Asian Shrimp Rolls

A week or two ago, I participated in a Mad Men Virtual Dinner Party on the blog. Right around the same time, my husband Mike was sick.

Now, I don’t want to totally embarrass him, but, he is the world’s biggest baby when he is sick. I really hope some of you ladies out there can relate with me on this.
I was fighting off allergies and a little cold, but I carried on.
My husband had a head cold and you would swear to God that he had been stabbed and was dying and needed to be rushed to the hospital.

True story: One time, we both had the flu at the same time. Which in reality means that he had the flu and I was forced into early recovery in order to take care of him. I was laying on the couch when Mike ran to the bathroom. He said he was going to puke. (Sorry guys, I’ll try and spare you the gory details). I went to go check on him because I heard some loud thumps coming from the bathroom. He was kneeling in front of the toilet stomping his feet on the ground shouting “I need to go to the hospital! This isn’t right!” There was no puke anywhere to be seen. I had to walk away to hide my laughter. He was totally better the next day.
This is my life.
So, when he was sick most recently, I had to spend most of my time picking up his tissues and talking him down from calling an ambulance. I didn’t have much time to cook, that is why I was glad to have all of this cooked shrimp left over from my Mad Men post so I could make a quick Asian Shrimp Roll for myself.

If you have some left-over cooked shrimp or need a quick Lenten Friday night dinner, please give this a try.
Ingredients (Makes 2 Sandwiches)
1 lb. Peeled, Deveined, and Cooked Shrimp
1 Stalk of Celery, finely diced
¼ Cup Finely Diced Red Onion
½ Cup Cooked and Shelled Edamame
1 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley, chopped
½ Teaspoon Chives, finely chopped
½ Teaspoon Sesame Oil
1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
½ Teaspoon Fresh Grated Ginger
½ Teaspoon Sriracha
1 Teaspoon Cocktail Sauce
½ Cup Low-Fat Mayonnaise
¼ Teaspoon Salt
1/8 Teaspoon Pepper
Shredded Romaine Lettuce
2 Sandwich Rolls
Place shrimp, celery, red onion, edamame, parsley, and chives in a bowl. Whisk together in a small bowl the sesame oil, lemon juice, ginger, sriracha, cocktail sauce, mayo, salt, and pepper.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, and mix well using a spoon or a rubber spatula. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.

Toast some sandwich rolls, top with shredded lettuce, some of the Asian shrimp salad and then serve.

Also, please tell me your husbands or significant others are as bad as mine when they are sick so I don’t feel that bad about this tale of woe.

Baked Caprese Pasta

So, exciting news in the Sarcastic Cooking family. No, I am not pregnant. Some of you may have known from reading the blog that my best friend is pregnant. Well, this morning, I am happy to announce that her little baby girl finally came out to greet us!

Already this baby is smothered with love and attention. I am sure that they cannot wait to retreat to the comfort of their home, lock the door and just sit in peace.
But, alas, I won’t let them. I told her that her and her husband should be resting as much as possible, so I offered to bring over a few dishes to make it a little bit easier on them.

I already have some breakfast dishes planned, some homemade Broccoli Cheddar and Wild Rice Soup, and the main event: this guy—baked caprese pasta.
I know that my bestie has truly missed fresh mozzarella, so, why not lay it on her along with a big old glass of red wine. (Going 9 months without soft cheeses and wine, the lady deserves a frickin medal in my book!)
I know that I am not the only one that thinks this new interpretation of caprese flavors is the most comforting thing ever. Plus, it is even better reheated.

So guys, sit back, try and get some rest, and just let me take care of dinner. Also, I don’t mind extra snuggles and cuddles with the little sweet baby. Just trying to help!
Ingredients (Serves Six)
2 ½ lb. Grape Tomatoes, halved
1 Shallot, thinly sliced
5 Cloves of Garlic, thinly sliced
¼ Cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/3 Cup Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon of Coarse Sea Salt
1 Teaspoon of Pepper
16 oz. Long Fusilli Noodles, uncooked
16z. Fresh Mozzarella, sliced
18-24 Large Basil Leaves
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the halved grape tomatoes on a large baking sheet. Coat tomatoes in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Mix the tomatoes. Arrange in one even layer and bake in the oven for an hour. Let the tomatoes cool for about twenty minutes.

