Grilled Cheese with Charred Scallions

I get on these kicks where I become obsessed with an ingredient, method or flavor and then I’ll find myself putting whatever the thing may be into all the things.

For awhile, thanks to my friend Megan, I was toasting oats every single morning and making all sorts of batches of oatmeal and/or oatmeal granola hybrids.  Then there was the time I ate rosemary ash at Hogstone on Orcas Island and I’ve never shied away from something being “too dark” since. When Reneé Erickson showed me how beautiful tomatoes and vanilla are together I started putting vanilla salt on everything; sweet and savory.

Currently I’m freckling all my toasts, salads, and soups with whole roasted spices, and thanks to my new grill everything is getting bathed in smoke and I’m finding all sorts of places to tuck in charred scallions.

For the next book finely chopped charred scallions are swirled into sour cream for a dip reminiscent of french onion dip with a brighter, smokier taste. But here we’re slipping them into a comforting grilled cheese sandwich.

If you have a grill handy that is ideal but most often I sear these on a cast iron grill pan or just in my skillet. Grill or sear until nearly blackened (remember that ash from above?). They soften and turn sweet with a bit of time. That deep char gives off a lovely smokiness and once finely chopped and with a bit of salt mixed in they turn into a lovely relish-like sauce that, as I’ve been doing, can be tucked in everywhere.

 

Charred Scallion Grilled Cheese

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 bunches scallions (about 10)

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons dijon

3 tablespoons butter

4 slices bread

1 cup grated gruyere cheese

Instructions

Add the olive oil to a large cast iron skillet or if you are grilling the scallions toss with the oil. Sear or grill the scallions until softened and deeply charred in parts, about 5 to 8 minutes, turning as needed.

Remove the scallions from the pan or grill, let cool for at least 5 minutes then finely chop. Add the salt.

Slather the bread with dijon, add the butter to the skillet and add two slices of bread. Add 1/2 cup grated gruyere to the bread and half of the scallions. Top with the other piece of bread then grill until deeply golden and the cheese has melted.

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A Superfood Smoothie Primer

*This post was created in partnership with Sephora inside JCPenney. They believe that not only do the foods we eat affect our skin but they are also a great ingredient to cleanse and revitalize from the outside in. Read more to find how we can better care for our skin through superfoods.

A couple weeks ago I enjoyed a glorious few hours alone. That in and of itself would have been a great gift but I also got to sit and be pampered in Sephora while I learned all about how to care for my skin using superfoods. In my case, charcoal. I’ll spare you the details but since having babies my skin has been one continuous hormonal break out. Real cool. But I was cleansed with charcoal, put on an amazing charcoal peel off mask (hopefully you caught the amazing imagery on my Instagram story), and was moisturized with charcoal. Charcoal is an all natural purifier as it draws out bacteria and impurities helping fight against breakouts. (See the resources below for specific products used).

In this space I often focus on food as a gift in an intensely satisfying way. Like the smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies when you open the front door. Or a rich mug of hot chocolate after a morning in the snow. Or the crackling skin of roast chicken on a bed of crisp roasted potatoes. The food that draws us to the table.

I tend to avoid riding the trends that tout the best way to glow, or lose weight, or whatever the thing is to be in that moment. I have my own history of food obsessions and I have come to a healthy place of eating anything and everything free of guilt and shame. The moment you say this one way is the best you immediately mark every other method as bad. Or if this way of eating is “clean” then the alternative must be dirty.

My food philosophy is simple; eat as much real food as possible. Real food meaning the sort that is as close to the dirt as you can get – not processed. To me that’s quite loose because cheese is real, cream is real and butter is very, very real. And if I happen to dip into a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos then so be it. Balance and forgiveness play a big part of my daily food beliefs.

I also listen closely to my body. If I’m very honest my body often craves greens and vegetables and I am always happy to oblige. But there are days when I feel my body needs a reset or at least a fighting chance to start the day off right. Perhaps there were too many chips, or, as is often the case with summer – there were a good bit of fruity, frozen cocktails. So we start the next day with a smoothie.

I attempted to write down a recipe or at least create one but I went my own way. Which is always how we smoothie around here. But there are a few things we have learned along the way that have really improved our smoothie game.

A real person’s guide to making smoothies.

  1. Balance is key.

As with cooking you want a balance of flavor in your smoothie. Sweet, sour, a touch of salt, and perhaps of bit of bitter. Often I’ll add lemon or lime juice then offset the tang with a natural sugar like peaches, honey, dates, prunes, etc. A pinch of salt is always a good idea.

 

  1. Be healthy but maybe not too much so.

I don’t know about your family but I have one family member in particular who can spot health a mile away. I try and sneak as much nutrition into the smoothies as possible through seeds (flax, hemp, sesame) greens (kale, spinach) and vegetables (avocado, carrots, etc.). One time she turned down her oatmeal so I threw a bit of that into the smoothie. She was on to me with one sniff. I find that strong flavors like fresh ginger, passion fruit pureé and fresh mint mask a lot of health. Greens like spinach and kale are nice because they don’t have strong flavors. A strong blender really breaks down seeds and nuts too so it’s easier to hide.

 

  1. Stock your freezer.

We’ve gotten to the point where my kids thank me for making smoothies. They see it as a delicious treat rather than mom’s attempt to make sure they are getting a good bit of nutrition. I think in part that’s due to the frozen berries and fruit often used to give the smoothie a bit of a milkshake consistency. Also, the cold temperature does wonders to mask any unsightly green flavors that may arise. 🙂

 

  1. When in doubt, make popsicles.

If there is any leftover smoothie or perhaps a batch received less than rave reviews I’ll pour the smoothie into popsicle molds then surprise the kids with a sweet after school treat. I don’t really try to deceive my children into healthy eating as I teach them that all food is a gift and it’s important to care for our bodies. But for the sort of children who don’t buy that (of which I have one) popsicles help.

 

The recipe pictured (which I was sort of hoping would be a more appetizing color) has banana, mixed greens, dates, passion fruit pureé, mint, lime and assorted frozen fruit. If you need a bit more liquid to get your blender going I suggest a bit of coconut milk, regular milk or even a touch of water. I use the blender plunger to help push down the ingredients and usually that gets things moving.

 

Resources from Sephora:

Before walking into the iconic black and white striped Sephora inside JCPenney I was able to tell them what I have been struggling with regarding my skin. I chose the focused makeover which is why the products heavily feature charcoal. I sat down under the skillful guidance of Danie, the area education manager, as she walked me through the products and process to help clear up my skin. I’ve now been using several of the products since that visit and here are a list of my favorites. She knew that I spend my day focused around food so she focused on all natural products with some even being completely food grade.

These are my favorites that we used that day.

Boscia Make Up Melter Cleanser

Boscia Peel Off Charcoal Mask

Boscia Pudding Mask 

Boscia Charcoal Moisturizer 

Bite Lip Treatment

Bite Sugar Scrub

Bite Persimmon Lip Color 

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