Friday, June 25, 2010

Puppies and Cocktails

We watched this cute little pup a couple weeks ago while our good friends were in Hawaii. She was a lot fun -- I love being greeted with over-the-top excitement when I come home each day -- but both Morgan and I were jealous being stuck in the freezing Seattle Summer of Gloom, complete with grey skies and contstant drizzle.
To make us feel better, I whipped up a batch of whole-fruit cocktails to sip while we watched a movie on Saturday afternoon. They were delish and we *almost* felt like we were back in Maui. Not quite, but almost!

Strawberry Pina Coladas
1/2 cup water
2 oz. Malibu Rum
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 cup frozen pineapple

Add ingredients to blender in order listed and blend until smooth.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

TJ's Pesto Gnocchi with Roasted Chicken and Peppers

Next to Costco, Trader Joe's is my second-favorite store to shop for groceries. I eat TJ's frozen steel cut oatmeal for breakfast along with my green drink almost everyday. It's only $.80 a serving and is SO much better than that other instant goo. I love its chewiness and subtle sweetness without being packed full of sugar, but most of all how well it fills me up. I'm a hungry girl in the morning and you don't want to be within a five mile radius if I miss breakfast!
My freezer only has so much room, though, so I have to stop by TJ's every other week or so to stock up. On my last trip, I picked up a few things that looked like they would pair together well for a super simple weeknight meal. After one bite, Morgan said, "Mmmm, add this one to the list," which means we'll be throwing it into the in-a-hurry rotation. I hesitate to even call this a recipe, because it's really just combining four store-bought ingredients, but hey, we all need a few of these up our sleeve!

TJ's Pesto Gnocchi with Roasted Chicken and Peppers
  • Two cooked chicken breasts, thinly sliced (I roast mine in the oven with a little garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil)
  • One package Trader Joe's gnocchi
  • One 7 oz. tub Trader Joe's Genoa pesto
  • Two 12 oz. jars fire roasted yellow and red peppers 
Cook gnocchi according to directions, drain and reserve.
Drain, rinse (to remove extra saltiness -- I love salt, but these are too salty) and roughly chop peppers.
Return gnocchi to the pot and combine with chicken, peppers, and pesto.
Toss to evenly distribute sauce.
Warm and gently stir over medium heat until heated through.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Season of Frozen Delights

Happy solstice!

Most parts of the country are experiencing hot-hot-heat (albeit not in Seattle), which means it’s the season of frozen delights! In our house, we’re just eating dessert from the freezer in an attempt to urge the sun out of hiding. It’s the first day of summer and we haven’t even hit 75 degrees. Yes, it’s true, we eat our sorbet with mittens and stocking caps in the Northwest.
I’ve always loved sorbet for its freshness, whole ingredients, melt-away texture and low-calorie goodness. Store bought, my favorite is Whole Fruit Lemon Sorbet. I checked out the nutrition and ingredients closely, though, and was really disappointed. For a half cup, the calories ring in at 140, with 34 grams of sugar, not to mention “corn syrup solids” as the second ingredient, followed in short order by “natural flavor.” Really? What is that, anyway? If it’s natural, why is it a secret?

Never fear — it’s super easy to make your own sorbet. And there are only three ingredients. Fruit, water, and a small amount of sugar. I’ve been making mine in the Vitamix, but also have made it in an ice cream maker. I’ll share both recipes with you, because I’m nice like that.

Three cheers for summer! Wherever you are, I hope your tank tops and shorts are treating you well. And I hope mine will be soon, too.

Vitamix Method
Fruit Sorbet

1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 pound frozen fruit (I love Trader Joe’s frozen dark sweet cherries — cherry sorbet with a little bit of chocolate sauce is awesome.)

Add ingredients to Vitamix in order listed and blend until smooth. Don’t overblend, or melting will occur.

Eat immediately in soft stage, or freeze for firmer sorbet.

If freezing longer than two hours, allow to soften for 15 minutes on the counter before serving.

Ice Cream Machine Method
Mango Sorbet

4 mangos — peeled, seeded, and cubed
1 cup simple syrup
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Place cubed mango in a food processor, and puree.

Pour in simple syrup and lime juice, and puree until smooth.

Place in an ice cream maker. Freeze thoroughly.

When finished, the sorbet will be soft but ready to eat. For firmer sorbet, transfer to a freezer safe container and freeze at least two hours. If freezing longer than two hours, allow to soften for 15 minutes on the counter before serving.