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Week Round Up and another of my favorite things

So, it's Friday and I have to say, I haven't really eaten anything that has blown me away this week, unless you count my bbq ribs at Kentucky Greg's in Buffalo, NY last friday. I didn't write about our adventure because my friend and blogging mentor, Jen At PIccante Dolce , already did, but that was an exiting day. I had fabulous bbq ribs, tasted a bazillion types of olive oils and bought an 18 year old balsamic vinegar and huffed spices at Penzy's PLUS got to buy groceries at Wegman's. A day doesn't really get much better than that even if I would have never dreamed that day would occur in Buffalo.

bbq ribs, baked beans and collard greens from Kentucky Gregs

Sunday was our mexican lasagna for her Love4Lasagna challenge and although it was very tasty, that sort of heavy dish is not really my thing. To be honest, I actually enjoyed the leftover chili verde that i ate on it's own for dinner on Monday more. Shack has not loved these first two lasagnas I have made for this challenge and just this morning, Little Shack informed me that the cheese/bacon omlelet i made him for breakfast "wasn't his favorite".
Little brat.

 Since it has not been an exiting week as far as cooking goes, I thought I would share another one of my favorite cookbooks. I collect cook books. I have an entire book case full of cookbooks and i pour over them, from cover to cover, like they are Steve King novels with pictures but I rarely cook recipes from them. I read them so often that i half memorize my favorite dishes and then when I get around to cooking them , I go by memory and i let five different versions of one dish muddle together in my noggin and I just let it happen. There are a couple of exceptions. Aristan Bread in Five Minutes a Day is one. I don't mess with baking - if i bake, i follow a recipe. Another is Off The Shelf by Donna Hay


It was my first Donna Hay cookbook and although I have since bought many others, it is on of the only ones that i have actually cooked a recipe from and it is the only one i regularly refer to. I also buy it for people as a gift because I really think that she is a master at creating simple, flavourful recipes that can be whipped up on a busy weeknight providing you have a well stocked pantry.

 To be honest, of all of the celebrity chefs that admire and love, when it comes to the actual food I would like to every day, Donna Hay is my girl. If i could hire someone to be my personal chef, it would be Donna Hay. In fact, i might just want Donna Hay to adopt me and then not only would she could cook for me every day, I wouldn't have to pay her and I would probably live in some spectacular beach home on the ocean outside of Sydney or something because I assume she is much wealthier than I am and I would rather move into her house than have her move into mine.

 She divides the book up into different categories like asian, Mediterranean, pasta etc and each of those sections are then divided up into 4 sections: basics, tricks and tips, recipes and then a section called "short order" where she has a page of really quick, simple recipes for foods that you can whip up in no time for even quicker, week night meals. If you keep your pantry stocked up there is no excuse for ordering pizza unless you really just want greasy, take out pizza. It doesn't hurt that i also find  her aesthetic very appealing. I love the clean, no fuss food styling, the white, high key back grounds, the sparse presentation. The highlight is the food and every single dish looks mouth wateringly delicious to me.

I love this book to death. There is a recipe in there that actually changed the way we treat leftover grilled meat and seafood. I am ashamed to admit that for years, I routinely threw out leftover grilled meat and seafood because neither of us really loves leftovers unless we are talking stew or soup. They would just sit in the fridge for days because it killed me to just throw them out. I would hold on to them until they were no longer safe to consume and then i threw them out without guilt because clearly, I can't feed anybody leftover flank steak that has been sitting in the fridge for five days! I could kill somebody!

I found this recipe and it became my go to, day or two after a big grilled dinner meal. It doesn't matter what the protein is, it always works and it's always delicious and it tastes like summer to me. The combination of fish sauce, lime juice and all the fresh herbs makes something so fresh and vibrant and sunny and delicious that , frankly, I could eat it every day.

I changed it slightly over time, but this is the basic recipe by Donna Hay:

Shredded Chicken and Mint Noodle Salad

200g (7 oz) of bean thread or dried thin rice noodles *

 3 cups cooked chicken breast fillets, shredded   (I use whatever leftover meat I have and i just shred it up because for some reason, if it's in big strips or chunks, it's too much against the delicate noodles)

1 cup shredded mint leaves   (i use 1/3 fresh mint/cilantro/thai basil)

100g (3 1/2 oz) bean sprouts or snow pea sprouts   (i often use leftover grilled veggies thinly sliced or julienned)

3 tbls sesame seeds

3 tbls fish sauce
2 tbls sugar
3 tbls lime juice
1 mild chili, seeded and chopped

 Place the bean thread noodles in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to stand 5 minutes, then drain. Toss the chicken with the noodles, mint, bean sprouts and sesame seeds. To make the dressing, combine the fish sauce, sugar, lime juice and chili. Pour the dressing over the salad and chill until ready to serve. Serves 4
 *if using rice noodles, cook in boiling water until al dente, then drain and rinse under cold water.

 That's all there is too it. I did nothing to change the dressing and I prefer to use the combination of the three types of fresh herbs but if i only have one or two of them in the house, i use that. I have used leftover flank steak, strip loin, pork tenderloin, chicken, shrimp, salmon and other types of fish. I also use leftover grilled asparagus, red or yellow peppers, zucchini, etc. It's always delicious and I no longer throw out leftover grilled food, which does wonders for my ability to sleep at night and therefore, keeps me looking youthful and fresh. It's a win/win situation all around for everyone.

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