All posts by Chris

I'm an avid board game and cooking enthusiast.

Red Beans and Rice

Based on my last few posts I’ve gone south with my cooking lately, and this is no exception!

Red beans and rice is that quintessential southern comfort food. All the carbs, all the spices, all the tastiness. I like to make this maybe once a month as it’s very filling, the leftovers are delicious, and it’s stupid cheap to make. It’s very hands-off and anyone can do this. I use dried beans in a Crock-Pot, however, you could just use canned beans and spice them up it would work just the same.

The ingredients:
1lb dry red beans

1/2 an onion, chopped fine

2 cups uncooked rice

A smoked sausage, andoui if you can get it but a kielbasa works just fine too.

1/8 tsp liquid smoke

1 tsp Cajun seasoning

Approx 6-8 cups stock, chicken, beef, or veggie.

The process:
This is a dump and go kind of recipe. First you should sort and rinse the beans, people say you do this to remove stones that may have been put in the bag or to remove less than tasty looking beans.  As for stones, in my lifetime I’ve never seen that happen, however, you do find some ugly looking beans every once in awhile so it’s good to toss them.

Place your beans, onion, liquid smoke, Cajun seasoning, and stock into your crock pot set to low.

Allow to cook 6 – 8 hours. Once beans are getting soft, extract about a cup of beans and liquid, set aside. 

Slice up your sausage and add it to the mix

Put the beans and water you set aside into a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Add back to crock pot. This is the thickener for your beans.

Let the beans cook for 30 more minutes with the lid off to reduce a bit.

While your beans are reducing, prepare rice as directed on the packaging.

Plate the beans and sausage and top with rice, dig in and enjoy.

Prep time: 8 hours

Serves:  10 – 12

Low country boil

Now I am not Southern, well at least not that southern, but I do love The Living Daylights out of some southern food. I’m  talking collard greens,  mac and cheese, fried chicken, crawfish, catfish, all the fish. I know it isn’t good for me but damn if it isn’t tasty sometimes. So I was chatting with my sister and decided, quite at random, that we need to do a low country boil. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, let ms enlighten you. Picture if you will: shrimp; crawdad; potatoes; corn; Smoked sausage; and enough Cajun seasoning to titalate your tastebuds all boiled together to completion. Now serve it with some drawn butter, cocktail sauce, and a remoulade sauce.
Now I’m no expert on this, frankly I’m doing this by the seat of my pants, but I know what tastes good at least to me and I’m going to make me some boiled shrimp, I am.


The Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs shrimp: uncooked, shells on, deviened.
  • 3 lbs crawfish: alive if you can get em, ya can’t here in AZ
  • 2 lbs smoked sausage: cut into 2 inch pieces.
  • 1 packet zaterans shrimp boil seasoning
  • 3 lbs red potatoes: rinsed
  • 6 ears of corn: if at all possible use fresh, frozen is fine but the texture is diffrent.
  • 1/2 Cup hot sauce

The Process

  1. Bring 2 gallons of water to a boil with the seasoning bag.
  2. When water is boiling add in the potatoes and sausage. Boil for approx 20 minutes.
  3. Add in corn, continue to boil for additional 15 minutes.
  4. Drop in your crawfish. Boil for 10 minutes.
  5. When craw fish begin to float add in your shrimp and let boil 5 minutes.
  6. At this point add in extra seasoning, if you are using it, then turn off the heat.
  7. Add in 1/2 a buckets worth of ice. This will slow the cooking proccess and let everything steep in the broth for a few minutes.
  8. Now while everything is steeping, go outside and line a table with newspaper, set up space so everyone eating has access.
  9. Now this is essential, remove your glorious stew from its pot, drain it well and dump all of you seafoody goodness out on to the newspaper lined table. 
  10. DIG IN!!

Remember that the variations on this are limitless add in whatever suits you.

Serves: 6-8

Prep time: 1.5 hrs

Paella

When I was younger I got a chance to go to Spain.  What I remember the most was the food and the architecture.  The food most of all, and of all of it the paella was the best! So much fresh seafood available off the Mediterranean.

The Ingredients:

  • Arborio Rice( in a pinch you could use regular old long grain rice)
  • Chicken Thighs, Bone in Skin on
  • Frozen peas, 8oz
  • Red Bell Pepper, sliced into strips.
  • Shrimp (U15 or Colossal)
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, Chopped (depending on how you like it)
  • Olive oil, 1/4
  • 2 Lemons, quartered
  • Safron, like 2 sprigs.
  • Spanish onion, medium chopped
  • Paprika
  • Bay leaf
  • Chicken stock
  • Parsley
  • Dried red pepper flakes
  • Spanish Chorizo.

