SHRIMP PAD THAI

This recipe is the PERFECT downsized recipe for 2! This flavor combination offers a complex salty AND sweet yet spicy AND pungent flavor with just enough acidity from the lime for balance in the sauce. Add in the sauteed shrimp, the scrambled egg, salty peanuts and crunchy bean sprouts and scallions that balance out the texture and flavors for a complete meal.

SHRIMP PAD THAI
SAUCE
2 LARGE limes, juiced, about 3 +/- tablespoons
3 tablespoons water
2 1/2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons avocado oil (or other neutral oil)
3 teaspoons rice vinegar (I often use seasoned – flavor of choice)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • Whisk all together and set aside.

NOODLES & SHRIMP
4 ounces WIDE rice noodles
1/2 pound medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed
2 tablespoons avocado oil
1 shallot, minced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 LARGE egg, lightly beaten
1 cup bean sprouts
2 tablespoons crushed dry roasted peanuts
2 tablespoons FRESH chopped cilantro (for garnish – optional)

  • Bring 4 quarts of water to boil.Remove from heat, add rice noodles and let stand 10 minutes until noodles are tender. Drain noodles and set aside.
  • Pat shrimp dry.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add shrimp and a pinch of salt, sauteing 2-3 minutes until shrimp are opaque.
  • Transfer to a plate.
  • Add remaining oil to skillet.
  • When oil is shimmering add shallots and garlic, sauteing until light golden brown.
  • Add in egg and cook 20-30 seconds until scrambled.
  • Add noodles, tossing to mix.
  • Add sauce, tossing continually to coat for 1-2 minutes until well blended and coated in sauce.
  • Add bean sprouts, peanuts, scallions and shrimp, tossing to coat.
  • Serve immediately.

NOTE: As a quick cheat I use pre-prepared yakisoba noodles from my butcher to replace the rice noodles.

TOMATO SCALLOPED POTATOES

This is another 1930’s-40’s recipe box find written in a stenographer’s shorthand and old cursive on old yellowed scrap paper. It took me a bit to decipher it, but it was well worth it. 😀

TOMATO SCALLOPED POTATOES
1/2 cup chopped onion I used 2 shallots
2 tablespoons butter I used herbed butter
2 tablespoons flour I used WONDRA which is extra fine
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt I used FRESH ground, to taste
1/8 teaspoon pepper I used FRESH ground, to taste
1 cup water I used chicken broth
8 ounce can diced tomatoes I used a 14 ounce can
2 chicken bouillon cubes I only used 1 since I was using broth
5 cups peeled sliced potatoes I used tricolor baby potatoes

  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add onions and saute 2-3 minutes until soft.
  • Sprinkle with flour, paprika, salt and pepper, blending well.
  • Add water, tomatoes and bouillon cubes, simmering over medium heat until thickens.
  • Spray 2 quart casserole with non-stick spray.
  • Layer 2/3 of the potatoes loosely on the bottom
  • Sprinkle with a fine flour and some FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper.
  • Top with half of the tomato mixture followed by the layer of thin baby Swiss cheese slices.
  • Follow with remaining tomato sauce mixture over top.
  • Bake 1 hour or until cooked through and tender.

NOTES:

  • I have made a few changes that are indicated in red above and find they are tastier than ever.
  • I also use herbed butter cubes for additional flavor, usually rosemary or tarragon.
  • I also added a layer of ULTRA thin sliced baby Swiss cheese under the last layer of potatoes.

