Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Taco Tuesday Night Part Two

One of my favorite Christmas presents that I received this year is the Southern Living Annual Cookbook that my mom gave me.  I had requested it after seeing quite a few recipes that I liked on myrecipes.com from the magazine.  Back in the 90s, my mom had given me two of these cookbooks, but she had stopped doing it since she also gets them every year.  As soon as I opened the present, I began flipping through it.  I came across a taco recipe that looked like something that Rick and I would enjoy.  It was for Tempura Shrimp Tacos.  I was also excited about it because it would also be a nice break from the leftovers that I've been eating since I returned from NC.  Like other Southern Living recipes, it can be found on here on myrecipes.com.  It was originally published in the September 2009 issue.  

I had never played with Tempura batter before, but it sure was messy!  I accidentally followed the directions on the box instead of the recipe so I used the whole box instead of just a cup.  I upped the amount of fajita seasoning.  We still thought that the end product was rather bland.  The Mexi-Cole Slaw was pretty good, but in Rick's opinion, nothing can top the Asian slaw. I don't know that we'll be having it again because while it wasn't bad, there are so many other recipes that we like better!


Tempura Shrimp Tacos
Ingredients
1 pound unpeeled, large raw shrimp (31/35 count)
1 cup tempura batter mix (I used McCormick's)
3/4 cup cold light beer
2 teaspoons fajita seasoning mix (I used 1 1/2 tablespoons of Old El Paso)

Vegetable oil
12 (6-inch) fajita-size flour tortillas, warmed
Mexi-Coleslaw Mix (see below for recipe)

Directions
Peel shrimp; devein, if desired.

Whisk together tempura batter mix, beer, and fajita seasoning in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes.

Pour oil to depth of 2 inches into a Dutch oven; heat to 325°. Dip shrimp in tempura batter, shaking off excess. Fry shrimp, in batches, 1 to 2 minutes on each side or until golden; drain on a wire rack over paper towels.

Serve in warm tortillas with Mexi-Coleslaw Mix and desired toppings (We used cilantro, salsa, and sour cream)



Mexi-Coleslaw Mix
Ingredients
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon fajita seasoning (I used a tablespoon)

1/2 (16-oz.) package shredded coleslaw mix
Salt to taste

Directions
Stir together cilantro, mayonnaise, lime juice, and fajita seasoning in a large bowl; add coleslaw mix, stirring to coat. Season with salt to taste. Cover and chill 30 minutes to 24 hours.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Home for the Holidays Ham Rolls


One of my favorite things about coming home for the holidays (aside from my mom's Ghiradelli brownies and dill dip) are the Hall Rolls that she makes.  We usually have them as "hold overs" until our lunch is ready.  My mom makes the night before, but the only problem with that is they are so hard to resist!  While she was preparing them this year, I learned that she originally got the recipe from Irene Craig who was one of my music teacher in elementary school.  According to my mom, Mrs. Craig served them at a faculty party.  I've had other versions of these rolls, but what I think makes this recipe so much better is that the ham is shaved instead of chopped.  I hope that you enjoy them, too!

Ham Rolls
Ingredients
1 stick of butter softened
2 teaspoons yellow mustard
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 small onion finely chopped (around 1/4 cup)
1 package of party rolls (the long and skinny ones)
1 4 to 5 oz package of shaved deli ham
1 4 oz package of sliced Swiss Cheese (almost shaved)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix together first 5 ingredients in a small bowl.  Slice whole package of party rolls in half.  Spread both sides of rolls with the mustard mixture.  Top one side of the with small pieces of ham.  Cover ham with Swiss Cheese.

Place the rolls on a baking sheet.  Heat in the oven until cheese is melted (around 10 minutes).  Remove and cool.  Once the rolls have cooled, cut them apart.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Evilly Sinful Christmas Side: Four Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

Unlike at Thanksgiving, my mom and I actually cook for Christmas.  This year, Rick went home to visit his family, and I headed up to North Carolina to spend time with mine.  Since moving to the Low Country, I don't get to see a lot of snow, and I was happy to see that a little bit stuck around from last week.  As soon as I saw the snow, I called Rick from the road to tell him.  My dad suggested that I bring Rick a snowball home in a cooler so that he could experience it, too.  
I had to share a picture of the Nativity Scene that my mom made
for one the plays that she worked on!


Christmas for me has always meant Christmas Eve with my dad and Christmas with my mom.  For Christmas Eve dinner last night, we had a standing rib roast, and I encrusted it like the one that I did for Rick and I!  My mom and I do a lunch for us, and since it is just us, we have a ton of leftovers!  We pretty much have the same menu every year....ham and a turkey breast, Nanny's potatoes, green bean casserole, and stuffing. She also always does sweet potatoes in honor of my grandfather.  Last week, my mom asked me if I wanted to add anything to the menu, but I couldn't think of anything.  She said that she wanted to do macaroni and cheese, and my immediate thought was of a recipe for Cru Cafe's 4 Cheese Macaroni and Cheese.  I had made this recipe one time before for our church potluck dinner after finding it in an issue of Low Country Living magazine.  I emailed it to my mom so that she could buy all of that evil cheese that goes in it!  I'm happy to report, though, that Cru Cafe has the recipe on its website!  Here it is!

There are a couple of things that make this recipe one that I save for special occasions.  First, it is rather labor intensive.  Be prepared to grade some cheese.  Also, (and someone may have a suggestion to make this process go quicker..if you do, please comment!!!) it takes forever for the heavy cream to reduce. What I do to help it along the way is to use a sauce pan with a larger radius so that there is more surface area to heat the cream.  I also turn the heat up to a medium high for a little while to get the cream to barely boil and then reduce the heat back to medium so that I don't scorch the cream.  I swear it 3 hours!!!   Despite these complaints of mine, it is a delicious dish!


To reheat any leftovers, do it slowly on the stove while adding milk.  Be sure to stir while slowly reheating it (think low setting).  For ours on Christmas, we used elbow-shaped pasta.  Because my mom has sulfur allergies, she got us organic brown rice pasta.


Cru Cafe's Four Cheese Macaroni and Cheese
Ingredients
8 cups of heavy cream, reduced to 4 cups
1 pound dried orecchiette pasta
1 cup pepper jack cheese, hand grated
1 cup cheddar cheese, hand grated
1 cup fontina cheese, hand grated
1 cup mozzarella cheese, hand grated
1/4 cup olive oil
For final cooking
1/2 cup pepper jack cheese, hand grated
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, hand grated
1/2 cup fontina cheese, hand grated
1/2 mozzarella cheese, hand grated
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Reduce cream to approximately 4 cups by
simmering over medium heat in a medium sized sauce pan.  Bring several
cups of well-salted water up to a boil over high heat and cook the
pasta until al dente.  Cool down rapidly in cold water then drain
well.  Coat the pasta lightly in olive oil to prevent sticking.  Set
aside.