The Process:

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons olive oil, paprika, oregano, salt, and pepper. Stir in chicken pieces to coat. Cover, and refrigerate.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet or paella pan over medium heat. Stir in garlic, red pepper flakes, and rice. Cook, stirring to coat rice with oil, about 3 minutes. Stir in saffron threads, bay leaf, parsley, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer 20 minutes
  3. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a separate skillet over medium heat. Stir in marinated chicken and onion; cook 5 minutes. Stir in bell pepper and sausage; cook 5 minutes. Stir in shrimp; cook, turning the shrimp, until both sides are pink.
  4. Spread rice mixture onto a serving tray. Top with meat and seafood mixture
  5. Now, this is the hardest step, pop open a bottle of Red Roija, or make a Clarita (equal parts light lager and sparkling lemonade) and enjoy with friends.

Sea Food Ravioli

The Ingredients:

  • Won ton Wrappers (these things are cheap and versatile)
  • 1/2 Cup Ricotta
  • 1/8 Cup Parmesan
  • 1/4 Cup Mozzarella
  • 2 Egg
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, Chopped (depending on how you like it)
  • 3 Cloved Garlic, Thinly Sliced.
  • A few Dashes Italian Seasoning Blend
  • Imitation Crab
  • 1/2 a Shallot
  • 1/8 cup white wine
  • olive oil
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 lemon, Zested and Juiced

The Instructions:

In a large bowl, mix ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, Italian seasoning, garlic, imitation crab,  and 1 egg until smooth. Set aside for a few minutes. Lightly beat the remaining egg as an egg wash. Lay out the won ton wrappers on counter in front of you. Paint each one lightly with the beaten egg. Place 1 tablespoon filling in the center of each ravioli, I use a 1 Tbsp scoop to get as accurate as I can. Seal by placing 8 additional won ton wrappers on top to cover each square. Pick up each ravioli and press well all around edges to seal. For a good seal, keep the filling away from the edges. You can leave them square (the easy route) or get fancy and with a medium cookie cutter, cut them into shapes. Remember to leave a bit of space around the filling to make sure these babies don’t pop open while cooking. Place the ravioli upside down on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. I do these in batches, do 6-8 ravioli, lay them on the pan, then lay additional parchment or plastic wrap between layers of ravioli as you make each batch. The cookie sheet can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for like a day.

When ready to cook ravioli, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Lower heat to a medium simmer. Give the water a good stir to form a whirlpool effect and quickly drop in 10 raviolis one at a time. Keep string to keep them from sticking together. Boil/poach for 2 to 3 minutes, or until ravioli puff up and float to the surface. They will be a little see through at the center. Cook remaining ravioli in same manner.

The Sauce and Serving:

While the Ravioli are cooking, melt 1/4 cup butter over low heat, and saute a shallot, and sliced garlic. add white wine, olive oil and lemon zest and juice. when the ravioli are cooked toss in this sauce and serve.

Cook Time: Aprox 25 minutes

Serves: 6

Ravioli (A Cheaters Guide)

Alright, I love food, Italian, Mexican, Korean, that melting pot of culinary creations we claim is American food. All of it!  And I hate paying an arm and a leg for something delicious and healthy(ish) that costs pennies to make.  So I like to cook up my own recipes, they usually start with a thought like, “Gee I wonder if I could do that…” and end either in terrible disaster or wonderfully full tummies.

Now I really like Ravioli. Pillows of cheese, meat, veggies, or some kind of mixture there in; that are drizzled in a light tasty sauce.  I hate store bought ravioli, only because the mark up on them is insane.  I look to make them myself only to find that the number on tools and the amount of knowledge is a bit daunting too.  So I settle for cheating where possible.  This is where Won Ton Wrappers come into play,  they are a pre-rolled dough I can easily use for my ravioli.  I was unsure with was a good idea, but upon searching Google for confirmation, I am well assured that its a thing that can be done.

 

The Ingredients:

  • Won ton Wrappers (these things are cheap and versatile)
  • 1 Cup Ricotta
  • 1/2 Cup Parmesan
  • 1/2 Cup Mozzarella
  • 2 Egg
  • 2-6 Cloves Garlic, Chopped (depending on how you like it)
  • A few Dashes Italian Seasoning Blend

 

The Instructions:

In a large bowl, mix ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, Italian seasoning, garlic,  and 1 egg until smooth. 

Set aside for a few minutes. Lightly beat the remaining egg as an egg wash. Lay out the won ton wrappers on counter in front of you. Paint each one lightly with the beaten egg. Place 1 tablespoon filling in the center of each ravioli, I use a 1 Tbsp scoop to get as accurate as I can. Seal by placing 8 additional won ton wrappers on top to cover each square.


