August 31, 2010

Daily Fluff

As the weather FINALLY starts to cool off, I have been taking more and more pictures of Beau hiding out in the yard when I call him to come back inside.  Smarty Pants knows what's coming - I have to go back to work and he would rather continue to play outside.  And get behind the bushes and eat more of the garage.  AGAIN.

What mom???  I can't hear you.  You must want me to run away from you
every time to try and catch me.  I do love that game.  It's my favorite thing!

August 30, 2010

Stud loves Sriracha

I follow an embarrassing amount of food blogs.  One of them happens to be The Pioneer Woman Cooks and I like her recipes because they are usually simple in both assembly and taste.  Good home cooked food.  So when I saw this recipe that used a total of ten ingredients (mine has a few more), most of which we already had on hand from the Thai pizza, I added it to the make-soon-for-dinner pile of recipes. I also knew we had some additional ingredients on hand that would be welcome additions to the dish so I could play around with it. And it contains Sriracha, so I knew Stud would LOVE it.  The boy has some issues when it comes to ethnic food.

Simple Sesame Noodles
1lb spaghetti (angel hair would be great here, but I didn't have any)
1/4c. soy sauce
2T. sugar
4 cloves garlic, minced
2T. rice vinegar
3T. sesame oil
4T. canola oil
2T. hot water
3 eggs
1 bunch cilantro
1/2c. chopped peanuts
4 green onions, thinly sliced
Sriracha or other chili sauce to taste

Cook pasta according to package instructions.  While the pasta is cooking, wisk the soy sauce, sugar, garlic, rice vinegar, sesame oil, canola oil, hot water, and Sriracha in a small bowl.  Set aside.  Here, you can simply stop and pour the sauce over the noodles and it will be DELICIOUS.  But I had some other ingredients in my fridge, so I changed things up a bit.  In a skillet large enough for the pasta, put in about 2T. of canola oil and some additional garlic and scramble the eggs.  You can also add some other ingredients at this time if you would like - bean sprouts would be great, broccoli, carrots, chicken strips (if you need something a little more substantial), etc...  Once the pasta is finished, drain and add to the skillet with the scrambled eggs and add the sauce, peanuts, chopped cilantro, and green onions.  Keep on low heat and mix until the sauce has been absorbed by the noodles.  Then enjoy.

Stud now ranks this recipe up with Chicken Casserole in my recipe binder, and that is saying a lot.  He enjoyed it so much (as did I), we snarfed it down it last Friday for dinner, and it's on the menu again for this week.We added enough Sriracha to the sauce to my taste (a hint of a spice) and then we served it with the Sriracha on the table so Stud could spice to his liking.  Worked really well, so if people don't have the same tolerance for heat - not to worry.  I think it would make a great pasta salad served room temperature or cold as well. Or as a side dish to some chicken or pork.  A very versatile dish.  And good - really really good.  And despite the list of weird ingredients, really really easy.

August 26, 2010

Daily Fluff

Beau clearly has a strong grasp on the concept of proportion.  And on that topic...the little pig has put on 10 lbs since I last weighed him.  He's hit the 60 lb. mark.  Such a big puppy.

August 25, 2010

Chicken Alfredo Pizza

For this recipe, I actually let Stud take the reins because I had a ton of work I needed to get finished.  He did a great job!  This pizza was delicious, even if I felt like it shaved about three years off my life.  We did serve it with salad to make me feel better about eating a few slices.  We also used the same pie crusts from past pizzas, with the addition of rosemary - best idea ever.  It would be a great crust for the potato pizza, pesto pizza, and maybe even the breakfast pizza.

Chicken Alfredo Pizza
2 large chicken breasts
4 T. butter
4 T. flour
1 c. heavy cream (you could use whole milk here, but hey, go big or go diet yeah!)
1/4 t. salt
3/4 c. grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese
Dash ground black pepper
2 c. grated mozzarella cheese
1 T. dried rosemary
1 T. dried thyme
1 T. dried basil
Pepper flakes to taste

As usual, coat a cookie sheet with a thin layer of olive oil and stretch the dough out until it covers the sheet.  Roast the chicken breasts in a 350 degree oven with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and maybe some garlic powder until done.  Slice the chicken into bite size strips.  To make the Alfredo sauce, combine the butter and flour in a small sauce pan and once they are well combined and there are no flour-y lumps, the add the cream, salt, and pepper.  Add the cream slowly, whisking throughout the addition.  Add the cheese at the end and stir until melted.  Alfredo sauce...check!

