Baked Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta

As I told you earlier, I have given up my US Magazine subscription in exchange for various food magazines. Gourmet, Cooking Light, Bon Appetit, just to name a few. I guess you can say I took it to the extreme, going from no food magazines to four yearly subscriptions.

Well all that means is that I have more great recipes to share with you, taste tested by myself and Mr. Foodie.

To see how even more addicted and compulsive I am, this first recipe from a food magazine that I am sharing with you, isn't even from one I have subscribed to. Just a random special edition Fine Cooking magazine that I purchased while at the bookstore.

This special edition is entitled Eat Smart with Ellie Krieger. It features 75 recipes from her best selling cookbook, The Food You Crave. The special edition magazine also offers tips on how to stock your pantry and make meals at a moments notice. I first heard of Ellie Kreiger on the food network and her show, Healthy Eating. I had tried a few of her recipes in the past and enjoyed them. So when I saw this opportunity to get 75 of her recipes in one magazine, I couldn't deny myself.

And this recipe for Baked Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta didn't let me down. This is a great, quick, weeknight meal. It literally took me 30 minutes...and that includes peeling the shrimp. Now some of you may be a little unsure of this dish because of the feta cheese, as was Mr. Foodie, but I tell you it is a wonderful combination of flavors and textures. But as always, he quickly became a believer. Served with white (or brown) rice, this dish is very appetizing and filling. You'll definitely want to add it to your collection.

Baked Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta
Printable Recipe

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 14oz cans of diced tomatoes, with their juices
1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, minced
1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined (and I pre-season the shrimp with a little Old Bay seasoning)
1/4 teaspoon salt, to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, to taste
2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Heat the olive oil in an ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and cook, stirring until softened, approximately 3 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let it simmer for about 5 minutes, until the tomato juices begin to thicken.

Remove from the heat. Stir in parsley and shrimp and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the feta over the top. Bake until the shrimp are cooked through and the cheese melts, about 12 minutes. Remove from oven and serve with rice.
adapted from Ellie Krieger, Eat Smart



Check It Out

Hey everybody! Check out the new feature I added to the blog. Over on the right, you can enter your email address to subscribe to passionfoodie. That way, every time I add a new, delicious recipe to the blog, you will be notified via email. Isn't that cool. It's your own personal reminder to check back often.

All you have to do is enter your email address, confirm that you've received the email and Voila....you are done. Just sit back and wait for an email (I'm aiming for at least twice a week) letting you know you should visit the blog for an update.

Thanks you guys. I hope you're enjoying it all so far. There is LOTS more to come. Feel free to leave comments and let me know what you think too!!!


French Toast

Cook's Illustrated is one of my favorite food magazines. It is like attending culinary school in each edition. It is filled with so many tips, techniques and illustrations that are sure to help you feel more comfortable in the kitchen. Hint Hint Mrs. E...this is for you!!!!

Now I only recently discovered Cook's Illustrated but I quickly mailed in my subscription so I wouldn't miss an issue. No more US Magazine. Of course Mr. Foodie was happy about that. He clearly finds Cook's Illustrated more useful than my shamefully addicting gossip magazines. He's just lucky I'm wildly fascinated by the contents of Cook's Illustrated.

The magazine prides itself on sharing the best methods for home cooked meals. It includes articles providing reviews of household kitchen appliances and everyday ingredients found in the kitchen. Everything is tested and sampled, several times over, at America's Test Kitchen. This is the same test kitchen which has a syndicated television show on PBS. I haven't checked out the show yet, but if it's anything like the magazine, I can only imagine how quickly I'll become addicted to it. It sounds absolutely fascinating. If I was willing to move to the Boston area, I'd definitely look into some type of internship there.

That french toast pictured above is what convinced me to buy my first Cook's Illustrated. The article was entitled "Really Good French Toast". Mr. Foodie loves breakfast and swears he makes the best breakfast food. A little secret about me, although I just enjoy cooking, I'm extremely competitive. When I saw the article with a recipe for "Really Good French Toast" with a caption that said "for french toast that's crisp on the outside and soft - not soggy - on the inside, you need to do more than just throw milk, eggs, and bread into a bowl", I knew I scored.

Although it requires a few more steps than some french toast recipes, it is so worth it. To me, one of the keys to good french toast is a nice, thick slice of bread. I use challah bread. The french toast also needs to have a nice coating of egg mixture without it being to soggy.

And let me tell you, this recipe has been fool-proof each time I've made it. Mr. Foodie won't give up his crown quite yet, but he does admit that he has to share it. Those chefs at America's Test Kitchen did such a great job with this one, it's no wonder I can't wait to try their other recipes. I also highly recommend you scoot on over to cooksillustrated.com where you can get a free trail offer. Trust me, you will enjoy it. And while you're waiting on your magazine to arrive, start by trying this simple recipe for "Really Good French Toast".

