Sweet Fruit DipI am not kidding you, this appetizer is so ridiculously easy to make. It takes about 3 minutes. The hardest part is cutting up the fruit.

My mom used to make this dip for fruit when we were kids, and I always loved it. Because it contains two things that I adore:

  • marshmallow creme (aka, FLUFF)
  • cream cheese

And that is all. Srsly! Here’s all you need to make this dip:

fruitdip1You might be able to make it without an electric beater, but you’d have to have a lot of arm strength.

So, you get these two things, and you put the entire jar of marshmallow creme and the entire block of cream cheese into a bowl.


fruitdip3And then you blend it.

fruitdip4I’d say the blending take about two minutes; use a high speed, and be sure to scrape the sides with a spatula because the marshmallow really wants to stick to the side.

fruitdip5And then? YOU’RE DONE. You can serve it in a nice bowl with a platter of fruit. You can either cut the fruit into small chunks and provide toothpicks (my preferred method, since you then get a larger dip to surface area ratio, and you don’t have to worry about double dipping), or you can cut fruit into slices that people can pick up.

fruitdip6Look, I didn’t say it was the healthiest Super Bowl appetizer ever, but what Super Bowl food really is that healthy? Kids love this dip, almost as much as I do.


fruitdip8Who are you rooting for in the Super Bowl? We don’t care about professional sports in this house, but somehow both my kids are Broncos fans. Or, more accurately, they are going to root for the Broncos in the Super Bowl. They are really barely aware that it’s a team. So don’t hold it against them.

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Winter Citrus Margarita


So now that all the holiday and new year festivities are over, what are you supposed to do if you want to get your drink on?

I’m here to help. I’m always thinking of you.

And also, I wanted to get my drink on, in a wintery but refreshing way. What’s more refreshing than a margarita in January?

Whip one up!


  • 1/2 pink grapefruit
  • 1 blood orange
  • 2 – 3 key limes
  • Cointreau or Triple Sec (or Grand Marnier)
  • Tequila!

To start, you’ll want to juice all your citrus.

citrusmargarita3I like using this citrus squeezy thing, but you can also use a regular hand juicer (which you’ll probably need for the grapefruit, since it won’t fit in the squeezer.

citrusmargarita4Those wee key limes fit in the squeezer, or you can just smash ‘em with your hands.

citrusmargarita5Now you’ve got your juice. If you like your margaritas on the sweeter side, you could add some simple syrup or sugar at this point to sweeten it up.

Now, gather your shaker and liquor. Fill the shaker with ice, and don’t skimp! Fill it to the top.

citrusmargarita6Make sure you use the good stuff.

Fill the shaker 1/3 of the way with tequila, and another 1/3 with your orange liquer (Triple Sec, Cointreau, Grand Marnier, whatevs).

citrusmargaritacollageNow add your juice. If you like, you can strain it if you don’t like any pulp in your ‘Rita.

citrusmargarita7Now shake it like a Polaroid picture.

citrusmargarita11I like to rim this glass with sugar instead of salt. You can use one of your leftover citrus rinds, running it around the rim of the glass to moisten it so it’ll take the sugar.

citrusmargarita9Fill your glass with ice…

citrusmargarita10And then fill it with your classy cocktail!

citrusmargarita13Go wild! And if you need some cool glasses to serve your fancy drink, check out some of the offerings here… I’m really digging the Cupa Rocks glasses that gently tilt on their own!


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Pomegranate Basil Sangria

Pomegranate Basil SangriaI should really probably call this Pomegranate “Basils” Sangria, because I used four different kinds of basil in this recipe. And it is so delicious!

I want to remind everyone that the Pennington giveaway is still going on. You can win a $50 American Express gift card! You can still enter; simply leave a comment on this post or my previous cocktail post with your favorite gardening tip. I will announce the winner on Friday, October 11.

This sangria really lives up to its name, which comes from a Spanish word that means, “bleeding.” None of this white wine sangria, here, people. It’s like oxblood, which we all know is one of the on trend colors this fall.

Just like last week’s cocktail, I went out to the garden and picked several varieties of basil to make this drink. Basil is fantastic to grow; it’s easy and there are so many readily available kinds, you can have a whole garden of different flavors.

Besides the traditional Genovese basil, I’m also growing these:

basilsFor reals, that first one is called “Holy Basil.” It’s actually used in Ayurvedic medicine and has a minty, clovey taste. Thai basil is more common and has a slight licorice flavor. Variegated basil is also called Perpetuo basil since it doesn’t flower, and it also has a slightly spicy overtone.

You can use whatever basil or basils you want for this recipe. I say the more the merrier, but if you want to go traditional sweet basil, go for it!

