Shrimpy Tacos

This is another easy dish that we tend to reserve for (Taco) Tuesdays.

Frozen, unpeeled shrimp is the way to go. Grab a 1 lb. bag the next time you’re at the market; this will be enough for two with some shrimp leftover. Or for seconds.

Thaw the shrimp in a colander and bowl under cold, running water for about 10 to 15 minutes; I have the fella peel the shrimp because this process makes my fingers itchy.

You or a loved one can use the time during the shrimp defrost to shred cheese, chop onions, dice tomatoes, and chop lettuce.

Warm up a pan over medium and add some oil, then sprinkle in your favorite taco seasoning. When the pan is hot, lay all your shrimps on one side, sprinkle with some more seasoning, and cook until you see them get pink and curl a little; about 4 minutes.

Little shrimps, dancing in the pan.

Flip each and cook on the second side for about 4 minutes.

Once they’re sufficiently pinkened, I usually cover the pan and turn the heat all the way down while I toast the tortillas using the remaining three burners. Stay close by because they have a tendency to catch (at least for me because I sometimes leave the room or even the house after getting impatient with one side or the other).

Happy shrimps!

Plate your tortillas, top with favorites, and chow down.

Half of us like Cholula.
The other half prefers this sans sauce.

Shrimpy Tacos

An easy recipe for any day that ends in “y”.
Prep Time22 mins
Cook Time8 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 2

Ingredients

  • 1 lb shrimp frozen, unpeeled
  • 2 Tbsp taco seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 c lettuce chopped into shreds
  • 1/3 c tomatoes diced
  • 1/4 c onion diced
  • 1 c cheddar cheese shredded
  • 6 tortillas

Instructions

  • Defrost shrimp in a colander under running cold water. Peel and remove the tails.
  • Heat pan over medium, spray or drizzle with oil. Sprinkle half the amount of taco seasoning in the pan and distribute shrimp evenly. Cook for 4 minutes on each side.
  • Chop up your toppings and have at the ready.
  • Turn the other three burners on low to medium and heat up the tortillas. 
  • Plate the tortillas and top as you see fit.

Baked Orzo with Mozz

I started this blog with the intention of sharing recipes that I really like from cookbooks that I have but there are rules about sharing methods since they belong to the author of said recipe.

You can find the ingredients and instructions on a bunch of other people’s sites or in Yotam Ottolenghi’s book Plenty More.

I’ll share with you my experience and pictures and hope that you want to make this yourself.

THIS DISH IS AMAZING, relatively easy, and pretty.

Firstly, Ottolenghi doesn’t tell you to salt the diced eggplant and I have the secret as to why. Female eggplants have more seeds, so the fruit is more bitter (more seeds means a higher likelihood of creating more fruit babies). Salting it draws out the bitterness but it also makes it squishy. If you learn how to select the right eggplant, you can save yourself time and have a tastier dish. It’s also fun to stand in the produce section looking at the bottom of each eggplant while others gaze on, wondering what the heck you’re doing.

The eggplant takes about eight minutes to cook up, use this time to dice the carrots and celery.

Not bitter, male eggplant.

Take the eggplant out of the pan and swap in the celery and carrots.

Did I mention that my new pan is amazing?

Gold carrots and celery.

In a little bit, you’ll look at the list of ingredients and, if you’re anything like me, you’ll say, “Who uses ONE teaspoon of tomato paste?!”

Here’s a trick I employ when tomato paste is involved since I have never come across a recipe that uses an entire 6 oz. can.

Freeze it!

Get yourself some silicone trays and fill ’em up! Pop them in the freezer and, when you remember, put them in a freezer baggie for the next time you need one more teaspoon.

After the broth and paste are mixed in with the onion, garlic, veggies, and orzo, stir in the cheeses. The recipe calls for cubed mozzarella to be placed throughout the mixture, but we’ve found that this doesn’t distribute well, so we recommend shredding the cheese and mixing it in.

Fill up your favorite casserole dish and top with the sliced tomatoes.

Pre-bake.
Post-bake.

The end result was so delicious that I only remembered to grab a picture of my second helping.

For the full recipe, use The Googles, or buy/borrow/lease Ottolenghi’s book Plenty More.

Review: GreenPan 4.5-qt Sauté Pan

I was not paid or otherwise compensated for this review.

