Tuesday, November 10, 2015

One Pot Spicy Thai Noodles Review.

My wife sent me this recipe. So in an attempt to be a giving, supporting, and simply just amazing husband that I aspire to be, I gave this recipe a try. It's a good thing too, because every once in a while I have to remind myself how much I hate cooking meals with noodles that have to be combined with other ingredients. It's mostly the stir fries and thai recipes that do this. All that said, this recipe is absolutely amazing. As much as I might hate cooking with noodles, the taste of this meal was fantastic. I hated that it was fantastic but it was. The spice of this meal is right where I like it. The options of all or any veggies you want to use is nearly unlimited. It's hard to say how long this took me to cook because I was all over the place while cooking - I'll explain later. Ultimately, the recipe is easy to follow and it truly COULD take only one dish to cook the whole meal.

This recipe come from Domestic Superhero http://domesticsuperhero.com/2015/05/26/one-pot-spicy-thai-noodles/

As usual, this is mine. Just for the record, I'm jaded with my performance as a Recipe Follower with this recipe, and it's the noodles fault. Before I get into my story, this recipe is fantastic and you should try it. Also, the author is correct when it's suggested that a large pan with high sides is needed. I thought I had one, but it wasn't enough. This didn't help my performance. But I want one.

Ok, with that said; first of all, you don't need/want a whole pound of linguine pasta. Go ahead and cook a whole pound if you want, but when it comes time to combine the pasta with the veggies, judge for yourself how much you want to use.

For myself, I don't want to cook a meal without a meat, so I decided on chicken and shrimp - but I didn't use the chicken. The notes in the recipe suggest that if you want to add shrimp, add them when there are 2 or 3 minutes left while the veggies are cooking. Well, for me and the pan I was using, the shrimp takes a little longer than 2 or 3 minutes to cook. The result was waiting longer for the shrimp to cook with veggies and the veggies got soggy. Next time, I'd like to cook the shrimp first thing - still in the one pot. This way I'd be able to season the shrimp a little and I know they're done. Then I can cook the veggies and leave a little crunch on them.

About being all over the place with cooking this meal, I started with a 12 inch high sided pan. This was good for most things until it came time to combine everything. As soon as I realized that I was quickly running out of room while adding noodles, I swapped the whole thing over to my trusty dutch oven. Really not a big deal, but then getting all bent out of shape trying to mix the noodles with the soggy veggies just got me bent. Crying over. If you have a dutch oven (and you should), use it first.

All this drama aside, I'm going to have to try this recipe again, even as much as I hate cooking with noodles. There are improvements to be made on my side that can make this a great meal if I could just work it out right. If you try this meal, please tell me how you did. New cooking ideas are always welcome.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Sweet Jalapeno Salmon Review.

For the last few months, the only time I cooked salmon is when I made the Seattle Asian Salmon Bowl. Which has been a delicious bowl, but a different salmon recipe had to be tried. Salmon is a great fish to cook. It's very forgiving for those of us who aren't very good at cooking fish. This recipe was very easy to make. The other good thing is that if you've been cooking for any amount of time, you probably already have most of the ingredients. When I went to the grocery store, I just needed to by the jalapenos and salmon. That makes for a cheap dinner as well as delicious. Yet another benefit from trying these fantastic recipes. The stock pile of ingredients start to build and the more meals you cook, the cheaper they become because you already have most nonperishable ingredients.

This recipe comes from Skinny Mom http://www.skinnymom.com/sweet-jalapeno-salmon/

This is my dish. I think it's a total win comparing the original to mine - and I'm still not a photographer. This recipe was followed closer than any other I've done so far. Absolutely nothing was changed, and it came out fantastic. There are a handful of different fish recipes that I follow. What I've noticed is that they all have a very unique taste. This dish is no different. Boiling the jalapenos in the lime and honey mixture takes the majority of the heat out of the jalapeƱos leaving them with a combination of honey and lime. My wife called them candy jalapeƱos which is incredibly accurate after you give them a try.

This is the first time I've cooked a fish in a pan. Every other time I've cooked my fish in the oven. Originally I thought it was just easier but after tonight, cooking in a pan is not only easier, but quicker. Some years back, a good friend of mine gave me a grill pan. Until tonight, the only thing I used it for was to cook bacon. Now it has a new purpose. Look at those grill marks on the fish - Yeah, that came from a pan - a grill pan.

