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Posts tagged “Walnuts

Black Grape, Walnut, & Blue Cheese Salad

with Vanilla Ginger Yogurt Dressing

Black Grape, Walnut & Blue Cheese Salad with Vanilla Ginger Yogurt Dressing

I found some gorgeous big, juicy, crunchy black grapes at the grocery store the other day. I am not really much of a grape lover (unless it’s WINE!), but my kids like them, so I decided to bring some black grapes home for the teenagers. But my kids didn’t eat them. I even put some in a little container for my daughter for a before-dance snack, but she didn’t touch them. I kept reminding my son that they were there … no luck.

So it seems like I’m stuck eating the grapes. I tried to think of a way to eat them that I would actually enjoy and the first thing that came to mind is a salad. I thought if I added some crunchy walnuts and blue cheese, that would probably make them palateable. And you know what? It worked! I think I may actually start LIKING grapes …

Black Grape, Walnut & Blue Cheese Salad with Vanilla Ginger Yogurt Dressing

Black Grape, Walnut & Blue Cheese Salad with Vanilla Ginger Yogurt Dressing

Red or green grapes would work nicely in this salad too. Red ones would add more color, too!

  • Mixed greens
  • Black grapes, sliced or halved
  • Walnuts, toasted
  • Blue cheese crumbles
  • Vanilla Ginger Yogurt dressing (recipe below)

Prepare the dressing and set aside. Fill your salad bowl most of the way with mixed greens. Add a generous amount of grapes and toss to mix. Top with some toasted walnuts and blue cheese crumbles and drizzle with the Vanilla Ginger Yogurt Dressing.

Black Grape, Walnut & Blue Cheese Salad with Vanilla Ginger Yogurt Dressing

Vanilla Ginger Yogurt Dressing

  • 1/3 cup vanilla lowfat yogurt
  • 1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger root
  • milk or rosewater, to thin

In a small bowl, mix the vanilla yogurt with the grated ginger root. Add milk or rosewater as needed (I used a little of each) to thin out the yogurt to the right consistency to drizzle properly.

This recipe was shared at Fit & Fabulous FridaysScrumptious SundayAll my Bloggy FriendsTuesday Talent Show, Tasty Tuesday, Newlyweds Recipe Linky, Show & Share Wednesday and Lifeologia’s Birthday Party Potluck.


Tomato Cuke Salad w Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing

Tomato Cucumber Salad with Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing

Tina at Mom’s Crazy Cooking has a monthly challenge for food bloggers. She asks all of us to make one certain thing on the 7th of each month … the idea is we are searching for the ultimate recipe for that one thing. This month it’s ranch dressing. Ranch I can do! I’ve made plain ranch, garlic ranch, avocado ranch, sundried tomato ranch … they were all really good, but this time I thought I would like to add some tahini (sesame seed paste) to the ranch and then lighten it up by cutting the amount of mayonnaise down. The tahini along with the fresh herbs adds such a complexity of flavor that you won’t even notice the mayo went away. This salad dressing makes an excellent dressing for just about any savory salad or a good dip for veggies or chips.

The tomato cucumber salad uses the fresh garden ingredients that are overflowing in my house right now: tomato and cucumber. I added some sweet onion, toasted walnuts and edam cheese because I thought they would taste wonderful with the fresh tomato & cucumber.

Tomato Cucumber Salad with Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing

Tomato Cucumber Salad with Toasted Walnuts, Edam Cheese & Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing

For each salad:

  • 1 – 2 tomatoes, that roughly match the diameter of the cucumber, cut into slices
  • 1/2 – 1 cucumber, sliced thin
  • A couple thin slices of sweet onion
  • A few thin slices of edam cheese, cut into small rectangles
  • A couple tablespoons of walnuts, toasted
  • A couple Tablespoons of Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing (recipe below)

Directions:

  1. First make the dressing.
  2. Then prep the salad by alternately layering slices of cucumber and tomato on your plate. If it’s a round plate, simply follow the curve of the plate, then tuck the last tomato or cucumber under the starting one.
  3. Top with sweet onion slices, cheese and walnuts. Drizzle each “row” of tomato/cucumber slices with a bit of the dressing. Garnish with fresh parsley leaves.
  4. To eat the salad, take a slice of cucumber, slice of tomato and make sure to get a little onion, cheese, walnuts and dressing on top. It’s a little messy when you’re eating it, but SO worth it!

Tomato Cucumber Salad with Toasted Walnuts, Edam Cheese & Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing

Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing

  • 1/2 cup nonfat greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons tahini
  • 1 Tablespoon light mayonnaise
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup mixed fresh herbs (I used rosemary, basil, thyme, tarragon, oregano, parsley … dill would be wonderful too, but my dill plant has died off)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon salt (start with 1/4 teaspoon and add more to taste as needed) + freshly ground pepper to taste.

In a handi chopper or food processor, blend all ingredients till the herbs and garlic are well chopped and the mixture is fairly smooth. Taste the dressing and add salt and/or pepper to taste. Store any leftover dressing in a covered container in the fridge.

This is a Crazy Cooking Challenge post. Click on the button to see all the other wonderful ranch dressings.

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This recipe was also shared at Manic Monday, Newlyweds Recipe LinkyTotally Tasty TuesdayTalent Show TuesdayThursday’s Treasures, Weekend Potluck and Fit & Fabulous Friday.


Cantaloupe Walnut Salad w Maple Mint Yogurt Dressing

Cantaloupe & Toasted Walnut Salad with Maple Mint Yogurt Dressing

I went into the kitchen to get a cup of chai this morning. It was nearing lunchtime and when I reached into the fridge to grab the milk, the cantaloupe reached out to me. I came out of the kitchen with this salad. I got so caught up in the salad that I had to go back into the kitchen for the tea.

You must try this salad. It is pure simplicity to make, but tastes like heaven, especially if you can find yourself a really good juicy sweet cantaloupe. The sweet maple syrup with the mint and the tangy yogurt perfectly balance the juicy muskmelon and the crunch of the nuts. The mixed greens just round it all out, adding crunch, color, and variety.

Not to mention your body will love you for it. Every ingredient in this simple salad pitches in to help you feel energized and alive.

Cantaloupe & Toasted Walnut Salad with Maple Mint Yogurt Dressing

Cantaloupe & Toasted Walnut Salad with Maple Mint Yogurt Dressing

Inspired by my Maple Mint Cantaloupe Lassi

  • Mixed greens
  • Fresh cantaloupe, cut into chunks
  • Toasted Walnuts
  • Maple Mint Yogurt Dressing (recipe below)

Mix up the dresssing. Fill your bowl most of the way with greens. Add a generous pile of cantaloupe chunks. Sprinkle with a couple tablespoons of toasted walnuts. Drizzle with the Maple Mint Yogurt dressing to your heart’s content. Garnish with fresh mint leaves or edible flowers if you like. Revel in the wonderful taste of this ultra simple salad.

Cantaloupe & Toasted Walnut Salad with Maple Mint Yogurt Dressing

Maple Mint Yogurt Dressing

  • 1/4  cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
  • About 1 Tablespoon fresh mint leaves, chopped fine

In a small bowl, stir together all ingredients. Drizzle generously on the salad. Store any remaining dressing in a covered container in the fridge.

This recipe was shared at Newlyweds Recipe LinkyTastetastic Thursday, Fit & Fabulous Friday and Share it Saturday.


