Asparagus and Shrimp Stir Fry w/ Farro

Morning shows are not generally my thing…unless we are talking Sportscenter – then I am totally game.  As a female, I feel the need to explain this habit.  You see, I grew up with brothers…therefore, mornings were comprised of Frosted Flakes and SportsCenter and after 18+ years of this ‘torture’, don’t ya know I found myself actually enjoying the darn show.  To the point that I continued to watch it throughout college (where I then insisted that my roommates watch – a childhood without control of the remote makes you quite the dictator later in life).  During my pre-cable-lessness days (aka Amish living) – I have begun dating my life pre and post cable... ESPN/SportsCenter is what you would find on my TV, all morning long – because as you know (or maybe you don’t), SportsCenter will replay, hour after hour, until about noon.  It restarts without much warning and before you know it – you have watched the Top Ten Plays 3 times and the morning is gone.  It happens to the best of us.  But post cable world…I am SportsCenter-less.  Whomp, whomp!  And honestly, it was the hardest part to the whole no cable thing…ESPN.  But I have survived and while my mornings aren’t the same (besides being a tad bit more productive) I have found a replacement of sorts, NBC.  It isn’t a fair trade or even remotely a good substitution…but it is what it is and I am too damn stubborn to return to cable because of the remarks from the peanut galleries of the world.  And in all reality, I don’t miss paying the cable bill.  So NBC it is.

What does ESPN have to do with a stir-fry?  Well hold your panties…I will tell you… had I been watching SportsCenter I would not have seen this dish being prepared on Hoda and Kathy Lee – ya know, the 20th hour of the Today Show.  In the 20th hour, there is a lot of wine and mishaps and bad jokes – my kind of morning entertainment.  Cooking on morning shows generally drives me up-the-wall- bonkers…you can not properly show how to roast a chicken (with 3 sides) in a 10 minute time slot.  You are not serving any purpose and confusing/intimidating instead of encouraging folks to don an apron and get cookin.  But a stir fry…these are meant for 10 minute time slots…and perhaps that is why this recipe caught my eye.

Asparagus season is upon us and I am jumping whole heartedly into this shindig.  I have eaten it nightly for the past week or so -which also means that my pee has smelled gawd-awful for the past week or so – but you probably didn’t need to know that, but whenever someone brings up asparagus, talk of pee is sure to follow.  But let’s get back to the tender skinny stalks of green with the spiky spear heads that just asked to be sauted or roasted.  Or made into soups or dipped into a creamy hollandaise sauce.

Asparagus is what dreams are made of.  At least until I eat so much that I can’t stand to look at another spear…but that takes a bit of time.  And when it is mixed with the fresh bite of ginger and toasted sesame seeds and tossed with briny sweet shrimp and nutty farro…I may never tire.

I recommend this served hot for a quick and healthy week night meal and then eaten cold the next day as a cold farro salad in the lunchroom – surrounded by drooling co workers who wish you had made extra.

And I was just thinking…red bell peppers would be a great addition to this.  Toss it in if ya got one hanging about.

 

 

Asparagus and Shrimp Stir Fry w/ Farro
 
4 Servings.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup Farro, cooked according to package instructions
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon Toasted sesame seeds (you can toast them or buy already toasted)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut diagonally into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 pound large shrimp, cleaned and pre-cooked (found in the frozen section of grocery)
  • 1 teaspoon Asian (toasted) sesame oil
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, rice vinegar and grated ginger. Set aside.
  2. In a medium sized skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add asparagus and cook until tender, but still crisp (taste one to test) – about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir frequently.
  3. Add cherry tomatoes (keep whole, I cut mine in half and it produced too much liquid.). Cook mixture for another 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Stir in the soy sauce mixture and add shrimp to skillet. Cook for about 1 to 2 minutes to heat through.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in sesame oil.
  6. Toss with cooked farro and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.
  7. Serve immediately (also, very good cold!)
Notes
recipe adapted from The Today Show

Baked Mac and Cheese

Sooooo…. how do you get wax off carpet?  Red, cinnamon scented wax.  A spot the size of a large pickle.   That is all I can come up with.

 A pickle.  

Stan is none too pleased with me.  His place in front of the fire has been disturbed.  I am none too pleased with me, because there is red wax on my white carpet.  Awesome…. 

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Baked Mini Shells w/ Pork Sugo

Is it really Friday already?  The Friday before Memorial Day weekend…seriously?!?  The unofficial start to summer.  Really?