A million years ago, I bought a cheap Kitchenaid cookware set because I was a poor college kid who’d rather spend her student loan on sushi dinners, acrylic paint, and vellum (I was going to school for Graphic Design) than supplies that would make me a better home cook.

Fast forward a million years and that same 3-qt saucepan got me farther than I ever thought it would. But, since I’m about to turn 42, I figured, “treat yo self!” and I traded that pan in for a brand new GreenPan 4.5-qt Sauté Pan.

Sparkly, like prom night.

This thing is magical; freshly-washed-sheets magical; brand-new-chef’s-knife magical; first-Spring-day-driving-with-the-windows-down, singing-your-heart-out magical.

Cheesy burgers.

Not that I need encouraging, but it makes me look forward to cooking! It heats evenly, makes quick work of enormous burgers, keeps shrimp in tact, and it lets veggies bounce around in oil.

Getting ready for onions.

While this single pan was the cost of the entire set that I’m slowly replacing, it’s worth the investment and I deserve it.

Perfectly sautéed eggplant.

Treat yo self.

Turkey Burglers!

We made these for dinner last night and when I woke up this morning, I said to the fella, “I have to post these next because The People need to know.”

We’ve been using the organic ground turkey* from Costco for these and I’ve found that defrosting the meat in the microwave gives it a different consistency that I don’t really care for. So, we have to plan ahead and defrost in the fridge, or make ’em fresh after purchase.

*I’m sad to report that the turkey from Costsco is Butterball brand.

Get out your favorite medium-sized bowl and crack the egg. Using the shell halves to separate the yolk from the white, let the white fall into the bowl and do whatever you want with the yolk (I compost it with the shell, but we’re toying with the idea of using the whole egg next time).

Whip the crap out of the albumen so it gets air bubbles. Sprinkle in your garlic and parsley (I will confess here, that I use McCormick Minced Garlic and Lighthouse Parsley because they are super-convenient). Add to the bowl some chopped-up white onion and diced-up pepperoncinis (these can be mild or hotish, so know your audience).

Throw the hunk of raw, ground turkey into the bowl and start to incorporate everything with your hands. Doing this is kinda squishy, so you and your cookin’ partner will have to Rochambeau over the task. The person whose hands are the cleanest gets to pour in the panko crumbs. I haven’t used regular ol’ bread crumbs, but if that’s all you have at hand, give it a try!

Raw meat never looked so good.

After the panko is mixed in, make a slow-motion karate chop through the center of your bowl and eyeball two halves. Get the panko-pourer (i.e., the person with clean digits) to lay out two pieces of waxed paper. The patties will hang out here until the pan is ready.

Yes, it will be messy.

Heat up a drizzle of oil over medium and start the oven (to warm up the buns—skip this part if you’d rather). When the pan is heated, carry your patties over and plop ’em upside down. These are big burgers, and they take about 10 minutes per side, so this is a good time to get your condiments out of the fridge and prepare your toppings.

That is an 11.25″ pan.

After 10 minutes, peek at the bottom. When they’re sufficiently browned, give ’em a flip.

B-side down.

We recently found the best buns for these burgers; they can handle the heft and don’t get soggy while you’re eating. Throw them in the oven to toast for about 5 minutes.

Into the oven for a warm-up.

A secondary attribute of these that I like is that the list of ingredients is as short as it should be.

These are the absolute best.

This is when having a digital meat thermometer is really handy. Find the thickest part and slide the business end of the thermometer in half way. If it doesn’t read at least 165°, don’t touch ’em. If it’s close (160°-close), top with cheese and cover for 3 to 5 minutes.

Cheesy melty goodness yum.

We load ’em up with mayo, mustard, lettuce, tomato, and raw onion; but since it’s your face, you can put whatever you like on them. Sometimes we have a side, like pasta salad or putt-putts (the posts for both of which are on my list), but sometimes the nearly 1/2 lb. burger is just enough.

With Italian pasta salad (post coming soon).
Turkey burgers flying solo. Get it?

