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Corn and Crab Soup

18 Aug

This is what usually happens. I get an idea for a recipe, I get all the ingredients, make the recipe, then have a few left over ingredients, so I try to think of something else I can make with that ingredient, decide on something, go buy the rest of the ingredients I need for it, make it, have a new leftover ingredient, try to think of what I can make from that, etc…It’s a vicious (and delicious) cooking cycle.

My roommate left a magazine with healthy recipes laying open on the counter, so I glanced at it and saw a recipe for a salad with crab, corn, black beans, tortilla chips, and lime dressing. It looked fantastic. So I bought crab, corn, black beans, tortilla chips and lime. And it was delicious.

But then I still had this very large tub of fresh crab in my fridge. I needed a good way to use a lot of crab quickly. Crab cakes were the obvious solution, but I had a cold at the time, and wanted something more soothing.

So I decided to attempt to recreate my favorite crab and corn soup from Acadiana. I stopped by the store on my way home from work, got all the necessary ingredients, busted out my favorite teal colored dutch oven, and made soup. (Confession: this was the first time I’ve ever made soup. I don’t even really like soup. I only like Acadiana’s crab and corn soup.)

Verdict: It was pretty good. It needed tweaking. One of my friends like to joke that I don’t like “flavor.” Aka I don’t like spicy food. It’s true. My mouth is super sensitive to spicy foods, and they just make eating uncomfortable rather than enjoyable. (Plus, I grew up in the midwest. Meat and potatoes are rarely prepared with a lot of spice). But this is one case where I will admit that this recipe needs more zoot. I didn’t include the jalapeno. I’ve never cooked with jalapeno in my life. The stuff terrifies me. But if I did it again, I’d use it. The soup needs it.

And luckily, I’m going to Acadiana for lunch tomorrow (it’s DC Restaurant week!!!!) so I can hopefully indulge in the real deal to remind myself why I sometimes pay a lot of money for really exceptional food at a restaurant.

Also, I apologize, this is one of the few times I made a recipe for the blog after work, so I was losing light really quickly. The photos didn’t turn out great.

Corn and Crab Soup
Serves 4
1 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 Tbsp cornmeal
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, diced (include seeds for more spice)
3 ears fresh sweet corn kernels
2 1/4 cups chicken broth
2 corncobs (use the ones you just cut the corn off of!)
1/2 pound fresh lump crabmeat, drained
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tsp old bay seasoning
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
Melt butter in Dutch oven over medium heat; whisk in cornmeal, and cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Add onion, bell pepper, jalapeno and sweet corn kernels, and saute for two minutes. Add the broth and corncobs. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove and discard corncobs. Stir in crabmeat, whipping cream, old bay, salt and pepper. Cook until thoroughly heated, about 5 more minutes. Serve with warm crusty baguette for dipping!
(My other thought was to use chipotle peppers instead of jalapeno…I think it might be interesting. If someone tries it, let me know how it tastes!)

Raspberry Glazed Salmon

15 Jun

It’s my last week of unemployment before I start my new job next Monday. Hard to believe that it’s been six months of not working a 9-5. I imagine it’s going to be a little bit of an adjustment, I’m so used to being able to wake up when I feel like it, go to the gym during the day, do my grocery shopping while everyone else is at work, make a nice lunch at home, then go in and work evenings at the restaurant.

But I’m really excited. And my bank account is even more excited that it will soon see more deposits and fewer large credit card payments.

And my last unemployed week is shaping up to be really great. Last night I went with a group of friends to see the Cardinals play the Nats (they managed to blow a five run lead and then walk home the winning run. It wasn’t pretty). We’ve got some gorgeous weather for a softball game tonight, always a highlight of the week, even if I haven’t been hitting very well this season. Tomorrow night is Ladies Night at Nationals Park, so a big group of girls are heading over for free drinks, food, manicures, and massages before watching the Cards win (hopefully). And then Friday is my new boss’ swearing-in ceremony and reception, after which I’m hoping to make it over to Jazz in the Park with some friends.

And while I’m a little nervous that starting a new job will mean I’ll have a hard time finding time to cook and bake, I realize that I’m actually more productive when I’m busy than when I have a lot of free time. It’s so easy to think that because I have free time, all this stuff will obviously get done, but then it never does. Whereas when I’m busy, I just get on a roll and knock a billion projects out in a week. But I will miss being able to cook lunch at home. I made this salmon for lunch twice last week because a) it is delicious and b) I had an absurd amount of raspberries I needed to use.