While I try to wrap my mind around the speed at which this year is unfolding, let’s do a week round-up.  Because I am sure you are all intrigued at what has been happening around here these past few days.

My week included many moments of wincing, especially when going down stairs and sitting.  I was pretty close to installing a safety bar in the bathroom, you know the ones for the elderly or handicap or marathon finishers.  I know I am not alone on this…I had a few good laughs over this topic this week.

I had a birthday.  It was great.  It fell on our first monthly potluck at work and happy birthday was sang and maybe even a bit of dancing was done.  And the potluck…it was delicious.  Next month?  An ice cream social.  I love this place!

I went to yoga.  We did a million chaturangas.  My arms are sore.  In a good, that was a kick-butt workout, kinda way.  And the stretching, oh the stretching felt wonderful.

American Idol came to an end…it was my guilty pleasure this winter/spring.  I am currently looking for another guilty pleasure…Maybe Duets…but that Robin Thicke character kinda weirds me out.  He sounds like his father, but every now and then he doesn’t and that throws me for a loop.  And his hair?  It is tall.  And his pants?  They are tight…Garth Brooks tight.  But he can rock a blazer.  But I like Jennifer Nettles.

In baseball news, the Indians swept the Tigers…kind of a big deal in this house!  #windians.

In the kitchen, it was a slow week.  I baked carrot cake cupcakes, roasted green beans (recipe soon), tested out a cocktail, and whipped up some pulled pork (my potluck contribution).  And while I made baked mini shells with pork sugo last weekend, I finished off the left overs this week…So this recipe totally falls into this week’s round up.

When I started marathon training back in January…I instantly started thinking about carb loading in May.  I kinda love pasta.  And so when the time came, I was prepared – I did have 4 months to research.  The great thing about this dish is that I was able to prepare the pork the day before and when the time came for dinner, I only had to boil the pasta, sprinkle with cheese, and toss in the oven.  This is perfect, when you are feeding a small crowd, with who you would rather visit with than spend that time slaving over a hot stove.  Or spend time with instead of taking photos of your food..thankfully I snapped a few as it was being dished out and eaten!

 

Baked Mini Shells w/ Pork Sugo

Adapted from Food and Wine 

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

2-3lb Pork Butt, cut into cubes (about 1 inch)
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 Yellow Onion, finely diced
2 Celery Stalks, diced
3-4 Medium Carrots, peeled and diced
1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
2 Cups Diced Tomatoes (14 ounce can)
1 + 1/2 to 2 Cups Dry Red Wine
4-6 Cups Chicken Stock/broth
1 Bay Leaf
1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
1 Tablespoon Dried Oregano
1/2 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
1 + 1/2 lbs. Mini Shells ( I used whole wheat!)
2 Cups Parmesan Cheese, shredded (or a mix of Italian cheeses)

Pork can be made up to 1 to 2 days before and stored in airtight container in fridge.

Heat olive oil in large dutch oven over medium-hight heat.  Season pork cubes with salt and pepper and toss into the dutch oven – keep pork in a single layer.  Cook pork until golden browned on all sides, this should take about 12 to 15 minutes.  You want the pork to be browned, because browned means flavor!  Add garlic, onion, celery, and carrots.  Continue to cook over medium-high heat until vegetables begin o brown and become tender (about 8-10 minutes).  Stir in tomato paste and cook for about one minute.

Add wine and with a wooden spoon scrape the bottom of the pan, releasing all the browned bits.  Add diced tomatoes, bay leaf, and dried thyme.  Cook over medium-high heat until liquid is reduced by 1/2, stirring occasionally.  Add stock, enough to completely cover pork.  Bring to boil, and then reduce to simmer.  Cover and let simmer for about 2 hours, until pork is tender and can be shredded with a fork.  If the liquid level drops, add stock as needed.  Keep pork covered.

Once pork is tender, using a slotted spoon, transfer pork and vegetables to a food processor, discard the bay leaf.  Pulse several times until pork is shredded.  This can also be done with two forks, but is quicker and more uniform in a food processor.  Transfer pork and vegetables back into the original pot and stir in oregano and crushed red pepper.  At this point in time, you can store pork in fridge until ready to use.  Otherwise, continue onto the next step.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook for 5 minutes, drain well.   (it will continue to cook in the oven.)  Toss together pasta and shredded pork in a casserole pan (or dutch oven that can go from stove top to oven), cover with Parmesan cheese and place in preheated oven.  Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until heated through and cheese is browned and bubbly.

Enjoy!

