It’s My Birthday and I’ll Cook If I Want To

That’s right. It’s my birthday and so I have to cook up a storm and have people over. Then, of course, go to the midnight showing of The Hunger Games. I decided to make an appetizer spread and have my guests bring the drinks. Here’s the menu:

Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip
Meatballs with BBQ Sauce and Garlic Basil Aioli
Bacon Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Herbs and Goat Cheese
Homemade Pico de Gallo with chips

There are several recipes involved here so I’ll give them to you individually as well as let you know what I did in advance, etc. Here we go. It’s party time!

Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip with Garlic Butter Crostini

Hot Spinach-Artichoke Dip

Serves: 10-12
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

1 (10 0z) package frozen spinach (make sure it’s not in sauce), thawed
2 (14 oz) cans artichoke hearts, drained and chopped in food processor
1/2 cup mayonaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup parmesan, grated

Preparation:

1. Grease a casserole dish (recommend a 2 oz dish). Combine ingredients in a bowl and stir well. Pour ingredients in casserole dish and top with extra cheese.

2. Bake on 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

3. Serve with crostinis. To make crostinis, combine 1 stick butter and 4 garlic cloves in a food processor. Cut a french loaf into slices on an angle. Spread garlic butter on crostinis and bake at 400 degrees for about 8 minutes. Allow to cool. Crostini’s can be made in advance.

Recipe from Paula Deen at FoodNetwork.com.

Meatballs with BBQ Sauce and Garlic Basil Aioli

Meatballs with BBQ Sauce and Garlic Basil Aioli

Serves: Makes 40 meatballs
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: About 30 minutes

Ingredients:

Meatballs

1/2 lb ground pork
1/2 lb ground beef
1 cup fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 cup bread crumbs
3 eggs
2 cups chicken stock
2 onions
3 cloves garlic
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil

BBQ Sauce

1 cup catsup
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 1/2 tbs light brown sugar
2 1/2 tbs sugar
1/4 tbs pepper
1/4 tbs garlic powder
1/4 tbs ground mustard
1/2 tbs Worcestershire sauce

Basil Garlic Aioli

2/3 cup mayonaise
4 garlic cloves, chopped
5-6 basil leaves, chopped
3 tbs olive oil
Salt

Preparation:

1. Make BBQ Sauce and aioli in advance. To make BBQ Sauce, combine all ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour or until thickened. To make aioli, combine ingredients except olive oil in a food processor and pulse. While machine is running, slowly add olive oil.

2. To make meatballs, brown onions and add garlic. Remove from heat once browned and allow to cool.

3. Combine ingredient except chicken stock in a bowl. Mix together with your hands. Heat olive oil and make a tester patty. When tester patty is tasty, make balls (or patties) and cook in batches.

3. Brown meatballs on all sides. Then add a splash (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup) chicken stock and simmer for 3-4 minutes.

4. Drain on paper towels and serve.

Meatball recipe adapted from Anne Burrell’s Cook Like a Rock Star, BBQ Sauce from the Neely’s at FoodNetwork.com and Garlic Basil Aioli from Bobby Flay at FoodNetwork.com.

Homemade Pico de Gallo

Homemade Pico de Gallo

Serves: 10-12
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 0!

Ingredients:

3 large beefsteak tomatoes, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 1/2 cups cilantro, chopped
Juice of 2 limes
Salt to taste

Preparation:

1. Combine all ingredients and mix. Refrigerate for about an hour or more before serving. Serve chilled with tortilla chips.

Recipe is an original.

The important part of this recipe is to remember to make the salsa and onion in big chunks. At least, that’s the way I like it. Nothing beats fresh pico de gallo.

Bacon Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Herbs

See my previous post for the recipe on these. They are divine!

It was a fantastic party and the food turned out well. It was definitely a lot to make and it took all day but it was worth it. The Bacon Wrapped Dates get better every time I make them and I find they do not take long at all and they need a good stuffing of goat cheese to make sure it all doesn’t melt out. The Spinach Artichoke Dip is a dish I’ve been making for years and it is always a crowd pleaser, plus it is so incredibly easy. The meatballs turned out pretty well. I found it was much easier to cook them as patties and I ended up doing that because I was running out of time. They were very moist and it seems essential to use fresh rosemary. That made all the difference. And of course there’s the Pico de Gallo. That’s another dish I’ve been making forever and it is always delicious and simple. It was a great party and a great birthday!

