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!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Vegetable and Shrimp Pasta in Peanut Sauce

Why do I always underestimate the immense power of broccoli.

What a way to back into a post, eh?

So, I wanted to make something heavy with vegetables because: A. I recently saw Forks over Knives. Goodness gracious! What a documentary (read: Social commentary on an overdose of conscious-dripped steroids). B. My body has been craving veggies. Especially green ones.

Saying that, I now realize how defeatist adding the shrimp turns out to be. Yeah, there's shrimp in there. See 'em now?

*sigh*

Moving on.

I went to town. Snow pea. Regular peas. Broccoli (apparently, not enough, though), carrots. Green onions. A vegetarian smorgasbord!!! ...well, except for the shrimp.

Making this dish was super simple. I started with the shrimp, letting them sit for I don't recall how long in fresh lemon juice and some mirin. I then set to boiling vermicelli. Now, I am not sure what kind of vermicelli this is, but it was slightly larger than I expected, and it wasn't translucent in the same way I am accustomed to seeing vermicelli. So, really, it was quite similar to chunky angel hair pasta.

Hum...suspicious.

While the pasta was boiling, I put a little bit of water in a pan and tossed in the broccoli. I should have added twice as much, because the  broccoli turned out to be a stupendous addition to the dish! The texture was perfect. And the way it held the flavor of of the sauce -- brilliant! Especially alongside less porous additions such as the peas, carrots and shrimp, the broccoli tasted mighty fine.

So, after the broccoli, in went all of the vegetables -- except the green onions. I added those at the very end. But while all this was cooking, I added a smattering of sesame oil. I had meant to add corn from a cob and also ginger but, oops, I forgot about them in the process. Bummer. I think that would have helped round out the flavor a bit more.

In the end, I tossed this with the strained vermicelli in a bowl with a sauce I had prepared using peanut sauce and rice vinegar. Near perfection! It was lively and light and didn't need a single side. ...just more broccoli. 


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Red Lobster Biscuits Knockoff

It was about one year ago that, in speaking with my mother on the phone, she challenged me to making a batch of Red Lobster biscuits.

These are no ordinary biscuits. Red Lobster biscuits are very gently crusty with a nice, soft inner yield. I hadn't had them in a while so I could not recall the exact flavor, other than they are cheesy with a hint of garlic and a tinge of chives, perhaps.

Turns out that a whole host of people have tried to knockoff the recipe. I have tried making three batches thus far and find that the best approach is to start with Bisquick. Yes! This is much better than plain flour. Also, be sure to add the important ingredients: Garlic salt, dried parsley and Old Bay seasoning along with extra sharp cheddar cheese. 

You'll also need a decent amount of butter. But, guess what -- no chives required.

Big oops: The last time I was making these, my mother warned me that I was putting the biscuits in the pan too close together. "You're going to get one big biscuit," she warned me. Unscathed, I went ahead and kept adding them way too close. This is what I get:


Saturday, January 21, 2012

HoneyBaked Ham's Twin Sister

What an improvement. The last time, which was the first time, I tried to knockoff the HoneyBaked Ham it turned out well. Good. Decent. But, this time around -- whoa! What an improvement.

The key, folks: Make sure you have a decent sized spiral ham. Don't skimp and buy the canned ham. Ever. It simply won't do you justice, and you'll be cursing with your fists in the air come dinner time.

So, got that -- spiral ham. Next, while at the grocery store, make sure to drop by on the juice aisle and grab some orange juice and pear nectar. Not pear juice, pear nectar. Trust me, I'll be happy for it later.

Combine the juices in a container, making sure you have equal parts. Hold onto the pineapples and the pineapple juice for later. You will want to pour the orange juice and pear nectar juices in the pan with the ham. Make sure the juices get all up in there. Gently peel back the folds, pouring the juice inside several times. And make sure you have a decent amount sitting in the bottom of the pan as well.

Now comes the hard part. I don't care if you need to pitch a tent in the kitchen or get some lounge chairs in there, just be sure to stay near the stove. You will want to baste the ham every 10 to 15 minutes or so throughout the duration of it cooking. Trust me!

Toward the end (you should be following the regular cooking instructions), take out the ham, baste it again adding a little bit of the pineapple juice, then add a ton of honey to the top and between the spiral cuts. Seriously, don't go skimpy on the honey. Next, add a good sample of brown sugar. Remember, you want this to taste sweet and to be crispy. Lastly, top the ham with your pineapple slices or just put them in the pan. 

Return the ham to the oven and broil it until the sugar is caramelized. This is my new tried and true method. Now, when my dad is impressed, I know I'm doing something. 


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cheese, Peppers, Onion, Broccoli Quiche

Quiche is one of those fabulous dishes that, while looking at a restaurant menu, startles me to see the charge.

Really? $8 for a single, thin slice of quiche, and with no fruit on the side? It's just eggs, crust and vegetables after all!

Mainly for that reason, I have wanted to make a quiche for the longest time.

For years.

