Wednesday, March 31, 2010

More fun with Brussels Sprouts

Okay, so that sounds really odd to say because normally, Brussels Sprouts aren't considered fun.  In all honesty, it's also a little sarcastic because I, unfortunately, had to learn the lesson that Brussels Sprout stems + garbage disposal = clogged disposal.  I had a feeling when I was tossing them in there that it might happen, and sure enough, when I went to run it, I got lots of water and no disposing.  Oh well.  I think that I impressed Rick when I unhooked the piping and fixed it.  Obviously, that wasn't my first time clogging that bad boy up.

Last night, I was feeling rather lazy.  For the main dish, we grabbed a lemon pepper rotisserie chicken from Publix. I've been trying to get Rick to try Brussels Sprouts for a while now.  With his desire to eat superfoods, I thought that he would like to add them to our reportoire of dinner sides.  To cook them, I decided to add to Kelly's recipe a little bit.  Rick ended up liking them.  We are both fans of the "crunchy ones" (the crunchy leaves that result from roasting....I actually broiled them a little bit at the end to make sure to get some "crunchy" ones).

Here's what we did...

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Shallots

1 lb Brussels Sprouts
6-8 shallots (I used one of those packages of them that are found in the produce section)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Spice Island Garlic and Herb mix
Italian Seasoning Grinder
Sea Salt Grinder

Preheat oven to 400F.  Peel the shallots and place them on a square piece of aluminum foil.  Cover the shallots with a little bit of olive oil (around 1 tablespoon) and season with the Italian Seasoning.  Wrap them up in the foil and place in the oven.  Heat in the oven for about 25-30 minutes.

While the shallots are in the oven, soak Brussels Sprouts in a medium bowl for 25 minutes.  Remove the Brussels sprouts from the water. Trim off the stems and remove any discolored leaves.  Cut each of the Brussels sprouts in half. Place them in a roasted pan and add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, garlic and herb mix, Italian Seasoning, Salt and Pepper to taste to the pan.  Remove the shallots from the oven and add them to the pan.  Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes.  Halfway through, remove from oven and toss with a spoon before continuing.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Thai Night....the main dish!

Before I get to last night's main dish, I wanted to share a giveaway that a friend of mine is having on her blog!  Please be sure to stop by The Nest and check it out!  She's giving away a set of Rachel Ray cool is that????   Regardless of the giveaway, you gotta check her site out. She makes the most amazing bake goods, and I aspire to be half as creative as she is with them!

So last night, I made Pad Thai for this first time for Rick and I.  I was a little surprised that I hadn't made it for us before, but it is a lot of work...especially in the chopping of cilantro leaves department.  It's worth the effort, though.  We really enjoyed it.

The first time that I ever tried Thai food was here in Charleston at Basil, and the first dish that I tried was Pad Thai.  Not too long after that, I went searching the internet for a Pad Thai recipe.  I came across this one, and I made it for the first time in August 2003 (according to the date at the bottom of the page in my old internet recipe notebook).  I was really apprehensive since it had ketchup and Worcestershire as ingredients, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it actually did taste similar to Pad Thai from Basil!

Here's what I did.

Pad Thai
  • 1 (6 oz) package rice noodles
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce (sambal oelek)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb thinly sliced chicken breast
  • 1/2 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined (21-25 count)
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 4 green onions
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped roasted peanuts (unsalted)
Place noodles in large bowl and cover with boiling water for about 10 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

Mix together fish sauce, ketchup, Worcestershire, chili-garlic sauce and sugar in a medium size bowl and set aside.

Cut chicken into 1 inch pieces.  Cut shrimp into thirds.

Heat peanut oil in large frying pan or wok.  Add garlic and chicken to the wok and cook until the meat starts to turn white.  Add shrimp and continue to cook until they start to turn pink.  Add sauce and stir for 3 minutes.  Add the beaten eggs and stir constantly for 1 minute.

Add drained noodles and stir to coat the noodles.  Stir in bean sprouts, onions and 1/2 cup cilantro.
Place on a plate and top with cilantro and chopped peanuts.  Serve with lime wedges (squeeze lime juice on the Pad Thai prior to eating).


