Favorite Fall Salad

If you’re anything like me, you love trying new recipes but also rely on some “old faithfuls” that never disappoint.  This salad is one of mine, and it’s crept into the “toolbox” of friends and family too.  I must admit that I stole this recipe from somewhere, but can’t remember where.

In the past I have gone to the trouble of making a homemade honey mustard vinaigrette, but time didn’t allow today and we’re going with store bought.  I did, however, make these DIY candied walnuts this afternoon when I realized that I had forgotten them at the store last night.  No WAY was I going to the grocery store the day before Thanksgiving!

I usually prepare this right in individual bowls, but you can do it in a big salad bowl as well.  Tastes great, and adds nice color to the table too!


  • Mixed greens (I prefer Earthbound Farm’s Organic Herb Blend)
  • Red onion, thinly sliced
  • Fresh shaved parmesan
  • Dried cranberries or cherries
  • Candied walnuts or pecans
  • Apple or pear, thinly sliced
  • Honey mustard vinaigrette (I’ve used this recipe in the past.)



Spicy Cucumber and Onion Salad

While I’m not 100% convinced that spring is here to stay, it’s here for the time being and we’re loving it!  Makes me think of summer, things turning green, sunshine and fresh produce.

My grandma passed a week ago so she’s been on a my mind a lot this past week.  She used to make this cucumber and onion salad that I remember hating with a passion but eating because it got put on my plate… but somehow as I got older I learned to love it and still do.  With a few twists and add-ons it’s become one of my favorite summer dishes.

I’m not a person who has cravings, but when I do it’s not for chocolate, it’s not for salt, it’s not for ice cream… it’s for something spicy.  So, we took Grandma’s cucumber and onion salad and gave it a little kick. 🙂


  • 2 large seedless cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 c. white vinegar
  • 1 c. water
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 T. dill
  • 2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice

Combine vinegar, water, sugar, lemon juice and spices.  Put cucumbers and onions in a resealable container and pour liquid over top.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.

The liquid doesn’t go bad, so you can keep adding cucumbers and onions.  In the summer I’ll use the same liquid for up to a week and just keep adding vegetables.  I’ll also chop some fresh chives and parsley if it’s in the garden and throw that in – you can’t go wrong.

Melitzanosalata (Greek Eggplant Dip)

About a month ago, VanderCook had a guest clinician come in to work our jazz band.  After the clinic, our jazz director and I went to dinner with the clinician, his wife and their adorable son in Greek Town.  One of the appetizers we had was this eggplant dip that you put on crusty bread.  It was FABULOUS!  I love the Greeks and their obsession with big flavor.  Of course, I had to try making it.

The problem is that I don’t really remember the exact taste, so I guess we’re going to have to go back!  Regardless, this dip is great.  Make sure you use a crusty bread (post for one coming soon).


  • 2 big eggplants
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 T. lemon juice
  • 1/3 c. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. fresh Italian parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp. lemon pepper
  • salt to taste

Fork eggplant all over and bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes.  Let cool, remove skin, and chop roughly.  Add oil, lemon juice and seasonings to blender (set on chop).  While pulsing, slowly add eggplant and then parsley.  Chill before serving.

Spinach Artichoke Dip

My littlest brother’s confession of faith is tonight, so yesterday was spent prepping food for a crowd and I wanted to try something different.  I had a bachelorette party last night to go to as well, so I decided that I wanted to try my hand at spinach artichoke dip because it’s a crowd pleaser and I could use it for both.

Given that I’m on a health kick, and trying to keep it that way, I did alter the recipe to decrease some of the fat… but I don’t think this recipe is healthy by any stretch of the imagination.  It’s just healthy… er.  Healthier.  Er… healthy?  Whatever – it’s good.


  • 1 8 oz. pkg. low-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 c. low-fat mayo
  • 1/2 c. grated parmesan or romano cheese (by the “fancy” cheese in the store)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 10 oz. pkg. chopped frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed until “dry”
  • 1/4 c. low-fat shredded mozzarella
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mix together and microwave until heated through.  Crock pot would also be great for this.  Can be reheated.  Serve with crackers, party rye, or tortilla chips.