RUSTIC CASSOULET (slightly updated)

RUSTIC CASSOULET
2-3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces**
1/2 pound thick-cut bacon, diced
1 pound Johnsonville beef sausage, cut into bite sized pieces
3 tablespoons butter
2 shallots, diced
4 garlic cloves, FINELY minced
1/4 cup FRESH minced Italian flat leaf parsley
28-ounces whole peeled tomatoes (seasoned, if you can find them)
14-ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons FRESH chopped thyme
1 cup Moscato white wine
1 +/- cups chicken stock
2 cups seasoned bread crumbs (fresh are best – I make them from baguettes )
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
FRESH ground sea salt and ground black pepper
2 cups pasta of choice (optional)
Crusty French Bread (optional)

  • Preheat oven to 325°.
  • Brown the bacon until browned and crumbly in large saute skillet/dutch oven. 
  • Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
  • Add chicken and sausage pieces to bacon fat and brown on all sides.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Remove from fat and set aside. 
  • Add the shallots, cooking 3-4 minutes until softened.
  • Add garlic, sauteing a few minutes more until fragrant.
  • Add white wine and chicken stock, bringing to a boil. Turn heat off.
  • Add tomatoes and beans. 

  • Add meat back in.
  • Mix together crumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, thyme and 1 tablespoon melted butter together until well blended.
  • Spread crumb mixture over the top and bake covered for 30 minutes.
  • Remove cover and bake 5-10 minutes more until browned.

NOTES **

  • I sometimes cook the chicken thighs whole and then shred them – just depends on my mood.
  • You can change this into a thick soup/stew by eliminating the bread crumbs and adding 8 ounces (2 cups) of macaroni during the last 10-15 minutes. I then serve it with crusty bread for dipping.

SHEET PAN MAC & CHEESE

SHEET PAN MAC & CHEESE
2 LARGE cans evaporated milk (12 ounce)
1 cup cubed Velveeta pieces
2 1/2 cups grated Cheddar
2 1/2 cups grated Gruyere
1 teaspoon dry mustard (optional)
1 tablespoon Frank’s original hot sauce
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
1 pound macaroni, cooked according to package instructions
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Nonstick cooking spray

  • Preheat the oven to 425°.
  • In a saucepan over a medium heat, add the evaporated milk, processed cheese, 1 cup of the Cheddar, 1 cup of the Gruyere, the dry mustard if using, the hot sauce, salt and pepper to taste, whisking until the cheeses are melted and the mixture is smooth, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add the cooked pasta to the cheese sauce and stir to coat and combine.
  • In a small bowl, toss together the remaining cheeses.
  • Remove the sheet pan from the oven and carefully spray with the cooking spray.
  • Pour the mac and cheese from the saucepan into the sheet pan and spread evenly.
  • Sprinkle the cheese mixture evenly over the top.
  • Bake until the cheese topping is fully melted and the mixture is bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes.

PAN SEARED CHICKEN with RUSTIC TOMATO GRAVY & FLUFFY BUTTERED MASHED POTATOES

I got this recipe from Jet Tila and have used it ever since to make the fluffiest, lightest and tastiest mashed potatoes.

PAN SEARED CHICKEN with RUSTIC TOMATO GRAVY & FLUFFY BUTTERED MASHED POTATOES

PAN SEARED CHICKEN with RUSTIC TOMATO GRAVY
3 to 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons avocado oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 bunch green onions, sliced THINLY
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tablespoons FRESH chopped thyme leaves
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
15 ounce can petite diced tomatoes, drained, but juice reserved
chicken stock
1 tablespoon chicken bouillon
1 tablespoon WONDRA flour
3 tablespoons Mascarpone cheese

  • Rinse and pat dry the chicken breasts.
  • Add enough chicken stock to the reserved tomato juice to equal 1 3/4 cups. Whisk in chicken bouillon.
  • Heat oil in skillet over medium high heat.
  • Generously season chicken breasts with FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper.
  • Dredge chicken breasts in flour.
  • Sear chicken breast on each side 2-3 minutes per side.
  • Remove chicken from pan and keep warm.
  • Add onions and garlic, sauteing 2-3 minutes.
  • Add tomatoes and thyme leaves, simmering 10 minutes until tomatoes are cooked through.
  • Stir in Mascarpone cheese until creamy.
  • Add chicken breasts to sauce, turning to coat.
  • Serve over fluffy mashed potatoes.

