Friday, November 30, 2012

Chopped Pasta Salad

It's The Lettuce Folks!



My family knows how much I love salad. This is hard for them because they love meat. They would eat meat everyday, all day if I would let them. I like meat also, but I love salad more, go figure. I could eat salad everyday. My history with salad goes way back.

I must confess, I am addicted to salads. Not the "salads" that we all have experienced, the one with wilted brown lettuce, soggy vegetables, and dry chicken.



No, I am talking about a real salad, with fresh organic lettuces, crisp peppers and onions, perfectly cooked pasta, diced tomatoes and cucumbers. When I was pregnant, I ate salad everyday.




It was the only food my soon to be daughter allowed me to hold down. Salad, milk and mike and ike candy (LOL) that was my pregnancy diet. I only gained 18 pounds due to this "salad" diet.

I have another confession, I have driven over an hour to purchase fresh vegetables for my salad.  Sometimes the local grocery store just want do.


I love to add unique vegetables to my salad and that requires at times a long, long drive to the nearest farmers market or in some cases the actual farm.


The key to excellent salads, is good fresh, crisp lettuces and dry vegetables.


I salad spin all my vegetables, because I want everything dry.


Don't forget to dice your vegetables so they are bite size. The purpose of a chopped salad is to have perfectly chopped vegetables.


Who likes wet, soggy salad? Not me, I want everything dry as possible, sometimes I even wrap the salad spinned lettuce in paper napkins and stick in the refrigerator for more dry time and to crisp the lettuce even more.


Fresh organic broccoli, dropped in hot boiling water then shocked into ice cold water to maintain that beautiful green color.


Add ice to the cold water, this is very important to stop the cooking process.


Cut large stem off broccoli, you can freeze this and save it for soup.


Because my cucumbers are organic, I do not peel the skin. For non-organic cucumbers, please peel the skin and discard.


With a teaspoon remove the bitter seeds out of the cucumbers. Look at all that water you do not want that in your salad.


Slice the cucumbers in long strips, then dice.


Toss in fresh cooked pasta to give the salad body.


Mash hard boiled eggs with a fork.


Use the side of the fork and chop, chop, chop and this is what you will end up with.


Toss all the vegetables with the pasta. add some cheese if you like.


Mix rice wine vinegar and olive oil and toss the salad with this light vinaigrette.

Add some bacon if you dare.


All your hard work will pay off, I promise. Enjoy!

Chopped Pasta Salad

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 6-8

Ingredients:

1 head of butter lettuce, chopped
1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped
1 bag of coleslaw
1 bunch of broccoli
1 container of red grape tomatoes, sliced in half
2 cucumbers, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1 red onion, diced
6 hard boiled eggs, peeled, chopped
4 oz sharp cheese, grated
4 oz jack cheese, grated
1 box of rotini pasta
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c. rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. creole seasoning
crispy bacon (optional)
salad dressings of your choice

Directions:

Put pasta water on first, top of lid so water boils quickly. Once pasta water is up to boil, salt the pasta water with about 1 teaspoon of salt. Boil pasta according to pasta box directions, drain pasta and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process and set aside.

Add broccoli florets to pasta water and cook 3 minutes, remove quickly and shock in bowl of ice cold water to stop the cooking process and set aside.

Chop lettuces and soak for about 5 minutes in bowl of water to remove any remaining dirt. Lift lettuce out of bowl allowing any dirt to drop to the bottom, repeat this step if needed. Put lettuces and coleslaw in salad spinner and spin until dry, put lettuce in a large bowl and set aside.

Slice tomatoes in half put in salad spinner, chop bell peppers and onions add to salad spinner.

Slice ends off of cucumbers and discard. Slice cucumbers in  half and with a teaspoon remove all the seeds out of the cucumbers. Slice cucumbers into strips and dice into small pieces. Add to salad spinner.

Chop of the large end of the broccoli and cut florets into bit size pieces, add to salad spinner.
Spin all the vegetables until dry and add to large salad bowl.

Top salad with pasta, egg, and cheese. Add garlic powder, black pepper and creole seasonings. Pour rice wine vinegar and mix salad. Add olive oil and mix salad. Top with bacon if you like.

This is my base salad, sometimes I omit the pasta, sometimes I add chicken breast or shrimp. Please take this base salad and make it your own. If you don't like bacon (who doesn't) don't add it. Also, I serve this with extra salad dressing on the side. My baby girl does not like dressing she just loves the vinaigrette, I on the other hand likes to add ranch dressing to my salad.



Thursday, November 29, 2012

See You at The Top


In Memory
of
Mr. Zig Ziglar

November 6, 1926 – November 28, 2012






Book Review:
This is one of the most profound motivational books I have ever read. Mr. Ziglar not only gives you sound business advice but sound life advice. He was and will remain one of a kind.







