A Signature Side: Sweet & Crunchy Slaw Salad

Sweet & Crunchy Slaw Salad

When you need to take a dish to a party, what do you bring? During the winter holiday festivities, I have come to expect various family members to bring spinach dip, taco dip, and those addictive water chestnuts wrapped in bacon and slathered in barbecue sauce. Summer gatherings with my group of friends require I bring dessert (sigh), Dawn to bring her warm cream cheese, jalapeno, and corn dip, and Cindy to bring her signature side salad called…well, I don’t know what it is called. We all just call it good.

Sweet & Crunchy Slaw Salad

Since up until ten minutes ago, this delightful side dish did not even have a name, I have decided to call it Sweet & Crunchy Slaw Salad. Referring to it as “Cindy’s Salad” as written on my recipe card is fine too, it’s just not all that descriptive if you do not know Cindy.

It has been cold and rainy here over the past few days. As such, I have been relishing memories of summer. Since this dish typically appears at the 4th of July and Labor Day parties, I decided to make it for my own little taste of summer during the fall.

Sweet & Crunchy Slaw Salad

I am typically not one to offer elaborate descriptions of  the foods I post, but this one just has so much worth mentioning. The dressing makes it sweet, but the slaw keeps it tasting clean. The sunflower seeds, almond slivers and Ramen noodles balance it with a nice crunch. Every now and then, a green onion gets in the mix to give it some bite. The flavors just work.

I tweaked the recipe ever so slightly by substituting broccoli slaw for a portion of the cole slaw. For whatever reason, I also can’t help but think some dried apricots thrown into the mix would taste great too. Until summer rolls around, enjoy!

Sweet & Crunchy Slaw Salad

Cindy's Sweet & Crunchy Slaw Salad
Recipe type: Good
  • 2 packages Ramen Noodles
  • 3 cups shredded cole slaw mix
  • 2½ cups broccoli slaw
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • For the Dressing
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ⅓ cup white vinegar
  1. Crumble the Ramen noodles into a large salad bowl. (Discard the flavor pouch.)
  2. Add the remaining salad ingredients - slaw through green onions - and stir to combine.
  3. In a separate bowl or large measuring cups, stir together the sugar, oil and vinegar.
  4. Pour the dressing over the salad just before serving and give a quick stir to coat.
Decreasing the sugar in the dressing by ½ cup does not have a lot of impact on this recipe. If you are looking to reduce your sugar intake, give it a try.

Oktoberfest: IPAs & Fried Beer Battered Apples

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Dip

As Oktoberfest draws to a close, this series concludes with a beer that remains an enigma to me: the IPA. I do not particularly care for IPAs, yet of all the beers we tasted in Beer School, an Cleveland’s Great Lakes Brewing Company’s Lake Erie Monster was actually my favorite. I liked this beer so much that I sent my mom, who lives in Ohio, on a search for it. LEM is a seasonal beer, so there was not much left here in North Carolina by the time I had my first taste of it in July.

I suppose now is as good a time as ever to come clean that, sometimes, my sister and I like to send our mom out on little quests. We drop a casual hint like, “Gee, I’d really like to try such-and-such but I can’t seem to find any here.” And off she goes. We like to think we are doing her a favor by keeping her active. Not to mention, she is really good at finding things!

So that is how it came about that I asked Mom to check out just what Great Lakes’ beers were available at Kroger the next time she stopped by. There was no Lake Erie Monster available, but for whatever reason, the search did not stop there.

Fast forward to a lovely August afternoon when I get a text message from my sister that reads, “Look what we found in Honor, Michigan!” And lo and behold, accompanying the message there was a picture of a fairly beat-up four-pack of Lake Erie Monster. Apparently, Mom had never stopped looking for it. I have been told my sister got down on her hands and knees to look at the back of a bottom shelf where she found the lone remaining beer available. I have a great family.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Dip

I saw the Lake Erie Monster once. I was probably 10-years-old, and I was fishing for Walleye with my dad on Lake Erie. I was probably doing more tagging along that actual fishing, but that’s beside the point.

This next part is a little embarrassing to write, but it’s a true story. You see, we are in the middle of lake, practically in Canada, and I had to pee. Boys are so lucky. Anytime they have to pee, they just tell you to turn around and let it fly. But when sitting in a boat in the middle of a lake with no hope of going to shore anytime soon, girls have to get in the water to pee. So as I creeped in to the water, I saw a little head pop up about 20 yards out. It was the monster.

