HOW TO SEED A POMEGRANATE

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The arrival of the pomegranate is one of my favorite things of autumn. Pomegranate seeds can be mixed into salads or desserts for a little extra taste of fall. My favorite use is to sprinkle them on top of oven roasted brussels sprouts!

Their bright color and tangy burst of flavor make them a perfectly simple way to dress up any dish…as long as you know how to get them out of their shell.

Pomegranate seeds are inside a thickly skinned fruit protected by a thin and sticky membrane. If you don’t know how to seed a pomegranate the right way, trying to get those suckers out can be a disaster.

There are a few different ways to seed a pomegranate, but this is my method of choice:
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Remove the top
First, identify which end of the pomegranate is the top. It’s the end with the spout-like stem sticking out. Then, slice this end completely off, but only about 1/4 to a 1/2 inch deep into the pomegranate.

You want to open the pomegranate so the seeds are fully exposed (as pictured) but don’t want to take too many seeds with you in the top. It’s ok if there’s a few, though.
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Divide along the membrane
Once you’ve sliced the pomegranate open, you’ll see there is a thin, white membrane that stems from the center and divides the fruit into sections. Each section is filled with seeds.

Slowly and carefully slice through the thick skin of the pomegranate, right where each white membrane meets the skin. Go just deep enough to fully pierce the skin about 3/4 of the way down the pomegranate.
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Separate the wedges & tap out the seeds
Once you’ve made slits along the outside of the pomegranate, they should seem like wedges that are all connected at the bottom of the fruit. Hold the pomegranate with both hands, with your fingers cradling the bottom and your thumbs resting on the exposed seeds.

Using your thumbs, gently pull the wedges away from the center. The seeds will be sticking to the membrane, so be careful to pop as few as you can.

Once you have pulled the the wedges from the center, flip the pomegranate over. Standing over a bowl, use the back of a wooden spoon to tap the skin. Most of the seeds will gradually release from the membrane. Be patient! This part takes a little time.
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Pull out remaining seeds & eat!
Once you’ve gotten most of the seeds out by tapping the back, gently use your fingers to release any seeds that are still stuck to the membrane. If there were any seeds in the top you sliced off, gently turn the top inside out to release those seeds.

Sift through your bowl of fresh pomegranate seeds and remove any large bits of the white membrane. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate in an air-tight container!

POACHED PEAR SALAD WITH PINOT NOIR VINAIGRETTE

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Ohh man, this salad. I just ate this salad, right before I wrote this blog post. It was seriously delicious.

To be truthful, this is a little more involved than the average dinner salad. It’s not difficult, but there’s more steps. That’s where all the flavor comes from! Flavor building steps.

Even so, it’s not difficult. Beautiful autumn pears are peeled and tossed into a bath of warm, sweet, spiced red wine. I used Pinot Noir, but you can use whatever red you have on hand. They cook down for about a half hour, but this step can be done way in advance of plating your salads.
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We’re not done with the wine after the pear-wine pool party. I take using wine for uses other than consumption seriously, and waste as little as possible. I suppose it’s a principle residual from college.

We reduce that wine down and use it as the base for the perfectly complimentary dressing for this salad. Done and done.

Sweet pears with a hint of red wine pair with tangy blue cheese like you wouldn’t believe. This is a really classic pairing, and if you haven’t tried it before this is the perfect place to start.
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This is a perfect salad to have before a really easy main dish. We had it while some pre-seasoned salmon baked in the oven.

It’s also the perfect thing to bring to a friend’s house for dinner as your contribution to the meal. Poach the pears and remove the cores beforehand. Slice the onion and prepare the dressing, then pack it all up and prepare to impress.
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POACHED PEAR SALAD WITH PINOT NOIR VINAIGRETTE

Makes 4 small salads

Ingredients
4 pears, peeled (I used Bosc pears)
1 whole grapefruit
1 1/2 cups red wine (I used Pinot Noir)
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
6 whole cloves
6 whole allspice berries
4 large handfuls mixed greens
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. minced shallot
salt and pepper

Instructions
Slice the grapefruit in half. Squeeze the juice from one half into a large sauce pot. Add the red wine, water, sugar, cloves, and allspice berries to the pot. Add the peeled pears and place over medium heat. The pears should be at least half way submerged.

Let the pears simmer in the wine mixture for 30 minutes or until they are fork tender and the outsides turn pink. Stir the mixture and rotate the pears ever 5-10 minutes to keep from burning and to keep them cooking evenly in the wine.

