November 21, 2011

The Best of Holiday Salads

The Garden Club met for the quarterly meeting last weekend to discuss winter gardening in Maine. We each brought pictures of our autumn gardens to share with the group and talk about the sights of the fall season we each discovered. Winter is approaching so we discussed how to winterize our flower and vegetable gardens which should carry us all the way through May, until the next Spring planting season begins.

Lovely Garden of Private Residence in Kennebunkport

During the club meetings, we each share some of our favorite holiday recipes to sample and we then exchange our best family favorites. This year I chose to take two side salads that have been extremely popular at our holiday table in the past years. The grape salad was given to me by our friend Jean in Pensacola. I mean there is not one ounce of this yummy salad left once you make a bowl of this two grape salad.. The topping just completes it so this is always requested if we have a gathering of friends and family or a potluck! You cannot imagine that anything so easy to mix together can be so darn good! You will be the hit of the party when you bring this lovely dish!

Best Grape Salad
2 lbs green seedless grapes
2 lbs red seedless grapes
 8 ounces sour cream
 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping Ingredients
1 cup brown sugar, packed
 1 cup crushed pecans

Wash and stem grapes. Set aside. Mix sour cream, cream cheese, white sugar and vanilla by hand until blended. Stir grapes into mixture, and pour in large serving bowl. For topping: Combine brown sugar, and crushed pecans. Sprinkle over top of grapes to cover completely. Chill overnight.

This cranberry relish was always served by our dear friend, Miss Sidney  from Jackson, Mississippi. Sid was a registered nurse who had four children and two grandchildren. It became her signature dish and when we were fortunate enough to travel home to Jackson for the holidays, Miss Sid always came to dinner with this absolutely scrumptious cranberry relish served in the most beautiful leaded crystal bowl. It was simply elegant!!

 Best Cranberry Relish
1 cup water
1 cup white sugar
12-oz. package fresh cranberries
1 orange, peeled and pureed
Juice of one lemon
1 apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1 pear, peeled, cored, and diced
1 cup chopped dried mixed fruit
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

In a medium saucepan, boil the water and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to a simmer. Stir in cranberries, pureed orange, lemon juice, apple, pear, dried fruit, pecans, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries burst. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature before serving.

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