Brown Buttered Scampi with Parmesan Cauliflower Puree

Does the original scampi recipe call for wine? I want to say no, and that we (cooks) added that later on in life, but I have no idea. I didn’t use wine in this recipe, just butter, garlic and some lemon. This dish comes together quickly and with only a handful of ingredients, most of it being fat, dairy and garlic, you’re welcome.

While I steamed my chopped cauliflower, I let the shrimp hang out in a bowl with olive oil, minced garlic, crushed red paper flakes, a teaspoon of lemon zest, salt and a tad of honey. I also started my browned butter. All I did for that was place the butter and garlic in a small fry pan over medium heat. After a few minutes, the butter starts to foam. Then it will begin to turn brown and begin to smell nutty, just keep an eye on it to not burn the garlic, take it off of the heat when you like what you see.

Once the cauliflower is fork tender, drain and toss into your food processor. Add some salt, to taste, about 1/4 cup of cream or half n half, two tablespoons of melted butter and about 1 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese and puree. Taste and taste and taste again, I find that cauliflower, like potatoes always need more salt than we think. You can let that hang out in the processor until you are ready to serve, so it stays warm.

Meanwhile, heat a large-ish skillet over medium high heat and add a little olive oil. Toss in your shrimp and let cook for about 1 minute and when they start to get a little brown, flip and cook the other side for another 20-30 seconds or until cooked through.

Spread your cauliflower puree on a plate, top with shrimp and drizzle with that heavenly browned garlic butter. I garnished with micro parsley.

Dinner is served in under 30 minutes but now you have to find someone else to do the dishes because quick doesn’t always mean easy.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

When it comes to Tortilla soup, there isn’t a right way or a wrong way to make it. You like what you like and as the master of your own kitchen, you get to decide how you want it. Tomatoeyy, creamyy, brothyy, chunkyy. I personally like a silky broth with bits of chicken and then topped with avocado, tortilla strips and cilantro. So that is what is what we have here.

I took a can of diced tomatoes, 3 garlic cloves diced, one small onion diced, and a diced serrano chili, and heated them in a pan with some olive oil. Once they were glistening like you are bathing in the Mexican sun, I tossed them into a blender, added 2 corn tortillas and 2 cups of chicken broth and pureed until smooth. I poured the blender mixture into my dutch oven over medium high heat. Next, I added 2 tablespoon of taco seasoning, and one more cup of chicken broth. I let that hang out for a few minutes and then threw in about 1 1/2 cup of shredded rotisserie chicken and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. The key is to keep tasting the soup as it cooks. Does it need salt, spice, acid? You are the only one who can answer that.

I added a tablespoon of sour cream and a 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro. Then I tasted it again for seasoning.

If you like what you have, ladle into bowls and garnish with avocado, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips, cilantro, a squeeze of lime and jalapeños if you like it spicy!

It’s good, multiple meals worthy of good. For someone who doesn’t love leftovers (raises hand), this one is solid.

Plunge into Eleven

We went through a handful of party themes for Kaili’s 11th party. First it was this, then it was that, and finally we landed on a Cheetah theme. Which was exciting for me because for some sick reason I like to attempt new things in the kitchen when the audience is bigger than the our household. I wanted to see if I could make a cake with the cheetah print inside, reach for the stars you guys. So that put me in crunch time to order a cake topper because even though I like to bite off more than I can chew, I don’t want like to choke; so creating cheetah prints on the frosting was out of my comfort zone. I ordered an edible topper and had it rushed delivery so I wouldn’t be panicking the day before the party. I got the UPS updates all day Wednesday telling me that it was out for delivery and would be here by 5:00, sweet. Well, 5:00 came and went and then I got a message saying that it was delivered to our front door, but it wasn’t, so then panicking ensued. I went to the neighbors like a crazy person and with no avail, decided to wait until morning. Maybe the good samaritan that had my kids birthday cake topper would drop it off. Meanwhile I racked my brain of a back up plan and the thought of having to roll out fondant to decorate the cake was too much for my mind to take. So after the kids were at school, I set out on foot to check everyones front porches for the white envelope I know so well from past birthdays. You guys, I found it, it was on our neighbors porch, hidden behind plants. But….I had already rung their doorbell and no one answered. On top of everything it was a camera doorbell and apparently I am a chicken shit, I went home empty handed. Shawna told me to man up, take the envelope and stop stressing. So I went back, grabbed the envelope and cowardly mouthed to the camera that it was mine and waved like an idiot and went home with my heart pounding like I just went through TSA with cocaine in my panties. I mean, I hadn’t even baked anything yet, sigh.

