Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Acacia Pinot Noir

I have been slacking.

I had every intention of doing these wine reviews more often. I promise from now on I will be better at it.

As you all know by now, last week was Mr. ShoeFanatic's birthday. We had a lovely dinner at Juban's and we ordered a bottle of 2006 Acacia Pinot Noir. It was phenomenal. Not as heavy and over powering as a Cab but still strong enough to stand on it's own.

I planned a fabulous meal for last night and I knew I needed a fabulous wine not only to go with the tuna but with every other course I was planning on serving. Since we had enjoyed the Acacia so much last weekend, I figured it would go great with our anniversary meal as well.

And I was right. Smooth, not too dry, very aromatic. It's a very lovely wine. I do need to mention that I accidentaly grabbed the 2007 Pinot Noir instead of the 2006. You definitely could tell a difference but not enough to make me not want to buy it again. The 2006 has a richer taste. Which is appropriate because it is twice the price. :) Granted, it's still a good deal. The 2006 was $25 and the 2007 was $15.

Bottom line, this is a great wine and I highly recommend giving it a try. It would be a great "starter wine" for those who have red wine-aphobia.

Molten Lava Cake

I needed a big ending to this fabulous meal I had planned. I love chocolate. Mr. ShoeFanatic does not. However, he loves lava cake. Yes, he is strange since this is a very chocolatey dish. But I love him anyway.

I found this recipe on Colleen's blog. I immediately loved it for several reasons:
1. I had all the ingredients already
2. It could be made ahead of time
3. It was described as restaurant quality

I will say that I was scared to death to make it. I was so afraid to overbake it so I was being totally anal and literally sitting in front of the stove with a handful of toothpicks. But it was very easy. And it was my favorite thing that I cooked last night. With the soup being a close second.

This recipe is for 2 cakes.

2 T butter, plus more for ramekins
1/3 c confectioners sugar, plus more for ramekins and serving
2 oz semisweet chocolate chips
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 t espresso powder (optional)
Pinch of salt
3 T AP flour

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Butter two 6-ounce ramekins, then dust with sugar.

Place 2 T butter and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high in 20-second increments, stirring after each, until melted. Let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together egg, egg yolk, sugar, espresso powder (I left this out) and salt. Add chocolate mixture; whisk to combine. Add flour, and whisk just until combined (do not overmix). Pour batter into prepared ramekins. (Recipe can be made ahead up to this point.)

Bake until a toothpick inserted 1/2 inch from edge of ramekins comes out clean, and a toothpick inserted in center comes out wet, 10 to 12 minutes (do not overbake). Cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around inside of ramekins to loosen. Invert cakes onto serving plates. Dust with sugar; serve immediately. Preferably with ice cream.

I will never order dessert at a restaurant again. Instead, I will just make this ahead of time and bake it when we get home.

Oh my gosh! I seriously cannot rave enough about how good this was. And very, very easy. I whipped this up in less than 15 minutes and it took about 14 to bake. I think it could have gone just a little longer but I was too scared to overbake it.

Make this today! Your family will love you and think you are a culinary genius!

Cooking This and That

Grilled Sesame Tuna

Mmm, tuna. My favorite fish in the sea. I will take this over a beef steak any day of the week.

When I was trying to think of the perfect entree for our anniversary dinner, tuna immediately came to mind. Originally, I was going to just do some salt and pepper and grill it. You really can't beat the fresh taste of a good tuna steak.

Then I saw this marinade on Christen's blog and I contemplated that. But I didn't have the ingredients at home and I was not going back to the store.

By that time, I wanted a marinade of my own so I did a search on Cooks.com and narrowed it down to six. Based on what I had at home, I ended up with this one.

Now, if you are a faithful reader of my blog, you might remember the last time I used soy. It did not end well. Mr. ShoeFanatic was not a fan. But I tossed his feelings aside and did it any way.

2 tuna steaks
Marinade (below)
Sesame seeds

1/4 c soy sauce
1/8 c lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
4 T olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Whisk first 4 marinade ingredients together in a shallow dish. Season steaks with salt and pepper. Place in marinade for 10 minutes on each side. NOT longer! The soy sauce will definitely overpower the tuna if you do it for too long.

Put sesame seeds on a plate. After it's marinated, place each side of the tuna in the seeds until it is completely covered (I will regret this later).

Preheat your grill on high for 15 minutes. It will be very hot! I think ours was up to 500 degrees. Turn the flames down to medium just before putting the steaks on. Sear on each side until your desired doneness. We like ours rare. Mr. ShoeFanatic only did them for about a minute and a half on each side.

This was very good. The steaks were cooked perfectly and I really liked the marinade. Next time though, I would probably lay off the sesame seeds a bit. I did them on the top, bottom and all 3 sides of the steak. I'd probably just do the top and bottom.

