Thursday, May 27, 2010

Roasted Cauliflower

Cauliflower is probably not most people's "go-to" veggie or side dish, but after you try this recipe, I can guarantee you that you will think of cauliflower differently. After I came up with this recipe, it quickly became Steven's favorite dinner side dish and he wants me to make it at least once a week! The great thing about this dish is that it is super fast to prepare, requires very few (and very common) ingredients and it is very flavorful!

I hope you love it!

1 head of cauliflower, trimmed of leaves and stem and cut into florets
1 tablespoons of olive oil for drizzling
1 lemon
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup of grated or shredded parmesan cheese
white or black truffle oil spray, if desired *

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Put trimmed cauliflower pieces into a 2.5 quart oval casserole dish or other oven-proof dish of this approximate size. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and then squeeze the lemon juice all over the cauliflower. Toss a few times to coat all the pieces. Bake for 25 minutes.

Remove from oven. Turn broiler on high. Make sure oven rack is in the middle of the oven. Sprinkle parmesan on top and spritz all over with truffle oil. Return to oven and broil for about 1-2 minutes. Watch carefully to make sure it doesn't burn.

Remove from oven and serve immediately.

*If you are not familiar with truffles, they are in the mushroom family and are most often found in Europe. The flavor is very unique and you are likely to fall in love with truffles once you taste something made with truffles or spritzed with truffle infused oil. You can find white or black truffle oil at specialty stores (like William Sonoma) or specialty grocery stores. I have been lucky to buy it super cheap at TJMaxx, so I would definitely try to find it there.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Weekend with Makenzie

One thing that I have not yet done since I started this blog is write non-recipe posts about our life here in Louisiana and our new adventures. So, since our families and friends (except our new ones) live elsewhere and we are fortunate to get to experience a new place while we are young and without kids, so I think that I'll start sharing some of our adventures with you.

AND, since this is technically a food and recipe blog, I will share with you our thoughts on restaurants we go to. After all, New Orleans is known for having some of the best restaurants in the world and we definitely do our part to contribute to their patronage!

Fortunately, I have perfect opportunity to begin this new little blogging endeavor as my very best friend, Makenzie, came to visit Steven and I this past weekend. Makenzie and I have known each other since we were 11 years old when we met in Mrs. Reeves' fifth grade class. We were instantly best friends and have been ever since. We were even born one day apart. Needless to say, I was so happy when she said she was booking a flight to come visit!

One thing that is funny about me and probably not surprising to anyone is that when people say they are coming to visit, I get a little stressed and start planning and thinking of all the things we are going to do and every single time I realize there is no need to stress because it is so much more fun when you just go with the flow and see where it takes you. That is definitely what we did with Makenzie and it was sooo much fun!

Friday night, we took the suggestion of my friend, Casey, and went to Jacques Imo's . Jacques Imo's is located in the Uptown area of New Orleans and is such a cool place. Very funky and totally reminded me of something you would find in Austin (for all you Texans reading this). The food was amazing! They started us off with what I'd consider one of the best parts of the meals and that was the corn muffins. Oh. My. Gosh. They were like heaven on a plate. I pretty much always love corn bread, but these were on another level! For dinner, I got grilled Mahi Mahi which was prepared with a sweet Asian sauce and served with asparagus and pistachios. Such an odd combination, but so good. Makenzie got the blackened Red Fish, which is one of their specialties and most popular dishes. For someone that had not really had much Cajun cooking before, I'd say that Jacques Imo's won Makenzie over. Thanks Casey for the great suggestion, we loved it and we will definitely go back again!

The next morning, we took Makenzie to our favorite breakfast place on the Northshore, The Broken Egg. Now, if you're thinking, "Oh, I've been there in (fill in the bank)." You probably have, however, the one in Mandeville is the original and, in my opinion, the best one! From the spicy bloody marys to the extra large selection of breakfast favorites and cajun specialities, The Broken Egg is a winner in our book. It is a staple in every Patterson visitor's itinerary. (I don't actually write one, but you get what I mean.

After brunch, we had a terrific day of New Orleaneans' favorite pastimes--drinking and eating. We hit the Abita Beer Brewery, the Pontchartrain Vineyards and then we were off to Friends for a drink on the patio (after a stop home to change, recharge and let Lily out!) Makenzie loved Friends, as everyone does, because it is in the best location and it is so great to sit outside and have a drink right on the river. So relaxing. We had a casual dinner at Morton's and then called it a night after one last drink at Friends (again).

