Avocado Toasts with Roasted Tomatoes and Hummus

Avocado Toasts with Roasted Tomatoes and Hummus

Serves: 6-8
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

6-8 slices bread, cut into squares or circles and toasted
3-4 plum tomatoes, cut in half and seeded
3 avocados, pitted and mashed
1 small container regular hummus
Salt and pepper
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil

Preparation:

1. To prepare tomatoes, spread on baking sheet, open side up. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in oven at 450 degrees for 25 minutes, or until tomatoes begin to caramelize.

2. Spread a thin layer of hummus on toasts, add avocado and top with a tomato.

Recipe adapted from Eat, Live, Run.

I planned on making these for a picnic pot luck for school but since I had to buy $600 worth of food at Costco that day for the picnic and make sure everything was prepped, I didn’t have time. So I made them this weekend instead. I was very intrigued by the roasted tomatoes and they ended up being delicious! The toasts were great. The creaminess of the avocado and hummus were a nice contrast to the bite and sourness of the tomatoes. The ones I made were a little big as finger foods and needed either a big hand or a fork, but I used them as a side anyway. I made all the tomatoes I had and therefore had a lot left over so I mixed them with chicken that I marinated in balsamic. Very tasty and great for a party! Don’t forget to check out How to Treat Your Avocados with Respect to make sure you know what to do with the avocados.

Taco!

Beef Carnitas Tacos

Beef Carnitas Taco

Serves: 8
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 6-8 hours

Ingredients:

2-3 lbs beef (Boston butt/shoulder)
1 yellow onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tbs cumin
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs agave (or honey)
Juice of 1 lime
2 tbs orange juice
1/2 cup BBQ sauce

Preparation:

1. Combine all ingredients except meat in a crock pot and stir. Add meat and cook for 6-8 hours. Turn meat half way through cooking.

2. Take meat out of crock pot and shred. Return to juices and let soak before serving.

3. Serve hot with tortillas, sour cream, Steph’s Guacamole, cheese and everything else!

Recipe adapted from Life as a Plate.

Another “because I have stuff for it” meal. Boston butts are not usually in my grocery store and not only did they have it this week but it was also on sale! I’ve already made BBQ and wanted to try something different and I also had avocados so ta da, Carnitas! I found this recipe online and it’s very good. It’s not too spicy, which is good for me but you could certainly add more chili powder or even some peppers for some more heat. I served it with store-bought tortillas, cilantro-lime rice (I added cilantro and lime juice to rice when it was almost done cooking), homemade guacamole and sour cream. I also found Queso Fresco and it was a great addition. I do love Carnitas and this fed my craving while using what I had in the house and feeding me for at least a week!

Taco!

BlowToad: A Review

Bleu Ball Pizza

Where: BlowToad (2907 W. Cary, Richmond)
What: Pizza and Beer
Number of People: 2
Total Cost: $50
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

**UPDATE**

I just learned that the steak that was on my pizza was bull testicles. I guess I should have asked what swinging steak was but still feel like that should have been obvious on the menu. It was good but now I know why I couldn’t figure out what was different about it!

**End Update**

I visit Cary Town on a regular basis and it is one of my favorite places in Richmond. Like most people here I was incredibly curious and seriously concerned when I saw the sign for BlowToad go up where the BBQ restaurant used to be. BlowToad, what the heck is BlowToad and how could they possibly have good food? Well, I checked it out online after it had been open for a while and it had good reviews so after the end of the French Film Festival Adam and I decided to check it out. Adam is incredibly picky about pizza with the whole being Italian and actually eating pizza in Italy thing so it was a stretch.

The atmosphere was nice. It was loud and the lighting was low. Nice and romantic. There was also the option for outdoor seating but it was a little chilly so we stayed inside. They had a great selection of beer and I had a Crispin Cider. They did the very trendy thing of bringing out cups and a big bottle of water that you can pour yourself which I appreciate. All of the waiters also used iPads which seems like a fabulous idea. As someone who worked in a restaurant with no technology and now being an iPad owner I can only imagine the convenience it provides.

