Monday, December 28, 2009

Yummy Salad

I was required to bring a salad to one of the dinners we attended over the last week. I'm not good at salad -- I never know which ingredients work well together. But I have recently discovered craisins -- dried cranberries. I love them! I ventured over to the Ocean Spray site to see if, by chance, they had a recipe I could use. And they did! In fact, they have lots of recipes. I made the following salad and it was a huge hit. I actually heard people asking for seconds. It was a rare salad moment for me. I used Newman's Own for the vinaigrette, and I made half of it with spinach and half of it with Romaine lettuce, just to mix it up a bit.

Effortless Spinach Salad
8 ounces fresh spinach
1/2 cup feta or goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup Craisins® Original Sweetened Dried Cranberries
2 tablespoons toasted sliced almonds, optional

1/2 cup bottled balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest, optional

Wash and clean spinach. Tear into bite size pieces and place in a serving bowl. Add half of the feta or goat cheese and onion; toss to combine.

Combine dressing ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Pour over salad and toss to coat. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Top with sweetened dried cranberries and almonds. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Chocolate Peppermint Bread

Here's a picture of some chocolate peppermint bread I recently made. I found the recipe on another site that I can't find anymore -- if I do, I'll pass on the info. Anyway, really yummy but I suspect there's a way to make it better. It has a very subtle mint flavor but that's not the issue. I think the best way to explain it is to say I think the peppermint flavor could be more consistent. The recipe follows but if anyone has any suggestions about the best way to add the peppermint flavor, I'd love to know. I made this a couple nights ago and it is still moist and good -- I just think it could be better. Thanks.

1 3/4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten (I forgot to lightly beat the eggs but I don't think was a problem).
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup crunched up peppermint candy -- candy canes.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease and flour one bread pan

Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Stir to blend. No electric mixers needed for this recipe.

Add eggs, milk and melted butter. Stir until just blended. Stir in chocolate chips and peppermint candies. Bake for about 55 minutes -- my oven seems to take a little longer than most. Bake it until the bread springs back when lightly touched.

Let cool in pan for ten minutes. Run knife around edge of pan and remove bread to wire rack to cool completely.

We've been eating it without any other spreads or toppings.

Again, really yummy, but I'd love suggestions on improvements. Thanks.