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Shrimp stuffed Eggplant – Asian Style — August 26, 2014

Shrimp stuffed Eggplant – Asian Style

Every week before I buy groceries, I ask my kids and husband if they are hungry for anything in-particular.  Every week, they say “no” then are complaining on Wednesday about nothing to eat.  Then I go into a long spill how there is this and that and blah blah blah.  Most of the time, it is pure laziness cause I have spaghetti sauce made and all that needs to be done is boil noodles.  Or, they don’t feel like going into the garage to get something to heat up.  I do admit, sometimes it is because my teen daughter probably just doesn’t like what I have prepared.  To that, I remind them, “I asked you if you wanted me to make you anything in-particular. You should have spoken up.  You can’t live on fast food”.  It doesn’t happen as often anymore. She is tired of hearing my reply over and over I am sure just as much as I am tired of saying it. Or, she will go to Greg and ask if we can go out to eat.  He always says yes to her. LOL!  And, I have been known to send Jordan to ask him if we can go out to eat if I am tired of eating leftovers for the week.

However, this week Greg asked me if I would make “shrimp stuffed eggplant like Fung’s”.  For a foodie like me this made me very excited.  One, that he finally gave me input.  Two, cause it was a challenge.  We have only been to Fung’s Kitchen twice.  If you live in HOuston and have never been, you have to go on a weekend.  They have carts of dim sum they just roll around and you grab them as they pass.  There is also Steamed Chicken feet (in clear bowls mind you) and even pig snouts.  It is an experience if you have never seen such things.  For me, my first time was also the first time I had even tasted dim sum so I really enjoyed it.

 

Since I had never tasted Dim Sum, Greg told me to order something off the menu “just in case” I don’t like Dim Sum.  At that time, we were still dating so he was very worried about me enjoying all these new experiences.  Remember, I am a country girl……………  Asian food was still fairly new to me so I ordered Eggplant of course.  I love Eggplant! Then you add some shrimp and that has to equal the “Big O” inside your mouth right?  It was awesome!!!  However, it has been at least five years since we have visited Fung’s so when he requested this, I had to use my brain and remember the exact way it was.  I googled “Shrimp stuff eggplant” and came up with numerous options.  I am much better with pictures so this picture resembled what I remembered the most. http://www.pinterest.com/offsite/?token=940-97&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwhataboutsecondbreakfast.blogspot.com%2F2010%2F11%2Fmoms-shrimp-stuffed-eggplant.html&pin=268808671483903937

This was how many eggplants I started with.  They are the Japanese Eggplants which sometimes are difficult to find but will be at any Asian Grocery store.  Of course, the closest one to me is all the way in China town so I make sure to have a few planted in my garden every year.  They produce a lot as well!

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Now the cutting was quite tricky.  The recipe I was following did have a few pictures though so I had to keep checking it out.  Just gets tiring on my little 3 inch phone screen so It is hard to see exactly how to do it.  Thankfully, I had quite a few eggplants.  Btw, I was doubling this recipe.  Since some of these are small, I think I ended up using like nine of them.  I did have left over filling though which was very disappointing. I hated throwing away Shrimp! In her blog, she also explains how to make Dim Sum so you could easily use the shrimp stuffing to make your own.  You would just need to buy the little Won Ton wrappers.

Here they are cut.  Trial and Error people Trial and Error 🙂  I loved this Challenge!

 

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At this moment, it was very hard not to “play with my food”

 

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Now, the blog does not mention soaking the eggplants in salt water before hand.  When using regular eggplant, all the recipes I am usually doing says you need to soak the eggplant in salt water for about 30 minutes so it won’t be bitter. I do know when you just normally “fry it up in a pan” (Dynomite moment there)  you cannot taste a difference.  I still always soak Japanese eggplant just in case.  It isn’t like this is a difficult stage anyway.

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While those were soaking, I made my shrimp stuffing.  I just used frozen de-veined shrimp that was already pilled.  Yes, it was the lazy version.  Since I didn’t know exactly what I was doing and my memory wasn’t the best, I didn’t want to buy fancy shrimp at 9.00 a pound ecspecially since I was doubling the recipe.