However, if we're being perfectly honest, I think I would prefer a more caribbean flavored marinade. I'm pretty sure I'm done with soy sauce for the time being.

Christen, I'm trying your marinade next time!

Cream of Asparagus Soup
Roasted Asparagus
Molten Chocolate Lava Cake


Cream of Asparagus Soup

Wow, Cara is right. Soup is very hard to photograph. Ignore my attempt to be classy with the creepy looking floating asparagus.

So yesterday, I discovered Google Reader. And one of the first things I saw pop up was this recipe. Which was awesome because I love asparagus, I had asparagus sitting in my fridge at home and I was looking to add another course to my anniversary meal.

I should let you all know that even though the actual recipe was really healthy, I did not go as healthy as I should have. So for the true low fat version, click here. For the just a little bit more fat version, keep reading.

Olive oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1-lb bunch fresh asparagus
Salt & pepper
2 tsp my version of Penzey's Greek seasoning (below)
2 cups chicken broth
12 oz low fat cottage cheese
1/4 cup 1% milk

My version of Penzey's Greek seasoning (1 tsp of each):
Kosher salt
Black Pepper
Garlic Powder
Lemon Juice

Break off the tough ends of the asparagus and discard. Wash asparagus and chop into small pieces, about 1/4-1/2" in length.

Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. I put just enough to cover the bottom of my pot. Add onion and garlic and saute until softened and translucent. Add asparagus, salt & pepper, and Greek seasoning and stir to combine. Add chicken broth; this should be enough to just cover the vegetables in the pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 10-15 minutes until vegetables are tender.

While that is simmering...Blend together the cottage cheese and milk in a blender or in a separate container using an immersion blender, until completely smooth (I used my blender). Set aside.

Remove the soup from heat and process until smooth, either using an immersion blender or by transferring to a food processor or blender (used the blender again). Return to medium-low heat and gently stir in cottage cheese mixture.

Bring to a boil, and cook for a few minutes to let it fully thicken. Lower back down to a simmer. The longer you let it simmer, the better it will be. I also ended up adding more salt at the end but not a lot. Just enough to our liking.

This was my very first attempt at soup and I have to seriously pat myself on the back. This was so amazingly good! And so amazingly easy! That Greek seasoning mixture definitely brings all the flavors together and the creaminess was just right.

The only thing I would do differently next time (and there will be a next time) would probably be to pass it through a sieve before returning it to the heat. I found it was just a little, tiny bit grainy. Not enough to keep me from practically licking the bowl clean but just enough to make my OCD flare up.

Yes, I will definitely be making this again.

Cara's Cravings

Monday, April 27, 2009

2 Things

I have 2 things I need to say:

1.) I just discovered Google Reader today. Holy crappola, where has this been all my life?

2.) I am going to be a total post whore tomorrow. It's going to be good. Stay tuned.

Menu Monday

Happy Anniversary to us!

Dating anniversary that is. 3 years ago today, Mr. ShoeFanatic wooed me with steak and shrimp, we watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding and had our first kiss. It was awkward. Kiss #2 was much better.

Monday--Grilled Tuna Steaks & Roasted Asparagus, Cream of Asparagus Soup & Lava Cakes
Tuesday--Chicken Marsala
Wednesday--Grilled Tuna over Salad (Mr. ShoeFanatic)
Thursday--Spaghetti & Meatballs
Friday--Grilled Shrimp Soft Tacos
Saturday/Sunday--Leftovers. Mrs. SF will be in New Orleans; Mr. SF is on his own

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Cheesecake Bars


I first made these for our New Year's Eve party and to say they were a hit would be an understatement. I wanted to make Cheesecake bites but I was never very successful at getting cheesecake to set enough that I would be able to serve them as individual bars.

Later that week, I was reading the 2008 Holiday Baking edition of Cook's Illustrated and lo and behold, they had exactly what I was looking for. This is now my go to recipe for anything cheesecake. There is also no reason this could not be served as an actual cheesecake. I just like to eat with my hands so I prefer the bar version.

6 T butter, melted & cooled
7 whole graham crackers, broken into 1 inch pieces
3 T light brown sugar
2 T AP flour
1/8 t salt

2 8 oz blocks cream cheese, softened
2/3 c sugar
2 eggs
1/4 c sour cream
2 t lemon juice
1 t vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. (Apparently the recipe calls for the oven to be preheated to 325 but I am obviously dyslexic and read that as 350. They turned out fine though.)

In a square dish, make a foil sling and grease well. Bonus points if your dish has a lid of some kind.

In a food processor (I use my small one; greatest kitchen gadget ever; thanks mother-in-law!), pulse the graham crackers to a fine crumb consistency. Add the remainder of the crust ingredients and pulse until well mixed. With a spatula, spread the graham cracker mixture into an even layer in the bottom of your pan and smash down so that it is packed fairly tightly. You just don't want it to be all crumbly.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until fragrant. When it's done, set aside.

