Yum Peaceful Cooking: November 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

HBin5 Tabbouleh Bread, Kibbeh Burgers and a Winner!

Let's get the exciting news out first! I mean...it's not like it's a good news or bad news kind of thing....it's all good, but I wanna mix things up (I usually announce the winner at the end of a post)...Let me tell ya who won the $30 Willow House Giveaway....

Joanna from Go Ahead and Snicker!!!

Let's give Joanna a big round of applause! Woooo hooooo!!! (whistles, cheers, hurrays)

Send me an email or contact Michele from Willow House directly :) Congrats girlfriend!!!

I also want to thank Michele for allowing me to host such a fun giveaway!

And now for the other half...the food half of this post. I've been a little slow in the bread area of my cooking / baking. I haven't had the time or....energy to really dig into the past couple of assignments. Not that Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day takes much time or energy but between the Pom Wonderful Dinner Party, Cupcake Camp LA and Thanksgiving, all within 3 weeks of each other....I had my hands full. Not that I didn't enjoy every minute of everything I was doing and created some great memories and awesome experiences. But, it just didn't leave much room for venturing into new bread. I mean, I did make some bread for the dinner party and in between...just nothing from the new assignments.

Btw...just in case you're new on the block....HBin5 is an online bread baking braid (group) that I participate in, hosted by Michelle over at Big Black Dogs. If you'd like to check it out and see what it's all about, (and please do, I highly recommend it. We still have a year to go in our baking adventures and you're all invited to join in, anytime) click ------>HERE<-----------

Oh boy...I just realized that this particular bread....Tabbouleh Bread with Parsly, Garlic and Bulgur is from a month ago and I totally missed the assignment from the 15th (not sure if I'll get to that or just begin on the Dec. 1st assignment next)....but either way...better late than never. I have to say, this bread was worth the wait. So glad it was late rather than never. I love the aroma....garlic, onions, and parsley, along with the earthiness of bulgur wheat...YUM! I have to say I was surprised that it didn't brown more. But, hey...with all those flavors, you don't sweat the little things, right?

 This dough made beautiful buns regardless.

I want to take a quick moment to say how useful Facebook can be. You see, this was my first experience with bulgur wheat and I really didn't need that much for the dough (I've got lots left over). I asked my friends on Facebook what I could make with bulgur (besides tabbouleh) and I got a whole slew of wonderful ideas! One of them being to make Kibbeh. Kibbeh? (I asked)....What's Kibbeh? After a shared recipe and a little research, I found that it is a Lebanese dish similar (though not exactly) to meatloaf...only more interesting.  Problem is, I'm not a meatloaf fan (I know, I know...so very unamerican of me). Or a fan of large masses of ground meat in any form. That's when I decided to make the meat recipe into burgers (though I did find out I'm not the first person to think of this). The results were wonderful! Flavorful! Delicious!

I'm not claiming that this recipe is authentic. It seems that Kibbeh recipes vary as much as meatloaf recipes do (with a few common threads)....I did adjust my version a bit to suit my families tastes. (I have to admit that I didn't tell anyone what they were eating until afterward....I hate preconceived taste bud notions). 

Kibbeh Burger
Printable Version

1 lb ground meat (I used 1/2 lb beef and 1/2 lb lamb)
1 cup soaked, drained, bulgur wheat
1/2 cup water
2 cups coarsely chopped onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 cup lightly toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Cheese of your choice (I used a mediterranean cheese called halloumi)
burger buns

In a food processor, process the onions until finely chopped. Add the meat and 1/2 cup water, salt, pepper, cumin and allspice. Process until smooth. Add the bulgur wheat, parsley and pine nuts....mix briefly. Form into 6 patties and cook as you normally would any other burger.

Meanwhile, I mixed a little mayonnaise with some garlic, green onion and lemon juice to spread on my Tabbouleh Burger Buns, after they were toasted a bit of course

A little cheese, lettuce and tomatoes and you have a filling, tasty, if slightly different, kind of burger.

