Italy

seared shrimp with fresh pasta #quickandeasy

A friend recently asked me if during my upcoming visit, can I give her a few cooking tips. How flattering! I was trying to think if I actually had any tips. I’ve decided my tip is this: fresh lemon, fresh garlic, fresh herbs. That’s it! That’s really all you need. This recipe is proof as those three ingredients are the stars.

For this easy weeknight pasta (also a good date-night pasta) I buy raw, tail-on, deveined, large shrimp. I actually really love this kind. If you can get fresh, even better.  I use my go-to (everyday) seasoning mix: garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper to season the shrimp and then I quick sear it. About a minute each side. So fast. If you really concentrate, this can be a 15-minute dinner! I use plenty of butter, lemon juice, and garlic, along with some pasta water to deglaze the pan after the shrimp have been removed. This creates a quick little sauce to toss the pasta with. Top it with shrimp and fresh parsley. I read somewhere to never add cheese to a seafood type pasta. So I don’t. But you definitely can. I mean, lobster mac and cheese is delicious so it can’t totally be true. However, with a light and simple dish like this, I like to let my favorite trio of lemon, garlic, and herbs shine. And plus, you have all that butter.

seared shrimp with fresh pasta

Servings: 2 people- There should be enough for 1 person to have lunch the next day (if you behave yourself)

  • 12-16 oz fresh pasta (gluten-free if you desire) I like fettucini or linguini. This brand is good if you’re gluten-free
  • 6-8 oz. fresh or frozen shrimp- Or about 5-6 shrimp per person, depending on size, use more or less if you want
  • Everyday seasoning mix (garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt, pepper)
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic- minced
  • 1 large lemon or 2 small lemons, zested and juiced. Buy this and one of these if you haven’t already.
  • 1/2 a bunch of fresh Italian Parsley
  • 1/2 stick of unsalted butter (I like Kerry Gold or Kalona)
  • 1/2 cup water from the cooked pasta (reserve right before straining the pasta)
  • salt
  • pepper
  1. Dry the shrimp off and sprinkle both sides with all the seasonings (see: everyday seasoning mix)
  2. Heat a Large Pot of water to boiling.
  3. Meanwhile, zest and juice and lemon, chop the garlic and parsley, set aside.
  4. Once the water is boiling, add some salt (this will help flavor the sauce later) and add the pasta, cook according to package directions. Some fresh pastas are done in as little as 2 minutes, so pay attention!
  5. Reserve a 1/2 cup of the pasta water before you strain the pasta, set the pasta aside.
  6. Heat a little oil in a non-stick pan- or use a little more oil if not a non-stick, heat to medium-high.
  7. Once the pan is hot, add the shrimp. Sear each side for about 1 minute each. Remove the shrimp.
  8. Add about half the pasta water to the pan, and continue to keep over medium-high heat. Scrape up any cooked shrimp and seasoning bits to de-glaze the pan. Save the rest of the pasta water to add to the sauce later in case more liquid is needed.
  9. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the butter, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in 1/2 the parsley.
  10. Add the pasta to the pan with the sauce. Toss well.
  11. To serve, divide the pasta and top with the seared shrimp and fresh parsley.

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Mediterranean

Hummus


We have made a temporary move to Dallas, Texas! My husband is working on a show here called Misfit Garage. We will be here until July. Dallas is full of really tasty food, I have a new pant size to prove it:-) I’m still cooking at him when I’m not tempted to eat out. I’m sharing one of my favorite snacks today.

Everybody needs a good hummus recipe they can make. I love making homemade hummus. It’s easy, cheap, and it really is much better than what you can get at the store.  I think that is because store-bought brands skimp on the tahini and olive oil. Perhaps both for cost and so that nutrition facts fat content isn’t so scary.  My favorite hummus to make is the kind without any extra flavors. I want these things to be the stars: garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice.  To make a tasty plain hummus, you really need to be heavy handed with the tahini and lemon juice. And also the olive oil. This is what you’ll need:

  • 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • ¼ cup tahini (at least)
  • ½ cup e.v. olive oil (or more)
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Small bunch fresh parsley (optional)
  • ¼ cup plain greek yogurt- I like sheep’s milk yogurt like this brand
  • A little water if it needs to be thinner or use lemon juice if you have some.

