Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Simple Garlic Shrimp

I imported this recipe to my Pepperplate since seafood is enormously easy to come by here, and quite frankly I was terrified to cook it at all. This recipe seemed simple enough, and pretty low in calories.  I'll list the original recipe, as well as modifications that I made to be able to make it in Korea.

Simple Garlic Shrimp

Yield: 4 servings
Active time: 5 mins
Total time: 25 mins

Calories Per Serving: 196

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and de-veined (I used ready made, uncooked shrimp)
  • salt to taste
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes  (I used Korean red pepper flakes, pictured below)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon caper brine (surprisingly enough, this was super easy to find)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cold butter
  • 1/3 cup chopped Italian flat leaf parsley, divided  (I used fresh, but I think dried would be easier without compromising the recipe)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cold butter
  • water, as needed

See... not too many modifications necessary.  Here is the red pepper flakes I used (the standard one's here aren't too hard to find, but you get a ton of them, and they are a bit pricey, since I don't use them much I swapped them out.)

Korean red pepper powder - easy to find and cheap!

Or if you are a fan of crushed red pepper flakes, they are available at Home Plus for a mere 16,900 won (about $16).  It was just too much for me since I don't eat them that often, that supply would last me a lifetime.

Crushed red pepper flakes at Home Plus


I'd like to add a note here that this was MUCH easier, with everything pre-measured, and pre-sorted, and of course pre-washed.

 rinsing the shrimps

1.  Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet over high heat until it just begins to smoke. Place shrimp in an even layer on the bottom of the pan and cook for 1 minute without stirring.

2.  Season shrimp with salt; cook and stir until shrimp begin to turn pink, about 1 minute.

holy crap, they do turn pink - well that was easy!

3.  Stir in garlic and red pepper flakes; cook and stir 1 minute. Stir in lemon juice, caper brine, 1 1/2 teaspoon cold butter, and half the parsley.

starting to really look like something

4.  Cook until butter has melted, about 1 minute, then turn heat to low and stir in 1 1/2 tablespoon cold butter. Cook and stir until all butter has melted to form a thick sauce and shrimp are pink and opaque, about 2 to 3 minutes.

ok, so my sauce kinda went away... there is a bit there, 
but I did cut the butter down to make it more healthy, the sauce really isn't needed in my opinion

5.  Remove shrimp with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl; continue to cook butter sauce, adding water 1 teaspoon at a time if too thick, about 2 minutes. Season with salt to taste.

6.  Serve shrimp topped with the pan sauce. Garnish with remaining flat-leaf parsley.

beautiful and delicious

That was it!  I spent the most time chopping the garlic, which took no time at all.  The only issue I had was that a) I didn't create much of a sauce, maybe I overcooked them and it burned off, or maybe it was because I cut the butter down in step 4, regardless it worked, and b)  the shrimp came out very garlicky (shocking I know considering the title of the recipe), which wasn't a problem for me as I love garlic, but could potentially be an issue if you had someone else you were cooking for.  The recipe would hold up well with less garlic.

I also made some creamy green beans to go with it as a side, since this recipe really isn't a complete meal.  I will definitely be making this again.  I don't think it gets much easier (heck, I spent more time on the green beans) and it reheats well.

full meal, yummo!

Enjoy and happy cooking everyone!

Hugs & Kisses,

P.S. Sorry for the less than stellar photos, but my cell phone camera is easiest to use while cooking.  Also, my kitchen area doesn't have the greatest lighting.

Monday, February 18, 2013

And I quote...

“You've gotta dance like there's nobody watching,
Love like you'll never be hurt,
Sing like there's nobody listening,
And live like it's heaven on earth.”
― William W. Purkey

And I quote...

Slow Cooker Baked Potato Soup

For some reason I'd been craving baked potato soup for weeks, even when I'd been home in the US. I just simply didn't have it while there. Annoyingly enough, the craving followed me back to Korea, where I knew it'd be even harder to satisfy it.

So, obviously this recipe was the very first thing I made in my Crock Pot.

Here is the recipe with my (many) substitutions/omissions in Italic.

