Cajun Boil

When I was a kid my family and I took a few trips to Lake Shasta and stayed on a houseboat with my aunt and uncle and other extended family members. We saw bears, tons of deer, caught some fish, and inadvertently went rafting (in a houseboat...) I was just young enough to not really remember those trips now, but I do have memories from the photographs I've seen, not to mention the trauma from the rafting incident. Just teasing, Uncle Gary!

The first time I had this meal was on one of those house boat trips. I don't remember the first meal because I was too young, but my family has had this hundreds of times since then. It's a really fun meal, especially for a group. But this isn't a fine dining sort of meal... it involves newspapers and piles of shrimp shells.

Cajun Boil
for 6

1 Zatarain's Crawfish, Shrimp, & Crab Boil in Bag
6 ears of corn
12 red potatoes
1 large bag of fresh or frozen, shell on, raw shrimp
8 spicy sausage links (like chicken andouille)
6-12 sourdough rolls, depending on your carb neediness
condiments: ketchup, horseradish, a selection of mustards and hot sauces, salt, pepper, butter

Add crab boil bag to the most giant pot you have (like industrial size huge) and fill 5" below rim with water.

You might call it a cauldron.

Prep corn by breaking into halves, or thirds, depending on your forearm strength.

Wash and scrub potatoes. Dry, pierce with a fork, and pre-cook in microwave on a plate for 12 minutes, or until cooked evenly.

Get your other ingredients ready. Rinse off shrimp (nobody likes frozen shrimp ice sauce).

And cut sausages into halves.

Water should be boiling away at this point!

Add in sausage and cook 2-3 minutes, or until just starting to plump up.

Add corn. Cook 4-5 minutes, or until a little brighter yellow.

Add shrimp. Cook about 5 minutes, or until they float and are red and opaque.

Prep your table! This is the fun part. The first layer (which you can't see) is a cut open trash bag. This protects the table from juices. Then put a few layers of newspaper, making sure you use the newspaper for placemats. Then finally, a layer of paper towels. You could use dish towels too. We make a ring of potatoes. It's kinda blair witchy.

Drain the boil!

And dump that shit on the table!

Now go be a pig and eat with your hands. Yum!


Ginger Lime Chicken

I thought I had made chicken every which way I possibly could.

Grilled. Baked. Stir-Fried. Braised. Crock-Pot-ed. Poached. Sauteed.

I had just resolved that unless it was going to involve a chicken thigh and some kind of fatty gravy, my chicken was also going to be tough, dry, and chewy.

Alas! No more! I'm never making shitty chicken breast again.

This recipe was adapted from Weight Watchers

Ginger Lime Chicken
for four

4 chicken breasts, cut into two pieces each
2 ziploc bags
1/4 c. soy sauce
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
zest of 1 lime
2 tbsp freshly grated ginger root
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp chili oil
2 tsp sriracha or asian hot sauce of choice
2 green onions, diced, for topping

2-4 hours ahead of time, combine soy sauce, lime juice, lime zest, ginger, garlic, honey, oil, and hot sauce. Whisk until honey is dissolved. Can I eat this as soup? It would be a great potsticker sauce. 

Line one ziploc bag with another and place chicken breasts into inside bag.

Carefully pour in marinade, then squeeze out the air and seal each bag carefully.

After 2-4 hours marinating in the fridge, preheat the broiler. Lightly spray a baking dish with cooking spray. Remove chicken breasts from bags and place into baking dish, discarding extra marinade.

Broil for 7 minutes, then flip breasts and broil for an additional 7 minutes. (May be longer if you have big breasts) :)

Then forget to take a finished picture, but put together a delicious succotash with random veggies in your fridge. Yum!

So many breast jokes I want to make right now.


Perfect Baked Potatoes

This one is not for the sodium conscious.

But ohmagawd it's soooo good! This whole thing started with a big bunch of green onions about to go bad. So when you have extra green onions, what do you do? Make baked potatoes - duh!

So I googled "perfect baked potato" and epicurious to the rescue!

The cooking times on that recipe were way wrong, but the idea was way right.

Salt-Crusted Baked Potatoes

4 russet potatoes
1 egg white or 3 tbsp egg white substitute
3 tbsp kosher salt

Preheat oven to 425 F
Scrub potatoes clean and pat dry. Pierce each potato with fork tines about four times.

In a bowl, toss potatoes with egg whites. You want them well coated.

Place potatoes in a foil lined baking dish and sprinkle with salt. Pick up each potato and rub the salt around. Note: not fun if you have paper cuts!

Bake for 90 minutes.

The salt and egg whites will form this magical sodium crust on the outside of the potato. You can crack off extra salt crust when you serve, but trust me, you'll want some of that crispy saltiness.

Top with anything. I suggest that pile of green onions in your fridge.


Tortellini Minestrone

There has been a LOT of noodle action going on here at Recipes for a Quarterlife. My guts are feeling the pain. So. Many. Caarrrrbbbssss. I may have had noodles for lunch and for dinner on Sunday. In my defense, lunch was rice noodles and dinner was semolina pasta. 

So anyway, I'm not done.

But this recipe is like 85% vegetables or non-noodle ingredients, plus it's crazy delicious, so you should give it a chance. I've never been one to order minestrone in an italian restaurant because there are so many other things on the menu, but when I taste minestrone I am always delighted. Except it's always missing that something extra... This recipe is a mix of vegetable soup, minestrone, and a pasta dish and is missing nothing. It's perfect!