French Toast (serves 4) *I cut the recipe in half for 2*
Printable Recipe

8 large slices of hearty whit bread or good quality challah bread
1 1/2 cups whole milk, warmed (I used 2% milk and it seemed fine)
3 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 2 tablespoons for cooking
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Maple syrup and powdered sugar for serving

Heat oven to 300 degrees. Place bread on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Bake bread until almost dry throughout, about 16 minutes (approximately 8 minutes if cutting recipe in half), flipping slices halfway through cooking. This helps reduce the sogginess of the bread. Remove bread from wire rack and let cool 5 minutes. Return baking sheet with wire rack to oven and reduce temperature to 200 degrees (this is to keep the french toast warm once it has been cooked)

Whisk warmed milk, egg yolks, sugar, cinnamon, 2 tablespoons melted butter, salt and vanilla in a large bowl until well blended. Transfer mixture to 13-by-9 inch baking pan (I left the mixture in the bowl and dipped the french toast individually)

Soak the bread slices in milk mixture until saturated but not falling apart, 20 seconds per side. Using firm slotted spatula (or tongs), pick up the bread slice and allow excess milk mixture to drip off; repeat with the remaining slices. Place the soaked bread on another baking sheet or platter.

Heat 1/2 tablespoon butter in 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat. When foaming subsides, use spatula (tongs) to transfer 2 slices of soaked bread to the skillet at a time.

Cook until golden brown, 3-4 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until second side is golden brown, 3-4 minutes longer. (If toast is cooking too quickly, reduce temperature slightly) Transfer to baking sheet in oven. Wipe out skillet with paper towels. Repeat cooking with remaining bread, 2 pieces at a time, adding 1/2 teaspoon of butter for each batch.
adapted by Cook's Illustrated

Serve warm, with maple syrup and powdered sugar


Red Velvet Cake

I really hate to do this to you. But I just have to. This is somewhat of a teaser post but I hope you will forgive me. Do you see that scrumptious cake right above? The one with the cream cheese frosting with chopped pecans. Well, that is THE BEST and I do mean THE BEST Red Velvet Cake EVER!!!!

And I made it.

Every holiday or family gathering during my childhood, my aunt would make this cake. Unfortunately, I was not always a fan. I think the bright red color to the cake stumped me and I didn't even try it for a long time. But when I did, that was it. That was my most requested dish (along with her cornbread stuffing). I even had my dad bring me this cake when he came to visit me for my birthday..... he came 3000 miles mind you. That is how serious this cake is. It is very moist, with a hint of chocolate and oh my the pecans in the cream cheese frosting. YUMMY!!! I'm getting so excited just writing about it.

Well my aunt finally gave me and my mom her most treasured recipe for Red Velvet cake. She gave it to us last year but I have always been too intimidated to make it. You see, I consider myself more of a cook rather than a baker so some desserts seem challenging. So I knew I was going to be so disappointed if I didn't live up to the expectation I had for this cake. But I will never have that fear again. This cake was awesome. I had to take half the cake to work and share with co-workers because there was no need for Mr. Foodie and I to eat the entire cake (although he put a very nice dent in what I did leave at our house). The cake received rave reviews. Did I tell you how good this cake is??

So I called this a teaser post because...I can't give you my aunt's recipe. She will probably die if I put it out there for the world to see. Well, not literally but I don't want to take any chances (my mom and I really did have to beg her for this recipe). So I hope you won't be too mad at me. I know I've gone on and on about this cake for the past three paragraphs but I want to try and make it up to you. I will post a recipe from Paula Deen. Although I haven't actually made the Paula Deen version, the recipe and ingredients are similar. And if you are at all familiar with Paula Deen you know how much she loves her butter and sugar so I have faith that it will be good. Not as good as my Aunt's, but I'm biased.
Red Velvet Cupcakes

Printable Recipe

For the Cake:
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 ½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 ½ cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons red food coloring
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Frosting
1 pound cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup of chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 (12 tin cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers (or you can lightly butter and flour three cake pans for a layered cake such as the one I made)

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. In a large bowl, gently beat the vegetable oil, buttermilk, eggs, red food coloring, vinegar and vanilla extract with an electric mixer. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until smooth and thoroughly combined.

Divide the batter among the cupcake tins, about 2/3 filled (or evenly in the cake pans). Bake in the oven for 20-22 minutes (or 35-40 minutes if using cake pans), turning the pans once, halfway through. Test the cupcakes (cakes) for doneness using a toothpick. It is done when the toothpick comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool completely before frosting

For the Frosting:
In a large mixing bowl, beat with cream cheese, butter and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the sugar on low, 1 cup at a time, and beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until light and fluffy.
If using pecans, fold them into frosting when the cupcakes (cake) are cooled, spread the frosting using a metal spatula.

from Paula Deen, foodnetwork.com


South African Curry Chicken

Mr. Foodie's birthday was about a month ago. To celebrate, I took him to dinner at one of his favorite restaurants in Atlanta, 10 Degrees South. I actually took him there for his birthday a few years ago and sadly to say, I don't think he had been back since, yet he praises their food all the time. All my girlfriends were telling me I should make him this romantic dinner, but I figure "hey, I cook every other day, taking him out is not just a treat for him but for me as well."

