Beet Crème Fraîche Dip with Beet Green Tarragon Pesto

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Vitamix and The Feedfeed. All opinions are my own.

Perhaps I’m part of the minority when I say that I love beets. Allow me to expound on this admiration for this diamond in the rough vegetable.

When juiced, the beet releases a sweet, robust earthy flavor that pairs well with ginger, orange, lime…so many flavors.When roasted with olive oil (or better yet, duck fat or walnut oil), the sweetness caramelizes and the vegetable becomes the perfect partner to be tossed with goat cheese and cilantro… or horseradish and dill. There is an entire arena of flavor combinations that work well with beets (and a handful of delicious beet recipes that can be found on

When peeled and cut, the beet becomes a work of art with its bright colors (and, yes, stain-creating juices—wear an apron!). It is a beautiful vegetable that is a gift to those who can see beyond its brownish gray rough exterior.What’s even better about the beet is its unique taste and the nutritional value can’t be, well…”beet.” They are rich in fiber, B vitamins, iron, magnesium and potassium—just to name a few. The greens of this veg are also edible and nutritional. What a way to truly eat your vegetables when you can eat basically the whole thing.

I’ve had plenty of vegetable conversations and when the beet comes up there are a lot of hot opinions about this little vegetable. Many think they don’t like beets, but once the topic is delved into I realize their experience with the beet has been limited to a canned variety or a poorly prepared dish.If you find yourself in the group mentioned above (that thinks you don’t like beets but aren’t 100% sure that you’ve eaten a well-prepared beet) let me give you a gateway recipe into loving this friendly vegetable.

Beet Crème Fraîche Dip topped with Beet Green Tarragon PestoThis recipe combines the sweetness of beets, the loudness of fresh tarragon and the richness of crème fraîche. The pesto takes the leftovers of this main recipe and utilizes the greens from the beets and any remaining tarragon to create an earthy salty balance to the dip.  Added bonus – this recipe can be made in advance for snacking all week long!

While this recipe can be made in a food processor I find that it is made vastly better in a Vitamix Venturist. The precision of this kitchen appliance purées the roasted beets, shallots, tarragon into a smooth, silky dip. The Vitamix purees the vegetables exquisitely and with the multiple speed settings it also whips the crème fraîche into a light and airy state – and the built in timer lets you know just how long to blend for.These two elements of silky smooth roasted beets and whipped crème fraîche come together perfectly.

I had never cooked with a Vitamix until this recipe. However, I have had several friends cook for me using their Vitamix in the form of frozen margaritas, warm soups and addictive dips. With every dish that I have enjoyed that has been assisted by this appliance the same thought has crossed my mind…One day, I will have a Vitamix and make everything under the sun with it.

Well, my friends, that time has arrived. For years I have hesitated. I love my food processor and didn’t want to give it up. But deep down inside I knew there was a kitchen appliance that was missing from A Pleasant Little Kitchen.When I saw the Vitamix Venturist and read up on its bells and whistles there was no question. 2018 was the year I was going to get that Vitamix.

The Beet Tarragon Creme Fraîche confirmed my decision to welcome the Vitamix into my kitchen rhythm. It’s a machine that is well made, smart, easy to handle (and clean) and most importantly, does its job better than any other blending tool I’ve ever used.Let this recipe convince you that 1) beets are good and tasty to eat 2) you need to eat more beets AND 3) the Vitamix is a kitchen appliance that needs to be in your kitchen.

For now, I’m going to nibble on this dip while I enjoy my new kitchen appliance and make my next recipe… a frozen margarita.

Beet Crème Fraîche Dip with Beet Green Tarragon Pesto

for the beet crème fraîche

2 pounds beets, with greens

2 shallots, peeled and halved

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

8 ounces crème fraîche

2 tablespoons heavy cream

juice of one lemon

zest of one lemon

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons tarragon

6 tablespoons water

  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees
  2. Peel the beets and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes.
  3. Place the beets and shallots into a medium-sized bowl. Evenly distribute 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt on top of the vegetables. Stir well to coat.
  4. Place the beets and shallots onto a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 35 to 45 minutes, or until softened. Stir the vegetables once or twice during the roasting process.
  5. Remove the beets from the oven and bring to room temperature.
  6. Add the ingredients into the Vitamix container in the following order: 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, vinegar, crème fraîche, beets, shallots, tarragon, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt. Secure the lid and set the speed to Variable 1 and then start the machine. Slowly increase to its highest speed. Blend for 50-60 seconds until smooth.
  7. Serve the beat crème fraîche dip with beet green pesto (see recipe below) on the side or on top of the beet crème fraiche with favorite vegetable chips.

for the pesto
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/3 cup fresh mint
1/2 cup fresh tarragon
2 cups beat greens, stems removed
1/3 cup pine nuts
3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
squeeze of fresh lemon juice

  1. Add the ingredients into the Vitamix container in the following order: olive oil, lemon juice, cheese, garlic, mint, tarragon, beet leaves, nuts and salt. Secure the lid and set the speed to Variable 1 and then start the machine. Slowly increase to its highest speed. Blend for 40 seconds until smooth.

