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Tasty Tuesday: Parmesan Asparagus Rolls with Lemon-Garlic Aioli

Parmesan Asparagus Rolls with Lemon-Garlic Aioli Photo credit: http://lilluna.com/cream-cheese-and-parmesan-asparagus/

Parmesan Asparagus Rolls with Lemon-Garlic Aioli
Photo credit: http://lilluna.com/cream-cheese-and-parmesan-asparagus/

I love sauce.  And I’m a saucy gal, so it works out perfectly.  And, when I was charged with making an Easter appetizer of the green variety, you can be sure I was looking for something that was worthy of some serious sauce slathering.  Tender, green asparagus bundled up and wrapped in puff pastry…oozing with melted parmesan cheese…drizzled with a lemon-garlic aioli?

Yup.  Recipe(s) found.  Results devoured.

I usually end up combining a few elements of different recipes to suit my culinary needs and then revise them a bit further.  And this time was no different.  I took the puff-pastry from one recipe, removed the butter and the cream cheese, added more parmesan cheese and topped it off with an aioli from another recipe.

Springtime perfection.

Here’s how I achieved these tasty treats…but you can check out the original recipes here and here.  Grab a box of puff pastry sheets (in the freezer section, usually by the Cool Whip) and let them thaw for at least 40 minutes.  About halfway through the thawing time I gently unfolded the sheets and then left them in the fridge until I was ready to assemble…that way they didn’t get too sticky.

For the sauce…you can prep it ahead of time, and know that the recipe makes a TON and could easily have been halved for the ten bundles I made (each with three stalks of asparagus).  But then there wouldn’t be leftovers, so don’t even bother halving it!  So…add your 1/2 cup mayo, 1/2 cup sour cream (could easily substitute greek yogurt), grated clove of garlic, three squeezes of lemon juice and zest, a dash of dijon, a shake of red pepper and a splash of hot sauce if you like.

Mix and try to not eat the whole bowl with a spoon.  Or, use it on everything else before it’s time to serve up your asparagus rolls…

Ok, back to the recipe.  Now that your dough is thawed and your sauce is in the fridge, wash and trim your asparagus and lay to dry on some paper towels.  On a lightly flowered surface cut the puff pastry dough into vertical strips, going in the same direction as the crease that’s already there.  I got 10 strips out of each sheet for a total of 20 strips.

Next, grate a TON of parmesan cheese all over your strips.  Grab one, two, three – heck, however many asparagus stalks you want in your bundles – and start rolling them up.  I found it easiest to hold the bottom of the asparagus bundle at a 45 degree angle, flowers pointing down, at the top of the puff pastry strip.  From there, just roll the bundle down the strip and spiral the puff pastry strip from the bottom of the bundle…finishing at the top.

I’m sure you had to read that twice.

This isn’t a food blog, so sorry my culinary descriptions aren’t on point.  But.  Look at the picture above and you’ll figure something out.  Or, you can wrap it some other way.  You’re smart, I know you are.  And, it will all be delicious no matter what you do.

I promise.

Next up, bake at 400 degrees for 10-20 minutes.  That’s generally how vague my cooking times are.  Just check on it and figure out when it’s done!  When they’re cooling, add a little more fresh grated parmesan on top so it melts over the buttery puff pastry.

Then, obviously, add sauce and enjoy.

This would be amazing even without the puff pastry, if you’re looking for more of a legit vegetable side dish.  Just bake your asparagus, grate parmesan cheese on top to melt and then drizzle with the lemon-garlic aioli.  And, you could even substitute the mayo or the sour cream for greek yogurt for a more healthy drizzle.

The options are endless, but this was an awesome flavor combination that is perfect for spring and summer.  Definitely making this again 🙂

Yours truly,

MomME

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Tasty Tuesday: Sweet Potato Hash with Caramelized Onions & Sweet Sausage

I absolutely love brunch.  It’s the perfect time of day.  It’s a socially acceptable time to drink.  And you can totally do sweet or savory.  The options are endless.  And that’s where I can get stuck sometimes…the options are endless and it’s always a tug-of-war with my taste buds.

Until I found this recipe for  Sweet Potato Hash with Caramelized Onions, Sausuage & Eggs.  And the tug-of-war ceased.  I can have it all after all.  Sweet and savory all rolled into one amazing dish.

This sweet potato hash pairs ooey-gooey caramelized onions…with crumbly fennel-filled sweet sausage…and aromatic roast garlic and rosemary.  And then you add a fried egg on top.  Whaaaaaaaaaat!?