Kaili wanted her party at the Plunge in Mission Beach. The Plunge is a huge indoor pool with an inflatable obstacle course. We had never been before so it was a blind mission. I was able to order all of the food before hand, they were super easy to work with and would definitely do it again. We had a nice area by the pool that had a table, a couple of benches and loungers.

The girls went straight into the water and didn’t want to come out.

I took you through a vital piece of birthday cake background and you’re probably wondering what the hell? Let’s talk cake.

Super underwhelmed about said cake. I’m not sure I even like cake anymore.

The cake was crumbly and I don’t know why because I didn’t over-bake it.

The design sort of turned out, I was not thrilled with the outcome but my cream cheese frosting is always good period.

Three hours went by in a snap, and our time slot was up. We had to drag the kids out of the pool, they were having so much fun. Next time we will reserve for a longer period of time and maybe just Uber to and fro to avoid the parking fiasco. But, it was a good time and I’m sure we will be back, however Averi has already decided on Great Wolf Lodge for her birthday.

Triple Lemon Cake

Lucious lemon cake with lemon cream cheese frosting and candied lemons, you’re welcome.

This cake is so good, I am actually contemplating making it again, right now. That will be dinner for the week, just this cake and two forks. It might happen.

*NOTE This recipe makes three 8 inch round cake pans worth of cake. I used two 8 inch and one 6 inch cake pan, I had batter leftover.

I used this recipe for the candied lemons.

Once they air dried, I started the cake.

INGREDIENTS

3 cups AP flour

1 Tablespoon baking power

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup softened butter

1 and 3/4 cups granulated sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup whole milk, at room temperature

1 heaping Tablespoon lemon zest (about 2 lemons)

1/3 cup  fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)

LEMON CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

1 pound cream cheese, room temperature

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

1 pound confectioners’ sugar (about 4 cups), sifted

2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon), plus 4 teaspoons juice

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F Grease or spray three 8 inch cake pans and line with parchment paper, then spray the parchment paper. Can never be too sure.

 Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.

Using a mixer of your choice, beat the butter and sugar together on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract on high speed until combined, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients just until combined. With the mixer still running on low, add the milk, lemon zest, and lemon juice and mix just until combined. You may need to whisk it all by hand to make sure there are no lumps at the bottom of the bowl. The batter will be a little thick.

Pour batter evenly into cake pans. Bake for around 19-25 minutes or until the cakes are baked through. 

Let the cakes cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting and try not to eat it all .

Using the same mixer, beat cream cheese, butter and sugar until smooth, about 5 minutes. Beat in lemon zest and juice.

*Can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 3 days. Stir until smooth before using.

ASSEMBLE

Using a large serrated knife, slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface. Feed scraps to children who wont stop asking for cake. Evenly cover the top with about 1 cup of frosting. Top with 2nd cake layer and evenly cover the top with about 1 cup of frosting. Top with the third cake layer. Spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides. Decorate with candied lemons and refrigerate for a good 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

Twisty Pig

I don’t know why twisting bacon before cooking it changes the flavor and the texture, but it does and it’s delicious.

If you sprinkle some brown sugar on the bacon before cooking, you’ll never want bacon any other way again.

I actually made a little mixture of brown sugar, nutmeg, garlic powder and cayenne pepper then slightly dredged each piece of bacon in that seasoning before twisting. We may or may not have had this two nights in a row, paired with burrata and arugula.

We had a family day at the Galaxy game. We’ve been spoiled with amazing seats the last few times we’ve gone. I don’t know how we are going to adjust to going back to regular old seating.

Are anyone else’s children hooked on Turning Red? Ours are obsessed with one of the songs, they get home from school and go up to their rooms and belt it out. It’s also shower material. One minute it was all about Bruno and now it’s 4 town and birthday party decor.