The yogurt is totally optional. I add it if I have it.  Keep all these ingredients on hand at all times.  They’re all very versatile.  I think one of the best and easiest ways to make your cooking stand out is to buy a microplane zester and use it to add lemon zest and grated fresh garlic to your dishes. Makes a big difference!

  1. Add all the ingredients to a food processor. Except the olive oil!
  2. Whirl around the ingredients. 
  3. Slowly pulse in the olive oil and then pulse steadily until very very smooth.
  4. Add a little more lemon juice or water and adjust the seasonings
I was very happy about the taste, but I think I added a little too much parsley. It had a green hue. I think I’ll add it towards the end next time.

Below you can see my Instagram story that I posted. You can follow me @travellovecook on Instagram.

 

 


Colorado

white chicken chile

IMG_4019

It’s been drizzling rain here Denver for about 6 days now. Our seasons usually casually slide into each other, but this year summer abruptly clicked into fall. This may be the first year that I don’t have post-summer blues.  Perhaps it’s because it’s the first year that I’m not returning to school or teaching, as I have for the past 30 years of my life.  I went from college right into teaching first grade.  No, this year I’m excited for fall, and fall cooking. Nothing could be more fall than chile. How do you spell chile by the way? Is it chilli? White chicken chile is not anything new.  But it is delicious. I typically don’t like the “white” version of things, chocolate, pizza. But this is good. Lick your bowl good.

I’m currently experimenting with not eating dairy for various reasons (yeah, it’s sad). You could easily make this without the cream cheese. Please only do so if you have to! It’s quite the cheater recipe in that gets a lot of its seasoning and flavor from the prepared enchilada sauce (So “semi-homemade” cooking of me, but no I won’t do a “table scape”). This helps to make it a super easy week night meal that should only take about 30 minutes.

white chicken chile

makes about 4 large servings

  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • 1 14oz. can pinto or white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 block (8 oz.) cream cheese
  • 1 quart chicken broth (my favorite)
  • 1 pouch (8 oz.) Frontera green chile enchilada sauce (you can use any other brand of canned green enchilada sauce)
  • 1 small can of green chiles
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper
  • optional toppings: lime wedges, cilantro, avocado, sour cream, tortilla chips
  1. Heat a large pot with a little oil over medium high heat. Add the ground chicken and let it sear for a bit before you move it. You want it to get brown. Don’t stir it around too much. You can break it up later. Browning makes flavor.
  2. Once the chicken is cooked through and browned, remove it and set it aside.
  3. Add the chopped onion to the browned bits left in the pot from the chicken. Add a little more oil if you need to. Cook the onion about 4-5 minutes until soft.
  4. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds-1 minute.
  5. Add the smoked paprika, some salt and pepper and cook for about 30 seconds.
  6. Add in the beans, cream cheese, chicken broth, enchilada sauce, and green chiles. Cook over medium heat until the cheese is melted.
  7. Return the chicken to the pot and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  8. Serve the chicken chile with cilantro, tortilla chips, sour cream, lime wedges, and avocado.

*My husband loved this chile. I thought it wasn’t creative enough or special enough for a blog but he said “why not?”. So, I hope you feel the same way. Let me know in the comments below what you think and especially if you try this!

 

 

Asia, Korea

kimchi fried rice

Kimchi. Fried Rice. Yes please. This recipe is so easy, delicious and comforting. You have to use cold rice from the day or two before or at least make it in the morning and then stick it in the fridge. After that, this recipe really only takes about 20 minutes. If you haven’t started buying kimchi on the regular its time to start. Buy it for the delicious fermented taste and then keep eating it for the probiotic health benefits. You’ll find it at any grocery story in the refrigerated pickles and saurkraut section.

