Thursday, June 17, 2010

Talk To Me – Basil

Here is my basil plant a couple weeks ago….it has at least DOUBLED since I took this picture and it is just going crazy. (Glad to see someone is enjoying this hot/rainy weather) Now I loves me some basil. I try to use it in many of our dishes. And give me some tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, balsamic vinegar and olive oil and I am oh so happy and could eat it every day. I make a great bruschetta with those ingredients and also make some good pasta dishes with basil. But I must say that I have SO MUCH basil growing FAST that I am having trouble keeping up with it in the cooking department and coming up with new ideas for my basil.

So I ask; what are some of your favorite recipes with basil?!

Also, does anyone have a pesto recipe they love?! I am looking for a great recipe but I do not do pine nuts or walnuts. I have tried a couple different recipes but they seem to be either too oily or way to strong. I just need to know a good combination of ingredients!

P.S. I am not kidding when I say that I could eat a caprese salad EVERY DAY and not get tired of it. Sooooooo good.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Beware…This Post May Make You Drool!

So over the years I have realized how much I love cooking and how much better I have gotten at it.  When I first started I called my mom to ask how to boil an egg.  I also have thrown many a dinners away because they did not turn out.  But it has always been relaxing to me, even through the disasters and now I love it. Not to gloat, ok to gloat a little, but I think I am a pretty darn good cook. I have started now making up some of my own recipes and experimenting with different foods. (Insert cheap joke: yes, I am experimenting with different foods…Terry doesn’t mind though because he participates sometimes as well.)

I have over 20 cookbooks, subscribe to 3 different food magazines for a few years, and watch tons of cooking shows so I have many recipes at my disposal that I can cook, however, I tend to not try anything too far out of my comfort zone these days for fear it won't turn out. That changed last month. For mother’s day I decided to do a fun pizza lunch for our mom. I made my own pizza dough from scratch and then made 3 delicious pizzas that didn’t contain any pizza sauce or traditional toppings. I made a margarita pizza (basil, mozzarella & tomatoes), a spicy sausage pizza with caramelized onions and feta (sweet & spicy!), and then my own creation of red onions, chicken, corn, pancetta, smoked provolone cheese, and then slices of avocado after it came out of the oven. Are you drooling, I am and that is why I didn’t post pictures of these. These three pizzas were delicious! I actually loved being creative and trying something new so I decided that one Sunday a month I am going to prepare something new and slightly out of my comfort zone.

Fast-forward to last night and the Thai food spectacular my sister and I made! I bought ingredients I have never used before like fish sauce (which stinks but in food tastes great) and did a bunch of research on authentic flavors and spices. I had so much fun using different spices out of my cupboard and buying new ones! I also very much enjoyed all the great ingredients out there that I have only seen on TV.

This was the dinner:

Chicken and veggie curry. – AMAZING. Look at it. Nuff said.

Spicy (could have been spicier) Beef with veggies and Mint. This had red peppers, onions, flank steak, mint and basil. Very good, but I left a lot of spice out just incase it was too much, but it could have been a lot spicier.

Turkey Larb - "Larb is most often made with chicken, beef, duck, turkey, pork or even fish, flavored with fish sauce, lime juice, and leaves" (we used mint). We put ours in lettuce wraps. Not spicy at all, very refreshing with all the acid from the limes and lemons.

Jasmine Rice – I think I like it better than regular rice

Naan Flatbread – I bought the mix and made it from scratch! These are wonderful and would just make them to eat plain.


Can I just say the entire dinner was amazing! I think it is so FUN and exciting to experiment with different foods and different ingredients. I knew it may not turn out and I know what I may change next time I make these dishes, but it gave us all the chance to try something new. I am going to keep doing this at least once a month, or when I feel like it, and I have to say I am really look forward to this! Anyone need a party catered?!?!?

Have you made any food out of your comfort zone? How did it turn out?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Picture of The Week - Add Your Own Caption!

So my friend who lives in Chicago took this picture and posted it on her facebook. It made me laugh and was such an awesome picture I had to share! I mean, who doesn't carry around a sword?! 

I have added some of my own captions, please feel free to share your thoughts on this picture!

"Business man by day; dragon slayer by night."

"Do you think this will get through the metal detector at the airport?!"

"I should have gotten a bigger bag for this sword."