Whiskey Green Tomato Cake

Whiskey Green Tomato Cake

Last week my aunt from Florida came to visit. I don’t know how many stops she had planned on her trip, but one of them was to visit my parents … I suspected she would go see mom, but I didn’t really know until it was my turn to see my aunt.

My daughter and I drove down to meet my aunt and her artist friend for dinner. It was then that my aunt told us she had been to my parents’ place and my dad had made this green tomato cake for dessert … what?!? … my dad made a green tomato cake?! What the … ?

I thought it sounded really odd, and then when we went to see my parents this weekend, dad mentioned his green tomato cake. Mom said that it was more like a bar than a cake and Dad said the recipe he used just had too much green tomato in it. I could see the wheels turning in his head … I asked him to tell me about this green tomato cake … and he had already figured out how to make it better. I looked him in the eye and said “let’s make a cake!” … and so my dad and I set to work making a green tomato cake.

We started with our favorite carrot cake recipe, which is from The Jack Daniel’s Cookbook, but by the time we finished, I don’t think you’d even recognize the original recipe. Nonetheless, my dad was totally right (he usually is) … the cake turned out absolutely amazing. Both dad and I had two pieces of it for dessert after brunch (I NEVER have two pieces of cake …) and then later, on my way home, I brought some to my friend and had another piece of cake with her. Three pieces of cake in one day. This is totally a record for me. I’m not a cake person (unless it’s like some kind of of amazing decadent chocolate cake), and this cake isn’t even chocolate! … but it is SO worth it. The tart green tomatoes taste so much better than carrots in this (kinda pretty awesomely healthy) moist and flavorful cake.

The green tomatoes came from mom and dad’s garden. They fell off the vines while Mom was trimming the tomato plants. There was a whole bucket full of them. Their tomato plants are just thick with fruit … there will be LOADS of tomatoes this year. Only a few are ripe yet; the rest are yet to come.

Green Tomatoes for the Whiskey Green Tomato Cake

My very favorite part of the day? I got to cook with my dad. The big bonus was that it turned out to be something totally jaw-dropping awesome.

Whiskey Green Tomato Cake

Highly Adapted from The Jack Daniels Spirit of Tennessee Cookbook

  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup whiskey
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup applesauce
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups chopped green tomatoes (about 2 large green tomatoes)
  • 3/4 cup walnuts

Heavenly Frosting:

  • 2 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 oz. light cream cheese, softened
  • 4 oz. powdered sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon whiskey

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the raisins in a cup with the 1/4 cup of whiskey to plump them up.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients, then make a well in the center and add in the wet ingredients. Whisk up the eggs and  other wet ingredients together, then stir to incorporate them into the batter. Add the raisins & whiskey, green tomatoes and walnuts and stir just until everything is mixed up well.
  3. Pour the cake batter into a 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan and bake for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  4. While the cake is cooling, make the frosting by mixing the butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar and whiskey until smooth. Let the cake cool, then frost it with the Heavenly Frosting.

Whiskey Green Tomato Cake

This is a post for #tomatolove.

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This recipe was also shared at Scrumptious SundaysMade it by MondayThursday’s Treasures, Katherine Martinelli’s Tomato Bloghop and Foodie Friends Friday.


Rhubarb Salad with Gorgonzola & Goat Cheese

Rhubarb, Walnut, Goat Cheese & Gorgonzola Salad

Do you ever get bored with your ingredients? I asked my mom for some rhubarb because I wanted to make some rhubarb crisp and try chia seeds in place of the tapioca, but then that just didn’t sound good. I wanted to try something DIFFERENT with my rhubarb.

So the idea struck me … could you put rhubarb in a salad? Why not? I did a quick search on google and found a few different recipes for rhubarb salad. They all involved roasting the rhubarb in sugar or honey. Honey sounded better to me than sugar. I added some sweet onions and gorgonzola to the recipe to kick it up a bit, and a few chrysanthemum leaves to the greens to add that peppery taste and topped it off with a honey lemon ginger vinaigrette.

Rhubarb, Walnut, Goat Cheese & Gorgonzola Salad

Rhubarb Salad with Gorgonzola & Goat Cheese

Adapted from yumsugar. This amount of rhubarb is about right for a big one-person salad or two side salads.

  • Chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup rhubarb, washed and cut into chunks
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • Mixed greens (throw in a few chrysanthemum greens if you happen to have an organic chrysanthemum plant about)
  • Sweet onion, sliced and quartered
  • Gorgonzola & goat cheese crumbles
  • Honey Lemon Ginger Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Spray a small baking sheet with cooking spray. Set the walnuts on the tray and toast in the oven on the bottom rack at 400 for about 5 minutes … or until they are fragrant and slightly browned. Watch them carefully so they don’t burn. Remove the walnuts from the baking sheet.

Mix the rhubarb with the honey and place it on the baking sheet. Bake at 450 on the top rack for about 5 minutes or until the rhubarb is just beginning to soften. Let the rhubarb sit for a few minutes in the fridge to cool.

Once the rhubarb has cooled a bit, fill your bowl most of the way with mixed greens, toss in the sweet onion and rhubarb, sprinkle with the cheeses and toasted walnuts and drizzle with the vinaigrette.

Rhubarb, Walnut, Goat Cheese & Gorgonzola Salad

Honey Lemon Ginger White Wine Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • Juice of 1/4 of a lemon
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 Tablespoons spicy brown mustard
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped fine
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Mix everything except the olive oil together in a bowl till well mixed. While whisking, slowly pour the olive oil into the dressing in a small stream. Keep whisking until the olive oil is well mixed into the dressing. Refrigerate any leftover dressing in an airtight container. Before use, take it out of the fridge for a few minutes to let the olive oil “melt” again (it will solidify in the fridge) and shake well.

This recipe was shared at Newlyweds Recipe LinkyFit & Fabulous Fridays and Summer Salad Sundays.


Walnut Date Nasturtium Salad

with Gorgonzola cheese, sweet onions and a Honey Lemon Ginger White Wine Vinaigrette

Walnut Date Nasturtium Salad with Sweet Onions and Gorgonzola Cheese

I am totally enthralled with edible flowers … so I planted some nasturtiums this year. I soaked the seeds overnight, planted them, watered them, waited. And waited. Watered some more. Waited. Weeks passed and none of them grew. I was so disappointed … but I took the pots and planted other things.

And then one day I noticed something growing in with my celery plant. It didn’t look like a weed to me so I let it grow … and grow … and it produced a flower. A brilliant red flower.  There was a little tickle of recognition in the back of my mind, but I had never seen a red nasturtium before so I couldn’t quite figure out what this gorgeous flower was. I took a picture of it and posted it on facebook and asked my friends what it was. I was almost embarrassed when my friends pointed out to me that it was a nasturtium. Silly me! So one of my little seedlings DID grow … she just took her time doing it.

My Surprise Nasturtium

My daughter asked if we were going to eat it, but I just couldn’t bring myself to eat this lone pretty flower. I let it stay there on the plant. However, my sweet little plant heard my silent wish and made me more flowers. A bunch of them. Enough for a salad. I didn’t act quick enough and the heat killed several of them off, but still I collected enough for one salad. Maybe she’ll make me some more again? I’ll be happy either way. I’m so glad this little plant graced my life with her beauty. Her flowers tasted pretty good too. Slightly peppery, but mildly flavored. The leaves are little more peppery. I only used a few leaves; my sweet plant is just a little one and I want to let her grow. The flowers turned more orange over time.

