Monday, August 8, 2011

Inspired by the Food Network

Recently I've been feeling inspired by the Food Network. I'm a big fan of several of the chefs (as evidenced by my large collection of their cookbooks in the above picture). I regularly DVR Giada at Home and Barefoot Contessa. Both women make simple, tasty recipes, and they're easy to tweak if you don't have 100% of the ingredients at home.

I fell in love with all of the recipes on Giada's Saturday episode on spicy dishes - "The Heat is On." I'm planning on making the spicy gazpacho and meatballs stuffed with smoked mozzarella in the next couple of weeks. The ravioli with spicy sage butter is going to be a frequent "go-to" weeknight dinner - Boil store bought spinach and cheese ravioli; Melt butter with 16 leaves of sage, paprika, salt and crushed red pepper flakes. Serve sauce over ravioli with grated pecorino. Yum.

Barefoot Contessa taught me two great tips this week on her show:

1) If you don't have cake flour for a baking recipe, replace 1 cup cake flour with 2 T of corn starch and a bit less than 1 cup of all-purpose flour (corn starch + all purpose flour should equal one cup)

2) Homemade vanilla extract: Fill one air-tight jar with at least 8 vanilla pods (or as many as the jar will fit) and fill the jar with vodka (will take 1-2 bottles depending on the jar size). Store at room temperature for at least 1 month, preferably 6 months. I'm seriously considering making this as homemade holiday gifts. Such a fabulous idea!

If you're lacking food inspiration, tune into a Food Network show or check out their website. There's an abundance of menus and recipes.

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