I finally gained some courage one evening,  realizing I had all these wonderful ingredients. I  ended up going for onions, red bell peppers, bacon, broccoli, swiss cheese and mozzarella.

Full disclosure: I didn't make the pie crust -- not this time anyway.

I slowly cooked the onions in butter. I didn't want to caramelize them, but I did want them to be soft and golden. More than halfway through the process, I added the chopped red bell pepper. When this was nearly complete, I cooked the bacon until it was nicely browned. I wanted the bacon to turn out crispy.

Side note: I do not like cooking bacon. Not at all. I do not like the way it looks while it is cooking. I do not like the way it smells while it's cooking, especially maple bacon. Blecht! I also do not like watching it render its fat.

Anyway, I then rolled out the dough, buttering the dish first.

Then, in a sauce pan, I added heavy cream and the broccoli. I tried not to boil this, adding the peppers, onion and cheese as the mixture began to boil. I also crumbled the bacon into the pan. Eck! It felt just gross in my hands.

I then added about four whisked eggs and some egg whites to the mix before pouring it in the dish.

Set the oven to about 350 for 35 minutes or so and there you have it. I spread a bit of butter on top right as it came out of the oven.

So nice! It was slightly fluffy with the perfect density. To the taste, it was full -- round and luscious just like I enjoy my meals.

Next time I will add lots more broccoli and cheese, but I was quite pleased with the turnout. Quite please.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Cheesy Rice Balls

These were just divine!

This was one of those nights where I was being quite indecisive about what I wanted to cook. I may have prepared sushi, or tacos with rice or a stir fry.

Decisions.

I knew I wanted rice and panko, but wasn't sure what else.

Then it occurred to me: What about a cheesy rice ball with panko? Huh!

It was super simple to make these. To the rice I added garlic salt and some dried parsley. I then added an egg to the mix. I then pressed small cubes of cheese -- I used mozzarella -- into the center, shaping the rice into a nice ball. I then rolled this in panko and fried them.

Love explosion! These were fantastic! The outer shell gently gave way with each bite, revealing a soft, stretchy cheese inside. Right amount of crunch, perfect amount of salt. These would do great as an appetizer, or a naughty midnight snack.





Friday, January 6, 2012

Cornbread Dressed for Dinner

...or breakfast.

I was never fond of cornbread growing up. Alongside salsbury steak and chitterlings, it was among my most detested foods.

That was until a friend of mine introduced me to doctored cornbread.

It's almost better than sliced bread. Almost.

You can add just about anything you want to cornbread, I suppose. Just treat it like bread. It can be sweet or savory. But this is something I never realized.

I actually made this dish for an office potluck.

I included maple sause, corn, jalapenos, sharp cheddar cheese, milk, butter, eggs and sugar.

Huh. Looking at those ingredients makes me wonder how you could ever fail at this?

It was good. Soooo good. I had to have seconds! It was just that good.

The method is simple:

I began with the cornbread -- mixing it according to the package. But I did add extra eggs and sugar.

Be careful not to add too much sugar or to overmix the cornbread. This could lead to a felled recipe, with the cornbread collapsing into itself, or a grainy result.

Just before adding it to a buttered pan, I mixed in the cheese, jalapenos and corn. I also sprinkled  a little bit of corn on top. I cooked this on 400 for about 35 minutes.

Fantastic!

It is a one-plate breakfast meal. Share with your loved ones, for sure.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Panko-Crusted Tuna Patties

Happy New Year!!!

Ok -- this is not a New Year's dish.

But for this recipe, you will need: Panko. Louisiana fish-fry seasoning. Tuna. Corn. Eggs. Red Onions. Shrimp. Herbs completely of your choosing.

These ingredients together make some delicious tuna cakes. Can you believe it?

To be honest, this was a total fluke.

It was one of those nights when I was feeling less inclined to cook. I didn't go to the grocery store, so I had to cook whatever was on hand.

I had never made tuna cakes, or even crab cakes before. The nearest I came was that one time I made that very strange crab mixture for my Praise for Polenta dish. Remember that one?

But I do not call it inexperience. I call it a challenge.

The recipe was quite simple. I swiftly cooked the shrimp with lime and some salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, I mashed together the tuna, panko, Louisiana fish-fry and eggs until I got a decent consistency.

I then mixed in the red onions (honestly, the only reason I added  red onions was because I was out of yellow onions. Ahhh, improvisation). I also chopped up the shrimp for the mix. 

I then formed little patties and fried these in oil. After placing them in the oil, I have to tell you -- I was worried they would not amount to anything interesting.

They're just funny looking. Pinkish. Bulbous. Speckled with the red onions included. They looked to me like food from another planet. But I kept my confidence. I figured if these didn't work out, I would eat them with a grimmace and add this post to the Oops files.

But they came out quite well. In the end, I think I would have added a bit more pepper and some cayenne, perhaps. These tuna cakes definitely needed a little bit of spice -- and maybe a bit more crunch. So more panko, I suppose.

I served them with a side salad topped with corn and tomatoes and Brianna's salad dressing. It was a nice complement, actually. In all, the flavors melded quite well. 



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