Walnut Date Nasturtium Salad with Gorgonzola Cheese and Sweet Onions

Walnut Date Nasturtium Salad

  • Mixed greens
  • Toasted walnuts
  • Pitted Dates, sliced
  • Crumbles of Gorgonzola cheese
  • Sweet onion, sliced thin and quartered
  • Several nasturtiums (and toss in a few of the leaves too … why not!)
Fill your salad bowl 3/4 full of greens. Toss on some walnuts, sliced dates, crumbles of gorgonzola, and sliced onion. Tuck in Nasturtium flowers (the whole flower or just the petals, either way … I kept one whole and tossed the petals from the not-as-pretty flowers in there). Drizzle with the honey lemon vinaigrette (recipe below) and serve.
Walnut Date Nasturtium Salad with Honey Lemon Ginger Vinaigrette

Honey Lemon Ginger White Wine Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • Juice of 1/4 of a lemon
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 Tablespoons spicy brown mustard
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped fine
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Mix everything except the olive oil together in a bowl till well mixed. While whisking, slowly pour the olive oil into the dressing in a small stream. Keep whisking until the olive oil is well mixed into the dressing. Refrigerate any leftover dressing in an airtight container. Before use, take it out of the fridge for a few minutes to let the olive oil “melt” again (it will solidify in the fridge) and shake well.

This recipe was shared at Weekend PotluckManic MondaysKatherine Martinelli’s Nut Bloghop and Melt in your Mouth Mondays.


Baked Strawberry Walnut Quinoa Bites

Baked Strawberry Quinoa Walnut Bites

I’ve been intrigued with the idea of baking with quinoa for a while now, so when I stumbled across this pretty muffin recipe from Poor Girl Eats Well, I really wanted to try it. They turned out a little differently what I expected, though, which is why I’m not calling them muffins. When I think of muffins, I think of something light, moist and cakey. These are not light and cakey. They are more dense, with a little crunch from the walnuts. I had my friend try them and she said they tasted like those fruit bars that you buy.

Anyway, they do have a lovely sweet vanilla taste, with juicy berries … and the quinoa adds a lot of fiber and protein, so that makes these little bites a really good breakfast … or a great snack to keep you going … especially before or after a workout.

Baked Strawberry Quinoa Walnut Bites

Baked Strawberry Walnut Quinoa Bites

Recipe from Poor Girl Eats Well. I made 6 larger “muffins” and about 20 mini-muffin-sized bites.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 medium overripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour (or quinoa flour, if you can find it)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup chopped fresh strawberries (I actually used part strawberries, part blueberries)
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, loosely chopped
  • several strawberries, thinly sliced (for the top)

Directions
1.  Preheat the oven to 375°.  Spray a muffin or mini-muffin tin with cooking spray or use muffin liners.  In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, butter, eggs, bananas & vanilla.  Mix in the dry ingredients, stirring together until everything is well blended.

2.  Add the quinoa and mix well.  Fold the chopped strawberries (and/or blueberries) into the batter.  Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups.  Place one strawberry slice on top of each lil bite, and bake for about 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

3.  Remove from oven and cool for a couple of minutes.  Remove the bites from the pan and cool on a rack for about 10 minutes. Store any leftovers in the fridge.

Baked Strawberry Quinoa Walnut Bites

This recipe was shared at Everyday Mom’s Meals and Trick or Treat Tuesdays.


Chive Flower, Mushroom, White Bean & Walnut Salad

Chive Flower, Mushroom, White Bean & Walnut Salad

My chives are growing like crazy right now and they’re in full bloom with big, beautiful purple flowers. They’ve taken over a big chunk of my raised bed already … Mom warned me that they would, but I’ve never had anything grow like that here . Perhaps it’s because the deer eat everything … except for the daffodils and the chives.

Their loss! I love them. Besides that they are gorgeous, I think chives taste marvelous. And chive flowers even moreso. While chives add sort of a subtle onion taste to a dish, chive flowers are more intense, little bursts of flavor.

And Dad gave me some beautiful fresh shelf mushrooms he found … I thought they’d go perfect with the chive flowers.

Chive flower, mushroom, white bean and walnut salad

Chive Flower, Mushroom, White Bean & Walnut Salad

  • Mixed greens
  • Cooked white beans
  • Fresh mushrooms, sliced or torn into chunks
  • Fresh cut “shards” of parmesan cheese (thinly cut slices)
  • Toasted walnuts
  • Chive flowers
  • Avocado ranch salad dressing (recipe here)

Fill your bowl most of the way with greens, then toss on some beans, fresh mushrooms, parmesan, and walnuts. Tuck in the chive flowers and drizzle with avocado ranch.

Before you eat the salad, make sure you take a moment to savor the beauty of these flowers. Then dive into the taste of them … You might want to pull them apart and scatter them all over your salad.

Chive flower, mushroom, white bean and walnut salad

This recipe was shared at  Tastetastic ThursdaysFit & Fabulous Fridays, Weekend Potluck, and Manic Mondays.


Chocolate Dessert Crostini with Banana & Walnut

Chocolate Dessert Crostini with Banana and Toasted Walnuts

I was in dire need of some sumptuous chocolate today … and didn’t have much time … so I whipped up some chocolate crostini  … so yes I confess, I did just make up a fancy name for “chocolate ganache frosting on toast” … but we’re talking about that dreamy whipped chocolate ganache I made for my daughter’s cake … oh my it is so good. Rich, decadent, creamy chocolate taste. And it’s really pretty healthy when you think about it … there are only 2 tablespoons of butter in the whole recipe. And a whole bunch of egg whites. Excellent source of protein!

You see, there was some ganache left after I frosted the cake and I just couldn’t let it go to waste … and this ganache really does elevate toast to fancy dessert status. Besides, having it on toast has to be healthier than cake, right? I added a little extra healthy goodness by adding bananas and walnuts. That counts, right?

Okay, so it’s not total health food, but it’s not THAT bad for you. And it satisfied my chocolate craving. That’s the important part. Because who knows what I would have eaten if I hadn’t made that nasty craving go away … see that’s the trick to staying skinny. Not avoiding your cravings, but satisfying them without over-indulging. To satisfy a craving, you need something that TASTES totally decadent. (It doesn’t have to actually BE totally decadent, but it has to TASTE totally decadent.) Don’t settle for anything less. That cheap chocolate will just leave you longing for more. And you know where THAT goes …

Chocolate Dessert Crostini with Banana and Toasted Walnuts

Chocolate Dessert Crostini with Banana and Toasted Walnuts

  • French bread, sliced thin
  • Whipped Chocolate Ganache (recipe here)
  • Banana slices
  • Toasted walnuts

Toast the french bread lightly, and spread each little toast with a good thick layer of ganache. Top with banana slices and a few toasted walnuts. Serve immediately. Seriously, this is so simple, but it works! The crunchy toast with the creamy decadent chocolate and then the sweet bananas and toasty walnuts on top … mmmm.

Chocolate Dessert Crostini with Banana and Toasted Walnuts

I really need to ditch the purple nail polish from the birthday party sleepover … it’s so distracting …

This recipe was shared at Sweet & Simple Sundays and Newlyweds Recipe Linky.


