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Lemon Garlic Shrimp Open-Faced Hawaiian Roll Sandwich

Lemon Garlic Shrimp Open Face Sandwiches www.luc.edu

Lemon Garlic Shrimp Open Face Sandwiches

It has been an intense few months.  How do I explain such a long absence?  I have one class left to finish my MBA!  I am working full-time and have spent nights and weekends in class or doing homework and projects.

As a quick break, I decided to experiment with shrimp skewers.  Then, I decided to use up a bunch of odds and ends in my kitchen.  I did open-faced sandwiches because I only had 2 “Jumbo” Hawaiian rolls left from a previous meal.  The shrimp were full of lemon-garlic flavor and the bright acidity of the lemon was balanced by the sweetness of the Hawaiian roll.  Lemon aioli is optional.  (I did not use it for my first batch and they were still delicious).

You can serve these shrimp skewers on their own, as a main course or remove the shrimp from the skewers and serve them atop a hawaiian roll & lettuce for an easy, delicious dinner!

Lemon Garlic Shrimp Open Face Sandwiches www.morewinelesswhines.com

Lemon Garlic Shrimp Open Face Sandwiches

Lemon Garlic Shrimp Open-Faced Hawaiian Roll Sandwich

1 lb shrimp (any size), peeled & deveined
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1-2 lemons
1/4 c white wine (i.e. Pinot Grigio)
3 cloves garlic, minced
dash of sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
3 T parsley, minced

1 T unsalted butter
2 T extra virgin olive oil
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp fresh thyme
sea salt & pepper

Butter or Bibb Lettuce
2-4 large Hawaiian Rolls, Split
Lemon aioli (optional)
Skewers

Make marinade.

Whisk together olive oil through parsley and pour into a large bowl or Ziplock bag. Add shrimp and turn to coat in marinade. Refrigerate, covered, 30 minutes- 1 hour.

Place skewers in a shallow dish of water while the shrimp marinade.

Make the mushrooms.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add butter and olive oil. Once butter is melted, add mushrooms (working in 2 batches if necessary). Stir mushrooms occasionally, seasoning with salt and pepper as you stir. After 5 minutes, stir in thyme. Continue sautéing until mushrooms are light brown. Remove from heat.

Skewer the shrimp & grill.
Grill over medium heat, a few minutes per side, until no longer opaque. Do not overcook!
Remove shrimp from skewers.

Optional:  Grill or toast split Hawaiian rolls, about 1-2 minutes.

To Serve:
– Place half of a Hawaiian roll on a plate. Top with lemon aioli (if using), lettuce, sautéed mushrooms and shrimp.
– Serve alongside a salad. Enjoy!

Marinade the Shrimp     www.morewinelesswhines.com

Marinade the Shrimp

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Orzo with Asparagus, Kalamata Olives & Feta

Orzo with Asparagus, Kalamata Olives and Feta   www.morewinelesswhines.com

Orzo with Asparagus, Kalamata Olives and Feta

Confession time:  I am on a serious asparagus bender.  I cannot walk through a grocery store or peruse a restaurant menu and resist asparagus.  As a result, I have gotten creative with how I use my green friend to prevent my other half from getting sick of it.  Asparagus Risotto?  Check.  Asparagus with Champagne Vinaigrette and Feta?  Check.   Grilled asparagus with Balsamic Glaze and Locatelli Pecorino Romano?  yep.

Here is another great way to incorporate asparagus into your culinary repertoire while it is still at its peak.

Enjoy!

Note:  Last night I made the mistake of serving grilled asparagus with Israeli Couscous and New York Strip Steaks.  My other half just picked at the asparagus with his fork, ate 3 spears then let it be.  He looked up at me, a pleading look in his eyes, and said, “You know….”  I finished his sentence for him by replying, “You are really over asparagus?”   He could not believe that I read his mind.  Oh well, asparagus and I had a good run.  Until next spring!

