Backyard Awesome Sauce

Backyard Awesome Sauce

You have all those herbs growing in your backyard, so now what are you going to do with them? Why make an awesome sauce, of course. In fact, let’s go ahead and just call this one Backyard Awesome Sauce.

I’ll tell you how I made mine, but please just take it as an inspiration. I got my idea from the divine Nigella and her salmoriglio sauce from Kitchen. Basically, all you need is garlic, lemon juice, fresh herbs, and extra virgin olive oil. Have fun with the herb combo, but most importantly, use what’s fresh and hopefully growing at your house. I used Italian parsley, oregano, and basil.

Fresh Herb Sauce

And once you’ve made it, the possibilities are endless. You can throw it on a sandwich, drizzle it over grilled meat, toss it with some pasta and Parmesan cheese, or just dip some nice crusty bread in it. I mean, you can basically stick this stuff anywhere.

The flavor is fresh and vibrant. It just tastes like green. I like to pretend I’m fancy and French and involve some baguette action, along with some charcuterie (a fancy word for salami) and some difficult to pronounce cheese  Throw in a glass of white wine and some Carla Bruni, and I might as well dust off the black beret I used to wear in high school. No joke. That really happened.

You can throw this together in about ten minutes then mix and match it for days of tastiness. How awesome is that?

Backyard Awesome Sauce with Fresh Herbs

Backyard Awesome Sauce
Yields 1
A quick and fresh sauce made with herbs from your own backyard
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Prep Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  2. 1 tsp coarse salt
  3. 30 grams fresh herbs (I used ten each of oregano, basil, and Italian parsley)
  4. 4 Tbsp lemon juice (don’t skimp, it really brightens the flavor)
  5. 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Put the garlic, salt, herbs, and lemon juice into your food processor and switch it on for about 20 seconds, or until everything is nice and pasty. You may need to scrape down the sides and give it a few more pulses.
  2. With the processor running, drizzle in your extra virgin olive oil. Process until it emulsifies, aka, turns into sauce.
  3. Drizzle over just about anything savoury that you’d like to make herby and delightful.
Adapted from Kitchen by Nigella Lawson
http://awesomeon20.com/
 

Grow Your Own Awesomeness

Lilikoi flower

Today we are going to be focusing all of our awesomeness on our back-gardens. Have you ever walked into a grocery store, wandered around in the ‘fresh herbs’ section then run out of the store crying because you are poor? No? Well neither have we…*coughs*…but just to make sure that nobody else has to endure this horrible ordeal, please keep reading.

One thing that living on $20 a day has shown us, is to always keep our eyes open for things that will save us money. Wandering round our local home-improvement store one day (as you do, right?), I was struck by an epiphany…Potted herbs are actually cheaper than ‘fresh’ herbs at the supermarket. Literally, a living, breathing, green onion plant was a few cents cheaper than ‘fresh’ herbs at the supermarket! “Aha”, you may gasp, “now I can buy all of my herbs at the hardware store!”. But wait, there’s more! You know if you plant that stuff in the garden, there’s a good chance it will grow right?! So for a few cents LESS than buying some ‘fresh’ herbs ONCE, you can now eat those herbs whenever you want in the future, for FREE!

Habenero Pepper (top), Lilikoi (middle), Thai Basil (bottom)
Habenero Pepper (top), Lilikoi (middle), Thai Basil (bottom)

This doesn’t just apply to herbs, all fruits and vegetables are fair game!

Now, I’m not claiming to be a green-fingered demi-god in the garden, I just plant stuff in the garden wherever I have space and it usually grows! If it dies, so what, you haven’t really lost anything that you weren’t going to spend anyway!

We might have a bit of an advantage, though, due to our location…pretty much anything will grow in the tropics (apart from strawberries it seems)! Right now in the garden we have habenero peppers, lilikoi (passion fruit), Thai basil, rosemary, oregano, parsley, lavender, aloe, green onions, thyme and ginger (although the last one is technically a weed).

Even if you live in Alaska, you can still grow things indoors, in a window-box in the kitchen, a plant pot in the bathroom, an old shoe…anywhere! Besides being awesome, it’ll also make your house smell good (you remember how awesome your house smells when you have a Christmas tree, right?). There’s no excuse for spending a fortune on supermarket herbs, you just need to remember to water.

Anti-chicken warfare
Anti-chicken warfare

“But wait!”, I hear you scream, “Don’t you have chicken-saurus-rexes who will eat everything in your garden?”. Good point. I concede that having chickens and herbs co-existing in the garden does pose a bit of a conundrum. Never fear though, chicken lovers can have their herb-cake and eat it, with a little hard-work.

Introducing the anti-chicken herb-box. Using patented anti-chicken material (also known as chicken wire) you are able to successfully avoid herb-rage!