You see that cheese there? Like I mentioned earlier...it's called halloumi. Its a very mild, almost crumbly, a little dense, kinda soft, not so hard cheese made from a mixture of goats milk and sheeps milk (man....it's all over the cheese spectrum). It's suppose to be great for grilling and frying since it holds up to heat really well. Halloumi can be found in Middle Eastern markets in case you'd like to check it out. I like it...and am thinking it would be great for breading and deep frying instead of mozzarella cheese.

And don't go too far away. I have a couple more giveaways up my sleeve coming your way real soon.

This is my entry into Hearth and Soul Blog Hop this week. I hope you take a moment to hop around and see what everyone's been up to.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cocktail Puppy and Creamsicles

Not long ago, I was asked to contribute to a really fun blog.....Cocktail Puppy.  Of course I agreed. I mean....it's all about cocktails....alcohol.....adult drinks! We're talking no-brainer here, right? Btw...if you're familiar with Natashya from Living in the Kitchen with Puppies, then you're probably already familiar with Coctail Puppy. If not, you really should be. There's a cocktail for everyone. If not, I'm sure there will be soon. If you're looking for something new and exciting...check it out.

If you're looking for this dreamy, creamy cocktail recipe...you'll have to head on over there: Creamsicles for the Adult in You.

Browse around....stay awhile....and whatever you do....enjoy!


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Elvie's Berry Best Cupcake

A few months back, my cousin Kim shared a special recipe with me: our Grandmother's Strawberry Cake. Now.... I know in the foodie world, one does not neccecelery (hee hee.....learned that word today and it cracked me up) need a special occasion to bake a cake or cupcakes....but, well...lemme just say that as much as I love Paula Deen, it is not my desire to be just like her. Which reminds me...I heard the funniest thing on her show this morning....."When I see a skinny girl walking down the street, I think to myself...I'm gonna send her a pie!" LOL.

Anyways.....When I was asked to be a baker for Cupcake Camp L.A. and bake at least 100 cupcakes (I ended up bring 117), my mind started ticking away at the various flavors I wanted to make. That's when I decided to make Grandmother's Strawberry Cake into cupcakes. Evlie's Berry Best Cupcakes were born and made their debut last weekend in Hollywood, at a most incredibly fun event. I have to apologize for the quality of pictures below but the lighting was odd....and there was so much excitement and activity that my mind just couldn't take the time to futz around with high quality...I just wanted the pictures to hopefully capture the spirit.

Left....my cupcake tree featuring Elvie's Berry Best and Devils Trifecta. Top right, cupcakers setting up their booths. Right middle....Cupcake Camp L.A. in full swing. Bottom right, a treat for all the hard work.

In the picture above are my Chai Latte (a.k.a. L.A.'s Diva) cupcakes and Sweet Potato cupcakes with maple and brown sugar icing (a.k.a. Spud's Sweet Delight)

In the picture below is my closest friend Priscilla who came along for the ride to help me out and keep me company at my booth. Thank you Prissy!!! You're the best! I love you!!!

Where else, other than at a Cupcake Camp, will you see people lined up at a bar, eating cupcakes instead of drinking cocktails and beer?

 (no comment...just good fun)

It really was an awesome day. We were a little nervous because the day was rainy...and us SoCal peeps don't like to venture out much in the rain....but apparently when there are cupcakes to be had....rain or shine, they show up! There was a line outside waiting to come in and it was non-stop crowds for 5 hours.

I just want to say a big Thank You!!! to Babette over at BakeSpace.com for hosting this event. You did a fantastic job. I hope you do it again cuz I will be there for sure!!

This is an extremely easy recipe with great results. If you're not into strawberries, you can change it up by using other berries if you wish. I think blackberries or boysenberries would be a lot of fun!!!

Elvie's Berry Best Cupcakes
Printable Version

1 box white cake mix
1 small package of strawberry jello (I think it's about 3 oz)
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup strawberries, roughly chopped

Preheat your oven to 350'. Line about 24 muffin tins with paper liners. You may have a little batter leftover. I ended up making a few mini muffins as well.

Combine all of the batter ingredients and mix well. Pour into prepared muffin tins and bake for about 20 -25 minutes...or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean.

Allow to cool completely before icing them.