Grate all the cheese, keeping them in separate piles.  Once the cream
is reduced, whisk in the four 1 cup quantities of cheeses.  Heat over
low heat until the cheese is fully melted.  Set aside.

In a big mixing bowl, combine the remaining cheese, pasta, and cheese
sauce.  Add salt and pepper to taste and mix well without breaking up
the pasta.  Pour into a casserole pan and bake until lightly brown on
top (about 20-25 minutes).



Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Taco Tuesday Night!

This weekend, I was craving tacos.  I didn't want anything fancy, just straight out of the Old El Paso Box type of taco.  I don't think that I've ever made them myself as an adult, but I do have fond memories of them from my childhood.  When I mentioned it to Rick on Saturday night, he surprised me with baby back ribs so tacos got postponed until last night.  Even though I had told him about my box taco plan, Rick said that he knew that I'd probably end up doing something different.  Of course, he was right...well, sort of.

When I stopped by Publix on my way home from work yesterday, I picked up an onion to cook with the ground beef that Rick was bring over and pre-shredded lettuce.  As I was headed toward the aisle with the Mexican food products, I passed the seafood counter and noticed that snow crab legs were on sale.  An idea popped into my head!  What about crab tacos???  Sounded yummy to me!  I ended up getting just one cluster so that we could have one "special" taco and the rest would be the normal ones.  Obviously, Rick knows me very well!  I decided to grab a lime to go with the crab legs and opted for the half hard tacos and half soft taco combo box. 

I didn't tell Rick about my surprise special tacos until he came over for dinner.  I had also gotten some of that evil cheese dip that is like the dip they serve in Mexican restaurants so that we could have a pre-meal snack while I made dinner.

We were pleasantly surprised by the results of my crab tacos and I am including the recipe here.  I got 2 small, soft tacos out of one cluster so if you are wanting to do more, I'd use that as the guide (or dosage calculation for those nursing students out there ;) ).  I used dried cilantro instead of fresh because I was afraid that it would go bad over the holidays.  I'm not including the box taco recipe since they come on the box!  Enjoy!

Crab Soft Tacos
Ingredients
1 cluster snow crab legs (1 cluster makes 2 small soft tacos)
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 teaspooon dried cilantro
Garlic powder
Shredded lettuce
Salsa of your choice
Soft taco shells
Light sour cream

Directions
Cook crab legs in boiling water until cooked.  Remove crab meat from shells and place in bowl.  Add a dash of garlic powder, lime juice, and cilantro.  Mix together and drain excess lime juice.

Place desired amount of lettuce in the middle of the soft taco shell.  Top with half of crab mixture, salsa and sour cream.  Fold taco and enjoy!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Cookies for dogs???


Today's blog entry isn't actually something that I made, but rather, it's part of the Christmas presents that my dear friend Kelly is making for her family....well, at least the furry members anyway!  I went over to her place (she lives across the street) to hang out for a bit after the sad basketball game against Texas on Saturday afternoon, and she was busy in her kitchen.  She had borrowed my rolling pin, and I got to be her assistant while she was making "Human Friendly" dog treats. 

The first ones that she made were cookies. They did almost look like chocolate chip cookies, and I did sample one of the vegan "chocolate chips" (not Katie friendly in my opinion).  She also made a "biscotti"with peanut butter and melted the vegan "chocolate chips" to drizzle on top of them.  For some odd reason, I felt the need to sample these, too (maybe because this time, they did look exactly like biscotti), and they were actually pretty good.  Kelly found the recipes on foodnetwork.com.  Here they are!

Human Friendly Dog Cookies
Ingredients
2 cups whole-wheat flour, plus more for rolling

1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
1/4 cup carob chips
1/4 cup honey
2 to 3 tablespoons water, as needed

Directions
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking sheets.


Put the flour, cornmeal, wheat germ, and cinnamon into a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add the eggs, carob chips, honey, and 1 tablespoon water. Use your hands to mix the ingredients together and form a smooth dough. If it feels too dry, add more water. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest 10 minutes. (Can be made ahead and refrigerated, just let it warm up a bit before rolling.)
Dust your counter with some flour and roll the dough out until it is 1/4-inch thick using more flour as needed so it doesn't stick. Cut into shapes using a dog bone shaped cookie cutter, or use a knife to make the same shape. You can re-roll the scraps and cut out more cookies. Place on the prepared baking sheets and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the cookies are well browned. Remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.



Peanut-Carob Isabooscotti
Ingredients
2 cups whole-wheat flour

1 tablespoon baking powder
2 pinches ground cinnamon
1 cup chunky peanut butter
1 cup milk
1 cup carob chips
Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.


In a large bowl, combine that flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Place the peanut butter in a medium bowl and microwave at high power to soften, 5 to 10 seconds. Whisk in the milk, then stir the mixture into the dry ingredients.

Shape the dough into a long, flattened log and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes; remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Slice the log crosswise on an angle into 1-inch-thick pieces. Set the slices on their sides (they should look like biscotti) and bake until crisp, 10 to 12 minutes more. Transfer to a rack to cool.

Melt the carob in a microwave or on the stovetop over low heat. Thin the melted carob with 1 tablespoon water, if needed. Using a spoon, drizzle the melted carob over the biscuits

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Christmas favorite: Black Pepper-Crusted Standing Rib Roast

The first time I made this perfect dish was for Christmas. Instead of going to North Carolina, I had to stay in South Carolina that year, but luckily, my mom came into town so that I didn't have to spend the holiday alone. I love this recipe so much that I actually asked for an electric knife for Christmas one year so that it would be much easier to cut. The Roasted Red Onions are a must!!!!

And of course, I've made it for Rick. While I like my steak rare, Rick prefers his medium to medium well. Slowly but surely, I'm winning him over to the rarer side!!!  What I do with his is heat them up in the oven in a cast iron skillet to get his steak more done (note the differences in the pics!). When I make this, I always, always, always have to make horsey sauce (sour cream, horseradish, a little garlic powder). I don't really make many changes to them because they are so awesome! I do adjust the time so that my roast is on the rare side, and also, I usually use a smaller roast than the original recipe calls for.  Last night, I used a 3.6 lb one. 

