Thursday, October 25, 2007

Shrimp Frittata

I had neither eaten nor cooked a frittata, an Italian open-faced omelet, before tonight. I needed another dinner for one idea, so I gave the frittata a whirl. Now I can say that I am a huge fan!! It turned out so tasty, savory and filling, and it was quick and easy. The possibilities are endless, too; you can use any filler ingredients and herbs that you want. Here's mine--it looked so pretty when it came out of the oven:

7 large shrimp, peeled, devenied, and chopped
2 green onions, finely sliced
1/3 of a red bell pepper, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon butter
3 eggs
1 ounce parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
Milk or half & half

Preheat your broiler at its highest setting, and adjust an oven rack directly below it.

Melt the butter in a 10-inch nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the bell pepper, green onion, and garlic to the pan. Season with a little salt and pepper and saute until the bell pepper is softer, about 5 minutes. Throw in the shrimp and cook until it turns pink. Whisk together the eggs, parmesan, a splash of milk or half & half, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Pour into the pan and scatter the basil over top.

Don't touch the pan and just let the eggs cook for a few minutes. When the eggs have set for the most part, but are still wet on top, take the pan off the heat and place it under the broiler. Leave it there for a couple of minutes until the edges are browning and the top sets completely. Keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn!

Take out from under the broiler and let the pan sit for 5 minutes. Flip the frittata out onto a plate, cut into quarters, and serve.

Rating: This is awesome

This is a great dinner for when you don't feel too creative and you need to use up random ingredients, especially some bits of expensive cheese you want to stretch, or a handful of herbs about to go bad. I just love finding new budget-minded dinner options :-) It warms my cheap heart!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Taco Casserole

Subtitle: In which I put together a bunch of stuff that Wei hates on a night he's not home

Wei has a job that's much cooler than mine, the perks of which include client dinners at Atlanta hot spots from time to time. I spend these nights eating a dinner that he would hate! Hah! Take that, cool job haver! Tonight, I decided to throw together a taco casserole, involving two of his least favorite foods: cheese and black beans. I don't pretend to claim that this is actual Mexican food, by the way; this is my version, based entirely on my tastes! Feel free to vary the spices however you want.

1/2 pound ground turkey
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
3 large flour tortillas
6 tablespoons prepared or homemade salsa
3/4 cup shredded cheese of your choice (I used a Mexican blend)
1 15-ounce can of black beans, drained and rinsed
Olive oil
Non-stick cooking spray

Warm up a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until soft, about 10 minutes. Throw in the cumin, oregano, and chili powder and stir to coat the onion in the spices. Add the ground turkey and garlic to the skillet and season well with salt and pepper. Turn the heat up and cook until the meat until no longer pink. Take the skillet off the heat and set aside.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spritz the inside of an 8-inch square baking pan with the non-stick cooking spray. Lay one tortilla at the bottom of the pan and spread 2 tablespoons of salsa over it. Layer half of the turkey-onion mixture, half of the beans, and 1/4 cup of cheese on top the tortilla. Place another tortilla over the cheese and repeat the layering process with 2 tablespoons of salsa, the rest of the turkey and beans, and 1/4 cup of cheese. Place the last tortilla on top and spread the remaining salsa and cheese over it.

Bake for 20 minutes, until everything is warmed through and the cheese is melted. Take out of the oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Cut into big squares and serve. You could garnish with sour cream, salsa, guacamole, chopped cilantro, etc.

Rating: This is awesome

I ate this on the couch while watching Arrested Development - Season One--another thing Wei hates! Best night ever.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Chicken and Tomato Soup with Rice

This is another recipe born from the desire to use up shit that we already had without having to go to the grocery store. It was a success! Wei was pretty dubious about using rice in a soup, and in fact, I came up with the idea based entirely on the song "Chicken Soup with Rice" from Really Rosie. But hey, you can't find out what works without taking risks!

1 onion, chopped finely
1 carrot, chopped finely
1 celery heart, chopped finely
3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
8 cups chicken broth
6 cups water
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or 2 cups of leftover cooked chicken, shredded
1 cup of leftover cooked rice
The juice of half a lime
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

If using raw chicken, bring a medium pot of salted water to boil. Add the chicken breasts to the boiling water and poach until cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Warm up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat, and add the onion, carrot, and celery. Saute until soft, about 10 minutes. Pour in the chicken broth and water and bring up to a boil. Toss in the tomatoes, stir in the rice and let everything simmer together for a few minutes.