While the crust is baking...

Put your cream cheese in a stand mixer. Beat with the flat beater on medium for 2-3 minutes or until it's creamy looking. Add your sugar and mix for another minute or until it's creamier. Resist the urge to eat this with a spoon.

Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each egg. Beat in sour cream, lemon juice and vanilla until incorporated.

Pour filling over crust and spread evenly into the corners. Bake until the edges are set but the center still jiggles slightly. About 35-40 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through baking.

Once you take it out the oven, let it cool completely (at least 2 hours) and then cover (hopefully with that lid I mentioned earlier) and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 3 hours but no more than 24.

Remove with the foil sling. Put your pan away that you don't have to wash due to that awesome foil invention. Place the entire foil contraption on a cutting board and cut into desired squares. They are rich so I don't recommend cutting them too big.

Hide from husband and kids so you can eat them all yourself.

In theory, because of the richness, one batch should go pretty far. However, Mr. ShoeFanatic and his amigo usually manage to wipe them out in about 5 seconds so I usually make 2 batches to make sure I have enough for guests. But then again, they are barbarians.

Why are you even still reading? You should be at the store getting the ingredients to make this!


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Shrimp Scampi

Oh shrimp, how I love thee.

If I had to eat one protein for the rest of my life, it would be shrimp. Hands down, no contest. I love it every which way. My best friends mom makes this shrimp dip around the holidays. Oh. My. Gosh. So yummy.

But I digress...

Fortunately, we are from the deep south where good Gulf shrimp are readily available. However, our sources (read: parents) live about 2 hours away so when we run out, we are screwed until we make a trip home. I drove down this past weekend and my awesome father-in-law awarded me with FOUR containers of shrimp. I wanted to kiss him.

I have a couple other shrimp recipes in mind but I have wanted to try Scampi for quite some time. This looked easy and I didn't have to go to the store. Always a plus in my book. Oh and Katie's blog is freaking amazing. She's like the modern day Martha Stewart. And we all know that Martha = my idol.

1 lb peeled and deveined large shrimp
Seasoning (salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder)
Olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, diced
1/2 tsp dried hot red-pepper flakes
1/2 c. dry white wine
Salt & pepper
5 T butter
3/4 lb angel-hair pasta
Fresh parsley, chopped

Boil pasta to your liking. Reserve at least 1 cup of pasta water for later.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. You need just enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan.

Sauté shrimp, turning over once, until just cooked through, about 2 minutes, and transfer to a large bowl. Add garlic, red pepper flakes and wine to skillet. Season with salt and pepper to your liking. Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, for about 1 minute.

Add butter to skillet, stirring until melted, and then add shrimp back in. Add the parsey as well and coat the shrimp well. In the large bowl, toss the pasta and shrimp mixture well. Add some of pasta water if necessary to keep moist.

I could go on and on about how great and easy this is.

Or I could just tell you that Mr. ShoeFanatic refilled his plate FOUR times. 'Nuff said.

Served With:
Fresh Green Beans


Monday, April 20, 2009

Menu Monday

Let me apologize now for the lack of posts this past week. Mr. ShoeFanatic ended up cooking the majority of the week and he's not nearly as faithful of a blogger as yours truly. I am still trying to get him to type up his Chicken Parmesan recipe because it's phenomenal and it's a crime not to share. Anyway, here's what we have going on this week. Should be yummy!

Tuesday--Shrimp Scampi
Wednesday--Chicken Fajitas (Mr. ShoeFanatic)
Thursday--Greek Chicken Pitas
Saturday--Boiled Crawfish
Sunday--Chicken Primavera

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Chicken Fettuccini

Many moons ago...

Ok, not really. More like 3 years ago, Mr. ShoeFanatic and I had our first date. But he didn't make this. He grilled steak and shrimp for me and pretended to like wine. Good times...

However, a week into our relationship he did make this meal for me and it might have sealed the deal. No, not that deal. Dirty minds!

He made this for me and it was sooo good that it still remains to be my favorite dish that he cooks. This is most definitely not healthy for you AT ALL. But it's very good and we don't have it often.

4-6 chicken breasts
Paul Prudhomme's Blackened Redfish Magic Seasoning Blend
1 c cream
1 c FF half & half
3 T butter
2 c parmesan cheese, grated
White pepper
Nutmeg, freshly grated

Season chicken with redfish seasoning to your liking. Grill until thoroughly cooked, about 5 minutes per side. We did ours on the gas grill but you can do it inside as well.

Once chicken is cooked, set aside and start making sauce.

In a large skillet, melt the butter. Then add the cream and half & half. Bring this yumminess to a light simmer. Stir in parmesan cheese and add nutmeg and white pepper to taste. Simmer until sauce is at desired consistency.

Serve over noodles.

We usually add mushrooms and it's that much tastier.

