Friday, March 11, 2011

I Now Pronounce You, Garlic and Butter.

I've come to the conclusion that, when cooking, if you use garlic and butter you are sure to have a delectable meal. I tested this theory a few days ago when David and I decided try making an Almond Crusted Tilapia with green beans and garlic butter rice. If I could perform a marriage ceremony for two cooking ingredients, it would be Mr. Garlic and Ms. Butter. They are truly soulmates.

We bought four filets of tilapia fish from the local grocery store, some chopped onions, and cilantro to substitute the parsley. 

The basic instructions for making this dish are to dip the filets in flour, then the egg mixture from the link above, then the chopped almonds. After that you just need to cook the fish in garlic butter sauce on both sides until they have the golden brown color below! 

By this time, the relationship between garlic and butter is blossoming.
As for the garlic butter rice, all I did was melt some butter in a pot, add the rice, then some water and chicken bouillon. I let it simmer until the rice was cooked, and added the garlic as it finished absorbing all the liquidy goodness.
David taught me how to make his wonderful green beans, cooked with, can you guess?! We will refer to the green beans as the guests at the wedding.

Always WASH the guests before you cook with them. 
The secret to these green beans is to spray the pan with Pam, and then lightly coat the green beans as they're cooking as well. Add a few dashes of salt and pepper sporadically...
And voila! A dish so appealing to the eye, I picked out a few to munch on while they were still in the skillet.
By the time we had everything on the stove, my kitchen was smelling like a garlic butter fairytale.
After the tilapia is finished cooking, you have to give it one final touch by adding freshly grated parmesan cheese and a few more toasted almonds on top, then nuking it in the oven for a few minutes. 

Before I unveil finished product, I have to give credit to this wedding's maids of honor and best man:
Mr. Cilantro and Mrs. Lemon Slice
Mr. Lemon Pepper
Ladies and gentleman, I now present to you, Mr. and Mrs. Garlic and Butter, along with their entourage:

Such a beautiful ceremony. Such a wonderful marriage. I was certain this one would last forever... too bad I ate it all first!

Tip: Garlic and butter can make practically any dish a delight. Don't be stingy now!

Sweets For My Sweetheart and His Sweet Tooth.

My pyro of a boyfriend decided to buy a torch one day, so that we could make crème brulée; a French dessert of custard and caramelized sugar, topped with fruit of choice. I don't typically crave dessert, but he can't go a day without having something sugary.

Since crème brulée takes about half a day to make, David made the custard and refrigerated it overnight. All we had to do after was cover it with a coat of sugar, and, as I always say, the more the better!

Thanks to our handy-dandy torch, we were well-equipped for the grueling task of caramelizing sugar! 
I thought the process was going to be daunting and complicated, but in actuality it was rather fun!

You can caramelize and personalize your crème brulée any way you want. Here are some views of the finished products:

It was fun to see the marble-like caramelization the torch naturally creates, but I wanted to see if I could attempt a shape. See my heart below <3

We were so excited, we forgot to put the cut-up strawberries on top until after the dishes were washed.

People say that you're either a baker or a cook. I say that's a load of crockpot! You'll see why in my next post :o)

Tip: Invest in a crème brulée torch and some dishes. You can make a simple custard AMAZING just by adding some fire. Oh, and don't forget the garnishments!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Baby I Was Born This Way.

Sorry fellas, but going to Vegas is soooo much easier when you're with a group of girls. No lines. Free drinks. No lines. I was lucky enough to go with a bunch of hot ones last weekend for my cousin's 25th Birthday. My girl Jo booked her mom's timeshare for us at the WorldMark hotel, where we enjoyed a one-bedroom suite with a full kitchen and second murphy bed. 
Our first night started off on the right track and kept right on trekking the entire night.
We had a hook-up at Tao nightclub, and were invited to enjoy free dinner, drinks, and VIP entrance to the club right after. I'd been to Tao in New York City, and forgot that the Las Vegas location had a restaurant as well. The menu was pre-fixed since our dinner was comped, but we had no cause for complaint:

 And after, true to Las Vegas form, we enjoyed Tao nightclub from the VIP section. There was acrobatics, strobe lights, and of course, confetti.

