Monthly Archives: December 2012

Shrimp Pasta with Spinach

Ready for another pasta recipe?

pasta header

This one has shrimp for all of you seafood lovers out there.

wine

It also has white wine and that never made anything taste bad. I always recommend using a wine that you would like to drink . Just because we are cooking with it doesn’t mean it should be the cheapest.  Estancia Chardonnay seemed like a good choice for me. It is only $11 but it is crisp (remember-I am not a wine expert)  and isn’t too sweet.

bowls and forks

This meal is pretty quick from start to finish. This is good so that your forks and bowls don’t get bored waiting on dinner to be ready. Forks and bowls can be very impatient.

I am always hesitant to order pasta with shrimp when I am out because I am afraid the shrimp will be small and small shrimp are wimpy.

shrimp

I used 31/40’s in this and that is usually the smallest shrimp I like to use. If they are too small they are hard not to over cook. Salad shrimp are out of the question for me at all times.

shrimp in pan

Shrimp are low in calories and high in antioxidants which make them very popular. (They are however high in cholesterol, so don’t get too carried away if you need to watch yours.)

pasta uncooked

Low carbs in shrimp will help make up for the pasta 🙂

spinach wilting

Wilted spinach and slightly sauteed onions give this meal great texture.

in pan up close

Once the spinach is wilted you just let the sauce thicken and you are ready to top with parmesan and eat! Calling all forks and bowls. It’s your turn!

in bowl up close

While creamy marscapone brings it all together, if you didn’t want to buy marscapone you could substitute cream cheese, but I would recommend the marscapone.

bowl from above

Serve with white wine.

SHRIMP PASTA WITH SPINACH AND MARSCAPONE CHEESE

Serves 4

Ingredients: 

12 ounces bow-tie or small pasta (you could use rigatoni or penne too)

1 10 ounce package of fresh spinach

2 tablespoons of butter, divided

25 medium to large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/2 teaspoon sea salt, divided

2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced

1 cup vegetable broth

1/4 cup white wine

1 teaspoon lemon zest (or one tablespoon lemon juice-if you don’t want to zest)

4 ounces marscapone cheese (you could sub cream cheese if you had to)

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

10 twists freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Instructions and directions: 

Prepare pasta according to package directions, to al dente in lightly salted water.  Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt one tablespoon of butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add shrimp that have been peeled and deveined. Sprinkle with half of the salt and half of the pepper. Saute one minute on each side. Remove from pan and set aside.

Melt the other tablespoon of butter in the pan and add the onion. Saute 5-10 minutes until the onion is tender but not caramelized. Add broth, wine and lemon zest. Cook 7-8 minutes until sauce begins to thicken. Add marscapone cheese, nutmeg, remaining salt and remaining pepper. Add spinach and wilt. Add shrimp and pasta.  Toss to coat and warm shrimp and pasta.

Top with paremesan.

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French Onion Soup

Temperatures at night in Tennessee are about to take a dive and you are going to need something to keep you warm.  I am hereby suggesting homemade French Onion Soup.

This velvety, slightly salty and hearty soup is just the thing to get you ready for the cold.

Soup Front

It’s a cinch to make too for a weeknight dinner. Just serve with a side salad and you are all set!

sauteed onion

You start by caramelizing onions

baguette

and toasting baguette slices.

onion

Then you add wine and flour to start the soup part.

baguette on soup

When the soup is ready you ladle into 4 bowls.

provolone

Top with melty provolone.

soup in the oven

Finish by broiling in the oven.

Soup Overhead

The result is rich and satisfying.

Soup Back

FRENCH ONION SOUP 

Serves 4

Ingredients: 

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 large onions, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon dried thyme

15 grinds of freshly ground pepper

1 cup red wine

3  tablespoons all-purpose flour

6 cups beef broth (1 and 1/2 quarts)

1 baguette, sliced 1 1/2-2 inches thick

8 thin slices provolone cheese

Instructions and directions: 

Heat the oven to 350.

