Sunday, December 8, 2013

Spring Roll Holiday Appetizer #SeaPak #PakTheParty

We are members of the Collective Bias Social Fabric community. We have been compensated to share our experience with you by Collective Bias and their client, Rich's SeaPak.



In two weeks we will be celebrating the third annual Ornament Exchange Party at our home. We are so excited to have our close friends over for some yummy food, festive drinks and laughs. We still have a lot to do before the party so we went to our local Walmart to buy some holiday decor and entertaining essentials. While at the store, we found these tasty Rich's SeaPak Spring Rolls in the frozen seafood section and we thought it would make a great holiday appetizer. It's the perfect snack option for parties because you could actually enjoy yourself instead of slaving away in the kitchen all night on homemade treats. These spring rolls are a healthy quick dinner option as well when paired with a salad. We decided to test it out last night for dinner to see if we would like to serve it at our upcoming party. We were impressed and decided that these spring rolls will definitely be part of our menu. The flaky crust and warm filling of shrimp and vegetables really hit the spot.

These spring rolls were easy to prepare. All we did was place them on a baking sheet and bake them for 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Although it was just us two having them for dinner, we decided to experiment with ways in which we would display them the day of the party. We placed the rolls on a bed of peppery arugula on a round white platter. We think it kind of looks like a Christmas wreath! We added a pop of color and decoration to the dish by adding yellow juicy tomatoes and plump cranberries. Then we used our homemade cranberry sauce, which we made for Thanksgiving, as a dip. We love the green and red colors of this quick and east dish! These Rich's SeaPak spring rolls are one of the the best frozen appetizers we have ever tasted.


Here is the link to the Ladies Home Journal mention as the "The 15 Best Frozen Appetizers to Serve at a Party": http://www.lhj.com/recipes/easy/appetizers/best-frozen-party-appetizers/?page=10 and the Today's Show mention of the product as well: http://www.seafoodsource.com/en/all-news/24666-seapak-featured-on-nbc-s-today-show
You could also follow SeaPak on Facebook for other entertaining ideas at www.Facebook.com/SeaPak




Monday, November 25, 2013

Creamy Pumpkin Soup




We believe that every household should have at least one pumpkin item on the buffet table on Thanksgiving and this recipe is probably the best one you could choose to have on yours. Every year we begin our night at Michael's parent's house (we visit three houses) and enjoy this warm and delicious soup. It's a luxurious way to begin your dinner with it's thick, creamy consistency and robust flavor. We've made it for pot lucks and it is always a hit. This recipe is a guaranteed winner! I don't think we will ever celebrate Thanksgiving without it!

Ingredients for the soup:

2 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 medium yellow onions
3 ribs of celery
Salt
Pepper
3 tablespoons of flour
1 teaspoon of hot sauce
4 teaspoons of poultry seasoning
6 cups of low sodium chicken broth
5 dry bay leaves
1 30oz can of pumpkin puree
2 cups of heavy cream
1 teaspoon of nutmeg

Ingredients for the topping:
1 apple
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
2/3 cup dried cranberries
1 teaspoon of chili powder
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
3 tablespoons of honey

Kitchen Essentials:
Large pot or Dutch Oven
Stove
Cutting Board
Knife
Wooden spatula
Whisk
Measuring cups
Measuring spoons
Grater
Vegetable peeler
Medium sized bowl
Can opener

Prep:
Begin by finely chopping the onions and celery. We normally cut the rib of celery in fourths lengthwise. Then we finely chop. Becsuse this soup is not blended,  it is best to have tiny pieces.

Directions for the Cranberry and Apple Topping:
Add the lemon juice to a bowl. Using the vegetable peeler, peel and core an apple. Chop into pieces and add to the bowl with the lemon. Mix the apples and lemon juice well. This prevents the apples from turning brown. Next add the dried cranberries, cinnamon, chili powder and honey. Mix well. This topping really makes the soup! It's not the same without it.

Directions for the Creamy Pumpkin Soup:
Place the pot on the stove over medium heat. Add the butter and olive and allow to heat. Add the finely chopped onions and celery and mix with a wooden spoon. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and let the onions and celery cook for 10 minutes until the onions have become translucent and soft.

Next add the flour and using a whisk, mix to make sure that the onions and celery are coated. Allow the flour to cook for a minute or two and slowly begin to add the chicken broth. Don't get scared, the flour will begin to clump up and turn paste-like, but keep drizzling in the chicken both while whisking. After you have added all of the chicken broth, add the poultry seasoning, hot sauce and bay leaves. Allow the mixture to come to a simmer. Check for salt and pepper and add if needed. This soup does need a good amount of seasoning.

After the soup mixture has simmered for 5 minutes, add the pumpkin puree and whisk. Put the lid on the pot and let the soup simmer for 10 minutes.  Lastly add the nutmeg and cream and give it a good stir.  Check again for salt and pepper and add if needed. Keep warm until you are ready to serve!

Pour a generous amount into a bowl and top with your cranberry and apple topping! Everyone will go crazy for this soup, even if they are not big fans of pumpkin! Get ready because you will be expected to make this every year for Thanksgiving or any Fall occasion!



