Feel Good Orecchiette with Shrimp

One of the reasons I love to cook is because it’s a tasty way to take a quick break from reality. Nothing beats listening to music while stirring, chopping, tasting away in my kitchen. This recipe in particular is one that forces you to take a timeout from your busy day, since you continue to stir the tomato sauce as it cooks. I made this for my parents this past summer, and my Dad walked into the kitchen while I was cooking and said “You look so zen right now,” and he was so very right!!

Allow me to share my zen master ways…

Orecchiette with Shrimp: Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces orecchiette
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound cherry tomatoes, cut into halves
  • 1 red chile pepper, cut into halves and minced
  • 20 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • Black pepper to taste

Instructions:

  • Cook the pasta in boiling salted water using package directions until al dente and then drain the pasta
  • Cover to keep warm
  • Sauté the garlic in olive oil in a saucepan until golden brown
  • Stir in tomatoes and chile pepper
  • Bring to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally
  • Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • Stir in the shrimp
  • Cook for 5 minutes longer, stirring occasionally
  • Stir in the basil and season with salt and black pepper
  • Remove from the heat and fold into the pasta

This recipe is warm, delicious, and one of my feel good favorites. You can also substitute rice, quinoa, or even remove the starch all together and serve with veggies if you’re trying to keep it healthy. Enjoy!

Marinated Swordfish with Artichoke Puree over Sautéed Garlic Spinach

As I struggle to keep my head above this sea of papers and projects and interviews that has defined my fall 2014 semester, I keep thinking back to more relaxing times. Particularly, the week I spent in LA with my boyfriend after coming back from Hong Kong. We did literally nothing for a whole week. I was jet-lagged, exhausted, and just mentally checked out. We had all these plans of seeing the Hollywood sign or checking out new restaurants… We made it to the Sony Pictures studio lot tour, and Hollywood boulevard, but that was about it. My ass was so content watching Netflix all day, marathoning our favorite shows Hell’s Kitchen and South Park from when we woke up to when we went to bed. Judge away — but I would kill for a lazy day like that again.

That being said, we did track out to the grocery store in order to test out some new recipes we had been wanting to test for awhile. Here’s what ended up being my favorite recipe from that trip!

Marinated Swordfish with Artichoke Puree over Sauteed Garlic Spinach: Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound swordfish

Instructions:

  • In a bowl combine juice of the lime, ginger, garlic and onion.
  • Add olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • Place swordfish steak in baking pan and pour marinade over fish.
  • Coat and let sit for 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Remove fish from pan and grill in cast iron pan or on grill for about 3 minutes per side.

Artichoke Puree

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped large artichoke hearts
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice

Instructions:

  • Place the artichoke hearts in a medium saucepan with the water and
  • olive oil.
  • Add the salt, cover and cook until tender, but with no color.
  • Pour the mixture in a blender and blend until completely smooth.
  • Add the lemon juice and cool the puree in a pan set over ice.

Sautéed Garlic Spinach

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds baby spinach leaves
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic (6 cloves)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Lemon
  • Sea or kosher salt, optional

Instructions:

  • Rinse the spinach well in cold water to make sure it’s very clean. Spin it dry
  • in a salad spinner, leaving just a little water clinging to the leaves.
  • In a very large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil and sauté the garlic
  • over medium heat for about 1 minute, but not until it’s browned.
  • Add all the spinach, the salt, and pepper to the pot, toss it with the garlic
  • and oil, cover the pot, and cook it for 2 minutes.
  • Uncover the pot, turn the heat on high, and cook the spinach for another
  • minute, stirring with a wooden spoon, until all the spinach is wilted.
  • Using a slotted spoon, lift the spinach to a serving bowl and top with the
  • butter, a squeeze of lemon, and a sprinkling of sea or kosher salt.
  • Serve hot

Assemble the plate by placing the garlic spinach in the center, topped with the swordfish. Pour the puree around the outside. Enjoy!

And with that, I’m going to jump back into my thesis project. Hope y’all have a great week, and happy eating!

Quick Salmon Foil Packets with Ginger and Soy Sauce

Hey world! This is what a blog post looks like when you’re buried under your masters thesis, on top of interviewing for an executive internship:

EAT THIS. ITS DELICIOUS.

