Friday, March 24, 2017

Spicy Thai Shrimp Pasta

In the years before we were married, my future husband had a large home in the city. Because he had so much space, he offered up a room to a visiting professor from Princeton. The three of us were quite a trio, going on a lot of “dates” together because the visiting professor, Corby, didn't have a lot of other people to hang out with.

Every Saturday we would go to the historic Soulard Farmers Market in the city of St. Louis. It was always bustling, colorful, and a fun place to be. The three of us would split up, get various things, and then meet at the entrance to the market, where we would compare notes, and then go off to have lunch.

One time, Jim and I stayed together loading up on all kinds of fruits, vegetables, and fresh herb plants. When we met up with Corby at the entrance and started walking toward the car we asked him what he’d bought. He looked at us with puzzlement and said, “I bought a duck.” And then he shook his head and said, “Why did I buy a duck? I have no idea what I'm going to do with this duck.”
 
 The reason I tell you this story is that yesterday I bought shrimp. A lot of shrimp. I have no idea what I'm going to do with the shrimp, and, like Corby, I don't know why I bought the shrimp. I never buy fish or seafood that was always Jim's job, so somehow I guess I felt like should buy shrimp. So now, the search is on for ways in which to use it. I'll get back to you. In the meantime, I tried this recipe, and it is delicious!

Spicy Thai Shrimp Pasta
Adapted from Noble Pig

Sauce:
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
1 Melissa's serrano pepper, seeded and deveined
1 stalk Melissa's lemon grass, sliced into ¼” pieces
1 garlic clove
1 (1" piece) fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1-1/2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
Juice of 1/2 lime

Shrimp:
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 lb.  large shrimp, deveined, shells, tails removed and sliced lengthwise
8 oz. angel hair pasta, prepared according to package

Garnishes:
Chopped cilantro
Chopped scallions
Sweet Red Chili Sauce
Lime wedges
 Red pepper flakes (optional)

Add all ingredients for the sauce into the bowl of a blender.  Puree until completely smooth. Set aside.

Over medium heat in a very large nonstick pan, sauté shrimp in 1 tablespoon of oil until opaque. Add reserved sauce from blender and warm over gentle heat. Stir in cooked pasta until combined.

Garnish with sliced green onion and drizzle each serving with Sweet Red Chili Sauce, if desired.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Spiralized Potato Gratin

As you all know, because I've told you this before, I hate gadgets. I think they are largely unnecessary, a pain in the neck to store, and an expense that we can all do without. All of this said, I caved, and bought a spiralizer, this one. The spiralizer is unique in that it does something no other kitchen implement will do, namely turn fruit and vegetables into noodles. If you like that idea, then you may want one of these of your own.

I have to admit, I found this little device intriguing. It made short work of an onion and potato, which I spiralized immediately upon taking it out of the box. I turned these into an excellent potato casserole. It took no time at all, and is one I will certainly make again. I also decided, as I eagerly watched my onion turn into thin ribbons, that I am going to put this to good use when I make my giant vats of onion soup. And, just today, I came home with zucchini from the store, so I will be making what has come to be referred to as “zoodles,” and let you know what I think about them.

Honestly, you don't really need one of these things, but they are a good bit of fun. Here's the recipe that I used to make the casserole. Give it a try; I think the entire family is going to love this one. I mean, come on, who doesn't like onions, potatoes, and cheese?
Spiralized Potato Gratin
From The Spiralizer Cookbook

2 yellow onions, peeled and ends trimmed
5 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for greasing
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
4 russet potatoes (about 3-1/2 pounds total weight), ends trimmed
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
6 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded
Roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for serving (optional)

Cut a slit in one side of each onion, stopping near the center. Spiralize the onions using the straight blade.

In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm 3 tablespoons of the oil. Add the onion and sauté until browned and tender, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and sauté until fragrant, about one minute. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool

Preheat the oven to 400°F and lightly grease a 4-quart baking dish

Spiralize the potatoes using the shredder blade, stopping to break or cut the strands every 3 to 4 rotations. Transfer the potatoes to the bowl with the onions and toss with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, the salt, pepper, and two thirds of the Gruyere until well mixed. Transfer the mixture to the prepared dish and sprinkle the remaining Gruyere over the top. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the top is golden brown and the knife inserts easily into the center of the gratin, 20 to 30 minutes.