My stupid logic: I had all these eggplant I had to use. I can’t waste these FREE eggplant so I have to spend all this money on shrimp to use ALL of them.  If it doesn’t turn out, at least I didn’t waste any food.  Yes, I shake my head at myself too. Don’t worry.  I have been known to go spend $15 dollars on stuff to make a particular dessert to save the two apples that are on the verge of going bad so I won’t be wasting them.

The recipe says to lay them out and smash them.  I tried that. I got my cutting board out and spread the shrimp out on it.  I covered the shrimp with saran wrap and started beating it with my meat tenderizer.  After several shrimp flew from under the wrap, I decided this wasn’t a bright idea.  I opted on putting it in the food processor since the directions said to cut the shrimp after beating it anyway.  Took ten seconds!

 

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I also put the 1 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1 tsp cornstarch in with the shrimp at this time.  Remember now, I am doubling the recipe so the ingredients are doubled if you’re comparing it to the “real” version.

 

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They remind me of Cookie monster.  🙂  You can tell by looking at first they were straight edged then I started getting my diagonal technique down eventually like she originally shows.

 

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At this point the clouds separated and Angels sang in my head!!!  I finally remembered what the eggplant looked like at Fungs.  It was just like this but was fried. So, I decided to take a detour and try my own thing a bit.  I mean, I have to keep my thighs touching somehow. They may miss rubbing against each other!

So, I made me up a bowl of eggs and put some salt and pepper in there.  I also made me a plate of flour and added salt, pepper, garlic, and some Chinese five spice powder.  This is all in addition to the “real” recipe of course.  It was approximately about 1 tsp of each.  Just dip in the egg mixture then coat with flour.  This also helps with the Shrimp mixture not falling out while frying.  I just pressed it neatly as tight as I could then would be sure and cover the filling part with flour as well.

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And here it goes……………………  Lets Do This!

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I am a regular viewer of The Chew and they frequently point out not to crowd the pan.  This is very frustrating for an ADHD person cooking three meals all at the same time!  But, as Carla Hall says, “There is flavor in the brown”.  And, I hate admitting it but it is very true.

 

Excuse the blurry pictures please……….  I take all these from my I-phone.

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While those were browning, I made my sauce.  Now, at this time I was planning on making rice as well so I tripled the original recipe.  I also added about an extra teaspoon of sugar.  No, I did not have mirin.  And, since she had an easy substitute I decided it wasn’t safe to go on the hunt for Mirin since that would make me go on isles I didn’t need to go on. Ha!  I mean, there could be something “New and Improved” or god forbid, something shiny.

I also took the lazy route and used Penzey’s minced garlic.  I know I know!!  If I am doing this I need to do it right.  Well, remember, I am making three meals at a time here.  At this point, I am approaching hour six and am getting tired.  Here is my spices and oyster sauce ready and waiting to join the party!

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As I took the eggplants out, I sprinkled a little salt and pepper on them as well.  This picture looks like a huge blob. Wow!  They really don’t look like this on my camera on my Instagram page I swear!

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The recipe says to put them all back in the pan but does not say whether to empty the pan. To me, there was just too much oil in the pan still so I opted to empty it out.  I did however add a little olive oil though before adding the sauce just in case. Probably only 1 Tbsp though.  Then, I put the eggplant in the sauce and let it simmer for about 5 to ten minutes while I washed dishes and opened my wine.

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Nothing but the finest for me!  Can’t get any better than Barefoot right?

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Since Fungs serves everything family style I got my fancy serving dish out.  Plus, I don’t have any of the cool rectangle plates and I just thought this dish needed to look more appealing.  I hurried and cut up the scallions because yes, I did forget about them and this definitely needed some garnishing.  Usually, I could care less about garnishes but since I am now an official “blogger” I have to umph it up a little bit I guess.  That is, if I ever get a view. LOL!  But, until then, I can jot down all my recipes and keep them along with my tweaks that I come up with along the way.

Final Product:

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We ate outside on our back porch. I just took two forks outside along with the wine and gave it to my husband.  To all you feminists, no I usually do not make his plate nor carry it to him.  I was just particularly proud of my dish and felt like I would’ve made Fung’s chef proud.  As you can tell, the rice never got made.  I was done at this point!  Needless to say, there was none left.  We shared this plate then my husband took the rest and ate it all.  I think he liked it!