1/2 cup softened butter
1 lb powdered sugar
1/2 cup strawberries, roughly chopped

Beat the butter for 2 minutes on med-high until creamy. Reduce the speed to med and add the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time. Beat until fluffy. Add the strawberries and beat until incorporated.

Ice away....and enjoy!

I started a silly phrase on Facebook the other day. I thought I'd share the results with you.......

"You know you're a foodie when......."

"You can't stay out of the kitchen after cooking all day yesterday" (yesterday being Thanksgiving Day)
"You dream about parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme"
"You wrap your latest project up in bubble wrap so that you can bring it with you on your business trip: and then work on it during the evenings at the hotel"
"You curl up with Bon Appitite and dream of William Sonoma and Sur La Table"
"You begin to panic when you're down to only 1 lb. of butter in the fridge"
"You make everyone wait to eat until you get the perfect picture"

How would you finish the phrase?

One more thing....just a reminder: I'm having a Willow House Giveaway, which ends Sunday, Nov. 28th at 11:59 p.m. pst. For details, click here------> Pomegranate Cheesecake and a Willow House Giveaway <------

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pomegranate Cheesecake and a Willow House Giveaway

This post is going to be one sweet deal after another. Not only are you getting the recipe for one of the best cheesecakes ever to have passed my lips....but you also have a chance at a fantastic giveaway!

How many of you have heard of Willow House? Come on....raise up those hands.....1, 2, 3, 4, 10, 15....niiiiice. So then you already know about their products and how classy they are. I mean, really there are some beautiful collections. If you're here, it's because you're into food. If my guess is right, you're probably into what you serve your food in, on and around. Which is what Willow House is all about. Beautiful dining, entertaining and accent pieces as well as food! Talk about perfect for us food crazed individuals.

What does this have to do with you and me? Well, a few years back I met a gal named Michele over in BakeSpace.com. What a sweetheart she is. She made me feel welcome, she introduced me to FaceBook and she aided in my decision to start a blog. Oh, and she's also the one who helped me figure out what to do with my centerpiece for my Pom Wonderful Dinner Party. Well, not long ago, Michele went on a new venture and joined the Willow House family. She loves it! She loves the company, she loves the product and being the little social butterfly that she is....I'm sure she's loving that aspect of it too. Which all happens to tie in beautifully with her food blog...My Italian Grandmother. 

Michele bbm'd me the other day and asked if I'd be interested in doing a give away. Well, YA!! I mean, food, entertaining, and a little decorating....thats right up our alley! It's almost as if this company was tailor made for people like us. With that said, Michele is offering one lucky reader their choice of any item in the Willow House catalog, $30.00 or less for FREE!

Here's the deets....

US Residents only
Contest ends 11:59 p.m. pacific standard time, Sunday, November 29, 2010
Winner will be announced Tuesday, November 30th

And what you need to do to win......

1. Go to Michele's Willow House page, browse the catalog and leave a comment here telling me which item ($30.00 or less) you'd like to own.

2. Follow Michele's Willow House Facebook Fan page. This way you'll get to enjoy her entertaining and decorating tips and special company events and sales.

3. Don't forget to leave a way for me to contact you in case you win! email address or something...or email me separately with your address if you don't want to leave it here. Of course if your name links to a way to contact you, then it's all good :)

I know it's the beginning of the holidays so I won't make you jump through anymore hoops.

Here's a little something to wet your whistle though....

Talk about some beautiful stuff..right?!

BONUS!!! Anyone who decides to place an order during the month of November and puts Peaceful Cooking as the host during checkout will also be entered into a drawing for another free gift from Michele!

Ok....now for some dessert! Who's ready for Cheesecake?!

Cheesecake is the one dessert that I remember as a favorite since childhood. I was first introduced to it by my aunt who makes an incredible cheesecake (I still need to get her recipe) and of course I fell in love with the crust. Sure, I liked cookies and ice cream....but cheesecake is my earliest memory of experiencing food lust. 

Pomegranate Cheesecake
Printable Version

Preheat your oven to 325'. Place a baking dish on the rack below where you plan on baking your cake.

