Honey Walnut Shrimp


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I love Chinese food. Not only are they the masters of blending sweet and savory but I can make a meal out of nothing but the appetizers! I love variety and a Chinese menu gives me the opportunity to try many things. And I’m not referring to the fast food “Panda” or food court walkup. I’m talking a real sit down restaurant with a legitimate chef. 🙂

That said – my new found favorite is Honey Walnut Shrimp. It probably one of the more expensive items on the menu but you can make a pound of shrimp at home for under $15.00. I purchased tail off, peeled and deveined raw shrimp but you can save even more if you do the work yourself. Just be sure to devein them – poop tracks are No Bueno.

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Zuppa Tuscana (Rustic Italian Soup)


15EEEF22-B8D7-4479-A255-78F16653D8C9Apparently this is a soup at Olive Garden that people rave about – however, I’ve never had it there. I saw a similar recipe online and then tweaked it to make it my own. And. I. Love. It.

Now, this is not the most waist-friendly soup, what with the cream, potatoes and spicy sausage. But I figure the kale makes up for all of that and I’m willing to risk it! One step, you must not, I repeat, NOT skip is using the homemade garlic broth. It doesn’t taste the same if you just add garlic (clove or paste). So don’t skip it. Seriously. I’m not kidding here.

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Pineapple Agua Fresca


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So oddly enough I’ve never been a huge pineapple fan. But right after the long harsh winter we had this year – I was craving ANYTHING that even hinted at summer! So once again, I was perusing the aisles of my new favorite Mexican grocery and they had these big beautiful pineapples stacked in neat little rows… and they literally called my name. No seriously. They did.

I was watching one of my go-to cooking shows, Mexican Made Easy and Marcela made this delicious looking pineapple agua fresca (which simply means water with fresh fruit). So I made it and it is incredible! I give all the props to Marcela Valladolid – she’s never steered me wrong.

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Pico de Gallo


imageAs I mentioned in a previous post, I recently discovered a little gem of a Mexican market and I have since been frequenting their produce section. Yesterday I walked out with 3 bags of produce including a large pinapple and only spent about $6.00. Ole!

I don’t know about you but for me pico de gallo just screams summer!  Fresh tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, lime juice and cilantro. I want to put it on everything! Not only is it tasty and fresh – but it looks beautiful and makes everything much more appealing. You eat with your eyes first, I always say. So, yes… presentation can be everything. 🙂

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Sopa de Albondigas


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This was inspired by by sister from another mister’s mother… yes, you heard me right. My best friend’s mother, Josie, used to have a pot of soup or beans or something on the stove all the time… which was made living next door quite delightful! I recently discovered a genuine Mexican market up the street from me (which I’ve missed since moving to Nashville from Los Angeles) and I went a little crazy shopping. Seriously – support local vendors any time you can. I mean, FIVE limes for $1.00 and they’re .85 each at Kroger! With the exception of the seasonings (which I already had) I got every ingredient listed below at my new favorite market. Happy Cinco de Mayo!

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Vegetable Lasagna with Homemade Ricotta and BĂ©chamel Sauce


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I love lasagna. I mean, it’s layers of cheese and pasta and assorted yummy things. How can you not like it? But this particular recipe is especially good – and was created rather “accidentally” as I just started putting things together. I had ordered some spinach and garlic noodles from Papardelle’s. I first discovered them at their booth at one of my favorite places in the U.S… Pike’s Market in Seattle, WA. And I have been ordering from their incredible selection of pastas and oils ever since. I knew I wanted to do a vegetable lasagna with the green noodle layers… and a white sauce would let you see the color of the noodles. So I mixed up a traditional bechamel with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Then I added my homemade ricotta mixed with my homemade pesto Genovese and then the magic happened. I took lots of photos of the preparation to hopefully help take the mystery out of it all! Bon apetito!

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Japanese Garlic Noodles


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Here in East Nashville we have an amazing new restaurant called Two Ten Jack. It’s a Japanese-inspired izakaya…  which is a neighborhood pub usually featuring an array of ramen dishes. The first time I went I ordered the garlic noodles (I mean, why wouldn’t I?) and proceeded to fall deeply in love. I think I even had dreams about them. Then they did the horror of all horrors – THEY TOOK THEM OFF THE MENU!! I don’t even want to know why. There is no justifiable reason.

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Not My Mama’s Gringo Chili


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My mother, God bless her, was not much of a cook. She only had a couple of tried and true recipes in her “go to” list. The rest, in the era that was introduced to convenience foods, was boxed, canned and highly processed. I didn’t like food much as a kid… thanks to meals like Chun King canned Chinese food and powdered potatoes and canned meatloaf (yes, I said canned. It even had the can rings imprinted in the meat when you pushed it out.). Fortunately, during college I dated a guy whose mom was a gourmet Italian cook and I discovered a whole new world!

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Red Anjou Pear and Walnut Galette Dusted with Lavender Sugar


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For some reason I am just discovering the beauty of pears. I mean, I’ve always been aware of pears. They were just never really my first choice of fruit. And what I’m now (finally) discovering is that they are a wonderful Autumn fruit! Bosc pears, Bartlett pears, Concord pears and the ones I used in this galette – Red Anjou pears. Red Anjou pears are sweet and less acidic than their green counterparts. I also liked using the Red Anjous because I like the contrast of the color of the skin peeking out of the galette. And like Bosc pears, they hold up well when cooked. Bosc pears are probably my favorite as they are more woodsy and their sweetness is more like honey than sugar. Each has a distinct aroma and taste – so buy one of each and do your own taste-test!

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