Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pumpkin Quinoa, Lemon Mustard Salmon and a Fall Mojito

After making last weeks pumpkin macaroni and cheese, I had some pumpkin left over so I decided to spice up my quinoa with it!

First I prepared 1 cup of quinoa with 1 cup chicken stock and 1 cup water.  You can also choose to do 2 cups chicken stock or 2 cups water.  I personally think that the chicken broth added amazing flavor.  After the chicken broth and water begins to boil, mix in the quinoa and cook for 12 minutes.

While the quinoa was cooking I sauteed about a 1/2 cup of red onion.  Once the quinoa is fully cooked, mix in the red onion and pumpkin along with some cilantro and mint.  Let sit for 15 minutes.

I paired the pumpkin quinoa with a lemon mustard salmon.  I mixed olive oil, dijon mustard and lemon juice until the mixture thickened.   I then placed the salmon flesh side down into the sauce and cooked it at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

I then turned the salmon skin down, added red onion, cilantro and freshly ground pepper on top and cooked for an additional 10 minutes.

The Fall Mojito we made last week was delicious, and it smelled amazing!  It takes about 30 minutes to prepare so plan accordingly.

2 ounces apple cider
2 cups apple brandy
2 apples cut into chunks
6 cinnamon sticks
3 star anise 

2 ounces spiced dark rum (we used Captain Morgan)
1 ounce simple syrup
mint leaves to taste
1 lime

Step One:
Combine the apple cider, apple brandy, apples, cinnamon and star anise ans simmer for 30 minutes.  This mixture smells amazing and combines so many delicious fall flavors.

While this is simmering, take the mint and lime and muddle them in your glasses.

Once all of the flavors have combined strain and chill the liquid.  We put it in a martini shaker with ice.

 Then add ice cubes, some of the apple pieces and rum to your glasses, pour in the apple cider mixture and top with a cinnamon stick and sprig of mint for the garnish!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pumpkin Mac n Cheese and S'more-tini

The weather is slowly starting to feel like Fall so I am excited to start cooking with all of the amazing Fall flavors.  This time I put together a good old comfort food, mac n cheese, and a popular Fall flavor, pumpkin to create Pumpkin Mac n Cheese!


1 small pumpkin
1 box (16 ounces) pasta ( I used rigatoni)
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons butter (I used I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Light)
3 tablespoons fresh sage
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups reduced fat milk
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 cup reduced fat cheddar cheese
1/2 cup white cheddar
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup Panko
Pinch of Nutmeg
Salt and Pepper to taste

Start with the pumpkin.  Cut it in half, and roast in the oven at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.  I removed the seeds, but left the remaining "guts" on the pumpkin to add moisture during the roasting process.

The pumpkin will be done when you can easily pierce through the flesh and skin with a knife.  Once done, remove from oven, let cool, remove the remaining guts, and cut up into 1 inch cubes while removing the skin.

Then season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Combine the Panko, 1 tablespoon of fresh sage and half of the Parmesan and set aside.

Cook the pasta as directed.  While the pasta is cooking begin on the cheese sauce.

Start with combining 2 tablespoons of sage and butter, until the butter browns.

Add in the flour until combined, then mix in the milk, nutmeg, dijon mustard and cheese.  simmer until all the cheese has melted.


Next combine the pasta, cheese sauce, and pumpkin.  Then transfer into a greased baking dish (I used Pam)

Top with the panko mixture, spray with cooking spray, and bake in oven at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes until golden brown.

And Enjoy!

Now for the S'more-tini's!!


chocolate liquor
crushed graham crackers
marshmallow creme
Half and Half

Step One: Chill glasses in Freezer

Step Two: Rim glasses with marshmallow creme, and then in crushed graham crackers

Step Three:  Combine vodka, chocolate liquor and half and half in shaker.  Shake until chilled, and pour into glasses

Step Four:  Prepare garnish!   Roast a marshmallow( I used a creme brulee torch) and place in glass to garnish


Monday, October 15, 2012

Wine and Food Tasting

Last week I decided to plan a wine and food pairing get together.  I purchased my wines from the Bevmo 5 cent sale. (very convenient)  Once I selected my wine's I researched the best foods to pair with each varietal in order to get the most out of their distinct and unique flavors.  For my tasting I choose 2 whites, 4 reds, and one sparkling wine.