You can find these recipes on epicurious.com here and here!

 
You can see mine here, and if you look closely, it just might twitch for you!  Rick's is in the background (note the burnt Texas toast--lol!)


The rib roast!!!

Bon Appétit | December 2002


Yield: Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:
1 8 1/2-pound standing rib roast (weight with bones), top fat trimmed
Vegetable oil
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons cracked or coarsely ground black pepper
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/4 cups low-salt beef broth
1/2 cup dry red wine


Preparation:
Place roast, fat side up, in roasting pan. Brush exposed ends of roast with vegetable oil. Sprinkle roast lightly all over with salt. Mix 8 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons cracked pepper, minced garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in small bowl. Reserve 2 tablespoons pepper butter for sauce. Spread remaining pepper butter all over top (fat side) of roast. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover roast and reserved pepper butter separately; chill.)
Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 350°F. Roast rib roast until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of meat registers 125°F for medium-rare, about 2 hours 45 minutes. Transfer roast to platter and cover loosely with foil; let rest 30 minutes (temperature will rise slightly as roast stands).
Strain pan juices from roasting pan into measuring cup. Skim off any fat from top of pan juices; discard fat. Return pan juices to roasting pan; set pan over 2 burners. Add broth and wine to roasting pan and boil over high heat until liquid is reduced to 1 1/4 cups, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pan, about 6 minutes. Whisk in reserved pepper butter and remaining 4 tablespoons plain butter. Season with more salt and pepper, if desired.
Surround roast with Roasted Red Onions. Slice roast and serve with sauce.

The onions!!!

Bon Appétit | December 2002

You can cook the onions up to one day ahead. Just before serving time, rewarm them in the oven while the roast rests.
Yield: Makes 8 servings

Ingredients
3 pounds small red onions (about 9), halved through root end, then cut into 3/4-inch-wide wedges with some of core attached to each
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Preparation:
Position 1 rack in bottom third and 1 rack in top third of oven and preheat to 450°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with foil; butter foil generously. Arrange onion wedges cut side down on prepared sheets. Brush onions with melted butter. Mix thyme, salt, and pepper in small bowl; sprinkle over onions. Drizzle with vinegar. Cover baking sheets tightly with foil. Roast onions 20 minutes. Reverse baking sheets from top to bottom and continue to roast until bottoms of onion wedges are brown, about 20 minutes longer. Remove foil. Using spatula, turn onion wedges over; cover with foil and roast until bottoms of onions are brown and edges are slightly crisp, reversing position of baking sheets after 5 minutes, about 15 minutes total. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Refrigerate onions on sheets, covered. Rewarm uncovered in 350°F oven until heated through, about 15 minutes.)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Crock Pot Wednesdays: Slow Cooker Italian Beef

Photobucket With the cold weather and an invitation from Debbie at Dining with Debbie to participate in Crock Pot Wednesdays, I decided on Friday to break out my crock pot and make something to share.  I haven't used in my crock pot in forever, and with the cold weather and extra time on my hands now that I've graduated, it was the perfect opportunity to try out a new recipe.  I decided to search petitchef.com for something new to create.  I came across this recipe that is an adaptation from a recipe on allrecipes.com for Slow Cooker Italian Beef.  It sounded good, and I had most of the ingredients here at home (minus the chuck roast of course).  I made a couple of changes to it, and I was really pleased with the final result!  Rick called it "awesome!"  I hope that you enjoy it, too!

Slow Cooker Italian Beef
Ingredients
1 can low sodium beef broth
1 1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon of Italian Seasoning (I used McCormick's Italian Grinder)
1 bay leaf
1 package of Good Seasoning Italian Salad Dressing mix
1 3 lb chuck roast
1 chopped green pepper
1 chopped sweet onion



Directions
Combine all ingredients except for the green pepper and onion in the crock pot and cook on low for 10-12 hours or high for 4-5 hours.  When there is one hour left, add the green pepper and onion to the crock pot.

To make sandwiches:
Additional Ingredients
Hoagie Rolls
Provolone Cheese slices
Dijon Mustard


Directions
Preheat broiler.  Cut hoagie rolls in half and place Dijon mustard and cheese on one side of the roll and the meat on the other.  Place in the broiler until cheese is bubbling (around 4 minutes).

Monday, December 14, 2009

This Year's Christmas Treats: Salty Chocolate-Pecan Candy

Back when I was an adult (ie, prior to nursing school), I always made Christmas Treats to give to my co-workers. I did peanut butter chocolate chip bread when I was living in North Carolina, and during my days as a study coordinator in adult rheumatology, I made grasshopper squares.  This year, I decided to do something different, and since I had the day off today, I decided to make these treats for my co-workers for holiday gifts.  I found the cutest bags at Publix this afternoon.  They were made by Hallmark and say COAL on them.  I'm hoping that their recipients appreciate my humor!! 

In order to make my life easier, I opted to use chips instead of bars for the recipe. Any holes that I found, I filled in with the mini-chips that I had in my pantry. I also used "recipe ready" pecans which meant that I didn't need to toast them.  Here's what my final was...

Salty Chocolate Pecan Candy
Ingredients
  • 1  cup  Planters recipe ready pecans halves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
  • 1 bag white chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
  • 1/2  teaspoon salt
Directions
Preheat oven to 225F.  Line a 17- x 12-inch jelly-roll pan with parchment paper. Place chips in a checkerboard pattern and group so that there is one section of semi-sweet chips beside of white chocolate.

Bake at 225° for 5 minutes or just until chocolate is melted. Remove pan to a wire rack. Swirl chocolates into a marble pattern using a wooden pick. Sprinkle evenly with pecans and salt.

Chill 1 hour or until firm. Break into pieces. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 1 month.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Gettin' crazy with the pimento cheese: Pimento Cheese Cheese Straws


Part of the reason that made the pimento cheese Friday was not only to take care of my craving but also to try out a nifty recipe that I had stumbled upon here when I was searching for how to make my own pimento cheese.  Last night, Rick and I headed over to a friends' house for a holiday party, and even though I was told that I didn't have to bring anything, I just couldn't resist making something!  When I received our invite, I just knew that it was the perfect opportunity to try to make the Pimento Cheese Cheese Straws!  How awesome could that be?  I figured, too, that the fact that the pimento cheese that I made Friday was a little on the peppery side would translate well with this project.  The cheese straws turned out really good, and they were a hit at the party.  In the future, I may forgo making the pimento cheese with mayo and do a regular cheese straw recipe with the pimentos added.