To assemble the pizza, spread the Alfredo sauce so it covers the dough.  Add the mozzarella cheese and the dried herbs.  We used a LOT of pepper flakes and I loved the kick it provided, but add as many as you want.  Put in a 500 degree oven and bake for eight minutes until things are just starting to brown.  Take the pizza out of the oven and add the chicken.  Put back in the oven for an additional five minutes until everything is looking melty and brown and delicious.  When done, if the person in charge of grating the Parmesan was a little over zealous, you can sprinkle the top with some extra Parmesan cheese.  More cheese is always good.  And as I mentioned before, we had some salad as well to offset the cheese, butter. and cheese.

August 24, 2010

Easiest Salad Dressing

Stud and I always use homemade dressing on salads.  It is such an easy thing to make and I like to think it's healthier than a similar dressing I would buy at the grocery.  We use a mason jar to hold the dressing and it's the easiest way to combine it and store it. 

Vinaigrette Salad Dressing
1/2 c. olive oil
1/4 c. vinegar (mixture of a splash of balsamic vinegar and the majority is red wine vinegar)
1/2 t. salt
Pepper to taste
1 t. Dijon mustard
Touch of honey
1/2 t. Mixed herbs

And this recipe is completely customizable.  Stud has been making it lately so there is a lot of honey and mustard - he likes it thicker with a sweeter taste.  I like it with a little extra balsamic vinegar - and no matter who makes it, it's always delicious.  And for the mixed herbs, I usually use Herbes de Provence, or if I'm out of that, a mixture of rosemary, thyme, and basil.  So easy, so tasty!

August 23, 2010


I have just a fewwww things going on in my life right now and because of these, blog posts could be down a little over the next few months. Among other things I am still working full time, my wedding is 40 days away (eeeek), I am starting class on Tuesday as a part-time MBA student, and I am part of a VERY competitive kickball team. So needless to say, I have been a littttle busy. But I am going to do my best to keep this blog up and running. I have changed my meal planning tactics - instead of planning meals for all nights of the week; I will only be cooking dinner on Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday nights with the occasional Fri/Sat meal. These are the days I don’t have class and my goal is to always make enough so I can eat some delicious leftovers at class the following night. Also, Stud made dinner last night (!!!!) so I could get some work done. I am hoping there will be more of this as he loves to cook as much as I do, so I am glad to see him take on dinner. Go team!  And I only hovered a little tiny bit.

So please consider yourself forewarned! I really hope that there will be no noticeable changes; I will do my best to keep cooking, taking mediocre pictures of my food, and getting my recipes here on Bourbon and Chocolate!

And here is a picture of Beau since I haven’t uploaded the pics of dinner last night!

August 20, 2010

Daily Fluff

Puppy model?

Also, please ignore the solo cup.  There was definitly no beer drinking happening out in the yard that would allow underage Beau to get his chomps on a solo cup. Nope nope.  Stud and I are professionals.  And adults.

Who am I kidding.  Isn't it a rule of cornhole that you have to have a drink in one hand?

Chitarra alla Cabonara

My cousin recently made a stop over in Louisville on her way from Chicago down to Athens, GA and she came bearing gifts.  My mom the gourmande loves fancy pastas, so my cousin brought some with her from a food market in Chicago.  And I lucked out with some as well - Spaghetti alla Chitarra which are essentially square shaped spaghetti.

(I have no idea what caused the condensation in the bag)
I felt like I had to do something special with the gourmet pasta.  No olive oil and pasta sprinkle for these fancy noodles.  I should let you know - my cousin is also a great cook.  Our mothers are sisters and they share recipes and more often than not, send each other the same thing for Christmas.  It's a little eerie.  Both sisters love to cook and have both passed it on to their children.  So my cousin suggested I make some Cabonara.  Excellent!  Another new recipe to try and with delicious pasta.  Off I went to Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen and started with her recipe to make my Cabonara. 