FLUFFY BUTTERED MASHED POTATOES
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 pounds SMALL Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into half (2 inch pieces)
1/2 cup half and half
1 1/2 tablespoons FRESH grated sea salt
1 teaspoon FRESH ground sea salt

  • Add potato pieces into a large saucepan and cover by 1 inch with COLD* (see notes) water.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of sea salt.
  • Bring to a boil over HIGH heat.
  • Reduce heat to MEDIUM heat and simmer for 15-18 minutes until potatoes are fork tender.
  • Drain the potatoes well in a colander and then return to the pan over LOW heat.
  • Warm the half and half in the microwave for 45 seconds.
  • Rice or mash potatoes with a masher until lumps are gone.
  • Fold in half and half with a rubber spatula.
  • Add butter 1 piece at a time, folding it gently into the potato mixture.
  • Season to taste with remaining salt and pepper.

NOTES:

  • Using the COLD water makes the starches in the potatoes cook slower and more evenly so that the outsides are not more done when the centers are ready and they become creamier.
  • Give your potatoes a kick with a bit of roasted garlic, chives or even some wasabi for some variety.

CLASSIC PASTA SALAD

This is the PERFECT and the EASIEST pasta salad, a true classic for any pot luck, BBQ or church supper.

CLASSIC PASTA SALAD – 8 servings

2 cups ROTINI or elbow macaroni, cooked per package directions
1 SMALL can Le Seur peas, drained WELL
2 LARGE eggs, hard boiled and diced
2/3 cup Duke’s mayonnaise
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
2 SMALL mini red peppers, diced
1/3 cup FINELY diced red onion
2 celery ribs, FINELY diced
3 tablespoons chopped FRESH parsley leaves
1/2 cup SMALL diced extra-sharp cheddar cheese
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste

  • In a large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper.
  • Fold in pasta, peas, eggs, bell pepper, onion, celery and cheese.
  • Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Cover and refrigerate for AT LEAST 2 hours before serving.

SMASHED SUNCHOKES with TARRAGON BUTTER

SMASHED SUNCHOKES with TARRAGON BUTTER
1 pound sunchokes, rinsed, peeled and trimmed of any dark spots
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon avocado oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon FRESH tarragon leaves
Finishing salt

  • 
In a medium saucepan, cover sunchokes with 1 inch cold water.
  • Season generously with salt. The water should taste nicely salted, as if you were seasoning soup.
  • Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer.
  • Cook until paring knife inserted into a sunchoke meets little resistance, about 10 minutes; DO NOT OVERCOOK.


  • Drain sunchokes in a colander.
  • When cool enough to handle, place sunchokes on work surface or cutting board and “smash” enough to flatten, but not break them apart with a heavy skillet. 


  • In a large cast iron skillet, heat oil over medium heat until shimmering.
  • Add sunchokes in a single layer and cook without moving until well browned, about 3 minutes.
  • Flip sunchokes, then add butter to the pan and allow to melt.
  • Add half of the tarragon leaves to the melted butter and continue to cook, spooning butter over sunchokes, until browned on the second side, about 3 minutes longer.

  • Transfer sunchokes to a serving plate and spoon the tarragon butter on top.
  • Garnish with remaining tarragon leaves and sprinkle with flaky salt.
  • Serve immediately.

PUB STYLE SHEPHERD’S PIE

There IS nothing better than homey, comforting classics that warm you from the inside out when the weather is COLD, rainy, snowy, gray or ANY of those combos. This recipe for a pub style shepherd’s pies FULL of rib sticking goodness with its rich tomato, beefy, veggie and herb filling that then topped with chunky rustic mashed potatoes and baked to perfection! For me this is a recipe where you MUST use cast iron for the best results.

PUB STYLE SHEPHERD’S PIE

1 tablespoon avocado oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon WONDRA flour
½ cup shredded white cheddar cheese
2 stalks celery, diced
2 LARGE carrots, peeled and diced
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 pound ground beef
1/2 cup beef stock
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons FRESH stripped and chopped thyme leaves

  • Place potatoes in a medium pot with enough salted water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, 15-20 minutes.
  • Drain and return potatoes to pot.
  • Mash potatoes with sour cream, 2 tablespoons of butter, a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper and 1 teaspoon chopped thyme until even consistency.
  • Keep covered and set until ready to serve.