Orzo with Asparagus, Kalamata Olives & Feta    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Orzo with Asparagus, Kalamata Olives & Feta

Orzo with Asparagus, Kalamata Olives & Feta

1.5 T olive oil + 2 T.
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 c. shallot, diced (~ 1 large)
1/2 c. red bell pepper, diced
1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into 1 1/2″ pieces

1 c orzo
4 c hot broth or water
2 T olive oil
1/4 c. lemon juice

leaves from 5 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/3 c. kalamata olives
1 c. Greek feta packed in brine, cut into 1/2″ pieces

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add 1.5 T olive oil and swirl in pan until glistening hot.  Add garlic.  Sauté 30 seconds.  Add shallot and red pepper.  Sauté 5 minutes.  Stir in asparagus and sauté 5 minutes more until it becomes bright green.  Transfer to a bowl.  Stir in kalamata olives, a pinch of sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Return skillet to stovetop over medium heat.  Add orzo to pan and stir 1-2 minutes.  Pour hot broth or water (be careful) into the pan. Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer 7-9 minutes, or until al dente.  Drain, reserving 1/2 c. broth or salted water.

Toss vegetables with orzo.   Stir in 2 T olive oil, lemon juice, feta & thyme. Season to taste with more sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  If orzo mix seems too dry, try stirring in some pasta water/broth.

Optional: Serve with Lemon Garlic Chicken Kebab.  I stirred my chicken into the orzo for an “all in one dinner bowl.”  It was delicious!

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Perfect Lemon Bars

Perfect Lemon Bars www.morewinelesswhines.com

Perfect Lemon Bars

When life gives you lemons… make lemon bars!

These lemon bars were requested by my father as his Easter indulgence.   As you can tell from the looseleaf paper the recipe is written on, it is an oldy but goody. Here is my guilty secret about the recipe: I cannot remember its origins!  It looks like a Cook’s Illustrated kind of recipe, but I am not 100%.  A few years ago I made 11 different lemon bar recipes until I found the best one.  This is the one I kept.

Perfect Lemon Bars   www.morewinelesswhines.com

Perfect Lemon Bars

Make these on the weekend and get some help squeezing the lemons.   I would advise you have other people in the house when you cut the lemon bars into squares and serve.  Otherwise, you will end up a lemon bar glutton just like I was over Easter when I kept sneaking over to a certain part of the kitchen “to make sure everything was ok.”

Enjoy!

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Perfect Lemon Bars

The Crust
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
2/3 c. confectioner’s sugar + extra to decorate finished bars
1/4 c. cornstarch
3/4 tsp. salt
12 T. unsalted butter, frozen

Lemon Filling
4 large eggs, beaten lightly
1 1/3 c. granulated sugar
3 T. all-purpose flour
2 t. finely grated zest from 2 lemons
2/3 c. juice from 3-4 lemons, strained
1/3 c. whole milk
1/8 tsp. salt

1. For the crust. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 F. Lightly butter a 13″ x 9″ baking dish and line with 1 sheet of parchment paper. Dot paper with butter, then lay second sheet crosswise over it.
2. Mix flour, confectioners sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium bowl. Grate frozen butter on large holes of a box grater into the flour mix. Toss butter pieces to coat. Rub pieces between your fingers for a minute, until the flour turns pale yellow and coarse. Sprinkle mixture into lined pan and press firmly with your fingers or the bottom of a 1 c. measuring cup into even, 1/4″ layer over entire pan bottom and about 1/2″ up the sides of the pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, then bake until golden brown, roughly 20 minutes.
3. For the filling. Meanwhile, whisk eggs, sugar & flour in a medium bowl. Then stir in lemon zest, juice, milk and salt. Blend well.
4. To finish the bars. Reduce oven temperature to 325 F. Stir filling mixture to re-blend. Pour onto warm crust. Bake until filling feels firm when touched lightly, about 20-30 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack; cool to nearly room temperature, at least 30 minutes. Gently tug up on parchment paper and transfer lemon bars, parchment paper and all,to a cutting board. Peel paper down, cut into serving-sized bars, wiping knife or pizza cutter clean between cuts as necessary. Sieve confectioners sugar over bars, if desired.

 

 

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Don’t Fear the Fish: Salmon in Foil Packets with Lemon, Capers and Rosemary

Dancing with Dad at my Wedding

Dancing with Dad at my Wedding

I’ll be honest with you.  The past few weeks have been difficult – spending every day in the hospital watching your father fight for his life difficult.  I did not cook these past few weeks.  In fact, I had to force myself to eat.  Luckily for my mother, brothers and husband, we have far too generous friends and family who handled the cooking for us.

Yesterday, my dad came home from the hospital.  He is on the road to recovery.  It is a bumpy, up and down kind of road ahead, but we are grateful beyond words to have him home.   As a family, we decorated the house with banners, welcome home balloons and good food.  We had a feast for the family and then my mom made a special meal just for her and dad.