Chitarra alla Cabonara
1 lb Chitarra pasta (you can use any long noodle here)
1/2 lb good bacon
1 c. chicken stock
3 egg yolks
1 c. Parmersean-Reggiano cheese
Freshly ground black pepper

Bring pasta water to a boil.

Cut the bacon into small pieces and add to a large skillet (large enough to hold all the pasta) and begin to cook the bacon until it is brown around the edges, but still soft in the middle.  Drain the excess fat off until there are about 3 tablespoons left in the pan (use olive oil if your bacon did not render 3T of fat.  And then cry.  Because fatty bacon makes better bacon.  It's science).  Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Cook until the liquid has been reduced by about half.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package instructions.  When it's finished, drain it and add it to the skillet with the bacon and chicken stock.  With the heat on medium, continuously toss the pasta until it's well coated and all the stock has been absorbed.  Remove the skillet from the heat and add the yolks one at a time until well combined.  Add the grated cheese and a generous amount of ground black pepper and ENJOY.

I actually used Pepper Bacon (random, but perfect for this), so I left out all the ground black pepper.  Also, despite the taste, there is no cream in Cabonara.  According to Lidia, this is the traditional way to make it.  She also put onions in hers, but I didn't have one and I didn't really want it in there anyways.  But if you do, it gets cooked with the bacon and you need about 3c. diced onion.  Also - the heat from the pasta will cook the eggs yolks, so there are no worries about salmonella.  Especially with the eggs in the news lately.  Stud and I seemed to have survived. 

August 19, 2010

Daily Fluff

And people marvel at the fact that Beau is so tolerant of squeezes, tail pulling, and being held.  He was clearly over snuggled as a pup.

August 18, 2010


So I finally watched the finale of the Next Food Network Star and I can't wait to watch Aarti Paarti starting this Sunday!!!!  Stud and I had been cheering for Aarti Sequeira all season - we were drawn to her food (Indian yummm) and also her personality.  I don't see how anyone could not like her.

And her food.  Looks amazing.

I started doing some research and the Aarti Paarti concept has actually been around for a while!  She has a blog by the same name and has been posting episodes of the cooking show along with recipes for some time now.  Baked Samosas? Tandoori Chicken?  Yes please.  And The Food Network has also been posting all of her recipes from the show!

So my apologies in advance - there could be a significant increase in the amount of Indian cuisine!

August 17, 2010

Bday Dinner

So part of my birthday present for Stud was dinner.  And the boy loves fish tacos and I have never made fried fish, so I get two for one.  Stud gets a meal he loves (assuming all goes according to plan) and I get to try out a new recipe.  For this recipe, I basically went to Food Network and chose the fish taco recipe with the highest rating.  And I had the concept for fish tacos, I just needed a batter, so I just used that part from Marcela Valadollid's recipe.  I also used talapia and I got two filets which in retrospect, was too much for just Stud and me.  It made about eight pieces and although we ate all the leftovers, nothing fried is as good leftover as it is coming out of the oil.
Beer Batter
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. salt
1/2 t. ground black pepper
1 c. dark Mexican beer (I used a Negra Modelo so then I could drink the rest)

Combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl and then slowly pour in the beer whisking though out the addition.  When it is all well combined, let sit for about fifteen minutes before using.

To fry the filets, heat about an inch depth of oil in a large skillet to about 350 degrees. Salt and pepper both sides of the fish and then dredge in some flour before dunking in the batter.  When both sides are well coated in batter, drop in the oil and cook until golden brown, about five minutes total.  I had to flip mine half way through to make sure both sides were good and crunchy.  Let drain on a paper towel.

The rest of the tacos just required assembly.  I used a Mexican sour cream salad dressing as a spicy sauce (I'll get more on that later) that I stole from my parents fridge and some slaw mix from the grocery to add a little crunch.  I served them with corn tortillas because I think they have way more flavor than flour and seemed more appropriate here.

Overall, the fish was really good.  Next time, I might add a little chili powder or cayenne to the batter to give the fish a little more flavor on their own.  But the beer batter formed a good crust and if my oil had been a little hotter (Stud was hovering and impatient) I think I would have gotten a much better crust on them.  These will be made again - perhaps some homemade fish sandwiches are in my future.

