Honeymoon in New Orleans

We just had the most amazing wedding back home, and to celebrate, we traveled 9 hours to New Orleans. Being the food lover that I am, I was in heaven. Every day I made my hunny try something new, and surprisingly, we didn’t find anything he didn’t like. We agree that I’ve never led him astray when it comes to good food.

Day one was simple. We had been driving all day, so we ate in the hotel restaurant. My hunny had a fried shrimp po-boy, which we found to be much better when not fried (more on that later). Day two, once we were well rested was much better. It started with room service – surprisingly decently priced. Check out the cute little bottle of ketchup. I get a kick out of things like that. Later, we had muffalettas from Central Grocery. I’ve heard that it’s definitely a tourist place, but it doesn’t matter, they were still super good. For those of you that don’t know, muffalettas are sandwiches that are made on a round bun with layers of yummy meat and cheese. These also had a really tasty onion and pickled carrot mixture on them. We bought a jar of that. My hunny thought they were so good that we went back on day three for lunch.

Day four meant breakfast at Cafe Du Monde. Beignets and Cafe au Lait. Beignets are french doughnuts that are covered in powdered sugar. Cafe au Lait is french for latte. Yummy! I may or may not have bought a can of the coffee with chickory and a box of beignet mix. Did you know that Cafe du Monde has a gift shop? And the cafe is open 24 hours. Weird for a place that serves coffee and doughnuts.

Our last day there, we spent a lot of time wandering, and we took a cemetery tour. Our guide was funny and delightful, as well as being in New Orleans most of his life. I asked him for the best place in the French Quarter to get gumbo. He said the Gumbo Shop. Boy was he right. We got a small order of seafood gumbo, a boudin sausage, and then a shrimp po-boy. This po-boy was not fried. Instead the shrimp was tossed in a delightful and slightly spicy tomato sauce. And instead of the spectacular french bread being cut in half, this was actually bored out before it was filled. It made the outside crunchy, the inside soft and chewy, and allowed the shrimp to stay in the sandwich. De-lish!

Did I mention we got all this delicious-ness without leaving the French Quarter? Call us tourist-y, but it was totally worth it.

Cooking for Two

The past couple of days we had some amazingly delicious meals for dinner. Last night, it was a shrimp pasta, tonight it was porkchops and spinach. Both were done rather healthy compared to how we normally eat. And for once – there were two nights in a row with NO LEFTOVERS! This is an accomplishment for me I promise.

The shrimp pasta, I took some help from the new Philadelphia Cooking Creme, the Italian Herbs and Spices kind. I mixed about half a tub of that with about a tablespoon and a half of prepared pesto, and another tablespoon of regular cream cheese. I added some dill and some thyme to that mixture and heated it on the stove. Then I threw in some leftover peas we had from the night before, and then halved some cherry tomatoes at the last minute and put those in as a topper. I cooked up some shell pasta, tossed it with half a block of grated mozzarella, and then the sauce mixture and finally about a half-pound of shrimp I sauteed until they were just pink.

These past couple of nights I’ve just been trying to take my knowledge of what tastes good together and running with it. And it’s worked out splendidly.

Tonight, we had a balsamic spinach and the best pork chops ever. (Mom you need to try cooking them this way!) I quickly declared that I had been making pork chops wrong my entire life, and my hunny said he’s never liked spinach until now…The secret is in the flour.

For the pork chops:

2 Bone-In Pork Chops (I’m sure you could use bone-less, but I have my barbarian moments and enjoy gnawing the meat off the bone that is impossible to get at with a fork and knife)

About 3 heaping tablespoons of flour

2 tablespoons of ground mustard

1 tablespoon of Montreal Steak Seasoning

A couple of dashes of ground oregano

2 tbsp of cooking oil (I used canola)

For the Spinach:

1 box of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed to get rid of the majority of water

Balsamic vinegar, approximately 3 tablespoons

4 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

1/4 of a onion, thinly sliced

Garlic powder, about 1 tsp

ground sage, about 1 tsp

1/2 tsp of salt

1 tsp of pepper

1/2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp lemon juice

Parmesan cheese for garnish

Directions:

Start by saute-ing the onions and garlic on low in a small pan with the olive oil until they get very fragrant.

While those are working, mix the flour, ground mustard, steak seasoning and oregano on a paper plate. Heat up the canola oil in another pan on medium until the oil moves around the pan like water (quickly and easily). Put the pork chops in the flour mixture, and press and coat both sides, then put them in the heated canola oil.

Go back to the spinach pan, and once it’s all fragrant, put the spinach in there and turn the heat to medium low. Move it around the pan so it doesn’t stick and let it work.

After about 4 or so minutes, flip your pork chops. The edges should be just starting to get white.

Add the balsamic to the spinach mixture and stir it up well to combine it with the onions and garlic as well. Let that work for about a minute, then add the dried spices. Stir it all together.

About this time, your pork chops should be ready to flip again. Try not to move them around the pan when you’re not flipping them, because you don’t want the wonderful golden skin that is forming on there to break off. Dependent on the thickness of your pork chops, they should be ready in about 2 minutes.

Add the lemon juice to your spinach, stir it in, and then move that off the heat.

Plate the spinach first, and then top it with the parmesan. Put the porkchop on top of the spinach for a very pretty presentation.

Surf and Turf

shrimp cooking

This is the shrimp in process

Steak, garlic, wine, and shrimp. Mix it all together for a simple, quick and super tasty dinner! Technically, according to the recipe, I’m supposed to add vermouth instead of wine. But I used what I had on hand. What was interesting is that I’ve never actually cooked with alcohol before… so I was a little worried about burning down my kitchen. But success! The kitchen is still intact.

The basic steps to this dish are to cook the shrimp in olive oil for about 30 seconds, add in the minced garlic, and then add herbs and the wine (or vermouth!). The trick is to cook the shrimp only until they are lightly pink and a little firm. I seared some steak to go on the side – that’s the turf of the surf and turf. Voila!

And it even looks pretty!

And it even looks pretty!

Rachel Ray gave me some help with this one too, I improvised from her “Italian-Style Garlic Shrimp with Cherry Tomatoes and Thin Spaghetti” for the shrimp.