Rainbow Symphony Fruit Salad with Walnuts & Feta

on Wild Greens with a Honey Citrus Poppyseed Dressing

Rainbow Fruit Salad on Wild Greens with Toasted Walnuts & Feta Cheese

We made rainbow fruit kebabs for my daughter’s birthday party. Both of her parties, in fact (one for her school friends, one for her dance friends). The second party was smaller, so now my fridge is filled with fruit. Fruit in literally all the colors of the rainbow.

That just screams for a salad, doesn’t it?

Rainbow Fruit Salad on Wild Greens with Toasted Walnuts & Feta Cheese

Now, you could arrange all these pretty fruits over the greens in the shape of a rainbow I suppose. I just wanted a sprinkle of fruit amongst my greens, though. And a crunchy nut flavor with some salty, creamy cheese. The best part of this salad, I think, was each time I encountered a new fruit, the taste was a little different. But the greens, the dressing, the cheese and the walnuts held it all together so it was a constant symphony of taste with changing fruit highlights. Sort of like different singers singing the same melody, or different instruments playing the same tune. It felt a little like listening to a really good orchestra playing a beautiful piece of music … like being at the Symphony.

Rainbow Fruit Salad on Wild Greens with Toasted Walnuts & Feta Cheese

Rainbow Symphony Fruit Salad on Wild Greens

with Toasted Walnuts & Feta Cheese

  • Greens of your choice (I used dandelion greens.)
  • Fresh blueberries
  • Honeydew melon
  • Chopped fresh pineapple
  • Fresh orange, peeled and cut into chunks
  • Fresh strawberries
  • Toasted walnuts
  • Feta cheese

Fill your salad bowl most of the way with greens. Tuck the fruits in amongst the greens, sprinkle with a few toasted walnuts and a bit of crumbled feta cheese. Drizzle with Honey Citrus Poppyseed Dressing.

Honey Citrus Poppyseed Dressing

Okay this isn’t really a NEW salad dressing recipe … it’s a salad dressing transformation. I wanted that honey lemon, but I also wanted a bit of creaminess, a bit more sweet citrus taste, and some poppyseeds, so I just added them. I think you could get away with using the Honey Lemon Ginger White Wine Vinaigrette as is. Or you could go a different direction and just add some honey to the orange juice, yogurt and poppyseeds.

Mix all ingredients and drizzle over the salad.

Enjoy the symphony.

Rainbow Symphony Fruit Salad on Wild Greens with Toasted Walnuts and Feta Cheese

This recipe was shared at Mealtime MondaysTotally Tasty TuesdaysTrick or Treat Tuesdays, and Tastetastic Thursdays.


Grapefruit & Sweet Toasted Walnut Salad

with Ginger Grapefruit Vinaigrette

Grapefruit & Sweet Toasted Walnut Salad with Ginger Grapefruit Vinaigrette

I don’t know why, but the past two days, all I have wanted to eat was this salad. I need to make some soup, but I don’t really care … all I want is this green salad with pink, juicy grapefruit chunks and toasted sweet walnuts and this luscious vinaigrette. I could drown myself in it …

The first time I made it, I didn’t have any greens, so I had to go foraging in my lawn and what little is growing in my garden so far. I added the petals from a couple chrysanthemums too … since I was picking things …

The mums were lovely, but I completely forgot them the second time around. Because this time I had a big tub of organic spinach I found at the grocery store, so I didn’t have to go outside picking anything. And because the second time my son joined in in “helping” me prepare the grapefruit and before I knew it, we’d gone through 3 grapefruit  and only one was left for my salad … because he pilfered all the rest … not that I mind … I love it when he revels in eating something healthy.

It reminded me of a different time and a different place when we used to have a grapefruit tree, so we would have “grapefruit festivals” … the kids and I would sit at the table and eat and eat and eat grapefruit to our heart’s content … and if we wanted more, we just ran out to the tree and picked a few more. This went on until we had each eaten 3 or 4 grapefruit. I’m not really sure how many we actually ate … it just seemed like the feasting went on and on and on. There was always a huge pile of rinds when we were done.

Grapefruit & Sweet Toasted Walnut Salad with Ginger Grapefruit Vinaigrette

Grapefruit & Sweet Toasted Walnut Salad

  • Mixed greens or spinach
  • Grapefruit
  • Walnut pieces (just a couple tablespoons per serving)
  • Powdered sugar (maybe 1/3 cup?)
  • Cinnamon (not sure how much I used … 1/2 teaspoon? maybe more?)
  • Chrysanthemum petals (or fresh mint leaves … or you could just leave these out)
  • Ginger Grapefruit Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Directions:

  1. Peel the grapefruit and section it like you would an orange, then pull off all the membrane. If you have any difficulty doing this with your fingers, use a knife. Make sure you have extra grapefruit if you have any others around that like to “help”.
  2. Take the powdered sugar and mix it with some cinnamon (and maybe a bit of powdered ginger? of course this occurred to me AFTER we’ve eaten all the grapefruit in the house!), then dump your walnut pieces in. Use a colander or sifter to separate the nuts from the powdered sugar. Reserve the cinnamon sugar mixture for next time (or for powdering a dessert).
  3. Put the nuts on a cooking sheet sprayed with cooking spray and bake for about 5 minutes at 350 degrees or until the nuts are brown on top.
  4. In the meantime, put a big bunch of greens in the salad bowl and hide the grapefruit sections amongst the greens.
  5. Sprinkle with the sweet toasted nuts and chrysanthemum petals (if you have them), then drizzle with a bit of the ginger grapefruit vinaigrette.

Ginger Grapefruit Vinaigrette

This makes a small amount, but you really don’t need much on the salad because it has a lot of flavor (but then, I’m a “light on the dressing” kind of person). If you want extra for future salads, double the recipe!

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 Tablespoon ginger sugar (the sugar that falls from making candied ginger … or 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger)
  • 1 Tablespoon jam (I used mixed berry jam, but I think you could use whatever jam suits you)
  • 1/2 Tablespoon fancy prepared mustard (I used garlic peppercorn mustard, but Dijon would also be fine.)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil

In a bowl, mix all the ingredients except the oil until everything is well blended. In a thin stream, add the olive oil, whisking the dressing till the oil is incorporated into the dressing.

Store any extra salad dressing in the fridge … let warm slightly for just a few minutes at room temperature to warm the olive oil and shake well before using.

Grapefruit & Sweet Toasted Walnut Salad with Ginger Grapefruit Vinaigrette

This recipe was shared at Tastetastic ThursdaysThursday’s Treasures, Full Plate ThursdaysWeekend Potluck, and Meatless Mondays.


Pineapple Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese & Walnuts

and a minted honey lime yogurt dressing

Pineapple Arugula Salad with Walnuts & Goat Cheese

This is a super simple salad, but these flavors together are just divine!

Pineapple Arugula Salad with Toasted Walnuts & Goat Cheese

  • Spinach Arugula Mix
  • Fresh pineapple chunks
  • Goat cheese crumbles
  • Walnuts, toasted

Cover the plate/bowl with spinach & arugula. Arrange the other ingredients on top and drizzle with the honey lime yogurt dressing.

