Last week Sunday, I held my POM Wonderful dinner party, which I was able to do after POM Wonderful chose me as one of their 100 dinner party contestants. What follows is my wrap-up of my first ever dinner party, for which I actually purchased furniture for, since our kitchen table with 4 seats just wasn’t really going to cut it.
Here we have the table all set, with a bottle of Pomegranate Liquer that my sister-in-law brought to make cocktails. Read on for more details on what we ate. Unfortunately, my family is a shy bunch, so I don’t have any pictures of them. A few of my guests had never tried a pomegranate before and were actually quite happy with it being incorporated into every dish.
I tried to use as many ingredients from our yard as possible to make this a real family experience, since the house we live in was built by Mr. Pikko’s grandfather.
Before I get to the food, I’d like to post a couple of garden pictures because I’m very happy to say that Mr. Pikko bought me a pomegranate tree a couple months ago and planted it in the back yard. It’s barely up to my hips, but already has two fruits on it!
Isn’t it such a beautifully red flower? I love it! I’ve never, ever in my life seen a pomegranate growing before, so this is a real thrill for me. The flower fell off the next day and the pomegranate turned to a pale pink color. Right now, it’s a brownish green and you can see it becoming a fat ball now.
This is our second pomegranate that showed up about a week after the first. As you can see, the tip hasn’t opened yet and the flower petals aren’t out. As of today, it’s shed its petals too, though hasn’t quite lost all of its redness. Anyway, isn’t that so cool?! I check it every day to see its progress. 😀
I started making things in the morning, starting with the Mango Pomegranate Guacamole. I used a recipe from Gourmet Magazine, choosing to eliminate the chilis due to my family not liking hot stuff.
Here’s a shot of all my ingredients. See the avocado? Shockingly enough, that’s from ONE avocado from our back yard. That’s how huge our avocados are. The mango is from our puree mango tree.
Here’s a closer shot. I thought it was such a pretty bowl of ingredients that I had to take another one.
I used my potato masher to squish my avocado up and then added in lime and salt. After that, it was time to stir in the yummy colors!
Whee!! I’d never had guacamole with fruit in it before and boy was it yummy! I actually thought that it tasted the best when you had both pomegranate and mango in one bite, so I kept trying to aim for yellow and red while eating it. I served it with Triscuit and corn chips.
Here it is all done and sprinkled with a few more seeds. It was a big hit!
Next up, I had to make the lemonade. We really need to have a lemon tree because damn was this bag of lemons expensive ($6.50). My pomegranate lemonade was going to contain no sugar, so this is all I needed to make it. Don’t freak out, I’ll explain in a bit. ^_^
Here I have my two drinks, Pomegranate Iced Tea on the left and Pomegranate Lemonade on the right. For each 10 oz of drink, I added 1 tbsp of POM juice and they both turned out to be fantastic and refreshing drinks. In the heart shaped dish on the side I have my reason for not sweetening the lemonade: miracle berries!
People who read my blog regularly are no stranger to these or our miracle berry party pictures, but to those who have never heard of this awesome fruit, miracle berries, when eaten slowly and rubbed across your taste buds for several minutes, can turn sour things sweet for most people.
Originally from Africa, this bush berry has a large seed in the middle and has a pleasant, sweet taste. Roll it around on your tongue for a bit and have a sip of some lemon water. It’ll taste just like sweetened lemonade, only without the sugar! We have two trees in the yard, which is where these came from. I picked these over the span of a week and froze them, since they don’t last very long after picking. A former co-worker of mine, who has diabetes, was simply amazed when I let him try one at work and then gave him the lemon water.
Just one more shot of the drinks, cause I thought they were so pretty! I just used Iced Tea mix for the iced tea, since I’m not so hardcore that I’d steep my own tea for this. The mint I had to buy, since my peppermint plant was only recently put into the ground by Mr. Pikko.
Since I was going to have four little kids, I decided to make them some Pomegranate Jell-O parfaits. I used a recipe from the back of my Knox gelatin box for this, which just calls for juice and yogurt. I got these dessert glasses from my grandma when she gave away most of her dishes. I used to eat out of these as a little kid, so I was really happy to get them. For the yogurt, I just defrosted three Gogurts, though I didn’t know I’d need three when I took this photo.
