Mom-Friendly Meals: Shrimp and Potatoes in Garlic Butter

I love shrimp. Love, love, love it. Yet for some reason, I almost never cook with it. I’m trying to change that, though, because I have come to the conclusion–quite vocally, if you check with Mr. Sandwich–that I don’t like chicken.*

So a couple of weeks ago, we bought a bag of frozen shrimp at Costco. Surprisingly, it was not enough shrimp to feed all of Los Angeles–but we will get several meals out of it. We started last night (well, the night before, because the shrimp had to thaw) with this dish.

First, I cut up some Yukon Gold potatoes into chunks and boiled them until they were cooked, at which point I drained them.

Then I deveined the shrimp (it didn’t take as long as I always imagine it will; this stage was done before the potatoes finished cooking). In a skillet, I melted about half a stick of butter and sauteed some minced garlic. You know how people say not to use the pre-minced garlic that you can buy in jars? Well, we use it anyhow. It’s easier.

Once the garlic started to brown, I added the shrimp and flipped them once after about 2 minutes. You want to be careful not to overcook them, because they can get tough. Meanwhile, I returned the potatoes to the pan and dry steamed them to remove any additional moisture. After I turned over the shrimp, I added the potatoes to the skillet and tossed everything to coat with the butter and garlic.

Shrimp and Potatoes

Then we ate it.

You might want to have some vegetables, too. That’s always a good idea.

*Except fried chicken. I still like that. Because it is fried.

Farm Life

Pierce College in Woodland Hills has an agricultural program, and one weekend every year, they open up their farm to the public. Luckily for us, this was that weekend. Much of my time was spent complying with cries of “PIGGYBACK!”, but I still managed to get a few shots.

Pierce College Farmwalk - chickens

Pierce College Farmwalk - sheep shearing

Pierce College Farmwalk - Toy Train

We also saw a cow and its calf, a tortoise, an owl, a parrot, goats and a kid, and horses, but you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Last-Minute Frenzy

Not shopping, thank goodness–but we have two days off while Baguette’s day care is still open, and that means that we’re trying to fit both relaxation and accomplishment into that time period. Mr. Sandwich is building a wheel so that he can go for a bike ride, and I’m getting ready to drop off clothes at the dry cleaner and make one last trip to Trader Joe’s before cooking a ham according to my family’s recipe. (The ham is not for Christmas dinner–I just want ham). There’s chicken thawing in the refrigerator so that I can make broth and soup and whatever over the weekend. There are a few more packages to wrap, holiday cards to mail, and a DVR full of toddler-inappropriate TV to watch (calm down, it’s just Boardwalk Empire, Castle, and Tosh.0). Oh, and of course continuing to clean the home office.

Sure. It’ll all get done.

The master plan to do list

Photo by the green gal, via Flickr.

Waffle Chix

Does a landmark have to stay in one place? I ask because Westwood’s Falafel King is on its third location in 25 years. That I know of.

In (theoretical) Location #2, you can now find Waffle Chix. It looks more upscale than I expected, and much nicer than in its previous incarnation as Falafel King. The menu features waffles, as you might imagine, and ranges from breakfast to dessert. Want a chicken-and-waffle combo? You’ll have to hunt for it (although the more prominent sandwiches do sound good).

I got a fried chicken breast and a waffle, with a side of mac and cheese. Verdict: Okay. Me, I think a waffle should be crispy. This had a really nice flavor, but was soft. If I wanted it soft, I’d order a pancake. The chicken was juicy, which doesn’t always happen with white meat. The mac and cheese was all right, but I’ve had better.

What’s weird is that the food came out super fast. It’s not like my waffle was sitting around back there. Unless it was. Hmm…

Verdict: I’d go back if someone wanted to, but I probably won’t seek it out on my own again.

Food Truck Follies

Once upon a time, there was an empty lot in Santa Monica. Then, the owner of the lot thought, “Hey, what if–instead of selling the lot–I let food trucks park here and sell food?”

People loved it. All day.

Then, Santa Monica shut it down.

So what is a food truck to do? They scattered to the winds. Fortunately for me, two of them landed just a few bus stops away from my office. And also fortunately for me, one of them was posting on Twitter.

First up, Calbi BBQ. This truck serves Korean-style BBQ. I ordered two tacos: one beef, one shrimp. I got two tacos: one beef, one chicken (I think). Get the chicken–it was excellent, and I didn’t even get the spicy sauce. The shrimp might be great, but I don ‘t know. The beef was fine, but I liked the offerings at Kogi BBQ better.

