Friday, November 30, 2012!

Well it only took me 15 months but I finally changed the official address of my site to instead of  No more pesky extra words and dots!  If you have grown attached to original address it will still bring you here, but you may just want to try the new sleek URL.  Not exactly big news, but I am pretty pleased with myself.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Garlic and Onion Biscuit Ring

Perfect Pairing:  Quick side dish

This is a dish my mom and I have been making for years.  It takes just minutes to make and the result is quite pretty, if I do say so.  I usually serve it alongside an entrée salad.
Biscuits are dipped into a mixture of melted butter, onion, garlic, and poppy seeds and then arranged in a bundt pan. 
Once the top is golden brown and the biscuits are cooked through it can be flipped onto a platter to serve.  I would recommend pulling the biscuits apart with a fork to make sure they are cooked in the center.
The Perfect Pairing for this recipe is to use it as a quick side dish.  Biscuits last for a long time in the fridge and pantries are usually stocked with onions and garlic.  It is great to have the ingredients on hand for a delicious side dish that is done in minutes.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Pork Loin (or Turkey) Crostini with Green Apple, Mango Chutney, and Brie

Perfect Pairing:  Leftover Turkey

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I had a fabulous time with my family filled with lots of good food and laughs.  My mom and I spent the last couple of days getting a jump start on the Christmas baking.  We decided to try our hand at truffles, three different varieties.  At times the kitchen felt a little like Willy Wonka's, but they turned out great.  I will definitely be posting about them!
The internet is flooded with ideas on what to do with your leftover turkey.  In fact, (a website dedicated to "stuff guys want") did a feature on how to use your leftovers, and included a link to my recipe for customized bread bowl breakfastsIt is hard to beat a turkey sandwich with a little mayo and cranberry sauce, but if even that is getting a little old, try out this crostini.  When I made them I used leftover pork loin, but I think it would be lovely with turkey. 
If you don’t happen to have mango chutney on hand, or if you are not a fan, orange marmalade or apricot preserves would work well.  The tart green apple adds crunch and melted brie makes anything better.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pumpkin Pecan Shortbread

Perfect Pairing:  Caramel Sauce

Most families have Thanksgiving dinner down to a science and the menu does not vary much from year to year.  I think this is especially true for desserts.  Obviously, pumpkin pie is always on the menu and in my family we always have pecan pie as well.  I went my entire childhood thinking I did not like pecan pie.  I took a bite a few years ago and realized I was really missing out. 
Pumpkin Pecan Shortbread is like the bar-cookie-child of pumpkin and pecan pie.  I absolutely love shortbread, so I was crazy about this dessert.  If you are not the pie-baking type bring this would be the perfect dessert to bring to Thanksgiving.  It is super simple to make and very tasty.
The Perfect Pairing for this dessert is store bought caramel sauce.  I am not a fan of super sweet desserts, so I prefer just a tiny drizzle but it definitely adds something to the bar cookie.  I recommend serving the caramel on the side so everyone gets just the right amount for their tastes.
I hope you all have a blessed Thanksgiving! 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Butternut Squash and Chickpea Tahini Salad

Perfect Pairing:  Thanksgiving

How is it almost Thanksgiving?  Seriously, where did the last few months go?  It seems like everyone I talk to feels the same way.  What kind of weird time warp are we in right now?
Weird time warp aside, I live for this time of year.  Gathering with family and friends is my favorite thing in the entire world. Add in great food, good wine, games, laughter, and you pretty much have perfection.  My family kicked off the holiday season a little early this year.  We had a “pre-Thanksgiving” celebration since we could not all be together on the actual holiday.  It was a great time! 
 My mom and I have it pretty easy for the actual Thanksgiving dinner.  We have been tasked with dessert and stuffing.  I actually insisted that we make the stuffing, because my mom’s stuffing is without a doubt the highlight of the Thanksgiving meal.  She does not really follow a recipe, but it includes sausage and dried cherries.  Amazing.
Also amazing?  Butternut Squash and Chickpea Tahini Salad.  I ran across this recipe on Smitten Kitchen while searching for recipes that used tahini, and thought it looked unique and healthy.  I had only used tahini in hummus and had a jar hanging out in my pantry begging to be used.  I am so glad I ran across the salad recipe, it is absolutely delicious.  The roasted squash is slightly sweet and pairs nicely with the nutty tahini and fresh cilantro and red onion. 
The Perfect Pairing for Butternut Squash and Chickpea Tahini Salad is Thanksgiving.  If you are looking for a great side dish to bring to your family’s table, this just might be it.  I found that I can make the dressing and roast the squash the day before and then assemble before the meal.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Apple Cake with Warm Caramel Sauce