Salmon Foil Packets with Ginger and Soy Sauce: Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 salmon (about 2 lbs), with or without skin (remove before eating)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  •  3 green onions

Instructions:

  • Preheat the grill to medium heat.
  • Lay the salmon on a double sheet of foil.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, rice vinegar and canola oil.
  • Fold all four sides of the foil up and pour the mixture evenly over the
  • salmon.
  • Lay the slices of ginger and garlic, and the green onions on top of the
  • salmon.
  • Seal the foil by folding it as though you wrapping a present. Slide the foil
  • packet onto the grill and close the lid. Cook until the salmon is just cooked
  • through, about 10 minutes. Take care not to overcook the salmon.
  • Unwrap the salmon from the foil, remove the garlic, ginger and green
  • onions, and cut into pieces and serve hot or at room temperature.

AND it’s saving my life right now because it’s quick, easy, and you can make it ahead of time.

YOU’RE WELCOME!

And I promise to be back to my normal chatty self as soon as possible! Happy eating!!

Paleo Pumpkin Chicken Chili

In need of some fall flavors that have fewer calories than the infamous pumpkin spice latte? Look no further! I decided to give this paleo thing a try, and in the process came across this deliciously filling chili recipe. I made the full batch — which is huge by the way, so I would recommend freezing the leftovers — and I can say I made everyone in my office jealous when I heated it up for lunch. It. Smells. SO. Good!

Paleo Pumpkin Chicken Chili: Serves 8-10

Ingredients:

  • 3lbs chicken cubed
  • 2 cups diced red onions
  • 2 cups diced bell peppers (any color)
  • 3 jalapenos (diced and seeds removed)
  • 1 minced clove of garlic
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 28 oz of diced tomatoes (with juices)
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 3 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 whole cinnamon stick
  • 3 cups organic pumpkin puree
  • 2 tbsp diced fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil

Instructions:

  • Heat coconut oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat.
  • Sauté onions until lightly browned, then add bell peppers, jalapeños, and garlic and sauté for another 5 minutes.
  • Add in chicken, chicken stock, white wine, organic tomatoes, organic tomato paste, chili powder, pumpkin pie spice, coriander, salt, and cinnamon stick and simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Stir in pumpkin, cilantro, and cocoa powder and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to low and let sit until ready to serve, or serve immediately. If there is too much, you can freeze it to eat later in the week.

Be on the look out for more paleo recipes! I’m finding that I feel so much more energized after following the paleo guidelines — granted, it’s only been a week, and I definitely cheated and scarfed down two tacos after the football tailgate, but I’m noticing a difference already! Food shouldn’t have to weigh you down!

Enjoy y’all, and happy eating!

Movies and Mussels: Guy Fieri’s Spicy Steamed Mussels

This is post #100! Thank you to everyone who reads my quirky little stories and enjoys these delicious recipes. Your interest and support means the world! A big thank you to my biggest supporter, best friend, and cooking partner and crime: my boyfriend, Parker. As you always strive to support the craziness of my life, I wanted to dedicate this 100th post to you: Mussels and movies, what more could you want? 

Happy Thursday! I, for one, have never been so excited for the weekend. My boyfriend and I are headed to NYC for Fall Break, something both of us are in desperate need of (thank youuuu thesis projects). But before I happily wave goodbye to Dallas for this five day weekend, I wanted to share a recipe Parker and I made a little while back. One of his favorite things in the whole world are mussels and, to his dismay, I had never actually eaten them until this past year.

SO! We decided to tackle a mussels recipe from Guy Fieri’s cookbook (the host of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives with the whacked out bleached blonde hair), and it did not disappoint! There are going to be a few more recipes posted up here from his book, so if you are interested in purchasing the cookbook, you can find more information about it on my Recommended Cookbooks tab.

This post also has a second agenda, hence the title “Movies & Mussels”. Since I’m sharing one of my boyfriend’s favorite recipes, I thought I would also take a moment to share with you his senior thesis project. As I’ve mentioned before, both of us are in the midst of our thesis projects. While mine is a crazy academic research project (woooo!), my creative other half is making a short film. The subject is near and dear to my heart, and I’m incredibly proud of the work he has put into the project thus far. In an effort to help him reach his goal of raising $2,000 for the production, I wanted to share the link to his IndieGoGo campaign. Any and all donations are greatly appreciated and will make a huge difference! I’m actually going to cater for the set and cook for his film crew, so you’d be doing me a huge favor too. If nothing else, read about it and see what he’s up to! Here’s the link: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/lucky-thesis-short-film.

