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This weekend I received a huge amount of cooking inspiration at my local Farmer’s Market! Just being surrounded by all of that fresh produce and home made marinades…. it made my mouth water! It also made me realize how long its been since I’ve posted a new blog post! Grad school got crazy there for a while and I’m hoping now that it is over and I am officially graduated, it will afford me more time for my favorite past time! So let me show you the fruits of my inspiration and introduce you to my primary muse this weekend.

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It all started with this little marinade stand… where I tasted the most amazing homemade marinade! And my first thought was “I can put this on EVERYTHING!” The hardest decision I made this weekend was not buying every flavor this talented woman sold. I finally narrowed it down to these two delicious flavors, but mark my words…. I will be back for the lavender honey!

 

 

 

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Of all the delicious produce at the farmer’s market, this succulent squash spoke to me this most! I tossed it with a few spoons of the basil marinade and olive oil then seasoned it with sea salt, garlic, and multicolored peppercorn. I then baked it until the squash softened and the top layer started to become golden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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While I was preparing the squash, I let these two boneless skinless chicken breast soak in the basil marinade as well. I can tell you, that my kitchen smelled heavenly during the whole endeavor! Someone should find me some basil and sage candles stat!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I topped the chicken with a basil pesto sauce and fresh squeezed lemon then baked it along with the squash.

I prepared the angel hair pasta by boiling it with fresh garlic, olive oil, and oregano. After I strained the pasta, I then tossed it with the House Blend marinade and a mixture of Italian cheeses.

 

 

 

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Food wasn’t the only inspiration I received from the farmer’s market!

While my meal was filling the house with delicious savory smells, I was busy getting creative with water. Mixed coconut water with mineral water with electrolytes and then infused it with fresh chucks of watermelon. This was such a refreshing beverage after a long hot day at the market!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hadn’t actually intended to make this post yet, as Sunday was only my trial run on this dish. I didn’t take progress pictures or anything, but it was so delicious I was specifically asked by a few people to post it so they could try it…. so here goes. :)

After preheating the oven to 400 *F, I started out with two boneless, skinless chicken breast. After I cut away any fat, I used a small parring knife to make small cuts into the underside of the breasts and then placed the breast into a glass baking dish. I then poured a little white wine (you can use cooking wine or any bitter dry white wine you prefer) and some lemon juice over the breast until the liquid came about half way up the depth of the chicken. Be sure to move the two pieces around to make sure each side is coated in the liquid mixture. The slits on the bottom side of the chicken is to allow the wine and lemon juice to be obsorbed into the chicken better. Coat the top of the chicken breast with melted unsalted butter. I use a silicone brush for this. Season the chicken to your taste and liking. I use lemon pepper for added lemon taste, garlic salt, sea salt, multicolored peppercorn, and a creole seasoning for spice. If I were not making a sauce for this dish, at this point I would also put a slice of lemon on the fleshist part of each breast. Put the chicken in the oven on the center rack for approximately 30 minutes.

On the stove heat olive oil over medium heat in a sautee pan. I use parmesean and garlic olive oil for added flavor. Sautee quartered artichoke hearts and capers in the oil until they are soft. I like to use marinated artichoke hearts. Capers have recently become a new obcession of mine so they may be featured in quite a few up coming posts. Add in some minced lemon grass, garlic, and a small pinch of ginger, do this to your taste. Sautee the mixure for a few more minutes in the oil, before adding four tablespoons of unsalted butter. Once the butter is melted add a dash of white wine and lemon juice. Season to taste, some suggested seasonings are garlic salt, sea salt, onion powder, lemon pepper, peppercorn, rosemary, mustard powder, and/or herb de providence. Taste sauce regularly and adjust juices and seasonings as needed to reach your desired level of acidity.

Once chicken is throughly cooked, remove from oven and top with white wine butter sauce, artichoke hearts, and capers. For an added garnish, you can sprinkle a pinch of fresh parmesean cheese on top. A sweet or crisp white wine would pair nicely with this dish.

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Exciting New Things

I know I’ve been absent for quite some time, and I am deeply sorry for that. I am here now to announce some exciting new things coming in the new year. As I have already told you, I am planning a New Year’s Resolution Cooking List. I’m leaning more toward calling it a New Year’s Revelation. During this time I plan to attempt to cook things that I have never made before and record the experience. I have some awesome dishes in mind and hope to do at least one, if not two per month.

But wait! There’s more! I also intend to introduce a new monthly post of “Ingredient of the Month”. I will feature a new ingredient every month and discuss things such as its uses, what it tastes like, what it pairs well with, how choose ripe/fresh ingredients, and possibly do’s and don’ts. I will try to choose unique ingredients each month and my goal is to post at least one dish with in that month with that ingredient. If I use common ingredients, I will try to find interesting or uncommon uses or pairing for them.

Along the same lines as the ingredient of the month posts, I am also toying with the idea of random monthly posts featuring handy or favorite utensils, appliances, techniques, and the like. I think that these posts will help me complete my mission of not just teaching recipes but inspiring people to get in their kitchen and experiment on their own! My favorite part of cooking is creating, and I desperately want to share that passion with others.