Pineapple Arugula Salad with Walnuts & Goat Cheese

Minted Honey Lime Yogurt Salad Dressing

  • 1/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried mint leaves (or if you have fresh, even better!)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
  • Juice and zest from 1/2 a lime
Whisk together all ingredients and drizzle over the salad. I was making this dressing just for me so I made a small amount … if you’re making salad for multiple people, you probably want to double (or triple or quadruple) the recipe.

Pineapple Arugula Salad with Walnuts & Goat Cheese

This post is a #greenslove post, powered by Linky Tools.

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This recipe was shared at Midnight Maniac Meatless MondaysTotally Tasty Tuesdays, Midweek Fiesta, and Tastetastic/It’s a Keeper Thursdays, Fit & Fabulous FridaysThese Chicks Cooked Whole Foods Recipe Swap and Nutritious & Delicious Potluck Party.


Kumquat Basil Walnut Quick Bread

Kumquat Basil Walnut Tea Bread

This is another great find in my quest for kumquat recipes … I had already tried a yeasted bread, but then also I wanted to try a quickbread. This one turned out so yummy it’s almost gone already. My friend came over last night because she wants help with setting up a food blog and she brought along her little boy who is just a toddler. We were looking for a little snack to feed him and this bread was right there. I cut him a slice, which he scarfed down immediately. As we were distracted on the computer, he went over and grabbed my glass loaf pan off the counter and came walking towards us saying “Toast!” … it was so cute! (aside from the fact that I totally panicked that he would drop the pan and it would shatter and hurt the little guy) … so yes, he got another slice. And so did his mom.

I think I am going to have to make another loaf of this “toast” … I just love the pretty orange specks of color in it, the tang of the citrus, and the crunch of the toasted walnuts.

Kumquat Basil Walnut Quick Bread

Kumquat Basil Walnut Quick Bread

Adapted from Kumquat Growers.

I wanted to add some spices to the basic recipe and was having a hard time deciding which spices I wanted … I opted for fresh basil just for something different, and I like the subtle hint of basil, but I am thinking next time I will try switching out the basil for some ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, a bit of cardamom, some vanilla and maybe some cloves.

  • 2/3 cup 1 % or skim milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup flaxmeal
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup pureed kumquats
  • A small handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped fine (or pureed with the kumquats)
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • About 1 Tablespoon raw sugar for the top

Directions:

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine milk, eggs and oil.
  2. Add the dry ingredients and stir until well mixed.
  3. Fold in the pureed kumquats, basil and nuts.
  4. Pour the batter into a  8″ x 4″ x 2″ loaf pan and sprinkle the top with raw sugar.
  5. Bake in a greased in 350 degree oven for 50-60 minutes or until a knife or toothpick inserted comes out clean. (I had to cook it for about 15 – 20 minutes longer than that.)
  6. Cool and remove from pan.

Kumquat Basil Walnut Quickbread

This recipe was shared at Crazy Sweet TuesdayCast Party Wednesday, and These Chicks Cooked.


Blues n Beef Salad with Pear & Pomegranate

And a kickin’ blue cheese yogurt dressing

Blues n Beef Salad with Pear & Pomegranate

This was a salad-scape I threw together on Friday for lunch. I had some steak from a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich I bought that was way too big for me, so I was looking for things to go with the extra meat I pilfered from the leftover sandwich. Blue cheese, definitely, and mushrooms and onions … oh and some toasted nuts for crunch. A spicy blue cheese dressing, yes. But then it needed a little something sweet and juicy to counterpoint all the intense meat and cheese flavors. I had some of the pear and pomegranate seeds left from the pear crostini — that was just the thing.

Make the dressing first.

Kickin Blue Cheese Yogurt Salad Dressing

  • 1/4 cup plain lowfat yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons blue cheese crumbles

Mix all ingredients together and let sit to blend the flavors while you prepare the salad.

Blues n Beef Salad with Pear & Pomegranate Seeds

Blues n Beef Salad with Pear & Pomegranate Seeds

  • Mixed greens
  • Steak or Roast beef, thinly sliced and warm
  • Sliced mushrooms
  • Sliced red onions
  • Toasted walnuts
  • Blue cheese crumbles
  • Hunks of ripe red pear
  • Pomegranate seeds

Fill the bowl 3/4 full of greens. Top with the rest of the ingredients as you like. Drizzle with the dressing and enjoy.

Blues n Beef Salad with Pear & Pomegranate

This recipe was shared at Talent Show TuesdayTotally Tasty Tuesdays, and Newlyweds Recipe Linky.


Rosemary Pear Crostini with Walnuts & Pomegranate

and three cheeses: Gouda, Blue, and Cream Cheese

Rosemary Pear Crostini with Walnuts, Pomegranates & Three Cheeses

I love the word “crostini” … it sounds so fancy. Like you are at a posh dinner party where everyone is wearing tuxedos or dinner gowns with long white gloves, and sipping champagne. It’s sophisticated.

I have been working on this crostini for days, playing the name over and over in my head, thinking forward to the time when I will have my house in order enough to have a REAL party. Last night I made this crostini for the 2nd time, trying to perfect this recipe, and my daughter asked me what I was making. When I said “crostini”, she asked “what’s that?” … and basically my answer was “it’s a fancy little toast.”

You see, when you add some lovely fruit and funky cheeses and vinegar and toasted walnuts, well, then you have transported toast way beyond your simple breakfast or garlic toast. It is simply sublime. It’s party-worthy. It’s get-all-dressed-up-and-get-the-good-dishes-and-real-napkins-out worthy.

Rosemary Pear Crostini with Walnuts, Pomegranates & Three Cheeses

Rosemary Pear Crostini with Walnuts, Pomegranate Seeds, & Three Cheeses

I didn’t include amounts on most of the ingredients, because it depends on how many you want to make. I was making them as a snack for myself, so I didn’t need very much, but if you’re making them for a party, well, then, you’re going to need more toast, and pear, and cheese and stuff …

  • 3 oz. light cream cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons loose blue cheese crumbles
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • Thinly sliced crusty french bread or baguette, toasted
  • Habanero pepper jelly (or if you don’t like hot peppers, try another jam or jelly)
  • Vinaigrette salad dressing (I used my maple cranberry vinaigrette from this post, but I think just about any vinaigrette would work)
  • If you like: Paper-thin sliced prosciutto (I tried it both with and without prosciutto and honestly, I like it both ways)
  • Fresh pear slices
  • Slices of gouda cheese
  • Toasted walnuts
  • Pomegranate seeds

Directions:

  1. First, mix the cream cheese, blue cheese crumbles, and rosemary in a small bowl. Set aside while you prepare the other things.
  2. Toast the bread and then spread it with a very thin layer of pepper jelly, then brush the little toasts with a low-fat vinaigrette salad dressing — or if you prefer, just a balsamic (or your favorite flavor of) vinegar.
  3. Spread a layer of the cream cheese mixture over the jelly. It will be a little messy, but it’s ok.
  4. Set the little toasts on a baking sheet.
  5. If you are using proscuitto, add a thin slice of that.
  6. Now arrange pear slices on top to cover the little toasts, then some slices of gouda cheese.
  7. Bake or broil the toasts until the cheese is melted and a little bubbly.
  8. Immediately top with the walnuts and pomegranate seeds, pressing them into the melted cheese to help the little things to stick to the top of the crostini.
  9. Serve immediately, garnished with sprigs of fresh rosemary and extra pomegranate seeds and a nice glass of wine.