1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
4 - 5 tablespoons melted butter
4 tablespoons sugar

Combine ingredients

Pat on the bottom of a springform pan and up the sides a little.

I like to use the bottom of a glass to get up along the edges....works wonderfully.

Place in the refrigerator while mixing the filling together.

3 - 8oz packs of cream cheese at room temperature
4 eggs
1 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Beat the cream cheese until smooth. Blend in remaining ingredients. Pour into your graham cracker crust.

Place in the middle rack in your oven. Pour 1 cup of hot water into a dish on a rack below your cheesecake. Bake for 1 hour, turning the cake 180' halfway through. If needed, add another cup of hot water to the baking dish. This helps prevent big cracks by providing a humid atmosphere within your oven.

Sour Cream Topping (btw...this cheesecake as 2....yes TWO toppings)
16 oz sour cream
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla

Combing and pour on top of the cheesecake.

Bake for an additional 10 minutes. Cool and refrigerate.

Pomegranate topping
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons pomegranate juice
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups pomegranate arils
2 tablespoons orange liqueur
1/2 teaspoon orange zest (more to garnish if desired)

Dissolve the cornstarch in 3 tablespoons of pomegranate juice.

In a saucepan, over medium heat, bring the remaining 1/2 cup pomegranate juice, orange liqueur and sugar to a boil Stir in the cornstarch mixture and heat, stirring constantly until everything thickens. Stir in the pomegranate arils and orange zest. Pour everything into a bowl and set the bowl inside a larger bowl that contains ice water.

Stir to cool. Spread over the top of your chilled cheesecake. Chill an additional 2 hours or more.

I sure hope you give this a try. Especially if you're a cheesecake lover. I imagine that you could do the same topping with cranberries for the holidays. But you can't beat pomegranates.

This is my entry this week into the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop. I so enjoy participating in this hop...I think because it's all about what I do anyway....and if you're interested in more of the same...please treat yourself with a visit to other recipes that speak from the hearth to the soul.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pom Roasted Butternut Squash Soup and Bruschetta

I love creamy soups. The weird thing is...I didn't always even know that I love them.....it just sorta snuck up on me.  I especially love creamy squash soups. Butternut squash in particular. When it dawned on me that 2 of my guests for my Pom Wonderful Dinner Party are vegetarians...well, I had to think differently, and be more aware of what I was going to cook. I poked around the web in search of pomegranate soups and found a few that caught my eye and remembered one that I had made a year or so ago. None were vegetarian, and none fit the bill 100% for what I had in mind, but with a few adjustments and merging of ingredients...I believe you could say that this recipe was inspired by 3 different ones. The most prominent being from Michael Chiarello's Roasted Butternut Squash Soup.

Now....Let me forewarn you....this is not difficult to make...but it is time consuming with several steps. It could easily be something you start one day and finish up the next...either roast the squash ahead of time or do it all up to the point where you've creamed the soup...it's up to you. With that said...let me also add that it is worth Every. Minute. Spent.

Preheat your oven to 400' F.

Pom Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
(Because of all the steps and the various recipes that are needed to make this soup happen, I'm not going have a printable version.)

Get out your butternut squash....about 2 lbs

Peel it, scoop out the seeds and cut it into chunk, about 1 inch

Season with salt and pepper and place them in a shallow roasting pan or cookie sheet. Set aside

For the roasting sauce:

1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup Pomegranate Molasses (if you don't have any and don't want to make any...just use regular molasses)
2 teaspoons Toasted Spice Rub

Melt the butter in a saucepan until light brown....being careful not to over do it....once the butter starts to brown, it goes from brown to black quickly.

Remove from heat and add the remaining ingredients. Return to the stove, over medium-low heat and cook for about a minute or so, while stirring.

Pour the sauce over your squash, toss around to coat and bake for about 45 minutes, tossing occasionally. Now...this time frame of 45 minutes is a loosey goosey time frame. If the squash is tender and beginning to brown, it's done. Mine happened to be done in 30 minutes.

Now for the fun part....

