A little spice goes a long way

It’s no secret that I love spicy food. However, I have my limits, and they were met this weekend. On Saturday after a failed attempt at taking my mom out for her birthday dinner, we wound up getting take-out Thai food. When I had mentioned getting dinner on Saturday, February 12th, no one thought to mention to me that it was the Saturday before Valentine’s Day, and every restaurant would likely be crowded. After calling ahead, and still being told we’d wait for at least an additional 30 minutes, my parents decided they would much rather have food before their bedtime, in the comfort of their own home. Not being one to argue, I ordered my usual – Pad Kee Mao, and my fiancé ordered his usual – Pad Thai.

The restaurant we order from, Thailand Restaurant, makes their food hot. They let you know when you order, making sure you know it’s spicy when you ask for it “medium.” My fiancé decided to order it hot. I myself have never ordered hot, only medium. Well, let me tell you, my medium was hot. So before my fiancé even started eating the noodles I could smell the heat, and see the spice all over it. Needless to say he wasn’t able to finish the meal, and spent a portion of the evening downing sugar and drinking milk.

On Sunday, the fiancé decided to make me dinner, and we had a stir-fry. It was really good, except he decided to put two large drops of Blair’s Mega Death hot sauce in it. Big mistake. After mixing in some plain Chobani, it was still just too hot to eat. It was disappointing because it was really good. After fiancé’s bout with his extremely spicy food on Saturday, his concoction on Sunday was no problem for him.

So when I found this Linguine with Zucchini and Chickpeas recipe from Real Simple, a littles spice was more than welcomed. This is a perfect weeknight recipe, since it only takes as long to prepare as it does to cook the pasta. Of course I doubled the red pepper amount, but it was still plenty cool in comparison to my other meals from the week.

There are noodles under there, I swear!

Linguine with Zucchini and Chickpeas via Real Simple
– Serves 4 –

12 ounces linguine (3/4 box)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 small zucchini, cut into thin half-moons
kosher salt
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water, drain, and return the pasta to the pot.
2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the zucchini and ½ teaspoon salt.
3. Cook the zucchini, tossing often, until just tender, 4 to 5 minutes.
4. Add the chickpeas, garlic, and red pepper and cook until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes.
5. Toss the pasta with the reserved pasta water and ¼ cup of the Parmesan.
6. Divide the pasta among bowls and top with the zucchini mixture and the remaining ¼ cup of Parmesan.

Aww fish sticks!

Last night my little sister graduated from high school. We’re six years apart so the thought of her going to college always seemed so far away. Well, she’s leaving in two months, and I can’t believe it!

My sister and I on the first day of school, way back when

After suffering through two extremely hot and sweaty hours in the evening sun on the high school’s back field, we headed to dinner at a restaurant my sister has raved about, Avenue East. It’s only about a year old, and boasts Asian fusion. My sister loves this because it means she can get her favorite Thai soup (Tom Yum) and then have sushi. I myself am wary of places that boast multiple cuisines – often times everything just turns out to be mediocre.

Unfortunately last night’s meal was just that, “meh.” Aside from the subpar service (we waited about 45 minutes in between our appetizers and entrees), the food was just okay. My fiancé and I started off with a spicy tuna roll to share. From there, I went with the Malaysian Mee Goreng, which came with the choice of chicken or shrimp, and ho-fun noodles with vegetable, egg and tofu in a “dark spicy sauce.” It actually tasted a lot like Pad Thai, with the semi-creamy sauce and the noodles seemed to be pretty much the same that would be served with Pad Thai. It had a little pepper next to it indicating it was spicy. Airing on the side of caution since I’d never eaten there, I decided to take it as-is. My fiancé ordered the spicy basil beef over brown rice and asked for it extra spicy. Now, we both like a lot of spice, and realize that. However, our dishes had no spice. And I don’t mean lacking spice for us fire-breathers. I mean even for your average spice lover, this was weak.

Malaysian Mee Goreng

I’m willing to give Avenue East another shot, since my sister is such a fan. The restaurant itself was really nice, and we were seated at a spacious U shaped table that was quite comfortable. I definitely won’t go for a spicy dish, though, so I won’t be disappointed. I’d also go during a less busy time, so I can make sure when I need water, I get it. A definite plus is that it’s BYOB – I’m always down for BYOB or all-you-can-drink specials.

We followed up last night’s evening out with fish sticks and tater tots for dinner tonight. Some times you just need something quick and easy, and that’s what we did. Sure, the fish sticks are clearly marketed for children based on their packaging, and I feel like Napoleon Dynamite every time I eat a tot, but who cares?! They were good, and I got to mix up a whole bunch of different spicy sauces we have for my dipping pleasure.

More importantly, though, is the fact that my little sister graduated high school! Congratulations Kate! I’m so proud and I can’t believe it. You are going to be awesome in college both in the classroom and in the pool. I can’t wait to vist (even if it is a 5 hour drive)!