Some pictures came up on my social media feed this other day, including this beautiful shrimp dish I put together a couple of years back for a culinary class I was teaching. This meal is a quick and healthy weeknight dinner.
Grilled Garlic Cilantro-Lime Shrimp with Spicy Asian Black Bean Slaw
SHRIMP 1 Pound Shrimp (21-24 count) Marinade 3-4 cloves minced Garlic Juice of 1 Lime 1/4 cup Neutral oil 1/4 cup chopped Cilantro Salt and pepper SLAW Dressing 1/4 cup Liquid Aminos Juice of 2 Limes 2 tbsp Rice wine vinegar 1/4 cup Neutral oil (vegetable, grapeseed, canola) 1 tbsp Korean Chili Paste Cracked black pepper Veggies 2 cups Cabbage, shredded 2 cups Red cabbage, shredded 1 cup Carrots, shredded 1 bunch Scallions, chopped 1-2 Jalapeños, minced 1/2 bunch Cilantro, chopped 1 tbsp Sesame seeds 2 cans (14 ouce) Black Beans, drained and rinsed
Combine marinade ingredients, toss with shrimp and set aside. This can be done ahead of time up to 24 hours, or you may marinate as you prep the slaw
Combine slaw dressing ingredients and set aside
Chop veggies for slaw as directed (shredded, minced, etc). Mix all the veggies together, and gently fold in black beans. Toss with dressing and garnish with sesame seeds. Slaw can be made up to 24 hours before serving
Heat a grill or grill pan. Cook shrimp about 1-2 minuets on each side, careful not to overcook
As has been my pattern since the beginning with this blog, I haven’t posted in months. 2020 was quite the year. My last post was April 14, 2020. 11 days later, my father passed away, coincidentally on my mother’s birthday. We were only 6 weeks into quarantine and the pandemic and the weeks leading up to his death we were not allowed to see him at all. We didn’t know what we didn’t know back then. The grief comes in waves, especially not having the appropriate closure…
About a month after his passing, my real estate career just blew up. Like many agents around the country, my business fell into this highly competitive seller’s market. I was fortunate enough to be on the listing side for the bulk of my deals and benefited tremendously, finishing the year with nearly $6 million in volume and also achieving the coveted New Jersey Realtors Circle of Excellence award I was striving for since beginning my career.
The good news is I’ve been cooking as always. Except for around the holidays where I was ordering takeout because I was so busy, the bulk of my meals continue to be homemade. Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing some of my favorite pandemic eats.
A couple of months back my boyfriend (still waiting #buythatring) and I were up in Beacon, NY. I had been showing some houses in the area and since we were upstate we decided to go together and make a day of it. We stopped and had lunch at a gastropub. When ordering my sandwich I wasn’t in a french fry mood, and my server raved about their green beans. She was not wrong, they had a luxurious, umami packed sauce. While I haven’t been able to replicate it fully, I do think the magic ingredient was miso paste. Since that outing I’ve been preparing green beans almost exclusively like this.
GREEN BEANS WITH GARLICKY MISO SAUCE
This recipe is more about technique than quantity. Taste and feel, season to your individual likes. Quantities are approximated.
In a medium stockpot or large saute pan, bring water to a boil. Add your green beans (about a pound) and cook until just about al dente. Drain and blanche. You’ll be cooking/blistering them in the sauce later, so important not to overcook.
In the same pan, heat a mixture butter and a bit of oil over medium to high heat. Add about 1/4 cup of fresh, chopped garlic. Saute for about 5 minutes or until the garlic starts to brown. Add the green beans and cook for 2-3 more minutes or until the beans start to brown and blister a bit. Add a heaping tablespoon of miso paste and stir into the dish. Cook for another minute or so. Finish with about 1/4 cup of water and stir the entire mixture until the miso and garlic are fully incorporated. Adjust seasoning with salt (or more miso) and pepper as needed.
The green beans are best served immediately – piping hot. If serving later or reheating leftovers, be sure to fully heat before serving.
By now if you have been reading any entries in this blog since March 2020, you know that like most Americans, I am quarantined at home and I am cooking a lot more than before. I made a vow not to order any takeout or delivery until the worst of this is behind us. I might make an exception for a holiday like Greek Orthodox Easter, but I’m not there yet. Also, I have been a terrible Greek Orthodox Christian, I have barely fasted at all this lent. In any case, I digress…
After nearly two weeks of not going to a grocery store, I am extremely limited on fresh produce. As explained in my post about smarter grocery shopping, I did have coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage with a touch of shredded carrots) on hand.
Corn tortillas are another one of those products that I keep on hand as they have a long shelf life, especially in the fridge. Overall, I prefer street-style soft corn tortillas over crunchy or flour tortillas, particularly for tacos (flour tortillas I feel are best for quesadillas). With a few more ingredients, I was able to put together some tasty and fresh-tasting Steak Tacos.