 

 

 

 

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My ADHD Life —

My ADHD Life

This morning around 4:00 a.m. my 170 pound English Mastiff was running fast.  He was chasing and growling in his sleep.  I get very frustrated when he wakes me up scraping me with all four of his huge paws. But, once I think about what he may be chasing or how much fun he is having I won’t dare wake him up. I mean, doesn’t it suck for us when are having this awesome dream and our alarm goes off?  Or our husband farts so loud it wakes us up?  So, I lay there and move over a bit so that he can have more room to “run” and my legs don’t get scratched up.

 

My husband is on the opposite side.  He will wake him up and calmly get out of bed and guide Hercules back into his twin bed that he has in our room.  Yes, at times I have thought about just giving up and taking over his bed.  It would be much easier than having to balance my body all night long to stay on the six inches that I do have of the bed all while somehow not allowing my feet to be exposed.  You never know who is under your bed right?  🙂

 

This a.m., after his dream, I couldn’t go back to sleep. I remembered my husband invited the in-laws over this evening. Yes, on a weeknight!  Really????  So now, I get to come home from work and be nice and entertain!!  Yay!   Just what I want to do!  Oh well.  Just another excuse not to work out I guess 🙂  Anyway, I decided to go ahead and get up.  I figured since it would be a long day I would wake up and go sit on the couch, drink coffee and read my book of the moment.  I mean, Raphael and I have not “hung out” in like three days. I am sure he misses me!  Yes, I am reading the Raphael series by Sylvia Rynard.  http://www.sylvainreynard.com/  I love it better than 50 Shades of Gray I swear.  Once I got showered and dressed, I headed downstairs at 5:15 a.m. for my much needed “me” time.

 

While my coffee was brewing, I decided to be nice and make Greg and Jordan breakfast sandwiches.  So, I put a center cut ham on the stove while my bagels were toasting. I started my eggs and assembled the sandwiches and wrapped them individually in zip-loc bags.  While the eggs were cooking, I decided to make Greg’s lunch.  If I do not make it, I swear he will not take it.  I had made Paula Deen’s homemade pimento cheese http://www.pauladeen.com/recipes/recipe_view/pimento_cheese_sandwiches/ the other day for quick lunches. I absolutely LLLOOVVVEEE pimento cheese with Fritos on the sandwich.  Have you ever had it? OMG!  Takes me back to high school in a second.  Today, I didn’t have Fritos. I try not to keep that stuff around the house but I did have some lays. I think that will be good in the sandwich also!  After I cleaned up my mess from breakfast and making the lunches, I saw the kitchen table looked awful. I had stocked up on fruit the other day so I had all these pineapples and cantaloupe, etc. to cut up. Again, if I do not cut it all up in little pieces for my family, they will rot!!!!  GGGGRRRR!   Plus, with my mother n law coming over who has never had a full time job coming over, the house needs to look perfect since her house is perfect right?  I cut up all the fruit and arranged all the smaller fruits in the bowl and took them out of the bags.  Ha! This never happens.  LOL! I have no clue why but I have an issue with my fruit touching so I Just leave it in the bags from the store.  But, I had to make it look all “fancy” cause her house is always so perfect.  Yes, I worry about what people think about me constantly.  🙂

 

When I finished the cleaning the table I had to clean the kitchen counters again.  I took all the skins of fruits outside to the garden and came back in to now have my date with my coffee and Raphael!  Yes! I can chill a bit before having to get ready.  The angels are singing in my head and I think I saw rainbows as well.  Wait!!!!! What is that?!?!?  It isn’t a rainbow.  It is the clock on the oven.  What does it say?  Seven o’clock?  What????  I go upstairs to finish getting ready.  Crap!  Thankfully, I am already dressed.  I mean, that is the part of getting ready in the a.m. that takes the longest.  After that it is smooth sailing. I blow dry my hair, put it in a clip, and put a little make up on and I am out the door.  At 7:15, I went downstairs in a rush gathering all my stuff and sprinkled some carpet freshener on the carpet so my house wouldn’t smell like dog for my mom n law.

