Refreshing Strawberry Spinach Salad

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This is one of my favorite salads. I usually make it during the late spring months when we have loads of strawberries ripe for the picking. However, a couple of weeks ago, I went to a holiday party and brought this salad along. I knew there would be lots of rich desserts, heavy side dishes, and sweet holiday beverages so I wanted to bring along something light and flavorful. The green and red of the spinach and strawberry mix certainly made the salad look festive. Surprisingly, the strawberries were sweet and juicy. Our grocer’s winter berry selection is usually flavorless and strawberries often have a firm, rock-like texture. I expected to have to sweeten up the berries with a small sprinkle of sugar before adding them to the salad. To my surprise, they were perfect in every way. I was also pleased that I didn’t have to part with a small fortune when purchasing the berries. They were quite reasonably priced so I made sure to buy a load of them.
For a dramatic presentation, I often mix the salad in a clear, deep bowl to show off the beautiful colors within the mix. The deep green of the spinach, and rosy red of the strawberries glisten under the glaze of dressing. Flecks of black and beige (from the addition of poppy and sesame seeds) make the salad look quite appetizing.
While the winter temperatures are down-right bone chilling and the snow continues to fall, I long for the warm sunny days of spring and summer when fresh produce is abundant and flavorful summer salads are a welcome part of the everyday meal.

Strawberry and Spinach Salad

1 large bag, pre-packaged baby spinach, stems removed
4 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds

In a large bowl, toss together the spinach and strawberries. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, sugar, paprika, sesame seeds, and poppy seeds. Just before serving, pour over the salad and toss to coat.

A good trick when traveling with this salad:
Slice the strawberries and place them at the bottom of the bowl. Then, lightly add clean, prepped spinach and cover the bowl with clear plastic wrap. Carry the dressing in a jelly jar or lidded plastic container. After reaching your destination, give the salad a toss and add the dressing, distributing everything evenly.

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Bananas and Berries Frozen Graham Bars

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As some of you might know, I am a coupon girl! I never leave the house without a fist full of carefully selected coupons when I am headed to the grocery store. I have the “SnipSnap” App on my phone so I can get a deal nearly everywhere I go. Well, last week there was a sale on graham crackers and I had coupons to reduce the price to 75 cents per box. I bought 6 boxes. We were headed out of town for a week and I thought they would be a great car snack to pack for the trip. When I arrived home with my groceries, M spied a cool recipe on the back of one of the graham cracker boxes and she asked if she could make the recipe for dessert. She said that it was a no-bake recipe. I was delighted because it was too hot to turn on the oven to compete with the air conditioner.
The next day, I headed to work and M made the frozen graham cracker recipe. We have an agreement that while Dad and I aren’t home, no ovens or blenders are to be used without permission. The original recipe called for pulsing the fruit in the blender. Instead, M chopped the fruit and added it to the yogurt mixture. When I arrived home from work, I was thrilled to see her creation and ohhhh, they were so yummy and refreshing. They were gone in no time at all!
Below, I have listed our adapted recipe but have included the website for the original recipe as well.

Bananas and Berries Frozen Graham Bars

10-1/2 cinnamon topped graham crackers, broken into quarters to make 42 rectangles
1/2 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup bananas, mashed
1/4 cup blueberries, sliced
1 cup vanilla nonfat Greek-style yogurt
1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed

Line a 9-inch square pan with waxed paper, placed so paper extends over the sides of the pan . Arrange half the graham cracker pieces, in 3 rows on bottom of pan.
In a medium bowl, combine strawberries, bananas, and blueberries. Add the yogurt and whipped topping; mix well. Spread fruit and yogurt mixture over graham cracker pieces. Top with remaining graham crackers aligning to match the graham cracker pieces on bottom layer.
Place in the freezer for 4 hours. Use waxed paper handles to remove dessert from pan; cut between graham crackers to form bars.

Original website:
http://www.snackworks.com/recipe/banana-berry-frozen-yogurt-bars-155123.aspx

Scrumptious Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

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Oh My Goodness…the sun is shining and it finally feels like Spring! I made these delicious cupcakes to celebrate the beginning of a long holiday weekend.
Rummaging through my pantry shelves yesterday, I noticed that I have a few plastic containers of powdered lemonade drink mix that no one seems to be interested in consuming. This got me thinking about a recipe I recently found for cupcakes combining cake mix and lemonade drink mix. They looked pretty yummy so I thought I would make them and add a few of my own ingredients. Here’s what I came up with…

Scrumptious Strawberry Lemonade Cake

1 box yellow cake mix, with eggs, oil, and water as directed on the box
1/2 cup lemonade powdered drink mix (I used Country Time Lemonade Mix)
1 tsp almond extract
1 cup finely diced strawberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix cake batter adding eggs, oil, and water as directed on the cake mix box. With a mixer on medium speed, incorporate lemonade mix and almond extract. Fold in strawberries.
Place cupcake liners in cupcake pan. Fill each to 2/3 full.
Bake for 16-18 minutes. Cool completely and top with cream cheese frosting or with my Powdered Sugar Glaze. Garnish with sliced strawberries. Make 2 1/2 dozen.