Sunday, September 28, 2008

Inspired by Penny! Oriental...For Sure

***Dedicated to the person who always (well, not all the time) takes me to the grocery store. Even though she makes me buy her stuff just to take me (what are friends for, right) to the store - I'm still dedicating this post to her - lol - hey!***

So, I ended up at one of my's Penny's Noodle Shop. I think there are two in the Chicago area; I go to the one in Oak Park. They're a great place - I love them. I almost always get this soup that's like a broth with vermicelli and beef and some type of crispy roll. It's always on point. So, inspired, I figured I'd try my luck at something similar at home. Good idea because it turned out totally awesome. So, I present to you the DTW version of Beef Soup (that I really made with chicken stock) and Chicken Crispy Rolls.

Oh, I should mention that I'm always upset because you typically don't get enough of the noodles (hence the name of the joint) with the soup. So, I increased the amount - and of course I amped up the beef too - lol. It proved to be worth it. The recipe calls for cilantro - but, guess what - I had none. So imagine the picture above just the way it is - but with cilantro. Wanna know why I have no cilantro? Well because of the Mexican affair (and a second round of fish tacos during the week) I had last weekend. ANYWAY, enough of me talking - here are the recipes and the pics which are in no particular order!

Beef Noodle Soup

-¼ lb. of whole wheat vermicelli

½ medium onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

4 cups of chicken stock

1 pound of bottom round steak, cut into strips

2 table spoons of olive oil

1 teaspoon of five spice powder

Salt and pepper

Cilantro, to taste

In a pot, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent. Add bottom round and cook until well done and seared. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add five spice powder and a dash of salt and pepper. Add vermicelli and cook until done. Top with cilantro and serve.

Chicken Crispy Roll

1 lb of ground chicken

½ medium onion, chopped

1 cup of each, chopped cabbage, peas, chopped carrots, and sweet bell peppers

1 pack (20 count) won ton wrappers

1 teaspoon of each, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder.

4 tablespoons of olive oil, separated by two tablespoons each

Any non-flavored high temperature cooking oil for frying (canola, corn, or vegetable)

Brown ground chicken and onions in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until cooked well. Remove from pan and add the other 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add cabbage, peas, carrots, and sweet bell peppers until heated through but still with a bite. Remove from pan and combine with chicken, onions, and seasonings (salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder). After well combined taste and adjust if necessary. Using a tablespoon as a guide, add a spoonful of the mixture to the egg roll wrapper. Wrap (I show you how below) and then fry in 375 degree oil on both sides until golden brown.

The finished product! Why this pic is first I'll never know!

Fyring up the crispy rolls. Notice that cast iron skillet?

Just starting to fry.

Finished rolling - ready to fry it.

The finished step. Use a touch of water to seal the deal.

Step 5 - Roll the wrapper leaving the top edge available so you can seal it

The ground turkey (or chicken if you don't forget like I did) and veggies mixture.

Step 1 - spooning a tablespoon of the mixture in the bottom-center of the wrapper

Step 2 - Fold the bottom into the middle.

Step 3 - Fold the left side into the middle.

Step 4 - Fold the right side into the middle.

The onions and garlic for the soup.

The beef, garlic, and onions for the soup.

Ground turkey and onions. I know the recipe says chicken, but I took out turkey by mistake. Just as tasty though.

Prepping the veggies. And yes - those peas and carrots are TOTALLY frozen.

Cooking off the veggies for the crispy rolls.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Trying to Hold Onto Summer?

Trying to hold onto summer? Yes, me too. I think it's time to let go though. I tried holding on by whipping up this quick salad last night. It's a roasted shrimp and tomato orzo salad with a wonderful cilantro lime vinaigrette (had cilantro and limes left over from Mexican Night...nothing goes to waste).

When I say this was simple...that's really what I mean. Let's cook.

Roasted Shrimp and Tomato Orzo Salad

- 1 1/2 cups of cooked orzo
-1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes
-1 pound of shrimp, peeled & deveined
-1/4 cup of each, chopped carrots, sweet onion, peas, sweet peppers, and cilantro
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1/3 cup of cilantro lime vinaigrette (recipe below)
- salt and pepper

In a 400 degree oven, roast tomatoes until they begin to burst and release their juices (8-12 minutes). Season shrimp with salt and pepper and toss in olive oil. Roast in oven until just cooked. While still warm, toss roasted tomatoes and shrimp with cooked orzo, carrots, onions, peas, sweet peppers, cilantro, and vinaigrette. You can eat at room temperature or chilled.

*a squeeze of lime right before serving is a great flavor accompaniment.

Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette
1/4 cup of really good olive oil
2 tablespoons of red wine vinaigrette
the zest and juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon of dijon mustard
1 tablspoon of finely chopped cilantro
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon of salt

Combine all ingredients well.

That's it. I told you it was simple!

Orzo...the new rice - lol.

Tomatoes for roasting.

Cilantro, red bell peppers, onions - nothing better!

Shrimp! They've really been on sale a lot.

The finished product!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Let's Have A Fiesta!

