Inside of a Pomegranate

How to Peal a Pomegranate and Why You Want to

Inside of a Pomegranate

Opening a Pomegranate

Pomegranate

I love the jewel-like quality of pomegranate seeds. Bright red orbs, they add instant glamour to any dish. Compared with other foods that bring to mind luxury, they are a steal.

Pomegranate for Holiday Entertaining

Pomegranate

Pomegranate Health Benefits

Pomegranates are good for you.  Packed with nutrients, they are approximately the size of an orange and contain dozens of tiny, juicy seeds. Pomegranate seeds, called arils contain fiber, vitamins and minerals. They also have two two unique components: punicalagins, powerful antioxidants, and punicic acid, a fatty acid linked to weight loss. Pomegranate juice benefits include helping treat conditions that inflame the joints, such as arthritis. It can also aid in the prevention of diseases caused by chronic inflammation, such as cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.

Jewel-like Pomegranate Seeds

Beautiful Pomegranate Seeds

History

Pomegranates are an ancient fruit. They are mentioned in the Book of Exodus and the Quran, as well as depicted on the walls of Egyptian tombs and Zoroastrian temples. They are also featured in Buddhist, Hindu and European art. Recognized throughout history for their dense nutrition and medicinal properties, they have come to symbolize abundance and eternal life.

Slicing a Pomegranate

Slicing Around the Circumference of the Pomegranate

How to Cut a Pomegranate

I have always been fascinated by pomegranates. As a child, the challenge of unearthing the seeds from each membrane was part of the fun. Since eating the seeds was my only goal, the messy process didn’t bother me. I now prefer not to be dyed red by the juice, and have searched for better methods. My favorite comes from this Martha Stewart video. Following her advice I choose fruit that are a deeply colored red-purple, and feel heavy for their size. I then cut through just the skin around the circumference. I can then pull the fruit apart with out losing any of the juice. Holding the pomegranate half cut side down over a large bowl, I tap on the skin with a soup spoon. Tapping all around the skin dislodges the seeds into the bowl. When one half is empty, I repeat the process with the second half.

Colorful Pomegranate Seeds

Pomegranate Seeds

Pomegranate Recipes

Pomegranates are in season from September through January. The vibrant red color of the pretty seeds make them a go-to garnish for holiday dishes. Sweet-tart flavored, they complement both sweet and savory dishes. Although I am always putting pomegranate seeds in every kind of green, fruit, and grain salad, here are some other ideas about how to use them.  I find them lovely in cocktails or mock-tails. I also mix them into guacamole, or put them on top of hummus dip. Additionally, they are delicious in oatmeal or porridge or to balance the richness of dishes as disparate as short ribs  and cheesecake.

How to Open Pomegranate

How to Peal a Pomegranate

Winter Salad Recipe

I am reprinting my recipe for one of my favorite salads with pomegranate seeds from my post Starting the Holiday Season. For more holiday entertaining ideas try my recipes for a Blood Orange Negroni or Twice-Baked Potatoes.

Winter Salad with Tahini Dressing

1 handful arugula

2 handfuls spinach

½ a Honeycrisp apple

1 tablespoon pine nuts

¼ cup pomegranate seeds

 

Tahini Dressing

11/2 teaspoons tahini

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons Greek yogurt

Winter Salad with Pomegranate

Winter Salad

Layer vegetables, fruit and nuts into a wide bowl and season with salt and pepper. Whisk olive oil into the tahini, then slowly whisk in the lemon juice and yogurt until desired consistency. Taste and adjust flavor balance if necessary.

Spread a light layer of dressing along the inside of the bowl, to avoid overdressing. Mix dressing into the salad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raspberry Milkshake & Straw

How To Make Great Milkshakes

Milkshakes

Milkshakes are great anytime. But stopping for ice cream is a rite summer. Creamy and cold, they bring instant relief on a hot day.

Raspberry Milkshake & Straw

Raspberry Milkshake

Raspberry Milkshakes

One reason I describe my diet as “healthyish” is my love for desserts. Life wouldn’t be as the same without the pleasure of sweets. This summer my new dessert discovery is raspberry milkshakes.

Milkshakes

Milkshake

Milkshake Flavors

My favorite place to try new milkshake flavors is Edzo’s Burger Shop in Evanston, IL.  Just north of Chicago, it can compete with any burger place in the city. The burgers and fries are delicious, but it’s the shakes that tempt me to experiment. Their specials might include Spicy Mexican Chocolate, The Elvis or Blackberry Pie.

Fresh Raspberries Tabletop

Fresh Raspberries

Fruit Milkshakes

I have to admit I’m a chocolate person. My favorite shakes are more likely to contain hot fudge than fruit. Nevertheless Edzo’s raspberry milkshake was a revelation. Greater then the sum of it’s parts, my favorite fruit was elevated by its incorporation into a thick vanilla milkshake. Similar to old favorites like raspberries and whipped cream, but a little more decadent.