 

Here are some fun links to hold you over until the new year! I hope everyone has a fun and safe holidays and I will see you in 2013!

There are probaby some products that you buy that are more luxury items than anything else. And if you are like me you proabably think to yourself…

“I really don’t need this….but it just tastes so good” or ” it just works so well”

Well some of those products you can do with out….. Because you can make them yourself!

I’m really big on flavored water. I never really could stand the taste of water by itself. I have tried everything! I recently started using Mio and that works pretty well for me…. Then I discovered Cucumber Water. This stuff is delicious! But oh so expensive….

There is a wonderful invention called the flavor inducer pitcher. This handy little device has a removable cylandar in the center that you fill up with fruit or veggies. Holes through out the cylandar allow the flavor to seep into the water.
The water gets just a little more than a hint of flavor, that is cool and refreshing. Not only does it save you money, but you can also be very certain that there are no additives or sugar substitutes.
I bought my pitcher for $20 at Bed Bath and Beyond, but they are available at several retailers and websites.

The 24 oz. bottle just to the right of the pitcher also comes in quite handy. It is BPA approved, is double walled to keep my water cold, and opens two different ways for easy refill.

If you like your water carbonated, I would also recommend buying a soda stream. Mine has been very useful in carbonating flavored water for me.

I recommend using filtered water. Also if you are interested in flavored teas, this pitcher is very helpful. I have found that it makes a wonderful peach tea.

I love to cook with flavor infused oils like these.
If you have ever seen them in the grocery store,
you know how expensive they can be. In fact
you may have not purchased them for that very
reason!

Making such flavored oils really isn’t that hard.
I suggest buying an oil bottle or dispensor that
has a small opening. Many of them do! Then
just fill the bottom of the bottle up with the
desired spices and pour oil in on top. I would
allow up to a week for flavors to set in well before
using. Here I minced several cloves of garlic and
added rosemary and rubbed sage. Paramsean and
Italian seasonings are also great for flavoring oil.
You can see what flavors your interested in by viewing
them in the store, then recreating them at home.

Dressings and marinades like this can be
expensive and fattening. Plus, you might
buy a bottle, and then never use it all before
it expires.

When you make your own, you not only control
what goes it, but also how much you make! It’s
really very simple to make your own dressings and
marinades, and you probably have just about all the
ingredients already anyway. Most of them require a
vinegar, an oil, a base like mustard or yogurt, and/or
spices. I bought this dressing maker bottle for $3 at
Target. It comes with several healthy recipes on the
bottle itself, not to mention the nurmerous ones posted
all over the internet!

These are just a few great ideas of how you can save money and be a little healthier by doing it your self!
I would love some recommendations from my readers!
What do you make yourself to keep from buying it in a store?

Resolution Cooking List

Hello faithful readers!

I have been thinking long and hard about what I want to cook and show case here. This has been greatly aided by the arrival of my new MasterChef: The Ultimate Cookbook. Flipping through the cookbook, I had a wonderful idea. This year instead of a New Years Resolution, I am going to make a Resolution Cooking List. I am composing a list of foods, dishes, sauces, etc… that I have never made from scratch before. I would sincerely love your help! I am looking for anything from the very complicated perfect gumbo to the simple spaghetti sauce from scratch. Whether it is French cooking, Italian cooking, Asian cooking, Indian cooking, Cajun cooking, or good ole down home Southern cooking, I am game for anything! I want to know what my readers want to see me cook or at least attempt to cook! My game plan is to come up with a list between 12-24 dishes that I have never made entirely from scratch and document my progress through out next year. Please comment, email, carrier pigeon (or how ever it is you communicate) to get me your suggestions. I’m really looking forward to challenging my self and my cooking ability this next year. This is just one more stop on the way to a MasterChef audition!

Unexpected Vacation

Hey guys!

I just wanted to apologize for my lengthy absence. I know it has been a month since I last posted. This has been a really busy month! I not only celebrated my 27th birthday, but my wonderful husband and I also celebrated our 1 year anniversary as husband and wife. My time away from the keyboard was unexpected but I have a lot of new material to post from amazing party food to a few reviews of Dallas restaurants. Please bare with me as I get back into the swing of things and life returns to normal. As always, thank you for your continued support and I will have new tasties up for you soon!

I used to think it was solely about the preparation that goes into the dish that makes it…. Then I realized how differently my husband and I make our plates… WOW, can plating completely change how you view and taste a dish!
Take a commonly homemade dish like spaghetti for example….

Here my husband, Lawson starts out by covering the bottom of his bowl with mozzarella cheese. Needless to say… he likes his food very cheesy!

I start with the spaghetti and a meat sauce. There are so many ways you can make spaghetti and sauce. I like mine kind of spicy with more of a Cajun flare.

Lawson coats the layer of cheese with the hot meat sauce so that the cheese will melt faster.  He also prefers to use a bowl.

I on the other hand usually prefer a plate. I take a more traditional route and simply top my spaghetti noodles with my meat sauce.

Lawson tops his off with his spaghetti noodles. He then uses a fork and a knife to cut the noodles smaller and mix all of the ingredients together.

