SPICY SHRIMP

If you asked my husband about cooking with shrimp he would say there would only be two ways to do it….with cocktail sauce or as shrimp scampi.  There are no other options.

Well, until now that is.

I was in the mood to make something spicy for dinner.  And that included something with shrimp.  You know how it is, you just get that urge and you have to look until you find something that fits what you’re looking for.  Although I’ve never had it, my brain was telling me Thai Shrimp. Don’t ask me why because I couldn’t tell you anything about it except that I knew it was known for being spicy.  I looked through several recipes and none of them really made me scream “make this!”,  so I took a couple of ideas, merged them together and created my version.  It was everything I had hoped for… and more.  You should ask my husband, Mr.Onlycocktailsauceorscampi what he thought.  He is now known as Mr. SogoodI’mhavingseconds.  He loved it.  I loved it and I think you will too.

Step outside of the box and try something new.  It was easy and tasty and a nice change from our typical weekday dinner.  Bon Appetite!

 

Brownie Pudding

Dessert.  Sometimes we all have to have some….and especially if it’s chocolate.  That was my husband and I not too long ago.  We wanted something with chocolate, something gooey and warm…what to have?  We couldn’t decide. But, as luck would have it, I was looking through recipes by one of my favorite chefs, Ina Garten, and low and behold there it was.  Brownie pudding.

Is there anyone that doesn’t love a brownie?   A little crust on the top and gooey goodness all the way through.  This was more than that.  The combination between the brownie and pudding was delicious.  Almost like an underdone brownie.  And who hasn’t been there?  (come on, remember when you begged your mom for the bowl or the spoon?)

This will take you back to your childhood.  It’s easy, it’s good and it’s definitely going to take care of that chocolate craving you are having.  I give it a glorified YUM!

 

Don’t let your meatloaf!

The fourth annual “Don’t Let your Meatloaf” party happened in my neighborhood this past weekend.  It was the first time my husband and I had been invited to the event and I was terribly excited about going.  A party geared towards cooking something?  Right up my alley.

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The rule was no garlic.  Not sure the hows and whys of where this rule came about but I followed it.  I was not going to be disqualified because of a rule like that…I was in it to win it!  I had a meatloaf recipe that was pretty good, but this had to be the best.  After all, I was going to write about the party and brag how much everyone loved my meatloaf.  I practiced, I added and I tweaked.  This was going to be amazing!

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The time of the party arrived and I thought my meatloaf looked beautiful.  I was very proud.  First mistake of the evening…I didn’t try it.  We arrived at the home of Judy and Steve and pictures were taken.  The rules were explained to us on how to vote.  Wow…this was really serious!  Second mistake of the evening….I thought it was really serious.  It was time to taste and vote but judging the meatloaves was proving to be a challenge because each award needed to be voted on individually and there were a lot of meatloaves!  Vote first for best looking meatloaf and then go back through the line and flag all the bites taken and taste test.  Third mistake of the evening….I thought I could win.

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As instructed, we had to pick a first place winner, second place and third place, one for best looking and one for worst, all separate categories.  Little did I know then how important this could be.  We ate, we drank, we tallied, we drank, we turned our votes in and we drank some more.  The waiting began for the results. (It’s very important to note at this time that everyone drank.)

The bell rang and the winners were announced.  The first award given was for the worst tasting meatloaf.  I wasn’t even paying attention…after all there was no way I was going to be in this category.  I wasn’t paying attention…..until they called my name!  WHAT?!?!?!?!  They called my name…. the one who writes and cooks and shares my recipes received the worst tasting meatloaf?! Holy smokes…what just happened?!  I think I might have died a little at that moment.  All  I could do was smile and accept my award with grace and as much dignity as I possibly could in such a boisterous crowd. (remember, I mentioned earlier everyone drank…I want to believe that may have influenced the voting!)

I do want to mention that they showed me the final results on the voting and I was actually one vote shy of tieing for first.  I also placed in the second, and third category.  That did help with the ego factor a bit, but I was still labeled the worst!  But then I got to thinking,   everyone messes up now and then, everyone makes something that someone doesn’t like….even professional chefs don’t always get it right. Right?  Empowered with that knowledge,  I realized that I could go on with life, despite a flawed entry,  and my husband and I continued to have an extremely fun evening with a great group of people.  I had the will and determination to make another meatloaf, and another 364 days to practice at it!

So just wait until next year’s “Don’t Let Your Meatloaf” party…. I’ll be ready for the big comeback.  Just you wait!

THE WINNING MEATLOAF RECIPE by Lynn Fortunato Hodges!

Lynn's winning recipe!
Lynn’s winning recipe!

2 lbs ground chuck mixed with two cans of Rotel (drained).  Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.  Cover 1/2 of a large flour tortilla with sour cream and chive mashed potatoes.  Slice meatloaf and place 4 slices on top of the potatoes.  Sprinkle with a mixture of shredded Mexican cheese and frozen corn.  Top each slice of meatloaf with another spoonful of mashed potatoes.  Fold over the other half of the tortilla and place in a heated frypan with olive oil.  Brown each side of the quesadilla.  Serve with salsa and jalapeno as garnish.

Winner Lynn Fortunato Hodges
Winner Lynn Fortunato Hodges

 

 

 

Gorgonzola stuffed tomatoes

Valentine’s Day.  Most people are going out to dinner, sending flowers or eating pounds of chocolate.  In my earlier life, I may have wanted all that but I have to say as I’ve gotten older it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.  Sorry Hallmark….but I think you should show the people in your life that you love them every day of the year and not just one.  With that said, I still wanted to do something nice for my husband so I decided to make a dinner that I thought he would enjoy.  Throw in a little candlelight, a nice bottle of wine and voilà!

