Category Archives: shrimp

Beachin’ Pizza.

It took me a while to get excited about homemade pizza. Even most frozen varieties seemed to taste better than my experiences with the homemade stuff. See my story about being traumatized by homemade pizza as a 9 year old. 😉 It would scare you off too. I’ve gotten over my fear at least enough to make it myself, but I still don’t make pizza from scratch as often as I would like.

I was humbled to be named the WINNER of the April “You Want Pies with That?” round-up for my springy Pineapple Strawberry Pie (THANKS ALL!) and had the honor of picking May’s theme. I picked…you guessed it…PIZZA PIES!

I picked it because I knew everyone could get really creative with it. If there was ever a blank canvas in the world of food, it would be an empty pizza crust ready to be piled with toppings. There are no limits.

That said, I was all excited to go crazy with pizza. It’s fun to take the flavors of other meals and pile them on top of a homemade crust. Tacos, chicken wings, cheeseburgers and BBQ are all items that translate well into the world of pizza. Those are all well and good but I wanted to create a pizza like nothing I had ever seen before.

Off I went on my merry way. 🙂 To CREATE!

One of my husband’s favorite summer meals is a shrimp and sausage boil. It’s a pretty simple concept with four distinct pieces to the puzzle – shrimp, smoked sausage, red potatoes and corn on the cob. It’s all boiled up in a broth seasoned with Old Bay seasoning and lemon. It’s quick to put together and all the different textures and flavors make for a really satisfying meal.

So…I got thinking. Is it possible to put all the goodness of a shrimp and sausage boil on a pizza? Would that work? Is it crazy? Have I gone off the deep end here?

I’m brave. I like to try new things. I could do this. And if it flopped, well, so be it. I’m no stranger to that either. Bring it!

 Here’s what imagined:

Homemade pizza crust, topped with a garlicky Parmesan/Old Bay “cream” sauce. I say “cream” because I actually made a béchamel with low-fat milk – per usual. On top of that, chunks of shrimp, marinated in beer and sprinkled with a bit more Old Bay, lemon-pepper corn kernels, sliced turkey kielbasa (any smoked sausage would do) and paper thin slices of red potato. To finish it off, just a dusting of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a sprinkling of fresh parsley for a bit of brightness.

Now, did I succeed with this ambitious project?

The correct answer is…YES!

This was an awful lot of work as everything from the crust to the sauce to the toppings was made from scratch but in the end it was worth it. So many different flavors going on here that combined very well on a golden brown crust.

Let’s talk about a couple of the individual elements, shall we? Namely, the crust and potatoes

First the crust. Now, I really like this thin and crispy recipe from Cooking Light. I actually haven’t made any others since I found this one. I decided to go ahead and try the Baking Illustrated recipe this time (as seen at Brown Eyed Baker and  Annie’s Eats ). It’s very good. I liked the flavor and it got nice a crispy on the bottom which I like. However. I did find that it to be almost too much crust. It puffed up so much, it was like eating a chunk of white bread (not to say that’s bad…that’s just not how I like my pizza) It could have been operator error, I admit that. After the initial rise, I didn’t get down to the business of rolling and baking right away because I wasn’t ready. So it sat there on the counter for what was, essentially, a second rise. That could have affected the outcome of my final product for sure. Even so, the ease and the texture of the thin and crispy recipe will still probably keep that one at the top of the list. At least for now.

And the potatoes. This was the part that worried me most. I knew if I left the potatoes in chunks, they would have to be par boiled before going on the pizza. Then I was worried that they would just turn to mush and I didn’t want that. So I decided to go with super thin slices. I don’t have a mandolin, and frankly those things give nightmares about lost fingers and bleeding out alone on the kitchen floor, so I used the thin slicer blade for my food processor to slice up the potatoes. I hadn’t used that particular blade yet, but let me just say I am IN LOVE. In fact, I went a little crazy, feeding potato after potato through the tube and watching them instantly transform into magically thin slices while squealing with delight. Really, you only need 1 to 2 good size reds to have enough for the pizza – it’s only a 12-incher after all. After they’re sliced, I soaked them in water for a good 20-25 minutes or so to remove the starch. Before I was ready to put them on the pizza, I drained off the water and patted them dry with a clean kitchen towel.

