Baked Lobster Tails in butter and garlic sauce

Ok! This is another dish I made first in culinary school. I would of thought that lobster would of been a dish I’d make years before I went to culinary school. Or, at least right after school, it’s been 4 years since graduating. God knows I’ve been eating lobster since my 20’s. However, it came time to conquer making this dish (live lobster and all on my own).

None the less, I did more than the average of just buying it frozen. I bought them alive had to kill it (in the humane way of how I was taught in school). Cleaned, deveined, shelled, and soaked. However, all jokes aside, I really felt bad killing the lobsters. Didn’t want them to suffer any more than they had too. Plus, I remember the chef/instructor making it clear that killing the animals for consumption, it’s important to remember their giving their lives for your nourishment. So let’s make the killing quick and painless. Or saying something to that affect. And, I agree!

* I posted a video of “how to humanely kill a lobster” on my YouTube channel @francieblakes

Baked Lobster tails with shrimp scampi and vegetables.

This recipe minus the lobster “deconstruction” is easy and not time consuming at all. (Of course frozen is available at food bazaar for $7.99 a pound a week and a half ago)! Live lobster will take some time. However, the fresh taste can’t be beat! This lobster tasted so sweet and succulent, taking the time clean and cut up is well worth it to get it live.

Ingredients

4 Lobster tails

Olive oil

Garlic

Parsley

Salt & Pepper

Butter

Tools

Cutting shears

Brush (kitchen)

How to make the sauce

Butterfly or cut back of tails from open end of the tail, stopping at the wing part of the tail. Pull the meat from the tail sides gently. Also, push your finger under the meaty part of the tail to loosen the meat up at the bottom. Pull meat up and cover it over the tail.

For the sauce to brush over the lobster tails, cut up about 4 cloves of garlic into small dices. Also, cut up 1/2 a bushel of the parsley also into small dice. Pour one cup of olive oil into a measuring cup. Add 1/2 tsp of salt and pepper each, and half the garlic and half the parsley. Mix completely.

Brush sauce over lobsters and bake for 20 minutes.

For butter and garlic dipping sauce, microwave for one minute, half a stick of butter and the rest of the diced garlic. Cut up some lemons and your in business.

Sprinkle the rest of the parsley flakes over your completed dish.

Like I said before this recipe can be easy, but if you really want to impress your family and friends with this elegant dish, it’s worth it to do it fresh. You’ll never forget how good it tasted.

Enjoy!!

Delicious Lamb Shanks! Cook with me!

It’s been a while since I made lamb shanks. As a matter of fact, I was in culinary school 2017. It was also the first time I tasted this delectable meat. I made myself a promise, that I would make this delicious dish again, on the outside world. Not for nothing, but in school I considered that a controlled environment/kitchen, with a head chef.

I love this dish so much. And, I will probably never forget that day in school, because I was assigned by the head chef to make the dish. I believe it was about 2 months in school, and I was still having some difficulties with prepping ingredients from recipes on our iPads. Yes! As confident as I may have seemed, I was still nervous as hell. I definitely didn’t want to screw it up.

Culinary school is very competitive, and this experience was no different from any ordinary student wanting to get it right the first time. I know that you’re probably thinking “how hard can following a recipe be.” Well, like I said before, school was very competitive, and no one wants to look like an idiot. And, the head chef always had eyes on you. However, with a little help from Chef, (because I listened! Lol) I got through the process, and the pressure from other students looking on, and at each other. With the end result turning out great, I realized cooking this recipe wasn’t hard at all. I was so concerned with how it would taste, and how I would look if it turned out bad. My mouth watered after tasting them for the first time, and I believe that was the first time my confidence reached the level I’d been hoping for.

Chef Fran

So how did my shanks turn out? Absolutely delicious! I know that I’m always talking about easy preps for cooking. However, I think this dish will be well worth it, if you want to impress family friends, coworkers and partners.

Lamb shanks
My grocery list

I actually had fun with this dish. Prepping the ingredients gave me joy! I like organizing, and this is a step by step dish. I’ve changed some of the original recipe, because of certain flavors I like.

Ingredients

Lamb shanks

Olive oil

Rosemary

Thyme

Salt and pepper

Carrots

Cherry tomatoes

Onions

Garlic

Mushrooms or celery

Red wine for cooking

Chicken stock

How to make

Cut up vegetables

In a pot, add olive oil and brown the shanks. about 4 minutes on each side.

Remove shanks and set aside. Add a little more olive oil, to same pot, then add all the vegetables (but not the garlic), and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes. Salt and pepper.

