Hickory Dijon Dressing

meadow

On the news the other day, they had a piece about  how Minnesotans love to talk about the weather. I laughed but then paused…you know, I think they must be right because many of my blogs start out talking about the weather! I’m orginally from Nebraska but I must’ve blossomed into a true Minnesotan now because my thoughts do gravitate towards the conditions outside quite often.

A few weeks ago, we woke up to just an absolute beautiful morning! A brilliant blue sky, big puffy clouds and a gentle breeze with just a little nip in the air.  That kind of weather beckons  me to go outside and I think the kids heard that beckoning too because they wanted to go for a walk in the worst way. So the kids and I got ourselves together and we headed for the meadow because out there, we could enjoy the morning in the height of all its glory…

When we reached the meadow, little A. wanted to run and explore while E. was just content  to sit in the grass and pick wildlflowers…

meadow We found a wild honeysuckle bush, filled with blossoms…

 

honeysuckleAnd we laughed when we saw this one, as it looked like it was filled with tiny little  stick pins!…

purple wildflowers
But A. wasn’t interested in flowers, he had found a stick…

meadow

 I could’ve spent hours in the meadow that morning and I think the kids felt the same way. But when we got to the bottom of the hill and came to the woods, we thought we’d save the forest for another adventure…

moss

So after searching for little animal tracks and seeing who could spy the most dragonflies, we climbed the hill to head back home…

meadow

 

 

meadow

But not before picking a few more flowers…

Here is a recipe for Hickory Dijon Dressing. It was born from my love of hickory-smoked anything so why not try to make a dressing out of it to go with a spinach and bacon salad? ( It is also excellent as a dip with chicken nuggets or onion rings)

Hickory Dijon Dressing

Into a blender place:

      3 Tablespoons white vinegar

      1 Tablespoon prepared Dijon mustard

      1 teas dry mustard

      1/2 teas onion salt

      1/2 teas hickory liquid smoke flavoring

      2 Tablespoons sugar

      1/2 cup honey

      1/2 cup vegetable oil

Blend on high speed for 3 minutes. This can be served as a dip or as a dressing for the following salad:

Into a large bowl place:

      9 oz. bag of spinach (thoroughly washed and spun dry)

      1 medium red onion (finely chopped or sliced)

      1 lb. bacon fried until crispy then crumbled

      2 cups shredded mozarella cheese

Toss everything together and then drizzle desired amount of dressing over the salad and toss again. Enjoy!

Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip

I hope that you all had a nice Christmas!

Are you celebrating New Year’s Eve? We usually keep it pretty low key around here. My only tradition for that evening is watching “The Twilight Zone” marathon on the sci-fi channel. I love the old shows – the black and white ones. They have such a charm to them and can be sort of spooky without being scary and horrifying. I can’t stand horror movies and “The Twilight Zone” is about as scary as I care to watch!

Well, that being said, what’s more fun than watching old black and white shows? Eating while watching them! 🙂

Here is a recipe for my favorite all-time comfort food! Hot and cheesey Spinach and Artichoke spread/dip!  This can be baked in a casserole dish or spread on pizza crust, topped with cheese and baked like a pizza!  But no matter how it is served, it makes a nice comforting dish on a cold winter’s night…

I like to serve this dip/spread with thick slices of bread,  made with frozen bread dough. I prepare the bread according to the directions on the package, but place it on a greased cookie sheet so that it can spread out a bit. Once baked, I brush some melted butter over the top and sides then  sprinkle on some LaVae! Seasoning.  It makes a very nice herb bread and compliments the cheese and other flavors in the dip/spread.

I hope you all have a safe and happy New Year!

Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Into a large mixing bowl place:

      1 c mayonaise

      2 – 8 oz cream cheese, softened

       1/4 t nutmeg

      2 T  chopped garlic

      2 T garlic flavored Ms. Dash seasoning

Mix until creamy. Then add:      

      1 – 14 oz. can artichoke hearts (unseasoned,well drained and chopped)

      9 oz. box frozen spinach (thawed,drained and rung in a towel to remove all excess moisture)

      1 c  grated parmesan cheese

      8 oz. sharp white cheddar cheese

Stir until combined. Place in a greased casserole dish and top with:

      8 oz. shredded mozarella cheese

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes or until mixture is hot and bubbling and the cheese is starting to turn a light golden brown. Serve with chunky slices of herbed bread or any other bread you would like to use…

Sauteed Fresh Spinach and Garlic

 

coneflower

I was out in my garden the other day and noticed something…Autumn was peeking around the corner. It was very subtle, but I could feel its presence…

Zinnia

Pretty soon we will enter that season where we just stand in awe of nature as it paints our leaves fiery shades of red and orange…

But I thought before I get caught up marveling at the beautiful leaves of Autumn, I should pay tribute to my summer leaf friends. They are faithfully there all summer adding just a splash of color here and there…

Some leaves aren’t boastful with their beauty…in fact, you may even miss it if you aren’t looking…

 

 

Hosta leaves

Leaves have a beauty all their own, but some leaves have a beauty due to their flavor and not appearance…I think spinach falls into this category. I love spinach but when it comes to this leaf, I’d rather eat it than look at it!

When we were visiting my husband’s niece this summer, we ate at a cute little bistro (Bijon’s) in downtown Chicago. I ordered a grilled chicken breast that came with garlic mashed potatoes and sauteed spinach and garlic. It was phenomenal…

Here is my version of the wonderful dinner that evening…

Warm Sauteed Fresh Spinach and Garlic Salad

This sauteed salad comes together quickly at the very end so it is best to have the following completed before you begin saute-ing the butter and garlic…

*  cube 8 oz. fresh mozarella cheese – please don’t substitute bagged pre-shredded mozarella…If you have never tried fresh mozarella, there is a world of difference between that and the pre-shredded kind found in bags. Fresh mozarella has almost a creamy-like texture to it and compliments this dish perfectly…

* slice approximately 1 pint of cherry tomatoes into halves

* slice 3 Tyson brand fully cooked, grilled chicken breasts into strips…I love these chicken breasts! Not only are they convenient (they are found in the freezer section of your grocery store in a bright green bag) but they are sooooo good! Follow the directions on the bag to prepare them but reduce the baking time to only about 10 minutes as you are going to be saute-ing them later…

Once these things are completed, continue with the following:

Into a large saucepot or extra large skillet put:

      1/4 c butter ( salted butter)

      1 T  extra virgin olive oil

Place on medium heat. When the butter has melted add:

      1 pint halved cherry tomatoes

      1 T  chopped garlic

When the mixture begins to boil, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes. Then add:

      3 grilled chicken breasts, sliced

Saute until heated through. This next portion comes together very quickly.  When you are ready to sit down and eat procede with the following…

Into the hot mixture put:

      1 –  6 oz. bag pre-washed fresh spinach

Using a tongs, toss the spinach until all the leaves have been coated with the hot butter mixture. Place a lid over the pan and wilt the leaves slightly (this will take only seconds so please watch it carefully) Then add:

      8 oz. fresh mozarella cheese cut into bite-sized pieces

Remove from heat and serve immediately. Fresh mozarella cheese is a very soft cheese…you don’t want it to melt or you will be left with a stringy salad. To complete this meal, try serving it with garlic mash potatoes…the combination is absolutely heavenly! Enjoy!

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

To make garlic mashed potatoes, I add about 1 T chopped garlic and about 2 teaspoons of onion powder to about 4-5 cups of mashed potatoes. Oh, and of course there’s the melted butter over the top…

garlic mashed potatoes