I top my plate off with Parmesan cheese and add baby bell Gouda and garlic bread to the side. While I usually twirl my noodles, I also like to heap the spaghetti onto the garlic bread.

For two people who are so similar, it’s interesting that we basically make our plates completely backwards from each other. We both started with the same seasoned spaghetti noodles and spicy meat sauce, but ended up with very different looking and tasting dishes. So do not start thinking that your way of making your plate is the only way or that it does not matter because it’s all the same! This is far from the truth!
How do you make your plate?

*~Bonus~*

Do you get aggravated when you have left over hamburger or hot dog buns like I do? The bread ends up going stale before you decide to have hamburgers/ hot dogs again or there really aren’t enough buns left for next time anyway. Re-purpose them!!! Here I used left over slider buns to make garlic bread. A little butter, oregano, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, grind-ed sea salt and garlic mix, a few minutes in the oven, and you’ll never pay for over priced bread at the bakery again!

Just another thought… if the bread does go stale or even a little moldy, find a nice duck pond and have a relaxing picnic. A nice after noon out for you… a nice meal for the ducks!

If you have any ideas for re-purposing unused items in the kitchen please share! :)

Some time ago I promised my facebook followers that I would post my favorite recipe. I highly apologize for how long it took, but HERE IT IS! My favorite food in probably the whole world is sushi….(I’m still learning to master that art!) One day a while back, while having a terrible craving for sushi and not yet knowing how to make it my self, I stumbled upon this recipe. And as I suggest you all do, I bent it, changed it, and made it my own. This is an extremely easy recipe to follow and does not take tremendous skill, but the result tastes wonderful and is sure fire to scratch that sushi itch!

It’s called a California Roll Salad because it is pretty much just that…. a California Roll in salad form!

First things first…. you start by making the dressing. You will need the following:

1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
wasabi powder or paste to taste
slices of fresh ginger root
(Proportions yield 1-2 servings)

Combine mayonnaise, soy sauce, sugar sesame oil, and vinegar together and blend well with a whisk. Add wasabi to taste. You can either grate the fresh ginger root into your dressing or cut slices and let soak in the dressing for flavor.
Set the dressing aside to let the flavors blend. Placing it in the fridge will speed up the blending process.
If you do not like this dressing, do not have time to make it, or would just prefer something different other dressings are available at supermarkets for purchase such as the one in the photo above.

For the body of the salad you are going to need the following:

White Rice
English Cucumber
Avocados
Shredded Imitation Crab Meat
Nori- Roasted Seaweed Paper
(Use proportions as you see fit for your taste and serving size, just be sure to make enough servings of the dressing)

Prepare white rice normally. Once fully cooked, set aside to cool. Rice should be completely cooled before using.

Peel and slice cucumber into 1-2 inch slices.

Cut open avocado, remove pit, and separate from the skin.
Cut into 1/2 inch cubes.
If you have an avocado slicer like the one in the picture,
you can separate the avocado from the skin
and cube it while leaving it in the skin.

Shred the imitation crab meat.
A slap chop is perfect for this.

The nori, or roasted seaweed, is going to act as a sort of lettuce base for this salad.  You can tear it into strips, crumple it into balls, or cut out shapes and be creative like the picture to the right.

This part is completely at your discretion, and can be your chance to display your creativity.

You are only limited by your imagination!
Now all that is left is to put the salad together. If you are making it for yourself, your probably like me and just want to throw in all in a big bowl and get on with the nom nom!
Here, I’ve used a small ramekin to mold the rice then placed the rest of the ingredients on top and around it. This is all about finding your own style and what is best suited for you at the moment.

As a meal for two, I served this salad with a temptation sushi roll, miso soup, and a spicy crab stuffed avocado that I made out of left over ingredients from the salad. I also sprinkled sesame seeds over the top of my salad the way you might use croutons. This meal was delicious paired with a nice fruity cold sake.

*Some ideas to cut calories or healthier substitutions for this recipe would be to use a sugar substitute like truvia instead. Also I use mayo with olive oil for less calories. To lessen salt intake for this dish try using low sodium soy sauce and use fresh ingredients like ginger root instead of pickled or ginger paste when ever possible. *

This dish can be served as a side dish, an appetizer, or even a main course. This makes a wonderful cold salad for a warm spring or summer day!

New Page!

From the readers, by the readers, for the readers!

There is a new page up called “From the Readers”
It is completely dedicated to YOU! The reader!

http://alittlegingerblog.wordpress.com/from-the-readers

I love to try new places. And finding hidden little gems is my favorite! Well I definitely found rubies with this one!

India’s Restaurant is one of those hidden away, hole in the wall places where the servers are the sweetest people and food is authentic and delicious! I had the Ginger Chicken and my husband had the Lamb Vindaloo. The ginger chicken was sweet and tangy with just the right amount of kick! The lamb Vindaloo was that perfect Indian spice that you would expect from this type of cuisine. But I think my favorite part of them meal was the freshly baked Garlic Nan bread! Believe me when I say you want to try this place if only for the bread.

All in all, I am already planning my next trip back. I can’t wait to try some of the other lamb dishes with ginger seasoning! :)

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