Fennel, Orange, & Pomegranate Salad with Spicy Orange-Honey Vinaigrette

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Do you ever take on a kitchen project that is seemingly straightforward, maybe a little curve here and there, but nothing you can’t handle and BAM! It all crashes and burns and you’re standing there covered in sticky frosting and hot pink cake scraps and you need a nap and maybe a drink to get over it? No? Just me? Okay.

Well, recipe disasters like that happen to me a lot. All the time, actually. To get over them–if a nap and a drink can’t happen–and come to peace with my kitchen once again, I like to make something pretty and fresh and totally not scary. Enter the salad. I mean, it doesn’t take much for a salad to be a beauty–tossing some pretty garnishes on top always works and I find it’s the perfect canvas for adding color and texture and brightness, too. And, everyone knows that crisp and crunchy things help us chew the sting of failure away…right? Plus, I’m pretty sure pomegranate arils are the sprinkles of the salad world. They’re basically gems you can eat.

Fennel + Arugula + Oranges + Pomegranate + a little Red Onion + Spicy Honey-Orange Vinaigrette – FrostingAndPinkCakeScraps = YAY!

I’m really good at math, guys. I mean, that’s a super long word problem and I totally nailed it. We CAN reset our frosting covered emotions, throw in a little health for good measure, and get back to cake-making tomorrow.

P.S. If you sub maple for the honey in the vinaigrette, this salad can be totally vegan! If you want to go in the opposite direction, add some cheese–chèvre or even a blue cheese would be excellent. This salad is totally adaptable and casual that way.

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Fennel, Orange, and Pomegranate Salad with Spicy Orange-Honey Vinaigrette

I love supremed citrus fruits because I’m a weirdo and am into fussy tasks like that, if you can’t be bothered, no worries! Just segment or slice the oranges however you like.

Serves 2-4

1 bulb of fennel

2 cups arugula

1/4 of a small red onion

2 oranges, supremed, juice reserved

1/2 cup pomegranate arils

for the vinaigrette:

2 tablespoons finely minced red onion (or shallot if you have one)

2 tablespoons champagne vinegar

2 tablespoons of the reserved orange juice

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup olive oil

Cut the top–long stalk and fronds (reserve the fronds for garnishing)–of the fennel bulb off, slice in half, remove the outer layer and discard. Cut out the core at the base of the fennel and slice the fennel as thinly as possible–I use a mandolin for this task while being very careful about watching my fingers. Toss the shaved fennel into a bowl with the arugula. Slice the red onion thinly either with a knife or mandolin and toss with the fennel and arugula. Arrange the orange segments over the top of the salad and sprinkle the pomegranate arils and any reserved fennel fronds over the top.

In a jar with a tight fitting lid combine all of the ingredients for the vinaigrette. Fasten the lid and shake well until combined. Taste for seasoning–it should be pleasantly salty, tart, a little sweet, and a bit spicy. Adjust for your taste. Dress the salad just before serving.

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Pizza Grilled Cheese

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Pizza + Grilled Cheese = Pizza Grilled CHEESE!!!!!!

I mean, what can I say?

It’s basically a cheesy, melty, amazing, marriage of two of the best food items in all the lands. It’s really a thing of beauty and I can barely believe it never occurred to me to smash these two things together before. But, forgive me. Please.

This gooey sandwich baby has all the things we love about pizza–carbs, cheese, toppings–plus a buttery, crunchy, parmesan cheese crust that gets golden and crispy in a hot skillet.You could do a million and one pizza inspired fillings for this grilled cheese. I went with easy roasted mushrooms, spicy Italian sausage, lots of melty mozzarella, fresh basil, and some of my quick marinara–which I keep in frozen little ice cubes in my freezer. Which means as long as I have bread and cheese and cubes of frozen marinara in my freezer, I can have this. Danger. I made this for lunch and then dinner the same day and made googly-heart-emoji-eyes at it the whole time.

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Pizza Grilled Cheese with Roasted Mushrooms and Italian Sausage

Serves 2

I’ve included my go-to recipe for quick marinara below, but you can totally use a prepared, jarred sauce. No probs.