August 16, 2010

Ideal Summer Lunch

Sometimes, the best meals involve no cooking.  I love light summer lunches.  Some chicken salad, a few slices of tomato from my garden, and some chips.  Yummmm.  Add in some avocado and it couldn't get much better.

Daily Fluff

Most of the time I try to take pictures of Beau, I get ones like these.  Apparently the camera is VERY interesting.

August 13, 2010

CHICKEN Casserole

As I have mentioned before, when I was a child, I was an extremely picky eater.  This is one of the few dishes I loved, and in fact, I think it was my go to family birthday dinner for a good chunk of my childhood.  I'm sure my gourmet chef mother was so thrilled to serve this to all of her in-laws.  Also, this is technically Broccoli Cheese Casserole, but my brother and I would refuse to eat it if it had the word "Broccoli" in the title, so chicken casserole was born.  And it has followed me into my adulthood and this is one of Stud's all time favorite recipes.  He's easy to please and I love it.

Chicken Casserole
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/2 c. light mayonnaise (so healthy, I know)
1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
2 chicken breasts
2 large heads of broccoli
1 box of Rice Pilaf
Dash of Cholula

Preheat the oven to 350 and bake the chicken breasts seasoned as you wish.  Sometimes I go through the rubs I have in my spice cabinet and throw one on there to add a little more flavor to the casserole.  I think the favorite so far has been the "Black and Red."  But all that's necessary is a little olive oil, salt, and pepper.  While the chicken is cooking, cook the rice according to the package instructions and cook the broccoli as well.  Frozen broccoli would work great here, I always just buy the fresh in case I end up doing something else with it.  And a side note - I grew up eating food that was always made with Rice Pilaf (Near East to be exact) and now I depend on it.  I think I pick up two boxes every time I go to the grocery.  When a recipe calls for rice, I use Rice Pilaf.  It has never backfired.

Combine the cream of mushroom soup, mayo, sour cream, cheese and Cholula in a large bowl.  Add the rice and broccoli when finished.  When the chicken is done, shred it into bite size pieces and add to the bowl.  Mix together until everything is well combined.  Pour into a baking dish (maybe top with a littttle more cheese) and put in the 350 degree oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until everything is bubbly and hot.  Brings me back to my childhood.

And look!  Someone actually made it!
Fan shot from Haudge:

August 12, 2010

Heat Wave

The only redeeming part of this horrendous summer --

The awesome mid afternoon thunderstorms.

Breakfast Treat

Please do not proceed in reading this recipe if you have any objections to using an entire POUND of butter in one dish.  This recipe comes from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook.

Classic Crumb Cake
For the cake:
1 1/4 sticks unsalted room temperature butter (10 tablespoons)
2 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 c. granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 1/4c. sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350 and butter a 13x9 inch baking pan.  Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about four minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time beating after each addition until well combined.  Mix in the vanilla, flour mixture and sour cream.  Beat just until combined.  Spoon the batter into the pan and spread out evenly.

For the crumb topping:
3 c. all purpose flour
1 c. packed light brown sugar
1 T. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 t. salt
3 1/2 sticks unsalted room temperature butter (hehe)

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt together.  Cut the butter into pieces and add a few at a time.  Once large clumps form in the crumb topping, you are ready to add it to the cake.  Add the crumb topping in an even layer over the top of the cake.  Bake for 40-50 minutes rotating the cake half way through.

OK so I lied.  If you do the math, it's actually more than a pound of butter.  And so so so tasty.  The cake melts in your mouth and the sour cream in the cake keeps everything nice and moist.  As you can see, Stud and I are down to the last little corner and I will be sad to see it go.  And if you really wanted to be a professional, you could dust the top with some confectioners sugar.  I was too hungry for that.

August 11, 2010

Daily Fluff

This is what I normally see when I am trying to head back to work after lunch.  Beau, hanging out in the yard, hiding from me and refusing to come inside.

Also, please note the chicken wire surrounding the bushes.  This is to prevent Beau from eating the garage which he finds so tasty and his stomach rejects.  He still managed to get past it.  So now there are random plastic chairs shoved in the bushes as well.  You'd think that a dog that was smart enough to get around pervasive chicken wire would also be smart enough to learn that eating garage = sickness = no dinner.  But no.