  • While potatoes cook, heat a drizzle of oil in a medium, preferably cast-iron, pan.
  • Add carrots; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until slightly softened, 2-3 minutes.
  • Add celery, onion, and a large drizzle of oil; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until veggies are just tender, 5-7 minutes.
  • Stir in garlic and 2 teaspoons chopped thyme; cook until fragrant, 30 seconds.
  • Add beef to pan with veggies and season with salt and pepper. Cook, breaking up meat into SMALL pieces, until browned and cooked through, 4-6 minutes.
  • Add tomato paste and flour; cook, stirring, until thoroughly combined, 1 minute.
  • Gradually pour beef stock into pan with beef mixture, simmering 5 minutes until mixture thickens.
  • Adjust seasonings.
  • Sprinkle with half of the cheddar
  • Top beef filling with an even layer of mashed potatoes, leaving a gap around edge of pan.
  • Evenly sprinkle with remaining cheddar.
  • Broil until browned, 3-4 minutes. WATCH CLOSELY TO PREVENT BURNING.
  • Serve directly from pan.

NOTE: This recipe can easily be prepared in advance for a GREAT weeknight meal when you’re in a hurry.  It can easily be prepared as individual dishes also. Thaw if frozen and bake in a 350° oven for 30 minutes before broiling.

CRISPY POTATO BALLS

CRISPY POTATO BALLS adapted from REE makes 3 dozen

1 1/2 cups COLD mashed potatoes
3 strips bacon, cooked crisp, cooled and crumbled
1/4 cup WONDRA flour 
1 LARGE egg 
1 tablespoon FRESH chopped parsley, plus more for garnish 
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish 
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella 
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
1/4 + 3/4 cup dried breadcrumbs 
Peanut or Avocado oil, for frying 
Finishing salt 

  • Mix together the Mashed Potatoes, flour, egg, parsley, 1/4 cup bread crumbs, bacon pieces, Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese and FRESH ground black pepper in a bowl.
  • Place the 3/4 cup breadcrumbs on a large plate.
  • Form the potato mix into 12 golf-ball-sized balls. The mixture will be a little sticky, so I use clover hands to roll the balls.
  • Place the balls directly on the breadcrumbs and roll each ball in the breadcrumbs, pressing to make sure they stick well.
  • Put the bread crumbed balls on a plate.
  • Cover and freeze for 45 minutes.
  • Heat 2 inches of oil in a dutch oven to 375°.
  • Add the balls to the oil and fry until golden brown on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes total. DO NOT CROWD THE PAN.
  • Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle immediately with salt.
  • Garnish with more Parmesan and parsley.

MASHED POTATOES
5 pounds Red OR Yukon gold potatoes
3/4 cup salted butter
8 ounces cream cheese, softened 
1/2 cup half-and-half OR buttermilk
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper

  • Peel and cut the potatoes into pieces of approximately the same size.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a simmer and add the potatoes.
  • Bring to a boil and cook until a fork easily slides into the potatoes with no resistance.
  • Drain the potatoes in a large colander.
  • Place them back into the dry pot and mash the potatoes, allowing all the steam to escape.
  • Add the butter, cream cheese and milk and cream together.
  • Season to taste.

PAPRIKA CHICKEN IN LEMON SAUCE with PISTACHIO RICE for 2

PAPRIKA CHICKEN IN LEMON SAUCE with PISTACHIO RICE for 2

2 tablespoons FRESH chopped Thyme
½ cup Basmati Rice
1 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoon sour cream
2 large green onions, thinly sliced, whites and greens separated
1 LARGE lemon, juiced
3/4 pound chicken steaks
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup crushed Pistachios
2 teaspoon avocado oil
2 tablespoon butter
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper

  • Adjust rack to top position and preheat oven to 425°.
  • Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small pot over medium-high heat.
  • Add scallion whites; cook, stirring occasionally, until just softened, 1 minute.
  • Stir in rice, ¾ cup water, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a low simmer. Cook until rice is tender, 15-18 minutes. Remove from heat and keep covered until ready to serve.