This recipe is an blend of recipes from Pink Parsley and Cook Like a Champion

Tortellini Minestrone
serves six

1 tbsp EVOO
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 zucchini, sliced in half, the cut into half moons
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
2 cups water
3 sprigs thyme
1 package or 2 cups fresh spinach or cheese tortellini
1 15 oz can white/canellini beans, drained and rinsed
salt to taste
optional: pinch of crushed red pepper
toppings: pesto, shaved parmesan

In a large pot, heat EVOO over med-high heat. Add carrots, celery, onion, and garlic and cook 2-3 minutes or until a bit softened.

Add zuch and mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add can of tomatoes with juice.

Add vegetable broth and water.

And toss in the thyme.

Add chili flakes now so that the flavor has time to develop. Change heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce to medium low to simmer for ten minutes.

Add beans. Taste for salt at this point. I like to use no salt added or low-sod stuff and then salt to my own preference.

Add tortellini and cook to package instructions.

Serve with a dollop of pesto and a sprinkle of cheese.

Yeah, I served it with bread.


Goat Cheesy Pasta

When I was in college my roommates and I had a few serious vices.
  • Frozen yogurt loaded to the max
  • Mean Girls, the movie
  • Blended margaritas (it was just one spring quarter... okay, maybe longer)
  • TiVo'd episodes of The Biggest Loser

Yes, we were on college budgets and we made sure there was room for a DVR. Priorities. Totally came in handy during the High School Musical craze. 

Anywho, if you're a fan of the Biggest Loser circa 5 years ago then you know who Bob Harper is... He's the hot southern trainer guy who, like Anderson Cooper, does not appear to be his actual age. Bob is nearly 50. Mind. Blown. One of my regular blog reads did an interview with him here.

Anyway, he just came out with a book called The Skinny Rules. I would read it, but my sister already informed me that one of the rules is "no carbs after lunch" or some craziness like that, and so I just don't want to know any more. Sure, following the skinny rules would probably be a great benefit to your life. So would following any other arbitrary set of food restrictions. But that's what that is: restriction. It's not moderation. And that's the key for my happy food relationship. To each his own.

So here is a big pile of carbs, to be eaten post-lunch.

Sun-Dried Tomato, Mushroom, and Spinach Goat Cheese Pasta
serves six

1 bag linguine
2 cup reserved hot pasta water
1 tbsp EVOO
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups mushrooms, sliced
6 cups fresh spinach
1/3 c. sun-dried tomatoes in oil
6 oz. goat cheese

Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot and salt heavily. This is the key to delicious pasta. Or don't if you have a heart condition...

When pasta is finished, drain and set aside. Reserve 2 cups of hot starchy pasta water and toss the rest of the water.

Mince things that make you cry while you watch your noodles boil.

Add EVOO to empty pot over med-high heat. Saute garlic and shallot for 2-3 minutes, or until soft.

Add mushrooms, a pinch of salt to help them sweat, and a few tablespoons of pasta water to help them steam. Saute for 2 minutes.

Add spinach and tomatoes. Reduce heat to medium low.

Saute for 2 minutes or so or until spinach is wilted.

Add back in the pasta and the goat cheese. Pour over pasta water in 1/4 c. increments and toss until you are satisfied with the creaminess. You won't need all the pasta water.

The hot water and noodles will melt the goat cheese and create a sort of alfredo-like sauce.


Serve with bread and toast to the skinny rules. 


Strawberry Poptarts

If you're on Pinterest, then you're well aware that you can make poptarts at home. Poptarts out of the box? Disgusting. Too sweet, filling is like sugar glue, and they are full of garbage ingredients. Poptarts at home? Talk to me.

I give Smitten Kitchen credit for this trend, but that's just because I kind of worship SK. You should too. 

Anywho, I took some shortcuts and bought pre-made pie crust. I'm not super proud of that, but I am also not gonna lie and pretend to be a baker. Also, half way into the process I realized that it was too much work and that I had a potsticker press that could do the work for me. The potsticker press makes mini pies that are perfect snacks, desserts, or breakfast items. And to top it all off, I added a cream cheese/yogurt frosting. You could fill your tarts with whatever you like - fruit, jam, nut butter, chocolate... or you could go bonkers and get savory. Hot pockets anyone?

Strawberry "Poptarts" 

1 package uncooked pie crust (or follow this recipe to make your own)
flour for rolling out crust
3/4 c. strawberry chia jam  (or filling of choice)
1 egg
1/4 c. milk 

Preheat oven to 350F. 
Whisk egg in a small bowl and set aside.

Flour a surface.

Roll out pie dough and use a ruler to cut 3" x 4" rectangles.

Brush egg on the surface of the dough. This will be the inside of the poptarts.

Spread jam on half of the pieces, leaving 1/2" on the perimeter.

Place jam-less piece eggy side down on a jammy piece. (Poor communication skills).  Use fork tines to seal edges.

Place tarts on a lightly greased baking sheet and prick several holes on the top. If you don't prick hole, the pie will puff up like a calzone.

If you'd rather go the potsticker route, cut circles in the dough to the right size.

Brush egg on the dough, place a teaspoon of jam, and press and seal.

Poke holes.

Brush all pies with milk, then bake for 20-30 minutes, depending on size. Bake until golden and edges are crispy.

So cute!

Cream Cheese Yogurt Frosting

2 tbsp light whipped cream cheese
2 tbsp nonfat plain greek yogurt
2 tsp agave syrup

Whip all ingredients together.

Put in a plastic bag and snip the corner.

Frost right before eating.


Get in my mouth.

I'm five years old.

Yeah, I did eat all of those. What.