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My First Blog Award! 7×7

Yay! I was nominated yesterday for my first blog award! I’ll admit. I cheated a little since the person who nominated me is my boyfriend, but he also legitimately loves my blog as well as me. Probably mostly because he gets to eat all the food I cook. But I digress!

Here are the rules for receiving the award:

1. Thank the person who gave it to you.

2. Share seven random facts about yourself.

3. Share seven of your worthy posts under the following headers: Most Beautiful Piece, Most Helpful, Most Popular, Most Controversial, Most Surprisingly Successful, Most Underrated and Most Pride Worthy.

4. Nominate seven other bloggers and notify them.

So here we go!

1. I was nominated for this award by my amazing, awesome and talented boyfriend Adam over at Eat, Sleep, Television. Adam is a movie and tv fanatic and is also excellent at breaking episodes and movies down and just telling you how he feels. He has done some excellent reviews and even though I don’t always agree with him (Avatar ROCKS!), I love his style and ability to see things others cannot. His dream in life is to become a critic so go help him out. It will be a win-win situation.

2. Seven Random Facts… Alrighty then.

  1. I don’t like crunchy desserts. My cookies will be doughy, Bob Darn It!
  2. I have an obsession with shoes. And purses. And clothes. And shopping in general.
  3. I wear a shower cap. Curly girls represent!
  4. I’m related to Stonewall Jackson by marriage.
  5. My mother is Anne Rice.
  6. I LOVE Hello Kitty. Like seriously. LOVE.
  7. The story behind Basmati Taco, the name. My last name is Rice. Once day my friend and I were signing up for online dating (and it worked out well I must say) and it is ridiculously hard to come up with screen names for these things. My friend suggested something rice related and we came up with Basmati. Well, that was already taken and the site recommended trying Basmati_Taco. And there you have it. I actually have never had a Basmati Taco but it will happen someday. Indian-style tacos here I come!

3. My posts:

4. And the nominees are:

  1. Journey Too
  2. Going Dutch
  3. Cloud of Lace
  4. Danny’s Kitchen
  5. Lauren’s Road Less Traveled
  6. Assia’s Kaleidoscope
  7. A Teaspoon Of Tumeric

And there you have it! Thanks so much to Adam and to all my readers!

Taco!

How To Treat Your Avocados With Respect

This is a How-To for avocados. I have discovered moving from the West to East coast that people who live where avocados do not grow are much less inclined to know how to take care of them. Treating an avocado, like a significant other, with respect is important if you want better results. Here are some tips from a Californian on how to treat your avocados.

Steph's Guacamole

Tips:

1. When purchasing avocados, buy not so ripe ones. You want an avocado with less experience. You can tell how ripe an avocado is by pushing gently near the stem area. The softer the area, the more ripe the avocado is.

2. Help your avocados ripen by placing them in a paper bag and in an area that gets some sun during the day, such as a window sill. Make sure to tell your avocado how awesome it is every now and then.

3. Leave the avocados in the bag for a day or two (or a few depending on how much sun, etc.) until the area around the stem is soft but not mushy. When you peel the avocado the inside should be green. A little brown is ok. We all have a little spots here and there.

4. To peel an avocado, run a knife through the avocado and around the pit, then twist a little and pull the two halves apart. To pit an avocado, hit the pit with a knife, twist and pull. The pit should come right out. I don’t have any relationship puns for this one.

5. Use a spoon to get the good stuff out. Don’t be afraid to scrape the inside. The peel will stand up to a spoon, and so will an ego.

You can use avocados for a whole lot of stuff, including Steph’s Guacamole, vegan chocolate cream pie (I WILL make this some day) and a myriad of other dishes. Or just sprinkle on some salt and snack away. Avocados are an amazing food and I look forward to the day I can walk outside and pick an avocado right out of the tree. Ah, the good life.

Steph’s Guacamole (with Chicken and Black Beans)

Steph’s Guacamole

Serves 4

Total Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

For Guacamole:

4 Hass avocados

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1 large tomato (or about 3 smaller tomatoes), diced

1 – 2 limes

1/2 tsp chili powder

Salt to taste

Hand full of cilantro (optional)

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