Monday, May 31, 2010

I'm Thinking...

RD3 is going to be 3 this year! Appropriately, I was thinking there should be a gathering of some sort. So here's the idea: One Helluva Potluck/Barbecue sometime in Mid July for Friends, Family, and Fans of RD3. The location would be TBD somewhere in Fairfield County.
If you are interested or have any thoughts on this, friend RomanticDinner on Twitter or Romantic Dinner for Three on Facebook and respond to the discussion! I'm thinking it's a great opportunity to hang out, listen to some live music, and spread the foodie-love!

P.S. Check out the compost bin!

Friday, May 28, 2010

X=Shrimp (Scampi + Tomatoes)

I don't know why, but for some reason I just recently got over a horrible aversion to shrimp. Sure, I was moderately allergic to the little bastards for years, but what it really boiled down to was that I just didn't like them. What I did like was everything that has surrounded every shrimp dish that has ever existed. I'm pretty excited to be liking shrimp all of a sudden because it is a GREAT summer food and, as far as seafood goes, is relatively inexpensive.

As part of my savvy shopping I've started going through the grocery store's weekly fliers to see what's on sale and try to turn those things in to part of a meal. I usually keep my eye out for proteins, produce, and spices (since they tend to be the most costly part of any meal planning). When looking through this week, I found that bags of easy-peel shrimp were on sale for $6 for the 1lb bag.

Want to know a secret? That frozen shrimp in the bag is the same frozen shrimp you buy at the counter. You're not going to see a huge difference in quality unless you go to a local fish monger. So if you're shopping in the big grocer's, you might as well get whatever is on sale.

Also on sale was Ronzoni pasta (10 boxes for $10!). So I picked up a box of whole-wheat angel hair pasta. At this point, shrimp scampi would be a no-brainer. Scampi is great because it's just parsley, butter, oil, and garlic with pasta and whatever meat you put in. So, I was ready to roll. My plans changed a little when I discovered sun-dried tomatoes in my fridge... the suspense killing you?

Shrimp w/ Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce
1 lb Shrimp -- peeled, veined, and cut in to thirds
1 Shallot, minced
4 cloves Garlic, minced
2 tblsp Butter
1/3 cup Sun-Dried Tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup White Wine
1/4 cup Half-and-Half (or heavy cream)
1/3 cup chopped Parsley (fresh!)
1lb whole wheat angel-hair pasta

1) In a medium sauce pan, boil water and cook the pasta. Drain.

2) In a large skillet: Saute garlic and shallot in the butter over medium heat until soft. Add sun-dried tomatoes.

3) Add white wine and shrimp. Give it a quick stir and then put the lid on. Cook for about 5 minutes until the shrimp are mostly pink. Stir again and then put the lid back on for another 5 minutes until the shrimp are fully cooked and all of the flavors are combined.

4) Remove the lid and reduce the heat to low (give it a second for the heat to lower). Stir in the half-and-half and parsley until everything is combined. Toss with pasta!

(Salt and Pepper to Taste!)

This dish was delicious. I was so excited that it tasted exactly how I imagined it would: wholesome, healthy, fresh, yet robust. The whole-wheat pasta isn't just a healthier option, but it also compliments the rustic flavor of the dish. See? Shrimp is your friend!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Stepping Out, Getting Green

So, after being in limbo (again) and transitioning (again) things are finally starting to settle. Good timing, too, because the weather is phenomenal, memorial day is around the corner, and we're starting to see all things green.

People are starting to think a little greener as well, so I figured we might as well incorporate that here. After all, we're all about being savvy with our ingredients and cleaver with our meal planning. A little conscientious consumption goes a long way. I'm a novice myself, so this seemed like a good place to have a learning experience.

Here are some projects RD3 will be taking on:
1) Composting. I now live with two gents who are both big time foodies. Apart from getting to eat a ton of creative and well prepared dishes, we go through a lot of produce. I was amazed at how many raw scraps we throw away. Carrot tops, lettuce stems, celery leaves... you name it. So I started looking in to composting as a way to decrease our waste. I was surprised to learn that we can also include things like coffee filters and grounds, TP tubes, and other biodegradable materials. So we're jumping on the composting bandwagon. But what to use it for...

2) Vegetable Garden. I'm a little limited because I can't plant directly in the ground and, unfortunately, New Canaan doesn't have a community garden. But if it can grow in a pot, I'm growing it in a pot. So far I've planted tomatoes, basil, rosemary, lavender, eggplant, sweet red Italian peppers, and cayenne peppers. I'd like to add some peas and beans to the mix. I'm already getting pretty excited about a) watching the veggies grow and b) how much money I'm going to save on herbs this summer.

3) Rain Barrel. It seems stupid to water a garden from the tap when plenty of the stuff falls out of the sky on a pretty regular basis. We're going to start collecting the rain in a barrel so we can use it for the garden, or even purify it for other uses.

4) Farmer's Markets. It's a no-brainer. By supplementing your weekly food-shopping by going to a farmer's market, you support your local farmers and agriculture industry, get ridiculously fresh meats, dairy, vegetables (and even shellfish), are usually getting pesticide-free, organic product, and it's socially responsible. Even though it's a little more expensive, you can plan your meals around what's being sold at the market and what's on sale at the food store.

My friend Jodi and I went to the Westport, CT farmer's market today. It was honestly my first real dig at a market, and I didn't really know what to expect. I'd gone in the past to purchase some novelty items, but never with the intention of "shopping". I was excited to see a TON of vegetable plants, so I picked up some eggplant and pepper plants. We took note of what was in season (green stuff -- lettuces, asparagus, herbs..) and realized that we'd come unprepared. Note to self: bring a cooler.

We ended up staying for lunch and had some pretty amazing thin-crust pizza. The guest chef was from Rizzuto’s Wood-Fired Kitchen. They had a fantastic whole-wheat pizza topped with asparagus and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. I don't know how, but Jodi and I got ridiculously lucky and ended up with the last pizza before they ran out. The whole experience was pretty great and I'm looking forward to going back next week to see what else we can find. For a list of your local farmer's markets, you can visit your local Department of Agriculture website. Most of them run from mid-spring to early winter, some even stick around until Christmas. I've actually found one in my area for every day of the week that I'm not working. I'm pretty excited to be cutting out the middle-man and going straight to the farmers.

So, that's where I'm at. I am looking forward to enjoying the summer and getting some great recipes up while I'm at it. I'll hopefully be able to keep you posted with tips and whatnot as I go along. Have fun!