I can appreciate a movie about PMS and a girls first period. Especially with a house full of females. Sigh, good times ahead.

The older two girls had a school field trip to the Opera. The school busses took them downtown to the Civic Center to see Romeo and Juliet in Italian. There were english subtitles so the kids could follow along. They were dropped off at school around 4:30 and didn’t get home until 10:00. It was a new experience for them and they had a great time. I can’t believe how old they are getting.

We wrapped up the week with an amazing USMNT game, a 5-1 win! The girls broke in the S’mores maker a couple of times, and we watched parts of the Academy Awards.

Did it win? We didn’t get that far.

Birthday Banana Cream Pie Semi-Fail

The birthday was a success. The pie, not so much.

The girls helped me fill 48 balloons for the birthday girl.

Possibly inhaling helium here and there.

I went back and forth on a banana cream pie recipe. I love watching Bon Appetit’s From the Test Kitchen Series. One of the chefs Chris does a segment called Reverse Engineering. The premise is… a fellow chef picks a recipe, I’ll use Gordon Ramsey’s Beef Wellington for an example. Chris gets to taste and touch the original dish but he’s blindfolded. Once he has an idea of what it is, he sets off to the store to grab the ingredients to make it. Back at the kitchen he attempts the first run, then he grades himself. He gets another stab at it, tasting the original, goes back to the store, yada yada yada. His third attempt is his final result. The chef that challenged him comes and compares the two dishes. Overall he does very well and it’s fun and I enjoy watching this experiment. Why did I explain all of this to you, well I chose his banana cream pie recipe. I figured his magnificent palate wouldn’t steer me wrong. His recipe had a twist on the original graham cracker crust recipe, he threw some salted peanuts to the mix. I decided to go for it, why not, peanut butter and banana goooooood. That was my first mistake. The peanuts completely over powered any graham cracker flavor. Good, yes, what I wanted, no. My second mistake was that the bananas weren’t ripe enough. I knew this while I was making it, the bananas weren’t banana-ee enough. I stood in the kitchen contemplating adding a little banana pudding mix to the vanilla pudding I had just made from scratch, then decided against it, that was my final mistake. Anyway, the end result was fine, did it taste like banana cream pie, no, did I love it? Also no. So, now we have a pie in the fridge that will most likely meet its demise in the trash later.

What lesson did I learn? Always trust your instincts!

Goes to show, just because I like a cooking show, doesn’t mean I will like the shows results.

I leave you with this absolutely amazing video. I die laughing every time I see it.

I wanted to take a minute to try and blog. I am sitting here trying to write and the only thing going through my mind is “we don’t talk about Bruno”. The girls are watching videos of…. I don’t know what, but that song hasn’t stopped. Today is an important day, it’s Shawna’s birthday. We are waiting to celebrate her, I made her a banana cream pie and she gets to eat it before dinner, as she wishes.

We wet out to dinner the other night to celebrate her and her mom’s March birthdays, the girls love going out and I love taking picture of them.

This video is titled “how to embarrass your 7 year old”.

If you are a fan of Top Chef, or Chef Brooke Williamson or just cupcakes….Brooke partnered with Sprinkles cupcakes and put out a dark chocolate cupcake with passionfruit filling. I was on top of that and brought us home a couple. Delicious!

Things have been busy, Averi started Karate. She seems to really enjoy it.

The girls made fluffy slime using this recipe.

And our feral cat. She is 3 now and I really thought she would grow out of her assholeness. Outlook not so good.

I can’t wait to let you know how the banana cream pie turned out. Fingers crossed. I’m off for birthday celebrating.

Food and Music

I made a Thai Branzino recipe the other night and the results were so worth dicing 15 cloves of garlic.

The girls and I ran into our 99 Ranch Market for the fish, shrimp chips, pocky and green tea cookies… oh and a papaya that no one will touch but me. They don’t know what they’re missing.

I also found these rice crackers. I don’t know what they are called but from the picture we can guess.

I bought a variety pack for the girls, Shayne was the only taker and she loved them so we bought more.
This flavor (let’s call it chili) is really good. Not too spicy, sort of sweet….like a sweet and soy flavor with a tad of spice. Long story short, I need to buy more, I may have eaten them while the girls slept.

