Monday, July 6, 2015

Caprese Pasta Salad with Shrimp

It's been hot here in the greater Puget Sound area. Really hot. For a frightfully long time.

I figured it was time to come up with a new dinner salad! This would also be great for potlucks, picnics, and the occasional shindig.

Caprese Pasta Salad with Shrimp

1 - 12 oz. box farfalle (butterfly) pasta
1 lb. small cooked shrimp, shelled, deveined, and tails off
2 C. grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 C. prepared pesto 
fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/2 t. kosher salt
2 - 8 oz. packages fresh mozzarella pearls, separated 
1/3 C. fresh basil, chiffonade (cut into thin strips)
a few basil leaves reserved for garnish

Cook pasta according to package directions. If you're using frozen shrimp, dump it into the colander you plan to drain the pasta in. Pour cooked pasta over shrimp in colander, drain, then run under cold water until shrimp are thawed and pasta is cold. Drain again very well. 
In a large mixing bowl, combine pasta and shrimp mixture with remaining ingredients and stir until thoroughly combined. Garnish with reserved basil leaves if desired and serve immediately or refrigerate until desired.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

I didn't want to go to the grocery store...

We'd been out at our lake place for the past four days. The water out there is... different. It makes my hair do... strange things. I'd taken a shower the morning we left, so I didn't want to take another one the next day just to go to the grocery store, yet... 

The hair remained...

Okay, truth be told I could have easily straightened my hair and gone to the store for something, but I decided I would create another one of my self-challenges and make something from what I already had. 

Best decision ever.


Shrimp in Lemon Garlic Cream Sauce over Grilled Corn Polenta

(sounds pretty schmancy, huh? tastes like it too!)

This is grilled corn IN polenta, so technically it's a bbq dish. Just sayin'. Don't be intimidated.

Let us begin...

For the polenta -

2 ears fresh corn, shucked
4 C. chicken broth
1 C. polenta
1/2 C. Parmesan (I admit I used shaky cheese, but fresh grated would be so so much better)

Preheat grill. The temperature depends on what kind of grill you're using. I used my standard propane grill, all four burners on high. It just has to be really hot. Grill corn, rotating frequently, until browned grill marks appear... like this...

Remove from grill and cool until easily handled. Cut corn from cobs and set aside.

In a large sauce pan, bring chicken stock to a boil. Turn heat to low, whisk in polenta until thoroughly incorporated, and cover. Cook for 25 minutes, whisking every 5 minutes. Stir in cheese and corn thoroughly, cover, and set aside until the shrimp are done, about 5 minutes. It will set up quickly, so try to time it so the shrimp and polenta are finished at about the same time.

For the shrimp -

1 1/2 lbs. shrimp, shelled and deveined
6 slices bacon, diced
3 large cloves garlic, severely dealt with
1/3 C. green onions (about 6), sliced (a couple pinches reserved for garnish)
1 lemon, zested and juiced (you will need 1 tsp. of zest and 2 tbs. of juice, so that works out to about one small-to-medium lemon)
3/4 C. heavy cream (I never said this was diet-friendly... ha!)
large pinch of kosher salt
1/2 tsp. of your favorite hot sauce. I used Tapatio, and I would recommend Frank's, but Tabasco might have too much vinegar in it... that's up to your personal taste. Maybe cut back on the lemon juice if you use Tabasco... up to you.

In a large non-stick pan, fry bacon until crisp. Remove bacon to paper towels and drain all fat out of pan, except for what clings. Don't wipe out the pan. Return pan to medium heat, add garlic and green onions (remember to leave a little for garnish!), and saute for about 1 minute. Turn heat to medium-high and add shrimp. Saute until half done, about 2 minutes on each side. Remove to plate, scraping out as much of the garlic and green onion as possible. Return pan to stove and add cream, most of bacon (reserve a little for garnish), salt, hot sauce, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and reduce by half until thickened, about 8 minutes. Add shrimp back into pan and boil until shrimp are cooked through and sauce has re-thickened. 

Spoon polenta into shallow serving bowls (or whatever serving device you happen to have on hand) and spoon shrimp with sauce over. Garnish with reserved green onion and bacon. Eat and die happy.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Salmon with Grilled Pineapple and Avocado Salsa

Don't really have much to say about this one, aside from it's YUMMY!


3 large fresh pineapple spears
1/2 medium red onion
1 large jalapeno
1 T fresh lime juice
1/4 C chopped cilantro
1/2 t kosher salt
1/2 t cumin
1/4 t cayenne
1 large avocado, diced

Spray grill rack with cooking spray (or brush first three ingredients LIGHTLY with olive oil). Grill over high heat until pineapple is golden and onion and jalapeno are pretty well charred. Remove from grill and cool until they are easily handled. Dice pineapple and onion. Remove skin, seeds, and ribs from jalapeno and finely chop. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Makes about 2 cups.


In a small bowl, mix together the following:

1 teaspoon each -
kosher salt
granulated onion
chili powder
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Cut approximately two pounds of boneless, skinless salmon into manageable-sized pieces (3 or 4). Brush with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle evenly with spice mixture. Grill until desired doneness.

