Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Shrimp and Grits

Oh hello.
Remember me?
I've been away... cooking!
Albeit neglecting writing down the recipes to post up in here, but at least my eye is on the prize.
Cook, cook, cook, eat, cook, eat, maaayyyybbee write down an ingredient or two, then 
cook, cook and cook.
There, that sounds about right.

Here is my opener after all the time I've been away.
Shrimp and some mother f-in grits.
This is not only delicious, but super easy to make.
I'm pretty sure that's what I say about lots of things I cook.
Even though there might be a hundred and fifty steps to a recipe I make,
I  still think the hardest part of cooking is the clean up.
I despise cleaning up.
I'm like a mad scientist in the kitchen, too.
I'm dropping scraps on the floor, grains are flying all over the place when I try to pour them
into a measuring cup, I'm spilling liquids everywhere.
But don't get it twisted.  
The only liquid I don't spill be my wine.
I somehow manage to keep it where it belongs.
My Pinot ain't going nowhere but in my belly.  
After all, I do have priorities.


1 lb. jumbo shrimp (16/20 count)
Old bay seasoning
1 jalapeno, diced with seeds and ribs (optional if you're not down with spicy)
1 tomato, diced
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil

In a large heated skillet, melt the butter and olive oil together.
Season liberally the shrimp with the old bay.
Lay the shrimp in the skillet and let it sear for about 2-3 minutes on high heat.
Flip them and sear the other side, about 1-2 minutes.
Take the shrimp out and set aside in a bowl.
Add the jalapeno and tomato and let them cook about 2-3 minutes on medium heat.
Add a couple tablespoons of water or broth if the pan is too dry to help move the veggies along.
Add the shrimp back in and coat them with the jalapeno and tomato mix.
Place them over the grits or polenta and get ready to have your world rocked.


I say grits OR polenta because my package said POLENTA and CORN GRITS.
So you can use either one.
I got the coarse grind.

2 cups milk
2 cups water
1 1/4 cups polenta
1/2 cup parm reggiano
fresh cracked pepper

You can follow your package directions, but this is roughly how I made mine and they turned out
creamy and rich and delicious.
Remember to add the grits sssllllooowwwwlllyyyyy into the simmering liquid or it will get lumpy.
Whisk, whisk, whisk until it thickens and then add all the cheesy, yummy goodness.
You won't be sorry.
I felt all 'Down South-ish'...
or Italiano...  I couldn't tell. 
Well, either way, I felt happy.
Amazing meal! 

Friday, October 26, 2012

French Bread

It was a warm and cozy night when I decided homemade bread was a good idea...
Well, actually, it was supposed to be a warm and cozy night, but apparently San Diego forgot to catch up to the season change up in here and it has been HOT!
Like 80-90 degree hot.
It's not cute.
Summer is over, Weather Gods!
News Flash:
It's fall.
Catch up already.
Get with it.
Give me a season change!

I'm ready for cooler weather, snuggling under my covers, cozier foods and, most importantly,
wardrobe changes!
It's time for scarves and boots and sweaters... oh my!

And did I mention cozy food?
Chilis, soups, stews, breads.
Yes.. the wafting scent of fresh baked bread filling up the house.
Nothing like it!
Just does something to your brain, puts it in a happy place.
Takes you back to the time you were in Paris, walking into a boulangerie where they had all kinds of fresh baked breads.  You had a complete sensory overload and you couldn't imagine your life ever being the same again.
Remember that time?
In Paris?

You don't?
Well, neither do I.
But in my head, when I think of 'French' bread, that's the image that I conjure up.
Doesn't it sound lovely?

Can you tell I don't get out enough?

Ok, enough of that BS.
Back to the bread.
The recipe I got is from Emeril.
Now before you judge me, I have to say that of all the research I did for baking french bread, this one was the easiest, but had lots of the same elements of the other recipes.
So naturally, I decided to give it a try.

I'm really glad I did because I've made this like three times in one week and it gets devoured in one day.
The boys LOVE it.
Well, they love bread period but I like to think they love this particular bread because it had my blood sweat and tears in it.
Not really, but kinda.
No, not even kinda.
It's really, really easy.

And it has the perfect french bread texture.
Crunchy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside.
It's so delightful, I can't even tell you.
It keeps for days, not that it lasted that long in this house.
But in case you don't live with a pack of wild wolves like I do, then it might last more than an hour in your casa.

Plus, it's pretty.
I seriously had a hard time cutting into the first loaf because it looked so good.
I know, I'm a freak like that.
I love to look at food as much as I like to eat it.
Just a little extra little snippet about me that I'm sure you were dying to know.

Do you think I added enough pictures of essentially the same shot?
Well, here's one more in case you missed the first 200.

