Monthly Archives: November 2011

Pomegranate Vodka Punch

I whipped this cocktail together with some ingredients I already had on hand so…ta-da!  My own recipe!  At least as much as a cocktail can be your own recipe.  With cranberry and vodka in mind, I mixed together pomegranate juice, cake-flavored vodka and a splash of diet lemon-lime soda to come up with this cocktail that I’m calling Pomegranate Vodka Punch.  Because pomegranate juice can be pretty tart, the soda adds a much needed sweetness that makes this cocktail go down a little too easy.  If you try this, let me know what you think!

Pomegranate Vodka Punch (makes 2 servings):

  • 2 oz. cake-flavored vodka (like Pinnacle) or regular vodka
  • 3 oz. pomegranate juice
  • Splash of lemon-lime soda (diet or regular)

Mix together juice and vodka in a shaker or bowl.  Pour into a glass with ice and top off with a splash or two of lemon-lime soda.

The ingredients:

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  ME!! 🙂

Butternut Squash, Caramelized Onion, and Spinach Lasagna

I have a very vivid memory of the last time I ate butternut squash: It was March 2003 and I was in a restaurant in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas where I ate butternut squash soup while President Bush declared war on Iraq on a nearby television.  I’ll never forget it.  It was the first time I’d had butternut squash and may be why it’s been so long since I’ve tried it again.  I was a vegetarian then and although I liked the soup, I remember thinking it was very rich and I couldn’t finish it.  This recipe for Butternut Squash, Caramelized Onion, and Spinach Lasagna is the first time I’ve ever cooked anything with butternut squash before.  If you aren’t sure how to peel or cut a butternut squash, check out this website which helped me.  The butternut squash is roasted in the oven with garlic until soft and sweet.  Meanwhile, onions are slowly caramelized and spinach is wilted in a pan on the stove.  These soft veggies are all piled between layers of no-boil lasagna noodles (one less step!) and a creamy, cheesy bechemel sauce.  This vegetarian lasagna takes a little preparation but if you like a savory dish with a hint of sweetness, you’ll probably like this.

The ingredients (ignore the diced tomatoes, my mistake!):

Peel and chop the butternut squash.  Add to a baking sheet with sage and garlic (leave garlic whole, not chopped like I did) and roast in the oven for half an hour at 425°F.  Once mixture has cooled slightly, pour into a bowl and mash with a fork.

While squash roasts, sauté the onions in oil for a few minutes.  Lower the heat and cook for 20 minutes until soft and caramelized.  Set aside in a bowl.

In the same pan used to cook the onions, add water and spinach and cover until spinach is wilted.  Add spinach to bowl with onions.

In a separate saucepan, bring milk, thyme sprig and bay leaf to a boil.  Set aside for 10 minutes.

Discard the thyme sprig and bay leaf and return the pan to heat.  In a small bowl, combine remaining milk and flour.  Add mixture to the saucepan and bring to a boil.

Once bechemel is thickened, add salt, cheese, cayenne pepper, and nutmeg.

In a baking dish, layer bechemel sauce, lasagna noodles, and veggies (in that order) and repeat, ending with noodles. 

Cover last layer of noodles with remaining bechemel sauce and bake at 425° for 30 minutes.  Sprinkle remaining cheese over top of lasagna and broil until golden brown.

Additions: 

  • Parmesan cheese on top

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Italian four-cheese for fontina (because I had it on hand)

Overall Rating:  Like It

Source:  Cooking Light Magazine

Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

This past weekend, we got our first snow of the season in the Philadelphia area.  Yes, you read that right…snow!  There is something strange about looking out the window and seeing snow in the foreground and vibrant orange and yellow leaves still on the trees in the background.  The sound of the chilly wind and sharp ice particles hitting my window prompted me to reach for a one pot dish like Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya.  I made this recipe early on Saturday morning while it was still slightly dark out and my house smelled like warm comfort food all morning long.  Smoked sausage is cooked with onion, green pepper, and celery before being simmered with long-grain rice, chicken broth and thyme.  Once the rice is cooked and the liquid is absorbed, diced tomatoes, cayenne pepper, and cooked chicken are added.  I used smoked turkey sausage with pepper jack cheese in this dish which added another level of heat with the cayenne pepper and was very tasty.  I also used precooked chicken which has become one of my favorite time savers.  I grabbed a warm bowl of this and ate it while I cozied up on the couch with a blanket and watched the unseasonal slushy snow fall.  Hopefully you’ll try this too, only without the snow!

The ingredients:

Cook chopped sausage in canola oil until browned.

Add in celery, onion, green pepper, and garlic. 

Once vegetables are tender, add in rice, water, broth, cayenne, salt, and thyme sprigs.  Bring to a boil and let simmer for 20 minutes until rice is cooked.

When rice is cooked and all the liquid is absorbed, remove the thyme springs and stir in cooked chicken and undrained diced tomatoes.  Cook a few minutes more until chicken and tomatoes are warm.

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Smoked turkey sausage
  • Precooked chicken strips

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light Magazine

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