Amanda’s Lobster Thermidor from “The Sims”

Sims is Merideth and I’s guilty pleasure. Lobster thermidor is the top difficulty recipe in the game, and I was a little worried I didn’t have the “cooking skill.” Turns out, I was just playing the game too much- in real life, this was quick and delicious! The lobster had a great texture and taste – more savory (and less fishy) than lobster on its own. Yum! I made this for myself, but it would definitely make a good date night dish.


  • 2 lobster tails
  • 4 tbs butter
  • 2 shallots, finely diced
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 tbs flour
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar or gruyere cheese
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 Italian bread crumbs
  • 2tbs fresh parsley, chopped, or 1tbs dried parsley


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Steam the lobster tails over several inches of boiling water (I use a collander as a steam basket). Cover and steam until fully cooked, about 7-8 minutes.
  3. Remove meat from lobster tails (it will be hot! allow to cool as necessary) and chop.
  4. Melt butter in a saucepan. Add garlic and shallots.
  5. Add chopped lobster meat and paprika and stir until coated and warmed through. Set aside.
  6. Deglaze pan with white wine. Add milk, cheese, and lemon juice and heat.
  7. Mix with lobster meat and add back into lobster shells. Bake for 3-5 minutes or until heated. Enjoy!


Wine Pairings: I used chardonnay for this recipe, which then made a great pairing with the lobster. For a less rich wine to pair with the buttery lobster, try a Marsanne.

Farmer’s Market Challenge: One-Pan Steak with Spring Onions and Roasted Brussels Sprouts

It’s been spring in Florida since…February, basically…so I was so excited when Merideth’s true seasonal weather cleared up and we could do this Farmer’s Market challenge! There is a wonderful farmer’s market near where she and I went to college, so it felt extra fun to go revisit it for our post! Dragging my dog around the market (she had to sniff everything) was a fun experience and I definitely think I’ll be going back for fresh ingredients and the great community vibe.

Merideth and I set the ground rules that our dishes had to be made from the ingredients at the farmer’s market plus three home ingredients, salt, and pepper. After lots of wandering following the dog, I finally settled on some Brussels sprouts, spring onions, and cucumber. I had a steak at home and some butter and garlic to round out the menu. Not knowing how to incorporate the cucumber, I just ate it.

Being limited by ingredients pushed me to think more carefully about the preparation to impart extra flavor and, consequently, I decided to use my favorite technique: the one pan meal. Ingredients are added one after the other, so prepare the veggies and steak first to decrease total cooking time.


  • 1 ribeye steak (approximately 4-6oz)
  • 1 cup Brussels sprouts, halved
  • 1 bushel spring onions, trimmed halved
  • 4tbs butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Melt 2tbs butter over medium heat in a cast iron pan, and add minced garlic.
  2. Saute onions in butter, turning occasionally, under tender (about 6-8 minutes). Remove onions and place in covered bowl.
  3. Season halved Brussels sprouts with salt and pepper. Melt additional tbs butter in pan, or as needed to cover bottom of pan.
  4. Add Brussels sprouts to pan and sear for 3 minutes. Turn and sear for an additional 4 minutes, or until tender. Remove sprouts and add to bowl with onions to keep warm.
  5. Pat steak dry and season with salt and pepper. Lay steak away from you in the pan to avoid burns from the hot butter. Using tongs, pick up steak after 3 minutes and hold fatty sides of steak again for about 10-15 seconds the pan to render the fat.
  6. Lay steak on opposite side and cook until desired doneness (I left it for another 2-3 minutes for medium rare. With about a minute left, add onions and Brussels sprouts to reheat and infuse flavor.
  7. Transfer contents to a plate and enjoy!

Wine Pairing: Because of the steak, char from the cast iron pan, and the simple seasoning of salt and pepper, this dish is good with a full-flavored red wine like cabernet. I had a local wine to go with the locally sourced vegetables!


Roasted Acorn Squash Bowl with Mushroom Risotto

Happy Thanksgiving! This holiday weekend has been full of much needed rest, family time, and good food! Our Thanksgiving meal tradition is turkey and canned cranberry sauce (as in the can-shaped cranberry sauce). Yum!

