15 November 2011

Opening a Pomegranate

'Tis the season that I start craving pomegranate! I used to be really intimidated by cutting into them, but it's really not too difficult or even messy if you go about it properly.

You'll need a mixing bowl, a sharp knife (I like my serrated tomato knife for this) and I'd recommend a trash bag to cover your cutting board or counter top as well, because the juice *WILL* stain, I promise.

Start by lopping off the top--about half an inch or so.

See the juice?!

Score the side from top to bottom about half a dozen times, give or take (at least 4 times).

Fill your bowl with cold water, and then break the pomegranate apart into the water. It should come apart pretty easily where you've scored it.

Then, all you have to do is get to work gently picking the little pearly bits out, letting them fall into the water. The fruit will sink, and the icky white part and skin will float to the top.

All you have to do from this point is skim all the white pith off the top of the water, and strain it and you will be left with about a cereal bowl full of pomegranate seeds/pearls/whatever you wanna call them to use however you want. My favorite is to just eat them as-is by the handful, but you could put them in salads, juice them, make jam, make grenadine, or any number of other things.

I store them in a bowl in my fridge wrapped in flour sack cloth.

14 November 2011

My Kitchen Sponge

I cut a chunk out of my kitchen sponge so it can sit up off the counter and actually dry after each use. I don't remember where I saw this idea, but I liked it, and it works really well!!! Just cut a bigger chunk out of your sponge and you can stick it around the neck of your faucet. :)

13 November 2011

Stuffed Shells

I haven't blogged in forever it seems. *sigh* I am going to TRY to get back into the swing of blogging regularly again.

I made these shells a couple weeks ago and I only took a photo of the finished product, so I'm posting this recipe/method by memory. It's not like I measure anything anyway, so measurements wouldn't matter much.

2 lbs ground turkey
1 lb ground beef
5 oz, divided in half, shredded Parmesan cheese (I PREFER grated...just don't buy that shelf stable crap. It's not cheese. Get it in the deli or grate it yourself)
seasoned bread crumbs (make them yourself, buy them, whatever)
3 cloves garlic, minced...or 1 tbsp garlic paste
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup of chopped mushrooms, minced
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 lb jumbo shells (1 box)
2 qts of your favorite pasta sauce (canned works great for this....home made is fine if you have the energy to make it or have some frozen)

Start off by filling a large pot of water to boil. Salt it, and add the jumbo shells when it comes to a boil. Boil for 1-2 mins shy of 'done' because you are going to bake these as well. Drain when cooked.

Add a tablespoon or two of oil to the bottom of a heavy skillet and add the garlic, mushrooms and onion, and cook over medium heat until the onions are translucent. Then add the ground turkey and ground beef, mixing them together thoroughly as they brown. When the meat mixture is cooked through, add the egg, half the parmesan cheese, and 2 cups of the pasta sauce. Add the bread crumbs a handful at a time until the mixture comes together to a consistency similar to a meatloaf mixture. I also typically pick through all of the cooked shells and chop up any torn ones and add them to the filling.

Pour 1-2 cups of the pasta sauce into the bottom of a 9x13" baking dish. Take a teaspoon and gently fill each shell and set it into the baking dish as close as you can get them. Repeat until the pan is full. Spoon the remaining sauce over the shells in the pan and sprinkle with the rest of the Parmesan cheese and a light dusting of the bread crumbs. Bake at 400ish degrees for about half an hour, or until the cheese is melted and the filling is heated through.

Note: If the pan fills up before you use all of your shells and filling, fill the shells anyway and flash freeze them and store in a Ziploc bag in the freezer till next time.