If you try this recipe, follow it closely the first time, you won't be disappointed. Right now I don't think there's anything I would change. But as always, if changes are made, please let me know. New cooking ideas are always welcome.

Omelet and Potato Breakfast Bite Review.

Weekend mornings are a great time to cook a big breakfast. Recipes are not needed. Just some bacon, eggs, some sort of hash browns and are you're good to go. Sometimes you might mix it up and throw in some pancakes (aka breakfast candy) or even some sausage. This weekend I decided to mix it up a little. These little breakfast bites are really delicious and very versatile. The recipe giving is just a starting point, any number of breakfast meats or veggies can be added to the basic recipe. As I'm going through these recipes, I'm realizing that the great thing about keeping track of these things is that the recipes themselves are just great baselines. People with more imagination and creativity than me can put these great ingredients together to come up with a great meal. We, as everyday cooks, can start with the baseline recipes and make them your own with our own special touches and imagination.

This recipe came from Ella Claire Inspired by Vintage Charm http://www.ellaclaireinspired.com/delicious-omelet-and-potato-breakfast/

This is what I came up with. As far as the ingredients and procedure, I followed the recipe fairly closely. Being on the "mostly healthy" side, I did make sure I used light ingredients. The tatter tots were untouched, no one should ever try to substitute perfectly good tater tots. We're pretty sure tatter tots are some sort of super food. Ranked very closely to blue berries, quinoa and salmon. For the eggs, I used about 4 real eggs and the equivalent to 4 eggs through egg whites - and of course, skim milk. The ham was a Boars Head ham that I diced myself. The sausage was some sort of veggie sausage.

At any rate, the point is that where ever I could, I tried to use the lightest variation possible. I don't know what my calorie count was but it had to be low - right? Honestly, it's not so much about counting the calories as it is making sure the right decisions are made. Once the right decisions are made, the portion sizes have to be watched. Even too much of healthy food at every meal will make you fat. I'm getting off topic.

This recipe is fantastic and you should do your family a favor and make it next weekend. It really takes the 30 or so minutes to make. While the tots are cooking, you can prepare the rest of the ingredients. It's a great breakfast. Let me know what changes you made. New cooking ideas are always welcome.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Bourbon Chicken Review.

Tomorrow morning, my wife and I are running a half marathon. Our normal mode of operation before a 5K or 10K or even a half marathon would be to go get sushi and have a few drinks. As we're getting a touch older and healthy choices are on our mind, my thought tonight was to find a simple recipe that would go well with rice. I found this recipe on pintrest and it seemed simple enough. One incredibly disappointing aspect of this meal is that there isn't the first hint of bourbon...at all. I had to buy a 28oz bottle of apple juice for the 1/4 cup that the recipe calls for. But there couldn't be a splash of real bourbon that would have allowed me to buy a bottle?? The funny thing is that I stood in the grocery store for 5 minutes struggling over having to buy the apple juice at $2.89 for such a small amount needed in the recipe, but I would have driven 20 miles to buy a $50 bottle of bourbon if the recipe called for even a half a tea spoon. Hey - don't judge - it's all about priorities. The great thing is that this recipe is easy and the chicken came out delicious. This would make a great weekday meal when time is of the essence.

This recipe came from Big Oven http://www.bigoven.com/recipe/bourbon-street-chicken/201809

This is my dish. I'm pretty happy with how it came out. Since I'm calling this a good comparison between what I came up with and what Big Oven shows what the dish should look like, that puts me at 4 for 4 - Sweet! I used my dutch oven to cook the chicken and the sauce. I followed the recipe very closely with the exception of adding some salt before the 20 minutes was over. I have the sauce a taste and it just seemed like some salt was needed.

This recipe will certainly be in the rotation. The next time I do it I'm thinking that I might double the sauce ingredients. Having some extra sauce might be good on the rice. Maybe even double the sauce but don't put the corn starch in, then it would be a true sauce. Not sure yet.

If you try this recipe, try it just as it's written, you won't be disappointed. If you do make modifications, let me know what you did. New cooking ideas are always welcome.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

20-Minute Sriracha Shrimp Ramen Review.

