Recipe of the Week: Carbonara Orzo Risotto

Recipe of the Week: Carbonara Orzo Risotto

I love recipes targeted toward weeknight cooking. Those that simplify more complex, more involved recipes that we love. Well, this is one of those recipes. It takes a dish many love, pasta carbonara, and simplifies it to make it quicker, simpler...in short, more "weeknight-friendly". This week's Recipe of the Week is Carbonara Orzo Risotto from TheKitchn.com, one of my favorite websites.

Ingredient: The Vanilla vs. Vanilla Smackdown

Ingredient: The Vanilla vs. Vanilla Smackdown

In the race for the “right” vanilla flavor you need to balance flavor with the cost. Do you go (maybe invest is a better word?) for the real stuff or is imitation okay? What’s the difference? What’s the tradeoff? Is there a time when you’d want to use one vs. The other? Well, here’s the stuff you need to know.

Recipe of the Week: Failproof Crêpes

Recipe of the Week: Failproof Crêpes

Crêpes. Love 'em. Scared to make 'em. That about sums it up for most people, doesn't it? Admit it. What words/phrases come to mind when you think of crêpes? Difficult? Fussy? Frustrating? Lots of work and planning?

So, what if I told you there was a recipe that tackles both sides of all this? One that makes a tasty crêpe that's easy to make and avoids a lot of the headaches? You'd be interested, right? Well, good. Because I certainly am!

So here's this week's Recipe of the Week...Failproof Crêpes from the SmittenKitchen blog.

Is It Time For a Knife Upgrade?

Is It Time For a Knife Upgrade?

It may be time for an upgraded kitchen knife. If you’re like me you may have never thought much about your knives or thought you wouldn’t spend the money on one of those higher-end knives. The weight, balance, and cutting ability of that first really good knife made all the difference in the world. Honestly, I could just feel the difference. This is not only beautifully designed but also is very solidly constructed. It made me think about the other cheap knives I had in my drawer. I could feel what a difference a really top-notch knife could make. Not as any type of status symbol, but as a well-designed, well-built tool. My curiosity was peaked. I wanted to learn more - and also see if I could upgrade the rest of my knives.

Recipe of the Week: Meyer Lemon Blueberry Scones

Recipe of the Week: Meyer Lemon Blueberry Scones

I ask you. Would it be Mothers Day without brunch? And would it be brunch without scones? Correct answers: No and no. And so off I went hunting for a great Spring-like scone recipe. It didn't take long to find just the perfect thing. So this week's Recipe of the Week is from one of my favorite bloggers, Gaby Dalkin ("Your Everyday California Girl"), over at What's Gaby CookingMeyer Lemon Blueberry Scones. As Gaby put it so well on her blog, "...it’s a combo of perfectly ripe and juicy blueberries, lemon curd AND a Meyer lemon glaze.".

Picking The Right Cutting Board

Picking The Right Cutting Board

Choosing the right cutting board(s). Boy, is this one of the most overlooked decisions people make in their kitchens! You may not think about it much, but your cutting surface can make a ton of difference in your cooking. The wrong cutting board can leave behind germs, dull your knives, and just generally make it harder to cut. There are several types out there; some better than others. Here are some of the more common ones you’ll come across.

Recipe of the Week: Roasted Asparagus and Arugula Pizza

Recipe of the Week: Roasted Asparagus and Arugula Pizza

Well, here we are venturing deeper and deeper into Spring. Here in the Houston area it has been one wet and soggy Spring so far. In fact, we're still dealing with flooded reservoirs and bayous - with more rain expected this weekend. Sigh.

So let's turn instead back to the garden. As I wrote a few weeks ago, so many great veggies start showing up at this time of year - spinach, asparagus, green onions, spring peas, etc. That's why this recipe stood out to me. It's a perfect way to use some of the asparagus that is so nice and tender right now. The flavors of the creamy, tangy goat cheese, the sweetness brought out in the roasted asparagus, and the spicy arugula go particularly well together.

This week's Recipe of the Week is Roasted Asparagus and Arugula Pizza from OhMyVeggies.

Technique: Braising Turns Tougher Meats into Something Wonderful

Technique: Braising Turns Tougher Meats into Something Wonderful

Have you ever braised meat? Heard about it and wondered how it’s done? It can seem a little intimidating, can’t it? Honestly, once you learn the basics of braising you can transform even the toughest cut of meat into a tender masterpiece. Braising is just one of those very basic cooking techniques that you HAVE to know. It’s not really that hard - and you’ll be happy you know how.

Recipe of the Week: Caramelized Onion Crepes with Honeyed Blue Cheese Sauce

Recipe of the Week: Caramelized Onion Crepes with Honeyed Blue Cheese Sauce

What is it that made this recipe catch my attention this week? Well, a couple of things. First, I have to admit it. I’ve been on a bit of a blue cheese kick this week. I picked up some blue cheese at the market the other day and I’ve been finding ways to include it wherever I can. I love it’s strong, tangy flavor. I’ve been eating lots of cheese lately, but mostly of the mainstream cheddar, butterkäse, swiss, and havarti varieties. Blue cheese just sounded like a really good alternative with a punch of flavor. So when I saw this recipe with a honeyed blue cheese sauce it just spoke to me. :)

Secondly, I came across the beautiful de Buyer blue steel crepe pan I picked up a few months ago and have used exactly ZERO times! Time to break it out...

In addition, where else are you gonna find a recipe that tells you how to make great crepes AND caramelized onions - and an interesting sauce too? Oh yeah! So, this week’s Recipe of the Week just had to be Caramelized Onion Crepes with Honeyed Blue Cheese Sauce from LocalSavour.com.

Ingredient: Which Cooking Oil is Right?

Ingredient: Which Cooking Oil is Right?

There are SO MANY cooking oils available to the home cook nowadays, it can be confusing and overwhelming. Of course there are the old standards, canola, olive, corn, sunflower, safflower, “vegetable”, etc. And in recent years we’ve seen tremendous growth in some more unique gourmet oils like nut oils (hazelnut, walnut, etc.), avocado oil, coconut oil, etc. In addition, we’ve become much more aware that there are even differences (sometimes big ones) in the oils we are more familiar with. (After all, an olive oil is not just an olive oil, right?) 

So, how do we make sense of them all? How do we know when or why to use one vs. another? I thought I’d share a primer on some of the keys to look for - what’s important and what’s not.