I couldn’t decide if I should try to give the potatoes a head start on some color by giving them a quick roast in a hot oven. In the end, I didn’t, but next time I will. Although the potatoes were tender after the pizza was done baking, I think the end result would be more attractive with a bit more golden brown deliciousness over the top since there’s not much cheese. I included that step in my recipe below.

So there you have it! A delicious and creative pizza treat! Enjoy!

SHRIMP AND SAUSAGE BOIL PIZZA (Recipe inspired by this meal)

Please excuse the craptastic photo – it’s the only one I had uploaded to Photobucket before my computer crapped out. It’s all I got, kids. Be gentle, I just lost an old friend. I’m grieving. LOL. 😉

For the Crust:

  • 1 lb pizza dough of your liking (Here’s the recipe I used this time. Here’s the one I like the best. Premade works too, whatever your preference.)

For the Shrimp & Sausage:

  • 1/2 lb. raw jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (or thawed if you’re like me and use frozen), and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • About 6 ounces beer
  • About 4 ounces smoked sausage, very thinly sliced (this is about a quarter of a 1 lb. package, any kind you like will work. My preference is turkey sausage)

In a bowl, combine shrimp, Old Bay and beer and toss to coat. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes.

While the shrimp marinates, heat a skillet over medium heat. Gently brown the sausage slices on both sides. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

In the same skillet, cook the shrimp pieces until just barely done – 1 to 2 minutes TOPS. In fact, if the pieces are a little underdone, that’s okay, they’ll finish cooking in the oven. Transfer to another plate and set aside.

For the Corn:

  • 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1 teaspoon butter (I used Smart Balance here)
  • The juice of half a large lemon (or less if that’s too lemony for your tastes)
  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Combine corn and butter and steam in the microwave until defrosted and just tender – about 2 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and pepper. Set aside.

For the Potatoes:

  •  1 to 2 good sized red potatoes (eyeball it), sliced ultra thin
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & freshly cracked black pepper to taste.

Place potato slices in a large bowl of cool water and soak for 20 to 30 minutes. Drain the potatoes and dry the slices thoroughly with a clean kitchen towel.

Put the slices on a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Brush the tops of each one with a little bit of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in a hot oven (450 degrees) until just barely golden brown – 5 to 10 minutes.

Helpful hint: Roast your potatoes while you preheat your pizza stone!

For the Sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/4 cup finely minced onion
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, finely minced or pressed
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning (or to taste)
  • Salt & freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add onions and garlic and cook until the onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

Add remaining butter to saucepan and allow it to melt. Add flour and stir until combined and golden brown – about 1 minute. Slowly add milk, stirring constantly. Continue to stir until the milk just bubbles and thickens – about 5 minutes.  Add Old Bay and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and add Parmesan cheese, stirring until melted and combined. Set aside.

To assemble and finish:

  • Olive oil for brushing the crust
  • Cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

Prepare pizza stone by preheating in a 450 degree oven for about 30 minutes (or per your stone’s instructions)

Meanwhile, roll out pizza dough into a 12-inch circle on a flour surface (I have a pastry mat I like to use, but parchment paper works fine too.

Brush the crust with olive oil all the way to the edge. Spoon on the sauce and spread out, leaving about an inch of crust uncovered around the edge. Sprinkle the shrimp and corn evenly over the sauce. Next make a layer of potato and sausage slices over the top. Sprinkle with cheese.

Remove pizza stone from oven and sprinkle the surface with cornmeal to keep the dough from sticking, carefully transfer the pie from the floured surface to the stone. Bake at 450 for 10 to 15 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted and bubbly. Sprinkle with fresh parsley just before serving.

WHEW! Now pop the top on a bottle of beer and ENJOY! You deserve it after all that hard work! 🙂

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Here Comes the Sun

Can you feel it? That prickly warm feeling, the stinging in your eyes? That’s the Sun. He’s back. Finally. After a long, cold, lonely winter (do do do do do…)

Oh, Sun how we’ve missed you! So very glad to have you back.

