Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Product Review: Turtle Mountain's Purely Decadent Coconut Milk Ice Cream

I thought it might be fun to do an interesting product review from time to time.

I've been curious about the
Turtle Mountain's Purely Decadent Coconut Milk Ice Cream. I've walked past it many times in my grocery store... and finally decided to give it a try. I picked up the Vanilla Bean flavor, since Vanilla Bean ice cream is one of my favorites.

The ice cream is sweetened with Agave Syrup, a "sweetener" substitute we've been playing around with here in our house, in tea instead of honey, or on oatmeal instead of brown sugar. It also contains no soy protein, is dairy and lactose free, cholesterol free, contains no trans fats, is certified vegan, and made with certified organic ingredients. The website boasts that this makes the ice cream much lower in fat, calories, and sugar, than most "premium" ice creams.

This can't taste good, can it? Oh yes it can!!! One bite and I was surprised at how creamy and flavorful the ice cream was. The coconut flavor was not overpowering either. I thought the ice cream would be much more "icy" and was surprised at how smooth it turned out to be. The one pint container I picked up was $4.99.... not too much more than a pint of Haagen Dazs or Ben and Jerry's.

It also comes in other fun flavors such as chocolate, chocolate peanut butter swirl, cookie dough, mint chip, mocha almond fudge, coconut, and passionate mango.

The company also makes a coconut milk yogurt which I have tried once, and loved. The downside to the yogurt though is the steep price of over $2.00 per 6 ounce cup. Well, once in awhile as a treat is ok, right?

I'm curious if anyone has a recipe for homemade coconut milk ice cream or yogurt? Has anyone attempted to make this at home? I'd love to give it a try!!!

I know what my TV snack is going to be tonight... : )

Penne with Braised Short Ribs

About a week and a half ago I was watching Giada De Laurentiis on Food Network... and she made this dish. I stocked my freezer with short ribs, found a lot of recipes that looked amazing, had them all ready to make, and then I came down with the flu. So, here we are a week and half later and my husband and I were finally able to make them!

This dish is so savory. I had never attempted short ribs before.. but it was well worth all the "trouble" to make. My husband actually helped make most of this dish, claiming his love for braising things. When the ribs came out of the oven, they weren't even on the bone anymore and were so tender! I will definitely be throwing short ribs in the crock pot this winter!

I found Giada's recipe on Food Network, and started with that one. Look for more short ribs soon!!!

This recipe would also be delicious simmering in the crock pot all day. Just prepare as directed, and place in the crockpot all day on low instead of the oven.

Braised Short Ribs with Penne
-serves 6-

4 Lbs. Beef Short Ribs
Salt and Pepper
1/4 cup Olive Oil
2 small Onions, chopped
6 cloves Garlic, coarsely chopped
6 Canned Roma Tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 cup Red Wine
3-4 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
2 cups Beef Broth
1 Lb Penne Pasta
Grated Parmesan and chopped Flat Leaf Parsley for serving


1. Season the ribs with salt and pepper. In a large heavy bottom dutch oven or ovenproof pot, heat the oil over med-high heat. Add the ribs and brown on all sides, approx. 8-10 minutes. Set the ribs aside.

2. Place an oven rack in the bottom 1/3 of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350.

3. Add the onion and garlic, and cook, stirring frequently for approx. 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, wine, and mustard. Bring the mixture to a boil, and scrape the brown tasty bits off the bottom of the pot.

4. Add the beef broth, cover the pan and place in the oven for 2 1/2 hours. (Ours took a longer because they were cut a little larger). The meat should be fork tender and falling off the bone.

5. Remove the ribs from the cooking liquid. Remove and excess fat from the surface of the cooking liquid. Transfer the cooking liquid to a blender or food processor. Process until the mixture is smooth. Pour back into a saucepan to keep warm over low heat.

6. Remove the meat from the bones, discarding the bones. Using two forks, shred the meat into the sauce, discarding any large lumps of fat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

7. Cook your penne pasta as per directions, until al dente. Add the beef and sauce mixture to the pasta. Sprinkle with parmesan and chopped parsley before serving.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Baked Gemelli with Sausage and Broccolini

I was really struggling to come up with ideas this week... my brain was just dead. I turned to recipe searching again... and wound up on the Williams Sonoma Recipe website. I ended up printing several recipes and saving several more. This was one of the recipes. You can find the original recipe here.