Ramen use to be one of those things young people would eat when every penny was counted. At one time I read an article about ramen, very loosely, ramen was created so that anyone could have a meal for very cheap. For the most part, I think ramen gets a bad wrap. The ramen noodles themselves are really not that bad for you at all, it's the "flavor pack" that has a bunch of sodium and whatever else to put into it to give the noodles taste. It seems like today that ramen is getting revitalized with new recipes and very unique dishes that are just amazing. By random, we stopped at a noodle restaurant in San Diego called Underbelly where we foolishly shared a rather large bowl of ramen soup. Sharing was a bad idea for such a great soup. We loved it so much that when we got back home, we went on a search for anything that would come close - we failed here in Tampa. Well, we failed until now. This recipe comes really darn close to that amazing taste. It doesn't have those wildly unique ingredients like Underbelly's was able to provide but to be honest, if I can't find it at my local grocery store, it's not being used. This is a fantastic recipe, I've made it several times and I follow the recipe very closely. I will say, the whole 20 minute thing - I don't know man. It takes me 20 minutes just to get the veggies ready - then I can start cooking. In total, even with going through this recipe several times, it takes me a little over an hour from start to finish. Which is fine, it's totally worth it.

This recipe comes from Baker by Nature http://bakerbynature.com/20-minute-sriracha-shrimp-ramen/

This is what I came up with. I'm calling this a win when I compare the original pictures to what I created, which is the 3rd dinner in a row I might add. (as a reminder, I'm not a photographer) When it comes to a ramen soup, the ingredients can almost be anything. Well, I mean you need to be able to get that nice salty broth without it being too salty. What's great about this recipe is that it's a great salty taste with only a table spoon and a half of soy sauce. A lot of the salty flavor comes from the ginger and garlic. One of the next times I cook this ramen soup, I might try different meats and veggies just to give us some variety.

This time, the only change I made was to cook 2 packs of ramen instead of 3 but only because I'm cooking for 2. When I cook this for 2 people and use 3 packs, it simply makes too much noodles and they won't keep in the broth for leftovers. Tonight I have left over broth so I'm hoping I can heat the broth up tomorrow and cook a third pack of ramen in it. Never under estimate the power of cook once eat many. Tonights left overs are tomorrow's lunch.

Do yourself a favor and go through this recipe. Embrace ramen as a new source of pasta. Let your inner 20 year old who couldn't rub 2 nickels together come out and try what a ramen soup can really be like. If you've been cooking for any amount of time, chances are you have a lot of the ingredients for this soup already. That will truly turn this ramen soup into a cheap meal - who doesn't love that??

Let me know if you try this recipe (link above) and tell me if you do anything different. New cooking ideas are always welcome.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

One Pot Kielbasa Pasta review.

What a change of pace. This is great comfort food. Plus, any time I can cook an entire meal in one pan or pot, well that's just a victory in itself. The recipe is very easy to follow. The one thing I'm starting to realize as I'm going through different recipes is that I prefer when a recipe just calls for 1 onion chopped or 2 carrots cut in 1 inch thick, as opposed to 1 cup of chopped onions or 1/2 cup of carrots slices. It's just a preference but my thought is that those ingredients don't have to be exact measurements, so why give an exact measurement?? Chances are, I'm going to eyeball the onion or carrot or garlic and put in what I think would work out. But like I've said before, that's the beauty of cooking, it's really up to you what you do with the recipe. Ok, off that subject and on to a totally different one. In a few moments I'll give the source of this recipe. Fair warning, be ready to get inundated with ads. This particular page has been the worst with throwing up adds, and they're so intrusive when trying to read the recipe. This isn't the fault of the author by any means, it's just how the web page provider has decided to place the ads. Ok, done with that. Overall, this is a great recipe and it really is just a starting point. There's so many things that can be done with this recipe, it's just a great foundation as it stands. Or, you can really put some imagination in it and come up with some great alternatives.

This recipe comes from Sugar Apron and this is the link to the recipe: http://sugarapron.com/2015/02/15/one-pot-kielbasa-pasta/

This is mine - only seconds before I truly enjoyed it. Like I said, this was delicious. I'm totally calling this a win when comparing the original picture to what I came up with. That's 2 nights in a row where I actually came close to the fantastic pictures in the original posts. There are different methods that could be used to cook this meal, I went with my dutch oven. I would imagine a large sauce pan would work too.