Add 2 cups of red wine

1/2 a liter of chicken stock

Press down and roughly chop the garlic, then add it to the pot. Salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil, then lower and set fire/burner to medium heat. Add the shanks and burry under the liquid.

Add 1 cup of water, then Boil for 2 hours.

Strain the leftover liquid from the pot for a nice sauce.

Don’t forget to have a glass of wine while cooking. That’s just me. 😇

On a Sashimi kick!

One of the Asian foods I was taught in culinary school was sushi/sashimi. Sashimi is a delicious Japanese delicacy, that I already knew all too well. I love it! These past two weeks I’ve be craving this dish. So I ordered it twice from my local Sushi restaurant, and it hit me! Why am I not making this quick and easy to put together dish myself.” “Hey! I got a culinary degree!” “I know this stuff. Let’s put these bad-boy skills to work.”

With today’s supermarket prices salmon is still expensive, however, I still ended up saving by preparing it on my own.

I got lazy, and decided to buy the wasabi and pickled ginger from Amazon. I actually attempted to make the pickled ginger from scratch! But, because of the convenience of Amazon, I decided to not torture myself. Plus, I know I will make this dish again, having those ingredients in my pantry is a savings.

Ingredients

Raw salmon (frozen for 10 days in freezer)*

White rice

Pickled ginger

Wasabi

Soy sauce

Lemon

*I can not stress enough about putting the salmon in the freezer for 10 days before eating. Raw fish has parasites, and freezing the fish for ten days will kill them. Thaw out in fridge before cleaning, then slicing.

How to Prepare

After the fish has thawed, clean and pick the bones out with kitchen tweezers. Some supermarket salmon bones will have already been removed. Fish market salmon will have to be requested.

Also, cut fish against the grain.

I loved making this dish, especially, because it was easy, simple, and fast! It took longer to plate it, than to prepare it. Im not sure how healthy raw fish can be eating it often. However, I savored eating this dish!

INFLUENCERS!! They Got me!!!

Now that I’m home more, and figuring out my next move in my new chapter in life. I found myself gravitating to watching YouTube a lot more. Now, a few years back, I’ve always watched YouTube to listen to my music. Then, I would watch YouTube for certain cooking videos, which I would compare with the enhancement of my own recipes! Now! I’m obsessed with these influencers! Who knew there was a market for unknowns to openly share every, single “waking” moment thing that they do in a day of there lives!

Okay! So like my apartment is in shambles now with packages all over. I’m literally ordering from Amazon every other day, for that one item now that I gotta have, because I’m a fan of particular influencers. And, now I’ve shocked myself. I’ve always felt myself to be unique, definitely not a follower. I’ve always tutted my own horn. I’m to old for millennial bullshit! Yet, my Amazon prime keeps going “cha ching!”

Maybe, there are a couple good things that I can account for that’s on the positive, instead of thinking Im spending wastefully. Definitely, gotten some DIY projects out the way, that has literally been in the works of getting it done years ago. However, I’ve been feeling a sense of euphoria. “Like, wow it’s complete!” The influencers have actually been an encouragement.

Gotta have my matcha in the morning now. Actually, I’ve been drinking matcha tea for years! It’s the millennials that are catching up! However, I found that I’ve forgotten how much I use love matcha at one time, but these last couple years with the pandemic, and me putting in more hours at work to plan for my early retirement. I’ll admit the influencers have put me in a state of loving me again. Doing things that I had long forgot about. Because life had become hectic, and when life does become a bit busy, we just push on, and neglect ourselves.

So anyhoo, yes! I’ve been spoiling myself. Really? Who needs glass straws, high tech ice trays, overpriced skincare and haircare products, glassware, vases, silk pajamas and plants, and all the little gadgets that assist me with my everyday, deserved needs……Well, me. Oh! And, let’s not forget the matcha! 😎

EarPods Amazon $39.99 white. Compatible with iPhone and galaxy users!
Glass straws from Amazon $7.99 case of 4! And, yes I needed them.

Pan seared Swordfish, with a delicious sweet summer salad

Ahhh Summer. Summer reminds me of new beginnings. Because, it seems like when the warm weather sets in, people want to renew themselves (at least I do). I begin to care now about what I want to put in my body, and what t do with my body. I want to walk a little more, and eat fresh!

Well, I was walking by the farmers market (honestly, can’t get any fresher than that). So, I was eyeballing the fresh fish. Unfortunately, it was almost the end of the day, and the guy was like: “we only have cod fish and swordfish”. I giggled, and told him “I Never made any of those.” However, I’m willing to give the swordfish a try.

