Garlic Shrimp

When I go to a restaurant I am my husband’s – and probably the wait staff’s – worst nightmare.  I must have it my way.  A little of this and a little of that.  If I could take a bit from each entrée it would be perfect because it seems there is always something I don’t like on every item, but something I do like on every item.

Such is the way when I look at a new recipe.  I become inspired by one recipe, but like ingredients from another and pretty soon I have a collaboration of two or three different recipes.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t but I think tonight’s adventure did.

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This is a marriage of ingredients from 3 different recipes, inspired mostly from a Food and Wine recipe I found online.  It was a fairly quick meal to fix and although I paired it with coconut rice, you could serve it with a salad or crusty bread and it would still be a filling meal for you.

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Just make sure when you eat this, share the joy.  There is a lot of garlic in it and you know they always say that if one eats garlic, then everyone should.  Don’t worry, they’ll all love it.

On a side note…no vampires will be visiting for a while.

Garlic Shrimp

Course Appetizer, Entree
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup olive oil extra virgin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 red pepper, sliced thin
  • 2 stalks baby bok choy, sliced thin
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 Tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1/2 lemon juiced about 2 Tablespoons
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped parsley

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in saucepan.

  2. Add bay leaf, garlic, crushed red pepper and saute until fragrant, approximately 3-4 minutes.

  3. Salt and pepper shrimp and add to oil mixture, cooking until shrimp are done, approximately 3-4 minutes.

  4. Add red pepper and bok choy and cook for 1 additional minute.

  5. Add butter, sherry, lemon juice and stir until butter is incorporated and melted.

  6. Add chopped parsley.

  7. Serve immediately.

Lemon Cheesecake with Raspberry Sauce for Mom’s Birthday

We all hit milestones.  Sometimes it’s when you graduate high school or college, when you get married or when you hit a major age in life.  They are all important events but none is more important than my mom turning 80.   A tremendous age to hit, with lots of stories, heartaches, celebrations and memories along the way.

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For such a big occasion we had to make a special dessert.  When I asked her what she wanted she said a cheesecake.  My mom would have been happy with any kind of cheesecake, maybe even the no bake out of the box cheesecake.  I couldn’t have that for her however, so I had to search all my recipes to see what I could come up with.  Frustrated that I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted,  I adapted my recipe from three different recipes, but what we ended up with was a dessert I could be proud serving my mom on such a special day.

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The day was so special, I have to say I forgot to take pictures of the process.  What really counted was that my mom really enjoyed herself, enjoyed the company and really enjoyed the cheesecake.  My husband, who never eats dessert had two slices.  So despite that I don’t really have pictures, please try this recipe.

It makes for a wonderful celebration of an important milestone….in anyone’s life.

Blueberry Pie Parfaits with White Chocolate Cream

Do you remember when you were younger and you would go blueberry picking?  I do.  Half the blueberries would be in the bucket and the other half in my mouth.  My shirt and fingers would be blue with the juice, but it was something I looked forward to every summer when they were ripe.  Now I just go to my back yard where I have two little starter bushes.  My only problem is I have to race the dog to see who gets there first!

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With blueberry season its natural to want to make blueberry pies.  I love a good pie but it is a little basic at times.  Imagine how pleased I was when I looked through a “Fine Cooking” magazine and discovered this blueberry pie parfait!  I had to give it a try…and taste!

This recipe had a white chocolate whipped cream and it was a welcome addition.  It lightened up the dessert without taking away from the blueberry pie flavor I expected and the white chocolate added a rich undertone.  The buttery almond-thyme streusel added more of a textural crunch than would a standard pie crust, which I really loved.  For me, this dessert was a huge winner on the flavor thermometer.

What I also liked about this is that if you’re tasting as you go along with the recipe, you can change it up to make it more to your personal liking.  A little more white chocolate in the whipped cream,  an extra squeeze of lemon into the blueberry or another shake of cinnamon into the streusel.

I’ve made these several times since my discovery of the recipe and it always gets rave reviews.  A few nights ago, we had been invited over to a friend’s home for dinner and I wanted to bring this but wasn’t sure about the trip.   It was easily solved when I used jelly canning jars, topped them with a lid and no spill! And I got extra points for presentation.

So enjoy your summer and bring some tasty fun to your family and friends.  They will love you for it!

Blueberry Pie Parfaits with White Chocolate Cream

Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

FOR THE STREUSEL:

  • 2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon rolled oats (not instant or quick-cooking)
  • 6 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup scant slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

FOR THE CREAM:

  • 4 1/2 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon grated and finely chopped lemon zest plus 1/2 teaspoon juice (from 1 medium lemon)
  • Pinch kosher salt

FOR THE FILLING:

  • 4 cups fresh blueberries
  • 6 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • Pinch ground cinnamon
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon cold unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Instructions

MAKE THE STREUSEL:

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325 degrees F.

  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the flour, oats, butter, almonds, sugars, thyme, and salt on medium speed until the ingredients are evenly dispersed and some of the pieces of streusel are the size of hazelnuts. Transfer the streusel to a large rimmed baking sheet and bake, stirring every 5 minutes to 6 minutes, until light golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let the streusel cool completely before using.