I feel I should let you all know that Mr. ShoeFanatic usually does not use FF half & half, but because I have decided that I need to lose some unwanted honeymoon weight, he decided to go for it. And I actually like it better. The sauce is normally very thick and rich but this time it was just a little bit thinner and almost tasted...light. I mean, it wasn't light (at all) but it wasn't nearly as rich either. And the chicken (as always) was amazingly moist, tender and flavorful. Good job, honey!

Mr. ShoeFanatic

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Today, 1983...*

A star was born.

Happy Birthday,
Mr. ShoeFanatic!

Just a few reasons why I love you:

--You are hot.
--You fix stuff around the house.
--You let the dog sleep with us.
--You tolerate my crazy family.
--You always take care of me whether I'm actually sick, pretending to be sick or just having a crappy day.
--You always find me the best basket when we go grocery shopping.
--You make me coffee every morning.
--You always kiss me good night.
--You love me unconditionally...even when I'm not so lovable.

Thank you for everything you do! I love you!

*That's 26 for those bad at math. Myself included.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Menu Monday

Happy Monday!

I hope everyone had a nice Easter weekend. We sure did! Here's this weeks menu.

Monday--Easter Leftovers
Wednesday--Chicken Fettuccini (Mr. ShoeFanatic)
Friday--Chicken Parmesan
Saturday--Happy Birthday, Mr. ShoeFanatic! We're going to dinner at Juban's tonight!

As you can see, *someone* is getting a year older this week! More on that later on...

Mac & Cheese

Whoa. Sorry for the craptastic picture.

If I had to eat one food every single day for the rest of my life, I do believe it would be Mac & Cheese. It's the best food ever. I'm pretty faithful to the blue box but obviously I needed something a little fancier for holiday times. A good friend emailed me this recipe and I have to say, it is a winner.

The first time I made it, I baked it but I found that it dried it out too much. I like my mac & cheese creamy. So this time, I skipped the baking and just served it straight out of the pot. Yum-O.

3 T butter
1/4 c flour
1 t salt
1/2 t ground mustard
1/4 t black pepper
2 1/2 c milk
8 oz Cheddar cheese, grated
4 oz Mozzarella cheese, grated
16 oz Velveeta cheese, cubed
1 pkg pasta of your choice (we like shells)

Cook pasta according to directions.

In large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Stir in flour, salt, mustard and pepper until smooth; take off heat*.

Little by little, stir in milk until smooth. Stir constantly for 10 minutes on heat until thick; take off heat*. Stir in all 3 cheeses until melted.

Just before serving, mix cooked macaroni with cheese mixture. Fold together until it is well mixed.

*My friend and I were discussing this whole "take off heat" debacle. We decided there are 2 ways one can interpret this: 1) leave pot on the stove and turn the burner off & 2) take the pot off the stove and leave the burner alone. I did option 2 and found it worked really well. I had a trivet sitting right next to the stove and I would just transfer the entire pot to the trivet, perform my step and then put it right back on the burner.

My 6 year old niece informed me that this was the best macaroni she had ever eaten in her entire life. I informed her that she was my favorite niece and made a mental note to get her something really good for Christmas.

In all seriousness, this really is the best macaroni you will ever have in your life. The one thing I would change is that I would like to find a substitute for the Velveeta. I just find you can (barely) taste a hint of processed cheese. But I didn't have time to do that much research on cheeses. I knew the Velveeta would melt well so I went for the tried and true version.

All in all, this was a hit for Easter!


Roasted Asparagus

ETA: I made these again so I got a chance to take a picture before it disappeared!

I love asparagus. Fortunately, I am not one of those people who gets smelly pee after eating it so I really could eat it every day. Was that a TMI? Oh well.

I found this recipe last year for Easter and we both loved it. I don't actually measure anything for this. I just do whatever looks right.

1 bunch of asparagus
Olive oil
Basalmic vinegar
Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 475.

Cut off the ends of asparagus and rinse well. Lay them out on a pan with a lipped edge.

Pour/sprinkle olive oil and basalmic vinegar. Add salt and pepper to your desired taste.

Roast for 10 minutes or until tender.

Huge hit! So huge that we didn't have any leftover and I didn't take a picture beforehand. :( Sorry!

I really think the secret here is using good basalmic vinegar. I know I've mentioned this before, but the one we use is from Olivier in St. Helena, CA. We got it on our honeymoon and it is like heaven in a bottle! The one we got was actually the V.S.O.P vinegar. I don't know what that stands for but it's different from the regular basalmic vinegar.

Definitely don't let this sauce go to waste! Soak it up with bread or lick your plate. Just don't throw it out!

Food Network

Crawfish Fettuccini

Oh, thank the good Lord the GRE is over. I seriously got home on Friday, plopped on the couch and did not move for the next 15 hours. Seriously.