Let rest for five minutes before serving. Sprinkle with parsley, if desired, and serve.
PRINT RECIPE
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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Beer-Steamed Potatoes


A person can learn a lot on Instagram. I am relatively new to Instagram, but over the course of the last 18 months, I've gotten lots of recipes, gardening and decorating ideas, fashion and home embellishment ideas, and made a lot of new friends.
The other day as I was scrolling through the pictures, I came across this one in Melissas Produce’s feed. These potatoes looked really good to me, and I was looking for something to have with the crockpot meatloaf (that I told you about last week), but I wasn't about to fire up the grill to make a couple of potatoes. So this caused me to wonder whether or not these could be done in the oven as easily as they could on the grill. I figured, why not?
So, with a very few adjustments to the original recipe, I lined a round casserole dish with foil, placed the ingredients inside, sealed it up, and baked it for 400°F for about an hour.
The potatoes were absolutely delicious, and the following day made great hash browns with my morning omelet, and the day after that made excellent German potato salad.
A lot of the flavor comes from the stout that I used, in this case, Corner Kick Coffee Stout from Six Mile Bridge Brewery, but these particular potatoes from Melissa's are buttery and delicious on their own. This is an easy dish to make, and it pairs well with beef, chicken, pork, or fish. You might want to give this a try. It would certainly be a nice addition to your upcoming Easter brunch.

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Lunching with Leprechauns

As you know, because I have droned on and on about it for what seems like forever, I am always behind when it comes to preparing for holidays. I don't know why this is, because I am generally not a procrastinator, and tend to be fairly well organized; I guess I'm just in denial that another holiday looms ahead. Who knows, but whatever the case, I did manage to do a special table for St. Patrick's Day. I call it “Lunching with Leprechauns” because I liked the alliteration, but, truth be told, it was dinner.
This table was put together in about 30 minutes. My son, and two adorable grandchildren, were coming for dinner and I decided to make their favorite meal and set a pretty table.
I am always charmed by the fact that my offspring, and grand offspring, appreciate what I do, and don’t hesitate to comment. In fact, they're beginning to expect it, so the pressure is on when it comes to inviting family over for even the most casual of meals.
I bought the leprechaun at Pier 1 early in the season figuring that I would use it in a table setting, and then promptly forgot about it. When it fell out of the pantry and hit me on the head, it served as a reminder that I hadn't set a table yet.
The basket is one that my son had given me, and normally corrals seasonal greenery and a candle in the coffee table vignette. The tissue paper I had found in the closet in my office while in search of something else, the little shamrock plant is an annual tradition for me, and I absolutely love them.
I decided to do something other than just green, as you can see, and I ended up quite liking the combination of the two bold colors.
The placemats (both round and rectangular) are from Pier 1, the cabbage plates are Portugal Majolica, and the dinner plates are the Blanc Amelie pattern from Maison Versailles.
The napkin rings are from Pottery Barn, the napkins are a combination of a dinner napkin that I bought at Pier 1, and an adorable St. Patrick's Day cocktail napkin set that was made for me by my aunt.
The stemware is from Pier 1, and a favorite of mine, particularly during the spring and summer months.
The little St. Patrick's Day treat buckets I picked up at Michael's a number of years ago, and the green popcorn, like the shamrock plant, is an annual tradition.
The little black cauldrons were purchased months ago with the idea that I would use them on Halloween, but they ended up serving well as a little pot of gold. I initially thought I would put foil-covered chocolate coins in the pots, but I really don't like that waxy chocolate, so I decided to use Rollos instead. I love the look, but, be forewarned if you would like to do the same, you will have to buy the big bag of Rollo candies because each one of these little cauldrons held 15 of them!
To finish off the little popcorn buckets I decided to cover a Hershey bar with a reproduction of a St. Patrick's Day vintage postcard. Boys would get a boy postcard, and we girls would get one with a girl on it.
I didn't get this idea until about an hour before they were about to arrive, so quickly printed these out, trimmed them into rectangles, and wrapped them around the Hershey bar before plunging them into the buckets. Considering it didn't take long, I really like the look.
The flatware is what I have been using all winter long because I absolutely love it. I realize that it is kind of wintry, but that doesn't matter to me I like it anyway, and it is really cold here today, so it's still fitting. It came from Cabela’s.
I hope you enjoy St. Patrick's Day no matter what you do; tomorrow I'm making a traditional St. Patrick's Day lunch and taking it to my dad.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Slow Cooker Melt-in-Your-Mouth Meatloaf


I decided to challenge myself with the crockpot this week, and make something that was totally out of my realm. (I challenged myself last week with rather grim results, by making Bananas Foster in the crockpot. It did not come out well, so be warned.) I found a recipe for a slow cooked meatloaf, and was curious enough to give it a try. I think this is going to be my new favorite way to make meatloaf. There have been times when I have made it the traditional way, i.e. baking it in the oven, and have taken it out, sliced it, and those slices have fallen to bits. That was my fear for this meatloaf, but it didn't happen. The slices were absolutely beautiful, and the taste? Well, the title "Melts in Your Mouth" describes this perfectly. It is delicious! 