So here's what I did....

Pimento Cheese Cheese Straws
Ingredients

1 cup pimento cheese
1 cup flour


Directions
Preheat oven to 350F.  Mix pimento cheese and flour together to form a dough.  Roll the dough into a ball and press out on a floured cutting board.  Using a knife, cut the cheese mixture into 2 inch long rectangles and place on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack before serving.  


Enjoy!!

Friday, December 11, 2009

In Search of the Perfect Pimento Cheese


For some reason, I've been craving pimento cheese.  I'm blaming the small little sandwich that I had at our church picnic back in October.  

In the South, pimento cheese can be found all over the place...in sandwiches, on celery, with potato chips, on burgers.  When I was growing up, I was not a fan.  I'm not really sure why either.  You would think that as Southern child who loved cheese that it would've been right up my alley, but it wasn't.  Maybe I had it confused with cottage cheese.  Maybe I had tried some version that was really spicy which turned me off.  Whatever the reason, I didn't like it until my friend Amy shared some of her mother's pimento cheese one night several years ago.  She made served it grilled cheese style, and I was in love.  

After that, I tried various store bought brands, and most were misses. The deli at Harris Teeter, however, has the best pimento cheese in the world.  You can get regular or with jalapenos.  The Publix version, however, offers a lot to be desired.  I blame it on the green onions in theirs.  My friend Kelly is enamored with Palmetto Cheese which is a brand out of Pawley's Island, SC, and I have to admit that it was excellent.  But you know me, I want to have my own homemade version!

My first stop in my hunt for the perfect recipe started with the cookbook that my church recently put out.  There was a simple one with all the basic ingredients...cheddar cheese, pimentos, mayo, but for some reason, I sought more.  Could it really be that simple?  Another recipe in that collection had pecans in it which to me just doesn't seem right.  The version in my Southern Living All-Time Favorite Recipes, Volume 1 included grated onion, Worcestershire sauce, and ground red pepper.   I decided to go with the simple one and then try adding to it from there.  I didn't go all crazy and just added a couple of things.  Not bad for my first try!  I think that if I had it to do all over again (and I will!), I would substitute a sprinkle of red pepper for the ground black pepper.  Something about it is a little overpowering.  I've left out the pepper in the recipe below.


If I try it again (which I'm sure I will), I'll be sure to post any updated changes.



Pimento Cheese
Ingredients
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar (from a bag)
1 cup shredded mild cheddar (shredded by hand)
1 4 oz jar of diced pimentos 
1 cup light mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt



Directions
Mix ingredients together in a bowl and enjoy!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My do-it-yourself answer to the Japanese Steakhouse experience

Okay, so in all honesty, you aren't going to see my flinging shrimp at Rick to catch while he's sitting at the little bar in my condo as I cook, but I do like to make my version of the type of meal that you'll find at one of those hibachi-cook-it-in-your-face kinda places.  I'm a huge fan of them, and actually, my mom and I went to Yamatos while she was in town last weekend for my graduation.  Since Rick wasn't able to go, I thought I'd do the next best thing for him and fix it for him at home.  No, I don't have a hibachi grill, but a nice, big ole pan will work pretty well in my opinion.  This meal is another one that makes Rick's favorites list.


There are probably about a thousand ways to make fried rice, but personally, I go for simple and easy.  The only thing to keep in mind when making it is to use leftover rice or rice that has had a little while to cool (think a couple of hours here).  You can add whatever your heart desires to it...onions, carrots, peas, eggs.  In this version, I don't add anything.  Same thing goes for the veggies.  I usually do a sweet onion and a zucchini, but I've also been known to add mushrooms.  Since Rick doesn't like them, I don't include them that often anymore.  I wasn't in the mood for broccoli so I didn't include it.  Again, go with whatever strikes your fancy!


The one thing that makes this experience perfect is shrimp sauce.  You know what I'm talking about...that delicious pink sauce that they always serve at Japanese restaurants.  I do have a recipe for it, but a couple of years ago, I stumbled across a bottle of it near the seafood at Food Lion.  Imagine my delight and surprise to find it!


Two more things before I post the recipe.... First, I'd like to apologize for not having a picture of our meal, but it was scarfed down rather quickly last night. Also, I am happy to report that my blog has been include at petitchef.com!  Nothing makes me happier than having cooking site find me and ask me to list my blog on it!  I don't know if you've ever checked out the website, but it's really cool!  They've all kinds of different recipes and great pictures! Definitely check it out!  I love checking out different cooking blogs and all of the fantastic recipes I can find for inspiration.  Being new to the cooking blog world, I love venturing out from my old standard epicurious.com.  


Here's the recipe for your dining enjoyment!


Do-It-Yourself Japanese

For the day before (or a couple of hours before)

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups uncooked rice


Directions
Cook rice per instructions and store in the refrigerator overnight (or for a couple of hours to cool down).


For the day of:
Ingredients
Pre-cooked rice
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined, seasoned with salt and pepper

1 or 2 NY Strip Steaks, cut into 1-2 inch pieces, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 zucchini, quartered and cut into two inch pieces

1 sweet onion chopped
Toasted sesame seeds

Peanut oil
Sesame oil

Directions
In a large pan or wok (wok is better when you have a large amount of rice), heat a mixture of 1 tablespoon peanut oil and 1 tablespoon sesame oil over medium high heat.  Add rice to the pan and season with sesame seeds.  Fry for a few minutes (around 5) and use a spoon to break up the rice.  Add soy sauce and continue to cook.


In a separate pan, add 1/2 tablespoon peanut oil and 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil and heat over medium heat.  Add zucchini and onion, season with sesame seeds, and cook until they are tender.  Add soy sauce and cook for an additional minute.  Remove from the pan, place in a medium bowl, and cover to keep warm. Add steak to the pan and cook to desired doneness.  Add shrimp to the pan and season with sesame seeds.  Cook until the shrimp are pink.  Add the shrimp and steak to the vegetable mixture and mix. 


Place fried rice on a plate and top with shrimp mixture.  Serve with shrimp sauce.


Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Yep, it's another chicken orzo dish!


So obviously, I'm a sucker for orzo and chicken dishes.  They are just so easy to make and so versatile!  I found this one on myrecipes.com, and it is another one from Cooking Light (the October 2005 issue).  As usual, I decided to play with it a bit and took some suggestions from the reviewers on the website and added feta and substituted roasted red peppers for regular red peppers. You may notice a lack of additional salt in the recipe, but between the feta and the capers, it was fine by me.

