July 31, 2011

Capellini with Shrimp and Creamy Tomato Sauce

cappellini 4
There has been a shocking lack of pasta on this blog. Truly, truly shocking. Plus there hasn’t been much seafood making the rounds either. Again, a rather deplorable state of affairs, considering that pasta and seafood are two incredibly delicious, incredibly versatile things.
As far as the pasta situation goes, I have no excuse, just that I seem to have forgotten about its existence. Blame it on DramaFever—I’ve been busy. Seafood, too, has definitely been a major part of my life, except for shrimp. For the shrimpy business I do have a simple explanation—I used to hate it.
Why are you hyperventilating?!
Breathe! Breathe!
I know that shrimp is a delightful food. Disliking it was merely a phase in my life over the past year or so. That sort of stuff happens when you get a mouthful of overcooked, rubbery shrimp from a poorly-crafted chain restaurant—it leaves you scarred. My point is this: I have begun to overcome my recent aversion to this tiny wonder of the sea and have started to rediscover its many merits.
Actually, there are a lot of things that I’m rediscovering lately. Due to some stint of temporary hysteria, I didn’t like Nutella.
This is your current expression, right?
{source unknown}
I know, I know. I’m pretty ashamed of it myself. Last night—mainly because my face wanted food—I ventured to grab a spoonful of Nutella and I was instantly reinstituated into the Nutella fan club. How did I ever think that a luscious, creamy spread of hazelnuts and chocolate could be boring?
Speaking of which, if any of you guys have a favorite Nutella-filled recipe, I’d love it if you’d let me know about it in the comments.
So you see, this weekend has been quite the rollercoaster ride of emotions. However, before I continue on to ramble about my geeky hot sauce tastings (Cholula, sriracha, and gochujang—how to pick a favorite?), let’s steer things back to the conversation at hand. This pasta—a combination of thin, sleek angel hair noodles, pan-seared shrimp, and a creamy tomato sauce—is pretty amazing stuff.
Besides the speed and ease of preparation, what really shines about this dish is its freshness and its classic flavors. Cooked for only a brief amount of time, the shrimp retains a lovely bit of softness and creaminess that blends beautifully with the rich tomato sauce. In my case, since I only had crushed tomatoes instead of diced, the sauce was even smoother and there was more of a focus solely on the shrimp. However, even though it was abundantly yummy this way, I can see how it would be even better with diced tomatoes dotting the plate.
Shrimp and tomatoes aside, there’s also the bright zing of lemon and the sweetness of white wine (which I used instead of vermouth). If herb-y complexity is the name of your game, you can also toss in some dried oregano or chopped fresh basil, either of which would only serve to amp up the aromatics and make this rustic dish all the tastier.
cappellini 1
Any way you look at it, this simple plate of pasta is a great go-to for a special, delicious, everyday dinner.
Grab the recipe over at Gourmet.

July 26, 2011

My New Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

cookies 3

Forget diamonds—cookies are a girl’s best friend.

Diamonds cost a ton of money—cookies are deliciously cheap. Diamonds just sit there and sparkle—cookies melt in your mouth and relieve hunger. Diamonds smell like nothing—cookies fill your house with yummy, comforting flavor. Diamonds gets lost and you freak out—cookies get lost and you just make/buy/steal more…after you freak out.

See? Cookies are way better than diamonds.

cookies 6

Did you know that cookies are a guy’s best friend, too? Cookies are an equal opportunity sort of dessert.

Guys should really learn how to make at least one good batch of cookies. Give a girl diamonds, it shows that you know how to drive a car to a store and get suckered into spending too much money on—literally—a piece of rock. Give a girl cookies, though, and it shows that you care enough to create something especially made for her. Much, much better than a diamond.

If the girl you like thinks homemade cookies are a lame replacement for diamonds—you probably shouldn’t be dating her in the first place. Unless you think cookies are a lame replacement for diamonds as well, in which case you’re both missing out. But whatever, birds of a feather yada yada yada.

cookies 5

Now that that’s out of the way, let me tell you just what is so great about this particular bunch of cookies that would make them my new favorites. Firstly, although I’m a major proponent of soft, fluffy cookies, I’ve also discovered the joys of the substantial, chewy cookie. When baked in the chocolate chip variety, the chewy style cookie is a really wonderful thing. Whether you’re hungry or your face simply wants food—you know what I mean—these chewy cookies make for the satisfying snack you need.

