Fried Green Tomato and Shrimp Sliders

I’m on a mission in life to become the Slider King of America. I don’t really know if that’s an actual thing, but it sounds really cool. I can totally see myself being King of the Sliders, too. It’s definitely not a bad thing to have on my resume. If anything, it’ll make me well known by millions, right? At the very least, it’ll grant me some free sliders whenever I want. Which is always. Sliders everyday of my life sounds even better than being king. Don’t get me wrong, I still want to be king. Give me a slider kingdom to rule where all anyone ever eats are sliders. Where sliders just rain down from the skies above. Sounds like a dream come true, if you ask me. I’d walk down the streets of my kingdom pointing at people, screaming, “You get a slider. You get a slider. And you get a slider. And you get a slider!”

Last week I decided to torment you guys by putting up a recipe for Mini Challah Rolls—have you checked it out already?—with a promise to post a delicious slider recipe the following week. Well, guess what?! It’s the following week already, and here I am with the promised delicious slider recipe. And just in case you’ve been living under a rock or something, and aren’t familiar with the fact that I’ve had some great sliders on this blog before, I’ll refresh your memory.

This one time I got all kinds of crazy and made a big batch of pot roast in a slow cooker and put together some killer Pot Roast Sliders that I’m still day-dreaming about. I can’t seem to shake them out of my mind. If you like crispy onion rings and avocado and sriracha, then you’ll love those sliders. Then I decided to one up myself and I created these BLT Biscuit Sliders which is everything right in the world. Biscuits with jam and heirloom tomatoes and lots of crispy bacon and of course, avocado and lettuce. If all of that has you thinking, “Oh no he didn’t!” Well then just sit down and hold on tight because I’m about to blow your mind! I’m now bringing you these Fried Green Tomato and Shrimp Sliders. I couldn’t just use the same rolls I used before or even those biscuits, so I made some new buns. Challah buns. And I’m piling it high with a cajun remoulade sauce, fried green tomatoes, grilled shrimp, lettuce and pickles. It’s an explosion of delicious flavor upon delicious flavor. I don’t know what else to do right now, other than to go to a tall place and yell out “I’M KING OF THE SLIDERS!”

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Gazpacho: Two Ways

I don’t have the best memory. Okay that’s putting it mildly. If I’m being honest, I have the worst memory ever. Like on the planet. In the history of memory having, I’m at the very bottom. I envy my sister who can seriously remember things from inside the womb. It’s scary how much she can recall from when she was tiny and itty bitty. We’ll be talking about something in particular and then all of a sudden she’ll bust out a memory and include when, where, what she was wearing, what she had said and what she was doing on a specific date. She’ll say something like, “Remember when I was born, I came home from the hospital wearing that yellow bunny onesie and played in my crib?!” Okay I exaggerate. I on the other hand, can’t even remember what I ate yesterday. This is not an exaggeration. I have very little recollections of my childhood. I mean sure I remember a few things here and there and bits and pieces of certain moments when I was young, but for the most part my mind’s a blank. My sisters will gladly tell you that I was oblivious as a kid. Always wandering off and in my own world, never paying attention. I guess this is what happens when you’re the only boy and the youngest in the family. There are certain things however that I do remember. Like the traditional putting up of the christmas tree. Putting the tinsel one strand at a time, we weren’t allowed to throw clumps of shiny tinsel all at once. The fact that my mother would only make soup on the hottest days of the year. How I couldn’t sit still for the life of me and was constantly moving around, jumping, grabbing, or pushing buttons as a kid. The way my mother would hide our halloween candy (in her closet up above the shelf) giving us only one piece a day. Talk about torture. It took about 2o minutes for my sister and I to find it, climb up and sneak a few (okay like 10) pieces of candy a day. Sorry mom. I also recall the constant watching of a certain movie. This movie in particular probably defines my entire existence. Not only because it was released the year I was born but because we’d watch it all the time to this day. It is by far the fondest memory I have. Now that I’m older it’s definitely one of my favorite films.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, a foreign film from Spain by Pedro Almodóvar —hands down his best work of all time. I learned two things from watching this movie so often throughout my entire life. One, that no one is as badass as Pepa Marcos and two, gazpacho can solve all of your problems in more ways than one. This dish will forever be synonymous with that movie for me until the end of time. Whenever I hear someone mention gazpacho or if I see it on a menu somewhere this movie and the spiked gazpacho with 25 or 30 sleeping pills will come to mind. So here we are today making not one, but two gazpacho recipes. There’s a scene towards the end of the film when the police are asking the main character what exactly is inside the gazpacho. I remember wanting to make it (minus the drugs of course) as she listed off the ingredients in it. “Tomate, pepino, pimiento, cebolla, una puntita de ajo, aceite, sal, vinagre, pan duro y agua. El secreto está en mezclarlo bien.” The secret is in mixing it well she claimed, and she’s right. I also remember thinking what in the world is gazpacho. It looked like plain ol’ tomato juice to me. It’s cold soup friends. Wonderfully delicious cold soup. So I’m giving you two gazpacho recipes. My take on this classic Spanish dish. Perfect for the summer weather. The first is a chunky watermelon gazpacho served with grilled shrimp and the second is a traditional smooth gazpacho, just like in the film.

