Archive for May, 2010

An ode to POM(egranates).

A few weeks ago Kristen at POM Wonderful contacted me asking if I’d like to sample their product and perhaps try it in a new recipe.  She didn’t have to ask me twice!  I’ve seen many bloggers experiment with POM and have secretly envied their creations, especially many of Kath‘s spritzers.

When I received a case of mini POMs in the mail I was so excited and knew exactly what my project would entail – obviously a baked good.  However, I had to dig in and try one because they looked so refreshing. On it’s own the POM juice is sweet with a tiny hint of tart – reminding me very much of a cranberry juice.  Even D took a swig and agreed it was good!  I could absolutely drink these on their own, in fact as they have sat in my fridge I’ve often unscrewed a bottle and taken a few swigs just cause. And the nutritionals make it even more enticing, here’s a few that stand out to me (all nutrition info from POM wonderful):

(image from this source)


  • The “wonderful” pomegranates are grown right in California
  • These pomegranates specifically are known for their “superior antioxidants” with more potent antioxidants than red wine, grape juice, blueberry juice, cranberry juice, green tea, vitamin C, and vitami
  • Studies have proven that 8oz a day of pomegranate juice can improve blood flow to the heart, decrease arterial plaque, and lower LDL oxidation

One of the best ways to enjoy this juice is in it’s liquid form.  I’ve enjoyed this three-ways: with champagne, with tequila, and with carbonated water.

Pomegranate-Pineapple Spritzer

– 2 ounces POM Wonderful

– 2 ounces Champagne of choice (Martini & Rossi Asti is my favorite)

– 1 tablespoon pineapple juice

This was absolutely refreshing – I nearly finished an entire bottle of champagne to finish up 8oz of POM.  The sweet and bubbly combination combined with a bit of pineapple made this drink way too easy to refill.  KEEPER!


Pomegranate Margarita (aka: Pomarita)

– 3 ounces POM Wonderful

– 3 ounces pre-made margarita mix (Jose Cuervo)

– Handful of cubed ice

This is really that simple and I’m really that lazy. Mix, stir, sip.  This drink is my official summer refreshment of 2010. It is both sweet and sour, and involves a hint of liquor.  Let’s just say last night I had two of these and then had to crawl into bed.


Non-alcoholic POM Spritzer

– 3 ounces of POM Wonderful

– 2 ounces raspberry seltzer

– 1 teaspoon grenadine

This is actually what I’m currently sipping now, and it is for the record equally as refreshing as those involving liquor. I’m not much of a soda drinker, but for those of you who like carbonation and need to ween yourself off of soda, may I point you in the direction of a POM spritzer?  I imagine either a splash of pineapple juice or lime juice would also take this over the top.


May I present, my favorite recipe of all:  Vegan Pomegranate Margarita Cupcakes.

I whipped these up from scratch – the best part of vegan baking is always have ingredients you need on hand. And of course, POM Wonderful was the star ingredient and what made this vision. Well, so did the liquid version of these cupcakes, but that’s beside the point. The recipe is loosely based on a recipe in Vegan Cupcakes, but I’ve changed the liquids around and so I think it’s changed enough to share! The frosting is all mine.

Ingredients

Cupcake

-1 1/3 c flour

– 3/4c granulated sugar

– 1/4 tsp baking soda

– 1/2 tsp baking powder

– 1/2 tsp salt

– 1 cup soy milk

– 1/4 c canola oil

– 1/4 c margarita mix (Jose Cuervo)

– 2 tablespoons POM

– 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Frosting

– 1/8 c soy margarine (Earth Balance – room temp)

– 1/8 c vegan shortening (Earth Balance – room temp)

– 3 c powdered sugar

– 1 T soy milk

– 2 T margarita mix

– 2 T POM Wonderful

For cupcakes: Mix all the wet ingredients, then add in the mixed dry ingredients until smooth. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Let cool before adding the frosting.

For frosting: Mix butter, shortening, and liquids until blended. Add sugar slowly, beating on low until smooth.  Refrigerate to harden up for icing.  Not a good frosting for piping, actually very drippy (a 90 degree day was not the best day to frost cupcakes FYI).