Now my day today was pretty good, but if it was a bad day, I would want to come home to have this meal. It really looks simple but there are so many tastes to be had and they're all just waiting to make you feel better. There are several things I did different and those things were based on the comments I read on the original post and the idea that I'm trying to keep things mostly healthy.

For the comments, one comment suggested they used red bell pepper instead of the tomatoes - Great idea. One comment suggested they used diced tomatoes with chilis - Great idea. So two great ideas, I used both. Diced tomatoes with chilis, and a red bell pepper, the flavors were all over the place. The slight sweetness of the red bell pepper went well with the kielbasa.

For the healthy side, I didn't use heavy cream, I used skim milk. I also used the 2% cheddar cheese and I didn't use near as much. The recipe calls for 1 cup of cheddar cheese to go into the pot after the pasta is cooked. I used about 1/2 a cup (I'm guessing but I'm pretty sure it was about half a cup - like 1 small handfull). One of the reviews suggest that no cheese is needed. The good thing about the cheese is that it helps with the "comfort food" aspect. Plus it thickens up the remaining juices after the pasta is cooked. I also used a turkey kielbasa which is a bit less fat.

This meal will be in the rotation, but maybe some other versions of it. Maybe some shrimp would work in there somewhere. Give this recipe a try and let me know what you did different. New cooking ideas are always welcome.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Shrimp and Avocado Rice Bowl Review

After a weekend of beef, it was time for something other than cow. This recipe was a nice and light change from the heavy beef we've been eating. The meal was delicious and I believe it to be very healthy. The recipe didn't take too long to go through but I used just about every pot, pan and bowl in my kitchen. Throw in a few plates, cutting board, several forks and spoons - by the time I was done, I filled up an empty dishwasher with everything I needed to use. For such a simple meal, there were so many small components that it just called for many different dishes. This is also one of those meals where you're going to want to have a pan that you can safely put into the oven. Broiling the shrimp is new to me and it worked out pretty good. If you don't have such a pan, I would imagine normal pan frying would work just fine.

The recipe came from fitnessmagazine.com http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/recipes/dinner/fat-fighting-meals-7-flat-belly-dinner-recipes/?page=2

This is what I came up with and I'm going to call it a win. The meal came out real good and it is definitely in the rotation. Even though I used almost every piece of kitchenware that I own, this meal is healthy, full of protein and just like every recipe - open for changes. Tonight I followed the recipe to the letter, well, maybe an extra shake of cayenne pepper on the shrimp here and there. The cayenne pepper is the only source of spice but somehow the sauce that's suggested to be on the side gives a warm feeling that is actually quite good. This meal is similar to the Seattle Asian Salmon Rice Bowl that was reviewed a few days ago - but with shrimp.

For the changes, there aren't many. This recipe stands up well just as it is. But as usual, next time I do this recipe I'm going to change a few things. I mean, that's the beauty of learning how to cook. You start to see what foods pair well each other.

First thing I'm going to try is a different shrimp. I used medium shrimp and not nearly enough - which is odd for me. Typically, I cook way too many shrimp and have extra. Next time I'm going to use more shrimp and I think I'm going to go with extra large shrimp. It will mean adjusting the sauce that the shrimp start in but I think it will be worth it. I'm also going to simply add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, and honey mixture just straight into the bowl. Well, I'm going to mix it in it's own bowl then add it to the final bowls before serving. The recipe reads as if you're supposed to have this mixture in it's own bowl and it's used as a drizzling sauce. That's not really necessary, just create a double dose (or however many doses you'll need for the number of people you're cooking for) and add it to the bowl when serving. This will save you a couple bowls. I'm also probably going to omit the edamame. This does remove a source of protein but the texture of the edamame is a little weird in the bowl.

Another alteration that could be interesting might be to add some spice to the egg while it's cooking. Maybe some more cayenne or at least some salt. Gezz, thinking about it now, I didn't add the sesame oil to the pan when I cooked the egg. So there you have it, I didn't follow the recipe to the letter - dang it. See, that will be something I'll have to make sure I do next time. The sesame oil might have given those eggs an edge that I missed. No matter how well I believe that I can follow a recipe, in the heat of the moment missing a step is an easy thing to do.

If you try this recipe, let me know what changes you make if any. And don't forget the sesame oil when cooking the eggs. New cooking ideas are always welcome.