If you are making the pork sugo beforehand, reheat it on the stovetop before tossing it with the cooked pasta. 

 

Soba Noodles w/ Chicken + Ginger Peanut Sauce

Happy Monday y’all!  I hope your weekend was rejuvenating or successful or so jam-packed full of crazy going-ons that going back to work is a sort of relief.  That is a sign of an awesome weekend!   Mine was great.  Thanks for asking :)  I worked, and ran, and listened to baseball, and mowed, and trimmed, and baked, and ….well I never did get to that laundry.  OK, now that we are over the pleasantries…can we talk noodles?  Yes, noodles.

I like, no scratch that, I LOVE a good noodle.

I grew up on chicken and noodles.  Beef and noodles.  Homemade noodles at church functions, with grandma always bringing home the leftovers in a Cool-Whip container – because once you reach the age of 60, you begin to save every plastic container with a lid and store leftovers in them.   It is normal, we recycle, our parents reduce, grandmas reuse…and eat a lot of Cool-Whip.

Before children, my mom made noodles from scratch.  We are a noodle eatin’ family.  Minus my younger brother, something happened to him in the womb.  He hates noodles.  And my older brother hates syrup…Sometimes I feel like I don’t even know them…

The noodles were/are always egg noodles.  Wide or thin, it didn’t matter.  But soba noodles, those were never served in Cairo (like the syrup not the Egyptian city).  Mainly, because we didn’t eat a lot of Japanese themed dishes.  Also, I don’t think small town Ohio was/is known for its Japanese cuisine.

Soba noodles are a buckwheat noodle (for those of you not in the know…).  Actually, are you ready for this fun fact?  Soba means buckwheat in Japanese.  So…we are talking Japanese spaghetti like noodles.  With me on this?  Good.

This recipe came to me from the motivating pages of Runner’s World.  I had a package of soba noodles staring at me from the depths of my cupboard and a knob of ginger, just waiting to be grated.  This dish was meant to be made in my kitchen.  After a long run.  The great thing about this dish?  It is a cinch to whip up and takes approximately 15 minutes from start to finish.  Which is a good thing, because after my looooooonnnngggg run last weekend, the last thing my knees and hamstrings wanted was to be standing in front of the stove.  So, before I knew it, I was resting comfortably on the couch, with a plateful of carbs…and my knees and hamstrings, they were as happy as my stomach!

 Soba Noodles with Chicken + Peanut Ginger Sauce

Serves 2 (smallish portions) or 1 (largish portion)

adapted from Runners World

Ingredient

  • 2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Sesame Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Nut Butter, I used almond
  • 4 teaspoons White Wine Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Freshly Grated Ginger
  • 1 Garlic Clove, minced
  • 3 Ounces Soba Noodles, dry (if bundled, one bundle)
  • 1 Cup Frozen Peas
  • 1/2 Cup Cooked Chicken, shredded. Warm or room temperature ( rotisserie chicken from grocery to the rescue)
  • 2 Tablespoons Sesame Seeds
  • 2 Tablespoons Peanuts, roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

 Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  While waiting for water to boil, whisk together sauce.  In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, sesame oil, nut butter, white wine vinegar, grated ginger, and garlic.  Set aside.

Once water is boiling, add soba noodles and cook according to package directions, which is to boil for about 5 minutes.  (they cook faster than regular pasta)  During the last minute or two of cooking, add peas.  Drain soba noodles and peas and rinse with hot water until the water runs clear.  Do not skip this because your noodles will become a clump if left unrinsed.  Drain again.

In a serving dish, combine noodles, peas, shredded chicken, and sauce.  Toss to combine.  Garnish with chopped peanuts and sesame seeds.

This is excellent warm or cold the next day, once the flavors have really had time to settle in.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

There is a pound of spaghetti sitting in the depths of my stomach…making me all happy and cozy and little sleepy.  The sleepy bit might be because I have been up since 5am.  Or it’s the carbs.  It’s a toss-up.  Either way, I am overly content…as my dad would say, ‘if I were any better, I would be two people’.

What is aiding in my contentment might be the roaring fire and endless amounts of Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix.  Did I mention pjs and a cat sleeping on my feet?  Cozy comfort town … that is where I am livin’ it up.  On a Saturday night.  Maybe I should lie and say it is Tuesday night, but I am not a good liar (or poker player).  I love simple Saturday nights (see previous post).