Thursday, November 21, 2013

Apple Infused Sweet Potato Mash



Although we love sweet potato fries, we rarely ever make mashed sweet potatoes except for Thanksgiving. However, the other night we were experimenting in the kitchen and decided to make some recipes for the blog using whatever ingredients we had in our kitchen at the moment. We had some sweet potato, heavy cream, apple juice and some spices and nuts handy. So we came up with this apple infused sweet potato mash recipe. We thought it was delicious and unlike anything we had ever tried, but we needed a second opinion, so we called our neighbors and invited them to dinner. They absolutely loved it! We hope your family and friends will love it too!

Ingredients:

4 large sweet potatoes
1/4 cup of heavy cream
1/2 cup of apple juice
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
1/4 cup of walnuts

Kitchen Essentials:

Medium sauce pan
Stove
Oven
Measuring cups
Measuring spoons
Knife
Cutting board
Oven safe ramekin
Potato Masher or hand/stand mixer



Prep:
Peel and slice the sweet potatoes into one inch cubes.  Fill a medium sauce pan half way with water and add a pinch of salt. Place on the stove over medium heat and let the water come to a boil.

Directions:

Add the peeled and cubed sweet potato to the boiling water. Boil for about 20 minutes or until the sweet potato is fork tender. Once softened, strain the mixture and transfer to a large mixing bowl.

In the same sauce pan that you boiled the sweet potatoes, add the apple juice and heavy cream and place over low heat. Let the mixture get warm.


Add the butter, brown sugar, salt, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg  and heated heavy cream and apple juice to the sweet potatoes and mash until smooth and creamy. You can do this by hand with a potato masher or with a hand or stand mixer.


Transfer to a oven safe ramekin and sprinkle with 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts. Please in a 350 degree oven for 5 to 7 minutes and serve hot.





Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Cuban Hot Chocolate #KraftEssentials

We are members of the Collective Bias Social Fabric community. We have been compensated to share our experience with you by Collective Bias and their client, Kraft.





Its a blessing to live in paradise, but sometimes we feel like we miss out on the changing of the seasons living in Miami. It just doesn't feel like Christmas time when we are all wearing tank tops and shorts in December. Whenever the temperature drops in Miami, everyone breaks out the boots, sweaters and scarfs even though the cold lasts only a few hours. In those rare occasions when its cool outside around the holidays, Michael's mother always invites us over for some Cuban Hot Chocolate. Below is our version of this easy holiday recipe that is sure to be a hit at your Christmas or Thanksgiving party.

It is the best hot chocolate we've ever tasted and we are sure that the richness of the ingredients have something to do with that! You just can't go wrong with chocolate and condensed milk! This thick and creamy hot chocolate will make you feel warm and fuzzy inside and out. We call it the Cuban Hot Chocolate because Cubans love strong coffee. Therefore, we added a shot of freshly brewed coffee to each warm mug before topping it off with marshmallows, Cool Whip and cinnamon. This recipe can easily be served as a dessert because it is so rich and sweet. In some restaurants in Miami, they serve a similar hot chocolate recipe with churros, a fried sweet dough rolled in cinnamon and sugar. But we will share our churro recipe some other time.


This recipe requires ingredients that you may already have in your pantry and refrigerator  Most of the products we used are Kraft products that we purchased in Walmart, but we just spiced them up a bit to make this delicious Cuban Hot Chocolate. For this twist on a classic recipe, we used Bakers Bittersweet Chocolate, Maxwell House Original Roast Coffee, Kraft Jet Puffed Marshmallows and Cool Whip. This also makes a wonderful gift idea for a newlywed couple or even a not-so-newlywed couple. Simply print out this recipe and place in a basket along with the ingredients, two mugs and some holiday decorations. It's as easy and thoughtful as that!


Ingredients:

6 ounces of Bakers Bittersweet Chocolate
1 can of evaporated milk
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
5 cups of whole milk
Maxwell House Original Roast Coffee
Kraft Jet Puffed Marshmallows
Cool Whip
Grated cinnamon

Kitchen Essentials:

Cheese grater
Medium saucepan
Spatula
Measuring cup
Ladle 
Spoon
Mugs

Prep:

Grate the chocolate and set aside. Brew the coffee according to your machines instructions. Make the coffee very strong!




Directions:

Add the milk to the saucepan and bring to a bowl over medium heat. Next, add the condensed and evaporated milk. Stir until incorporated. Add the chocolate shavings and continue to stir for a few minutes until it dissolves. Pour the hot chocolate into the mugs, add a few ounces of coffee  depending how strong you like it and top off with some marshmallows, a dollop of Cool Whip and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Cheers!

If you are looking for more recipes and ideas, check out the Holiday Family Table with Kraft digital magazine!






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Monday, November 18, 2013

Autumn Squash Soup



A few weeks ago, we went to Panera Bread for lunch. Cristy ordered their autumn squash soup and a turkey sandwich. She absolutely loved it and promised to make a copy cat version at home. Last week she made her version of the thick and delicious soup and we loved it so much that she made it again last night! It is that good! In addition, it is low in fat and good for you. It doesn't get better than that. This soup is a great starter for your Thanksgiving dinner. With notes of apple and honey, this is the perfect Fall meal or start to your meal. We promise you won't be disapointed! 