Originally, I had told Mr. ShoeFanatic that I would make crawfish etouffee. But when he got home at 7:15 and I still hadn't moved, he figured he should probably figure something else out or he'd starve.

I know, I'm a bad wife.

I'm over it.

olive oil
1/2 onion
4-6 garlic cloves, diced
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 lb crawfish tails
1 jar Classico alfredo sauce
12 oz half & half
2 T Paul Prudhomme's Blackened Redfish Magic Seasoning Blend
boiled pasta of your choice (we used egg noodles)

Coat the bottom of your pan with olive oil. Just enough to cover the bottom. Saute onion, garlic and mushrooms until soft; about 10 minutes. Add crawfish tails and cook about another 5-10 minutes.

Add your alfredo sauce and blackened redfish seasoning, stir well and let simmer for a few minutes. Lastly, stir in your half & half. Let this simmer for another few minutes.

Mix in the cooked noodles and serve. Grate parmesan over the top if desired.

Two thumbs way up for this meal! It was very, very good and we will definitely be making this again!

Served With:
Cheesy Garlic Bread

This is a spinoff of Shrimp Robin

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everyone! We hope you have a happy & blessed day!

Mr. & Mrs. ShoeFanatic

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Sweet Header, Yo

Did everyone check out that sweet new header I've got goin' on?

As much as I'd love to, I can't take credit for it since I can barely operate blogger much less photo-anything. My super cool friend Kim's super cool husband made it for me. He made one for her blog too! And it's a mighty good blog so you should go check it out.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Cheeseburger Casserole

This is the easiest recipe ever. Seriously. Oh and it's very good and cheap. I've been eating it for years. Mr. ShoeFanatic won't touch the stuff but I think that's his loss.

We didn't take a picture because I was feeling pretty subpar last night and forgot. Sorry!

1 box Kraft macaroni & cheese
1 lb ground chuck
1 sm jar spaghetti sauce

Prepare mac and cheese as directed.

Brown ground meat in a pot. When it's cooked all the way through, add spaghetti sauce.

Mix the mac & cheese with the meat mixture.

Total comfort food. I love this. Mr. ShoeFanatic hates it and thinks it looks/tastes like crap. But then again he doesn't like boxed mac & cheese. Because he's not really human.

The long version of this recipe involves a can of corn, some sour cream and about 20 minutes of baking. But I was looking for some instant gratification last night so I did it the short way. Still totally yummy.

Mr. ShoeFanatic ended up just eating the meat and sauce over some this spaghetti. We call that 5-minute Spaghetti. Also a good, quick meal but I'll take my CB casserole any day.

I think one of my aunt's. Not sure.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Cheesy Chicken Rice


We were supposed to have chicken enchiladas last night. But around 3pm I realized that I didn't have any enchilada sauce or refried beans. The beans I could of managed without but not the enchilada sauce. I hate going to the store for just 1 or 2 things so I made an executive decision that we would have quesadillas instead.


Got home and started preparing for said quesadillas. Everything was ready to go. I went in the fridge for my tortillas. And only found one. Crap.

I have seriously got to get it together. How in the world did I let that little fact go unseen? Anyway, the Hungry Husband needed to be fed so I made do with what I had.

1 box Old El Paso Spanish Rice
5 chicken breasts
Seasoning (salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika)
Leftover veggies from Chicken Fajitas
Sour Cream
Shredded Mexican Blend Cheese

Prepare Spanish Rice as directed.

While that's cooking, season your chicken to your liking and grill for approximately 7 minutes on each side. Or until it's cooked all the way through. Slice chicken into bite size pieces.

Dice up your veggies into bite size pieces. Heat up either in a skillet or the microwave.

In your bowl, put a layer of rice, some veggies, some chicken and sprinkle cheese on top. Microwave to melt the cheese. Put a dallop of sour cream on top of that.


While it wasn't what we expected to have it really was very good. It was kind of like a naked burrito. I think Mr. ShoeFanatic even liked it. I would actually cook this again even though I think he does prefer the enchiladas.


Monday, April 6, 2009

Easter Sunday Menu


That is all we are having. I gave it up for Lent and I am dying so that is all we are serving.

Ok, obviously I am kidding. However, if Mr. ShoeFanatic is a wise man (and he usually is), he will have an entire bag of Easter Reese's cups for me...and only me.

Easter has been unofficially dubbed "our holiday". And we are so thrilled about it! New house, new marriage, new traditions...it's fantastic and I am so very excited to have our family over to our home for this awesome holiday! Now, here is what we are really having:

Beef Roast
Rice & Gravy
Roasted Asparagus
Baby carrots especially for Baby Nephew
Mac & Cheese
Carrot Cake (courtesy of Sister In Law)

Don't judge me on the wine! We all know that wine is a necessity at holidays. How else will you have stories to tell the next day at the water cooler?