Short Ribs Adovada

Short Ribs Adovada

5 pounds bone in short ribs

3 teaspoons kosher salt

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, crushed

2 cups low-sodium beef stock

2 cups chili water (see recipe below)

1 12 ounce can of chipotles with adobo sauce

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon honey

1 bay leaf, quartered

  1. One hour before cooking, remove the meat from the fridge.
  2. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. With 2 teaspoons of salt, evenly season the short ribs on all sides.
  4. Open the can of chipotles and remove half of the chiles. Set the can aside to use later.
  5. In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over high on the stove top. Once hot add the short ribs and brown for 2 minutes per side, for a total of 4 minutes, and set aside. This should be done in 2 batches.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the onions and garlic and off at the heat for two minutes.
  7. Lower the heat to medium and add the pan back to the stovetop.
  8. Pour the beef stock into the pan and deglaze. Be sure to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.
  9. Add the chili water, half of the chipotle chilies with all the sauce from the can, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, cloves, oregano, cumin, honey, and bay leaf to the pan. Stir well.
  10. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Add the short ribs back into the pan. Cover and place in the oven. Cook at 350 degrees for two hours.
  11. Remove the pan from the oven. Remove the short ribs from the pan and place on a rimmed cutting board. Cover the short ribs with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.
  12. Meanwhile, skim off the fat that has collected on top of the cooking sauce.
  13. Serve the short ribs with rice topped with adovada sauce and chopped cilantro.

Jasmine Tea London Fog

Jasmine Tea London Fog

Author note: I use the frothing attachment on my automatic espresso machine to steam and froth the milk. However, there are several ways to create a frothy top. Whipping the warmed milk with a whisk can create a soft whip like substance as well as using an electric handheld frother.

1/2 cup warm water

1 jasmine tea bag


1/4 cup whole milk

frothed milk, to top

  1. In a mug, steep the tea with the warm water for 5-8 minutes. Remove the tea bag.
  2. Steam the milk (or gently warm the milk on the stovetop). Pour the milk with the steeped tea. Stir in honey to taste.
  3. Top with frothed milk. Serve immediately.

Lemon Arborio Rice Soup

It’s easy to get into particular food habits in the winter months– the comfort habit.

You know what I’m talking about, it’s the warm, delicious but oh- so-heavy soup.  It’s glorious, isn’t it? Truth be told I enjoy a bowl of comfort really any time of the year, however it’s especially tempting (and satisfying) during these colder months. But I will confess, there are times I want a comforting warm soup that isn’t packed full of protein and other heavy ingredients.I want the best of both worlds. I assume you do too.

Lemon Arborio Rice Soup has become this hybrid of sorts. It’s comfort soup combined with light bright citrus notes. All the while the soup is hearty and satisfying (and one that I want to get seconds of– because isn’t that a mark of a good soup?).To achieve this soup hybrid, citrus is needed. Not just any citrus though. Lemon. The soup requires lemon zest and lemon juice.

Lets just take a moment and pause to think about the lemon. This bright and beautiful fruit is one of the most critical components of my kitchen– and I hope it is to yours too.Its zest adds sweetness without the acid. Its juice provides acid to add depths of flavor to most any recipe. The juice also brings out flavors of other ingredients. Plus, lemons are just lovely to look at. They are perfect pops of color to decorate the kitchen table or countertops with.With all this lemon love, let me encourage you…actually implore you to always reach for fresh lemons and lemon juice when cooking. There may be ease with the bottled lemon juice, but its flavor is nothing compared to a fresh lemon.

Since lemons are so fantastic, I’m constantly grabbing a few every time I go to Market Street. It so happens it is currently citrus season so the produce season is bursting with all things bright and beautifully citrus-y. From lemons to oranges to grapefruits and pommellos, Market Street has a mighty fine citrus game going on right now… which is perfect for Lemon Arborio Rice Soup.This beautiful soup has Arborio rice cooked in the style of risotto. That means it’s been toasted with onion infused olive oil, then cooked slowly with warm chicken stock. (Side note: if you’re looking for quality NON GMO verified Arborio rice, check out Rice Select at Market Street. It’s my go-to rice because of the quality AND because I like the container.) Once the rice is cooked, additional chicken stock is added, along with saffron butter, parmesan, mascarpone and…LEMON!

