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Yummy Fall Salad

This is a wonderful recipe that I got from my daughter-in-law, Julie.  Whenever we have a family get together, it's always a potluck (there are 30 of us and there's no way I'm cooking for that many on a regular basis :) and she brought this salad to one of them.  Everyone loved it so much that she has to bring it to every party now.  As a side note, we usually serve the cashews in a little bowl separately rather than mixed in the salad since we have some family members who are allergic to nuts.  It's such a tasty salad, that it's good even without them, although better with!  Also, don't let the Fall in the name deter you from making this anytime -- I think it's called that because of the apples and pears which are usually considered fall fruits, but which you can find most of the year.  Be sure that the pears are perfectly ripe so that they'll be full of flavor.  You'll also notice that there are no amounts for the salad -- make as much as you need!  Serve the dressing separately too, letting each person put on the amount they want.  You'll find yourself hoping that there is some left over for later -- it's a wonderful dressing.  Enjoy!

Yummy Fall Salad

Salad:  Romaine lettuce, chopped
            Swiss cheese, cubed tiny
            Cubed apples
            Cubed pears
Dressing: 1/2 Cup sugar
                1/3 Cup lemon juice
                1/2 tsp dry mustard
                1 tsp salt
                2 tsp chopped onion
                2/3 Cup oil
                1 Tbsp poppy seeds

Combine sugar, lemon juice, dry mustard, salt and onion in blender; blend well.  While blender is running, add oil in a slow, steady stream;  blend until smooth.  Pulse or stir in poppy seeds.


Applesauce Spice Raisin Muffins

I tried these muffins tonight for dinner and they turned out so well that I thought I'd share them with you.  I had made them before but hadn't really liked the texture, so I made some alterations and they came out just right.  You could serve these to guests and they would never guess that they're gluten free.

Applesauce Spice Raisin Muffins

In large bowl, add and combine well:
2 eggs
1/3 Cup brown sugar
1/2 Cup oil
1 Cup applesauce (preferably unsweetened)
1/2 Cup raisins

In a smaller bowl, combine well:
1-3/4 Cups gluten-free Four Flour Bean Mix
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground allspice

Preheat oven to 400.  Grease 12 medium muffin tins.  Combine wet and dry mixtures together until mixed.  Spoon into prepared pan.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Remove from pan and cool on rack.  Makes 12 muffins.


Slow Cooker Coq Au Vin

This is a recipe I got on (Better Homes and Gardens website).  I'm always looking for new recipes using my slow cooker, and this one sounded good to me, so I tried it.  It turned out scrumptious and made 4 generous servings.  If you're like me and don't drink and therefore have no experience with liquor stores, don't panic when you get to the "dry red wine" ingredient.  I recently discovered that you can buy red and white and Marsala wine for cooking in the grocery store, on the same shelf as the vinegars!  I like the flavor that wine imparts to food, and since all the alcohol cooks out, that's all you're left with!  Perfect!

Slow Cooker Coq Au Vin (that's French for Chicken with Wine :)

3 pounds chicken thighs, skinned
1 envelope beefy onion soup mix
2 Cups quartered fresh mushrooms
1-1/2 Cups frozen small whole onions (I didn't have any, so I just quartered a small onion and threw it in)
3 medium carrots, cut into 3-1/2 inch sticks
1/2 Cup dry red wine
Hot cooked mashed potatoes (optional)

Brown chicken thighs in a hot skillet with a small amount of oil.  Remove to paper towels and let drain.  Place chicken thighs in bottom of slow cooker.  Sprinkle with the dry soup mix.  Add mushrooms, onions, and carrots.  Pour wine over all.  Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours or on high for 2-1/2 to 3 hours.  If desired, serve with mashed potatoes and sprinkle with parsley.

We're trying to eat more vegetables, so I added some steamed broccoli too.


Chicken Chowder

I don't know what the weather is like where you live, but it has been cold where I live!  Days (and nights) like this just cry out for hot homemade soup, don't you think?  This is a recipe that I concocted out of about three other recipes.  I thought it turned out well and hope you'll enjoy it too.  It makes enough for 6-8 people.

Chicken Chowder

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1-1/2 lbs potatoes, scrubbed and cut into cubes (about 3 Cups)
1 Cup chopped onion (about 1/2 large)
1 Cup chopped celery (about 3 medium stalks)
3/4 lb cooked, cubed chicken (about 2 Cups)
1/2 Cup dehydrated potato flakes OR 3 Tbsp rice flour
2 tsp instant minced onion
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp parsley flakes
2 cans Swanson chicken broth
2 Cups frozen corn, thawed
1 Cup half-and-half
1/2 Cup cooked, chopped bacon (about 6 slices) (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the potatoes, onion, and celery.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes.  If you don't have cooked chicken on hand and are using raw, add the raw cubed chicken along with the vegetables and cook it all together.  The chicken will be done about the same time as the vegetables get softened.  If using previously cooked chicken, add it after the vegetables have softened.

