Monday, March 23, 2009

Shrimp and Corn Chowder...yes, another shrimp recipe

This post will have to be short and sweet since I'm leaving on vacation tomorrow and haven't started packing! It's times like this when a fun adventure morphs into a stressful event. Moral of the story: don't procrastinate!

Shrimp & Corn ChowderWe made this shrimp & corn chowder last night and just enjoyed two more heaping bowls of leftovers. It's hearty and great for these still chilly spring nights. Per usual, we served this with a huge hunk of warm, crusty bread. I also added a hint of sugar to create a nice sweet & spicy taste that aids our wimpy taste-buds.

Shrimp & Corn Chowder
I know there are quite a few of you shrimp-haters out there, so for you anti-shrimp people, I think this soup would be equally as tasty with some chicken or turkey!

Shrimp & Corn Chowder
Well, I'm off to go relax pack, workout, & finish work and will hopefully have lots of pictures to share! Have a great week.

Shrimp & Corn Chowder
adapted from Cooking Light

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup diced sweet onion
1 1/2 cups diced frozen Southern-style hash brown potatoes
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 4.5oz can chopped fire-roasted green chiles, undrained
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups broth
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 can whole-kernel corn with red and green peppers, drained (Mexicorn)
1 pound peeled and deveined small shrimp
pinch of sugar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
nonstick spray

1. Spray a large soup pot or Dutch oven with nonstick spray. Over medium high heat, melt butter. Add sweet onions and diced potatoes. Saute until potatoes begin to brown slightly. Add bell pepper, and green onions to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently.

2. Add canned green chiles to pan; cook 1 minute. Add flour to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in milk, broth, salt, cumin, pepper and corn; bring to a boil. Add in a dash of sugar. Cook 5 minutes or until slightly thick. Stir in shrimp; cook 1 minute or until shrimp are pink. Remove from heat; stir in cilantro.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Heart Shaped Salmon & Shrimp Maki

As a child I had a true affinity for eating things shaped liked other things. Dino Nuggets? check. Peeps? check. Star shaped fish sticks? check.

I must confess that my affinity hasn't gone away, but luckily for all of us I've progressed to less processed, more tasty foods shaped like other things. My latest attempt? Heart Shaped Maki, of course.

Heart Shaped MakiOk, ok. So they may look like the hearts you drew in grade school when you couldn't quite get the shape right. ...but, they're still cute don't you think?

These rolls are filled with a combo of sauteed shrimp & salmon and topped with a dollop of sweet chili sauce. Some households may fly through bottles of condiments such as ketchup or mustard, but in our house we consume sweet chili sauce for sustenance. Mae Ploy is our personal fav.

Heart Shaped Sushi with Salmon & ShrimpBack to the heart shaped sushi. My Mom (uh, and me) are kitchen gadget freaks. I mean, the Magic Bullet is still one of my favorite kitchen toys. In any case, she sent me a Sushi Maker she recently saw a demo of. Consisting of a series of plastic molds and guides, the sushi maker allows you to make the traditional round maki, square shaped maki, and the lovely heart maki you must be oohing and ahhing over.

Heart Shaped Sushi
I think we still need some practice to get the rice / filling amounts right in the molds, but this is an addicting new hobby. Rolling sushi with a mat isn't difficult, but stuffing molds is oh so much fun!

Though we've used different sushi rice recipes in the past, I tried out Pioneer Woman's and was quite happy with it. I did end up with way more sushi rice seasoning (su) than I needed, so use it judiciously and don't saturate your rice.

See this previous post for filling & rice cooking ideas!

Monday, March 16, 2009

MFM: Curry Beef Short Ribs

Not to be completely boring, but here's another coconut & red curry dish paired with Lacinato kale. Of course, to keep you stimulated & interested I'm presenting the Man Food Mondays, version: beef short ribs slow cooked with tons of garlic & shallots, onions, coconut milk and red curry paste.