*If you notice this post sporatically changing it's because it is. Some of our plans changed so our menu is reflecting that.

Menu Monday

Is it Monday already? Geez, the past week flew by. Ok, this week is super busy as well. I am taking the GRE on Friday (pray for me) and it's Easter Weekend so we have a lot going on.

Monday--Cheesy Chicken Rice
Tuesday--Cheeseburger Casserole
Wednesday--Pork Chops and Rice & Gravy (Mr. ShoeFanatic) with Corn
Good Friday--Margaritas & Boiled Crawfish
Saturday--Take Out (hopefully sushi but probably pizza)
Easter Sunday--there will a separate post for this. It's that massive.

Edited: Due to a major mix up on Monday night, I need to change a few things. You understand, right?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Chicken Fajitas

I swear some days I think we are part Mexican since we have Mexican food at least once a week. I L-O-V-E love these fajitas. Mr. ShoeFanatic cooks the veggies in a cast iron pan on the grill and they are just a little crunchy. And then they make their own juice that is so freaking good...I'm salivating as I type this.

You should make this tonight.

Stop reading and go to the store.


4-6 chicken breasts
Seasoning (salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, kosher salt)
4-6 bell peppers, sliced into strips
1-3 onions, sliced into strips
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
shredded cheese
sour cream (optional)

Season chicken with first 5 seasoning ingredients. Grill on each side for approximately 7 minutes or until it is cooked all the way through. When it is done, sliced it into thin strips.

Put your bell peppers, onions and mushrooms in a cast iron skillet on the grill. Sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper. Toss with tongs to make sure they are all seasoned.

Cook veggies for 15-20 minutes or until they are at your desired doneness. We like ours with just a little bit of crunch to them.

Heat tortillas in the microwave for approximately 30 seconds between 2 damp paper towels.

To Assemble the Perfect Fajita the ShoeFanatic Way:
1. Take a tortilla and spread a thin layer of sour cream on it
2. Put a strip of chicken down the center
3. Put a strip of veggies down the center (I like a lot of veggies)
4. Sprinkle with cheese
5. Fold together
6. Inhale fajita and repeat as often as necessary.

Yep, these are still as good as I remember. The crunchy veggies are seriously the bomb dot come. There are really an infinite amount of possibilities with these. Squash, zucchini, carrots...the list goes on. And if that's not enough to convince you, they are super easy to make and clean up is a breeze.

Served With:
Mexican Rice (I am apparently losing my mind. I forgot to make this but I'm sure it would have been great.)

I guess Mr. ShoeFanatic but only because he has mastered those yummy peppers. Although if someone can tell me who actually invented fajitas, I will be mighty impressed.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


I swear, I am the most random person ever.

So this afternoon I was hungry for something sweet. I grabbed a couple cookies. But I only ate one because it just wasn't what I really wanted. I decided I wanted cake. I figured when Mr. ShoeFanatic called to tell me he was on his way home, I'd have him stop at the store. Then I took a nap. And woke up craving blondies. Want to know the kicker?

I have never had a blondie in my life.


A quick blog search produced some fairly easy looking recipes. And I had all the ingredients on hand. Score.

6 T butter, melted
1 c brown sugar
1 egg
1 t vanilla
1/4 t salt
1 c flour
1/4 t baking powder
Your choice of Add-In's (see below)

Preheat oven to 350.

Melt butter in the microwave and then let it cool for 5 minutes.

While it's cooling.....In a square baking pan, make a foil sling and spray with nonstick spray.

Mix the brown sugar and butter and beat until smooth. Beat in the egg and then the vanilla. Add the salt, then mix in the flour and baking powder.

Last, stir in any additions. I used some semi sweet chocolate chips and pecans.

Pour batter in pan. Spread evenly with a greased spatula. Bake for 20-25 minutes. I took mine out right at 20 minutes. Mr. ShoeFanatic thinks they should have cooked longer but I disagree.

When they are done, take them out of the pan (that you won't have to wash because of the foil) and cut them on a cutting board. They would be great with ice cream (sadly, I don't have any).

Add-In Suggestions:
1/2 c chips (semi sweet, milk chocolate, butterscotch, white chocolate, peanut butter)
1/2 c chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds)
1/2 c chopped candy (m&m's, Reese's cups, snickers, chocolate mints)
1/4 c toffee pieces
1/2 t mint extract in addition to, or instead of, vanilla extract
Whatever you find in your pantry that you think would be good

Oh my gosh. OH MY GOSH.

"Hi, blondies. I'm Mrs. ShoeFanatic."
"Hi, Mrs. ShoeFanatic. You can call me HEAVEN."

There are no words to describe just how freaking good these are. And that's crazy because I am a chocoholic! I now am scoffing at the idea of boxed brownies because these are the best freaking things that have ever touched my tongue.