Our Tao connection gave us the name of a secret agent to find at the Marquee nightclub at Cosmopolitan hotel, which none of us had been to. So, the next night, we cornered the first MIB we saw with a guest list and told him that we were to look for "Carlos." Since we weren't on the list, he asked us who told us to ask for "Carlos", and when we told him, he ushered us right to the front of the line. (Secret society much?...)

While we were in line, the MIBs told us that sometimes they bring ladies to a table to fill space, and that they were going to bring us to one in the House room and get us a round of drinks. Legit.

Needless to say, it was a much-needed weekend with a group of amazing women. Cheers to Vegas, land where music's a bumpin' and a girl is appreciated!

Tip: Ladies, if you do Vegas right, all you really need is cash for the room, tip for your servers, a couple classy dresses, and great gals to bump that beat with!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I Got It From My Mama

Wednesday nights are typically dedicated to catching up with some of the best women in my life: my cousins. We usually try to get on a conference call as business hours come to a close, during which time we're all either driving home or preparing dinner. Last week, I was doing the latter.

Making lemon chicken out of the breast, lemons, salt and pepper I already had stored in my refrigerator while talking on the phone was no easy task, but somehow I managed just fine :o)

Originally I had planned to make just regular chicken soup, but decided to spice things up a bit and try a recipe for Chicken Tortilla Soup from Orange County Fare, a cookbook I'd recently purchased from the Junior League of Orange County.

So, with the house phone on speaker (yes, I have a LAND line) and chicken defrosting in the microwave, I engaged in the wonderfully theraputic multi-task of mingling and mixing. What came of it was nothing short of spectacular:

When Mom got home, she made ground beef and taco mix to go with our soup :o) It was delish!

Overall, chicken tortilla soup is an easy recipe. All you really need is chicken stock, crushed red tomatoes, and whatever veggies you'd like to add. I ended up finding the crushed red tomatoes and "whatever veggies you'd like to add" in our refrigerator, so I was spared a trip to the market. 

In honor of the chicken tortilla soup I had at It's All About the Cake, I decided to make mine a little spicier (or as my Dad would say, "Give it a little KICK"), by chopping up two Chipotle Adobo Peppers with the seeds and throwing them into the pot.

Then, I put my shredded lemon chicken in the soup, crushed up some corn tortilla chips from Los Golondrinas since I already had them, sliced fresh avocado, and laid it all on top of my bowl o' soup.
Tip: Work with what you've got. There's nothing wrong with substituting ingredients to a recipe, in order to save a trip to the grocery store!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Great Runs, Sick Plays, Perfect Days

I'm just going to cut to the chase. Superbowl Sunday is famous for many things. Unparalleled commercial creativity, a ridiculous halftime show, football world championship, and my favorite: the food.

I just did a post about my friend Michelle's amazing talent for cooking... but I'm going to brag once again. Driving up to Los Feliz, I couldn't help but hype up the spread we were about to feast on to both my boyfriend, David, and my friend Krit. But nothing, NOTHING, could have prepared me for the amount of food I would see prepared throughout the day.

Below is just a fraction of the dishes to which our palates were privvy:

 Turkey Sandwiches
 Guacamole in Avacado Cups with Shrimp
Tangy Ribs
Buffalo Wings and Sweet Chili Wings (Michelle did I say that right?)

And as if all of the above wasn't more than enough, our hostess accommodated special requests for international dishes as well. Before halftime, I went into the kitchen and noticed that Michelle was cutting potatoes. When I asked her what she was doing, she said she was making a dish specific to Montreal for a couple of our friends who had tried it before. 

I then watched her fry the potatoes and season them with salt, then put pieces of cheese curd, imported from Montreal, on top of the fries and slather it all with a classic French gravy. It turned out to be my favorite of the day!:
Dish of Amazingness.
Hostess Michelle with Nachos Supreme!

While the food was certainly a highlight, I couldn't help but excuse myself to take some photos of her lovely home:

To sum up, the food was phenomenal, the home was immaculate, and the game was certainly worth the wait. The absolute BEST part of the day though? The people I got to share it all with.

 Tip: For those of you whose days off are few and far between, make sure the days you can take for yourself are fun, memorable and spent with the people you love. (Oh, and stop feeling guilty. You deserve it!)