my foodgawker gallery

 

Monday
Apr042011

Shrimp tomato and basil pasta and a GIVEAWAY

I received the call last week that I had been waiting for, but dreading. It was the call that determined a date for something that I never want to happen. On June 10th, 2011, my 4-year-old son will have his third open heart surgery. I'm still dealing with the trauma and emotions from his second open heart surgery that took place three years ago. Will we all still be in one piece after experiencing this again?

It is such a very strange thing to have something of this nature on your calendar. Amidst birthdays and dentist appointments sits, "Elijah OHS #3," like it's the most normal thing in the world. I stared at the words on my calendar and knew I had to get out of my office. Crying at work = not fun times. I started driving, with no destination in mind, shedding a few tears into my lap. Then I had the thought that I sometimes have when I'm feeling sad about something. Do something nice for someone. This often helps to lift my spirits. A few minutes later I found myself at Barnes & Noble, purchasing a favorite cookbook. Not for myself, but for YOU. Well, one of you!

So. If you would like to win a copy of Everyday Food: Great Food Fast by Martha Stewart Living Magazine, here's what you need to do!

Subscribe to this blog via RSS feed or friend us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Leave a comment stating which one you did. If you do all three, comment three separate times to be considered for three separate votes.

Check back on April 10th to see if a cookbook will be heading toward your mailbox! I will draw one winner randomly at 6:00 a.m. on the 10th, and I'll put the cookbook in the mail for that person on April 11th.

Good luck!

The recipes in this cookbook are great. They are simple and easy, and this suits my lifestyle so well. I got this particular linguine recipe out of the cookbook and oh my goodness, it is fantastic! It is a simple yet flavorful meal.

Start by seasoning 1 1/2 pounds of medium, peeled and deveined shrimp (tails removed) with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, heat 4 teaspoons of olive oil over high heat. Add the shrimp and cook until opaque throughout, turning occasionally, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

To the same skillet, add:

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

Cook over medium heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add:

A 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes (plus juice)

2 cups water

Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have softened and are saucy, about 15 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in:

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente according to package instructions. Drain and return the pasta to the pot. Add the tomato sauce, shrimp and basil and season with salt and pepper. Toss. Serve immediately, and garnish with fresh basil leaves.

I brought this deliciousness with me to work for the following two days after making it and beginning at 9:30 each morning, I could not wait to eat lunch.

Heart surgery, however, I can most definitely wait for.

Click here for a printable recipe!

Saturday
Apr022011

Chicken salad sandwich

 

Alternate title: Pantry sandwich.

On a recent snowy, cold day, I stood staring into my pantry, hungry, pondering lunch. It happened to be my 4-year-old's birthday, and he had already eaten a lunch involving raisins, chocolate and candy. So this lunch that I was pondering was for my husband and myself.

Soup, no. Pasta, no. Canned chicken, YES! And I immediately knew what I wanted to do with it. I hadn't made chicken salad in far too long, and suddenly I needed it! I started grabbing ingredients, whatever I saw that would taste good with chicken and mayonnaise.

I threw the following ingredients into my favorite new splatter bowl:

One 12.5-oz. can chunk chicken, drained, pieces broken apart with a fork

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup pecans, chopped

1/4 cup raisins

1/4 cup Craisins

1/4 cup green olives, chopped

I mixed it all together.

And piled it in between two pieces of sourdough bread along with some fresh spinach. It rocked. Next time I will use meat from a Rotisserie chicken instead of from a can. I think that would rock even harder.

Chicken Salad Sandwiches

One of my favorite versions of the delicious and satisfying chicken salad sandwich.

Serves: 4

Total time: 10 min

Chicken Salad Sandwich

Ingredients:

  • 12.5-oz. can chunk chicken, drained, pieces broken apart with a fork
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup Craisins
  • 1/4 cup green olives, chopped
  • 8 slices sourdough or white bread
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
Instructions:
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the chicken, mayonnaise, pecans, raisins, Craisins and green olives. Mix well.
  2. Divide the mixture four ways and place each serving on a slice of bread. Top with ¼ cup fresh spinach and another slice of bread.