8 ounces cremini mushrooms, cleaned

2 teaspoons olive oil

pinch of salt and pepper

4 slices rustic bread

2 tablespoons softened butter

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

6 slices fresh mozzarella cheese

1 cooked spicy Italian sausage link, sliced

1/4 cup marinara sauce, plus more for dipping

torn or shredded basil leaves

Start by roasting the mushrooms. Preheat the oven to 425ºF and lightly coat a baking sheet with olive oil. Slice the mushrooms and toss with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the mushrooms onto the baking sheet and roast 15-20 minutes or until the mushrooms release all of their liquid and begin to brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.

Heat a cast iron or non-stick skillet over medium heat. Spread the butter onto one side of each of the 4 slices of bread. Divide the parmesan into 4 equal-ish amounts and sprinkle over each buttered piece of bread, pressing the parm into the butter so it adheres nicely. Place 2 slices of bread, butter and parmesan side down (naked side up), in the warm skillet. Layer 2 slices of mozzarella onto each slice of bread, followed by a layer of sausage, mushrooms, a few spoonfuls of sauce, and a sprinkle of the basil. Tear the remaining slices of mozzarella into pieces and sprinkle over the top of the layers, then top with the remaining slice of bread, butter and parmesan side up. Cook the grilled cheeses over medium heat on one side until golden, crisp and the cheese is starting to melt.* Carefully flip over the sandwiches and cook on the other side until golden, crisp, and the cheese is very melty. Serve the sandwiches hot with additional marinara for dipping.

*to encourage melting, add a few teaspoons of water to the hot skillet and cover with a lid (if you don’t have a lid a sheet pan (the one you used to roast the mushrooms) works excellently in a pinch).

Quick Marinara

To freeze, I just spoon the cooled marinara into an ice cube tray or two, freeze until solid, and pop the frozen cubes into a freezer bag for using as needed.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, diced fine

1-2 minced cloves garlic

2 teaspoons oregano

1/2-1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1, 28-ounce, can crushed tomatoes

salt to taste

In a saucepan heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt, cook for a few minutes until the onions become transluscent. Add the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes, cook an additional minute before stirring in the tomato paste. Continue to cook until the tomato paste becomes deep red. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and season with a pinch of salt. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, until some of the liquid has evaporated. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if you like. Remove from the heat and use however you want–for pasta sauces, pizza, meatballs, whatever! Store any leftover sauce in an lidded container in the refrigerator for a few days or freeze as noted above.

 

 

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Recently at Betty’s: Cheesy Southwest Grains & Chorizo Zucchini Boats

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For 2015 I really want to share more of the work I’ve been doing for Betty Crocker (and whoever else, for that matter). A lot of the stuff I do is similar in style to what you already see here–from scratch and homemade–some of it is super quick and easy, using different branded products, as well. I plan to share these new recipes on Fridays, when available. Sometimes I don’t have anything new on the Betty site, so I just won’t share those weeks.

Cheesy Southwest Grains and Chorizo Zucchini Boats

I think everyone cooks differently depending on their comfort level in the kitchen, their schedules, and lifestyles. Sometimes I get super caught up in wanting things to be homemade and from scratch that I get a leeetle bit stressed out about it and end up totally hangry and frazzled. I mean for the sake of my sanity, I’m not above boxed mac and cheese, y’all. I think it’s important to embrace a shortcut from time to time for the sake of happy bellies and happy brains.

This recipe definitely embraces the shortcut, using Suddenly Grain Salad as a large component in the recipe. It makes for a super easy, fast, and delicious dinner, though! I’m a huge fan of the zucchini boat thing (like these Three Cheese and Roasted Tomato ones). The filling for this version comes together with the Suddenly Grain Salad–a mix of brown rice, quinoa, corn, black beans–plus chorizo and cheese…which never hurts. Click over to see the recipe for these Cheesy Southwest Grains & Chorizo Zucchini Boats. And, I’m thinking if you are more ambitious or have some extra time you could totally make a from-scratch version of this with delicious results.