Thursday, December 18, 2014

Recent Happenings

What a crazy couple of weeks it has been! I was just looking back on the last few weeks and realized that for a full month we were either celebrating Thanksgiving or entertaining guests or Alex or I was traveling for work leaving the other one behind as a single puppy parent... I am wiped and ready for a much needed holiday break. And with all of that going on, you can imagine that I haven't had a lot of time (or energy) for going to a lot of events-- which is a shame because 'tis the season for parties! A few cool things have come up lately though and I wanted to take a few minutes and tell you and these fun foodie happenings.

Gingerbrunch at Freestyle

My friend Kit recently invited a few blogger friends to Gingerbrunch at Freestyle in the Dana Hotel. It was great to catch up with the girls and enjoy a great brunch. I have never been to Freestyle and I ordered the Spanish Scramble, which was amazing! Similar to Huevos Rancheros, it was a bed of tortilla chips tossed in savory ranchero sauce topped with scrambled eggs with peppers, pico de gallo, sour cream, and avocado. Basically, all of my favorite things.


After a quick mimosa toast, the ginger portion of Gingerbrunch began. Every Sunday from 11 AM to 3 PM in December, Freestyle invites brunch patrons to build their own gingerbread houses. They supply the pieces, the frosting, and the candy, and the rest is up to you!

I haven't built a gingerbread house in forever, so this was so much fun. Jennie and I hung a gumdrop wreath on the front of our house and went for some geometric patterns on the roof. Lauren and Erin showed of their handiwork below and Kit showed us all up with her ornate Necco wafer-shingled roof that she did all on her own.


This was such a fun and festive way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Interested? Get yourself to Freestyle this Sunday to build your own! It's $30 and mimosas are included!

Pierogi Fest

My friend Meredith recently invited Alexis and me to join her for a Saturday at her parents' home in Indiana to learn the art of pierogi making from the best: her Baci!
I love pierogies and was super excited to learn how to make them from an expert. Baci was a tough leader and not shy about telling me there was too much filling in my pierogies or throwing the dough back at Mere when it wasn't rolled out to the appropriate thickness. But she knows her stuff and can make the dough from memory and from feel, which I find totally fascinating. And she oversaw all of us as we punched out over 40 dozen potato-filled pierogies that afternoon.


A big thanks to Mere and her family for including me in this holiday tradition! It was so much fun and baking with Baci reminded me of baking with my Oma, so it brought back some fun memories. And I can't wait to share these pierogies with my family this Christmas!


And one more fun thing-- I got a shout out on TV! Several months ago I shared this recipe for Cheesy Pizza Pull Apart Bread, inspired by a recipe that I saw on The Kitchen on Food Network. I tweeted a photo of it back then and got a reply from chef Marcella-- and this past weekend they mentioned it on the show! They did, however, refer to me as a 'he'.... but I will take what I can get. Thanks for hte mention, The Kitchen!

 


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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What's For Dinner Wednesday: Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Pomegranate & Goat Cheese

This healthy and flavorful salad is the perfect addition to your holiday menu-- it's easy to make and the colors make it feel super festive!


Yesterday I shared a delicious winter sangria recipe with you that I recently served to a few girlfriends. On that same night (while my husband was out of town at a conference) I decided to also take advantage of my dinner company and make a few dishes that I knew the girls would appreciate. First up on the menu: Brussels sprouts! I can't get enough Brussels sprouts and I know that my friend Mere agrees, so I couldn't wait to test out a new recipe on the girls.


This shaved Brussels sprouts salad is a great combination of flavors and textures that meld together perfectly. I love shaved Brussles sprouts in a salad-- they are hearty and hold up really well to dressings (even if you dress them and refrigerate overnight or for a day or two) and the tangy cabbage-like flavor is a great complement to the sweet and juicy pomegranate seeds. Some toasty pecans, creamy goat cheese, and a pomegranate-infused Balsamic vinaigrette really round out this simple and flavorful salad.


Pomegranate is such a festive fruit to serve at this time of year-- and I love the way that the bright red seeds look against the green sprouts with the white of the goat cheese. Talk about a perfect salad for your Christmas dinner table! It's a great salad for your holiday table or any other time too. And it would be delicious as an entree served with some grilled chicken too.


Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 1/4 cup red onion, very thinly sliced
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans, rough chopped
  • 3 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. honey
  • 4 Tbs. pomegranate balsamic vinegar *Regular balsamic will work if that's all you have on hand
  • 4 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. dried chives
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Using a mandolin, slice Brussels sprouts until finely shaved. If you don't have a mandolin, use a sharp knife and thinly slice each sprout or use your food processor's grater attachment to shave the sprouts.

Add shaved Brussels sprouts, onions, pomegranate seeds, and pecans to a large bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk olive oil, honey, vinegar, Dijon, chives, salt and pepper together. Pour over the sprout mixture and toss to combine. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes before serving.

Top with crumbled goat cheese and serve.



Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Holiday Sangria with Beso Del Sol

Cheers! This Saturday, December 20th is National Sangria Day. Let's celebrate by toasting with a glass of festive holiday sangria featuring Beso Del Sol!


Beso Del Sol is a premium 100% natural sangria made by blending Spanish Tempranillo wine with fruit and citrus juices to create a light and refreshing sangria. All of the flavor you're looking for in a traditional red sangria can be found here and unlike most premade sangrias, the flavors are fresh and light and not syrupy or too sweet.


This bag-in-a-box variety is the perfect base for a festive holiday party sangria: You don't have to worry about adding a ton of different ingredients to your sangria recipe with Beso Del Sol-- just toss in some of your favorite fruit, chill, and serve! Bonus: Each box contains the equivalent of three bottles of wine and the bag-in-box design helps the sangria to stay fresher longer.


