Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mother's Day and Macaroni Salad

Life is good, folks.
So good.

After taking an incredibly long break from school I'm now two semesters in and going strong.
I can't tell you how much I'm loving it.
My husband laughed at me the other day when I let it slip that I was sad the semester was coming to a close and I wouldn't have class over the summer.

Things I've learned so far on my adventure:
1) I'm still an overachiever.
2) I'd forgotten how much I love writing...but I love writing.
3) My kids are wonderful, amazing, people who both seem to like that I'm in school now too
4) I do not handle a cluttered house or lack of time to cook dinner well.  Working on that.

5) My 7 year-old is completely capable of helping around the house
6) A frozen lasagna and a store-bought loaf of french bread won't kill anyone every once in a while.
7)18 year olds aren't to be feared...they may be younger but I have the perspective of experience.
8) I kind of want to stay in school forever.  And ever.  Someone should fund that for me.  :-)
9) I remember far more Spanish from high school (many, many years ago) than I ever expected.
10) I have a bizarre and completely unexpected affinity for and obsession with economics.  Favorite class ever.

I finished my finals this week and have had the past few days to get caught up on things like housework, laundry, and kids' dental appointments.  I- the girl who didn't even have a cavity until she was 31- desperately need a root canal and have been putting it off for the past couple of weeks during finals while popping incredibly unhealthy amounts of ibuprofen, so I finally have time to get that taken care of this week.

I now have time to cook!
While I'm sad (don't laugh...too much) about the semester ending it was also so nice to go to the store the other day and fill my cart with real foods that I will have time to prepare.  Today is Mother's Day, though my husband had to work so we celebrated yesterday.

He wanted to take me out...I opted for the opportunity to cook and pick movies for us to watch.
I needed a lazy day, to be honest.

So, while he manned the grill, I made the dry rub for the ribs, the marinades for the chicken and salmon, the macaroni salad, and the fun drinks.
Then I made my family join me on the couch for Jurassic Park (my guilty pleasure go-to movie) and Return to Oz.
It was a good day.  :-)

Lets start with the macaroni salad, shall we?

It seems like every time I write about something I say, "I'm a sucker for such-and-such (Chinese buffets.  Chicken salad. The list goes on...).

But for real...any of the unhealthy salads are pretty high the list of things I love.
Even though I despised mayonnaise well into my early 20's and avoided it like the plague on sandwiches I have always loved those mayo-based salads like crab, potato, egg, chicken, and, of course, macaroni.

I haven't made macaroni salad very many times in my life.  I've had success with a few recipes but none of them have really been perfect.  I decided to give it another try for our little Mother's Day lunch and ohmygoodness guys...this recipe really is it.

So, just to tangent on you for a second, I never, ever, ever sleep in.
5am that alarm clock goes off and I get myself up and ready before getting the kids up for school.
On the weekends my son storms my bedroom, generally loudly announcing something and being completely oblivious to the fact that the rest of the house is sleeping.  And that, you know, it's still dark out and all.

Yesterday I was sleeping.  It was quarter to 8.  I almost made it to 8!  When my phone went off with a string of texts from my husband who was downstairs.

"Happy Mother's Day!"
"Enjoy your rest!"
"We're so grateful for you!"
"You've worked so hard these past 9 months- sleep in!"

And about 15 other texts that came in back-to-back.
Super sweet.  But it also meant that I was suddenly super awake.

Anyway, so since I was up I got started on the macaroni salad, because that's definitely something you want to give a chance to chill while the flavors meld.  All of that sweet, tangy, crunchy goodness.

I wish I didn't like this stuff so much.
My taste in restaurants tends to be much more...new-American, hipster-y, farm-to-table-y.
Apparently when I cook at home I go for comfort?

Anyway this macaroni salad really is both simple and delicious.  The sauce is sweet and tangy without being cloying or overbearing.  The celery and diced pickle lend crunch, the pimento and egg lend flavor.  It's not overly liquidy nor overly dry and even after sitting in the fridge overnight the consistency is still perfect.  This is macaroni salad perfection!

2 C dry small elbow macaroni
1 C finely chopped celery
1/4 C finely diced sweet onion
1 (2 oz) jar diced pimentos, drained
4 small sweet gherkin pickle, finely chopped
3 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
3/4 C mayonnaise
2 Tbsp prepared yellow mustard
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/3 C white sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp dried dill

1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Place macaroni in the pot, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water.

2. In a large bowl, mix the macaroni, celery, sweet onion, pimentos, pickle, and egg. In a separate bowl, mix the mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, sugar, salt, black pepper, and dill. Stir dressing into the macaroni mixture. Chill in the refrigerator at least 2 hours before serving.

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