Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Shrimp Etouffe

A friend posted that she had made this one a few weeks back, and I was intrigued.  You see, my husband really would love to live in the South.  He could eat cornbread and Cajun food, hush puppies and fried chicken every day without it ever getting old.

Having said that, I attempted jambalaya once when we first got married and it wasn't good.  Of course, I also wasn't a very good cook back then.  I should try again, I suppose.  When we have fried chicken, he's usually the one that makes it.

Then I saw this recipe and knew I had to try it.

I'm borrowing her picture, and she added scallops.  The original recipe calls for a pound of shrimp and a pound of crawfish, which are a little hard to find in the middle of the country.  I just added another pound of shrimp.

The first part is making a roux.  Which is time consuming and more than a little bit stressful since it needs to be stirred constantly.  You cannot burn it at all or you have to toss it and start over. 

My advice, pour a glass of wine before you start.  ;)

That, and have everything else already cut up and ready to go before you start the whole process. 

Shrimp Etouffe
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 cup chicken stock (can use vegetable as well)
- 1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 3 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 large tomatoes, chopped
- 1 tbsp seasoned salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
-  2 tbsp Frank's Red Hot pepper sauce
- dried cayenne pepper if desired to taste
- 2 pounds raw peeled, deveined shrimp (can substitute half with craw fish, scallops or sausage)

Heat oil, adding flour a little at a time, stirring constantly over medium heat.  Making the roux takes about 20 minutes, keep stirring the whole time to make sure the bottom doesn't burn.  When it turns a medium brown color, it's ready.

Add the bell pepper, celery, onion and garlic and saute in the roux for a few minutes.  Then add tomatoes and chicken stock.  Stir together, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. 

Add seasoned salt, pepper and Red Hot.  Taste.  Add more cayenne if you want more heat. 

Last, stir in the raw shrimp and simmer in the sauce for about 10 minutes until they are done. 

Serve over rice.

Then thank Elisa.  :)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Orange Chicken

This is a recipe I've been meaning to make a while now.  I've included two different options for cooking the chicken.  One is sauteed and the healthiest option.  The other fried and the way you are probably accustomed to orange chicken being served in restaurants.  Either way, the marinade and glaze is the same...awesome.

Orange Chicken
- 4 chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
- 1 cup water
- zest and juice of two small mandarin oranges
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 2/3 cup rice vinegar
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1 tsp fresh minced ginger root (or 1/2  tsp dried)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced

To Saute
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil

To Bread and Fry
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- dash pepper
- oil for frying

For glaze
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 cup water

Combine all marinade ingredients in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.   Cool completely.  You can do this portion the night before.

Marinate chicken pieces in 1 cup of the sauce, reserving the rest for the glaze.  Let marinate for a few hours in the fridge.

To Saute the chicken: Drain off marinade and saute in large pan or wok, pre-warmed with 3 tbsp oil.  Cook until chicken is slightly browned and cooked through. 

To Fry the chicken: Combine flour, salt and pepper in a bag, drain marinated chicken and toss in bag to coat.  Fry in preheated frying oil for about 5 minutes, checking for doneness.

To make the glaze: Combine the cornstarch and water until cornstarch is fully dissolved.  Add this mixture to the reserved sauce and heat in a pan until bubbly and thickened.  Add cooked chicken to glaze, toss to coat and heat through completely.

Serve with cooked rice and vegetables.

Invisible Ink

We got a catalog from one of those mail order buy crap you don't need in bulk for really cheap companies.  You all can probably figure out which one I'm referring to. 

There was a page of magic trick novelties and Aidan insisted he needed everything on the page.  Finger traps, whoopie cushions, invisible ink.  He wanted to buy one of each with his own money and couldn't wrap his head around why you needed to buy 6 dozen of everything to get that super cheap price.

That's just how it works, kid.

He made his disappointed sad face, which I don't want to see right now since he just had surgery and all.  So I told him we'd make invisible ink at home instead.

Here's how.

Invisible Ink
- lemon juice
- q-tips
- light colored or white paper
- heat source
- salt
- crayons

There are two different ways we used the ink.  The first is the simplest.  Use the q-tip, dipped in lemon juice, to write out messages on the paper.  Let dry completely.  With help from an adult, hold the paper near a heat source.  The lemon juice stained areas will darken before the rest of the paper, revealing the message.

The other way is to sprinkle salt on the message immediately when it is still wet.  Give it a minute for the salt to absorb the juice, then shake off the excess.  Place another piece of paper on top and use a crayon to make a rubbing of the salted message below. 