Raspberries Close - Up

Raspberries

Replicating Edzo’s

To find the perfect milkshake recipe I turned to advice from  ice cream maker, Tyler Malek, from ice cream emporium, Salt and Straw in Portland, OR. As I expected, a thick milkshake requires on a generous portion of ice cream. However, the fat content of the milk is also important. Skim milk results in a watery shake.; thick milkshakes need whole milk.

Breyers Natural Vanilla Ice Cream

Vanilla Ice Cream

Quality Ingredients

Like Edzo’s, Malek relies on high quality ingredients for his shakes. He suggests using ice cream made from natural ingredients. I chose Breyers Ice Ceam because of their commitment to quality. Their Natural Vanilla contains simple ingredients and sustainably farmed vanilla beans. I also followed Edzo’s lead, and bought fresh locally grown berries at Chicago’s Andersonville Farmer’s Market. With ingredients of this caliber, a great dessert is almost guaranteed. Try my recipe for a refreshing summer treat.

Raspberries at the Farmer's Market

Andersonville Farmer’s Market

Desserts

My idea of decadence usually involves chocolate. For some chocolate dessert ideas try my recipes for Chocolate Rugelah, Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread or Dark Hot Chocolate.

 

Recipe

Raspberry Milkshakes

Serves 2

1 pint firmly packedvanilla ice cream

1/2 cup whole milk

1 pint raspberries

Raspberry Box

Box of Raspberries

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Pour into tall glasses. Serve with straws.

 

Why You Should Make Barbecued Ribs the Easy Way

Barbecuing Ribs

4th of July: fireworks, barbecued ribs, picnics and trips to the beach. I love all the holiday traditions, except one. I know this sounds like sacrilege, but my favorite barbecued ribs recipe relies on cooking in the oven.

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Lillies Q Barbecue Sauces

Growing Up with Barbeque

Barbecued ribs were a passion for my father. As a neighborhood bad boy, they symbolized his flaunting of convention. He became a connoisseur. We tried ribs throughout the Detroit area and while on vacation.

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Barbecued Ribs

Making Ribs

I joined his barbecued rib quest, but I also make my own. While it is possible to make them on the grill, I think it’s easier to control the temperature in the oven. I want a delicious meal, but it’s also a holiday. I love the idea of putting something in the oven, and giving it little attention beyond occasional basting.

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Spice House Rub

My recipe owes a great debt to Ina Garten. She says: keep it simple and use the best ingredients. With that in mind I bought tender baby back ribs and a rub from Chicago’s Spice House. I often blend own spices, but I also love the unique combinations at this local store. I tried the Caribbean Calypso Seasoning, a combination of citrus peels, hot peppers, nutmeg and coriander mixed with salt.

Uncooked Ribs

Ribs Ready to be Cooked: Coated with Rub and Sauce

Sauce

I’ve tried many barbecue sauce recipes. Nothing I’ve made compares to the sauce by another local favorite, Lillie’s Q. I chose their tomato – vinegar based Carolina Sauce, but they have a sauce from every barbecue region. Also, if you want the taste of outdoor cooking try their Smoky or Hot Smoky.

charred-broccoli

Charred Broccoli

For more dishes for your Fourth of July celebration  try my recipes for Charred Broccoli or  a refreshing Orange and Avocado Salad.

Also for ideas for family fun on the 4th, read my tip on 30seconds.com

Recipe

Easy Barbecued Ribs in the Oven

Serves 2-4

2 racks baby back ribs

Spice House Caribbean Calypso Seasoning

Lillies Q Carolina Sauce

 

Sprinkle the rub on the both sides of the meat and rub it in. Refrigerate overnight or for 4 hours before cooking.

Preheat the oven to 300F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Arrange the racks meat side up and and apply a thin coating of sauce to the ribs. Tent the pan with foil. Bake for 2-2 ½ hours until the meat is falling off the bone. Apply another coating of sauce on the ribs and put under the broiler 3-5 minutes until the sauce has caramelized. Cut into sections of 3-5 ribs. Serve.

How to Make a Superior Cocktail for Father's Day

How to Make a Superior Cocktail for Father’s Day

Whether you find Father’s Day an opportunity or a challenge, it’s often the small things that make an occasion special.

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One way to make any dad’s day out of the ordinary is by making his favorite cocktail taste just a little better. It involves little investment. In fact, I’m sure you already have everything you need.

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Coarse and Fine Sea Salt

While sea salt has been everywhere on baked goods lately, adding a dash of salt to a cocktail has stayed under the radar. Similar to the affect it has on sweets on sweets, adding a pinch of salt to a drink heightens the other flavors.

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Salts

My knowledge of this trick actually comes from one my husband’s beloved cocktail books: Liquid Intelligence, The Art and Science of the Perfect Cocktail by David Arnold. If you haven’t gotten that Father’s Day gift yet, I enthusiastically endorse it for all the science loving dads on your list.