Turkey Burglers

Ground turkey with deliciousness mixed in.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 2

Ingredients

  • 1 egg white beaten
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 2 tsp parsley chopped
  • 1 Tbsp onion chopped
  • 1 c panko
  • 2 pepperoncinis diced
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 2 burger buns toasted
  • 1 piece cheese, your favorite optional

Instructions

  • In a medium bowl, beat egg white until fluffy. Stir in parsley, garlic, onion, peppers until fully mixed.
  • Place turkey in the bowl and mix up with hands until everything is fully incorporated.
  • Add panko and mix gradually until well distributed.
  • Place a large pan over medium heat with a drizzle of olive oil.
  • Divide turkey mixture in half and place each half on its own piece of wax paper and shape into a large, flat patty.
  • When the pan is hot, place each patty and cook 10 minutes on each side or until the center of the largest part reaches at least 165°.
  • When patties are cooked, place cheese on top and cover for 3 minutes, or until cheese is melted to your liking.
  • Transfer patties to your toasted buns; garnish with mayo, mustard, tomato, and sliced onion. Go to town!

“Migas” Means Crumbs

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Though, for me, that only applies to weekends and leisurely days off work. As a result, we take our end-of -fast pretty seriously in this house.

The fella is really good at cooking scrambled eggs. We’ve spent the better part of last winter trying to perfect a replicate of the breakfast burrito at Mickey’s Tavern (do yourself a favor and go have brunch on the patio at least once; if you’re lucky, it will be a life-changing experience), and made up a cheesy egg sandwich that will probably get a post on here in the future. But, a couple of weekends ago, I suggested we try migas because they’re simply divine. And delicious. And really pretty easy to make if you’ve got the egg part down.

The first place to start is roasting a poblano pepper over medium heat on your gas stove (you did stipulate that a gas stove was a house-having requirement, right?) until most of the outer skin is charred. I think this takes five to ten minutes per side but it kinda depends on the pepper and your patience. After it’s roasted, you need to put it in a bag (I prefer paper but plastic can also be used) to sweat for about ten minutes; I usually take this opportunity to chop up and start cooking the onion.

Speaking of the onion, here’s a cool trick that I learned from the front section of Cook’s Illustrated where readers send in tips to share. Dice the onion; whatever amount you think you like, start your pan over medium heat, and drizzle the lubricant into the pan (I use EVOO or propellant-free Avocado Oil) and place a single piece of onion into some of the oil while the pan is still coldish.

The onion stands alone.

Now, while you’re dealing with the pepper, the tell-tale piece of onion will heat up with the pan and bubble and sizzle, giving you aural indication that the pan is ready. Genius!

When the pan says, “Go!”, throw in the rest of your chopped allium and give it a swirl with your favorite wooden spoon (also a topic for another post) so that each piece gets shiny. Sprinkle on about a teaspoon of cumin (authoring recipes will be difficult for me; I don’t measure spices. Ever.) and give it another stir. Let the onions hang out and get a little softer, for about five minutes.

Once the peppers are sufficiently steamed, they’re ready for “processing”. Some folks say you should scrape the charred bits off with the edge of a spoon or the dull side of a knife blade, but I find that arduous and think running warmish water over the pepper gets it ready more quickly (did I mention patience up there?). Compost the seeds, veins, and stem. Slice the pepper longways and chop to a similar size as the onion bits.

A roasted and skinned poblano.

Throw your diced pepper into the pan with the onion and give it a good mix-around and leave on the heat until everything is warmed up (I regret that I do not have a picture of this particular step).

In your 2 qt. mixing bowl (this Pampered Chef set is amazing) and with your real fancy French whisk, you want to put some air into five large eggs. In other words, take fifty good whacks at the eggs or until they seem to be fluffy enough.

Add the eggs to the pan and … The fella invokes some wizardry at this point, which I’m not quite privy to because I usually find something that needs to be put away or gotten out of the fridge at the EXACT MOMENT the eggs are one minute from being done.

An eggy masterpiece waiting to happen.

When the eggs look like they are *just about* to set, crumble, rip, and squish up two corn tortillas and add them to the pan along with two handfuls (a heaping cup) of shredded “Mexican blend” cheese. The rate of speed by which these two new ingredients are included should be negotiated between the adder and the egger because stirring and adding should be simultaneous. If it’s just you, then this conversation will be brief.

It’s really hard to photograph eggs in a visually pleasing manner.

When the cheese is sufficiently melted, it’s time to serve! Dish up more than you think you want because this is amazing. Slice up avocado on the side and nosh with your favorite breakfast beverage.

Sunday morning at the breakfast nook.

