Cajun Roasted Shrimp

Oh snap! This is the second shrimp recipe that I’ve posted in two weeks. This past weekend I didn’t go grocery shopping like I normally do. I was parked on the couch Friday and early Saturday and was in, what Robert and I like to call, full sloth mode. I wandered out to the garage  freezer in an attempt to find ingredients for making dinner on Sunday and found a pot of gold… a bag of frozen gulf shrimp my parents brought us back from Alabama.

I decided to spice things up-literally- by using a simple cajun rub over the shrimp. After that, I simply roasted them in the oven Ina Garten-style; and, VOILA! a mound of sizzling shrimp lay before us on the kitchen table.

Robert adored this variation of shrimp. The mix of chili powder and cayenne pepper gave the seafood a nice kick that did a great job of clearing up one’s sinuses. Best of all, this method of preparing shrimp is gloriously simple.

Happy leap day, everyone!

Cajun Roasted Shrimp

Printable Version

Yield: 2-4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2lbs jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails left on
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Olive or vegetable oil
  • Fresh lemon wedges

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with spray oil. Set aside.

2. Place the peeled and deveined shrimp in a medium-sized bowl. Toss with a small amount of oil.

3. Combine the seasonings and garlic in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the shrimp and toss with your hands to coat evenly.

4. Transfer the shrimp to the cookie sheet. Bake 6-8 minutes, or until the shrimp are pink and just cooked through.

5. Remove from oven and squeeze fresh lemon juice over the shrimp. Serve with cocktail sauce, if desired.

Source: Adapted from Ina Garten

Sausage, Mushroom, and Shallot Strata

I love brunch. Especially weekend brunch. I made this strata two weekends ago when Robert’s family was in town. The wonderful thing about this type of breakfast casserole is that you can tailor it to whatever tastes you prefer as long as you have stale bread and eggs. I would have added in some peppers as well, but a certain brother-in-law of mine is a little bit of a picky eater (I’m talking about you, Kenny) and so I stuck with mushrooms and shallots to be safe. ;)

Even better, this casserole is best made ahead of time, which is the ideal recipe for when we’re having house guests. All we had to do -actually, all Robert had to do while I was sleeping-was preheat the oven and pop it in for 45 minutes in the morning.

It’s only Monday, but I am already daydreaming of the next occasion we can make brunch.

Have a great week, everyone!

Sausage, Mushroom, & Shallot Strata

Printable Version

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound bulk sweet or spicy Italian sausage
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 day-old french bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 7 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (3 ounces)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat a large skillet over medium-high. Add sausage and cook, breaking up meat, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer sausage to a small bowl, leaving behind as much fat as possible. Add shallots and mushrooms to skillet and cook over medium until shallots are translucent, 3 minutes. Add garlic, and cook an additional minute. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Layer the bread in the bottom of a greased, 9×13 inch baking dish. Top with sausage and sauteed mushroom/shallot mixture. In a large bowl, whisk together milk and eggs, season with salt and pepper, and pour evenly over top. Firmly press on strata to submerge bread in egg mixture. Cover dish tightly with foil and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Bake strata 45 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with cheese, and bake until cheese melts and egg mixture is mostly absorbed and set in center, 6 to 10 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Source: Adapted from Martha Stewart

Food Memory Friday: Graham Cracker Pudding

This food memory Friday is dedicated to Robert. Graham cracker pudding was one of his favorite desserts growing up. A staple in the Amish community, the pudding tastes like a caramel custard and is combined with a graham cracker crumb mixture and whipped cream. It’s comfort food at its finest.

This was my first time making homemade pudding; and while I’m typically not a lover of pudding, I appreciated the difference between the pre-packaged stuff and homemade. There really is no comparison.

If you are looking for a dessert to help lift your spirits and satisfy your soul, look no further.

And a little throwback photo of Bert and his momma…

Graham Cracker Pudding

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

For the pudding

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water, at room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup milk

For the crumbs

  • 12 graham crackers, crushed
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup white sugar

For the whipped cream

  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions

First, make the pudding…

1. In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add in the brown sugar and whisk until smooth. Bring to a boil. Carefully add in the water (mixture will bubble)!

2. In a separate bowl, mix together the yolks, sugar, cornstarch, milk, and flour. Stir into hot mixture. Reduce heat to low and cook until thickened, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and cool.

Then the crumb mixture…

3. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, butter, and sugar and mix until evenly coated.

After that make the whipped cream…

4. Place the heavy whipping cream in a medium-sized bowl. Beat on high until stiff peaks form. Fold in the vanilla, powdered sugar, and cinnamon.

Finally, assemble the pudding..

5. Layer the crumbs and pudding in a glass bowl. Topped with whipped cream and any remaining crumbs. Enjoy!

Source: Adapted from Olde Tyme Cooking

A Tribute to Chocolate

In retrospect, I should have posted this yesterday… on Fat Tuesday. Oh well.

Today kicks off the lenten season for several Christians across the world. Some people, especially Catholics, abstain from certain items of luxury during this time in order to reflect and refocus. My mom grew up Catholic and jokes that she would eagerly give up bologna during lent. What a struggle. ;)  In all honesty, though,  I’m really horrible at this whole sacrificing thing, too.