I’ve never made risotto, despite Merideth and I’s religious watching of Gordon Ramsay shows, and this seemed like a fun way to dress up Thanksgiving dinner! Risotto isn’t so much difficult as it is tedious a little, and this took about 30 minutes of active work to complete. However- it is probably one of my favorite dishes so far, and is so rich it could stand as a meal on its own. The squash bowl made the dish extra fun and savory!

For this, I used powdered porcini mushrooms from The Spice House of Chicago, and could be substituted for chopped mushrooms in the saute stage. This ingredient is optional, but I really enjoyed the depth of flavor the mushrooms added.


Squash Bowl

1 acorn squash, halved and with seeds removed

2 tbs butter

1 tbs brown sugar

1 tbs bourbon or whiskey (optional)


1 small onion

3 cloves garlic

1 tbs powdered porcini mushrooms or 1/2 cup porcini mushrooms, chopped (optional)

3 tbs butter

2 cups arborio rice

1/2 cup dry white wine (I have used Grüner Veltliner or Chardonnay)

6-8 cups chicken broth

1 cup Parmesan cheese


Squash Bowl

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Melt butter in microwave and combine with brown sugar and bourbon.
  3. Brush butter mixture onto inside of squash and cook for 45-60 minutes, or until flesh can be pierced with fork.
  4. Once cooked, set aside.


  1. Melt butter in large saucepan. Once melted, add chopped onions and minced garlic, as well as mushrooms or mushroom powder (if using). Cook until fragrant and onions become translucent.
  2. Warm chicken broth in separate saucepan.
  3. Stir rice into butter mixture, coating rice thoroughly. Cook rice for 3-5 minutes, or until edges of rice become translucent.
  4. Add 1/2 cup of wine to saucepan and stir to deglaze pan. Simmer until wine is absorbed.
  5. Add chicken broth one ladle at a time to rice, simmering and waiting until liquid is absorbed before adding more broth. Adding the broth gradually is key!
  6. Taste rice after about half of the broth has been added for proper consistency. Risotto should be the consistency of thick porridge, and broth will be absorbed more slowly.
  7. Add one final ladle of broth and the parmesan cheese to the risotto and stire until melted.
  8. Serve immediately in roasted acorn squash bowls.

Grilled Lamb Chop with Mint Pesto and Potato Crunchies

I got an annual pass to Disney almost specifically for EPCOT’s Food and Wine Festival- its my happy place. The traditional World Showcase (Norway, Mexico, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, China, America, Morocco, France, UK, and Canada) is expanded to include additional countries and regions and now, exhibits demonstrating various new culinary trends and techniques. The menus change and grow every year (they now have a holiday food festival soon after the Food and Wine Festival ends in December!) but I also stop by the Australia booth for their grilled lamb chop with mint and potato “crunchies.” Who doesn’t love potato chips?!

I went back to the festival this year (“research!”) and visited Australia. I think the recipe turned out to be a pretty good homage!



2 gloves garlic

1 tsp salt (or to taste)

3/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup mint leaves, rinsed

1/4 cup feta cheese crumbles


1/4 cup canola oil (or other high smoke point oil)

Salt and pepper to taste for lamb

4 lamb chops

Handful of salt and vinegar potato chips


  1. Blend garlic, salt, and 1/4 of the olive oil into a blender or food processor. Gradually add mint leaves, remaining olive oil, and finally the feta cheese.
  2. Heat canola oil in shallow frying pan or grill pan over medium heat. Season lamb chops with salt and pepper to taste and gently lay in oil once hot.
  3. Grill lamb chops approximately 5-7 minutes on each side to desired doneness (approximately 155 degrees for medium, 165 for well done).
  4. Allow lamb to rest. Serve with pesto spread on top of the lamb chop and crumbled chips (I crushed them in my fist).

Enjoy the Disney magic!

 Wine Pairing: Like the Disney menu, I paired the lamb with an Australian Shiraz (aka Syrah). Australia is the second largest producer of Shiraz behind France!

Garlic Ginger Pork Chops with Sweet Chili Glaze

We’ve had a bit of a hiatus lately as I prepared to move away from the east coast (boo!). While I am terribly sad that I am no longer within driving distance of Amanda, I sure am happy we took advantage of the lessened distance for those few months. Now, the distance dishes title seems more appropriate than ever as it is the perfect way to keep in touch between our (hopefully) semi-annual run-cations.

