2015 Reading List

As another year comes to a close it's natural to look back over the past 12 months and reflect.  One way I like to do that is by recapping all the books I was interested in reading.  It can sort of give you a peek into where you were at in life and what you enjoyed or wanted to learn about.  I initially felt as though I didn't read as much as I would have liked but I did have two big opportunities to settle down with a few books; first during a week on a remote sailboat and second while I was stuck in bed after foot surgery.
I started the year really enjoying memoirs, especially Yes Please by Amy Poehler.  Towards the time of my surgery, I was looking for a distraction and loved The Girl on the Train and All the Bright Places.  If you liked The Fault in Our Stars then you can be sure you will like All the Bright Places, although I didn't end up bawling my eyes out quite the same.
I'd love to hear some book suggestions from you or would love to know what you thought of these books if you've read them.  I hope you all have a safe and HAPPY NEW YEAR!  Happy 2016, Everyone!

2015 Reading List: 
Yes Please – Amy Poehler
Not That Kind of Girl – Lena Dunham
Bossypants – Tina Fey
Someone Else’s Love Story – Joshilyn Jackson
The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins
All the Bright Places – Jennifer Niven
Paper Towns – John Green
Freakonomics – Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
The Secret – Rhonda Byrne
Happy Cooking – Giada de Laurentiis
Bad Feminist - Roxane Gay (Not Yet Finished)
The First Bad Man – Miranda July (Not Yet Finished)


Cranberry Ginger Margarita

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas, everyone!  I hope you all have a safe and happy weekend with family and friends!
                       Love, Lemon Pantry

Cranberry Ginger Margarita
By Ali Caron, RD

Ginger infused tequila
Light cranberry juice
Cranberry lime seltzer water
1 slice plus juice of half a lime
Fresh cranberries

Directions: Infuse tequila by adding 1 cup of tequila and a one-inch cube of fresh ginger to a mason jar or airtight container.  Let sit for at least 24 hours and up to 2 weeks.
For 1 Serving: Fill a glass about 3/4 full with ice.  Add 1.5 oz of ginger tequila, 1/2 cup of cranberry juice and the juice of half a lime.  Top with seltzer water and garnish with a few cranberries and a slice of lime. Enjoy!


Greek Appetizer Skewers

One week 'til Christmas!  I am watching/listening to A Very Murray Christmas on Netflix as I blog and if you haven't seen it yet and you enjoy a star-studded cast singing Christmas carols, you should, too.  I have been so excited for the holidays this year complete with apple cider candles, strings of lights and presents wrapped and ready to go.  The only downside to getting your shopping done early is that you have to wait SO LONG before you can actually give the gifts!
For your holiday parties this season, I have another appetizer that requires no cooking and no prep work.  Just shop and assemble!  These little one-biters are so delicious and customizable that everyone is sure the love them.   The possibilities are endless!  Besides tomatoes, olives and mozzarella balls, you could add cucumber, prosciutto or artichoke hearts and garnish with basil leaves.  These went like hot cakes at my most recent gathering and I think when I make them again  I will bring two varieties. Add these to your menu and your holiday party is sure to be a hit!

Greek Appetizer Skewers
Recipe by Ali Caron, RD
Makes 15 skewers

15 small marinated mozzarella balls
15 cherry tomatoes
15 Kalamata olives, pitted
Appetizer skewers

Take one skewer and gently slide a Kalamata olive about halfway up, followed by a tomato and a mozzarella ball.  Make sure the bottom of the mozzarella ball is right at the end of the skewer.  Place on serving tray and repeat with the rest of the skewers. 

*Alternative ingredients: quartered artichoke hearts, salami or prosciutto, cucumber, basil leaves.

Nutrition Facts: 54 Calories, 3g Fat, 5g Carbohydrates, 3g Protein, 1.5g Fiber, 49mg Sodium, 292mg Potassium


Cranberry Kale and Brussels Salad

'Tis the season for cranberries galore!  In case you're not already cranberry-d out, this recipe is a quick one to whip up and makes a great side dish for lunches.  You could even add grilled chicken or shrimp to make it more of a meal.  This Cranberry Kale and Brussels Salad is a perfect combination of sweet and tart with a satisfying crunch.  And (BONUS) the kale and Brussels sprouts provide loads of Vitamin K* and C so you can feel good about this recipe, especially after a few too many holiday treats.
Check out one of my favorite all time recipes, my Cranberry Couscous with Spinach here.

Cranberry Kale and Brussels Salad
Recipe by Ali Caron, RD
Serves 4

1 cup Brussel sprouts, chopped
1 cup kale, chopped
1 cup cabbage, chopped
½ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup chopped walnuts

1 ½ Tbsp. olive oil
½ Tbsp. lemon juice
½ tablespoon Vegenaise
1/8 tsp garlic powder
Pinch of salt

Directions:  Combine Brussel sprouts, kale and cabbage together in a medium bowl.  Add cranberries and walnuts.  Pour about half of the dressing over the top and gently toss to coat.  Serve.

Nutrition Facts: 135 Calories, 11g Fat, 7g Carbohydrates, 3.5g Protein, 2.5g Fiber, 66mg Sodium, 265mg Potassium

*Vitamin K can interact with some medications so be sure to check with your doctor, pharmacist or dietitian before adding it to your diet.


Pistachio Pomegranate Crostini

Just in time for the holiday season, this simple appetizer brings festive colors and flavors to any gathering.  Pomegranates are abundant this time of year and I was lucky enough to find a small container of pomegranate seeds at Whole Foods last weekend.  Of course, this route is more expensive and not required but it was a perfect solution in a time pinch.  (Also, I'll go out on a limb and say you can also save yourself the embarrassment of blood-stained hands in a cocktail dress.)
I recently served these at the most recent football Sunday gathering and am happy to report they were all gone by the end.  The sweet pomegranate seeds perfectly compliment the salty goat cheese and the slight crunch of the pistachios.  Plus, the colors are REALLY pretty!

Pistachio Pomegranate Crostini
Recipe by Ali Caron, RD
Makes 30 (can halve the recipe if needed)

1 whole-wheat baguette
4 oz of goat cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup Pistachios, shelled
1/2 cup Pomegranate seeds
Olive oil (to drizzle)

Directions:   Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Slice baguette into ½ inch rounds.  Spray baking sheet with non-stick spray and lay the crostini on baking sheet.  Lightly drizzle olive oil over the top of each one.  Bake for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown.  Let cool completely for at least 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, roughly chop pistachios.  De-seed pomegranate by halving the pomegranate, placing the cut side down in one hand and firmly hitting the back of the pomegranate with a wooden spoon while holding over a bowl.  Be sure to remove any white parts from the seeds.

Spread a layer of goat cheese on each crostini with a knife.  Sprinkle pistachios on top and gently press them into the goat cheese to help them stick together.  When ready to serve, sprinkle and press about 5 pomegranate seeds on top into the goat cheese as well. 

Nutrition Facts: 48 Calories, 2g Fat, 5.5g Carbohydrates, 2.3g Protein, 71mg Sodium, 31mg Potassium