Thursday, August 23, 2012

Childhood Memories

It has been said, "If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older."  I feel very blessed to have had a wonderful childhood with many sweet memories.  Every so often I will be minding my own business, and it will hit me: a small thing will remind me of one of these sweet times.  Many of these instances, it is a certain season or a specific smell that will strike up a feeling that I thought was left far behind.

Now that I am a wife, I am trying to make quick, healthy, and delicious dinners for my sweet husband.  Recently, I was making this dish and the memories started flowing.  It is not fancy.  It is not beautiful.  But even some of the most special memories are not the most fancy or the most beautiful of times, but they are precious nonetheless.

This is how the memory went.  When we were younger, it was quite a task for my parents to get four kids under the age of 8 dressed and ready for church on Sundays.  Somehow, we always made it, not just to church, but early!  If you were not early to church, you were not on time.  After church, we would pile back into our silver minivan and head home.  When we would enter the door, smells of the Sunday roast would fill our nose and feed our soul.  There were always a little bit of leftovers but never enough for 6 people all over again.  My mom would put them in the fridge for later that night, and she would transform them.  We called it Hash.

The great thing about this dish is you can use whatever you have in your fridge.  I wanted to use a whole onion, but all I had was half.  Just like mom, you make do with what you have and add a little bit of love.  No one will know the difference.  I used russet potatoes, onion, carrots, garlic, and tarragon and sage since I had an abundance.  If you don't have any fresh herbs, dried herbs go well in this recipe too.

Chop up your veggies

In your largest pan, add a little olive oil and butter and let it melt.

Add the carrots, onion, and potatoes to the skillet with salt and pepper.

Toss the veggies around to disperse the seasoning.  Once the onions and carrots hit the hot pan, it perfumes the kitchen and the memories kick in.

We do not have many roasts in our house, but we do have a large quantity of deer sausage.  Use whatever you have left over: chicken, turkey, roast, hamburger meat, sausage...pretty much anything works!  Maybe not fish...

Take half of your herbs and add it to the pan

I have gotten into a habit of adding half of my herbs while the food is cooking and then leave the other half for a garnish.  The pop of bright green adds beautiful color, and I feel like it adds a depth of flavor.

Mince 2 cloves of garlic and add it to the pan with the sausage

Let the sausage brown, and it is time to eat!  This is perfect for a family meal because it is a one pot meal, it has fresh vegetables, and it is kid friendly, child tested, and mother approved.

This is my plate: straight up simple with a garnish of your fresh herbs.

This is Matt's plate.  My hubby loves his ketchup.  Either way is delicious!

Like I told you, this meal is not fancy, but I love it because of the sweet times that come to mind.  It makes me happy because it brings to mind all of those people that have been there for me my whole life that I love so dearly, my family.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sushi Date Night

 DATE NIGHT!!!!!  My favorite thing!!!  There is nothing I love more than spending quality time with my Matty.  This was especially fun because we were celebrating that Matt had just gotten a new job at a  children's clinic in Rankin.  All throughout our relationship, we have loved sushi, and it has been one of our favorite date foods.  As you may be able to guess, I love to challenge my cooking abilities with different cultures cuisine, but after trying to make some of this sushi I realized how easy it can be.  It is the perfect date night food because it is fun, unique, and you get to get your hands dirty.

I always thought that the ingredients for sushi were so inaccessible or too expensive, but I made both of these rolls with leftover vegetables that were in my fridge and shrimp from my freezer.  You could make a vegetable roll with carrots, asparagus, and avocado or a cucumber roll with cucumber and cream cheese.  Just let your creativity kick in while you dig around through your crisper drawer.  But what about the seaweed wrap?  It can now be found in your local Kroger in the Asian food department.  Kroger really has come a long way in just a few short years thanks to all of us Foodies out there.

I am going to show you the two different rolls I tried out for date night.  I think you definitely need something spicy for a date night to heat things up, so I made a spicy shrimp roll with sweet carrots to mellow out the heat.  The second roll is a mimic of my favorite roll: crunchy shrimp roll.  It is so simple!  Just shrimp with panko breadcrumbs and steamed asparagus to bring it to the next crunch level.  Now, down here in the South in the summer time, we always seem to have an excess of crawfish from our numerous crawfish boils.  Oh, and we are not complaining one little bit.  This could be a creative way to use up some of those leftover tails!

Spicy Shrimp Roll

 Crunchy Shrimp Roll

First of all, start cooking some short grain white rice.  Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and add 1 cup of short to medium white grain rice.  Stir the rice, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cover.  Do not peek.  Do not stir. Just let it be.  When the rice is cooked, you will add some seasame seeds and 1 tsp of rice wine vinegar (optional).  While the rice is cooking, move on to your sushi fillings.

Peel and devein 12-15 Jumbo shrimp

Take half of your shrimp and chop it up as finely as you are able to...eww...yuck!  It looks so unappetizing!  Stay with me.

Leave the other half whole

Boil your whole shrimp for approximately 4 minutes or until they are fully cooked.  I don't trust myself with raw fish.  I will leave that up to the professionals.

