Monday, February 15, 2010

5 Reasons... get the March issue of Cooking Light. I tore through it last weekend, flagging about 15 recipes. Needless to say, every meal I made last week came straight from its pages. With that in mind, I wanted to share what I made last week since I didn't really create any of my own recipes!

1. Spicy Shrimp and Grits - this really was spicy and filling, and surprisingly good leftover. I think I went a little heavy on the parmesan, but it was worth it :)
2. Lamb and Chickpea Tagine - These were some unique flavors for me to use, and I even went a little heavier on the spice. Enjoyed with a zinfandel like they recommended, which was wonderful.
Pasta with Asparagus, Pancetta and Pine Nuts - Simple, delicious, and we ate too much. I crisped the pancetta in a skillet instead of the oven and then cooked the garlic in the drippings for extra flavor - yum :)
4. Maple and Soy-Glazed Flank Steak - this was great since I already had all the sauce ingredients in my pantry. Word of warning though, when you add the glaze, make sure not to get it on the pan or it will burn when you broil it! I'd recommend adding the glaze after the steak is done cooking.
Austin, TX! That's right, my sassy city has been featured in this month's Cooking Light. I haven't tried any of the recipes included on the featured restaurants yet, but I'll definitely be giving Hoover's Eggs Blindfolded over Garlic Cheddar Grits a try soon :)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Gentle Picnic

What better way to celebrate romance than with a simple, gentle picnic? In order to make the day not too girly, we started with a tour of Live Oak Brewery, which happens every Saturday at noon, free of charge. If you're a beer lover in the Austin area, definitely check it out as their selection is delicious, and the tour is informative and entertaining!

Next we headed to Mayfield Park for the picnic, since my friends Eric and Emily had both recommended it. Located in West Austin near us, this park also has a garden (which wasn't much to look at in February), but does have dozens of peacocks roaming around! Luke got a great picture of one in the trees above us.

Now for the picnic! We had simple sandwiches which were jazzed up with pineapple jam. By now Apron Adventure readers have probably realized I'm a big fan of using jams in cooking (especially fig!) Adding jam is a simple, affordable way to really elevate a meal with little effort. I keep several on hand and they never fail.

Pineapple Turkey and Ham Sandwiches

4 slices sourdough bread
1/3 cup pineapple jam
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
4 slices lean deli ham
2 slices lean deli turkey
2 slices provolone
2 ounces spring greens

Spread the jam evenly on two slices sourdough and the mustard on the other two slices bread. Layer ham, turkey and provolone on the slices with jam, and top with greens. Top with the mustard slices of bread and enjoy!

We enjoyed this with a simple salad from Giada De Laurentiis which was wonderful for a picnic. I was silly and forgot the sun dried tomatoes, but had added basalmic vinegar for a little added zing. Delicious! Paired with a cool glass of viognier, fresh blackberries and homemade chocolate chip pecan cookies, this was a gentle picnic indeed!

Green Bean, Orzo and Tomato Salad

Easy alert! This is a great make ahead salad to serve with sandwiches (we had it with grilled cheese!) If you make the orzo just a bit al dente, it'll be the perfect texture the next day.

Green Bean, Orzo and Tomato Salad
1 cup orzo

1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup parmigiano reggiano, shredded
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Place a large pot of water to boil, add orzo. Cook 5 minutes then add green beans to pot, cooking additional 4-5 minutes; drain. Add orzo and green beans to a large bowl and toss in tomatoes, parmigiano reggiano, olive oil, lemon juice and thyme. Season to state with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Julia's Beef Bourguignon

I loved reading Julie Powell's Julie/Julia in my rhetoric of food bloggling class back in college at UT (yes, get jealous). When the movie came out, I was just tickled! It may not be 100% accurate, but very entertaining and reminded me of why I love cooking and blogging.

Anyway, my lovely sister got me Mastering the Art of French Cooking, so like any Julie/Julia fan, the first thing I made was Beef Bourguignon. Never fear, hestitant cooks. While this meal takes time (about 4 hours from start to finish), there's plenty of down time. We even went to fly kites!

Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon: recipe link here. This was the perfect meal for 6 people, my great friends Meg and Matt came over to enjoy, it was such a treat!

Ok and now for the "big news" - after two years of working with an incredibly horrible laptop with an increasingly cracked screen, and lately broken hinges that I had to prop it up, a new laptop has come into my life and I LOVE it. See the pretty new toy below :) Now that I've got a decent machine, you can expect more posts from this happy blogger!

Parmesan Tortellini Salad with Pancetta

Apologies for the long absence. I have an exciting announcement that I'll post about shortly which held explains my month off.

So Whole Foods was holding a recipe contest for Parmigiano Reggiano on their blog the Whole Story, so I figured why not try and participate? I was a finalist in their budget recipe challenge back in 2008, so it can't hurt right? My fellow Austin foodblogger MisoHungry made a Bacon & Parmigiano Reggiano Wassail Apple Turnover that sounds DELICIOUS. Check it out :)

This recipe is great because it's simple with really big flavors - a really fabulous weeknight meal.

Parmesan Tortellini Salad with Pancetta

1 (20 ounce) package refrigerated cheese tortellini (I used Buitoni)
1/3 pound pancetta, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
8 ounces spring mix greens
6 sun dried tomatoes, packed in oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano, plus more for serving

Cook tortellini to package instructions, drain and set aside. While tortellini cooks, heat a large nonstick skillet on medium heat and saute pancetta, about 6 to 8 minutes, until crisp. Add balsamic vinegar to pan and stir to combine; set aside.

In a large bowl, toss spring mix, sun dried tomatoes, salt and pepper, tortellini and pancetta. Add 1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano and toss. Serve with additional parmiagiano reggiano and enjoy!