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Archive for the ‘Food & Cooking’ Category

As always, a few days late, but better late than never. Here are my 2010 and 2011 recaps if you care to check them out.

In 2012 Taylor and I :

Paid off his car early (the VW Jetta). Then, just a couple of weeks later, had a huge issue, where we brought the car in to the dealership to check out a problem with the door lock. They said it would be several hundred dollars to repair the lock, and we said, no thanks. Then later that same afternoon they called claiming that there was gasoline in the diesel engine (um, there’s no way in hell!!) and it would require major repairs (to the tune of at least $8,000 dollars, and you better contact your insurance company to get them involved.) After many talks with insurance and the car dealership and about 6 weeks of the car being in the shop, we paid our insurance deductible, turned in our rental car and traded that sucker in. So we also…

Bought a new car. A 2012 Toyota Camry SE.

Celebrated my 31st birthday, our 3rd anniversary, and Taylor’s 29th birthday.

We also did a lot of mentally preparing and budget planning for buying a house in 2013.  EEK!!

Taylor’s sister had a baby, so this year we became Aunt Andrea and Uncle Taylor! Here’s our sweet nephew from just a few days ago. He’s about 4.5 months old here.

Tristan 014

And I:

I didn’t cook as much as I’d like to throughout the year. This year was the first time I in my 31 years that I didn’t go to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving, so I cooked my First Solo Thanksgiving Meal for my in-laws. And for the first time ever, I also didn’t see my parents on Christmas day, so I cooked a ham dinner on Christmas. I didn’t take any pictures.

Visited

  • Las Vegas (March)
  • Washington DC/Arlington, VA(April)
  • St. Louis (July)
  • New Orleans (August & October)
  • New York City (September)
  • Dallas (October)

Read

I got a Kindle Fire for Christmas in 2011 and I also joined Goodreads and set a goal of 30 books for the 2012 year. I didn’t make 30, but I did read 24 books, so not too shabby.

I enjoyed everything I finished, some more than others. I started Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, The Art of Fielding, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, but didn’t finish. The only one I legitimately quit because I simply could not get into it was Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. My favorite books were the John Green books (in order of my personal preference) The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns, Looking for Alaska, and An Abundance of Katherines.

Here are all the books I read.

  1. The Hunger Games
  2. Mockingjay
  3. Catching Fire
  4. Divergent
  5. Paper Towns
  6. Girl Over the Edge
  7. Wife By Wednesday
  8. Water for Elephants
  9. Looking for Alaska
  10. Thirteen Reasons Why
  11. The Fault in Our Stars
  12. Daughter of Smoke and Bone
  13. Juliet, Naked
  14. Fifty Shades of Grey
  15. Fifty Shades Darker
  16. Pretty Little Liars
  17. Flawless
  18. Perfect
  19. Unbelievable
  20. The Book Thief
  21. Gone Girl
  22. Flight
  23. An Abundance of Katherines
  24. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

I am too lazy to link those books to another site and/or list their authors, but if you’re interested in knowing more about something and can’t find it, let me know and I can point you in the right direction.

Watched

  • True Blood (Season 4)
  • The Tudors (Seasons 3 & 4)
  • Dexter (Season 6)
  • And plenty more miscellaneous episodes of Sister Wives, Family Guy, South Park, The New Girl, and Tosh.0

Listened to/Discovered MusicA few of these albums aren’t new, some are especially played out, but I loved them this year anyway. Saw Two Door Cinema Club at House of Blues in Houston in October.

  • Two Door Cinema Club – Beacon
  • Fun – Some Nights
  • Of Monsters and Men – My Head is an Animal
  • The Lumineers – The Lumineers
  • Katy Perry – Teenage Dream
  • The Black Keys – El Camino
  • Keane – Strangeland
  • O.A.R. – Rain or Shine

Did nice things – As a sort of informal resolution, I tried to do more  nice things this year. I kept track for myself, but don’t care to post the tally here. In general, I sent cards and care packages to friends and family who needed it, and I also did nice things for people I didn’t know. I really enjoyed it and I hope to continue this year.

How was your 2012?

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Crawfish Cornbread

I posted about making crawfish cornbread for Thanksgiving, so I thought I’d share the recipe in case anyone is interested. I got the recipe from Taylor’s mom, who got it from someone else, so I have no idea of its original origins.

It’s sort of like a corn pudding with crawfish, cheese, and a little spice.

Crawfish Cornbread

1 pound frozen crawfish (thawed, drained and rinsed)
1 stick melted butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp Tony Chachares seasoning (or more, 1 tbsp isn’t too much for my taste)
1 can cream style corn
1 box Jiffy cornbread mix
3/4 cup chopped onions (frozen will work)
3 eggs
chopped jalapenos (1/2  a small can drained, or more if you like it spicy)
2 cups of grated cheese (one to mix in, one to top the casserole)

Mix all ingredients (except 1 cup cheese) in a large mixing bowl. Pour into greased 9×13 baking pan. Top with 2nd cup of cheese. Bake at 350 for 1 hour. Makes 8+ servings.

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For the first time in my 31 years of existence, my parents went out of town for Thanksgiving. So, I cooked the full meal on my own. Thankfully, I’ve helped my mom cook Thanksgiving a lot in the past few years, so I had it pretty well under control, but it still felt weird not to be in the kitchen with my family.

Initially it was just going to be Taylor and me, but Taylor’s parents decided they were going to come over. I was already planning on cooking enough food, so I didn’t have to change my plans at all. And cooking at home meant I finally had a fancy excuse to use my wedding china for the first time in 3.5 years.

I bought a small turkey. It also did not have any wings or legs, which was fine with me, since I don’t eat dark meat anyway.

