During most of my day to day life I like super simple, clean cooking. But I have a special tradition I like to call “fuck it Friday.” It’s a similar concept to a cheat day, but without the gross guilty connotation, and it allows me to set it on a schedule.
One of my big go tos for this moment is some kind of alfredo pasta. But what happens when I feel the need to be sneaky during the week, or on the other hand slide a vegetable into my Fridays? The answer is simple, why not both? Enter alfredo mashed cauliflower.
It’s super rich and decadent. But making cauliflower the base at least lets me pretend I’m being somewhat healthful. I’m a huge believer in the magic of cauliflower, and if you weren’t before then there’s nothing a little parmesan won’t solve.
Every so often I write a recipe that completely changes the game for me. A recipe that makes me proclaim to the void and all the gods, old and new that this will be my legacy. And let me tell you, managing to make crispy but oh so tender brussels sprouts that taste like the classic ground beef tacos you had as a kid is that moment.
And the process is simple: just drop the bad boys in the fryer for a few minutes and absolutely coat them with a super easy and basic homemade taco seasoning blend and that’s that on the sprouts. Then to top it all off I find the lemon-lime dip so fun. When you hear lemon-lime it takes you back to thinking about Gatorade, candy, fruit snacks, etc. But in all actuality it packs plenty of zing and coolness from the yogurt to cut through the spicy and semi-charred flavor of the sprouts. Every time I make this I’ll take a sample sprout to see how I did, and then I just keep going and going.
In all fairness I owe a lot of what’s written to my brother, Sean. He’s basically my 24/7 hotline for bouncing recipe ideas off of someone, and getting editing suggestions. Sometimes he’ll even blurt out, “you know what would be cool…,” and then hit me with some nifty idea that I try and work up. This was one of those times.
He threw the idea of putting sambal in arrabiata sauce. For those of you who don’t know arrabiata is a pasta sauce that consists of tomato, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes. That’s it. I tried making this with just subbing out the chili for sambal and it was fine, there just wasn’t any magic.
Then I decided to add a couple of flavor friends, fish sauce for salty funk and ginger for extra pep in my step, and the flavor profile felt full and packed with umami.
Honestly there’s not much of a cool story to this. I just randomly got an urge to make a recipe with grapes because I think they’re sorely underused, and somehow thought peanut butter jelly and salad should have a baby.
Honestly how I got there’s a mystery but I’m glad I did. What I did was whip up a peanut dressing with a good hit of acid and a little spice and paired it with grilled chicken and the sweetest grapes I could find.
I ended up with a really cool childhood meets adulthood plate of food that I’m really into. And this is coming from a salad hater. So let’s get into it, yeah?
Truth be told I’m not the best about eating breakfast. I’m really bad about opting to sleep every available second during the work week and end up running out the door in a rush. As sad as it is to say, a good breakfast has become a bit of a weekend indulgence for me.
For my latest indulgence I wanted to go full country and make a broke and southern staple, fried bologna. It’s a similar concept to fried ham steak or bacon in that it’s crispy, salty, meaty goodness, just a little more humble. Like any good breakfast sando we have plenty of melty cheese and an overeasy egg on top. And then because I can’t help myself and love a good condiment; we have maple-mustard mayo to cut through the richness and add a little kiss of sweetness, like any good morning should have.
Lately my life has been about the hunt for convenience. Between a new job, studying for my second licensing exam for my new job, housework, and making more time for the gym I need grab and go food anywhere I can get it.
That being said one of my biggest weaknesses going about my day is making sure I eat breakfast, let alone a balanced one.
Enter: frittata muffins. It’s so simple it’s genius and stupid at the same time. All you do is cook off some veggies/meat, mix it with eggs and cheese, and then pour into cupcake tins and bake. I’m kinda kicking myself I didn’t do it sooner.
For my cupcake tin’s maiden voyage I decided to go with turkey sausage and a vaguely French inspired veggie mix and spinach, (see the previously mentioned attempt at being healthier), and some mascarpone and parmesan because we love ourselves.
Shrimp is one of the key items in South Carolina food culture. Growing up one of the main spots for my family vacations was Charleston. For those of you who have never been Charleston is a beautiful town filled with a rich history that is as old as America itself, and they also boast some of the best food in the world in my opinion. Since Charleston is on the shore you can find beautiful coastal style dishes in almost every restaurant. Think she crab soup or shrimp and grits. Every time my family would travel to Charleston we made sure to eat every bite of shrimp that was available to us and we would even get coolers full of shrimp from seafood markets to take home with us. The shrimp there is that good.
For this dish I was inspired by memories of Charleston, South Carolina. I wanted to create something with beautiful shrimp, but really turn the volume up on the flavor to create a fiery, yet decadent shrimp. I crusted the shrimp in some of my favorite spices like old bay and lots of garlic powder. Then I combined oil, butter, and garlic in the pan to create a sort of garlic butter, and then cooked the shrimp in the garlic butter for extra oomph. I paired these shrimp with my tomato basil cream pasta, recipe found here. This created an incredibly well rounded dish. The shrimp had spicy and garlicky notes while the pasta balanced it out with the sauce’s creaminess and sweetness of the tomato and basil. This pairing worked incredibly well, but I think these shrimp could go with any manner of dishes. They would be beautiful next to a steak for a surf and turf, orwould be delicious with polenta for a play on shrimp and grits. There are so many options for these little flavor bombs, plus the cooking on them is super easy to boot!
1/2 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 tablespoons garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon old bay seasoning
2 cloves minced garlic
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon cooking oil
Start by mixing the garlic powder, cayenne, black pepper, and old bay together. Heat the oil and butter over medium high heat. While your oil and butter heats up toss the shrimp in the spice mix. Once the butter is melted add the garlic and give it one minute to cook. After that minute add your shrimp to the pan. The shrimp should take about two minutes to cook on the first side and one minute on the second side. The spices should form a nice crust on the shrimp. For serving I topped my pasta with the shrimp and garlic from the pan, and then topped the whole plate off with fresh basil and parmesan cheese. It does not get much easier or more delicious than that!
As you probably already know my blog’s tagline is “where South Carolina meets the south of France.” I always felt like that was an accurate description of my food, soul food combined with rustic French and sometimes Italian cuisine. But what I am about to show you is all South Carolina. One of the most beloved dishes in the American regional south is casserole. Casseroles are great because the only rules to them is that they have to be goopy in the best kind of way, taste delicious, and make you feel warm and loved when you eat them. Outside of those three criteria you can do whatever you want and put whatever you want in your casserole.
I have said it once on this blog already and I will keep saying it until the day I die, I love pasta. I am addicted to it, I can just never get enough. One of the perks of pasta is that it makes for a ridiculously easy week night meal. All you have to do is boil some stuff for what, about 10 minutes, and then make a sauce. Child’s play.