Makenzie's mom was coincidentally in New Orleans with a friend the same weekend, so the next morning, we drove into the city to pick them up for brunch. We decided to try Camellia Grill. We had never been there and I knew next to nothing about it, so I was a little nervous as to how it would all turn out since as I mentioned, I like to impress my guests. ha ha

Well, worry no further because Camellia Grill is delicious. It is definitely not your typical fancy New Orleans Jazz Brunch ala Brennan's, but it very tasty and a fun New Orleans type experience. You have to wait outside in line because it is pretty small and the seating is all counter-seating where you can watch them whip up your breakfast/brunch. But fear not, the waitstaff if pretty entertaining and the wait goes by fast. We got there fairly early so we didn't have to wait too long. I'll tell you one thing though, bring a sweater. It was like an icebox! Everyone else got omelets of varying styles while I decided on a french dip style roast beef sandwich since I don't like eggs (that eliminated about 95% of breakfast foods for me!) The omelets were huge and fluffy since they beat their eggs in a milkshake maker! What a great idea! Then came the best part of any meal...dessert. Even though it is breakfast, it is a necessity to get dessert if you go to Camellia Grill. It should be a rule. I'd read on the Internet (in my pre-visit planning, of course) that they had the best chocolate pecan pie. Now I don't really love pecan pie all that much, but since I had read about it, I decided to give it a go. And boy am I glad that I did! You see, they put the pie on a buttered grill to heat it up so that all the ooey gooey goodness can start to ooze out. Then they plop a grapefruit-size scoop of Blue Bell (made in Texas!) homemade vanilla ice cream on top. Again, I was in heaven. Just like with the corn muffins.

All in all, the weekend with Makenzie was terrific. I probably gained five pounds, but it was worth it. Five pounds and all. Thanks for visiting Mak, please come back soon! Love you!

P.S. Can anyone tell me how to upload pictures into posts (using a Mac) in the spot you want? I clearly can't figure it out but want to put pictures up!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Holy Moly Guacamole it's Cinco de Mayo!

In my last post, I mentioned my love for guacamole and my new love for avocados in general. Not being a fan of queso (surprise, surprise) I have always loved guacamole and it is of course my favorite thing about Mexican food (and margaritas). My brother in law, Brian, shares my loves for guacamole and I can always count on him to want to order it in addition to queso, so that I am not the only one who wants it!

Back in the day, I actually worked as a waitress at a Mexican restaurant. Funny to imagine that I actually carried those big trays around (I totally sucked at that, by the way) but I did. It was not your run of the mill Mexican restaurant and was actually pretty nice and one of the things that the restaurant offered was Table-Side Guacamole. So, needless to say, I got pretty darn good at whipping up tasty guacamole.

There are a few things that I make/cook that my family members look forward to and my guacamole is one of them. So, I hope you enjoy it just as much!

3 ripe avocados, halved and seeded
2-3 tablespoons finely chopped yellow onion
2 tablespoons of salsa of your choice (I personally like Pace!)
Juice of 1 lemon
1-2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon of cumin
Pinch of cayenne pepper or a few dashes of Tabasco

After halving the avocados and removing the pit, use your knife to make vertical cuts across the avocado being careful not to puncture the skin or cut your hand! Then rotate the avocado and make vertical cuts across the other side making a checkboard-type pattern. Repeat with all the halves and then carefully scoop out the flesh of the avocado into a bowl with a spoon by running the spoon around the edge of the skin. Combine the remaining ingredients and mash the avocado with either a potato masher or two forks to achieve the texture and consistentcy you desire.

Make sure to taste the guacomole and adjust the seasoning as necessary. I find that most often the salt or the lemon need to be adjusted, so add more according to your taste. Give it one last stir and taste and then serve with your favorite tortilla chips or as a topping for fajitas, tacos or your other favorite Mexican foods.

Tip: If you are not going to be serving right away, reserve one or two of the avocado pits and place them in the guacamole. This will help slow down the browning process. You may do this with leftovers as well, but I would recommend placing plastic wrap directly on top of the guamacole to prevent the air from getting to it and then putting one more piece of plastic wrap over the bowl.

Enjoy and Happy Cinco de Mayo!
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