Now….Please don’t go. Oh, please, please don’t go.

You want to see me beg, Sun? Is that what you want? Because I am not above graveling.

We have had a string of warm days here in fabulous northeast Iowa and it has totally wet my whistle for all things summer.

Ooo! Hello, once-purple flip flops! Welcome to your tenth summer of wear!

Hello, t-shirts and tank tops I forgot I had! It’s like a whole new wardrobe!

I’m pretty good at tuning out the weatherman’s warnings too. “Unseasonably warm,” he says. Followed by, “cold front coming through,” “highs in the low 50s” and “rain.”

LA LA LA, I CAN’T HEAR YOU! Sorry, the sound of my flip flops slapping against my feet is drowning out all predictions of drearier weather ahead. 😉

Can I just tell you my favorite thing about these warm days? After sitting at work under a vent that blasts ice cold AC down the back of my neck for 8 hours (yes, it’s started already) there is absolutely NO better feeling than walking outside and getting into a hot car. NOTHING. So cozy and warm. So nice to have the feeling return to my fingers and toes. Thank you, Sun, for turning my dark car with dark interior into a toasty, little oven of heaven. 🙂

Anyway, with the warm weather, I’m starting to think about grilling. I haven’t yet started to think about dragging the grill out of the garage, giving it it’s yearly bath, refilling the propane tank, etc. etc. etc., but I’m thinking of grilled flavors. Luckily, I can get a taste of it without all the work by using my handy-dandy GRILL PAN!

These Orange-Ginger Shrimp Skewers are a great, bright way to usher in the warmer temps. The sweet and spicy kick from the marinade was so refreshing after a winter of heavy, rich foods. We really enjoyed the citrus flavors here and subbing in pineapple for the orange segments added a tropical feel to the dish. I ended up using ginger powder instead of fresh ginger because the piece of ginger I *thought* I had in the freezer was nowhere to be found! Must have gotten thrown out in clean out in the last few months. When I make this again, I’ll for sure use fresh. The flavor of fresh ginger is important to a dish like this.

Now, I do think the skewers would benefit from the a slower cook over indirect heat on the grill as the sugars in the dish burned a bit in the screaming hot grill pan. Or, it could just be my inability to control the heat on my finicky electric range. It runs at two temps…off and melt-your-face hot. I’ll be trying this recipe again on my outdoor grill once the season really gets rollin’ here!

ORANGE-GINGER SHRIMP SKEWERS (Recipe adapted from: Cooking Light via MyRecipes.com)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2  cup  fresh orange juice (about 2 oranges)
  • 2  tablespoons  minced green onions
  • 1  tablespoon  minced peeled fresh ginger (I used 1 teaspoon ginger powder)
  • 1  tablespoon  minced fresh cilantro (I omitted because I don’t care for it.)
  • 2  tablespoons  rice vinegar
  • 2  tablespoons  low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1  tablespoon  vegetable oil
  • 2  teaspoons  grated orange rind
  • 1  minced hot red chile (I subbed a jalapeno that I seeded and chopped. Hubs is not real big on spicy so I thought a jalapeno would be add a nice, tame heat in the background.)
  • 1  pound  large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3/4 cup fresh pineapple chunks
  • Cooking spray

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Combine first 9 ingredients in a bowl. In a separate bowl, add shrimp and pour in half the marinade; tossing to coat. Cover and marinate in refrigerator 15 minutes. Reserve remaining marinade
  2. Remove shrimp from dish, discard shrimp marinade. Thread shrimp and pineapple chunks alternately onto each of 8 (8-inch) skewers.
  3. Heat large grill pan coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Cook skewers 4 minutes on each side or until done, basting with reserved marinade.

ENJOY!

One Year Ago:
Peanut Butter Banana Bread
– Includes chocolate! Hooray!
Italian Turkey Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Shells with Quick Kicked Up Tomato Sauce – That’s a mouthful! A mouthful of deliciousness!

