Preheat oven to 375° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small saucepan on the stovetop, combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil, whisking to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat, stir in the pecans; toss to coat. Spread the nuts on a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Toast in the oven for about 8-10 minutes, or until toasty. Keep a close eye on them so that they don’t burn. While still warm, sprinkle the nuts with a little bit of kosher salt to taste. Set aside to cool completely. Once cool, you can store the candied nuts in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a month.
MAKE THE DRESSING:
In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sugar, lemon juice, kosher salt, black pepper, onion powder and garlic powder. Add the vinegar and mustard, whisk to combine.
Whisk in the oil, one tablespoon at a time, blending well after each addition. The mixture should be thick, but pourable. If it's too thick, gradually whisk in some water until it reaches the desired consistency. Store in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
ASSEMBLE THE SALAD:
Arrange the lettuce greens on individual salad plates or on a large serving platter. Top with candied pecans, blue cheese, cranberries and oranges. Just before serving, drizzle the dressing over the salad, to taste.
Thinly sliced red onion would be a nice, zesty addition to the salad.
Swap out the cranberries for other dried fruit like dried cherries or chopped dates.
Instead of mandarin oranges, use fresh berries.
Make candied walnuts instead of pecans.
If you don't want to make your own candied nuts, you can substitute with toasted pecans or walnuts, or purchase prepared candied pecans at the store.