cooking

the secret to fresh cilantro

Even though the calendar pages have changed and we’ve entered a new season, my (near) daily guacamole habit has not waned (nor will it any time soon).  I think the key to good guacamole is fresh cilantro, but just how in the world are you supposed to keep it fresh longer than 48 hours?

Well a few weeks ago, the darling Fauxmartha put up a Friday Tip that has changed my fresh-herb killing life.  The secret to keeping all herbs to last — treating them like flowers.  When you get them home cut the ends and put in a vessel with a bit of water.  And here’s the big secret — keep a plastic sack over the entire vase while in the fridge.  Every few days change the water and trim the bottom and prune the “bouquet.”  It’s so simple!  I have just been using the little flimsy plastic bag that I put the cilantro in at the store.  What a difference!

As you can see in the photo below, my cilantro is beyond thriving after a week (I actually think that first photo is more like a week and a half). And then in the second photo, well, it’s for sure older than 2 weeks.  And although it’s not near as fresh and looking a little sad because maybe I didn’t change the water and prune like a should… there is still a lot of really fresh, usable cilantro to choose from.

You’re welcome.  Now go make some guacamole!

SECRET TO FRESH CILANTRO

yummy

I finally got around to making a batch of creme brulee, and oh my!  I had almost forgotten just how much I LOVE this stuff.  My sis gave the hubs a really nice starter set a few years ago.  It included 4 ramekins, torch, fuel, and recipe book.  Although the book includes tons of alternate flavors and culinary additions, I still like the good old plain burnt creme.  But I did see one made with Eggnog… that I might have to try.

Creme Brulee

on eating well

Ever since February I’ve had a bit of a shift in my eating habits.  After the binge that is the holiday season and a semester of classes that interfered with my exercise I reluctantly got on the scale and just about melted when I saw what number was looking back at me.  I know it’s not just about a number, but I had noticed that even my “cookie pants” were quite tight.  I even started realizing that I wasn’t wearing certain items in my closet because a.) they looked terrible and b.) they weren’t fitting!  Frustration and shock started to set in.  It had to change — and right then.  OK, so maybe it wasn’t a total lightening strike moment, but it was a wake-up call.

(more…)

yum, yum

Tonight I’m headed to my sister’s for a good old-fashioned in-home tupperware party — except that it’s not Tupperware — it’s Saladmaster.  (But what exactly are you supposed to call those kinds of parties?)  I was very fortunate to receive a set of this cookware (The Select Set)  two years ago from my very generous Aunt and Uncle.  We absolutely LOVE the cookware, but I have a confession:  I haven’t really explored just what exactly they can do other than the prosaic.  I mean, I use the electric skillet for all kinds of things and just love my quart pans, but until today I hadn’t even visited their website.

Well call me chagrined because you can basically do anything and everything with these puppies and it’s super healthy to boot.  I must admit my new found obsession with our cookware is because of our new tiny kitchen — specifically the fact that we don’t have an oven.  Our landlord has provided us with a little toaster/convection oven that worked marvelously for toast last weekend.  But I am looking forward to seeing what all we can make (sans oven!) with the electric skillet and pans.  But after perusing their website, I’m afraid my wish list has just doubled in size — hello cutlery & tea kettle!

On tonight’s menu: Fried Chicken – sans deep frying, sides, and a chocolate cake baked in the electric skillet!  I can’t wait to participate…

{images via Saladmaster}

**According to this recipe, I am supposed to also be able to make a pizza in my electric skillet.  Looks like I know what we’re eating this weekend!

 

the good stuff

For the last month or so we’ve been consuming a ton of salads for lunch or with our evening meal.  It’s pretty much been the same salad with just a few slight variations, but what makes it so insanely delicious is my husband’s salad dressing. (Man, he builds things AND cooks for me!)  This oil-based dressing perfectly compliments any combination of ingredients over a bed of greens.  (Particularly if there is something sweet like Strawberries or Pears.)  One of my favorites was Sunday’s lunch with the most amazingly moist pan-seared chicken, spinach, goat cheese, and pears.  All mixed in a bowl and topped with some nectar from the gods.  Hello Springtime! I really miss having a farmer’s market to run to twice a week, but we do have some nice grocery stores.  You can find out if you have a local harvest market here.  We’ve enjoyed our meals so much lately, I just couldn’t not share!

The salad basics have been as follows:

Spinach leaves, Goat Cheese, Carrots and then add any of these: Strawberries, Cucumbers, Craisins, Walnuts, Boiled Egg, Pears, Mushrooms, Onions, Chicken, Fish, Lamb…really anything.

And here is the recipe for the dressing:

1/2 cup EVOO
1/2 cup walnut oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp black pepper

Pour/mix all ingredients together in jar then do a little dance (or just shake it) and then pour over your scrumptious salad!

quick fix

i’m not one for pre-packaged, processed food.  but have you seen these?  when b brought them home from the store a few weeks ago, my heart skipped a beat.  no fuss, no muss.  and healthy to boot!  ok, so maybe not healthy, but as healthy as a pre-made cookie can get.  this new simpler recipe is immediate gratification for my cookie dough cravings with only partial guilt for not making them from scratch myself!

cookie dough

best idea ever

…or maybe the best FALL idea ever.  As we have been up to our eyes in apples (and pears) lately i think this is a FANTASTIC way to preserve some of the goodness and also a very thoughtful, handmade gift.  This is definitely one of those… “why didn’t I think of that!”

Found originally by this lovely blogger, but for the full tutorial go to the horses mouth here.

The sneak peek:

piejarsonpan

what a peach!

you would think it’s fall around these parts.  with highs only in the low 60’s i have been getting the itch for autumn flavors and smells… and the kitchen has been my outlet.  on sunday Brad and I made an apple pie from scratch and tonight before we headed over to a friend’s house for dinner i whipped up a peach cobbler that was oh-so-yummy if I do say so myself!  i got the recipe from this book which i have mentioned before.  and i couldn’t not share this delicious comfort food goodness.  peaches are in season here so get to your local farmer’s market and make something wonderful.  if it’s hot where you are a sherbet or sorbet might be in order, but on this rare summer day i had to go with something warm.

Double-Crust Peach Cobbler
8 cups sliced fresh peaches (about 5 lbs)
2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter
pastry for double-crust 9″ pie

Stir together first 4 ingredients in a dutch oven; set aside until syrup forms.  Bring peach mixture to a boil; reduce heat to low,  and cook 10 minutes or until tender.  Remove from heat; add almond (or vanilla) extract and butter, stirring until butter melts.

Roll half of pastry to 1/8″ thickness on a lightly floured surface; cut into a 9″ square.  Spoon half of peaches into a lightly buttered 9″ square pan; top with pastry square.  Bake at 475 for 12 minutes or until lightly browned.  Spoon remaining peaches over baked pastry square.

Roll remaining pastry to 1/8″ thickness, and cut into 1″ strips; arrange in a lattice design over peaches.  Bake 15 to 18 minutes more or until browned.

Yield: 8 servings (or 4 very hungry gluttons!!)

Peach Cobbler

{Post Script I totally cheated on the lattice top because my pastry was too crumbly to weave.  I used a recipe that used only shortening for the pastry and I would NOT recommend it.  I had better luck on Sunday with one that used butter.}