Monday, March 29, 2010

Thai Night!

About a month ago, Rick brought over a Thai cookbook called Greatest Ever Thai, and I've been wanting to do something out of it ever since.  Rick came over earlier this evening, and we were talking about what to make for dinner. He was flipping through the latest Cooking Light and Food + Wine, but nothing seemed appealing.  I mentioned doing something out that cookbook as an appetizer and then making Pad Thai.  Apparently, I had never made Pad Thai for us before, and I was looking forward to it. I will post that recipe tomorrow.

The appetizer that we picked out was for shrimp wrapped in won ton skins.  It sounded similar to one of my favorite appetizers Basil, a Thai restaurant in downtown Charleston.  Basil is another one of those must-go-to places here.  The food is excellent, and the prices aren't too bad for a downtown restaurant.  We decided tonight that it has been too long since we went, but luckily, we had tonight's dinner to hit the spot.  I've never worked with won ton skins before, and while my shrimp rolls didn't look as good as the ones in the cookbook, they turned out great! Rick was on frying duty, and he opted not to deep fry them but he flipped them after about a minute or so.  I made some other changes from the original recipe (omitted red curry paste and subbed garlic-chili sauce for 1 small fresh red Thai chili). 

Here's what we did.

Jumbo Shrimp Rolls with Sweet Soy Sauce

2 tablespoons of Garlic-Chili Sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
4 tablespoons of low-sodium soy sauce

Shrimp Rolls
2 tablespoons of cilantro leaves
2 cloves of garlic, minced
16 won ton skins
1 egg white, lightly beaten
16 jumbo shrimp, shelled with tails left intact
Corn oil for frying

To make the dip, mix the ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

For the shrimp rolls, brush the won ton skins with egg white and place a few cilantro leaves and a little bit of garlic in the center of the won ton skin. Place shrimp on top.  Fold the won ton skin over the shrimp and leave the tail exposed.  Roll the shrimp in the won ton.  Repeat with the remaining shrimp.

Heat oil for frying in a large, heavy bottom pan to 350-375F.  Fry the shrimp in small batched until golden brown (around 1-2 minutes).  Drain on paper towels and serve with the dip.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Quick and Easy Spaghetti

Yesterday, I sent a recipe for fish tacos that I found on via email to Rick.  Mahi was on sale at Publix, and I thought that they sounded pretty good.  Rick, of course, was not as enthusiastic about them I was which sent me back to culinary drawing board for something to do for dinner.  Luckily, the new issue of Cooking Light was waiting in the mail box.  On the cover was a quite yummy looking pasta dish with sausage.  After a call to Rick, we decided that we would give it a try. 

The recipe was really, really easy and quick.  It was definitely a perfect dish to make on a week night when you are short on time (and in my case last night I didn't want to miss any of the Tar Heels' game in the NIT).  I had never broiled sausage before, and it was definitely a quick and easy way to do it...seems to be a recurrent motif with this meal...quick and easy!  I didn't make a lot of changes to ithe original recipe.  I did (as usual) increase the amount of garlic, and the canned tomatoes that I used were peeled.

Here's what we did.

Spaghetti with Sausage and Tomato Sauce

8 ounces hot Italian turkey sausage links

8 ounces uncooked spaghetti
1 (28-ounce) can peeled whole tomatoes, undrained
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup torn fresh basil
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preheat broiler.

Cook pasta according to package directions and then drain.

While pasta is cooking, arrange sausage on a small baking sheet. Broil sausage 5 minutes on each side or until done. Remove pan from oven (do not turn broiler off). Cut sausage into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange slices in a single layer on baking sheet. Broil sausage slices 2 minutes or until browned.

