Bloody Mary Shrimp and Grits

There are very few food items in this world that I dislike. Eel, persimmons, and whiskey come to mind immediately. Ick. I'm really not picky, and will typically try anything. But some things just sound... terrible. Bloody mary's? I don't understand how people drink those. A V8 alone is repulsive, so why of why would you add vodka to that? You people don't seriously find those yummy, right? It's just like a cult, right? Like a big fat joke on society? I just can't get behind bloody mary's.

But I can get behind Bloody Mary Shrimp and Grits.

EDITORS NOTE: i just re-read this in August 2015 and have to say that as of today, 2 of my top 5 favorite drinks are whisky and blood marks. Funny how we change so much in so little time. xo

Bloody Mary Shrimp & Grits
for four

2 cups tomato-based vegetable juice
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tbsp EVOO
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 cup white grits (not quick)
1/4 c. shredded parmesan/romano blend
2 tbsp butter

2 tsp EVOO
1 small white onion, finely diced
3 stalks celery, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c vegetable broth
1 tsbp worcestershire sauce
3 heavy dashes Tabasco
1/2 tsp celery seeds
1 bag frozen shrimp, rinsed and defrosted (tail-on, peeled, de-veined, large)
healthy amount of cracked black pepper
salt to tast
corn starch slurry (1 tsp corn starch+2 tsp cold water)
4 green onions, diced

In a pot, heat veg juice and broth with garlic, onion powder, and EVOO.

Once liquid comes to a boil, stir in grits. Bring back up to a boil, then reduce heat to as low as possible, cover, and stir every 2-3 minutes for 25 minutes. 

Meanwhile, heat EVOO in a saute pan and saute garlic, onion, and celery.

Once softened, add broth, worcestershire, tabasco, and celery seeds and reduce heat to medium-low.

Add in shrimp and nestle them into the brothy sauce. Taste and add S&P.

Meanwhile, in grits land, add in cheese and butter and stir quickly for about 20 seconds, or until cheese and butter are melted and distributed evenly. Remove from heat!

Tighten up your shrimp broth with a corn starch slurry and top with green onions.


You might be wondering where the vodka is in this bloody mary. Why, it is on the side, of course, in your daily martini!


Fresh Squeezed Orange Popsicles

When I was a kid I would walk to my grandparents' house after elementary school. They had a huge back yard full of citrus trees, so there were always oranges to snack on. In warm months (er... all year in CA) my grandma would squeeze oranges, mix the juice with sticky corn syrup, and turn them into the stickiest, sweetest, most delicious popsicles ever. It was like licking orange juice concentrate and I'm not describing that as a bad thing.

I've been lusting over popsicle molds for months now, but have not found any in stores. Target does NOT have popsicle molds! Ridiculous. However, I ran into a set with reusable sticks for $2.99 at Kmart and bought two sets.

Commence popsicle season. Here are two ways to enjoy popsicles with fresh OJ, hold the corn syrup.

A few tips first:

1. Get an electric juicer. This will save your wrists from the juicing. It takes about 10-12 oranges to make 8 popsicles, so unless you want crazy strong forearms, just use an electric juicer. Or I suppose you could buy your OJ, but I might shun you.

2. You need to know how much juice you need for your molds. Fill your popsicle molds with water, then dump that into a measuring cup. Now you know how much liquid you need! No guesswork or waste involved!

3. And finally, make freezer space BEFORE you start.

Orange Vanilla Agave Popsicles

1 1/2 cups fresh squeezed OJ
2 tbsp agave syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients together. Agave likes to separate, so whisk well!

Pour into molds.

Freeze for 4+ hours.

And if you're feeling a bit tropical....

Coconut Orange Pops

1 1/2 cups fresh squeezed OJ
1/2 tsp coconut extract
1/3 c. shredded sweetened coconut flakes

Mix all ingredients together.
Pour into molds.

Freeze for 4+ hours.

To release popsicles, fill a sink with hot water and dip the molds in the hot water for a few seconds, or until the pops release!

Tastes like summer!


Berry Cobbler

If I'm doing this right, I think I've whined about my favorite foods before. I mean, this is MY food blog....  and cobbler is MY favorite dessert.

Let's see how many times I have mentioned this in my blog's short little life:
Not one, but two times!

Well, let's make this three then, shall we?