Everyone gets a dollar for each time I said the word “chewy” in the previous paragraph.

cookies 2

These cookies have oatmeal in them. Yes. Oatmeal. Yum. It makes them even chewier and even more irresistible.

So, which sounds better? A huge, fresh-from-the-oven cookie, sparking with chunks of chocolate chips and flecks of oatmeal, or a small piece of stone?

For me, cookies win the best friend battle every time.

cookies 4

July 21, 2011

Sweet Lemon Chicken

chicken 1

Sometimes my brain doesn’t work. Where clever synapses should be firing, there are just tumbleweeds and dry air. Brain cells decide to take an extra long coffee break and neglect to tell me. Thoughts go half-processed, ideas go unfinished, and plans fly out the window when my brain decides to go on vacation. However, the worst of it all is this: I am never informed that any of this happening.

chicken 7

When all rational, intelligent thought processes desert me, I continue to stroll through my day none the wiser. Take this afternoon for instance. As I was about to start taking pictures of this elegant, lemon-laden chicken dish, I commented to whoever was near enough to hear that I was very grateful to be using my dad’s 1.4 50mm lens from the horse-and-buggy-days (a.k.a. the 1970s) because it allows me to shoot with a very wide aperture (such as 1.4, 2.0, 2.8) on a slightly rainy sort of day. Declaring it “de-light-ful,” I paused to listen for the appreciative chuckles of my family members upon hearing my clever photography pun.


“Isn’t it de-LIGHT-ful?!”


“Get it guys? Light? Aperture lets in light?”


chicken 3

Then there are the times when I get sick. Earlier this spring I came down with a flu-like virus. For the previous several days, the only commercials that were being shown during my Korean dramas on Hulu were for meningitis awareness. Even though I knew that I had been vaccinated for meningitis, I think you kids can guess what my self-diagnosis was.

I had it narrowed down between meningitis and one of those incurable autoimmune diseases that they profile on Mystery Diagnosis.

chicken 2

When my brain deserts me, I am obsessively fascinated by herb-containing creations such as this beauty below. As someone who can rarely be bothered to carefully store herbs in a shallow container of water in the fridge, I was thrilled to see that someone else has done it for me! Vibrant, green sprigs of rosemary perfectly housed in what is technically a smoothie cup. But no matter—to me, it’s brilliant.

fresh rosemary

The point of all my ditzy stories is this: Sweet Lemon Chicken is an ideal recipe for when your brain flies out the window. Perhaps it’s because your schedule is packed. Perhaps it’s because you’re yanking your hair out from registering for classes for the fall semester (me!). Perhaps it’s because your kid just told you about their summer reading project. Whatever the reason behind your lack of brain power, this recipe is the solution. With simple, beautiful ingredients such as lemon, honey, butter, and fresh rosemary, how can you go wrong?

Plus it involves hitting things with a kitchen mallet, which is always good.

Fight back against your stresses, your anxieties, and your horrible sense of humor and give this little gem a try!

chicken 6

July 15, 2011

Freezer Finds

basil ice cream normal

Perhaps because I’m caught up in the lazy days of summer. Perhaps because it’s an interesting topic. Perhaps because, with all the heat and humidity, I want to live there.

Today, we discuss the contents of my freezer.

Time and time again, I happen upon blog posts chronicling the retail food adventures of people from all over the world and let me tell you something: it fascinates me. I love nothing more than “ooh”-ing and “ahh”-ing over the random products hidden away in the kitchens of others, especially if they include something that I’ve never heard of before. It is in the spirit of this inspiration that I guide you through the frosty contents of my freezer.

Pictured more prettily in the photo above, we have the basil ice cream tucked away in the freezer photo below. Sitting below it is a forgotten container of avocado ice cream. One of these flavors was delicious, one of them was gross beyond belief.

You guessed right. The avocado was puke-tastic. The basil flavor was cool and aromatic and yummy.

green ice creams

Hanging out nearby is this plate of peanut butter pretzel bites. A couple of nights ago I whipped up a batch of these after spotting the recipe over at 17 and Baking. Casually reaching into the freezer to grab one or two of these has become a regular feature of my daily routine. They’re the perfect combination of salty and sweet, between the crunch of pretzels and the savory peanut butter, all covered with a dunk of bittersweet chocolate. Truly, the more I see them, the more I love them.

pretzel bites

Then there’s the ubiquitous amounts of coffee.

sumatra coffee

Coffee, coffee, coffee, coffee.

gorilla decaf

Eggos. I eat these for breakfast way more than I should. They’re just so easy to toss in the toaster. Not to mention when topped with some salty, melted butter. Yeah you’ll be hungry in an hour, but it’s kinda worth it just to not have to cook when you’re all sleepy.


