Just some quick pictures and a recipe today. No story associated with this one. (Which I supposed is good, because it means there were no catastrophes worth reporting, yes?)
Shrimp and spinach alfredo (on a budget)
Makes enough for a meal for 2-3 depending on how hungry your eaters are.
1/2 lb frozen pre-cooked shrimp (you can add more if you’re not on a budget; or use fresh shrimp, but cook them before adding to the sauce)
4 cups fresh spinach
2 cups chopped or sliced fresh mushrooms
3/4 stick of butter
1-2 tbsp flour
2 cups of cream or milk (Paul and I usually just use 2%, or whatever we have in the house – we’ve even used soymilk)
4 oz. shredded cheese of your choice (our favorite is gruyere)
1/2 cup grated parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste
Melt butter in saucepan on medium heat (make sure to not let it bubble). Add flour and stir until a rich caramel color (I think I heard them say that on Food Network once). Add milk and heat while stirring constantly (bring to not quite a simmer but until you see steam coming off the pot). Make sure not to let the milk scald. When milk is steaming, add cheeses gradually, mixing as you do. Stir until mixture begins to thicken and is slightly thicker than the final consistency you’d desire your sauce.* Add (thawed) shrimp (tails on or off, your preference), and spinach, and mushrooms. (If you desire, you can saute the mushrooms in butter or olive oil and garlic first to draw off some of their liquid and speed up the whole process.) Stir until all ingredients are heated and cooked through. Ladle sauce over your choice of pasta and enjoy!
*Tips for sauce that won’t thicken: First, ALWAYS thicken the sauce before adding anything else, e.g., chicken, mushrooms, spinach, shrimp, veggies, chunks of anything. Otherwise it won’t thicken properly and the following solutions can’t be used. Second, BE PATIENT. It can take upwards of 30 minutes of stirring for sauce to thicken properly sometimes. Finally, you can add more flour to speed up the thickening process. This can be done two ways: (1) Sprinkle in sifted flour directly into the sauce in teaspoon increments until the sauce starts to thicken. Sprinkle in no more than 4 or 5 teaspoons, however, otherwise the sauce will start to taste doughy, like bread. Gross. (2) Mix up 3 teaspoons of flour with 1 teaspoon of water (or white wine, if you like that flavor in sauce), and pour into sauce slowly. Repeat up to 3 times until sauce has reached desired consistency.
More pictures of the sauce to tickle your taste buds. And some of the bread I made to go with the meal.
So, the semester is nearing to a close, and I finally have a little bit of breathing room, and so I thought I’d write a post. I know, we’ve been a little lax on posting lately, but we’ve actually been making very good food. This week alone we made: a spinach, mushroom and feta sandwich loaf, clams in a white wine sauce over homemade bread, beef stroganoff, Mushu pork, bruschetta pasta, tofu and egg scramble with cheesy potatoes and probably more things that I can’t remember right now. This post is going to cover just the bread and the sandwich loaves, because it turned out very well, and I have nice pretty pictures of it.
The recipe for the sandwich loaves and the loaf of sweet french bread I made last weekend came out of the first bread book I ever bought, sold by the beautiful delicious pictures and simple single-page instructions: Margeaux Sky’s Beautiful Breads & Fabulous Fillings. I made her sweet french loaf, which I hadn’t tried before, but was enticed by the promise of the most delicious french toast we’d ever taste. I also liked the idea of a sweeter loaf to go under the clams and wine sauce we had planned. So, I made Sky’s sweet french loaf last Saturday for dinner the following night, as well as two of her sandwich loaves (bread, rolled around fillings) for Saturday’s dinner as well as freezer food. Here are the results!
We also put tuna, celery and cheddar cheese in a sandwich loaf. Tuna melts are always a good thing to have in the freezer.
Sandwich loaf with spinach, mushrooms, garlic, and feta cheese. Delicious!
This was the largest loaf of bread I’ve ever made! It lasted us all week – through three meals and countless breakfasts.
Just a quiche post on quick…I mean quick post on quiche. Spinach, mushrooms, onions, bacon, cheese. Yum. Check it:
Spinach, Bacon, and Mushroom Quiche
1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms
1/2 small onion, diced
3/4 cup frozen spinach
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 lb bacon
1 9-inch refrigerated pie crust
4 large eggs
3/4 cup milk, cream or half-and-half
8 ounces shredded cheese of your choice
Sautee spinach, mushrooms, and onions in olive oil, adding salt and pepper to taste. Dice the bacon and cook until crispy. Mix bacon into sauteed vegetables. Whisk eggs, milk, and nutmeg together in medium bowl. Add cheese and whisk well. Spread half the filling mix into pie crust. Pour in egg mixture, then pour in remaining filling and mix gently. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Enjoy as breakfast, lunch or dinner!
