Living the WELL Life

Ladies Night - by Christina Pirello

Friday, June 04, 2010

Busy work schedules and family obligations oftentimes leave few opportunities for me and my girlfriends to catch up.  But when we do actually get together it feels like we’re picking up, seamlessly, right where we left off.  Mark your calendars to dish with your girlfriends and feast on these Ladies Night treats!



Lemon-Lime Hummus with Roasted Pita Chips
Arugula Salad with Braised Artichoke Hearts
Rigatoni with Olives, Capers, and Pine Nuts

Stuffed Roasted Red Peppers

Chocolate Red Velvet Cake

1 1/4 cups fresh orange juice
1/2 teaspoon pure orange extract
1 1/4 cups unsweetened cranberry juice
1/4 cup Suzanne’s Specialties Raspberry Rice Nectar
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
4 cups chilled sparkling water

Whisk together all ingredients and pour evenly into champagne flutes or martini glasses (no reason to avoid the glass ware just because you don’t want the alcohol). Serve chilled. Makes 8-10 drinks

Lemon-Lime Hummus with Oven Roasted Pita Chips
4 fresh cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup sesame tahini
5-6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Unsweetened soymilk

Place all ingredients in a food processor, seasoning with salt to taste. Puree until smooth, slowly adding small amounts of soymilk to thin hummus to taste.  Makes 4-5 servings

Arugula Salad with Braised Artichoke Hearts
4 globe artichokes, halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons, plus 1/4 cup Living Harvest hempseed oil
2 heads garlic, halved lengthwise
sea salt
1-2 cups dry white wine
2 cups balsamic vinegar
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh basil
2 sprigs fresh parsley
4 cups spring or filtered water
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 small bunch arugula, rinsed well, stems trimmed, hand-shredded
1 head frisee (curly endive), rinsed well, hand-shredded
2 cups Living Harvest shelled hempseeds

Prepare artichokes and set aside.  Place 2 tablespoons hempseed oil in a large saucepan.  Lay garlic heads in the pan, cut side down and turn heat to medium.  Cook for 5-7 minutes.  Sprinkle lightly with salt and add wine and vinegar.  Cook until liquid has reduced by half.  Tie together rosemary, basil and parsley and lay on top of simmering garlic.  Add water and bring to a boil.  Add artichokes, cover, turn off heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.

When the liquid has cooled, remove 2 cups of the liquid and transfer to a saucepan.  (Re-cover the artichokes).  Cook liquid over high heat until it has reduced to about 2 cups.  Remove from heat and stir in remaining 1/4 cup hempseed oil, olive oil and sea salt to taste.  Set aside.

To assemble the salad, arrange the greens in a mixing bowl.  Remove the outer leaves from the artichokes and scoop out the inner hairy chokes.  Slice the artichoke hearts thinly and add them to the greens.  Toss with enough dressing just to coat the salad.  Heat a dry skillet over low heat and lightly pan toast hempseeds just until fragrant, about 3 minutes.  Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.  Arrange salad on a platter, drizzle with a bit more dressing, a sprinkle of hempseeds and serve with remaining dressing and toasted hempseeds on the side.  Makes 4-6 servings.

Rigatoni with Olives, Capers, and Pine Nuts
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves fresh garlic-minced
2-3 tablespoons capers-drained and lightly rinsed
1/2 cup pine nuts-pan toasted
Spring or filtered water
1 8 oz. package rigatoni
Hot sauce, to taste
10-12 pitted olives-minced
Small handful fresh parsley-minced

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for cooking pasta.  In a skillet, heat oil and sauté garlic lightly. Add capers and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add walnut pieces, a small amount of water and cover. Simmer 7-8 minutes over medium-low heat. Puree the sauce in a food processor, until walnuts are about half broken. The sauce should be coarse, not smooth.

While the sauce cooks, add pasta to boiling water and cook al dente. When the rigatoni is cooked to your liking, drain well.  Do not rinse, but toss immediately with the hot sauce, olives, fresh minced parsley and serve.