I couldn't find Broccoli Rabe, so I used Broccolini instead. I used sausage from our favorite farm, Crane Dance Farm.

Everyone really enjoyed this... I was skeptical that my older son would really be able to see/taste the onions in this, as I usually chop the onion so fine he can't see them. I got no complaints! Bonus!! This recipe makes a huge amount, and fed us for 2+ meals. Next time I would half the recipe, or freeze half of it.

Baked Gemelli with Sausage and Broccolini
-serves 6-


1 Lb Sweet Italian Sausage Links, cut in half then 1/2 inch pieces
12 ounces Gemelli Pasta, or other pasta, cooked until al dente
8 ounces Cipollini Onions, peeled and quartered
2 bunches (packages) Broccolini, cut into 1 inch pieces
24 cloves garlic, simmered in 1/3 cup olive oil until soft, oil reserved
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 Tablespoon dried Thyme
15 ounces Ricotta Cheese
1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan
1/4 Cup Grated Romano
Salt and Pepper to taste


1. In a sauté pan over medium heat, brown the sausage for 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the broccolini to the pan and cook until tender, 6 to 8 minutes, adding the wine after 3 minutes. Season with salt, then add the broccolini and cooking liquid to the bowl with the sausage.

2. In the same pan over medium heat, warm the reserved garlic oil. Add the onions and thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft and caramelized, approximately 15 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the sausage and broccolini. Save the oil and set aside. Add the pasta and garlic to the bowl and season with salt and pepper. (my garlic was golden and crispy on the outside, so I squeezed the soft garlic goodness out of each clove and put it in the bowl.)

3. Preheat your oven to 400.

4. Spoon half of the pasta mixture into a 9x11 inch glass baking dish. Spoon half the ricotta on top. Top with the remaining pasta and ricotta. Drizzle with the reserved oil. (If you're brave, sprinkle with chili flakes.) Bake for 20 minutes, then sprinkle with the Parmesan and Romano cheeses and bake for 10 minutes more until the cheese is starting to brown on top.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Start to Comfort Food Season: Broccoli Cheese Soup

It certainly has felt like fall for the last week or so, which means it is time to start making soups and crockpotting!!! I know everyone has their own version of Broccoli Cheese Soup, but I wanted to share this one. The soup's base is so thick and creamy from the potato.... it's a much more "filling" soup. I enjoy the thinner consistency Broccoli Cheese Soups as well, but I keep going back to this way of making it.

I've adapted this recipe from a cookbook called "The Big Book of Soups and Stews" by Maryana Vollstedt. I added carrot, shallot, and paprika, and blended the soup differently (she has you cook the broccoli with the rest of the soup, and then blend 3/4 of it... I like a smooth soup with chunks of broccoli). Either way this has become my favorite Broccoli Cheese Soup... and I make it frequently!

Broccoli Cheese Soup
-serves 4-6-

1 large Russet Potato, sliced thin
1 small Onion, chopped
1 Shallot, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, sliced or minced
2 stalks Celery, chopped
1 1/4 cups Chicken Stock
4 cups Broccoli Florets (or 1 head)
1 cup Baby Carrots, cut in thirds
1 1/2 cups Milk
2 cups Cheddar Cheese
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Ground Pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried Thyme
1/4 teaspoon Smoked Paprika

I used a pot with a steaming basket on top. In the bottom, place the onion, potato, garlic, shallot, celery, chicken stock, salt, pepper, thyme, and paprika to a boil. Turn down to medium low heat. Place the carrots and broccoli in the steamer basket on top so they can steam while the bottom gently boils for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes and the bottom veggies are tender, place in a blender and blend until smooth, in batches if necessary. Return them to the pot, add the broccoli and carrots. Add the milk and cheese, and gently heat through, until the soup is hot and cheese is melted. Top with extra cheese if desired.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Orzo with Shrimp, Feta Cheese, and White Wine

I've had a big container of Orzo in my cupboard for quite awhile, so I started searching for recipes to start using it up. This one from epicurious sounded tasty, quick, and simple. I didn't have fresh basil or medium shrimp so I substituted dried basil, and a can of baby shrimp.

I loved this!!! It was very simple, but very delicious!! I think it would be even better using the fresh basil so I will do that next time. I did not measure out my feta cheese, as 1 cup seemed like a lot (I used approximately 1/4 cup sprinkled in with the orzo, then topped each plate with another sprinkling). Use as much, or as little as you want.