Luckily, it’s a really quick and easy dish, so I’m sure I’ll make it many more times for dinner this summer. Plus, hardly any dishes to wash: just one bowl for the glaze, and a baking sheet for the salmon (which I line with aluminum foil, so that shortens cleanup time even more).

I actually stopped eating salmon for quite a while because I got bored with it, but then I remembered how awesome the raspberry/salmon flavor combination is, and it’s back in my cooking rotation. Sometimes you just have to completely ditch the recipes you make too often and start doing something new.

Raspberry Glazed Salmon
Serves 2

Print this recipe!

½ cup fresh raspberries (about 15)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
pinch of salt
2 small salmon fillets

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl, mash raspberries with a fork. Add balsamic vinegar, honey and salt. Stir/mash it all together. It’ll be about the consistency of jam.

Grease baking sheet with a little bit of oil. Place salmon fillets on baking sheet, skin side down, and put a big spoonful of raspberry glaze on top of each. Spread glaze around to cover the top and sides of the fillets. Set aside the extra glaze for later. (NOTE: Be sure that you don’t touch the salmon with the spoon you are using for the glaze. You don’t want to contaminate the bowl of extra glaze with raw salmon, because you are using it later and it won’t be cooked to kill those germs.)

Bake salmon in oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and top with the rest of the glaze. For an extra touch, you can garnish with a few more whole fresh raspberries.

Roasted Asparagus and Fontina Risotto

6 Jun

This right here is probably my favorite time of the year. It’s a confluence of all my favorite things at once:

1. Berries berries berries everywhere

2. The end of a long winter of lame imported produce, the farmers’ markets are back!

3. BASEBALL (going to two games next week when my Cardinals are in town playing the Nats)

4. SOFTBALL (even better, because I get to play every week. My team crushed last week. I like winning.)

5. Rooftop pools.

6. Rooftop bars.

7. Just one month until the best holiday of the year, 4th of July.

8. Tank tops. I love them. I just do.

9. It’s the perfect time for a new haircut…

10. Did I mention berries? Holy cow I can’t stop eating them.

One thing I’ve been buying a lot of at the farmers’ market is asparagus. I really like the skinny asparagus spears. I think the fat ones intimidate me. I don’t think I ever bought asparagus before this spring. But now I’m all about it. Me + Asapargus = Love.

I actually couldn’t decide which picture of the asparagus I liked better…thoughts?

On almost a daily basis I chop up some asparagus, roast it, and top it with balsamic vinegar and parmesan cheese. It’s easy, it’s delicious, you can’t go wrong. But every once in a while you need to get a little fancier. A little less healthy.

Not gonna lie, I was sweating like crazy by the time this risotto was done. Risotto is not a great dish to make when it’s 95 degrees and humid and your AC isn’t on. Combine that with your oven being on at 400 degrees to roast the asparagus, and it is just not a great life choice.

But hey, all those calories I burned off while stirring and sweating and stirring and stirring and sweating meant that I could eat an extra large portion…

Roasted Asparagus Risotto with Fontina
Serves 3

Print this recipe!

½ pound fresh asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
salt
½ cup dry white wine
3 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 medium shallots, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cups arborio rice
Fresh cracked black pepper
1/2 cup fontina cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread asparagus on a baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 5-10 minutes, until bright green.

Heat chicken broth in a medium pan and keep warm.

In large, heavy pot add ½ tablespoon of butter, olive oil and diced shallots. Cook until nearly translucent over medium high heat. Add rice, stirring. Cook for 2-3 minutes.

Reduce heat to low and add wine. Stir until wine is mostly absorbed. Add 1 cup warm chicken broth, stirring until liquid is mostly absorbed. Continue to add warm chicken broth by the ½ cup, stirring and allowing it to be mostly absorbed before adding more. Add broth until risotto is cooked. Rice should be creamy but still have a slight al dente bite to it.

Stir in grated fontina cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Fold in roasted asparagus spears.

Black Bean Quesadilla

25 Apr

True story: I eat a lot of quesadillas. Usually I just make a simple cheese ‘dilla for lunch. But yesterday I decided to go for something more substantial.