August 10, 2010

Chicken Fajita Pizza

So you may be wondering what exactly I did with my first attempt at homemade pizza dough.  I made Chicken Fajita Pizza!  The whole process for this pizza was a little different than past pizzas, starting with the fact that I used a fresh homemade dough ball.  Stud ranks this one up there with BBQ Chicken Pizza, it was a very good first attempt.  And the kicker - I served it with a garlic sour cream sauce.  YUM.

Chicken Fajita Pizza
2 chicken breasts
1 large green bell pepper
1 medium onion
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
2 c. Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 c. salsa
2 T. vegetable oil
2 T. cumin
1 t. cayenne pepper
1/2 t. chili powder
1/2 t. garlic powder

Roll out the dough and place on a oiled cookie sheet.  Put in a 500 degree oven for about five minutes, just until the crust starts to turn golden.  Slice the chicken breasts into thin strips and place in a skillet with the vegetable oil.  While the chicken starts to cook, chop up the bell pepper and the onion.  In future attempts at this pizza, I would dice the pepper (and maybe add a red or yellow) and slice the onions.  I think the slices of pepper were too much and they didn't cook quite enough.  Add the pepper, cherry tomatoes and onions to the skillet with the chicken after about three minutes.  Once the onion starts to wilt, add the cumin, cayenne pepper, chili powder, and garlic powder.  These are just an idea of the spices to use.  And Stud and I like spicy foods, so add and remove as needed to suit your taste.

Once the chicken is cooked, spread the salsa over the crust.  Then layer on the cheese and the chicken/pepper/tomato/onion mixture.  Put back into the oven for an addition 10 minutes until everything is looking melty and delicious.

Garlic Sour Cream Dipping Sauce
1 c. sour cream
3 cloves garlic
1/4 t. garlic powder
2 T. milk

Finely dice the garlic and add all ingredients to a bowl and combine.  The sauce is a nice compliment to the spicy pizza.  And yum yum yum.

And side note - today Stud hits the quarter century mark!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY.  Good cookings (attempts) on the menu for tonight!

August 9, 2010

I did it! - Pizza Dough

I finally caved and made homemade pizza dough.  And you know what - it was easy.  I was terrified of making a bread product.  Using yeast and all those active alive little things.  But I followed the recipe and the dough was delicious.  I used another recipe from Cooks Illustrated because I figure if I have no idea what I'm doing, I should first consult the people who do.  And they have a few different recipes which I will try in the future as well. 

Pizza Dough (Cake Flour Version)
1 package instant yeast
1 c. water - room temperature
1 3/4 c. all purpose flour
1 c. cake flour
1 1/2 t. salt
2 t. sugar

For Rosemary Pizza Crust - use about 1/2c. fresh rosemary leaves and puree them in a food processor.  I use a Magic Bullet since my Cuisinart would be way too big, and I need it for the dough.  Chop until it's fine and add it in with the dry ingredients when you make the dough.  Pulse the dry ingredients together a few times so the rosemary is well combined with the flour, salt, and sugar.

Whisk the yeast into the room temperature water and set aside.  In the bowl of a food processor with the blade attachment (best part of this entire recipe - all done in a food processor), add the rest of the ingredients and combine.  Once the dry ingredients are combined, slowly pour the water and yeast in with the food processor running.  Leave the processor running until the dough forms a sticky ball that clears the sides of the bowl, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.  If the dough is still crumbly after one minute, add 1-2 T. water and process until a solid ball forms.  Remove the dough ball from the food processor and place on a floured surface.  Spray some plastic wrap with non stick cooking spray and lay over the dough ball.  Let rise for an hour, until it has about doubled in volume.  Once the dough has doubled in size, proceed with whichever pizza recipe you crave.

The dough can also be kept in the refrigerator overnight and I actually kept it for two days.  I did have to punch it down and knead it after one night in the fridge, but it lasted perfectly for two days.  I am still trying to determine when the best point would be to freeze the dough ball - before or after it rises.  I'll talk to my source (aka my mom) and update.  Update - information from the mother states to freeze the dough ball before it rises so right when you remove it from the food processor.  When you are ready to use the dough, remove it from the freezer 24hrs in advance and stick it in the fridge.  Pull out of the fridge about two hours before you plan to use it to let it rise.  This recipe was great because it is something I can make when I get home from work - it's not a long labor intensive process.  Actually takes less time than defrosting the purchased frozen dough balls.

