Rasta Pasta

Rasta PastaOK, so Rasta Pasta just sounds cool. This recipe is from “Fins Up! (Jimmy Buffet) Cooking Class with Leigh Ocs.” This is a wonderful addition to the Tequila-Orange Shrimp that I wrote about last week. It has an unexpected Caribbean taste. But what else should I expect, it does have Jimmy Buffet’s name attached to the top.

I would have never imagined using coconut to make a creamy pasta, but it is exquisite! While the coconut flavor does come through, I might consider adding some coconut flakes to the prepared pasta or using real coconut milk to even further enhance the flavor next time.

I heated the coconut to a boiling point and let it simmer for a little while. Then strained it into a bowl and pushed as much flavor out of the coconut that I could get with a fork. Actually it did not seem like it was working, so I picked it up and squeezed the daylights out of the flakes to get as much of the juice out as I could. After setting the Water/Coconut Milk to the side, I boiled the noodles (Penne Pasta) to an Al Dente state.

While I was waiting on the noodles, I added the red pepper flakes, oil, and garlic into a frying pan. Once heated, I added the noodles, coconut water, and  remaining ingredients. Ultimately it is not a really difficult recipe. The sauce wasn’t as thick as I had hoped for, but the flavor was excellent.

Next time, I will make some changes to the recipe. First, I will use less water when preparing the coconut mix and possibly add some fresh coconut milk. Second, I will print the recipes rather than working directly off my cell phone. I accidentally missed a step toggling between two recipes. I don’t know if adding oil to the Al Dente noodles would have made a difference or not, but I hate to do things incorrectly on my first attempt with a new recipe. These minor changes might make a delicious difference in the future.

Either way, my wife, sister-in-law, and friend all enjoyed the taste and experience. This was a worthy experiment, and I will make it again down the road. Maybe next time I could add some broccoli florets as well.

So remember, “The recipe is not always right; take some time to make it your own.” I know I will.

Memorial Means More Than BBQ

Well it is Memorial weekend and what does that mean? Well it means more than BBQ. This year I wanted to do more than just stand at the grill to commemorate a day that most of the time I just don’t think about. Memorial day is meant to commemorate those who have fallen in the line of service for our country. It needs to be more than just the military, or officers, or firefighters. We can remember everyone who have gone before us. Each, whether they died for our freedom, security, or even safety, are our heroes, but there are so many more.

For many it is a lost husband or wife, child or parent, friend or relative. I want to make this Holiday mean more than I have before. I want to make it mean more than a day to BBQing, or that I get to spend the day off. I want to commemorate those who are heroes: PAST and Present!

In today’s society, it is easy for a person to be called a Hero – but it means much more TO BE ONE. If the media to catches wind of a great story, they can make that person a star or even a villain.

This weekend, I got the chance to be a caterer for a group of people who I enjoy serving with, but are all heroes in my eyes in some sort of way. Mothers with their children, Pastors with their congregations, engineers with their friends. These people are worthy to be heroes because they know what to give value to. Unfortunately many of those who deserve such a title don’t receive it, while others who don’t deserve it are called Heroes everyday.

So I say Kudos to those who are EVERYDAY HEROES in our lives, in the lives of their children and ours, to family, friends, co-workers. I say Kudos to those who have given up time with their families to serve, to protect, to give their lives. I say Kudos to those who have gone before us to give us the life that we have.

Next week I will talk about the INS and OUTS of what I made, but this week I just want to REMEMBER. As you are BBQing this weekend or whatever you do to celebrate this memorial holiday, don’t just brush it aside as a day that you get to take off. Take some time with your loved ones to “JUST REMEMBER!”

Cinco De Mayo – Fiesta Tacos

Fiesta TacoThis has been an interesting week. It has been a while since I started this blog, and I have been enjoying all of the different dishes that I have made. There are a couple of things that I still want to talk about (a linguine dish and a potato dish), but for various reasons, I am not yet ready to report on them. I will definitely make these dishes again, because they are worthy of sharing with you.

It was Cinco De Mayo yesterday. To celebrate, I want to talk about a Mexican staple – the Taco Bowl. Well I don’t know if it is a staple, but if it isn’t it should be. Thank God for a bowl that you can eat, and an ingenious people who would think of such a wonderful thing.

