But I’ve also got a thing called a budget. So I try not to eat out very often, recreating my favorite salad combos at home instead. At Cosi, the Signature Salad is my go-to order. The salad base is easy: A bed of mixed greens topped with Gorgonzola cheese and studded with red grapes, pistachios, pears, and dried cranberries.
But oh, the dressing. The Sherry Shallot Vinaigrette that’s so good I want to drink it straight from the little plastic cup. I went off the rails trying to figure out that dressing. (The task was made even harder without sherry vinegar. I’m morally opposed to sharing recipes that use ingredients not commonly found at the grocery store.)
An entire afternoon, multiple bottles of olive oil, and too many shallots later, I had mixed up about a half dozen variations, including recipes from copycat Cosi Signature Salad blog posts just like this one. But none of them seemed right.
I became a little obsessed. My kitchen reeked of vinegar. I bumped into a friend at the store while I was carrying a shopping basket full of nothing but shallots. As I looked at her with what I’m sure were those cartoon swirly eyes and explained that I was desperately trying to recreate the Sherry Shallot Vinaigrette from the Cosi Signature Salad, even I heard the cray-cray in my voice. I hit rock bottom when I found myself standing at the stove, caramelizing shallots. Who has time to caramelize shallots for salad dressing? I don’t.
I was ready to give up when I stumbled on a recipe for Shallot Vinaigrette from Sarah’s Cucina Bella. In one exhausted, last-ditch effort, I whisked together a batch, making a couple of small modifications. Then I tasted it against the Cosi dressing.
Turning 40 didn’t bother me. I jumped the gun and went through all the milestone’s complicated emotions when I turned 39. By the time my 40th came around, I was ready to embrace the next decade and savor the perks. Because everything they say is true: With age comes more confidence, clarity, and a certain je ne care pas. As in, my body doesn’t look like a model? I don’t care. Everyone doesn’t like me? I don’t care. I am 40, hear me roar.
What does turning 40 have to do with cookies? I’m part of a group of bloggers honoring fellow registered dietitian Regan Jones, who is turning the big 4-0 today. Regan is beloved in our profession for good reason. She’s been instrumental at building a strong online presence for dietitians. She co-founded Healthy Aperture, the only food blog photo sharing site moderated by dietitians and solely focused on healthy food blogs. She also co-founded Recipe Redux, a recipe challenge for food bloggers that marries taste and nutrition. And in person, she’s warm, funny, charming, and stylish–with a Southern accent that makes everything sound like a compliment (or at least something you should definitely agree with).
To celebrate Regan today, we were tasked with creating either a cocktail or a gluten-free treat. Since I’m not much of a drinker, I chose a dessert. These cookie sandwiches are based on my 4 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies, but I reduced the sugar and added a chocolate filling. I filled mine with melted chocolate chips, but you can also use Nutella or Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter, both of which are gluten free.
A note about oats: Though oats don’t naturally contain gluten, they can become contaminated with gluten during growing or processing. Not a big deal if you don’t have to avoid gluten. A very big deal if you have celiac or a gluten intolerance. So if you want a gluten-free cookie sandwich, buy oats labeled “gluten free”.
Thanks for making 2014 a great year at Real Mom Nutrition! In case you missed any of them (or are new to my blog), here are my 10 most-read blog posts of the year: 1. Naturally Colored Frosting Easy recipes for red and green frosting using natural dyes made from beets and spinach. 2. My 10 Favorite Kitchen Tricks Bread […]
Looking for a special breakfast this holiday season? Crepes feel fancy but are actually easy to make–and once you’ve made a stack, everyone can fill theirs with what they like, sweet or savory. For this recipe, I used white whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour. Made from white wheat (instead of the usual red), it’s lighter in color […]
Fruit Roll-Ups are a regular fixture on the kid circuit, showing up at soccer games, parties, and even school snack time. But most of them have multiple added sweeteners, oil, synthetic dyes, and juice concentrate instead of actual fruit. So I make my own in the oven as an occasional treat. I’ve tried all kinds of fruit, […]
Since starting this blog five years ago, I make a lot more food from scratch. Perhaps it’s because my kids are older and less demanding and no longer require me to be within two feet of them at all times. Perhaps it’s because I started paying much closer attention to ingredient lists. Or because my […]
I’ve been a smoothie girl for a long time. I make one nearly every day for breakfast and pack my Vitamix when I go on vacation. But I’ve also been intrigued by juicing. Like everyone else who watched the documentary “Fat Sick & Nearly Dead“, I wanted to run out and buy a top-of-the-line juicer immediately. But […]
Breakfast is not my fifth grader’s favorite meal of the day. (My first grader, on the other hand, practically jumps directly from his bed into a seat at the kitchen island with a spoon in his hand.) I invented this breakfast shake one morning to sweeten the deal. It’s something fun and filling. I also love that it’s […]
Switching from refined grains to whole grains is really a no-brainer for health. Unlike refined grains (think bread and pasta made with white flour), whole grains contain all the naturally-occurring parts of the grain. That means more protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals–and according to research, maybe even a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes […]
Like so many others, I’ve followed Lisa Leake’s blog 100 Days of Real Food for several years. For those who don’t know the backstory, what started as her family’s experiment to eat no processed foods for 100 days (bringing separate food to parties, eschewing all white flour and sugar, and avoiding anything in a package with […]