Who's That Girl

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WHO'S THAT GIRL: A higher education obsessed foodie who is documenting her life in the kitchen. I love to cook delicious, gourmet-style foods for those I love and always welcome a challenge in the kitchen. With that challenge comes an impromptu nature. I tend to avoid following recipes to the exact, so you are not likely to find very many posted here. Being that I am a Libra and am learning to be free in the kitchen, the story always goes, "A pinch of this and a smattering of that!" Thank you for visiting -- and happy reading!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cheesy Seafood Mashup

My friend Elaine is tremendously brilliant and absolutely amazing.

No, really -- this woman is a trained dancer, has traveled around the world, is highly intuitive, speaks several languages (she teaches French and Spanish), is one of the most attentive hosts I have ever met in life and is an excellent cook.

While vising her just recently, she made this amazing conglomeration of Mahi Mahi, crawfish and scallops.

It was decadent. One of the best home cooked meals I have had, I am sure. It was very slightly spicy with the right amount of fish and shellfish -- and that sauce!

I was surprised to learn that she used Brianna's dressing (which I blogged about earlier) for the sauce. I knew I would have to try and replicate this when I returned home.

But, alas, my grocer did not have any fresh scallops or Mahi Mahi in stock. Indeed, the fish is not in season at the moment, so I went with a frozen version. NOT my favorite thing to do. I also went with crawfish and shrimp.

The recipe is quite simple: Cook the fish alone, then set aside while you cook the shellfish. Add the two before pouring in the requisite amount of sauce. You can add the whole bottle if you like. Really, it comes down to how saucy you like it.

You need no seasoning whatsoever in producing this dish. Just allow the dressing to do all the work. No kidding -- no salt necessary. You don't have to dress the shrimp if you do not want to. I did go with seasoned crawfish, but that was not at all necessary.

I write this off as a culinary mashup because it seems somewhat counterintuive to meld fish and shellfish with salad dressing -- and a cheesy salad dressing, no less.

Served with a green bean casserole and a few slices of bread, this made the perfect, round meal. I am sure you can do this with chicken or a whole range of vegetables. It seems quite versatile. Thank you Elaine!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

One Year Later, a Tickle in My Throat

Signs of sickness. Howrah! Just in time for the holiday season. *sulks*

Remember my Death to Sickness post more than one year ago? That was the last time I felt even a hint of a cold. Thankfully, I did not get sick last year largely, I believe, to the tremendous amount of orange juice and Emergen-C I ingested -- along with my fail safe recovery soup. So, really, I have not been sick with a cold or the flu for about two years ago. Nice.

But it's back again. The dry cough. The congestion. The sneezing and sniffles. This happened, literally, overnight less than 24 hours ago. I immediately took my Emergen-C and have had plenty of tea. But I am not feeling myself.

Rather, I am feeling like someone who has fallen off the bed onto a hard floor in the middle of a sleep.

Not the best feeling. No.

So, to the kitchen I went. I did not have all of my necessary ingredients. Crud! But I did have quite a few goodies on hand: Chicken broth, carrots, spinach, rice, cabbage and one chicken breast along with 1.5 limes.

I slowly cooked the chicken in 1/2 water and 1/2 broth with onion powder, seasoning salt and pepper and some Jasmine rice. Next, I added the carrots and boiled this until the carrots began to soften. In went the cabbage, spinach and parsley along with more pepper.

I served this with a huge squeeze of lime. I am feeling OK now, but tomorrow will be the true determinant about whether or not I am in the clear. Please wish me well!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Potluck Delights

There was a time when I had major potluck parties quarterly. How things can change so quickly. Though I do not have them regularly anymore, I do still love the opportunity when the house is full of warmth, laughter and storytelling, not to mention a beautiful spread of delicious food served community style.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Product Review: Brianna's Homestyle Chipotle Cheddar Dressing

I have tried Briannas dressings in the past, but never the chipotle cheddar. I had this dressing for the first time while visiting a dear friend for Thanksgiving. She made this wonderful seafood medley, using the dressing as the sauce. I was quite impressed with the flavor of the dish and was enthusiastic about purchasing this dressing when I got back home.

I give the dressing a B -- would have earned an A if it went with more natural ingredients and if it had a bit more spice. I live in the southwest and we can be sometimes serious when it comes to claims of spicy food. Not that Briannas describes this dressing as spicy. In fact, it reads that the dressing was made "with smoked jalapeno peppers mild." Yep. But, really. If you are going to have such a prominently displayed dried chipotle pepper on the front, the expectation for spicy hot gets to be pretty steep.

On with the review.

