Sunday, December 14, 2014

Basil-Mint Fried Rice

How many variations of stir-fry can this lady make? Hmmm... Probably a few more. Rice and veggies are always in my kitchen.

From left to right: Mint, cilantro, and basil.
There are a few details that set this stir-fry apart from the others. The most obvious is the addition of fresh basil, mint, and cilantro after cooking. If you ever have a chance, do try Thai basil (you just might have to grow it yourself). It's peppery, anise-y, spicy basil flavor is delicious in stir-fry but in my case, I used good ol' Genovese basil. 

In order to make the flavors more integrate, I also chopped the vegetables very small. This way you get a bit of everything in one bite.

Frozen basil cubes
Fresh herbs are fantastic when available but are not always a feasible option. I found a few vendors at my farmer's market who had an abundance of basil at prices I was willing to pay. I washed the basil and let it dry. Then I put the leaves in my mini-food processor with enough olive oil to get things moving. I pulsed the basil, adding a drizzle of oil as needed, until the basil was basically a paste. Then I spooned the basil paste into ice cube trays. The oil is necessary because basil will turn black if frozen on its own. I was concerned about the basil absorbing any scents from the freezer so I wrapped the ice cube trays in plastic wrap. Once the basil cubes were frozen, I removed them from the ice cube trays and placed them in a freezer bag. 

These are very simple to use. I just drop one or two into the pan of whatever I'm cooking right at the end, whether that's stir-fried rice, pasta, or tomato sauce. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

I'm Back!

I'm back! I took a hiatus from the blog for several reasons. One reason: I felt self-conscious about what I could offer readers (sometimes the only way I had a recipe to share was to share my failure), my interests are eclectic, and my blog doesn't look or sound like some of my favorite writers. I realized I was taking myself way too seriously. I have given a lot of thought to what the blog has brought into my life and the reasons why I want to continue. Here's where my focus will be:
  • Recipes! I'm inspired to create again and have some ideas in mind. I have learned that I'm much more productive when I make myself share what I have created. For a time, I felt bad that my seasonal recipes always felt behind the times. For example, I have a few ideas for fresh basil to share and now the world is moving on to winter squash and farro. I'm just going to have to get over it.
  •  I'm also going to do a lot more recipe reviews. There are so many incredible cooks and ideas out there, I'd like to give more of them a chance. Let me know if you have any recommendations!
  • Photography. I took photos of my food because I thought that's just what I'd have to do to have a food blog. It was drudgery and still is but I have discovered the joy of photography and trying to hone one's craft. I will slowly share my work and glimpses of my adventures (the picture at the top is from my birthday trip to Monterey, California!).
  • Interviews. I have always wanted to include interviews since I started. I love learning about other people and their journeys, but again, felt too self-conscious to make the effort. By making myself put this into words, I am one step closer to making it happen.
As always...enjoy!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Review: Steffi's Bakery and Confections

BIG NEWS!!!! Like life-changing in the best way possible for the whole entire world: you can now buy candy and other treats from one of the best pastry chefs on the planet, Stephanie Matthews, through her Etsy shop, SteffisConfections

Stephanie's artisanal creations are incredibly delicious and of the highest quality. She takes so much pride in her product that every purchase is made-to-order. Here is a rundown of Stephanie's current offerings:
As you can see from the photo above, I have had the pleasure to sample Stephanie's vanilla caramel, sea salt caramel, salted caramel turtles, honey nougat, and peanut butter fudge. Everything was delicious! If you are a caramel fiend, like myself, you will absolutely love the caramels and turtles. If you aren't crazy about caramel, consider Stephanie's caramels as a gateway to a new-found love because these confections are by far the best caramels I have ever eaten. I had never tried handmade nougat until now. What sets these nougats apart is Stephanie's use of smoked almonds and honey she has sourced locally in Colorado Springs where she is based. The delicate hint of the honey layering with the smoked flavor of the almonds in a soft bed of nougat is mouthwatering.

In addition to Etsy, you can find more information about Steffi's Bakery and Confections on her Facebook page or email her at Enjoy!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Dinner for One: Butternut Squash Ravioli with White Wine Mushroom Sauce

It was fall and I had lots of winter squash, of course I was going to make a ravioli. This time I tried roasted butternut squash. This is the first time I've used butternut squash and I was so pleased with the results that I have compulsively bought two more. The texture is much more creamy and mild than some of the other squash varieties I have tried.

The ingredients for the White Wine Mushroom Sauce.

Ravioli waiting for a warm bath. Wonton wrappers are the key.

My shallot-mushroom sauce was a winning combination with the butternut squash ravioli. The earthy mushrooms combined with a bit of bright white wine (sauvignon blanc is my preferred white wine to cook with) complemented the squash's nutty flavor. Garnish with bright, grassy parsley. My recipe made just the right amount for me but could easily be doubled.

Here is a link to my recipe for ravioli, which shares a few tips and tricks I learned along the way.  

For my ravioli filling, I pureed 1 cup of roasted squash with salt, pepper, and enough cream to make it smooth. I think Lisa Leake's recipe for butternut squash ravioli filling from 100 Days of Real food sounds delicious! She seasons her filling with a bit of maple syrup, orange zest, nutmeg, cinnamon, and bit of cheese.

Another version of the sauce with a splash of half-and-half.
My mushroom sauce was so good that I made it again immediately. This time I added a splash of half-and-half. Enjoy!

White Wine Mushroom Sauce

by Ace Nation
Ingredients (serves 1-2)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2-3/4 cup sliced mushrooms, such as button or cremini
  • 1/2 cup white wine, such as sauvignon blanc
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh chopped parsley, to garnish
In a skillet, heat butter and olive oil over medium-low to medium heat until butter is melted.
Add shallot, stirring occasionally, cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add garlic and mushrooms, stirring occasionally, cook until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
Add wine. Simmer for 5-7 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve over ravioli, or pasta, or sauteed chicken. Garnish with fresh parsley.
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