I used semi sweet chocolate chips because that's what we had but I actually prefer milk chocolate so I would probably use that next time. Not that the semi sweet made them bad or anything. They are still amazing. For some reason I am thinking that butterscotch chips would also be really good.

Then again, I think smearing this on my spare tire would make it look appetizing so what do I know.

Cook Like A Champion

Tortellini, Spinach & Mushrooms with Asiago Cheese Sauce

Wow, that's a long title.

During Lent, the no meat on Fridays thing can be somewhat of an issue. If we're lucky, we get to eat boiled crawfish. But since that can get pricey, it doesn't happen every Friday. Our next option would normally be to cook seafood at home (shrimp, fish, etc.) but we were out this week.


It doesn't help that I married a "man's man" who thinks that if he doesn't have protein every single day, he might die. (enter eye-roll here)

I've been wanting to cook tortellini so even though it took a while, I finally convinced Mr. ShoeFanatic that it would be just as filling as....well, as pasta.

1 pkg cheese tortellini
2 T butter
4 cloves of garlic, diced
1/2 sm onion, diced
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
3 T flour (this is too much, only put 2 T max)
Dash of white wine*
2 c half & half (you can also use milk or cream)
Salt & pepper
2 c shredded cheese; I used Asiago & Parmesan
1 box frozen spinach, cooked

*Here's the general rule of cooking with wine. If you wouldn't drink it, don't cook with it! Many bad meals have resulted from this. I too have bought the cheaper wine thinking that since it's being cooked in, it wouldn't make a difference. Not true!

Cook the tortellini as directed.

Melt your butter and saute the garlic, onions and mushrooms until soft. About 10 minutes; maybe more for the mushrooms. (Enter smell-o-net here because at this point my kitchen smelled heavenly!)

Add flour and stir well. Add the wine of your choice and stir. Pour in half & half and add spices. Let it come to a steady simmer.

Add cheese and stir so the cheese is melted and thoroughly mixed in. I also tasted at this point to make sure the sauce was how I wanted it.

Add spinach, stir. Then add in tortellini and fold gently so it doesn't break apart the noodles but it's coated in the sauce.


Yummy, yummy, yummy! This was so good! You really must try this. It wasn't as creamy as I wanted it to be but I think that's because I was being impatient and added too much flour (patience is not my strongest suit). I would definitely only add 2 T of flour next time. This recipe has so much potential to add chicken, different veggies, different cheeses. It is very rich and I think Mr. ShoeFanatic said something about it making a good side dish but I was too busy stuffing my face to even notice he was talking.

Yes, we will definitely be making this again.

Served With:
Asparagus (I actually forgot to cook the asparagus but it would be an excellent side to this)


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Cream of Mushroom Soup

I have mentioned our Napa honeymoon a couple of times already. It was fantastic! The wine, the scenery.....and the food! On our last night there we ate dinner at The Martini House where Chef Todd Humphries is known for his love of mushrooms. This entire dining experience was nothing short of magestic! They actually have an open kitchen so while you are dining you can see what is going on. It was so cool to see everyone in action!

One of the best things that we had was a bowl of his cream of mushroom soup. When we got home, Mr. ShoeFanatic busted out our handy dandy immersion blender* and went to work. Here's how it went down.

1 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
4 T butter
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 shallot, minced
1 t fresh thyme, chopped
2 T all purpose flour
4 c chicken broth
1 c whipping cream (not heavy)
Salt & Pepper to taste
Chopped chives for garnish

Melt butter in large dutch oven and saute garlic and shallots for about a minute. Add mushrooms and thyme; saute another 3-4 minutes or until they are soft. (If you want to garnish your dish with sliced mushrooms like we did in the picture, take a few out of the pot at this point.)

Add flour and cook; stirring for approximately 1 minute. Add chicken broth, stirring continuously and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Whisk cream into the soup and season to taste with salt and pepper. Once you reached your desired taste, blend in a blender until smooth. (see note below about blender v. immersion blender)

Garnish with chives and mushrooms.

*We have made this twice. Once with an immersion blender and once with a regular blender. Both were good and the taste was not altered by either BUT we found that the one made with the regular blender was a little bit prettier and smoother. The one done with the immersion blender looked a little grainy. It didn't taste grainy but it looked it. The one in the picture was done with the regular blender.

When you finish eating this you will want to do one of two things:

1.) Lick your bowl
2.) Bathe in the soup

Whichever you decide is totally up to you. We promise not judge you.

The Martini House

Chicken Marsala

We always have chicken and mushrooms in our house. Always. So on one of his days off, Mr. ShoeFanatic decided he wanted to make something different and try his hand at making Chicken Marsala. Chicken is always good with me (and Mr. ShoeFanatic has a way of making it insanely tender) and I have a strange love for all things mushroom. I'm also never one to turn down a night where I don't have to cook. I fixed myself a glass of wine and proceded to watch his creation emerge.

