Summer Jell-O Shots

Published June 18, 2014 by jenmatteson

I recently subjected myself to a new type of torture, or what many people call exercise. Bootcamp to be more exact. Now I’m no stranger to working out, and usually before work, but I was committed to this bootcamp for two weeks – 6 AM workouts M-F, and 8 AM workouts on Saturday. Oh, and don’t forget about the strongly encouraged second workouts on all these days.

While I make it out to be hell, it was actually a lot of fun. I was searching for a new type of workout, as my typical routine had put me into plateau mode. What’s more, not only are there four wonderful bootcamp coaches pushing and supporting you throughout the two weeks, but the camaraderie in the 31 person group was extremely foreign and amazingly inspiring to me.

On the last day, we decided to do a potluck, and I offered to bring Jell-O shots. No one seemed extremely against the idea, so I went for it! The last time I made fancy Jell-O shots (watermelon mint), they turned out pretty good, although I had some trouble with the gelatin sticking to the watermelon rind. I was a bit scared I’d have that same issue this time, but I didn’t at all. They turned out so well and everyone seemed quite impressed.

Lemon Meringue Jello Shots Greyhound Jello Shots

It’s hard to pick a clear favorite here with the delicious flavors; the lemon meringue was dreamy, the Arnie Palmer was summery and refreshing, and the greyhound was perfectly tart. They are super simple, and get a lot of great compliments, so try them out at your next gathering!

Lemon Meringue Jello Shots

Lemon Meringue/Arnie Palmer Jell-O Shots

Source: Adapted from E is for Eat
Servings: Makes 24-40 shots

Ingredients:

6-10 lemons (depending on size)
1-3 oz package of lemon Jell-O
1 cup boiling water
1 cup whipped cream flavored vodka (for lemon meringue) or iced tea flavored vodka (for Arnie Palmer

Directions:

1. Cut each lemon in half, lengthwise (so pretty much the opposite of how you would if you were regularly juicing a lemon), and juice them carefully without tearing the peel. Save juice for another use (freezing in ice cube trays works great!).

2. Hollow out each half, again being cautious not to puncture the peel. I used a grapefruit knife to loosen the edges and was able to pull the inside segments out easily. Place halves in muffin pan to help keep them balanced while setting.

3. Make Jell-O according to package directions, except in place of the cold water, substitute your vodka. Fill each lemon half and refrigerate until set. It’s easiest to pour mixture into a liquid measuring cup for easy pour into the peels.

4. Once set, use a sharp knife to slice into wedges and serve. Depending on size of lemon, you can get at least 2 wedges out of each half, sometimes more.

Greyhound Jello Shots

Greyhound Jell-O Shots

Source: Adapted from E is for Eat
Servings: Makes about 24 shots

Ingredients:

3-5 large grapefruits
2 packets of Knox unflavored gelatin
1 tbsp. sugar
3/4 cup vodka
1/4 cup cold water

Directions:

1. Cut each grapefruit in half, and juice them carefully without tearing the peel. Strain the juice to remove any pulp or seeds.

2. Hollow out each half, again being cautious not to puncture the peel. I used a grapefruit knife to loosen the edges and was able to pull the inside segments out easily. Place halves in muffin pan to help keep them balanced while setting.

3. Pour 1 cup of the grapefruit juice into a small saucepan and sprinkle with Knox gelatin. Add 1 tbsp. of sugar (use up to 1/4 cup if you like really sweet grapefruit juice – I prefer unsweetened) and heat until gelatin and sugar have dissolved, about five minutes.

4. Pour in vodka and water and transfer to something with an easy pour spout, like a liquid measuring cup. Pour in grapefruit halves and refrigerate to set.

5. Once completely firm, cut each half, in half, and then in half again. Depending on size, you may want to cut them even smaller.

 

Meatless Monday: Basil Portobello Hoagie

Published April 14, 2014 by jenmatteson

Final trial veggie sandwich before the shower…

I must say, it was wonderful, but I sure wish I had more Portobello, because not only does the hoagie look slightly un-plump, but I could have really used a little more veg and less bread.  Don’t get me wrong, the entire thing was wonderful, but I wouldn’t have been upset with more mushrooms.  Who could be?

Basil Portobello Hoagie

I roasted my own peppers for this sandwich (soups easy), as well as used homemade hummus.  Feel free to speed up the process with jarred roasted red peppers and/or pre-made hummus.  This was another vegan try for the baby shower, and while I think taste-wise this was my favorite, it would be too difficult to keep warm and leave out for several guests.  So, I’ve decided on the Hummus Supreme!

But go ahead and give this one a try too.  I made this when it was still freezing in MN, which wasn’t too long ago, so I didn’t grill the Portobello.  I just sautéed them in some olive oil quickly on the stovetop.