The reason I needed more substance was this: I got a job. It’s just a job, not a job job.  I’m still looking for a job job, but for now, I’m making money working as a hostess at a Mediterranean restaurant in my neighborhood. Since I work over the dinner hour, I have to eat a big mid-afternoon meal before my shift or else I’m starving by 11pm.  This quesadilla definitely kept me full all evening (and then my manager ended up giving me some lamb quesadilla at the end of my shift, so I kind of ate an absurd amount of quesadilla yesterday).

Being a hostess has been great so far, it’s not too complicated, and I get half-off meals after my shift, which is awesome. Even once I get a job job, I’m going to keep a few shifts a week at the restaurant just to give me a little extra cushion in my bank account (especially after five months of being unemployed).

If there was ever a picture that fully described me as a person it is this one:

The one thing I always have in my fridge is a huge block of colby jack cheese. So good.

And I’m probably a little heavy-handed with my cheese application. Feel free to be healthier than I am and use less.

I’m going to share my super secret guac recipe with you:

Just kidding. I didn’t have time before work to make guac, so I just used a packaged mix. I added some extra red onion…and at least it’s organic? Not as good as the real thing, but still pretty darn tasty.

Black Bean Quesadillas
Serves 2

Print this recipe!

4 small flour tortillas (or 2 large flour tortillas)
3/4 cup shredded Colby jack cheese
½ medium red onion, diced
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
¼ cup black beans, drained and rinsed (more or less depending on your personal love of black beans)
Guacamole, salsa, sour cream or whatever else you like to put on your quesadillas

In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add diced onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Turn heat down to medium low, and put one of the tortillas in the same skillet. Top with half the cheese, half the onions, and half the black beans. Cover with another tortilla and turn the heat back up to medium. Cook until brown, flip, and cook until other side is brown. If the tortillas are browning to quickly, lower the heat.

Remove from heat, slice into quarters or sixths, top with guac, and burn the roof of your mouth on the cheese because you refuse to wait a few extra seconds to let it cool. At least that’s what I did.

Nacho Pizza

1 Apr

What do you call pizza that isn’t yours? NACHO PIZZA!

Don’t worry, that will be the only lame joke on the blog today.

It’s April Fool’s Day, and I’ve already been pranked a few times. The Washington Metropolitian Area Transit Authority decided to prank me this morning. I had a job interview in SE, so I was going to take the 90/92. I checked Nextbus and it said there’d be a 92 bus in 6 minutes, so I waited. But it didn’t show up. Then it said there was a 90 bus in 3 minutes. Again, I waited. Still nothing. So I had to abort mission and walk to the metro. Ended up being a few minutes late to the interview. Good one, WMATA!

Then I got home and grabbed a Diet Dr. Pepper. The can was weirdly wet, but I didn’t pay much attention. Then I went to move the 12 pack away from the trash cans, and realized the whole box was soaked in soda. Apparently when my roommate hired cleaning ladies yesterday, they managed to puncture a hole in one of the cans, but just left it there leaking on the floor. PUNK’D.

And then I turned on my camera to take pictures of today’s recipe. Nothing. Turns out the battery was completely dead. That one is my bad.

So I apologize, all these pictures are from my phone. Not great. But it was either that, or MS Paint drawings of the meal.

See? No one wants that.

I guess I could have waited for the battery to charge, but I was hungry…

Two things to note: This is actually only 1/4 of the dough from the recipe. I made another mini pizza a couple days ago. 1/4 of the dough makes a pretty good lunch-sized pizza. Second, it looks like I piled on an absurd amount of toppings. It flattens out when it cooks, I promise.

Nacho Pizza

Serves 1

½ of the dough made from the whole wheat pizza dough recipe (maybe you have it left over from the BBQ Chicken Pizza earlier this week?)
1 boneless skinless chicken breast
1 can black beans, drained
½ red onion, sliced thinly
½ cup shredded mozzarella
1 small avocado
5 dollops of sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place chicken breast in a small oven-proof dish and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 25 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from oven use two forks to shred.
Turn oven up to 500 degrees.
Take half of the dough from the whole wheat pizza dough recipe and stretch it into a thin round. Place stretched out dough on an oiled oven sheet.
Place a layer of black beans (drained) on the dough. You can make it as thick as you like, depending on how much you love black beans. Cover with shredded mozzarella. Next layer on the shredded chicken, again, just put on as much as you like. I like to pretty much cover the whole thing with chicken. Toss on your red onion slices, and top with a little extra mozzarella.
Bake for 13-15 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Remove from oven and top with slices of avocado and dollops of sour cream. Slice and serve!