Blackened Fish Po'Boy with Bacon

It's About 2 Be Some Drama!



Bacon, Fish, Bacon, what more do you really need. Oh don't forget Coke in the bottle. Life is complete.




Fish coated in spices and olive oil.

Hot crispy bacon and please don't throw away the bacon grease.



Saute fish in bacon, olive oil





























Be careful when flipping the fish so it want break apart.


The coke must be in the bottle, a can is not the same.



Take a big bite and enjoy.




Blackened Fish Po'Boy with Bacon

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 18 minutes
Servings: 4
 
Ingredients:

8 tilapia fillets
8 slices of thick cut bacon
1/2 tbsp. creole seasoning
1/2 tbsp. black pepper
1/2 tbsp. onion powder
1/2 tbsp. garlic powder
1/2 tbsp. paprika
4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
4 french bread rolls
lick the bowl sauce
lettuce

Directions:
Mix spice blend together and set aside. Rinse fish under cold water and pat dry. Add fish to a large bowl, pour extra virgin olive oil and spice blend on top, mix well and set aside. 
In a skillet heated over medium high heat, fry bacon until crisp and set aside.
Remove all but 2 tablespoons of bacon grease from pan.
Do not discard bacon grease we will use it toast bread.
Add 2 tablespoons of butter to pan with remaining bacon grease.
Add fish fillets cooking in two batches as to not overcrowd the pan.
Cook fillets for 3-4 minutes on each side and set aside.
Add 1 tablespoon of leftover bacon grease and 1 tablespoon of butter and toast bread about 1-2 minutes until browned.

Assemble:

Assemble po-boy by spreading lick the bowl sauce on both sides of toasted rolls, place lettuce down, place 2 fish fillets on top of lettuce and 2 slices of bacon. Enjoy


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Busted Doughnuts

Do-NUT What I am Doing!



Today I decided I would create a breakfast fit for a queen! Were going to call it high tea for southerners. It's extremely cold out and I thought to myself, I said self; why not doughnuts!































I started to just eat all the chocolate ones, which are my favorite. There is nothing like a devils food chocolate doughnut. Except a devils food chocolaty doughnut with good organic milk! Yes, it is low fat milk!


 But then I saw this beauty, just look at it. Perfectly glazed, hot, soft, fresh circle of goodness.




























I had fruit cocktail in the refrigerator, and I said I can make this so much more healthier.




 This doughnut was begging for a sprinkle. Yes I put more than just a sprinkle, go big or go home!


Don't worry I am about to EAT all of you.

The season of sharing, just not my doughnuts.

 
Busted Doughnuts

Prep Time: 20 minutes- to purchase Doughnuts
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 2-4 (LOL) depending on your mood!

Ingredients:
4 glazed doughnuts
1 can of fruit cocktail
2 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp powdered sugar

Directions:

Drain fruit cocktail over a bowl and sprinkle on 2 tbsp of sugar, mix well and set aside for 5 minutes. Split doughnuts making sure not to cut all the way through, stop about 1 inch away from end and set aside.  Stuff doughnut with macerated fruit cocktail, adding as much fruit cocktail that will fit. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar on each doughnut. Enjoy.   

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tarboosh

Dinner at Tarboosh!


Chicken Shawarma



Tonight was Ta-Kwon-Do practice for baby girl and we decided to have Mediterranean food for dinner.This was our first time trying out Tarboosh.








Tabbouleh






         
I would have to say this was hands down some of the best Tabbouleh I have ever eaten. Nice and fragrant and really fresh. I will order this again for sure.


Why not Mediterranean Nachos?



The "Nachos" were good, I love the feta cheese and the crispy pita. The meat was flavorful but a little over cooked.

Kafta Burger

The Kafta burger was really good, I love the ground lamb and the pita bread was really fresh. And again I ask, why not french fries?


Where The Foodies Eat!

I would have to say that Tarboosh was OK. I have had way better Mediterranean food. I believe the food would be a lot better if they focused more on the recipes and less on promoting the Hooka.

I will confess, I am very particular about my food.I expect high quality always and have no problem telling the truth about a meal be it good or bad. I would probably be harsher but the Tabbouleh was so good, I think it is affecting my judgment.

Chicken Shawarma should taste fresh and earthy. It should not taste like tamarind. Tonight I must go to bed a little bit hungry but tomorrow I cook!

Will I ever go back to Tarboosh, yes because I have to get more Tabbouleh!

If your in town, why not give it a try!

 http://www.tarbooshcafe.com/









Monday, November 26, 2012

Spicy Thai Ginger Lime Chicken

 My Love of Asian Food!





