1/2 cup pomegranate arils
1 1/2 cups roasted butternut squash
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stock, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
2 teaspoons white pepper (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 cup dry vermouth
1 cup cream or milk (I used Mexican crema because it's extremely smooth and slightly sweet)
Juice from 1/2 lemon

In a stock pot or large sauce pan (something large enough to hold all your soup because we're sticking to one pot here, peeps) heat the olive oil. Add the sweet potato, onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Saute until onion is clear and veggies are...I dunno...el dente? Just beginning to get tender.

Add the butternut squash, vegetable broth, and coriander. Bring to a boil then lower heat to a medium low and cook for about 30 minutes or until the veggies are tender and squishable.

Add salt, pepper to taste, vermouth and lemon juice.

Remove from heat and allow to cool. Depending on your preference or what you have on hand, you're going to cream it all together....food processor, blender or immersion blender...and blend away....

Until there are no more lumps and you can't tell what's in there

Add the milk or cream and reheat.

Garnish with a little cream and the pomegranate arils.

Because the soup was the main dish for my vegetarian guests, I wanted it to be special. Thus, deciding to serve the soup in bread bowls. I put together the basic Master recipe from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day (recipe and techniques can be found on the authors website: Artisanbreadinfive.com) When I formed the dough into balls and was allowing it to rise, I was concerned that the dough would spread and not rise as tall as it was round. I decided the dough needed support....so I sprayed a small, oven proof saucepan with cooking spray and plopped the dough inside to finish it's rise and then stuck the saucepan right into the oven and cooked my "bowls".

It was the perfect solution....even, uniform and tall enough to create a deep bowl by lopping off the top of the bread and cutting out a "well"

And there you have delicious homemade bread bowls with little lid warmers even.

Did you notice that we have some roasted butternut squash left over?

Take a baguette or two, and cut into 1/2" - 1" slices....brush with garlic infused olive oil (1/4 cup  olive oil in a pan with about 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, sliced. Once the garlic browns, scoop out with a slotted spoon. What you have left is the infused olive oil). Toast the slices in a hot oven until nice and brown (425 for about 10 minutes maybe? I dunno...just keep an eye on it)

 Dice up the butternut squash into smaller chunks, dice up a few tomatoes, chop up some fresh basil and toss it all in a bowl, mixing in a good handful or so of pomegranate arils.

Mix up some goat cheese (or cream cheese) with a little salt and pepper...spread thinly over the toasted bread....top with some squash / pom mix and enjoy!

This is my entry for this weeks Souper Sunday over at Kahakai Kitchen


Go have a look-see....you're bound to find several mouth watering recipes for soups, salads and sammies!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Toasted Spice Rub and Pomegranate Molasses and Cupcake Camp L.A,

The beginning.....

I promised I'd give you the recipes from my Pom Wonderful Dinner Party.

And I am. And I will.

Just not all at once. Not only would it be just way too much, but I'm super busy this week. Soooo...you're going to get the recipes in bite-sized pieces.

Are you curious as to why I'm so busy this week? Well, even if you're not I'm going to tell you! I'm one of the amateur bakers for an awesome event this Saturday and you're all  invited!

Cupcake Camp L.A. is a charity event to celebrate the 4th birthday of Bakespace.com

If you're in town...please come by. For details click here----->>> Cupcake Camp L.A.

Here are a few other sites to read about this wonderfully sweet event:

LA Decostified
Events L.A.
Hollywood Chamber

Aaaaaand the list goes on....but check this out! The City of Los Angeles has created a proclamation celebrating Cupcake Camp L.A. It really is cute....you should read it---> Proclamation

Anyways....I'm in the middle of baking 100 cupcakes. And decorating them. And taking them to Cupcake Camp L.A. where they will be shared with those who attend, along with cupcakes from other amateur and professional bakers. It's open to the public, for a small fee (all proceeds go to selected charities) If you're around...come check it out and enjoy some good cupcakes, lots of fun and great people. Ya, I know...it's suppose to rain. I say...that's all the more reason you should come! What more do you need to brighten up a rainy day?!

Soo....now that you know what I've been up to this week...let me share some basic "starter" recipes that I used for my real recipes for the Pom Wonderful Dinner Party.

