Circus Peanut Salad and Remy's Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
Updated: Oct 1
If quarantining with my grandkids began with unicorns and rainbows, it has now progressed to the circus midway.
Have you seen the following meme on social media?
We are over a month into the school year, and I'd be lying if I said I couldn't relate to the confused expression of the parent in that meme.
Technical difficulties aside, there are just so many baffling parts of online school.
This week Remy turned off her computer and told me the teacher had told her to. She then proceeded to yodel.
"It's a special right now, Bubbe," she said. "I'm supposed to yodel for the next 20 minutes until lunchtime."
Specials are classes not held every day, such as art or music.
You've got to be kidding me, I thought. Then I asked her. "Is this a joke? Are you trying to prank me?"
A few weeks ago she replaced my mouthwash with blue tinted water. I wouldn't put it past her to make this up.
"No. I swear this is what I'm supposed to do."
Meanwhile, Guillermo, my handyman, was busy fixing things in the guest bath, and was ready to fix the curtains in my bedroom.
I was sitting in the room with Rory, not realizing that she was on the side of my bed placing the handcuffs from her policewoman Halloween costume on her feet.
For some strange reason, the kids think Youtube videos of playing police and jail are hilarious.
When Sam's friends come over, Rory and Remy frequently try to "arrest" them and put them in a makeshift jail on my stair landing.
To be fair, I do remember playing cops and robbers as a child. During which games my sister, Stacey, usually ended up tied to a chair.
Anyway, I told Rory we had to leave the room so Guillermo could fix the curtains.
She flung the handcuffs onto my bed and raced out of the room.
Snatching the plastic cuffs off of my bed, I hid them behind my back as Guillermo came into the bedroom and I went out.
I don't even want to think about having to look him in the eye again if he had seen handcuffs on my bed.
And thinking about my childhood, I vaguely remember my grandmother throwing questionable toys such as handcuffs into the garbage. A good move, I thought, following suit.
Remy's yodeling finished, it was now 11 a.m. and lunchtime.
Ya'll, it's a long day of eating when the girls arrive at 8 a.m. and leave around 6 p.m..
Remy is a super picky eater as well. It's a struggle to find healthy foods that she will actually consume.
To this end, we pour over food magazines together, watch cooking shows, and check out the Instagram feed for ideas.
While we find plenty of cookies, cakes and cute sweets that she would like, entrées and healthy snacks are far and few between.
To this end, we saw an article from Southern Living entitled "27 Vintage Church Cookbook Salads That Deserve to be Praised."
The article featured basic salads that we all know and love such as potato, coleslaw, chicken and so on.
But it also mentioned congealed salads such as tomato aspic and strawberry pretzel salad.
Reading about these blasts from the past made me think of watching Molly Yeh at the beginning of quarantine.
She made a dish called Crunchy Snap Pea Popcorn Salad, explaing that popcorn salads were a longstanding tradition in the Midwest.
On a different episode she made Candy Bar Salad, yet another Midwestern favorite.
At the time I mentioned these dishes to Sam and Laura, and Sam immediately begged me to make him a Snicker bar salad.
Candy bar salads, I learned, usually have pudding, whipped cream, cream cheese, sour cream or mayonaise, a fruit component such as chopped apples, and a diced candy bar component as well.
Sam loved the candy bar salad I made him, and because Laura has been trying to maintain a low carb lifestyle, I made a version for her.
While I can make pudding from scratch, it's not something I particularly enjoy.
Therefore I used a box of sugar-free vanilla pudding mix, and to cut carbs I added half cream and half water rather than the milk required.
For the fruit part of the dish I added a few chopped strawberries, and hand whipped some cream with a little sweetner for the whipped cream.
I then combined it all.
As for the candy bar, I used Lily's Milk Chocolate Style Covered Caramels.
As far as sugar-free and lower carb chocolates go, Lily's brand is a game changer.
Sweetened with a blend of erythritol and stevia, it truly has the taste and mouthfeel one would expect from chocolate sweetened with sugar.
This is not a sponsored post, and I'm not gaining anything by saying this. It's just what I found to be true.
Suffice is to say that Laura loved her lower carb candy bar salad, and I filed it away in the treats to make again category.
And although I've been meaning to try popcorn salad, I haven't gotten around to it yet.
I mentioned it to Remy, and not only was she not interested, I didn't think it would qualify as the kind of healthy dish I have been seeking for her.
Am still seeking, in fact. Any and all thoughts in this realm are welcome.
For the time being the healthy snacks she enjoys are home made ranch dressing with cut up celery and cucumbers, Mandarin oranges and apples.
Though Remy has always loved ranch dressing, making it from scratch using fresh dill and buttermilk brought the rest of the family into the fold.
Nowadays I try to always have fresh dill on hand, enjoying the fresh herb on vegetables, fish and in soup.
As for reading about the church cookbook salads, well that took me down a rabbit hole.
That article led me to another on Circus Peanut Salad.
I'd never heard of Circus Peanut Salad.
Circus peanuts, yes. I remembered those as a kid.
My grandmother used to love them. So much so that the last memory I have of Circus Peanuts was as a young mother, when Grandma was visiting me.
We were on a road trip with Marty's family enroute to Cape May, and we stopped at a gas station.
Grandma bought a bag of those fluorescent orange, spongy, banana flavored abominations and walked over to my sister-in-law's car, offering them to the children.
Both Lisa and her then husband, Chuck, freaked out
"Do you have any idea of what those things will do to their teeth'" one of them shrieked, snatching the fluffy candy out of my nephew's hand. Both of my in-laws were dentists. When it came to sticky sugar, they didn't play.
Thirty years have passed since then and I am finding myself obsessed with trying this Circus Peanut Salad.
Never mind that Circus Peanuts are no longer sold in most stores.
And never mind the fact that I never liked the candy in the first place.
The thing is, this salad was so popular that it became a hit. It was in multiple cookbooks and is still being written about.
To think about the person who created this "salad" just boggles my mind.
Shows like Chopped and Guy's Grocery Games haven't been around that long.
Somewhere, somehow, someone got the idea to chop up these orange, banana flavored marshmallow things, dissolve them with hot water, then add Jello and pineapples and Cool Whip to it.
How bizarre is that and how many drinks of the day did she have beforehand?
It is so strange that it's fits right into the yodeling and other shenanigans taking place in my house on a daily basis.
No way could I not try this salad.
But first I had to find the Circus Peanuts.
Amazon, I found, sells them for either triple the normal price or in crazy large quantities.
Since I had no desire to house pounds of puffy orange peanuts or pay triple the price, I did a little online research. My local Big Lots carries them for 2 dollars a bag. Score!
A rainy Saturday, no kids in the house, and I find myself with a jiggly pan of surprisingly tasty Circus Peanut Salad.
Seriously. This zany, orange congealed salad tastes good. It's fluffy, creamy, light and citrusy while not being too sweet. Who would have thought?
I'm sharing the link to the recipe below, in case you want to give it a go.
If you'd rather something healthy, here is the recipe for Remy's Buttermilk Ranch.
It's great on salads, as a dipper for veggies, chips - you name it. It lasts for about a week in the fridge, and is far superior to bottled ranch dressings.
Bonus: Remy's Ranch won't rot your teeth.
Remy's Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon chopped dill
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Combine ingredients in a large bowl
Wisk until well combined. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to use. The flavors develop with a little time, so try to make a least an hour before eating.
* If you substitute yogurt for sour cream and add chopped cucumbers, this makes an excellent tzatziki.
Circus Peanut Salad