I got back into the boat and held it the rest of the day. I was not about to get sucked under and drowned or eaten alive by that thing. Now at this point, I know you are probably thinking, “what an idiot-kid with an over-active, paranoid imagination.” Say what you will, but I saw that sucker’s head.

I also heard Big Foot messing around outside of my bedroom window when I was about the same age. Mom insisted it was just a tree branch and the wind, but she was not in the room when I heard him. (That little episode got me banned from ever watching Unsolved Mysteries again.)

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Dip

Would you get in the water if you saw that thing in there?
I should certainly hope not.

So, now that I’ve completely destroyed any credibility I may have once had, allow me to tell you about these delicious fried apples. Like I did with the lambics, I had a hard time figuring out what to make with an IPA. They are so bitter that baking was out. But as I looked around for recipes and got to thinking about my options, I thought an IPA would work nicely in a beer batter.

When I was much younger, my family would occasionally go to a restaurant that served fried pickles and fried apples. That was a pretty novel thing for the childhood version of myself to experience, and I have never forgotten it. So, after a lovely trip to the farmer’s market on a beautiful fall day, I decided to fry up some beer battered apples.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Dip

India Pale Ales, or  IPAs, originated not in India but in England. Brewers added extra hops to preserve the pale ales being sent to British soldiers in the India. The soldiers liked it so much that they kept asking for it when they got back home, and eventually, brewers decided to make it a permanent thing. Today, there are English IPAs, American IPAs and Imperial – or Double – IPAs.

English and American IPAs are similar in terms of bitterness, color and alcohol-by-volume. English IPAS range from 40 to 60 IBUs (international bittering units), while American IPAs range from 40 to 75 IBUs. With a SRM (standard reference method) of four to 15, one will find a wider range of colors in American IPAS. English IPAs run from eight to 13 on the SRM scale. Both have an alcohol by volume content ranging from five to 7.5 percent.

The Imperial or Double IPAs up the ante with an ABV that starts where the others leave off at 7.5 percent and goes up to 10 percent. They land between 60 and 120 on the IBU scale and eight to 15 on the SRM scale.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Dip

So with that, I conclude my 2012 version of Oktoberfest. I have received feedback from some that they have not liked this series at all. Others have said they enjoyed it. If you fall in the latter camp, reside in the Charlotte area, and would like to stay up to date on beer education opportunities, Like the Charlotte Beer Babes Facebook page.

This whole venture was based upon my experience at  World of Beer where Preston coordinated a summer beer school program. As I mentioned when kicking this whole thing off, any errors, omissions or severe miscommunications of the information he provided and I have re-shared are most definitely my own. Until Oktoberfest rolls around again, Cheers!

Beer Battered Apples with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Dip
  • For the apples
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup India Pale Ale
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 small to medium apples
  • For the dip
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat while you prepare the apples and batter.
  2. Whisk together the flour and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. Pour in the beer and stir until thoroughly combined.
  4. Core the apples and slice into rings, or simply slice them into thin wedges. Peel the apples prior to slicing only if desired.
  5. Dip the slices or wedges into the beer batter one at a time, then gently drop into the hot oil.
  6. Fry until lightly golden brown, using a slotted spoon to remove and place on a paper-towel lined plate.
  7. Repeat until all apples are fried.
  8. Keep warm by transferring to a baking sheet in the oven (for heaven's sake, do no put the paper towel in the oven - this is likely something I would have done as a kitchen novice.)
  9. Prepare the dip by beating all ingredients - cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon - until well combined.
There is definitely room for experimentation in this recipe. One idea is to add a teaspoon of cinnamon and use a different type of beer for the batter. Same goes for the dip. Mix it up a bit by adding ginger or nutmeg in place of cinnamon.

Oktoberfest: Sour Beers & Chocolate Cherry Lambic Cookies

Cream-Cheese Stuffed Chocolate Cherry Lambic Cookies

Baking with my favorite type of beer has resulted in my favorite Oktoberfest recipe thus far. I love lambics, and these chocolate cherry cookies baked with cherry lambic have made me quite happy. Oh, they are stuffed with sweet cream cheese too. Now that I have your attention…

I first encountered a lambic not in a bar but in an ice cream shop. Jeni’s Cherry Lambic Sorbet changed my world. Despite that, cherry happens to be my least favorite lambic (I prefer the peach or raspberry). The cherry taste is, in the words of my beer school classmates, slightly reminiscent of Robitussin. That said, I have never a bad experience when chocolate and cherries come together.