Toast 8 slices of the baguette until slightly browned but not too crunchy. About 3-4 minutes.

Remove bread and set oven to broil.

Melt butter in large skillet over medium to medium low heat. Add onion and cook until the onions are caramelized. About 25-30 minutes, slow and low.

Add garlic, pepper and thyme. Add red wine and let it reduce to half.

Over medium low heat, sprinkle onions with flour and stir about 10 minutes in order to cook the flour.

Add beef broth and red wine. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Ladle broth and onions evenly into 4 bowls. Top each bowl with two pieces of toasted bread and two pieces of cheese.  Place bowls on a baking sheet and into oven and broil 1-2 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Eat Here! Lockeland Table Restaurant Review

This weekend. Oh this weekend-it was a good one. Especially in the food department.

You see it was Nashville’s most eligible bachelor’s my little brother’s 30th birthday. I love birthdays and they give people great reason to celebrate.  My brother chose a restaurant that he wanted to try. I was very excited about his choice.

When Saturday night arrived it was rainy and unseasonably warm and a great night to visit Lockeland Table in East Nashville. He is currently on a house hunt in that part of town and since he will have his favorite sister over as often as possible, I figure I will have eaten everywhere in this part of town by the summer. I hope by then I have eaten at Lockeland Table at least 10 times. It was that much fun.

menu

The building has great ambiance and is sort of perfectly perched on the corner of Woodland and 16th.

silver ware

The feeling is rustic….

water

with a little splash of fancy.

beer

They have great wines, a nice bar  menu and a small but wonderful beer selection that included Calfkiller,  Jackalope’s Thunder Ann and Fat Bottom’s Black Bettie (one of my personal favorites).

Everything we had was exceptional. Our server, Julia, was friendly and accommodating.

Here are all of our selections in no particular order of favorites but more in the order of the meal.

crab fritters

Crab and Corn Fritters with Slaw and Remoulade

salad

Bibb Wedge with Fried Green Tomatoes and Red Pepper Jam

mussels

PEI Mussels with White Wine, Butter, Garlic, Shallot, Tomatoes and Grilled Bread

pate

Chicken Liver Pate in a Jar with Smoked Peach Preserves (a table favorite)

The entree prices are very reasonable with pizza starting at $10 and entrees up to $24.

pizza

The Pig Pizza with Sausage, Pancetta, Pepperoni and Ham

gnocchi

Herb Gnocchi with vegetables and Madeira Cream (this was the greatest gnocchi I’ve ever had)

chicken

Roasted Chicken with Pimento Cheese Grits

And last but certainly not least…..

trout

Trout with Maple Bourbon Glaze

Make a reservation, this place is hot.

If you need me to join you when you go, just let me know.

Afterward we headed to my favorite sweet stop, Jeni’s Spendid Ice Cream.

jennis sign

Where we enjoyed flavors like Sweet Potato with Roasted Marshmallow, Eggnog and Salty Caramel.

Both eateries get 9 apples people. 9.

apple rating

Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches and Roasted Green Beans

I love a good Philly Cheese Steak sandwich but they are hard to come by. Granted, I have never been to Philly (not that it would help since I am 800 miles away)  but I do know that I prefer white cheese rather than yellow liquid cheese so that might be a problem.

I got so discouraged from going to a restaurant and ordering the sandwich and then having it not be nearly as good as I was imagining. I decided I needed to  develop what I was picturing. As I like to say in the cheesiest voice possible :

Don’t take it! Make it!

So that’s what I’ve done. This is what I ended up with.

sandwich alone lined up

I also threw in some roasted green beans that could take the place of french fries. They are so satisfying. I think it is because they are the same shape. They have salt and pepper too and they don’t taste like you picture green beans to taste. Yum!

alexia fries

Of course, if you just can’t live without the fries you should try these. Yes, another Alexia product.  When these are done baking, I just toss them with salt, pepper and dried parsley. They are simple and delicious.