August 6, 2010

Daily Fluff

Beau and I decided to eat lunch outside today since it is FINALLY bearable.  And you know what's sad?  Bearable is 90 degrees.

And just FYI, I do not consider a stick lunch for Beau.  He gets ample food for breakfast and dinner, no worries.

Dinner for One

Last night, Stud was legit and on call at the hospital, so it was just me and the Beau Man for dinner.  And usually, when it's just me for dinner, I tend to slack off and graze for dinner.  The main reason being I find it really hard to cook for one person.  I am trying to be better about that, and seeing as I could have a lot of solo nights ahead of me, last night I was determined to make something delicious and tasty just for me.  And I just wanted to spoil myself.

Cacio e Pepe (Cheese and Pepper) pasta is something I ate a lot of in Italy when I went with my family in 2004.  I used to be a reallllly picky eater.  I was even a little iffy on the pepper in the pasta.  It took living in France for five months in 2006 to awaken me to the culinary world and to actually be adventurous in my eating.  But Cacio e Pepe pasta is still a favorite of mine because it has some of my favorite foods in one spot - cheese and pasta.  Lots of cheese and little pasta.  Yum.  And even if I eat more foods now than I did when I first had this pasta, how can you go wrong with cheese.

This recipe is from Cooks Illustrated which I think is the best food magazine out there.  They make each recipe several times, trying out different variations until it's perfect.  Saves me the time and effort.  My mom is actually a test cook for their recipes.  Pretty cool.  Sorry - tangent.  Back to the food.

Cacio e Pepe Pasta
4 oz Pecorino Romano cheese
1 lb spaghetti
2 T. whole milk
2 t. extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 t. finely ground black pepper

Finely grate the Pecorino into a medium sized bowl.  Cook the spaghetti according to the package instructions.  When the pasta is finished, drain and reserve 1 1/2 cups of the pasta water.  Slowly pour 1 c. of the pasta water over the grated Pecorino whisking as you pour.  When the mixture is smooth, add in the milk, oil, and black pepper.  Gradually pour the cheese mixture over the pasta and mix together until the pasta is well coated.  If the cheese mixture is to thick, use the extra 1/2c. to thin it out.

This pasta was delicious.  The pasta water and the cheese made a great creamy sauce and according to Cooks Illustrated, adding the milk prevents the cheese from forming back into clumps.  And they were right - the sauce stayed smooth.  I wish I had a better pepper grinder and/or actual pepper corns so the pepper would have had more of an aesthetic appearance in the pasta.  With my grinder, it makes it so small you couldn't really even see it in the pasta.  But it was there.  And it was gooood.

I debated cutting the recipe in half since it was just me, and as much as I can eat, I know I can't eat a pound of pasta. But I knew Stud would be rummaging the fridge when he got home from the hospital and in the interest of protecting my leftovers lunch for today, I went ahead and made the whole pound. I know...I am so smart.

August 5, 2010

Fresh Pesto

One of the things I miss most about living at home is the 150+ cookbooks my mom has accumulated over the years.  She never had to go to the internet for a recipe, she had them all right there on the bookshelves in the kitchen.  Her classic Italian go-to cookbook was Marecella Hazan's aptly titled Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.  So when I wanted to make homemade pesto, it was the first place we looked for a recipe, and I tried some others since, but none are quite as tasty.  Personally, Ina Garten's version (another go-to chef) has way too much garlic - 9 cloves to be exact.  And I love garlic.  But others might love how much I love garlic.  So this is the recipe I'll stick with, and maybe every once in a while, I'll throw an extra garlic clove in for good measure.