Once again, I was pleasantly surprised by the results.  Rick is having a hectic week so I won't get to see him until tomorrow, but now, I have leftovers for the rest of the week! I enjoyed it with pita bread and a little bit of the tzatziki sauce that I made last week.  Here's my rendition!

 Orzo with Chicken, Roasted Red Peppers, and Feta


Ingredients
2 chicken breasts
1 cup of uncooked orzo
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 cup of roasted red pepper chopped
2 tablespoons capers (drained)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon Greek seasoning 
Juice of 1 lemon

4 oz crumbled feta cheese
Extra virgin olive oil


Directions
Cook orzo according to the directions on the package.
While the orzo is cooking, season chicken with pepper, and grill chicken on George Foreman grill (or they can be sauteed in a pan with olive oil or cooking spray) until cooked thoroughly.  Saute onions and garlic in a small pan in a little bit of olive oil until tender.

Mix Greek seasoning, lemon juice, capers, olive oil, and roasted red peppers in a bowl.  Add onion and garlic to the bowl.  Combine orzo, chicken, and feta in a larger bowl with the roasted red pepper mixture. Season with salt and pepper as desired. Serve warm (leftovers are great cold, too!).


Enjoy!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Chicken Souvlaki


In continuing with my raiding of the Cooking Light recipes on myrecipes.com, I am happy to share this Chicken Souvlaki recipe.  After finding a tzatziki sauce of my own that I love, I'm always looking for an excuse to use it.  The Cooking Light recipe had one included with it, but why mess with perfection (or close enough for me)?  Unfortunately, Rick wasn't able to come over for dinner due to his needing to ready his house for a showing tomorrow, but it meant that I had some yummy leftovers to take for lunch.  Because it was a cold, dark, rainy night, I opted to use my broiler to cook the chicken and zucchini on skewers that I soaked for 30 minutes while the chicken and zucs marinated in the refrigerator. I also added a little pepper to the marinade as well.  Of course, I had to serve it with a pita that I toasted in the toaster oven (would've preferred to grill but it's not that time of year) on medium.  And here's what I did...


Chicken Souvlaki with Zucchini
Ingredients
  • 3  tablespoons  fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  chopped fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2  teaspoons  olive oil
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 4  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2  pound  skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1  medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
Directions
Preheat the broiler.

Soak bamboo skewers in water.

Combine first 6 ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.  Add chicken and zucchini and marinate (covered) in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Thread chicken and zucchini on the skewers (alternating chicken and zucchini).   Spray the broiling pan with cooking spray and place in oven.  Broil the skewers, turning every 3 minutes, until done, about 9 minutes total. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

Serve with tzatziki sauce and pita bread.

Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Sauteed Scallops in a Mustard-Dill Sauce: A mistake that turned out pretty awesome


Once upon a time, I was planning a meal for Rick and I. It was early on in our relationship, and I wanted to make him another delicious dish. I knew that I wanted to do something with scallops, and I accidentally had two different recipes in mind when I was gathering my ingredients at Publix that day. When I got home, I realized what I had done, but I decided to go out on my own and made this. In the end, it turned out to be one of Rick's favorites.

You can serve it over pasta or alone. Chicken can also be used instead of scallops if you don't like them, but of course, cooking time for it will be different.

Ingredients

1 1/2 tablespons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh dill (chopped) + 2 sprigs for garnish
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 large garlic clove (minced)
1 large shallot (minced)
3/4 cup white wine
1 lbs sea scallops (dried off, remove tough muscle if necessary, salt and pepper to taste)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Instructions

-Heat the oil on med-high (don't smoke the oil) in a large skillet
-Saute scallops until golden brown on both sides. Remove scallops and place on a plate and loosely cover with aluminum foil to keep warm
-Reduce heat to med-low and add garlic and shallot to the skillet. Saute for around 1 minute.
-Add 1/2 cup of wine and reduce by half
-Add lemon juice, rest of wine, mustard, and dill. Stir together and reduce a little bit more. Be sure not to bring it to a rapid boil.
-Combine scallops and sauce either on plates or over pasta of your choice.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Baked Pasta with Sausage, Tomatoes, and Cheese


In an effort to eat better, I've been checking out the Cooking Light recipes at myrecipes.com.  I became a fan of that site because it has recipes from some of my favorite magazines such as Cooking Light, Southern Living, and Real Simple.  For dinner last night, I decided to fix us something that originally appeared in the November 2003 Cooking Light magazine.  Rick wasn't too enthusiastic when I revealed that we were going to be eating turkey sausage, but he was pleasantly surprised when he had his first bite.  I probably could've gotten away with not admitting that it wasn't "real" sausage.  This recipe is extremely easy, and I did alter it a little bit.  Based on some of the reviews on the website, I decided to up the amount of basil used and added an extra can of diced tomatoes.  I also added a little bit of Italian seasoning.  For the tomatoes, I didn't use petite cut, but I did   Here is the original recipe.  Enjoy!!

Baked Pasta with Sausage, Tomatoes, and Cheese
Ingredients
  • 3/4 of  a pound package of uncooked ziti
  • 1 pound turkey Italian sausage links
  • 1 chopped sweet onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1  tablespoon  tomato paste
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  black pepper
  • 3  (14.5-ounce) cans petite-diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 cup  chopped fresh basil
  • 1  cup  (4 ounces) shredded fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1  cup  (4 ounces) 6 cheese blend
Directions
Preheat oven to 350F.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain the pasta, and set aside.

Remove casings from sausage. Cook sausage, onion, and garlic in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until browned, stirring to crumble. Add the tomato paste, salt, pepper, and tomatoes, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Combine cooked pasta, sausage mixture, and basil. Place half of the pasta mixture in a 4-quart casserole dish. Top with half of mozzarella and half of Parmesan. Repeat layers. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until bubbly.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Mom's Dill Dip

So since I had to work on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and my mom was here and left all alone at the condo without anything to do in the morning, I decided that it would be a wonderful idea for her to make her famous dill dip.  I love the stuff!  I swear I think that she puts crack in it because I can eat the whole thing in no time!  Thanks to that dip, I became a fan of cauliflower as a child...something that has continued into my adulthood.  The holidays just aren't the holidays without my mom making dip.  Normally, I have to wait to Christmas to get some dip, but with a little begging and pleading from me, my mom agreed to do it!  I've made the dip myself, but I think the extra love that she puts in it makes it much better than mine.  She says that it's the Duke's mayonnaise.