Anyways! Thanks for letting me shamelessly beg y’all for money so my boyfriend isn’t a completely stressed out loon for the rest of the academic school year. Back to the food! Some tips and thoughts for this recipe…

  • You can replace white wine with apple juice if you aren’t interested in buying an entire bottle of white wine.
  • If you’re not a curry person (it’s okay, I’m not either) don’t let the presence of curry in this recipe deter you from making it! It doesn’t over power the dish by any means.
  • You can make this as an appetizer or main course. Parker and I split it and it was plenty for dinner (even though it’s meant for 4).

Guy Fieri’s Spicy Steamed Mussels: Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • One 2-inch piece ginger, minced
  • 2 serrano chiles, seeded and diced
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • ½ cup white wine
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 large ciabatta loaf, cut into ½-inch-thick diagonal slices
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • ½ bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lime

Instructions:

  • Pick through the mussels, making sure they are all tightly closed and all the beards have been removed
  • Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat and pour in vegetable oil.
  • When the oil is hot, add the onion, and cook until translucent but not brown (about 5 minutes)
  • Add the garlic, ginger, and serrano and cook 1-2 minutes
  • Then add the curry powder, coriander, wine, and water and bring to boil
  • Add the mussels and cover. Steam the mussels for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they have all opened
  • Preheat a grill pan over medium high-heat. Drizzle the bread with olive oil and grill 1 minute per side
  • Remove the mussels from the heat and discard any that are still closed
  • Place the mussels on a large serving platter and cover to keep warm
  • Return the pan to the heat, add the cream, season with pepper to taste, and bring to a simmer
  • Add the cilantro, green onions, and lime zest and juice
  • Pour the liquid over the top of the mussel
  • Serve the bread with the mussels

This recipe is incredibly simple and easy to make, yet I was completely blown away by the rich flavor — especially of the broth! I can guarantee I’ll make this one in the future. I hope y’ll have a wonderful weekend! I can’t wait to start eating all my feelings in NYC!! Til next time.

Bacon on Bacon: Rosemary Balsamic Pork Loin

October is officially here! And even though it’s 90 degrees outside (thanks Dallas), I’m wearing my favorite comfy sweater and you can’t stop me. Fall is one thing I miss the most now that I live in Texas. Literally nothing could beat a crisp fall day, crunching leaves under your feet, and living in sweaters, jeans, and boots like it was your job. Sigh… I guess I just have to wait til “winter” here in Dallas.

To celebrate the beginning of “fall” I’m sharing with you one of my new favorite, and remarkably simple, comfort food dishes. I was trying to be clever and make something with pumpkin buuuuuut with all the work I’ve been doing lately, it completely slipped my mind. So hopefully this is an acceptable substitute! I feel like fall is the perfect time for slow-roasted or baked food — I love it when my entire house takes on a certain smell, which in this case was bacon. And lots of it.

I pitched the recipe to my boyfriend, and at first he wasn’t that excited. Yeah we wanted to make pork, but what was so exciting about Rosemary and Balsamic? I then told him the pork loin is wrapped in bacon. Ah, it was as if I was suddenly speaking his language.

Rosemary Balsamic Pork Loin: Serves 6-8 (shout-out to Little Leopard Book for the amazing recipe!)

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs boneless pork loin
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp steak seasoning
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 6 slices bacon

Instructions:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400°.
  • Brush the pork loin on all sides with the balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
  • Cut six slits in the loin to make a nice little home for the crushed garlic.
  • Use a garlic press to crush one clove of garlic into each slit, then push the crushed garlic well into the pork.
  • After the pork is all garlic-ed up, put the spices together and get ready to rub!
  • Place the steak seasoning, black pepper, 4 sprigs chopped rosemary and 4 sprigs chopped thyme in a small bowl together.
  • Rub the spice mixture on to the loins, making sure to cover both sides evenly.
  • Place 2 sprigs of rosemary and 2 sprigs of thyme on the loin.
  • Wrap the loin in bacon, making sure to wrap up those sprigs of rosemary and thyme.
  • Place in the oven to roast.
  • After 40-45 minutes, place a meat thermometer into the center of the pork.
  • The pork will register at 165° F when ready.

I was shocked and amazed that the pork was perfectly juicy and delicious. I was afraid I would have inherited my mother’s pork curse, no matter what it’s typically undercooked and then the microwave tries to save the day but then it ends up overcooked…  (sorry, Mom, but it’s true!). Maybe this is a recipe I can teach you this time!!

