January 28, 2015

Pomegranate Guacamole

I love guacamole, I feel like I can't get enough of it and if you can believe it...I never even tasted it until about 5 years ago.

I though it was something I didn't want to eat and boy was I wrong!  I lovingly blame my parents for never having been exposed to guacamole or avocados in general. SO I guess I am making up for lost time!

I'll take guac...well any way you want to give it to me!  Plain, with bacon & tomatoes, super spicy, on stuff, under stuff...you name it,!

Funny enough, the first time I ever gave guacamole a chance was when my friend Chris made it for a party, it was speckled with pomegranate seeds (which I love), so I dug in.  I have to say that the crunch and burst of delicious juice the seeds give guacamole is fantastic!

So if you are looking for a different twist on traditional guacamole why not try adding some pomegranate seeds and making yourself a bowl of Pomegranate Guacamole. SO good!

And if you want additional inspiration how about some of these Guacamole's or Avocado Dishes I have whipped up in the past?

Bacon Tomato & Jalapeno Guacamole
Lobster Guacamole
Creamy Guacamole Dip
Guacamole & Spicy Shrimp Tostadas 
Chicken Cakes with Spicy Avocado Cream
Spicy Chicken & Avocado Flatbread with Avocado Cream
Crispy Avocado Bacon & Tomato Salad (SOOO good!)

I wasn't joking...I had to stop myself from adding recipes...I have more, lol!

Pomegranate Guacamole
3 avocado's
2 tsp fresh lime juice
2 tsp minced  jalapeno

scallion sliced thin
Kosher salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
1 cup pomegranate seeds

Lightly mash your avocado's in a bowl with the back of a fork, add in your lime juice and mash a bit more. Add in your jalapenos, scallions, salt & pepper (I throw seeds and stems in as well for extra heat), and mix until incorporated.  Add in three quarters of your pomegranate seeds and mix, top your guac with the rest of your seeds and serve.  Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy!

For tips on how to shop for avocado's click here.

And for the coolest way to get the seeds out of a Pomegranate click here...why didn't I know this before 2014!


January 22, 2015

Crazy Delicious Grilled Bacon Wrapped Lamb Chops

It may be c-c-cold out however that never stops me from firing up the grill!  The flavor imparted to food from the grill just can not be beat!

The Big Game is just over a week away and I thought these Bacon Wrapped Pork Chops would be just the ticket to serve a crowd of hungry football watchers or these would make a spectacular opener for a romantic Valentines Dinner for the one you love!  You just might get yourself a marriage proposal...after all BACON is involved...bacon!! 

I tested these out in advance based off of an appetizer description I read on a menu at a local restaurant (now I have to go back and actually taste them just to see how they compare).  As soon as I read the description, I knew instantly that my son would flip for them.

So, I told him about them, he got all excited, we planned together to make them and man were they crazy-delicious! They are seriously in the top 10 best bites of my life! And I am not even that into lamb chops...usually for me I am one and done.  But these, these I could have kept on eating! Must have been the grill-kissed bacon combined with the fresh and clean tasting pesto. M-mmm-mmm!

Since my son Connor recently turned 13, and has been cooking with me for about 10 years, I decided it was time for him to begin learning how to use the grill. Boy was he excited to hear that! He did a great job and respected the grill, and he can't wait for his next grilling lesson!

This year I have partnered up with Saber Grills and am excited to share the first of 12 recipes that I am creating for their website. Head on over to check out how to make these delicious Grilled Bacon Wrapped Lamb Chops and don't forget to make the Parsley Pesto - It seriously took these chops to the next level!  Plus parsley IS a super-food after all (not just a garnish!)! 


January 21, 2015

Fruit Flavored Water Recipes to Stay Hydrated & Healthy

As promised, today I have more waters for you to try!  I am trying to drink more water and so far, I am doing well with that particular resolution.  My daughter Samantha (10) on the water wagon as well. She has it down to 2 favorites. Next week Samantha will share her favorite flavored water with you as well as a fun tip to help you and your family drink more water.