The scent is absolutely amazing. Just lovely. But it does not have the scent of chipotle. It smells, well frankly, like flavored, spiced ranch dressing. Yep, that's how it smells. This is just occurring to me now. I am not a fan of ranch dressing because it reminds me of mayonnaise. But that's not the type of ranch dressing Briannas brings to mind. The smell is quite nice.

Visually, it is a beautiful dressing -- a yellow-orange hue with specks of black and red throughout. Its could would suggest spicy hot. But the taste is not spicy hot. Not at all folks. It has a subtle sharp, peppery and cheesy flavor to it. I would not have guessed it was all about the cheddar. In fact, there is a hint of blue cheese to me.

As it turns out, the dressing is quite versatile! In addition to serving it with a mixture of Mahi Mahi, scallops and crawfish, it goes well with a straight salad, with a salad that has corn and tomatoes and with tuna patties. I would not be at all surprised if it tasted decadent on steak, or baked with chicken. I most certainly will be experimenting with this a bit more.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Imitation Ikea Meatballs

This was one of those workplace challenges. The first time a co-worker gave me a food challenge, I produced A Bundt Full of Fists.

This time, a different co-worker asked me to make imitation Ikea meatballs with the accompanying sauce. Not being the type who enjoys desserts, I was pleased to make this one knowing I would actually eat it.

But I had never had these meatballs, so I wasn't sure how they were meant to taste. I turned to the Interwebs.

After reading about a half dozen or so recipes, I had it set in my mind that I would use ground beef and ground pork. I wanted to include ground lamb, but couldn't find any in stock.

I started with the chopped onion, cooking them slowly in olive oil. I also began boiling the chopped potatoes. Then I prepped the meat.

Now, something you must know about me -- if I have yet to mention it -- is that I cannot stand getting my hands dirty. Yes, it's true. A cook who has a revulsion of dirty hands? It can happen, apparently. So, the meat was the most difficult part.

I seasoned the meat with pepper, then made a mock allspice using nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves (I thought I had allspice, but apparently it ran off with my favorite serving spoon). This worked out quite well, I think. I sprinkled this over the meat, adding a little bit of garlic salt, then mashed this like crazy with my hands. Eck!

Once the potatoes and onions had cooled to the point where I could handle them, I mashed them into the meat as well. I did the same with some breadcrumbs I had made in the food processor. I wanted to use panko, but forgot I had finished the bag off a couple days prior.

I then put a little flour on a cutting board and proceeded to make one meatball mound -- the tester. I found that I needed a bit more mock allspice, so I made about another tablespoon of it, including it in the mix. Wouldn't you know it, I had to mash this again! Goodness -- I hadn't washed my hands so much.

I did not make another tester -- I just got to business. Once they were all rounded, I cooked them in butter. A ton of butter. Thank goodness everyone was only allotted two or three of these. As they were cooking, I made the sauce, which was quite simple -- add the beef broth, then some sour cream and milk and slowly cook until it thickens. Feel free to add flour if you are having trouble getting the consistency you like.

Eat and enjoy. They turned out to be quite popular. And I first had reservations about adding breadcrumbs and potatoes, but it turned out to be a good idea to help with keeping the shape and a good consistency. In all, I think I made something like 30 of these and I am pleased to report that not a single one was left behind. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Making Eggs -- a New Method

OK -- in all honesty, I am not certain this is a new method. It likely is not. But it is new to me.

I love baked eggs. Love them. But we don't have all day.

I also love poached eggs. But, incidentally a contradiction exists -- I do not like runny eggs. Yes, I understand this makes zero sense at all. And yet, there you have it.

I wondered: Could I meld the two concepts -- a poaching process to mimic cooking eggs in the oven, but with less the wait?

Yes, yes you can.

I took out a trusty ramekin, lined it with butter, then added my eggs. I added salt, pepper and green onions, topped the eggs with a little bit of cheese, then placed the ramekin in a pot of boiling water.

If you opt to do this, be forewarned: Make sure there is not so much water in the pot that you return to find your ramekin topped off with hot water, leaving you purely frustrated because you are now wondering if this will fiddle with the flavor at all. Then you have to fish for a wide spoon to collect the boiling water from the ramekin, being sure not to scoop out the melting cheese and still soft egg. And what do you know! You see seasoning in the spoon of water -- seasoning you carefully added prior carefully placing the ramekin in the water. Now you are even more frustrated with yourself, wondering if you should add more salt and pepper. Annoyed, you decide against it.


All that to say, yes, the eggs turned out nicely. By a miracle! Fancy that. I cut up a tomato and served this with a slice of bread. In all, a nice meal. But, yeah, the water threw the flavor off a bit. Ah well -- lesson learned.

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