It’s so easy to have a fiesta these days. No, seriously – it is. I had a couple of friends over for Bid Whist (you cannot be from Chicago and NOT KNOW HOW TO PLAY BID WHIST). I figured it was a perfect time to turn my kitchen in to a hacienda. I did just that. Oh, and you? You can just as easily. The menu was easy, no-fuss, and really fun. I’ve mastered the perfect fish taco. It was on a toasted corn tortilla topped with cheese, a homemade pico de gallo (recipe in this post), and a chipotle sour cream. We also had my version of a Mexican hot wing with an adobo ranch sauce for dipping. We rounded out the meal with a corn muffin loaded with cheddar chese, serrano peppers, and corn kernels that had been pan roasted in a bit of butter. Simple and easy. Most of these recipes are really 1-2-3. Don't believe me? Let's cook!

Mexican Hot Wing

-1 tablespoon of each (ground cumin, ground coriander, garlic powder, onion powder, honey salt, cayenne pepper and white pepper)

- 4 pounds of chicken wings

- 2 tablespoons of olive oil

- cilantro & limes

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix the spices, chicken, and oil together. Let this mariate for as long as possible - overnight even. Arrange on a baking sheet and bake for 35 minutes (or until golden brown and crispy).

For the adobo ranch dipping sauce, take your favorite ranch dressing and mix it with two tablespoons of red adobo sauce (you can find this in the Hispanic Foods aisle in your grocery store). Sprinkle with fresh lime juice and dip away!

Fish Tacos

- Any white fish (I used tilapia) cut into strips

- 1 tablespoon of each (ground cumin, coriander, black pepper, salt, and garlic powder)

- 1 cup of corn meal

- oil for frying

- corn tortillas

- a good Latino inspired cheese (I used Chihuahua cheese)

- tons of pico de gallo (combine chopped tomatoes, cilantro, onion, garlic, chiles, lime zest, lime juice, a touch of sugar, salt, and balsamic vinegar)

- chipotle sour cream (combine sour cream and minced chipotle peppers)

Marinate the fish in the spices. Coat with the corn meal and fry at 375 degrees (medium high heat) until golden brown. Toast corn tortillas in the oven until crispy. Top tortilla with fish, cheese, pico de gallo, chipotle sour cream, and a sqeeze of lime.

Mexican Inspired Corn Muffin

- 2 cups of Bisquick

- 1 cup of sugar

- 1 stick of melted butter

- 5 tablespoons of corn meal

- 2 eggs

- 1/2 - 3/4 cups of milk

- 1/2 cup of frozen corn kernels

- 1/4 cup of mild cheddar cheese

- 1/4 cup of minced serrano chiles

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine all ingredients except milk. Add milk slowly to get desired consistency. You're looking for a batter that is a little looser than pancake batter. Once desired consistency is reached, spoon into muffin liners and bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.

Fish Tacos!

Marinating the fish!

Chipotle peppers being minced...

Corn and serranos get a quick saute in butter.

Corn muffins...looks good, right?

They're marching...three by three - lol.

Mexican Inspired hot wing - yum!

A final presentation. They were gone in 5 minutes.

Ingredients for the pico de gallo. Couldn't be simpler.

Limes...all sqeezed out! (Is sqeezed a word?)

Another fantastic pic of the 'squeezed' limes.

The finished pico de gallo. Great on just chips.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tequila Lime Chicken & Fetticcuni!

You’ve asked for quick and easy…I’ve delivered.

Here’s a dish that takes no time to make. It’s perfect for a week night…or any night. It’s my rendition of a Tequila Lime Chicken and Fetticucuni. Trust me, it will make you want to come back for more. It’s also super simple and easy to make. You could probably do this with your eyes closed, but no worries, I’ll walk you through it.

Tequila Lime Chicken Fetticcuni

- 2 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
- 1/4 table spoon of each (salt, pepper, cumin, dried oregano, and red pepper flakes)
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1/2 pound of fetticcuni (dried or fresh)
- 1/4 cup of tequila
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons of chopped clinatro
- 1/2 a medium onion, sliced
- 1 serrano chili pepper - seeded and minced
- the zest and juice of a lemon
- 1/4 cup of cream

The Process
Cook and drain the pasta. Allow it to cool and set it to the side. LIberally season the chicken breasts with the salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, and red pepper flake mixture. Heat oil in a heavy bottom skillet. Sear and brown chicken breasts on both sides until cooked through. Remove the chicken breasts from the pan and add sliced onions and garlic and cook until translucent. Add garlic, serrano, lemon juice and zest and cook for one minute more. Deglaze pan by adding tequila being sure to scrape the bottom of the pan. Add cream, chicken, and pasta to the pan. Cook for a few minutes until all ingredients have been well tossed together and cream mixture has thickened. Remove from heat and toss in cilantro at the last possible moment. Plate…and enjoy!

Enjoy the pics below,

Gotta love chicken, right?

Pan fried - there's nothing better!

Mixing the chicken, pasta, and sauce.

One of the plating pictures

All you need to make a great meal...maybe more tequila!

