Pad Thai with Shrimp

Pad Thai with Shrimp is an Alton Brown recipe from Food Network. I have re-written his recipe for a couple of reasons. First, his original recipe only makes two servings. I try to have all of my tried-and-true recipes sized appropriately for my family. We like leftovers for weekday lunches, so I quadrupled his recipe. Second, there is a lot going on in his original recipe, perhaps too much definitely more than we are able to manage for a week night dinner. And honestly, more than it needs. For this reason, I have left a few things out, like marinated tofu, salted cabbage and dried shrimp. The remaining ingredients can be purchased in any decent mom-and-pop Asian grocery store. The rice noodles I like to put in a bowl in hot tap water a couple of hours before I want to use them. My 12-year-old gets home at 4:30pm and this is an easy job for her to do.

Pad Thai with Shrimp
adapted from Alton Brown of Food Network

Ingredients:

12 – 16 oz thin rice stick noodles
1/2 C fish sauce
1 block palm sugar
1/4 C rice wine vinegar
4 oz tamarind paste
Canola oil
1 bunch scallions, chopped
8 tsp minced garlic (1/8 C + 2 tsp)
3 whole eggs, beaten slightly
12 oz shrimp, shells removed and deveined
Bean sprouts
Roasted salted peanuts, chopped

Directions

One to two hours ahead of time, place the rice stick noodles in a mixing bowl and cover with hot tap water. Let sit until ready to start cooking. Drain.

Combine the fish sauce, palm sugar, rice wine vinegar and tamarind paste in a small bowl and set aside.

Place wok over high heat. Once hot, add enough oil to coat. Heat until the oil shimmers. Add about 2/3 of the scallions and then the garlic, and cook for 10 to 15 seconds. Add the eggs to the pan; once the eggs begin to set up, about 15 to 20 seconds, stir to scramble. Add the remaining ingredients in the following order and toss after each addition: noodles, sauce, shrimp, a couple of handfuls of bean sprouts, and a handful of peanuts. Toss until shrimp are pink and everything is heated through.

Garnish with remaining scallions, and more bean sprouts and peanuts.

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Garlic Roasted Broccoli

Garlic Roasted Broccoli is proof positive of what I have come to believe about vegetables: roasted is always the best way to go. We’ve never done the lemon wedges nor the parmesan cheese that it calls for and frankly, it doesn’t need it. The broccoli turns out sort of crisp-tender, and the roasting process intensifies its flavor, rather than watering it down like some cooking methods. It makes a tasty, healthy side dish to go with a wide variety of proteins. Even better, it’s simple to prepare and a quick fix from start to finish. Often, we stage the broccoli while our protein is cooking, and then the broccoli roasts in the oven while the protein rests on the counter, nestled under a sheet of aluminum foil.

Mary’s Ginger Molasses Cookies

Mary’s Ginger Molasses Cookies always causes an argument between my husband and I because he says that I underbake them. I have explained time and again that these are intended to be a soft, slightly chewy ginger molasses cookie, not a gingersnap. Over the years, my methods for tracking recipes has changed and while I keep careful records now, this wasn’t always the case. As a result, I have no idea who “Mary” is or where I got her recipe. It is, however, my favorite, not the least of which because it calls for oil instead of butter or shortening. I do use canola oil instead of the safflower oil called for, simply because that’s what I keep on hand. Wherever you are Mary, thank you. I love these cookies.

Mary’s Ginger Molasses Cookies –makes 2 to 2 1/2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

2/3 C safflower oil
1 C granulated sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
4 Tbs molasses
2 C all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 C granulated sugar, for rolling

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine oil and sugar; add egg and beat to blend. Stir in the molasses. Add the flour and other ingredients except the last 1/4 C of sugar.

Roll spoonfulls of cookie dough into balls and roll in the 1/4 C sugar to coat. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 – 12 minutes.

Notes: Be sure not to overcook these or they will be hard. If cooked just right you will have a nice soft center with a slightly crisp outside. The cookie should have cracks all over the top when it is complete.

Grilled Jerk Chicken

Grilled Jerk Chicken is a recent addition to our repertoire, but I think it is worth posting. Normally, I exercise what I call the “Third Time’s a Charm” rule. What this means is that sometimes we will enjoy a recipe the first time we make it, but the second or third time we’ll change our minds and decide it’s actually underwhelming and not worth continuing to hold on to. If a recipe can get past the third try, it has a tendency to stick for years.

Nevertheless, we have been looking for a good, basic jerk recipe for years and haven’t been able to find one until now, and I’m happy to share it. Many recipes that we have tried included too many dried spices that ultimately tasted gritty on the tongue. We tried this one recently for a barbecue and it was definitely a hit. The taste is fresh with a bit of spice on the end, but not too much. How much spice you get can easily be controlled by how many scotch bonnet or habanero peppers you use. We used orange habaneros because I rarely see scotch bonnets here. We followed the recipe exactly and threw the habaneros, whole, into the blender with everything else.

The original recipe calls for chicken breasts, but we used wings, legs and thighs instead. We also have not tried the accompanying watermelon salsa. We weren’t sure if the Coleman’s mustard called for meant the dried or the prepared, but all we could find was the dried so we used that. It seems to have worked.

Turkey Meatloaf

Turkey Meatloaf is my husband’s invention. It includes grated veggies in the loaf that help to combat the dryness that sometimes accompany dishes made with turkey. If, like me, you use a food processor to grate the veggies, you will find that some larger pieces of veggie will find their way into the mix. I used to take these and mince them up, but I experimented with the large pieces and found that the occasional larger piece of potato or zucchini in the loaf actually provides a nice textural contrast. Now, I just toss them in with the perfectly grated veggies. I have also grated the veggies by hand when I didn’t feel like washing the food processor, and that works too; it just takes a bit longer.