First, I have a Pomegranate Molasses. This was used in 3 of my recipes and would be great in several others. I didn't make it up or anything....I just did a search and found it on Foodnetwork.com. It's not difficult....just a little time consuming. You have to stay on top of it. The first time I made it...I burnt it. I almost didn't "bother" to try again....but am so glad I did.... it really is worth it.

Alton Brown's Pomegranate Molasses

4 cups pomegranate juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Place all ingredients into a saucepan, over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking and stirring occasionally until the mixture has reduced down to about 1 cup. Be careful toward the end....with the sugars that condensed, it can burn easily. You want the mixture to be the consistency of syrup...it will thicken further as it cools. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 1/2 hour. Place into a glass jar and let it cool completely. Cover and store in the fridge for up to 6 months.

This other recipe is for a rub. I made it quite a while ago but have only used it in soups. Its wonderfully flavorful with lots of depth. Again.... I found this recipe at Foodnetwork.com. It's a Michael Chiarello recipe.


Michael Chiarello's Toasted Spice Rub

1/4 cup fennel seed
1 tablespoon coriander seed
1 tablespoon peppercorn
1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1/4 cup California chili powder
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

In a small, heavy pan, toast the fennel seeds, coriander seeds, and peppercorns over a medium heat until the fennel seeds are lightly browned. Quickly turn on the exhaust fan and add the red pepper flakes....tossing continuously for a few seconds while the fan is on. Pour the hot spices onto a plate to cool.

I have a coffee grinder specifically for spices. Put the cooled spices into a grinder or blender (if using a blender, go ahead and add the remaining ingredients). Grind until everything is evenly ground. Place in a jar, add remaining ingredients and mix. Keep in a cool, dry place.

And there you have two of the starter recipes that were part of a few of my dishes. Of course these can be done way ahead time. They both add great flavor that you won't want to miss.

Stay tuned for more Pom Wonderful recipes and I hope to see you at Cupcake Camp L.A.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pom Wonderful Dinner Party

Welcome to my Pom Wonderful Dinner Party!

You are cordially invited to the Virtual Version of my Pom Wonderful Dinner Party
Date: Now (actual real dinner party was held on Saturday, November 13, 2010)
Time: Whenever is convenient for you (actual real dinner party time 6:00 p.m. till...whenever the guests wanted to leave...which was sometime around midnight. I think. There were a lot of pomegranate cosmos floating around so exact times got a little hazy)
Location: Here (actual dinner party was at my house)

Guest List: Anyone who stumbles into my blog (actual guest list...I'm not much of a name dropper, but I have to say that Babette, the founder of BakeSpace.com did attend with the man in her life. There was a total of 11 people)

Prior to my grand event, Pom Wonderful sent me some goodies, which consisted of a whole *^%# load of the most amazing fresh pomegranates:

What a beauty! Which was only one of many. 44 to be exact! And they arrived in the cutest little crate like boxes too.

I also received some coupons for free Pom Wonderful Juice and some gift bags for my guests (sorry, those were only for the real life guest....not you virtual folks).

As you can see by the mess on my table, I was working on my pomegranate center piece. I think this particular part of the party gave me the most anxiety. I had no clue what I would, could, wanted to do. After a series of texts and phone calls to one of my BakeSpace buds, Michele, who has a great blog called My Italian Grandmother (we'll talk more about her in a post next week....stay tuned cuz you're gonna wanna hear read about it), I finally had a plan and got busy with that. I found a couple of Pom Tea glasses in my cupboard from a few years back and decided to add those to my center piece. If you look real closely, you might be able to see how the bottom of each glass is filled halfway with black beans and pom arils...then filled with water. I place a floating candle inside, which made the arils look like they were glowing. I also strung some white twinkle lights in the tray under a layer of green moss. The glass vase also has some some green moss in the bottom and a few strands of jasmine intertwined around the pomegranates. I chose various silk flowers, leaves, pears and persimmons to enhance the various shades of the pomegranate skins.

Pom Wonderful sent me a cute little cutting board....(can never have enough cutting boards, let me tell ya!!)