Have fun!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Irish Cream Brownies

If you love chocolate and mint and alcohol separately, then you will adore them combined.  This is a fabulous, yet easy brownie recipe and

Best part, you get to cheat and use a box mix as your base.  ;) 

Irish Cream Brownies
- 1 box brownie mix
- 1/2 cup irish cream (I prefer Bailey's)
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 whole eggs

- 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
- 1/3 cup irish cream
- 2 1/2 - 3 cups powdered sugar

- 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
- 1 tsp vegetable oil

Combine brownie ingredients and pour into 9x13 pan that has been prepared with nonstick spray.  Bake in preheated 350 oven for 20-22 minutes.

Cool completely, then combine butter and irish cream for the frosting, adding powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until fully combined.    Add sugar until it reaches a good consistency - you want it to be spreadable, but not too runny.

To make glaze, microwave chips for 20 seconds at a time, stirring each time.  Add oil and blend until completely smooth.  Drizzle over frosted brownies.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Easy Rainbow Craft

I made this with my girl scouts this week, and it was a hit!  Very easy, somewhat time consuming, and perfect for any rainbow themed party or occasion....even a rainy day.

I did get some heavy duty construction paper for it though, because it does require tons and tons of glue....and what kid doesn't like a craft that includes that?

Plus, this can take a while because the pieces tend to mysteriously disappear.

You will need:
- blue construction paper
- white glue (we use regular school glue)
- fruity circle shaped cereal (we used generic)

It helps if you draw the top of the arch for the first row before starting.  I did that with the one shown here, but let my girl scouts draw their own arches.  Needless to say, we had rainbows of all sizes and shapes, and more than a few that ran out of room before they got to the blues and purples.

Glue cereal on in rainbow order, using a decent amount of glue for each piece.  It takes a while to dry, so factor that in to your crafting time. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Rainbow Cupcakes

I saw these a while back and had to make them.  I cheated, took the easy way out and used boxed cakes mixes and cans of pre-made frosting.

Don't be haters.

I did make over 100 of these, since when one kid asks for something for their class, they all will.

The boxes of cake mix say that they make 24 cupcakes.  They lie.  They really make more like 16-18 unless you are really stingy when filling your cupcake liners.  And these aren't the kind of cupcakes you can be stingy about.

In some ways, it is easier to make these in a larger quantity because of the food coloring issue as well as the is this really worth the amount of effort issue.

I'll leave it to you to decide.  ;)

I have written this recipe to make about 3 dozen cupcakes.

Rainbow Cupcakes
- 2 boxes white cake mix (not butter or yellow), and ingredients called for on box
- 3 cans pre-made buttercream frosting
- food coloring
- time and patience

Preheat oven to 350 (or whatever temperature recommended for cupcakes if the mix you are using is different). 

Make both boxes of cake mix at once, according to the package instructions.  Pour batter evenly into six bowls and tint them red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.

Line cupcake pans, then carefully drop batter in rainbow order into the liners.  You will need about a rounded 1/2 Tbsp of each color to fill the liners.  (about 3 rounded Tbsp total for each cupcake).

Do not stir the colors together, just pile on top, trying as much as possible to center the batter each time.

Bake 20-22 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center of cupcake comes out dry.

Let cool completely before frosting.  I prefer the lazy method of frosting, which looks fancier anyway.  Put the frosting in a gallon size baggie and squeeze out the air.  Cut off tip and pipe in a circular motion.

I sent these to school as a surprise, when the tops are frosted plainly and a darker liner used, the lucky eater will have no idea what awaits them inside!  Fun for St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Irish Soda Bread

I'm sharing today one of my most favorite recipes. Something that I make at least once a year, for St. Patrick's Day, and then wonder why I don't make it more often. I came upon a version of this recipe many, many years ago and have modified it more than a few times.

It's the kind of item that lends itself quite well to imperfection. There isn't a set way to make it so much, and if you mess it up, chances are it will still be good. It comes out a little bit like a giant scone. I add more moisture to it than the original recipe called for since my husband isn't much a fan of dry breads.

Irish Soda Bread
- 3 1/2 cups flour
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups buttermilk (if you don't have this, you can make buttermilk by placing 1 tbsp vinegar in a measuring cup and adding the appropriate amount of milk, then letting it sit for a minute or two until thickened)
- 1 cup raisins (can substitute cranberries)

Mix everything but the raisins in a large bowl, then fold in raisins.  Dough should be thick and almost impossible to stir.

Place dough into a greased round baking pan. I use a large round pyrex casserole. Don't bother trying to form it into a pretty shape, as I said, this is an imperfect type of recipe. Just lump it in there. Bake for about an hour in preheated 350 oven, until the top turns golden brown and the center of the loaf is done.