All you need to do is take a plank of wood, cut it into four pieces, screw, nail or glue it together, and cover it with chicken wire! Voila! The chickens will no longer be able to eat your precious greenery! Note that for my version, I actually included a lid that gives you easier access to the herbs inside.

The finished product - note the confused chickens...
The finished product – note the confused chickens…

All this took was to take another long bit of wood (in this case 1″ x 2″ x 10′) and cut the pieces the same size as the pieces that you cut from the plank. Screw, nail or glue them together and connect the lid to the bottom with a hinge. Easy peasy! You can also use the same patented anti-chicken material to build a mini fence around important plants (like my precious Habeneros). At the same time you are simultaneously saving money, time, and the environment. If you aren’t growing your own food, you aren’t being awesome enough!

Grow a pair, and grow a pear!

Peace. G.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake

So you go to college, like you’re supposed to, and you get degrees in the artsy things that you love. You don’t have to do any math, and that is super awesome. But then there’s real life, and you have to pay the rent. And you love food, so you definitely want to eat stuff that doesn’t taste like cardboard. In order to get a paycheck, you find yourself having to do math. All the time. Every day. It’s easy, but it still hurts your brain, and your soul rebels a little bit.

That’s why this weekend I had to make this chocolate peanut butter cheesecake. It soothes my soul. Baking math doesn’t count as real math because it ends in completely joyful deliciousness.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake

This recipe was the May cookalong at the website of my idol, Nigella Lawson. Have I told you lately how much I love her? Immensely. Not only is she completely mesmerizing to look upon, but I love her whole philosophy. Even with her beauty, talent, and fame, she manages to be humble, approachable, and unapologetically indulgent. Read all her books. Just do it.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake bite

This cheesecake is everything you hoped it would be. It’s rich, dense, and smooth, and absolutely must be accompanied by a tall glass of milk. Chocolate and peanut butter is one of my favorite flavor combinations. My husband’s not really a fan. He finished his piece in about twelve seconds. Even people who think they won’t like will love it.

If I’ve learned anything from Nigella, it’s that life is meant to be enjoyed. You don’t need to apologize or feel guilty about doing the things that make you happy. Like eating cheesecake. It’s super awesome.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake
Yields 1
Fantastically rich peanut butter chocolate cheesecake heaven
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
for the crust
  1. 1 sleeve graham crackers
  2. 100 grams (1/2 cup) dark chocolate chips
  3. 50 grams (4 Tbsp) butter, melted
for the filling
  1. 500 grams (16 ounces) cream cheese, room temp
  2. 3 eggs
  3. 3 egg yolks (whites can be saved in a zip top bag in the freezer)
  4. 200 grams (1 cup) sugar
  5. 1/2 cup sour cream
  6. 250 grams (1 cup) smooth peanut butter
for the topping
  1. 1 cup sour cream
  2. 100 grams (1 cup) milk chocolate chips
  3. 30 grams (2 Tbsp) brown sugar
for the crust
  1. Give the graham crackers a good smash up before opening the sleeve just to break them up a bit. I just smack them with the heel of my hand.
  2. Dump the graham crackers into your food processor and process until you achieve small crumbs.
  3. Add your dark chocolate chips to the food processor and pulse several times to break up the chips a bit.
  4. With the processor running pour in the melted butter and mix until everything is combined. It only takes a few seconds.
  5. If you don’t have a food processor, just smash up your chocolate and graham crackers in a zip top bag. Anything heavy will work. Rolling pin, sledge hammer. Just be careful.
  6. Press your wet crumb mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. I use a piece of wax paper to keep from getting crumb hands.
  7. Park your crust in the fridge while you proceed with your filling.
for the filling
  1. Preheat your oven to 340.
  2. Rinse out your food processor (you could also use a mixer), then add the cream cheese. Give it a spin for about thirty seconds to make sure it’s all nice and smooth. This will make it easier to combine all your ingredients as you go.
  3. Add the rest of your ingredients, processing for a few seconds after each one. Scrape down your bowl with a spatula, and give it one final spin to make sure everything is smoothly incorporated.
  4. Pour your filling over your crust and smooth the top. Bake for 50 minutes. The top should be just set. Take the cheesecake out of the oven while you work on the topping.
for the topping
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan over low heat.
  2. Stir frequently to incorporate the chocolate and the sour cream.
  3. Once everything is melted and smooth, gently spread the chocolate mixture over the cheesecake.
  4. Return to the oven and bake an additional 10 minutes.
  5. Allow to cool completely on the counter. (If you put it in the fridge too soon, condensation will develop and you’ll have water spots on your chocolate topping. It’s perfectly edible, just looks a bit different.)
  6. Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours, preferably overnight.
  7. Remove from refrigerator. Carefully remove springform ring.
  8. Slice and indulge and try not to think about algebra.
  9. Store in the refrigerator.
Adapted from Nigella Lawson
Adapted from Nigella Lawson
http://awesomeon20.com/
 

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