Top with prepared salsa and serve with your favorite side dishes. We had it with toasted pine nut couscous and one of my broccoli slaws, which can be found HERE.

On the off-chance you end up with leftovers, make salmon street tacos!

Friday, April 3, 2015


No photo of this one (yet), but I want to get it documented somewhere before I forget what I did. I came up with this recipe to go with shrimp street tacos I made the other night. It was a hit!

1/3 C mayonnaise
1/2 C chunky-style salsa
1 T freshly-squeezed lime juice
about 6 C finely shredded cabbage
1/4 C chopped white onions
1/4 C chopped cilantro
1 medium avocado, diced

In a large bowl, whisk together mayo, salsa, and lime juice. Gently stir in remaining ingredients. Serve immediately. That's all there is to it!

Juicer Pulp Carrot Apple Ginger Snack Cakes

As I mentioned in my Pork Chops with Apple Pan Sauce post, we have a new juicer, which I have been having tons of fun playing with. I was, however, having tons of guilt just throwing away the extracted pulp. Mom always said all the vitamins and other REAL goodies are in the outer areas of fruit and vegetables, so I knew I had to do something with this stuff rather than dump it down the disposal. After a bit of internetting for ideas, I made these...

Aren't they adorable?

These moist, tasty little buggers are low fat, high fiber, egg-free, and highly addictive. You can eat them with relative abandon and still feel pretty good about it.

First of all, to make these you need a juicer. That's pretty much the only way to get the pulp you will need. I thought about possibly suggesting you just grate the carrots, apples, and ginger, but that would leave too much moisture in the fruit/vegetable mixture and the cakes just wouldn't bake right. 

Before mixing the batter, make your pulp. Wash and prep about 6-8 medium carrots, 2-3 large apples (cored but not peeled), and 3-4 nice big hunks of fresh ginger (peeled). I happen to adore ginger, so the amount you use should be according to your own tastes. Run everything through your juicer according to its directions. Drink the juice while you're baking these or reserve for later. You will need 2 cups of the mixed pulp. Pick out any really large pieces of apple peel, but don't worry if there are some hunks of apple and carrot in there... they add a really nice flavor and texture to the finished product.

Now, we are ready to start the actual cakes...

1½ C flour
2 t baking powder
1½ t cinnamon
¼ C sugar
½ t salt
1¼ C milk
¼ C vegetable oil
1½ t vanilla extract
2 C carrot/apple/ginger pulp

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a mini muffin tin with non-stick spray. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and sugar. Stir well with a whisk or a fork.
In a smaller bowl, whisk together oil, milk and vanilla. Pour wet ingredients into the dry and gently combine, being careful not to over mix (there will be lumps... don't worry). Gently fold in the pulp, being careful to mix thoroughly but not too much.
Scoop batter into muffin tins. Unlike muffins, these do not rise very much, so don't worry about over-filling. Fill the tins almost to the top. Bake for 18-22 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a rack to cool completely. Refrigerate any leftovers (like that will happen).
Makes 24 cakes.

Pork Chops with Apple Pan Sauce

A couple of days ago, I was shopping at our local Korean supermarket and found five pound bags of Fuji apples for 99¢. NINETY NINE CENTS FOR FIVE POUNDS!! They were kind of ugly (hence the price), but I was looking for things to run through our new juicer anyway. Score! Once I got  home I did juice some of them, but then decided to make a dinner featuring them. It was fantastic!

Pork Chops with Apple Pan Sauce

4 - 1" thick boneless pork loin chops
kosher salt
1 T. butter
1 T. olive oil
1 medium apple (Fuji, Pink Lady, Gala, even Granny Smith would be nice), peeled and diced
1 medium shallot, chopped
1/2 t. dried thyme
1/2 c. unsweetened apple juice (I used fresh juice, but bottled juice or cider would work just fine)
1/2 c. chicken broth
1 T. Dijon mustard

In a large frying pan over medium heat, melt butter and olive oil together until foaming subsides. Season chops liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Cook until golden brown and almost done, about 7 minutes per side. Remove from pan and keep warm in oven set on low. Add chopped apples, shallots, and thyme to pan and saute until softened. Raise heat to high and add apple juice. Boil until reduced by half. Add chicken broth, mustard, and any accumulated juices from the pork. Continue to boil until sauce is reduced and thickened, about another three minutes. Check seasoning and add more salt and/or pepper, if desired. Serve chops with sauce spooned over top.

Seasoned Brown Jasmine Rice

1 1/2 C brown jasmine rice
2 1/2 C chicken broth
1 t. granulated onion
1/2 t. granulated garlic
1 t. powdered ginger
1 T. sesame oil
1 T. rice wine vinegar
1/4 t. salt

In medium saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and cook until almost all liquid is absorbed (about 35 minutes). Remove from heat; let stand for 10 minutes. Stir and serve.

Celery, Apple, and Fennel Slaw

This recipe can be found on Epicurious (link below). We really liked it, but I thought the dressing was too acidic. When I make it again (and I will!), I am going to use about 2 t. of honey instead of the sugar... maybe even a little more.

Celery, Apple, and Fennel Slaw on

Wednesday, March 11, 2015