Monday, March 22, 2010

Middle East in the Mid-West

I am back visiting my family in Illinois, as you all already know. The most important thing about these visits is to get to spend as important thing about this is that I don't get to see all of my fabulous friends and family as much anymore living 2,000 miles away. I love to cook and create meals for those that I care most about. To me, cooking for people means sharing love, nurishment, and life. However, I also don't want to become a slave in the kitchen which could lead to ugliness and resentment. We wouldn't want that now, would we?

 I wanted to create a great menu that my friends and family would love without spending all night in the kitchen. My new best friend that I employed to help me is the crock pot. The recipes that I have included in this blog are easy to prepare ahead of time so that you can spend the quality time with your friends and family. I got to sit and drink local Shelbyville wine with my fabulous aunts, cousins, and friends at the table instead of slaving in the kitchen. And I still got to serve them a meal that was packed with love, tenderness, and nutrients. I created a Coconut Curry Shrimp with Jazzy Jasmine Rice, and Wilted Spinach. To start I make a Creamy Hummus and served it with crackers and fresh veggies to dip. Dessert was even easier when I combined store bought cheesecake with homemade ganache for a Tuxedo Cheesecake that was easy and delicious! Please enjoy and make room for yourself at the table, you will get to sit with everyone and catch up knowing that everything in the kitchen will be delicious and turn out perfect, just like you!

Coconut Curry Seafood

2 cans coconut milk (13.5 oz)
2 1/2 cups low fat milk
2 cups green onions; chopped
1 can water chestnut (8 oz)
2 cans sliced bamboo shoots (8oz)
8 cloves of garlic; minced
1 cup water
2 tbsp. fish sauce
4 tbsp. red curry powder
1 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. red cayanne pepper
Juice of two lemons
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. pepper
3 tbsp. fresh parlsey
1 can sweet corn
6 cups uncooked shrimp

Place all ingredients in a slow cooker except the shrimp. Allow to cook on low for 1-2 hours. In the last 15 minutes of cooking add the shrimp and stir the shrimp in and allow to cook for 15-20 minutes or until shrimp has turned pink. Serve immediately over Jasmine rice with fresh chopped cilantro tossed over the top.

Jasmine Rice

6 cups milk
1 tsp. sea salt
3 tbsp. fresh cilantro; chopped
3 tbsp. fresh parsely; chopped
Juice of half a lemon
4 cups jasmine rice

Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Rice will be sticky and deliciously rich.

Wilted Spinach

8 cups fresh spinach
3 cloves garlic; minced
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large skillet over low heat and cover and cook for 10-15 minutes until spinach is wilted. The spinach will shrink substantially.

Creamy Hummus
2 cans chick peas
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tbsp. curry powder
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. cumin
1 tbsp. curry powder
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of one lemon
Junice of half a lime

Mix all ingredients in a food processor or mixer and process until smooth. There can be some chunks for texture.

Serve with celery, carrots, and home made tortilla chips. Recipe below.

Tuxedo Cheesecake

Store bought cheesecake (that's what we used, you can't make everything from scratch)
Ganache (see recipe in previous blog)
Whip cream

Slice a thin layer of cheesecake. Top with one ice cream scoop of ganache. Top with whip cream for a delicious and easy desert that will knock everyone's socks off and they will think that you were in the kitchen all day creating it. Let it be your secret if you want!

Mental Health Benefit: I did as much of the prep as I possibly could before everyone arrived. That meant that I wasn't rushing around when they got there. It also meant that when everyone did come, hopefully they immediately felt relaxed and at peace like I wanted them to feel. I wanted to create an atmosphere where not only was I relaxed and happy, but they could be too! I hope it worked!

Smiles, From our kitchen to yours!

~ "Too Lovely" Hot Messes in the Kitchen

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