A Christmas Luncheon: Paula Deen’s Corn Chowder and a Great Salad Recipe for You

Pioneer Woman has what she calls her lodge — a place where she cooks and entertains — and so do I. Okay, so compared to PW’s lodge mine is more of a lodge-ette.

Most of the time (and when we don’t have guests), this place is sports central for Dave and his buds. Every Tuesday morning, you’ll find me vacuuming up the cloud of popcorn and chips left on the floor. What can I say?

However . . . once a year I gussy this place up and give a girls’ luncheon for some of my Sierra Mountain sisters.

I’ve spent the better part of a week decorating both houses, so consequently, no new chapters up. Sorry. ( See New Year’s Resolutions come January 1.)

I love the fireplace in my “lodge-ette”. It’s made from stones which come from the creek near my house. Talk about building local!

And here’s a picture of part of the view from . . . well, from THE LODGE. Maybe that’s what we’ll call it. See if it sticks! Up to now, it’s been called “the house on the hill” to distinguish it from what we call “the house in the valley”.

Anyway, for this luncheon, I made Paula Deen’s “Chef Jack’s Corn Chowder“.

Girls, I made it MINUS the addition of the extra butter. Just read the recipe and you’ll see why! For ten ladies, I doubled the recipe. While Paula Deen’s recipe says it serves 8-10, that must be 8-10 first course sizes. Just so you know.

And I did serve it with the suggested Chardonnay.

But my favorite part of the meal was the salad I served as a first course— Spinach Salad with Mandarin Oranges and Candied Almonds. ( Wine pairing : a dry Riesling from Washington State.) The salad is adapted from Pam Anderson’s cookbook Perfect Recipes for Having People Over.

Here’s the recipe!

Boston Lettuce and Baby Spinach Salad with Oranges and Candied Almonds


10-15 cups of greens–spinach, arugula, Boston Lettuce, or a combination of them.
1 cup of sliced almonds
1/3 cup of sugar
3 small cans of mandarin oranges
1 medium red onion
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
3/4 cups good olive oil
salt and fresh pepper to taste


Thinly slice the onion and soak it in the vinegar for a half an hour. No more! Save the vinegar.
Drain the oranges and add to greens.
Add the onions and the candied almonds. (recipe for almonds follows)
Toss with reserved vinegar, oil and salt and pepper.
Add more vinegar if it does not taste sharp enough. Add more oil if the greens are not nice and shiny.
That’s it. Serve immediately.

Candied Almonds:

In a dry skillet, toast one cup of almonds until fragrant and golden.
Mix 1/3 cup of sugar with 2TBS. of water until dissolved.
Pour the sugar water over the almonds and toss until coated.
Cool sugared almonds in a pie pan.

Here’s a toast to all y’all from all of us!

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