Pizza with Eggplant, Ricotta and Anchovies

When it came time for food I ordered the Bleu Ball pizza and Adam did a make your own with eggplant, ricotta and anchovies. The Bleu pizza had thing strips of steak, bleu cheese and onions. It had a great thin crust and minimal amounts of sauce. The cheese was good and the onions were nice and crunchy. The steak strip things were interesting. I couldn’t quite figure them out but they were tasty and added to the overall pizza. The pizza’s are $12 per pizza and the make your own is $8 with $2 per side. They are all 12 inches. Adam says his pizza was good but I don’t eat anchovies because they’re gross so I can’t vouch for it. But as I said before, he’s picky. He described it well saying that the pizza was good American-style pizza but not quite up to Italian standards. It was definitely tasty and worth the trip. Our service was a little slow so they got dinged a star for that but again, worth the visit.

Fresh Vegetable Marinara

Fresh Vegetable Marinara

Serves: A lot
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (28 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes
1 yellow squash, diced
1 green squash, diced
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 yellow onions, chopped
5 small cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups mushrooms, sliced or diced
1/4 cup basil, chopped
Salt

Preparation:

1. Heat onions and garlic until softened, not browned. Add other vegetables, basil and salt and cook until softened.

2. Add tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about one hour, stirring occasionally. Add to pasta, chicken, whatever you want!

Recipe is an original.

So I had a ton of vegetables in the refrigerator and am trying to heat more of them. I also wanted to make my own marinara. And so we have vegetable marinara. I couldn’t find a straight recipe online for this so hopefully it’s helpful. It’s a great way to get fresh veggies in a tasty form. I used my cast iron dutch oven for this. You definitely want something that is very deep. It makes A LOT of sauce.

Taco!

Mommy’s Meatloaf

Mommy's Meatloaf

Ingredients:

1 lb ground beef (or half beef, half pork)
1/2 onion
1 egg
1 can petite diced tomatoes, drained with the juice reserved
1/2 – 1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 block cheddar cheese, cubed
2 tbs brown sugar
2 tbs catsup
1 tsp ground mustard
Water
Salt and Pepper

Preparation:

1. Beat egg and add drained tomatoes. Add bread crumbs, salt and pepper,  and cheese and mix. Add meat and mix with your hands. Don’t mix the meat too much. Form into a loaf shape in a glass pan.

2. To make sauce: Combine juice from tomatoes, brown sugar, catsup, water if needed, and ground mustard. Heat in a sauce pan until thickened. Taste and season as necessary.

3. Bake meatloaf on 350 degrees for one hour.

Recipe from my mother!

I was always puzzled by people who talked down to meatloaf. The meatloaf I always ate growing up was delicious and something to look forward to. This probably has a lot to do with the chunks of cheese and wonderful consistency of Mommy’s meatloaf, but I have to say my favorite part has always been the sauce. A sweet, tangy tomato sauce that goes perfectly on meatloaf. I sigh thinking about its awesomeness. This was definitely one of my favorites growing up and I’m excited to be able to make it myself now and share it with you!

Taco!

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!

Spaghetti with Corn, Popped Tomatoes, Bacon and Arugula

Spaghetti with Corn, Popped Tomatoes, Bacon and Arugula

Serves 4 to 6
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 mnutes

Ingredients:

1 box long pasta (I used thick spaghetti)
1/4 lb bacon, cut into 1/4 in strips
Olive oil
3 garlic cloves, smashed
Pinch of crushed red pepper
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
3 ears of corn (or 1/2 bag frozen)
1 1/2 cups baby arugula
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup parmesan

Preparation:

1. Boil water for pasta. Salt generously. Heat olive oil in a pan and add bacon, garlic and red pepper when oil is hot.

2. After garlic browns (2-3 minutes) remove from pot and disgard. Add tomatoes and toss to coat. Add salt and chicken stock and place on medium heat. Cook tomatoes until they pop (8-10 minutes). Add corn.

3. Add pasta to boiling water and cook as directed, subtracting one minute from cooking time. Drain pasta. Add to veggies and toss.

4. Remove pan from heat and add arugula and drizzle with olive oil. Top with parmesan. Serve hot!

Recipe adapted from Anne Burell’s Cook Like a Rock Star.

This was a great recipe that was very easy and tasty. I had always been under the impression that pasta had to have some kind of sauce on it and I love that the sauce on this recipe is bacon fat, olive oil and cooking juices. It was very clean and fresh with a nice bite. Plus it looked pretty. I will definitely keep this on hand for when I need a tasty, easy meal. Also, sorry about the long absence. It was Spring Break last week and I did nothing but sleep and watch Food Network. Woohoo!