After I asked his advice on how to make the swordfish fish because, I’m thinking 17th century England where, am I gonna have to challenge this swordfish to a duel 🤺 to cook it! But, he said swordfish is one of the easiest fish to cook. He advise sautéing it with butter, olive oil, and garlic. So, I’m like “I can do that!” And, his advice to took, glad I did, because it was easy and flavorful. The swordfish fish just absorbed the flavors I seasoned it with.

Ingredients for Swordfish

Swordfish 16 ounce

Lemon

Red pepper flakes

Sazon compete seasoning

Fresh Garlic or garlic powder

2 ounces of Butter

2 ounces of olive oil

Salt and pepper as desired

How to make

Season fish with lemon, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.

Pour olive oil and butter in pan, and let pan get hot. (Not crazy smoking). Cook fish about 4 minutes on each side. Maybe a little longer, or a little less, depending on weight of the swordfish.

Season fish

Ingredients for Summer Salad

1/2 Red onion

1/2 a bunch of Cilantro

1 Cucumber

3 Radishes

Half a can of pineapples

Vinaigrette

1/4 apple cider vinegar

1/4 olive oil

Salt/pepper

How to make

Some of the vegetables will be small to medium diced. Cut onion in half, then peel the skin back, so you’ll have several layer. Slice the onion in thin strips.

Cucumbers cut in half, scoop out seeds, and cut out as much flesh, but leave a little so the cucumber can then be sliced and cut in cubes.

Cilantro should be leafy, just cut the stems.

Radishes should be cut thin.

Mixed vegetables in a bowl.

For vinaigrette, whisk all ingredients in a measuring cup apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Mix with salad

Preparing veggies
Preparing vinaigrette for salad

I needed to add something to this salad to pump up the taste. I wanted something more than just a garden salad. I wanted it to represent summer. So, I added some sweet pineapples. And, yes I used canned pineapples because, I needed the sweet juice that a fresh pineapple wouldn’t give me for this recipe.

I added a little butter to the pan drippings, however, white wine can be used as well. Turn heat on low, and once it’s saucy spoon a little over the fish, for extra flavor.

This is a guilt free delicious dish! I certainly enjoyed it. If you make it, please let me know how it turned out. Just leave a comment.

Till next time!

Follow me on IG franb1965, and check out more recipes and my travels.

Healthy and delicious hamburgers for summer

Now I know most people would love a nice juicy beefy hamburger at a barbecue. Or, at any summer gathering, people would just expect anything grilled with all the “fixins.” Well, I thought of a healthy version of a delicious hamburger, and you won’t be missing any flavor with this version.

Turkey! I know, I know, you’re probably thinking “how can I sink my teeth into a turkey burger.” Well, adding certain flavors to the ground turkey will make such a difference. This burger will make your mouth water.

Ingredients

1 lb Ground turkey

Onions or scallions

Dried thyme

Dried rosemary

2 eggs

Light ranch dressing or light Mayo

Part skim mozzarella cheese

Flat leaf raw spinach

Thomas English muffins

Salt/pepper to taste

Pickles

Canola oil

How to make

Put the ground turkey in a bowl, add your seasonings: chop onions or scallions, (medium cut) thyme, rosemary,’salt and pepper. Add the eggs and combine/mix throughly.

This recipe yields about 4 hamburgers, so evenly separate you ground turkey into thick hamburger patties.

Heat up your grill pan with canola oil.

Brown both sides about two to three minutes, place cheese on top of hamburgers, then put in oven for 6 to 8 minutes to finish cooking through.

Toast the English muffins in a toaster.

Prepare your hamburgers like so: English muffin, turkey burger, raw spinach, pickles, ranch dressing.

You can substitute or add tomatoes or an egg to this recipe, but keep it healthy.

Delicious turkey burgers

Apple Pie on the Fourth of July

Happy 4th of July America. And, what better way to celebrate this momentous time in American history, is with a good old fashion apple pie. Wasn’t it “honest Abe” (Abraham Lincoln) who said He “can never tell a lie,” about chopping down the apple tree. So, historically apple pie is a fitting food for this country’s celebration.

I have to admit, culinary school really gave me a great foundation for creating, and executing recipes that I’ve never tried before. This is my first time making an apple pie. Not to brag, it came out perfect and delicious.

Franny’s homemade apple pie

Although, there’s several components to making an apple pie. I never once found it tedious, because I love to cook. And, I’m particular (people call it OCD) that it looks perfect, and it taste delicious!