When they are finished, remove the pears to cool on a plate. Raise the heat under the wine mixture and let reduce to at least half, about 15 minutes. Let the reduced wine mixture cool to room temperature.

When ready to plate your salads: squeeze the juice of the remaining grapefruit half into a mixing cup. Remove and seeds and add 1 cup of the reduced red wine mixture, the apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and minced shallot.

Arrange four small plates, and to each add: a large handful of mixed greens, 1/4 of the sliced red onion, 2 tbsp. blue cheese, and 1 tbsp. chopped walnuts. Slice each pear in half and use a melon baller or paring knife to remove the core and seeds. Slice into 1/4-inch sliced and lay half a pear on each salad.

Stir the dressing again if it has separated and drizzle over each salad. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy immediately.

GUMMY WORM POPSICLES

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Oh heyyy there friends! Tomorrow is Halloween, and for some reason it’s one of my favorite holidays.

I’m not sure why this is. I’m not someone who goes cray-zay with the make-up and the costumes and whatnot. I don’t cover my apartment in cotton cobwebs and I don’t buy lots of dry ice to make it look like there’s potions a-brewing on my stove.

But I love it none the less.

You know what else I love? Gummy worms. And for some reason I feel like gummy worms are tucked into this category of “children only” candy. Any self-respecting adult can walk into the store and grab a candy bar without drawing much attention.

But gummy worms? Then you’re going to start getting looks. It’s like, if a grown woman needs something gummy and chewy that both looks and feels like nothing found in nature, she’s forced to choose between peach rings and spearmint leaves. What gives?

But not this weekend! Gummy worms are both acceptable and downright appropriate.
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Especially when you freeze them into popsicle molds…with a little splash of vodka. Because this whole thing started with us being adults capable of making our own decisions, right?

Right.

Make these little holiday treats for your buddies this weekend. Then, in June when you’re all laying poolside and they’re all “oh remember those gummy worm popsicles you made?!” make them again.

You’re a grown up, after all.
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GUMMY WORM POPSICLES

Makes 6 popsicles

Instructions
1 4-oz. bag of gummy worms
1 part vanilla vodka (optional)*
3 parts coconut water*

*about 1 1/4 cups liquid total

popsicle molds

Instructions
Place about 4 gummy worms in each of your popsicle molds. If using, mix the vodka and coconut water in a measuring cup. Fill the popsicle molds just about to the top (they won’t expand too much) and place in your freezer. Freeze for 4 hours or until frozen solid.

Run your popsicles under warm water and squeeze the mold to release. Enjoy immediately!

FALL PRODUCE: WHAT TO COOK WITH RIGHT NOW

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As October comes to a closer, it’s safe to say that fall is upon us – in full swing, at that. While that generally means goodbye to lush berries and juicy tomatoes, there’s a whole bunch of other awesome fall produce that’s just getting good now!

They spent most of the summer just getting ready to warm you up and coddle you during that inevitable Pumpkin Spice Latter crash.
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Root Vegetables

Root vegetables generally mean anything that grows underground. This includes beets, carrots, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. Roast them, glaze them, or put them in soups and stews. The possibilities are really endless.
Recipes
Roasted Sweet Potato and Chickpea Salad
Autumn Baked Eggs
Sweet Potato Mousse
Sweet Potato, Chorizo & Sage Galette

Butternut Squash

This fall favorite can be a pain to work with, but just sharpen up that knife and it’ll be worth it. Roast it up with the same root vegetables listed above, blend it into a soup, or cook it up in some risotto!
Recipe
Butternut Squash Soup with Goat Cheese Cream
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Brussels Sprouts

One of my favorites, these little baby cabbages are in their prime right now! At my local farmers market they’ve even been selling full stalks. I love that brussels sprouts don’t really need much – just some salt, olive oil, and a hot oven!

Pomegranates

Once you learn how to get their stubborn seeds out, pomegranates are a lovely way to spice up any dish. They give a pop of color and sweet and tart zing to every bite. My favorite use? Sprinkle on top of those oven roasted brussels sprouts!
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Cauliflower

You may have been eating cauliflower all year round lately (I think it’s the new “in” veggie), but fall is when it’s in its prime. This is another one that can simply roast in the oven. If you’re looking for more, though, make some cauliflower patties or blend it into a creamy sauce.
Recipes
Buffalo Cauliflower Sliders
Cream Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Apples & Pears

These two have different flavors but can be prepared pretty much the same way. They’re a great way to add some sweetness and tang to the other fall vegetables you’re cooking with right now. They’re also great in both savory side dishes and sweet desserts!
Recipes
Autumn Baked Eggs
Apple and Brie Cheese Galette
Roasted Sweet Potato and Chickpea Salad

What’s your favorite thing to cook with in fall?!

