Category Archives: Savory

Movie Night Treat

While I very much love being a homeowner, there are some days that make me think wistfully about the times when someone else was responsible for the all the little things that go “wrong” with a place. Andy and I received an upsetting letter from our homeowner’s insurance provider a couple of weeks ago. They informed us that they’d sent out an inspector and he had reported that we had “far to many” trees in our yard and “debris” (aka leaves) on our roof. Furthermore, we were required to hire a tree expert to evaluate our situation and remove any trees that were considered dangerous.  A week later I come home to a yard full of tagged dangerous trees. We’re still waiting on the final numbers, but we’re very much between a rock and a hard place because the agreement we signed when we moved into this particular neighborhood clearly stated that we were not allowed to remove any trees more than 10ft from the house without approval from the homeowners association.

Since we will most likely be spending several thousand dollars in the near future, we’ve dramatically curbed our spending. We bring lunches from home, reduced eating out to maybe once or twice a week, and then only on weekends, and we’ve been having “date nights” at home. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a good time, you just have to be a little creative. I am very much looking forward to having an at home movie night and trying out this kick-ass popcorn recipe, by crafting queen Martha Stewart, in the very near future.

Directions:

Place 1/4 cup popcorn kernels in a brown paper lunch bag. Fold down the top of the bag, and crimp to seal. Microwave on high until popped (making about 6 cups), 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Season popcorn with 1/4 teaspoon salt; transfer to a bowl, and add toppings as suggested below.

* Or you can cheat and use the “plain” microwave packs from the store.

Add a Topping:

1. Pesto Presto
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter + 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons jarred pesto

2. Sugar and Spice
3 tablespoons unsalted butter melted with 2 tablespoons light-brown sugar (toss with popcorn) + 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice

3. S’mores
2 1/2 cups mini marshmallows melted with 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (toss with popcorn) + 2 chopped graham crackers + 1 1/2 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate

Okay, so it is supposed to be a Mother’s Day treat, but I am pretty sure Andy won’t mind me using it for date night.


Presto Pesto

The first time I ever had pesto, it was made by my friend Josef’s father, from scratch from ingredients he’d grown in his garden.  Consequently, I am extremely picky about the pesto I eat and the jar stuff just wont do.  Now, that my own basil plant is finally starting to perk up, I’ll hopefully be reenacting this lovely pesto recipe in my own kitchen.

classic pesto from tiger in a jar on Vimeo.

And yes, this is what I like to imagine it looks like when I cook. Well lit with varying camera angles and appropriately themed music playing in the background. And I would never cheat and use my food processor instead.

On a completely unrelated note, we had a lovely weekend with the in-law.  They got to spend the better part of the visit hanging out at the house. My father-in-law got to doze on the new couch, and my mother-in-law gave me tons of great advice on whipping the backyard into shape.  My mind is buzzing with images of raised vegetable beds and herb borders.

Image from here.


Kale Chips

The diet gods have smiled down on me and I have a new favorite snack food! Kale chips, rich delicious crispy baked kale chips. Normally, I’m not a huge fan of greens (collards, mustard, turnip, ect.) and whenever I’d heard kale discussed in the past, the flavor was likened to the very veggies I’d spent my childhood avoiding, so I decided I really wasn’t interested. A few days ago I happened to be at a friends house when some random cooking show was doing a special on healthy snack food. Kale chips were one of the main things on the menu and when I saw the bag of pre-chopped kale in the produce department yesterday I thought, “what the heck.” I am so pleased with the results.

Kale Chips

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch (about 6oz) of kale
  • 1 tblsp olive oil
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 300°F. Rinse and dry the kale, then remove the stems and tough center ribs. Cut into large pieces, toss with olive oil in a bowl.

  • Arrange leaves in a single layer on a large baking sheet, then sprinkle with salt.

  • Bake for 20 minutes, or until crisp. Place baking sheet on a rack to cool.

Easy right? Here are some tips and variations that worked well for me:

  • Buy a bag of pre-chopped kale, I have a huge bag in the fridge so that I can just pull a couple handfuls when I need them.
  • I used fresh cracked salt and pepper to give the kale a little more kick
  • A sprinkle of garam masala is a great flavor variation as well.

For the parents out there:  Smitten Kitchen recommends grinding up the baked kale and sprinkling it over popcorn as a way to sneak veggies into your picky eater’s diet.

Original recipe and images from here.


Creamy Shrimp & Grits with Prosciutto

While my new diet is severely limiting on what I can eat, every once and a while I get a reprieve and indulge myself in a “bad day”.  One of my new favorite indulgences is Shrimp and Grits and when I saw this recipe on the blog Mint I had to re-post it.  It’s currently making me daydream about Sunday and brunches, two of my favorite things.

Creamy Shrimp Grits with Prosciutto
Makes 4 servings
recipe from Bon Appetit

Grits:
4 1/4 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
3/4 cup whipping cream
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup corn grits* (such as Arrowhead Mills)

Shrimp:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/3 cup finely chopped shallots
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 pounds uncooked large shrimp, peeled, de-veined
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice, drained, juice reserved
4 ounces prosciutto, cut into thin strips (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

For grits:
Bring chicken stock, whipping cream, butter and garlic to boil in heavy large saucepan. Gradually whisk in corn grits. Return to boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered until grits thicken, whisking often, about 15 minutes.

For shrimp:
Melt 1/4 cup butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and garlic and sauté until tender, about 4 minutes. Add shrimp and sauté 2 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer shrimp to large bowl. Add white wine to skillet and boil until reduced to glaze, about 5 minutes. Add drained diced tomatoes and half of prosciutto and simmer until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Add parsley, chives and sautéed shrimp and simmer until shrimp are warmed through, about 2 minutes. Thin sauce with some of reserved tomato juices, if desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spoon corn grits into shallow bowls. Top each serving with shrimp-prosciutto-tomato mixture, dividing equally. Garnish with remaining prosciutto strips and serve immediately.

Quite honestly, if I wasn’t going to spend tonight packing and running errands for our mini vacation, my early birthday gift to Andy, I’d be seriously tempted to whip these up for dinner tonight. But alas, Disney and the laundry is calling and I only have so much time.