 

  • While rice cooks, pat chicken dry and season all over with paprika, salt, and pepper.
  • Heat a drizzle of avocado oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.
  • Add chicken and cook until browned and cooked through, 3-5 min per side.
  • Transfer to a plate.
  • Wipe out pan. If you forget to do this or choose not to, your sauce will take on a red hue 😀
  • Melt 1 tablespoon butter in the same pan over medium heat.
  • Add chopped thyme; cook until fragrant, 30 seconds.
  • Stir in stock and bring to a simmer, then immediately turn off heat.
  • Stir in sour cream and lemon juice.
  • Season to taste with FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper.
  • Fluff rice with a fork; stir in lemon zest and pistachios.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Divide rice and chicken between plates.
  • Top chicken with sauce and sprinkle with scallion greens.

CRISPY CHEDDAR CHICKEN with LOADED BACON MASHED POTATOES

CRISPY CHEDDAR CHICKEN with LOADED BACON MASHED POTATOES

Golden cheesy crispy chicken is ALWAYS a recipe for success. When you add melted cheddar and BOLD spices along with a CHEESY stuffed mashed potatoes you have WINNER, WINNER, CHICKEN DINNER.

CHICKEN
3/4 pound thin chicken steaks
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/3 cup FINELY shredded cheddar cheese
¼ cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon QUALITY season salt
scant 2 tablespoons butter
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper

  • Adjust rack to top position.
  • Preheat oven to 425°.
  • Lightly oil a baking sheet.
  • Pat chicken dry and season with FRESH ground black pepper.
  • Place on prepared baking sheet.
  • Evenly spread a thin layer of mayonnaise onto tops of chicken.
  • Melt butter in a medium microwave safe bowl.
  • Stir together the melted butter, Panko breadcrumbs, seasoning salt, and cheddar cheese.
  • Divide the Panko mixture evenly between the chicken steaks, pressing to adhere.
  • Roast on top rack until chicken is cooked through, 15-20 minutes. TIP: For a deep golden crust, broil chicken for the last 2-3 minutes.

POTATOES
3/4 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, diced into ½-inch pieces.
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
4 slices bacon, cooked crisp
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons minced chives

  • Place potatoes in a large pot with enough salted water to cover by 2 inches.
  • Bring to a boil and cook until tender, 15-20 minutes.
  • Drain and return potatoes to pot.
  • Add sour cream, 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, and 1 tablespoon butter.
  • Mash until smooth and creamy, adding heavy cream as needed.
  • Stir in half the bacon and half the chives.
  • Season to taste with FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper.

ASSEMBLY

  • Divide chicken and potatoes between plates.
  • Top potatoes with remaining bacon and remaining chives.
  • Serve immediately.

CREAMY CHICKEN & VEGGIES with GNOCCHI DUMPLINGS

CREAMY CHICKEN & VEGGIES with GNOCCHI DUMPLINGS

adapted from Eliza Winograd at Marley Spoon

1 tablespoon FRESH chopped parsley
1 tablespoon FRESH chopped thyme leaves
1 small can Le Seur peas, drained WELL
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
3/4 pound chicken breast strips
3 LARGE carrots, halved and sliced
1 bunch scallions, sliced thin
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 cups gnocchi
1 tablespoon avocado oil
1 tablespoon butter
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon WONDRA flour

  • Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil.
  • Add gnocchi and cook about 3 minutes, stirring gently, until tender and most of gnocchi float to the top. Drain well.
  • Pat chicken dry and generously season with FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper.
  • 
Melt butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Sear chicken tenders 1-2 minutes per side.
  • Remove chicken to a plate.
  • Add carrots, onions and garlic, stirring occasionally and cooking until softened and lightly browned, 3–4 minutes.
  • Stir in flour and cook, about 1 minute.
  • Add chicken stock to skillet and return chicken to skillet. Bring to a simmer.
  • Stir in mascarpone cheese.
  • Fold in peas and gnocchi.
  • Simmer a few minutes more.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.