I decided on seasoned beef tenderloin, roasted pepper salsa and stuffed gorgonzola tomatoes.  I am not a beef lover, but my husband certainly is and we both felt the tenderloin turned out quite nice.  The salsa, with it’s tangy bite  was a nice compliment to the savory tenderness of the meat.  What surprised me however, was that the tomato turned out to be the star of the evening.  It was so easy to do and yet such an elegant addition to the meal.

I was telling my friends what I had done a day or two later and I was amazed that everyone seemed interested in my sharing of this recipe.   It was one I found in a magazine,  inspired by Giada. I think this is really great if you’re having a dinner party, if it’s just a couple of people or even if you’re eating alone.  It’s very easy and very good.  I highly recommend this.

So, make this for someone you love, including yourself…. and it can be any day of the year.

Duck Ragu

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A couple of years ago, my husband Peter and I were in Las Vegas.  It was dinner time and we were starving because of the three-hour time difference in our normal eating routine.  Like the other casinos, they had so many restaurants for us to choose from and most of them were unfamiliar to us. However, after some discussion, we decided on this little back hole italian restaurant.  DOCG. Remember the name and if you are ever at the Cosmopolitan, make sure you go.  At the time, I wasn’t sure what to order because for an italian restaurant it was a little avant-garde for me.  But I thought, take a chance.  Isn’t that what Vegas is all about?  So, at the waitress’ suggestion, I decided to try the duck ragu.  Wow….my meal turned out to be the winner of the evening!

Well, fast forward to this past weekend and what do I find in my recipe collection but one for duck ragu?  And conveniently enough, I had duck legs in my freezer that I had intended for something else.  It was kizmit!  Forces had come together to bring back my Vegas dinner.  I was going down memory lane.  (I am seriously starting to sound a little corny!)

My husband was a little skeptical.  Ok, maybe not skeptical….maybe scared and horrified that I would actually consider making this for dinner.  That moment when he realizes this is his only option for a real meal, trepidation written all over his face……it’s priceless.  .But I think it was winner winner chicken dinner (or duck in this case)!  He loved it.  And I believe you will too.  I would even recommend making this the night before and letting the flavors meld a little more…..amazingly flavorful.

So, once in a while, take a chance.  Try something new. You might find that you’ve hit the jackpot.

I hope you enjoy this recipe inspired by Fine Cooking.

Girl’s night

What is it about a girl’s night that gets me all excited?  We used to have them all the time but now with all our busy lives,  if we can get together once a month, we’re lucky!  And because of that, it makes our times together so much better…and so much more fun!

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I guess the thought of getting together with friends and the impending gossip, advice, stories and laughter is something that we all need at one time or another.  Add to that,  some great food and a bottle or two of wine (or three or four) and the evening is perfect!

To be honest I always feel a little under pressure at these events. I shouldn’t because it’s really about just getting together, but I do.  It’s always a question of “what am I going to make?”  Several of my friends are excellent cooks…one even a graduate of culinary school. Oh, the PRESSURE!!!   I typically feel like I need to make something unusual, something that is so tasty and so appealing it will even impress my culinary friends.  And this time,  I think I was lucky.  This time,  I’m pretty sure I was successful.  This time….. I had LOBSTER DIP.

Who doesn’t like lobster? Sweet, tender, and succulent.  And,  as luck would have it, on that day only,  our area market had a great special on lobster tails (although quite small, still quite tasty!).  I bought four, set them on the counter and then in a moment of panic said to myself…what am i going to do with these?

I always was quite good with a crab dip so I thought maybe I could just improvise and use what I learned from that….and amazingly enough it turned out to be quite high on the yummy scale.  I’m not sure if I really impressed anyone, but no matter….I liked it and will certainly make this again on my next get-together with the girls, with another couple or hey…a date with just me and my favorite bottle of wine.  So here’s to a good time…… that was had by all!

Boeuf Bourguignon

Julie and Julia….a movie about a blogger who takes on the infamous Julia Child’s cookbook.  I liked it so much,  I think I must have watched it three times the first day I bought the DVD. I enjoyed the French cooking class scenes, Meryl Streep’s character and the cooking project Julie challenged herself with…… but the Boeuf Bourguignon scene really seemed to catch my attention.  I’m not sure why because I’m really not a big red meat-eater.  I’m your chicken and fish kind of girl. But don’t you think they just made it look so incredibly tasty?  How is it that I would not want to make it?  So,  like a true fan,  I went out and bought the book, put it on my shelf and resolved that I would make the bourguignon very soon.  That was three years ago. ( Fast forward to now.)  Book sitting on my shelf covered in dust, a very cold day and a desire to make something memorable…. the recipe was calling my name.  It was now time to make the classic Julia Child beef stew…..her Boeuf Bourguignon!  My husband, Peter, and I went out and bought everything we needed.  His mouth was already watering, and although challenged by this I wasn’t crazy over what it was going to taste like.  (see earlier comments about me and red meat).  I followed the recipe exactly, drying the meat with the paper towels, browning the mushrooms, adding the red wine and oh my…..   I will have to say….. the aroma, the flavor and the tenderness of the beef changed my mind.  This was a definite “yum” moment and a memorable one at that.  I will definitely make this again and I would recommend you try it.  You and your guests won’t regret it.  And Julia, let me just say… Bon Appetit!

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