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Roasted Shrimp-Stuffed Poblano Peppers

I think that sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves when it comes to planning and making dinner day after day. We stress out way too much over something that shouldn’t be stressful at all. When it all boils down to it (pun intended) cooking shouldn’t be complicated. In fact, it should be fun and enjoyable. That can be easily accomplished by simply turning on some music and drinking a glass (maybe two or three) of wine while you cook. That would totally make any task more enjoyable, to be quite honest. Mowing the lawn with a glass of wine. Vacuuming the house with a glass of wine. Reading a book with a glass of wine. Dancing on the kitchen counters with a glass of wine. Oh, if you’re completing all those tasks while drinking, you’ll definitely end up dancing on those kitchen counters. But we’re talking about dinner here. So let’s talk about dinner. Week after week we wrack our brains so as to come up with something new and exciting to make for ourselves, our family and our friends. We’d like nothing more than to make something different. Something we’ve never cooked before, but above all, something that is easy to whip up and doesn’t take long before we get to devour the end result. More and more we find ourselves in a cooking rut and are so desperately trying to get out of it. We face the inevitable question, mostly asked to us, “What is for dinner tonight?”

We peruse the grocery store aisles looking for inspiration. What calls out to us? No doubt the same boring recipes we always make, week after week. The similar humdrum dishes that have no pizzazz (yes I just said pizzazz. I’m bringing it back. Tell all your friends). More often than not, I end up making everyday a Taco Tuesday. It’s my go-to dinner idea. In my defense, you can wrap anything in a tortilla and top it with cheese and guacamole and you’d have yourself a prey-ty fantastic dinner. But when the awful day comes when you’re tired of tacos (gasp!!), hamburgers (what?!), and pizza (never!!) and they just don’t call out to you anymore like they used to, then the time has come to step out of your comfort zone to make something deliciously simple. But what is this delectably effortless dish I speak of? Well, roasted shrimp-stuffed poblanos of course. I’ve come to the conclusion that if you incorporate shrimp and cheese into any dish, you’ll have a winning recipe, hands down. Without a doubt. Not to mention a satisfied crowd. But if you’re cooking for just yourself, well then, you my friend are the luckiest of us all because you don’t have to share your stuffed peppers with anyone. We envy you because you have more for yourself to enjoy. After all, my days are spent contemplating how I can eat all the food without sharing. I’ve yet to come up with a good solution for that one. One day though, one day (insert evil laugh here).

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Cucumber Blonde Bloody Mary / Shrimp + Grits

Good things come in twos is what I always say. Wait, that’s not right. I’m getting my sayings mixed up. I think it’s, “two is better than one” and “good things come in threes,” is what I always say. Yup, that’s it. That sounds about right. Two is definitely waaaaay better than one. And just in case you don’t believe me, I’ll give you some examples. Prime examples of course. For instance, why settle for one doughnut when you can have two? Why only drink one beer when you can have another? And why stare at just one pretty face when you can gawk at two? (I’m totally kidding on that last one…only one of us has a pretty face). With that being said, this weekend I had the pleasure to collaborate with the beautiful and mega-talented Joy Wilson (she’s the one with the pretty face in case you were wondering) from Joy the Baker dot com. I’ve gotten so used to cooking and working and shooting and cleaning alone in my own kitchen that I often forget how nice it is to cook and work and shoot and clean alongside someone else in their kitchen. You get that chance to feed off each other’s ideas and to see what their work process entails. You learn something new through the entire operation and I can happily say I most certainly did. What makes the whole experience even more worthwhile is that I normally wouldn’t have learned all these things if I hadn’t cooked with my friend. If I had just made these things on my own, I wouldn’t have learned much, really. There’d be no insight into another person’s train of thought. The benefits of getting in the kitchen with friends and family is far too grand to not give it a try every now and then, take my word for it folks.

Although we were “working” it didn’t feel like that at all. We were just two friends enjoying each other’s company having a good time, eating and drinking and laughing. And in the end isn’t that what cooking is all about? To me, cooking is so much more than just a chore getting into the kitchen and making something to eat because you have to in order to survive so you won’t starve to death. It’s really a hobby. An entertaining activity. Something I love to do and am truly passionate about. So of course it was exciting to collaborate with someone who has the same passion for food with the same penchant for capturing and sharing it.

Friends, insanely delicious food, and refreshing cocktails; Let me tell you, life doesn’t get any better than this.