I know.  I know.  My mind was blown when I read that for the first time, too, and I thought there was just no way this couldn’t get any better.

And then I ate it.  Hot out of the oven.  Sweet.  Savory.  Melt in your mouth and soaked in a fried egg.

It’s pretty much fifty shades of ahhhhhhhh-mazing.

This is the absolutely amazing re-heated in the cast iron for breakfast the next day.  And it’s also amazing for lunch.  Heck, why not make a day of it and have it for brinner (breakfast for dinner!), too!?  We have been eating hash pretty much for every meal since yesterday.  And I promise you’ll want to triple the recipe and savor it for days, too.  And days.  But I can’t promise there will actually be any left by then.  Between the three of us, 8 servings was gone in about 36 hours.

There’s no shame in my game.  It’s just that good.

My only modifications?  I shred my sweet potatoes in the Cuisinart.  I (at least) double the olive oil I add to the sweet potatoes.  I spray the cookie sheets so the hash doesn’t stick.  And, I use fresh sweet sausage from Rosemont Market (our local food market) and I truly think that makes all the difference.

So.  Next time the weatherman is calling for snow?  Or you’re having company over?  Or it’s a holiday?  Or just because you love amazing food…head to the grocery store and stock up.

It won’t disappoint.  I promise.

Brunch-tastically yours,

MomME

 

 

 

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Tasty Tuesday: Drunken Pumpkin Chili for Superbowl Sunday!

Gorgeous photo from The Scrumptious Pumpkin

Drunken Pumpkin Chili                                                   Gorgeous photo from The Scrumptious Pumpkin

Little W was born on the morning of Superbowl Sunday almost two years ago.  And while I wasn’t watching much of the game that evening, in true Superbowl form, I was eating some delicious hospital food.  (While my writing is usually rife with sarcasm, that my friends, was no lie…our hospital had the absolute best chicken club, the crispiest bacon and amazingly seasoned steak fries.  I’m pretty sure I ordered that combo at every meal while I was there…maybe even breakfast…)

But I guess that is neither here nor there, except to say that the Superbowl means a good game (hopefully) and even better food.  Oh, and the end of football season.  Amen.  

So what’s on the menu for the big game, you ask?  Three words…

Drunken. Pumpkin. Chili. 

I pinned the recipe earlier this fall and absolutely loved it.  Chili on a cold day is always good, but this chili has a really exceptional flavor profile with layers upon layers of unexpected flavors.  Yes.  I was watching Master Chef Junior last night.  So what am I trying to say?

It’s a flavor-explosion in your mouth.  It’s a warm hug on a cold day.  

Cumin, oregano, cinnamon, allspice, chipotle peppers…garlic, onion and bay leaves…velvety pureed pumpkin and mouth-watering pumpkin beer.  Carrots, yellow peppers and black beans.  Keep the beef, or omit for a vegan spin.  Go off-recipe and maybe even add some sweet potato.  Top it off with cheddar cheese, or sour cream, or greek yogurt or make a little chipotle mayo/sour cream/greek yogurt.  Everyone loves a good dollop of something on their chili.

It’s savory, smokey and has a hint of sweet.  It’s a vibrant masterpiece in a bowl, frankly.  Oh, and it’s amazing as leftovers.  You can’t go wrong.

I bet Gisele is going to whip up a batch of this for her hunny before the big game.  Yup.  So that means you probably should, too.

Go Pats!

MomME

 

Drunken Pumpkin Chili from The Scrumptious Pumpkin (her blog post is filled with absolutely gorgeous step-by-step pictures, so check it out!)
Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 1 hour, 10 minutes
 
Yield: 6 servings 
 
Ingredients
1 pound 93% lean ground beef (optional)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large carrots, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup pumpkin ale
15-ounce container pure pumpkin puree
15-ounce container diced tomatoes
2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, seeds removed and minced
15-ounce container black beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed
15-ounce container cannellini beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
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Tasty Tuesday: Roasted Garlic & Cauliflower Mash with Parmesan Cheese

Photo Credit: http://www.hummusapien.com/roasted-garlic-mashed-cauliflower-potatoes/

Roasted Garlic & Cauliflower Mash                                       Photo Credit: http://www.hummusapien.com

Chances are, if I’ve had you over for dinner, I served my Baked Honey Mustard Chicken alongside this decadent Roasted Garlic & Cauliflower mash.  The smell of roasted garlic mingles with the rosemary and, man oh man, it smells good.  Like been-cooking-all-day good.  Add a dash of something green to the plate (so you’re not serving a monochromatic meal) and you’ve got a (pretty healthy) serving of what I consider comfort food.

