Aug 30, 2010

Getting Dirty on the Dance Floor and Clean in the Kitchen

Weekend Recap...with very little words. Pictures tell a lot. 

Friday night:
MUSC Back to School party. Pretty faces:
 Several drinks later, this happened. Taio Cruz's "Dynamite" was our song all night. 
Yes, that is a pirate sword in my sash. I have no idea how I acquired it.

Beach attempt with Nancy and Heather. An hour in, a hurricane occurred.
So gross.

Saturday evening:
Adventures in grilling. Making fire!!
Margaret knows how to work a grill. I'm just scared of them.

Good, clean Summer eats:
And lovely Summer night treats:

Sunday morning. Breakfast feasts:

Very sweet pancakes.
Low and slow scrambled eggs with fresh mozzarella.
Sunday afternoon. Clothes shopping. Margaret got stuck in her jeans. I had to pull them off her. 
Sunday evening. Homemade pizza.
Sneak peak for Wednesday's post:
Yep, I'll be blogging/cooking at Chick-fil-A of Centre Pointe, North Charleston on Tuesday at 6pm. Come visit!!

Aug 25, 2010

Stuffing Tomatoes with Rice and Bellies with Wine

I'm a nerd. I love gadgets. I love my Blackberry like it's my child, but I love kitchen gadgets even more. Last week, Serious Eats featured a fun wine gadget: the Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator. As soon as I read that it would make my "$7 wines taste like real winners too" I knew I had to have it. One stop at Bed, Bath, & Beyond and $40 later, I had my new toy.

Margaret and I had planned a wine & dinner night tonight - my first opportunity to try out the new gadget. I had jokingly purchased a $7 wine to see how fabulous the wine aerator could make it. Margaret also brought over a cheapo wine. There's absolutely nothing wrong with getting your wine on for a few dollars, but with my new gadget, we were about to wine and dine. 

The gadget is really easy to use - you just pop in the filter, hold over your wine glass, and pour in slowly. In order to test the effectiveness of the aerator, Vinturi suggests that you sample wine that has been aerated and compare it with the same wine straight from the bottle. My little Bio major and I thought it would be fun to test this product to see what it would do with our $7 wines.

Here I am with craptastic wines and a fantastic gadget:
Close up of the gadget:
First, pour a little sip of the wine straight from the bottle:
Then pour a sip through the aerator. Be careful not to spill. 
Sample the sip that was poured straight from the bottle.
VOMIT a little as it burns your esophagus.
Then sample the sip that has been passed through the aerator. 
Smile at your delicious $40 wine.
Mmm, good. We noticed that the wine was much smoother and tasted less aciditic. After quite a few samples, we decided to start cooking. Wine + cooking = FUN.

Fun and a whole lot of forgetfulness. I forgot to photograph most of the cooking. I had bought all the ingredients needed for the Christina Orzo recipe because I thought it was so good. We decided to revamp the recipe and make Orzo Stuffed Tomatoes.

  • 1/2 pound shrimp
  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup orzo
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium vidalia onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 tsp fresh oregano
  • 2 oz goat cheese
  • salt & pepper
  • Cook rice according to directions. Set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 375*.  Cut tops of tomatoes and set aside. Scoop out tomato pulp and set aside with tops. Dice tops & pulp.
  • In a medium pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion; saute for 3 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper; saute for 1 minute. Add reserved tomatoes, wine, and shrimp. Cook until wine evaporates and shrimp is fully cooked.
  • Combine rice, tomato mixture, and goat cheese. Place tomatoes in a baking dish and add rice mixture among the shells. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until tomatoes are tender. Serve immediately.
Creamy tomato and rice mixture:
Action shot! Hair blowing into the...steam. So hot right now. No, really. I told you it was 375*.
Duh, I love posing with my food. Duh, I drank too much wine and had a sassy little head tilt going on. Fug. Stop judging, please.
Glamour shots of the stuffed tomatoes:
Glamour shots of the wine lovers:
So...we might have had too much $7 wine because we were acting like it was $1,000,000 wine. Now we're making banana bread. Gotta go! XO.

Aug 23, 2010

Birthdays, Crave, and a "Christina Orzo" Recipe

Saturday evening was my bestie Nancy's 26th birthday party. We celebrated the fact the she is old, but not as old as me. I have 1 1/2 months on her. This was cool in high school, but now, not so much.
As part of her birthday present, I gave her pretzel m&ms. I think she was pretty happy about that.
Approximately six hours later I was up for some more birthday fun with my favorite Italian stallions. Santo & Frankie had a birthday brunch at Crave Kitchen & Cocktails. Crave's brunch menu offers 10 different entrees that all include corn bread muffins, fresh fruit, and your choice of juice, coffee, tea, or soda for $11. I chose the Create Your Own Omelet option with shrimp, spinach, and mozzarella. It came with fruit and a side of hand-cut home fries.
The omelet was enormous! They must have used 10 eggs. Here's a picture of the inside, nice and stuffed!
And here's a picture of me stuffed between the two birthday boys. Kindly ignore the fact that I am a midget.
Crave Kitchen & Cocktails on Urbanspoon

That evening, I decided to try a new recipe. I have to admit that I have 46 starred recipes in my Google reader. (God bless that thing.) It was time to knock down the number to 45 and make something that I apparently thought sounded tasty on November 16th, 2009.