"Because CARRYING a sword is too much work. I need a really small rolling luggage carrier instead."

"I am He-Man!!"

"I look so freak'n cool right now."

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Gettin Crafty With It

So awhile back I decided I wanted to try some new craft projects. I have a bit of craft ADD and love to try new projects, even if I am not done with the 16 other projects I have started.

One of my friends had mentioned she wanted a board to put on her desk to display a few pictures but didn’t want to pay the $20+ it cost for some of the pre-made boards she found. I told her that I could make her one, even though I had never done one before. I did not have any instructions and just went based on what I had seen in the stores. I soon realized these were super easy to make, took very little time, and even better cost less than $13 to make (even less if you had many of the supplies already or made multiple ones).

This is what I made! I love it and have since made about 7 others as gifts for friends and family.

So I thought I would share how you can make them too. (or maybe I will start selling them....hehe!)

What you need:

- 11x17 Cork board (no trim) $4.99 at Hobby Lobby. (You can go bigger if you want)

- ¼ - ½ a yard of your favorite fabric. I paid $1.45 at Hobby Lobby

- A regular roll of matching ribbon about a 1/2” or so wide depending on your preference. $0.99 at Hobby Lobby

- A large staple gun and staples. Already had. (If you do not have a staple gun you can try a hot glue gun)

- 1 can of spray adhesive. We had this but it is $2.99 at H.L. (Note: You don’t have to use this, but I like it because it gives a little extra support and helps keep the fabric from wrinkling or bunching up. Plus the spray will last awhile if you do more of these.)

- 1 box of Extra large thumb tacks. I paid $1.99 for 65. But you only need 5 per project so if you do multiple ones these will last you for a long time.

- 1 pair of scissors.

Start up cost for the first one: $12.41. Each additional board: $7.43 ...seriously what a deal!  These are about $20-$30 in the stores.

How to:

Start with your cork board. Measure & cut out the amount of fabric you need, leaving a couple inches extra on each side to fold over.

Go outside and lightly spray the top of the cork board and the back of your fabric and stick together, smoothing and pressing down for a minute or so. (make sure you have something to cover your face or stay away from the adhesive fumes, I didn’t do that the first time…oops!  And keep away from pets - see picture below! Belle always wants to help.)

Pull tightly and cover the fabric on the board, making sure to smooth out any bunched up material on the front. Fold over the extra material on the back and spray a little adhesive to make sure it sticks.

Using your staple gun, make sure the material is securely stapled all the way around on the back. I may have went a little crazy with the stapling, but I wanted to make sure it was secure!

Your board should now look like this and be secure.

Now take the ribbon (Don’t cut the ribbon until you measure first) and starting at the top left go to the bottom right. Staple the ribbon on the back. Now take another piece of ribbon and go from the top right to the bottom left and staple on the back. You should have a giant X.


Take some ribbon and start in the center left and go to the center top (follow green X's and trace the blue lines). Staple. Then center top to center right. Staple. Center right to center bottom. Staple. And finally center bottom to center left. And staple. It should look like the picture. (Basically a giant X with a Giant diamond on the inside.....sorry if it doesn't make since, but do you like my amazing paint shop work!)


Close up of the ribbon.

Take your extra large tacks and place in the center of where the ribbon meets on the board.

Like this.

And you are done. BEAUTIFUL!

These are a couple others I made.

So there you go!  Hang on a wall or put on your desk with a few of your favorite pictures. Ok, so have fun if you want to make these!  Or, if you want me to make you one I would love too!!!

Friday, June 04, 2010

Damn You Waskly Wabbits!

I wanted to put up a picture of one of my lovely Lilies growing outside my house because in a couple days it will have been eaten by the many rabbits, deer, and other furry woodland creatures that live near our house. I planted these last year and within a week the beautiful orange lilies had been all chewed up and looked horrible due to some hungry animals in our neighborhood. We learned and now keep our basil and mint and anything else we want to plant up high and away from the ground, but figured these were a lost cause and wouldn’t be back this year as animals have already started gnawing on the stems and leaves. But yesterday the lilies started coming back to my surprise and delight!  (Even though I am fairly certain I will be posting a picture in the next week of half eaten lilies. Grrrrr)

But until then, I will enjoy my one lonely yet beautiful lily and share it with all of you on this lovely Friday!