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Super Speedy Shrimp

When I want a meal on the table in minutes, I reach for shrimp.

They are just about the quickest food on the whole damn planet, don’t ya think? I mean, you can’t even microwave Ramen in the time it takes to make a handful of shrimp. The directions are simple – cook for approximately 2 minutes. Great! And while they’re cooking, I’ll just…well…stand next to them and wait for them to be done because there’s not really time for anything else!

On a side note, I’ve always wondered about the guy who first pulled these slimy sea-bugs out of the ocean, took one look at them and declared – “I’M GOING TO EAT THIS THING!” That was one brave foodie pioneer, my friends. I am eternally grateful that someone else got to be the guinea pig in that whole experiment, because shrimp are pretty freaky-deaky looking, don’t ya think? 🙂

Anyway, after many, many times smiling, nodding and choking it down, Eric finally admitted to me that he doesn’t care for shrimp and pasta together. At first I thought he jumped aboard the crazy train. Pasta – good. Shrimp – great. Pasta AND shrimp – Extra great! But since then, I’ve heard similar complaints from others – they like shrimp, but with pasta is their least favorite way to have it.  I think it might be a texture thing – too much chewy/stringiness going on there. Although a properly cooked shrimp is neither chewy nor stringy (in my opinion, at least)…soooo yeah.

So, since shrimp and pasta are out, I’m always on the lookout for something other than your typical shrimp scampi to make them at home. I love them grilled – but that’s not a year-round thing here in these parts. So, sautéed/stir fried and over rice is the next best thing.

This sweet, spicy Andouille and Shrimp in Creole Mustard Sauce recipe is a refreshing change of pace. I love andouille. LOVE. Coarse ground, spicy, a nice snappy casing – it is the definition of sausage perfection. And since I hadn’t given in to my ever-nagging, constant craving for all things sausage in a while, I figured what the heck – let’s go crazy and go for andouille.

This is a really simple weeknight meal that tastes really impressive. I just loved all the flavors and textures going on throughout. Sweet and crunchy peppers and onions, snappy sausage, big juicy shrimp. Mmmm. And the sauce is so.freakin.good – silky smooth and flavorful with just the right amount of spice. The best part is it can be on the table in 30! That’s my kind of dinner!

A couple notes about the ingredients before I get to the recipe:

Check the heat level on your Cajun/Creole spice blend. I bought mine (a Cajun blend) from a little spice shop and wowee, does it have a kick! Smokin’! By comparison, blends I’ve bought at the regular grocery store are quite mild. If you’ve got a hot and spicy seasoning blend, you may want to cut the amount in half as the other ingredients will provide a spicy flavor as well. Don’t want it to be TOO spicy!

I couldn’t find a Creole mustard to use in the sauce so I subbed in a sweet/hot mustard – it’s like a kicked up Dijon with a subtle honey sweetness behind it. You could probably sub all Dijon or a mixture of Dijon and honey if you have trouble finding this ingredient. Regular yellow mustard or honey mustard would probably work great as well, if the Dijon is too strong for your tastes. Substitutions are allowed and encouraged here. 🙂  The full recipe calls for 5 tablespoons, but since I’ve never had Creole mustard and can’t attest to its heat level, I opted to use about half that amount of the sweet/hot mustard. Again, I didn’t want to overpower the dish with a flavor that’s too strong. I’d start with less than five (two to two and half), taste the sauce and decide if it needs more. I thought it was perfect after the addition of 2.5 tablespoons of mustard.

If you want to lighten it up a bit, you can easily cut back on the sausage. A pound is a lot – cut that amount it in half and chop the fat/calories without sacrificing the flavor. This is what I did and it worked out great!

Such a fun, spicy meal worthy of any Monday (or Tuesday, or Wednesday…)

ANDOUILLE SAUSAGE AND SHRIMP WITH CREOLE MUSTARD SAUCE (Recipe Source: Bon Appetit, February 2007 – via epicurious.com)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound uncooked peeled deveined large shrimp
  • 1 tablespoon Creole or Cajun seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 pound andouille sausage, cut crosswise on diagonal into 3/4-inch-thick pieces
  • 1 large onion, halved, thinly sliced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/3-inch-wide strips
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 5 tablespoons Creole mustard (such as Zatarain’s)
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • Cooked rice, for serving. (I used brown rice, per usual!)