Ingredients

Dough:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

4 teaspoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon fine salt

14 tablespoons cold butter, diced

1 large egg, lightly beaten with 2 tablespoons cold water

Filling:

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 pounds baking apples like Golden Delicious, Cortland, or Mutsu

2/3 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling on the pie

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Generous pinch of ground nutmeg

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Directions

  1. Make the dough by hand. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Using your fingers, work the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles yellow corn meal mixed with bean sized bits of butter. (If the flour/butter mixture gets warm, refrigerate it for 10 minutes before proceeding.) Add the egg and stir the dough together with a fork or by hand in the bowl. If the dough is dry, sprinkle up to a tablespoon more of cold water over the mixture.
  2. Make the dough in a food processor. With the machine fitted with the metal blade, pulse the flour, sugar, and salt until combined. Add the butter and pulse until it resembles yellow corn meal mixed with bean size bits of butter, about 10 times. Add the egg and pulse 1 to 2 times; don’t let the dough form into a ball in the machine. (If the dough is very dry add up to a tablespoon more of cold water.) Remove the bowl from the machine, remove the blade, and bring the dough together by hand.
  3. Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 1 hour.
  4. Make the filling. Put the lemon juice in a medium bowl. Peel, halve, and core the apples. Cut each half into 4 wedges. Toss the apple with the lemon juice. Add the sugar and toss to combine evenly.
  5. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the apples, and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture begins to simmer, about 2 minutes. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until the apples soften and release most of their juices, about 7 minutes.
  6. Strain the apples in a colander over a medium bowl to catch all the juice. Shake the colander to get as much liquid as possible. Return the juices to the skillet, and simmer over medium heat until thickened and lightly caramelized, about 10 minutes.
  7. In a medium bowl, toss the apples with the reduced juice and spices. Set aside to cool completely. (This filling can be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated or frozen for up to 6 months.)
  8. Cut the dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll each half of dough into a disc about 11 to 12 inches wide. Layer the dough between pieces of parchment or wax paper on a baking sheet, and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes.
  9. Place a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  10. Line the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan with one of the discs of dough, and trim it so it lays about 1/2 inch beyond the edge of the pan. Put the apple filling in the pan and mound it slightly in the center. Brush the top edges of the dough with the egg. Place the second disc of dough over the top. Fold the top layer of dough under the edge of the bottom layer and press the edges together to form a seal. Flute the edge as desired. Brush the surface of the dough with egg and then sprinkle with sugar. Pierce the top of the dough in several places to allow steam to escape while baking. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
  11. Bake the pie on a baking sheet until the crust is golden, about 50 minutes. Cool on a rack before serving.

LIFE: Live it, Love it, Embrace it!

It’s been awhile since my last blog. Unfortunately, I had a close death in my family. I’m actually still going through the “Emotions” of my niece’s death. She was a beautiful young woman who didn’t realize she had the world at her feet. Although I was 9 years older than her. She was my partner in crime, my ride or die, my protector, my advisor, but most importantly, she was my friend.

Basically, what I’d like to express in this article is, life is meant to be lived. I’ve recently had the honor, blessing, luck what ever you want to call it, of retiring early. At first it was actually a little difficult to fill up my days, and wondering if it was the right decision. Hummmm, we’ll, working 40 years, and doing double tasks during a few of those years, with decisions of going back to school several times. Yes! My body has taken a beating, I’m punching the time clock for the last time.

Having all this time on my hands, actually made me feel uninspired. I mean really, there’s so much Netflix you can watch! That’s just me. I’ve been wanting to plan a trip for myself, and do something adventurous, something I’ve never done before. Then, my niece’s death. I’m so dealing with the pain of my loss of her. But, I know she wouldn’t want me to be down, especially on her account. I’d know she’d feel that way.

As time passes for me, and I’m probably overthinking things, but I think life is just a bunch of decisions we make. We can decide to be uninspired, and waste away. Or, we can choose inspiration, and live to embrace an experience in life that will challenge you. Because, quite frankly it really makes me feel better to know or learn more of the person I am. I’ve always felt that when I would “go for it,” “go for the challenge!” (start my own business, which I’ve done, travel far away countries, which I have done, or go back to school, which I have done). Not being scared to do something that will build confidence. Well, it taught me to make better decisions for myself, because, life is just too short not to push yourself to a next level. I realize that I’m stronger than I think I am.

Although we go though life with struggles, I’m understanding that if I wait for a struggle to pass, time may not be on my side. And, then I would of missed out on a one in a lifetime experience, waiting for struggles to pass, emotions to pass, or even depression to pass.

I promised myself I was going to take better care of me when I retire. So I’ve started to introduce a little exercise in my life. Gonna write that cookbook I was supposed to start 6 months ago. And, I’ve “decided” to also do a healthy cookbook as well. I’d also like to book a trip to Thailand, what an adventure that would be.

Make life now!

My niece Veronica and I. Thanksgiving 2013. In loving memory.