This was the Serious Eats recipe for Baked Shrimp and Feta Pasta. I made a few changes that I thought my taste buds would find more appealing and renamed it Christina Orzo Shrimp & Feta Bake. Haha, is that legal? Can I name a recipe after myself? Maybe I need to be arrested, because I just did. Technically I'm not naming it after myself because my last name is actually Orso. In Italian, Orso = bear and Orzo = barley. Moving on.

Christina Orzo Shrimp & Feta Bake

  • 1 cup orzo
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 cups tomatoes, chopped
  • 3-4 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
  • 3/4 pound shrimp, peeled
  • 4 oz feta, crumbled
  • Salt and pepper
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Preheat oven to 425°F. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook the orzo according to the directions on the box. Drain and set aside.
  • Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds.
  • Pour in wine, tomato, and oregano. Stir and bring mixture to a simmer. Cook for five minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  • In a large baking dish, combine the cooked orzo, sauce, shrimp, and chives. Sprinkle on the crumbled feta cheese. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the shrimp have cooked. Squeeze lemon juice on top. Makes 4 servings.
 The onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes:
 Wine, tomatoes, oregano:
 All mixed up in the baking dish:
Crumbled feta on top: 
All done! Doesn't this remind you of the lasagna pic? And yes, my makeup had worn off. Yikes.
A bowl of delicious Orzo:

It's a shame that I waited 9 months to make this recipe, because it was so good. I was really happy with the results. There was so much flavor from the heirloom tomatoes, fresh herbs, feta, and lemon juice. I definitely recommend using fresh herbs whenever possible. It makes your dish full of flavor and color. If I make this again, I'll add spinach. Now I'm left with a bunch of oregano and chives. Any recipes you'd like to share?

Aug 20, 2010

Thirsty (for Zac Efron) Thursday

Thursday evening Margaret and I made plans to go see Charlie St. Cloud. The movie was at 7:35, so we decided we better eat beforehand. It’s very important not to go see a Zac Efron movie on an empty stomach. When Margaret got to my house, the conversation went a little like this:

Christina: So, are you in the mood for anything specific?
Margaret: No, not really. What are you in the mood for?
Christina: Um, you know I only ever say Chick-fil-A or Mustard Seed.

Margaret: Mustard Seed.
Christina: Let's go.

Approximately 7 minutes later we were stuffing fresh bread in our face and deciding on a bottle of wine. We quickly chose Nobilo, a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, and scanned the specials menu. My rule when I eat at the Mustard Seed is that I have to get something I haven’t had before. Our server, Lauren, said “Take your time. Pickles is whipping something up for you guys right now.” PICKLES? All I heard was pickles. Apparently “Pickles” is Jonathan’s nickname, but that wasn’t what he was making. He surprised us with a Saffron Tuscan White Bean Bacon Dip with Pita Slices.
The dip was warm and creamy with a little bit of parmesan. The bacon and paprika gave it a bit of a smoky flavor. A little bit later, Lauren brought out another surprise. This time we got a salad: arugula with lump crab meat, red onion, and feta with an aged balsamic and truffle oil dressing. What a fun ingredient combo!
While we munched on that, I remembered that August 19th was National Hot & Spicy day. I figured I should choose my entree accordingly and went with the Southwestern Torte: tortillas layered with chicken, vegetables, black beans, monterey jack cheese, and salsa.

Holy moly, I was in love. This was really different than anything I’ve eaten at the Mustard Seed before, but in a good way. It was like fancy Mexican without a pound of oil. The tortillas were soft towards the middle and crunchy around the edge of the torte. I loved the green salsa too.

Margaret went with a special: Spinach, artichoke and ricotta stuffed eggplant over pasta with a tomato basil sauce.

Margaret really liked hers too. I'm not a fan of eggplant's texture, but this was cooked to perfection. 

Halfway through our meal, we realized Zac Efron was going to be on the big screen in 5 minutes. Uh oh. In fear that we might miss a shirtless scene or even just a millisecond of his face, we skedaddled right out of there. (We paid, I promise.) 

Luckily, we walked in just as the movie was starting. I pulled out my tupperware of brownies and bag of pretzel m&ms (I’m serious) and we made ourselves at home comfortable. Andrea, who had met us there, looked at me and said “Wow, I’ve never seen anyone bring brownies to the movies before.”  Um, yeah...who does that?

Not even 10 minutes into the movie, Margaret and I were just about crying. I wasn’t bawling, but at 3 different scenes, I felt my eyes welling up and I may or may not have shed 2 tears. The movie itself was pretty good. I won’t ruin it for anyone that hasn’t seen it, but I will tell you that ZAC EFRON IS SO HOT. I don’t care if he's 22 (almost 23!) years old or that he has a gf, I still love him. Yes, love him. So much that I shamelessly snapped a photo of an extra-large Zac on screen.
Margaret said, "OMG, just google him!!"

After the movie, we went home and drank too much wine. Spanish wine = crazy dreams...about Zac Efron. I woke up thinking we were dating. Then I did something borderline psychotic and/or hilarious:

One day Margaret and I met Zac:
Soon after, we were dating:
Then I caught Margaret in the pool with my man!
Crazy, I know!! 

Sorry, I know this is a food blog, but I couldn't resist. CAN YOU? Do you think Zac is a hottie? Who's your celebrity crush? Remind me that I'm 26 years old.