Place tomatoes in a food processor; process until almost smooth. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add crushed red pepper and minced garlic; sauté 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes, sugar, and salt; cook 4 minutes or until slightly thick. Add sausage and cooked pasta to pan; toss well. Top with fresh basil and Parmigiano-Reggiano.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pork chops and potatoes

Publix had pork chops on sale again this week so I decided to do the Parmesan and Sage Crusted Pork Chops again.  This time around, we cooked them in olive oil to get a nice golden-brown crunchy crust, and then we baked them in the oven at 475F for 20 minutes until they were cooked in a baking dish.  Unlike the last time we made this recipe, the pork chops were pretty thick so they needed the additional cooking time in the oven.  For the side, Rick wanted to do baked potatoes again, but I wanted to try something different.  I was searching on and came across this recipe from Cooking Light for roasted potatoes.  I changed it a bit by using 5 cloves of minced garlic.  Another change that I made was with the fresh herbs.  Instead of using flat-leafed parsley only, I used a combination of fresh flat-leafed parsley, basil, and sage.  Because I didn't have one, I omitted the lemon rind from the original recipe.  Rick said that he wasn't a huge roasted potatoes fan, but we both really liked these. Here's what we did.

Garlic and Herb Roasted Potatoes
Serves 4
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1  tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 1/2  pounds of Yukon potatoes (about 4 cups), chopped into 1-2 inch cubes
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2  teaspoon  sea salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh sage, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh basil, chopped
Preheat oven to 475°.

Combine garlic and oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook 2 minutes or until golden, stirring frequently. Remove garlic with a slotted spoon; set aside. Drizzle remaining oil evenly over potatoes in a large bowl, tossing well to coat. Arrange potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 475° for 30 minutes or until potatoes are golden. Combine reserved garlic and herbs in a small bowl; sprinkle garlic mixture evenly over potatoes.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Rick does dinner AGAIN!

Maybe I should be sick more often because he did it again last night!  How lucky am I?  Last night, Rick brought over some whiting that he had purchased at Sewee Outpost.  If you ever find yourself on Highway 17 North heading to Myrtle Beach (or South heading to Charleston from Myrtle Beach), I would recommedn checking them out.  They have all kinds of good stuff nfrom food to equipment to everything inbetween.  They also serve awesome biscuits on weekend mornings.  I stopped by Publix on my way home yesterday and picked up some House Autry Seafood Breader.  That stuff is amazing, and it makes perfect breading for frying fish.  I swear it tastes like something you would get at a fish camp back home.  We have yet to try out the chicken one, but I'd imagine that it going to be awesome, too.  Rick requested that I make our favorite cole slaw, and I also whipped up a tartar sauce by combining McCormick's tartar sauce with some horseradish sauce.  I was impressed with how quick and easy our meal was.  Too bad the Tar Heels didn't play so well last night.

Before I post the recipe, I would like to apologize for being slack and not posting pictures.  I promise to upload them this weekend!!

Here's what we did.

Rick's Fried Whiting

1 lb of whiting filets
1 box of House Autry Seafood Breader
Vegetable Oil

Cut whiting filets into 2 inch pieces.  Put breader into a gallon freezer bag, add filet pieces, seal, and shake to bread the fish. 

Heat vegetable oil in a cast iron or heavy skillet (about 1/8 inch deep to pan fry).  When the oil is heated, add whiting pieces to oil  and pan fry about 2-3 minutes per side (or until fish is flaky).  Remove fish and place on a paper-towel covered plate to drain the oil.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Rick does dinner

Those of you who are my friends on facebook (and/or in real life) know that I've been feeling a little under the weather lately so Rick decided to make dinner for us last night.  I picked out this recipe from Cooking Light.  It seemed pretty simple, and it kinda reminded me of the tilapia that we like to do with capers.  It was so sweet to watch Rick read the recipe and make dinner.  Of course, I couldn't stay out of the kitchen, and I made the roasted garlic crostini again and minced the flat leaf parsely.  I had to smile when I saw Rick making some of the same mistakes that I used to make as a novice cook, and I'm proud of him for putting up with me and making a great meal!  We served it with some wild rice out of a box which wasn't that great, but the chicken turned out wonderfully!