Here's the thing...is this rocket science...nope!  It's inspiration! It really is fun and flavorful to mix up your water choices.  It keeps it interesting and you drink way more water that usual.  First, you put a little effort into it right...so you don't want your efforts to be wasted so you drink down.

Second, by filling pitcher with your fruit-flavored concoctions, you know what your goal of water for the day is to drink and you watch the pitcher go lower and lower, getting you closer and closer to a successful-water-drinking-day! Yeah us!

Last week I posted these two beauties - Strawberry & Mint Water and Pomegranate & Lemon Water

Yesterday I posted these two on Jo-Lynne Shane's Lifestyle Site where I am a recipe contributor - Blueberry Water (my favorite!!) and this Lemon, Lime & Raspberry Water aka Everything Water (named by my daughter, lol).

Today I want to share a Cucumber & Mint Water, which I have to say that I did not think I would like very much...but man is it delicious and refreshing, I was happily surprised!  This water gets infused quickly, however be sure to drink it all in the same day by day 2 its not the same.

This simple Citrus Water has a nice hit of flavor, naturally and your getting some Vitamin C as well...not too shabby!

In my opinion the colder these waters are the better they are...on very cold days I have taken to keeping my waters in our garage which gets colder than our fridge (yum!!) or you can simply enjoy them over ice.

See you next week for another very flavorful water from Samantha as well as a tip or two to help you drink more water & have a healthy 2015!

Cucumber & Mint Water
64 oz of cold water
1/2 a large cucumber, sliced into thin rounds
3 thin slices of lemon
A handful of mint

Combine the above ingredients in a large pitcher, allow it to sit 30 minutes before enjoying.  If you are a big fan of mint, muddle the mint in the water a bit first before adding the cucumbers.

Citrus Water
64 oz cold water
2 oranges
1 lemon
1 lime

Place water in your pitcher, squeeze whole orange into your pitcher, squeeze in half of the remaining orange.  Slice the other half of the orange and add it to your pitcher.  Slice off a few slices from your lemon & lime and add to the water, squeeze in the rest.

Depending on the size & sweetness of your orange and your taste preference you may or may not want to add in 1-2 TBS of simple syrup or not.  Simple syrup is just equal parts sugar and water. Simply stir the sugar into hot water and stir until its dissolved, then add to your pitcher if you choose.

Colleen's Notes:  Any time you are floating fruits and vegetables in something you intend to drink, its a very good idea to buy organic. Either way, be sure to was the skins of everything you are using before adding them to your waters.

Cheers to a healthier you (and me too)!!

January 19, 2015

Foodie Travel #NYStateDairyTour2014

How do YOU get your dairy on?? When I look at all the things we (my children especially) enjoy...dairy in one form or another is usually there!  Ice Cream, cheese, whipped cream, puddings, casseroles bread and butter and milk and cookies...it's there!  I don't think a day ever passes that dairy in more than one form isn't in my family's life.  Think about it.

Recently, I headed up, once again, to New York for the annual New York State Dairy Tour which takes place in The Finger Lake Region.  I look forward to this event for a number of reasons.  First, a weekend getaway with my husband is something that doesn't happen very often. You know how it is, the kids come along and "me" or "us" time is rare.  Second, visiting Geneva On The Lake and the town of Geneva is such a treat.  The lodging is fabulous, the view ah-mazing, the town...stunning and the bars & restaurants SO fun!  Then there are my blogging friends and hosts that I get to reconnect with, we have a blast!  I got to share the weekend with my food-blogging-bestie, Linda of Giggles Gobbles & Gulps and I met a new foodie friend in Brandy of Nutmeg Nanny (and her BFF Jessica) who were both so much fun!

I have to say though, best of all for me is getting a look into the world of the farmers who work every single day of the year, generation after generation to keep allowing families like my own to enjoy the fruits of their labors.  Something I do not take for granted.

In my opinion, we should thank any farmer that crosses our path (and teach our children to do the same).  Without them, their hard work, their vision and their passion, we would not have the quality of life that we currently do.  After all, the abundance of food we are surrounded by every time we step into a market has a big back-story and a lot of blood, sweat and tears goes into making that happen every single day of the year.