Perfect Pairing: Whipped cream

I think it is fair to say that some of the best recipes come from our grandmas and grandma’s friends.  Am I right?  My mom got this recipe from her mother’s friend years and years ago.  The recipe card is yellowed with age.   I think that this might be the best fall dessert ever.  Seriously.  It is amazing.  You know the famous book, How to Win Friends & Influence People?  You don’t need that book, just this recipe. 

I can hardly believe Thanksgiving is a week away!  This apple cake would be a perfect way to round out your holiday dessert table.
When the first fall weather hit my mom wanted to make apple cake.  My parents were in the process of moving and she had no idea where her recipe cards were, probably in a storage unit somewhere miles away.  She decided to make a cake that she saw made on the Food Network by a certain gorgeous Italian vixen.  Well it didn’t go over well.  Apparently it was not good at all and my dad told her to throw away the recipe.  This coming from the man who could win the eating section on Fear Factor meant it was really not good.  He likes everything!  Lesson learned, stick with the original family recipe. 
I learned another lesson with this dessert.  The original sauce recipe said to use cream or milk.  When I went to make the sauce I figured I could use evaporated milk instead of normal milk, and if that worked why not use fat free evaporated milk?  BAD idea.  It still tasted great but was not pretty.  After a little experimenting with an immersion blender it was just right, but not worth the work.  Just use whole milk or cream. Mmmm K?  Trust me.
 The Perfect Pairing for this apple cake with warm caramel sauce is whipped cream.  Why not?  Just do it. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Chicken and Pineapple “Fried” Quinoa, not Rice

Perfect Pairing: Pre-rinsed quinoa

Since my parents just moved my mom has had an opportunity to analyze all of her kitchen tools before storing them in their new home.  She ran across a lot of duplicates, and superfluous gadgets that did not make the cut.  She called me the other day as she was organizing her pantry and asked if I could think of any reason for her to keep the electric skillet.  We went over what we have used it for in the last few years and pretty much came up with one thing, fried rice.  We both agreed that this was not a good enough reason to keep a bulky piece of equipment and into the trash it went.
That discussion got me thinking about the fried rice she used to make.  I loved it.  It was salty from the soy sauce, filling, and about as ethnic as we got growing up.  I decided I was going to make my own variation of fried rice.  My recipe is very different from that original.  I guess they both had peas, soy sauce and eggs in.  That is where the similarities end!
Instead of rice I decided to use quinoa.  I LOVE that stuff.  Side note: If you are a fellow lover of the grain you may want to try this Spicy Quinoa, Tomato, Spinach and Chicken Sausage Soup and this Quinoa, Shrimp, Asparagus and Goat Cheese Salad.  Quinoa's health benefits far outweigh even brown rice.

