Saturday, February 22, 2014

Pear & Pomegranate Salad

I'm sorry.  There's just no way I can do justice to this salad.

No amount or quality of pictures can even come close to the fabulous flavor and texture of this salad.

It's a shame that I can't tell you how amazing this salad is, so you'll just have to trust me and make it for yourself.

It's one of the best things I've ever eaten.  In my life.

My mom got this recipe from a friend, and my mom has been making it all winter.

I can't get enough!

The pomegranate seeds (or arils, if you're fancy) pop with juice and sweetness and tartness, the pistachios are crunchy, the pears are sweet and fresh, the feta is salty, and the dressing...

Oh, the dressing.


Pear & Pomegranate Salad
Adapted from Food 52

4 cups baby arugula
4 cups shredded romaine lettuce
Seeds from 1 pomegranate
2 pears, cubed
1/2 cup pistachios, toasted
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

2 shallots
2 T pomegranate molasses (can be found at Whole Foods or specialty market; can substitute pomegranate juice)
3 T apple cider vinegar
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Toss the salad ingredients in a large bowl.  For the dressing, puree dressing ingredients in a food processor until thick and smooth.  About 10 minutes before serving, pour the dressing on top and toss to coat.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Nutella Cookies

Do you like Nutella?  If your answer is "no" or "I've never tried it," then I don't even know what to say.  Consider me speechless.

Nutella!  I could sing a song about it.  But that would frighten you, so I won't.  This stuff is dangerous.  Maybe even deadly.

And my life has been complete since Sam's started carrying jumbo-sized containers of it!

I don't generally bake with the chocolaty-hazelnut spread.  Because it's just so good right out of the jar...on a graham cracker...or a spoon...or your finger...

But I digress.

I tried these cookies and WOW.  They are amazing.  Totally Nutella-y.  Perfectly so.  And the peanut butter flavor isn't overwhelming; it gives a bit of flavor and just enough structure to hold the cookies in a perfect mound.

This is one Nutella cookie recipe worth trying.  They're really delicious.

And a note about the batter: it's the weirdest consistency I've ever seen with cookie dough.  Totally weird, a little oily, seems like it'll never work and actually bake into a cookie.  But it does!  Somehow, it works.  Amazingly.  Try it.

I mean, what's not to love?

Fudgy Nutella Cookies
Adapted from Averie Cooks

3/4 cup Nutella
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 T butter
2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk chocolate chips (or a combo semi-sweet/milk chocolate)

Place the Nutella, peanut butter, brown sugar, butter, vanilla and egg in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Beat on high for about 5 minutes, until the ingredients are completely incorporated.

Add the remaining ingredients and beat on medium-low speed until just combined (don't overmix at this point).

The batter will be oily and an odd consistency.  You're on the right track.  Scoop mounds on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 9-10 minutes (they will look slightly underdone when you take them out but will set up as they cool).

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Cherry Cobbler

My husband loves cherries.  Artificial cherries, cherry flavoring, real name it.  He loves it all.

I love almond extract and everything you can put it in.

Cherries and almond extract got married.

This is the result.

It is so easy and so good.

Whose idea was it to pour a dry cake mix over some fruit and call it cobbler?  I'd like to meet the person.

You can definitely use any fruit you want.  Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, apples, pears (do I need to go on?).  I might not use bananas though.

Just sayin'.

I don't think I have anything else to say about this dessert except that it's screaming for a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Unfortunately, I don't like vanilla ice cream unless it's on top of a warm brownie or, in this case, warm cherry cobbler.

I'm more of a pralines & cream girl.

I digress. Make the cobbler. Yum.

Cherry Cobbler

2 one-pound bags sweet pitted cherries (I used the frozen ones from Kroger - excellent choice)
1 cup sugar
1 yellow cake mix (dry)
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted
2 tsp almond extract

Pour the cherries (leave them frozen; it's fine) into a greased 9x13 baking dish.  Sprinkle the sugar evenly on top.  Sprinkle the cake mix evenly on top.  Stir the almond extract into the melted butter and pour it in top.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until bubbly and golden brown on top.  Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Beef & Barley Soup

Hi.  I've been absent for awhile.  I wonder on what I should blame my distraction.

Let's see...  Three kids?  With one on the way?  The fact that my oldest is in kindergarten?  The fact that I didn't know that kindergarten was such a big deal?  That I hope for enough snow to cancel school more than my 5-year-old?  (My child loves kindergarten.  And I love her school and teacher.  But school is a whole thing, ya know?  And I'm still adjusting.  Six months in.  I know.)  Or maybe I could blame my distractedness (spell check says that's not a word.  But I'm gonna roll with it.  Computers don't know everything, after all.) on my 9-month-old golden retriever.

He's so sweet.  Just look at that face.  He's also bad.  You wouldn't even believe what he's capable of.

Oh! And I also just read one of the best books eveh.  Unbroken.  Check it out at the library.  Order it from amazon.  Whatever.  Just get your hands on a copy and read it.  You won't be able to put it down.  Promise.

Where was I again?  Oh yeah.  I got distracted from telling you why I'd been distracted.  Um, maybe it's because all of the paint in my entry hall needs to be touched up (read: completely repainted).  Could everyone under 4' tall please KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF THE WALLS!?!  That is asking a lot, I know.

All that to say, I made this soup during December.  Sometime during that month.  It was cold, and I had barley in my pantry.  So I made this soup.  It was delicious.  Very hearty and satisfying.  Totally a guy soup, though I loved it too and my kids even scarfed it down!

It's nice and thick so it's easy for kids to scoop up.  I'm just not into brothy soups.  So if you are, add some more water or broth.  Then be sure to adjust the seasonings.

I adapted this recipe from Southern Lady.  Southern Lady is a great magazine.  It always has yummy recipes in it!

Beef & Barley Soup
Adapted from Southern Lady

2 T olive oil, divided
1 1/2 - 2 lbs beef stew meat, cubed
1 lb carrots, diced
6 stalks celery, diced
2 onions, diced
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
6 garlic cloves, minced
15 oz. diced tomatoes
2 T Worcestershire sauce
6 cups beef stock
2 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp pepper
1 T + 1 tsp garlic powder
5 sprigs fresh thyme (you can leave it on the stem and fish the stem out when the soup is done)
1 1/2 cups pearl barley

Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat and add the beef.  Brown the meat on all sides and then remove and set aside.

Add onions, carrots, celery and mushrooms.  Cook for 15-20 minutes until beginning to brown, stirring occasionally.  Add the browned meat, garlic, and remaining ingredients EXCEPT FOR THE BARLEY and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce to low and simmer, covered, for about 2 hours (until the meat is fall-apart tender).

Stir in the barley and cook for another 30-35 minutes, until the barley is done.  Remove the thyme stems (the leaves will have fallen off during cooking) and serve.