 Pick up each ravioli and press well all around edges to seal. For a good seal, keep the filling away from the edges. You can leave them square (the easy route) or get fancy and with a medium cookie cutter, cut them into shapes. Remember to leave a bit of space around the filling to make sure these babies don’t pop open while cooking. Place the ravioli upside down on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. I do these in batches, do 6-8 ravioli, lay them on the pan, then lay additional parchment or plastic wrap between layers of ravioli as you make each batch. The cookie sheet can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for like a day.

When ready to cook ravioli, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Lower heat to a medium simmer. Give the water a good stir to form a whirlpool effect and quickly drop in 10 raviolis one at a time. Keep string to keep them from sticking together. Boil/poach for 2 to 3 minutes, or until ravioli puff up and float to the surface. They will be a little see through at the center. Cook remaining ravioli in same manner. Serve with sauce, butter, or oil, or in broth, and with or without cheese.
Variations:

Seafood Ravioli– Into the cheese mixture you could add chopped crab (real or imitation), lobster (real or imitation), and/or shrimp. I would recommend serving these with a Butter Shallot Cream sauce.

Meat Ravioli- Cut the ricotta down to 1/2 a cup and fry off some ground beef, ground pork, or Italian Sausage. Mix filling using new ingredients and follow instructions as above.  It isn’t very Italian but I serve these with my Hearty Marinara.

Crispy Meat Ravioli– Follow the meat ravioli instructions, buy instead of boiling these little guys, drop them into a fryer. Admittedly not healthy… at all, but an awesome thing to serve at parties as a quick and easy appetizer.

Veggie Ravioli– Just like with the meat ravioli, cut back the ricotta to 1/2 a cup, and add in some steamed mashed sweet potato, or butternut squash. Then follow the instructions as usual.  These are an awesome winter/fall meal served with lemon sage butter sauce.

Baked Taco Shells {A #Quicky}

Alright tacos as a staple in my home, and though I disagree , FUNDAMENTALLY, with the stance that crunchy tacos are king, everyone in my life thinks crunchy tacos are king :'(. Now don’t get me wrong, I love crunchy tacos as much as anyone. But a soft tortilla is my preferred delivery method for taco type fillings.

I cant say I’m a fan of how up to half of those store bought shells are always broken, and why is it the nutrition facts on a pack of corn tortillas is not entirely terrible, but a pack of shells is like a sodium bomb waiting to go off in your face. Not to mention that a 30 pack of Corn tortillas cost like $2 and a pack of 8 taco shells cost like $3.

So I make my own, and I do them in various ways depending on how I’m feeling and what i want that day.  I do dorados when I can, or just fry my shells myself.  but usually I like to bake my shells, if nothing else it gives me that wide mouthed taco shell effect.

The Ingredients:

Corn Tortillas, White or Yellow your choice
Vegetable oil

The Instructions:
Preheat oven to 300 degrees or so,
Warm your Tortillason a pan,
Drape Tortillas over the rack of you oven,
Bake for about 15-20 minutes,
Fill with meat, Veggies or whatever your heart desires,
Enjoy Tacos.

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Ramen at home, a general overview.

I know most people hear ramen and they think…

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I do not, I think of a Chinese noodle dish that made its way to many other Asian nations and taste freaking delicious. First off you pick whatever you are going to be putting into your soup, and yes ramen is a soup, I have seen people just eat the noodles and if that’s your thing cool, but its not my thing.  Prepare your Ramen Eggs and get some water boiling.

The Ingredients:
Ramen or somen noodles
Veggies chopped to bite size (I had asparagus, Matchstick carrots, Sweet peas, and some random greens)
Broth (Homemade if at all possible)
You Ramen Shop Eggs
Tsp seasame oil

The instructions :
Get your broth going first, the longer it has to steep and do its thing the tastier it will be. I use a boxed chicken broth and add green onion, ginger, garlic and soy sauce to get the flavor I like.  I have used veggie broth and it works quite nicely too.

While that’s doing its thing, chop any veg that needs chopping, set them aside.  Next cook off any meat you will be using, if you will be using meat, in my case I used two boneless skinless chicken thighs, I seasoned them with salt and pepper and cooked them in a dry pan.  The thighs have some fat on them so I don’t usually add anything to them, the pan will lube its self as they cook.  While the meat is cooking get your water for your noodles boiling, I find starting the water in an electric kettle and transferring it to the pan saves a bunch of time.  Once the meat is cooked through set it on a cutting board and slice it into strips.

From this point things go really quick.  Toss your noodles in the water, fresh should cook in a few minutes, dry in about 5. Get a big bowl read and waiting to serve all that noodley goodness in

Once the noodles are done to your liking place them at the bottom of the bowl and toss with a little sesame oil. Guys i do mean little, sesame oils goes a long long way with only a few drops. Begin layering in all the goodness. When they are all in top off with your broth and drop in a Ramen Shop Egg or two. You are ready to dine or some fine ramen.

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