I’ve had a few of my friends tell me that they’re hosting a meal this holiday season.  They all have small children and are frantic to find recipes that allow them flexibility.  No one enjoys spending the whole holiday slaving away at a meal that will probably take fifteen minutes to eat.  And if you have kids running around and relatives to please, that all just adds to the pressure.  I think it’s great that some mothers have begun to pass the baton to their daughters, but I completely understand the stress that these daughters are feeling.

So I decided to dedicate the next three weeks to a delicious meal that will please any crowd.  You guys know I’m big on themes, so naturally this meal will have one.  I know what your thinking…”um, isn’t Christmas enough of a theme?”  Well probably, but I always like to be annoying and take it one step further.  My theme or common ingredient will be the cranberry.  Shocker, right?!  Who would have ever guessed I’d make foods with cranberries for Christmas?  Whatever, it’s MY theme and I’m proud of it!

Today I bring you the beginning of your meal.  I make this salad all of the time because it’s my favorite.  Crunchy, sweet, and sticky.  It’s practically dessert for dinner.  I’m not going to give you actual measurements for the salad ingredients because it’s a salad.  You add as much or as little of each ingredient as you like.

Stay tuned because next week we will dive into the main course.  I’m going to show you the easiest and best freakin’ cranberry chicken recipe on the planet.  Well okay, maybe not the planet, but at least in Texas.  My mom has been making it as long as I can remember and we all still BEG for it every year!  Check back next Monday for the recipe and details!  Happy Holidays Y’all!!

Cranberry Walnut Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette

For the Salad:

baby leaf spinach
spring lettuce mix
walnuts (toast them up for a few minutes in a 200 degree oven if you want a deeper flavor)
dried cranberries
feta cheese
crumbled bacon (optional)

Champagne Vinaigrette
Adapted from Martha Stewart

1 small shallot
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch of freshly ground black pepper

In a blender, add the shallot, mustard, and vinegar. Blend until the shallot is chopped fine. While the blender is on low, slowly drizzle in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. The vinaigrette may be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

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