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 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  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
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)

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
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

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
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)

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
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

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

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
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

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  Here they are!

Human Friendly Dog Cookies
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

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
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
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 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

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

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

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

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 for something new to create.  I came across this recipe that is an adaptation from a recipe on 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
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

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

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
  • 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
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

1 cup pimento cheese
1 cup flour

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.  


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 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
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

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!  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  

Here's the recipe for your dining enjoyment!

Do-It-Yourself Japanese

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

1 1/2 cups uncooked rice

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

For the day of:
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

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.


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, 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

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

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!).


Thursday, December 03, 2009

Chicken Souvlaki

In continuing with my raiding of the Cooking Light recipes on, 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
  • 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
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.


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.


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


-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.

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