What does the bottom of the loaf look like you ask?
Great question!
So glad I got that shot for you as well...

Bottom side of the bread.
But of course I forgot to get the all important 'sliced' shot.
Sadly, the wolves descended at first slice and all hell broke loose.
There was no time to take the pic, only to save myself a slice before the guys got to it all.
But trust that it was perfection!
Find the recipe here.

PS I don't have an electric mixer, so I did it by hand.
Turned out great.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Lobster Tacos

I know what you're thinking.
Ohhh, lobster tacos..
you think you fancy?

A.  I am fancy.  I thought you already knew that.
B.  I haven't posted for a while so I thought I'd come back with a bang.
Hence, lobster tacos.

In honor of my fabulous hubby's day of birth yesterday, I put together a little menu to set off fireworks in your mouth.
Sadly, this is the only item from my 'poppin' menu that I actually took a picture of.
Loser, I know.
But in my defense, I was drinking copious amounts of IPA (it was a football game, after all) and that is never a good idea when I'm attempting to remember to do something... like, sayyyy, take pictures for my blog perhaps???
I did take these few on my phone though so they will have to suffice.
Big words on this fine Monday morning.
Well, it's a big word for me.  Sounds cool, too.
Suffice.  Suffice.  Suffice.
I'm normally talking about Legos and going potty, so let me get an adult word in today, will ya?
Ok.  I'm done.

So I bought a one and a half pound lobster, steamed it and took it out of the shell.
Sidenote: normally wherever you buy your live lobster from, they will happily steam it for you, free of charge.  That's what I did.
I chopped the lobster into about 1 inch pieces and set it aside.
In a skillet with olive oil, I sauteed one chopped onion, about 1 cup of corn, 1 cup black beans and one finely chopped chipotle in adobo sauce.
Season it all with salt and pepper.
I let that cook for about 7-8 minutes, letting the corn get a bit of color in the pan before adding the chopped lobster.
Just let the lobster heat through.  
You don't want to cook it because it's already been steamed and is fully cooked.  
Otherwise it will get tough and then you might as well call 9-1-1 and have yourself arrested for committing a hideous crime of turning the beautiful, delicious crustacean into rubber.

So, just till the lobster is heated through, got it?
Then turn off the heat and squeeze a half a lime over the whole mixture and toss it altogether.
Trying to keep in the spirit of appetizers, I bought these cute little corn tortillas that were about the size of my hand, so they were pretty mini.
That way they were more user friendly for the boys to scarf down in between shouts and high fives during the game.
What's that about, anyway?
I don't think I will EVER understand the crazy, psychotic yells to the TV because of a bad play.
I mean, do they know that the refs can't hear them through the screen?
I always wonder if my husband secretly owns stock in the Chargers because of his undying faith and passion he has for that team.
It disturbs me and fascinates me to no end.
Ok, back to the food.

I also made an avocado cream sauce to top the tacos with.
It's so simple but adds so much depth to these luxurious tacos.
It goes a little something like this:
One ripe avocado, 1 garlic clove, a handful of fresh cilantro, 1/2 cup sour cream, zest of one lime, juice of 1/2 lime, 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt and pepper.
Throw it in the food processor, or if you're lucky like me, your Vitamix and let'er rip.  
Taste it for seasoning and then it's done.  
I hope you try these.
One lobster made 7 tacos.
Not bad, right?
This is a great way to buy an ingredient that you wouldn't normally splurge on and make it stretch to feed a family of four.
Or a family of two... depending on how naughty you'd like to be with your portions.
Just an FYI, my husband and I could have crushed these all by ourselves.
Yes, we are naughty and like to live on the wild side.
peace out.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Square Pizza - Two ways

I know I've already posted a recipe on some pizza I've made a while back but I figure, 
who doesn't love pizza.
I mean, really..
who doesn't LOVE pizza?
Bread, tomatos and cheese.
Sounds like heaven to me.
So I decided to post a couple more that I made for some friends.

~notice that only half of the BBQ Chicken pizza has chicken on it.
of course I wanted some, too!  so I left half 'vegetarian' so I could indulge as well~ 

As much as we all love the basics on our pizza,
 sometimes, there has got to be more than just tomatoes and cheese on your pizza.
just sometimes...
there is BBQ sauce.
And chicken (if you fancy that sort of thing).
And sometimes, there is even cilantro and red onions.

In that case, we are talking about a BBQ Chicken Pizza which I'm pretty sure WOW's just about any one that you will be cooking this for.
People go nuts for this pizza.
It happens everytime I make it!

It's probably one of the easier pizza's you will ever make.
You buy your favorite BBQ sauce (or you can make it if you want to one up me on this one),
you roast or saute some of your favorite chicken (then shred it), you buy your favorite mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, cilantro, and red onions.
Then you spread it all on your pizza and you won't believe the flavor explosion!
It's absolutely delicious.