MAKE THE CREAM:

  1. Put 3 ounces of the white chocolate in a medium bowl. Bring 1/2 cup of the cream and the lemon zest to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; pour over the chocolate. Let sit for a few minutes, then whisk until smooth. Stir in the lemon juice and salt, cover the bowl tightly, and refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.

  2. Add the remaining 1/2 cup cream to the chilled mixture and beat with an electric hand mixer on medium speed until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use.

MAKE THE FILLING:

  1. Put the blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt in a 12-inch heavy-duty skillet over medium heat. Using a potato masher or a silicone spatula, break up some of the blueberries to release their juice and cook, stirring often, until the mixture begins to boil, about 5 minutes. Once the mixture comes to a boil, stir constantly, reducing the heat to maintain a steady simmer, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter and lemon juice until melted. Let the filling cool until warm.

ASSEMBLE THE PARFAITS:

  1. Put 1 tablespoon of the streusel in the bottom of each of six 10 ounce parfait glasses. Divide the warm filling among them and scatter each with about 2 tablespoons streusel. Divide the remaining filling among the glasses and top with the remaining streusel. Dollop each with the white chocolate cream, sprinkle with the remaining chopped white chocolate and serve.

Chicken Bang Bang

It all started with a little fillo cup appetizer filled with chicken, scallions and a kicking peanut sauce.  I’ve made these many times and from what I’ve heard,  always gotten great reviews.  I think it’s because the flavor combination is crunchy, creamy and spicy all in the same bite

The other day, my friend Karen and I were discussing lunch ideas for a couple of things she was working on and my little appetizer cup came up. She mentioned that it was too bad that it wasn’t a meal.

That made me think.

I thought it was a great idea.

It can now be considered an entrée.

And that is one reason I love cooking and you should not be afraid of it.  You can take an idea from one little thing and turn it into something that is completely different and yet, still so incredibly good.  All it takes is a thought, a conversation or a suggestion and you can run with it and make it your own. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t turn out well.  Make it again or change it.  It’s all about trying new things.

You could even change this recipe.  Try shrimp with it, thicker noodles, different vegetables or spices to increase the heat a little…whatever you like to make it your own.  Just don’t be afraid.

Send me pictures and let me know what you did.  I would love to see the ideas that you come up with!

Happy eating!

Chicken Bang Bang

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 10 wonton wrappers, cut into 1/4 inch strips
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil plus 2 tablespoons
  • 8 Tablespoons smooth peanut butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, grated (easier to do if frozen)
  • 4 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 1/2 sirracha or tabasco (can add more for extra heat)
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced very thin
  • 1 small bunch of baby bok choy, chopped
  • 1/2 package angel hair pasta or sesame noodles
  • 1/4 (or more) cup pasta water
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 bunch scallions, finely sliced on a diagonal to make sharp spikes

Instructions

  1. heat vegetable oil in heavy duty pan over medium high heat. Fry wonton wrappers in hot oil until golden brown. Remove, season with salt and pepper and set aside.

  2. Combine peanut butter, garlic, ginger, lemon juice, soy sauce and sirracha and mix until you have a smooth sauce. Set aside.

  3. Cook pasta according to instructions and set aside.

  4. Heat oil in a saucepan. Add red peppers and bok choy and toss for 1-2 minutes until heated through but still tender crisp. Set aside.

  5. Pound or filet chicken breasts so that they are about 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch thick. Season chicken well with salt and pepper. In the same pan, cook chicken on medium high for 2-3 minutes on each side. Let rest for 10 minutes and slice.

  6. Add peanut mixture to pasta. Add chicken and then vegetables on top, add scallions and fried wonton strips.

Lobster Linguine with Lemon and Basil

On most weekends, sitting over breakfast, my husband and I look at each other and ask what we’re going to have for dinner.  It was no different this past Mother’s Day Sunday.  My children were not here to cook for me, and I didn’t want to go out for dinner.  My only other options were to have my husband cook dinner which probably would have consisted of steak on the grill, or to cook it myself.  I obviously decided to cook it myself.

The nice part of cooking for yourself on Mother’s Day is that you get to choose what you want.  And my husband got to do the shopping.  I wish everyday was like that!  Anyway…it was cold for May 12th so we were thinking of something comforting, but I really wanted lobster.  I could have done Lobster Mac and Cheese, because let’s face it…that is the ultimate of comfort foods.  However, we were trying to go a little healthier so it was crossed off my list of choices.

And then it hit me.  I had seen a recipe for a shrimp and pasta recipe that had previously caught my eye.  I could adapt it and use the lobster.  And so I did with some minor experimental changes.

And it was good.

You can use shrimp if you prefer but I think the lobster added a bit more richness to it.   You can also cut out the butter and wine to make it even more healthy if you choose.  This is one of those recipes you can add and subtract to make it your own.  Experiment a little,  I think this is one of those dishes that will always come out tasting yummy.

