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Pad Thai to the Rescue!

There’s one in every family.  There’s one kid that just won’t eat anything.  You could put a five star kid meal in front of that kid and they’ll turn their nose up at it.  We’ve seen them at restaurants.   You know, the kid who wants pasta, butter, and maybe some parmesan cheese.  Well, we have one in our household.  Our middle child just doesn’t like most foods.  He won’t eat anything with tomatoes (except ketchup or pizza) onions, potatoes (except fries), garlic, cucumbers, salad dressing (he likes his salad with just lettuce), peppers, or sauce.  Any sauce.  No really, any semi liquid flavor enhancer.  Well, any sauce except for ketchup or mayo.  So finding new things he will eat is a challenge.  Well, we found one.  I was very surprised to find he likes Pad Thai.  At least the way we cook it at home.  So, here goes.

3 Chicken Breasts, diced

2 tbsp of Crushed red pepper or more to taste

1 onion, cut

4 garlic cloves, chopped

7 tbsp fish sauce

7 tbsp table sugar

2 tbsp honey

6 tbsp rice or white wine vinegar

4 Green Onion, chopped

3 Limes, wedged

3 eggs, beaten

3 tbsp limes juice

1 package Rice Noodles

3 tbsp canola oil

2 cups peanuts, chopped

Soak rice noodles in cool water for 30 minutes or until soft.  Wisk together the sugar, fish sauce, vinegar.  Cook the crushed red pepper, onion and garlic 3 minutes in the canola oil over medium to med-high heat.  You can use a wok or a skillet if you don’t have one.  Add Chicken Breasts, cook until browned.  Add egg and cook until solidified.  After the egg is cooked, add the 3 tbs of lime juice.  Add rice noodles, sauce and honey.  Cook until noodles are soft.  Place in bowl, garnish with peanuts and green onion.  I like to squeeze three lime wedges over mine.

I love the sweetness with the sour in this meal.  The tastes cover the entire palate, but the sweet/sour of the honey and fresh lime make this such a treat.  I would add more (much more) red pepper flakes, but my family can’t handle the heat like I can.  Enjoy with a good quality beer.  I would suggest a Bell’s Two Hearted Ale or Founder’s Dirty Bastard.  If you like a little more affordable brew (those can be pretty expensive), Bass Ale, Sam Adams, or Sierra Nevada Pale Ale would fit the bill very well.


Kissing and Making Up with Shrimp Pasta

Soooooo. . .  I guess I spilled the beans on the Wifey’s grade on our History of Mexico class.  My wife was never was a fan of history, more of an artsy computer geek, if that’s possible.  I don’t think she was too mad, but I guess I still needed to make amends.  With the older kids gone to Grandma and Grandpa’s, it’s time that we kiss and make up.  What better way to do that than a little wine and dine?  What makes a nice romantic dinner?  Shrimp Pasta? Check.  Wine? Check.  Mixed drinks? Check.  Sounds good to me.

On a side note, I have learned one other thing about myself writing this blog: I must have a thing for Giada of Food Network.  The shrimp pasta I made was based off of her recipe just like the fajita meal was.

Anyway, this is what you will need:

1 lb Shrimp, peeled and deveined (I like the 21-25 shrimp per pound)

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

6 Cloves Garlic, minced

1 Small Onion, roughly chopped

1 TSP Ground Black Pepper

¼ Cup Fresh Basil, chopped

¼ Cup Fresh Parsley, chopped

½ Tsp Salt

¼ Tsp Crushed Red Pepper

¾ lb Penne Pasta (3/4 of a box)

1 ½ Cup Dry White Wine (or 1 cup white wine and ½ cup Grand Marnier)

1/3 Cup Clam Juice

3 Tomatoes, Diced

1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream

¾ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

1 Lemon cut in half and thinly slice ½ of lemon

A note on this dish: prep everything beforehand.   Chop and slice everything that you can.  Things get added very quickly and prepping in between steps can lead to overcooking.

Bring water in a large pasta pot and cook pasta and cook as directed on package.  Drain and set aside.  Pour four turns of olive oil around a large, high walled skillet or stock pot over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until it starts to turn transparent, about 3-5 minutes.  Throw in the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook for 3 more minutes.  Place raw shrimp in pan and cook until pink and heated through, about 4 minutes.  Don’t cook too long or they will dry out.  Remove shrimp and set aside.

Add wine and Grand Marnier (if using) to the pan and reduce for about 4 minutes, cooking the alcohol out.  Add the clam juice, black pepper, basil, parsley and tomato.  Squeeze the juice out of the unsliced half of lemon and add the lemon slices.  Cook for about 3 minutes and add the cream.  Bring to boil and simmer for about 9-10 minutes, or until sauce thickens.  Remove the lemon slices and add the shrimp, pasta and Parmesan cheese and toss until all the pasta is coated.