DIRECTIONS:

Toss shrimp with Creole seasoning in medium bowl to coat. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Add sausage pieces, cut side down. Cook until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer sausage to bowl. Add shrimp to skillet; cook until browned and just opaque in center, about 3 minutes. Transfer to bowl with sausage. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, onion, bell pepper, and thyme to skillet. Sauté until vegetables are beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add broth, mustard, and vinegar. Stir until sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Return sausage and shrimp to skillet. Simmer until heated through, stirring occasionally, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Server over rice. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

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F for Effort

I took one photo of this recipe. One. This pretty much unheard of. Even on my laziest of lazy nights, even when I’m so hungry I’m about ready to chew off my own arm, I usually take at least a half or dozen or so.

But this. This I could not wait to eat. This smelled so freakin’ amazing coming out of the oven, I contemplated taking the entire dish into a dark closet and having my way with it. Instead, I managed to control myself just long enough to plunk my Pyrex down on the counter, grab the camera, and take one crappy shot before digging in. In the battle of my stomach vs. my blog, my stomach ALWAYS wins. A true F for Effort.

Ah! I may get an F, but this recipe is gets an A+ for AMAZING. Not only does it taste great, it’s really easy to make. That’s an A+ in my grade book for sure!

I’ve had my eye on Ina’s Baked Shrimp Scampi ever since I got my hands on her Back to Basics cookbook. I kept making a mental note to add it my menu, but the mental note kept getting lost in the shuffle. Now I’m wondering what in the world took me so long! Buttery, crunchy and knock your socks off delicious. The fresh herbs are a must – I wouldn’t sub dry here. The garlic and shallots add amazing flavor – and with the brightness from the herbs you really just can’t beat it. It’s a little decadent (note the copious amounts of butter) but you can certainly make some adjustments. I halved the recipe for the two of us (the entire recipe appears below) and used about four tablespoons of butter instead of six. Worked out great. This would be great with pretty much any starch – rice, pasta or even mashed potatoes. I had some couscous on hand so I made that. Added a salad and called it a meal. It’s a must try!

And with out further ado, on to the recipe and my one lonely photograph. It just doesn’t do it justice!

BAKED SHRIMP SCAMPI (Recipe Source: Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 pounds (12 to 15 per pound) shrimp in the shell (I used frozen raw shrimp, already peeled and deveined. I always do. You probably would to if you lived in a state as landlocked as Iowa. I just a teeny bit wary of buying fresh seafood around here. So I don’t.)
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 extra-large egg yolk
  • 2/3 cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Peel, devein, and butterfly the shrimp, leaving the tails on. Place the shrimp in a mixing bowl and toss gently with the olive oil, wine, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Allow to sit at room temperature while you make the butter and garlic mixture.
  3. In a small bowl, mash the softened butter with the garlic, shallots, parsley, rosemary, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, lemon juice, egg yolk, panko, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper until combined.
  4. Starting from the outer edge of a 14-inch oval gratin dish, arrange the shrimp in a single layer cut side down with the tails curling up and towards the center of the dish. (Since I halved the recipe, I used a 11×7 glass baking pan) Pour the remaining marinade over the shrimp. Spread the butter mixture evenly over the shrimp. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until hot and bubbly. If you like the top browned, place under a broiler for 1 minute. Serve with lemon wedges.

ENJOY! 🙂

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Grocery Anxiety

I don’t know about you guys, but when I go out of town for the weekend, I always come back stressed and annoyed. Maybe it’s because being away is like being on vacation. No obligations, no chores, there’s usually something fun planned with family or friends, someone’s mom is doing the cooking (LOL) But the time flies by so quickly and as soon as we get there, we have to turn around and come right back. Suddenly all those obligations and chores you left behind on Friday are looming ahead. The house is dirty, the fridge is empty and the laundry basket is full. And going back to work is a mere 12 hours away.

