Another blanket of freshly fallen snow…

We had another snowstorm up here in Minneapolis and once again, I am looking out into a winterwonderland! I love when everything is covered with that brilliant white blanket of freshly fallen snow…

I’ve just been waiting to share one of my favorite recipes with you! It is for a cheese spread and I thought Christmas would be the perfect time to share it to you because of all the parties and celebrations going on this time of year!

Cheese spreads make such a wonderful appetizer because they can be made days ahead of your party, cutting down on prep-time the day of  your party. Actually, I have  found that most spreads should be made a couple of days ahead of your event because it gives the ingredients time to marry in flavor and you will be left with a much more flavor-filled spread/dip.

This spread is a creamy combination of sweet red grapes, salty feta cheese, onion, cream cheese and walnuts, and looks very pretty on any holiday table…

I hope that you are all having a wonderful Christmas season!…  :)

Creamy Grape and Feta Cheese Spread

Into a medium-sized mixing bowl place:

      8 oz softened cream cheese

      4 oz. container Garlic and Herb Crumbled feta cheese

      1/4 t salt

      1/4 t pepper

Mix until thoroughly combined. Then add:

      1  1/2  c diced red seedless grapes

      1 c  finely chopped walnuts

      1/2 c finely chopped onion

Mix until combined. Place in a small serving bowl, cover and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

If you would like to serve this as a cheeseball:

Line a small bowl with plastic wrap and spoon the mixture into the bowl. Smooth down the top. Fold the plastic wrap over the top of the mixture and place in the refrigerator until firm. Then remove from bowl, unwrap, and then press on finely chopped walnuts, if you wish…

 I recommend letting it sit in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours to let the flavors come together. Enjoy!

Strawberry Poppyseed Salad

strawberry poppyseed saladLast year was my first experience at growing strawberries.  I put them in a container meaning to plant them into the ground later, but it never got done.  It was actually a blessing in disguise because it introduced my little girl (5 years old) to gardening!

We set the container on a table outside that was the perfect height for her to “check on them” everyday.  She claimed them as her own, which was so cute because I could her hear talking to her little plants when I was working outside.  Later on when they started to bear fruit, she would look everyday to see if there was a strawberry ready for picking.  I let her decide when they were perfect, hence she learned to wait until they were a brilliant red. It’s no fun eating a semi-red strawberry!

strawberry poppyseed salad

Here is a recipe for a wonderful salad that uses fresh stawberries. It is the perfect salad for strawberry season!  Besides the berries, it is filled with walnuts, red onion, crumbled feta cheese and a homemade onion poppyseed dressing.  Enjoy!

Strawberry Poppyseed Salad

 Into a large mixing bowl place:

      Romaine lettuce, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces

     1 medium red onion, finely chopped

      2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts

      1 – 4 oz. container crumbled garlic and herb feta cheese

This can be tossed ahead of time.  Then right before serving, toss with:

      2 cups fresh sliced strawberries, washed and hulled

Then add the following dressing…..

Onion Poppyseed Dressing

Into a blender, put:

      1/2 cup sugar

      1/4 cup white vinegar

      1 t onion powder

      1/2 t  salt

      1/8 t  black pepper

      1 t  dry mustard

Blend on high speed for 5 minutes.  Then add:

     2/3 cup vegetable oil

      1 T  poppyseeds

Blend on high for about 2 minutes.  Cover and place in the refrigerator until ready to toss with the salad. For some added color and flavor, try adding some cubed cantalope along with the strawberries!

Walnut Sundae Cake with Maple Creme Sauce

 walnut sundae cake with maple creme sauce

I can’t wait to share my first recipe with you!……

One of my favorite places to eat is Applebee’s.  They serve a phenomenal walnut brownie dessert, that I must admit, I plan my whole meal around! I love this dessert so much, I wanted to come up with my own version that I could indulge in anytime.

The walnut cake is wonderful when it is served warm……but I don’t serve it fresh out of the oven.  I like to bake the cake at least one day in advance of serving it because I believe the flavors come together better if it is allowed to sit for a day or two.

After removing the cake from the oven, immediately place a clean towel over the cake. When it has cooled, place a piece of foil over the cake and then place it in an airtight container at room temperature until you are ready to serve it.side view of walnut sundae 

When it comes time to indulge, warm the cake and the maple sauce.  Place a slice of the warm cake on a plate along with a scoop of your favorite frosty vanilla ice cream. Drizzle the warm maple creme sauce over the top. Then to add the perfect garnish, scatter chopped walnuts over it all.  

One of the ingredients in the maple sauce is white chocolate so it is very decadent.  You will have leftovers of the sauce, as it makes about 4 cups, but it keeps very well in the refrigerator, if placed in a sealed container.  When you are serving it, be sure to stir it well and warm it slightly.  The leftover sauce can be used for drizzling  over fresh fruit, warm pie (especially apple!), pancakes, or anywhere you would like some added creamy maple flavor!

Walnut Sundae Cake with Maple Creme Sauce

 Into a medium-sized mixing bowl, place:

      1-1/2  c  heavy whipping cream

Beat until thick and it forms stiff peaks.  Into a large mixing bowl, put:

      1/4  c  very soft butter

      1  c  sugar

Beat this well, then add:

      3  eggs  (add one at a time, beating well after each egg)

Add:

      1  t  pure vanilla extract

      1 t  black walnut flavoring

Beat this mixture until it is very creamy. Set aside. Into a medium-sized bowl, sift together:

      1-3/4  c  flour

      2  t  baking powder

      3/4  t  salt

Then add to the flour mixture:

      2  c  finely chopped walnuts

Alternately fold the whipped cream and the flour mixture into the creamed butter mixture. Pour batter into a greased 13×9 inch pan.  Bake at 350 degrees in a preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes or just until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. ( Be careful not to overbake this cake, as it will become dry)  After removing the cake from the oven, immediately place a clean towel over the cake. After it has cooled, place a piece of foil over the cake and place it in an airtight container or plastic bag. For best taste, let it sit for at least one day before serving.  After one or two days, you will have a wonderful, moist flavor-filled cake.

Maple Creme Sauce

In a medium-sized saucepan, put:

      1  c  butter

     2  c  sugar

      1 - 12 oz. can evaporated milk

Bring this to a boil, then reduce the heat so that it softly boils for 5 minutes.  Take it off the heat and add:

      1 – 12 oz. bag white baking chips

     1  t  maple flavoring

Stir slightly and then let it sit for about 5 minutes…the warmth of the mixture will melt the chips.  After the 5 minutes, whisk the mixture together until there are no lumps of chocolate left.  Serve warm and refrigerate any leftovers in an sealed container.  Please be sure to reheat and stir it well before serving it again.