This is my sugar free-est week of the year. For some reason, the sweet magic ends on Halloween night for me, and it's a very good thing, since I'm hoping to never weigh 682 pounds. Up until October 31st, I raid the cupboard of all our tricks and treats. The charges always catch me-those darn crinkly wrappers!-and then I have to share. Quiet Man finds the open bags and digs in too, filling his pockets on the way to work. I'm forced to buy more candy (my favorite kinds, of course)...then we eat that too. Please don't tell my new dentist. But then when Halloween is over, the sugar monster can be kept at bay. Yesterday West and Sailor actually chose apples out of their treat bags OVER the candy. It isn't because they are virtuous and self-denying; we're all maddeningly sick of candy. And in case you are wondering, it's still safe to get an apple for Halloween in Smalltown, USA.
And speaking of apples, here's my latest and greatest favorite salad showcasing Fall's most winsome fruit. I've shared variations on this salad before, but I think this is the best version. It's decidedly American in flavor, with creamy cheddar, crunchy pecans, and crisp apples, in a sweet maple dressing. If you're off candy, give this salad a go. If you aren't off candy, give it a go anyway. I think it would make a very nice appetizer to a Reese's peanut butter cup. Just not this week.
Money Saving Tips: If you don't have pure maple syrup, sub in a little pancake syrup. Compare the price of bagged spinach with the loose and buy for a bargain. Any apple you've got on hand will work well-even a baking apple -since it will be coated in sweet dressing. It's a great idea to double or triple the dressing and use it all week long.
Spinach and Apple Salad
Estimated Cost: $4.00 for four servings
1/4 cup light flavored olive oil, or vegetable oil
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
about 6 cups baby spinach
2 small crisp apples (I like Gala and Golden Delicious)
2 ounces cheddar, diced
1/4 cup paper thin onion slices
In a small bowl whisk oil, cider, vinegar, sugar, and syrup. (I love to throw mine in the blender and let it get nice and thick.) Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Combine salad ingredients at the last possible minute. Drizzle with dressing and serve.
Classic Cheddar Mac and Cheese