Coconut Curry Beef Short RibsBelieve it or not, this is the first time I've had ribs! OK...well I've had bites of someone else's ribs, but I've certainly never tackled a plate on my own. Part of my issue with ribs lies in the fact that I don't enjoy eating off of bones, regardless of the meat. Luckily, this recipe calls for shredding the meat and serving over rice. We used brown Basmati rice, which nicely soaked up the sauce.

Curry Beef Short RibsSpeaking of the sauce, when all was said and done, the meat looked a little dry & we are definitely sauce lovers so I added extra coconut milk & red curry paste to moisten things up a bit and give the meat an extra zing.

The next day we made beef sammies...oh my. Yum! Maybe I do like ribs after all.

Curry Beef Short Ribs
Adapted from Cooking Light

2 teaspoons canola oil
2 pounds beef short ribs, trimmed
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/3 cup minced shallots
1/4 cup chopped onions
3 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons red curry paste, divided
1/2 cup light coconut milk, divided
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon grated lime rind
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
4 cups hot cooked basmati rice (we used brown Basmati)


1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle ribs with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Add half of ribs to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Place ribs in an electric slow cooker. Repeat procedure with remaining ribs.

2. Add shallots, onion, garlic, and ginger to pan; sauté 2 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup water and 2 tablespoons of red curry paste; cook 1 minute. Stir in 1/4 cup coconut milk, sugar, and fish sauce. Add to slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 5 hours (depends on your slow cooker. Ours is turbo speed!)

3. Remove ribs from cooker. Strain cooking liquid through a colander over a bowl; discard solids. Place a large ziploc bag inside a bowl or measuring cup. Pour cooking liquid into bag; let stand 10 minutes (fat will rise to the top).

4. Seal bag; carefully snip off a small bottom corner of bag. Drain drippings into a small bowl, stopping before fat layer reaches opening; discard fat. Stir 3/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper, rind, and juice into liquid. Add liquid back to slow cooker and turn on "keep warm" setting.

5. Shred rib meat with 2 forks; discard bones. Add meat back to slow cooker & stir to combine with liquid.

6. In a small bowl, stir 1 tablespoon red curry paste & 1/4 cup coconut milk until combined. Pour over meat and stir. Keep in slow cooker on "keep warm" until ready to serve. Serve meat and sauce over Basmati rice.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Halibut with Coconut Red Curry & Garlic Lacinato Kale

There's a little game we I play in our house and it goes a little something like this:
ME: Honey?! Did you eat any of these cookies/biscotti/Wheat Thins/dessert?
HUBBY: Uh, no.
ME: But, uh. they're almost all gone! Surely I didn't eat these ALL by myself. You had to have had at least one, right? I mean, really. I couldn't have finished a whole batch....
HUBBY: Well,ok. Maybe I had one. Oh, uh...I mean two?
Me: (silence) {...look of horror takes over my face}.
HUBBY: Wait, maybe I had more than that. Don't you worry, babe. I ate a lot. (little white lie told by my spouse to prevent annoying "Am i getting fat?" questions).

Coconut Red Curry Halibut
It's wonderful having someone around to tell itsy-bitsy-little white lies just to make you feel better about your crazy appetite. It's really wonderful, actually, until I had to change my outfit before work because the pants I had put on were a little too tight. Not so wonderful.

Curry Halibut with KaleOn to happier things, this tasty dish isn't exactly low fat, but it tastes light and is quite healthy nonetheless. Flaky & mild halibut works well with a flavorful red curry coconut sauce. I paired the halibut with sweet brown rice, a thick & sticky version of the brown rice you're probably used to. Being so thick, the rice may have overpowered the sauce a little bit and next time I'd try this with Jasmine rice and add a little somethin' somethin' to the sauce to give it a kick.