To keep it extra healthy I used lots of vegetables like broccoli, mushrooms, peas, and edamame.  Fried rice from the local restaurant is going to be full of oil; this recipe uses only two teaspoons.  It is spicy, slightly sweet from the pineapple, filling, and delicious.  Most importantly, it is good for you!   
The Perfect Pairing for this recipe is pre-rinsed quinoa.  I made the mistake of buying un-rinsed quinoa once, and will not be doing that again.  I didn’t have a colander small enough to rinse it and had to come up with alternate methods.  I tried coffee filters, paper towels and draining through my fingers.  Long story short, I had a bit of a mess on my hands (literally) and a lot of wasted quinoa.  Do yourself a favor and buy the pre-rinsed variety!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Caramelized Onion Dip

Perfect Pairing: Ruffles Potato Chips

I think most people have fond memories of the French onion dip made from a packet.  It is a staple at most Super Bowl parties and potlucks.  It is consistently tasty, especially if you have very limited time to whip something up.  This caramelized onion dip takes extra time but not much effort and is far superior to the packet stuff.
I absolutely adore caramelized onions.  They are so versatile and add a ton of flavor with not many calories.  Try putting them on a grilled cheese or on a homemade pizza.  I put them to good use in this Caramelized Onion, Fontina, and Prosciutto Flatbread.  
Caramelized onions are the star of this dip.  Admittedly, you do need to set aside some time to get the onions perfectly golden, but once they are in the pan you can pretty much ignore them aside from the occasional stir. 
You should know that this dip is also good as a spread on a sandwich.  Just saying.
The Perfect Pairing for Caramelized Onion Dip is the good ol’ Ruffles Potato Chip.  Some things never change.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Autumn Salad

Perfect Pairing:  Help from the grocery store

The alternate name for this salad was Maple Roasted Butternut Squash, Thyme Mushroooms and Roasted Chicken Salad with Toasted Walnuts and Cranberries.  While informative, it proved to be bit of a mouthful.  I decided to stick with Autumn Salad.
I am a bit of a sandwich and salad snob.  Lunch meat on bread just does not do anything for me.  I need to have something exciting on it like caramelized onions, sriracha aioli, sprouts, etc.  You get the idea.  Apparently I think things like caramelized onions are “exciting”.  Don’t judge.  The same thing goes with salad.  I like to add lots of different vegetables, textures, and flavors without adding a lot of fat and calories from cheese or fried toppings. 
This Autumn Salad is chock-full of good stuff.  The ingredient list may look long but chances are you have a lot of this in your kitchen already.  Often salads feel like a warm-weather thing but this salad is perfect for cooler weather.  It is almost comfort food.  I kept all of the components separate and ate the salad for dinner over a few days.  I looked forward to dinner each night!  The maple roasted squash would actually be a great side dish on its own. 

The Perfect Pairing for this salad is to take some help from the grocery store.  Buying pre-peeled and cubed squash, cleaned and sliced mushrooms, and rotisserie chicken will cut down on some of the prep time.  When I made this my plan was to use rotisserie chicken but they were out.  So annoying.  I actually had to cook my own chicken.  You could also use your favorite store bought dressing if you don’t want to make your own.  Yum!  I think I will be making this again very soon!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Tortilla Soup

Perfect Pairing:  Your favorite salsa

Fall = Soup weather.  Am I right or am I right? 
I think it is safe to say that I have probably made this recipe more than anything else on my site.  Every time I make it I am reminded how delicious and easy it is.  You can have dinner on the table in less than 20 minutes with this recipe. 
I have been at the grocery store many times trying to think what to make for dinner and end up grabbing these ingredients because they are easy to remember, easy to find, cheap, and healthy.  Once you get the cans open you are halfway done.  It really is so simple.  I usually get rotisserie chicken from the store so I don’t even have to cook the chicken at home.
The fat free refried beans make this soup thick, so it feels decadent but it is actually full of fiber and nutrients.  It is incredibly filling and satisfying.

The Perfect Pairing for this recipe is your favorite brand of salsa.  I really like spicy food so I tend to go for the “hot” variety, but you may want to start out with mild or medium if you are not a fan.  The salsa adds a lot of flavor to the soup so it makes sense to find one that you really like and use that in the recipe.  I think my favorite is Paul Newman’s chunky hot salsa.  The last time I made this soup I was in a hurry at the store and somehow grabbed chunky peach salsa.  I didn’t realize it until after it was in the soup.  Not going to lie, it was tasty!  There was a bit of a sweet undertone to the spicy soup.     
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