Here's the recipe

Chicken with Lemon-Caper Sauce
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons capers, drained
3 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley

Place chicken between 2 sheets of plastic wrap; pound to an even thickness using a meat mallet or small heavy skillet. Sprinkle chicken evenly with salt and pepper. Place flour in a shallow dish; dredge chicken in flour.

Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken to pan; cook 3 minutes. Turn chicken over. Add broth, juice, and capers; reduce heat to medium, and simmer 3 minutes, basting chicken occasionally with sauce. Sprinkle with parsley; cook 1 minute. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm.

Bring sauce to a boil; cook 2 minutes or until thick. Serve over chicken.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

NY Strip + cast iron skillet + oven = YUM!

Even though the weather isn't nice enough to head out to the grill, it doesn't mean that you can't enjoy a delicious steak at home.  When the weather isn't cooperating for grilling, the next best thing to do is to break out your cast iron skillet, crank the oven up, and have perfection in a matter of minutes.  It amazes us how easy and quick it can be to do a steak this way.  I learned how to cook steak this way thanks to the suggestion from several posters on's off topic board.  Cast iron skillets are a must-have for any and every kitchen.  They are so versatile and go into the oven without any problem!  I often wonder now how I lived without them before my mom got on a cast iron kick and bought me several for Christmas one year.  One thing that you can do that I don't for the recipe is to sear the steaks prior to putting them in the oven.  We've done it both ways, and either way, the steak turn out great!
Rick brought over the steak dust that his mother got.  It turns out that it is Tone's.  You can get it at Sam's Club and also order it online.  Instead of using the steak seasoning that he had, we used McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning.  We opted to go with that one because it smelled more garlicky than the other one.  As usual, we paired the steak with baked potatoes and had a great weekend night dinner! 

Here's what we did.

Cast-iron skillet steak

2 NY Strip Steaks (or cut of your choice)
1 tablespoon Tone's Steak Dust
1 tablespoon McCormick's Steak Seasoning
1 cast iron skillet!

Preheat oven to 500F.  

While the oven is preheating, mix the steak dust and seasoning together in a small bowl.  If you are doing more than 2 steaks, keep the proportion of seasoning be 1 tablespoon of each to 2 steaks.  Season both sides of the each steak with the seasoning by rubbing it in. Do not return the steaks to the refrigerator to allow them to warm up.

Place the steaks on the cast iron skillet and place the skillet in the oven.  Cook them for around 4 minutes on each side for steaks to be medium rare.  Adjust time for more or less doneness.


Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Sesame Chicken

When Rick told me that he had taken out some chicken to thaw and was craving some Chinese food, I suggested that we try to make sesame chicken.  I've never done it before, but a quick search of the internet found this recipe from  There are actually quite a few version of it on various sites on the internet, but I opted to use it as my base recipe.  I served it with fried rice and steamed broccoli.  Admittedly, I'm not a huge broccoli fan, but Rick keeps going on and on about how it is a super-food.  How can I win against that? ;)  

Our meal turned out pretty good,  and I think that our version is probably a wee-bit better for you than what you get from your average Chinese restaurant.  Rick didn't deep fry the chicken, but did it in about an inch of peanut oil and turned them. I don't know that the marinade added all that much to it, and next time, I may marinate it longer.  It smelled great, though!

Here's the recipe!

Sesame Chicken

3 boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-2 inch cubes
Peanut oil for frying
Toasted Sesame Seeds
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cooking sherry
  • 3 drops sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil 
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic-chili sauce
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
Mix all of the ingredients for the marinade together, and marinade the chicken for around 30 minutes.

While the chicken is marinating, mix together all of the sauce ingredients. Pour them into a small pot and bring to a boil, stirring continuously. Turn the heat down to low and keep warm while you are deep-frying the chicken.

Add enough peanut oil to a cast iron or heavy skillet to have the oil be 1 inch thick.  Heat the oil over medium-high heat, and when it is heated, add the marinated chicken pieces enough to cover the majority of the skillet.  Fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towels . Repeat with the remainder of the chicken. Just before you are finished frying, bring the sauce back up to a boil.

Place the chicken on a large platter and pour the sauce over. Sprinkle with sesame seeds


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