Scowl, grumble, curse, whine.

We’ve traveled A TON this summer and while it’s always fun while we are away, I’ve grown to loathe coming back. This weekend was no exception. We came back on Sunday, I decided to tackle laundry instead of running right out to the grocery store for the week. I put off the store until Monday. Well, time got away from me and I never had a chance to plan my menu and make my list for the week.

That’s right, Iwent in blind. No list, no plan, no clue.

Yeah…never again. That was the most stressful trip to the store EVER. Plus, it was crazy crowded for a Monday afternoon. And I thought I was beating the after work crowd too, seeing as my work day was shortened thanks to a dentist appointment (Look Ma, No cavities! YAY!) No such luck.

So there I am, wandering aimlessly around the store, picking up things and putting them down, anxiety and panic slowly settling in. When it was all said and done, I had no idea if I had anything that would even come close to producing meals for the week. Some random meat, some random veggies and fruit. I had no idea what I had.

When I got home, I surveyed the damage and tried to plan my meals around what I bought. Totally backwards, and not recommended. Among my random purchases I had frozen raw shrimp, turkey kielbasa, fresh sweet corn (Local even! That got me all excited since I missed the Farmer’s Market this weekend! Love living in the Midwest!), and small red potatoes. Well, well, well, somehow I managed to pick up all the ingredients for a Shrimp Boil. Whatta ya know?! The only thing I didn’t have was Old Bay, so I ran out at lunch today to grab some. Then I boiled up a delightful pot goodies for dinner that totally hit the spot! Something different and simple. Not bad for no plan for the week!

I adapted a recipe from allrecipes.com and scaled it back to serve two. I guess, if you want to technical, it serves three because I had one lunch size portion left over (sans corn). I added a beer because some of the other recipes I looked at included it and I thought it sounded like a nice addition. Let’s be honest, beer just makes everything better. This was really easy and had great flavor. I loved all the different textures. I will be making this again for sure! 🙂

SHRIMP AND SAUSAGE BOIL FOR TWO (OR THREE) – Recipe Adapted from: Allrecipes.com

INGREDIENTS:

  • 12 ounces beer
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup Old Bay ™ Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 pound small red potatoes (cut into chunks for faster cooking)
  • 1/2 pound kielbasa sausages, cut into about 2-inch chunks (I used turkey kielbasa)
  • 2 ears corn, husked and halved
  • 1/2  pound unpeeled large shrimp (I’m sure unpeeled shrimp would add great flavor, but raw peeled shrimp works fine too, just thaw in cool water before adding to pot.)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Fill a large stockpot with 2 to 3 quarts of water. It should come up the sides of pot so that it will cover all the ingredients. Add beer, onion, garlic, salt and Old Bay. Squeeze the juice from the lemons into the water and add the lemon halves. Bring to a boil.
  2. Place potatoes and sausage in the pot, and return to a boil. Simmer, partially covered, until potatoes are just tender, about 10 minutes. Add the corn; cook until tender, about 10 minutes longer. Add shrimp and simmer 3 to 4 minutes more, until shrimp are pink and cooked through. Drain off liquid before serving.

ENJOY! 🙂

One year ago: Chocolate Crispy Cookies – YUM! These are SO good. Chopped up Crunch Bars and Rice Krispies are what make them crispy. A must try!

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“See Food” Diet

Eric and I spent the long weekend perfecting the art of the “See Food” Diet. When we saw food, we ate it. This proved to be most uncomfortable and unfortunate for us come Monday when we found ourselves so bloated and plugged (sorry TMI) that we were seriously questioning the  appeal of this gut busting diet trend. In fact, we found the See Food diet to be a complete and total failure and plan to avoid it from here on out. I suggest you do the same. Seriously, no good can come from it. Seriously.