Break off pieces and share.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tuna Noodle Casserole

This is one of those comfort food recipes.  It's easy to throw together, and you probably have most of the stuff you need to make it on hand already.

Tuna Noodle Casserole
- 2 ~ 6 oz cans of tuna, drained
- 2 cans reduced fat cream of mushroom soup
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
- 8-10 oz bag egg noodles, cooked as directed
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 stalk celery, minced
- 1 small onion, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425.  Saute celery, onion and garlic in butter until onion is transparent.  In large bowl, mix tuna, soup, peas, cooked noodles, and 1 cup cheddar cheese.  Add in onion mixture when cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour noodle mixture into 9x13 casserole dish, prepared with non-stick spray.  Top with remaining cheddar cheese and breadcrumbs.

Bake 20-25 minutes until top is golden brown. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Oven Roasted Veggies

Here is a simple yet delicious way to prepare just about any type of vegetables as a side dish.  Most recently, I made zucchini, beefsteak tomatoes and onions.

Oven Roasted Veggies
- non stick spray
- whatever vegetable desired, whatever quantity desired, sliced
- olive oil
- salt
- pepper
- garlic
- thyme

Preheat oven to 375.  Spray dish with nonstick spray.  Layer veggies, arranging if desired for visual appeal.  Drizzle with olive oil, then lightly salt and pepper.  Add some fresh minced garlic and fresh thyme. 

Place in middle rack of oven and roast for 30-40  minutes.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


If you've never wanted to make risotto, I assume you've never had it.  If you did, you'd want to.

If you've not wanted to invest the time required for perfecting it, I say find it.


It takes a while, requires a lot of attention.  But you end up with this:
Lesson #1:  Find the time. 

- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup water
- 1 1/2 cup rice (preferably arborio or jasmine)
- 3 tbsp butter, divided
- 1/2 cup minced onion
- 1/2 cup chardonnay or other white wine
- 1/2 cup fresh shredded parmesan/romano blend
- salt and pepper
- fresh parsley for garnish

Combine broth and water in medium saucepan, heat over low.  Keep warm. 

Melt 2 tbsp butter in large (separate) saucepan, then saute onion until transparent.  Add rice and wine, reduce heat to medium/low and simmer until wine reduces almost completely.

Add broth mixture about a half a cup at a time, stirring constantly and waiting to add more until almost fully absorbed.  Repeat until all broth mixture is gone. opened a bottle of wine.  Drink while you stir.  It passes the time. 

After all broth combined, remove from heat.  Stir in parmesan/romano cheese blend, remaining tbsp  butter, then salt and pepper to taste. 

Serve immediately.

Drink the rest of the bottle of wine.

Rejoice that you took the time to make the risotto.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Creamy Prosciutto Tomato Pasta Sauce

Ah, salted pork. 


Prosciutto may very well be the only thing better than bacon in the entire universe.

I saw something like this recipe in a magazine and decided to make it. 

Super easy and quick and way better than anything that comes out of a jar.

Creamy Prosciutto Tomato Pasta Sauce
- 6 oz prosciutto, diced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 package cherry tomatoes, halved
- 4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- 1 small can tomato paste
- 1 cup cream

Heat olive oil in skillet and cook prosciutto until crispy.  Add tomatoes and garlic mixing thoroughly.  Reduce heat and stir tomato paste and cream.  Heat through, do not boil. 

I tossed the sauce with fresh blanched peas and spinach ravioli, topped with fresh shredded romano cheese. 


Monday, March 7, 2011

Shrimp Tacos

Oh, it has been a while. 

I'm home now, getting back into the swing of things around here again.  Back to my happy place, cooking. 

I made these a few nights ago and they came out pretty good.  I opted to broil the shrimp rather than bread and fry them in an attempt to make it healthier.  But we all know that fried would be more awesome.  ;)

Shrimp Tacos
- 1 1/2 pounds raw shrimp
- 3 cups shredded cabbage

- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 cup lime juice
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- dash pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- handful of cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- dash cayenne pepper

Topping Sauce
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 cup salsa

Other taco ingredients:
Cilantro Lime Rice, recipe in this post
Black beans
Flour or Corn Tortillas

Mix all marinade ingredients together.  Toss cabbage with half the marinade in one bowl, combine raw shrimp with the other half of the marinade.  Put in the fridge for about 20 minutes.

Stir sour cream and salsa together, let sit in fridge.

Spray cooking sheet with nonstick spray and broil shrimp 4-8 minutes until done.

Fill tortillas. Eat.  Yum.

Some of My Most Popular Posts