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Alright, alright, I know I am in the Netherlands and about to show you a recipe for an Italian salad, but this salad is so good tha you won’t be thinking Dutch for long.  Remember how I said that there is a bakery on every corner here?  This salad with homemade crouton was just beggin’ to be made.

I also may have let you in on the fact that Arne and I are larger humans now, thanks to the foodfest we had in Calgary/SK before leaving.  I truly do deserve the name foodlova.  We ate so much great food, that we weren’t even hungry for the last week of it.  Anyways, we made a pact to eat a salad every night for a week instead of the regular fare.  It worked out well and now we are both looking and feeling pretty much back on the lighter side of things.  A few 2 hour rides in the country didn’t hurt either.

Now I am liking the whole idea of a lighter dinner a few times a week.  I find since I stopped skating I am just less hungry.  I never thought that would be, but alas it has happened to me.   This was not one of the salads we ate on the diet week, though.  Actually, I’m not really sure why this is called a salad.  The only leaf it has to offer is a few basil leaves.  The main bulk to this masterpiece is the bread.  Big chunks of crunchy, yet tender, cubes of homemade ciabatta croutons. 

Day old bread is the way to go for this one.  I have used fresh and it is fine, but having left over bread is a great excuse to whip up this quick side or starter salad.  I usually serve it with some sort of meat.  You could do a steak, sausage or an italianized chicken breast.  Either way, make sure you serve it with wine because that is what an Italian would do, right?

Panzanella Salad – adapted from The Main’s Anthony Sedlak

½ loaf of ciabatta bread cut into large cubes

I large buffalo mozzarella ball torn up into bite size pieces

1 clamshell of cherry tomatoes or any toms you like (these ones looks so beautiful I had to get them! I used 3)

1 small bunch of fresh basil

**for this recipe you can really play around with how much of each ingredient you put in.  If you are using more just add another tbsp of both oil and vinegar and you can make heaps and heaps more if you’d like!

 Dressing:

3 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp balsamic vinegar (I had red wine vinegar and it tasted really good too)

½ small red onion finely diced

 salt and pepper

Toss the ciabatta cubes with olive oil, salt and pepper and spread evenly over a baking sheet.  Bake in a 400 degree farenheit oven until golden brown.

Mix up the dressing and set aside so that the onions soak up a little dressing.  It will make the onion a little more mild and give nice flavour to the dressing.  Add salt and pepper and stir/shake.

In a large bowl, tear up the mozza balls into bite size pieces.  Tear up the basil leaves and add to large bowl.  You can cut the mozza and basil for less of a rustic look if you’d like.  Slice the tomatoes in half and add to the bowl.  When the croutons are ready, throw them in with everything else.  Pour dressing over and toss.

Important: let sit for at least 10 minutes before serving, so that the dressing gets soaked up into the bread a little.  This not only tastes awesome, but then the croutons won’t scrape the inside of your mouth as much.  Don’t worry, they still stay crunchy, but get a kind of tenderness that is just amazing!

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So, it’s the Super Bowl this Sunday.  I’m not going to lie – I don’t follow the NFL.  Hey, if we were talkin’ CFL it would be a different story.  I actually made this dip for this season’s Grey Cup.  The Riders were really going for it, I thought they were going all the way….ok, I can’t really talk about this.  It still hurts so bad.  Back to the Super Bowl.  My Dad and brother are really into the NFL.  They actually bet on games every week.  They are always going to a party for the big game.  My involvement in this whole thing:  making the appies, of course! 

This is a recipe from the one and only – my Mom.  She has a dish for everything and everyone gushes over her grub.  Even since I was a wee one, I can’t remember my Mom ever cooking something I didn’t like.  Her food is all about taste and of course everything she makes gives me comfort.  When I moved away from home, she wrote me out a recipe book of all the recipes I love.  For one of the first potlucks I was invited to, I wanted to impress, but I was lacking in the experience/know-how of cooking.  I got out the hand written recipe book and whipped up this dip.  It was a real hit because the flavour is great!

Oven Hot Dip is a sister to the 7 Layer Dip.  You know the one.  It’s at every party and is delicious, but this is an unexpected update.  Have fun watching the game this weekend or if you’re like me – have fun getting all the food ready and get dipping.  Oh, and pretend to watch the game too.

Oven Hot Dip

Beat:

8 oz cream cheese (1 brick)

0.5 cup pizza sauce or spaghetti sauce

1.5 tbsp taco spice (eg. Old El Paso taco spice packet)

Topping:

1/2 of a red pepper, diced

1/2 of a green pepper, diced

3 stalks of green onion, chopped

1 cup grated cheese (cheddar or marble)

symbols of teams playing – optional (thanks Arne!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit.  Blend cream cheese, sauce and spice with a hand-held blender.  I’ve tried doing it under my own power – pretty hard, but possible.   Spread in a 9 x 9 baking dish or if you want it thinner you can use a bigger one.  Sprinkle diced red and green pepper and onion on top.  Cover with cheese and optional team symbols.  Bake in oven for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and warmed through.

Foodlova

I'm an ex-Olympian and I have a serious passion for food. I guess you could call me a food lova! What about you?

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