Basil Portobello Hoagie

Portobello Hoagie

Source:
Servings: 2

Ingredients:

4 large Portobello caps
2 hoagies, or about 2 5-inches pieces of French bread, cut in half lengthwise
1/4 cup hummus
6-8 fresh basil leaves
1 roasted red pepper (approximately 1/2 cup jarred)

Directions:

1. If grilling, preheat grill to medium high heat.  Brush mushrooms with olive oil, and grill until just tender, about 2-3 minutes on each side.  Remove from heat, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and let rest.  Slice into 1/2-inch strips.  If you are using your stovetop, Slice mushrooms into long strips, about 1/2-inch thick.  Preheat olive oil in a small skillet over medium high heat.  Add mushrooms and cook over moderate heat until just softened, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and let rest.

2. Meanwhile, divide hummus evenly and spread on both sides of bread.  Layer with basil leaves, roasted red pepper and sliced Portobellos.  Close and enjoy!

Tarragon Chicken Salad

Published April 9, 2014 by jenmatteson

“I’m not dead, yet!”

Monty Python, anyone?

Wondering where I’ve been?  If I’ve quit blogging?  Found another love besides cooking?  Dead?  Well, you’d be wrong.  Big news on the Pigzilla family front!  No…it’s not a tiny Pigzilla.  After being unemployed for almost 8 months, I have finally found a new position.  And I love it…so far anyway.  I don’t anticipate not liking it, but I’ve only been there for two weeks, so it’s hard to say.  That being said, I have not had a lot of time for my second love, this blog.  As you know, I’m in the midst of planning a baby shower for my girlfriend, as well as another dinner party for a small group.  In addition to feeding my husband and all the things that go along with being an adult, I’ve been basically vegging out after I get home and dinner is made.  I have to get back into the grove of writing…

I love chicken salad.  But this is one thing that I’m particularly picky about.  I don’t like fruit or nuts in my chicken salad, though I do enjoy a crunch, which is where the celery comes in.  Certainly, if you enjoy fruit or nuts in your chicken salad, feel free to add at your own discretion, but purely against my strong recommendation not to.

Tarragon Chicken Salad

This is another recipe I tried for the aforementioned baby shower – I’m sorry, you’ve heard so much about this in the last few weeks.  The pairing of tarragon and chicken salad were of my own genius, but I wanted to find a great basic recipe for the chicken salad itself.  This recipe comes from Note to Self, and claims to be the absolute best chicken salad, ever.  So I had to try it.  I just subbed the tarragon for the dill.  I really enjoyed it!  I think this salad goes well on a buttery croissant because of deep tarragon flavor, but it’s just as good on wheat, white, pita or even on a salad.  This is certainly not your ordinary chicken salad, and I love that!

Tarragon Chicken Salad

Tarragon Chicken Salad

Source: Adapted from Note to Self
Servings:

Ingredients:

3 cups chilled shredded chicken (I used two poached breasts)
1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp. fresh tarragon, minced
salt and fresh ground black pepper

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients.  Add additional mayonnaise to desired consistency and adjust seasonings to taste.   Refrigerate at least one hour before serving.

Meatless Monday: Roasted Butternut Squash Quinoa

Published March 31, 2014 by jenmatteson

It probably seems like we’ve been eating entirely vegetarian lately, but it just so happens, I’ve just had a lot of Meatless Monday’s in a row!  I’ve kept myself busy trying out some veggie sandwiches for my girlfriend’s baby shower, which I still have one more to share, and have just happened across some other unignorably delicious meatless recipes.

Roasted Butternut Squash Quinoa

This quinoa salad does have butter, and while I think it would certainly taste good with oil in place of butter, I’m not sure you’d be able to achieve the depth and slight sweetness of brown butter with oil.  The sage and brown butter are absolutely amazing.  While this salad can be served chilled or room temperature, I think serving it warm brings out the best flavors!  I liked this so much, you could serve this as a lunch or a side to any meal.  We had dinner with Nate’s parents; Momma Marsha made mussels, so I brought this as a side.  It went perfectly!

 DSC02961

Roasted Butternut Squash Quinoa

Source: Adapted from Food and Wine
Servings: 8

Ingredients:

2 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 shallot, finely diced
4 cups water
Kosher salt
2 tbsp. butter
freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2  butternut squash, diced
2 tbsp. sage, chopped

Directions:

1. In a medium pot over high heat, bring the quinoa, shallot, water, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt to a rolling boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the quinoa has fully absorbed the water, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 400º. Toss the squash with one tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on foil-lined baking sheet and roast for 25 to 35 minutes, or until slightly browned and tender, turning halfway through.

3. Meanwhile, place butter in medium sauté pan and melt over moderately high heat, swirling the pan continuously until the butter begins to foam and just begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the sage, swirling for another 30 seconds.

4. In a serving bowl, toss the quinoa with the butternut squash, and sage brown butter, and serve.

Meatless Monday: Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Published March 24, 2014 by jenmatteson

It’s fairly well-known that I am an extremely organized person, but I just wanted to share a quick peek at what my kitchen looks like when I have several projects going on at once.

My kitchen while working

To me, it all makes sense.  But if someone walked in and saw this, I’m sure they’d think I lost my mind.

Seemingly kitchen in disaray

If you can believe it, this is actually fairly organized and clean for me making more than two things at once.  I think I was making muffins, two types of bread, cookies and soup.

