January 18, 2015: Shrimp Scampi

Tonight I tried my hand at cooking shrimp scampi. I don’t have a lot of experience cooking seafood, but I had time over the weekend to try it out.

Peeled Shrimp

Peeled Shrimp

I had a bag a frozen (in shell) shrimp, so I took about 15 of them, defrosted them, and then peeled them. I started cooking broccoli and got my pasta going – ideally I would’ve liked linguine, but I didn’t have any so settled for rotini instead. I started a pan with a little canola oil (didn’t have olive oil) and butter, then added garlic powder and red pepper flakes. I added salt and pepper to the shrimp, and added them to the pan.

Shrimp in the pan

Shrimp in the pan

I forgot that butter can’t take high heat and had it cooked on medium high – it probably would’ve been better to stick with medium heat, as the shrimp got pretty brown. To be honest I may have overcooked them a little bit on one side before flipping them over, and may have burnt the butter slightly. But after the shrimp were done cooking, I added lemon juice and some chardonnay to the pan to make a sauce to go over the pasta.

The completed dinner

The completed dinner

All in all, not a bad try! The shrimp had a nice buttery flavor, and the sauce had a strong lemon flavor. I think next time I’d be sure to add some more red pepper flakes and garlic, as those flavors didn’t come out too strongly. Maybe a little less lemon juice, or a little more wine to balance out some of the sauce flavors, and don’t let the sauce reduce quite so long so there’s a little more liquid next time. But it was a great dinner to cook!

November 2014 – Chocolate Covered Popcorn

What is this? How was it made? Keep reading on!

What is this? How was it made? Keep reading on!

I’ll admit that I’m a pretty big fan of popcorn – stove popped, air popped, movie theater style, kettle corn – pretty much anything besides packaged microwave popcorn. Combine the high dietary fiber in popcorn, the microwave popcorn popper my parents got me, and the selling of bulk (organic!) popcorn kernels at the local Berkeley Bowl, and you’ve got a recipe for lots of popcorn a lot of the time!

Most of the time, I just throw a handful of kernels in the bowl, throw it in the microwave (no oil needed!), let it pop, salt it, and eat it! I’ll also admit that I usually don’t spend too much time in the kitchen baking or making sweets (though I would like to try my hand at some more baking, though that’s for future blog posts). However a couple of weeks ago, I thought I’d try something a little more fancy and attempt chocolate covered popcorn. Luckily, Berkeley Bowl also sells bulk chocolate chips, so I bought a decent amount of semi-sweet chocolate chips (what I didn’t use for this, I could eat!)

Having popped the popcorn, I tried to figure out how to melt the chocolate. Easiest way would have been to microwave, but I wanted to try my hand at making a double boiler. Now while I do have more dishes than my original single pot, I don’t have a huge selection, and I didn’t have a pot that would fit well in another pot without touching water below. So I cheated and used a large frying pan with water, and floated a smaller frying pan in the water with the chocolate (and now wish I had taken pictures of the set up!). It worked well enough – I let the water get hot enough to start melting the chocolate, though not up to boiling. I didn’t really know how much chocolate to put in, I just grabbed a handful of chips that looked like a good amount to me. I threw in a dash of salt to the chocolate as it melted. I probably could have added some milk or butter too, but perhaps next time.

While it was melting, I put some popcorn in a baking sheet, and then once the chocolate was all melted, I just drizzled it over the popcorn, stirring it with a wooden spoon to spread out evenly.

Pan of popcorn with chcolate

Pan of popcorn with chocolate

I soon realized that I probably didn’t melt enough chocolate – it didn’t cover too much of the popcorn, and the taste didn’t come through too strongly. A few places where the chocolate clumped up tasted good mixed with the popcorn. I let it sit for a few hours to harden, and then placed it all in a sealed container. I enjoyed it a lot, though I think next time I would use a higher chocolate-to-popcorn ratio. Also, for visuals, it might look nicer to use a piping bag (for me, a ziploc bag with a corner cut off) to drizzle on chocolate rather than using the spoon, and I could probably get some cool ribbon effects. But still, a nice treat, and an attempt at a fancier dessert!

photo 2

Chocolate covered popcorn!

April 5, 2014: Mango Applesauce Chicken

photo 5

Nearing the end of break, I realized I still had a mango that I had bought last week, and wanted to do something with it. I had a few chicken thighs around too, as well as a couple of cups of 6-pack applesauce cups.

The first thing I did was poach the broccoli in the one pot, partly because I didn’t mind eating cold vegetables. Once the broccoli went into the pot, I started a microwaved baked potato in the microwave. While the broccoli was cooking, I started seasoning the chicken with salt and pepper.

Boneless chicken thighs

Boneless chicken thighs

After the broccoli was done,  sautéed the chicken. While they were cooking, I diced up a mango, and when the chicken was almost done cooking, I threw in the mango pieces to add some flavor. To be honest, it wasn’t quite as ripe as I would have liked, but I think the cooking helped bring out more flavor.

Cutting a mango

Cutting a mango

Chicken and mango

Chicken and mango

When the chicken was done, I took it out, leaving the mango pieces in the pot. I did a pseudo deglazing of the pot, adding some water, and a (half) cup of applesauce to the mango pieces.

Applesauce

Applesauce

I let the sauce-like mixture reduce a bit before putting it on the plate next to the meat. I thought it was a little sweet for my taste, and initially thought it would be better eaten as a dessert-like portion of the meal (actually, it made me think that a mango-apple pie might be interesting), but actually, it worked well with the meat. I put the sauce on the side of the plate with the chicken, and added the broccoli and half a baked potato for dinner.

Chicken thighs and mango and applesauce sauce, with broccoli and a baked potato

Chicken thighs and mango and applesauce sauce, with broccoli and a baked potato

 

April 2, 2014: Chicken, Mushroom, Carrots

I bought a package of boneless chicken thighs at the market and thought I’d do something rather simple with them tonight. I started off by boiling some carrots for vegetables (yes I have some leftover asparagus from last time, but I wanted something new).

Boiled carrots

Boiled carrots

After that I seasoned the chicken – went simple today, just salt, pepper, and some Italian seasoning mix. I cooked the chicken in the pot with some oil at the bottom, I suppose a bit like pan frying (although I probably used a bit much oil, as I forgot to take into account the fat in the chicken).

Cooked chicken

Cooked chicken

I thought they had a pretty nice light brown/golden touch on the outside. I then used the leftover oil to saute some mushrooms to go with the meat.

Full dinner!

Full dinner!

March 30, 2014: Whitefish with Asparagus

Whitefish with asparagus

Whitefish with asparagus

I went shopping this weekend and picked up a fillet of Alaskan whitefish, with the intention of making an easy meal, wrapping the fish in  foil with a lemon and throwing it in the oven for about 20 minutes.

And then I realized today that I didn’t have any foil.

So onto plan B, cooking with my singular pot. I had bought asparagus to go with it (I seem to buy a lot of asparagus on breaks, though I don’t get it much on a regular basis). I did a quick steam of the asparagus first – I don’t mind eating it cold, and there’d be less clean up. For the fish, I cut the fillet into 3 pieces, I added some salt and pepper, and added some Italian spice mix on one piece.  I just put a little bit of oil in the bottom of the pot, and put in the fish to cook, flipping the fish halfway through. For the last 2 fillets, I added a couple of lemon slices about halfway through the cooking. I really liked the flavor, though I think next time, I’d add the lemon earlier.