I'm Just Here To Cook…and Eat!

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My New Orleans Food Experience

Well, I can now say “Been there, done that” about New Orleans. And I can honestly say I will most likely never go back. I mean no offense to the city or anyone that likes it – everyone I spoke to was very nice and extremely welcoming. It just wasn’t for me. I went for the food – not the drinking, not Mardi Gras, not the voodoo or the haunted history. And I had some good food, and some not so great. I didn’t make it every where I wanted to, and maybe I didn’t make it to the right places, and I did get stuck at some tourist traps just due to the fact that I was traveling with my sister on her business trip. But I had about 9 beignets, which were the absolute best part, an amazing muffeletta sandwich, some good rum and some really fresh oysters. I tried gumbo at 3 places, tried a couple of po-boy sandwiches, tried jambalaya, and even had some pecan pralines, local beer and local chips. Here are some shots from my NOLA food experience (I don’t have pictures of everything!). They were all taken on my phone so not the best quality!

Walking around the French Quarter…
I took a tour of the local rum distillery. This was totally awesome! Not only do you get to try the different rums, but they take you on a tour and tell you how they make their rum! Pretty cool!

You HAVE to try alligator if you’re in the south. I’ve had it in Florida before, but had to try it again. Tastes like chicken! In both sausage form and fried!

Gotta have the gumbo!

Oysters and local pecan beer at the all-famous Acme Oyster House…

Local crawfish chips…
The original muffeletta sandwich from Central Grocery on Decatur Street!
Pecan Pralines freshly made right before my eyes…
And the best part – beignets and cafe au lait at Cafe Du Monde – the original French Market coffee stand. (I had beignets at Cafe Beignet on Bourbon Street also!)…

So, all in all, a good time, and a good food experience. I would say if you had it on your list, definitely go and try it for yourself. Do your research and hit up the best places. Be safe, and have fun!

On to the next food experience…


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Grilled Shrimp with Orange-Scented Rice…

Really what should have been grilled scallops with orange-scented quinoa!

I bought an orange when I went food shopping specifically to make this recipe from my new Giada cookbook. I had every intention of stopping to get the scallops on my way home from work. But I was lazy and tired, and knew I had shrimp in the freezer. So I thought to myself, “that’s a great substitute! I’ll just use shrimp!” Cool, yay! Get home to prepare the dish… Looked in every cabinet… Wait, where’s my quinoa? Oh, damn, I must have used it all. No problem… I’ll run across the street to the supermarket, they must have. Well, the supermarket is closing, so no such luck! I had brown rice, so decided I still wanted to attempt the dish with all my substitutes. So here I go! Here is the original recipe and in parenthesis what I substituted. One day I will use the scallops and the quinoa!

recipe from Giada’s Feel Good Food by Giada de Laurentiis copyright 2013

1 1/2 cups quinoa (basmati brown rice)
Grated zest of 1 large orange
1 tsp kosher salt

1 1/2 lbs scallops (16-20) (16 shrimp)
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh orange juice, about 1 large orange
2 tbs fresh lemon juice, about 1 large lemon
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

special equipment:

12 (8 inch) wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes to prevent scorching

for the quinoa: In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups water and the quinoa, orange zest, and salt to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat so that the mixture summers. Cover the pan and cook until all the liquid has been absorbed, 10-12 minutes. Fluff with a fork, cover the pan, and let the quinoa sit for 10-12 minutes. (If using rice, replace the quinoa with the rice, but cook according to the instructions on the package. Brown rice usually takes about 40 minutes).

for the scallops: Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill.

Thread 3 scallops onto a skewer. Thread another skewer (alongside the first) through the scallops about 1/2 inch apart to make flipping the skewers easier. Repeat with the remaining scallops and skewers to make 6 skewers in total. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with the salt and pepper. Grill until cooked through, 2-3 minutes per side. (If using shrimp just replace the scallops with the shrimp).

for the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, orange juice, lemon juice, salt and pepper until smooth.

Put the quinoa into a large serving bowl. Add the dressing, chickpeas, and parsley. Toss until coated. Arrange the grilled scallops on top and serve.



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Sunday Soup Making

One of the best things on an autumn or winter afternoon is a huge pot of soup cooking on the stove. Last weekend I did just this, I just haven’t had a chance to post about it! I made a pot of autumn vegetable soup with plenty of leftovers for lunch during the week! It was yummy, healthy and satisfying.

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
3-4 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 parsnips, peeled and chopped
2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tbs dried parsley
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 28oz can diced tomatoes
48 oz vegetable broth
1/2 cup rice
1 14oz red kidney beans

In a large Dutch oven or heavy bottom pot, sauté chopped vegetables with the oregano, parsley, bay leaves, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes in the oil for 8-10 minutes until softened.

Add the diced tomato and broth and bring to a boil. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1 hour, or until vegetables are cooked through. Add the rice and beans and cook another 20 minutes. Spoon into soup bowls and enjoy!


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A new cookbook for a cool, fall night

You all know how much I love Giada de Laurentiis, and her new cookbook came out yesterday! I couldn’t wait to have this one, and it’s here! It’s all about eating healthy but still tasting good, having a healthy lifestyle, and how Giada stays fit and healthy but indulges also. And for someone who recently watched the movie Forks over Knifes, and should be eating lactose free and gluten free foods, but can’t seem to completely give up her cheeses, pastas and a good slab of meat, I think this cookbook will be a real winner! 🙂 So excited to dig in!