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
Makes two single serve pizzas

¾ cup warm water
½ tsp active dry yeast
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp plus 2 tsp olive oil

In a small bowl, sprinkle yeast over warm water, let sit for a few minutes.
In an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, stir together all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour and salt. With mixer on lower, drizzle in olive oil and mix until blended. Still with mixer on low, pour in water/yeast mixture and continue stirring until combined, and dough forms a sticky ball. It’s pretty sticky, don’t worry about that.

Lightly oil a medium sized bowl. Form dough into a ball and put in oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm area for 1-2 hours.

*This makes enough crust for two single serving pizzas. You can wrap the other half up in plastic wrap, toss it in the fridge and make another pizza next weekend. The dough only gets better after chilling in your fridge for a few days.

BBQ Chicken Pizza on Whole Wheat Crust

30 Mar

I don’t have a car, so I generally don’t leave the city…ever. If it’s not metro accessible, it doesn’t exist to me.

I love how quickly I’ve adjusted to this life of no cars. I love not worrying about how high gas prices are, or how much insurance costs, or if someone is going to ding my door in the parking lot, or did I forget to change the oil? I grew up miles and miles outside of the nearest town, and there aren’t sidewalks along the two-lane country roads, so cars were a mandatory part of life. There’s a freedom that I associate with having a car: you can go anywhere, you can buy a ton of groceries and put them in the trunk, you don’t have to perfectly time your arrival at the busstop or risk standing in the rain for 15 minutes. But there’s an entirely different freedom that comes when you don’t own a car: you don’t have this incredibly expensive responsibility that you might destroy because someone else is driving poorly, you don’t ever need a designated driver, you never have to worry about finding a parking spot, or someone breaking into your car to steal your ipod.

But this past week, my roommate was out of town, and I offered to move her car on street cleaning days, so in exchange she said I could use the car for whatever while she was gone. Having a car is almost like a drug. I quickly found myself wanting to drive the mile that I normally walk to get to Target and do my grocery shopping (I restrained myself, thankfully). But I did take a couple trips out into Virginia to hit up the big craft stores that don’t exist within DC (Michael’s, JoAnn’s, etc…).

And then on Saturday, my friend and I drove out to Great Falls State Park to do some hiking. It’s really not that far out, maybe 10 miles from Georgetown, but it’s a whole different world. Rushing river, trees, boulders, wildlife…

We spent a few hours scrambling over boulders along the river and enjoying the amazing views. When we got to this clearing by the river, my friend joked “okay, now you have to climb that cliff.” And I was like “yeah, no.” But then we looked closer and realized the trail marker actually did go straight up the cliff…so…up the cliff we climbed.

The sunglasses prevent you from seeing the sheer terror in my eyes. The picture fails to capture the river gorge directly below the cliff, into which I was sure I was going to fall.

But I survived, and after conquering both the cliff and my yearly “lady’s exam” this morning, I decided I seriously deserved some pizza. And for some reason, it really needed to be BBQ chicken.

I’m actually not sure I’ve ever even eaten a BBQ chicken pizza before today. The idea has previously never appealed to me. If it were even a remote possibility, these weird cravings would have me worried that I’m preggers. But this is the Very Single Girl’s Kitchen. Very Very Single.

Making your own pizza is super easy and oh-so-satisfying. I just baked a chicken in BBQ sauce, shredded it, and threw it on my dough with a layer of BBQ sauce, mozzarella, red onions, and more mozzarella.

BBQ Chicken Pizza on Whole Wheat Crust
Adapted from Pioneer Woman

Serves 1 very hungry single girl

Whole Wheat Crust
(Makes two single serving crusts)

¾ cup warm water
½ tsp active dry yeast
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp plus 2 tsp olive oil

In a small bowl, sprinkle yeast over warm water, let sit for a few minutes.
In an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, stir together all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour and salt. With mixer on lower, drizzle in olive oil and mix until blended. Still with mixer on low, pour in water/yeast mixture and continue stirring until combined, and dough forms a sticky ball. It’s pretty sticky, don’t worry about that.

Lightly oil a medium sized bowl. Form dough into a ball and put in oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm area for 1-2 hours.

*This makes enough crust for two single serving pizzas. You can wrap the other half up in plastic wrap, toss it in the fridge and make another pizza next weekend. The dough only gets better after chilling in your fridge for a few days.

