A Salad for Fall

I don’t know about you but I am so ready for fall!  And since we don’t have fall-like temperatures in Florida just yet, we have to pretend it’s here by adding autumn decorations and and incorporating some cooler weather recipes to our menus.

Now, I understand that a salad is a lighter meal and typically associated with summer fare.  But when I found this recipe, its ingredients sort of shouted “Hey, don’t you know it’s fall already?!”  I mean what about fresh apples and maple syrup doesn’t make you want to put on a warm sweater and cuddle under a cozy blanket?!  Okay, we’d be sweating if we did that since it’s still 90 degrees here so we’ll just stick with the salad for now.

The basics of this salad are from The Kitchy Kitchen with a few adjustments to suit our tastes.

saladFuji Apple, Bacon, Pecan Salad with Maple Yogurt Dressing

4 slices thick cut bacon, cooked to your desired crispness and diced
1 fuji apple, thinly sliced
3/4 cup pecan halves – we candied ours!*
enough salad greens to feed 2 people – we used a baby spinach/arugula mix
we also added in a diced tomato and some bleu cheese crumbles

Dressing:
1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 teaspoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 pinch salt
1 pinch freshly ground black pepper

Combine all of the ingredients for the dressing and stir to combine. In a big bowl,  combine the bacon, apples, pecans, and greens and whatever other ingredients you want in your salad then mix with as much dressing as you like.

If you are like us, you probably thought “maple syrup with yogurt?  hmmm, i’m just not sure…”  Just trust us.  Try it.  And you’ll be sure that it is one of the best tasting, light salad dressings you’ve ever put on your tastebuds!!

*The candied pecans were a pretty quick addition – and they are fantastic in this salad.  We just melted some butter in a pan along with about 2 tablespoons of brown sugar.  Once combined and a little bubbly, we added the pecans and let them cook for a few minutes.  Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn in the sugar.  Then we coated them in a little powdered sugar.

Enjoy!  And happy fall!

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Yard Progress

In January of this year, we moved into a new-to-us house.  We love its location and are thrilled to have lots of space to accommodate our farm animals.  We spent some time initially updating things on the inside (like the kitchen and flooring.)  We’ve been doing some significant work to the outside too which we’ll update at some point once it gets presentable enough to share the dramatic results.

In the meantime, we like to take pride in the small changes that can make a big impact as well.  So, here’s a look at a portion of the back section of our property closest to the house.  We like to think of it as a “less-is-more” type of change.
back yard before-afterWe removed some things that we didn’t need or want and trimmed down the existing shrubs that were about to scale the roof.  To the left of the screened patio, you’ll note much less foliage around the fence.  Here’s a look from the same side but facing the house.

rear facing house before-afterAmazing what trimming a few hedges can do.  Even more impressive is the change since our fiasco from our first day here.  We basically started out with a bunch of dirt in this area…
IMG_2479Lastly, take a look from the other side…
rear facing west before-afterWe are planning many more changes to the exterior, but we feel like the changes will be easier if we can just start with a blank slate.  So while it’s not exactly like we want it just yet, we’ve made a lot of progress and are well on our way to making things better.  Stay tuned…

Fall Garden 2013

Fall is just around the corner and we couldn’t be more excited.  Even in muggy-100%-humidity-on-most-days-sunny Florida we’ve detected a bit of fall in the air.  Today in fact a cold front has moved through and temperatures are all the way down to 89 degrees!  Brrrr…..Break out the parkas!

Needless to say, with those ridiculously hot and humid summer days, our garden was forced to take a sabbatical.  The sun and heat would just burn up anything we put in the ground.  So, we let the garden go for a couple of months.  And by let it go, I mean it looked like this…
IMG_3636The weeds and grass just grew out of control and, frankly, even thinking about mowing in there made us want to hide under the covers and never come out!    Keep in mind, this is what it has the potential to be:
IMG_3199The hope of fresh broccoli and other yummy vegetables helped to get us motivated to transform things again.

IMG_3691After combatting the grass and weeds that had grown between the beds, we opted to cover the garden in mulch.  We killed off all that grass first, lined it all with weed barrier, and then covered that with the mulch.  We hope this will alleviate the chore of maneuvering the lawn mower through those tight spaces.  *Fingers crossed!*  Looks better, right?

And without all the grass and weeds growing within the beds, we could make room for our fall crops.
IMG_3642We started some seeds on September 7 and within a week most of them had germinated.  When we finished the garden prep, they were ready to be transferred.
IMG_3693Here’s a look at the layout of the beds for fall.
Fall Garden 2013We’ll keep you posted on the progress!  Now, bring on the cooler temps!!