Finally! I am in my car at 7:18 sharp!  A mile down the road I reach down to grab my coffee.  Where was it?  Oh! I never got it! It is sitting on my Keurig. I am sure my husband was beaming this am. when he came downstairs and here his awesome wife had made him breakfast and even made his Starbucks coffee for him.  Wow!  I am sure I will receive great gratitude when I come home today (do you feel the sarcasm).  Heck, maybe even flowers.

 

Gyros at home — August 18, 2014

Gyros at home

I will never forget my first Gyro experience.  I was working at an engineering firm.  One of the engineers who was the only female on our team and I would go to lunch at least once a week.  She was a foodie.  Today, I blame her for 50% of my food addiction.  She is the one who introduced me to a lot of different foods.  Well, my husband started the addiction. Until I met him, the fanciest place I had ate was Chili’s.  Well, maybe I wasn’t that bad but believe me, Mexican food was the most out of the ordinary I ever got.  I do blame her 100% for my addiction to Indian food no doubt.  She had no idea what she was starting 🙂  I miss not working with her anymore.  Of course, my husband is extremely exciting.  He doesn’t get “surprises” every month on the CC bill.

 

My first place for the gyro she took me was Niko Nikos in Houston.  It was a little place in Montrose area.  I was really excited because I knew Guy from Dives, Diners, and Drives had featured this place on his show.  There was a line of course.  Lots of trendy people.  They all ranged from office people to girls just chilling having wine and enjoying the pretty day on the patio.  Excuse me while I mentally sneak 5,000 calories into their Gyro while they’re not looking because I am totally jealous of these women being able to chill out and enjoy the day while I am at work stuck in the office!

 

Okay, I am back!  Ha! At this point in my foodie career, I am still a “safe” eater.  I order a gyro and a Greek salad.  My friend Jen ordered a few desserts while pronouncing every name correctly I am assuming.  She knew all the desserts without even looking at the tags.  I was totally out of my norm.  Here I am, a total country girl in the middle of Montrose surrounded by all these Gucci purses and people who drive Mercedes. Yes, I was totally out of my element in my latest clearance rack special from Ross!

 

It was a stand in line joint.  You order and then pray you can find a table from what I remember. Maybe you ordered and they gave you a number. When your number is called, you go get your stuff.  Yea, I think that is it.  I am almost sure now that I think about it.

 

Now for the food…………..  It was awesome!  They gyro was huge!  The Greek salad was good also. However, it is hard to mess up a Greek salad in my opinion.  I rarely order salads at restaurants. I don’t believe in paying $8.00 for a $.50 worth of lettuce!  But, this came as a combo so I figured what the heck.  Besides, if the Gyro wasn’t for me I wouldn’t starve to death.  It was all great though!  I took half of the gyro home along with half the salad.  That is how I justified eating out to my family.  “Well at least I bring home half so you can try it too”.  Yea, it didn’t work but I tried.

Since then, I have try gyros from a couple of other restaurants around the area.  I also tried Yia Yia in Downtown Houston.  In all honesty, to me that gyro blended in together and wasn’t as messy.  However, the reason why it was easier to eat is because it was quite a bit smaller.  I have also tried this little Greek place in Pearland. I forgot the name of it but it was a Maw and Paw place.  My daughter, Avery, has grown to love Gyros as well so this is a quick fix for us if I don’t feel like cooking during the week.  Or, if you’re like me and love Restaurant.com, they use to have coupons available.  I was fine with this place until recently, a few months ago found out that the owners really aren’t Greek and everything is frozen.  I was very upset about this so I decided if I want a Gyro from now on, I would either have to learn to make them myself. I mean, if she isn’t Greek and she can do it, then I can too right!  Or, I would have to venture out and actually dress cute on a weekend and drive to Montrose.

 

This past Sunday, we went to a Phonesian grocery store in HOuston.  If you haven’t been it is an experience. They have a lot of pre-made mediterraneon food.  They have homemade pita bread coming down from conveyers in the deli.  I try to stay away from processed foods but I saw frozen Gyro meat so decided to buy it.  In the meat department, I bought ground lamb.  I am a sucker for buying meats that I have no idea what to do with.  On the way home, I got on Pinterest and googled ground lamb recipes.  Beef Gyros kept coming up.  So, I figured what the hell. Lets try it out.  Here is the recipe I decided to attempt.

