Friday, June 14, 2013

Chili Cheese Fries

It's NBA finals time! Whoohoo! I actually enjoy watching basketball more than football, but football always brings the game watch parties and the fun food.  Basketball doesn't seem to warrant the same sense of celebrations in our group of friends.  They are more football loving.  Plus NBA games are later on at night on weekdays.  We are adults, and old, and have early bedtimes.  At least we do.

Today I'm sharing Shazad's favorite food ever, and a game day/night pleaser, chili cheese fries!  Who doesn't love chili cheese fries?  It's practically gluttony at it's finest with meat, cheese, and potatoes.

My only gripe with this meal is that it makes too much for 2 invite a friend or friends over to help you eat this up!

Chili Cheese Fries:


olive oil
1 lb ground beef
1/2 onion, diced
2 tbs. tomato paste
1/2 can beans (I used black, rinsed)
Garlic Powder
Chili Powder
Taco seasoning (in lieu of spices listed above, or your own homemade taco blend)
1 cup water

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add ground beef and brown.  Push the beef to the side of the skillet and add your onion.  Saute them until softened and translucent.  Add tomato paste and let it fry up a bit to get all tasty.  Just a minute or two.

Combine everything together in the skillet, and add your spices.  Pretty much a dash of everything.  I tend to add quite a bit of chili powder and garlic powder, but add to your liking.  If you have pre-made taco seasoning (so much salt, geez, make your own), add about half the package or use 1-2 tbs of your homemade seasoning.  I just kind of sprinkled in a bit of all the spices myself.  You can add more once you taste the meat.  Just make sure the meat is cooked first before you shove it into your mouth.

Add the beans and water, and let it cook down.

As that is going, pop in your favorite fries into the oven.  I used Alice's All Natural Sweet Potato Fries.  They were already seasoned and tasted delicious with the chili and cheese. I love sweet potato fries.  You can use traditional fries, tots, steak fries, or make your own!  Just get the base in the oven to start crisping up.

Cheese Sauce:

2 tbs. butter
2 tbs. all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup milk
2 cups shredded cheese
1 tbs. ketchup
1 tsp. mustard
black pepper

Over medium heat, make a roux by melting the butter, then adding the flour and whisking both until it begins to give off a nutty aroma and starts turning brown.

Whisk in the milk and turn the heat to low.  Once the milk is warmed up, add the shredded cheese one cup at a time, waiting for it to melt until adding the next handful.  You want the cheese to melt slowly, otherwise, you'll have a grainy sauce.  This has happened to me countless times!

Add the ketchup and mustard, a dash of salt and a couple cranks of fresh black pepper. Voila, melty cheese that's is not made with a crockpot and Velveeta!

To assemble:

Plate up some crispy hot fries, ladle on a bit of cheese sauce, put on a scoop of chili, more cheese and then dress it up with cilantro, pico, sour cream, guac, lettuce, whatever, and ENJOY!!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Seafood Karahi

Was in the mood for something spicy and nothing captures that better than Indo-Paki food.  Our food is so unique because of our spice palette and nothing beats food from your home country, ever!

One of the easiest dishes I know how to whip up is Karahi Chicken.  One of my favorite Pakistani dishes. My dad makes the absolute best Karahi Gosht (beef).  It's a dish made in a karahi, the South Asian version of a wok, with lots of tomatoes, chilies, cilantro, garlic, ginger, spices, and meat.  I make mine with chicken because I don't have the patience to wait for beef to get tender, unless I have a couple hours to wait.  It's 6:30pm, I'm exhausted, and I want dinner NOW.

I decided to get a little creative and use salmon and shrimp in my karahi, and it was a darn good decision. We love seafood in our house, so this was a total win.  Salmon is a nice meaty fish that holds it shape in cooking, and shrimp, well it's shrimp...perfect for a curry...yum.  Both soaked up the curry sauce and its spices so well and cooked up quicker than chicken or beef.

 Seafood Karahi:

Vegetable oil
1 medium onion, halved, sliced thinly
1 tsp ground red pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garam masala (found in the indian store, or make your own; my MIL does)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbs green masala (grounded serrano peppers, cilantro, garlic, and ginger)
1 tbs ginger & garlic paste (LOVE this)
1/2 serrano pepper sliced in half, deseeded and deveined
1-in portion of ginger, sliced thinly
3 roma tomatoes, halved, chunked
1/2 pound salmon, chunked
1/2 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
Handful chopped cilantro

Heat 2 tbs vegetable oil in your karahi (wok) over medium heat.  Add onions and fry until a deep brown color.  Add the serrano and ginger, and fry for 2 minutes.

