Friday, March 25, 2011

SPAGHETTI WITH HEMPESTO MARINARA

Stuck between two equal but opposite cravings, I was struck with a bolt of inspiration!  Seeking the cool taste of pesto but desiring the warmth and heaviness of my creamy marinara concoction, I decided to try a bit of an experiment and mix the two… giving birth to Whole Grain Spaghetti with Creamy Hempesto Marinara!

The flavors beautifully compliment one another, keeping the opposite in check.  The parmesan and butter in the pesto calm the marinara’s natural acidity, blending together into a creamy and flavorful speckled sauce.  The melted Veggie Shreds (Mozzarella Flavor) help to give the smooth, light sauce a bit of weight so only half as much need be consumed to reach fullness and satisfaction.

The three basic steps:

STEP 1: Boil up 1/3 lb of Barilla Whole Grain Spaghetti (my favorite).  It should be perfect in 7-8 minutes.  Drain.

STEP 2: Hempesto!  Melt 2 tablespoons of Country Crock in the microwave for 15 seconds.  Stir gently.  Take 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped, and add it to the mixture.  Add 3 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese, 1 tablespoon of dry basil (or 3 teaspoons of fresh basil), 2 tablespoons of hempseed, 4 cranks of seasalt in a grinder, and 10 cranks of black pepper in a grinder.  (Salt and pepper are done to taste, though.  The recipe is just MY taste).  Throw all your ingredients into a Magic Bullet or food processor and grind it down into a thick paste.  Mix that into your pasta a spoonful at a time.  You want it to be lightly coated but not overdone.  There should be some left over for later.

STEP 3: Melt 2 handfuls of Veggie Shreds (Mozarella Flavor) into about 1/4 cup of Francesco Rinaldi Marinara sauce, stirring gently.  Add this mixture to your spaghetti & hempesto until the pasta turns a light pink color.  Add more to taste.

NOTE: If you don’t want or have spaghetti, some lovely penne will do the trick!

If you try this recipe out, leave a photo comment of your creation and let me know how it worked out!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

NOM BLOG|CHAIN - HOULIHAN'S FAJITAS

I have searched far and wide for the perfect (and convenient) fajita with a side of guac.  Alas, Suburban New Jersey leaves much to be desired by way of genuine restaurants.  It instead supports chains which mass produce salty foods with a side of fattening fries.  HOWEVER!  Every now and then one of those chain restaurants produces a real gem.

Presenting: Houlihan’s Chicken Fajitas.

I stumbled upon these by chance when seeking out a late night place to dine one Thursday night that wasn’t a diner.  Believe it or not, that is a fairly difficult find.  Lucky for me, I knew a few college students who were in the know.  Originally directed to their Route 46 West location, my food restrictions and allergies prevented me from ordering very much on the menu.  I reluctantly ordered the fajitas for the sake of a bit of guac, but much to my surprise, they were considerably more appetizing than anything I had ordered locally in the past.  It actually tasted BETTER when reheated at work the following afternoon!  Who knew!?

I returned on a later occasion for dinner and excitedly satisfied my craving for fajitas.  It is during this meal that I found out the salsa in the Chips&Salsa Appetizer could be switched out for guacamole.  Excellent.  I also tried the Parmesan Fries, but they left much to be desired and were quickly dismissed as an option for the future.

A few weeks passed and I ventured North bound on Route 17 to visit a friend who excitedly suggested we dine at the Houlihan’s near the state line.  Craving guac (as always), I happily agreed… and me oh my was their food good!  The chicken was tender and juicy, lightly salted, and grilled to perfection.  The plate was piled with ample amounts of onion, red and green pepper, and fresh lime.  Their tortillas were soft and sturdy.  If I thought I enjoyed the first time I had this meal, THIS time blew me away.  The chicken was still gloriously juicy the following day, even after microwaving!

Need I say more?

If you are looking for a decent meal of deliciously well prepared fajitas with a side of smooth and creamy guacamole (which is VERY mellow), Houlihan’s on Route 17 North is your spot.  When trapped in a state where anything which isn’t fast food is ungodly overpriced, this meal is a happy medium.  Try it out!

VEGGIE OPTION: If you're not an omnivore, try ordering the veggie fajitas!