Taco!

Avocado and Sun Dried Tomato Chicken Salad

Avocado and Sun Dried Tomato Chicken Salad Sandwich with Avocado and Bacon

Serves 6

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

2 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast

1 cup mayonaise

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

3 tbs Penzy’s Tsardust Memories spice blend

1 tbs pepper

1/2 tbs salt

1 tbs lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)

2 avocados (see How To Treat Your Avocados With Respect)

8-10 sun dried tomatoes, sliced

8 slices bacon, cooked

6 buns (Hawaiian Rolls shown)

Salt and Pepper

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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!

Lemaire at The Jefferson: A Review

Where: Lemaire at The Jefferson, 101 W. Franklin St.

What: Dinner, Dessert and Wine

Number of people: 2

Total Cost: $110

Overall Rating: 5 of 5 stars

For our anniversary/Valentine’s Day Adam decided to splurge with some extra spending money and go to one of the best fine dining restaurants in Richmond, Lemaire, located in the famous Jefferson Hotel. I had been to The Jefferson for a cotillion-like event in college and Adam had never been but you don’t have to live in Richmond long to know that if it’s at The Jefferson it’s going to be good. The meal was delicious and certainly high quality with excellent presentation, although with small portions (part of the early bird special we used). The staff, especially our waitress, were very hospitable and the atmosphere was sophisticated and Southern, yet with a modern flair. The alligator is the “mascot” of Lemaire and it was entertaining to see the giant statues everywhere. The restaurant specializes and certainly prides itself on using local foods that are prepared fresh.

Adam learned from the Web site that Lemaire had an early bird special (5 pm – 6 pm) with a fixed menu of appetizer, entree and dessert for $30 per person, as well as three glasses of wine for an extra $15. There were two appetizer selections, a soup and a salad; three entree options of steak, salmon or vegetarian; and two dessert options. Adam and I both chose the Cream of Sunchoke Bisque as an appetizer and the Buckhead Petite Filet as an entree. Adam got the Butterscotch Creme Brulee and I got the Southern Pecan Tart for dessert.

Neither Adam nor I knew what a sunchoke was but decided we wanted bisque as opposed to the salad option. It was served elegantly with the locally grown oyster mushrooms and herbed roasted tomatoes in the center of the bowl and the bisque poured around when it was brought to the table. Apparently a sunchoke is known as a Jerusalem Artichoke and is a type of sunflower. The taste was wonderful. The bisque was hearty yet with a muted flavor. When you bit into the tomatoes they had an intense acidic flavor that complimented the sunchoke well and the mushrooms were incredibly buttery and added a great texture. When our waitress came to take the bowls she sarcastically commented on how much we didn’t like the bisque.

Since we were getting a deal and wanted to take advantage of it, we both went for the filet. As I said before the portions were small (although the bisque was a “normal” size) so the filet was only about two ounces. It came with a bourbon mustard demi-glaze, Sage Mashed Potatoes and Brown Butter Cabbage. The filet was excellent. The glaze was not as flavorful as I expected and it was difficult to taste the mustard, but the filet did not really need it. The glaze did give a mustard hint, but not as much as I would have liked. The mashed potatoes were perfectly flavored and a good consistency. The cabbage was also a great addition.

And of course the desserts were amazing. The creme brulee was very sweet and had a nice crunchy top. The tart was very Southern with a nice twist with added chocolate and Cinnamon Latte Ice Cream, as well as a strawberry and blackberry that were great with the Honey Cinnamon Caramel. I wanted to give an Italian kiss when we were done.

With the meal we ordered the wine deal (three 3 oz pours) to share. The waitress chose the wines because as she said, they are all professional wine drinkers there. For the appetizer she brought us a chardonnay. I don’t have the specific names since we were celebrating and not “working”. It was light and paired well with the bisque. For the filet she brought us a California cabernet that was incredibly smooth while being bold enough to stand up to the red meat. I am not a fan of intense or dry wines but this cabernet was delicious. Dessert was paired with an Italian dessert wine that was almost like a syrup. It was perfect and could only be taken in small sips.

The meal was amazing and we felt like we had spent our money, well Adam’s money, well. It was a wonderful, romantic evening at one of the premier attractions in Richmond. I will have the return the favor some day soon and treat Adam to a night at Lemaire. Well, maybe lunch.