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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Bring on the next course!!!!

Today, it's all about the soup and salad course......
Or, maybe a meal made up of soup and salad!   

Do you make traditional foods on holidays?
Yeah, me too.
In Judiland, there's a steady stream of holiday foods that begin with Thanksgiving and go straight to New Year's Day.  
Come January 2, I am pretty sick and tired of it all and ready to put it all away for another year.
That's not to say I don't like the foods......I have just had enough of them. 
And, so has my family.  
Last year, my daughter accused me of having  a mussels problem.
It all started with my decision to make mussels for the first time for our traditional Feast of Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve.   
Before I knew it, I had loaded up on pounds and pounds of mussels....testing different recipes and force feeding my family several meals of mussels.
When I finally hit that one  magical mussel recipe, I was smitten with mussels. 
My family.....notsomuch.  Well, they liked them but were not crazy about a steady diet of them.
But, I didn't care.  
I was madly in love with mussels.  Come over for drinks....and mussels.  Stop over for some holiday cheer....and mussels.  Girls night in....and mussels.  We're going to have a light lunch....mussels.    You get the picture.... 
Finally, by January 3....with arms raised in family declared Judiland a mussels-free zone until December 2013.
Well, here we are, dear's December 2013!!  
With my mussels cravings raging and my menu planning on full tilt..... I've been hot on the mussels trail again this year.  
Although I'm keeping that beloved mussels recipe (from Ina Garten...linked above) on the menu this Christmas Eve, I've been busily trying to unearth what other things I can do with mussels.   So, as you can imagine, I've been going hog wild on the internet seeking out recipes, talking to friends about their mussels recipes and combing cook books in search of more things to do with mussels.   After all this research, it's pretty clear to me that mussels are best steamed....regardless of which recipe you use.  So, I think I'm just going to stick with the recipe I fell in love with last year.  Maybe I'll tweak it, maybe I won't.  Stay tuned on that.  In any case....if you were expecting a soup or salad mussels recipe ain't going to happen.   But, my mussels story has a silver lining....
And, that silver lining is that during my forays into mussel research, I came upon a plethora of other wonderful sounding recipes that I just knew I had to try out.  One of those recipes was this amazing soup that I just knew I had to it is.....

Creamy Artichoke Soup  (click there for the recipe)

Let me be clear about this is damn good.  So far, I have made this soup twice.  The second time I added some red pepper flakes and I think I like it better.  My taste testers also preferred the addition of a little spice.  So, if you like spice....shake away!   I think this is the perfect soup course for a bigger meal because it's  light and creamy and it looks lovely in a pretty little bowl.  But, it can also be a great accompaniment to a soup and salad meal....pour it into a big bowl and treat yourself!  I'm planning to serve this soup for an evening when we have some neighbors in for a soup night during the holidays.  A soup night is perfect for winter entertaining....especially when you are having your neighbors in....because they walked to your house.  Soup can take the chill off deliciously! I will more than likely serve 3 soups but I have to be honest, I'm most excited about this one!!  Although I haven't quite nailed down the third soup I will be making,  I know for absolute sure that I will be making Mushroom-Leek soup with Brie Croutons as my second offering.   This soup has been on my rotation for holiday and winter entertaining meals for well over a decade......ever since I found it in a Bon Apettit magazine.  It is always a huge fact, I always have the recipe printed out because I know people will ask for it.....

And, now.....for the salads.....

Interestingly, I am known here in Judiland for my salads. My queen of salad reign has been going on for years and years. With all the salads I have made in my lifetime, you would think I would have never had  a weight problem.  Haha.  Therein lies the irony.  The salads I am known for are not exactly super healthy. We may all fool ourselves that just because they are salads, they are healthy diet foods! Notsotrue.  Sure, I use as many leafy greens and fresh veggies as the next guy but that's where the healthiness stops.  But, I have to admit, I come by my salad notoriety honestly.  I spend a lot of time looking for salad recipes and salad ideas and all-things-salad. I snoop on restaurant menus, I consult with my friend the caterer, I scour Pinterest, I pour over old and new cookbooks and of course, I google the hell out of the internet.  I'm forever trying to one-up my previous salad! These days, my Lap band prevents me from eating gobs and gobs of my salad creations (more for my guests!!) but I take great pleasure in tasting them!   The one I am going to share with you today is definitely a keeper.  It actually sent my guests into gastric orgasms when I made it for our Annual Turkey Fry over Thanksgiving weekend.  Even though I made a huge vat of it....there was not a morsel to be had at the end of the night.  The secret to my salads are pretty basic---use store bought ingredients, doll them up, mix them up and put them all together.   At my house....the dressing is never on the table.  It's always mixed into the salads.  It's something I am very particular about...... you will eat my dressed salad and you will like it.  No, you will love it.....

  I call this salad...... 


(btw, this will serve about 12-14 people)

Dressing:  Mix 1 bottle each into a lidded mason jar...shake well and chill for 2-4 hours: 

Marzetti Simply Dressed Cherry Balsamic Vinegarette 

Marzetti Simply Dressed Caesar Dressing

Salad:  1 large bag of Butter Lettuces, 1 large bag of Spring Mix, 1 small bag of Romaine

Toppings:  1 small bag of dried cherries, 1 small bag of candied pecans (chopped coarsely), 2 containers of crumbled goat cheese, 2 diced apples (sprinkle with lemon juice to retain color)  

Mix everything in a huge bowl or large disposable roaster.  Salt and pepper to your liking.  Make sure to get everything covered in the dressing.  


Come back next week for the PASTA COURSE....

1 comment:

Jody V said...

I'm moving in next door to you! Amazing recipes!