The type of veggies used is fairly flexible. Depending on what you have, you can use extra zucchini and leave out the carrots, or use extra carrots instead of the bell pepper. A bit of celery might also be nice. I think the only thing I wouldn’t consider taking out would be the onion. Overall, you want to try to keep the ratio of meat to veggies consistent, or the resulting loaf will either be too dry, or it won’t hold together like a proper meatloaf should.

As the recipe stands now, it calls for two packages of McCormick meatloaf seasoning. Sometime in the future, we hope to create a spice mix that will mimic the taste of the packaged meatloaf seasoning. For now however, we use the spice mix.

Over time, grocery store packages of ground turkey have changed. I used to only be able to get ground turkey in 1 1/4 pound packages, but now they all seem to be exactly 1 pound. I’ve made this recipe with both 2 1/2 pounds and with exactly 2 pounds, and it doesn’t affect the result significantly, either way. Use what you have available to you.

Turkey Meatloaf — Makes 2 loaves

Ingredients

1 sweet bell pepper, sliced away from stem, ribs and seeds removed
1 1/2 large carrots, peeled, ends cut off
1/2 small yellow onion, peeled, ends cut off
1 russet potato, peeled
1 small zucchini, ends cut off
1 Tbs vegetable oil
1 tsp salt (for vegetables)
1 1/2 tsp salt (for meatloaf)
2 lbs. ground turkey
2 packets McCormick meatloaf seasoning
2 eggs, beaten
2 1/2 C bread crumbs
1 C oats
3/4 C ketchup + more for topping

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Chop veggies into pieces that will fit in the mouth of a food processor, then grate. In a large saute’ pan coated with the vegetable oil, combine the grated veggies with the first teaspoon of salt. Cook down until the veggies are limp and most of the water has cooked out of them. (When it’s ready, the mixture will start to stick, and what sticks will begin browning) Turn into a bowl and set aside to cool. When the veggies are cool enough to handle with bare hands, add the ground turkey. Mix in meatloaf seasoning, the second 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, eggs, the 3/4 cup of ketchup, bread crumbs and oats until completely incorporated. Turn out into two loaf pans. If you don’t plan to eat both loaves immediately, use a disposable aluminum foil loaf pan for one loaf, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and foil, and freeze.

Top the loaf with additional ketchup and then bake at 375 degrees for one hour.

Spectacular served with mashed potatoes and corn!

Campbell’s Tomato Soup Spaghetti

Campbell’s Tomato Soup Spaghetti is the spaghetti sauce of my childhood. Less acidic, more sweet than most, it wasn’t the only spaghetti sauce that I liked, but it was special. The only time spaghetti had this taste was at my grandma’s house. I couldn’t have told you when I was a child that she used canned tomato soup. Even though I rarely use processed ingredients in my recipes, one bite of this spaghetti and I’m eight years old again, eating spaghetti on Grandma’s blue and white china plates.

Of course, Grandma didn’t really hand me the recipe, so what I’ve written here is my interpretation of her description of making the dish. She started out, “Well, first you fry up your celery and your onion . . .” Enough said. She told me that she uses Mrs. Dash Tomato Basil and garlic powder for the seasonings, but I found similar recipes online that suggested the oregano and basil in place of the Mrs. Dash.

Ingredients

1 Tbs olive oil
1 large celery rib, finely chopped
1/2 a large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
Kosher salt, to taste
Black pepper, fresh ground
1 pound hamburger
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
2 cans Campbell’s Tomato Soup
1 Tbs Worchestershire Sauce
1/2 C of the pasta water, reserved
1 pound of dry spaghetti noodles

Directions

Fill a large pasta pot with water and place on the stove, covered, on high heat.

Put olive oil in a large, wide skillet, turning to coat, and put on another burner on medium. When the olive oil is heated through, add the celery, onion and fresh garlic, and sprinkle with kosher salt. Cook for a few minutes, or until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the hamburger and a bit more salt and some fresh ground black pepper and continue cooking. When the hamburger is cooked through, add the garlic powder, oregano and basil.

Keep the sauce covered on low heat while you finish the pasta. The sauce should always wait for the pasta; the pasta should never wait for the sauce. When the pasta water is boiling, add kosher salt until the water tastes like the ocean. Then add the dry spaghetti noodles. Cook according to package directions. When finished, reserve 1/2 cup of the water before you drain the noodles.

Once the noodles are drained, return them to the now empty pasta pot, without the pasta insert. Add the Worchestershire Sauce and the 1/2 cup of pasta water to the sauce. Taste, and add salt or black pepper as needed. Pour all of the sauce over the pasta in the pasta pot and toss with tongs to combine.

Serve immediately. Makes about 6 servings.

Garlic Prawns in Hot Sauce

Garlic Prawns in Hot Sauce is a recipe that comes from a cookbook that I no longer have. I love this recipe, and yet, I didn’t want to make any of the other recipes in the book. When this happens, I make a copy of the recipe(s) that I want to keep, and give away the cookbook to make more room on my bookshelf. My copy of the book called for 2 pounds of shrimp, 1/3 cup of bamboo shoots, and the cornflour was listed as cornstarch, but everything else is the same. If I don’t have any fresh basil already growing in my garden, then I just leave it out; this recipe doesn’t really need it. We do love, however, to add asparagus: one bunch cut into 2 inch pieces and stir fried w/ the rest of the veggies is a fabulous addition.