I mixed POM juice with apple juice, as I thought that the POM juice straight up in jello would be too strong for little kids’ tastes. After the yogurt had set, I poured in the Apple POM gelatin mixture on top. I also scooped out those annoying bubbles because if you’ve ever made Jello or Knox Blox before, you know that those things simply harden into gelatin bubbles. I had extra, so I put some in a cup.
Here’s a view of them from the side. I put this in the fridge to set, then worked on shredding up the Costco chicken I bought for the Chinese Chicken Salad.
The brain fart part here is that I forgot to take photos while making it. I do have a finished photo though!
Made with chopped romaine hearts, shredded chicken, won ton chips, fresh pomegranate seeds, and cilantro, this is the salad before it’s tossed with the dressing. The dressing is a family recipe of my mom’s and I don’t have it at the moment because she came over with the rice vinegar (that I’d forgotten to buy) and made it while I worked on the main dish. The cilantro actually goes on the side, since not everyone likes cilantro in their salad, but I put in on for a nice photo.
My sister-in-law brought club soda, a bottle of PAMA (pomegranate liquer), and a bottle of champagne. The bottle of PAMA had a little recipe booklet and so we used the leftover mint to start making our own cocktails. The rum wasn’t the right kind, but it was fine, since I didn’t buy it, all I did was go grab it out of the closet.
Earlier in the day, I had marinated a tray of pork chops in a mixture of 1 cup Mr. Yoshida’s sauce and 3 tbsp of POM juice. At around 4:30 PM I began grilling them in my cast iron grill pan. Since this tends to cause a lot of smoke, I had to put a fan in the kitchen to blow it all out before dinnertime. I put the chops in the oven at 250 degrees to finish cooking and to stay warm.
As I mentioned earlier, I had to go buy furniture for this dinner party. We had an old dining table downstairs that we still hadn’t brought up after fully unpacking, but we had also put the old chairs out for bulky pickup, so I had had chair buying on my list for a few weeks. I ended up getting chairs at City Mill and assembled them all myself a few days before the party.
Macy’s had a sale, so I went and bought a nice pomegranate colored tablecloth for just $18. I had gone to buy white, but when I got there I thought, wait a tick, I can’t chance pomegranate stains on a white tablecloth! Luckily they had a gorgeous burgundy color, which will be perfect for Christmas.
Here’s my pomegranate decor for the center of the table. I cut some branches off of this pesky bush that we have outside that we’ve been meaning to trim and put in the green bins, but this was a nice way to use them before they got sent off to be mulch for some state park somewhere. In the middle I have a vase that I kept from a little flower arrangement my boss gave to me when I started working full-time.
It was just sitting on my kitchen counter and one day I looked at it and thought, “Hey… it looks just like a pomegranate!” That gave me the idea of filling it with water and pomegranate seeds as a little centerpiece.
I had the kids go and pick three stephanotis blossoms from the front fence and had them float around in the middle. I did eat the seeds in the vase the next day. ^_^
Once the salad was mixed, we started serving. Everyone *loved* the salad, especially with the pomegranate seeds. It added a delightful crunch and a sweet burst of flavor.
Once I busted out the camera, people left the table saying, “No! No! Not me!”
When everyone was done with their salads, I began plating the main course, which included white rice, garlic french beans, and a Grilled Pork Chop with Rosemary Pomegranate Teriyaki sauce. What I did for that was take the leftover marinade and simmer it with two sprigs of fresh rosemary from our garden. After putting some of the sauce on top, I sprinkled fresh pomegranate seeds. Eaten all together, it was really, really yummy!
I’d never made anything this snazzy for a group before, so I was kind of nervous, but everyone loved the food. My 8 year-old nephew’s first reaction was, “I don’t like pork chops!” but later, after he’d eaten almost a whole pork chop by himself, he smiled and told everyone that he “likes the cooking at this house!” Aww!!
Here’s a closer shot of the main course.
