A Girl Should Be Two Things: Classy & Fabulous. - Coco Chanel


Monday, October 28, 2013

Pumpkin Dinner Party Take 5

Tonight I had my annual pumpkin soup dinner party. This was the 5th time I have put on this fall dinner party... although one year I didn't get little pumpkins in time so we had the soup but not out of pumpkins. Every other year, I have done it out of pumpkins... because it is fun, and a crowd pleaser.

I was actually going to do a lot more decorating and make a dessert, but I thought I was going to have help making the dinner... and then ended up not, so I barely got all the dinner ready in time. Oh well. It still all turned out cute and everyone loved the food and had a great time. That is what matters. Maybe next year I can go all out and make it fancy.

Every year I make Sassy Salsa Pumpkin Soup to go in the pumpkins. It is always a hit. Everyone loves that soup. It is healthy and has GREAT flavor. Along with the soup I made corn bread, but instead of just a corn bread mixed, I made it with a yellow cake mixed in. It was a little sweeter and a little less crumbly... which I really liked. Then I also made a new salad. I thought I would give you that Recipe. I loved it. John finished it off, so he obviously loved it as well.

Cranberry and Avocado Salad with Candied Spiced Almonds and Sweet White Balsamic Vinaigrette

Ingredients for the dressing:
  • ½ cup (60g) sugar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried mustard
  • 1 tablespoon minced sweet onion
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup (120 ml) white balsamic vinegar
  • ⅓ cup (70 ml) vegetable oii
  • ⅓ cup (70 ml) extra virgin olive oil
Ingredients for the salad:
  • 12 ounces (340g) baby spinach, arugula, field greens
  • 1 small bunch cilantro, washed and dried, leaves removed whole from stems (discard the stems or use for another recipe)
  • 2 medium avocados, peeled and halved
  • 1½ cup (115g) dried cranberries
  • 1½ cup (115g) Candied Spiced Almonds (see recipe)
Ingredients for the almonds:
  • 5 cups (600g) sliced almonds, or a 1 pound package
  • cup (100g) sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin*
  • 1-1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika* – some smoked paprikas are quite hot, if you don’t like “hot”, just use 1 teaspoon and they will be mildly spiced.
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • sea salt
  • The cumin and the smoked paprika give just a hint of mysterious, delicious flavor – even though these are savory spices, these almonds are still wonderful served with sweets like ice cream or yogurt.
For the dressing; combine all ingredients in a pint sized glass jar and shake well to dissolve sugar.
    For the salad; place greens and cilantro leaves in a large bowl.
    1. Add avocado and dried cranberries and about ¼ cup of the dressing and toss gently.
    2. Scatter candied almonds over salad and sprinkle lightly with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pass extra dressing at the table.
    For the almonds:
    1. place a large sheet of foil on a work surface. Spray with cooking spray or rub a teaspoon of oil over foil with a paper towel.
    2. Place sugar in a large non-stick sauté pan and heat over medium heat, occasionally tipping and swirling the sugar until it’s all melted into a pale golden syrup.
    3. Lower heat immediately and add butter, cinnamon, smoked paprika and vanilla. Stir until well combined and all butter is incorporated into the sugar syrup.
    4. Add the nuts and stir gently to coat. Don’t worry if you have some clumps of caramelized sugar – they will melt as you continute to sauté the almonds. Cover and continue to cook on low, stirring every minute or so until almonds are a delicious golden brown. Watch very carefully as they can go from beautiful to burned very quickly! Turn out onto prepared foil and sprinkle liberally with sea salt. Spread out on foil to cool.

    I love having dinner parties... even if I'm the only one doing all the cooking and feel pressed for time to get it done in time. I enjoy having people over and I enjoy cooking the meal... especially if I get to try out a new recipe. I'm for sure going to keep this tradition alive. :) PS I have great friends.


    jamie hixon said...

    I love corn bread, and that salad looks awesome! I'm not a fan of many pumpkin recipes, so I feel like I would have to try it first. :) But it looks awesome!

    Tracy said...

    Jamie, it taste more like chilli than it does like pumpkin. I think you would like it.

    Wenni Donna said...

    One of best pumpkin dinner parties I have ever seen! Well, I am also seeking suggestions for an autumn themed party décor. Actually, going to host autumn inspired bridal shower at some local garden event space NYC so need those DIY ideas.