All men, women, children and pets will FLIP for this pizza.

Then there's my personal favorite.
The Vegetarian.
I actually never like the vegetarian pizzas from pizza joints because they always seem to overflow their pizzas with all kinds of random veggies that I don't enjoy all at once.
And the veggies never seem to be cooked all the way.
And they are all watery and rubbery and ... blech.
Like for example, bell peppers on a pizza, in my opinion, are not ok.
I mean, I guess if they are roasted and caramelized and sweet and put with some goat cheese then it would be good.
But most places just throw the bell peppers on there and they come out all bitter and terrible.

So when I make a vegetarian pizza, I like to put just a few veggies on top as to not overwhelm the flavors of everything else the pizza has going on. 
Cuz believe me, this pizza has got FLAYYY-VAAA!
Here, I put zucchini, mushrooms and asparagus.
Before I bake the pizza, I do a couple of things...
I like to saute the mushrooms before topping them on the pizza and baking it. 
The zucchini I slice up pretty thinly and put on raw.
The asparagus is really thin and I cut it once in half before placing it on top. 

I put sun dried tomatoes on top for an extra little tang and then my favorite pizza is ready for the oven.
I bake it for about 15-20 minutes on 475, or until the dough is cooked through and the cheese is bubbly and golden.
When it comes out, I top it with freshly grated parmigiana reggiano cheese and freshly torn basil.

With pizzas, the possibilities are endless.
I used part skim mozzarella cheese and fontina.
I made my dough with this recipe minus the toppings.
I made a quick and easy tomato sauce like this:
I roasted about 5-7 tomatoes cut up, 1 sliced onion, 3 garlic cloves in olive oil with salt and pepper.
Put it all on a baking sheet on 500 degrees until tomatoes and onions are soft and caramelized, about 10-15 minutes.
Take it out and sprinkle some fresh or dried oregano and basil on top and puree the whole thing in a food processor.  Then slather it all over the fresh dough.
When I'm entertaining with pizza, I like to bake them on a baking sheet.
That way I get lots of pizza without having to roll out lots of individual round ones.
It cooks up beautifully, too.
And after all, square pizza is a fun change!
Be a square!

Monday, August 20, 2012

one of my favorite things.

the microplane.

for realzeeezz.
is one of my favorite tools in my kitchen.
i can zest and grate just about anything with this gem.
fresh nutmeg, chocolate, cheese, citrus...
i absolutely love this thing and use it all the time.
if you haven't yet tried zesting any kind of citrus (lemons, limes, oranges) into your recipes that call for the juice of them, then you really aren't experiencing the full potential of flavors of what citrus holds.
trust me, you need to know what you're missing.
get a microplane.
zest a lemon into your next salad dressing or on top of some sauteed broccoli.
your life will change.
your taste buds will never be the same.
your welcome.

One Pot Wonder - Beef Stew

Here is a happy little meal that will take you no time to put together.
It's a 'throw everyone into the pot' kinda meal.
Who doesn't like that concept for an easy dinner!
Winner winner beef stew dinner.

I don't eat meat but I do enjoy cooking a hearty, comfort meal for my boys once in a while.
I feel like there is no greater comfort food for men and boys (and some cool chicks)
than a belly-filling meaty dinner.

And the good thing about this is that you probably have most of the ingredients in your home right now.

I try and always have some sort of hunk of beef in my freezer for when I want to throw my boys a bone (literally) and give them a break from the vegetarian and seafood dishes I mostly cook.
In this case, I had some chuck pieces that were cut up when I bought them for a kabob.
So they were already all cubed up and ready for me.
I didn't have to do a thing.

I threw in some whole baby potatoes and fancily cut up some carrots.
Add in the onions and garlic and that about wraps up all the ingredients it took to make this.
What was that, five in all?
Not bad, right?

I made some brown rice to go with the beef stew for added insurance that these boys wouldn't come after me a half hour after dinner was done and say,

Ummmm, I'm pretty sure we JUST ATE DINNER, BOYSSSS!!!!
~insert long sigh here~

Exhausting I tell ya.

So I think that this meal would be delightful for you to make for your hubby, your wife, your kids.
or your boyfriend,
or your girlfriend,
or your boyfriend and your girlfriend.
You get my point.
Whoever is lucky enough to be at your house that day when you decide to bust out that hunk of meat that's in your freezer and turn it into this delightful little slice of meat lovers heaven will be a happy person.
Unless that person is me.
Then I would be excited for the fact that you decided to make this meal, but I will not partake in the eating of it.
Oh well, more for you.