Word of caution — This recipe can be very garlic heavy, and the pieces of crushed garlic inserted into the pork loin is pretty strong when you’re eating it. I ended up scraping my garlic pieces out of the pork loin — after all, it still soaked up the flavor, I just wasn’t planning on fending off vampires later that night so I figured I wouldn’t sacrifice my breath.

Happy fall everyone! And I hope you enjoy this pig-loving comfort dish!

Oh You Fancy: Chilean Sea Bass with Bell Pepper Sauce

Finally. I finally have a moment to sit down and share a recipe with y’all. Honestly, why is graduate school so time-consuming. Sheeeeesh.

This dish is a throwback to when me and my boyfriend actually had a life and time to cook (read: before our thesis projects starting taking over our lives). I’m hoping that in the next week or two we’ll have the time to relax, unwind, and eat our feelings, but in the mean time… I’m gonna think about the “good ole days” aka two weeks ago.

This recipe is from our favorite cursing, angry, British chef: Gordon Ramsay. Known for his “colorful” language and crazed antics on Hell’s Kitchen, he has quickly become one of Parker’s and my favorite celebrity chefs. We’ve been to several of his restaurants so far (life goal: visit them all!), my favorite of which was either his stellar restaurant Burgr or Ramsay’s Pub & Grill — both located in Vegas.

So in an effort to cook up some fancy food and challenge ourselves a little bit, we looked up one of his recipes and this is the one we chose! And I have to say, it was an overwhelming success.

…well, minus the fact that my stove vent got blocked up and we almost smoked out my entire apartment when we started cooking the fish, but that’s beside the point.

In case you want fancy video instructions, Gordon Ramsay actually made this recipe one of television shows. You can cook alongside him — and feel like a total amateur — here:

Also, some things Parker and I learned cooking this…

  1. That skin is tough as hell to score. Best of luck! We ended up using a serrated knife, which hacked it to hell but luckily you serve it skin side down, so it still looks pretty!
  2. Star Anise is nearly impossible to find in a grocery store. You can substitute it with Chinese Spice Mixtures (it has the star anise in it), but don’t use a lot of it because it can be remarkably overpowering. The sauce tastes just as good without them, so don’t fret if you can’t find it!
  3. A nutribullet is a beautiful substitute for a real blender.

Chilean Sea Bass with Bell Pepper Sauce: Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 Filets of Sea Bass
  • Bell Pepper – 1 large red and 1 large yellow, or several of both
  • Shallots – 3
  • Star Anise – 3
  • White Wine Vinegar – 1 1/2 Tbs
  • Vermouth – 2 Tbs
  • Olive Oil
  • Fresh Thyme Sprig leaves
  • Salt
  • Fresh Basil – 1 very large sprig, or two smaller ones
  • Water

Directions for the Sauce:

  •  Julienne the bell pepper, do the same with the shallots.
  • Heat olive oil in a hot pan, then add the peppers and shallots, add star anise and a pinch of salt.
  • Stir well and cook for several minutes until the peppers are beginning to soften up.
  • Add the basil whole, and pour in the white wine vinegar and vermouth.
  • Reduce for several minutes over moderate heat until liquid is mostly absorbed.
  • Add enough water to the pan to cover the peppers half way.
  • Bring to a boil and simmer until liquid is about half gone.
  • Carefully add all of the ingredients to a blender and liquify.
  • Be sure to hold the lid on the blender.

Directions for the Fish:

  • Lay the fish on a cutting board skin side up. Score the fish every half inch along the length of the filet. Add salt and thyme leaves to the inside of each score, then drizzle with olive oil. You can now lovingly hold and caress the filet in your hands if you’re as crazy as Chef Ramsay about food, if not, you can skip the caressing.
  • Heat olive oil in a hot pan and add the fish, skin side down. Hold the fishdown with your fingers for 30 seconds to prevent curling. Ninety percent of the cooking will take place with the skin side down. Watch the fish and turn it when most of the meat has turned a bright white. Finish up cooking and remove from heat.

Serving Instructions:

  • Pour the sauce onto a plate with a large enough lip to hold the sauce – fill the bottom of the plate. Add cooked Sea Bass, skin side up. Drizzle olive into the sauce circling the fish. DONE.

The sea bass practically falls apart in your mouth, and the spices in the bell pepper sauce are the perfectly compliment. While my wallet wasn’t too happy with the cost of sea bass, my stomach prevailed — I would make this again in a heart beat!

Best of luck with your fancy foodie endeavors! It’s an exciting feeling being able to cook something so darn pretty. I’m off to Cane’s for drive-thru chicken becauseeee #gradschool. Til next time, happy eating!