Curry Halibut
Lastly, I cooked Garlic Lacinato Kale as our side. I cannot begin to tell you how much we love this veggie. Unlike curly kale, Lacinato kale has flat broad leaves and looks a little bit like something a Triceratops would eat. It's huge. We called it dinosaur food the first time we bought it and later found out that it's also sometimes called Dino Kale. Gosh, we're observant.

Coconut Red Curry Halibut
adapted from Cooking Light

canola oil
4 (6-ounce) halibut fillets
salt & fresh ground pepper
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1 cup light coconut milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 teaspoons red curry paste
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

1. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Season halibut with salt & fresh ground pepper. Add fish to pan; cook 5 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Remove fish from pan; cover with foil to keep warm.

2. Add additional oil to pan. Add onion. Sauté 2 minutes. Add green onions, and ginger; sauté 2 additional minutes. Stir in coconut milk, sugar, fish sauce, red curry paste & coriander. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute. Add salt & pepper to taste. Remove from heat. Stir in basil and juice.

Garlic Lacinato Kale

bunch of Lacinato Kale
1 large garlic clove
Kosher salt
olive oil

Rinse kale thoroughly. Strip leaves from the middle stem. Tear into smaller pieces.

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add kale and sprinkle with Kosher salt. Stir a few times, and allow to cook down slightly. Add garlic cloves and stir until garlic is fragrant. Add a teaspoon of water to the pan. Cover and reduce heat to low. Allow to simmer for about 2 minutes.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Quick & Easy Creoleesque Chicken & Shrimp

I don't usually wake up too late on the weekends, but for some reason Daylight Savings really did a number on me. After taking a nice long stroll around Lake Miramar, hubby and I went to grab some groceries for the week. Upon returning home, I couldn't keep my eyes awake and proceeded to pass out for 2 hours...on the an animal! I enjoy naps and all but typically those of the 15 minute variety. Waking up from a 2 hour nap just leaves me groggy and crabby.

Chicken & Shrimp CreoleNeedless to say I wanted to make something quick and easy for dinner. Chicken & Shrimp Creole is an old standby that I love to make, especially after a long day at work. Or... a long day of sleeping on the ground. It's easy, flavorful and I usually have everything on hand. Well, maybe not the okra, but I feel that's an expendable ingredient if you have to omit. I served this on top of short grain brown rice, but it's equally as tasty with some noodles or even just a hunk of bread.

PS. I don't claim that this is in any way "authentic" Creole. I just don't really have a better name for it :)

Quick Creoleesque Chicken & Shrimp

nonstick cooking spray
1 pound chicken breast tenders, chopped into cubes
Montreal chicken seasoning
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 cup frozen cut okra, thawed
3/4 cup thinly sliced celery
1/2 cup frozen sweet corn
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 lb medium shrimp, peeled & deveined
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon butter

1. In a medium bowl, season the chicken with Montreal Chicken Seasoning. Stir to combine evenly.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Add red bell peppers, okra, corn and spices (sugar through ground red pepper), stirring to combine. Pour tomatoes over chicken mixture; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.

3. Uncover; stir in shrimp and cook until just turning pink, about 3 minutes. Add parsley and butter, stirring until butter melts.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Honey Pistachio Biscotti

Honey Pistachio Biscotti
The other night a girlfriend and I went out for margaritas. We had great fun and a few drinks, but realized we were a little old when we couldn't take the loud music anymore and ended up at a nearby coffee shop sipping chai tea lattes and nibbling on biscotti. Margaritas and chai tea? That's a girls night if you ask me.

Pistachio Biscotti
If you're in the San Diego area, The Living Room in La Jolla is quite an eclectic little spot, perfect for people watching and GOOD biscotti. I fell in love with their pistachio biscotti, most of all because it had a cute green tint. I'm one of those people who will like food if it's cute, mini, or a fun color.