And besides, it's not like either one of us actually cook for Thanksgiving!  Yep, as hard as it is to believe that someone who loves to cook as much as I do doesn't lift a finger for Thanksgiving, it's true.  I'm sure that someday, it'll happen, but right now, Thanksgiving consist of my mom and me only.  Since I've moved to Charleston, we have tried a couple of places to eat, and several years ago, we settled into a routine.  Every year, we go to Poogan's Porch in downtown Charleston for lunch.  I'm looking forward to it...especially their peanut butter pie!  Here's a link to their Thanksgiving menu.  Yum!!!!


Anyway, here is the recipe for my mom's dill dip!  You can serve it with any raw veggies of your choice!  I hope that you enjoy it!!! 


Mom's Delicious Dill Dip
Ingredients
3 tablespoons dill weed
1 pint mayonnaise
1 pint sour cream
1 tablespoon dried parsley
3 tablespoons grated onion
1 1/2 tablespoon season salt

Directions
Blend all ingredients together and chill before serving.  Makes 4 1/2 cups.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A blast from the past....good ole King Ranch Chicken

Way back in the early 90s when I thought cooking consisted of throwing a frozen meal in a microwave and pushing start or making spaghetti with sauce out of a jar, my friend Maria introduced me to one of the first real things that I learned to cook...King Ranch Chicken.  In fact, for a while, I think that it was the only thing that I knew how to cook! I'm sure that she had gotten the recipe from her mother, but for whatever reason, it was never made in my house when I was growing up.  Over the years, I've noticed that King Ranch Chicken has made an appearance in just about every church cookbook that I've ran across (including the one that my church recently put out), and there are quite a few versions out there (Southern Living must have had at least 5 over the years).  Some of them stray away from using condensed soups, and some of them have several layer which makes it some sort of tortilla lasagna.  I'm not a big fan of the layers because the chips end up super soggy.  

Since my cooking repertoire has grown, I honestly don't think that I've made it since the 90s, but I was thinking chicken and casseroles today, and it immediately came to mind.  Something about the cold weather just makes me long for a nice, warm casserole (and a trip to the tanning bed, too!).


What's not to like in King Ranch Chicken?  You've got Doritos (in this version anyway), cheese, and a mixture that my friends and I used to refer to as "barf" since it really does look like it, and not to mention how incredibly easy it is to make this dish that will feed you forever when you are a poor college student.  And well, even though I'm in my 30s now, I am a college student at least for a little while longer!  

Tonight, it's just me and the Tar Heels on TV night since Rick won't be coming over.  I don't blame him, though.  I've got to get up very early in the morning for my last clinical!  I'm going to miss my preceptor, Susan, and all of the wonderful nurses at Roper St. Francis labor and delivery!

"The barf"


My version of King Ranch Chicken evolved over the years as my cooking knowledge has. It's not the healthiest thing in the world, but it's still a simple, super comfort food. I've attempted to make it not-so-bad-for-you by using reduced fat cheddar cheese and soups.



 King Ranch Chicken


Ingredients
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into cubes

1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 can cream of chicken soup (I use Campbell's low fat)

1 can cream of mushroom soup (I use Campbell's low fat)

1 sweet onion, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 bag of regular Doritos (coarsely crumbled)
2 cups reduced fat (2%) cheddar cheese

Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Directions
Preheat oven to 350F.


Season chicken with salt and pepper.  In a large skillet or heavy pan, heat olive oil and add chicken.  Saute until it is cooked and no longer pink in the middle.  Remove from the pan and place on a towel-covered plate to drain.  Add green pepper, onion, and garlic to the pan and saute until soften. 

While the chicken is cooking, combine the soups, Rotel tomatoes, and cilantro to a pot and heat over medium-low heat.  When the green pepper, onions, and garlic have finished cooking, mix with the soup.

In a 13 x 9 inch baking dish, add chicken and then cover with the soup mixture.  Add a layer of Doritos and then top with cheese.  Bake for 30 minutes uncovered or until the mixture is bubbling.
Enjoy!!!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Crab and Shrimp Cakes!!!!

Even though it turned out to be a not-so-great night for UNC basketball last night, Rick and I did have a wonderful dinner. As tempting as it is to expound on how poorly my Heels played, I will concede that they are young and confine all my complaining to messageboards.  

On Thursday, we had snow crab legs, but because we didn't eat them all, I decided to make one of Rick's favorite recipes:  Crab and Shrimp Cakes!  The recipe is from epicurious.com and called Asian-Style Crab and Shrimp Cakes.  Interestingly enough, for an Asian recipe, it calls for using French bread crumbs when using panko is so much better.  This recipe is another one that is perfect for two!  I paired the crab cakes with the cole slaw that I posted a couple of months ago.  I love this meal because not only is it easy, but it is lightening fast!  You can bake them in the oven or fry them in peanut oil.  Last night, I opted for frying.  I've also been known to add green onions if I have them handy.


I served the cakes with a horseradish sauce that I made Thursday night to go with the crab legs.  I was hoping to replicate the crab sauce that Harris Teeter sells (which they have been out of for WAY too long). Usually, I serve the crab and shrimp cakes with a wasabi sauce.  I am going to include that recipe because I like it better than the horseradish sauce!


Here's the recipe that I use:

Asian Style Crab and Shrimp Cakes
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce (nam pla) or soy sauce
  • 1 cup crab meat (or 6 oz canned crab meat)
  • 4 oz chopped shrimp (peeled and deveined)
  • 1 1/2 cups panko
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil
Directions
Mix first 4 ingredients in medium bowl. Add crabmeat, shrimp and 3/4 cup panko and mix well. Season with pepper. Place remaining panko to a  plate. Drop 1/4 of crab mixture into panko and turn to coat. Shape into 2 1/2-inch-diameter cake. Repeat coating and shaping with remaining crab mixture and panko to 4 cakes.

Heat peanut oil in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add cakes and sauté until crisp, about 5 minutes per side. 

Another option instead of frying is to bake them in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes and flipping half way through.


Wasabi Dipping Sauce
1 cup light mayo
2 tablespoons wasabi paste (water and wasabi paste mixed together)

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 small pinch of salt


Mix ingredients together and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Another Katie Classic: Spicy Shrimp Pasta

This recipe is one of the first ones that came into my cooking repertoire. The first time that I ever made it was back in 1998. I found it in the Southern Living 1997 Annual Recipes Cookbook, and it is super easy which was perfect for me back then. I've made a couple of changes from the original recipe, but I still love it to this day. I've made it for quite a few people and shared it with several of them. I also like it because it provides two nice size servings. I hope that you enjoy it, too!