We will be incorporating more lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and homemade meals into our diets going forward.  As a kick-off to a more balanced approach to meal time, I’d like to offer this Giada recipe for Salmon with Lemon, Capers and Rosemary.  I made it for the first time back in February and have been meaning to post it ever since!  This is a “Don’t Fear the Fish” recipe because the salmon cooks in the foil packets without any additional attention from the cook.  Yes, salmon is high in heart healthy omega-3s… and it is also absolutely delicious when prepared correctly!  Don’t scrimp on the salmon.  Find a good fishmonger or grocery store with a fresh seafood department.  I served this with Herbed Quinoa and a Salad.  Oh, and before you make this recipe, go hug or dance with your dad if you are lucky enough to have him here.  Enjoy!

Salmon with Lemon, Capers and Rosemary

Salmon with Lemon, Capers and Rosemary – brushed with olive oil & seasoned with sea salt, pepper and fresh rosemary

Salmon with Lemon, Capers and Rosemary - topping each filet with 2 lemon slices, lemon juice, wine and capers

Salmon with Lemon, Capers and Rosemary – topping each filet with 2 lemon slices, lemon juice, wine and capers

Salmon with Lemon, Capers and Rosemary - fresh from the oven

Salmon with Lemon, Capers and Rosemary – fresh from the oven

Salmon with Lemon, Capers and Rosemary - served table side

Salmon with Lemon, Capers and Rosemary – served table side with White Wine

Salmon with Lemon, Capers and Rosemary

Recipe by Giada De Laurentiis – click on link above to access recipe.

Photos by yours truly.

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From Divinely Uninspired to Hazelnut, Lemon & Fresh Herb Crusted Chicken Breast

Hazelnut, Lemon & Fresh Herb Crusted Chicken Breasts

Hazelnut, Lemon & Fresh Herb Crusted Chicken Breasts

Let’s face it.  Most people go through ruts in creativity, get ‘writers block’ or have ‘off’ days.  I like to call it being divinely uninspired.  Except, in my case, I have spent the past week and a half creating recipes that have been complete flops.  Case in point – my Thai fried spring rolls.  I have made time and time again with excellent results – crispy wrapper around cellophane noodle, vegetable and shrimp.  What happened this time?  I won’t even show you the photos.  I used the rice paper wrappers that are best reserved for making fresh spring rolls.  They exploded in the hot oil.  Boom.  The filing spewed out of each roll sideways and then started to crisp up in the oil.  I stopped after the explosions, put my Three Crabs brand Fish Sauce in the fridge for another day and just ate the filling out of the bowl, no wrapper needed.

Then there was the tortilla soup, the brownies made with aged egg whites and coffee from a Keurig cup, the tacos I put potatoes in and other debacles.  Sure, I learned something from each errant recipe.  I am even coming closer to building some very good ones.

Breading Ingredients for Hazelnut, Lemon and Fresh Herb Crusted Chicken Breasts

Breading Ingredients for Hazelnut, Lemon and Fresh Herb Crusted Chicken Breasts

Still, in an effort to purge my system of poorly executed recipes, I took a sabbatical (sort of) from reading blogs, pinning on Pinterest and from cooking anything but the recipes I can make without a recipe – easy ones like my Israeli Couscous, Popcorn with Herbes de Provence and Rice Krispies Treats.  My sabbatical was in part due to a hectic work/travel schedule and intense grad school course load. It also gave me time to clear my mind.  I did yoga with my best friend.  A week later, we went to Bottle and Bottega and Painted!  I have not painted anything since grammar school. Even so, this morning I blended acrylic paints to brush my painting onto a 16″ x 20″ canvas!

I did what Twyla Tharp describes in her book The Creative Habit and “scratched for  inspiration” in the best and most unlikely of places.  If you have not read this book, please do.  It is good and Twyla Tharp is simply remarkable.  I have four pages of hand written notes from the first time I read it…  During my time away from new recipe creation, I continued to cook, read, write and take photos.  I kept my creative habits, but shifted the outlets.

Breading for Hazelnut, Lemon and Fresh Herb Crusted Chicken Breasts

Breading for Hazelnut, Lemon and Fresh Herb Crusted Chicken Breasts

I found myself in my kitchen this evening ready to create.  A while ago I made a Barefoot Contessa recipe that used some lemon zest, sea salt and pepper.  I had these three ingredients in my mind.  Then I rummaged my cabinets and refrigerator.  The results?  Chicken breasts dredged in a stand-alone breading that includes hazelnuts, shallots, garlic, lemon zest, Pecorino Romano and fresh herbs.  I served this dish atop mixed field greens simply dressed with  freshly squeezed lemon juice, fleur de sel, olive oil and cracked pepper.  Don’t forget to squeeze the lemon juice over the chicken right before serving!  It makes the dish!