Rich.  Savory.  Flavorful.  Simple.

I tweak the dish a bit and leave out the milk, butter and yogurt because (1) my husband is borderline lactose intolerant and (2) I don’t always have milk on hand so I just improvise.  Instead?  I opt for a dash of chicken stock and a bit more olive oil – or nothing at all – depending on the consistency.  But honestly, the roasted garlic has such a rich and creamy flavor that I don’t even think the recipe needs the milk, butter or yogurt.  It is, however, ABSOLUTELY EVEN MORE AMAZING if you do add in a  bit of something creamy 🙂  If I’m making it for friends or girlfriends who aren’t lactose-intolerant (and I have the milk or creamer or yogurt on hand) I add it in without hesitation.

Either way, what I do add on top of my portion is a heaping handful of parmesan cheese.  It gets all melty-yummy on top and is just sublime.

So, don’t overlook that head of cauliflower at the grocery store next time!  It could be the the best vegetable dish you’ve served in a long time.  Love broccoli?  I’ve even roasted broccoli AND cauliflower and the mash was delicious, too!

Hungrily yours,

MomME

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Tasty Tuesday: Baked Honey Mustard Chicken (with a grown-up twist!)

Photo Credit: Damn Delicious

Baked Honey Mustard Chicken                  Photo Credit: Damn Delicious

I admit.  I’m an avid Pinterest pinner.  Whether it’s beautifully coordinated clothes, amazingly expensive and impractical shoes I’ll never have the occasion to wear, make-up or hair that I’d have time to style only in my dreams, or decor that I’m sure I could pull off if I could just make it through Home Goods without a toddler on the tear…I’ll pin it.  No matter its likelihood of turning into a reality.

Recipes on Pinterest?  Well, they’re a different story.  

I’m actually totally on top of my meal-making game on Pinterest.  Yeah, sure, I’ll admit some are a disastrous flop.  But, many more have earned their way into my weekly line-up of meals or have become my go-to appetizers at parties.  Pinterest is definitely my first stop for meal-time inspiration.

 

My absolutely favorite Pinterest find is the incredibly delicious, oh-so-easy (to prep, multiply, prepare, clean up after) Baked Honey Mustard Chicken from Damn Delicious.

All you need are chicken thighs, several kinds of mustard (that you likely have in the pantry or are super inexpensive to buy – I use dijon, grainy dijon and honey mustard), honey, chicken stock, olive oil, salt/pepper (to taste) and a few rosemary sprigs.  And if you were wondering what the grown-up twist in this recipe was…there it is!  Rosemary!  Without being overpowering, the rosemary helps to mellow out the mustard and gives the dish an incredible aroma.

The best part is it is so easy to make.  Mix a few squeezes (read: tablespoons – I’m very Rachel Ray when I cook and mostly eye-ball stuff!) of each mustard, a few squeezes of honey, a dash of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of stock in a bowl, mix, and set aside.  I always make more of this mixture because, well, I love sauce.  Simple as that.  Then, rub the chicken thighs with a bit of mustard and some olive oil (both of these steps can be done well ahead of time or right before you’re ready to make dinner).  When it’s go-time, all you need to do is sear the chicken thighs for a few minutes on each side, dump your honey-mustard mix over it, throw a few rosemary sprigs on top and pop it in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until the thighs are done.  Whey they are done, the chicken is falling apart and drenched in this amazingly rich and kind of sophisticated sauce.

So fancy.  So easy.  So delicious.  Even little W ate it the other night (he prefers when I use less of the spicy dijon and more of the honey mustard in the sauce for those of you who might be modifying for younger palates).

Well.  My mouth is watering.  I’m pretty sure these will end up on the menu tonight.

Deliciously yours,

MomME

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Today was Day 3 of my five-months-in-the-making New Year’s Resolutions exercise.  Results?  Well, my hamstrings are super tight and though each day into my Ripped In 30 journey gets a bit easier, I now have nightmares about Jillian Michaels saying, “Giiiiit some, B.”

If you’ve done the video, you know what I mean.

