Monday, April 27, 2009

Pink Pomegranate Daiquiri

One of the greatest perks of having a food site has got to be the fun packages that arrive on the doorstep. For a confessed shopaholic attempting self-restraint in the face of a recession, continuing to receive packages in the mail or getting a visit from Mr. UPS makes for a happy day.

Thanks to the wonderful folks from Pom Wonderful, we've been enjoying heart healthy pomegranate juice all week. While hubby has been making muscle building protein smoothies in the morning, I thought I'd take a different path and indulge myself with a little bit of booze and an adult cocktail. ...and I thought I was the responsible one.

In an another wonderful foodie package (a very, very late thanks to Elle and the wonderful people at Hola Fruta), I received about 5 cartons of the very best fruit sherbet I think I've ever had. EVER. It's delicious and healthy and smooth and creamy. Coming from an ice cream/frozen yogurt/sherbet aficionado, that means a lot.

Pink Pomegranate Daiquiri

In any case, I had the quite brilliant idea to combine rum, pomegranate sherbet, and POM juice to create a quite tasty pretty pink cocktail. I think these would be perfect for a bridal shower, bachelorette party, or any other occasion where pink drinks are more appropriate than not.

Pink Pomegranate Daiquiri

Pink Pomegranate Daiquiri
Serving for one

1 shot Bacardi Rum (use more if you're so inclined) :)
2 shots POM Wonderful Pomegranate juice
1/2 cup Hola Fruta Pomegranate Sherbet
2 ice cubes

Combine all in a blender and mix away until smooth!

Other yummy recipes -
It looks like the folks at POM have been getting around! Check out these other posts that I'd like to try:

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Good Ol' Tuna Noodle Casserole

I'm very fortunate to have ended up quite the adventurous eater. As a child, I would pick and chose foods with ardent fury that I simply would and would not eat. Would you believe I never ate beans until college? ...told my friends' parents that I was allergic to milk because I hated the taste? ...refused to eat any sandwich that had been contaminated with pickle juice?

Well, luckily for us all I have turned out to be quite a charming and not-so-picky adult. :)

Tuna Noodle Casserole The worst offender on my "do not eat" list was hands down - canned tuna. I simply couldn't sit next to a friend or classmate who had a tuna sandwich. In college, my study buddy brought a snack pack of tuna and crackers and I swiftly put an end to our study dates.

I don't recall the first time I got over the canned tuna hurdle, but I can now safely say that tuna noodle casserole is one of my favorite comfort foods. While it certainly doesn't bring back any nostalgia of childhood, family dinners or momma's cooking, it does remind me of the early days of my relationship with hubby.

Tuna Noodle Casserole
Back when we were dating, I enjoyed cooking but had a very small kitchen and limited supplies (think a mish-mosh of pots and pans from college, the majority of which were hand-me-downs from my mother's kitchen or garage sale purchases). Since I was very much a budding cook, I stuck to lots of recipes using "convenience foods" like condensed soup or pre-packaged stir fry mixes. My recipe repertoire had its limitations, but I always had a few standbys that I knew would impress. Cooking for a new boyfriend required me to be calm, cool and collected in the kitchen (none of which I am today!) Tuna noodle casserole was my favorite dish to throw together so we could spend more time being googly-eyed and all that stuff that new couples enjoy.

Today, I like to think that I have gotten much better in the kitchen, but we still enjoy good ol' tuna noodle casserole more often than not. It's simple, delicious, and easy. To my old study buddy - I apologize. I'd be happy to have you and your tuna cracker snack pack over any day.

Good Ol' Tuna Noodle Casserole
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 cup diced onion
1 cup milk
1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed reduced-fat cream of mushroom soup
1 1/4 cups frozen green peas
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
2 cans tuna, drained and flaked
3/4 box of rotini cooked according to package directions
1/3 cup Italian breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 450° and spray a 2qt casserole dish lightly with cooking spray.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 3-4 minutes. Add milk and soup. Cook 3 minutes; stir constantly with a whisk.
Add peas, lemon juice, salt, pepper, garlic salt and tuna. mix well. Add drained noodles and toss to coat noodles with sauce. Pour into casserole dish.