Pistachio Biscotti
Since we're in a recession and all, I figure that I should make my own biscotti as opposed to spending $3 for one small, but oh-so-heavenly stick. I even decided I'd make mine green too, but ultimately forgot that part while cooking. I'm known to do that. Hubby was happy because unlike me, he doesn't think green food is attractive unless it's a veggie.

Pistachio Biscotti
I found this recipe from Ellie Krieger, one of my favorite monotone Food Network chefs. At least she doesn't have a big head, right?!

These biscotti are not quite as sweet as others I've made, but it's a nice change of pace. They pair well with tea and are an excellent mid-day snack. Other biscotti recipes instruct to turn down the oven after the first bake and let the biscotti harden at a low temperature for a slow bake; Ellie's bake at the same temperature throughout, so the process is a little more speedy! Enjoy.

Honey Pistachio Biscotti
Courtesy of Ellie Krieger

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons honey (I also added a few dollops of agave nectar for good measure)
2 large eggs
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup unsalted, shelled pistachios
sugar for sprinkling


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and whole-wheat flours, the baking powder and salt. In a large bowl beat together the sugar, honey, eggs, oil, zest, lemon juice and vanilla extract until well combined. In batches add the dry ingredients until the mixture forms a dough. Stir in the pistachios.

Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead several times. Shape into a log about 10 inches long and 3 inches wide. Sprinkle the top with sugar to taste. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes,or until the top is firm. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. With a serrated knife, cut 1/2-inch diagonal slices. Arrange on the baking sheet and bake 10 minutes. Turn the cookies over and bake the biscotti until golden 5 to 10 minutes longer. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. If you like yours crunchy, turn off the oven and let the biscotti sit in there for a little while longer.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Cornmeal Crusted Mango Salmon

After a combined 18 hours of travel, we've managed to sit in 6 planes, bum around the airport for 8 hours, sit in 1 "Chili's Too" and have miraculously returned from West Palm Beach in one piece. I must say that I did pass out last night at 8pm, and didn't wake up this morning until well after my alarm went off, but it was definitely worth it. A best friend of mine just got married at an absolutely fabulous place, The Sundy House. If you're looking to get married in Florida, this is the place! We were surrounded by palm trees, cute fish ponds and a very romantic, tropical setting.

Cornmeal Crusted Mango SalmonUnlike many wedding receptions, the food was absolutely wonderful. I chose the light Florida grouper entree which was served with.....coconut sweet mashed potatoes! I must try to make this soon.

Though I live in sunny San Diego, Florida just seems more tropical to me. Perhaps it's the balmy temperatures or the ritzy beachside mansions. Or all the Floridians who look a little like this...

George Costanza's parent
In any case, all this tropicalness reminded me of a mango salmon dish I made awhile back. It's a perfect summery dish that can be served in the doldrums of winter to remind you of sunshine and vacation.
Cornmeal Crusted Mango SalmonCheck out Meeta's Monthly Mingle - Caribbean Cooking - for more tropical delights!

Cornmeal Crusted Mango Salmon
courtesy of Sunny Anderson

1 cup mango nectar
1 large mango, diced
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 (6-ounce) center-cut salmon fillets with skin
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter

1. In a small saucepan over high heat, bring mango nectar and mango to a boil. As mango begins to break down, press down on it with a fork or potato masher, to mash it. Continue cooking until mango cooks down to form a chunky puree, about 15 minutes. Remove half to serve as a sauce. Set the other half aside for dredging.

2. On a large plate, mix together flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt.

3. Preheat a large skillet. Season salmon with salt and freshly ground black pepper (and a touch of cayenne if you're feeling crazy). Brush glaze over top of salmon, then dredge in cornmeal mixture. I covered the sides of the salmon with the cornmeal mix. Add oil and butter to skillet. Over high heat, sear salmon cornmeal mixture face down until golden, about 6 to 8 minutes for medium rare, flipping halfway through to crisp skin. If you cover all sides with the breading, lightly sear each side until the coating is crisp.

4. Drizzle mango sauce on salmon and serve immediately.