Saturday, September 22, 2012

Horseradish Cherry Tomatoes

Attending a football viewing party and need an easy, tasty and unique munchie to share with the group?  Why not try these Horseradish stuffed Cherry Tomatoes.  I saw these in a Bon Appetit spread on "Tomato Starters" and immediately knew I had to try them!

I used:

Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes
Prepared Horseradish

As you'll see from the photo, 3 out of 4 ingredients came directly from Trader Joe's.

I made these on Labor Day Weekend - and had 2 parties to attend.  One was a BBQ on Sunday, and the other was a pool party on Labor Day Monday.  I opted to take these tasty treats to both parties.

The process is pretty simple, but I'm going to give a few pointers that I figured out between the first batch and the second batch.  If you follow the pointers, perhaps you can avoid some of the problems that I ran into on the first batch.  Use a small sharp knife to core the cherry tomatoes - then scoop out the centers.  This sounded a lot easier than it turned out to be - but it is do-able!    I tended to core out the top, where the stem would have met the tomato - but when they were filled, they wouldn't necessarily stand upright.  Here's a great hint that Brian figured out - place the tomato on a plate, and whatever end it stands up on, core out the opposite end.

Meanwhile, mix two parts mayo to one part horseradish - I used three big tablespoon scoops of mayo and one and a half big tablespoon scoops of horseradish.  Spoon the blended mix into the tomato cavities.  Top with chopped chives, and chill in the fridge until ready to serve.

Here's a hint on the horseradish - I used the Trader Joe's fresh horseradish, which is chunky with grates of horseradish and juicy with liquid.  The water in the horseradish thinned down the mayo and made my filling a bit runny.  The second batch I made I squeezed the liquid out of the horseradish, and while the final filling was less juicy, I also thought it lacked some of the horseradish deliciousness.   Next time  (and I WILL make these again!) I would try using the creamed horseradish that is more the consistency of mayo right out of the jar.

IF you make these for a UTAH football party, I suggest just using the red cherry tomatoes - so you'll be color-appropriate.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Penne Pasta with Chicken, Spinach and Asparagus

I had such good intentions of regularly posting again on this blog, but wow, where did the month go?  I'm not going to try to answer for the entire month, but just this weekend we went to Riverside to attend a college soccer tournament featuring Brian's niece's team.  She's the rookie head coach of the Southern Utah University women's soccer team (they're in Cedar City Utah).

After the game on Saturday (at which we sported our finest SUU shirts - lovingly supplied by Coach Becky) the team, family and friends went to "Ye Olde Spaghetti Factory" for the team dinner.  And since we had pasta, I figured I should hurry and write a Pasta Post - so here's a simple pasta dish that we enjoyed a few weeks ago...

Ingredients are simple - and quite honestly were based upon what we had in the pantry and fridge.

One box Penne Pasta - cooked per box directions.
1/2 pound Asparagus spears - microwave blanched.
1/2 bag fresh spinach - microwave blanched.
1 to 1/2 pounds frozen chicken tenders - seasoned and broiled.
Butter, canola oil and bottled crushed garlic - just the right amounts.

Microwave blanching of vegetables is one of my new favorite ways to prepare fresh vegetables.  The concept works for most everything - asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini - any number of vegetables.  You simply spread out a sheet of plastic wrap - lay the washed and trimmed vegetable on the plastic, sprinkle with a little bit of water - wrap up, and microwave for a minute or two - depending on how large your vegetable serving is.  It's quick, simple, and doesn't require cleaning a pot afterwards!

First I prepared the chicken tenders.  These were previously frozen and thawed.  I spread a little oil on both sides, then seasoned with a non-salt multi-spice seasoning (OKAY - YES - I got it at Costco), and broiled until cooked and tender.  Set aside and the cut into bite size pieces.

Bring a pot of water, with a splash of canola oil and a dash of salt, to a boil and add in the boxed penne pasta - cook per box directions.  While that's cooking -

Trim and microwave blanch the asparagus - set aside.

Blanch the spinach - I used a bowl - filled it with spinach - sprinkled water - covered with plastic wrap and zapped for just enough time to start to wilt the leaves.

Drain the pasta - leaving it in the colander so you can re-use the pasta pot.  Melt a combo of butter and canola oil, with a nice size helping of crushed garlic - you must decide how "decadent" you want to go with the "sauce.

Transfer the drained pasta from the colander back to the pot, and drop in the asparagus, spinach and chicken.  Toss, toss, toss - till the pasta is coated with the yummy garlic butter oil, and the veggies are evenly distributed - then serve.

And look how quickly it was gobbled up!

If you must - serve with a side salad.