Combine breadcrumbs and cheese; sprinkle on top and spray breadcrumb topping with nonstick cooking spray. Bake at 450° 15 minutes or until bubbly.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Pesto Sausage and Kale Pizza

sausage kale pizzaWith all the smack talk about Giada's bounteous assets, I must admit that 90% of my jesting is driven by pure jealousy. Have you seen her new TV show, Giada at Home? Talk about living in luxury. Giada's home is the epitome of the gorgeous seaside house I'd like to have one day, but probably never will. Ok, I'm also jealous of her big smile. There, I've said it.

sausage kale pizzaNow that I've gotten that off my chest, I can better concentrate on food. Hubby and I have a lot of favorites, but this pizza is certainly up there. It's perfect in that it can be as easy or as complicated as you wish. We've made this with both homemade dough and Trader Joe's dough. The same goes for the sauce. As much as I love making my dough from scratch on the weekends, TJ's refrigerated pizza dough is so yummy & so cheap that it's hard to even think of stressing myself out about how I can get dough to rise while I'm at work.

sausage kale pizzaIf you're lucky enough to have a Henry's in your area, please get up and go try their market fresh sausage, homemade each morning. They have quite a few different flavors and our favorites have been the pesto, garlic & herb and sweet Italian sausages. Cooking the sausage in the sauce helps flavor both the sauce and the meat.

*Just a tip for TJ's pizza dough: be sure to prebake it before putting on sauce and toppings. It can get soggy otherwise.

Pesto Sausage and Kale Pizza

Trader Joe's Whole Wheat pizza dough or homemade dough
1 bunch lacinato kale
olive oil
2 large links uncooked chicken or turkey pesto sausage, casings removed
pinch of Kosher salt
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon of water
1 1/4 cup pasta sauce (I like to use a chunky sauce; use more if you like a lot of sauce)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
If using TJ's pizza dough, allow it to rest for about 15-20 minutes on a floured surface. On a floured surface, roll out pizza dough. Mine never ends up in a perfect circle, so use your creativity :)

Wash lacinato kale thoroughly and pull leaves off of thick stems. Tear apart into smaller pieces.

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add sausage and break up links. Once sausage is browned, but not fully cooked, add pasta sauce and allow to simmer.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan heat olive oil over medium heat. Add lacinato kale and allow to sit for about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with Kosher Salt and garlic. Toss the kale and add 1 tbsp of water. Cover and let steam for about 2 additional minutes. Remove from heat once done.

Pre-cook pizza crust for 5 minutes.

Remove from oven and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt if desired. Spread sausage pasta sauce on pizza dough. Place kale on top and sprinkle entire pizza with mozzarella cheese.

Return pizza to oven for another 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is thoroughly melted .

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Fish Minestrone topped with Parsley Herb Pesto

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter! We don't have any family in town, so we tried to enjoy the day by taking advantage of the beautiful sunshine and plan on having a nice dinner at home. Lately, I have been cooking quite a bit from my favorite big headed beauty's new cookbook, Giada's Kitchen.

Giada's Kitchen
I love her new collection that focuses on fresh ingredients and a bit of a California spin on recipes like this Fish Minestrone Soup. Aside from the great food, the cookbook also seems to offer uh, a little bit of candy for the eyes. Giada's stylist has an uncanny knack for picking out tops that accentuate her I mean, is this cookbook G-rated? The Giada montages are something else!

Well, if anything, Giada's latest seems to have gotten hubby more interested in picking out dishes for dinner so I suppose that's a plus.

I had a few initial doubts about this soup as the actual broth isn't seasoned with anything more than salt and pepper. The mixologist in me felt inclined to run to the spice rack, but I resisted and just followed the recipe for once.

The fish seasons the broth nicely and a mixture of oregano, fresh Italian parsley and olive oil tops the soup and really kicks up the flavor. Giada calls it an herb sauce, but as you can see from the photos it's a little bit more of a pesto consistency so I've taken the liberty to rename.

Contrary to my assumption, the minestrone was full of flavor and quite hearty. Zucchini, carrots, onions, garbanzo beans and cannelini beans round out the soup nicely and are certainly a nice change from the typical Italian tomato based minestrone.

I highly recommend checking out Giada's Kitchen (for both the recipes and your husband's entertainment) and plan on making the Grilled Shrimp with Tomato Artichoke Broth tonight!

Fish Minestrone with Herb Pesto
adapted from Giada's Kitchen

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup sweet onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 zucchini, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 1/2 cup fresh green beans, cut into bite size pieces
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
6 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 lb red snapper filets
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Herb Pesto Topping
2 cups fresh flat leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, zucchini and green beans. Stir to combine and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the beans and the broth. Cook until the broth simmers, about 5 minutes.

Season both sides of the fish fillets with kosher salt and pepper and add them to the soup. Simmer until the fish is cooked through. Season the broth with salt & pepper.