But seriously, there wasn’t a ton of thought that went into choosing this DVD over others other than that the fact that I already owned it from a  previous workout-quest (though I’ve never made it past Week 1).  I also love that each workout is under 40 minutes (perfect for a quick nap-time workout that even leaves me some time to, oh I don’t know, shower after?!).  And finally, it includes strength, cardio and ab workouts.  It really just seems like the perfect DVD, and it’s filled with lots of “Jillian-isms” like “Transformation isn’t a future event, it’s a present activity.”

Nothing like pondering some philosophical content while doing the running man holding two soup cans for weights.

My resolution isn’t about burning fat or losing weight, really.  In fact, I’ve been a bit hesitant to dive back into working out for fear that burning fat might interrupt the amazing nursing relationship I still have going with my little W.  I’m just hoping to make a few slight changes that will have me feeling a bit more energized, healthy and subsequently…cheerful.

In a similar vein, I’ve also been intrigued to learn more about cutting back on our gluten intake.  Ever since W was born, I’ve noticed my cravings for processed sugars, carbs, donuts – you name it – has been THROUGH THE ROOF!  I mean, I couldn’t go into my favorite coffee spot without getting either a cinnamon-sugar donut or an egg and cheese sandwich.  Luckily for me it hasn’t been an issue of gaining weight, but in hearing doctors talk about the opiate-like effects of wheat, I can TOTALLY see it.  It was becoming a craving I just had to satisfy.  And, I’d be satisfied for a little while until my blood-sugar was all out of whack again and I needed something else.  Ugh.  It was exhausting.

So, while we don’t don’t eat a ton of obvious gluten in the form of pasta and what not, we definitely opt for the whole wheat options of breads, crackers, cereal, etc.  This isn’t a mission to totally cut out all gluten but a conscious effort to make some substitutions that work well with our lifestyle and our eating habits.  But, I checked out Wheat Belly and the Wheat Belly Cookbook from our local library and intend to start digging in a bit deeper.

My favorite gluten-free recipe so far?  Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Salad – hellllllo, yummy.  I used a bag of the broccoli slaw and double up on the broccoli to make sure there are TONS of veggies.  There’s usually enough that I eat it for lunch the next day, too.  It’s so good!

My goal at this point is to make it through the whole DVD and at least get in 5 workouts each week.  Two more to go this week.  And, to read the book within the next two weeks.  Yeah for checking off two resolutions in one!

Yours truly,

MomME

 

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Mistle toes and festive fingers

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Twenty five years later, my parents still have the cinnamon ornaments my sister and I made at school as kids.  They adorn the mantle every year at Christmas time, bringing the perfect waft of cinnamon-y deliciousness.  So, when I was thinking about some fun things my mommy friends and I could do at our weekly get together, it was the perfect time to make some for our mantle.

Crazy to think they’ll last 25 years…But, considering they contain three ingredients (all which you can buy at the grocery store) and only took a few hours to make, bake and decorate…it seemed incredibly cost-effective.  Oh, and fun!

According to Martha, here’s what you need per batch (I doubled the batch and made 6 1/2 ornaments the size of hamburgers):

  • 1 jar of applesauce (1/4 cup per batch…there will be PLENTY left over)
  • 2 big containers of cinnamon (1 cup per batch, just about used all of it)
  • 2 bottles of Elmer’s glue (1/2 cup per batch, used all of it)

Martha’s blog has more details, but in short, all you do is mix the cinnamon and applesauce together with a spatula, then add the glue.  Let it rest for one hour.  Roll out the dough on a cool surface with a rolling-pin, 1/4 at a time.  Make them anywhere from 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.  Use cookie cutters or a circular shape to cut out your ornaments, then use a straw to poke a hole at the top for your string.  Cook at 200 degrees for 2 hours (or until dry).

Next, round up all of the fun craft items you have around the house.  I pulled out some paints, glitter, glitter glue, gold sharpies and paint pens.  I put a tiny dab of paint on a plastic plate, let baby W rub his hands around a bit, and then WHAM!  Right onto that cinnamon-y round of awesomeness.

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I highly recommend making these with friends or family.  Not just because the holidays are about spending time with those you love, but because trying to dip a toddler’s hand or foot in paint and successfully make contact with a small target (and ONLY that target) is challenging.  It helped to have a few moms playing with the babes while the others decorated, and then switch.

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We will definitely be making a few more batches and gifting to grandparents!  I know the hubby will be excited to decorate a few with his little guy 🙂

Yours truly,

MomME