See, we went out of town to the Quad Cities for a mini-getaway to celebrate our anniversary. (Three whole years! Hooray!) Usually when we go out of town I spend hours pouring over menus and reviews trying to pick the best of the best of places to eat. I go all out. This, however, takes a lot of work and a lot of planning. If you know you are having a nice dinner somewhere, you have to plan your whole day around that.  From meals, to showers, to clothes, to activities…it all revolves around that reservation. To be honest, I just didn’t feel like dealing with it. I decided we would eat when we were hungry and eat whatever sounded good. It was a vacation after all! No calorie counting allowed. (Although after this, calorie counting doesn’t sound so bad…in fact, it sounds great!)

Some of the things that we saw that looked like good eating included such gems as:

Donuts
Homemade Potato Chips
Onion Rings
Buffalo Wings
French Fries
Ice Cream
Hot Dogs
Pretzels and cheese
And, of course, cold, frosty beer.

Impressed? No? Disgusted? Yeah, me too. I need a pukey face emoticon right now. I feel obligated to mention that this is not our usual diet. Don’t you judge us! LOL. This was an isolated weekend occurrence. Hey, it happens, right? And everyone deserves it, right? I think so!

To top off our “See Food” weekend, I needed something light! I was dying for something light. I couldn’t even stand the sight of junk food. Some actual seafood sounded good – grilled shrimp sounded especially tasty. I found a grilled shrimp taco recipe that sounded quite de-“light”-ful (har-dee-har-har) so that’s what I decided to put on the ole’ barbi come Memorial Day.

Welp. It rained. Isn’t that always the way? I spent part of the day giving the grill a good scrub down and cleaning and getting it all ready for the season. Sure enough, about 4:30…the clouds roll in and the drops start falling. Boo!

On to Plan B. Plan B was keep the same recipe and cook shrimp inside on a grill pan. It actually turned out really great! YUM. Light, refreshing, cool and spicy. A great way to kick off the summer grilling season. Even if you have start off the season indoors.

Now, the original recipe calls for topping the tacos with a sour cream/mayo sauce.Yeah, that’s a no go in this house. Sour cream and mayo are by far the worst offenders in the nasty white and creamy realm I have so much trouble with. I subbed low-fat plain yogurt. For some reason, I’m okay with yogurt. Don’t ask me, I can’t explain why yogurt is okay and sour cream is not. I don’t sit around trying to figure it out either. I punched up the sauce with chopped scallion and a pinch of chipotle chili powder in addition to the cumin the recipe called for. So freakin’ good.

I made some other changes to the recipe based on what I had in the house – switched out shredded cabbage for fresh, crunchy romaine hearts. Subbed flour tortillas for corn and used an classic extra hot red salsa instead of the tomatillo salsa. All in all, an easy, fresh summer seafood meal. Can’t wait to make this again on my actual grill!

GRILLED SHRIMP TACOS WITH COOL SCALLION YOGURT SAUCE (Recipe adapted from: MyRecipes.com)

NOTE: The recipe below is for the outdoor grill. To do it indoors, preheat a grill pan over high heat. No need to skewer shrimp, just place directly in pan and grill until cooked through and opaque.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2  cup  low fat plain yogurt
  • 1  tablespoon  milk
  • 1 scallion, finely copped
  • 1/2  teaspoon  ground cumin
  • Pinch of chipotle chili powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 18 jumbo shrimp, peeled
  • 2  tablespoons  butter, melted
  • 2  large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 limes, cut into quarters
  • 1/2  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 8  6-inch corn tortillas
  • 2  to 3 cups finely shredded romaine hearts
  • Bottled salsa

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Whisk together the yogurt, milk, scallion, chili powder and a bit of salt to taste. Set aside.
  2. Skewer the shrimp. (If using wood skewers, soak them in water for 10 minutes beforehand.) In a small bowl, combine the butter and garlic. Preheat a gas grill to high; adjust to medium after 15 minutes. (If cooking over charcoal, allow the coals to burn until they are covered with gray ash.) Brush the skewered shrimp with the garlic butter. Place them on the grill with the limes. Cook about 4 minutes on each side or until the shrimp are opaque and the limes are browned. Remove from grill. Lightly salt the shrimp.
  3. Grill the tortillas for 30 seconds on each side, then place inside a paper bag to keep warm. To serve, pull the shrimp off the skewers and divide them evenly among the tortillas. Top with the lettuce, yogurt sauce, salsa, and a spritz of grilled lime.