Ingredients:
1 medium sized butternut squash (4 cups chopped)
1 apple
1 red onion
3 carrots
2 teaspoons of olive oil, plus one more for toasting the seeds
3/4 teaspoon of salt
1/8 teaspoon of pepper
3/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 1/4 cup of apple juice
4 cups of chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1/4 teaspoon of curry powder
2 tablespoons of honey
1 cup of pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups of low-fat milk
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 

Kitchen Essentials:
Stove
Large pot
Measuring cups
Measuring spoons
Cutting board
Knife
Vegetable peeler
Can opener
Immersion blender or regular blender
Oven
Cookie sheet
Small bowl

Prep:
Begin by peeling the butternut squash. Cut in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Chop the butternut squash into cubes and set aside. Save the seeds to sprinkle on top of the soup when finished.

Peel the carrots and chop into small pieces. At the same time, peel and core your apple. Chop into small pieces and set aside.

Peel and chop the red onion and set aside.

Directions:
Set the large pot over medium heat and add the olive oil. Once the olive is hot, add the chopped red onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes while stirring until onions are slightly softened. Add the chopped apple, butternut squash, carrots, ground cinnamon and curry powder and give it a quick stir. Next add the apple juice and chicken broth and allow the mixture to come to a boil. Add the pumpkin puree and honey and let the the soup boil for 10 to 15 minutes until the butternut squash and carrots are fork tender. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, mix together the seeds, one teaspoon of olive oil and cinnamon. Lay on a cookie sheet and toast for a few minutes until the seeds are nice and toasty. 

Using  a immersion blender, blend the mixture until thick, smooth and creamy! The final step is to add the low-fat milk and stir. Your soup is ready to serve! Top with seeds and enjoy!

TIP: For a vegetarian version on this soup, easily swap the chicken broth for vegetable broth.




Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Apple and Walnut Stuffed Turkey Breast (10 easy steps!)



Don't dread hosting Thanksgiving dinner just because you feel pressured into cooking an entire turkey. We believe that the holidays should be stress-free. That's why we created this shortcut turkey recipe. Every year we go over to Mr. P's mom's house to help her prepare Thanksgiving dinner. The day is filled with laughter and memories instead of stress and resentment. That's because she makes a couple of turkey breasts instead of an entire turkey. She usually makes an herb-crusted turkey breast, but we decided to give her recipe our own spin by adding an apple and walnut stuffing. Nothing says fall more than apples and walnuts!  You can make it too with these 10 easy steps! Gobble gobble!

Ingredients:

2-3 pound turkey breast
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts
1 apple, chopped
2 tablespoons of honey
1 tablespoon of chopped rosemary
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 rosemary sprigs
1 lemon
Olive oil
Unsalted butter
Salt
Pepper
1/2 cup of cooking wine
1 14.5 oz can of chicken broth
1 tablespoon of flour

Kitchen Essentials:

Potato peeler
Small bowl
Knife
Measuring spoons
Spoon
Stainless Steal Pan (must be oven-proof)
Kitchen tong
Kitchen twin
Baster
Kitchen thermometer
Strainer
Measuring cup
Whisk
Carving Knife
Platter

Feeds 4-6 people.


Prep:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


Directions:



Step 1: In a bowl, combine the chopped walnuts, apples, the juice of half of a lemon, rosemary, nutmeg, cinnamon, and honey. Mix with a spoon and set aside. 




Step 2: Next, carefully separate the skin from the turkey breast to create a pocket. Do not remove the skin completely. 





Step 3: Now stuff the pocket with the walnut mixture, using your clean hands to carefully distribute the stuffing evenly underneath the flap. 



Step 4: Tie a knot around the turkey breast with kitchen twine to keep everything together. 

Step 5: Coat the skin of the turkey with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper.



Step 6: Place 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, carefully place the turkey skin-side down on the pan. Cook until the skin becomes golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. 

Step 7: Carefully flip over to brown the other side of the breast. Cook for another 5 minutes and then remove from the heat. 



Step 8: Add the juice of the other half of the lemon, cooking wine and chicken broth to the pan. With a baster, squeeze some of the liquid from the bottom of the pan and pour it over the top of the crispy skin. 

Step 9: Place the turkey breast in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes. Make sure to baste the turkey every 10-15 minutes. The turkey is ready when a kitchen thermometer reads 165 degrees when inserted in the middle of the breast.



Step 10: The last step is to make the gravy using the juices from the pan. Remove the turkey from the pan and place on a platter to rest. Take out the rosemary sprig and lemons. Strain the liquid into a measuring cup and discard of any loose scraps. Return the pan to the stove over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and one tablespoon of flour into the pan and whisk. Once a paste is formed, slowly add one cup of the reserved liquid and continue to whisk for a few minutes until the liquid thickens. If the gravy becomes too thick, just add more of the reserve liquid or water.



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