I haven’t actually made a tortilla as of yet, but I have enough friends that sooner or later one would probably show me how. My focus right is just to shape the tortilla. I recently prepared a Fiesta Taco recipe that taught me how to do so.

Recently I purchased some Ramekins (custard dishes) for $1.99 each at World Market. They are small ceramic bowls that you can use to bake various delicacies. Basically, you just place the ramakins upside down on a baking sheet. Then you take some store-bought or homemade tortillas, and spray them with cooking spray. After spraying the tortillas, you place them upside down on the bowls to shape them. Cook them at 425 degrees F. until they are a golden brown, and viola, you have a bowl you can eat. LOVELY! Fill it with the stuff you like, and you have a delicious little taco salad. It’s a wonderful thing.

Just remember, “Creativity is a thing of life, and its even better when you can eat it.” Enjoy.

Salmon with Mustard Cream

Salmon with Mustard Cream and Pan Roasted PotatoesI have cooked many things since I started this blog. Some have been winners and others have been duds. The things that I put on here are generally what I would call successes or definite winners. This one was definitely a winner. My wife said that it had to be one of the best dinners that I have made so far.

This was one from the Cooking Light Superfast Suppers cook book that my wife got when she was doing Southern Living At Home. It is actually one of our favorite cookbooks. For one, it gives you parings like the one that I did that night. Salmon with Mustard Cream Sauce and Pan-Roasted Potates. If you can find this cookbook I would definately recommend it.

The potatoes were basically store bought potatoes wedges that you find in the freezer section of your grocery store (such as Simply Potatoes). Heat oil in a skillet, put the potatoes in it with some greek seasoning and some fresh ground pepper. It takes about 10-12 minutes to make.

The salmon is broiled and you will need a good broiler pan to make this work the best. Crack some pepper on top of it, and sprinkle it with a little lime or lemon juice. It doesn’t need very much juice to give it a little more of a ting. So don’t over do it. It says that it takes about 8 minutes, but I let it cook a little longer to make sure that it was fully cooked. I also made the potatoes and the cream sauce while it was broiling. This did in fact make it super fast and super easy.

I recommend having your Fishmonger cut the pieces to size and find some really fat pieces of meat as well. Because I did this in advance, I didn’t have to worry about size issues or trying to cut them to the weight myself. I also left the skin on the fish. I don’t know that it really helped or hurt any, but it did keep the fish nice and together when I pulled it off the pan.

This is not only a great evening dinner plan, but it is also Super Fast and Super Easy just like the cookbook says. Just remember, “The simple things in life, can be the most enjoyable.”

Salmon with Mustard Cream
4 (6-ounce) Skinless Salmon Fillets
Cooking Spray
1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 Cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat broiler
2. Place fish on a broiler pan; coat fish with cooking spray, and sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Broil about 8 minutes or until the fish flakes easily when tested with fork.
3. Combine sour cream and next 6 ingredients.
4. Place fillets on plates. Spoon sauce over fish.

Yield: 4 Servings (Serving Size: 1 Fillet and about 2 tablespoons sauce.)

Cooking Light Superfast Suppers, Oxmoor House 2003

Introductions!

Hi everyone, my name is Scott – but in this case “The Cooking Carpenter.” I love to cook and build various things and hope that this blog will come in handy to those who read it.

Cooking:
The idea is to post different things that I have cooked or created. Then let you see how it looked and provide a link to the recipe if it is worth it. The blog will be about what I liked about the meal or dish and the things that I did not like about the experience as well. I will rate it based upon how easy it is to make and if it is worth the effort to try again in the future. I am not a professional, just someone who enjoys to cook and see the reactions that result from it. Maybe it will spark some ideas for your kitchen as well.

Carpentry:
I have been working for a small outdoor construction company as an office manager for over 15 years (Since 1996). Learning much of what I know from the carpenters that I work with and love the experience of trying to do things for myself. Just as cooking, I am not a professional carpenter, but I work with and have worked with many over the years. I have however designed some of the most extravagant outdoor living rooms and kitchens that Houston has to offer to very simple ones. I have remodeled a couple of bathrooms, bedrooms, and even built furniture. So in this case, we can call myself a carpenter with a little-c for now. The things I would like to post regarding this is handyman type things that might come in useful for those that are willing to try, design ideas, or simple reminders of things that need to be done.

Hopefully this will come in handy or just be enjoyable to see what happens. Either way I hope that we can enjoy this journey together.