I decided to create and frame a menu for the party listing every wine with a brief description, along with the food that each wine would be paired with. I also researched the best glasses to serve each type of wine in order to enhance the flavors and aromas.  A tapered glass for white, balloon shape for red, and of course a flute for the sparkling wine.

I also came up with some creative, simple center pieces.

I prepared as much of the food as possible ahead of time, so that I would not have to spend the majority of the party in the kitchen, this worked out very well!  

First Course: Apple Smoked Gouda and Gruyere with Pinot Grigio

Second Course: Grilled Shrimp with Homemade Pesto and Sauteed Spinach with Chardonnay 

Third Course: Goat Cheese and Fig Relish on crackers and Baguette with Pinot Noir

Fourth Course: Spicy Chorizo and Olive Tapenade with Tempranillo 

Fifth Course: Grilled Beef with Valley of the Moon Orbiter  

Sixth Course: Fresh Pasta and Homemade Marinara Sauce with Ranch 32 Coopers Red

Final Course: Chocolate FILLED strawberries with Cremant 

I served each course as "little bites" as to not overwhelm my guests with food, they all agreed that by the end it was the perfect amount of food.  After the tasting was over everyone was welcome to go back to which ever was their favorite.  This was a huge success and  I can't wait to do it again!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Seafood Lovers

I know it has been awhile, but I am finally back in action!  My husband and I just got back from vacation, so I have been cooking on the healthy side to get us back into reality.  Fish has been a staple in this as we are both seafood lovers and it is a very healthy dining option.  This week I made wasabi and soy sauce marinated salmon.


2 pieces of fresh salmon, low sodium soy sauce, wasabi, fresh squeezed lemon juice, lemon zest, horseradish dijon mustard, pepper, and garlic salt.

I mixed all the ingredients together to form a marinade for the salmon

Then I marinated the salmon for a couple hours in the fridge, flipping them half way through

After it was done marinating, I used my Nuwave to cook them, 8 minutes a side.  You can also bake them in the oven at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

I sauteed mushrooms to serve with the salmon with "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" Light, pepper, garlic salt, and dried basil

I also cooked brown rice, and used the left over marinade as a sauce for the rice.


Friday, December 2, 2011

Oven Baked Macaroni and Cheese

For martini night I wanted to cook something hearty, but still on the healthier side.  Believe it or not, I made a healthy version of macaroni and cheese, a staple in comfort food.


Whole Wheat Macaroni Pasta, Fresh Broccoli, Low Fat Cheddar Cheese, "I Can't Believe it's Not Butter- Light", Flour, Skim Milk, Fat Free Chicken Broth, Bread Crumbs, Red Onion, Parmesan, Salt and Pepper, and Cooking Spray

While I cooked the macaroni and broccoli, I sauteed the red onion with butter.

Once the onion was cooked I mixed in the flour and then added in the milk, and chicken broth until thick.

Once the mixture was thick, I removed it from the heat, and mixed in the cheese!

Once the cheese was mixed in,  I combined the cheese sauce with the pasta and broccoli and transfered the entire thing to a baking dish, and topped it with breads crumbs, parmesan and a little cooking spray.

Then it went into the oven for 15 minutes, followed by the broiler for 3 minutes.

Then it was time to serve!

Now for the martini's..........

This week we did the Journalist martini which included Gin, Sweet Vermouth, Dry Vermouth, Triple Sec, Fresh Lime Juice, and Angostura Bitters.

The Angostura bitters was the unique ingrediant in this martini, this was the first time I have ever tried bitters, so I taste tested it on its own, and it was actually pretty good!

For the garnish we used candied ginger.  We also taste tested this, and it definitly has a kick to it!

After we prepared the garnishes we shook all the ingredeiants together and were ready to taste!

And the result: We really enjoyed this martini, and would definitly make them again!