I take lots of pictures of dinners that I make, but sometimes it takes me a while to actually post them. This is one of those meals, so the details may be a little vague!
I like to make salad most nights for dinner, but when tomatoes are not in season, I struggle. My sister Amy has taught me her formula for a winter salad. Basically on top of the greens of your choice you had a fruit, (fresh, dried or both) a nut and a cheese. Complicated--I know! This particular salad combo is one of my favorites.
I start by toasting some almonds. Now normally I would use slivered almonds, the kind without the skin, but I didn't have any of those and I just happened to have a couple cans of regular almonds that my Dad gave me, so I just coarsely chopped those. This also works great with pecans or walnuts.
Put the nuts in a non-stick skillet over medium low and let them warm up. This is key to proper carmelization of the sugar. If you add the sugar in when the nuts are still cold, it will burn before the nuts are toasted. Once you can smell the nuts starting to toast, stir them until all sides are a little toasted and then toss in a generous pinch of kosher salt and about 1 tsp. of sugar. I like to use this type of sugar:
but plain ol' white sugar works too. Stir continually at this point, letting the sugar melt and get all sticky on the nuts. When all the sugar is melted and the nuts are toasty, turn them out onto a plate to cool.
Break them up when they're all cool. This just takes a few minutes all together and makes a great addition to a winter salad.
Here's my salad, sans nuts. Not sure why the nuts aren't on top yet--it's a mystery to me when I look at these photos. But, as you can see, this salad consists of romaine lettuce, chopped apples, dried cranberries and cheddar cheese cubes. I served this with Wildberry Dressing, but I also like it with the Honey Mustard Vinaigrette.
I served this salad alongside BBQ Chicken. This is simply chicken breasts, grilled outdoors (back when our BBQ was still working!). Andy brushed the Toni's Over the Top BBQ Sauce in the last few minutes of cooking. This has some kick to it, but Drew practically licks it up with a spoon!
Later I made some chocolate chip cookies. Don't you just love those eyes!!