Rosemary Pear Crostini with Walnuts, Pomegranate, and Three Cheeses

By the way, my daughter calls the pomegranate seeds her “beauty seeds” … and they are terrifically good for you, so I am sure they make you beautiful inside and out … and besides they look beautiful, so make sure to eat plenty of them with your crostini.

This recipe was shared with Wonka WednesdaysNewlyweds Recipe LinkyMidweek Fiesta, Fabulous Friday and Foodie Friday.


Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Apricot Energy Balls

Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Apricot Energy Balls

The idea for these has been floating around in my head for weeks … I wanted to make a little ball of goodness that would be great for quick energy on the go, something with protein and fruit and a few carbs so it would give my body lots of the things it needs before or after a good workout.

And then of course I had to dip it in chocolate … for all those good antioxidants, right?  … it makes me think of a little thing my friend SueAnn Gleason of Chocolate for Breakfast says, “Dip it in chocolate … it’ll be fine.”

Oh yes, these are fine. I think I’m addicted …

Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Apricot Energy Balls

Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Apricot Energy Balls

  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped roughly
  • 1 cup dried apricots, chopped into small bits
  • 1 cup finely ground graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 Tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup coffee liqueur (Kahlua)
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 5 to 6 ounces light cream cheese (I think fat-free cream cheese would work too, if you want to decrease the fat content)
  • A good quality dark chocolate bar or dark chocolate chips, for dipping

Directions:

  1. Mix all the ingredients except the chocolate until everything is well mixed. They might fight you a little, but eventually the mixture will become a sort of thick paste that you can form into balls.
  2. Form balls and place them on a cookie sheet or platter. Refrigerate for a couple hours or until firm.
  3. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or double boiler. Dip the balls in chocolate and place them on waxed paper. Let them sit until the chocolate sets up. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. If they last that long …

Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Apricot Energy Balls

This recipe was shared on Full Plate ThursdaysFoodie FridaysKatherine Martinelli’s DIY blog hop, and Everyday Mom’s Meals.


Sweet Avocado Cheesecake with Pomegranates & Walnut Crust

Sweet Avocado Cheesecake with Walnut Crust and Pomegranate Seeds

My sister had just had a baby … she was in the hospital recovering and I get a text message from her at 5:38 am the next morning:

“For ur blog: avocado cheesecake. Saw in magazine. Looked wonderful.”

I know they keep you awake at ungodly hours in the hospital, but at 5:38 am she is thinking about cheesecake?

I set down my phone and went back to sleep … But when I woke up, I realized that my baby sister just had a baby … and she wants cheesecake … so I did what any good sister does … I drove to see her this weekend and made her cheesecake.

Actually, I didn’t make the cheesecake. I had several helpers. Baby’s older brother and sisters were lining up chairs in the kitchen to help me make it. There was barely room for me!

Our pretty green cheesecake turned out kind of messy and soft … it took a long time to set up and we had a hard time waiting for it. I think it didn’t set quite firmly enough because I didn’t get all the gelatin in there. I noticed it later when I was cleaning up … some of the gelatin got stuck in the spoon, some had stuck in the bowl I had mixed it in. If you make this cheesecake, make sure you put all the gelatin in, or if you can’t quite get it all out of the bowl, then cut back on the amount of milk. It doesn’t need to be QUITE that soft.

If you were worried about putting avocado in cheesecake, you really needn’t have bothered. The avocado lends such a lovely creamy texture. It might sound a little odd, but when you taste it, you will think it’s marvelous. It is creamy and sweet and delicious.

Sweet Avocado Cheesecake with Walnut Crust and Pomegranate Seeds

Sweet Avocado Cheesecake with Pomegranates & Walnut Crust

Adapted from The Amazing Avocado

Crust:

  • 3/4 cup ground walnuts
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoons light butter

Filling:

  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  •  1 1/2 cups skim milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 fully ripened Avocados
  • 4 ounces fat-free cream cheese
  • 4 ounces light cream cheese
  • 1/8 cup lime juice
Topping: pomegranate seeds and chopped mango — or a raspberry sauce would be lovely with it too

Directions:

Heat oven to 350°F.  In food processor, pulse walnuts until finely ground. Add graham cracker crumbs and sugar; pulse just until combined. Add butter and water; pulse until ingredients are thoroughly combined and resemble wet sand. Press into bottom of an 8 1/2-inch springform pan. I found I had plenty of crust mixture to fill two smaller pans: a medium sized (7 1/2 inch?) and a little 5-inch springform pan.

Walnut Graham Cracker Crust

Bake 20 minutes; cool completely.

I used the larger of the two pans for this cheesecake … and saved the little one for another purpose.

Now for the sweet avocado cheesecake filling:

  1. In a measuring cup or small bowl, combine gelatin with 2 tablespoons water; let stand for 5 minutes.
  2. In a saucepan, heat the milk, 1/2 cup sugar, and vanilla until good and hot. Add gelatin; simmer until gelatin has completely dissolved, about 1 minute.
  3. In food processor or blender, combine avocados, cream cheese, lime juice and milk mixture until smooth.
  4. Pour into baked crust (it was enough to fill a 7 1/2 inch pan–if you want a larger cheesecake, you may want to make more filling); cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or until set. (for us it took much longer than 2 hours … really it wasn’t ready till the next morning …)
  5. Remove side of pan; cut cheesecake into 10 slices. Serve with pomegranate seeds and chopped mangoes or drizzle with raspberry sauce, if desired.

Cover and refrigerate any leftovers. The top will likely discolor a bit from the avocado. Don’t get too worried about that … it’s normal and won’t affect the flavor.
Sweet Avocado Cheesecake with Walnut Crust

This recipe was shared at Trick or Treat TuesdaysKatherine Martinelli’s Mango Bloghop and It’s a Keeper Thursdays.


Sweet & Savory Stuffed Holiday Wreaths

Holiday Apple and Cranberry Stuffed Bread Wreath

These pretty wreaths of bread were haunting me last night … I just had to make bread wreaths for our lunch today.

Sweet and Savory Stuffed Holiday Wreaths

Dough recipe from Simply Gourmet Photography who found it on allrecipes.com (submitted by Linda Wilson)

Wreath-shaping instructions from Discovering Sourdough

Dough Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
Fillings: ham and shredded cheese, sweet apple-cranberry stuffing

Directions:

Put all dough ingredients in a bread machine and set on the dough cycle. (If you don’t have a bread machine, Simply Gourmet Photography has instructions for making them by hand.) When the dough is done, cut it in half. Roll each half into a large circle.

Ham and Cheese Stuffed Bread Wreath

Slide the dough circle onto a large baking sheet or pizza pan sprayed with cooking spray. Mark a circle in the center of the circle with a small bowl, but do not cut through the dough.

Ham and Cheese Stuffed Bread Wreath: mark a circle in the dough

Cut the star-shape in the center of the dough circle like this:

Ham and Cheese Stuffed Bread Wreath: cut a "star" in the middle of the dough

Now, put your stuffing in a ring around the dough. For this one, I used a bunch of chopped cooked ham and shredded sharp cheddar and mozzarella cheese. I was trying to make a simple filling that my kids would eat … I would have liked to add onion and chopped bell pepper and perhaps even a nice spicy mustard sauce under the ham, but I kept it simple for the kids.

