May’s guest spot comes from my beloved sister, Bianca! Chrystal and I recently paid her a visit in Portland, where we ate ourselves into an oblivion. Bianca, who is a vegan that enjoys a helping of cheese from time to time, showed us a great time around the “Green City.” During our trip, she excitedly agreed to share one of her original vegan recipes with us. This one that she picked features one of our favorite food items, avocados! We can’t wait to try it out for ourselves. Here’s B with more.
It was just over a year ago that we featured a walnut pesto recipe for penne pasta. It was fast, easy and satisfying. Pesto is one of the simplest things you can adapt to your tastes or to what you have on hand. If you have nuts, herbs, oil and a little citrus, you can make pesto. A bit of parmesan cheese is just the icing on the cake. Over the holidays, especially when you have guests, you have to keep in mind that they want to eat the few days before the big event as well. That means you have to make other dishes besides the turkey, ham and pies. What do you pull out when you’re not in the mood to make a huge meal for every meal? Well, pasta of course. Pasta with pesto.
This has been an exhausting month. We’ve been celebrating new jobs, birthdays galore, the arrival of good friends, checking out new restaurants and just enjoying all things fabulous about fall. Somewhere in there, we’ve been expected to cook. It’s possible that little piece of the pie fell through the cracks. Of course, we enjoy cooking, but perhaps this is one of those times when it felt like we had to make something. For the sake of the blog, for the sake of our readers. Is this how it feels when people get a bit of the blogging blues? If there’s one thing we both want to avoid, it’s the feeling that cooking is a chore. Some activities are hard to enjoy when they feel like obligations. When times like this arise, you find an easy way to solve the problem.
It must be great to say that your prefix is no longer ‘Ms.’, but rather ‘Dr.’ Neither one of us can say that for several prime reasons, but our friend Jessica can! She is just about to cross the threshold into true medicine woman life, and she is also making her way through the kitchen. Through Twitter, she often names the dishes she has just made or is about to make, and it’s great to know that even a med student can find time to cook. If she can do it, none of us have any excuse to shirk our meal-making responsibilities. She hesitated just a bit when first approached to take part in our Guest Test Kitchen series, but the chef deep inside must be ready to make its debut because she’s here to share one of her vegetarian specialties with all of you.
One of the reasons most of us enjoy cooking for others is because it’s something that makes other people feel good. That’s one of the main reasons we like to cook for our friends and family. It is something that we can offer other people, and they appreciate it. If our only purpose in life was to do nice things for people that they would enjoy and appreciate, we would all be happy campers. Not too long ago, a friend of ours had an all-around bad day that seemed to pair nicely with a not so great week. From beginning to end, it was a mess. Bad days happen to everyone, and sometimes there isn’t much you can do to change the situation. As a friend, all you can do is lend an ear or a helping hand. Food never hurts either. How can you continue with a bad day when an evening’s meal shows up at your doorstep?
Just like homemade salad dressings, pesto has a million variations. We like to experiment with flavors based on what’s available at the time, and we always keep it fairly simple–nuts, a hard cheese, herbs, citrus and garlic. Pesto. At least, that’s how we do it. There’s no reason to stick with tradition when you can come up with fun twists on the original. There are a lot of good premade pestos on the market, and we’ve definitely made use of them. This time, it was worth the effort to make it. Actually, it’s always worth the effort if you have the ingredients on hand. Give it a go just one time, and you’ll see how easy and delicious it can be.
How many ways can you use up a jar of “insert ingredient here”? There are a few tricks to the way we cook, and we’ve been revealing our methods for a while. Well, here’s one that always, always, always gets us thinking of new recipes. It’s called the “use it or lose it” method. If we’ve bought something for one purpose, and it’s still hanging around in the fridge or pantry, we will use it up to avoid tossing it. It’s a preparation permutation, if you will. That’s why you’re seeing a third sun dried tomato recipe around these here parts. First it was a dip, then there was a burger, and now we present la pasta!
There’s something about eggplants that make them super tasty. Not sure what it is, but they’re good. The fact that they are so versatile, it’s easy to work them into a variety of dishes. Carb cravings came on strong, and it was time to have a little pasta. Pasta and eggplants! Now, sometimes you have to cut corners to make things happen. Perhaps you shouldn’t do it if you’re running a marathon or taking the SAT, but we’re talking about cooking here. There are no ingredient police hanging out in our ‘hood, so it’s OK to cheat when necessary. It seems like whenever we want to do something good and fast, our friend Joe (yes, the one who is a Trader) always hooks it up! We had this really great jar of eggplant spread that hadn’t been opened, and it seemed like the next best thing to a fresh eggplant.
Have you ever wanted to try something so badly but when presented with the opportunity you blank? Swiss chard has been on the ‘to-try’ list for a very long time. We kept running into it in recipes and in the market. It’s a gorgeous vegetable, a bit entrancing with its deep green foliage and reddish-pink backbone. We finally just picked up a bunch from the store and dropped it into our basket. There. It was done. Well, almost. We still had to cook it, but we had no idea where to start. Things that make you go ‘hmmm…’, right?
Our Guest Test Kitchen is back in action! Here comes a good friend Michelle to tell you a bit about one of her easy to make recipes. Michelle is yet another UNC grad (Can you see a strange pattern here?), and she has always been Ms. Healthy and Fit. It’s a great thing of course! She knows her way around the kitchen and how to prepare a fast, nutritious meal. We don’t know how she has the time though. Not only can she whip up food on the fly, but she is also a producer for her own company, Continuous Take Productions. We are impressed. Very impressed. Take a seat and see what Michelle’s got cookin’.