And one more really fun treat....my Pom Wonderful Apron! (I think this is my favorite thing LOL)

How fun is THAT!!! And can you see how big those...Poms are?!

Ok, so you've had a preview of the before the scenes stuff (you should feel special because my real life guests didn't get to see that stuff!)

By the way....are you curious as to why I did all this? It's a contest. Pom Wonderful chose 100 people across the nation to put on a Pom Wonderful Dinner Party. They'll pick 10 winners. Good enough reason, isn't it? That's what I thought :)

Now for the menu....

Guests arrive and are greeted with a very tasty, very strong....knock you on your ass Pomegranate Cosmo

I used vodka, cointreau, Pomegranate and Blueberry Pom Wonderful Juice and (look at the bottom of the glass) pomegranate arils (aka seeds).

I'll follow up this post with the all the recipe in the next several days.

For an appetizer, they were served Pomegranate and Roasted Butternut Squash Bruschetta.

Here you have a homemade baguette (I used the master recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day), toasted with garlic infused olive oil, with a goat cheese spread, topped with pomegranate roasted butternut squash, tomatoes, basil and of course pomegranate arils. The flavors came together and then exploded in different directions on the pallet. I had used the same roasted butternut squash as I did in the soup. This gave everyone a little hint of what was to come.

There was a choice of soup or salad (or both). For the salad we had fresh greens, pears, red onions, grape tomatoes, pomegranate arils and walnuts tossed with a special pomegranate molasses house dressing.

The soup was a fabulous vegetarian Pomegranate Roasted Butternut Squash Cream Soup served in fresh homemade bread bowls

Or in shot glasses for those who just wanted a taste but were saving room for the main course

For the main course, we had Cornish Game Hens with a sauce made with pomegranate juice and homemade pomegranate molasses, along side a simple dressing (sorry, no pomegranates in the dressing.....which was fine, since that was my least favorite dish of the night)

And le piece de resistance......

Pomegranate Cheese Cake

This is a basic cheesecake with a sour cream topping. The glaze consists of pomegranate juice, cointreau, orange peel and pomegranate arils. The sweet, sour and tart combination was magnificent.

Tell me if any of you have done this before....you have a big dinner with friends and lots of great food. You take a ton of pictures. Only to realize the following day that the pictures were only of the food. No people pictures. At all. I swear I had guests. Lots of drinking, eating and non-stop talking....the men in the background watching a fight on TV while the women talked about everything and anything. We had a fabulous time.

After dinner, we sat at the table as I demonstrated how to open a pomegranate. This was done after a couple of those Pomegranate Cosmos....which made it more entertaining. I thought about having the guests join in, but then I didn't want anyone to go home with juicy stains on their clothes. So they watched me cut off the crown and then sliced the pomegranate into wedges, using the white membrane as a guide....then I turned the wedges inside out over a bowl of water

(btw, if you do this under water, your chances of getting a juice squirt in the face or on the shirt is less likely to happen),

We then scooped out the floating membranes (the arils sink) and strained out the water and proceeded to nibble on pomegranate arils while we continued to chat away.

I thought I had a video of this happening...but I can't seem to find it. We'll just blame it on the cosmos. If I come across it, I'll add it in. How's that?

Did I mention that I found some pomegranate Jelly Belly Jelly Beans? I did!! There was straight pomegranate flavored ones and then pomegranate cosmo flavored ones. How fun and perfect is that?

I want to thank the people over at Pom Wonderful for allowing me to participate in this contest and giving me the tools to host such an awesome party. They were more then generous. I've played with their juices in the past and have been a big fan of their juices and teas for years, but I never stretched myself as much as I did with this party. I mean...pomegranate molasses? Yes, I made pomegranate molasses and it's a wonderful ingredient! I discovered for myself the versatility of the ever flavorful, nutritious pomegranate. Sweet and savory...it enhances some dishes and shines beyond expectations when needed.

They aren't just a fun food for messy kids. Pomegranates dress up very nicely. They're just as elegant as they are fun.

I hope you've enjoyed this little virtual version of my Pom Wonderful Dinner Party. Look for the recipe posts in the near future. They're worth making!