Pomegranate Margarita

img_0461

My friend, Steven, called last night and said he was having relatives in Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  He asked me for a food favor. He said they were preparing a Mexican-themed menu, and asked me to help him with a recipe for a Pomegranate Margarita which was highly requested by his wife, Bridget. I thought this sounded like a really nice idea since many of us will be entertaining family and friends next week. This recipe has the right mix of tequila, Triple Sec and pomegranate juice. I just recommend using my ultimately favorite “Patron Silver” for the tequila.


Pomegranate Margarita

Prep: 5 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

Lime wedges 

Salt or sugar for the rim

Ice

8 ounces white tequila

4 ounces Triple Sec

1 cup pomegranate juice

2 limes, juiced (optional)

1/2 cup club soda

Directions

1. Pour salt or sugar onto a plate or shallow dish. With a lime wedge rub along the rim of a glass and dip glasses upside down to salt the rim. Fill glasses with ice. In a cocktail shaker with ice place the tequila, triple sec, pomegranate juice, and lime juice. Pour into the salt-rimmed glasses and top off with club soda. Garnish with a lime wedges, if desired.

For tequila, see www.patronspirits.com

Holiday Spiced Nuts

img_0279

I love spiced nuts! I have been trying to develop a lower fat recipe since nuts have enough fat on their own (but don’t forget those are good fats). This recipe is just in time for the holidays, or you can enjoy them as a snack or also tossed in a mixed green salad with fresh pears and blue cheese. Feel free to use any type of nuts that you want. These are worth every bite, and there’s no oil or butter in the recipe.

 

Spiced Almonds and Pecans 

Prep: 5 minutes

Cook: 25 minutes

Yield: 41/2 cups

Ingredients

2 (6-ounce) packages pecan halves

1  (6 ounce) can whole natural almonds

1/3  cup  packed brown sugar

11/2  teaspoons  ground cinnamon

1/2  teaspoon  ground cumin

2  large egg whites, lightly beaten

Cooking spray

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 325°.

2. Combine pecans, almonds and next 3 ingredients in a small bowl. Stir in egg whites. Spread mixture evenly onto a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 325° for 10 minutes. Stir mixture; bake an additional 15 minutes or until crisp. Transfer foil to a wire rack; cool almond mixture. Break almond mixture into small pieces.

Note: Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to one week.

Easy Lemon Herbed Chicken

img_0420

I have 2 nieces in college who asked me to give them and their college friends some great easy recipes, starting with ideas using boneless chicken breasts. My niece, Meredith, has her own apartment this year. She loves to cook and gets tired of eating out. College students are really not so different from me and my friends (okay, maybe just in some ways). We are all busy, but we want to eat healthy, flavorful meals that are simple and fast. This recipe fits that bill so let me know what you think.

 

Lemon Herbed Chicken

This recipe is also fabulous when grilled.

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 20 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I like to use chicken cutlets)

1 lemon, thinly sliced

Directions

1. Combine first 7 ingredients in a small bowl, mixing well. Pour lemon marinade over the chicken in a zip-top resealable bag; marinate 1 to 4 hours, turning occasionally.

2. Place chicken on a lightly greased baking sheet (or cover baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray for easy cleanup). Broil 51/2 inches from heat (with electric oven door partially open) 8 to 10 minutes on each side or until tender; serve with the lemon slices.

 

For the Broccoli Stir-Fry pictured above:

Saute 1 (12-ounce) package broccoli slaw and 1 (12-ounce) package broccoli and carrots in a large saute pan coated with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce and saute over medium heat 5 to 10 minutes, stirring often.

Thanksgiving Apple Cranberry Cobbler

img_04161

I have always loved cobbler, and it is so easy to make. I am not sure if it’s the freshness of the fruit or the warmth with cool ice cream on top that makes me crave it. Since I grew up and am still living in the South, I have had a lot of cobblers, but most were made with fresh peaches, blueberries and blackberries. Now, I make cobbler with all types of fruits and enjoy them all year long. Feel free to use fresh cranberries instead of dried in this recipe since now is the season. This is a delicious and comforting dessert, and it is one of my family’s favorites. I made individual servings for my kids one afternoon after school, and they were truly in heaven. 

 

Apple Cranberry Cobbler

This is a great Thanksgiving dessert option. It can be made a day ahead. Just warm and serve.

Prep: 20 minutes

Cook: 30 minutes

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/4 cup regular oats, uncooked

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened

3 cups peeled, cored and diced cooking apples (I used Braeburn and Honey Crisp)

3/4 cup dried cranberries

1/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

Vanilla Ice cream

Preparation

1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender until crumbly.

2. Combine apples, cranberries, sugar and honey in large bowl, mixing well. Spoon in a lightly greased 8-inch baking pan or 41/2 x 41/2 individual ramekin or square baking dishes. Spoon flour mixture evenly over top and drizzle evenly with 2 tablespoons melted butter.

