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Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Shrimp, Chilis & Ginger with Avocado

I have a confession to make…. I started Besotted with more than just the goal of jotting down my favorite recipes and rambling about my culinary experiences. I desperately want to get people back into the kitchen, and for them to do more than peel back the plastic on a microwaveable meal or ‘add water’ to make a meal magically puff up before their eyes.

 

It’s an absurd quest in our multi-tasking, over-taxed, over-stressed world, but I’m taking it on, and if there’s one recipe in my arsenal to battle the delivery-guy, grocery-store-prepared-foods, and the like, it’s this one, because it takes 15 minutes from grocery bag to table. Not only is it easy and quick, but the flavors – fresh chilis, ginger, garlic, and lemon – will instantly remind you why fresh always tastes best.

 

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Tuscan White Bean Soup

So, I’ve received just a tiny bit of flack for featuring a veggie dish that contained prosciutto in the Veggie Dinners post and sought to rectify the situation. In my defense, the second recipe was strictly vegetarian, but I understand that there is a ‘truth-in-advertising’ issue with a post titled “Veggie Dinners” that features prosciutto. Lest I invoke the wrath of any more vegetarians, I will own that the base of this soup is a chicken stock – because that is what I always have on hand – but vegetable stock could easily be used as a substitute.

 

Tuscan White Bean Soup is a recipe that is both categorically healthy – carrots, white beans, and kale constitute its base – and all succor, warmth, and comfort. It is not every recipe that can soothe both the spirit and the body, but this recipe does so perfectly.

 

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Crispy, peppery, and deliciously salty homemade potato chips

Crispy, peppery, and deliciously salty homemade potato chips

 

I am not one of those people that is capable of restraining themselves in all areas of their life at once. I never could, and wouldn’t expect myself to, pinch my pennies, watch what I eat, hit the gym every day, log in extra hours at the office, and be kind to strangers, all at the same time. It simply can not happen.

 

With the recession in full-swing, and having imposed a temporary ban on shopping at Barney’s, I feel fully justified… nee, compelled to assuage my spirit with a little culinary over-indulgence.

 

Potato chips are one of my greatest weaknesses. I may wax poetic about farm-fresh eggs, local butchers, and in-season produce, but put a bag of Doritos or Lays in front of me, and all of that Organivore/Localvore dogma goes right out the window, and I get downright gluttonous.

 

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Strange but delicious

Strange but delicious.... Blood orange gelato in a pool of extra-virgin olive oil with mint.

 

 

I am not a huge fan of fusion… or, rather, I think it has its limits. For those masochistic souls who, like me, have read the inimitable American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis, you will recall the intentional absurdities of the characters’ dinner menus. An integral attraction in the mad carnival that Ellis creates is the nightly $300 supper of increasingly absurd food pairings, culminating in my favorite, the Cilantro Cheesecake. For those of us foodies with a wicked sense of humor, the cache of these unappetizing meals lent a bit of levity to an otherwise grizzly novel.

 

But, as usual, I digress… the point is that it didn’t take the macabre humor of American Psycho to turn me off of fusion. I’m just a bit too traditional for all of the new-fangled stuff that kids these days are coming out with.

 

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It's not the prettiest dish, but it smells and tastes fantastic.

It's not the prettiest dish, but it smells and tastes fantastic.

 

I am not a fan of ‘cooking-lite.’ If I’m going to do something, I want to do it right, even if it means carrying around a little extra junk in my admittedly full trunk.

 

Now, this doesn’t mean that I have a total disregard for health or that I’m cramming slices of bacon and hunks of cheese into my mouth all day long. Quite the opposite, it’s just that I would prefer a smaller portion of something that tastes fantastic than a heaping plate of something that tastes so-so.

 

That being said, scrolling through Besotted, I did notice that there were an awful lot of bacon-y, cream-laden, cheesy, and chocolate-y recipes. At the same time, the seasonal winter-weight-gain has had my pants fitting a bit snugly, and I thought it was time to include a completely healthy, but still rock-your-world delicious Weeknight Dinner recipe.

 

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Cookies

Ever since Starbucks introduced their Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate, I have been on a frenzied, manic quest for all things salted caramel.

 

I’ve fallen madly in love with Toscanini’s Salted Caramel ice cream (made into an ethereal affogato with espresso), as well as their Burnt Caramel ice cream, so when I came across David Lebovitz’s Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe with Salted Caramel, borrowed from Cindy Mushet’s The Art and Soul of Baking, I immediately cleared my calendar and made a date with a big jar of peanut butter.

 

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It's ironic.... this may be the worst picture I've taken, yet it's of one of the most delicious desserts.

It's ironic.... this may be the worst picture I've taken, yet it's of one of the most delicious desserts.

 

Each culture has its ‘thing’ that it does far better than the rest. Jews? We save money better than most. The Swiss? Nobody dots their i’s and crosses their t’s like the fastidious Swiss. The French? They have an uncanny knack for self-preservation when it comes to international conflicts. The Italians? Nobody does simple, rustic food as spectacularly as the Italians.

 

While I would most likely tip my hat to the French for overall cuisine, Italian food wins the award for turning a handful of plain, every day ingredients into something drool-worthy. The culture that brought us thin-crust pizza, Linguine alla Carbonara & Cannolis must be applauded for its prowess in turning the simple into something sublime.

 

While Italy has many popular culinary claims to fame, one of my favorite Italian dishes is the little-known Affogato.

 

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