AUTUMN BAKED EGGS

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Introducing: the breakfast of the season.

We’re getting to that time of year where people sleep over your house. There are many reasons for this. One is the obvious: there are upcoming holidays that people enjoy spending with those that live far away from them.

It’s also more likely that you’re hosting things like Friendsgiving or all-day football watch parties that result in more bottles of wine and beers consumed than planned. Or maybe, that’s exactly how you planned it. Either way, people wind up sleeping on your couch.
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Really, I think moving into adulthood can be defined by either: 1) keeping yourself in such a state that you can get yourself home after such an event or 2) fully accepting that you will under no circumstances keep yourself in such a place, and instead pack some PJ’s and a toothbrush in your purse.

This recipe is perfect for all your friends that fall into category #2! And, you know, all those friends and family that just drove or flew long distances to see you.
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It’s a potato party with cameo appearances by delicious fall apples and forever-in-fashion breakfast sausage (I used a vegan variety). Also, some onion, because most delicious savory things start with an onion. And then! Eggs baked on top to perfection.

Or, if that’s not your thing, just bake the potato hash and cook eggs to your liking on the stove. Or! Bake all the potatoes ahead of time and just reheat as needed with eggs to order. No friends required.

It’s autumn and you’re going to enjoy it, damnit.
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AUTUMN BAKED EGGS

Makes about 8 servings of hash

Ingredients
1 lb. bite-sized tricolor potatoes (or any other potatoes!)
1 medium sweet potato (orange or white)
1 large yellow onion
1 apple (I used honey crisp)
10 oz. breakfast sausages (meat or vegan)
2-3 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. paprika

eggs (1-2 per person)

Instructions
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Dice your potatoes and the apple into about 1-inch chunks. Dice the onion. If using meat sausage, lightly brown it in a sauté pan first so it is not raw. Slice the sausages into 1/2-inch pieces.

Place the sausage, potatoes, apple and onion in a large mixing bowl. Add the vegetable oil, salt, pepper, and paprika and stir to combine and evenly mix all the ingredients. Add the potato mixture to a large over-proof skillet or sheet pan. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring the potatoes in between.

After 30 minutes, remove the plan from the oven and carefully create a small well in the potatoes for each egg.* Crack one egg in each well, keeping the yolk intact, and return the pan to the oven for 10-12 minutes or until the whites are solid but the yolks are not. Serve immediately.

*If you prefer not to bake your eggs, return the potatoes for another 10-15 minutes and cook your eggs as desired on the stovetop.

HOW TO BE A HORRIBLE HOST

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Sure, there are lots of extra things you can do to be the ultimate host: fresh flowers, candles, extravagant meals made from scratch. Those things are great, but really not necessary to show your friends a good time.

There are some things, though, that need to be done to keep your guests from wanting to walk out. And I think sometimes the best way to learn is through what not to do! So, here are a few tips for how to be a horrible host:

Don’t clean your apartment, not even a little.
Let’s be clear about this: your place doesn’t necessarily have to be pristine. But various clothing items and shoes strewn about and dirty dishes in the sink can make guests feel like they are intruding or maybe you forgot they were coming over in the first place. Make sure your straightening up includes cleaning the table or where ever you intend people to eat, having enough dishes and silverware for them to eat with, and making sure your bathroom isn’t gross.

Shame people for not eating your food.
There comes a point in life where you have to accept that other people may not like the things you like. Sure, it can seem a little rude to let someone make you dinner and then not eat it. But you never know if they’re battling stomach issues or just an embarrassingly picky eater. Let it go. Hopefully whatever you made makes for good leftovers. (This is even more important when it comes to someone not drinking alcohol, by the way.)

Text / check your phone throughout the night.
The only thing worse than having people to your house who then sit on their phones the whole night is going to someone else’s house and having them sit on their phone the whole night. This has happened to me a few times, and I always feel like maybe I’m subpar entertainment for my host and want to leave. Not cool.

Be incredibly stressed the entire time.
As much as people appreciate you putting hard work into a night for them, if it’s causing you to stress out the whole time it’s probably not worth it. This is why make-ahead meals are great, and if cooking is out of the option for you, just order some good takeout and get some nice wine. Chances are no one will care, and everyone will have a better time!

There are, as with all things, exceptions to the rules. But generally speaking, these are good ones to follow. Or, rather, not follow!