3. Bake at 350F for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden. Serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Turkey Meatloaf with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Basil

img_0387

img_0398

Whether you are a huge fan of meatloaf or not, I wanted to introduce you to one of my favorite meatloaf recipes that I developed using ground turkey. Ground beef or pork may be substituted for the turkey, but the ground turkey works well with the fresh combination of basil, garlic and sun-dried tomatoes. Anyone can put this recipe together with ease, and yes, it can be made up ahead of time and baked later in the day or even prepared up to one day in advance and warmed up just in time for dinner. Serve with a big salad and your favorite vegetable or potato side dish for a delicious comforting meal.

 

Turkey Meatloaf with Sun-Dried Tomatoes 

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 1 hour

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

1 pound ground turkey

3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs (use can use plain breacrumbs if you like)

3/4 cup chopped fresh basil

2/3 cup tomato sauce

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup chopped onion (optional)

2 egg whites

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/3 cup ketchup

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9-x 5-inch pan with aluminum foil. Combine ground turkey and next 8 ingredients in a large bowl, mixing well. Shape into a loafpan. Bake 50 minutes. Spread 1/3 ketchup evenly over the top and bake 10 minutes more.

Thanksgiving Pecan Pie Bars

img_0372

If you’re looking for a twist on pecan pie, try these simple Pecan Pie Bars. With ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry, you can prepare these with ease. I put my pecans in the food processor to speed up the prep time on this recipe. If you want to make them lighter, use skim milk instead of whipping cream. Just don’t forget to have a glass of milk on hand and an empty stomach (I’m stuffed as I am writing this).

 

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 45 minutes

Yield: Makes about 28 squares

Ingredients

2  cups  all-purpose flour

2/3  cup  powdered sugar

3/4  cup  butter, softened

1/2  cup  firmly packed brown sugar

1/2  cup  light corn syrup

2/3  cup  butter

3  tablespoons  whipping cream or milk (skim milk may be used)

3 1/2  cups  coarsely chopped pecans

Preparation

1. Sift together 2 cups flour and 2/3 cup powdered sugar. Cut in 3/4 cup softened butter using a pastry blender or fork just until mixture resembles coarse meal. Pat mixture on bottom and 1 1/2 inches up sides of a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish.

2. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool.

3. Bring brown sugar, corn syrup, 2/3 cup butter, and whipping cream (or milk) to a boil in a saucepan over low heat. Stir in pecans, and pour hot filling into prepared crust.

4. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Cool completely before cutting into 2-inch squares.

Celebrate Veteran’s Day

Flag Cake Recipe

Tomorrow, November 11, Veteran’s Day will be celebrated around our country. My kids participated in a huge Veteran’s Day program at school, and it inspired me to want to do something for my readers who are looking for something sweet to serve on Veteran’s Day. I called various local bakeries, and I couldn’t find any special cakes or cupcakes for Veteran’s Day. However, I found this really simple recipe made from a cake mix that I thought would make life easy for people like me who are short on time but want to honor our Veterans.

 

Prep: 20 minutes

Bake: 20 minutes

Yield: 12 servings

Ingredients:

1 package (18-1/4 ounces) white cake mix

1 cup shortening

1 package (2 pounds) confectioners’ sugar

1/2 cup water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Blue and red food coloring

Preparation

1. Prepare and bake cake according to package directions, using two greased 9-in. round baking pans. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. 

2. For frosting, in a large bowl, cream the shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the water, salt and vanilla until smooth. Place one cake on a serving plate; spread with 2/3 cup frosting. Top with remaining cake.  In a small bowl, combine 2/3 cup frosting and blue food coloring. In another bowl, combine 1-1/2 cups frosting and red food coloring. Fill pastry or plastic bag with 1/4 cup white frosting; cut a small hole in the corner of the bag and set aside. 

3. Frost cake top and sides with remaining white frosting. With blue frosting, frost a 3-in. section in the upper left corner of the cake. Pipe white stars over blue frosting. Fill another pastry or plastic bag with red frosting; cut a large hole in the corner of the bag. Pipe stripes across top of cake.

Recipe and photo from Taste of Home Magazine. www.tasteofhome.com

Brownie Shortcut

img_0255

We all need a shortcut sometimes, especially in the kitchen, and I have the answer when it comes to brownies. I came upon a great brownie and blonde brownie mix at Fresh Market grocery store. It’s from the Fat Witch Bakery in Manhattan, and all you need it unsalted butter, eggs, an 8-inch pan, a mixing bowl and a spoon. It’s so easy, and you will have chewy gooey brownies in no time. Leigh made these by herself, and everyone was begging us for the recipe or to make them more! For more information see below:

img_0230

Go to www.fatwitch.com or www.freshmarket.com

 

If you’re looking for a true homemade brownie recipe that is incredible, this is the one I highly recommend.