Migas

This is a Norwegian gal’s Tex-Mex version of a traditional Spanish breakfast dish (or for whenever really).
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 2

Ingredients

  • 1 trip around the pan avocado oil spray
  • 1 poblano pepper roasted, peeled, sliced and diced
  • 1 small white or yellow onion diced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 5 large chicken eggs whisked
  • 2 corn tortillas torn up
  • 1.5 cup “Mexican blend” grated cheese divided
  • 1 avocado optional

Instructions

  • Roast the poblano over medium heat until charred. Place into a bag to sweat it for 10 minutes. Peel, using your favorite method. Slice and chop.
  • While pepper is sweating, chop up the onion and start a pan over medium heat. Sauté the onion until just soft and add the diced peppers.
  • In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until fluffy. When the peppers and onions are hot, add eggs and slowly mix together; scraping the eggs from the sides and bottom of the pan, using a folding-stir method.
  • When eggs look nearly set, add the crumbled tortillas and 1 cup of the cheese and continue folding to mix everything together.
  • Put the rest of the grated cheese on top and throw a lid on the pan for about 3 minutes.
  • Scoop onto plates and serve with sliced avocado!

Roasty Chick and Veggies

I’ve had the Pampered Chef Shallow Baker for almost two years now and, while I haven’t baked anything in it, I use it exclusively for roasting.

When only feeding one person was the goal, I would roast everything in the pan together, letting the chicken hang out in the oven for ten minutes before adding the rest.

Fast-forward (do kids even know what that means these days?) a couple of years, and find that I like making chicken and veggies a whole lot more and my partner likes eating it, so it’s a win-win!

One fateful night, I ripped open the entire Family Size package of Just Bare Chicken and we quickly realized the thighs wouldn’t fit in the shallow baker. WHAT TO DO?!

I grabbed the (then) infrequently-used carbon-steel pan and sprayed an adequate amount of Avocado Oil and got to work, picking through my seasonings. I usually settle on Stubb’s Chicken Rub and a couple shakes of Penzey’s Third Ward Italian Spice Mix (this spice deserves its own post).

I placed the chicken thighs skin side down on the heated pan and asked Alexa to set a chicken timer for three minutes. This gives the skin time to get seasoned and gives us time to start chopping up the veggies*.

Flip the chicken, set another three- minute timer, and keep chopping veggies.

I Flipped the Bird

Once all the veggies are chopped, I sprayed some oil on the roasting pan, arranged the veggies in a pleasing manner and pop both vessels in the preheated oven.

A Harmony of Hues

A third timer is set for 40 minutes and then we wait (we call this time our half-hour hour-of-music where we sit on the couch and jibber -jabber).

Alexa beeps and boops when dinner is ready and we serve!

Delicious and Crispy
Crunchy and Sweet
*drool*

*Use any kind of veggie you can stand and have too much of. Roasting makes everything taste like the first time you see a magic card trick and can’t explain it; Brussels, cauli, pots, carrots, parsnips, radhishes, asparagus (though, this should be roasted for only about 15 minutes).

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Roasty Chick and Veggies

Pan-seared and roasted chicken thighs and roasted vegetables.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 2

Ingredients

  • 2 trips around the pan avocado oil spray divided
  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 1 tsp Stubb’s chicken rub per thigh
  • 1 tsp third ward spice per thigh
  • 1 cup little potatoes quartered
  • 2 cups Brussels sprouts halved
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets chopped
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Heat a skillet over medium, and take one trip around the pan with the avo spray. Sprinkle your (or my) favorite spices on the oil and when you can see the ground up herbs start to dance, put the chicken thighs in the pan, skin-side down for three minutes.
    Flip chicken and pan-fry for another three minutes.
  • Slice, cut, and chop the vegetables into similar sizes (this helps them all cook at the same speed). Take a trip around the roasting pan with the avo spray. Spread the veggies out and season.
  • When the oven is ready, put the roasting pan on the bottom rack and the carbon steel pan on the top one. Roast for 40 minutes or until chicken reads at *least* 165° on a meat thermometer.
  • Plate and serve.

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that I learned a lot from Car to Table (a Mini Cooper-sponsored Isthmus feature that takes Madison chefs and does a sort of Iron Chef cooking bit in some rando’s house); especially Laila as she stresses the safety precaution of washing one’s hands after handling raw chicken.

Skip straight to 8m 10s if you want to miss the part where the randos do not have garlic in their condo (wtf?!).