I don’t know about you, but I thoroughly enjoy salad bars. I like piling a random assortment of vegetables, fruits, dressings, nuts and seeds on my plate. It’s so much more fun than getting a regular salad assembled by someone else. I mean, maybe I don’t want just Caesar salad. Maybe I want some Caesar salad, and a spoonful of Waldorf salad to go with it. If I want to plop some baby corns or cherry tomatoes on my mixed greens, I can do that. And if my favorite salad bar staple, broccoli salad, is there, then awww yeah.
Sadly, broccoli is not one of the shining stars of the vegetable aisle. Admittedly, I didn’t like it when I was growing up – and I wasn’t one of those kids who eschewed her vegetables at every turn. I generally ate my peas and string beans without a fuss, and considered carrots and cucumbers to be pretty neat snacks, but unless broccoli was slathered in Velveeta, I wanted no part of it – and even then, I’d bite the florets off the stalks, leaving those behind…possibly concealing them under some mashed potatoes.
But now, I can get down with broccoli. Especially if it’s tossed together with some other veggies, bacon, cheese and a creamy dressing.
When I went to Tampa last spring, my coworker and I got lunch at this cute little cafe, L’Eden, while we were killing time before checking in to our hotel. I had a mozzarella, brie and goat cheese panini, and was instantly smitten. It was one of the best paninis I’d ever had…and then I made an amped-up version of it this week, thanks to having plenty of leftovers from Colin’s slightly cheesetastic birthday dinner.
Just imagine it. Creamy. Smoky. Tangy. Salty. Crispy. Just a little sweet. Buttery. In your mouth. All at the same time.
Seriously. Look at that. Look. at. that. It is the cheesiest of grilled cheeses that I have ever made. And friends, I am a grilled cheese enthusiast. I make grilled cheeses a lot. I think I’ll make one for lunch, now that I’m thinking about it. Oh well. It’s not like it’s even really summer anymore. Cue the violins and sad trombones.
Following my post about the oh-so-good carnitas last week, I had a couple of requests for my cole slaw recipe. I originally didn’t measure out my ingredients, but during my semi-monthly grocery store binge, I decided to pick up the ingredients I needed and made it again… and measured my dressing! Hooray!
Here’s the thing about cole slaw – you either love it or you hate it. And I think a lot of people unfairly hate it because their experience with cole slaw is with something that’s watery and bland, and way too gloppy. Not to mention, “slaw” really isn’t the most appetizing word. Like George Carlin’s unwillingness to eat anything that has a “y” and a “g” in its name (yohhhguurt), I’m sure “slaw” just sounds totally unappetizing to many people out there. But, as Colin so aptly put it when I handed him his plate the other night, “You should call this entry, ‘Hey, people! You know you can eat cole slaw that isn’t terrible?'”
As you must know, since you have a working Internet connection and are presumably not a time traveler who just arrived here in 2012 (and really, why would you want to come to 2012 if you were a time traveler? I’m digressing), you know that last month, we got sacked pretty hard by a hurricane. Or superstorm. I’m not quite sure what we’re calling it. Either way, it was pretty ridiculous. People were out of power for days/weeks — some are still waiting for their power to come back on! — and others tragically lost their possessions, homes and, in some cases, lives.
Despite living in a bayfront town, we were pretty lucky. There was no damage to our apartment or cars (though my car did almost get smashed to bits by a colossal pine tree — silly me for thinking my car would be safer at my parents’ house further inland), and while being without power or heat for a week was not even remotely fun, it could have been a lot worse. I went to the Jersey Shore to help a friend who was one of the unlucky ones. While I thought the term “devastated” and all its variants seemed overused, it’s really the only word to describe what happened down there. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen up close.
Before this gets too depressing, let me tell you about something I threw together before we got gobsmacked by a worst-case-scenario storm and alternated between living off of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches (curse you, electric stove!) and going out to eat all the time in order to escape our 50-degree living quarters and put something lukewarm in our bellies.
If you don’t mind, I’m going to be frank with you — I never really liked you. Now look, I’m not saying this to hurt your feelings, but I’m just trying to establish an honest relationship with you.
It wasn’t your fault, really. I’ve just never really thought that macaroni should be served cold. Macaroni, in my eyes, has always been at its best served hot, slathered in tomato sauce and topped with two or three big ol’ meatballs. Or baked in a plethora of cheeses. Heck, I even enjoy macaroni on its own, with just a bit of melted butter and parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.
But cold? Macaroni had no business being served cold. And especially not with celery. The starch salad that always won my heart was that of the potato. I know you’ve had your fans, Macaroni Salad, but I was not one of them.
Not until this came along…
This delicious, spicy, smoky, COLD macaroni dish that I would happily make on a weekly basis. This macaroni salad that I made last night and just polished off the leftovers of for lunch. This macaroni salad that you must try to make on your own. Seriously, I demand it.
All last week I was craving the simplest of meals: cream of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. Somehow, this staple meal has absolutely no place in my memory. Well, my dad used to make me grilled cheese all the time, but for some reason, at the age of six, after battling random bouts of croup, bronchitis and a chronic cough rivaling that of pack-a-day Marlboro smokers, I tested positive for a tomato allergy.
THIS IS LIKE KRYPTONITE, APPARENTLY.
Which is weird, because I had been scarfing down pizza and meat sauces and all sorts of tomato-laden dishes, and never even came close to hitting anaphylaxis. But whatever. I just had to be the difficult kid at slumber parties who could only have white pizza. I later graduated to being the difficult kid at slumber parties who had to sleep on the couch because of her backbrace. Kidding. I didn’t GO to slumber parties when I wore a backbrace!
God, this is getting depressing.
Anyway, it’s been 12 years since I donned that supremely ugly plastic torture device-cumbersome corset, and even longer since I decided I really wasn’t allergic to tomatoes, thankyouverymuch, and I’ve developed quite the affinity for a good bowl of cream of tomato soup.