 

At this point it is still a work in process.  This is not a meal you get home from work and make while running your normal family duties.  This a.m., I woke up and put all the spices in a bowl with all the meat. I was in a hurry and she is pretty abdoment about making sure the onions are drained, etc. so I used onion powder.  Hey, it is 6:00 a.m. in the morning.  Since I woke up, I have made veggie soup, prepped a prime rib, and am in the first stages of making homemade gyros give me a break! Here is my pic of stage 1 of the recipe above.

 

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While I was slaving all day at work, my meat was soaking like the picture above.  Once I got home, I remembered I had missed an essential step…………….  I didn’t put the meat through the food processor.  So, I did that then put it back in the loaf pan.  Then I put it in the oven to bake just like the directions said.

 

boiling water for gyro

 

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Sitting in water filled dish with towel

 

 

Now, this is where the very high tech stuff comes in.  In her blog, she said to use bricks and wrap with aluminum foil.  Well, my husband wasn’t home at the time.  I knew where there were some left over bricks at.  They were in the far corner in the back of the garage.  Yes, the garage that I attempted to clean three weeks ago!  The garage that had the biggest tree roaches ever known to man kind and made me scream like a girl!! The garage where I saw mouse droppings!  I was not about to stick my hand in a dark corner piled of old bricks.  So, I decided on this ingenious plan:

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Once the meatloaf was done, it looked like this.  Yes, I know………  I started to lose hope. It was not appetizing at all.  But, we have gone this far. No quitting allowed!!!

 

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Next, I put my ingenious plan to work! It took a little situating but they eventually both fit just fine. I am really proud of my awesome plan.  And, to top it off, it is SHINY!  Bling Bling!

 

aluminum foil

 

I left my loaf and my weights in the fridge overnight and drank wine.  Oh wait!  No I didn’t!  I started on the supper I was actually going to cook that night…………… my first prime rib!.  My husband was working late so I wanted to make sure it wasn’t ready before he came home.  I mean, who wants re-heated prime rib?  Gross!  BTW, my prime rib adventure is my next blog.  But yes, I still did drink Wine.  Don’t worry.  I was a good girl… it was a week night so we only had two bottles.  (Honestly, I have no idea why I can’t lose weight).  Knowing we were going to have prime rib, my husband brought home a bottle of cabernet.  I had asked him to stop on the way home and get horse radish praying he would also pass by the wine section.  If I ask him to stop for wine, he will take it out of my budget. But, if it is his idea then it comes out of his budget.  Part of my evil plan…………….

 

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Wednesday am, I woke up and with great excitement made my lunch for the day…………. Yay! My Gyros were ready!  I would soon see the fruits of my loin!   I sliced me up four pieces.  Now, it says like 1/8 ” of an inch I think.  Well, all my knives suck so I did the thinnest I could.  I still at this point had no clue what Ghee was. Nor, did I want to look at this point because it may call for another 24 hour step (which I did soon find out it did).  So, I just fried the pieces up in butter.  I packed it all up in separate zip loc bags and came to work.

 

frying meat in pan

 

Oh yea… I totally cheated on the sauce.  I usually don’t do that but we were at a phonesian grocery store the day prior so I bought it fresh there.  I mean, that is as close as we are going to get to homemade right!

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(Yes, that is my shadow with my fancy IPhone camera )

 

Here is the ending result!  It was really good.  However, I don’t think it tasted like the gyros I have had before.  I will definitely keep this though.  I actually ended up freezing half the loaf for future use.  I am going to try Michael Symons version next.  I am thinking since he is really greek he may have a more authentic recipe. Meanwhile I will keep this on the back burner.

open face gyro

 

When I made them for my husband that evening, I had read the recipe for Ghee.  Well, yes it is butter but not regular butter. So, when I reheated the meat for dinner, I used olive oil instead.  Also, the meat didn’t have much flavor to me at lunch so I put some Wildtree Greak Seasoning in with the olive oil and heated the strips of meat in that.  The flavor was MUCH better that evening!

 

folded gyro