Thank you again POM for letting me taste and experiment with your delicious juice! I do love it and will be replacing POM juice for cranberry juice in all my alcoholic beverages based on the health benefits and taste.  I recommend trying these out if you’ve been like me and wondered but haven’t tried them yet, quite refreshing!

What delicious foods did you make this 3-day weekend?

May 31, 2010 at 10:32 pm 5 comments

Summer Pasta Remix.

Most people spend their memorial day weekends lounging by the beach or pool.  D and I took a 2 1/2 hour excursion to the Jersey Pine Barrens (aka: where the Jersey Devil resides). In 90 degrees, I covered my body in long black pants and a black zip-up to deter bugs from feasting on me as we trudged around a bog and a lake in search of carnivorous plants.  I also spent that time fussing with my new camera, and learning all sorts of things to do that don’t make pictures look great. These are frustratingly the best I could do after 2-hours:

Meanwhile, D got down and dirty.

Sadly, the only working out I did today was shifting my butt during our 5 hour drive (thank you Jersey Shore traffic).

When we got home we were both beat and decided to order in Italian.  Except they are closed on Sunday, and apparently although today feels like Saturday it isn’t.  So I dug deep and was so relieved that I stole a pint of grape tomatoes from my mom.  Grape tomatoes + AeroGarden basil + 5 cloves pressed garlic + olive oil = Summer pasta to the rescue!


I sort of feel like this right now:

So now I’m sipping on some Pomarita (review to come) and cozying up for some Netflix. What’s not to love about a 3-day weekend?

May 30, 2010 at 9:02 pm 5 comments

Unexpected expenses.

Please disregard my absence, things have been a bit expensive around here lately.

I’d like to introduce you to my dear friend, Yari. Truly, I consider Yari a dear friend. Nearly 4-years ago we locked eyes and my heart was set.

After our 2-year affair in California, she escorted me across the country, toting three people and a bunch of our crap for 2 weeks.

And ever since, we have happily resided in New Jersey together.

Until this past week.  The check engine popped up and water started leaking on my feet and passenger side while I was driving.  Since I’ll be driving up to Boston next week, I figured it may be time to pop in and get Yari checked out. Ugh.  Apparently you should change your air and cabin filters more frequently than once every four years?  Also, bald tires aren’t vogue. Either is off-kilt alignment.

Major whoops. Major cash shelled out to keep Yari in the running for cutest lamb-lookalike on the road.  (And for the record, she is now running like she is a 2010, re-alignment really is a dream). Now, I’m happy with spending the money to keep baby girl up to par with her 2010 peers, I just wasn’t expecting it.  Not after shelling out $1500 on my teeth the day before, or an unspecified amount on Muse tickets and … a hand-me-down Canon Digital Rebel.

Please excuse the roots, we are in a transition period.

My bff in all things cupcakes, food, and photography Sarah just upgraded to a fancyass digital SLR and offered me her old model for a a good price.  I absolutely couldn’t refuse. Say “Hi” to Sarah.

We hung out last night to celebrate her friend’s birthday, new cameras, summer, and of course – cake decorating.

She made me some veggie-kebobs. And I got to playing around with my new foreign friend.

And then there was the gorgeous cake.

Now I must eat breakfast – my Sunday bagel is calling me out on my low blood sugar. Enjoy Day 2 of a 3-day weekend!

May 30, 2010 at 8:55 am 7 comments

Late night blueberry cravings.

I’ve been craving blueberry muffins in a big, bad way lately.  Like out of control. So at 10:30 tonight I couldn’t shake the feeling any longer, and started scrambling through my book collection for a vegan recipe, only to find that none of my serious “go to” books had one! All had a weird variation with lemons or apple sauce, but not the pure sugar and margarine version I was after. So I turned to my tried and true, google search.  Which took me nearly directly to  this recipe from VegWeb.

I had all the ingredients it called for, and just set right to work.  The only modifications I used were adding 1/4 cup chopped strawberries (only had 3/4c blueberries on hand), and adding 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract – it begged for this addition.