Finish the soup off with chopped leafy greens of one bunch of Italian parsley (Gasp! Yes, one bunch of parsley! It is more than just a garnish– in fact it’s one of my other all-time favorite ingredients). Stir and serve warm.This soup is bright because of the lemons, hearty because of the rice and comforting because of the mascarpone and parmesan. The parsley, well… it adds a bit of crunch and earthiness that balances out all of the flavors in this perfectly delicious, citrus-y soup.

Lemon Arborio Rice Soup

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3/4 cup Arborio rice

1/2 cup onion, diced

1/2 cup pinot grigio wine

6 cups low sodium chicken stock, warmed

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/8 teaspoon saffron

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

zest of 2 lemons

3/4 cup parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese (plus more for topping)

1 bunch of parsley, leafy greens chopped

  1. Place the oil and onion into a large pan. Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes, stir occasionally.
  2. Add the rice to the pan and stir to coat the rice with the oil. Toast for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Pour the wine into the pan. Scrape up any brown bits. Bring the wine to a boil and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Increase the heat to medium-high.
  5. Pour 3 cups of chicken stock into a measuring cup or bowl. Add a few ladlefuls of the stock into the pan. Stir the rice very frequently to prevent the rice from sticking to the pan. Once the chicken stock has been absorbed by the rice, add another few ladlefuls of stock, stirring very frequently. Continue this process until 3 cups of the chicken stock is used and the rice is cooked.
  6. Pour the remaining three cups of chicken stock into the pan once the rice is cooked. Reduce the heat to low and warm through for five minutes.
  7. Stir in the butter, saffron, salt, lemon juice and lemon zest. Stir well.
  8. Once the butter is completely melted and mixed into the soup add the parmesan and mascarpone cheese. Continue to stir until both are melted and incorporated into the soup.
  9. Remove from the heat. Add the parsley (reserving a 1/2 cup to top individual bowls of soup) and stir.
  10. Place the soup into individual bowls. Top with a dollop of mascarpone and chopped parsley. Serve immediately.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Market Street. All opinions are my own.

Thai Broccoli Rice

Thai Broccoli Rice

Author note: The level of heat is up to you. If you prefer a lot of heat, do not seed the serrano pepper. If you prefer a little bit of heat, remove a bit of the stem and seeds. Use a low sodium tamari, this will allow you to control the salt level a bit more.

8 cups broccoli florets

2 tablespoons canola oil

1/2 cup onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped

1 serrano pepper, chopped

4 cups cabbage, shredded

juice of 1 lime

8 basil leaves

1 cup cilantro, chopped

1 tablespoon fish sauce

2 tablespoons low sodium tamari (or low sodium soy sauce)

1/2 teaspoon of salt (optional)

  1. In a food processor, puree the broccoli until a rice like consistency develops. This may have to be done in two batches depending on the size of your food processor.
  2. In a large flat bottomed skillet, add the oil, onion, garlic, ginger and serrano and cook over medium heat for 7 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  3. Add the cabbage and coat with the infused oil. Cook for 4 minutes.
  4. Add the riced broccoli and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  5. Add the fish sauce and soy sauce and cook for 1 minute.
  6. Remove from the heat and add the basil, cilantro and lime juice. Stir well. Serve warm.

Tiramisu Panna Cotta

Tiramisu Panna Cotta

  • Servings: servings 6-8
  • Print
Author note: The chill time is dependent upon the serving bowls the panna cotta is placed in.

4 cups heavy cream, cold

1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin

3/4 cups sugar

2 tablespoons dry marsala wine

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon espresso (or very strong coffee)

whipped mascarpone, for topping (recipe below)

lady fingers, crumbled, for topping

cocoa powder, for topping

  1. Pour the cream into a large pan. Then, sprinkle the gelatin on top of the cream. Do not stir. Let it dissolve for 10 minutes.
  2. Next, place the pan on the stove-top and turn the heat to medium. Begin to stir the mixture.
  3. Once the cream is warm, about 7 minutes, add the sugar, marsala and espresso. Continue to cook until the sugar is dissolved, about 8 more minutes. Do not let the mixture boil.
  4. Continually stir the cream until the gelatin dissolves completely, about 15 minutes total. It will look clumpy at first, but do not fear. Continue to stir until the cream is smooth.
  5. Pour the cooked cream into a large serving bowl or individual serving bowls, cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.
  6. Once the panna cotta is set, serve cold and top with cocoa powder, crumbled lady fingers and whipped mascarpone.

for the whipped mascarpone

3 tablespoons heavy cream

1 cup mascarpone

2 tablespoons sugar

  1. Place all ingredients into a large bowl. Using a mixer, whipped on high until stiff peaks form. Serve chilled or place into the fridge up to one day before serving.