I also jumped on Dave Matthews Band tickets that went on sale Sunday, no hesitation. That is exciting, so very exciting. Kaili said that she wanted to go with us. I told her, the day she actually wants to listen to DMB, I’ll gladly take her to a concert. Then she followed up by asking me to take her to see BTS. The time is coming that we will be taking our tweens to a concert, what happened to these babies?

Speaking of music, I heard this song for the first time since, well before I had those babies, I am sure. I love Jason Mraz, I used to listen to this album every day.

Gouda and I watched the USWNT team win the She Believes Cup, and then the Galaxy won their season home opener.

Exciting soccer season ahead of us, I can’t believe it’s World Cup year. We are definitely wanting to watch a match in Vegas from the new downtown sports casino, who’s in?

February

It’s a big month you guys, BIG, HUGE! I have a birthday coming up and it happens to fall on an epic day this year. February 22, 2022 is on a Tuesday. A 2’s days. This will be known as Kim’s Two’s day.

I am not a huge birthday girl, I mean, it’s a fun excuse to go out and celebrate and we all love gifts, but it also comes along with getting older, sigh. This year though, I’m a little excited. My Two’s day is also national margarita day AND taco Tuesday. I mean, that’s fun right?

So, I made myself an early birthday treat.

Kaili and I polished them off in no time. Somedays it was dinner because that is allowed when it’s your birthday month.

Originally, these were called Creme de Menthe brownies, maybe they still are. The first time I remember falling in love with them was at a restaurant in the Stoneridge mall back in the 1980’s. I wish I could remember the name of the place. Anyhow, it was a restaurant that had the dessert options on a cart, and the waiter would wheel it up to your table so you could visualize what to drool over. Didn’t Bobbie McGee’s do that too? Someone from high school/Bay area, let me know please! Anyways, that was such a smart way to make sure the kids got dessert, parent’s had no chance.

Well, these were what I always ordered at whatever restaurant that was and they are delicious. I don’t know where we can buy Creme de Menthe or if it even exists anymore, but peppermint extract is a fine substitute.

I used this recipe and this recipe as a baseline for measurements. But I only use Ghirardelli 60% dark chocolate chips, for this and anything that calls for chocolate chips.

To make up for all the chocolate that I shoveled into my mouth…

I completed my 200th ride!! Fittingly with a 90’s pop playlist and my favorite instructor!

AND can we talk about the weather? I mean, it’s been fantastic. Nothing better than a winter tan.

We even broke out the slip n’ slide.

I think that wraps it up, I am off to make my babe a delicious dinner.

Can’t wait to share all of the fun Valentine/birthdays/margarita/ taco Tuesday fun that’s coming our way!

 Burrata Di Stagione

Burrata Di Stagione, is a fancy or Italian (if we are being exact) way to say “what’s in season”. In my last post I mentioned the amazing starter that we had in Santa Monica, but I think I forgot to mention that it centered around burrata. Burrata with arugula, fuji apple, roasted butternut squash, and toasted hazelnut all drizzled with an agrodolce sauce. Another fancy or Italian way to say “sweet and sour”.

I have made this multiple times, it’s ridiculous how good it is. I wish I was having it for dinner tonight, it’s a thing.

Thanks to the convenience of laziness these days, we can buy already cubed butternut squash. That shaves a good half hour off of the prep and I most likely wouldn’t have made this if I had to do it myself. It’s the little things.

I roasted some butternut squash and fuji apple in the oven until caramelized, meanwhile toasted the hazelnuts in a pan.

Then we tossed some arugula with olive oil and S&P. Tore the burrata and placed it on the bed of arugula. Scattered the roasted squash, apple and toasted hazelnuts on top.

Close to serving time, we made the agrodolce, which is so simple. Simmer some vinegar (sour) with some honey (sweet) and some red pepper flakes for heat and let it reduce until syrupy. I would have added raisins but I didn’t have any. Next time, I will.

Drizzle the agrodolce and your best olive oil on top of the entire plate and serve with bread. Or your fingers, or both.

The final dish is….

Spectacular!