Fresh out of the oven.

Blueberry muffin.

Strawberry muffin.

All ready for breakfast!

I only used half of the crumbly topping the recipe called for, but I wish I had packed it all on for a truly over the top sugary, crumbly muffin. But these are ROCKING, SO moist inside, and absolutely FLUFFY!.  Totally take the cake and satisfy my craving, can’t wait to rotate them into my breakfast tomorrow morning.

D shoved one in his mouth, and after screaming about how hot they are said they were pretty damn good.  We didn’t even discuss the “V” word. Now that’s perfection.

So future thoughts? These make 12 fairly bumpy muffins, in the future I’d use my 6-muffin pan and all the topping.  I’ll probably be on a sugar high for hours though, nothing like being at the same level as the kids you work with though!

May 25, 2010 at 10:52 pm 13 comments

Hawaiian Shish, without the Kebab

Like any new vegetarian, I was initially grasping for resources everywhere I turned. Four years ago I subscribed to Vegetarian Times, and have continuously been pulling recipes and haphazardly choosing which to attempt. Up until this year, I paid little attention to whether the (V) followed a recipe. So now, I read through the recipes with a keener eye. Under this month’s “Veg Lite” section they spotlighted Donna Klein’s Supermarket Vegan: 225 Meat-Free, Egg-Free, Dairy-Free Recipes for Real People in the Real World, and included four divine sounding recipes from the book.

In particular, I was struck by the headlining recipe, “Hawaiian-style Sweet-and-Sour Roasted Pineapple and Bell Peppers”.   The recipe won me over with only 9 ingredients, only two of which I had to purchase. Hi? Sign me up!  Ingredients included cubed pineapple, red bell pepper, red onion, sesame oil, and a few extra sweeteners and seasonings.  Cook time with prep was about 40-minutes, with 30-minutes of downtime while the veggies roasted.

All mixed up before roasting.

All sorts of roasty and toasty going on in there!

Served atop jasmine rice. I know it’s not the healthiest choice, being white, however the brown jasmine rice takes literally twice as long to cook and I was feeling a bit hungray at 8:00 when I got to prepping.  So quick cooking white jasmine rice won me over, so sue me!

This recipe pretty much reminded me of sweet Hawaiian shish kebab, minus the skewer and tofu bits.  Time didn’t allow me to throw in the tofu, nor did the recipe call for it, but this meal is so freaking delicious on it’s own that the tofu may just steal some of the limelight if included.

When I presented D with dinner he commented “Who in the world thought that cooked pineapple was a good idea?”.  I showed him!  The pineapple and peppers were perfectly balanced  with the flavors of toasted sesame and red onions, and each bite sent sensations through the sweet and savory receptors in my tongue.  So , so good and I cannot wait to eat this for lunch tomorrow – D even (hold onto your seats) went back for seconds.  He may have pushed some extra pineapple chunks to the side, but he ate it up and even agreed it was “good”.  I give it more than good, it was sensational.  Mostly because it was easy and delicious.

I actually own another book by Donna Klein, Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen, of which I’ve only cooked one or two recipes that I cannot recall.  Hopefully I’ll pull that out again sometime soon, especially if those recipes are anything as simple and delicious as this recipe.


May 24, 2010 at 9:05 pm 5 comments

Italian Sunday tradition.

Obviously, for the cool population, tonight is a big night.  Like, super big.  Goodbye to Lost.  D had requested we have a “special dinner” in honor of the occasion.  His suggestion?  Turkey sandwiches.  I told him if that’s what his ass wanted – he could run to subway and get himself the grandest dinner he could imagine.  If not, he’d have to stick to my gravy train.  The request stuck though – not in terms of turkey – but in regard to the “special”.

Growing up in most Italian families mean enjoying a Sunday pasta dinner.  Traditionally, the sauce is simmering all day (probably in meat), filling the home with it’s tomato and garlic fragrance. In my family we participated in “Tomato Day” once each year in August, where we spent a 12-hour day washing, peeling, processing, boiling, and finally jarring plum tomatoes.  It was a grueling day, and one which as children we grew to dread as the end of summer loomed; however the end result of lasting, delicious tomato gravy throughout fall and winter was worth each and every painful moment. If I could bottle up the smell of fresh tomato gravy simmering, I absolutely would.