Pomegranate Basil Sangria


  • 40 basil leaves, of one or more types
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 pomegranate (or 1 – 2 cups pomegranate seeds)
  • 1 bottle red wine

First, pick your basil and remove the leaves from the stems. I used about 40 leaves, 10 of each variety.

basils readyIn a small saucepan, mix the sugar with the water.

sangria3Add the herbs. As you drop them in the saucepan, crush them a bit to begin to release their aromatic oils.

sangria4Set the pot over medium low heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Make sure all the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, strain, and let the syrup cool.

sangria5While the basil syrup is simmering, cut your pomegranate in half and remove the seeds. Do you know the super duper easy way to remove them? Over a bowl, simply turn the half pomegranate cut-side down in your hand, and pound the outside with a wooden spoon.


Out come all the seeds and only a few stray pieces of flesh. It’s amazing! Although a little splattery.

sangria7Once you’ve got your pomegranate ready, you can begin to assemble the sangria. First, add the pomegranate seeds and juice, then about 1/2 c. of the basil syrup (more or less to taste). Finally, pour in the bottle of red wine. I used a nice Malbec which worked perfectly.

sangria9Mix it all up and let it steep for at least 30 minutes.

sangria10You can chill it while you are letting it steep, and even serve over ice. Garnish with some basil leaves.

sangria11Delicious, right? Perfect to drink while wearing your new shoes and nail polish.




I was delighted a few weeks ago when the good peeps at Barilla contacted me about creating a healthy recipe for the new year and doing a pasta giveaway. They are generously offering several boxes of free pasta and a Barilla apron to two of my readers! Woot! More details on how to enter after the recipe below.

We eat a ton of pasta around here, seeing as how I was a vegetarian for a long, long time and I still don’t really know how to cook meat. Pasta is basically our meat.

Barilla sent me some boxes of new varieties of pasta to test out, and they were awesome. I’ve always used the Barilla Plus; have you tried it? It’s pasta with extra protein, fiber and omega 3s added. I’ve switched between that and a whole wheat pasta for years. But recently the 9 year old has told me he doesn’t like the whole wheat pasta anymore. He’s been eating it for forever and a fortnight, but suddenly he doesn’t like it. Feh. But he’ll still eat the Barilla Plus.

What I hadn’t tried, though, were the veggie pasta and the white fiber pasta. The veggie pasta has pureed vegetables in it, and the white fiber appears to have some whole wheat flour mixed in—they bill it as a white pasta with extra fiber, but on the ingredients list there’s whole wheat flour, so I’m guessing that’s where the extra fiber comes from. Which is great; much better than some kind of artificial added fiber.

As you know from my month of resolutions, one thing I’m trying to do is lose a little weight and eat a little healthier. So when I make pasta, I pair it with as many veggies as I can. I use just as many veggies as I do pasta, in a 1 to 1 ratio, if you will. I decided to create a dish that included our family’s favorite vegetables and as much healthy stuff as possible. Here’s what I wanted to achieve:

  • include healthy veggies
  • include something everyone likes
  • make it a one pot meal
  • incorporate a vegetable protein

Hence was born Pasta with Kale and Mushrooms. Everyone loved it!


  • 1 bunch kale, washed, stems removed, and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 12 oz. sliced mushrooms
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1/2 c. pomegranate seeds
  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • chunk of Parmesan cheese
  • 1 box Barilla White Fiber pasta (I used mini penne)
  • salt and pepper
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Put all the kale inside and blanch it for 5 minutes. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon or chinese strainer, and set aside. Bring the water to a boil again. Cook the pasta according to the package directions in this water.
  2. Meanwhile, add the olive oil to a large pan over high heat. Add the onions and mushrooms with a dash of salt. Cook until the mushrooms release their liquid, the liquid evaporates, and the mushrooms begin to brown.
  3. Add the kale to the mushroom mixture and cook until any of the liquid from the kale leaves evaporates.
  4. Add the cannellini beans to the mixture and cook for one minute. Remove from heat.
  5. In a large bowl, mix the pasta, the mushroom and kale mixture, and the pomegranate seeds. Toss well and add more salt and/or pepper to taste. Top with slivers of Parmesan cheese shaved off the block.
Does anything smell better than sauteing onions?

Does anything smell better than sauteing onions?

A few notes to add:

  • You can use more or less pasta to your taste. I used only 3/4 of a box, but adjust it so that your ratio of pasta to vegetables is to your liking.
  • You could use up to 2 bunches of kale; it wilts down significantly.

Enjoy! The whole family ate this up. And it’s super healthy!

Now, to the GIVEAWAY! If you’d like to enter, like me on Facebook and leave a comment there telling us about your favorite healthy pasta dish. Straight up tomato sauce on farfalle? Turkey lasagna? A reinvented mac and cheese? We’re dying to know. The giveaway will be open until next Wednesday at 5pm PST. I’ll choose the winner by random generator  on Thursday. Make sure to check back then!

P.S. — The official stuff: Barilla sent me pasta to play with, but I was in no other way compensated for this post. My opinions are all my own. You know the drill.