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Jambalaya

Gone are the long summer days with scorching three digit weather. The heat beating down on our barely-clothed bodies is now behind us. It is in the past. We say goodbye to artificial cold air better known to us as the AC. We bid adieu to shorts, skirts and tanks. Sunglasses we break them. Bathing suits we toss them. Flip flops we trash them. Maybe I exaggerate and we do not go to such extremes but we just put them in the closet far away from sight. We pull out such luxuries as coats, scarves, gloves and knitted socks. For us Southern Californian’s these are luxuries because we take them out for a day and then we are forced to retire them as quickly as we brought them out. But we are not complaining. We will take what we can get. We grab whatever is given to us when it is given to us. We welcome with open arms shorter days with cooler weather. Those overcast mornings and chilly nights. The sun is no longer our arch nemesis—trying to kill us—rather we are excited to see it. The sun is now our friend. We look up and even give it a smile from time to time when we spot it peeking through the clouds. Its rays warming and lighting the way, not heating and killing.

Autumn has finally arrived. It has presented itself at the perfect time. The most opportune moment. Just when we thought that summer was going to murder us with its excessive heat, the Fall came and relieved with its brilliant colors and decadent aroma. Yes, there is an aroma to Autumn. Walk outside at five in the evening—just when the sun is beginning its slow descent— take one giant whiff. Devour all that Autumn has to offer. Inhale that chilly breeze. The leaves changing colors, they begin to fall and swirl down to the ground. As you walk back home, admire the environment all around you. Remove your hat and tip your head to your neighbors passing by walking their dogs. The warmth from the houses down the street, to the left and right of you is contagious. Their doors are closed keeping the cold air out and the warm happiness in. The yellow light within, seeps through the curtained windows, casting a glow onto their garden. Onto their lawn. Onto their picket fence. It barely reaches you, but it’s enough to make you smile. You tighten your scarf closer around your neck and you continue your walk back home taking in all your surroundings.

As you walk home wearing your warm pants, heavy coat, scarf, gloves and beanie, you begin to be thankful that summer is over. No longer because of the heat and worrying about staying cool, but rather you are thankful because of something entirely different. Something entirely selfish. You stop in your tracks. Right there in the middle of the sidewalk, halfway home, you stall. You do a little jump kick out of sheer enthusiasm for you have just realized that you no longer have to eat super healthy and watch your figure because you have to dip into a bathing suit. Gone are the bikini days that summer brings with it. Happy are you for finally being able to eat buckets full of carbs and comfort food to your heart’s content. I cannot help but think that this is the cycle of life. You spend spring worrying and exercising for summer. And then you spend autumn and winter eating and not worrying. Then spring comes around and it starts up again. Perhaps I’m just projecting. Whatever the case might be, you begin to walk again, but this time you walk with a bounce in your step and a grand idea on your mind. The temperature has dropped and it could be perfect for a soup. But you do not want to make soup for dinner tonight. No, you want something special. You yearn for something heartier. Something more filling. You want to fill your house with wonderful smells from spices and fresh herbs. You shall make a Jambalaya. Because you want to bring that Southern cajun-creole excitement into your home.

Here’s what you will need.

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Shrimp Fettucinni Alfredo

The brisk autumn air is rapidly turning into cold harsh winds. The windows are shaking. Snow, if you’re lucky, might start falling. The leaves have all fallen from the trees and have completely covered the streets and yards. We’re filled with turkey and stuffing; happy that another Thanksgiving went off without a hitch. It’s hard to believe that gargantuan feast is now just a distant tasty memory, but we can’seem to wait for next year. Pumpkins are now a thing of the past. Deals have been made on a certain Friday, in preparation for the next holiday. Lights are being hung. Stockings are being flung. Everywhere you turn, the holidays have taken over. All around you, Christmas trees are being put up with all the same finesse, love and excitement that they are each year. You can’t seem to escape it. The air is filled, drenched, dripping with the aroma and warmth of the holidays. School is slowly coming to an end. Another successful, but stressful semester under your belt. Those times spent with family, friends, and lovers await. Laughing, opening gifts, drinking wine, listening to holiday tunes 24/7, but most importantly, eating. Yes eating. Autumn and winter are all about eating.

Thankful that swimsuit season is over, you pull out those coats, jackets and sweaters, and put away the skimpy sorts and bathing suits. A full season of comfy and cozy lies ahead, so sit back and relax. Enjoy the ride. You don’t have to worry so much about what you eat. That’s what January through May is all about. It’s the holidays; they only come at us but once a year. Why not live and enjoy life? You only get one shot. How will you be spending it? Worrying about what you eat and counting calories? Nope, no thank you. Not for me. I’ll be spending it curled up in front of the fire, enjoying big bowls of pasta in creamy sauces. Stews and soups topped with cheese and served with bread. Dunking cookies into steaming vats of hot cocoa topped with whipped cream and cinnamon. Lots and lots of cinnamon. Gobbling pounds and pounds of brittle, and chocolate. Shaking presents under the tree. Waiting for santa to come. And most importantly, enjoying the company of my family, because without them, I’d be lost.

Season’s Eatings!

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