Shrimp Curry with Yellow Rice and Wambatu Moju

So I didn’t catch up on my blog posting over the weekend…In my defense, it was a holiday but mostly I was too lazy to walk into the office and sit at the computer. I’m going to stop giving myself a deadline on posting because there is just too much going on and I don’t need one more thing to feel guilty about. You’re welcome, me!

This was our second Sri Lankan meal and my favorite. I was little nervous about this one because of the shrimp. I know I’ve mentioned many, many times about how apprehensive I am about cooking with fish so I won’t bother getting into that again but know, I was worried. The recipe called for tiger prawns but I didn’t bother looking for them because Gulf shrimp is sold at my nearby HEB and that meant one less shopping excursion through Austin. It seems like my laziness paid off because I was recently reading about shrimp farming and I came upon this eye-opening, if not kind of depressing, article about tiger prawn farming. Keep in mind, the article is thirteen years old so things might have changed since its publication (I didn’t bother researching if it has because, lazy) but I do know that Gulf shrimp farming is sustainable and it’s a few hours away so, yay! Good for the environment and I’m supporting Texans! This curry was sweet and just a tad bit spicy but I loved it! I actually made it the following week but substituted chicken for the shrimp and it was just as fantastic so if you’re not into seafood, just know you have options.

I loved the curry but I could not get enough of the wambatu moju, which was eggplant. The recipe called for sprats, which are little fish, but I couldn’t find them anywhere. I asked the owner of the Indian market I frequent about them and he described them as salty so when I made the dish, I added a bit more salt and just a couple of drops of fish sauce. I don’t know if it made a difference or not but it didn’t make me hate it. It came out tangy and I think that was because of the green chilies. It’s been my experience this year that green chilies are what happens when a lime and a pepper mate (because that’s totally possible) but they really are a little sour and spicy. I have yet to encounter another pepper that does that.

I had the leftovers for lunch the next day and they were as yummy cold as they were warm. I don’t remember if the girls ate this or not but I’m pretty sure they didn’t. The baby is starting to follow in the four year old’s steps and pushing things away. She still eats a lot more than the four year old but if the older one shows disgust at something, the baby follows. Great.

Recipe, Recipe


Shrimp Etouffee and Italian Beef

Today’s post is going to be a first for the blog.

“Will it be well written and clever?”

Probably not. No, it will be a first because I am combining two different meals into one post. I know, I know, your world has just been shattered. Everything you thought you knew about this blog has just changed. The reasoning is because both meals were disappointing and I don’t think I can stretch out two separate posts to make the sentiment known. I am not known for my brevity so this is a pretty big deal. You’re welcome.

First up, Emeril’s shrimp etouffee. We visited New Orleans about five years ago and while there, I bought a book on New Orleans cuisine. I’m pretty sure it was self published because it’s bound by those plastic spiral things and most of the recipes are credited to random people all over the city. Now that I think about it, why did I buy this cookbook? I’m sure there were other, better books at the bookstore. I’m going to blame alcohol.

Anyway, there’s a shrimp etouffee recipe in there that I was going to use but then I actually read it the night before I was supposed to make the meal and it didn’t look right. It only required six ingredients, most of which were “pinches” of spices, and the instructions were literally five sentences. I’m no Bubba Gump but I’m pretty sure shrimp etouffee is more involved than that.

Enter Emeril. I Googled a recipe and his came up first. Emeril can be trusted, he’s from New Orleans. Or Louisiana. I could Google it but no, don’t want to. I followed his recipe to a T except for the part where he said to make a shrimp stock from the shells of the shrimp. I couldn’t do this because I bought shelled and deveined shrimp so I did the next best thing: I added water.

Don’t do what I did. My etouffee lacked BAM. All the bam was gone, it didn’t even show up. It was okay but very bland. It could have benefited from some salt. At my cousin’s suggestion, I sprinkled some cayenne pepper on it and that made a huge difference. We had a lot of leftovers so I’ve been eating it for lunch the past two days. The cayenne pepper has made a load of difference so if you do end up doing what I did, add the cayenne.


I had never heard of Italian Beef until a friend from back home suggested it when I asked for ideas on FB. He’s actually not back home anymore, he moved to Illinois in junior high (Hi John!). When I first read his suggestion, I just thought it was going to be some type of beef that was seasoned with like oregano and roasted. Turns out, I wasn’t far off. It is a roast, and it is seasoned with oregano (along with other spices) but it’s a sandwich.


I forgot to buy the right bread for the sandwich. I usually do all my grocery shopping on Tuesday and had planned this meal for the weekend. I didn’t want to buy the rolls on Tuesday and have them go stale by the weekend so I made a mental note to go back over the weekend and buy fresh rolls.

Except I forgot that mental note because my mind cannot be trusted. It wasn’t until I was slicing the beef that I realized I didn’t have the right bread and I was in no mood to go shopping so I used some French bread we had instead. Don’t use French bread, use a hoagie, it makes a difference. I mean, I don’t know what Italian Beef is supposed to taste like but based on the crazy cult following, I doubt it tastes like what we had. I also couldn’t get the beef thin enough and I think that had something to do with the overall flavor.

So American week ended with a womp womp. At least the meals weren’t fried so there’s that. In order to give our stomachs a break, I’m preparing Indonesian food this week. Gimme some veggies!





Stir Fry with Bok Choy, Shrimp, and Pork Meatloaf, Green Mango Salad, and Oranges in Rose Water

This meal was frustrating.