This year we had an unbelievable experience while on the tour, we were fortunate enough to be the first group brought into the brand new 108,000 square foot, 101 million dollar, beyond-state-of-the-art Cayuga Milk Ingredients Plant located in Auburn, NY  A project envisioned, and brought to life by 21 dairy farms in the area.  It was unbelievable!  The efficiency of that plant seems almost seems like it comes from the pages of a science-fiction novel.

At the plant they use state-of-the-art technology to separate the collective milk from the farms involved into high quality components that are then added to other products to boost their nutritional value. The water is removed from the milk to produce dry ingredients, extending the shelf life to up to 18 months, which means ingredients produced today can be delivered to children and families around the globe.

The Cayuga Milk Ingredients Plant processes 2.6 million pounds of milk trucked in every day from the farmers 36,000 cows. Some of the products produces are protein powders, skim milk, condensed milk, cream, Soon they they hope to produce infant formula.

Disclosure: I was not compensated to write this post, as usual all thoughts and opinions are my own and are based off of my experience over the weekend.

Bio-security at the plant is a top priority - how do you like our look??  

The water removed from the milk is recycled to then both cool down machinery at the plant as well as clean the facility... to me that is really kind of mind blowing!  No waste and no drain on the local water resources.

As our bus pulled away from the plant, I was sitting with Julie Patterson wife of Jon Patterson who is a 6th generation dairy farmer.  Their adorable young daughter made sure we were all aware the SHE was the 7th generation dairy farmer!  It was so interesting to be able to ask questions and hear about life on their farm as we then drove to it for a tour.

Patterson Farm sits on 2500 acres, has 1100 milking cows and another 1000 hefer's that have not yet begun to be milked.  Do you actually know what a hefer is??  It's a young cow that has not yet has its first calf.  So the next time someone may call you a heffer...well they actually are kind of calling you a teenager!  I say that is a compliment of sorts, lol!

I was beyond impressed with the efficiency at Patterson Farm.  Their cows are treat very well (even getting 60 days off a year to roam the pastures), something I really learned about on last years tour.  What blew me away was that, similar to the plant, they farm uses everything...they have no waste.  The cows are mostly fed from what they grow on the farm, the bedding the cows sleep on is partially made up of their manure...recycled.  What the cows don't digest...they reuse.  The farms power comes from the cow's manure (what??) what is leftover then goes back into the land to fertilize it.  

In 1999 the farm installed a manure treatment system as a way to help control odors that come from having a lot of animals, they then decided that an anaerobic manure digester would be the best means of managing their manure while generating electricity at the same time.  The bio-gas produced from the digester produces 4,500 kwh of electricity per day (enough electricity for over 100 homes). Electricity is then sold to New York State Electric and Gas, allowing the farm to offset its $75,000 annual electric bill.

That blows my mind!  You have a dairy farm, and the "waste" of your animals power it!  I'd say anything is possible! 

I even fed not one but 2 super sweet and adorable, just-born calves a bottle that was as long as my forearm! Those babies were all over it, one was so excited that she decided to see how my jeans would taste!  A great memory for sure!  Here is a 20 second clip me feeding my new friends see the big wet spot on my jeans...lol!

The rest of the weekend was super-fun, we ate well, we had delicious wines and I even had a chance to cook with my husband (good job babe!!) at the gorgeous New York Wine & Culinary Center where among other delicious tidbits we made an amazing Cheese Curd dish which was a riff on Poutine...and Inside Out Poutine from the mind of Chef Jeffrey! Mmmmmm, they were SO delicious!!  

Now all I can think about is getting back to the Finger Lakes Area for a CHEESE Tour...and yes my friends they do exist!! 

January 14, 2015

Homemade Organic Flavored Waters

As is the norm, a new year means new goals & resolutions. One of mine is to drink more water.
I so don't drink enough water! I actually started off 2014 with that in mind, I thought here's a resolution I can keep. I get so bored of drinking plain water so I mixed and tinkered and came up with some great flavors however by March I just stopped.