This year, Robert and I decided to stop eating chocolate. I was particularly delusional one evening and suggested we give up sweets all together, but after about ten seconds of deliberation, we quickly decided it would be better to start small. ;) As a result, I thought it would be appropriate to list  some of my favorite chocolate recipes that I have posted.

Finally, I want to point out that in no way do we believe we are saving the world by abstaining from eating chocolate. It’s just a small challenge we are setting forth for ourselves. As with all things, I think the golden rule along with everyone minding their own business can solve a lot of the world’s problems.  :)

Happy Wednesday, everyone. See you soon, my dearest of all food loves.

Chocolate Ganache Brownies

Nana’s Chocolate Chip Frosting

Ho Ho Cake

Chocolate Mint Sandwich Cookies

Dark Chocolate Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting

Double Chocolate Cookies

Buckeye Cupcakes

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

Buffalo Chicken Dip

I’ve been a bit under the weather the past few days, so I haven’t done too much cooking or baking. Or much of anything, for that matter- except for maybe envying our dog, Athena’s, life as an indoor dog. ;) It’s annoying how a simple head cold can really throw off a person’s routine. Okay, complaining over.

This recipe for buffalo chicken dip is something I have made a few times and it is quickly becoming one of our favorite potluck pleasers. With big chunks of chicken and all the delicious flavors of wing sauce, this dip goes great with celery, chips, or nothing at all.

If you or someone you love is a wings fanatic, this appetizer is for you!

Happy Fat Tuesday!

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Printable Version

Yield: 1 9×13 inch pan

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs chicken breasts
  • 1 12-oz bottle Frank’s Hot Wing Sauce
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup ranch dressing (store bought or homemade)
  • 4 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375. Poach the chicken breasts in boiling water until cooked through. Drain, let cool and then pull meat apart with a fork.

2. In a 9×13 inch casserole dish, spread out the chicken and pour the wing sauce over. Mix well and spread out, covering the entire bottom of the dish.

3. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the cream cheese and ranch dressing.  Whisk while heating until smooth.

4. Pour the cream cheese mixture over the chicken and spread out. Bake for fifteen minutes.

5. After fifteen minutes, sprinkle the cheddar cheese on top and continue baking for another ten to fifteen minutes, or until the cheese has melted and is bubbling. Remove from oven and let sit for ten minutes. Stir and serve immediately.

Source: Eat, Live, Run

Scalloped Potatoes Au Gratin

I love cheese. Especially the extra sharp and sometimes stinky cheese. There’s so much flavor in just a tiny bite that you don’t need much. While I love most low fat and nonfat dairy products, reduced calorie cheese is something I just can’t do. And I’m okay with that.

This scalloped potatoes recipe comes from Ellie Krieger, one of my favorite celebrity chefs. It’s made with Gruyere cheese and I added in a little freshly shredded Parmesan as well. Any extra added bonus, this dish is not quite as heavy as typical scalloped potatoes as low fat milk is used instead of heavy cream.  It’s a win-win and a great side dish for any meal.

Have a great weekend, everyone. Go out and savor some stinky cheese! ;)

Scalloped Potatoes Au Gratin

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • Olive oil spray
  • 3 pounds yellow potatoes, like Yukon gold, unpeeled, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
  • 3 cups cold low-fat milk
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large or 2 small sprigs thyme, or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 3/4 cups (6 ounces) grated Gruyere cheese
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 2 quart, shallow baking dish with olive oil spray.

2. Put the potatoes into a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are just tender, about 8 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool slightly.

3. Put the milk and flour into a large pan and whisk until the flour is dissolved. Add the garlic and thyme and heat over a medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil and is thickened, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat, discard the thyme sprig, and stir in the salt and pepper. Add 1 cup of the cheese and stir until melted.

4. Arrange half of the potatoes in the dish. Pour over half of the cheese sauce. Add the remaining potatoes and top with rest of the sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere and the Parmesan cheese and bake for 25 minutes, until bubbling. Put under the broiler and broil on high until the top is browned, about 2 minutes. Serve hot.

Source: Ellie Krieger

Sauteed Garlic and Lemon Shrimp

Sometimes I find myself daydreaming about fresh seafood. Not the stuff that you get at chain restaurants or the stuff you buy prepackaged at the grocery store. No siree, I am talking about the delicious, succulent seafood that is straight from the ocean with not much else added to it. My parents recently visited one of the their favorite vacation spots- Dauphin Island, Alabama. It’s right along the Gulf Coast and the fresh jumbo shrimp will bring tears of joy to your eyes.

Luckily, my parents brought along an ice chest that they could fill to the brim and bring back lots of shrimp with them to Ohio. We gladly accepted and decided the perfect time to make it was for Valentine’s Day.

I used my mom’s method of preparing shrimp, that involves oil, butter, garlic, lemon, salt and parsley. It is incredibly simple and really lets the shrimp shine. I’m daydreaming again. I think I have a problem. ;)

Sauteed Garlic Shrimp

Yield: About 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2lbs fresh jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 4-5 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Heat oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the shrimp and cook for about 1 1/2 minutes on each side, just until the shrimp turn pink. Remove the shrimp from the pan and place in a bowl.