Sprinkle the potato flakes or rice flour (or regular flour if you're gluten tolerant) over the chicken and vegetables, mixing in well.  In a small bowl, mix together the instant minced onion, salt, garlic powder and parley flakes.  Add to the chicken/vegetable mix.  Add broth, corn, half-and-half, and bacon, if using.  Simmer over medium-low heat until the flavors have blended and the soup is thickened slightly, about 20-25 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve.

Stay warm!


Hot Artichoke and Spinach Dip

This is a delish hot dip that I made for our annual Christmas Eve family dinner and festivities.  I had had the recipe for a long time (I got it years ago from my beautiful niece Ashley), but for some reason had never gotten around to making it.  However, I happened to have all the ingredients on hand and needed a dip, so I tried it.  I must warn you that it's totally addicting.  So yummy, and the leftovers (if there are any) are even good cold.  Hot is even better, though, especially on a cold night.  It's great on rice crackers, or if you're feeling extra ambitious, you can cut up a skinny loaf of GF French Bread into little rounds, brush both sides with a little olive oil, put them on a cookie sheet and pop them under your broiler for just a minute or two until they're toasted.  Then turn them over and toast the other side.  Warning:  do not take your eyes off them for a second!  They're super easy to burn (I speak from sad experience). 

Hot Artichoke and Spinach Dip

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 Cup mayonnaise
1/4 Cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 Cup grated Romano cheese
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp garlic salt
Salt and pepper to taste
1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 Cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained (or you can quickly cook up some fresh spinach, drain, measure out a half cup and chop it)
1/4 Cup shredded mozzarella cheese

In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, Romano cheese, garlic, basil, garlic salt, salt and pepper.  Gently stir in chopped artichoke hearts and spinach.  Transfer mexture to a small lightly greased baking dish.  Bake in a preheated 350 oven for 25 minutes, until bubbly and lightly browned.  Serve immediately.

Hot, cheesy yumminess!  And hey, you can count two veggies for the day :).


Penne Rustica

I do not know what happened to December.  No way did I intend to not do one post!  But there you have it.  I hope your holiday was wonderful.  We got what we wanted -- a new grandbaby on December 5th!  I spent a couple weeks helping out, and then one frenzied week trying to get ready for Christmas, and then one collapsed week recovering from the frenzied week, and now, somehow, it's January 5th.  By the way, I read in the January issue of Better Homes and Gardens (page 119 if you don't believe me) that "January 5 is the most stressful day of the year, according to a British survey of 2,000 people."  Makes you wonder about British surveys, doesn't it?  Somehow, I don't think I'd necessarily pick January 5th as an overwhelmingly stressful day -- I mean, why not the 3rd or the 10th?  I'm just sayin'.  Sooo, back to Penne Rustica.  I may not have been blogging in December, but I'll tell you what, I was eating!  And I ate some great stuff, including this recipe, which I had at a party and immediately asked for the recipe.  The party was on December 19th and I've already made it twice since then, that's how yummy it is.  It is not, however, low calorie, so if you've made a New Year's resolution to lose weight, I'd suggest skipping this recipe until Valentine's Day or you give up on the resolution, whichever comes first :).  I picked Valentine's Day because it would make a very romantic dinner entree.  Frankly, I don't think I can wait that long!

Penne Rustica

Gratinata Sauce:
1 tsp butter
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 Cup Marsala cooking wine (you can find this in most grocery stores by the vinegars)
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
4 Cups heavy cream (I told you it wasn't low calorie)

Saute butter, garlic and rosemary together until garlic begins to brown.  Add Marsala wine, bring to simmer and reduce by 1/3.  Add remaining ingredients, bring back to simmer and reduce by 1/2, stirring often.  Be careful not to scorch.  Set aside.

1 pkg (16 oz) Tinkyada Brown Rice Penne, cooked, rinsed, and drained
2 - 4 strips bacon, cooked until crisp, cooled and chopped
3/4 stick (6 Tbsp) butter
3 chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 - 1 lb large shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails off, cut into bite-size pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
Gratinata Sauce
1/2 Cup fresh grated parmesan cheese, divided
4 sun-dried tomato halves (the dehydrated kind, not in oil -- you don't really need more oil ;), diced

Cook the bacon.  Remove from pan and clean grease from pan.  Saute chicken pieces in butter until cooked through.  Add shrimp and cook just until pink.  Add salt, pepper, Gratinata Sauce and 1/4 Cup of the grated parmesan cheese and simmer until thickened.  In large bowl, combine shrimp and chicken mixture with cooked pasta, chopped bacon and diced sun-dried tomatoes.  Place in 9 x 13 casserole dish.  Top with remaining 1/4 Cup parmesan cheese and sprinkle lightly with paprika.  Bake at 475 for 10-15 minutes.  Serve immediately.  

A 9x13 casserole feeds 8-12 people, since it's so rich.  I have found that trying to reheat leftovers, either in the oven or in the microwave, causes the cream to separate.  I just mop up the resulting oil with a paper towel and figure I'm now eating a lower fat version that still tastes great.  If you discover a way to reheat it without the separation, please let me know and I'll add it to this post!