Tag Archives: pepitas

Orange Pomegranate Salad

Orange Pomegranate Salad

The holidays are fast approaching and I am already planning our meal for Christmas Eve.  It’s a family tradition that every year on Christmas Eve I make a huge pot of New England Clam Chowder to share with my family and friends.  With the chowder, I serve up finger foods, fresh baked breads, salad and dessert.  Since the chowder is the only item on the menu that does not change from year to year, I try to think of different and fresh tasting dishes to serve with the soup.

While I am thinking about what I am going to serve with the chowder, our family is busy decorating our home for the holidays.  Bruce’s responsibility is to put up the lights out in the front of the home, and my job is to decorate the dining room and living room.  I love doing that.  It’s one of my favorite things to do.

This is what my dining room looked during the last Christmas season.  Last year, I focused on red and green colors.  This year my plan is to decorate with white and silver.  I want my dining room to have a shiny cold sparkle to it.  The table will be removed and 2 eight foot tables will take its place on Christmas Eve.  That’s what I do every time we have a large gathering in our home.  What I have in mind this year is crisp white table cloths, white candlesticks with snow covered greenery.  The three little trees that you see above are now covered with little white birds, silver ornaments and shimmery snowflakes.

One of my white birds.  I snagged about a dozen of these at a craft store last week for about a dollar each.  I would have bought more but I cleaned out the bin…

Silver pine cone ornament.  My Mom gave these pine cone ornaments to me earlier this year.  These pretty ornaments are on the same trees as the white birds.  Can you believe that this ornament is made of plastic?  Could have fooled me…  I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not ashamed of decorating with plastic ornaments.  I like plastic ornaments because they are pet and child friendly, they don’t shatter and when they fall off the tree, all they do is bounce!  And what’s even better about plastic ornaments…  They’re inexpensive.

I just love the holidays!  In my opinion, it’s not about the gifts or the food.  It’s all about spending quality time with family and friends.  I want everyone who visits our home to have a wonderful time and have fond memories of our time together.

I have made the decision to serve my Orange Pomegranate Salad on Christmas Eve.  It’s light, plates beautifully and won’t leave my guests stuffed once I start ladling up steaming hot bowls of chowder.  My Orange Pomegranate Salad is made with fresh naval oranges, pomegranate seeds, watercress, radish shoots, crunchy pepitas and a tangy pomegranate vinaigrette.  It’s easy, bright and delicious! Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 6 large naval oranges, peeled and sliced.
  • 3 cups water cress (use more if you like)
  • 3 cups radish shoots (use more if you like)
  • 6 Tbs toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 6 Tbs fresh pomegranate seeds
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/8 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/8 cup pomegranate vinegar
  • 1 Tbs brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Begin by cutting off the peel from the oranges.  Slice each orange into 1/2 inch thick slices.  Arrange on six salad plates with water cress, radish shoots, pomegranate seeds, and pepitas.  Make the vinaigrette by whisking together the canola oil, rice vinegar, pomegranate vinegar, brown sugar, ginger and salt.  Drizzle the vinaigrette on the salads when ready to serve.  Serves 6.

Polvorones with Pepitas

Polvorones with Pepitas

I love the Thanksgiving Holiday.  Thanksgiving is the time of year that we get to spend quality time with friends and family.  We cook, we talk much, we laugh, play games, watch football and most importantly, we simply get to enjoy each others company.  I’m so lucky to have such a wonderful family.  In my opinion, the grand feast of roasted turkey, stuffing, gravy, green peas, rolls, potatoes, cranberry relish, pumpkin pie, cakes, cookies and so many other dishes is just a bonus.  At our annual Thanksgiving dinner this year, I offered to bake Polvorones with Pepitas, Mint Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies, and Herb Rolls to share.  I also brought an antipasto platter and a couple of bottles of prosecco :).

Polvorones are little cookies that are also called Mexican Wedding Cakes, Russian Tea Cakes, Snowballs, or even Butterballs.  Whatever you choose to call them, they’re just delicious!

My Polvorones recipe is a twist on the traditional cookie recipe for I used toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) instead of walnuts or pecans.  Many people know by now that I don’t cook with walnuts, pecans or other type of tree nut because I am allergic to them and I have other members in my family that share the same issue.  Pepitas are a perfect substitute for they have a delicious nutty flavor and crunch similar to nuts.  I use pepitas in recipes all the time that list nuts as an ingredient.  Pesto, cookies, and granola just to name a few…

I like to give the little cookies a light dusting of powdered sugar before setting them out at the dessert table.   The powdered sugar reminds me of fresh fallen snow.

The dessert table at Thanksgiving…  We had quite the selection of brownies, pumpkin pie, salted caramels, apple pie, coffee cake, chocolate cookies and my little Polvorones with Pepitas.  We are so fortunate to have some amazing cooks in our family.  Everything that we prepare and share is made from scratch.  I just love it!

My Polvorones with Pepitas recipe is slightly adapted from Epicurious (Bon Appetit,2003).

Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup pepitas, toasted, coarsely ground
  • a big pinch of ground cinnamon

In a medium sized bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter until fluffy (I used my stand mixer).  Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and vanilla extract.  Continue to mix.  Slowly add the flour and pepitas.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for about a half an hour or so to chill the dough.  Mix remaining sugar and cinnamon in a shallow bowl and set aside.  Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Using a small cookie scoop (2 tsp sized) to scoop out 4 dozen little balls.  Roll each ball in the palm of your hand and place 1″ apart on a silicone lined baking sheet.  Bake for about 18 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown on the bottom and have a pale color on the top.  Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on the cookie sheets for about 5-7 minutes.  Carefully roll each warm cookie in the powdered sugar mixture and place on racks to cool completely.  Sift leftover powdered sugar over the cookies before serving. Store in an airtight container for 2 – 3 days.  Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Pepita Basil Pesto

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pepita Basil Pesto

I don’t know about you but I hate food allergies.  I love to cook and try new foods but I always have to ask the question “Are there any nuts in that?”  Unfortunately, I found out the hard way about ten years ago that I am allergic to tree nuts.  You can only imagine my reaction to the bad news. I thought to myself really?  You mean I got to carry around an EpiPen?  Seriously? Tree nuts?  For those who may not know exactly what tree nuts are they include nuts such as walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pine nuts, pistachios, macadamias, brazil nuts, and the list goes on.  Fortunately, I can still eat peanuts (they don’t grow on trees, but, I still have to be careful!).  Anyone who has a food allergy or has a friend or family member who has one knows exactly what I am talking about.  You learn quickly that when you have a food allergy your scope of food choices just got severely limited.

Well, in the meantime, I ain’t dead yet and I have learned to adapt.  For the past several years I have worked on creating some of my favorite recipes using pepitas as a nut substitute.  Pepitas are little green pumpkin seeds that are similar to nuts in texture and crunch.  I love to use them in my pesto.  My Pepita Basil Pesto is a vibrant green basil pesto with olive oil, garlic, fresh shaved Parmesan cheese and crunchy little pepitas.  Use it as you would use any pesto. Put it on crostini, toss it in some pasta, or spread it on a sandwich.  Make this Pepita Basil Pesto and you will change your pesto making ways.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves (packed)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup shelled unsalted pepitas
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Let’s begin by washing the fresh basil leaves, removing stems and flower buds. Lightly pack into 2 cups.  Add the olive oil, pepitas, garlic, lemon juice and salt to food processor. Blend until it is a thick paste, scraping sides of processor with a spatula.  Add basil leaves and parmesan cheese.  Blend until basil is well incorporated.  Keeps about 3-4 days in the refrigerator.  Can be frozen.  Makes about one cup.