Stuffed Roasted Red Peppers
extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
½ red onion, finely diced
sea salt
generous pinch red pepper flakes
1 carrot, finely diced
2-3 stalks celery, finely diced
1 cup fresh/frozen corn kernels
2-3 teaspoons mirin or white wine
1 ½ cups cooked black beans

4 red bell peppers
extra virgin olive oil

Prepare the stuffing by placing a small amount of oil, the garlic and onion in a small skillet and turn the heat to medium.  When the vegetables begin to sizzle, add a pinch of salt, the red pepper flakes and sauté for 1-2 minutes.  Add carrot and celery, a pinch of salt and sauté for 1-2 minutes more.  Stir in corn, season lightly with salt and add mirin.  Cover and cook over low heat for 3-4 minutes.  Stir in cooked beans until ingredients are well combined.  Transfer to a mixing bowl to cool. 

Lightly oil each pepper and place each over an open flame on the stove.  Turn each pepper, charring the skins completely.  When the peppers are blackened, transfer them to a paper sack and seal shut to steam the skins from the peppers.  After 10 minutes, carefully remove the peppers and, with your fingers, gently remove the charred skin, taking care to keep the peppers intact.  Once all the charred skin is removed, carefully pull the seeds out of the tops of the peppers, keeping the peppers intact.  Clean any remaining seeds from the peppers.

Carefully spoon filling into each pepper, filling abundantly, but taking care not to split them open.  Place stuffed peppers on a baking sheet and place in a 300 degrees oven to warm through, about 10 minutes.  Serve drizzled with a fruity olive oil.  Makes 4 main course servings or, split in half, 8 starter courses.

Red Wine Sauce
Extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves
2 cups hearty red wine
2 large cans pureed tomatoes
3 to 5 fresh tomatoes, chopped
2 bay leaves
¼ teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon basil
Handful of crushed red pepper
Sea salt
Cracked black pepper

Place a generous amount of oil and the chopped onions in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Crush the garlic and add directly to the onions. Stir for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the red wine and bring to a boil.     

Stir in the fresh and canned tomatoes and the spices. Return the sauce to a boil, lower heat and let simmer, stirring frequently for 5 minutes or until the sauce has reduced to desired consistency. Remove the bay leaves and season with salt and pepper.

Chocolate Red Velvet Cake
1 1/2 cups chopped beets
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup semolina flour
5 tablespoons cocoa powder
Generous pinch sea salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons beet powder
1 1/2 cups spring or filtered water (preferably from boiling beets)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup avocado oil
1 1/2 cups brown rice syrup
2 teaspoons brown rice vinegar

3/4 cup non-dairy, grain-sweetened chocolate chips
1/2 cup vegetarian butter spread (like Earth Balance)
1/2 cup soymilk
2 tablespoons brown rice syrup
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place beets in a pot with several cups of water and bring to a boil. Cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain beets, reserving 2 cups of cooking water. Cook this water over medium heat until it has reduced to 1 1/2 cups (needed for recipe).  Preheat oven to 350o and lightly oil and flour 2 8-inch spring form pans.  Whisk together flours, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and beet powder. Place cooked beets and beet water in a food processor and puree until smooth. Whisk together, in a separate bowl, vanilla, oil, rice syrup and vinegar. Mix beets and wet ingredients into flour mixture to create a smooth batter. Spoon batter evenly into the 2 prepared pans and bake on the center rack for 50 minutes, until the tops of the cakes spring back to the touch or an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before releasing cakes from pans. Cool completely before frosting.  Make the frosting while the cakes bake. Place chocolate in a double boiler (or in a glass bowl over a pot of boiling water) and whisk until smooth. Mix in butter spread and whisk until smooth. Whisk in soymilk, rice syrup and vanilla until smooth.  Transfer to a glass bowl, cover and chill completely. Whisk briskly to loosen before using. When you are ready to frost the cake, shave the top of one of the cakes to create a flat surface. Place on a platter and spread frosting over the top of the layer. Place remaining cake on top of the frosting and frost the entire cake. Makes 8-10 servings.



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