APPLE AND BRIE CHEESE GALETTE

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I don’t know what it is about cool air that makes me want to roll out a buttery, flakey crust. It just kind of happens.

Maybe it’s that I finally don’t mind having my oven on, nice and hot. Maybe it’s just that a bunch of butter mashed with a bunch of flour is the best thing ever.
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So a I rolled into the grocery store to buy a whole bunch of butter, I see them. Pretty much everywhere, I see them. Beautiful, shiny apples.

Sure, we can get apples any time of year. But right now they are THE BEST. Seriously. So I filled my cart with a bunch of apples…then a bunch of butter.

And a little secret? The best way to make fall apples taste even more fall is to add some creamy brie cheese and just a touch of cranberry. Sweet, juicy, tart, creamy. (And then buttery and flakey, of course.)
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The crust for this galette is the same one I used for this sweet potato, chorizo and sage galette. It’s a fancy thing known as a “pâte brissée.” What’s really important, though, is that it’s delicious.

If you want to go ahead and make your own cranberry sauce from scratch, I commend you. One of my favorite parts about make a galette is how simple it is, so I opted for the can. Just roll out the dough, dump everything on top, and bake.

And then eat it. Eat it all.
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APPLE AND BRIE CHEESE GALETTE

Serves 8-10

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (divided, 2 sticks should be very cold)
1/2 cup ice water
3 apples
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 – 1/2 lb. brie cheese
1/4 cup cranberry sauce, canned or homemade
1 egg
sugar, for finishing

Instructions
First, make the crust: add the flour, sugar, and salt to the bowl of a food processor* fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to combine. Take 2 sticks of the butter from the refrigerator (and not until now!) and slice into 1/2 inch pieces. Add the butter to the flour mixture and pulse until somewhat combined. Most pieces of butter should be roughly the size of peas, with some larger and some smaller.

With the food processor set to “On” steadily stream 1/4 cup of the ice water into the flour-butter mixture. From there on add just a small splash of the water until your mixture is moist, but not wet. You’ll probably need to remove the lid once or a few times to assess the texture of your dough. The dough is right when it’s the consistency of wet sand.

Once the mixture is ready, pour half onto a prepared sheet of plastic wrap, and the other half onto another sheet of plastic wrap. Gather each pile into a disc-like shape and wrap in the plastic wrap. Wrap in an additional sheet of plastic to keep it concealed and tight. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.

*If you do not have a food processor you can still make this recipe! Whisk together the dry ingredients and then incorporate the butter by hand and/or with a dough blender utensil. Once the butter is combined, make a well in the dough and add the ice water in the same increments specified above.

While the dough chills, prepare your filling. First, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. If using, place a pizza stone in the center of your oven to heat up as well and line a cutting board or pizza peel with parchment paper. If not, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Peel your apples and slice into 1/2 inch slices. Melt the butter and toss with the apples. (Brown it first if you’re feeling crazy!) Slice the brie into 1/2 inch slices about 2 inches long.

When the dough has rested, prepare a floured workspace. Remove both discs of dough from the refrigerator. Unwrap the discs and knead for a few minutes with your hands until it comes together in a dough. Roll out into a circle about 15 inches in diameter. Roll the dough around your rolling pin so that you can transfer it to the parchment paper in one piece.

Once the dough has been transferred, spread it with the cranberry sauce leaving a 2-inch boarder. Layer the apples and cheese evenly on top of the cranberry sauce. Fold the outer crust of the dough over the filling so it keeps everything in. cramble the egg with 2 tbsps water and lightly brush the outer crust. Lightly sprinkle the crust and exposed filling with sugar.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Serve warm.

FALL TABLETOP FINDS

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As the whether gets colder, I inevitably spend more time at home. And that has me wanting to freshen things up in here a bit! What better excuse than a little fall and holiday decor?

I’m always looking for a few things to celebrate the arrival of my favorite season. To me, fall and winter are characterized by delicious comfort food around a table with friends and family. So, the table is what I love to focus most on! Here are a few of my latest fall tabletop finds:

  1. Ikea | Sittning Vase | $9.99
  2. Modcloth | Winter Cocktails Book | $22.99
  3. Crate & Barrel | Linen Table Runner | $49.95
  4. Target | Gold Flatware Set | $19.99 for one 5-piece set
  5. Zara Home | Skull Wine Glass | $5.95 each
  6. H&M Home | Gold Acorn Plate | $12.99
  7. One Kings Lane | Amber Highball Glasses | $6.00 for set of 4
  8. World Market | Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein Dinnerware | $27.96 for set of 4

Happy Fall!