I recently had some girlfriends over for a pre-holiday dinner and wanted to serve a festive drink. I used Beso Del Sol as the basis for a holiday sangria flavored with fresh oranges, cranberries, and pomegranate seeds. The fruit soaks in the sangria for several hours along with a few cinnamon sticks to create an intensely flavored seasonal sangria. I love this flavor combination: the hit of warm and spicy cinnamon with the sweet and tangy fruits meld together nicely in this Tempranillo base. It's the perfect drink for a Christmas party, ringing in the New Year, or for celebrating National Sangria day this weekend, of course!

Ingredients:

  • 1 orange, cut in half and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1 cup whole cranberries, frozen
  • 3 cinnamon sticks, plus additional for serving
  • 1/2 carton Beso Del Sol sangria
  • 1 1/2 cups cranberry raspberry flavored sparkling water

Place orange slices, pomegranate seeds, cranberries, and cinnamon sticks in a large pitcher. Pour Beso Del Sol sangria over the top and chill in the refrigerator for several hours.

When ready to serve, add the sparkling water to the pitcher.

Fill glasses with ice and garnish each with a cinnamon stick. Pour in the sangria and serve.
 




Editor's Note: This post was sponsored by Beso Del Sol, however all opinions expressed herein are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that make A Squared possible!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Citrus Herb Rubbed Turkey & a Nudo Olive Oil Giveaway

This recipe may be a bit belated (or early, rather) if you're planning your Thanksgiving menu, but a big roasted turkey is perfect for Christmas dinner too-- and you'll love this fresh and flavorful turkey rub!


For the past few years I have made an apple cider glazed turkey for Thanksgiving dinner that is really delicious, though a bit labor intensive. Because we were entertaining a bigger crowd this year I opted for a turkey recipe that was still big on flavor, but that gave me a little more freedom to work on other dishes while it roasted away. This Citrus Herb Rubbed Turkey is full of fresh flavors, comes together pretty quickly, and makes for a tangy and flavorful pan gravy too!

You could also cut this recipe in half and use the rub on a roasted chicken too!


Ingredients:

  • 1 (12-13-lb.) whole turkey
  • 2 Tbs. fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • 1 Tbs. fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, chopped 
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3 Tbs. Nudo Al Limone Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbs. fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 Tbs. fresh orange zest
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • Half an orange, cut into two wedges 
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and divided
  • 3 carrots, cut into large chunks
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into large chunks
  • 2 medium yellow onions, cut into large wedges
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups low sodium fat free chicken broth
  • 1 cup dry white wine 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove giblets and neck from turkey and discard. Pat turkey dry with paper towels. Trim and discard excess fat. Use your fingers to gently loosen the turkey skin so that space is formed between the skin and meat.

In a small bowl combine chopped sage and next 9 ingredients (through pepper). Mince 3 of the garlic cloves and mix those into the herb mixture. Use your fingers to rub about 3/4 of the mixture under the skin of the turkey, making sure it is evenly distributed. Rub the rest of the mixture evenly over the outside of the turkey.

Place the remaining 3 garlic cloves, orange wedges, 2 of the lemon wedges, and half of the onion inside of the turkey cavity. Tie legs together to secure. Place the turkey on a roasting rack breast side up in a roasting pan. Fill the bottom of the pan with the remaining lemon wedges, onion wedges, celery, carrots, and bay leaf. Pour in the chicken broth and wine.

Cover the turkey loosely with an aluminum foil tent and bake, removing every 30 minutes to baste with the liquid in the pan. If the liquid begins to evaporate throughout the cooking process, replenish with additional broth or wine as needed. Roast at 350 for 2 hours and then increase heat to 400 degrees and remove foil tent. Roast for an additional 30-60 minutes (continuing to baste) until the internal thigh temperature is 165 degrees.

Let turkey rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before carving.*


One of the secret ingredients that adds tons of flavor to this holiday turkey recipe is Nudo Al Limone Olive Oil. Nudo Olive Oils are not only super flavorful and beautifully packaged in bright whimsical tins, but the company's history and mission is really interesting too! Nudo began back in 2005 when two men left their careers as successful TV producers to buy and manage a 21-acre olive grove in Italy. It has since become a wonderful program that involves not only local olive farmers, but the end users of the olive oil too!

Olive farmers from various regions of Italy are responsible for caring for their own trees and the oil produced goes into the Nudo Italia adoption program. Olive oil lovers like you and I have the opportunity to adopt our own olive trees and receive the oil from those trees in return to enjoy in our own kitchens. It's a wonderful way to support smaller artisan olive farmers and the oil has a truly amazing quality and flavor. This would be fun for any food lover to take advantage of-- and what a great gift for the cook in your life, right? Check out their website for more information on how to adopt your own olive oil tree!


Nudo olive oils come in a variety of different flavors and I was really blown away by the intense real flavors in these oils. They are amazing to cook with or to simple drizzle over a finished dish to add a quick punch of flavor. I am partial to the lemon variety, which is what I included in that delicious turkey rub. The basil flavored oil is also a favorite and delicious drizzled over a simple pasta with vegetables or a caprese salad and the garlic variety is amazing on roasted potatoes. These olive oils come in a variety of other flavors too: from orange to hot pepper to herb varieties to coffee... there is something for everyone!

So, would you like to give them a try? Today you have your chance! I'm giving away a gift pack of three delicious and versatile flavored Nudo olive oils. Use the Rafflecopter widget below to win a selection of basil, lemon, and garlic flavored olive oils to use and enjoy in your kitchen!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


*Recipe inspired by an original Cooking Light recipe.  



Editor's Note: I was given a complimentary sample of Nudo olive oil to facilitate this post. The opinions expressed here, as always, are my own.



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