Cream-Cheese Stuffed Chocolate Cherry Lambic Cookies

I had a very difficult time selecting a recipe to make with this beer. My knee-jerk reaction was to make a sauce, so I vowed to stay away from that comfort zone. Chocolate-cherry anything just made sense, but I just was not feeling Cherry Lambic Browines, gorgeous as they are. A Kriek Cabbage recipe intrigued me, but I kept looking until I happened upon some cookies. Sold.

I used the recipe I found as a guide, halving ingredients, upping the amount of lambic and generally behaving like a cowboy in the kitchen. At one point I realized I added baking powder instead of baking soda. I went back and added the soda, made a little wish, and rather shockingly, all turned out well.

The dough is very sticky and must – allow me to repeat, must – be chilled to hold its shape in the oven. Because I was experimenting here, the recipe has a fairly small yield, though the cookies are very good sized. Their taste reminds me of Little Debbie Fudge Rounds. Did you ever eat those?

To get an idea on the best way to stuff the cookies, there are very nice pictures of Stuffed Snickerdoodles available for viewing at Cookies & Cups.

Cream Cheese Stuffed Chocolate Cherry Lambic Cookies

When I was in the store buying my bottled heaven, the girl who took my money remarked, “That’s a good choice.” She went on to tell me that she likes to pour an inch or two of cherry lambic in a glass, then top it off with a witte beer like Hoegaarden. For a different mixed drink that combines lambic with a fall-favorite – whiskey – try a Bloodied Belgian.

There are a number of sour beer varieties out there, though none ever caught my eye before beer school. Given I encountered my first sour while ordering ice cream, that should probably not come as a major surprise.

Cream-Cheese Stuffed Chocolate Cherry Lambic Cookies

There are Flanders’ red and brown ales. Lambics themselves are actually used to make other sours, like Gueuze. And faros are sweetened lambics. These beers are members of the larger Belgian beer family.

These beers have higher price points because they are costly too produce. I do not remember the specific details, but basically brewers start out with a lot of liquid that is reduced over the course of aging these beers. Since there is so much less at the end than what went in at the beginning, they cost a pretty penny when all is said and done.

There is also a lot of yeast (and maybe some magic) involved in making these beers. In different areas of Belgium, the wort is left out to combine with wild yeast cells in the air. This leads to spontaneous fermentation that is a hallmark of these beers.

To learn more about lambics, you can always visit Lindeman’s website. Though I can not tell you more (much?) about beer, I can tell you how to bake a good cookie. So with that, enjoy!

Cream-Cheese Stuffed Chocolate Cherry Lambic Cookies





Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 9
  • 1¼ cups flour
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup cherry lambic
  • ½ cup dried cherries
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips
  • For the Filling
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  2. Place the lambic and the dried cherries in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat once the liquid has been reduced to two tablespoons.
  4. While the liquid and cherries cool, cream the butter and sugar.
  5. Add the eggs and the vanilla and beat until smooth.
  6. Beat in the dry ingredients until just combined.
  7. Fold in the dried cherries, the two tablespoons of the reduced liquid and the mini chocolate chips.
  8. Refrigerate the dough overnight or place in the freezer until firm.
  9. While the cookie dough is chilling, prepare the filling.
  10. Beat the cream cheese, the sugar and the vanilla together until fully combined and slightly fluffy.
  11. Refrigerate at least 15 minutes before using to fill the cookies.
  12. When ready to bake, scoop one heaping tablespoon of cookie dough and gently press to flatten. Repeat this step to make an additional disc of dough.
  13. Place one teaspoon of filling onto one of the pieces of dough, then top with the other and pinch the edges together while gently forming into a ball.
  14. Return the formed cookies to the freezer for at least 15 minutes. They should be firm and no longer sticky before baking.
  15. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes. The edges of the cookies will appear lightly browned and the centers will be set.
  16. Place on wire rack to cool.
It is imperative to chill this dough in order for the cookies to hold their shape.