Spicy Shrimp Pasta
Ingredients
8 oz of linguine
3/4 pound peeled, deveined shrimp
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup cooking wine with lemon
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (sometimes, I sub the Parmesan-Romano blend)
2 teaspoons dried crushed red pepper
5 teaspoons dried parsley

Directions
Cook linguine per box directions in water that has been salted and seasoned with garlic powder. Drain, return to pot, and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet and add green onions and garlic. Saute until tender. Add Cajun seasoning and stir for one minute

Stir in shrimp and whipping cream. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes, stirring often. Stir in wine and simmer for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add sauce, Parmesan cheese, and red pepper to the pot with linguine and heat over low heat, stirring gently. Stir in parsley and serve immediately.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Adventures in Baking Part 3

The one of the really cool things about the foodie blog world is discovering intriguing recipes on other sites.  I like to check out the forum on the Foodie BlogRoll because you get the bloggers introducing themselves and sharing a little bit about their blogs.  I've found a couple that I follow now there.  One of the ones that I recently found and started following is One Couple's Kitchen.  They shared a recipe from Food + Wine for a Nutella-Swirl Pound Cake.

I became a fan of Nutella in Italy when I was an exchange student back in 1991.  I remember how excited I was when I found it for the first time at Fresh Market in Hickory.  Back then, I'd put it on bread or cookies.  I've never cooked with it, and when I stumbled across the recipe, I was probably as excited as I was that day when I saw Nutella at Fresh Market.  Nowadays, you can get it at any grocery store, thankfully.  It's been a while since I've had any, and with another SNA Bake Sale on Monday, I decided that it was a perfect excuse to try it out.  If I had found it a day earlier, I probably would've made it for the bake sale that the women of my church has with our annual barbecue this weekend! (I made Ghiradelli brownies...of course!) I like how SNA Bake Sales have become my excuse to try to improve my baking skills.  I will definitely miss it (and need to come up with a new excuse) now that my final semester in nursing school is almost over.  I've never made a pound cake before, but they were always present at all holiday get-togethers when I was growing up.  My Aunt Mary Gordon used to always make them, and like my Aunt Mable's macaroni and cheese, I will equate them of Thanksgivings and Christmases in Shelby, NC when I think of them.  I wonder what my aunts would have thought of this version.

In order to get my eggs to room temperature, I put them out on the counter prior to my going to church.  According to the reviews on the Food and Wine website, that was rather important.  When I came home, they still weren't there, but I went ahead and mixed with the vanilla extract anyway.  I decided to go ahead and bake the chocolate chip cookies that I had signed up to make to give the eggs some more time to get to room temperature.  It also gave ample time for the butter to soften, too.  Despite the fact that the Nutella jar says not to microwave it, I followed the suggestion from reviewers on Food and Wine and microwaved it for 30 seconds before spreading it on the batter.  I gotta tell ya....microwaved Nutella is much less viscous than it is straight of the jar, and I definitely had an accident that resulted in Nutella running down the side of the counter, onto the dishwasher and pooling in the kitchen floor!  Luckily, there were no kitties around to get in it, and Lysol Disinfectant wipes do a wonderful job with removing the evidence of my faux pas (and Rick wasn't here to laugh at me)!

When I went to take it out of the loaf pan, some of the bottom stuck to the pan, but I was able to piece it together, it also started to fall apart a bit (notice the pan holding it together in the pic...hee, hee, hee!).  It did cut okay, but unfortunately, in most spots, the Nutella sank to the bottom of the cake.  It's still very yummy and rich, though!  Definitely needs a glass of milk!

Here's the recipe:

Nutella-Swirl Pound Cake
Ingredients
1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour, plus some for dusting
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 13oz jar of Nutella

Directions
Preheat the oven to 325°. Lightly grease and flour a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan, tapping out any excess flour. In a glass measuring cup, lightly beat the eggs with the vanilla. In a medium bowl, whisk the 1 1/2 cups of flour with the baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat the butter with the sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. With the mixer at medium-low speed, gradually beat in the egg mixture until fully incorporated. Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, beating at low speed between additions until just incorporated. Continue to beat for 30 seconds longer.  Microwave Nutella for 30 seconds (uncovered).

Spread one-third of the batter in the prepared pan, then spread half of the Nutella on top. Repeat with another third of the batter and the remaining Nutella. Top with the remaining batter. Lightly swirl the Nutella into the batter with a butter knife. Do not overmix.

Bake the cake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto a wire rack, turn it right side up and let cool completely, about 2 hours. Cut the cake into slices and serve.






Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Would it really be a Low Country blog without Shrimp and Grits?

Before I moved to the Charleston area, I had never tried shrimp and grits.  I always thought that it sounded like a pretty cool dish since I pretty much like anything involving shrimp and I am a fan of grits.  Grits are definitely a Southern thing, and it's really hard, if not impossible, to try to explain what exactly grits are to someone born and raised outside of the South as I learned when my cousin had her bachelorette party in Charleston this summer.  I joined them for dinner one night at Magnolia's, and several of the girls were from up north.  It was amusing trying to explain grits to them when they saw them on the menu.  Magnolia's has awesome shrimp and grits, by the way, and even though I contemplating ordering something else, I couldn't resist and had to order them!  I knew I would regret it otherwise.


I am really lucky to have access to such wonderful local shrimp.  The shrimping industry is a huge part of life in the Low Country, but unfortunately, the downturn in the economy has really hurt the shrimpers.  I try my best to buy local whenever possible.  The picture is on that I took of shrimp boats on Shem Creek here in Mount Pleasant a couple of years ago.

Since first trying shrimp and grits, I've had them at I don't even know how many places around town.  Sometimes, they were awesome, and sometimes, they weren't.  You can get them with brown gravy or more of a tomato-y sauce with the grits.  Over the years, I've also tried out quite a few recipes in search of one that I would be proud to call my own.  The one complaint that I do have with making them is that to make a to die for dish, you've got to use heavy cream with the grits.  Not half and half, not low fat or even whole milk...straight up, bad for ya, hip-expanding heavy cream.  Trust me when I say that it is definitely worth it.  And no, instant grits will NOT do!!!!  You've got to use the stone ground variety.