If you haven't tried making meatloaf in the crockpot, consider doing it, and I mean now! You can even make the meatloaf the night before, keep it covered in the fridge, and then put it into the crockpot in the morning. I'd advise you to spray the inside of the crock with Pam, particularly on the sides, in order to make cleanup easy. This one's a keeper folks.
Slow Cooker Melt-in-Your-Mouth Meatloaf
Adapted from Allrecipes.com


1 egg
1/4 cup plus 1 T. whole milk
1/3 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon dried minced onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/4 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
2 T. ketchup
1 pound ground chuck

Sauce:
2 T. ketchup
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Combine egg, milk, breadcrumbs, onion, salt, sage, mushrooms, and ketchup in a large bowl. Crumble ground beef over mixture, and stir well to combine. Shape into a round loaf; place in a 4.5-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on Low until a meat thermometer reads 160°F, about 5 to 6 hours.

Whisk ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl; spoon sauce over meat loaf. Continue to cook on Low for an additional 20-30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Get Your IRISH On!

It's time to get your Irish on, and I can help you in that endeavor no matter if you're looking to create a St. Patrick's Day vignette, tablescape, or complete dinner, all the way from its tasty beginning to delicious end. All of the ideas that you need are below, just click on the name beneath the picture and it will take you right to the informative post.














 

Murphy’s in a Clogher Valley Mist

 

 

Irish Whiskey Soda Bread

 

 

St. Pat’s Pinwheel Cookies

 

 

Black Magic Cake with Irish Mocha Frosting

 

 

St. Patrick's Day Basket Vignette

 

 

Springtime Table for St. Pat's

 

 

Bread and Butter Pudding

 

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Sunday, March 12, 2017

You Need an AnySharp Knife Sharpener!


When I initially set up housekeeping, my interest was in tackling the kitchen first. I was so excited to fill the shelves with dishes, and as many kitchen gadgets as I could put my hands on. Now, as a seasoned veteran (if you'll pardon the culinary pun), what I have learned after all these years is that, for the most part, gadgets are unnecessary. What I ended up doing with all of those gadgets was storing them. Now, with years of experience under my belt, I can tell you that the only two things a good cook needs is a sharp knife and a microplane grater.

The important thing about having a knife is keeping it sharp. I have a knife sharpener that my dad gave me. I suspect it was one that he bought a while ago and had intended to give my mom, but never got around to it. It's rather large, and cumbersome, and electric, with a long cord, it all fits into an annoying box, and is shoved into the back of the pantry behind my massive collection of pastas. I know it's important to keep knives sharp, but oh, what a pain it is to drag out that sharpener just for one or two knives. So, when AnySharp Pro got in touch with me and wanted to know if I was interested in trying their knife sharpener, I leapt at the chance.
 
When the box arrived, and I saw this tiny little implement for sharpening knives, I couldn't imagine that this thing would do any good. I went to bed that night and lie there thinking about that sharpener. So, around 2 o'clock in the morning, I got up to satisfy my curiosity. Wow! I could not believe it. A couple of pulls of the knife through the top of this little device, and it was the sharpest it has ever been. Naturally, I had to use it, so I spent the next hour or so cutting up all of the multicolored peppers in the vegetable bin, not to mention chopping scallions, and cutting broccoli florets for a recipe that I had intended to make on Wednesday.
Honestly, I don't impress easily, but I am really impressed with this wonderful little sharpener. The great thing about it is that it's not a whole lot bigger than a golf ball, and fits nicely in my silverware drawer. No moving the pastas this way and that trying to excavate my big old clunky knife sharpener. No having to plug it into the wall, unplugging the coffee maker or the crockpot or other appliances that I need to use, nope none of that. I think this is my new favorite kitchen tool. I think you'll feel the same; this is a must-have for anyone who is serious about cooking, or serious about keeping knives sharp.
It's available on Amazon for pocket change and you can buy one here.  Buy one, or two, or more than that. This makes a great, inexpensive, and appreciated gift.And Mother's Day will  be  here before you know it.


Disclaimer: I received a complimentary AnySharp Pro knife sharpener in exchange for an honest review.