Monday, December 30, 2013

Sweet Sesame Green Beans

Perfect Pairing:  New Year’s Resolution Diet


I hope you all had a great holiday season!  Mine was wonderful. It was filled with loved ones, relaxing days, and cute kids.  Having kids around totally changes Christmas.  I love it.  

Some favorite moments from my Christmas.


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The Easy Bake Oven was a big hit with everyone.  I even considered posting about a homemade cake kit I made with my niece!



We also had a good time playing with my niece’s American Girl dolls.  I even pulled mine out of storage so we could have a tea party!


Remember when playing in the cold and snow was fun?




As with most holidays at our house, there was a lot of really great food.  Now that it is back to reality it is time to focus on fitness and clean, healthy eating.  The last two years I kicked off the season with a couple of light recipes.  Last year it was Chicken Vegetable Barley Soup.


Two years ago it was Berries n’ Cream


This year I am sharing a quick Sweet Sesame Green Bean recipe.  


Green beans are brushed with a mixture of olive oil, sesame oil, and a little brown sugar and then roasted until al dente.  They are great right out of the oven or chilled as a snack.


I am excited about a new year!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Fruit Slush

Perfect Pairing:  Shallow dish


I don’t think my family has had a Christmas breakfast without fruit slush.  It is a staple.   It is great because you can make it ahead of time and keep it in the freezer until you are ready to serve breakfast or brunch.  The kids always go crazy over it, and why wouldn’t they?  It has crushed pineapple (sweet), maraschino cherries (sweet and really red), orange juice (kids love juice), and bananas (enter the only real fruit).  Don’t get me wrong, adults love it too.

When my brother was little he had a bit of an allergy to red food dye.  Nothing critical would happen, but he would get extremely hyper and the edges of his ears would get bright red.  My mom said she could always tell when he had Hawaiian Punch or even Cheetos at a friend’s house.  Maraschino cherries are like the holy grail of red food dye.  They practically hurt your eyes they are so bright.  I remember being at my aunt and uncle’s wedding and my brother kept sneaking up to the bar to get bowls of the neon fruit.  Bouncing off the walls. 

This recipe makes a big batch and uses an entire jar of cherries, including the juice, which makes it a pretty pink color.  I love pink.

I recommend using a shallow bowl or dish, like a 9x13 pan when you make this.  If you pour it into a big bowl the fruit will fall to the bottom and it takes longer to defrost and serve. 

Merry Christmas!  I hope your holiday is filled with loved ones and precious moments together.

One year ago on Perfecting the Pairing:  Chicken Vegetable Barley Soup (perfect for those New Year resolutions)

Two years ago on Perfecting the Pairing: Sweet Potato Strudel with Brown Butter

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Sgroppino Cocktail and a Pinterest Update

Perfect Pairing:  Holiday party     


I really love entertaining in my home around the holidays.  I figure if I am going to decorate my place I want to have someone else there to enjoy it with me.

Last week I had some of my favorite girls over for a holiday get together.  I tried a few new appetizers (stay tuned), and kept some of my old favorites on the menu like everyone’s favorite ham and cheese sliders, roasted vegetable dip, and green herb dip


I wanted a unique cocktail to round out the menu.  Last year I made a St. Germain Champagne cocktail, which I loved, but wanted something new.  I knew exactly what to do after seeing Giada make this Sgroppino cocktail on the Food Network.  It is a combination of prosecco, a dash of chilled vodka, and a scoop of lemon sorbet.  Giada added fresh mint, but I did not use it in my version.  It was delicious and refreshing. It would be great at any holiday party.

I don’t know why I waited so long, but I finally joined the ranks of Pinterest users.  I suffer from board envy because mine look pretty bare so far.  I’m excited to fill them up with great recipes and ideas.  

I also created a Perfecting the Pairing Pinterest page.  There is a board for each recipe category and links to every recipe on the site.  I know I love having the visual, so hopefully you will find this helpful as well. 

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Also, I changed a few things on my site to make it more pin-friendly.  Now there is a “Pin it” button next to each picture, and a link to Perfecting the Pairing’s boards on the right side.

One year ago on Perfecting the Pairing:  German Sugar Cut-Out Cookies

Two years ago on Perfecting the Pairing:  Chili Spiced Soup with Stoplight Peppers and Avocado Relish

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Kale Salad with Spiced Sweet Potatoes, Crispy Kale and Sweet Sesame Dressing

Perfect Pairing:  Winter salad craving


This is my new favorite winter salad.  It was inspired by a salad I had at a great restaurant here in Chicago called Trenchermen.  I was determined to recreate the salad at home so I looked up the description on the website.  The description of their version says it includes vegetable escabeche, bagna cauda, avocado, pumpkin seed, and manchego.  Hmmm vegetable escabeche and bagna cauda?  I decided to ignore that part because I had no clue how to make those things. 

My version actually ended up being quite different.  I pretty much only kept the pumpkin seeds and one other very cool idea I got from them.  They topped the fresh kale salad with pieces of crispy fried kale.  It added great texture and a nutty flavor.  Instead of frying the kale I used my standard kale chip recipe.  My version features baked sweet potato spiced with pumpkin pie spice and a dash of cayenne, pepitos, freshly grated parmesan, and an awesome sweet sesame dressing.


This sweet sesame dressing has become my new “go-to”.  It kind of tastes like the dressing used on the Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad.  I used to LOVE that salad.  Applebee’s was like THE place to go in high school and college. 

I hope you love this salad as much as I do!  It is the perfect fit when you have a salad craving in the winter.  I am not even going to get into the health benefits. Kale!  Sweet potatoes!  Mayonnaise?  Just make it!

One year ago on Perfecting the Pairing:  Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Pretzels

Two years ago on Perfecting the Pairing:  Flatbreads with Thyme, Honey, and Sea Salt

Click Read More for the recipe...

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Thai Pumpkin Soup

Perfect Pairing:  Quick dinner


I am back to reality after an absolutely wonderful Thanksgiving vacation in San Francisco.  It was great to spend time with family and my ridiculously adorable niece.  I can't even stand the cuteness

We had a delicious Thanksgiving meal filled with our family favorites.  While that was great, one of the best meals we had in California was fresh cod and Dungeness crab my brother caught while deep sea fishing.  We enjoyed the meal standing up over paper bags for easy cleanup.  Amazing.

Are you tired of pumpkin recipes yet?  I hope not, here comes another one.

A few of the ingredients in this soup might sound like an odd grouping, pumpkin, peanut butter, mango nectar.  Trust me, it works.  This soup is so incredibly simple.  I decided to make this at 1 PM one day.  I purchased the groceries, made the soup, took pictures, and was eating by 2 PM.

Thai Pumpkin Soup is really light and would be great paired with a grilled sandwich or salad.  It is pretty low in calories and fat and has healthy fiber from the pumpkin.  Good stuff.

One year ago on Perfecting the Pairing: Basil Slice and Bake Crackers

Two years ago on Perfecting the Pairing:  Sweet and Spicy Spinach

Click "Read More" for the recipe...
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