 

 

Wednesday
Mar302011

Minestrone with black-eyed peas and kidney beans

This is Week #13 of my 2011 cooking challenge! Click here to view all recipes from this challenge. All recipes created for this challenge come from the Food & Wine Annual Cookbook 2010.

We have settled into a Sunday routine at our house that I love. Church or family-time, depending on the week, followed by lunch and a family nap. After that, I retreat to the kitchen to prepare something for dinner while my boys play or lounge or watch golf or read or play on the computer or the Wii. Sometimes I turn on music while I cook. Other times I tune into the sounds coming from the living room as I thinly slice the white parts of a leek.

This was the scene at one end of the kitchen this past Sunday afternoon.

And this beautiful face was at the other end.

And this was the scene in the living room.

This Sunday routine that I love so much will sadly be ending soon. Starting in mid-April, my husband will be working his cute little butt off on the weekends doing this (photo courtesy Luke Evens) until the end of October.

While I take on the scene at home. You know, ignoring the laundry and dirty toilets while caring for my boys and cooking.

The important and yummy stuff! At least I've got my priorities straight.

One of my last carefree Sunday cookfests for a while involved lots of vegetables. I had never made Minestrone before, and I was most definitely pleased with the outcome of my first attempt at it. The top keywords that come to mind when describing it are: fresh, healthy, satisfying, delicious!

Start out by heating 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large soup pot.

Add:

2 oz. pancetta, finely diced

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 celery ribs, thinly sliced

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 leek, white and tender green parts thinly sliced (reserve the dark green top for later)

Salt & pepper

Cook over moderate heat until the vegetables are softened, 10 minutes.

Sometimes I am struck by how artistic food can be. Perhaps that is why I'm so fond of food blogging and food photography.

Add 1/2 pound coarsely shredded Savoy or other green cabbage and cook until slightly wilted, 1 minute.

Add a 14.5-oz can of diced tomatoes and cook for 5 more minutes.

Add:

1 cup dried black-eyed peas

2 quarts water

Bring to a boil.

Grab the reserved top portion of the leek and stuff the following inside its outer leaves:

3 parsley sprigs

1 bay leaf

3 thyme sprigs

Secure the leek with kitchen twine and add to the pot.

Cover and simmer over low heat until the black-eyed peas are tender, about 45 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, cook 2 oz. penne pasta in boiling water until al dente. Drain and cool under running water and then slice the penne crosswise into 1/4-inch rings.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive in a skillet over moderately high heat. Add the penne to the skillet in a single layer.

Cook, turning once, until golden, about 5 minutes. Drain the penne rings on paper towels.

Once the soup is done simmering, discard the herbs and stir in:

One 15-oz. can red kidney beans, drained

Penne rings

1/2 cup shredded basil

Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

And to think that once upon a time, I, too, spent my weekends jumping out of airplanes. Ahh, those were the days.

Click here for a printable recipe!

Saturday
Mar262011

Sweet & tangy pork chops

I'm going to refer to the month of March as Pork Month from now on. I didn't plan it this way, but my husband and I have prepared much more pork than usual in the past few weeks. And every tender, juicy bite has been totally scrumptious! I have another pork recipe on my list that I plan to make soon. Mom's Pork Chops! My mother makes the best pork chops under the sun, and I cannot wait to share that splendor with you all. I mustn't get ahead of myself, though. Back to the delicious recipe at hand!

This is how my husband has been preparing pork for the past year or so. I swoon over this recipe. And I swoon over the fact that I have a husband who makes me delicious pork and mouth-watering mai tais.

Combine in a medium bowl:

6 oz. light beer

2 tablespoons brown sugar

3 tablespoons ketchup, with an extra squirt for good measure

Set aside.