Put 1 TBSP of canola oil in a pan and saute the minced shrimp with salt 

Add about 1/2 a cup of panko breadcrumbs to the shrimp and mix them together until they are crunchy and crispy bits of deliciousness

While the shrimp are cooking, wash your cutting board.  This step is very important.  Getting sick on date night is not allowed!

These are the stars of our spicy shrimp rolls.  Siracha is an Asian hot sauce that can be found in any grocery store in the International food department.  We also will use some mayo and a squeeze of lemon juice to add a brightness to the shrimp.

Chop up your whole shrimp that you boiled

To the shrimp, add 1/2 TBSP of Siracha, 2-3 TBSP of mayo, and 1/2 of a lemon's juice

Mix it all together.  It is creamy and looks absolutely delicious!

By this time, your crunchy shrimp with be ready to escape the pan.  Transfer it to a bowl and set aside.

 Cut one small carrot into matchsticks or buy carrot matchsticks from the grocery store to save yourself a step.

Bamboo sushi mat.  These can be found at most Kroger's or at a local Asian marketplace.  They are really cheap and make the sushi process a lot easier.  I cover my mat with saran wrap to keep the rice from sticking to the bamboo.

Place your seaweed paper over your mat with the shiny side up.

Put a few spoonfuls of rice on your wrap

Spread your rice out and leave a 1 inch gap at the one end

Now, this step adds a level of difficulty: the seaweed flip.  I like the rice on the outside of the sushi, so at this point, I slip my hand under the paper and flip it really fast so the rice does not fall off.  This part is way easier with two people.  If you like the rice on the inside of the roll, do not even worry about flipping it!

Lets assemble our spicy shrimp!  Lay down a few of your carrot sticks.

Spoon half of your spicy shrimp filling over your carrots.

Start rolling your roll.  Fold the end over your filling to secure it.

Keep rolling until you cannot roll anymore.  Make sure you are pulling the saran wrap back as you roll.  You do not want plastic sushi!

Twist the ends of your plastic wrap to tighten the roll and help it stick together better.

Firm up the roll with the bamboo mat, and you have made your first sushi!

My sushi roller!

Crunchy shrimp roll!  Take 1-2 steamed asparagus stalks.  Spoon half of your crunchy shrimp filling over the asparagus.  I apologize for my sad looking asparagus, but we had it for dinner the night before.  Like I said, this sushi is fabulous for leftovers.  Roll it up just like previously shown.  

These recipes I have given you will make two rolls of Spicy Shrimp and two rolls of Crunchy Shrimp.

It is time to cut your sushi rolls!  I cut off the ends because there is usually not much filling there.  Also, one tip I will give you; the seaweed is easier to cut with a serrated knife.  You can make the pieces as big or as small as you like them.

Arrange the sushi on a plate.  I put all of the sushi on one plate so Matt and me would be forced to sit close together so we could share.  I bought a bag of frozen edamame that I threw in the microwave to steam for five minutes.  By the time the edamame was done, I had completely finished the clean up!  Have I convinced you that this is a great date night meal??

Yummmm... dinner was so delicious and fun I just had to share it with you.  I hope you and your sweetie have as much fun as we did. 

P.S.  This is also a great girls night activity.  My college friends and I used to get together to make sushi and watch old Audrey Hepburn movies.  We had some wonderful times with making this sushi!

Spicy Shrimp Roll

2 sheets of nori seaweed
6-8 jumbo shrimp
1/2 TBSP siracha hot sauce
2-3 TBSP of mayonnaise
1 tsp of lemon juice
pinch of salt
1 small carrot
1/2 cup of white rice
dash of rice wine vinegar (optional)
dash of sesame seeds (optional)

Cook your rice according to the package instructions.  When the rice is cooked, add the vinegar and sesame seeds and stir.

Peel and devein the shrimp.  Boil the shrimp for 4-5 minutes until the shrimp is cooked all the way through.  Cut up the shrimp into small pieces.  

Put the shrimp in a bowl with the siracha, mayo, lemon juice, and salt.  Mix the ingredients together.

Lay out your seaweed on your bamboo mat and plastic wrap.  Put a few spoonfuls of rice on your seaweed and spread it out, leaving a 1 inch margin at one end.  Flip the seaweed, lay 1/2 of the carrot sticks across the seaweed paper, and spoon half of the shrimp mixture onto the seaweed.  Roll up your seaweed and cut with a serrated knife.

Crunchy Shrimp Roll

2 sheets of nori seaweed
6-8 jumbo shrimp
1/2 cup of panko
1 TBSP of canola oil
pinch of salt
2-4 asparagus spears (steamed)
1/2 cup of white rice 
dash of rice wine vinegar (optional)
dash of seasame seeds (optional)

Cook your rice according to the package instructions.  When the rice is cooked, add the vinegar and sesame seeds and stir.

Peel and devein your shrimp.  Mince the shrimp up as small as you can.  Put in a saute pan with oil and panko breadcrumbs.  Cook until shrimp is done and breadcrumbs are browning.  Transfer to a bowl.

Lay out your seaweed paper.  Put 1/2 of the rice on the seaweed and spread it out leaving a one inch margin on one end.  Flip your seaweed.  

Put 1-2 spears of steamed asparagus on nori and add 1/2 of the panko shrimp mixture.  Roll the sushi and cut with a serrated knife.