that’s what counts.

Puppy Update

Well, after a rocky start, Panda has successfully been up lving with E & A & Arcas for a couple of weeks without any trouble.  Panda, Arcas, & E came to visit for an afternoon.  Punc is still rather terrified of Arcas.  But, right about when it was time to go, she seemed to remember her sister.  I suppose we have a long road ahead of us.  Her puppy class starts next week.  She knows the majority of what we will learn in this beginner class, but it’s mainly for socialization purposes.  I suppose it’s obvious now, that M and I will keep her, even though it took us a while to realize that.  E said she suspected as much all along.  Punc absolutely adores M, and though she makes our search for apartments slightly more difficult, I think the pros outweigh the cons.   For today, I’ll leave another pile of photos. 🙂

Introducing: Panda & Punctuation

Well, it’s been a while.  I have many excuses that are actually valid, and a few stories that would secure my time away as the most horrid summer ever.  But, that is all over now, thankfully.  And there were many, many bright spots in this summer.  I met wonderful, inspiring people.  I worked at a job that I love with all my heart.  I learned that I am stronger than I think I am, mentally and physically.  I learned that I can survive committing myself to 7 weeks of eighteen hour days, without a day off, and manage not to kill anyone.  Just barely.

But another bright spot has been two small black and white things that came back with my sister from Maryland.  It is a long story of how she went from getting one puppy to how two ended up spending the last several weeks at our house.  But they’re sweet enough to make up for it.  Panda’s ears earned her her name.  Punc(tuation) began as Blackie, but we wanted to change it.  I, of course, favored alliteration.  The exclamation-point spots on her belly earned her the name, and our shortened nickname ensured that she was suddenly acting like quite the Punk.  But, for now, I leave you with (just a few) pictures.