My Kind of Salad

I don’t know if this is a regional dish, or if they appear at holiday dinners everywhere, but I grew up with what my family calls “24-hour salad” at almost every holiday meal.

You mix canned fruit and mini marshmallows in a bowl, then sprinkle instant pudding mix over the entire thing. Stir in a container of Cool Whip, and then stick it in the fridge overnight. Bam! Holiday side complete. And since it’s a salad, you can eat it alongside your ham AND have seconds before dessert even appears. What’s not to love?

Oh, right. Things like instant pudding and Cool Whip. Don’t get me wrong; I still enjoy a generous serving of 24-hour salad at Thanksgiving or Christmas. But if a more “homemade” option exists, I’ll try that too. 🙂

I stumbled on this recipe last fall when Karen, Janelle and I were planning our Friendsgiving 2.0 menu. I was immediately intrigued. It looked like a cranberry version of the traditional 24-hour salad, and it used real whipped cream instead of Cool Whip. I had a stockpile of cranberries in the freezer, and I almost always have whipping cream in the refrigerator. Unfortunately, the salad got scratched from the Friendsgiving menu because we had SO MUCH FOOD.

I didn’t forget about the recipe though. As I started planning our Easter menu, I knew I wanted to try the cranberry salad. And since we were having people over for dinner, I knew we wouldn’t have to eat the entire bowl ourselves.

I used my food processor to chop the cranberries and walnuts (not together though). After that, I simply mixed everything together and put it in the fridge. Right before dinner, I whipped the cream and folded it into the cranberries. It was probably the easiest part of the meal. It was one of the tastiest parts too. I definitely went back for seconds and thirds on salad.

One of the downsides to this recipe, if there is one, is that it doesn’t keep nearly as well. The whipped cream starts to separate and get soggy after a day in the fridge, so you should plan on eating it all in one sitting. Good thing it’s always OK to have more salad.


Creamy Cranberry Salad

3 cups of fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped
1 20-ounce can of crushed pineapple, drained
1 medium apple, cored and chopped
2/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups of mini marshmallows
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
2 cups of heavy whipping cream

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cranberries, pineapple, apple, sugar, salt and marshmallows. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Just before serving, whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Fold the whipped cream and walnuts into the cranberry mixture. Serve immediately.

From Taste of Home

Click here for a printable version.

Fritterin’ the day away

Zucchini. I’m convinced that you either love it or you hate it. As a child, I definitely fell into the “hate it” category. Maybe it’s the fact that it gets mushy when you saute it. Or maybe it was all those hours turning the crank on the food mill to create “zucchini relish” for my mom. I’m still not a fan of zucchini bread, muffins or brownies. (Yes, I can taste the zucchini. No, I don’t want green things in my brownies.) 

Then, a couple of summers ago, something wonderful happened. One of our friends made zucchini pancakes for dinner. (Yes, I was completely weirded out by this. I trust Josiah’s taste in food though, so I gave them a try.) And wouldn’t you know it, they were good. (Side note: I think this is similar to my childhood and teenage aversion to squash and sweet potatoes, which are usually overly sweet. Keep the veggies simple and savory, people!)

Good thing I changed my mind, since we’ve received several zucchini in our CSA share. Aside from grilling a few pieces, they’ve all been fritterized.

Zucchini Fritters

1 pound (about 2 medium) zucchini
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 scallions, thinly sliced (feel free to substitute onions if your scallions have unexpectedly turned slimy)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tablespoons finely shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
salt and coarse ground black pepper to taste
Olive oil, for frying

Using a box grater (or a food processor, if you’d like to avoid shredding off the tip of your finger…), shred the zucchini into coarse strips. Place the zucchini in a large bowl and toss with salt. Set zucchini aside for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the egg, scallions, pepper, garlic and cheese in a bowl. Preheat oven to 200 and place a cookie sheet in the oven.

Scoop the zucchini on to a thin, dry, clean (Get one out of the drawer. Do not use the one that has been hanging on the dishwasher for 3 days!) dish towel. Roll up the towel and wring the extra water out of the zucchini. (Do this over the sink, obviously.) Alternatively, you could put it in a colander and press the zucchini against the sides to extract water. I think I get more out with the towel method.

Place the zucchini back into the bowl and stir in the egg mixture. Once the egg has been stirred in, put the flour and baking powder in the bowl. Mix until just combined.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, drop large tablespoons of zucchini batter in the pan. Flatten slightly with the back of a spatula. Cook until the bottom is golden brown (about 4 minutes), then flip and cook until the other side is golden brown.

Remove cooked fritters from the pan and place on the cookie sheet in oven. Repeat the process with the remaining zucchini batter.

Serve with sour cream for dipping.*

*See Smitten Kitchen’s original post for other topping ideas. Andy forgoes the sour cream (no shock to those who know him!), and I eat them either way.

Barely adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Summer Salad

Long weekends were made for kicking back and taking it easy. (Sometimes they’re also for planting trees, pulling weeds and hauling mulch, but that’s neither here nor there at the moment.) There’s something incredibly relaxing about sitting down on a Sunday evening and realizing, “hey, I don’t have to set the alarm tomorrow!” As much as I love a nice, long vacation, I think that three-day weekends are just as rejuvenating. It’s the grown-up version of a snow day.

For us, long weekends also involve plenty of time with friends, which means time with food, at least in my book. But who wants to spend the entire long weekend cooped up in the kitchen, slaving away over a hot stove when it’s 90 degrees out? (Okay, maybe I do, but I’ve come to realize that I might be alone in this area…) Solution? One of my favorite summer sides. Fresh sweet corn, healthy black beans and creamy avocado, dressed with zippy lime juice and spicy peppers and living in perfect harmony. I can eat this stuff by the bowlful.

This salad’s perfect for sharing with friends (or keeping at home and hoarding the leftovers, your choice). There’s no mayo or dairy, so it handles the heat well. It’s good at room temperature (no ice or chilled dishes needed!), and it goes together in a snap. You can eat it with a fork, or scoop it up on your favorite tortilla chips. (I think it would be especially good with these, although I haven’t tried them yet.) Plus, you can add more (or less) chili pepper, depending on how hot you like things.

Corn and Black Bean Salad

2 cups of corn, cut from the cob if fresh, thawed and drained if frozen (This is one of those recipes where fresh ingredients really do make a difference, but it’s very doable and almost as good with frozen corn if you want to make this the 11 months when sweet corn’s not in season.)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 15 ounce can of black beans, rinsed and drained
Juice of 1 lime
1 small handful of cilantro, chopped
1/2 an avocado, diced
1 teaspoon serrano chili pepper, deseeded and minced
salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown spots develop. Remove from heat and place in a large bowl. Add the black beans and pepper, stir to combine. Mix in the lime juice, and then the cilantro. Gently fold in the avocado (too much mixing smashes it!). Season to taste with salt and fresh cracked pepper. Serve immediately.

Note: I usually double this recipe so I don’t end up with a lonely avocado half in the fridge. Which usually means there’s enough left to take to work for lunch the next day. And if I’m feeling generous, I share the leftovers with Andy. Lucky guy. 🙂  

From Everyday Food