Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bunches of Basil


A couple weeks ago I went to Costco for three things. Of course I left with a whole lot more than just three measly things, as always. Costco seems to be impulse buy central, and this trip was no exception. They always seem to have something that you've never seen there before and you just can't pass it up. This trip's indulgence was an insanely large pack of fresh basil. I love fresh pesto and freeze batches of it in small containers to use for a quick pasta or sandwich spread whenever I need it. After I made a large batch of it the pack of basil looked like it was still full, so I decided to try to find something new to do with it.

I found a recipe for a tomato basil vinaigrette on epicurius that sounded great so I decided to try it. This is absolutely the best dressing I have ever made. I made four batches of it, and it is already all gone! I used it as a marinade for grilled chicken, which was fabulous and I used it warm on pasta and grilled vegetables instead of spaghetti sauce and as dressing for a pasta salad with Israeli cous-cous. I made a couple changes to the original recipe, so here's my version:

Tomato Basil Vinaigrette
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 cup (packed) fresh basil
1/4 cup oil packed sun dried tomatoes
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup oil from sun-dried tomatoes
black pepper

Process all ingredients in a food processor until smooth

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Apple of my Eye


My son loves apples. For a while, when he was younger, he thought they were balls to throw around the house or roll on the ground. Frequently we would find petrified apples in the toy basket, behind the couch or under the TV stand. Now that he's older he realizes that they are actually there to eat, not practice in the backyard with. For some reason he really likes the first bite or two of an apple. After that he loses interest and leaves it wherever he is to go on to more exciting things. I really hate wasting food, so when I saw a bag of baby apples at the store I thought it would be perfect for him. They were only big enough for a couple bites each and I wouldn't be stuck eating half chewed apples or finding them in strange places weeks later. Well, as you could guess, of course he is not interested at all in the baby apples and has not touched one since I bought them. In trying to come up with something to do with all these apples before they went bad I remembered a crock pot recipe for apple butter I had seen a long time ago. I looked up a couple different recipes and went my own direction with it to fit what I already had on hand at home. This recipe was so easy and I loved the way it made the house smell all day! It is great on toast, english muffins and I even used it on waffles this morning instead of syrup.

Crock Pot Apple Butter

12 baby apples, cored and quartered
2 pears, cored and quartered
1 c canned apple pie filling
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 c brown sugar
cooking spray

Coat crock pot with cooking spray. Place all ingredients in pot and turn on lowest setting. Stir occasionally and allow to cook for 10-15 hours. Mash with a potato masher, or use an immersion blender to puree for a smoother consistency. Makes about 4 cups.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Sweet Stuff

I have always considered myself more of a cook than a baker. Lately I have had many opportunities to make cakes for people's special occasions and have really come to love it. Here are pictures of what I've made lately

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Happy Mardi Gras!

Yesterday was Mardi Gras, and while I didn't get to go to New Orleans for the parades, I did have a little bit of New Orleans in my kitchen. Three pots of turkey andouille gumbo and cream cheese filled king cake for dessert!

One pot is going to Baton Rouge with my dad, one pot I delivered to friends in Austin and one pot I get to keep!

Monday, February 15, 2010

fairies, food and fun


Brianna's first birthday party was a blast and I still can't believe our baby is one already. We had a gorgeous day, great friends to share it with and delicious food. We are so blessed to have made so many wonderful friends in Austin and I was so excited to have our first party in our new house!

I went with a pink and brown fairy theme, and the fairy toadstool cake was my favorite part. A fudgy rich chocolate cake with cream cheese icing. So many people have requested this cake and I am always pleased with how it comes out!

Pickle Baked Chicken Tenders with Creamy Chili Honey Sauce

Thanks to Hellmann’s 100% Recycled Plastic Bottles and the “Real Taste, Less Waste” challenge I get to share with you a kitchen hack that...