This is a great meal that takes some prep time, but is easy to make.  It tastes like it’s from a restaurant, but can be made in less than an hour.  I like to use Pinot Grigio in the meal and pair it with the same.  The crispness of the wine goes well with the creamy sweetness of the sauce.   Chardonnay would pair with this well, but Wifey and I are not big fans of it.  Play with the wines you use.  If you like, grill the shrimp instead of sauteing them.

A nice mixed drink with this an amaretto stone sour, a great, refreshing summer drink.  Very easy to make, this is a light drink that won’t hit you too hard.

How to make:

Fill an Old Fashion Glass with Ice and add:

2 oz Amaretto

2 oz OJ (the stone)

Fill to top with 7up and enjoy!

All in all, a great way to kiss and make up and get out of the dog house.

Fajita’s . . . Exactly The Same As Giada’s, But Way, Way Different

So Wifey has upped the blog ante put me her into her mommy blog. So that means that her friends are perusing my blog.  As long as she doesn’t bring me into the mommy wars battles, we’ll be doing fine (those things make a 4th and goal stand look like tea and crumpets with your rich auntie).  That being said, it’s time for one of my favorite styles of food: Mexican, or at least Americanized Mexican.  My choice?  Fajitas.

I never really knew how to make fajitas or what type of spice would go good on them.  So I checked over at the good ole’ Food Network site and looked up fajitas.  Not much came up to my liking.  I was about ready to give up (I had tried other sites as well) when I found Giada’s Fajita Marinade.  It had what I like (and what was in the fridge/pantry).  Orange Juice?  Good.  Lime Juice? Very good.  Garlic?  A necessity.   A very good start.  Now being the experimenter I am, I couldn’t just make it the way Giada did.  That wouldn’t be very creative now, would it?  So I changed it up a little.  (For the original recipe, see the link above).  Here goes:

1 cup Orange Juice

1/3 cup Lime Juice

1/2 cup Olive Oil

6-8 Cloves Garlic (depending on how close you want to be with that special someone)

3 tbs Ancho Chile Powder

2 tbs Dried Oregeno

1 tbs Dried Minced Onion (1 small onion, finely chopped)

1 tbs Dried Parsley (you can substitute dried or fresh cilantro if you like, I don’t like cilantro)

2 Lemons

1.5 – 2 lbs Flank Steak

3 Boneless ChickenBreasts

3 Bell Peppers (I use 2 red and 1 green, but use what ever you like)

1Large Onion

1/2 Tomato

Butter or Olive Oil for sauteing veggies

Tortillas (warmed)

Shredded Cheese

Sour Cream

Taco or Hot Sauce

Finely chop garlic and any fresh herbs (and small onion if using for marinade) and set aside.  I use my mini food processor to do the business, love it.  In a large bowl, add the orange juice, lime juice, oregano, parsley, minced onion, garlic and, chile powder.  Stir well.  Slowly, while whisking the marinade, add the olive oil.  If you don’t whisk while slowly pouring or pour too fast, the oil and juice won’t emulsify (the oil will rise to the top and won’t mix).  When the oil has been whisked in and emulsified, place the steak and chicken in a seal-able container and pour the marinade over.  Seal and store in the fridge for 3-4 hours.

When ready to cook, heat your grill and slice the large onion and peppers.  Slice the tomato into 6 wedges and thinly slice the lemon as well.  Grill the meat as you would any other flank steak and chicken breast.  Let the meat stand for 5-10 minutes before slicing.  That will allow the juices to keep within the meat.  Take your marinade and bring to a boil for 5 minutes (to kill any bacteria).  Be careful, the marinade will bubble over if you don’t turn it down.

In a large fry pan, heat oil/butter over medium heat and saute the onions until slightly transparent.  Add the peppers and sliced lemon to the pan and cook till aldente, about 4 minutes.  Add the tomato wedges and the marinade and reduce for 2-4 minutes, allowing the veggies to absorb some of the marinade.

Slice the steak thinly and the chicken a little thicker than the steak.  Cut the other lemon in half and squeeze the lemon over the meat.   Top the fajita with the cheese, sour cream and/or taco sauce and enjoy.

The sweetness of the orange juice mixes with the other flavors very well.  The lemon juice adds a great summery feel to the meal (that and I love cooking with lemon).  You can always marinade just chicken or steak too.  A nice drink pairing would be Bell’s Oberon Ale or Sam Adams Summer Ale, a margarita, or Mexican Coke (no not that Mexican Coke, this stuff).  My History of Mexico prof would shake his head at me calling this Mexican food.  Then again, I did get an A in the class.  We won’t say what Wifey got.