Look! Healthy stuff! I actually just grabbed these at the grocery store the other day, so I have no idea if they’re good or not. As a rule, however, when anything involves curry, I buy it.

lean cuisine

Frozen red velvet cupcakes waiting to be iced. After years of last-minute baking for people, I decided it would be a good idea to keep an emergency batch on hand. That way, it’s just a matter of whipping up a quick bowl of frosting and we’re ready to go.

Unless I get the munchies beforehand. Then we’re in trouble.

red velvet cupcakes

More healthy-ish stuff. Mainstays like good ol’ Lean Pockets really save the day when there’s nothing for lunch besides Cheetos.

lean pockets

You know you have a box of these in your freezer. Thin Mints belong in the freezer. It is a truth that has been drilled into my psyche since my days as a Brownie Girl Scout.

thin mints

Microwave steamed veggies are the greatest invention known to mankind.

But what about the iPod? Advanced medicine? Facebook?


Steamed veggies.

steam veggies

These oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are evidence of an ongoing quest of mine to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. I’ve been working off the same two recipes for the past couple attempts and I think I’m getting closer. You’ll be the first to know when I’ve struck gold.

oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

And finally, because they’re so delicious and so dreamy, Magnum ice cream bars. Honestly, I never realized that ice cream bars could be this yummy. Rather than just a thinly coated chunk of flavorless ice chunks, Magnum bars are filled with creamy, beautiful vanilla ice cream, sprinkled with real dots of vanilla bean, all dipped in rich, gorgeous chocolate, optionally filled with a layer of caramel as well.


magnum bars

So there you have it! The hidden contents of messy freezer displayed for all the world to see.

It’s like MTV Cribs, except minus the Bentleys.

July 11, 2011

Sweet Potato Oven Fries

final 3

Sometimes in life, we embark upon a quest. A noble pursuit of glory that takes us on an unforgettable journey, forging a path toward our ultimate destiny and the greater good of all mankind. It shapes us, challenges us, builds our character and strength. For some, the quest is providing food to the poor. For some, it’s curing an incurable disease. For some, it’s inspiring children to pursue their dreams.

And then there’s me. Me and my sweet potatoes.

For as long as I can remember, I have been caught up in the baffling conundrum that is the sweet potato fry. If it’s baked in the oven, it’s healthy, but soft and mushy. If it’s deep-fried in oil, it’s crispier than the crispiest thing in crispyland, but it’s a calorie-laden gauntlet, unveiling just how little self-control any of us actually possesses. There’s simply no way you can have it all—or so I thought.

Several days ago, while blog-hopping around the internet, I came across this amazing article at The Art of Doing Stuff, which outlines a way in which one can have the healthiness of oven-baked french fries, but the crispy texture of the deep-fried goodies. Follow me along on this photographic journey and you, too, will be enlightened.

It’s a simple equation really. First, you prep a bunch of sweet potatoes…

whole sweet potato

peeled potatoes

cut sweet potato 1

cut sweet potato 2

sweet potato slice

sliced sweet potatoes

Once you’ve got your sweet potato fries all sliced up into whatever thickness you prefer, the top secret magic starts to happen. In a plastic bag, dump the fries and a poof of cornstarch.

cornstarch add

Shake it all around.

cornstarch shake

Add a spot of olive oil…

oiled potatoes

…and shake it all again.

oil shake

Space them evenly on a baking sheet—if they’re too close together, they’ll steam instead of crisp. Not what we want.

sweet potatos layout

From there, it’s just a quick trip to the oven before you end up with a plate of these beauties!

final 2

Crisp, browned, gorgeous steak fries in all their sweet potato-y glory. Pair them with a dollop of super-easy Sriracha mayo dip and you’ve got something beyond delicious. Quest completed.

I tell ya, if I had a penny for every time I’ve said “quest” and “crisp” in this blog post…

Anyway, as for your own quest, before you embark upon writing that Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel of the century, make a plate of these as a warm-up. Even brilliant people like yourself need their yummy vitamins.

final 6

July 2, 2011

Peach and Cinnamon Coffee Cake

coffee cake 10

Are you aware that today is July 2nd?

As in, two days before July 4th?

Which also happens to be America’s independence day?

Am I supposed to capitalize independence day?

I’m not sure.

What I am sure of is this: I completely forgot about the Fourth of July.

Please don’t revoke my citizenship.

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