Steak Tacos with Citrus Slaw – makes 6 tacos
6-8 ounces Steak (ribeye, sirloin, etc all do), seasoned with salt and pepper and wrapped in dish cloth or paper towels to dry
6 Corn Tortillas, heated (This can be done lightly brushing the tortillas with a very small amount of olive oil, wrapping in aluminum foil, and place in 350 degree oven for 5 minutes. Alternatively, you can heat the tortillas in a skillet in a bit of oil and wrap in foil until ready to serve)
Heat a skillet on medium to high heat for about five minutes. Unwrap the steak and sprinkle both sides generously with the Tajin. Cook in the skillet for 6-10 minutes, flipping once, to desired temperature. Remove from skillet and set on a cutting board to rest.
In a medium bowl, add coleslaw mix and scallions. You can create a dressing on the side with the remaining ingredients (minus the queso fresco), or you can add them directly into the bowl. Mix the slaw and taste, adjusting seasonings as desired. Mixed in crumbled queso fresco.
At this point you may assemble your tacos. On two plates, lay 3 tortillas flat on each plate, not overlapping. Top each tortilla with about 1/4 cup of the slaw mixture. Slice steak against the grain into thin (approx. 1/4 inch) slices. Add 2-4 slices of steak, top with lime and salsa garnish, as desired. Serve and enjoy immediately.
I’ve said it before – I live a gluten-FULL or omnivorous lifestyle. However, the last couple of weeks as I deplete what is in my fridge and freezer, as well as not restock the pantry, I’m getting creative with my baking.
The main stars of these cookies – not pictures, the Lindt Chocolate
I had a bag of King Arthur Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour. I like this, it’s a cup-for-cup or measure-for-measure product, meaning any regular recipe, you swap whatever quantity of flour that is advised with the gluten-free product. I was eager to make another batch of cookies, and I found a great recipe for Gluten-Free Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies from this other blog, Delicious Little Bites.
I followed the recipe for the most part, but made some small substitutes as again, I was cleaning out my pantry. Instead of chocolate chips, I chopped up 1 and a half bars of Lindt Excellence Dark Chocolate. I like the pools of chocolate you get from chopping chocolate by hand versus using chips. Also, I used more salt than the recipe called for, particularly on top. I didn’t take the time to get the same lovely aesthetic as the recipe author, but I was pleased with the results nonetheless.
What was great about this cookie is it had a nice crinkly outside and a great chew inside, particularly enhanced by the Kraft caramels. The other thing that was nice, is it gave new life to caramels that had hardened too much to snack on or melt. Every time I play around with gluten-free flours, I am impressed. Again, check out the cookie recipe here.
1 24 ounce can Tomatoes (can be crushed, whole, sauce, etc.)
24 ounces water (use can to measure out while cooking)
2 Bouillon Cubes (veggie, beef, and chicken all work)
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Over medium heat, melt butter and add chopped onion. Sautee until onions are translucent and start to soften, about 3-5 minutes. Add flour and stir to coat onions, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and water, stir in boullion and season to taste. Simmer about half an hour. Transfer mixture to blender and blend until totally smooth. You can add cream or cheese to thicken, if desired.
My good friend Danielle reached out last night. “I want to bake a treat (something sweet) but I have very minimal ingredients.” She was suffering from a bit of Baker’s Block – think Writer’s Block, but with butter and sugar.
I said, “Hit me!”
She had the following on hand:
Two sticks of Butter
Unsweetened Bakers Chocolate
Godiva Hot Cocoa Mix
She felt she did not have much, but she had enough ingredients for just about any classic drop cookie (Chocolate Chip, Sugar, Snickerdoodle (assuming she had cinnamon), etc.) She also could do classic Peanut Butter Cookies and even Peanut Butter Blossoms (the yummy ones with Hershey Kisses). One suggestion I had was Peanut Butter Blossoms, but done like thumbprints (melt baker’s chocolate and mix with vanilla, powdered sugar, and a pinch of salt) and fill the thumbprint with the chocolate mixture. The other would be to take that same mixture and drizzle over classic peanut butter cookies. I also felt the hot cocoa mix blended into baker’s chocolate would be fun.
Inspired by wanting to use the hot cocoa mix, she settled on a classic peanut butter cookie with hot cocoa mix in the dough. The result was a semi-soft, slightly chewy and slightly sandy cookie – a bit sweet but balanced from the salty peanut butter – a great combo all around!
Danielle’s delicious pantry creation 🙂
CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES
We can’t take credit for this delightful recipe! Follow this Classic Peanut Butter Cookie recipe from All Recipes, sifting one packet of Hot Cocoa Mix with the dry ingredients, and follow the rest as directed.
Since becoming quarantined nearly a month ago I have not ordered takeout or had prepared food delivered once. One night in a moment of weakness I bought fried chicken from my local grocery store, and I broke out in hives. I think I have an underlying allergy to certain fry oils, but in our current corona-culture, it was enough to spook my very non-germophic heart.
