Tag Archives: haloumi cheese

Salad Week Tribute: Aunt Trish’s Salad Dressing from The Pioneer Woman

In honor of Salad Week, I’m re-running my review of “Aunt Trish’s Salad Dressing” from The Pioneer Woman website. It’s my favorite, and when paired with a crisp salad and grilled halloumi cheese, it is simply divine. Enjoy!

Aunt Trish's salad dressing over a green salad & grilled halloumi cheese - YUM!

It’s not often that I make my own salad dressing, as evidenced by the row of salad dressing bottles on the top shelf of my fridge. Just last week, The Complete Package found a bottle of French that expired in 2008. Oopsie. And there is ALWAYS a jar of Marzetti’s Ultimate Blue Cheese Dressing in our fridge. Always. Someone whose name I shall not mention would lose his ever-loving mind if he didn’t have his favorite creamy blue cheese dressing to put on his wedge salads or fried potatoes (hint: not Ziggy). But this past week, I was craving something new. Something light. Something lemony. And The Pioneer Woman’s recipe for Aunt Trish’s Salad Dressing looked perfect. It’s light, it’s lemony, and it also has garlic and parmesan cheese. Duh, winning!

Here’s the cast of characters:
3/4 cup of olive oil or canola oil
the juice of 2 lemons
1 clove of garlic, peeled (leave it whole)
4 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. sugar
a dash of paprika
salt & pepper to taste

It couldn’t be easier. You put everything in a jar, shake it up, and let it stew in the fridge for 24 hours, then shake it again before using. I made a tossed green salad of romaine, shredded carrots, sliced radishes, cucumber, quartered Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced purple onion, kalamata olives, pepperoncini peppers and feta cheese. Then we shook up our jar of Aunt Trish’s and poured it over the top. To say that we both loved this salad dressing would be an understatement. It was so good, we were tempted to put our faces into our bowls and lick them clean. Or grab a straw and suck up all the remnants. But instead, we used some toasted garlic bread to sop it all up. No drop was wasted. We enjoyed it so whole heartedly that we could have put our salad bowls back into the cupboard without washing them first. We didn’t, of course, but we probably could have.

Besides being knocked out by how great this was on a salad, my mind was racing through all the other things I could use it on. It would be a great marinade for grilled meats. It would be fantastic drizzled over a sandwich in place of boring old mayonnaise or mustard. This would knock your socks off as a dressing for a pasta salad. You could cube up salami, mozzarella cheese, olives and Italian peppers and make a fabulous antipasto tray for parties. Don’t get me started on using it on a cold seafood salad. This is not a salad dressing, it’s an obsession.

As always, I’m going to refer you to the source so you can see the recipe the way Ree intended – with fabulous photos and an engaging back story. Click here to be transported to salad dressing heaven at The Pioneer Woman.

Also posted for Salad Week today:
Lauren’s Parmesan Salad Cups at Climbing Grier Mountain. Click the link to see how she crafted melted parmesan cheese into crispy edible salad bowls. No more licking your salad bowl clean. This time, you can actually eat the bowl!

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Filed under Blogger Collaborations, Food & Recipes

Fun with Food: Chicken Shawarma

NanaBread's Chicken Shawarma

I’ve had an itch to try new recipes lately. Exciting new recipes. Exotic new recipes. Inspired by our impending vacation plans, I decided to tackle something from far away lands – chicken shawarma. Have I ever tried it? No, I have not. But that’s the beauty of trying new things. Sometimes you just have to crawl out of your comfort zone.

Enter the TasteSpotting website. Ever seen it? It’s a visual feast, for sure, but it’s more than that. It’s a network of bloggers who post their recipes for the world to see and enjoy. It’s where I found this gorgeous recipe for Chicken Shawarma by kurryleaves. Her gorgeous photo on TasteSpotting peaked my interest, but her post convinced me to give it a try. It convinced me hard.

