Winter Salmon Salad with Grapefruit, Avocado and Fennel

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When I looked at Reader favorites for 2016, I was surprised at how popular the garden themed posts were.  So I have been working on adding more gardening content on the blog.  I had visions of hanging whimsical molded bird treats in fun shapes for our feathery friends during winter.  Well, they kind of fell apart…and seemed to be attracting squirrels instead of birds even with my I-thought-I-was-being-clever addition of cayenne to the birdseed mix!   So I am not going to be posting that idea!

So another recipe it is!  No matter the season, I live on salads and love them.  I try to choose seasonal ingredients but come winter, that is so much harder to do.  This gorgeous salad boasts grapefruit in segments and in the simple dressing.  It serves up heart healthy salmon and avocado with thinly sliced winter veggies, fennel and radishes, on a bed of tender hydroponic Bibb lettuce.  If you have one, work with a mandoline to get the vegetables paper thin.  Using left over salmon cuts down on the prep time.  Cook the salmon any way you like it:  poached, grilled, oven-roasted or pan fried.  Sprinkle it with your favorite spice rub(I like a chili spice rub with a bit of kick and grilling it on a cedar plank), bring it to room temperature and squeeze half a lemon over it before flaking it into bite size pieces.  Sticking to your New Year goals of eating more healthfully won’t be a sacrifice with this delicious salad.

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Cranberry-Apple Chicken Salad Slaw with Blue Cheese Dressing

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Happy New Year!  If you want to eat more healthfullly in 2017, this meal salad can help you keep your promise.  There is so much to love about this colorful winter salad bursting with flavor:  tons of fiber, great crunch and sustaining protein from the chicken and almonds.  Tossing the shredded cabbage with some  red wine vinegar while you chop the rest of the ingredients starts breaking down some of the fiber and adds a  nice dose of resveratrol,  to help fight cancer. The cabbage, especially the red, is full of free radical fighting power and a good source of vitamins C, K, B6 and fiber.   Using bottled blue cheese dressing and left over chicken makes it fast and easy to prepare, 20 minutes tops.  Tossing the cabbage with the vinegar first also helps to reduce the amount of dressing in the salad and will keep the apple from turning brown.    If you love the pungent taste of  blue cheese, toss in an extra half cup of crumbles.   Thinly sliced fennel bulb or julienned jicama would also be tasty additions.   However you make it, this salad is wholesome  and will give your winter diet a delicious nutritional boost.  Dig in!

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Christmas Brunch Among the Wrappings

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“Man cannot live on presents alone.” NYTimes

I love that quote!  After the last present has been opened, your loved ones will be famished.  Many of these brunch recipes can be made ahead, leaving you to savor the magic of the season too.  From sweet to savory, all of these recipes are delicious and sure to please your peeps as you break the fast together on Christmas morn.

Cranberry Orange Scones

Festive with a wonderful orange glaze.

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Sheet Pan ‘Green Eggs and Ham’

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“You do not like them so you say.  Try them! Try them! and YOU MAY!”  Dr. Seuss, Green Eggs and Ham

Have you ever wondered what Dr. Seuss had in mind when he penned his famous children’s book?  I’m afraid I always envisioned some unappealing eggs died Grinch green.    No longer!   Prince Charming made me a delicious surprise breakfast of oven-baked eggs nestled in a bed of kale with bits of salty ham sprinkled all over it and announced excitedly it was Green Eggs and Ham.  The recipe was clipped from a recent Costco magazine via the cookbook “Sheet Pan Suppers” by Molly Gilbert.  I don’t think healthy kale was at all popular in Dr. Seuss’ day, but I know he would do a happy dance eating this tasty creation inspired by his book.  The original recipe called for 8 to 12 eggs to feed 4 to 6 but we scaled it down to 4 eggs for two of us.  It also called for a ham steak.  We used leaner Canadian back bacon which is really ham.  The back bacon is already cooked allowing a reduction of the overall cooking time.  The beauty of this dish is that it is prepared on a sheet pan for ease of cooking and cleaning up, a great way to start any day. Easily adaptable for the number of people you are serving.  Feel free to recite Dr. Seuss’s beloved classic while you cook! img_1110 Continue reading

Candy Cane Poinsettia Centerpiece-DIY

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Did you know December 12th is National Poinsettia Day in the US?  To celebrate, I’ve got a tutorial for creating a fun candy cane covered vase for a small poinsettia.  The poinsettia is a member of the spurge family and is indigenous to Mexico.  Its English name originated from the first US minister to Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinsett, who introduced the plant to the US in 1825.  In Mexico the plant is called Flor de Noche Buena or Christmas Eve Flower, which is such a pretty name.  The Aztecs used the plant to produce red dye and as an anti pyretic.  Today, the plant is mostly ornamental and beloved around the world.  Did you know that the flowers of the poinsettia are really small and grouped in the yellowish center of the colored bracts?  That’s right.  The bright red “flowers” of the classic poinsettia are actually its leaves.  The bracts can also be pink, cream, orange, pale green or marbled.  Now let’s get to this fun project!

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Christmas Evergreen Front Door Swag

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This year our front entrance is showing some swagger for the holidays.  Instead of a wreath, I made a large swag with evergreens cut from around my garden then adorned it with ribbons, pine cones, pheasant feathers, ornaments in gold and burgundy and even some jingle bells.  I love the scent of fresh greens to greet one and all at the holidays.  Take a look at how it came together.

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To create a swag, I cut 4 to 5 varieties of evergreens to the desired length and width and bundled them with some florist wire from the top.  I selected greens with different textures that offered subtle variations in color and dimension that could cascade down the door.   I chose white pine, cryptomeria, gold varigated holly, fern leaf cypress and Leland cypress.  I secured 5 pheasant feathers with the greens.  Odd numbers always look best.   On the back I used another length of wire to create a hook to hang the swag securely.   I found it easiest to hang the greens at this point then work to adorn the swag while it was hanging in place.  The greens are abundant and unfussy, left in their natural state and they fill almost all the width of our front door.

img_1090  Then came the fun part.  First, I tied a big striped burgundy and gold French ribbon bow with smaller gold ribbon cascading down from it.  I then looped wire around 3 pine cones and tied them onto some of the greens.  I fastened a big gold glitter sphere ornament under the bow, off center, also with florist wire for some sparkle and bling and balanced that with smaller sprays of gold berries to the left.  As I worked, I stepped back to look at the swag from a distance and assessed how much more I needed to add to it.

Almost there, but not quite done.

Almost there, but not quite done.

For a touch of whimsy,  I nestled a small glittery bird ornament in the top folds of the bow.  For a note of seasonal cheer, I looped 2 brass jingle bells to complete this Christmas swag.

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The rest of our front porch is decked out in complimentary colors and the same natural elements are carried throughout.

img_1105 img_1107  Merry Christmas!

A Handmade Christmas

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There is something about the holidays that brings out the creativity in me.  I enjoy making gifts for loved ones.  It slows the holiday frenzy down and I can savor time at home instead of rushing around. It’s fun to gather a group of friends to create together over a glass of warm cider, hot chocolate or wine.   Most of these ideas from the archives can come together in very little time and are easy on the budget.  Click on the highlighted link to get the instructions.   I hope you will find a spark of inspiration to create handmade gifts for everyone on your list.   Priceless.

Hot Chocolate On a Stick

The best hot chocolate ever and so adorable to wrap!

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