There are  a lot of pictures with this post because my supposed perfect way to construct a Philly is specific and involves layering. Make fun if you like but you are sure to get the perfect bite each time.

onion precook

The first step is caramelizing the onions. This takes a minute so I do it first. I slice up two medium sized onions and let them hang out, stirring every so often on medium-low heat. This is a slow and low process. Give it time to be done right.

bread deconstructed

Now it’s time to break down the buns. You don’t have to do this but I like as little bread as possible so I cut the middle out of the hoagie.

cheese sliced

I use white american on my Philly at  home. It has a melt factor that cant be ignored. I get 8 pieces of thinly sliced cheese at the deli and then I cut  each piece in half.

begin layering

I cover a round pan with aluminum foil and line up the hoagies to get ready to be stuffed!

saute sirloin

Then I brown the sirloin steak.

Norman

The butcher (Norman) at my grocery store rocks!!! When I order the sirloin he goes ahead and thinly shaves the steaks for me so I save lots of time at home!  If you can shop at the Publix in Fieldstone Farms in Franklin I would highly recommend it.  Nice guy. Great butcher.

After the  pinkness disappears I saute it on medium high with a can of beef broth. This somehow creates the perfect Philly flavor. When there is only a little broth left (2-3 tablespoons) I remove it from the heat.

meat with no cheese

I layer cheese, then onion, then steak, then onion again, a tiny bit of the leftover broth, then cheese again.  That’s the magical order.

sandwich lined up

Then I bake on 350 for 5-7 minutes to let the cheese melt.  And this is what I get.

sandwich up close

The perfect ratio of bread, steak, onion and cheese. I wish I had another one right now!

sandwich with fries

For the green beans……

green beans raw

I just trimmed a pound of green beans and tossed them in a large bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper.

green beans roasted

Then roasted for 25 minutes on 375.

Truth be told, I still order a Philly every time I am at a restaurant that serves them. I continue to be disappointed.  My Philly is in first place now but you never know when you might run up on a better one.

PHILLY CHEESE STEAKS

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 pound sirloin steak, shaved

2 medium onions, sliced very thin

1 10.5 ounce can condensed beef broth (i use campbell’s)

4 hoagies, with the middle cut out 🙂

8 thin deli slices of white american (or cheese of your choice), sliced in half  so that you have 16 halves

10 twists of pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Instructions and directions: 

In a small saucepan heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil . Add onion and cook on low for 30-40 minutes stirring frequently until onions are caramelized.

Cut the middle out of the hoagie buns for less bread while keeping one side in tact.

Line round or rectangular pan with aluminum foil and line buns in pan cut side up.

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large nonstick skillet heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add steak and saute until most of the pinkness is gone. Season with pepper. Turn heat up to medium high and beef broth and simmer unitl only 2-3 tablespoons of liquid remain. Remove from heat.

Inside each bun, divide ingredients and layer 2 half slices of cheese, onion, steak, onion and 2 more half slices of cheese.

Bake sandwiches for 5-7 minutes or until cheese melts.

(Don’t forget about the green bean “fries”)

Winter Salad with Pear, Blue Cheese and Walnuts

This salad is a side. Don’t worry, I’m not going all rabbit on you. Just enjoying these awesome flavors all together.

on plate

Salads are so much fun for me but I feel like they often get forgotten in the winter when the produce isn’t as plentiful.

Greens bowl

I am always trying to make a fun one up to compensate for the lack of fresh everything.

Greens

I like all different kinds of lettuce but for this one I just picked a spring mix.

Pear And Cheese

I used a Bosc pear for this recipe. The skin of a Bosc pear is crisp and the inside is semi firm, not too sweet and juicy. Perfect for this salad.

Dressing

This dressing is mild with just a little tang and slightly sweet from maple syrup.

up close

Creamy blue cheese (that I crumbled) and sweetened/spiced walnuts topped it off. If you cant find walnuts that are already sweetened/spiced in the store you can use a recipe like this. You could even just toast them and they would still be good.

overhead in bowl

All the flavors together work brilliantly.

