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Grape, Avocado and Arugula Salad

ATTENTION GROCERY SHOPPERS! I just thought you might be shopping today for tyhe weekend dinner so I am posting this great salad recipe early this week. It is incredibly easy to make. We used seedless green grapes and toasted almonds, but the choice is yours. So get in your car and go buy these ingredients!

Grape, Avocado and Arugula Salad

Ingredients:

Salad Ingredients:

  • 6 cups fresh arugula, loosely packed
  • 2 cups halved seedless grapes, red or green or a mix
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts or pecans
  • half a small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • balsamic vinaigrette (ingredients below)

White Balsamic Vinaigrette Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons white balsamic vinegar (or traditional balsamic vinegar)
  • 2 Tablespoons honey or agave nectar, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper

Directions:

To Make The Salad:

Add salad ingredients to a bowl, and drizzle with vinaigrette. Toss to combine. Serve immediately.

To Make The Vinaigrette:

Whisk all ingredients together for 30 seconds until combined.

 

 

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Strawberry & Avocado Spinach Salad in Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

A truly summer salad! If you are not into making your own dressings, buy a similar raspberry balsamic one at the store. This salad both looks and tastes great!!

Strawberry and Avocado Spinach Salad in Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette
Prep Time: 10 minutes Total Time: 10 minutes Servings: 2

ingredients
• 1 (5 ounce) package baby spinach
• 2 cups strawberries, sliced
• 1 avocado, diced
• 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
• 1/4 cup blue cheese, crumbled
• 1/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
• 1/4 cup raspberry white balsamic vinaigrette (* see below)
directions
1. Assemble salad, toss in dressing and enjoy!

Option: Goat cheese or feta also work well in place of the blue cheese.
Option: I like to throw in some fresh peas when available in spring.

  • Raspberry White Balsamic Vinaigrette
    Prep Time: 5 minutes Total Time: 5 minutes Servings: 1cup

ingredients
• 1/2 cup raspberries fresh (or thawed frozen)
• 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
• 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
• 1 teaspoon honey
• 1 large clove garlic, minced
• salt and pepper to taste
1. Mash the raspberries and mix everything. 2. Pour over your favourite summer salad…

Jill’s Cheese Ball

This recipe was always a staple at Christmas or New Year’s. Unfortunately, the McLaren’s Imperial Cheese is found in Canada, but not in the US or Mexico. You can substitute it with another type of processed cheddar spread, like Alouette in Mexico. You can also use a blue cheese spread if you do not have real blue cheese available.

Jill’s Cheese Ball

8 ounces softened Philadelphia cream cheese

8 ounces McLaren’s Imperial Cheese (or another brand)

4 ounces blue cheese

2 Tablespoons grated onions and juice

chopped pecans

Mix all ingredients together and whip with an electric mixer. Roll into a ball or a log and wrap in waxed paper. Chill for 2 to 4 hours in refrigerator. When chilled, roll in chopped pecans. Refrigerate until ready to be served. Allow to warm up briefly.

Serve with your favourite crackers.

McIntosh Dark Christmas Cake

Okay…I hear ya! It may seem too early to start this, but trust me, NOW is the right time to make this cake! Once baked and wrapped and stored, you are going to take it out every two or three weeks and brush it with your favourite brandy! Keep doing that right up until the cakes are all gone!! You won’t regret it…

FYI…this is Larry’s mother’s recipe with a slight change. Since we had no cherries, we replaced them with dried cranberries. He also added some Kirsch to make up for the lack of cherry flavour… BTW…MY mother used glazed pineapple too!

Mrs. McIntosh’s Dark Christmas Cake*

Fruit Mixture:

3 cups seedless raisins

3 cups Sultana raisins

1 cup dates cut up

1.5 cup dried cranberries OR glazed cherries

3 cups mixed peel

1 cup chopped pecans OR walnuts

Dry Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

3 tsp.cinnamon

½ tsp. nutmeg

¼ tsp. mace

½ tsp. ginger

¼ tsp. ground cloves

Wet Ingredients:

10 Tablespoons butter

10 Tablespoons shortening (Crisco)

8 eggs

1.5 cups brown sugar

2/3 cup orange juice

Line 2 loaf pans with heavy waxed paper and brown paper.

Preparation:

Soak fruit with 1/3 cup Kirsch liqueur

Add the nuts; dust with ¼ cup flour.

Stir Dry Ingredients (remaining flour and spice) together in a separate bowl.

Cream Wet Ingredients (shortening, butter and sugar), beating together until fluffy.

Add eggs ONE AT A TIME, beating well after each.

Blend in dry ingredients; fold in ½ fruit and nut mixture.

Add orange juice slowly while mixing in, and then add second half fruit mixture.

Fill prepared pans 2/3 full.

Bake in a slow oven (300 degrees) 2 hours or until done. Place a pan of hot water in a shallow pan on bottom rack during baking. Remove after one hour!

Cool before removing paper; re-wrap and store in an airtight container in a cool place.

