Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Simple, Buttery Side

I'm a black and white kind of girl, so I need to be upfront with you from the very beginning...if you don't like citrus, then stop reading right now. If the tartness of lemon makes your kisser pucker and your eyes cross a little, then you will not enjoy my Citrus Garlic Linguine. However, if you appreciate a little zing from time to time and you want a simple pasta side dish to accompany fish or poultry, then read on.

Start with 6 tablespoons of butter, regular butter, not unsalted and 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Heat the oil and butter in a heavy skillet and saute 2 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic. Yes, I know this is a lot of butter and garlic, but we're going to coat a lot of pasta so hang with me. Garlic burns easily, watch it carefully. You will only need to saute it a minute or two. Add in 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Give a quick stir and then add in the zest and juice of 1/2 lemon and 1/2 orange. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley. Make sure to prep all of your ingredients before you start to keep it simple when the heat is on. This is what your sauce should look like in the end:

Pour the sauce over 12 ounces of cooked linguine and toss together with tongs:

Serve while piping hot and top with fresh grated parmesan. Transform this side into a main dish by stirring in cooked shrimp or shredded cooked chicken breast into your sauce after adding the seasonings, but before adding the citrus. I had a little leftover grilled salmon that I separated into loose chunks and stirred into a small bowl of the linguine to turn it into a lunch portion.

Citrus Garlic Linguine

12 oz. package linguine, cooked
6 Tbs. butter
4 Tbs. olive oil
2 1/2 Tbs. minced garlic
zest & juice of 1/2 lemon
zest & juice of 1/2 orange
1/2 cup fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

Place butter and olive oil in skillet; when butter is completely melted, add garlic and saute 1-2 minutes. Stir in salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Add zest and juice of both the lemon and orange. Remove from heat and stir in parsley. Pour citrus garlic sauce over cooked linguine and toss gently with tongs. Serve while piping hot. Enjoy!

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Little Selfishness

I design cakes for clients every single week. Sometimes, I'm a little envious when the creations leave my kitchen. They're awfully cute, a lot of work and every once in a while...I want one all to myself! I decided this past weekend that I was going to put the same painstaking effort into a cake just for me. Colors I like, a theme that I like, a design I want, yes a cake all for me. Something that makes me happy when I see it. I like bright colors. Visit my house and you'll find bright green kitchen walls and a big, red, comfy sofa. I made MY cake bright. When I was finished its brightness almost seemed a bit obnoxious, but I like it and it's mine all mine. Strategically, I made it small so I can avoid a little guilt when I eat the entire thing.

Though I am quite the chocoholic, when it comes to cake, I like vanilla or strawberry cake...I couldn't decide what to make, so I made a layer of each. No plain buttercream in the center for me, I'll take bright purple all fairness I should take a picture of my pretty purple teeth, but I'll let you use your imagination.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

I Made Something Without Garlic?!?

When I set out to make this dish, I truly intended to have a little garlic involved, but absentmindedly forgot all about it in the process. The thing is, it doesn't really need it. This version of mac & cheese is so yummy, I almost ate the whole batch by myself. I refrained...sort of. I love making a variety of mac & cheese - it's such a versatile dish, that it allows for experimentation with different flavors. This time, I was craving jalapeno's. Here's what you'll need to get started making Jalapeno Mac & Cheese.

Pictured is a 1 pound box of pasta - you will only need about half the box (4 cups cooked). I usually cook the entire box anyway, douse what I don't need with a little olive oil (helps it keep its youthful glow) and refrigerate for later use. This time I used mini farfalle because my daughter insisted and really, who could resist this face?

Three ingredients I forgot to photograph, proving once again that I'm not perfect (please don't take away my pedestal), are salt, pepper, and cornstarch...

Melt 2 tablespoons butter while you chop up the jalapeno's and red onion - you'll need 1/2 cup chopped red onion. I like jalapeno's so I chop up two, but just do one if the heat makes you nervous. Remember, the heat is in the seeds! Saute your onion and jalapeno's in the piping hot butter until nice and tender...

Whisk in 1 tablespoon of cornstarch....

Then pour in your half & half...Stirring until thoroughly heated and just beginning to thicken, then add CHEESE!

This time I used about 1/2 cup of monterey jack, 1/2 cup of colby and 1/4 cup sharp cheddar. If you really want to spice things up, use pepper jack instead of monterey jack. I've done this and really liked it. The family, however, did not and I was forced to eat the entire batch wonder I can't button my shorts...I digress...

Add salt and pepper to taste and stir your cheese sauce until nice and creamy; stir in your cooked pasta. Remember that pasta can absorb quite a bit of salt, so don't hold back - you'll need a good full teaspoon at the very least.

Pour yourself a beverage, dish it up and enjoy!

Jalapeno Mac & Cheese

4 cups cooked pasta
2 Tbs. butter
1 cup half & half
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1-2 chopped jalapeno's
1 Tbs. cornstarch
1/2 cup shredded monterey jack
1/2 cup shredded colby
1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar
salt & pepper to taste

Melt butter in large pan; add onion and jalapeno's; saute until tender. Whisk in cornstarch and cook for about 1-2 minutes. Stir in half & half and cook until just barely beginning to thicken; add cheese, salt and pepper; continue to stir until cheese is melted and sauce is creamy. Stir in cooked pasta and serve.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Turkey Lettuce Wraps with Cilantro Mayo

It's hot in Texas. Really, really hot. Add my daily growing pregnant belly to the normal annoyances of a 104 degree temperature, and it's easier to fast than to turn on the stove! Yet, I am pregnant and therefore hungry nearly all the time. I need healthy snacks, without sacrificing flavor and preferably requiring NO HEAT! These Turkey Lettuce Wraps hit the spot. The Cilantro Mayo used on them is so yummy and versatile that I know it will be delicious on my next tomato sandwich as well, if I can refrain from eating it by the spoonful.

Cilantro Mayo

3/4 cup LIGHT Mayo
1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp. soy sauce

Puree in food processor until smooth.

Using Boston lettuce leaves, spread a think layer of cilantro mayo, followed by thin layers of turkey (or ham) and add anything else that strikes your fancy. I like thin sliced jalapeno's on mine. Or, throw on some green or red bell pepper. Remember to keep everything in THIN layers allowing you to roll the lettuce up tight.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Other People's Pantries

A few month's ago, I stumbled onto a creative food blog: The Perfect Pantry. In addition to her great food articles and recipes, author Lydia Walshin originated the idea of peeking into other people's pantries. I think this is such a creative way to satisfy the nosy curiosity that many of us possess (whether we admit to it or not!) After browsing through pictures from her prior submitters, I was compelled to send a pic of my own. Today is my turn to be featured - as pantry #76.

Click here to view my pantry.

Think you want to participate? Don't hesitate - I've been on the wait list since March!