A Pleasant Little Review | America’s Test Kitchen’s The Complete Slow Cooker

America’s Test Kitchen—the name synonymous with quality, trust and taste has created yet another stellar cookbook. The Complete Slow Cooker, one of the newest releases from America’s Test Kitchen, has, as expected, maintained this high standard of cooking.Upon receiving my copy of The Complete Slow Cooker I was incredibly excited. My husband was due for a week of travel, and my work schedule was slammed. It was apparent that this week was destined for slow cooking—and The Complete Slow Cooker would be my guide.

As I do with all new cookbooks that enter A Pleasant Little Kitchen, I read them first. After a quick skim over the recipes listed in the table of contents my initial thoughts were:What a variety of flavors and cuisine!

I can’t choose just one recipe to make.

My friends need this book (and I’m so glad it’s in my life).

I love how each recipe is categorized as easy prep, vegetarian, light or cook all day.So far so good. Then, as I made my way through the recipes themselves I began to draw up a list of recipes to make. This particular list was quite long.

Japanese Pork and Ramen Soup

Chicken Tikka Masala

Red Beans and Rice with Okra and Tomatoes

Scallops with Creamy Braised Leeks

French Lentil Stew

Lamb VindalooIt was apparent that I was going to need more than one week to get to know this book and I was okay with that.

Chicken Tikka Masala (page 91) the first slow cooked meal. The instructions were easy to follow, the steps simple to execute and the flavor development was on point. After about 10 minutes of prep, dinner was placed in the slow cooker with ease— which let me get to work being single mom for the week, business owner and chauffer (just to name a few).One of my favorite qualities about the slow cooker is the warm aroma that fills the home while it’s doing its magic. Coming home after a busy afternoon, the slow cooker is like a giant food hug waiting to tell you that dinner is ready.

This go around, I wanted to share some of the America’s Test Kitchen love, so instead of enjoying the leftovers the following day I sent them on to a friend. Her response to the meal was just like mine—it was SO good. However, she pointed out how healthy the meal was and quickly asked for the recipe; evidence that the recipe was a winner.Selecting the next recipe was tricky—do I go for another flavor profile that is unique, like lamb vindaloo, OR do I choose my inner comfort craving?

Comfort craving won and Southern Chicken with Dirty Rice (page 223) was next on the menu.Like the Chicken Tikka Masala, this recipe was also prepared with ease while combining multiple layers of flavor. I would like to point out that this recipe (along with a lot of the recipes in this cookbook) try to maintain a “one-pot” wonder feel. Much appreciated, America’s Test Kitchen.

While I wanted to pass on this meal to another friend, I couldn’t part with it. The chicken was cooked perfectly, the rice had just enough heat and it satisfied my craving so well that I couldn’t wait to repeat the next night….which I did.Lastly, I tackled a meatless meal that I knew would be freezer friendly for the leftovers. French Lentil Stew (page 75) was hearty, comforting, flavorful and healthy. My little family dove into our bowls with crusty French baguettes and a few slices of cheese.

I need to tell you a bit more about this book though besides the delicious, approachable recipes. The Complete Slow Cooker is an excellent cookbook to welcome into your kitchen because within the pages are:notes from the test kitchen – these notes expand on certain topics like quinoa, lentils, storing soups, shopping for garam masala, how to cut stew meat

make it 5 ways – these double paged sections take one recipe, like chicken and potatoes (found on pages 100-101), and gives you five recipes on how to make it—genius!

simple sides – these suggestions are brief recipes that pair well with the recipes on the corresponding page (like soft and cheesy breadsticks that pair well with Mushroom Bolognese or Alla Norma Sauce, found on page 270-271)If you’re looking for a slow cooker cookbook, America’s Test Kitchen has your answer. The Complete Slow Cooker continues to carry the expected high standard of quality and trustworthy recipes that America’s Test Kitchen is known for. Their test cooks work extremely hard making sure the recipes that come from ATK are approachable, well thought out, expertly executed and delicious.

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