Marcella Hazan's Pesto
2 c. tightly packed fresh basil leaves
½ c. extra virgin olive oil
3 T. toasted pine nuts
2 garlic cloves, chopped fine before putting in the processor
⅓ c. freshly grated Parmesan reggiano cheese
2 T. freshly grated romano cheese
3 T. butter, softened to room temperature

Rinse the basil leaves and pat dry before adding to the bowl of a food processor.  Along with the basil, add the olive oil, toasted pine nuts, garlic, and a pinch of salt.  Turn on the food processor and chop until it is a smooth uniform consistency.  Add the cheese and butter to finish.  This makes enough for about 1.5 lbs of pasta.

Now there are some changes I make.  The recipe says that if you are going to freeze your pesto, wait to add the cheese and butter until right before you serve it.  Rubbish I say!  I always add everything and freeze it.  It would be a pain to have to thaw it, take out what you need, add the appropriate amount of cheese and butter.... No way.  Along those lines - I also only use the Parmesan reggiano because it's what I have.  So I do a heaping 1/3c. Parmesan reggiano.  And pine nuts are stupid expensive, so I usually use the nuts I have on hand.  This batch has toasted almonds and I can't tell the difference.  My batches of pesto are determined by the amount of basil I have hacked off my plants (sweet basil, genovese basil, purple basil, and mammoth basil...I love basil), so I use her recipe as a starting point and do the math based on the amount of basil I have.  You can never have too much pesto in the freezer.

August 3, 2010

Daily Fluff

This is how he was sleeping when I woke up this morning.  His head and front paws are hanging off the bed and he has no sense of modesty.  Silly creature.

August 2, 2010

Culinary Tour of Chicago

This past weekend, I jetted off (well, not dad drove, but he's a crazy driver so it's like I was in a jet) to Chicago for a fun getaway with the parents. I love Chicago. It's about a five hour drive from Louisville, so we left here about noon on Friday and arrived with time for some activities when we arrived. When we go to Chicago, we do the touristy Michigan Avenue stroll into all the stores, but it is always mostly all about FOOD. Shocking with my family...really. If you can't tell from past posts (most recipes come from my mom), we are a food oriented family. You have to eat, might as well enjoy it! During past trips to Chicago, we have always always hit the same spots - Brasserie Jo, Bistro 110, and Shaw's to name the most frequent. And I LOVE these places. And I would go again. But this time, we were determined to try some new places.

Friday night we went to Quartino. And it was OK. The meal was shared plates and some were delicious - veal meatballs, yes please. But the rest we good, but not superb. The atmosphere on the other hand was great. It was a noisy place, but everyone was having a good time. We had heard great things about it, so it is a place I would try again, but maybe order some different things. On Saturday we went to lunch at Rick Bayless' Frontera Grill. Amazing Mexican food. We started with the queso fundito (found the recipe - WIN) which might have been my favorite thing. It was not the white goopy cheese you get at the cheap Mexican place down the street. It had stuff in it. Like peppers. And he served it with homemade corn tortillas. Definitely would go again.

But the crowning glory of our culinary tour was dinner on Saturday night. We went to a restaurant that had just opened, Girl & The Goat. Normally, there is no way we could have gotten in with the last minute planning of our trip, but my cousin had coincidentally made a reservation for Saturday night and she let us tag along.

The restaurant is owned by Stephanie Izard who won Top Chef a few years back and she is very creative with her menu. I was a bit apprehensive when I previewed the menu on the website, but after the first round of food, I trusted her completely. This meal was also shared plates and everything we had was divine. We had everything from the bread and vegetables to the fancier meat items and all of it was amazing. I would try and elaborate on what she did to all of the food, but I have no idea. She has a great spot in the West Loop and next time anyone goes to Chicago, I will recommend they call ASAP and try and get in to Girl & The Goat. And she adapts her menu to what she can get at the Farmer's market, so next time I go back, the menu will be completely different. Can't wait. Of course I stalked her when I got home, and she posts tons of recipes on her website...I'll be checking those out soon!

Before we hit the road on Sunday morning, we went to The Publican for brunch and it was really good, but I was so full from the weekend and still dreaming about Girl & The Goat, I feel like I did not enjoy it to it's full potential. But their bacon was like an inch thick and maple braised. That was good. Really good. Overall, great new restaurants and it might entice me a try a few new places next time I am up there! I did miss my good french classics, so one of those might get squeezed back in as well. Too much food for too little time. Alas.


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