So the next time it looks like you might have to cook your own celebration dinner…..embrace it.  You’ll be glad you did!

Lobster Linguine with Lemon and Basil

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1 2 lb lobster
  • 6 ounces linguini or fettuccine
  • small palm of salt
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup red, yellow and/or green bell pepper strips
  • 1 cup fresh asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • shredded lemon peel from 1 large lemon
  • 8 shredded lemon peel from 1 large lemon
  • 1 large lemon, juiced
  • 1/8 cup basil, chiffonade (this is when you take several basil leaves, roll them and slice)
  • lemon wedges (optional)

Instructions

  1. Cook lobster in a pot of boiling water for approximately 7 minutes

  2.  Remove lobster meat from shell and chop into bite size pieces. set aside.

  3. Cook pasta according to package directions.

  4. In a large nonstick skillet, melt butter and olive oil together. Add pepper strips and stir about 2 minutes, or until tender crisp.

  5. Add asparagus and garlic and cook an additional minute. Salt and pepper to taste.

  6. Add wine to mixture and stir.

  7. Add lobster, green onions, lemon zest and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

  8. Add pasta and basil ciffonade

  9. Transfer to serving plates and garnish with lemon wedges and more basil if desired.

Mini Blueberry Pies

I’ve never made pie crust.  Ever.  I was the girl who would buy it in the grocery store, unroll it and bake.   My mom always made good pie crust.  Everyone loved her pies because the crust was always good and flakey. I just never learned.

I don’t know what made me decide to try it after all these years but I thought I finally would.  I wanted to make these little mini pies that looked so cute….but I needed to learn crust in order to do so.  Crust was my nemesis.

I thought I was going to lose this challenge.  It was almost an epic fail.   However, to my surprise, mixing the crust turned out to be the easy part.  It went together so effortlessly and it appeared to turn out as the instructions directed.  However, when I went to roll it out, it was like the crust was fighting back.  It was sticking to everything!  The cutting board, the granite, the rolling-pin, my hands…!Perhaps I was afraid to use too much flour or perhaps it didn’t go together as well as I thought….  whatever the reason, it got to the point I wanted to trash everything and quit.  I almost cried.

I’m so glad I didn’t.

This being my first time in making the crust, it wasn’t pretty.  I really thought it was going to taste like a big handful of flour. But it didn’t. The texture and the flavor were just like I had hoped.  Flakey and light, not tough and thick like I expected.   I know I have a lot more to learn with making a perfect crust, but in the end I’m glad I challenged myself.   Perhaps it was a little difficult, but certainly not as hard or as scary as I thought it was going to be.

What did I learn from this?  Don’t be afraid to use flour, and don’t give up.  It might not turn out exactly like you had hoped but nothing ever does the first time.  Practice makes perfect and I hope there will be a lot more practice with this recipe.  I loved it and everyone else did too.

Mini Blueberry Pies

Prep Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 50 minutes
Servings 16 small pies

Ingredients

Blueberry Filling

  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/2 fresh vanilla pod

Pie Crust

  • 3 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" cubes, frozen (3 sticks)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • raw sugar

Instructions

Blueberry Compote

  1. In a saucepan over low heat, add about one-third of the blueberries, the sugar and juice of 1 lemon. Reserve the remaining blueberries. Using the back of a knife, scrape out the vanilla seeds and add the seeds and pod to the saucepan. Stir and continue to cook until the blueberries break down and the compote has a syrupy consistency, 5 to 10 minutes.

  2. Create an ice bath by placing a mixing bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice. Pour the compote into a strainer over the mixing bowl. Use a rubber spatula to help work the compote through the strainer. Let the compote cool until it's cold to the touch.

  3. Once the blueberry compote has cooled, add the compote to the remaining blueberries and gently mix together to create your pie filling.

Pie crust

  1. Pulse flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor to combine. Add butter, pulse until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal (no big pieces of butter should remain.) With motor running, slowly drizzle 1/2 cup ice water through feed tube. Pulse until dough just begins to come together.

  2. Divide dough in half. Form each half into a ball, flatten into disks. Wrap each disk tightly in plastic. Chill for at least 2 hours.

  3. DO AHEAD: Dough can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes to soften slightly before rolling out.

  4. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside. Working with one disk at a time, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface until very thin, about 1/16th inch thick. Using a circular cutter, cut out into 16 circles.

  5. Brush edges of 8 circles with beaten egg. Place 1 heaping tablespoon filling in center of each egg washed circle. Top with remaining circles to form 8 pies. Using a fork, crimp 1/4" around edges to seal. If desired use cookie cutter to clean edges. Repeat with remaining dough, egg and filling.

  6. Divide pies between prepared sheets, chill for 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Working with 1 baking sheet of pies at a time, score dough, forming a small X int he center of each pie. Brush tops with beaten egg and sprinkle with raw sugar.

  7. Bake pies until crust is golden brown and filling bubbles out of X's, 17-20 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Repeat with remaining baking sheet of pies.

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