Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Cranberry Avocado Salad with Candied Spiced Almonds.

I wanted to share the recipe for the salad that Elise and I made for our fancy dinner.  I'm terrible when it comes to coming up with salads, so a recipe is really handy for me.  And finding this one was such a score because we absolutely loved this salad.  It was perfect.  And these almonds?  Oh.  My.

So, here you go.  It may seem like a lot to do, but we made the dressing the night before and the nuts the morning of, so it was completely doable and absolutely worth it.

for the dressing
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sesame seeds
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried mustard
  • 1 tablespoon minced sweet onion
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup white balsamic vinegar
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil (I used canola, because that's what we had)
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil

for the almonds
  • 5 cups sliced almonds, or a 1 pound package
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • sea salt

for the salad
  • 12 ounces baby spinach, arugula, field greens
  • 1 small bunch cilantro, washed and dried, leaves removed whole from stems
  • 2 medium avocados, peeled and halved
  • ¾ cup dried cranberries
  • ¾ cup candied spiced almonds

for the dressing
Just throw it all into a mason jar together and shake until the sugar has completely dissolved.

for the almonds
Place a large sheet of foil on a work surface.  (I placed mine on a sided cookie sheet so I could move it around.)  Spray with cooking spray or rub a teaspoon of oil over foil with a paper towel.

Place sugar in a large non-stick sauté pan and heat over medium heat, occasionally tipping and swirling the sugar until it is all melted into a pale golden syrup.  Lower heat immediately and add butter, cinnamon, smoked paprika, cumin and vanilla.  Stir until well combined and all butter is incorporated into the sugar syrup.

Add the nuts and stir gently to coat.

The recipe recommends that you...cover and continue to cook on low, stirring every minute or so until almonds are a delicious golden brown…but I just stirred until all of the nuts looked covered.

Turn out onto prepared foil and sprinkle liberally with sea salt. Spread out on foil to cool.

for the salad
Ummm…if you don't know how to put salad ingredients in a bowl, well then…good luck.

Ok, that's it!  Seriously DO NOT BE INTIMIDATED.  It is completely worth the extra work.  Oh, and the nuts recipe makes way more than you need, but just keep them around to snack on.  Trust me, you'll want to.

Monday, January 5, 2015

This Year.

I've been thinking a lot about this year and what I hope for it.  Little goals and dreams that I have.

Anyway…so someone shared this little number on Facebook this morning and I thought it was a nice tune to start the year off with.  Enjoy!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

'Cause we are fancy like that.

So, after the success of last year's Thanksgiving Dinner, our family decided that doing one BIG meal on our own would become an annual family tradition.  And this year we got all fancy.

We bought new placemats and napkins to go with our Christmas dishes.  We made place cards and menus and decorated the table with some of the Christmas greenery that we had just put away...

And we decided on a four course meal, taking the time to enjoy each course together before moving on to the next (which was announced with the reading of the next item on the menu).

Adele helped me with the appetizers, which we just made up.  Anthony had accidentally bought me some fillo (or is it phillo, flies both ways I guess) dough instead of puff pastry for one of my Christmas brunch dishes, so we grabbed a box out of the freezer and improvised.  (The apricot and brie were the hands down favorite.)

The salad that Elise and I made was AMAZING.  So good that Anthony claimed it was better than my mom's Christmas Eve salad which is a HUGE compliment.  It was incredible and I will be sharing the recipe one of these days…stay tuned!

And then the splurge…roasted beef tenderloin.  It cost a ton and Anthony was really nervous that he (with Adele as his helper) was going to screw it up, but he didn't and it was just beautiful.  And the twice baked potatoes (courtesy of Anthony, Nathan and Lucy) have the distinction of being the only thing that Matthias gobbled up in about 10 seconds. They are a childhood favorite of mine and I think my kids are hopeful that they show up more often at our house.

Last, but not least was the peppermint ice cream that Matthias and I made.  There isn't many things cuter than that little guy sitting on our counter, pounding away at a bag of candy canes.  And the ice cream was the perfect yummy way to end our dinner.

Oh, and did I mention that we looked all fancy too?  We wore the dressiest clothing we had, complete with shoes, which is truly fancy for us even having Lucy exclaim, "I've never worn shoes inside the house before!"  Not true, but shows you how excited they were about getting all dressed up.  (Check out Matthias's jewelry…the girls were wearing some so he needed to too!)

There are moments when I look at the life that Anthony and I are creating together and I am just so aware of how much I love it.  This was not the case yesterday as the smoothie on our ceiling will attest to.  But today?  Today was about as good as it gets.  And I have to say that there is something so sweet about creating traditions with our kids that makes me feel like we are doing something right.  And I'm just so thankful for that.

It was the perfect way to start this new year and we are already talking about what our dinner might look like next year.  Hopefully with an extra little helper in the kitchen.