Drizzle a little bit of olive oil in the bottom of a large Pyrex dish. Using a spatula, scoop out two spatulas worth of tomatoes and arrange them along the bottom of the dish.

Then layer some of the long fusilli noodles on top of the tomatoes, followed by a layer of cheese slices, and then basil leaves. Repeat with a layer of tomatoes, noodles, cheese, and basil. You should be able to make at least four layers.

The top layer should go noodles, tomatoes, basil leaves, and then the fresh mozzarella on top. Cover in foil and bake in the oven at 375 for one hour. Remove foil after an hour, and place back into the oven uncovered for five minutes.

Let the baked caprese pasta sit and cool for at least fifteen minutes before portioning out. Note: This dish might not be the prettiest on the account of the brown edges, but the browning of the cheese along the edges actually takes on a caramelized flavor. So do not for a second think it is burnt, rather, its delicious.

If you heat it up in the microwave, add a little water to prevent a hard crust. If you reheat in the oven, keep it covered in tin foil the whole time.

Roasted Red Salsa

Myth: Restaurant-style salsa is hard to make.
Fact: It is easier to make than you think.
Fact: Homemade salsa is tastier and healthier than the store-bought jarred stuff.
Fact: People really like to say sal-saaahhhh!

Spicy things fly out of the fridge and cabinets in split seconds in my house. So when I make salsa, hot sauce, or buffalo wings, I make a lot of it!
It is seriously the easiest thing to pre-make for a party or get together. Here is how I do it:
I roughly chop all the veggies. Put them in a large Pyrex dish. Cover them in beer and seasonings. Roast it in the oven for an hour. Let it cool. Add in the cilantro and crushed tomatoes. Toss it in a blender. Puree until smooth. Ta-da! There is your showstopper salsa.
Trust me, people will be asking “What kind of salsa is this?”
When you say, “I made this myself.” They will be asking for the recipe!
You are welcome in advance.
2 Large Hot House Tomatoes
2 Red Peppers
2 Jalapenos, 1 seeded and 1 with the seeds still in it
½ Red Onion
3 Cloves of Garlic
1 Cup of Light Beer
1 Teaspoon of Salt
½ Teaspoon of Pepper
¼ Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
A Handful of Fresh Cilantro Leaves
1 Cup Canned Crushed Tomatoes

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the core/stem and seeds from the red peppers. Roughly chop all the vegetables. Place the veggies along with the garlic cloves in a large Pyrex dish.
Add the beer and season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. Roast in the oven for an hour.
Let the salsa completely cool. Add the cilantro and crushed red pepper. Place all the contents of the Pyrex dish into a blender. Puree until completely smooth and liquefied. If the salsa looks a bit too thick, add a little bit of water to thin it out.

Broccoli, Cheddar, & Wild Rice Soup

So, I guess my husband should have put some money on his prediction that the normal 40 degree weather typical of March will return. The out of the ordinary 80’s of last week are gone and the chill has returned.
For me that only means one thing—soup is on!!!

Broccoli cheddar soup in a bread bowl from Panera was a staple for me in college. Comfort in a bowl any time of year.
At least once every week or every other week, the stressors of college life or even some really juicy gossip would force us to head out in search of some cheap and comforting food.
We would sit in the booths or push a few tables together and chat for an hour or longer. We would laugh about stories from the night before, gossip about the latest sorority scandal, confess our dreams and worries, and sometimes even cry over broken hearts. (Don’t look at me that way, judgey-judgerson! Yes, I have cried in many places, and I bet you have too!)
We did all of that over a bowl of soup and possibly a sandwich or salad…And if tears made an appearance, you better believe there was something sweet ordered for dessert.
Some people say that soup reminds them of being sick; luckily that’s not the case for me. This soup reminds me of growing up together with my best friends.