Ham and Cheese Stuffed Bread Wreath: add the filling

Now, fold in the outer edge over the filling:

Ham and Cheese Stuffed Bread Wreath: fold over the edges of the dough over the filling

and then take the points of the “star” and pull them to the edge. Tuck the ends underneath the edge to hold them in place.

Ham and Cheese Stuffed Bread Wreath: pull the points of the "star" out to the edge and tuck the ends of the dough underneath

My daughter helped with this part:

Ham and Cheese Stuffed Bread Wreath: fold over the edges of the dough over the filling

The other one we stuffed with apple cranberry stuffing and toasted walnuts. I think it would be better with a little caramel sauce under the apple cranberry stuffing.

Apple & cranberry stuffed breath wreath

Let the loaves rise in a warm place for about an hour or until they are good and puffy, then bake at 400F for 20 minutes covered with a piece of aluminum foil. Take the foil off after 20 minutes and then bake another 5 – 10 minutes.

Sweet Apple Cranberry Stuffing

  • 1/2 cup chopped dates
  • About 2 cups of peeled chopped apples
  • 1 Tablespoon mixed berry  jam
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 cup cranberries, halved
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Put all ingredients in a saucepan and cook for 5 – 10 minutes over medium high heat until the apples are crisp-tender.

We had the ham-and-cheese stuffed wreath for lunch, with the apple-cranberry one for dessert.

Ham and Cheese Stuffed Bread Wreath

This recipe was shared at Melt in your Mouth MondaysWonka Wednesdays and Full Plate Thursdays.


Pomegranate Walnut Salad with Maple Cranberry Vinaigrette

Pomegranate Walnut Salad with dried cranberries, apricots, mixed cheeses and Maple Cranberry Vinaigrette

Pomegranates are so beautiful. I’ve been entranced with them since I studied Greek mythology way back in junior high school.

Then when we lived in California, our neighbors had a pomegranate tree … one long branch of the tree stretched into our yard and that one branch always gave us plenty of pomegranates. Not that it really mattered, because the neighbors let us go into their yard and pick pomegranates whenever we wanted. My kids used to sell pomegranates like some kids sell lemonade. The neighbors loved it.

When you open up a pomegranate, it is full of all these gorgeous little jewels; it looks like a treasure chest to me. And the taste of the little jewels when you bite into one … oh my.

If you want to make this salad, you will first need to make the Cranberry Raspberry Vinegar, and that takes about a week … just giving you fair warning. You could do some clever substitutions, perhaps, but the jewel-toned vinegar with the little pomegranate jewels in the salad is really quite nice.

Pomegranate Walnut Salad with Mixed Cheeses and Maple Cranberry Vinaigrette

Pomegranate Walnut Salad with Maple Cranberry Vinaigrette

with Dried Cranberries, Apricots and Mixed Cheeses

  • Organic Herb Mix (or mixed greens)
  • Pomegranate Seeds
  • Shards of Parmesan Cheese (cut very thin slices off the edge of a hunk of parmesan)
  • Toasted Walnuts, chopped roughly
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Chopped dried Apricots
  • Blue cheese crumbles

First make the dressing and let it set to mix the flavors while you prepare the salad.

Fill the salad bowl 3/4 full with the organic herb mix, and sprinkle with remaining ingredients as you please. Drizzle with Maple Cranberry Vinaigrette.

Maple Cranberry Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

  • 3/4 cup cranberry raspberry vinegar (recipe here)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon strawberry or raspberry jam
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon, Spicy Brown or other fancy mustard (I used garlic peppercorn mustard)
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mustard seed
  • A couple of basil leaves, a small sprig of rosemary, and several sprigs of fresh dill weed

Mix all ingredients together in a handi chopper and whir until the herbs and garlic are well chopped and everything is mixed well. Refrigerate any of the remaining dressing.

Pomegranate Walnut Salad with dried cranberries, apricots, mixed cheeses and Maple Cranberry Vinaigrette

This recipe was shared at Midnight Maniac Meatless MondaysTotally Tasty Tuesdays, and Full Plate Thursdays.


Cranberry Nut Crunch Popcorn

Cranberry Nut Crunch Popcorn

I love making food gifts for the holidays and since popcorn, nuts and berries are three of my favorite foods, it just seems natural to combine them into something gift-able.

I think I might keep this one for myself, though. It’s so yummy.

Cranberry Nut Crunch Popcorn

Cranberry Nut Crunch Popcorn

  • 10 – 12 cups of popped plain popcorn
  • 2 cups of nuts (I used 1 cup of almonds, 1 cup of walnuts)
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. nutmeg
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. cranberry-apple juice concentrate
  • 2 T. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 T. ginger sugar (This is from my candied ginger recipe … if you don’t have any ginger sugar, just use 1/4 t. ginger in its place)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (Craisins … I found some that are sweetened with pomegranate juice! Isn’t that cool?)

Directions:

  1. Pop the popcorn and mix it with the nuts. Lay the popcorn/nut mixture on a large flat pan and set aside.
  2. Mix the spices, sugar, juice concentrate and oil in a small bowl till the brown sugar is dissolved and everything is well mixed.
  3. With a spoon, drizzle the spice/juice mixture over the popcorn and nuts.
  4. Bake at 300 degrees F. for 45 minutes to an hour or so, stirring every 15 minutes, until the popcorn and nuts are crunchy, not soggy.
  5. Stir in 1 cup of dried cranberries. I am thinking some chunks of candied ginger or pretzels would also be good in the mix.
  6. Store in an airtight container, like a jar or a pretty tin.

Cranberry Nut Crunch Popcorn

This recipe was shared at Totally Tasty Tuesdays, Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, the Newlyweds Recipe LinkyWonka Wednesdays, and EveryDay Mom’s Meals.


Michael’s Maple Walnut Cranberry Sauce

Michael's Maple Walnut Cranberry Sauce

I remember those awful jellied cans of cranberry sauce would find their way to our Thanksgiving table sometimes in my childhood, and I remember loving the sweet tart taste of the cranberries, but the jellied stuff was just so ugly and weird. I think we all eventually decided we just don’t like cranberry sauce because we don’t usually have cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving anymore.

But this year will be different. I remembered this cranberry sauce that Michael, an old boyfriend of mine, made one year when I lived far from my family. We were having Thanksgiving dinner in his apartment with his roommate. Michael worked at a French restaurant and was a total foodie. I told him I didn’t like cranberry sauce, but he said you will like THIS cranberry sauce. And I loved it.

So this year, I am making Michael’s maple cranberry sauce. He didn’t give me his recipe, but I think this is pretty close. I think my family will like THIS cranberry sauce.

Actually I hope they don’t like it TOO much because I saw a gorgeous and super simple appetizer idea made with cranberry sauce that I want to try: Just take a block of (light) cream cheese, put it on a fancy dish, and pour cranberry sauce over it. Serve with crackers. I have decided I will stir in a few chopped jalapenos into the sauce before I pour it over the cream cheese to give it a little kick. I have big plans for this cranberry sauce.