After I left for college my “duties” were rescinded, and I sadly haven’t participated in “Tomato Day” since. This year I informed my aunt (who runs tomato day) that D and I would like to participate, only to be told that there may be tomato day no more! Why?  Aside from the fact that there are less mouths to feed and less of a demand for the jarred tomatoes, they discovered a new canned tomato that can produce a stove-top tomato gravy that rivals their own.

What is this mysterious tomato that may possibly change the shape of future generations on hot August days?  San Marzano peeled tomatoes, imported from Italy.

Cracking open that can released the aroma of freshly peeled and boiled tomatoes that I recall from tomato day. Inside were about 8 peeled plum tomatoes in their juices.  The smell is absolutely heavenly.  The most important thing for you to remember from this post is San Marzano canned whole peeled tomatoes make a damned homemade good tomato sauce base.

Here’s a quick version of the homemade tomato gravy that I alter and toy with every time I make it. It’s such a treat that I really am considering making this my Sunday meal, of course in the future it will be bolognese style.  Here’s the quick and dirty:

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 28-oz can of whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes, slightly blended [used my hand blender]
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1/2 tbsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tbsp. dried parsley
  • 1/2 tbsp. oregano
  • 1 tbsp. unbleached sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt [more to taste]
  • ground pepper to taste
  • 1 packed cup of basil, sliced

Heat oil over medium heat with onions and garlic until aromatic and softened.  Add blended tomatoes, red wine and spices to boil covered. Lower to a simmer and leave covered 1.5 – 2 hours, until red wine is noticeably reduced. About 10-minutes before you think it is finished, stir in the basil and simmer.

Tada! Then pour over your favorite pasta.

This was really quite a treat, one that I’m going to make happen more frequently. I may even invite my mom over to share it with her – and that’s saying a lot. Give it a try, impress your family. And enjoy your Sunday, whatever the occasion is!

What’s your family’s food tradition? Do you still carry it on?

May 23, 2010 at 9:40 pm 5 comments

Best Veggie Burger in Town. Period.

Sundays are not my favorite weekend day.  Saturday blooms with all the potential of freedom, no boundaries, and endless possibilities for both day and evening.  Sundays are far more limiting, and often are used for more “productive” tasks such as food shopping, cleaning, and laundry. Today was the latter, as per usual when the sun isn’t quite shining to it’s fullest potential.  Following an early trip to the grocery store with the majority of the town’s population, I spent the remainder of my day  painting our bedroom (for the record – still not finished). I did manage to take some time out to eat some yummy foods.

During my Trader Joes run last week I picked up a new-to-me veggie burger, “Organic Tofu Veggie Burgers”, that proclaimed its “Vegan”-ness right on the cover. I ate one at Field Day this week and saved the remaining patty for… today! I also pulled out a pack of American Flavor Soy Slices – this is the second time I’ve bought these and had yet to open the package and try them.  With their shelf life quickly approaching it’s end, today was as good a day as ever to give it a whirl. I paired the two over 1/2 a toasted whole wheat bagel.

I pretty much have to say – and this is major – this is the BEST veggie burger I have ever tasted. Ever. EVER EVER EVER.  Like between the coffee and these burgers, it was really difficult for me to not run back to TJ’s and restock both products.  The veggie burger was slightly greasy, but mostly crunchy!  The flavor was not soy-ridden (as some veggie burgers can be) and definitely screamed more “veggie” than “tofu”.  Winner, winner, winner! The cheese melted nicely, however it is still hare to say whether the flavor was spot on or not – I’ll have to try another meal that really showcases the cheese.

I’ve got a delicious dinner to share with ya’ll – well a simply delicious recipe is more like that.  But it’s going to have to wait, because I have a 2.5 hour date scheduled with my television that starts…. NOW.

May 23, 2010 at 8:01 pm 6 comments

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