Now fast forward to our trip on Monday to our local Mediterranean grocer. If you remember, I mentioned it in my rambling Dr Pepper-induced rant about my new bargain designer purse from Macy’s. (Do I owe you an apology if you read that one? I feel like I might.) Anyway, The Complete Package and I dropped in for lunch and while we were there I browsed the grocery selection. What else is a girl to do while waiting for her gyro with extra feta and hot sauce? While browsing, I found garbanzos to make hummus with, the most fabulous bag of warm pita bread I’ve ever seen in my entire life, a small block of my beloved haloumi cheese, and the new love of my life – pasteurized kefir cheese. Have you seen this stuff? Have mercy – I’m in love. Big love. It’s like slightly soft, slightly salty cream cheese that melts in your mouth. It’s like Greek yogurt on steroids. It’s what my new Syrian buddy at the Mediterranean market recommended. My new bestest kefir eating buddy. We’re tight now.

Oh, kefir cheese... where have you been all my life?

So, I tell The Complete Package that I’ll be branching out and making him chicken shawarma with all my market goodies, and you know what he ordered for lunch? A chicken shawarma. Go figure. I don’t know what he was thinking, but I know what I was. I was thinking “great, now I can be judged for a recipe I’ve never made against a Syrian kefir-eating shawarma guru.” A lesser woman would have thrown a little hissy fit and put the pita back on the shelf, but not me. I’m tenacious. I love a challenge. And at the time, I was hopped up on Dr Pepper. (Again…I apologize.)

So here’s what I done did. Basically, I used kurryleaves’ recipe for the chicken marinade, the toppings and the method, then went out on my own for the tahini and tzatziki. So let’s take a look at how it all went down. Ready, Freddy?

First, I bought a package of chicken breast tenders. I brought them home, removed that crazy tendon that runs down the middle, and threw them in a gallon Ziploc bag with the marinade. I should clarify that I used kurryleave’s marinade as a guideline. For instance, I left out cumin (yuck), substituted my favorite yellow curry powder for the turmeric, and I added cayenne pepper (because I was unsure of what pepper powder might be). It smelled so good! The chicken has to marinate in the fridge overnight, so start this one early.

Next, I made a batch of my favorite lemon & garlic hummus. I made about a quart so we could eat it as a side dish with the extra pita bread and to use in place of the tahini sauce on the sandwiches.

After the hummus was in the fridge, I mixed up a batch of tzatziki to dress the sandwiches with. I made my own version based on a few I found at Tasty Kitchen, my favorite recipe source. Since I despise dill (except for dill pickles), I used flat-leaf Italian parsley. So in all, it was my new kefir cheese (or you could use Greek yogurt), parsley, finely minced onion, grated cucumber (pressed into paper towels to remove any liquid), salt, lemon juice and a splash of red wine vinegar. Oh, I also threw in a pinch of freshly ground black pepper. Using the kefir or yogurt as a base, you add the minced onion, grated cucumber and parsley (or dill) – then add the lemon juice, red wine vinegar and salt to your own taste. This is really good stuff, especially if you’re a Greek yogurt and cucumber lover. I made extra of this, too, so we could really slather it on and eat the leftovers with pita bread. Tzatziki is great as a dip, too.

Pita bread, hummus and tzatziki - the shawarma trinity

Last but not least, you’ll want to slice up a tomato, a little bit of purple onion, some cucumber and a little lettuce. Set it aside until you’re ready to assemble your shawarmas.

In a hot non-stick skillet, heat a tablespoon or two of canola oil. Fry your marinated chicken tenders until they are well done, turning once, and place them on a cutting board or plate to cool for a few minutes. When ready, chop or slice your chicken into bite-size pieces.

That colorful marinade is pure flavor, baby.

Now for the fun part – shawarma assembly. If you’re using a large, thin middle-eastern style pita, lay it out flat. If you’re using the smallish ones you find in most grocery stores, cut the top edge off and open it up. Give the inside of your pita a schmear of hummus. Top with chicken, then spoon on some tzatziki sauce. If you want, you can give it a shot of hot sauce or some sriracha chili sauce. That’s what I’ll be doing. Top with your choice of cucumber, tomato, purple onion and lettuce, then carefully roll up your pita and dig in. The verdict: loved it! I loved making all the different components. Loved that gorgeous marinade. Loved the tzatziki. Loved it all. I’ll definitely be making this again. It’s a keeper.

We're gonna shawarma all up in this joint.

One last warning. Make sure you have napkins or paper towels close by and push your sleeves up. This sandwich may get messy. Serve it with a side of hummus and tzatziki with carrot sticks or a nice Greek salad. I’d recommend an ice-cold Dr Pepper, too, but that’s where I tend to get in trouble.

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Filed under Family Stuff