By the way, I'm submitting this recipe for Presto Pasta Nights. You can link to the Equal Opportunity Kitchen Blog - here

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Another Sunday Meal...Shrimp and Grits!

Alas - I'm here. I've been away, but not intentionally. I didn't know that while I was on a quest to become more creative it would take so much of my energy. Because I'm trying to get to the big leagues, I have to put more more thought and emphasis on some of the creative things I do. But you know what's interesting? I've never really considered myself all that creative. Other people think so - me, not as much. Well, you didn't come here to hear about that. You came for food, right? So let's get to it.

Today (or yesterday rather), I felt a bit more of my southern roots (no worries, I'm changing regions soon - lol). I took a classic - and well, gave it the old DTW twist. The classic shrimp and grits grew up a bit. I took grits and fattened them up with tons of parm, cream, and parsley. I make a great sausage gravy that started with a great breakfast staple (not bacon this time) and it was introduced with layers of flavor courtesy of shallots and garlic. The pan gravy was great and I poached the shrimp in the gravy until nice and tender. You can have shrimp and grits without a biscuit - but what's the use. A reader e-mailed me a great recipe for a quick and no fuss biscuit that she got from America's Test Kitchen (we love that show, right?). I'm no baker - but I figured what they heck, I'd give it a try. I was super easy and I'll do it again without any problem. Just a plain biscuit, you ask? Of course not - here's the twist. How about a SCAMPI BUTTER? Yes, that's right! The same ingredients you find in a good shrimp scampi get incorporated into room temperature butter to make the best compound butter you've ever had! It's all you need, minus the shrimp, to have a great time!

Here are the recipes. Enjoy...along with the many pics I took!

Oh yea, PS - the Everyday Cookin' budget is still low - those triangle plates - well, they're here to stay for a while. It's either a love or hate relationship - lol. I'm growing a bit tired of them, but you know, they keep me inspired. We love inspiration, right?

Scampi Butter

1 stick of room temperature butter
1 cup of white wine
1 clove of garlic, grated
Juice and zest of a half of a lemon
1 tablespoon of finely chopped parsley

Reduce the white wine until it's almost evaporated. Put it on medium high until it reduces by at least half. Grate in a clove of garlic and remove from the heat. The residual heat will cook the garlic and continue to reduce the liquid. Once cooled remove from sauce pot. Add all other ingredients and combine thoroughly. You can remold the butter by using parchment paper or plastic wrap. Store in the fridge until ready to use. (This butter is perfect over breads and steamed veggies).

Shrimp and Grits
1 2/3 cups of low sodium chicken stock
1/2 cup of quick cooking grits
1/4 cup of heavy cream
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 table spoon of chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

1/2 pound of gulf shrimp, cleaned, peeled, and deveined
1 large shallot
1 clove of garlic
1/3 cup of breakfast pork sausage
1 tablespoon of flour
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1/2 cup of low sodium chicken stock
2 tablespoons of heavy cream
1/2 tablespoon of chopped basil

For Grits
Bring chicken stock to a boil. Stir in grits and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook by constantly stirring for 2-3 minutes. You should have a thick consistency. Add cream and continue to stir for another 2 minutes. Whisk in cheese and parsley. Taste for salt and pepper. Remove from heat until ready to serve.

For Sausage Gravy and Shrimp
Saute pork sausage, shallots, and garlic with no oil until sausage is brown. Add olive oil and whisk in flour to combine. Cook mixture for at least one minute. Add chicken stock slowly - mixture should immediately thicken. Add shrimp, basil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Reduce heat and let simmer until shrimp have been poached.

Biscuits (From America's Test Kitchen)

2 cups of all purpose flour
2 tablespoons of sugar
2 tablespoons of baking powder
1/2 tablespoon of salt
1 1/2 cups of heavy cream

(Here's how I made them) Combine all ingredients and knead until well incorporated. Roll out using a rolling pin. I used a can (the same one from the chicken stock) to cut out the biscuits. I topped them with an egg wash and I put them on a non stick cookie sheet in a 375 degree oven for 15 minutes. That was it...and they were good!

***Warning - these pictures are totally out of order...but you get the idea - lol***

Me testing the biscuits - quality control...that's what we're calling it!

Just cleaned the shrimp - ready to rock and roll!

Fattening up the grits...I'm thinking you could totally use polenta!

The shrimp and gravy mixture!

The plating...I should have totally used a bowl. But you live and learn!

Shallots and sliced garlic...they should make this into a candy.

You know what brand I endorse - lol.

They look good, right?

Starting the process...the house smelled great!

These are what grits come in. See my Blackberry - lol? Man on the move!

About to roll out the dough. I'm soooo not a baker. I had flour EVERYWHERE!

Not too bad, huh?

It was really easy.

Putting on the egg wash.

The scampi butter ingredients...and my new cutting board - lol.

About to reduce the white wine.

Happy face was good!

The final plating. Bad lighting and I should have used a bowl. See, I'm sharing my mistakes.

the finished butter - with lemon seeds and all - lol.

The plating of the grits.