Monday, January 12, 2015

Cooking Corner: Shrimp Linguine with Vodka Sauce

OK y'all, I am SUPER proud of this one. Like, ridiculously proud! The inspiration for week three was alcohol. My mom has been in love with pink/vodka sauces since she first tried it recently (it's not a common sauce in Idaho for some reason). Therefore, I knew the minute I saw the word alcohol that it was what I was going to do. While vodka sauce also goes well with chicken, I feel its calling is seafood, so I decided to make some jumbo shrimp with it.

Now, the only problem with this recipe is I decided to go all "real cook" and not use measurements. It's fine though because I can give you approximations. I started by peeling and deveining the shrimp - like a legit person! It's super easy, especially when your shrimp are as jumbo as mine were! Peel off all the shell above the tail. Slice that nekkid shrimp down the back and use a toothpick to pull out the poopshoot and any veins you can find.

Next, melt four tablespoons of butter in a flat, high pan.  Like, a sauce pan, not a sauce pot.. if that makes sense. --AS IT MELTS, GET YOUR POT OF WATER BOILING AND YOUR PASTA MEASURED OUT -- Add a can of crushed tomatoes and a little can of tomato paste when it's melted and stir it together. Take this chance to flavor your sauce! I used basil, oregano, tarragon, and garlic powder, GENEROUSLY, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Remember, start small and add more - stir and taste!  When you've gotten your general tomato sauce tasting good, throw in somewhere between 1/2 and 3/4 cups of vodka (or glug it til it looks good, remember start small and add more). Mix that in. At this point, I threw my shrimp in the sauce. Cover and let boil/simmer. As the vodka cooks out, the shrimp will cook up.  --AT THIS POINT YOUR WATER SHOULD BE BOILING, THROW IN YOUR PASTA!--

When your shrimp is beginning to pink and your sauce tastes less boozy, throw in 1/2 cup to a full cup of heavy cream. I kinda swirled til it looked pretty. Lower the heat a smidgen, stir it til the heavy cream is thoroughly mixed in, and COVER because it will get messy.  Your sauce will begin to thicken. --KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR PASTA, IT'S GETTING CLOSE TO DONE NOW!!--  When your shrimp are done and your sauce has thickened a bit, add about one to two handfuls of shredded parmesan, because it's not unhealthy enough! Stir it in til it's melted.  Drain your pasta, dish out your shrimp, cover with the sauce, and eat up!! I did my best with plating, but I kinda screwed up the nesting that I had intended.. but look how the shrimp almost stand up!!

My dear mother was licking her plate - proof that I succeeded! I may have ruined restaurant pink sauce for her - and it's SO MUCH CHEAPER than eating out. I think this ended up yielding around 4 servings. We ate two and have frozen about half of it.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Cooking Corner - Homemade Chicken Cordon Bleu

So this week's inspiration was dairy. I had quite a few thoughts, but Chicken Cordon Bleu stuck out to me. Mom and I love it and we're always craving it, but we'd always buy the frozen version, which for some reason is a seasonal item that's only available in the winter. Add to that the fact that our grocery store started carrying a different, subpar brand, and we hadn't eaten it in a while. So I figured I should figure out how to make it myself!

Fortunately, this one is SUPER simple! We only had bone-in skin-on chicken thighs, no big deal, I can butcher up a chicken thigh with ease! So I tore off the skin and sliced out the bone and we were ready to go to work. I used my trusty mallet to flatted the chicken a little more. I then put on a slice of ham, a slice of cheese, and another slice of ham, and rolled it up. Because it was my first time, I chose to hold it together by skewering it closed with toothpicks.

Next you take a bowl which has 4 tablespoons of melted butter and three tablespoons of olive oil mixed together (or however much you need, keeping those proportions - since there are only two of us, I halved it). Put your chicken in the bowl and give it a good coating. Then the chicken goes into a bowl with a 50/50 mixture of bread crumbs and parmesan cheese (this time I used shredded, but in the future I'll be using grated) and give it a nice coating.

Finally, we throw it in a pan, into the oven at 375 for 30 minutes. That's it! Easy! Doesn't it look delicious?!

It tasted just as good. Oh and that beautiful creamy gold flowing over the top? I whipped up a simple, homemade hollandaise. The ratio is 1-2 teaspoon of lemon juice per egg yolk, depending on how citrussy you want it. Whisk together in a stainless steel bowl. Put it over a pot of simmering water for a double boiler and whisk furiously, making sure that egg doesn't cook. Once it has thickened, whisk in, in tiny little cubes, 1 tablespoon of butter per egg yolk. Remove and return to the heat as needed, always whisking. Keep it warm when you're done and you're good! Seriously - I LOVE HOLLANDAISE!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Cooking Corner: Pork Chops with my "Signature Rub", Brussel Sprouts, and Asparagus

So, I love food, obviously. I love cooking food. And I desperately want to increase my arsenal of dishes. Therefore, I'm participating in the Reddit 52 Weeks of Cooking Challenge. Week 01 was "diet foods". Ok, well I'm not a fan of most diets, I think they're fads and the minute you're "done", you gain all the weight back, so I took it as "acceptably healthy foods".  Mom LOVES my pork chops with my signature rub, and we USUALLY do Auntie Annie's Mac and Cheese with it, but I decided to make it a little healthier with some nommy veggies!

Step One is to prepare your Pork Chops! We start with the rub, mine consists of Pink Himalayan Salt (OMG - so good, so much more flavorful than table salt!), some chili powder, paprika, a bit of cinnamon, and a healthy pinch of brown sugar. Please do not judge my lack of measurements, because I don't measure. So you pour it on your chops, one side at a time. Rub it into the first side before your go pouring it on the second side. I usually put my rubbed chops back in a plastic baggie and put it back into the fridge to let it kinda... soak in.

Next I got working on my sprouts. I, personally, trimmed the ends off and cut the big ones in half and the REALLY big ones into quarters. I then tossed them in extra virgin olive oil and flavored in salt and pepper. I put them on a cookie sheet and into the oven at 375 for 30 minutes, taking them out every 10 minutes to turn and reoil, and on the last 10 minutes I added a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. We did have a few leaves fall off, but they crisped off, and, I'mma be honest, they tasted WAY better than kale chips.

Next the asparagus. It's SUPER EASY!! Pour some EVOO in a large pan/skillet. Put your oven on medium high and let that oil get hot. Place your asparagus in and just keep turning occasionally until its green and easily poked with a fork. Oh, and don't forget a pinch of salt!

Finally, I pam up a medium sized pan and put it on medium high and let that sucker heat up. It should be HOT before you put your pork chops in. Place them in, they should sizzle, and cover. turn them in six minutes and cover again. If you feel they need a little longer, lower your heat to medium so you don't burn your chops. Remember, you don't want your chops to be "medium", because they're pork, but then you also want them to be juicy!.

That's it! Plate it up and you're done. Here's my plating, but I suck at plating soooo.... Oh - and I enjoy dipping my pork chops in BBQ sauce while my mom enjoys a yummy Plum Chipotle. When I make these chops, my sodium loving mother DOES NOT ADD SALT! That's right, it's a miracle, because it's that good!