Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Jamie's Cranberry Spinach Salad

By: Jamie Hensley, modified by Viki Stumbers Serves 8-12

This was served at the 2011 Thanksgiving meal. 

  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons minced red onion
  • ¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon raspberry wine vinegar
(NOTE:  THIS IS THE SECRET INGREDIENT—if you don’t have this, GET IT, it MAKES THE SALAD . . . or use 1 tablespoon white vinegar, white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar instead . . .but be warned that the salad WON’T BE AS GOOD)
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil

  • 6 slices bacon
  • 8 ounces crumbled cheese (blue cheese or goat cheese are fantastic for this salad)
  • ½ medium red onion (or more to taste)
  • 2 bags baby spinach, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup mandarin oranges, drained (optional)
  • 3/4 cup almonds, blanched and slivered (walnut or pecan halves work well here too)
  • ½ cup pine nuts (optional)
  • cracked black pepper

  1. Prepare dressing:  
    1. Roast sesame seeds in small dry skillet over medium heat until lightly toasted and fragrant. Remove from heat and let cool.
    2. Mince 2 teaspoons red onion and add to medium bowl; reserve remaining onion for salad.  To minced onion add poppy seeds, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, vinegars, olive oil and cooled sesame seeds.  Whisk to combine thoroughly; store in tightly-closed container in refrigerator for at least 1-2 hours (overnight is best). *The dressing won’t taste anywhere near as good as the finished product if you don’t give it at least an hour to sit.
  2. Prepare salad:
    1. Fry bacon until crisp; drain, crumble and set aside.
    2. Roast almonds and pine nuts in small dry skillet over medium heat until lightly toasted and fragrant. Remove from heat and let cool.
    3. Thinly slice ½ or more of remaining red onion (depending on how much you like red onion).
    4. In a large bowl, combine the spinach with the cooled bacon, crumbled cheese, sliced onion, cranberries, mandarin oranges (optional) and toasted nuts, reserving 1-2 tablespoons of each to top salad.  Toss well but DO NOT ADD DRESSING.  Chill salad and reserved ingredients until 15 minutes before serving.
  3. 15 minutes before serving, bring salad, dressing and topping ingredients to room temperature.
  4. Just before serving, ensure dressing container is sealed well and shake vigorously to recombine.  Add ½ of the dressing to the salad and toss well; add additional dressing to taste and toss again.
  5. After last toss, sprinkle top of salad with reserved salad ingredients and freshly-ground black pepper; serve and prepare to bask in numerous compliments.  

In the spring or summer, substitute 1 quart sliced fresh strawberries for the cranberries.  AWESOME!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake Dip

by Sylvia Musheno

This is the dip that was served last week and was a big hit with young and older alike! Before I left coffee hour, I tracked down Sylvia to demand this recipe for the blog, and was stopped in the hall on the way to my car with a request for it! So here you go--like a big bowl of cookie dough (without the salmonella fear of raw eggs.) Or, like one bite at a time cheesecake--either way, you win!

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup powdered (confectioner's) sugar
2 Tb. brown sugar
3/4 cup chocolate chips (mini are a great size for this)

Beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla until fluffy. Beat in sugars until well blended, then stir in the chips. Serve with fruit, animal crackers, graham crackers, etc. for dipping. Stand back to avoid the stampede.