ENJOY! 🙂

Here’s a couple pics from our “See Food” weekend, just for fun:

A Boy and His Toy. (Eric in a huge JD harvester at the John Deere Commons. I also got a 10 minute lesson on the engine of this machine. I shall spare you. Anyone who knows any engineers knows what I’m talking about! ;))

My, what a big wheel you have!

Whitey’s Ice Cream – a Q-C institution. I think Alton Brown stopped at Whitey’s when he did his Feasting on Asphalt on the Mississippi. Holy Yumminess! I wanted to get pics of us with our treats but it was raining and we had to wolf them down in the car before they melted. Trust me, delish!

America’s Pastime. Us at the QC River Bandits game. (Wow, I look all kinds of dumb in this pic. That’s what I get for doing the hold your arm out and take a pic of yourself thing. Ha.)

Is there anything better than minor league ball? I think not! Check out that view of the Mighty Mississip!

Every man’s dream come true – a 12-inch weiner. Wait…what? LOL!

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A Taste of the South…Up North

I adore Cajun food. The colors, the flavors, the spice. Yum! Of course, being a Midwestern girl through and through, I can’t actually claim to know much (or anything, for that matter) about authentic Cajun cuisine. The closest I’ve ever been to Cajun food is in restaurants around here (like Bourbon Street) and I’m sure real southerns would scoff at such a thing but…you make do with what ya got! In fact, I’ve never never been anywhere even CLOSE to Louisiana. That it is a world away for me! I always tell Eric I want to go to New Orleans just so I can eat. He doesn’t really think that’s a reason to visit a place (can you imagine?!) so I’ll just have to make do in my own kitchen for now. Maybe some day I’ll get the real thing!

The July issue of Cooking Light has just been a bounty of delicious ideas. It’s the gift that keeps on giving! This recipe caught my eye immediately! It turned out great! A light flavor, but very hearty. Loved the little bit of a kick (It could use more, if you ask me. I’ll probably break out my bottle of Tobasco next time.)

Fair warning, this is a rather labor intensive dish, what with all the veggie chopping and roux making and such. It’d be good for a Sunday dinner. Of course, everyday is Sunday for Ladies of Leisure such as myself. Heh…not sure that’s a good thing! Oh well!

SHRIMP ETOUFFEE (Recipe Source: Cooking Light – July 2008)

**Note** Due to my unfamiliarity with dishes like this, I didn’t really make any changes to the following recipe. I followed it exactly, except that I made far less rice and I only used about a half pound of shrimp. I ended up making sure I fished out all the shrimp so we could eat them, then I saved the sauce and veggie mixture to freeze and add more shrimp at a later date.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/3 cup butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (about 2 1/4 ounces)
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 2/3 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon salt-free Cajun seasoning (I couldn’t find salt-free, I used regular and omitted salt)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (I omitted)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 30 shrimp)
  • 4 cups hot cooked long-grain rice

DIRECTIONS:

1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat; bring to a simmer. Cover and remove from heat.2. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Add flour to pan; cook 8 minutes or until very brown, stirring constantly with a whisk. Remove from heat. Add 1 cup broth mixture to pan; stir with a whisk until smooth. Add remaining 3 cups broth mixture, stirring with a whisk until smooth; set aside.

3. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon butter in a large Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 cups onion, celery, and bell peppers to pan; cook 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender and onion is golden brown, stirring occasionally. Stir in 3/4 cup water, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add tomato paste, Cajun seasoning, garlic, salt, black pepper, and red pepper to onion mixture; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add reserved broth-flour mixture and Worcestershire sauce to pan, stirring well to combine; bring to a simmer. Cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add green onions, 1/4 cup parsley, and shrimp; cook 3 minutes or until shrimp are done. Discard bay leaf. Serve over rice. Sprinkle each serving with 2 teaspoons remaining parsley, if desired.

ENJOY! 🙂

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