Salt and pepper both sides of 3 pork chops. If you plan to make more than 3, double the sauce. You will want plentiful amounts of its deliciousness.

Coat a large skillet with cooking spray. Cook the pork chops for 3 minutes on each side over medium heat.

Pour the beer mixture over the pork chops and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the center reads 160 degrees F.

Remove the pork chops from the skillet and cover them to keep warm. Continue to let the sauce simmer until it has reduced to 3/4 cup, about 5 minutes.

Pour the sauce over the pork chops and serve immediately! I love Pork Month!

Sweet and Tangy Pork Chops

This is such a simple way to prepare pork chops but one of my favorites. The sauce is DELICIOUS.

Contributed by Megan Porta from pipandebby.com.

Published Mar 26, 20111

Serves: 3

Total time: 25 min

Sweet and Tangy Pork Chops

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz. light beer
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 3 pork chops
  • Salt & pepper
Instructions:
  1. Combine the beer, brown sugar and ketchup in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  2. Coat pork chops with salt and pepper. Coat a large skillet with cooking spray. Cook the pork chops for 3 minutes on each side over medium heat. Pour the beer mixture over the pork chops and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the center reads 160 degrees F.
  3. Remove pork chops from skillet and cover to keep warm. Let the sauce simmer until it has reduced to ¾ cup, about 5 minutes. Pour sauce over the pork and serve immediately.

 

 

Wednesday
Mar232011

Spicy chickpea salad

This is Week #12 of my 2011 cooking challenge! Click here to view all recipes from this challenge. All recipes created for this challenge come from the Food & Wine Annual Cookbook 2010.

Fresh-ingredient salads rock. They're pretty and fresh and tasty and versatile. My husband and I make a killer fresh salad that rivals this one, and I'll share it before summer arrives. By the way, where is summer? We got teased with a bit of warm weather last week, so now the cold and snow and freezing rain are even harder to swallow. I'm not convinced that summer will ever welcome us into her warm embrace.

This colorful salad helps me to believe that it might happen, though. It makes me think of lunches outside with my boys as we sit barefoot on the grass, wiping beads of sweat from our foreheads. Mmmmmmmm.

Back to my cold reality known as Minnesota.

If you, too, enjoy tricking yourself into believing it is summer when it is in fact not, make this salad! My family loved it and the entire batch was gone within 24 hours, despite the lack of warm weather.

If you want to go fresh and do as the recipe suggests, soak 1 cup of dried chickpeas in water overnight. Drain the chickpeas and bring to a boil in a large saucepan in 4 inches of water. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 2 hours, or until chickpeas are tender.

If you want easy, purchase two cans of chickpeas at the grocery store.

Either way, drain the chickpeas and place them in a medium bowl.

Add:

1 tomato, chopped

1/2 cup cucumber, diced (This is where I should explain that my husband is a juicing fanatic these days. Every fruit or vegetable that enters our home gets run through the juicer unless I declare that it is off limits. I opened the fridge to grab my cucumber. Juiced. So I used 2 stalks of chopped celery in its place.)

1/2 small red onion, chopped

1/2 jalapeno pepper, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (The lemon I had purchased for this recipe? Juiced. Luckily its juice was fresh and still in the fridge.)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon dried mango powder (optional)

Salt

Mix everything together and serve chilled.

The first thing we did upon making this was throw it onto a piece of flatbread with sliced turkey and black pepper.

A piece of lettuce would have added a nice crunch, but that had probably been juiced, as well.

No mayo needed! It made a delicious, healthy dinner wrap.

The next day for lunch, I used it as a topping for my boring baked chicken and cottage cheese.

And I ate the last of it with crackers for a snack.

I can think of about 100 other things I'd like to put it in and on and in between. Or, I wouldn't mind eating it straight from the container while having a picnic lunch with my family, the beating sun making the tops of our heads hot.

Ahhhhh, a girl can dream.

Click here for a printable recipe!