Orzo with Shrimp, Feta Cheese, and White Wine
-serves 4-

1 Cup Whole Wheat Orzo
1 14 oz can diced Tomatoes, with juice
6 ounce can Baby Shrimp
1/2 Cup White Wine
1 cup crumbled Feta Cheese
1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Shallot, minced
2 Tablespoons dried Basil
2 teaspoons dried Oregano
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400. Prepare a 7 by 11 glass baking dish with spray or oil. Cook your orzo pasta until al dente, as per directions. Place the orzo back in the pan and add 1/4 cup of the feta, the parmesan, and the baby shrimp. Mix to combine, and pour into the baking dish.

In a large pan, saute the garlic and shallot in a tablespoon of olive oil for approximately a minute, add the tomatoes with juices, white wine, basil, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, and cook for approximately 2 minutes. Pour over the orzo mixture.

Bake for approximately 10 minutes, until heated through. Sprinkle the remaining 3/4 cup feta cheese on top, and serve hot.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Hearty Lentils with Sausage

This is one of my favorite fall/winter dishes. I love lentils and they pair wonderfully with sausage! The idea for this recipe came from a cookbook called Easy Meals on a Budget. Yet again, I've changed and added a few things to make it a little more exciting!

No one complains when I say we are having lentils for dinner! I used canned lentils in this dish to make it go together quicker. You could substitute dried, but the dish will take a bit longer to prepare, and with two young kids in my house- the quicker the better!! I have also used red lentils in this dish in place of the brown, which also was delicious, but had a much more "mushy" consistency.

Hearty Lentils with Sausage
-serves 4 as a main dish-

1/2 Lb. Sausage, can be bulk, or links cut into rounds
(I used 3 Brat-sized links cut into rounds)
4 Slices thick cut Bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 15 oz. cans of lentils, drained
1/2 cup chopped Onion
1 minced Shallot
1/2 cup- 3/4 cup chopped Carrots
1 1/2 Cups Beef Broth
2 cloves of Garlic minced
1/2 tsp. Smoked Paprika
1 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
3 Tbsp. Tomato Paste
3/4 tsp. dried Thyme

In a large pot, cook your sausage and bacon. (Sometimes I'll crisp the bacon in the microwave and add it when I'm adding the lentils, it gives it a bit of a crunch that way.) Remove to a plate to drain on a paper towel.

In the same pot, melt a tablespoon of butter and a swirl of olive oil over medium low heat. Add your onions and carrots and seat until your onions are translucent. Add your garlic and shallot and saute for about a minute longer. Add your tomato paste and beef stock. Stir until well combined. Start adding the rest of your ingredients, drained lentils, red wine vinegar, smoked paprika, and thyme. Mix in your bacon and sausage. Move the heat up to medium and heat until lentils are heated through, and the sauce has thickened to your liking. Salt and Pepper to taste. If needed, you can always add a tad more tomato paste to thicken, or more beef stock to loosen!

I usually serve this with crusty bread for a great hearty meal.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Summer Veggie Saffron Pasta

I got the idea for this recipe from the new issue of Rachael Ray Magazine. I added a couple of things to it... because some of her recipes are rather boring. I like zucchini a lot, if its cooked correctly. Make sure you don't overcook your zucchini!!!

Saffron is one of my favorite spices. It brings vibrant yellow color and richness to any pasta dish. Growing up I loved it when my mom would serve saffron rice as a side dish. I've started experimenting with saffron over the past couple of years.

Summer Veggie Saffron Pasta
-serves 4-

8 oz. Spaghetti
2 cups Broccoli Florets
1 1/2 Small Zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
4 oz. Pancetta, crisped
3/4 cup Parmesan
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Shallot, minced
2 cups Chicken Stock
2 pinches Saffron
2 Tbsp. Cream
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a small saucepan, combine chicken stock and saffron. Bring to a boil, and gently boil until reduced to approximately 1 cup.

In a large pot, bring water to a boil for spaghetti. Add your spaghetti and boil, add the broccoli florets the last 5 minutes or so. When done, strain and return to the pot.

In a Saute pan, heat a tablespoon of butter and a splash of olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallot and saute for 1 minute. Add the zucchini rounds and saute until just tender.

Add your zucchini/garlic mixture to the pasta/broccoli. Mix the chicken stock/saffron mixture into the pasta, add the parmesan cheese and cream, stir until melted. Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the crisped pancetta, and extra parmesan on top.