kitchen creativity


Tonight marks a truly monumental accomplishment for me: the first time I made up a recipe ENTIRELY ON MY OWN. While this may not seem like much to toot my own horn about, you must remember that I am the same person who has not once, but repeatedly, screwed up cake-in-a-box, burned simple quesadillas so badly the fire department almost came, over-boiled pasta to the point that it disintegrated, and generally left a tornado-sized mess after each endeavor in the kitchen. But not tonight...tonight I channeled my inner Giada de Laurentiis, Martha Stewart, Julia Child, and Barefoot Contessa (whose real name is "Ina Garten" and has been the subject of much debate among me and my friends. Is she a real Contessa? Does she always go shoeless?) to think on my feet and pull something together when the original idea failed.

Corey and I had planned on cooking shrimp tacos using some leftover corn tortillas from last week, along with a collection of random vegetables that had accumulated in my fridge. Upon returning home from Whole Foods with the shrimp, I discovered, to my horror, that the tortillas were covered in a grayish-blue fuzz, rendering them entirely inedible. SO instead of spiraling into a panic about having to face the lines at the grocery yet again (which, as everyone certainly knows, are akin to the Seventh Circle of Hell come 5 o'clock) I decided to make do with what I could scrounge up. Prepare to be amazed...

Frozen, fully-cooked wild shrimp
Penne pasta
Half a white onion
Shredded red cabbage
Feta cheese
Juice of one lime
Olive oil
Preferred seasonings: kosher salt, black pepper, cayenne, garlic salt

After finding all of these treasures (minus the shrimp) in my fridge and pantry, it was practically a scene right out of Top Chef (minus Padma.) Keep in mind ratios of pasta to the vegetable mix while you make this, since you don't want the pasta to overpower the dish and vice versa.

Step 1: Boil water for pasta, cook until it is the desired level of mushy ( dente?!?!), strain and rinse with cold water. Put in the fridge to chill.

Step 2: While the pasta cooks, thaw the shrimp in the microwave (place in a bowl and cook for 2+ minutes, checking every 30 seconds that they are only thawing, not cooking), drain any excess water/shrimp juice (ew) and season to your liking. I used kosher salt, garlic salt and little cayenne. Sautee in a large pan or, if you're like me, break out the George Foreman. Now, I know these little guys are already fully cooked, but if you know know my irrational neurosis about under-cooked meat. So I just gave them a little sizzle on the grill for good measure. Put in the fridge to cool.

Step 3: Place diced avocado and onion in a mixing bowl with shredded red cabbage. Drizzle with olive oil, squeeze the juice of one lime on top, and season with kosher salt and black pepper. Add in as little or as much feta cheese as you'd like (I was a little on the liberal side with the feta...shocking, I know.) Mix everything together.

Step 4: Combine everything. Eat. Return for seconds (Corey loved it so much that he did! Or maybe this is part of his new fiancee eat anything I cook regardless of whether it tastes like a charred tire or smells questionable. Either way, between the two of us, we scraped the bowl clean!)

Like I said, this probably seems a little over-the-top, celebrating a simple little cold pasta salad-esque dish with only 5 real ingredients BUT let us not forget the kitchen tragedies mentioned earlier. So, until the next time my house is filled with smoke from some culinary misadventure, I will continue to gloat in my newfound Giada-ness.


  1. The seconds were genuine. I don't know what you mean by fiancee duties; I just love your food. You're such a good cook, you couldn't possibly cook anything that I wouldn't like. You know that!

  2. Looks like the makings of a chapter of your new cookbook