Slow Cooker Baked Potato Soup

Yield: 4 servings  (I'm pretty sure this makes waaaay more than 4 servings.)
Active time: 30 mins  (I'm changing this up from the original recipe because it took forever to cut the potatoes.)
Cooker time:  7-8 hours

Calories per serving: 336 kcal

  • 10 red potatoes, cut into cubes  (I had to use normal russet potatoes, as I believe that is what you can get in Korea, however, they only seemed to be marginally larger than standard red potatoes.)
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup real bacon bits  (I did not have bacon bits, but instead made up about 5 pieces of bacon and just made my own.)
  • 1 small red onion, chopped  (Again, I couldn't find red onion -- does Korea have something against red food? -- so I used yellow onion, only about 1/2 of one.)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules  (I used one large-ish cube.  I got these awhile ago in Seoul, so not sure how available locally they are.  If you must, use chicken broth, but definitely make sure to cut down the water if you do.)
  • 1 tablespoon ranch dressing mix  (This is not available in Korea, but I had some that my mom had sent me.)
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup half-and-half  (No half and half, so I substituted it for 7/8 cup milk plus 1 tablespoon butter, although I'm not sure I did it right.)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, or to taste  (I was out of cheese and not in the mood to venture to either Costco or a foreign mart to get it, so I just omitted it.)
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onion, or to taste


**If you are making your own bacon bits, I'd do that here.  It is simple enough, make bacon, let cool/dry.  Break into little pieces.  Even a novice like me figured it out.

1.  Clean, peel (if desired, I did not), and chop potatoes into cubes
2.  Put potatoes in the bottom of your slow cooker crock. Scatter flour over the potatoes; toss to coat.  (I must have cut just a ton of potatoes, because not only did it take me forever to clean and cut them -- seriously Korean veggies are dirty -- I had way too many to fit them all in the slow cooker, so I used about half of what I had and saved the remainder for another recipe.  Oopsie.)
3.  Scatter bacon bits, red onion, garlic, chicken bouillon, ranch dressing mix, parsley, seasoned salt, and black pepper over the potatoes.
4.  Pour water into the slow cooker.
5.  Cook on Low 7 to 9 hours.
6.  Pour half-and-half into the soup; cook another 15 minutes.  (This is where I think I went wrong, I need to find a better substitute for half and half.  The soup really needed to be thicker.)
7.  Garnish with Cheddar cheese and green onion to serve.(Again, due to lack of decent cheese in Korea, I skipped this step.)

This is it cooking just before it was done.  
I sadly forgot to take an after photo.

So other than the potatoes taking a fucking ton of time to clean, chop, and peel (if desired), the recipe wasn't too labor intensive.  I'd say the soup came out great!  I had been a little worried due to all my substitutions   The only thing I would change would be to make it thicker somehow.  Maybe cut back on the milk in the half and half substitution recipe, or add some flour or thickening agent, or maybe even just cut the water a bit.  

Regardless, it was delicious, and definitely satisfied my craving, as well as leaving me with enough leftovers for several meals.  I will for sure make this again when I'm feeling especially motivated to clean potatoes, is there an easy way?

That's all for now, you kids stay warm out there.

Hugs & Kisses,

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Crock Pot FTW

One of my non-resolutions is to start eating better in Korea (there will be another post on that journey soon enough).  In this attempt, I'd also like to post some of my easier, and more successful meals that I've been able to make.

I've never been a great cook, but I feel I should follow that with... when left to my own devices.  As creative as I am in just about every area of my life, I simply cannot master cooking without a recipe.  I wind up with very dull and repetitive meals.

This journey has and will force me to use the resources I have to my advantage, and move away from my previous dependency on things I have no or limited access to (mostly an oven, but several food items as well.)

Step 1: Buy a Crock Pot (or slow cooker for all the Koreans out there, since Crock Pot is a brand name, even though we use it as generic in the U.S., most Koreans didn't know what I was talking about when using that term.)

Behold... my new Nuc / Crock Pot / slow cooker!

This step wasn't as easy as it seemed, after visiting 4 stores, I finally found one at Hi-Mart.  They were out of stock and only had the display model.  Knowing I would not soon return, I talked them into selling me the display, and giving me a discount to boot (5,000 off the 49,000 won price).  Still it had no box and I had to use my own bag to get it home, but they did scrounge up the instruction book for me, not that it helps much seeing as it is all in Korean.

Step 2:  Translate Crock Pot.