A half block away was the truck I’d found via Twitter: Frysmith. As you might guess, they sell fries, topped with a range of multicultural offerings. I chose the Rajas fries, which come with shawarma-marinated steak, poblano peppers, caramelized onions, and jack cheese. This combination is delicious. It’s also a meal, which means that I would have been able to have more of it if I hadn’t eaten two tacos from the Calbi truck just moments before.

Between the two trucks, though, I’d had a fair amount of spice. What to do? Why, walk across the street to Baskin Robbins and have a scoop of New York Cheesecake, of course.

So what did this feast set me back? If you add in the water and don’t count the $2 in bus fare, about $13 for more food than I could (and probably should) eat.

Later, I thought, “Hmm. I probably didn’t need that mid-morning protein shake.”

Fogo de Chão

Are you a vegetarian? Well, Fogo de Chao is not the restaurant for you. But if you, like the Sandwiches, are an unrepentant carnivore, then this may be just what you’re looking for.

When you are shown to your seat, the host explains the system: first, start with the salad bar. Then, when you’ve finished with your salad, take the red paper disk by your place setting and flip it over so that the green side is displayed.

A tip: restrain yourself at the salad bar. While everything is delicious, you didn’t come here for the salad. You came to display the green side of your disk.

With that cue, servers come by with skewers of meat–a wide range of cuts of beef, pork, chicken, and lamb, as well as linguica. They carve the meat directly onto your plate, and the servers don’t stop until you’ve flipped that disk back to red.

My favorites were the fraldinha, a seasoned cut from the bottom sirloin; bacon-wrapped chicken breast (one of the frango options); and, most of all, the lombo–pork filet in a parmesan cheese crust. Mr. Sandwich particularly liked the fraldinha, the chicken, and the filet mignon.

In addition, there were side dishes (garlic mashed potatoes, caramelized bananas, and crispy polenta), as well as pão de queijo, a small roll with a tiny dollop of mild but rich cheese in the center. The meal was followed by the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had, and that was the decaf. I have no idea what desserts they offer; neither of us had room, and I didn’t want to know what I was missing.

Beyond that, the service was attentive and responsive. This is clearly an establishment that wants you to have a good experience, and they make sure that happens.

This was a wonderful splurge, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Go hungry.

Eventually, You Have to Commit to Cooking the Chicken

It can only sit thawed in the refrigerator for so long. As far as I’m concerned, “so long” is two days.

So the leg quarters must be cooked. We were going to grill them, but Mr. Sandwich cleaned the grill in anticipation of tomorrow night’s cookout. It seemed a shame to grease it up tonight.

As I type, the chicken is in the oven, in about 1/8 inch of old chardonnay and covered in thyme, rosemary, chopped garlic, and a little bit of cayenne pepper.

I also decided to fix the risotto that I got at Fresh & Easy a while back. Mr. Sandwich is not a big fan of risotto, but that’s okay. I’ve got Ranch Style Beans for him. Add some sugar snap peas (45 seconds in the microwave and they’re perfect), and we can call it dinner.


After a not terribly strenuous day of shopping, one of my friends and I wound up at RockSugar, a “Pan Asian Kitchen.”

What is Pan Asian, you ask? A bunch of stuff. The strongest influence on the menu was Thai, but there were other flavors in the mix. The decor (gorgeous colors accented by carving) was a blend of Thai and Indian, with a touch of Chinese thrown in.

We split two appetizers–Chicken Samosas and Bang Bang Chicken–and an order of green beans and asparagus in black bean sauce. I liked everything, although I’m not sure any one dish was particularly distinctive. Still, each dish was tasty, and I’d be open to a return visit. I’d also be open to dessert–there are several intriguing options.

Good Eats

This afternoon, Mr. Sandwich and I headed to Santa Monica for the Los Angeles BBQ Festival. The event was held in a parking lot at the base of the Santa Monica Pier. By the time we got there, three of the eight vendors were out of food–but that didn’t keep us from sampling several of the remaining options.

Two were from Missouri, and at least one of them still had food available. We decided, though, to concentrate on the local vendors so that we could go to the actual restaurants. Also, the line for the out-of-state style was incredibly long.

The weakest of the three was Baby Blues BBQ, with pork ribs. The ribs themselves were okay, but the sauce was so vinegary that it made me feel like I was on the verge of wheezing.

Mr. Cecil’s California Ribs had a fantastic beef rib and a hot link that was spicy, but not too hot. I’d definitely stop by their brick-and-mortar location for a full meal.

Our favorite was the BBQ Smoked Brick Chicken from Gus’s BBQ in South Pasadena. Flavorful, moist, tender–everything that BBQ chicken can be, and too often isn’t. We liked it so much, we went back for seconds.

Apparently when it comes to barbeque, Mr. Sandwich and I are like ravening beasts.

Thank goodness for wet towelettes.