I’m sure it goes without saying though, that moving is a complete pain. Aside from living without furniture as the moving company is in transit, cross country driving along skinny country roads with two furry babies in the car, and the unpacking all my junk(still makes me shudder), the inability to cook a yummy, home-cooked meal was very wearing. There were 10 days from when the movers hauled our things from our South Carolina home to when they arrived in our new destination and another day or so before the pots and pans were located in our vast supply of boxes. Still, spending a few long days of unpacking, the last thing I want to do is go big time grocery shopping. For this post, we wanted to do something that feels fancy, is extremely flavorful and doesn’t use too many crazy ingredients. So, these garlic ginger pork chops with a sweet chili glaze is my go to. Inspired by this recipe by Skinnytaste, I absolutely love this dish. They feel a bit fancy, and are very low maintenance. To make these pork chops, you will need:

Pork Chops:

  • 4 thick cut boneless pork chops (or bone-in if you prefer)
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1tsp ground black pepper


  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp siracha
  • 1/4 cup sweet chili sauce

*The measurements/ratios of the glaze are fairly fluid and can be tuned to your palette. I prefer a spicier glaze so I may add a bit more sriracha. Usually I just eyeball this mixture. 


  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Mix together the ingredients for the Sweet Chili Glaze in a small bowl and set aside as you prepare the pork chops.
  • Blend together ginger, garlic, salt and pepper together and rub the chops in the spice blend with even coverage. Don’t be shy about it.
  • Using a skillet or oven safe pan, brown the pork chops cooking about 5 minutes on each side.
  • Once the chops are nicely browned, I like to brush a bit of the glaze on eat chop before transferring to the oven, however you can save it all for the end if you’d like. regardless, transfer the pan to the oven and continue to cook the chops in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the internal temperature of each chop reaches 140 degrees.
  • Brush the entirety of the glaze onto the pork chops dividing between the four of them, cover in foil and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before eating. Enjoy!

Wine Pairing: To pair with the deliciousness and complex flavors of the sweet chili sauce, I coupled this dish with a Casillero del Diablo Devils Collection white wine blend that had notes of pineapple and citrus to match with the tart notes of the sweet chili. I think this was my favorite pairing so far, so if you happen to see this wine in the store, I highly recommend these two together.

Baked Salmon in Foil

I’ve always thought of salmon as a fancy dish, but tin foil makes it so easy! Merideth and I made this during our beach retreat, and we both have made it at home since. My favorite part about this recipe is that it is more a cooking technique than a set formula: you can change the flavors to your taste (or what you have in the pantry!). The wrapped foil packets are forgiving as well: as someone who is non-crafty and terrible at gift wrapping, my salmon looked like it had been crumpled in tin foil, but it still got the job done!

At the beach, Merideth and I cooked this with lemon and leeks. We also tried cooking the filets on a bed of asparagus, but they didn’t quite hold their crispiness with the juices of the salmon. If you are going to steam vegetables in the packet with the salmon, I would suggest a heartier vegetable or potato.


  • Salmon filets (estimated 8 oz per person)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 leek
  • Rosemary sprigs 
  • Olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, and garlic powder
  • Tin foil


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Lay salmon filets in enough foil to create a packet around the fish. Season salmon with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. If desired, add slices of lemon and leek. Note: we did not remove the skin, but you can if desired.
  3. Wrap foil packets, making sure all sides are covered, and place seam side up in the oven. You can place them on a cooking sheet or, as we did, directly on to the racks.
  4. Cook for approximately 30 minutes, or until salmon flakes and has taken on a more opaque color.




I recently did this cooking method with a seasoning from my Raw Spice subscription  (birthday present from Merideth- I love the recipes they include with each batch!) The smokey Bloody Mary seasoning was perfect on salmon.

Summer Dishes: Liquid Smoke Marinated Steak

Welcome to summer! Unfortunately, my condo complex doesn’t have a grill area and the one time that I tried to use a portable grill on my balcony I may have used too much self-lighting charcoal. For the a grill taste without compromising the safety of my patio furniture, I decided to put my steak in a liquid smoke marinade.Liquid smoke is a natural additive made from water infused with hickory smoke. You can find it in most grocery stores near the barbecue sauce. Its also good in slow-cooked chilis!

Why marinate?

Though marinating meat can also tenderize, the main purpose of marinades are to add flavor. Typically, they are composed of an acid  + an oil + flavorings. Acids can be vinegar, wine, juice, or even yogurt (like in Chicken Tikka Masala). More on marinades to come in another post!