I must confess my love affair with Asian food which started at a very young age growing up in California, home of some of the best Asian food outside of Asia.  I have failed to consume any decent Asian food since moving from California years ago.

I refuse to disrespect such culinary genius that is Asian food by consuming anything remotely mediocre in taste, freshness, or flavor. In an effort to retain a minute resemblance to the dishes I devoured over the years,  I taught myself how to create excellent Asian food.



Perfectly steamed rice that often times has a hint of jasmine flavor, each grain with the appearance that it was cooked separately. Bright, hot crunchy vegetables that have the appearance of being fresh picked right out of the garden and then cooked with so much respect that it still maintains the center stage position in the dish. 

Thinly sliced meats, which have been sliced with such precision, you don’t know rather to eat the meat or just stare and ponder the beauty of such a dish. I eat of course, and after every bite I look down and wonder, how did they cut this so perfectly?  



Perfectly seasoned sauces, each one meticulously crafted by Asian geniuses who found the right balance of sweet and sour, tart and savory, the yin and the yang for the palate. 




There is nothing like the taste of hot, fresh, steamed dumplings as they explode in your mouth each bite, slighter better than the previous one. The first taste of a hot bowl of congee (Chinese rice soup) as the hint of ginger touches your tongue, the feeling that something about this soup has miracle healing properties; it’s the soup with a smile and a hug.    










Don’t forget the perfectly fried tempura shrimp, that were it not for the crunch there would be no hint that it ever touched hot grease. Then the egg rolls, rather you call them Po-Pia Thot (Thai spring rolls), which are little neatly wrapped crispy pieces of joy often filled with chicken, pork or just perfectly cooked vegetables. Then there are the larger egg rolls with the thicker wrapping that appears to be a tight hug from grandma as you bite into it.  

Rather you enjoy the small crispy Thai version or the larger Chinese version egg rolls, take time to  enjoy the fragrant taste of garlic, ginger, scallions, shrimp or roasted meats as the party continues in your mouth!




























I will end with Asian noodles, my  favorite  Asian noodle experience is the one dish I miss so much. It is cooked in a light brown gravy that is perfectly seasoned, never over salted, the noodle is perfectly cooked and the thinly sliced chicken breast is cut at an angle so sharp it begs to be picked up by the chopstick.

And then enters broccoli, which is the color of freshly cut green grass, it’s as if God said to the plate; this here broccoli, it is to be eaten and enjoyed and I gave you added color so you will know it! 

The crunch of the bean sprouts that appears to be preventing the silkiness of the soft noodle from falling off the chopstick. And if you prefer don’t forget the perfectly scrambled egg that balances out the entire dish, it’s an option I often choose. 

This is one dish that  really needs no introduction  for us veteran Asian food eaters. When something  is so well crafted and cooked with love; you will know it by its name, Pad See Ew. 

Oh how I miss you original one; until we meet again, I will soon cook and treat you with the respect befitting one of the original kings of all food!




Spicy Thai Ginger Lime Chicken

5 boneless skinless, chicken breast 

Marinade:
4 tbsp. lime juice
½ tbsp. sesame oil

1 tbsp. sriracha
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. oyster sauce
2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. creole seasonings
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 c flour
1 c cornstarch
Extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Rinse chicken under cold water and pat dry. Slice chicken into 1 inch chunks put in a large bowl.  Top chicken with everything except flour, cornstarch and extra virgin olive oil, stir and marinate in refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Drain chicken and discard marinade. Mix flour and cornstarch in a bowl, toss chicken pieces in flour corn starch mixture and shake off excess.  Heat oil to medium high heat and fry chicken pieces in two batches for 4-5 minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove from pan, drain and set aside.

SAUCE:

4 cloves garlic, sliced
6 Thai chili’s sliced
2 tbsp. diced ginger         
1 jalapeno pepper sliced
3 stalks green onion sliced
2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. sweet and sour sauce
2 tbsp. oyster sauce
4 oz. chicken broth
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Mix together soy sauce, oyster sauce, sweet and sour sauce and chicken broth in a small bowl and set aside. Place extra virgin olive oil in skillet on medium high heat, add chili’s, jalapeno, ginger and green onion and sauté for three minutes, add garlic and sauté for 1 minute more. Pour liquid mixture into pot and cook for 1 minute. Add cooked chicken into pot and toss to coat. Enjoy!

Serve over hot Jasmine rice and garnish with extra Thai chili's if you dare.


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I must confess I love great food. I decided to create The Creole Contessa blog after cooking and eating a great meal with my family Big Goo the hubby of almost twenty years and my lil’ Contessa Summer aka “Baby Girl." I told Big Goo and Baby Girl, it is just not fair to not share these great recipes with the world; and the Creole Contessa blog was born.

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