CARAMELIZED ONION AND GOAT CHEESE QUESADILLA

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Most of my favorite foods are the ones that play themselves off as sophisticated, but are still meant to be eat with your hands.

They know what’s going on when it comes to flavor, but they don’t take themselves too seriously. Like this miso mozzarella grilled cheese or these crab fritter tacos. They’ve got it going on when it comes to flavor and texture, but also have some serious napkin requirements.
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This caramelized onion and goat cheese quesadilla is totally part of that club! It’s a giant crispy tortilla filled with creamy, melted goat cheese and mozzarella. There’s also sweet, gooey caramelized onions in there, and some sautéed baby spinach for good conscience.
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This is one of those weeknight dinners I can pull together quickly and feel good about. If you make the onions in advance, it’s a really quick meal. And there’s really nothing wrong with having a container full of caramelized onions just sitting in your fridge, waiting to be eaten.

Trust me on that one.

This quesadilla fulfills all my bar food cravings and makes me feel like a responsible grown-up all at the same time. Goat cheese has a way of doing that to girl.
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CARAMELIZED ONION AND GOAT CHEESE QUESADILLA

Makes 1 quesadilla

Ingredients
1 large flour tortilla
2 oz. goat cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1 large sweet onion
2 cups baby spinach
1/4 cup wine, beer, or stock
2 tbsp. olive oil (divided)
1 tbsp. butter
2 tsp. thyme (fresh or dry)
salt & pepper

Instructions
First, caramelize the onions: Peel the onion and slice in half. Slice each half into 1/2-inch slices. Place a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and 1 tbsp. of the olive oil. Once the butter has melted, add the sliced onion to the pan and toss to coat in the fat. Let sit for 3-4 minutes, then add the thyme and toss to mix. Cover the pan.

Continue to stir and cover the onions every 4-5 minutes. After about 20 minutes, the onions will start to brown. (If this happens to quickly, turn your heat down / not quickly enough, turn your heat up.)
Once the onions become browned and very soft, almost like jam, add the wine beer, or stock to deglaze the pan. Use a wooden spatula to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan, and remove from heat.

Onions can be caramelized up to 3 days in advance, and refrigerated in an air-tight container. Microwave before using to remelt the fats.

To make the quesadilla: heat a skillet pan over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and the baby spinach. Season the spinach lightly with salt and pepper. Use tongs to toss the spinach until bright green and wilted, about 4-5 minutes. Set aside.

While you cook the spinach, let a griddle pan heat up over medium-high heat. Then spread the goat cheese evenly over one side of the tortilla. Place the tortilla cheese-side-up on the griddle pan. Sprinkle evenly with the grated mozzarella.

Once the mozzarella cheese melts, add the onions evenly to one half of the tortilla. Place the cooked spinach evenly over the onions. Carefully use a spatula to for the tortilla over the onions and spinach. Continue cooking until the outsides are browned as desired. Enjoy immedieately!

DIY BAR ART

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Crafty is not a word I typically use to describe myself. I don’t often craft, and I don’t consider myself to be great at it when I do.

That being said, I love easy, homemade projects that look unique and save money!

So far I’ve been able to decorate most of our apartment with artwork (and unofficial artwork) that we already had. I was looking for a little something fun for our bar area, and I’m so pleased with the results! Here’s how to make your own:
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Supplies
patterned 12” x 12” scrapbook paper or card stock (I got mine for $0.99 each at Joann Fabric)
adhesive vinyl letters (I used these*)
12” x 12” record frame (I used this one)
pencil & paper (post-its work great!)

*A quick note about the letter size: using the 4-inch letters that I did will only allow you to create 2 rows of text. I learned this the hard when when trying to write “Home Is Where the Gin Is” Tragic, I know. If the quote you want to put on your square will require 3 rows, I recommend you use these 3-inch letters.
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Instructions
First, make sure you choose a color combination (letters and paper) that will be easy to read. Sketch your quote out on paper (post-it’s are great because they are square) and decide which words will go on which line. Keep in mind the size of the letters and don’t make the lines too long.

Start applying you letters in the bottom left corner. Complete the bottom line and then move up from there. Place in the frame and hang!
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I love this project because it’s super easy. I found that these letters were actually able to be removed from the page (if done almost immediately) and repositioned if you accidentally misplace it. But I think some imperfections give it more charm!

This project is super customizable, take almost no time to complete, and can be done for less than $20. More money for booze and time to enjoy it!