My next few posts are going to get interesting, as I have not grocery shopped a single item since March 29. I’m craving certain foods, but I am determined to make them on my own, including Chinese takeout.
This is by far a “semi-homemade” Wonton Soup with pantry and freezer ingredients. Store bought wontons, frozen scallions (chopped and frozen by me), frozen ginger (didn’t photograph well, so subbed powdered ginger in the pic), chicken bouillon packet, and rice vinegar.
POOR WOMAN’S WONTON SOUP
1 packet Chicken Bouillon (or cube, or chicken stock or other broth)
2 cups water (if not using prepared stock/broth)
However many wontons you want to eat
1 teaspoon Rice Vinegar
1 teaspoon Ginger
2 tablespoons chopped Scallions
Simmer all ingredients together until wontons are cooked through. I wish it was more complicated than that. For extra zing, you can saute and lightly the wontons in a bit of sesame oil before adding broth.
Looks like takeout to me
Served with a scallion pancake, another one of the few convenience items in my freezer
A couple of weeks ago I took stock of my pantry and pointed out several boxes of Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix and their amazing versatility. Today I did my first quick recipe for Saturday morning brunch. The package directions for cornbread are fine, but it’s kind of boring. It’s so easy to doctor this mix up to something more interesting and even more delicious.
The main ingredients in the cornbread – mix, cheese, chilis in adobo, and corn
SPICY CHEDDAR CORNBREAD
1 package Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
1 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 cup frozen or canned Corn
1/2 cup milk
1/2 Chipotle Pepper in Adobo Sauce*
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10 inch cast iron skillet or 8×8 baking pan, set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, add muffin mix, cheese, corn, egg, and milk and mix thoroughly. Chop chipotle pepper and create a paste with a little bit of salt and pepper. Stir paste into batter. Pour batter into pan, bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick placed into center comes out clean. Allow to cool about an hour before serving.
*If you have never worked with Chipotle in Adobo- these are VERY spicy and a little goes a long way. Even if you’re into spice, I would not recommended more than one for this whole recipe – when you overdo it, the heat takes over and you lose flavor in the dish.
As highlighted in the video, this pantry project is an “oh, darn, I GUESS I’ll use these ingredients up.” Homemade hot fudge is embarrassingly easy to make and only requires a handful of ingredients. You can modify the recipe as you’d like – different types of chocolate, flavored liqueurs, salted or unsalted, etc. I only use 5 ingredients – chocolate, sweetened condensed milk, butter, espresso powder, and salt.
For an indulgent treat – layer brownie, hot fudge, ice cream, and toppings. My toppings include whipped cream and rainbow sprinkles
In a medium nonstick saucepan or nonstick saute pan, melt butter and heat sweetened condensed milk over low to medium heat – do not crank the heat on this recipe – ingredients can all burn easily. Stir in chocolate, espresso powder, and salt. Heat and stir until chocolate is fully melted and incorporated, about five minutes. Sauce and be served immediately or cool and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.
I often have frozen chicken breasts in my freezer, as well as chopped parsley. Pretty much everything in this recipe are common staples in my kitchen, and many folks have in their kitchen. I often get bored of grilling chicken breasts or making them tenders, so I will grind the meat in my food processor and use it for ground meat recipes. You can freeze meatballs to use at a later time, and this is a super fast weeknight dinner.
Chicken Meatballs Piccata
Makes 4-6 servings MEATBALLS
1 pound ground chicken breast
1/4 – 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs, as needed
1 egg, beaten
Handful chopped parsley
I small onion, finely diced or grated
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Mix ingredients until fully incorporated, starting with 1/4 cup breadcrumbs. If mixture feels too wet, add a bit more. Shape into 1.5 – 2 inch balls. Arrange on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper. Broil on high about 10 minutes, turning halfway through cooking for even browning. Set aside. Note – these can be done ahead of time and frozen or chilled.
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 lemons, juiced, plus zest from one
1.5 cups chicken broth, warmed
Salt and Pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons capers, or more, as desired
1 pound – cook to package directions.
Greens – spinach, arugula, kale, etc – as little or as much as you want. You may also substitute additional vegetables for a more complete meal.
Mix lemon juice, zest, and broth. Heat until warm or hot, set aside. On medium heat, butter in saucepan and whisk in flour about one tablespoon at a time, until fully incorporated. Cook about 3-4 minutes, do not brown. Slowly whisk in broth mixture, a little at a time, sauce will thicken immediately. Cook 2-3 minutes, season with salt and pepper. Add capers and meatballs. Remove from heat.
For greens, heat a small amount of sauce and sauté until soft. To serve, arrange a serving of spaghetti in a bowl, top with sauce, some greens and then a few meatballs. Enjoy!