For the herb topping:
While the fish cooks, combine the parsley, oregano, garlic & white wine vinegar in the food processor. Pulse the machine until it forms a paste. Add olive oil in a steady stream while the food processor runs. Add salt and pepper.

Ladle soup into bowls and top with the herb pesto as desired.

Monday, April 6, 2009

'Loser' Peanut Butter Cookie Crunch Bars

Could it have been the too long, cumbersome name? Or, perhaps it was the utter deliciousness of everything good in life perched atop a cookie crust, but sadly I was not chosen as a finalist in Betty Crocker's Cookie Contest. I like to think of myself as humble to a fault, but this recipe was pretty kick ass if I can so humbly say so myself.

Peanut Butter Cookie CrunchIf only Betty knew what I could do with $4,000 cash! Obviously, I would have gone to great lengths to stimulate the economy like no other with new and fabulous gladiator sandals, a flat iron to keep my hair sleek and a snazzy espresso machine for good measure.

Well, I suppose I'll just keep clippin' coupons for now.

This recipe is inspired by a few of my favorite things: cookies (obviously), toasted marshmallows, chocolate, peanut butter and rice krispy treats. Overkill? It may sound like it, but this dessert was neither too rich, nor too sweet. Rather, it's just a nice balance of yes, all the good things in life. I can't stress this enough!

In my very scientific approach to coming up with a $4,000 recipe I created this first with a peanut butter cookie crust and then tried out a sugar cookie crust. Hubby and I were so baffled as to which version was superior that we just had to polish off both batches to provide an objective taste test. Did I tell you we're on a diet now?

Ooey gooey goodness piled high! After making either a sugar cookie or peanut butter cookie crust, cover the cookie with marshmallows and toast in the oven until they're lightly brown. Chocolate is melted with a little peanut butter and mixed with a touch of oats and a good dose of Rice Krispy Cereal and then spread over the toasted marhsmallows. The chocolate crunch topping is a little difficult to spread out, but with some patience and love, you'll get there. When all else fails, I like to marble things to make my difficulties look professional!

Here's the recipe!!
Peanut Butter Cookie Crunch Bars
Like I mentioned, I made these with both a sugar cookie and a peanut butter cookie crust. They were both amazing. Here is the recipe with peanut butter cookie.
**If you want to try the sugar cookie base, follow the instructions on the bag since that variety has different add-ins.

1 package peanut butter cookie mix (Betty Crocker)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
4 cups mini marshmallows
1/4 cup mini marshmallows
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup oats
1 1/2 cup Rice Krispy Cereal

Heat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 13x9 inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine cookie mix, egg, oil and water until a soft dough forms. Press dough onto bottom of pan. Bake for 14-15 minutes or until lightly golden brown.

Remove from oven and cover cookie base evenly with marshmallows. Return to oven for 5 minutes or until marshmallows are lightly toasted.

Meanwhile, melt marshmallows, chocolate chips, peanut butters, and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Mix constantly until melted. Stir in oats and rice krispy cereal. Allow to cool slightly.

Spread mixture over marshmallow layer evenly. The mixture may be a little thick so spread as well as you can. With a knife, run the marshmallow layer and chocolate layer to create a marble.

Allow to cool before cutting.

Congrats to the finalists! Go check 'em out!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Broccoli Cheese Chicken Noodle Soup

Though it's only been about a week, it seems like forever since I've posted anything or even cooked a meal! We're back from vacation and though it was fun and relaxing, I'm worn out. Hiking in the Yosemite snow followed by a few days of wine tasting in Sonoma with some of your favorite people in the world will do that to you!

While I made valiant efforts to keep up with work on my Blackberry, I'm still crawling out of a virtually endless email black hole. How do really important people ever take vacations when lowly little me has so much trouble catching up?! :)

Luckily, I found this recipe in my archives that is super easy to throw together. When I whipped this up for the first time, hubby proclaimed it was one of his favorite meals ever. He often says that not only to flatter me, but to keep me cooking in the kitchen. Sneaky guy. Well, this time I believed him because I agreed!

So, the recipe does contain America's finest processed cheese food (aka Velveeta), but I swear that some days nothing can make things as creamy and nicely orange as a good hunk of Velveeta.

Because I'm tired and lazy, I'm just posting the link to this recipe found in March's Cooking Light. I made the following substitutions:

- 2 tablespoons of butter instead of 3 tablespoons
- spaghetti instead of vermicelli
- fat free half and half
- pinch of garlic salt

This is a great recipe for those of you in the country who are suffering from the it's spring-but-feels-like-winter doldrums. Just thinking about that snowy hike in Yosemite makes me want another hot bowl of soup!