Friday, June 25, 2010

Question/Photo of the Week: Basil


Question: Do you like basil? In what dishes, do you like to incorporate it?

I am now becoming obsessed with basil! The aroma and taste is wonderful.

Traditionally, basil is used in savory dishes such as, Italian cuisine. I have used basil when making Parmesan crusted chicken and tomato basil salsa. It tastes extremely fresh. However, cooks all over the country are starting to use basil in sweet dishes. Did you know that basil is a member of the mint family? If you eat a basil leaf by itself, you can taste a little mintiness on your tongue. You know how at some restaurants, they garnish their desserts with mint? That is so overrated and so over done, that now they are garnishing with basil. Not just garnishing though. Cooks are adding basil with fresh strawberries, ice cream, and cakes. Instead of being just a dessert, it adds a sense of sophistication and freshness. So next time you are in the grocery store, and you are going for the mint, grab some basil instead, and cut it chiffonade style. You will be very impressed!!! If you want it a little savory, I suggest buying fresh mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes, basil, and extra virgin olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Slice and drizzle the oil and vinegar over. There you have a healthy snack.

"Much virtue in Herbs, little in Men."
-Benjamin Franklin

Monday, June 14, 2010

Steak, My Favorite Animal

Hi everyone! Sorry about not posting a "Question/Photo of the Week" this past Friday. Things got a little busy, and I didn't have a chance. This Friday though, for sure, there will be a post!

So this past week was Matthew's Dad's Birthday! Happy Birthday, again, Mr. B! We celebrated his birthday with a great homemade dinner. We had baked potatoes, garlic bread, and best of all, steak. Not just any steak, my friends. We bought two giant rib eyes and two New York strips, one for each of us. We seasoned each with Montreal Steak Seasoning. A few minutes on a sizzling hot grill, and we had ourselves a monstery, juicy, hunk of meat. And when I say hunk, I mean hunk. I cooked mine to medium rare, and it was perfect. It melted in my mouth, the way a steak should. Thank you again, Bartleson family!

Steak is amazing. All I really need on it is salt, pepper, and maybe some crushed garlic. Medium rare is the only way I will eat a steak. If it "moos" a little, then perfect! Too done is too tough. It's like eating a hockey puck. With a great piece of meat, you don't want to kill it anymore than it already is.

A great recipe I have is called Jalapeno Pesto Steak. In a food processor, blend a jalapeno, cilantro, one clove of garlic, and the zest and juice of one lime. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil to blend. Choose your favorite cuts of meat and marinate for about a 30 minutes. Grill on high heat. Dice some tomatoes and lay across on the steak. Enjoy!

"The only time to eat diet food is while you're waiting for the steak to cook."
-Julia Child

Friday, June 4, 2010

Question/Photo of the Week: Holy Guacamole!!!!


Question: How do you make your guacamole? Do you like it on anything special or just with chips?

In one of my classes this past semester, we were discussing what the best all round food is. The answer was, of course, pizza (See May 28th post). However, at first I said guacamole! Creamy, chunky, and buttery, all at the same time. Traditionally, it is filled with tomatoes, onion, a Serrano chile, cilantro, and lime juice. Of course, guacamole would be nothing without the main star, avocado! It is good by itself, sliced in half with kosher salt, cracked pepper, and lime juice. All you need is a spoon to eat with. Mayo is the bane of my existence. So when making a tuna sandwich, instead of adding mayo, I add avocado. I still get that creamy, buttery texture that mayo also has.

I love true, beautiful, and raw ingredients. I also love anything vegetarian that has so many varieties. Really, a true guacamole is all raw ingredients that when joined together, makes perfect harmony.

Guacamole is my weakness in this world. I am willing to pay an extra $1.80 for guacamole on my burrito at Chipotle, it is just that amazing.

I made guacamole tonight for dinner with Baja Shrimp Fajitas. In my guacamole, I like a lot of stuff. I put avocado, obviously, tomatoes, red onion, jalapeno, cilantro, lime juice, salt, pepper, and my secret ingredient, yellow bell pepper. Start with three avocados and mush them a little before adding the other ingredients, and leave them a little chunky. Add two tomatoes, diced. Finely chop about a tablespoon of the red onion. Finely chop half a jalapeno. I like just using the cilantro leaves, so just get a little bunch, and roughly run your knife through it. For something a little extra special, zest your lime and juice it. Use about less then a quarter of the bell pepper and finely dice it. Salt and pepper TT and you have some great guacamole. With all the extra bell pepper, jalapeno, and onion, slice, and stir fry for some Baja Shrimp Fajitas.