Shrimp and Grits

For the Grits:

Ingredients
1 cup stone ground grits
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
6 tablespoons butter
1 garlic clove minced
3/4  cup whipping cream

Directions
Bring chicken broth, whipping cream, butter and garlic to a boil in a heavy saucepan.  Gradually whisk in grits and return to a boil.  Continue to whisk constantly.  Reduce heat to low.  Simmer uncovered until grits thicken, whisking often, for around 15 minutes.


For the shrimp:
Ingredients
2 pounds of large, uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/3 cup shallots, chopped
1/2 cup sweet onion, chopped
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced.
1/2 cup white wine
1 can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons fresh parlsey
2 tablespoons fresh chives
Creole seasoning
4 ounces of prosciutto, cut into thin strips
1-2 tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Season shrimp with Creole seasoning and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a heavy, large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onions and green pepper and saute for 3 minutes.  Add garlic and shallots and saute for another 2 minutes.  Add shrimp and saute for 2 minutes.  Remove shrimp from the skillet.  Add wine and boil until reduced to glaze (around 5 minutes).  Add diced tomatoes (juices included), parsley, chives and prosciutto and simmer for 2 minute.  Return shrimp to the skillet and simmer for another 2 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper if desired.

Add grits into bowels, and top each serving with shrimp mixture.  It should serve 4-6.

Enjoy!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

How do you feel about eggplant?


That was the text that I sent to Rick on Friday afternoon.  I'd had eggplants on my mind alll day after I passed quite a few attractive ones that were on display in the Horseshoe at MUSC today.  Every Friday, MUSC hosts a small farmer's market in the Horseshoe in front of that disappointing tent that is serving as a cafeteria while the old one gets renovated.  I find it amusing that there are all these delicious looking fruits and vegetables just a few yards from the tent, but hey, I'll readily admit that I have an odd sense of humor.

Rick didn't reply back via text but called to let me know that he'd never had eggplant before.  Honestly, I've never cooked eggplant before either, but I opted not to tell him that until afterwards.  I went on an internet search for eggplant recipes.  I wasn't sure what I wanted, but I did know that eggplant parm would be out since we did chicken parmesan recently.  Anyway, I have to be honest.  The way that I search for recipes online has evolved since I've started writing this blog.  No longer do I start with my old stand-by website epicurious.com or foodnetwork.com, but instead, I now start out with a google search of blogs.  One of the website recipes that I came across that really caught my eye was this one, but when Rick told me that the chicken that he had out was now probably bad (and that he wanted to do some grilling, too), I decided to save it for another day and keep searching.  I saw a ton of recipes for Eggplant Rolls which really got me thinking about how I could play with this concept to make something that was my own.

After picking up an eggplant, two green peppers, and two cucumbers (I feel some more tzatziki coming on...I've created a monster within myself!!) at the farmer's market, I stopped at Whole Foods on the way home.  I was looking for some sort of soft cheese to use as part of my filling.  In my mind, I was already picturing doing something similar to the pinwheel appetizers that I posted last week and using some prosciutto that I have in the refrigerator and some basil (which made me lament giving up on our basil over the last month or so) and maybe throw in some diced tomatoes and garlic...  I wanted a cheese that wasn't ricotta but not really cream cheese either, and the helpful guys at Whole Foods suggested Capricho de Cabra.  I had never heard of it before, but the friendly one helping me called it "a step above cream cheese."  A quick google search informed me that it is a goat cheese from Spain.  Sounds good to me!  


The look on Rick's face when I was slicing up the eggplant betrayed his skepticism about the meal despite his what he was saying. Too bad I didn't have my camera handy for that one.  In the end, though, the eggplant won him over!  Here's the recipe


Eggplant Roll-Ups


Ingredients
1 eggplant
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
1 4 oz package of prosciutto
3 cheese blend
1/3 lb of Capricho de Cabra, softened (you can use ricotta or cream cheese if you wish)

Provolone cheese, grated

Marinara sauce of your choice
Extra virgin olive oil
Italian seasoning grinder



Directions
 Preheat oven to 350F.  

Slice off the ends of the eggplant, and then thinly slice off one side of the eggplant so that it can sit stably on the cutting board.  Repeat on the opposite side of the eggplant. Cut the eggplant into 1/4 inch thick slices.  Put the olive oil on a plate and add some of the Italian seasoning to it.  Brush each side of the each slice of the eggplant with the olive oil and set aside.


Heat a grill to medium-high, and grill the eggplant (about 3-5 minutes per side depending on how thick the slices are) until they are tender.

Mix softened Capricho de Cabra, 3 cheese blend and basil in a bowl.


Place grilled eggplant on a cutting board.  Taking one piece at a time, put a slice of prosciutto on the eggplant and then spread the cheese mixture on it to cover it.  Starting with the larger end of the eggplant, roll the eggplant into a roll up and place in a baking dish.  Repeat with the remaining slices of egg plant.  Spoon marinara sauce over the eggplant roll ups and then top with grated provolone cheese.  Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Enjoy!


Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Lovely fun with leftovers

Okay, so my motivation to study for my exam on Thursday may have hit an all-time low because here I am blogging about what I did with some of the leftovers from my Greek Shrimp Pasta meal instead of studying like a good little girl.  Since Rick didn't come over last night, I was left with way more seafood goodness than I can handle.  Yep, I had pasta leftovers for lunch and snacked on the tzatziki with some veggies during the day, and I'll probably have some more pasta tomorrow at my clinical.

Faced with the need to do something fast since I should be studying (instead of blogging) and not looking forward to having the pasta for the second time today, I had an excellent idea pop into my mind....making pita pizzas with the shrimp mixture!  As usual, last night I made more pasta than shrimp mixture so I opted to store them separately which came in handy when I made this super-easy study night meal.  So here's what I did...


Ingredients
1 pita
Feta cheese
Six cheese blend
Cheddar cheese

Shrimp mixture from last night (or if you'd like to make your own, take 4 peeled, deveined shrimp, a little bit of chopped onion, diced tomatoes, and artichoke hearts; season with basil, oregano, and parsley; and saute in a little bit of extra virgin olive oil)


Directions
Preheat oven to 350F.


Place pita on pizza pan.  Add shrimp mixture to pita and top with the cheeses.  Bake in oven until cheese is melted (10-15 minutes).  Enjoy!!!!


Okay, I'm off to go study some more!  Keep your fingers crossed for me!  Hopefully, I'll be back to making meals with Rick this weekend! We have an excellent swordfish dish in mind....

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