I had my Saturday night out on Thursday.  I met up with 2 friends (who happen to be married) for a dinner date.  Mel and Todd are pretty terrific and time spent with them always leaves me giggling, which leads to a good belly laugh, and all out cackling. OK the cackling is all me…I can’t help it.  Sapore was our destination of choice, a tiny restaurant that we have been meaning to visit for many months.  It is owned/ran by Loretta Paganini.  Attending her cooking classes is one of our favorite girl’s night out events.  She is possibly the cutest little Italian women ever to exist.  She is full of knowledge and ready to share…we are total groupies.

The restaurant is tiny…maybe thirty seats in all and is only open Thursday – Saturday.  Reservations only.  The menu changes with the seasons (as all should but don’t) and your food is cooked to order (i.e. fresh).  The menu is teeming with Italian dishes that literally made me swoon, out loud.  While I went with the focaccia- crusted chicken smothered in tomato sauce, fontina cheese, and olives…I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the pastas.  Fresh pastas.  Mama mia!

I can’t wait to try her Fettuccine Alla Carbonara….which they top off with a poached egg.  Genius!  I LOVE a good poached/fried egg atop of anything, ranging from hamburgers to pizza…I hope it’s not a phase.  And that brings us to my Saturday night.  Check out that full circle.  Carbonara = bacon and eggs Italian style.  And instead of toast as the carb, we have pasta people.  Pasta!!  Seriously!?!  Seriously?!? ( in my best Meredith Grey’s voice…not a word).

This dish comes together quickly…which means that all ingredients must be prepared and prepped before the stove is turned on.  Thankfully there aren’t a ton of ingredients.  We are talking pasta, olive oil, garlic, cheese, eggs, bacon, and bit of white wine.  Simple ingredients.  Nothing scary.  Totally doable.

OK a little bit of scary…raw eggs are stirred into hot pasta, but I swear it cooks the eggs.  And if you choose to top the dish off with a poached egg, well you will have to poach an egg, which is super simple…pinky swear!  Just watch this video - total proof (and her laugh is great!).  And trust me, the end result doesn’t have to look pretty.  We are home cooks not Wolfgang Puck…plus, I have watched Julia Child make poached eggs on PBS and some of her eggs were ugly.  Just make the poached egg, you will be happy you did.   

 

Spaghetti alla Carbonara w/ Poached Egg (totally optional but not optional at all)

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 Lb. Dry Spaghetti ( I like whole wheat pasta)
  • 1 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 Large Eggs, plus extra eggs to poach (one per serving)
  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 Garlic cloves, peeled and slightly crushed
  • 1/2 Lb. Bacon, diced
  • 1/4 Cup  Dry White Wine
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Poach eggs first. (this is how I do it, but there are umpteen million ways in which to perform this task…just google it.)

Crack egg into a separate bowl or small tea-cup.  Bring a large saucepan of water (a few inches in-depth) to a boil.  Add salt to boiling water (about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon).    Once the water is boiling, take a slotted spoon, and stir the water in a circle creating a whirlpool like effect.  Gently pour egg into the center of the whirlpool.  Cover saucepan with a lid (or a cookie sheet, I have used both) and remove saucepan from heat.  Let sit, covered, for about 3 minutes (very runny) to 5 minutes (less runny).  Gently remove poached egg from water with a slotted spoon and drain excess water.  Place egg on a plate, cover loosely with tinfoil (to keep warm) and set aside.

Whisk together 2 eggs and parmesan cheese.  Set aside.  But keep it close.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt (1/2 to 1 teaspoon).  Place dry spaghetti into boiling water and cook for 8 minutes until al dente.  Reserve 1 cup of pasta water.  Drain pasta.

While the water is coming to a boil and the pasta is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in a dutch-oven or large saucepan with high sides.  Add smashed garlic and saute garlic until golden brown.  Once browned, remove garlic and discard.  Add diced bacon to pan and cook until bacon begins to crisp around the edges ( 5-7 minutes).  Stirring occasionally.  Add white wine to pan and let it cook for about 2 minutes.  Remove the pan from heat.

Add cooked spaghetti to pan and toss to coat with bacon wine sauce.  Pour in the egg/cheese mixture and stir vigorously until the egg is incorporated and the cheese has melted.  Adding a bit of pasta water if a little thinning agent is needed.  Make sure to stir quickly, you do not want scrambled eggs.  The final dish will be thick and creamy and cheesy.

Top each serving with a poached egg and a pinch of freshly ground pepper.

Your poached egg can be rewarmed by placing it back into a bowl/pan of warm water for a few moments and then removing it and draining excess water before serving.  Doesn’t take much.

Serve immediately with a side of toast…because whats one carb without another?