Even though I don't eat meat, my nose still loves to be a judge.
My nose loves to indulge in the aromas of whatever is cooking in the kitchen.
And my nose don't lie, people!
That beef stew was gangsta.
That's what my nose said.

And my husband.
And kids.
Well, they didn't say gangsta, but I wish they had.
That would have been hilarious.
And pretty gangsta of them.


2-3 pounds chuck roast, cut up into cubes
3 large carrots, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 pound whole baby potatoes
1 large onion, diced
4-5 garlic cloves, chopped
2 springs rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 cup water
1 cup tomato juice, (I use low sodium V8)
1/4 cup flour
salt and pepper

Season the cubed meat with salt and pepper and dredge it in the flour.
Add it to a really hot dutch oven or large pot with enough oil to cover the bottom.
Sear the meat on all sides.
Add in the onions, carrots, potatoes, rosemary sprigs, bay leaves and garlic.
Season everything with salt and pepper.
Stir it all around for about 2 minutes.
Add in the tomato juice and the water and bring to a boil.
Cover the pot and transfer it to a 350 degree oven for 2-3 hours, until the meat is fork tender.
Like buttah!
You can take out what's left of the rosemary stems and bay leaves after it's all done cooking.

I hope you likey.
Go Meat!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Turning this into that - Potato Salmon Cakes

I had my cousins over for dinner the other night and I made Roasted Sockeye Salmon with garlic and citrus (lemon, orange and lime) and topped it with sliced jalapenos.
I made buttermilk mashed potatoes on the side with  a corn and zucchini saute.
It was good.
Like, REALLY good.
But that's not why we're here.

I had plenty of leftover mashed potatoes, but not a huge amount of salmon.  
Which isn't necessarily a problem, right?
I mean let's face it,
 I could eat mashed potatoes all day long, but ... 
Hips, thighs and ass will agree that is NOT the best way to keep your girlish figure.
Anyway,... me being me I knew throwing away the extra mashed potatoes wasn't an option, and aside from serving it to my kids for the next week straight, 
I had to come up with something to transform them.
That's when I decided to combine the two ingredients, salmon and mashed potatoes, and add a few extra ingredients and turn them into something glorious.
Like saaaayyyyyyyy....
Potato Salmon Cakes.

Glorious, right?
Can you hear the harps and violins playing in the background when you look at the golden, delicious crust of these babies?
No?  You can't?
Get your ears checked then, because the heavens are playing a wonderful little ditty at the mere sight of this dish.
The kind of ditty where your hair should be blowing in the wind like you're in a rap video.
It's that good.

There's nothing like turning one dish into a completely different one.
I mean, for a weirdo like me, anyway.
I love the accomplished feeling of using up all the leftover ingredients from the night before and turning it into something that looks nothing like it did the day prior.

I also made a zucchini, mushroom and tomato orzo to go alongside it.
I simply sauteed about a pound of diced mushrooms,  2 medium zucchini, 1 large onion and about 4 minced garlic cloves in 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil.
I mixed that around until the mushrooms gave off their juices.
Don't forget to season it with salt and pepper.
Then I added about 2-3 tablespoons of tomato paste and stirred that in.
I added about 1/2 cup of the pasta water (from the orzo that I had cooked and drained on the side) to thin out the tomato paste then added 1 lb. cooked orzo to the mix.
I chopped up a couple of fresh tomatoes that I had that were kind of soft and thew them in as well.  
I (heavily) grated some fresh parmigiano reggiano and stirred that in at the end. 

Topped it with some freshly grated parm and freshly chopped parsley and it was a sight to make your eyes pop out yo head.

It made a ton and the kids loved it.
It's a one stop shop for the kids, too.
Carbs and veggies in one bowl.

So try this combo the next time you have some leftover fish and potato.
You will be considered a rock star in the kitchen when whoever you're cooking this for gets a taste of this.

Now, for the Potato Salmon Cake recipe...


2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
1 cup leftover salmon, flaked
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 scallions, chopped
zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup panko (Japanese) breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten
a few dashes hot sauce

**no quoting on precise measurements!  I cook with love, not with recipes or measurements.
I'm totally a 'little bit of this, little bit of that' type of cook.  So please take these as almost perfect, but not quite measurements.  Cuz really, nobody but the Big Guy upstairs is perfect after all, right?! ;)

Mix all the ingredients together and form into patties.  
Coat the patties into a bowl of panko breadcrumbs and place in a heated skillet with enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan.
Brown the patties for about 3 minutes on medium high heat and flip with a spatula.
Sear the other side and take them out and place into a warm oven until you've finish frying up all the 'cakes'.
Squeeze some fresh lemon on top and enjoy.
Believe me, the fresh lemon is KEY to the deliciousness of this salmon cake!