Friday, October 7, 2011

Matthew Goes to College For a Day

Last month, Paul had the honor of being invited to give a guest lecture in two of his former engineering classes at Notre Dame. In his lecture, Paul discussed real-world applications of the fundamental principles of engineering, utilizing his current post-graduate position as an example. He did a great job, receiving very high compliments from his former professors on his presentation skills. I was very proud of him.

Matthew and I tagged along on this fun little trip. Paul's company completely covered the trip - even providing us with a comfy rental car. Matthew especially enjoyed the removable headrests.

You will do whatever it takes to keep your toddler happy on a six hour car trip. That happens to be my headrest that he pirated for the majority of the trip.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous the entire time we were there. I was relieved because this meant that Matthew and I were able to enjoy campus while Paul lectured (versus being trapped in a hotel room). Matthew loved going up to random students who were coming and going from class, blocking the sidewalk and forcing them into the grass. He did receive quite a few pats on the head, fist pumps, and high-fives from some of the more friendly students.

He was a little apprehensive of Moose Krause...

In fact, he wanted nothing to do with him.

Throwing me into the picture with him did not seem to help matters. Just goes to show you can't force this kid to do anything he doesn't want to do. I guess it's a good thing that he is already wary of strangers. Even if they are made of stone.

In the food department, I realized that I have only been posting baked goods and decided that it was high time to post something healthy before everyone thinks the only thing I eat is cookies and muffins. This dish is a little easier on your waistline and is one of my favorite fall salads. Feel free to substitute peeled, cubed butternut squash in place of the sweet potatoes or sliced pears in place of the apples.

Warm Sweet Potato Harvest Salad
very loosely adapted from Ina Garten

For the salad:
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 sweet, crisp apple, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup sliced red onion
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup pecans or walnuts, lightly toasted
1/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola or shaved parmesan
5-6 cups arugula and/or baby spinach

For the dressing:*
3/4 cup apple cider
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 T maple syrup (Please do not use imitation maple or pancake syrup!!!)
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Toss the cubed sweet potatoes with 1 tablespoon olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet covered with foil and roast for 15-30 minutes or until tender, but not falling apart (the amount of time will depend on the size of your cubes).

Meanwhile, combine the apple cider, cider vinegar, and shallots in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until reduced to about 1/4 cup. This will take about 8 minutes or so. When reduced, remove from the heat and whisk in the olive oil, mustard, syrup, salt, and pepper.

Toss the apples, onions, cranberries, and salad greens in a large bowl and set aside. Add the warm roasted sweet potatoes, nuts, and cheese. Drizzle with desired amount of vinaigrette (you will definitely not use all of it!) and toss to coat and wilt the greens. Serve immediately.

*In a pinch, you can use the previously posted Maple-Mustard Vinaigrette.

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