We invited friends over for dinner and they were set to arrive at 7 p.m. Knowing this and knowing I was making a lot of food, I started prepping early in the day by making the meat loaf at 4 p.m. I read over the recipes numerous times to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Since it involved a lot of chopping and mixing, I figured a full hour would be enough time. And it would have been, had I given myself a full hour of just food preparation. But I didn’t. I realistically gave myself 45 minutes to prepare the mango salad, this stir fry, and the oranges.  What did I do with the other 15 minutes? I got all my ingredients together and took pictures.

Melissa, it took you 15 minutes to set up and take those crappy pictures? Yes, I get it, my pictures are nothing special but I prefer it that way. I could use my fancy Nikon, set up all the ingredients to look like they just all happened to get together and pose casually, and then edit the pictures to look magazine ready but that’s not how I cook and that’s not me.

To begin with, I have a very small kitchen. Even though we have a three bedroom house, our kitchen looks like it belongs in a one bedroom apartment. I don’t have a lot of counter top space and the natural lighting is basically non-existent. Setting up pics to get the right angle is difficult enough in a proper space but it’s nearly impossible in my kitchen. And my cooking is chaotic at best. I try to keep things as organized as possible to reduce stress but often times things are just thrown in whatever small, clean space I can find. My kitchen is well “used.”

Secondly, and most importantly, I do not lead a curated life. What you see is exactly what you get. This *pointing to myself* has not been edited. I don’t spend hours getting ready to just go to the grocery store. I don’t just post pics of my kids looking perfect and well behaved on social media (mostly because that never happens). I don’t feel the need to change who I am to fit into an idea of what is perfect and acceptable because, well, that’s a lot of work, and then people would be really shocked when they see what’s under all that perfection. So I take that same approach with this blog. Yeah the pics could look A LOT better but you see what I see and I see good food without filters.

Oh, hey, I don’t remember stepping on this soapbox. That’s so weird, it literally just showed up out of nowhere. Well I’m gonna step off and put that back in the corner…

So back to my story. I spent 45 minutes making the mango salad and then our guests arrived. Yay! Dinner guests are here and there’s no dinner! Thankfully our friends were very understanding and not hungry (they’d had a power bar beforehand) so I sat down, had a glass of wine, and then went back into the kitchen to peel and devein the shrimp. I need to buy a damn deveiner.

We finally sat down to eat at 8:30. Thank goodness for good wine and the Spurs game!

I wasn’t a big fan of the mango salad. If I were to make it again, I would use slightly more ripe green mangoes. I just didn’t like the hard, veggie taste of the unripe mangoes but everyone else said they did. And one of our friends actually got thirds so at least he wasn’t lying. I would also use less shrimp. There was so much shrimp you couldn’t really taste the serrano peppers and when you can’t taste serrano peppers, that’s a problem.

We had the oranges for dessert and they were delicious! I hadn’t ever had rose water before so I was surprised by how aromatic it is. This was a very light, fresh dessert and I’ll definitely try the syrup again but with different fruit. 

The best part of the entire meal was the stir fry. The meatloaf was very tender and crumbly. This was my first time making a pork meatloaf. James’ grandmother said that if I like crumbly meatloaf, it’s best to use 2/3 ground pork and 1/3 ground beef; I normally use all beef. I also really liked steaming it. It takes an hour to bake a meatloaf, same amount as steaming, but then you have a messy casserole dish afterwards. My clean up involved throwing away the foil and wiping down the base pot. I feel like the meatloaf made a huge difference in the stir fry. Rice noodles, bok choy, and shrimp are pretty basic ingredients for a stir fry but the addition of the meatloaf made it exceptional!

So aside from the hiccup of my bad time management skills, this meal was a success. The girls ate everything except for the mango salad. I didn’t even bother giving them any because I was worried that the mango would be too hard for them. Yeah, unripe mango is that hard. 

I’m going to buy a deveiner today!

Recipe, Recipe, Recipe

Chicken in Pandan Leaves and Coconut, Ginger, and Lemon Salad

This meal made my Top Five. It was a lot of work, not gonna sugarcoat that, but it was worth it. My kitchen was a total disaster and James kept joking that it looked “used” but I didn’t mind. Okay, I did mind. It took me about thirty minutes to clean up and I was exhausted afterwards but considering the great meal I got out of it, I wasn’t unhappy.

The chicken. 

So you don’t eat the pandan leaves. Just want to make sure that’s understood. The chicken itself was peppery and borderline spicy but with white pepper, it’s a different kind of spicy. It’s almost like a wasabi spicy, that chemically spicy. Still very good and I’m glad I also made some plain white rice to calm my mouth down a bit.

The salad.

Oh man, this was our favorite part! The Shrimp Sauce was very sweet. I was worried about the flavor because shrimp paste is soooo strong and with the ground shrimp, I knew it would only increase the flavor, but the sugar really toned it down. So yay! No shrimpy taste! The fun part was making different combination with the condiments. This meal had everything: sweet, sour, salty, what’s the other flavor? Umami? Yeah, umami! I think this would be a great dish for a dinner party because it’s a great dish to start conversation. 

The girls ate rice. I  didn’t even bother giving them this food because of the spice although the baby did eat a lot of peanuts and coconut.


Stir-Fried Water Spinach and Stir-Fried Kailan

There’s this cartoon on Nikelodeon call Ni Hao, Kai-Lan. It’s basically Dora the Explorer but with an Asian girl speaking Cantonese. If you don’t know Dora the Explorer, well, I feel sorry for you! Not really, I envy you. But anyway, Kai-Lan. When I first read the recipe, I thought “I’m going to eat a little Asian girl.”

But no, the kailan in this meal is actually Chinese broccoli. No cannibalism here! Broccoli and kailan belong to the same species but are in different groups. Kailan doesn’t really look like broccoli except for its very small and few florets; it’s more leafy than anything. Broccolini is actually a hybrid of broccoli and kailan. Science!