So 10 Degrees South it was. The cuisine at the restaurant is South African. Prior to going to this restaurant, I had never had South African food but boy is it good. The spices and seasonings used in the dishes are delicious. Although the menu is diverse, there are a lot of red meat options. Of course, I didn't mind because I have no restrictions on what I eat (my motto is everything in moderation). Mr. Foodie on the other hand does not eat pork or red meat. Of course, everyone is entitled to their own food preferences but sometimes I swear he is missing out. But if he ever cut chicken from his diet, we'd be in some big trouble.

I digress. All that to say he ordered the curry chicken and it was excellent (sorry for the not so great picture below but it gives you an idea). My fork quickly made friends with his plate so I was able to taste all the great flavor. It was not too spicy, with a hint of sweetness from the sliced bananas on top. Needless to say, there was nothing left on his plate at the end of the meal.

Which leads me to this post. A couple of weeks later, I wanted to try and recreate the dish. I knew it called for additional spices, some different than regular chicken curry, so I searched the Internet and found something that seemed very similar to the spices I'd tasted. I even topped the dish with sliced bananas and Voila! a very close runner up to the curry chicken at 10 Degrees South.

Now I don't think the pictures do the dish much justice but trust me, if you like curry and you like chicken, you'll love this dish. And it is very easy to create. This can also be made with lamb...for those households that serve meat!

South African Curry

Printable Recipe

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon tumeric
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons curry powder
½ teaspoon ground cloves
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast and thighs (preseason with salt and pepper)

1 green bell pepper, chopped

2 jalapeƱo peppers, diced
2 white potatoes, diced
1 small can tomato paste
1 teaspoon vinegar
2 cups chicken stock
½ cup plain yogurt or buttermilk

Toppings, optional:
1 banana, sliced (highly recommended)
1 tomato, diced

Over medium-high, heat olive oil in a large pan. Add onions and garlic. Cook until onions become translucent, 5 minutes, stirring continuously.

Add ginger, tumeric, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, curry powder and cloves. Cook for two minutes, stirring continuously

Reduce heat slightly and add chicken pieces to brown on all sides. You may need to push the onions to the edge of the pan to make sure the all the chicken is browned.

Add the remaining ingredients, except the yogurt/buttermilk. Cover and reduce heat to low. Stir occasionally until the chicken and potatoes are cooked through, 45 min. – 1 hour.

When the dish is done, stir in the yogurt/buttermilk, just before serving.

Top with desired toppings (please add the banana) and serve with rice

adapted by congocookbook.com


Chicken Tortilla Soup

The calendar says it's April but it feels more like October outside. This has felt like the longest fall/winter ever and I can't wait for warmer weather...on a consistent basis. So far it has been a tease. One day it's 70 degree weather, and I can wear flip flops, then two days later I'm back to wearing corduroy pants and boots.

Today was extremely windy here in Atlanta. After getting home from work, I wanted to eat something that would warm me up but would also be quick to make. I settled on this chicken fajita tortilla soup.

I have prepared more soups this winter than I have probably eaten in my adult life. Soups can be so simple to make, so diverse and filling. They're also great leftovers to take to work for lunch. And with the idea of creating a soup library (see post on 3/15) I fell in love with making extra to freeze. That way I have a quick and hearty meal already prepared.

Even though I prepared this dish because it's cold outside (especially since I like to kick up the heat a little with an extra jalapeno pepper) this soup is great year round. As a matter of fact, it was last spring when I first made this soup. So give this recipe a try and let me know what you think, comments and critiques are always welcome.

Mr. Foodie was a fan, so it has been added to my repertoire (that makes my recipe collection sound so elaborate)

Chicken Fajita Tortilla Soup
Printable Recipe

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds of chicken tenders, two packages
1 tablespoon coriander
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme (or you can use dried)
Salt and pepper
1 onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1 bell pepper, quartered and thinly sliced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 can (28 oz) fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 quart chicken stock
1 bag of white tortilla chips
1 cup of shredded jack or cheddar cheese
1 ripe avocado, diced
1 lime, juiced
cilantro and sour cream for serving

Cut the chicken tenders into 1-inch pieces, on a diagonal. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Heat a large saucepan or stockpot with extra-virgin olive oil, over medium-high heat.

Add the chicken and allow to brown, approximately five minutes. Then add coriander and thyme, stirring twice.

Then add the onion, bell pepper and jalapeno. Season the veggies with salt and pepper.

Cook 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the can tomatoes and chicken stock to heat through. Let soup simmer for approximately 10 minutes.

While the soup is heating through, prepare the bowls for serving. Lightly crush some tortilla chips into bottom of soup bowls. Top the chips with a handful of cheese. In a separate bowl, toss the avocado with the lime juice (this will help keep the avocado from turning brown). Ladle the soup onto the chips and cheese. Garnish the soup with the avocado, cilantro and sour cream