Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lemon-Basil Pasta with Chicken

I have a secret.

Pioneer Woman's recipes rarely work out for me.

I always want them to, I really do! I love reading Ree's posts. I try her recipes often. But most of the time, they're just okay.

It makes me so sad!

But, the other day, I tried another one. See, she just makes them sound so wonderful. You know. You all read Pioneer Woman. She makes her food sound just delightful. And I love her cooking style: she's not afraid to use butter, she cooks by the seat of her pants, and she makes a lot of food that sounds like food I would like. Well, she nailed this one. It was delicious. Finally, I thought...I love a PW recipe!! Yay!

I have to say, this one had me at the basil.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Oreo Truffles

A few years ago, I worked as a secretary at a university. In my department, we had lots of student employees and I interacted with most of them on a fairly regular basis. It was a really fun place to work, and most everyone became close friends throughout the semesters. If it weren't so stressful during the regular school year, I'd really miss working there.

Due to the nature of our department (busy, lots of employees, stressful...etc), treats were always welcome, and often assigned depending on the shift. One day, a girl brought in Oreo truffles. Another student brought several to us non-student employees in the office, but didn't tell us what they were. We each took one and I was shocked. I couldn't tell what it was. The interior was soft and smooth, and a nice blend of sweet and tart. And naturally, they were addictive. The last thing I would have guessed would have been Oreos, but at the same time, I can't say I was surprised when she told me. We polished off the few that had been brought over and promptly requested more. When the girl who brought them in came over, we asked her what they were and she told us. We all acted duly impressed, because none of us had seen anything like it! This was before the cakeball craze hit our area. She shrugged it off and looked genuinely surprised by our reaction. She told us how to do it, and of course, it's simple. You really don't even need a recipe.

Of course, I'll give you one anyway. These are delicious. And look impressive, especially if you dress them up like Bakerella does. But so simple. I whipped these up last night and it took me less than 45 minutes from start to finish. Of course, that doesn't include time for the dipped truffles to set, but the point is, they're easy. And you should make them.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Zucchini Pancakes

It's finally time to start thinking about how to use delicious garden vegetables! Hurrah!

Last week, Jeff and I visited his family in LA. It was a great trip, and it was fun to get away from the daily cares of our lives. Plus, Grandma loved caring for Junior Chef (age 6 mo.) so I was off the hook for a few days, which is always nice.

When we got back, though, we had driven for two days (in order to make it easier on Junior Chef) and returned to an empty refrigerator. Which I reason is better than returning to a smelly refrigerator...but there is still the problem of what to eat when you're tired and hungry. Part of the problem is that when you have returned from vacation, you have theoretically gotten your fill of fast food and restaurants, rendering those options less desirable.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cheese Enchiladas

I am a food snob.

There's no denying it, unfortunately. I like eating good food, and so often, typical chain-restaurant food does not measure up. The food is often salty (a sure sign that it is full of preservatives) the vegetables are frozen, or the food is prepared cafeteria-style (in huge quantities and plated from vats) and that is never good.

Mexican restaurants are notorious for serving sub-par cafeteria food. And who can blame them? With menus that have dozens of items, it would be impossible to not serve food that way. While I used to love Mexican food, my snobbery has taken hold and I now find it all but unbearable. Don't get me wrong; I like Mexican food! It's the typical Mexican restaurant I can't bear anymore. Greasy food, salty food, and poor quality meat rank among the top offenses in my book...so we rarely go out for Mexican food.

It makes me sad. I love cheese enchiladas with a good red sauce, salsa that tastes like the vegetables that are in it and not the bottle it came from, and crispy flautas that aren't greasy. But I'm often disappointed. There are some great Mexican restaurants out there...just not near me. If you're in the downtown Salt Lake City area, Red Iguana is always delicious, and they serve up several types of Mole, which Jeff adores.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Challenge: Homemade Ravioli

There's a restaurant near my house. It's famous for its pizza, and rightly so. We love getting the chicken artichoke, but substituting tomatoes for the spinach. It's pretty delicious.

But they also serve pasta.

And they serve an all-you-can-eat pasta bar.

I only need one plate. I mean, really. Pasta's pretty filling. In my younger days, I could stomach more than one plate, but now...well, I leave the heavy eating to Jeff. Since I can really only eat one plate, I have to choose very carefully. I have to make my choice count, after all. And they have some great choices: there are usually 12 different types of pasta and 6 different sauces.

Choosing the pasta is never a hard decision. They have only a few freshly-made pastas, and those are what I pick from. I usually select the plain fresh fettuccine and the fresh whole wheat fettuccine. And I top one half with roasted red pepper sauce, and the other half with something else. Usually a white chicken sauce.

It's always delicious. The pasta is perfectly tender, slightly thicker than traditional pasta, and it absorbs the sauce like it was intended to. The red pepper sauce is amazing; perfectly creamy, flavorful, with just a slight punch. The Pioneer Woman posted a recipe for roasted red pepper sauce a couple of years ago, and I tried it. I like Ree, I really do. But I'm still on a quest for a good red pepper sauce. If I ever find one, I'll post it, rest assured.

I always wish I could eat more, but I also know I'll seriously regret it if I do.

Overeating is never rewarded.

This was, though, my first real exposure to freshly-made pasta. And it's been a treat for me ever since.

Since it's a treat, and my mother never made it, I always considered it an elusive dish. So, I challenged myself to make it. But not just any pasta, ravioli.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream

Preserve that perfect strawberry taste, even with imperfect strawberries, with this ice cream. It tastes so fresh, I can hardly stand it. If it only it were as healthy for you as fresh strawberries! But hey, it's loaded with a full pound of strawberries, so it can't be all that bad for you, can it?

This recipe is perfect when strawberries go on sale for a dollar a pound. You can buy a lot, and freeze this ice cream. Then you don't have worry about the berries spoiling, plus, even if the berries aren't perfectly sweet when you buy them, you'll never be able to tell because this ice cream makes them taste amazing. Not kidding.