2 rib eye steaks (one serving is approximately one lb.)

2 tbs canola oil

4 tbs butter (optional)


3 tbs balsamic vinegar

2 tbs soy sauce

8 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbs honey

1 tsp liquid smoke

1/4 tbs ground ginger

Ground pepper



  1. Combine marinade ingredients and add to steaks in large Ziploc bag. Chill in fridge for at least four hours or overnight.
  2. Once done marinading, remove steaks from bag onto a cutting board and discard marinade.
  3. Pat steaks dry with paper towel. This allows for the steak to better sear in the pan.
  4. Heat oil in pan over medium heat. I use a non-stick skiller, but cast iron pans are the “ideal”.
  5. Once oil is heated, lay steak in pan (away from you!). A minute or two in, I usually add a tablespoon or two of butter (yum!) Cook according to preferred temperature (see table below.)
  6. Flip steak after desired time has passed. Tongs work best for keeping the juices in the steak (and not flopping your steak out of the pan in the process). If desired, add more butter.
  7. Remove steak from pan and allow to rest 5-10 minutes before serving.

Cooking Times for Temperature:

Rare (1-2 minutes on each side)

Medium Rare (2-3 minutes on each side)

Medium (3-4 minutes on each side)

Medium Well (5 minutes on each side)

Well Done (6 minutes on each side)


Side Dishes: In keeping with the summery theme, I boiled some corn on the cob. This is a pretty low-maintenance but delicious side dish, with the corn being boiled for about 10 minutes. I also had watermelon salad with goat cheese. I think feta would be better next time, since the cheese crumbles better!

Wine Pairing: Between the richness of the steak flavors, liquid smoke seasoning, and the char that comes from the pan-frying process, a bold red worked best. I had a Malbec from my local winery, made with grapes from Oregon. Malbec has more fruit flavors than another bold red like a Cabernet, but with the same smoky, tannin taste that pairs well with steak and other grilled foods!



Peanut Butter Soup

When Amanda first suggested this blog as something for us to do together, despite our distance, I was definitely excited. The next question after “Do we really want to do this?” (which was a resounding “Hell Yes”) was “where do we start?” Amanda and I really seem to bond over our love of flavorful and exotic spices and so we knew we wanted to start with something new. We chose African inspired dishes because it had both a combination of interesting flavor layers and it was certainly a cuisine I had never cooked before so it was something new and exciting with intriguing familiarity.

We chose to do different recipes for this week’s installment as it was a bit last minute and my newly relocated pantry was a bit lacking. While Amanda was able to make a beautiful and interesting Moroccan Chicken, I was looking for something somewhat simple to start with ingredients I had on hand and something on the healthy side (having just moved across country my pants were/still are a bit tight from road snacks). So I decided on a simple, vegetarian Peanut Butter Soup recipe which, although not traditional, is inspired by the West African dish.

I decided to use the recipe adapted from Hurry the Food up at however, after 2 harried trips to the crowded grocery store I returned home only to be unloading my groceries from the car and saying to myself disappointedly “tomato paste!” I had forgotten to grab it and I then decided I was going to improvise because I certainly wasn’t going to deal with people any more that day.

So, before I began to cook the actual soup, I had to fashion some tomato paste substitute out of my only tomatoes in the house, a can of diced tomatoes. Apparently to make a workable substitution tomato paste the steps are very simple:

  • One 8 oz can of tomatoes
  • Puree in blender or food processor
  • Cook in a saucepan over medium heat for around 12-15 minutes until liquid is reduced enough that it will not add too much liquid to the dish.

I found that one 8oz can of tomato gave me around 1/4 cup of tomato paste.

Now I was ready to start on the soup, which was quite easy and quite delicious. The recipe on the the website was straightforward. To up the nutrition content, I added a few handfuls of spinach leaves as I ate the leftover portions.

If you have never tated this dish before, it tastes exactly as you wish it would. One giant, steaming bowl of peanut buttery goodness that would be the perfect comfort food for a cold day or really any day.

Wine Pairing:  To combine with the nuttiness in the dish I was craving a white wine tonight, which I can say I have never craved before. Generally I tolerate white wine if it is included in an tasting cases I order. However, tonight I paired this with a chilled Chenin Blanc which provided a light tartness to cut the strong peanutty taste as well as added an extra layer of temperature change.