So if you are lucky enough to be enjoying this pleasant yet crazy weather, make a huge pot of broccoli, cheddar, & wild rice soup, call up some of your closest friends, talk about the good ol’ days, and be thankful that you don’t have to relive them! Because honestly, I don’t think we have the stamina stay awake past midnight, let alone go out four nights in a row.
1/3 Cup Butter
1/3 Cup All Purpose Flour
3 Cups Whole Milk
2 ½ Cups Low-Sodium Vegetable Stock
1 Cup Wild & Whole Grain Brown Rice
½ Pound Fresh Broccoli
1 ½ Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 Garlic Clove, grated
¼ Teaspoon of Ground Cumin
1 Teaspoon Salt
½ Teaspoon Pepper
Melt the butter in a large stock pot over medium low heat. Whisk in the flour to make a roux. Keep whisking while you add in the whole milk. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the vegetable stock and whisk to combine.
Simmer soup base for ten minutes. Add in the whole grain brown rice and simmer for twenty minutes. Next, add the chopped broccoli and continue to simmer soup for twenty five minutes over medium low heat.
When the rice and broccoli are cooked through, add in the shredded cheddar cheese, grated garlic, cumin, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine.  Continue to cook over low heat for another five to ten minutes.

Let the soup cool for ten minutes before serving. Top with some more shredded cheese, make sure you have some crusty bread on hand, and enjoy!

Avocado Fries

I have a blog crush. I have talked about it before. It is a great blog! And not that I don’t want you guys to spend a lot of time on my site, but when you aren’t here, you should totally check out Joy the Baker’s blog.
I love her! She has this knack, through her writing, of making you feel like she is one of your oldest friends. As you read her blog, and now her cookbook, you relate to her vulnerability, laugh along with her stories, and drool and freak out over awesome awesome sugary buttery goodness.

All of you that were lucky enough to get a taste of that Salted Caramel Cheesecake Pie over the holiday, that was Joy’s recipe!!! Because I was successful in making that recipe, my first ever cheesecake, I felt I could go on to try other pies, cookies, and various breads. Well, not real bread, as you all know that I live in some alternate climate pocket where yeast doesn’t rise for some reason.
Not only does Joy have a blog and a cookbook, she and Tracy from Shutterbean have their own podcast. Listening to their podcast while cooking in my kitchen, often times I find myself reacting to things the same way they do on the show. They are just two normal classy ladies doin’ what they do. I highly recommend giving them a listen.
Alright, I swear I am almost done being a super creep fan… Just one more thing. Yesterday I went to Joy’s cookbook signing in Winnetka. Right away I got a shout out about my sweet red blazer. Joy answered questions and talked for a little bit, then we all lined up to have Joy sign our books.

I was amazed the amount of people Joy recognized from twitter. I have to say it makes you feel kind of special that somebody with her own cookbook remembers your face, or even your sweet blazer, from the thousands of people that follow her on Twitter.

Not only did I get to talk with Joy, but I also got to meet up with my blog friend Stephanie from Eat Your Heart Out. It was kind of like a blind blog date! (We were too excited about meeting for the first time, we forgot to take a picture together!)
All in all, it was a great day and an awesome experience to be around such a warm, friendly, and inspiring person like Joy. You all need to visit her blog and seriously buy her cookbook! If you do you can make coffee bacon, carrot cake pancakes, baked chili cheese fries, and peanut butter bacon cookies!!! FYI you better believe those are on my “must make in the immediate future” list along with many others.

1 Quart Vegetable Oil
2 Medium Ripe Haas Avocados
2 Large Eggs
1/3 Cup All Purpose Flour
¼ Teaspoon Salt
Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
1 ¼ Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
Salt, Lemon, and Cayenne for Sprinkling
Heat the oil to 375 degrees in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. While the oil heats, halve, peel, and slice the avocados into long spears.
In a small bowl, beat the eggs together. In a separate small bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and cayenne pepper. In a medium bowl, measure out panko crumbs. Set out a clean plate for coated slices.
Dip the avocado in the egg, lightly coat in flour mixture, and then coat in bread crumbs. The fries don’t need a heavy coating-lightly coated is ideal. Place on a plate until all avocado slices are dipped and ready for frying.
Using tongs, lower 6 to 8 avocado slices into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown. Remove from oil and place on a lined baking sheet. Continue frying until all avocado slices are golden brown. Sprinkle with salt, a dash of cayenne and fresh lemon juice and serve immediately.
To go along with Joy’s Avocado Fries, I made a cilantro-yogurt dipping sauce. I just added a handful of cilantro, ¼ cup non-fat Greek yogurt, a dash of salt and pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil to a food processor and puree until smooth and creamy.

Joy, thanks for inspiring food bloggers and aspiring bakers everywhere. Keep doing what you’re doing. You are so major!
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