Sunday, September 23, 2012

Drink: Green Smoothie - Grapes, Pineapple, Banana and Spinach!

Last month, after months of pining for the Vitamix Blender (I had seen it in action at a few of my friends' homes and was thoroughly impressed) - J and I broke down and purchased one from Costco.  60 smoothies later (we have at least a smoothie a day) - we're still as thrilled with it as we were on day one. I haven't tried to make the hot soup or hummus yet - but have gotten pretty good at making tropical and berry smoothies. Today, I decided to incorporate some veggies into our daily smoothie. I found this great recipe online and wanted to share!

Ingredients (makes 2 tall glass servings)
  • 1 cup (160 g) green grapes
  • 1/2 cup (78 g) pineapple chunks (I used frozen)
  • 2 cups (60 g) fresh baby spinach, packed  (I used the prewashed spinach in a bag) 
  • 1/2 ripe banana, peeled
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) water
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) ice cubes
Place all ingredients into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid. Use tamper if necessary but I did not find I needed it. I used the "Smoothie" preset on the latest Costco Vitamix version. However, if you do not have this option, you can select Variable 1, turn machine on and slowly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High. Blend for 1 minute or until desired consistency is reached. Serve immediately.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Cook: Pasta with Roasted Garlic and Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes Recipe

Last weekend, we went to the Brentwood farmers market for the first time! We usually visit the Santa Monica market, but our friends highly recommended this one so we decided to give it try.

It must be tomato season, since heirloom tomatoes were going for $2.50 a pound (normally you can find them in CA grocery stores for $4.99). There was one stand selling cherry tomatoes - 3 pints for $5! I picked out the super sweet orange variety, a small yellow(squash shaped) variety, and some juicy looking red ones.  Then I had to figure out what to do with all these tomatoes!  I found this recipe for roasted cherry tomato pasta, and followed it with a few modifications. It was a big hit and was super delicious and easy to make!

Pasta with Roasted Garlic and Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes Recipe, Serves 4

  • 4 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half*  (I used the 3 pints minus a few bruised tomatoes = prob closer to 5 cups, and only cut the larger sized red ones in half. The orange and yellow ones were small, so I left them as is) 
  • 12 garlic cloves, cut in half (I did use this quantity and it was perfect!)   
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 lb pasta (I used bowtie)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (I used a little less)
  • 1/2 cup freshly shaved parmesan cheese
  1. In a  bowl toss sliced tomatoes, sliced garlic, oil, basil, salt, hot pepper flakes and ground pepper.
  2. Place in a 9 X 13 metal cake pan or baking sheet pan with edges,  and roast at 400°F for approximately 30 minutes, or until tomatoes are shriveled and the garlic tender.
  3. Cook pasta in a pot of salted boiling water while tomatoes and garlic are cooking.
  4. Drain and return pasta to pot.
  5. Add garlic tomato mixture and parsley, tossing to coat.
  6. Serve with sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
  7. If you don't have any fresh Parmesan try other sharp hard cheeses such as Romano or Asiago.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Cook: Watermelon Feta Mint and Heirloom tomato salad

I love Watermelon year round, but there is something so refreshing about Watermelon in the summertime.  Over the summer, I noticed a few watermelon based salads on a few menus and thought that it seemed to be an interesting idea. Last weekend, stocked with a perfectly ripe watermelon and some heirloom tomatoes from the farmer's market- I decided to attempt the salad myself.  We served it with some brioche, grilled sausage, grilled corn, arugula salad and some apps (see bottom photo). It made for a wonderful summer meal!  I loosely based the salad off this recipe that I found online, but adjusted the tomato/ watermelon ratio to my liking, and added slightly less red onion.

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped mixed fresh herbs (I used mostly mint, and a few basil leaves)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 heirloom tomatoes (medium size), cut in chunks (mine were approx 1 in cubes)
2 cups (I used a little less than half a mini seedlesswatermelon) cubed
a few thin slices of red onion (optional)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (more or less to your liking)

Directions: Whisk together the olive oil, herbs, lemon juice and salt in a large bowl. Add tomato, watermelon, onion (if desired) and toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with cheese, toss gently.  I recommend making this salad just before serving - it tastes best fresh!