Hey guess what, reader? Cobbler is my FAVORITE dessert. I know, this comes as news. It all started with my grandma's peach cobbler when I was a kid, but I really don't discriminate when it comes to cobbler. I've made a tomato cobbler once, and I still daydream about it's deliciousness on occasion. I really don't care what's underneath that layer of cakey doughy goodness, a cobbler is a cobbler. And I want to eat it. End.of.story.

So here's a cheater recipe. Easy peasy. Diet-friendly. Crowd pleaser. 

Cheater Berry Cobbler
10 servings

3 small bags frozen berries (I prefer a blend of cherry, raspberry, blueberry, and blackberry)
1 box yellow cake mix
1 can diet ginger ale

Preheat oven to 350F

Spread frozen berries evenly in dish.

Evenly distribute cake mix over the berries.

Drizzle the soda over the dish. You want to get every surface wet, or you'll end up with patches of exposed uncooked cake mix. Use a spatula to saturate if necessary.

Bake uncovered for 45 minutes.

Topping will turn golden and make a nice hard shell that you have to break through to get to the juicy fruit. YUM.

Underneath the crust is a ton of juicy fruit. This is a very saucy cobbler. The soda and berry juices mix with that cake mix to make the most delicious berry sauce you will ever taste. Serve this cobbler in bowls that are deep enough so everybody can serve a few ladles of sauce. It's incredible.

Now, I like the berry + ginger mix, but you can combine any flavors you can imagine. Just stick to the template!

  1. Frozen fruit
    1. Mixed berries
    2. Blueberries and mango
    3. Peaches
    4. Cherries
    5. Blueberries
    6. Blackberries
  2. Cake mix
    1. Yellow
    2. White
    3. Vanilla
    4. Spice
    5. Angel Food
    6. Lemon
    7. Strawberry
    8. Chocolate
  3. Soda (diet or not)
    1. Ginger Ale
    2. Lemon Lime
    3. Cream Soda
    4. Orange 
    5. Vanilla Coke
    6. Black Cherry
    7. Cherry Vanilla Creme (Hansen's brand)
Seriously, go nuts. This dessert would be excellent in little personal-sized souffle dishes as well since it gets so saucy. It would be an easy yet fancy dessert for entertaining a small group. Take note. 

Now you can breath easy: If there is ever a pop quiz about my favorite dessert, you will definitely pass!


White Wine Coq au Vin

You know how there are some meals that just seem really untouchable? Like they are so technical and fancy sounding that they are just not within normal human capacity? Hint: they have french names.

Moules Menieres
Boeuf Bourguignon
Creme Brulee
Salmon en croute

Funny thing is... expect for maybe the pastry items... these are all pretty easy to make. The french are just f*$!ing with us!

I'll show them!

Coq au vin. Challenge accepted. Here's wikipedia's phonetic interpretation:  [kɔk o vɛ̃] 
The only reason I have any idea what my mouth should do with those letters is because of those three years I wasted in french class in high school.

You're not scaring me, coq au vin. And while I'm at it, being not scared of you and all, I'm going to to switch some things up here. Coq au vin is chicken that is traditionally braised with mushrooms, red wine, and lardons (pork fat). But I had a bottle of unwanted white wine. And I'm not about to eat pork fat straight up like that.

So here you have it, white wine coq au vin. It is SO easy. One pan. 30 minutes. I'm like Rachael Ray, but french-er.

White Wine Coq au Vin
6 servings

1/4 c. EVOO
1 dozen boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/4 c. flour
2 tsp each: dried marjoram, thyme, rosemary, parsley, tarragon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
5 stalks celery, sliced at an angle for fancy points
2 leeks, trimmed, and sliced into coins
1 large white onion, sliced
2 cups baby carrots
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups dry white wine, like a chardonnay
1/2 c. fresh parsley, chopped
S&P to taste
a french baguette for dipping

In a ziploc bag, combine flour, herbs, and salt and pepper. Dredge chicken thighs.

Heat EVOO in a large skillet over med-high heat. Yeah, it's a lot of oil. You could use a nonstick pan and use less oil, but then you wouldn't get those crispy bits that you scrape up into the broth. Your choice.

Once oil is smoking hot, place dredged thighs in pan and fry until golden on each side. Meanwhile, prep yo veggies.

Once both sides of the chicken are golden and crispy (~5 minutes each side), remove from pan and place on a plate. Set aside. 

Toss in veggies and let them fry in the chicken bits and soften for 3-4 minutes.

Heat stock and wine until warm (microwave or stove, whatevs)

Pour over veggies. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up all the chicken bits.

Bring brothy heaven up to a boil, then nestle in the chicken thighs. Reduce to low heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.

