Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Salad and Cookies.....Because You Can't Just Eat Salad

Hi everyone!  Happy Saturday!  I got all off schedule with my blogging this week.  I went to the Bay Area for an important meeting on Tuesday, and got back late Wednesday.  I wanted to make something Wednesday night to blog about…..but it took me forever to get home on Wednesday.  For some reason, my car’s GPS seemed to think it was in Pennsylvania…..That made it difficult for me to follow any directions.  But Hershey Park is beautiful this time of year;)  I’m kidding.  I didn’t drive all the way to PA, but I might as well have….it took me that long to get home. 
So here I am, blogging on a Saturday.  It is weird to be typing right now.  My kids are at a birthday party, and I should totally be taking a nap right now.  So let’s bang this out so I can get back to what I do best…..napping.
As you probably saw on Facebook….I made a beautiful “fall” salad.  I love fall produce, like apples, pears, butternut squash etc.  I took advantage of seasonal ingredients, and seriously, I don’t think I have ever made something so pretty!  I will show you how I put it together.  It really isn’t a recipe, more of an “assembly”.
Let’s start with what this salad is actually comprised of.  I used “spring mix” lettuce.  No special reason for that except that it is prettier.  It probably has more vitamins.  My mom likes to remind me that iceberg lettuce has virtually no nutritional value.  She tells me this whenever I insist that I eat veggies because I had a salad;)
Left to right, I used dried cranberries, roasted golden beets, gorgonzola cheese, roasted butternut squash, granny smith apples, roasted chicken, and candied walnuts.  I realize that beets are more of a “Spring” thing, but I consider them fall-ish strictly because of their color.  I am all sorts of scientific. 
I chose apples because….I had them.  Pears would be great too.  I chose gorgonzola because I think it is fantastic with beets.  Any kind of stinky cheese would be good.
Beets are a funny looking veggie.  They are also super dirty….as they are grown underground.  I clean mine off, and cut off the greenery.  I also cut off the weird tails.
I put the beets on a baking sheet and coated them with oil, salt and pepper.  I roasted them at 400 degrees for one hour.  Yes, it takes that long to cook them.  God bless whoever first figured out how to cook these.  Beets are so delicious, but I don’t think I would have figured out they were edible if I had been the first one to find them.
When they come out of the oven, and they have cooled a bit….You can easily peel off the skins with a paper towel.  The peels fall right off.  I diced mine up, and they were amazing!
I bought my butternut squash looking just like this.  Have you ever tried to peel and cut your own?  Complete pain in the butt.  Buy them like this.
I spread them on a baking sheet, coated them with oil, salt and pepper, and baked them at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.  I popped them in the oven when the beets were half done.
As for the chicken, I sprinkled it with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning.  Poultry seasoning has a ton of sage in it which will immediately make you think of fall goodness.  I slapped my chicken on the George Foreman grill.  You could totally make this with rotisserie chicken too.
For the salad dressing, I made a maple and mustard vinaigrette.  I used some Champagne Honey Mustard, but you can use any fancy mustard you have….Dijon, honey mustard, brown mustard, etc.  I also used olive oil, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, minced dried garlic, and onion powder.  I will post the recipe at the end.  Don’t dress your salad until the last possible second….it is prettier without dressing.
One last picture….isn’t it beeyootiful??  It tasted just as good!  If you have a party to go to, and you have to bring a salad…..bring this.  It will impress the nonsense out of everyone!
I also made some yummy cookies yesterday.  I made Pumpkin Spice Thumbprint cookies.  They were from a mix, therefore super easy.  Basically, I took a packaged mix and dolled them up.  Nobody would ever guess that these were from a mix….so you have to try this.  People will think you are Betty Crocker.
I used the cookie mix, one egg, one stick of softened butter and Gourmet Rooster Ginger Pear Spread.  I mixed the dough according to the package directions. 
Once I scooped the dough onto the baking sheet, I flattened the cookies with my hand…..gently.  Then, I used my finger (thumbprint) to make a little indentation in the middle of each.  I filled that little dent with the fruit spread.  These baked according to the package directions.
I made a quick drizzle for the tops with powdered sugar, milk, pumpkin pie spice and Philly Cooking Crème.  This is basically loose cream cheese.  I used it because it is so much easier to make a liquidy drizzle with this cream cheese.  Regular cream cheese would be too stiff.
I mixed one half of the container with 3 tablespoons of sugar, one teaspoon of spice and about ¼ cup of milk.  It comes together really fast since the cooking crème is almost liquid already.
I drizzled the cream cheese icing over the top.  Just so you know, I did hear from several neighborhood kids that these were the “best cookies they have ever had”.  True, these kids think Chips Ahoy are a gourmet item….but I will take the praise when I can get it.  You should try making these!  They are a perfect fall treat….and they take minutes to make.
See you all early next week!

Mustard Maple Vinaigrette

¼ cup fancy mustard

¼ cup maple syrup

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon pepper

½ to ¾ cup olive oil

Whisk all ingredients together until blended.

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