If you don't feel like doing all that chopping, here is a great recipe I like to call "Holy Lazy Guacamole". You need 2 avocados, one lime, an 8 oz jar of medium Picante Salsa, and salt and pepper TT. Cut up the avocado and mush it lightly in a bowl. Add a about a quarter cup of salsa to the avocado. Add the lime juice and salt and pepper. Mix until combined, and there you have some "Lazy" guacamole.

Here are some other recipes for guacamole!!!

Spicy Papaya

-1 papaya, diced
-Juice of 1 lime
-Half an habenero chile, use gloves if you, wash your hands thoroughly after use
-A little bunch of cilanatro, roughly chopped
-2 diced avocados, diced
-Half a red onion, finely diced
-Salt and Pepper TT

-Stir ingredients until combined well.

Southwest Corn

-1 ear of corn
-Pinch of chile powder
-Pinch of coriander
-Pinch of salt
-2 roma tomatoes
-1 bunch of scallions
-Juice of 1 lime
-3 avocados, diced
-2 jalapenos, minced, no seeds or vein
-1 bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped

-Turn on broiler to a medium high heat.
-Oil corn on the cob and sprinkle chili powder, coriander, and salt on. Broil the corn, tomatoes, and scallions, about 5-7 minutes.
-Chop the scallions and tomatoes and mash with the avocados.
-Add jalapenos, cilantro, and lime juice.
-Cut the corn kernels of the cob and add to the mixture with more chili powder, coriander, and salt.

Creamy Tomatillo

-4 tomatillos, husked and rinsed
-1 bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped
-1/4 of an onion, diced
-1 jalapeno, diced
-2 avocados, diced
-Pinch of salt

-Boil the tomatillos in water for about five minutes.
-Puree cilantro, onion, jalapeno, and a splash of the tomatillo water.
-Drain the tomatillos, add to the blender, and pulse.
-Add the avocados and salt and pulse.

"I can't tell you how much leftover guacamole I've ended up eating over the years. I don't even know why I am making such great quantities."
-Michael Scott (Steve Carell)

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Hello everyone! I hope everyone is having a wonderful week and is ready for the weekend.

I'll tell you what, BBQ is in the air and it is making me a happy girl! I hope everyone is hitting the grill with those baby backs and wearing their "Kiss the Cook" aprons. On Monday, which was Memorial Day, I went to Matthew's house for dinner and his dad made us burgers and grilled corn on the cob! I have to say that it was a fun meal, and we need to grill more, Mr. Bartleson! Speaking of grilling, guess what's on my wish list! A grill. I found one on Craigslist, but if I am going to be spending money on one, I want a nice grill that will last, not the hunk of junk I found for $30.

So enough about grilling.

Time to talk about withdrawal. Withdrawal from what, you may ask. Cooking. It's been a couple weeks since I made a homemade meal for myself. Everything has been frozen food and takeout for me. It happens when you work, come home, and you are exhausted. I wish it wasn't so. I feel the most comfortable when I am cooking, it is the one thing that I feel confident about in my life. It's nice to turn to my kitchen and not only feed my body, but my mind and soul. Cooking for me is very therapeutic. It takes away all the stress and worries I may have in the world. Some people feel the complete opposite from this. They see their kitchen as battlefield, and all they have is a dull steak knife that they use for chopping their vegetables. I feel like over the past few months I have forgotten my favorite recipes and my very own. So I am going through all my cookbooks, Bon Appetit, Food Network, Everyday with Rachel Ray, and Food and Wine to find all my favorite and best recipes. I want to type it all up, organize it, and put it in a book. I feel like this will make me feel more organized, and it will be easier for me to find something NEW to cook. This is an exciting project for me, to some maybe boring, but I love making lists, reading recipes, and typing. It makes sense to me!
I am also working on a cookbook. It's still a work-in-progress. It's tough, but I am making it a goal to have it done by the end of summer, and I want to find a publisher for it, and sell it nationally, maybe Amazon or something. I want to make a chapter for my family's recipes and a chapter on friend's recipes, so if you have one you'd like to donate, let me know! All the credit will go to you.

Hmmm, all this talking about how much cooking makes me happy, makes me want to cook tomorrow night. I'm thinking Baja Shrimp and Guac. Maybe I'll post whatever recipe I come up with!

Also, tomorrow is Friday, so look out for the Question/Photo of the Week! Hmm, I wonder what will it be.

"When baking, follow directions. When cooking, go by your own taste."
-Laiko Bahrs