Hazelnut, Lemon & Fresh Herb Crusted Chicken Breast

3-4 chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2″ thickness

For the breading:
2 T. extra virgin olive oil + 1 tsp.
1 shallot, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced with sea salt
1 c. Panko breadcrumbs
1/2 c. hazelnuts, finely chopped
zest of 3 lemons, reserve 1 lemon for juice
1/4 c. fresh basil, finely chopped
1 T. fresh oregano, finely chopped

For seasoning:
2 tsp. sea salt mixed with 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

For dredging:
2 eggs whisked with 1 T. water
1/2 c. all-purpose flour

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 2 T. oil and swirl in the pan. Once hot, add the shallot and sauté until translucent, 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 30 seconds. lower heat to medium and stir in Panko and hazelnuts, stirring constantly 2 minutes longer. Drizzle with 1 tsp. olive oil. Remove pan from heat. Stir in lemon zest, basil, oregano and salt/pepper to taste. Transfer breading mix in a low dish or pie pan to cool. Clean frying pan.

Meanwhile, set up your chicken dredging work station. Sprinkle chicken breasts on both sides with sea salt and pepper. Put eggs whisked with water in a small pie pan or plate. In a separate plate sprinkle out the flour. The third plate will have your hazelnut breading. Dredge chicken first in egg wash, then in flour and finally in the breading.

Heat a frying pan over medium high heat. Add a blend of even parts canola/olive oils (~ 2 T. total). Once oil is hot, add the breaded chicken breasts, cooking 3-4 minutes on one side, then flipping and cooking 3-4 minutes on the second side. You may need to lower your heat to medium. Be careful. This chicken cooks quickly. If you have an exhaust fan, turn it on.

Transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Squeeze fresh lemon juice on top of the chicken. Serve over mixed field greens tossed in a lemon vinaigrette.

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College Throwback: Lemon-Garlic Chicken Kebab

Lemon-Garlic Chicken Kebab

Lemon-Garlic Chicken Kebab

I am a fan of Claudia Roden – and have been for years.  When I was in undergrad, I discovered a recipe in The New Book of Middle Eastern Food called “Shish Taouk” a.k.a. Chicken Kebab, that my boyfriend loved.  It took a little more time than a typical college meal, with the skewering and all, but tastes way better than dorm food or anything ‘on-a-stick.’  Usually, I serve these kebabs with Israeli Couscous and a simple salad.  The other night, my then boyfriend- now husband -and I made the kebabs and served them alongside Rice with Herbs, Asparagus and Mushrooms with Prosciutto, Shallots and Thyme.

The lemon juice in the marinade ‘cooks’ the chicken a bit and tenderizes it greatly.  I have found that the most ideal flexitarian to the most die-hard meat and potatoes lover can both agree to really like this dish.  The kebabs are easy – marinate, skewer, grill (or bake).  This is a 4 ingredient recipe (+ salt and pepper) worth adding to your monthly meal rotation.

Don’t like the skewering part?  Don’t do it!  Don’t let the skewers scare you!  Marinate the chicken and pan-fry it, bake it or grill the entire marinated chicken breasts/tenders.  You will find many recipes involving chicken, lemon and garlic.  Some add thyme or crushed red pepper flakes.  The point is, this recipe is a very solid springboard to new variations on good dinners!

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Lemon-Garlic Chicken Kebabs

Original recipe from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 T extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

6-8 skewers*

Combine all ingredients in a ziploc bag.  Place on dish in refrigerator and marinate for 30 minutes – 3 hours.

Skewer chicken pieces onto skewers.

Cook kebabs on the grill over medium flame 10 minutes, turning half way, or broil on a foil-lined pan for 7-10 minutes, turning halfway.

* If using wooden skewers, soak them for 30 minutes (while chicken marinates) prior to skewering chicken.

***Note:  I am a complete wimp when it comes to raw chicken breasts.  Give me a whole bird – and I am fine, but boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut up and chilled with oil?  ugh.  BUT despite this, I skewer on, a bit like  a priss, with my pinkie up in the air.

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