Crock Pot translation

This wasn't so bad, and I learned a little something about Google Translate in the process.  When searching the terms with my phone (easiest because I have the Korean keyboard installed) the translations came out to; off, stirring, broth, and lagging.  However, using my computer (there is a drop down keyboard in the text box to type Korean), the translations came out as; power, low temperature, high temperature, and warm.  Thankfully, I thought to try it there, because it allows you to select alternate meanings, even though in this case I didn't mean to.  I'm still not quite sure for the difference in translations, but speculate that maybe it was because I typed them all at the same time and Google grouped similar meanings together. 

Step 3: Research!

I've spent hours searching and modifying recipes, and just feel as if a whole new world has been opened up to me.  Modifications are very important in Korea, because some things are just hard to come by and/or super expensive or both.  Take sour cream, I can buy it at one of the foreign bars in town, but I have to travel 30 minute to an hour to get there, and it is still like $10.  However, there are tons of substitutes  Greek Yogurt for example, and I can find that in one of the grocery stores in town, even though it isn't the close one.  Some things have been hard to find substitutions for, so I still have some more research to do.  (Seriously, will someone mail me some Liquid Smoke?)

Step 4:  Make menu and shopping list(s)

This step led me to the most amazing app/website ever.  I've looked for something like this before, but nothing has come close to it.

You can import recipes (from many supported recipe sites) or manually create your own (not as difficult as it sounds).  You can also plan out menus for the week, and create shopping lists directly from the recipes.  I simply love, love, love it.  Additionally, you can sync all your devices, so you only have to remember your phone at the store to have your shopping list with you.  (I won't go into all the details here, there is plenty of explanation on their website.  Go there, sign up!  Normally, I don't push this kind of thing, but it is too awesome not to share!)

Step 5:  Cook delicious food items with ease!

I have been all over this!  I am absolutely in love with the thing!  I've had delicious meals for weeks now.  I've even been inspired to make non-crock pot things.  Aaaaamazing!  

Here are just some of the awesome things I have made:

pot roast

BBQ'd pulled pork 

baked potato soup 
(this is actually only partially cooked, I forgot an after picture)

I will begin posting some recipes (including the one's above) and the modifications I made to each one to make it easier to make in Korea.  However, this isn't a cooking blog, I just want to make it easier for those living in Korea to be able to eat healthier (yes, several of the recipes are low calorie), and happier meals.  Let me know in the comments section if there is anything you'd like to see.

I have become much happier having warm, homemade meals every night, and not having to stare into an empty refrigerator wondering what I'm going to eat.  Sometimes, it is the simple things that make life so much better.

Hugs & Kisses,

Thursday, February 14, 2013

In yo' face!

Yep, gave the ol' blog a little face lift.  Designed my own header and everything.  Let me know what you think in the comments section.

Don't know how I feel about my face being right up on top there (maybe I should title this post, "Look at my face!"), but I'm just at a loss for a better photo, and I spent hours getting that graphic (just the face) how I wanted it.  Meh, I'm still not 100% sure about it.  (Me & my design degree, wanting everything to look pretty.)  Anywho...I'll have new posts shortly, just working out a few last minute kinks.

EDIT:  I am no longer using this header... after having it for a few weeks I decided that I didn't like it.  I guess the overall "look" will continue to be a work in progress.

Ah, I almost forgot, Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Hugs & Kisses,

Monday, February 4, 2013

And I quote...

“This is what youth must figure out:
Girls, love, and living.
The having, the not having,
The spending and giving,
And the meloncholy time of not knowing.

This is what age must learn about:
The ABC of dying.
The going, yet not going,
The loving and leaving,
And the unbearable knowing and knowing”
― E.B. White

And I quote...

Friday, February 1, 2013

Sh*t my students say

Me: How are you today?
Girl: Teacher I’m sad.
Me: Why?
Girl: (Runs to back of the room and whispers with co-teacher.)
Co-T: She is sad because of abortion.
Me: Ummm… what?
Co-T: Abortion! Abortion made her sad.
Me: (awkwardly glancing around the room, while trying to frantically figure out what they are talking about) I think you are saying the wrong word.
Co-T: No, it is right. Abortion.
Me: …
Co-T: They have to watch abortion video. They didn't like it. They are in bad mood.
Me: Whew! OK, that isn't as bad as what I was thinking. Why are they watching abortion videos?
Co-T: I don’t know. The nurse showed it to them. Boys had to watch it too. They didn't like it either.
Girl: (nods)
Me: (awkwardly) All right, let’s just start class...

Sh*t my students say