No clue as to why. I was on crutches for a while...and a hot mess...who can cook or keep up with kids on crutches when you can only have any weight on one foot??  That was an experience I hope to never repeat (even though the kid in me who always wanted to try out a pair of crutches was fulfilled...the novelty lasted all of 10 minutes).  Maybe I can blame all of "that" for stopping, who knows.

SO here I go a-gain!

The page of time was barely turned to the possibilities and the freshness of 2015 and off to my Whole Foods I went, determined to jump right in to resolution number one and to grab organic ingredients to make some of the waters I tinkered with previously as well as see what inspired me for new flavors.

Here's the thing...when you are going to be using fruits (floating, mashing, smashing, etc) and then guzzling down the water that they have been hanging out in, simply put the fruits need to be organic and come from a trusted source.

I trust Whole Foods. They are my go to source for what I need when it comes needs like this. Every bin tells me a bit about what it is I may be buying and I really like that! I become a more informed consumer when I shop there.

Today, I am giving you 2 delicious and fun flavored waters.  Next week I will share 4 more PLUS some tips and tricks for making getting enough water down our gullets possible!

I've GOT this resolution and so can you!! Who wants to join me?

First up is this delicious Strawberry Mint Water!  The bonus with this healthy water is that if you are watching your weight and maaaaybe cutting out wine, beer or cocktails for a bit (like many do each January) you can make a pitcher of this and take it to a party with you...grab a fancy glass...rim it with a wee bit of colored sugar. Your brain will think you have a cocktail!  Cheers to that!

The hint of strawberry and mint is refreshing over ice.  Drink this ice cold...so good!  You may even want just a pinch of sugar...hey if it helps you down a 1/2 gallon or more of water a day...go for it!

Next up is this simple Pomegranate & Lemon Water.  If you want more flavor add a shot of Pom juice to it. Mmmmm!

Here's the thing...at the end of the day, we all crave flavor.  So adding a hit of natural juice from organic fruits or brands you trust or a small bit of sugar or your preferred sweeter isn't a bad thing. You will keep it interesting and give yourself some flavor which will male you much less likely to reach for a soda or other crap-filled beverage.  Make sense?

Let's do this!!

Come back next week for more flavors, until then cheers ...with our water-filled 
pretty glasses...clink!!

Today's post was sponsored by Whole Foods Market of Jenkintown, a store I shop often and enjoy!

Strawberry & Mint Water
1 qt organic strawberries
2 quarts of very cold water
1 TBS fresh squeezed lemon juice
A handful of mint leaves

In a small pot or bowl, muddle your strawberries and water with a muddler, potato masher or back of a large spoon.  Allow the water to sit for 30 minutes.  Strain the water into a pitcher, add in a handful of strawberry slices, lemon juice and a mint leaves.

Colleen's Notes: Drink the day you make it for best flavor. If you are feeling fancy, rim your glass with some strawberry sugar or colored sugar.  If you want a bit more flavor, add in a pinch or two of sugar.  Mint is strong.  If you really like mint flavor, muddle a few leaves with your berries otherwise, just tossing them in will lend flavor.

Pomegranate & Lemon Water
1 cup of Pomegranate arils (seeds)
2 TBS fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 quarts of water

In a small pot or bowl, muddle your pomegranate seeds and water with a muddler, potato masher or back of a large spoon, add in lemon juice.  Strain the water into a pitcher, add in a handful of pomegranate seeds, and a half dozen or so lemon slices.  For a more flavor add in a shot or two of Pom juice...antioxidants baby!  Serve over ice and enjoy.

January 13, 2015

Air Fryer Review Sriracha & Honey Tossed Calamari

Calamari, when made well,  has got to be one of my favorite appetizers.
However please hold the tomato sauce...blech!  Don't get me wrong...I love me some tomato sauce but not with crispy calamari.  That I reserve for things like this Sicilian Calamari - that...works!

I would much rather have a spicy remoulade or a thin sweet and spicy sauce.  One thing about calamari at home is the endless small-batch baskets going into fryer, plus the oil smell.

I just finished reviewing and testing out the new Avalon Bay Air Fryer from Air & Water which is a compact "egg-shaped" small appliance that uses rapid air technology and a heating element to cook your food faster and lends food a fried taste without oil.  Its an interesting machine, especially when trying to be a bit healthier and cutting down on fats and oils...like many of us are trying to do this time of year.

