Friday, March 30, 2012

Professional Chef in Training

The other night I made dinner for Jeff and I at his house. The last time I attempted this, I nearly smoked us out of the house by trying to pan fry breaded chicken in the wrong kind of oil, at a temperature that was too was not a good thing. The chicken was burnt, it took forever, I almost ruined a stainless steel pan, and it was a tricky night.... Luckily for both of us though, this time it went a little bit smoother.

The main dish and the side dish didn't exactly match each other, but I didn't really care about that. I made Cilantro Lime Shrimp (sans cilantro actually because Jeff doesn't like it) and Cheesy Quinoa. I'd give this meal a 7 out of 10. It was good, but could use some sprucing up - which I will address at the end...

Here's a little info about the shrimp dish...

Cilantro Lime Shrimp - sans cilantro, but add basil.

Start by cooking diced onion, minced garlic and a fresh, diced jalapeno (seeded) in some butter and olive oil. Add salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes and oregano after onion starts wilting. Add in a can of diced tomatoes. Then add in 1 pound of fresh shrimp (peeled and de-veined), followed by lime zest and lime juice. Cook until shrimp are opaque and pinky, but not overcooked! Add in fresh chopped basil, stir whole dish a little more, and serve! We squeezed more lime juice on top right before eating, and it was quite yummy. I will definitely make this again. Next time though, I just want to make it a bit spicier by adding more crushed red pepper flakes and probably another jalapeno!

Sweat onions/stuff. Add Shrimp. Chop basil. Add tomatoes.
And here's what we ate with the shrimp...

Cheesy Quinoa.

Cook quinoa as directed on package - but use chicken broth instead of water. While that is cooking (boil then simmer on low for 20-25 minutes), saute any sort of veggies you would like in your quinoa. (Quinoa is kinda of starchy - like rice or pasta - but it's healthier for you. Especially if you get organic like we did.) Start with some olive oil, saute minced garlic then add veggies. We had onions, carrots and yellow squash. Once the quinoa is done, stir in 4 oz. of cream cheese, your sauteed veggies, and some fresh, chopped basil! Top with shredded Parmesan cheese for extra cheesiness.

Cook quinoa. Chop/Saute veggies. Mix all together. Add cheeses!

Even though they didn't exactly "go together," they still ended up being pretty good. There are a few changes to each dish I will make the next time I cook them, but overall, it was easy to cook and tasted good enough. Next time though, after a few changes and a bit of sprucing up, I'm sure it'll be delicious!! 

Changes for shrimp might include - drain tomatoes and use less of them, use more of the spices listed and add another jalapeno for a bit more of a spicy kick. (Also, I think I will use a bit of cilantro, and just keep it a secret...) Quinoa changes might be - use feta cheese or Gorgonzola instead of cream cheese, add another garlic clove and experiment with veggies.

All done cooking, and ready to serve!
I am nowhere close to being a professional chef, nor will I ever be. I do however enjoy cooking and trying new recipes! I'm getting better at "ad-libbing" a recipe and making things a bit more freely. I'm not quite so scared to stray from the recipe as I used to be. With more practice though, maybe I will be a chef someday! (But I'm thinking definitely probably not...)

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