I learned how to make fried rice in 10th grade home economics class. Oh how I loved these classes with the fake little kitchens.  I liked to pretend that my group was my own little family. It was playing “house” for a 16 year old.  I loved how we all helped to cook, sat down at our little table, ate together, and then all did the dishes together.  Don’t worry I wasn’t deprived of this in real life, I just really enjoyed playing house. I remember we had this recipe for fried rice and our teacher explained that the rice needed to be cold and made a day ahead of time.  This helped it to fry better.  The recipe she had did not have kimchi but it did have ham, onion, garlic, carrots and peas! Also soy sauce so you know I liked it. This recipe I’m posting may be even easier than my 10th grade cooking class recipe.  Most of the flavor comes from the fermented kimchi.  I’m adding a little cut up pork chop and of course a fried egg on top.  I used chives as a garnish because they are growing outside in my garden.  You of course could use green onions.  I had an extra pork chop that’s why I chose it, plus I love pork with Korean-inspired dishes.  You could use any protein, or not.  That’s what eggs are for! I’m topping it all with a super umami sauce made from soy sauce (this is my favorite brand), gochujang, and sesame oil.

kimchi fried rice

serves 2 really hungry people or 4 sorta hungry people

ingredients

2 cups cold cooked rice- made that morning or the day before- I used short grain rice  (mepssal).

¼ cup high heat oil- I used red palm but avocado would be good too

1 cup kimchi- strained over a bowl, reserving the liquid

1 ¼-⅓ lb pork chop

3 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

2 teaspoons Korean red pepper flakes (gochugaru)

Sesame seeds for garnish

2 tablespoons chopped chives or green onions

Salt and pepper

Sauce:

3 teaspoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons gochujang 

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Method:

Chop up the kimchi and set aside, make sure to reserve the liquid that drained from it. Thinly slice the pork chop and cut into small pieces. Heat a tablespoon of the high heat oil in a wok or deep skillet. Once hot, add the pork pieces and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook on high until cooked through and set aside. Without cleaning out the pan, add the chopped kimchi on high. Add a little oil if needed. Fry the kimchi for about 3-5 minutes. You want it to get cooked down and develop a sweetness. Add the red pepper flakes and toss and then add the rest of the oil, make sure it returns to high, and then add the rice.  Fry, tossing frequently, for about another 4-5 minutes. Add some or all of the reserved kimchi liquid to help create a desired consistency and get any cooked bits off the bottom of the pan. Return the pork to the pan and add the 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and the 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Cook for another couple of minutes. Taste and adjust soy sauce and or salt and pepper.  Cover with a lid for a moment while you fry your eggs and make your sauce. For the sauce, just whisk together the soy sauce, gochujang, and the sesame oil. For the eggs:  use as many eggs as there are people eating.  Each person gets a fried egg on top. You want the yolk to be runny. You’ll feel so sad if you overcook it. If you do overcook it, just save it for egg salad and make a new one. Having a runny yolk over your fried rice is quite satisfying. Now plate your fried rice. Put your perfectly cooked fried egg on top of the rice. Now drizzle the sauce all around all cute-like and sprinkle with sesame seeds, more pepper flakes, and chopped chives. Yummy!

 

Those are some seriously seductive chives right there.

 

Brazil, South America

chilled soup with mango, yogurt, and serrano peppers

 

I loved styling these in my great grandma’s Depression glass sherbet dishes.

One of our favorite restaurants is a North Denver staple, Cafe Brazil. It’s consistently good and always busy but not too busy. The first dish of theirs that I fell in love with was the chilled yogurt soup. It has mango, cucumber, red onions, and slices of serrano pepper. It’s such a unique flavor and the perfect palette perk to start your meal. I actually have no idea if this is an actual Brazilian soup or if it’s an original creation from the chef at Cafe Brazil. The internet offered no help. I’ll be asking next time I visit.  I recreated this soup for the first time when I was visiting my sister because I knew she would love it.  She went nuts over it and I hope you do, too.