One of my college roommates used to rip me for eating Chef Boyardee ravioli. Personally I didn’t see what the big deal was. It was very inexpensive, easy to cook, and tasted ok. Those were probably the three biggest criteria (in that order) of food at that point in my life. With limited cooking expertise and an even more limited budget I still needed to eat, and microwave popcorn only fills you up so much. So my college years were filled with many packets of Ramen and cans of Chef Boyardee. Unfortunately, college is now over, and it is time to eat big boy food.
Last week I was watching the Food Network Channel and two different people made ravioli dishes. Now I don’t know about you, but I have the kind of stomach that instantly craves whatever delicious food I see or smell. It really makes going through the grocery store on a limited budget a dangerous proposition. Anyways, I saw these beautiful ravioli dishes and automatically began planning ravioli for dinner the next day. But since I have graduated from college and Chef Boyardee, I decided to try something much more fancy, including making my own ravioli dough wrappers.
For the dough, I simply used 2.5 cups of flour, 2 eggs, and enough water to get a nice consistency. Unfortunately I used more than enough water and ended up with an incredibly sticky dough that I could not get off my fingers. I guess the lesson is to let Jess handle all the bread and bread like activities, as her skill level far exceeds mine. After I got the dough finished (with some help from Jess) I started with the filling. I sauted some spinach and one Portobello mushroom cut into small pieces. This was then mixed with some fresh basil and mozzarella cheese, and was ready to be stuffed in the ravioli wrappers. Of course, being that it is me and nothing is easy, there were some troubles with the wrappers. To begin with, even with Jess’ help the dough came out a little sticky and tough to work with. Additionally, I realized we do not have a rolling pin, so I had some problems flattening the dough enough for my ravioli. I ended up breaking off little dough balls by hand and spreading and stretching until they were fairly thin and somewhat round. I then placed the filling inside and crimped it shut with a fork. To cook they just went in a pot of boiling water for about 4 minutes.
The ravioli turned out great. The flavors from the spinach and basil were excellent with the cheese, and the wrappers turned out to be just thin enough to not taste doughy. We also made a simple sauce of melted butter, a little olive oil, garlic, and more basil. It went well with the ravioli, although Jess thought it would have been better with a red sauce. Regardless, it was very tasty, fairly cheap, and not overly difficult. I think I may be done with Chef Boyardee forever.
Paul and I decided last night that I’m quitting grad school and he’s quitting Americorps and we’re going to open up a little brick oven pizzeria and cook pizzas for a living.
Not really. But after you see these pictures, you’ll probably wish we would.
Here’s what we did: we made naan bread and used it as pizza crust to make several different types of pizzas. One we covered in olive oil, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, and fresh tomatoes (the latter two from the farmer’s market). A second, we decorated in red sauce, greasy pepperoni, thinly sliced onions and mushrooms, and shredded cheddar and mozzarella cheeses. The last, we smothered spinach, mushrooms, onions and tomatoes over a red sauce. We baked them on a hot baking sheet in a 400 degree oven for 5 minutes a piece, slid them out onto a cutting board and served to the table, just like in the restaurants. Look at these and drool.
The first two out of the oven: pepperoni/onion/mushroom, and tomato/basil/mozzarella. Awesome.
Close-up on the tomato/basil/mozzarella pizza. Look at that crust!
Close-up on the greasy deliciousness of the pepperoni/mushroom/onion pizza.
Close-up on the third mini-pizza, spinach/mozzarella/mushroom/tomato with red sauce.
And the best part: we polished off all of it! Because the crust was light and crunchy and the pies didn’t have too many toppings on them, they didn’t even leave me feeling greasy and stuffed. They were perfect, the ultimate homemade pizza experience.
Naan Bread Pizza Crust
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp plain yogurt
1/2 -3/4 cup lukewarm water
Place a large baking sheet in the oven and preheat oven to the hottest broiler setting. Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add yogurt, then water. Mix well, adding more water by drops if needed to keep dough together. (You don’t want it to get too moist however, it should still crack when you pick it up.) Divide into four portions and knead by hand on a well floured surface, like a large cutting board. Use a rolling pin or other large, round object to roll out each quarter into a flat piece with an 8-10 inch diameter, approximately 3/8 inch thick. Bake one at a time for about 1 minute or less per side on hot baking sheet. Remove and let rest for 5-10 minutes before topping with pizza toppings (anything you like works). Reduce heat on oven to 400 degrees and bake pizzas on heated baking sheet. Slide out onto cutting board, slice and enjoy!
Posted in Jess wrote, Meals and Recipes, Wins
Tagged basil, bread, italian, mozzarella, mushrooms, naan bread, pepperoni, pizza, recipes, red sauce, spinach, the best thing I ever ate, tomato