Taste the broth at this point and add S&P as you see fit. Right before serving, toss in parsley and stir. 

Like I said, serve with lots of french baguette. Eat with a heavy yet inaccurate french accent. 

Eat your heart out, France!


Oodles of Noodles

When I was a kid my mom cooked a grand total of six different meals. Spaghetti, stir fry, frozen pizza, sloppy joe's, turkey tacos, and noodles. Then eventually in high school I started cooking these same meals. I liked the activity of cooking but didn't understand the whole "try something new!" thing yet. Thank goodness I figured that out.

I now appreciate the meals that fed four and cost just a few bucks, and sometimes I do feel nostalgic for these foods. None of them are super bad, but none are really super interesting or delicious. Sometimes I also feel nostalgic for my grandma's chicken fried steak, but then I remember that I like my heart to beat every time it's supposed to. 

So, in honor of those yaki-soba noodles that we so often consumed in my youth, I bring you this meal:

Chicken and Vegetable Noodles
for four+

For sauce:
juice of 2 oranges
1/2 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. seasoned rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp crushed garlic
2 tsp freshly grated ginger
2 tsp chinese hot sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp crushed garlic
3 chicken breasts, sliced
1 white onion, sliced
2 portabella mushrooms, sliced
1 cup shredded carrots
6 cups shredded cabbage

1 package pre-cooked japanese style noodles
4 green onions, diced

Combine sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a pot (yeah, i don't have a wok - trust me, a pot works great!) and stir fry chicken until just cooked through. Remove from pot and set aside in a bowl.

Slice up your veggies!

 Add 1 tbsp of oil in said pot, and stir fry garlic for a few seconds. Toss in veggies and stir fry!

Once onions and mushrooms are soft, add cabbage.

Add 3 tbsp of sauce mixture and stir fry the veggies up. Once the cabbage is wilted, remove veggies from pan and combine with chicken.

Prep your noodles by package directions. It works well to soak them in water and let them loosen up.
Dump noodles in hot pan and add the sauce. The noodles will suck up all that yummy flavor. Stir fry 2-3 minutes or until noodles are hot.

In a big bowl, layer veggies, chicken, and saucy noodles.

Serve in a big glass bowl so your company can see all the goodies! The saucy noodles will drip down over the veggies and create a flavor explosion.

Top with green onions!

Those noodles really suck up all that flavor. The good part of this meal is the veggie:not veggie ratio. It's pretty high! This meal would be excellent with beef, but the mom doesn't eat that business. However, I encourage you to try beef, tofu, or whatever protein you like with this. Or leave out meat, add more mushrooms, and make it vegetarian!

Another Roady classic: Cucumber onion salad.  Sliced cucumber, super thinly sliced red onion, and a lot of seasoned rice vinegar. I add sesame seeds. Let it chill for about 20 minutes before serving.

Sorry for calling you out, mom.


Baja Fish Tostadas

Baja Fresh puts this really delicious creamy tangy sauce on its fish tacos and if you have ever eaten them, you know what I mean. It's peppery and a little fishy, which may sound terrible, but I am telling you, it is the bomb. I just had to try to recreate it.

Apparently the recipe for that sauce is under lock and key in Baja Fresh land, which, incidentally, is just over the hill in Newbury Park. So, I was left to internet speculation and my taste buds to get this just right.

I think I did a decent job.

Baja Fish Sauce
makes enough for 8 tacos

1/4 c. nonfat plain greek yogurt
2 tbsp mayo
juice of 2 limes
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp red salsa like Pace or the Trader Joe's jarred variety
2 tsp Tapatio or mexican-style hot sauce
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white sugar
1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper

Mix all ingredients. Adjust taste accordingly - want it a little spicier? Add more Tapatio. Want it more thick? Add more greek yogurt. Want it more fishy? Fish sauce.

Pour that business in a jar and chill for a few hours before eating so that the flavors can all mush together.

You're probably going to need something to eat that baja fish sauce on. Like a salmon tostada?

Get some good 99 cent store queso fresco. It only costs 99 cents.

Slice some radishes. My favorite taco topper!

And place some wild alaskan salmon fillets in a foil lined dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake covered for 20 minutes at 400F

Crisp up some corn tortillas in that oven at the same time.

Top with a little bit of shredded cabbage, then layer on toppings.  Ta da! Baja Salmon Tostadas!

I also found this treasure of a seasoning at the 99 cent store. It's like pure flavor crystals of lime, chile, and salt.

 PS, it is NOT a candy.