To Assemble Pizza

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
3 tbsp barbeque sauce
½ medium red onion, sliced
½ cup shredded mozzarella (or more…)
5 tbsp barbeque sauce (additional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place one chicken breast in a small oven-proof dish and coat with 3 tbsp of your favorite barbeque sauce. (I’m a big fan of Sweet Baby Ray’s).  Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes, until cooked through. After removing from oven, dice or shred chicken.

Turn oven up to 500 degrees. And turn your amp up to 11. (Okay, you don’t have to do that second thing.)

Take half your dough and stretch it out to your desired thickness. It’s not a science, and pizzas look cooler when they aren’t perfect (at least that’s what I tell myself). Wrap the other half up in plastic wrap and toss it in the fridge for later this week.

Drizzle some olive oil on a baking sheet, and place your stretched-out dough on the oiled sheet. Spread the remaining 5 tbsp of barbeque sauce on top of the dough as the sauce for the pizza. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella. Add shredded/diced chicken and red onion slices, and top with just a little more mozzarella.

Bake in oven for 15 minutes, until cheese is starting to turn bubbly and golden brown. Remove, let cool for a few minutes, slice, and devour.

*This makes a very chicken heavy pizza, but that’s how I like it. You could use all the dough, and make a bigger, less chickeny pizza.

Pasta with Vodka Sauce

25 Mar

I realized today that I’m getting way too used to being unemployed. It doesn’t feel weird anymore to not be going to work every day. It felt normal to head to the grocery store at 10am on a weekday. That kind of freaks me out. It means I’ve been unemployed so long I’ve adjusted. And it means it will be even harder to switch back once I do find a job.

I had this realization while I was walking to Whole Foods this morning to get the makings for a picnic lunch. Immdiately after I had this realization, I almost got hit in the head with a squirrel.

No. Seriously.

I was just walking along, when all of a sudden there is a blur of grey fur directly in front of my face. I look over to my left, and a squirrel is perched on the side of the tree I’m standing next to. For some reason, he decided to leap from the fence on my right side to the tree on my left side at the exact moment I was walking between these two things.

Just for a minute, let’s imagine the hilarity that would have ensued if I had been a half a second faster. A squirrel, leaping from the fence, would have landed ON MY HEAD. I’m picturing tiny claws in my face and a lot of jumping around on both our parts.

But after a moment of standing there staring at the squirrel in shock, I was able to continue on my way. I picked up some food to make a picnic lunch tomorrow. Some friends and I are planning a hike and I wanted to make a nice lunch. We’re going to have chicken and prosciutto sandwiches on ciabatta with olive tapenade spread, a side salad of carrots and pears with a curry vinaigrette, and some chocolate chip cookies for dessert. Yum yum.

But first let’s talk pasta. Pasta and I had a brief falling out. My last boyfriend reeeeally liked eating pasta and at some point I just got sick of it. But then I discovered Pioneer Woman’s tomato cream sauce. It’s so easy, and so incredibly delicious. One time I added pancetta to it and almost died it was so good.

I was suffering from a lack of kitchen inspiration earlier this week, and decided that tomato cream sauce was just the comfort food I needed to get me through it. I was going to stick with the old standby, but then I saw the link to her vodka sauce. And I thought, hey, I have a lot of vodka in my cabinet, let’s do this.

Don’t ever buy vodka sauce in a jar from the store. It’s so easy to make it yourself, and it just tastes one million times better. I promise. You’ll never go back.

Just some onions, garlic, vodka, tomato sauce and heavy cream. Easy. You’ve probably got most of that in your kitchen already.

This was before I spilled tomato sauce all over my stove top.

 

Pasta with Vodka Sauce
Adapted from Pioneer Woman

Makes 6 servings

1 pound pasta
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup vodka
1 14 oz can of tomato puree (or tomato sauce)
1 cup heavy cream
¼ tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese, as much as you want

Cook pasta according to the directions on the package.

While pasta cooks, in a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter and olive oil. Add diced onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes. Add vodka and allow to cook for a few more minutes. Stir in the tomato puree (or sauce), and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.

Reduce heat to low and add the heavy cream, being careful not to overheat. Add salt and pepper and stir.

Drain pasta and add sauce, topping with a generous helping of Parmesan cheese.

Because I was only serving myself, I didn’t cook up a whole pound of pasta, I just cooked the amount I wanted to eat, poured some of the sauce on it, and put the rest of the sauce in a Tupperware container in the fridge. Now I can cook up more pasta, reheat some of the sauce, and have a quick dinner.