Outrageous Brownies

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 30 minutes

Yield: 20 to 24

Ingredients

1 pound unsalted butter

1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, divided

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate

6 large eggs

3 tablespoons instant coffee powder (optional)

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups sugar

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided (1 cup for batter and 1/4 cup in the chips and nuts)

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3 cups diced walnut pieces

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 13 by 18 by 1 1/2-inch sheet pan.

Melt together the butter, 1 pound chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate on top of a double boiler. Cool slightly. Stir together the eggs, instant coffee, vanilla and sugar. Stir in the warm chocolate mixture and cool to room temperature.

Stir together 1 cup of the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the walnuts and 12 ounces of chocolate chips with 1/4 cup flour to coat. Then add to the chocolate batter. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until tester just comes out clean. Halfway through the baking, rap the pan against the oven shelf to allow air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Do not over-bake! Cool thoroughly, refrigerate well and cut into squares.

Recipe from Barefooot Contessa at www.foodtv.com

Sunday Night Dinner Menu

There’s always been something about Sunday night dinners that I love. When I worked as a Food Editor at Southern Living Magazine we spent a lot of time on ideas for Sunday night dinners and even featured a monthly column devoted to “Sunday Night Suppers”. It’s actually a time where my kids don’t usually have any sports actitvites, and we can sit down all together (okay for me, maybe when it’s not baseball season). Enjoy this steak that’s really simple to prepare with only 5 ingredients. The marinade is really versatile and works well with almost any side dishes or salads.

 

Grilled London Broil

This marinade makes a flavorful London Broil. For convenience, you may make the marinade the night before. The longer you let this recipe marinate, the more time the flavors have a chance to penetrate the meat. Based on individual tastes, you can marinate meat up to 24 hours. You can fancy up this simple dish with grilled mushrooms and a wine reduction sauce. Look at our the long version recipe below.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Marinade time: 1 hour

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

4 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
1 pound lean top round steak

Preparation

1. Combine soy sauce, garlic, ginger and 1 tablespoon thyme in a small bowl. Pour over steak and marinate in a zip-top plastic bag in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
2. Grill steak, covered with grill lid, over medium-high heat 6 to 8 minutes on each side or until steak is desired degree of doneness, basting steak occasionally with marinade. 

Cooking Tips: Be sure to cut the meat across the grain in thin slices. Look for natural striations in the meat, which resemble lines running in the same direction (the grain). Cutting across the grain helps tenderize the meat by breaking down the meat’s natural structure. 

Grilled London Broil – Long Version

This is the expanded version of our London Broil recipe which includes grilled mushrooms and a shallot wine reduction sauce.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Marinade time: 1 hour

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

4 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
1 pound lean top round steak
1 (8-ounce) package button mushrooms
1 (6-ounce) package sliced Portobello mushrooms
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
1/2 cup red wine or fat-free, beef broth
Thyme springs (optional) 

Preparation

1. Combine soy sauce, garlic, ginger and 1 tablespoon thyme in a small bowl. Pour over steak and marinate in a zip-top plastic bag in the refrigerator 1 hour.
2. Brush mushrooms with olive oil. Grill steak, covered with grill lid, over medium-high heat 6 to 8 minutes on each side or until steak is desired degree of doneness, basting steak occasionally with marinade. Grill mushrooms at same heat 2 to 4 minutes on each side.
3. Sauté shallots in a small skillet over medium heat 3 minutes or until tender. Add wine and remaining thyme and bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Pour over steak and mushrooms and garnish with thyme sprigs, if desired.

Recipe and photo courtesy of Laura’s Lean Beef http://laurasleanbeef.com

 

Dijon Roasted Potatoes

Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 25 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

11/2 pound small red potatoes, quartered

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 cup chopped green onions

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 425°F.

2. Toss potatoes with olive oil and next 2 ingredients and place on a large lightly greased baking sheet. Roast 25 minutes or until tender.

3. Whisk vinegar and remaining ingredients in a small bowl.  Toss with potatoes before serving.

 

Sautéed Spinach with Goat Cheese and Pine Nuts

Prep: 5 minutes

Cook: 5 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

2 (5-ounce) packages fresh spinach

Vegetable cooking spray

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese

2 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted

Preparation

1. Add half of spinach in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Cook 2 minutes; add remaining half, salt and pepper and cook until spinach wilts. Top with goat cheese and pine nuts; serve immediately. 

Leigh’s Three Ingredient Banana Smoothie

img_0324

This smoothie is awesome, and I am not just saying it because my 9-year old daughter whipped it together one morning. I am very impressed though. It’s so simple and delicious, and my older son said, “How did she make this so good?” Try it and see. Feel free to add strawberries, blueberries or whatever fruit you prefer, but if you like bananas, you will love this with just these simple ingredients.

 

Three Ingredient Banana Smoothie

Prep: 5 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

2 (6-ounce) containers nonfat vanilla yogurt (I used Dannons)

2 ripe bananas

2 tablespoons honey

2 cup crushed ice

Preparation

Combine all ingredients in an electric blender and blend until smooth. 

img_0334