Take the chicken out of its cooking water and sit to cool on a cutting board for a few minutes. Shred the chicken with two forks or your fingers and add it to the soup pot along with the lime juice. Taste the broth for seasoning and add salt and pepper to your taste. Stir in the cilantro and serve.

Rating: This is awesome

I told you once, I told you twice
All seasons of the year are nice
For eating chicken soup,
Eating chicken soup with rice!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Spaghetti with Turkey Meat Sauce

The weather has finally got chilly here. I'm actually having to put on a coat when I take the dogs out in the morning. Woo! I thought the humid air would never leave. Now I can start making some of my cold weather favorites! I looooove winter cooking like nothing else. There's something so primally satisfying about creating a warm, filling meal when the cold wind is whipping at your front door.

This tomato sauce is a variation of Giada's from Everyday Italian. Hers was the first homemade sauce I had ever made, and I thought I had died and gone to heaven after the first bite. I just didn't know it could taste like that--it's so bright and flavorful! Last night was the first time I tried making it with ground turkey instead of beef. I loved it; I think its light flavor actually went better with the sauce than beef's meatier taste does.

1 small onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery heart, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/2 pound ground turkey (preferably a mixture of white and dark meat)
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Warm up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a deep pan over medium heat. Put the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic in the pan and saute until the onions are soft and translucent, about 15 minutes. Turn up the heat, add the ground turkey, and season well with salt and pepper. Break up the turkey with a wooden spoon and saute until it is no longer pink.

Pour in the can of tomatoes and stir to combine. Sprinkle in the oregano and basil and add salt and pepper to your taste. Bring the heat down to low and let everything simmer and thicken for 20 to 30 minutes. Serve over spaghetti (or whatever type of pasta you want) with a little bit of freshly grated parmesan on top.

Rating: This is awesome

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Thai Shrimp Soup with Lime and Cilantro

Another night, another soup! This one is a variation of a recipe I got from The South Beach Diet Quick and Easy Cookbook. I first ate this earlier this year, when I did SBD in an effort to lose weight for the wedding. It was dinner on my first night of the diet, and I remember that it tasted so good that I thought the whole dieting thing wouldn't be too bad. The original recipe calls for 3 cups of thinly sliced napa cabbage in place of the bean thread noodles I used here.

1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 inch length of fresh ginger, grated
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, thinly sliced into half-moons
6 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
5.25 ounces bean thread noodles
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 teaspoon sugar or sugar substitute
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

To start, reconsititute the noodles. Place them in a large bowl and cover with hot water straight from the tap. Let them sit for 15 minutes, then drain the noodles and set aside.

Warm up the oil over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add the onion and saute until soft, about 10 minutes. Throw in the garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes and cook for about a minute. Add the chicken broth and water and bring up to a boil.

Stir in the bean thread noodles. Add the shrimp, fish sauce, lime juice, lime zest, and sugar and cook just until the shrimp turn pink, about one minute. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed. Turn off the heat and scatter the cilantro into the soup. Serve hot.

Rating: This is awesome
The flavors are sharp and intense, but they all come together well. The noodles are tricky to catch, since they're so long. Try eating with a soup spoon in one hand and a pair of chopsticks in the other--grab some noodles with the chopsticks, transfer them to the spoon, scoop up some of the broth in the spoon, and slurp the whole spoonful down.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Chicken Noodle Soup

After a weekend of excess, I wanted something simple and true for dinner tonight. I also wanted something I could make without going to the grocery store. A quick inventory of the kitchen proved that a pot of rustic chicken noodle soup was the way to go!

3 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 celery hearts, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 inch length of fresh ginger, grated
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
6 cups chicken broth
6 cups water
8 ounces egg noodles
2 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped finely
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over a medium-high flame in a large soup pot and add the carrots and celery. Saute until soft, about 10 minutes. Season the chicken pieces well with salt and pepper and add to the pot, along with the garlic and ginger. Stir the chicken around until it is evenly browned.

Add the chicken broth and water to the pot and bring up to a boil. Throw in the egg noodles and simmer until they are cooked through. Taste the soup liquid for seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary. Stir in the parsley and serve.

Rating: This is awesome
I sometimes use an onion in this soup too. Just chop and saute with the carrots and celery at the beginning. What are your favorite herbs for chicken noodle soup? I never know what to use, but I tend to go with just flat leaf parsley since I always have some around.