Here’s one of our cocktails. We had to ice it since the PAMA wasn’t quite cold yet. This is the one mixed with champagne. I didn’t have any champagne flutes, so we used wine glasses. I also learned what a champagne flute is. I’m not much of a drinker, if you couldn’t tell.
Next up, dessert!
This is the finished parfait, which I topped with fresh whipped cream that I made myself, which is why it doesn’t have a snazzy texture or look to it. I topped it with fresh pomegranate seeds. Two of the kids had to leave early since it was getting late, but my daughter got to eat one of these. She started off pretty well, but then realized that her favorite part was the whipped cream. Eventually she just ate all of that plus the pomegranate seeds and then said she was done. I thought put together, the parfait was pretty good, but I didn’t like the jello by itself all that much.
For the adults, I had a Cheesecake with Pomegranate Blueberry Sauce. I went the lazy route and bought a Cheesecake Factory cheesecake from Costco.
Don’t look at me like that! I don’t have a springform pan and believe me, me doing a fancy pants cheesecake without practice would only end up in disaster. I admit, it looked stupid with the separators, but hey. I needed to be able to have this dinner party without tearing out all my hair. A home baked cheesecake would have ensured that.
For the sauce, I used a Better Homes and Gardens recipe. I used POM Blueberry juice instead of regular POM juice and that added a nice little extra to the sauce. Everyone loved it!
Looks much better in a slice than in the whole pie. I was grateful for the pre-slicing after I took this photo, because I’m pretty sure I’d have cut a really ugly slice of cheesecake.
POM Wonderful was so kind as to send me little tote bags of swag for my guests to take home (though it didn’t include the cutting mat, that’s for me!). In each bag there was a coupon for juice (worth up to $5.49), a set of pomegranate recipe cards, a pomegranate brochure, and a POM bracelet.
My daughter was so mad at me when I didn’t give her a bag that I had to calm her down and tell her I had a couple extra that she could have. She really wanted the bracelet.
POM also sent me a POM Wonderful apron. I decided to put it on to take a picture with the cheesecake and once I did, everyone started busting up laughing. Since I was oblivious to what was so funny, they all told me to look down and I saw what was a sure sign that someone at POM Wonderful has a definite sense of humor.
Yeah. HA HA HA! My family thought this was so hilarious that they then made me take this picture too:
I really should have looked at that dang thing when it first arrived… 😉 I had no time to put on make-up, so sorry if I look a bit yucky. Besides, it was hot that night!
Everyone loved the food, even my picky eater hubby, who said he didn’t think that he liked pomegranates, but that he really enjoyed all the courses. My mom had never tried miracle berries before, so she had fun with my unsweetened pomegranate lemonade. I found that the berry lasted well over half an hour instead of the usual 15 minutes for me when I only used it for drinks.
I’d like to thank POM Wonderful for a great evening. Everyone took home a bag and some pomegranates, armed with the knowledge of how to de-seed one easily using the underwater method, which I explained over dessert. My original proposal had said I would video a demo I did for my guests, but that ended up being really impractical. Instead, I enlisted the help of my 4-year old son.
Now, just to let you all know, I’ve eaten pomegranates all my life, since I was a little girl. I think Grandma Mu got me into them, because I can remember always eating them at her house. She specifically bought them for me when they were in season. Sometimes I’d just pick at them while watching tv. Other times I would sit there and pluck each seed out until it was completely done, then enjoy them all at once.
Several times, I remember standing up with my bowl to go eat them somewhere else and then dropping the damn thing on the floor. With cries of, “NOOOOOO!”, I’d sweep them all up and rush them to the sink in the hopes of salvaging all that hard work, but after finding all kinds of hairs and dirt on them, I’d have to just throw them away in disgust. Luckily, there’s a better way to de-seed a pom with much less work and much less mess. I hope the video helps to demonstrate that, even though I forgot to include the part about removing all the floating membranes.
I’ve always had the telltale yellow and brown fingers (you longtime pomegranate eaters know what I’m talkin’ about!!) after spending an hour plucking a pom, but with this water technique, I don’t have to worry about hiding my fingers anymore. That is a wonderful thing for sure.