Monday, September 24, 2012

Spicy Savory Pimento Cheese

pimento cheese and crackers, garnished with celery leaves and a dash of cayenne

I will kick off this post with this: I used to HATE Pimento Cheese. Give me PB&J, Turkey and Swiss, but keep the "orange stuff" out of my sight. It was basically lunch punishment. However, with the revival in southern "gourmet" comfort food over the last several years (and a little maturity in the taste buds), I've experienced pimento cheese that is a long way away from those lunchbox nightmares. Now, I love the spice, the heat, the creamy texture. With anything, I think it starts with really good ingredients. I like mine to be spicy, and full of flavor. I also love that you can make it in one bowl, with just a few ingredients, and serve it so many different ways. Pimento Cheese isn't JUST for sandwiches, people! You can do a sandwich on some delicious sturdy bread (grilled or cold) - delicious. Top a baked potato, Serve with spiced pecans and crackers on its own. Use as a dip with crudites (I love celery with pimento cheese). Roll small teaspoons in chopped nuts for a perfect holiday canape. Here's how I make mine. Check the calorie counting at the door, because this isn't going to fit in your fitness plan. Read all about it after the jump!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

"From Scratch" - Literally - Chicken and Dumplings To Die For

A delicious Sunday's work

Don't ask why the celery has to be peeled! Just peel it - and know it's worth it.

When it starts to cool off in Dallas - usually in September/October - the temp doesn't have to drop much below 80 degrees before I am breaking out the boots and getting my favorite warm comfort foods on the table. Fall is my favorite season! Nothing says "comfort food" to me more than Chicken and Dumplings. But how do you make something so basic "Gour-maybe?" well, you start with Thomas Keller's recipe from Ad Hoc. Then, you literally go nuts, because you don't know why you need all those carrots cooked different ways and celery bathing in ice. Then you taste it. And you shut your mouth because it's that good and you eat it every day for a week straight. The dumplings are melt in your mouth, and flavored with chives and mustard. Trust me, you will love them. I use about double the chicken, and encourage you to double the dumplings as well. Because those are my favorite parts. I make mine much more rustic, and like it that way. I don't have Keller's refinement even my crazy pants OCD is just fine with a lop-sided dumpling or an uneven carrot slice. So pick a weekend to make this, maybe a rainy one. Start it in the AM, and eat it for dinner. Full, long, but worth it recipe after the jump.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Thai Green Chicken Curry with Jasmine Rice

I am a major fan of bold flavors, so it's no surprise that I love curry: Indian Curry with all its big spicy flavors, Thai Curry with its hints of lemongrass and complexity. There's really not a curry I don't like! If I'm being TOTALLY honest though, I have a soft spot for the green curries, both Indian and Thai. I love a jalfrezi, but in the summer, it's the Thai flavors that really get me going. You had me at ginger, lemon grass, basil and cilantro, oh and garlic and onions. Oh and sweet potatoes. Oh and coconut milk. You get the picture! This curry requires a little prep, but it's super easy once you get going and the leftovers are fantastic too. It also looks pretty, and that's just as valid a reason as any to cook something! Try this curry for an end-of-summer dinner and then we'll get some Indian Curry going for the fall. Read the full recipe after the jump.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Summery Citrus Raspberry Cake

Alright Gour-Maybe users, if you are looking for a light, flavorful, not-too-sweet, "dessert" (or snack or breakfast for all I care) then I have the cake for you! This cake screams summer, when berries are in season and on sale. You could use lots of different types of berries. It's not super rich or heavy like a birthday cake, it almost floats off the plate - probably because it has no calories... Ok, maybe a FEW calories, but they are totally worth it! It's basically all fruit! Come on! The orange and meyer lemon and tart raspberries give it such a delicious, fresh flavor, and the buttermilk keeps it from being too sweet. The sugar-coated raspberries bake in their own juices almost created a jam over the top. I realize I'm going on and on. This is great for a party, or a baby shower, or a special easy dessert. The one caveat is that you will need about 2 hours of time. Be sure you have a spring form pan and parchment paper on hand, as a Gour-Maybe, I've found I use both frequently, so if you don't have one, go get one, it will be a good investment. Read the recipe and the tips after the jump.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Halibut With Fresh Herbs and Roasted Cauliflower Puree

I love potatoes, and mashed potatoes specifically, but I don't love working out. So what is the next best thing? Cauliflower that is much healthier, but TASTES like mashed potatoes.  So tricky! Yum! This dinner can serve 2 or 4. The puree and herb sauce make plenty for 4, you just have to buy more fish to accommodate more guests. I also love me some Halibut, especially in the summer because it's light and can be paired with lots of different sides. This is a really easy summer dinner, and if you made the herb sauce and cauliflower in advance, it would literally take 10 minutes. If not, it's still under an hour. The herbs with capers and citrus cut through the (faux) richness of the cauliflower, and the Halibut just pulls it all together. The bright green sauce also looks really fresh and vibrant. I can't pretend I don't care what my plate looks like, I like some color people! Check out the recipe after the jump.