Add a little more oil to the pan and add in the garlic along with the juice of the lemon. Saute until the garlic turns light brown, about 1 minute. Pour the contents of the pan over the shrimp. Sprinkle the parsley over the shrimp. Add salt, pepper, and lemon as desired. Eat immediately.

Chocolate Ganache Brownies

This past weekend Robert and I made a Valentine’s Day dinner together. On the menu was artisan bread, garlic-roasted gulf shrimp, roasted asparagus, scalloped potatoes au gratin, t-bone steak, and these chocolate ganache brownies with homemade vanilla bean ice cream. It just isn’t Valentine’s day without chocolate and it wasn’t difficult to decide what I’d be making for dessert. One of Robert’s all time favorite treats is brownie sundaes, and I knew he would love this classic dish.

Robert was in charge of making the ice cream (with the new ice cream maker we got for Christmas) and I tackled the brownies. Both the brownie and the ganache recipes are from Martha Stewart and the end result is a sinfully rich and fudgey brownie. As soon as you taste this-and as you are blissfully adding copious amounts of heavy cream and butter to the ganache and brownie batter- you know it’s going straight to your rear end, but I have to tell you… it’s worth it. Every last bite.

It was a special occasion meal and we ate very lightly all day so we could really enjoy it. I’ve read before that hunger is the best seasoning for food, which is very true. What is also very true is that hunger is the best catalyst for the effects of red wine, which inevitably leads to a lot of laughing and a much messier kitchen than normal. :)

Everything was really delicious and Robert and I have come to the agreement that cooking together is one of our favorite hobbies. For as much time as we put in the meal, we decided it was important that we take time to savor it. And I’m glad we did.

Have a great week, everyone!

Chocolate Ganache Brownies

Printable Version

Yield: 9 large brownies

Ingredients

For the brownies

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the ganache

  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Directions

1.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line a 8 inch square pan with parchment paper, allowing about a 2 inch overhang.

2.Place the butter, chocolate, and cocoa powder in a medium bowl. Place the bowl over a simmering pan of water, allowing the ingredients to melt. Remove and stir until smooth. allow to cool slightly.

3. Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. ut sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and mix on medium speed until pale yellow, about 4 minutes.  Add chocolate mixture; mix until combined.  Reduce speed to low.  Add flour mixture; mix, scraping down sides of bowl, until well combined.

4. Pour batter into pan. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes, or until a cake test comes out with a few crumbs (but not wet). Allow to cool completely.

5. Make the ganache. Put chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat cream in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until just simmering. Pour over chocolate; let stand 5 minutes. Add in butter and gently stir until smooth. Allow ganache to cool, stirring every 10 minutes, until slightly thickened, 25 to 30 minutes.

6. Pour the ganache over the brownies and spread out evenly. Allow to chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes until the ganache becomes firm. Lift up the parchment from the pan to remove the brownies. Cut and enjoy!

Baked Chicken Fingers

Ah, chicken fingers. The food that is universally loved by all. When I was younger I went through a stage where all I ordered at restaurants were these easy to handle bites of chicken. Now I am older and much wiser (please note the sarcasm) and my tastes have broadened, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate what I used to love every once in awhile.

The great thing about these chicken fingers are that they are baked. Instead of requiring cups of oil to fry, this recipe only calls for two tablespoons of olive oil. I’ve made baked chicken fingers before, but the coating never stayed on and they always came out of the oven soggy. These, my friends, are different. The coating is made with flour and crushed rice crispies and it has a magical way of adhering to every centimeter of the chicken.

Although I don’t have any children, I think these babies would be a favorite for little ones. And adults will love them, too. :)

Happy Friday, everyone! Have a wonderful weekend.

Baked Chicken Fingers

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 cups crisp rice cereal
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken tenderloins

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 475. Place flour in a shallow bowl, and egg in another one; season both with salt and pepper. Pulse cereal and oil in a food processor until fine crumbs form. Season with salt and pepper; transfer to a third shallow bowl.
  2. Coat chicken: first in flour, shaking off excess; then with egg, letting excess drip off; and finally in cereal mixture, pressing to help it adhere. Place on a baking sheet, and bake until light golden brown and cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes, turning over halfway through.

Egg in a Nest

Egg in the nest is a special treat my mom used to make my siblings and me for breakfast while we were growing up. I always thought this was her own invention until I saw a recipe for it a few years ago. And then I saw it on Pioneer Woman. And then I saw it on Pinterest. I was flabbergasted, yet happy to know that others have come to love this wonderful creation.

It’s super simple to make.  All you need is a piece of bread, an egg, a little butter, and salt and pepper. Next you cut out a little “nest” in the bread, toast both sides of the hollowed out bread and extra bread nugget, add the egg and a little salt and pepper and cook according to your preference. It’s a lovely. And it’s a perfect treat for your Valentine, or for yourself.

Happy Wednesday!