Add the spices, plus green masala and ginger/garlic paste.  Fry this up with the onions for about 2 minutes so the spices toast up and let off their aroma.  Be careful not to let this splatter on you...liquid plus oil is scary.

Throw in the tomatoes, and let simmer with the spices and onions until the tomatoes begin to break down (look at you...making curry...)

Add in the salmon first and cook for about 5 minutes and then add the shrimp, since it takes far less time to cook shrimp.  Throw in some cilantro, reserving some for garnish, and stir.  Let simmer until salmon is flaky and shrimp is opaque.  Eat over basmati rice and garnish with cilantro.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Italian Drunken, or Sober, Noodles

Life has been busy.  Life has been good.  Life has been overwhelming.  Life has been a little drama.  Life has been forgiving.  Life has been fun.  Life has been promising. Life has been messy.  Life has been loving.

Pretty much sums up my absence from the blog and cooking/creating in the kitchen.  My fridge is completely full of crap, literally just a bunch of stuff in there I can do nothing with.  Therefore, it is crap.  I haven't been visiting the grocery store as often because construction has brought death to my daily shopping. We have been eating out, and been eating randomly.  Hubby and I haven't been going on our bike rides.  My house is crazy looking.  My months are packed before they even begin.  And my bank account, well, let's not speak of this.  I've been all over the place mentally and physically.

It so nice that people think of me enough to invite me places or to share in their special moments or think of me just to hang out, and I love that.  But I think, sometimes, I just need to say no.  You'll still invite me next time though, right?

It's time to take a step back, clear up my calendar a bit, slow down, breathe, and get my life together. Sometimes I throw myself into too much, become overwhelmed, and then hide in a corner to recoup.  It's a vicious cycle.  Although I enjoy my social life, I am beginning to enjoy my introverted life more.  Slowly, as I am getting older, day by freaking day, I'm realizing I've come to a point where I don't want to do EVERYTHING, mainly because I have experienced so much in life that doing it more than once, twice, or even three times has gotten old.  For so many years I've been told by those closest to me that I keep myself way too busy and am always running around or out of town, but I think I just needed to come to that point on my own.  I'm here now. And I'm finally okay with it.

Here's a comforting recipe adapted from The Cozy Apron. It's simple and good.  Exactly what I needed.

Italian Drunken Noodles: you can make these sober noodles and substitute wine for stock.

- 4 spicy Italian sausage links, casings removed (I used turkey)
- Olive oil
- 1 medium onion, halved, and sliced
- 1 small red bell pepper, sliced
- 1 small yellow bell pepper, sliced
- 1 small orange bell pepper, sliced
(I used halves of large bell peppers)
- 4 large mushrooms, sliced
- 3 tbs minced garlic
- sea salt
- 1 tbs Italian seasoning
- coarse black pepper
- red pepper flakes
- 1 cup white wine (I used Chardonnay also) or 1/2 cup stock
- 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice (I used the basil, oregano, garlic ones)
- handful flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 3 large leaves basil, sliced thinly
- 8 oz Pappardelle noodles, uncooked

Heat 2 tbs of olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat.  Crumble in the sausage in chunks, and brown. Once browned, take the sausage out with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate or bowl for later.

In the same pot, add the onion and let it get brown, beautiful and caramel-y.  Don't let it burn.  Add in the sliced bell peppers and mushrooms and allow them to get a little color on them (few minutes).  Next, add the garlic, a dash of salt, the Italian seasoning, a few cranks of cracked pepper, and red pepper flakes to your liking.  The sausage already has a kick, but we like spicy, so we added quite a bit to ours.  Give this a quick stir.

Add in the wine, and let it reduce until it's almost gone, I kept about 1/4 cup in there.  If using stock, you can let it simmer for a few minutes.

Next, add the tomatoes with the juice and the cooked sausage.  Fold and mix it all together, add some of the chopped parsley and some of the sliced basil (keeping a bit of each for garnish) and let simmer.

Move on to the noodles, bring a pot of water to a boil.  Add salt and your noodles. Cook until desired bite (I like al-dente), and drain.

Add a couple tablespoons of olive oil to the sauce because it makes it amazing.  Then, depending on which pot is bigger, add the noodles to the sauce, or the sauce to the noodles.  Toss together gently.

Garnish with parsley and basil.


FYI, "drunken" noodles are actually a Thai dish known as pad-kee-mao (my favorite) and has been thought to have derived it's name because someone, after a night of drinking, wanted something that could be thrown together with whatever ingredients were handy and thus this person created a spicy noodle dish that later gained popularity.  To say this is true or not, who knows.  I just know it's a delicious noodle dish that can be enjoyed with or without a night of drinking.