4-6 chicken breasts
Olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
~1 c flour to dredge chicken + 3 T for sauce
8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 c marsala wine
2 c chicken broth
1 c half and half
Salt & Pepper to taste

Season chicken breasts with salt & pepper to your liking. Dredge in flour, shaking off excess. Heat olive oil in a skillet and brown chicken breasts on both sides. Once the chicken is browned, remove from skillet and set aside. Just brown the outside, do not worry if it's not cooked all the way through; you will cook it more later on.

To the skillet, add mushrooms and garlic; saute until they are soft. Add 3 T flour and cook for about one minute, constantly stirring the flour into mushroom mixture until well combined. Add marsala wine and simmer for 2-3 minutes; continuously stirring.

Add chicken broth and half and half and let simmer until sauce thickens. When you have reached your desired consistency, return chicken to skillet and cook for about 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked all the way through. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve over the pasta of your choice. We think linguini works best.

This recipe quickly made it into our monthly rotation. We crave it all the time! Whenever you make this (and you should do it soon), have some bread on hand so you can soak up all the yummy sauce that's left behind.

I think this would be fantastic with a crisp chardonnay like Rombauer's or V. Sattui (2 of our fav's).

Served With:
Cream of Mushroom Soup

Mr. ShoeFanatic

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Hamburger Buns

Let me tell you a little something about Mr. ShoeFanatic. This man is not an underachiever. He is 110% about everything. So when he decided to make homemade pulled pork, he also decided to make homemade hamburger buns. He's a keeper!

1 c water, lukewarm
2 T unsalted butter, room temperature & creamed
1 egg
3 1/4 c all purpose flour
1/4 c castor sugar (he just put regular sugar through the food processor)
1 t salt
1 T instant yeast

Bun Glaze:
1 egg yolk + 1 t water
Sesame seeds

Sprinkle the yeast into the water and leave for 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve. Combine all remaining dough ingredients and mix well. If you have a stand mixer and dough hook, mix it with that.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured working surface and knead for about 10 minutes until you've made a soft, smooth dough. Place the dough in a clean and lightly greased bowl. Cover with a towel and let rise for an hour to an hour and a half; until it doubles in size.

Divide the dough into 8 pieces and shape each piece into a flattened ball. Place the buns on greased baking sheets, cover with a towel let rise for 30-40 minutes; until they're quite puffy and they've doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 375.

Glaze the buns with the egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until they are golden brown. Remove from oven and let them cool on a wire rack.

Ok, these were really, really yummy. The only critisism I have is that they could have been a tad bit thicker but then again, they held the pork just fine. All I know is we are never buying store bought buns again!

I am adding this part of the verdict a few days later. These got really, really dry. I'm not sure how to correct that but if you make these, definitely eat all of them the same day you make them.

Amber's Delectable Delights

Pulled Pork

For whatever reason, everywhere I have looked lately, there is a different pulled pork sandwich recipe! In a quest to satisfy this random craving we went in search of a good BBQ joint here in the Red Stick but failed. So Mr. ShoeFanatic decided that he was going to make some for me! Such a good husband...

1 5-7 lb pork shoulder (boston butt)
Rub (below)
Your favorite BBQ sauce

1 1/2 c brown sugar
6 T paprika
2 T smoked paprika
6 T kosher salt
1 T freshly ground black pepper
1/2 T cayenne pepper
1 1/2 T garlic powder
1 T onion powder
1/2 T dried thyme
1/4 c red wine vinegar
1/2 c olive oil
1 1/2 t liquid smoke
1 T garlic, chopped

Preheat oven to 325.

Put all the rub ingredients into the food processer and puree. Rub onto the roast. Place your meat in a roaster and cook for at least 6 hours. The longer, the better. We probably could have cooked ours for closer to 8 hours.

When it's done, place on a cutting board and shred with fork. Serve on a bun with BBQ. You can either put the pork on the bread then the sauce on top (like Mr. ShoeFanatic) or mix your pork and sauce first and then put on the bun (like me).

Wow. These were really, really good. Very tender and juicy! Good job, Mr. ShoeFanatic! I will say that the BBQ sauce we used didn't go as well with this as I had hoped. Which is strange because it was AWESOME on that chicken we cooked a couple weekends ago. Anyway, I would probably try a different sauce next time but this was still a great meal.

Mr. ShoeFanatic felt that it was a bit too sweet. He says that next time, he will eliminate 1 c of brown sugar.

So it's official. Mr. ShoeFanatic cooks pork better than I do. There, honey, I said it!

Served With:
Baked Beans
Zapp's Potato Chips
Peach Cobbler*

*I need to make a note here about the peach cobbler. You will notice that there is no posting in here for the recipe. That is because it was a big, fat fail and Mr. ShoeFanatic REFUSED to post the recipe. He doesn't handle cooking disasters very well.

Tyler's Ultimate