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Adding a Drop of Salt Water to a Cocktail

For other cocktail ideas try my Blood Orange Negroni, Espresso Gin & Tonic  or Old Town Pimm’s Cup.

Superior Cocktail Recipe
Add a pinch of salt to any cocktail

Cocktail Salt Solution – 20% Solution
20 grams salt
80 milliliters of water

Dissolve the salt in the water. Put in a bottle with a dropper top. Add a drop or two to a cocktail.

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20% Solution

How to Create Your Favorite Summer Cocktail

Pimm’s Cup may be the drink of Wimbledon, but spring strawberries always inspire me to rush the season. I became a fan of the drink while a student in Ann Arbor, MI where it was served at The Old Town Tavern. Although it’s still there, the last of the “townie” bars on the city’s Old West Side, it’s no longer on the menu. Light and refreshing, it still makes me think of summer.

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Spring Strawberries

What separates the Old Town Pimm’s Cup, is the addition of tonic water. For years I thought the Old Town cocktail was the original, and searched in vain to find it. I now realize that as a liqueur, Pimm’s can be mixed with anything, yet my preference remains for this bittersweet recipe. The Old Town did not use strawberries, but I like the additional fragrance and complexity.

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Old Town Pimm’s Cup

 

Since Wimbledon is a daytime event the traditional Pimm’s Cup is low in alcohol. To make a stronger cocktail, I add gin, which compliments its British profile.

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Pimm’s No.1

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Strawberries

When I discovered that a popular Pimm’s cocktail featured ginger ale I had to try it with my hometown favorite, Vernors. Not as strongly flavored as ginger beer, it nevertheless has a balanced, spicy effervescence.

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Detroit Pimm’s Cup

Old Town Pimm’s Cup

Serves 1

2 oz. Pimm’s No. 1

6 oz. tonic water

Sliced strawberries

Slices of lemon

Slices of orange

Add all the ingredients to a tall glass with ice. Stir and serve.

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Sliced Fruit for a Pimm’s Cup

Pimm’s Gin & Tonic

Serves 1

2 oz. Pimm’s Cup

1 oz. gin

4 oz. tonic water

Sliced strawberries

Slices of lemon

Slices of orange

Add all the ingredients to a tall glass with ice. Stir and serve.

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Tonic Water

Detroit Pimm’s Cup

Serves 1

2 oz. Pimm’s No. 1

6 oz. Vernors’ ginger ale

Sliced strawberries

Slices of lemon

Slices of orange

Add all the ingredients to a tall glass with ice. Stir and serve.

 

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Vernors Ginger Ale

How Twice-Baked Potatoes Can Make Entertaining Easy

Potatoes are underrated. Low calorie and high in fiber, their association with unhealthy preparations and toppings has made them a guilty pleasure. This needn’t be the case.

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Twice – Baked Potato

The subtle flavor of the potato provides a blank canvas that requires few additions. Twice – baked potatoes, my favorite, are a delicious example of how few ingredients are necessary to elevate a potato into something special.

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Butter

Twice – baked potatoes are my entertaining staple. They are pretty when baked, yet so easy. Most importantly they can be prepared ahead, and warmed up when its time to serve. No holiday would be the same without them. They also perfect for casual summertime entertaining, just put  them on the grill as a side for steaks.

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Prepped Twice Baked Potatoes

Whenever I make them, I try to save one for lunch. Made with skim milk, minimal butter and cheddar cheese, it’s a healthy vegetarian entrée.

This is my mother’s recipe. Her directions for consistency are very specific.

Twice – Baked Potatoes

Serves 6-8

 

4 Idaho potatoes

1 cup fat free milk

11/2 tablespoons butter

½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Salt

Paprika

Bake potatoes at 425F for 1 hour. Test potatoes with a fork or toothpick to make sure they have softened. Make a slit on the sides of the potato to release the steam. Let cool for 20-30 minutes.

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Baked Potato Sliced in Half

Cut the potatoes in half, cutting around the circumference of the potato. Scoop out the flesh out of each side, being careful not to rip the skin.

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Empty Potato Skins

Add the potato flesh to a saucepan with the butter. Warm the milk in a microwave for two minutes. Add half the milk to the saucepan. Turn the heat on low and mash the mixture with a potato masher. Retain small chucks of potatoes. Do not mash into a puree. Mix in the cheese. Do not add extra cheese; it will turn the potatoes into glue. Add more milk as needed. The proper consistency is of a flavorful baked potato. Salt to taste. Fill the potato skins with the potato mixture. Sprinkle the potatoes generously with paprika. Bake immediately or refrigerate overnight.

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Warmed Milk

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Baked Potato Flesh

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Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Bake at 350F on a cookie sheet for 30 minutes (or 20 minutes at 400F) until the tops have browned and warmed through, either in the oven or on indirect heat on a grill.Follow my blog with Bloglovin