It comes together in minutes. Take a try and add this to your next meal!

WINTER SALAD WITH PEAR, BLUE CHEESE and WALNUTS

makes 4 very small salads or two large

a hungry apple original

Ingredients: 

1 bag spring mix salad

1 Bosc pear, sliced thin

4 ounces good quality blue cheese, crumbled (about a 1/4 cup)

dressing:

1/2 of a small shallot, finely diced

2 teaspoons maple syrup

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

sea salt, pinch

3 twists freshly ground pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions and directions: 

In a small bowl, combine shallot, syrup, vinegar, salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in olive oil.

Layer salad, cheese, pear and walnuts in a bowl or on a plate. Drizzle with dressing.

Fresh Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Mushrooms

The word of the day is “pastacoma” and I’m in one.

It’s a trance and I have been thinking about pasta all the time lately.

This pasta dish was different than any of the others I make.

I am trying to teach myself to like Italian sausage. Do you ever try to train  your taste buds? It usually works for me. Then I will eat the thing I am trying to train myself to like so often, that I get sick of it. Ha!

This time I used Aidelle’s Italian style chicken sausage and it was good.

The ingredients here are simple and come together quickly.

Mushrooms, green onions and tomatoes made this pasta hearty and bright.

There wasn’t really a sauce to the pasta but the broth and all the juices from the sausage and veggies helped coat the pasta.

I liked using the fresh pasta from the fridge case too. Fresh pasta is more expensive than dried pasta but it was a nice treat. We also don’t usually use “white” pasta so that was fun too.

Topped with Parmesan cheese. Have I posted on the importance of grating your own Parmesan? It really makes a huge difference. Here is the grater I use. Makes a great stocking stuffer!

CHICKEN SAUSAGE AND MUSHROOM PASTA

Ingredients: 

2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

4 links Aidelles Italian chicken sausage, sliced into 1-inch pieces

1/2 lb. mixed sliced mushrooms, like oyster, shiitake, and cremini (you could just use button or portobella if you want)

4 medium scallions (white and green parts), trimmed and thinly sliced

1 teaspoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

15 twists freshly ground black pepper

sea salt

1 can drained canned diced tomatoes

1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth

12 ounces fresh linguine or fettuccine

3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Instructions and Directions:

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Add the sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, scallions, rosemary, red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 15 grinds fresh pepper and cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms soften and start to brown,  around 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and chicken broth, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a gentle simmer. Cook until the sausage is heated through and the flavors are combined, about 5 minutes. Season to tasted with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package timing until it’s just al dente. Drain well and add to the sauce along with half of the Parmesan. Cook over medium heat, tossing for 1 minute. Serve sprinkled with the remaining Parmesan and some black pepper.

adapted from fine cooking

Yazoo Hop Project Beer Bread and Brewery Tour!

We recently went with some friends to tour Yazoo Brewery in Nashville. I have been enjoying their beer for a couple of years now and decided it was time to see where it all goes down.

I won’t tell you too much because you should really go see for yourself.

Tours are on Saturdays from 2:30-6:30 once an hour.

yazoo exterior(Had to borrow this one because I forgot to take an outside pic)

Yazoo Group

The friends.

Y Seth

Our tour guide was Seth and he was informative and funny with a dry sense of humor. The employees get to drink responsibly while they give tours. How awesome is that?

The brewery was named after the Yazoo River in Mississippi which is where (if memory serves me correctly) the owners met and fell in love <3. Sweet.

barley

We learned about barley and hops.

Yazoo Machine

We got to see the machines where the beer is made, bottled and labeled.

Yazoo samples

Most importantly we sampled.

My personal favorites are their: Dos Perros, Pale Ale and Hop Project. The tour didn’t change that but it was nice to taste some others as well.

Then we sampled some more. Plus, we got some really cute glasses to take with us and since cute glasses are the reason everyone goes on brewery tours, it was a success

All for $7! I would recommend this tour to any beer lover, enthusiast or anyone interested in how things are made.