Michael's Maple Walnut Cranberry Sauce

Michael’s Maple Cranberry Sauce with Toasted Walnuts

Adapted from About.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 (12 ounces) package fresh cranberries, washed and picked over
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2 cup red Zinfandel or other dry red wine (I used some of my dad’s California Trinity Red wine.)
  • 2 teaspoons ginger sugar (the reserved sugar from making candied ginger) or 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup walnut halves, coarsely chopped

Directions:

  1. Place cranberries, maple syrup, juice, wine, and ginger sugar in a heavy saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and cook for 10 minutes, until cranberries begin to pop.
  3. Skim off any foam that rises to the top.
  4. Remove from heat and gently smash a bit to open the cranberries, but do not mash.
  5. Toast the walnuts by spreading them in a single layer on a baking sheet and baking for about 5 minutes at 300 F. or until they are just lightly browned and you can smell the scent of the walnuts.
  6. Stir in walnuts and vanilla. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until ready to serve.

Maple Walnut Cranberry Sauce

Look at that gorgeous color! (And yes, in case you were wondering, that IS snow on the table. We had our first snow last night.)

This recipe was shared at Melt in your Mouth Mondays.


Waffle-Berry Chocolate Chip Pudding

Waffle-Berry Chocolate Chip Pudding

How do you transform an unwanted breakfast food into a chocolate raspberry heaven?

I woke up today with some stale waffles staring at me as I walked into the kitchen. My kids made waffles yesterday and didn’t eat them all and in the chaos that is our lives the waffles never got put away. Not that they would get eaten if they had. Yes, I know you can freeze them and reheat, but my picky kids only like waffles when they are hot off the waffle iron. So I never quite know what to do with those leftover waffles. Inevitably they get tossed into the compost pile when they turn old.6

Today these poor,sad waffles were just begging me to DO something with them.

Hmmm … Waffles. Raspberries. Mulberries. Chocolate. Sugared walnuts. And a bit of raspberry liqueur … yes, this is going to be good.

Waffle-Berry Chocolate Chip Pudding

Waffle-Berry Chocolate Chip Pudding

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 – 3 waffles (actually you could use bread instead … anything bread-like will do), torn or cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 c. milk or fat free half and half — today I used fat free half and half because I had some in my fridge that needed to get used. I think you could also use soy milk or almond milk or whatever kind fits your diet.
  • 1 T. butter, melted (also optional–I really think you could leave this out altogether)
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 4 eggs (can substitute eggbeaters or use 2 egg whites to sub for a whole egg)
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. raspberry liqueur (optional–you can substitute juice if you like)
  • 3 – 4 cups of berries, fresh or frozen. I used a mix of frozen raspberries and mulberries (about half of each)
  • About 1/2 c. good quality chocolate chips
  • 1 -2 T. raw (turbinado) sugar
  • Plain or sugar-roasted walnuts or pecans (I used the rest of the sweet spicy nuts I had made for the pear salad).

Directions:

  1. Toast the waffle chunks by placing them on a baking sheet spritzed with cooking spray and baking at 350 for about 5 minutes or until they are just lightly browned.
  2. Place the waffle chunks into a casserole coated with cooking spray.
  3. Mix the melted butter, milk, and vanilla in a separate bowl and pour over the waffles. Let the waffles sit and soak in the milk mixture for about 15 minutes, stirring a few times to make sure all the waffles get a chance to bask in the milk.
  4. Meanwhile in a separate bowl, beat the eggs, then stir in the sugar and liqueur. Add in the berries and stir to coat.
  5. Pour the sugared berry mixture into the casserole with the waffles and stir to mix.
  6. Sprinkle with raw sugar and nuts.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for abotu 55 – 60 minutes or until the pudding is set.

Serve for dessert warm topped with ice cream, whipped topping, or some vanilla yogurt.

It also makes a fantastic breakfast, with coffee or a hot, spiced chai latte–or maybe some hot chocolate?

Waffleberry Chocolate Chip Pudding

This is part of my series of 31 Days of Warmer Connections. Every day in October, I am blogging about connections through food.


Pear Salad with Blue Cheese & Sweet Spicy Nuts

Pear Salad with Sweet & Spicy Nuts

This month I am doing a series of connections through food. I signed up for this challenge to blog every day in October about how food helps us connect, but I made no plan how I was going to go about it. I have found so many connections through food that I just trusted this would happen. Like it did when I started this blog. Or actually, even before I started it.

So today’s connection was just a little freaky.

I had seen a great post from Cookie & Kate on Strawberry Spinach Salad with Sweet and Spicy Walnuts, and shared it on facebook and we had exchanged a few comments about the walnuts and what other great combinations you could make with them.

So this walnut salad idea was forming in my head … and I looked back at her recipe and realized it only takes a few minutes to make these nuts … I could do this for lunch! HA!

I went into the kitchen, made these lovely nuts, threw together the salad of my daydreams, made some cheesy basil/garlic toast to compliment the sweet salad,  took some pics, and went back to work. As I was munching on my salad and cheesy garlic toast, I popped into my personal page on facebook to see what my friends were up to.

And my friend Russ had just posted this picture: (BTW, in case you are wondering, yes, he gave me permission to post the picture.)

My friend Russ's Lunch Today

“Open faced chicken panini and salad. 7 points Ciabatta 1/2 roll, sliced grilled chicken, tomato, low fat feta and mozzarella, drops of Tuscan herb olive oil, toasted. Mixed greens with low fat Italian dressing topped with a few sugar roasted walnuts.”

I looked at what he was eating, I looked at what I was eating (at the very same moment in time) and it just seemed like one of those freaky Zen moments when you both are doing exactly the same thing at exactly the same time in completely different places. I know his lunch is not EXACTLY like mine, but my gosh look it’s the same greens! and my cheesy garlic toast was on a toasted bun almost exactly like his. (Sorry I have no photo of the garlic toast … I only pic’d the salad.)

If it weren’t for Russ, I wouldn’t even be food blogging! I got started with taking pictures of my food because Russ pushed me to. A long time ago, I went to college with Russ and we have since re-connected on Facebook. He recently started a new initiative to eat healthier, and as part of that, he started posting pictures of the food he is eating every day. Russ is a genius with food presentation and since I’m a total foodie, every time I saw a Russ food pic, I commented. And since I was constantly sharing descriptions of the food I was eating, Russ started asking for pictures. And so I started taking pictures.

Until eventually (with a little encouragement from a few other friends) I got up the courage to start a food blog … that’s how Sumptuous Spoonfuls was born. My friends helped me pick out a name for it. It went through several mutations before I finally settled on Sumptuous Spoonfuls. One of my other friends had suggested Scrumptious Spoonfuls (or Sporkfuls! for fun), but then I think it was Russ who said Sumptuous would work too. And I like how it sounds together.

Oh yes, back to the salad! I had been dreaming of a beautiful pear, blue cheese, and toasted spicy sweet nuts. The only question was what dressing to use with it? I considered a yogurt dressing, but since I was in a rush, I went with something I already had made: my Kickin Berry Vinaigrette. A creamy blue cheese might be nice with this too.

There is another story too about the Spicy Nuts part, but I think I will need to save that for another day.

Pear Salad with Blue Cheese and Sweet & Spicy Walnuts

Directions:

  1. Fill your salad bowl mostly full with greens.
  2. Top with onion, blue cheese and pear chunks.
  3. Toss a few toasted sweet & spicy nuts on top.
  4. Drizzle the lovely dressing over.
  5. Serve with a savory toasted cheesy garlicky bread thing to offset the sweetness of the salad. With or without meat.
Pear salad with blue cheese and sweet & spicy walnuts
This recipe was shared at It’s a Keeper Thursdays and featured in Full Belly Sisters Virtual Thanksgiving Feast.

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