I cooked macaroni and cheese (the blue box, for T) and mashed potatoes, with plenty of butter and milk.

Frozen yeast rolls that rise up to look like homemade.

Crawfish cornbread.

Stovetop stuffing, broccoli and gravy.

I rounded out the meal with a fresh-baked (frozen) apple pie and vanilla bean ice cream.

It was a delicious meal and I’ve still got plenty of leftovers.

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This is FINALLY my last post about Italy.

On the last few days of our Italian adventure, we hung with Cherrye and Peppe’s friends and suddenly it was just like they were our friends too. We went out for pizza to their favorite pizza place.

Then went to a bar for limoncello and gelato.

One night, we learned how to make homemade limoncello. Remember this lemon tree?

Cherrye was all prepared by pre-soaking the lemon rinds, so it would be ready for us to drink.

Here’s an action shot of us pouring and straining.

Peppe taught us how to make risotto then we st down to enjoy 1 Euro wine. Later, some of Cherrye and Peppe’s friends joined us for limoncello before we had to start packing up.

The next morning we hit the road and said goodbye to Cherrye, Peppe, and Max,  thanking them for being such wonderful hosts and friends.

And with that, we said arrivederci to Italy.

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Yesterday I made  Thai Green Curry Coconut Shrimp with Basil from Skinnytaste.com. It was so good I wanted to eat it all in one sitting.

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Since I can’t leave well enough alone, I did things slightly different from the recipe, but nothing crazy.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp oil
  • 4 small scallions, whites and greens separated, chopped (I used 6 green onions, because when I compared to the picture, it didn’t seem like what I had was enough)
  • 1 tbsp Thai green curry paste (or more to taste) (I ended up using two tablespoons, but didn’t add the second until after I added the coconut milk and tasted everything)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (I used two tablespoons of dried minced garlic, reconstituted with a few tablespoons of warm water)
  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined (from 1 1/4 lbs unpeeled)
  • 6 oz light coconut milk
  • 2 tsp Thai fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped (I just used about 8 big basil leaves)
  • salt to taste (I didn’t add any salt and the taste was just fine)

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil on medium high heat. Add green onion whites and curry paste and cook for one minute. (It’s ok if you accidentally add the garlic here too, just make sure it doesn’t burn.
  2. Add shrimp and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add coconut milk, fish sauce and simmer 2-3 minutes making sure the shrimp is fully cooked. (Taste the sauce at this point to decide if you want to add more curry paste. I added 1 extra tablespoon here, when the original 1 tablespoon wasn’t enough.)
  4. Remove from heat and add green onion greens and basil then serve over rice. (This is also good to eat without rice as a sort of soup.)

This was my second time making Thai Curry, and it was absolutely delicious. I will definitely do this again.

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You gotta make this. Mr. B’s Bistro BBQ Shrimp

Mr. B’s is a fabulous restaurant in New Orleans, and the recipe is one of their house favorites. It’s not BBQ in the traditional sense of the word, but is so rich and delicious. Like their site says, don’t be afraid of the amount of butter. I promise you won’t be sorry.

Just don’t forget an extra stack of napkins, it gets a little messy peeling the shrimp!

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I included the link to the original recipe earlier, but I’m also including the recipe below too in case they ever take the recipe down. It’s that awesome.

  • 16 jumbo shrimp (12 per pound, about 1 1/2 pounds), with heads and unpeeled
  • 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • French bread as accompaniment

 

In a large skillet combine shrimp, Worcestershire, lemon juice, black peppers, Creole seasoning, and garlic and cook over moderately high heat until shrimp turn pink, about 1 minute on each side. Reduce heat to moderate and stir in butter, a few cubes at a time, stirring constantly and adding more only when butter is melted. Remove skillet from heat. Place shrimp in a bowl and pour sauce over top. Serve with French bread for dipping.

Yield: 4 appetizers or 2 entrees

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Before the next stop on our Italian adventure, we made a little pit stop just a few towns over from Scalea. Cherrye had arranged a cooking lesson for us. We toured the kitchen and got down to the real work. Making fresh pasta. Fusilli is a regional type of pasta, and we were able to learn from the best teacher in all of Italy.

We’ll skip all the details of mixing the dough and get down to the kneading,  which you have to do a precise way. And a precise number of times. See how confused we look?

After you let the dough sit for a few minutes, you cut it into strips, and then pinch off enough to roll into a long worm. Then you wrap the dough worm around a thin little stick (as thin as spaghetti almost) in a spiral, and then you roll that on the counter to flatten it into the shape (which is like a flat spiral I guess). Our teacher made it look SO easy.

Here’s the finished product, pre-cooking. We made at least 5 pans of these, which is no easy feat.

Here’s a video of the process. I’m really happy one of the guys at the place picked up the camera and filmed us doing this. You can also hear Cherrye translating for us in the background. And by the end, despite our limited Italian skills, we knew if we were in trouble by the teacher.

Another of our lovely cooking lesson teachers helped us make eggplant parmesan and stuffed zucchini.

Baby Max even got in on the fun.

After a little appetizer of cedro soda and chicory on toasted bread, it was time to eat.

And we ate lunch for about 3 hours. The pasta was delicious (even though I wasn’t adventurous enough to eat more than a few bites of the sauce cooked with goat meat.)

Fresh made fusilli.

Peppers.

Stuffed zucchini.

Eggplant Parmesan.

There was plenty of wine and after dinner, homemade limoncello. And after everything, we even tried homemade bay leaf liquor. And yes, bay leaf liquor tastes as strange as it sounds.

After we were thoroughly stuffed, we got back on the train for a few hours headed toward Cherrye and Peppe’s house!

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