Their process (they still do new/experimental batches in their original home brew equipment) and the minimal number of people they employ is impressive.

Afterward, I decided to use what I had learned. Naturally. 

slice

I am a big fan of beer bread. If you’ve never had it, it is dense and heavy sort of like a bagel.

hop bottle

It takes no other liquid ingredients besides the beer. The most important ingredient!  I used Hop Project.

No eggs either! Additionally, it doesn’t have to rise or wait or any of that “baker” stuff that I have little talent for.

dry

All you have to do is combine dry ingredients and make a well.

pour

Saute onion, garlic and shallot and add them to the dry ingredients.

Then add cheese and beer (watch the fun fizzle).

You could add all kinds of things to it: bacon, jalapenos-just to name a few.

prebake

Put it in a loaf pan. And Bake!

post bake with bottle

This isn’t the type of bread you might want to make a sandwich with but it is the type you would want to dip in a soup or chili. It’s a good replacement when you want a break from cornbread. Even though the beer has all baked out you can really taste it. So, if you don’t like beer…..then what’s wrong with you!?!?

cap

Thanks Yazoo. We shall return!

YAZOO BEER BREAD

Ingredients: 

3 tablespoons butter, divided

1 small onion, finely diced

1 small shallot, finely diced

1 large garlic clove, minced

3 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

5 twists of freshly ground pepper

3 tablespoons sugar

1 cup cheese, shredded ( i used Monterrey jack, you could also use cheddar)

1 Yazoo Hop Project beer (or your favorite beer)

Instructions and directions: 

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

In a small skillet over medium heat, cook the diced onion and shallot until soft, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook one more minute.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and sugar.

Make a well in the dry ingredients. Add sauteed onions, cheese and beer and stir to combine. Don’t over mix.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter.

Pour dough into a loaf pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Evenly pour butter over the top of the dough in the pan.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter.

Remove bread from oven. Evenly pour butter over top of the bread and bake for 20-25 more minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool.

Turkey Taco Soup

If you are a lover of hearty soups and this one fits the bill.

header 2

The taco soup recipes I have seen in the past call for crazy amounts of salt and prepackaged ranch dressing, taco seasoning etc. So I did what any logical food lover would do and I made up my own. Now you can have a healthier alternative too.

Turkey

You just start off cooking your onion and ground turkey and seasoning with the taco seasoning.

taco seasoning

As you will see, the ingredients are simple and if you have any homemade taco seasoning already made then you will be on the fast track. (Looks like it’s time for me to make more!)

Cans

Canned beans  (any of your favorites would be fine) and vegetables help speed up the processes.

in pot

Ground turkey is perfect for this soup.  Each week my goal is to have one meal of each: one red meat, one chicken, one seafood, one vegetarian meal and a pork or turkey.

header

I garnished mine with fresh avocado, sour cream and cheese. Serve with tortilla chips too! It was great!

up close

And if that weren’t enough, it freezes beautifully.

TURKEY TACO SOUP

Serves 6-7

a hungry apple original 

1 pound lean ground turkey

1 small onion, diced

1-15 ounce can black beans, drained

1-15 ounce can cannellini beans, drained

1-10 ounce can corn, drained

1-15 ounce can tomato sauce

1-15 ounce can petite diced tomatoes

1 cup reduced sodium chicken or vegetable broth.

1 can rotel, drained (i used hot)

 1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons homemade taco seasoning

1 avocado, sliced, for garnish

sour cream, for garnish

grated cheese, for garnish

tortilla chips, for garnish

Instructions and directions:

In a large pot over medium heat, brown mean and onion until mean is no longer pink.

Add taco seasoning, salt, garlic powder, pepper,  beans, corn, tomato sauce, tomatoes, broth and rotel.

Simmer on low for 30 minutes or until soup thickens.

Garnish with avocado, sour cream, cheese and chips.