We’ve been on an insane soup and salad kick lately, and this was our most recent.  Seeing as though it is still winter, feeling like deep in the winter, though spring is supposedly on the way, soup is the most comforting meals.  An entire bowl or a cup paired with a salad or sandwich is pretty much what we’ve been eating for the last few weeks.  Sad, I know, but it’s soooooo good (plus quick and easy)!

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

The cauliflower has a slightly sweet taste from roasting, but the curry brings it all together and rounds out the flavor.  The original recipe calls for whole milk, but it was so creamy on its own, I didn’t even add any.  This is a unsuspectingly hearty soup at a very low price!

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Source: Adapted from Food and Wine
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:

1 head of cauliflower, halved, cored and cut into 1 1/2-inch florets
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp curry powder
1/4 cup olive oil
kosher salt
fresh cracked black pepper
1 small onion, finely diced
3 tbsp. butter
1 bay leaf
4 cups water

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  On a foil-lined baking sheet, toss cauliflower with cumin seeds, curry powder and  3 tablespoons of the oil.  Season generously with salt and pepper and roast for 25 minutes, turning occasionally, until cauliflower is just tender.

2. In a large saucepan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil over moderate heat and sauté onions until softened, but not browned, about 5 minutes.  Add roasted cauliflower, butter bay leaf and water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer until liquid is reduced and the cauliflower is tender, about 15 minutes.  Remove and discard bay leaf.

3. Using an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth.  Using a blender would work here as well if you don’t have an immersion blender.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Published March 19, 2014 by jenmatteson

A few days ago, I got a wax and facial from my girlfriend who is an esthetician.  It was awesome.  Even better, we drank wine, before, during (mostly me during) and after.  She offered me some snacks after, one being a lemon poppy seed scone.  I’m not typically a pastry person – and it’s definitely not because I don’t like them, but because they are sooo sooo not very good for you.  I like to use up my calories in wine :P  Anyway, I did have one, and it made me really want to make them.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Clearly, you can see I didn’t make scones, rather muffins.  I thought this would be a slightly healthier option, with a little less butter.   I also substituted apple sauce and extra baking powder for eggs. But, you really can’t hide that full stick of butter in the batter.  Oh well, we must indulge every now and then.  I think I’ll try out the lemon poppy seed scones next time.  My pumpkin scones turned out so well, it’d be too hard not too.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

The lemon zest and juice keep these light and fluffy muffins tasting bright and fresh.  Nate has taken one to work most days for breakfast; I think they are perfect for on the go, snacks or breakfasts!

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Source: Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod
Servings: Makes 12 large muffins

Ingredients:

2/3 cup sugar
grated zest of one lemon
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
juice of one lemon
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (sour cream will work here)
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 tbsp. poppy seeds

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray muffin tin with oil or place paper muffin cups in molds.

2. In a large bowl, rub sugar and lemon zest together with fingertips until fragrant and sugar is moist.  Whisk in flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  In another large bowl, whisk together lemon juice, Greek yogurt, eggs, vanilla and butter until well blended.

3. Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients and gently stir to blend, careful not to over-mix.  Fold in poppy seeds.  Divide batter evenly into muffin tins (I made smaller muffins, not in a mini muffin tin, so they were more reasonably portioned, so it ended up making 18 medium muffins instead of 12 large). *If you like them just a bit sweeter, sprinkle some coarse sugar over the top of the divided batter.

4. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack before removing from pan.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Try Some Irish Soda Bread

Published March 17, 2014 by jenmatteson

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I decided to make a loaf of Irish soda bread.  I’ve made this once before, but I truly did not like the recipe.  At one of our drink tasting parties, my girlfriend made Irish soda bread (the theme was countries, and her country was Ireland), and I loved the recipe.  We had lunch just the other day and she mentioned she made it again, which reminded me that I wanted the recipe she made before (she didn’t like the one she just made), so I asked for the previous recipe.

Irish Soda Bread

She wasn’t sure it was the same as what she made before, but said she thought it was similar.  It turned out really well!  I loved the caraway seeds paired with the sweetness of the raisins and bit of sugar in the recipe.  I don’t have a springform pan, which is why I think my recipe took just a bit longer to bake than the recipe called for.  There was quite a bit of extra flour once the ingredients were all combined, so next time, I think I’ll add a little at a time until the consistency is perfect.  Served warm with a touch of butter is heaven!

Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread

Source: Unknown
Servings: Makes one loaf

Ingredients:
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp. caraway seeds
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 baking soda
2 eggs
2 cups sour cream or plain non-fat Greek yogurt
3/4 cup raisins

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, caraway seeds, baking powder, salt and baking soda.  In another bowl, whisk together eggs and sour cream.  Stir into dry ingredients until just moistened.  Fold in raisins.

2. Spoon into a 9-inch springform pan (I didn’t have one, so I just formed the dough into a mound on the center of a foil-lined greased baking sheet).  Bake for 40-45 minutes (If not using a springform pan, it make take closer to an hour), until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool on wire rack for 10 minutes before removing from pan.  Cut into wedges and serve warm.

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