Starters

Revisiting an Old Friend

Black Bean & Cotija Dip 1The first cotija culinary adventure proved to be so interesting that we went back at it again. This time, we were going for quick, easy and hearty. One of our favorite friends possessing all three traits is the black bean! It’s really versatile–from soups to brownies. Yes, brownies. Just Google it. So after a successful foray with cotija, we figured it’d be a perfect match with black beans. Black beans in a dip formation. There are a lot of black bean dips in the world, but most of them tend to be blended or partially mashed, which was exactly what we didn’t want. It’s more fun to actually see what you’re eating. And so we went with the tried and true layer action. Perfect for chip dipping!

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Vegetarian

Swirl a Spoon In It

Roasted peppersPlaying with your food takes on a new meaning once you’re an adult. Especially once you’ve realized just how fun it is to play with your food. You can push a pile of peas around with your folk, stack french fries into a fortress or squish a summer squash into a pulp. We guess that’s fun for some people. But when we think of playing with food, we like the idea of tweaking textures, enhancing natural flavors, creating pretty patterns and messing with colors. The colors found in foods are so amazing. How often do you stumble across blue potatoes, purple carrots and green pumpkins without being entranced? Maybe only the rest of us food geeks can relate to that one! We didn’t fool around with the genetics of any foods this time, but we did fashion a zen-like homage to the world’s varied color palette of vegetables. Continue reading “Swirl a Spoon In It”

Vegetarian

The Battle of the Oils

dscn0022Slight exaggeration in title, yes, but does that make what we’re about to expound on any less interesting?  Hopefully not!  We want to talk about our new favorite oil.  We’re not about to push that bottle of extra virgin olive oil to the back of the cabinet, but we think he’s definitely got some competition.  The new kid on the block isn’t even really all that new.  He’s been around for a while, but how often do you see his name pop up in recipes?  We daresay not often enough.  In fact, we polled maybe one or two people, and they had no idea what this oil even was.  One or two people isn’t a lot, but this isn’t Family Feud here.  We just wanted to ask around.  So what is this crazy oil that’s got us so psyched up?  It starts with grape and ends with seed.

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Starters

Blame It on Global Warming

Chili Cumin Tortilla ChipsIt’s still January, but a couple of weeks in Los Angeles have seen the mercury gauge of thermometers in the 70s, 80s and 90s. It may have even been just under 100 degrees at its hottest in the Valley. Crazy! At the same time, we watched folks in the Midwest and on the East Coast bundled up and trudging through snowstorms.  When news hit that  there was seven inches of snow in our alma mater state of North Carolina, we knew something was going on.  (We do not envy them one bit.)  We’re strong believers in eating seasonally–noshing on dishes that are true comfort foods based on the weather. Well it’s been a summery winter where we are, so we want a fun hot weather snack: salsa!

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Vegetarian

There’s a First for Everything

Sweet Potato, Red Onion & CotijaJust as we were tossing a hunk cotija cheese around for the first time, we also got tagged for the first time in the Luck & Resolutions circle by The Alchemist Chef. Very exciting! These answers were inspired by delicious eats.

Four things we wish for in 2009:
1. Continued discovery of new, wonderful foods and food cultures.

2. Travel, travel, travel.

3. Keep our minds open to even more foods we’ve never tried.

4. Create more signature recipes.

Four things we resolve to do in 2009:
1. Work on our photography skills!

2. Eat well without regret.

3. Open other people’s minds to things they’ve never tried.

4. Formulate a business plan…the plan is a secret, so this one will remain vague!

Now it’s our turn to tag three others and see what’s in store for them this year.  But now, back to that cotija…

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Seafood

A Bit of the Asian Persuasion

Spring rolls...before baking!
Spring rolls...before baking!
Orange aubergines ready for the oven.
Orangey aubergines ready for the oven.

There are two things that we love about potluck dinners: (1) you’re not in charge of cooking the entire smorgasbord and (2) you can try out new dishes on your friends. Actually, we’ve heard it said that you should never do a new dish for a potluck. It should always be one of your tried and true concoctions that is sure to bring on nothing but raucous raves from your greedy friends. We threw caution to the wind and searched through our recipe rolodex for a couple of platters for a Japanese themed dinner. There are so many recipes that come to mind when you think Japanese, but we’re also trying to watch our waistlines after November and December’s gorge fests. That meant none of the heavier dishes that we would’ve preferred to pull together; no, it had to be something delicious bordering on diet.  We were teetering in dangerous territory, but who doesn’t love a challenge.

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Cookies & Bars

Another Crack at Semi-Homemade

Chocolate PB Oatmeal Toffee CookiesFood Network’s Sandra Lee is not the only one who knows what it means to do semi-homemade.  Sometimes we like to take credit for delicious things that were already half prepared and all we did was add a couple of extra ingredients.  It’s all about the pizzazz people, and we know how to pizzazzicize when we need to.  When you’re in a crunch on time, but you need to whip up a little something fabulous, don’t hesitate to use a few star starters that will reduce your fretting in the kitchen.  We wanted a cookie, and we wanted it fast, so we did the only thing we could think of:  pull out the Pillsbury!

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