I like the sleek design as well as how compact it is.  I LOVE the fact that the Air Fryer has a handle built in right on top.  Its fantastic, making it so easy to move it around.  Even the box had a handle...very well thought out.  The second thing I adore is the timer.  Its easy to use, dings and shuts off when finished. It shuts off by itself!  Yeah for all those times I get distracted watching Downton Abbey, errr I mean doing homework with the kids.

This is especially useful, in my opinion, for those that often cook for one and it would be awesome for college dorms.  You pop in what you want into the basket, give it a shake or two in the middle of cooking...and ding...its done!  In my opinion this acts more like an oven, and bakes things father than a fryer.  However, a tiny brush of oil to the skin of chicken for example, give a more fry-like result.

I have been tinkering, and there is a bit of a learning curve with the rapid air technology air fryers use. Between my tinkering as well as the other 8 food bloggers involved, in addition to the recipes shared below successes include air fryer chicken legs, chicken wings (which my daughter deemed "the best I ever had in MY life", "baked" potatoes, including sweet potatoes, freshly made fish sticks and avocado fries.

We had some fails as well, such as fried rice (that really needs oil), chips & pita chips but now I/we seem to have found the groove.  When it comes to using a flour coating on things, they seem a bit dry, however I fixed that by tossing the calamari in a delicious sauce them crisping them up again in the fryer.  I was determined to find a way to enjoy calamari the feeling of enjoying fried calamari without the fry and in the end it worked out.

Check out Air & Water's Facebook Page for more of their exciting products.

Good News! 2 of you will have the chance to win one of these Avalon Bay Air Fryers for your own! 

And if this product sounds like something your would be interested in, it's your lucky day! I have a $15.00 off coupon for you. The Avalon Bay Air Fryer is normally $129.94, currently it is on sale for $99.95 on the Air & Water so with code "oilfree" and you come down the additional $15.00. The code is for the Air & Water site only.

I received a fryer for my review to test out, all opinions about the fryer are my own.

Check out these 9 recipes made in the new Avalon Bay Air Fryer from these 
food bloggers friends of mine, there is even a dessert!

Sriracha & Honey Tossed Calamari by Colleen of Souffle Bombay
Philly Cheesesteak Eggrolls by Sarah of How I Pinch A Penny
Air Fryer Breaded Raviolis by Linda of Giggles Gobbles & Gulps
Coconut Shrimp with Spicy Marmalade Dipping Sauce by Kellie of The Suburban Soapbox

Lemony Green Beans by Heather of Real: The Kitchen and Beyond
Air Fryer Baked Parsley Potatoes from Courtney of Courtney's Sweets

Skinny Chicken Chilaquiles from Noelle of Opera Singer In The Kitchen
Air Fryer One Dish Crustless Tomato & Onion Quiche from Lauryn of The Vintage Mom

Nutella Apple Pies by Larisha of We're Parents
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sriracha & Honey Tossed Calamari
1/2 lb calamari tubes (tentacles if you prefer)
1 cup of club soda
1 cup flour
A couple dashes of salt, red pepper and black pepper
1/2 cup honey 1-2 TBS Sriracha 

A few shakes of red pepper flakes

Rinse your calamari clean and blot dry. Slice the calamari tubes into rings about 1/4 inch wide. Place the calamari rings into a bowl and cover them with the club soda, stir until all are submerged. Let sit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile combine the flour, salt, red & black pepper. Set aside. Drain the calamari, blot dry. Dredge the calamari, one at a time, in the flour mixture and set on a plate until ready to air fry.  Once ready to cook.  Spray the basket of the fryer with a small amount of cooking spray. Place calamari into the basket, careful not to crowd too much, set temperature for 375 degrees and set the timer for 11 minutes.  Shake the basket twice during the cooking process, loosening any rings that stick.  Remove from basket, toss with the sauce and return to the fryer for 2 minutes more.  Serve with additional sauce if you like.

Make sauce by combining honey, sriracha and red pepper flakes in a small bowl, mix until fully combined.