Super quick and easy recipe with not too many ingredients!

chilled soup with mango, yogurt, and serrano peppers

ingredients:

serves 8 as a starter

1 cup of ripe mango, cut into chunks

1 small red onion, cut into four pieces and then sliced about 1/8 inch thick

1 seedless English cucumber

24 oz. plain, whole milk yogurt (not Greek style)

1 cup water

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 serrano pepper, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon salt (I used Real Salt Brand)

fresh ground black pepper

Peel and slice your onion.  Transfer to a bowl and pour in the red wine and white vinegar along with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt all of the sugar.  Set aside to quick pickle for about 10-15 minutes. No need to peel your English cucumber. Slice it in half the long way and then slice into 1/8 thick half moons.  Peel the mango and cut into chunks. The pre-sliced kind makes this easy. Thinly slice the serrano pepper and set aside.

 


Combine the 2 cups of yogurt and 1 cup of cold water into a deep bowl. Add the mango chunks.  Use the immersion blender you bought to blend the yogurt, water, and mango. You could also just as easily use a blender. Blend. You want it mostly smooth with a few small chunks left over.

Add the sliced cucumber, half of the serrano pepper (leave the rest to garnish), about 1/2-1 teaspoon of salt, freshly ground black pepper and the quick-pickled red onion.  Stir together. Let it sit in the fridge at least one hour before serving to let the flavors mingle and improve. Serve garnished with the serrano pepper slices and the fresh ground black pepper.

 

Anywhere and Everywhere

breakfast avocado toast

 

Most days I use sprouted grain bread but on this day I was lucky enough to have oatmeal bread made by my mom.

This is my go-to breakfast: sprouted grain bread, toasted, smeared with smashed avocado, runny egg, salty bacon and fried tomato. It’s quick, healthy, and filling.  Every single time I cut into it and that yolk slowly oozes out, I’m forced to send a snapchat to all my closest friends. Because this is something that deserves their attention. I love to top this combo with good salt, pepper, and habanero sauce.  I like to use course sea salt. My favorite salt is fluer de sel .  The hot sauce I like is Trader Joe’s habanero sauce.

breakfast avocado toast

serves 1

ingredients:

1 slice sprouted grain bread such as Ezekiel bread, but I prefer Alvarado St bread because of it’s simple ingredient list

1/2 small, ripe avocado

1 plum tomato

1 slice of bacon (my favorite is Beeler’s bacon)

salt and pepper

hot sauce

In a small frying pan, fry the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Meanwhile, slice the tomatoes into 1/2 inch slices. Set the bacon aside on a paper towel-lined plate.   Leaving the bacon grease in the pan and the heat to medium, place the tomatoes in the frying pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Be sure to leave the tomato juice on the cutting board like this:

I heard on The Splendid Table podcast that most of a tomato’s flavor is in the seeds and membrain surrounding the seeds. 

You’ll use the juices to help break down and smash the avocado.  Rinse your avocado and slice it in half.  Scoop half the avocado onto the cutting board and sprinkle with salt.  Let set.  Turn your tomatoes over to fry on the other side. Now, you’ll crack your egg into the same pan while the tomatoes finish cooking.  Sprinkle your egg with salt and pepper. Place your slice of bread in the toaster but don’t push it down yet! Smash your avocado up with a fork. Then, flip your egg and put your bread down to be toasted. Turn OFF the heat on the frying pan.  You want your egg to be runny but not TOO runny.  Slow runny.  When the toast is toasted to your liking, put it on a plate, and spread on your smashed avocado.  Top with the bacon (cut in half), the tomato slices, and finally that perfectly cooked egg. Pour just a little habanero sauce over the top.  Cut into it, and take a picture. Enjoy!