DON’T FORGET THE BASTING EVERY TWO OR THREE WEEKS….. I personally like brandy!

Pesto Crusted Chicken

Another in the KISS series…we always have a jar of ready made pesto sauce in the house as it can be used so many ways. This one is a very simple main course using chicken…breasts or thighs…whatever you prefer. Just add some rice and a salad…

Pesto Crusted Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 – 7 oz. jar prepared pesto
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 4 T lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. lemon peel
  • 4 skinless chicken breast halves, bone-in
  • 1 T olive oil
Preparation
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Blend ingredients in food processor. Place chicken in greased baking dish. Cover with pesto mixture. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake 30 minutes. Remove from pan. Mix juices with 2 T lemon juice. Spoon over chicken. Serve.
Notes

Brandied Fruit and Nut Cookies

This recipe is from my blogging friend, Karen. Since today’s earlier recipe might not be ready in time for the holidays, I am sending you one of HER cookie recipes which I just baked. I didn’t bother with the glaze…your choice… Check out her other recipes as well as beautiful photos of her home in New England at Christmas – http://backroadjournal.wordpress.com

Brandied Fruit and Nut Cookies BYJ

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  •  1/3 c. brandy (I used Calvados apple brandy)
  • 1/2 c. golden raisins
  • 1/2 c. orange flavored Craisins or dried cranberries
  • 1 c. dried apricots, chopped in small pieces
  • 3/4 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 2 c. flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 c. chopped pecans

Mix the fruit and brandy in a bowl and let marinate for 10 minutes. Cream together the brown sugar, butter, eggs and spices. Drain the brandy from the fruit into the sugar mixture and stir. Mix in the flour and baking powder. Stir in the reserved fruit and nuts.

Drop cookie dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto a Silpat or parchment lined baking sheet. They do spread out so if you want them smaller, follow the directions and keep small). Bake about 10 minutes or until the cookies are light brown. Place cookies on cooling rack. Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

If you wish to glaze the cookies mix 2 c. of powdered sugar, 2 to 3 Tbsp. brandy and 1 tsp. vanilla together and dip the tops of the cookies into glaze and let dry.

Marianne’s Pumpkin Cake

Our American friends invited us to celebrate their Thanksgiving in Merida. Besides their beautiful home, we were there with some beautiful people! The deep fried turkey was astounding! So was one of the desserts for the last course… When we made this yesterday, our friends thought it was much better than pumpkin pie!

Marianne Kehoe’s Pumpkin Cake

1 – 15 oz can pureed pumpkin

1 – 12 oz can evaporated milk

3 eggs

1 cup sugar (I used brown sugar but can be white)

4 tsp pumpkin pie spice * (see below)

1 package white, spice, or yellow cake mix

1 c butter

1-1/2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans

* If you can’t find pumpkin pie spice use 4 T. ground cinnamon + 4 tsp. ground nutmeg + 4 tsp. ground ginger + 3 tsp. ground allspice. This makes more than you need!!!

Oven 350 F (175 C). Grease a 9 x 13″ cake pan.

In large bowl, combine pumpkin, milk, eggs, sugar, and spices and pour into pan.

In another bowl, with fingers incorporate butter pieces into cake mix and crumble over pumpkin. (I also added a little more cinnamon to mix here for color because I could only find white cake mix,)  Sprinkle walnuts or pecans on top.

Bake for about 1 hour, or until knife inserted near center comes out clean.

We served this with some fresh whipped cream and a mix of chopped walnuts and brown sugar which we had carmelized just a bit…

Chocolate Nut Tart

I first made this recipe for a church function which was called “Broadway and Chocolate”. Members of the choir performed Broadway melodies and during several intermissions, you submitted tickets which entitled you to a plate of various chocolate desserts which had been made by the church members. It was a great fundraiser. That was 7 years ago and still this recipe stands the test of time…I just made it today! Served with a very good vanilla ice cream makes it even better.  Keep the slices small as it is quite rich!!!

Chocolate Nut Tart

Makes: One large tart Total Time: 1 hour (can be made ahead)

what you need

  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 T chilled butter in 1/2″ pieces
  • 2 T whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 c toasted whole almonds (4 oz)
  • 3/4 c hazelnuts (filberts)
  • 3/4 c walnuts
  • 3/4 c light corn syrup
  • 1/4 c light brown sugar
  • 1/4 c melted butter cooled (1/2 stick)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

make it

Cookie Crust – Combine flour and sugar in processor. Cut in the butter using on/off motion. Add whipping cream and vanilla. On/off motion until moist clumps. Add more cream if too dry. Press dough over bottom and up sides of 11″ diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Let stand for 30 minutes. (I think you could also just do  these as bars in a square pan).

Filling -Combine all nuts in food processor. Chop coarsely. Whisk syrup, sugar and butter in large bowl. Add eggs and extracts. Mix in chocolate chips. Add nuts. Transfer into crust.

Bake at 350 degrees about 40-50 minutes.