Tag Archives: french bread

BBQ Shrimp with Fried Polenta Cakes

30 Jan
BBQ Shrimp with Fried Polenta Cakes

BBQ Shrimp with Fried Polenta Cakes

I rarely try to do copycat recipes as they never come up to snuff to what you expect, but this one scored in my house. Now, probably 99.9999% of my readers don’t even live in my small town nor either close to it, so we’ll just leave it at that I was able to surpass the taste of this amazing shrimp appetizer dish at a local trendy restaurant.

It probably doesn’t even taste the same, since I never bought their expensive $16 bottle of the sauce to compare it to. (Who buys a $16 bottle of BBQ sauce, what??) All I know is that it exceeded our expectations of how it would turn out. I’m in LOVE! My husband swooned! (OK he didn’t literally, but he loved it too so I had to say it.)

I tried searching for the copycat recipe from our local restaurant (Zydeco Kitchen and Cocktails), but all it ever came up with was a copycat recipe for Zydeco 5, which is apparently in the Midwest or thereabouts. So, I googled for New Orleans BBQ Shrimp. Whoa! Too much information. However, what I gleaned from it all is that there were two camps in how to prepare it. Either marinating for a long time then oven cooking, or cooking quickly in a cast-iron skillet. I chose the former after my research.

I printed out several of the recipes that went in both camps, then combined all the ingredients into one full recipe. I got a little confuzzled at one point when I scratched out on one and then switched to the other then went back to the other. OY!

Instead of making grits or polenta cakes from scratch (for time reasons), I went with an organic refrigerated garlic and basil polenta tube from a local grocery. Trader Joe’s sells a similar tube of this product.

BBQ Shrimp with Fried Polenta Cakes

BBQ Shrimp with Fried Polenta Cakes

Note: I’ve offered to bring this to Super Bowl next week as an appetizer, and THEN make it again a few weeks later as the main course for a dinner party. Am I nuts??? LOL. But will be glad to do it.

Second note: I have a high heat/spice tolerance, so adjust seasoning amounts as needed.

This recipe serves two people, adjust amounts if serving more. On to the recipe!

BBQ Shrimp with Fried Polenta Cakes

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chili sauce (found in the ketchup aisle)
3 tablespoons Worcesterhire sauce
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke (I used Stubb’s)
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Cajun (Creole) seasoning
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried spicy oregano
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
Generous amounts of ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 pound large or jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
Prepared refrigerated polenta
1 tablespoon butter
Chopped parsley and green onion, for garnish

Preparing the BBQ Sauce

Preparing the BBQ Sauce

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat, then add all the ingredients through to the ground pepper. You may want to add the spicy spices a little at a time until the spice level suits your tastes.

Spicy BBQ Sauce

Spicy BBQ Sauce

Bring to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes until it’s reduced just a tad. Add the shrimp to a casserole dish, then pour the sauce over it, stirring around to coat. Spread the shrimp around so they’re in a single layer.

Marinating the Shrimp

Marinating the Shrimp

Cover and place in refrigerator for up to 4 hours or overnight.

About a half hour before you are ready to eat, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. When preheated, place shrimp dish uncovered in oven for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice the polenta into 1/2-inch or so cakes (I wasn’t very precise in that case). Add butter to a skillet over medium-high heat, then fry the polenta cakes on each side until slightly browned.

Fried Polenta Cakes

Fried Polenta Cakes

Place two polenta cakes in a bowl, then add desired amount of shrimp over the cakes, pouring generous amounts of the BBQ sauce over it. Garnish with additional chopped parsley and green onion. Serve with a crusty bread, for sopping up all the sauce. Try not to fight over who gets to mop up the last of the sauce out of the casserole dish.

BBQ Shrimp with Fried Polenta Cakes

BBQ Shrimp with Fried Polenta Cakes

Download and Print this Recipe

Download and Print this Yummy Recipe!

 

 

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Classic French Onion Soup

2 Jan
Classic French Onion Soup

Classic French Onion Soup

I put onions on the shopping list, and good ol’ hubby came home with a 5-pound bag of them! I typically buy two or three at a time, sometimes a couple of sweet and a yellow, sometimes a red. But 5-pounds of yellow onions?! So of course, I had to make some French Onion Soup.

I have made this soup before, but the results were less than satisfying. So I printed out my handy-dandy PDF copy, then went to work at scratching out items and modifying amounts and ingredients. I was extremely pleased with this version of the Classic French Onion Soup. WAY better than the last one. I hope you think so too!

Classic French Onion Soup

1 1/2 pounds medium yellow onions
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup dry sherry (the good stuff, not cooking sherry!)
1 sprig thyme
1 bay leaf
4 cups homemade beef stock, or low sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste, if needed
Thick slices French bread
Butter for bread
Grated Gruyere cheese, enough for topping

Sliced Onions

Sliced Onions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Meanwhile, slice the onions thin. This is a piece of cake if you have a mandoline slicer, and I adore mine! Next, add the butter to a soup pot or Dutch oven that has an oven-proof lid and melt it over medium heat.

Buttered Onions

Buttered Onions

Add the onions to the melted butter, stirring around to coat. Cover and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes.

Uncover and give the onions a good stir, then recover and add the pot to the oven, leaving a crack in the lid. After 30 minutes, uncover the pot and give the onions another good stir.

Onions Halfway Cooked

Onions Halfway Cooked

Leaving uncovered, cook for another 45 minutes, stirring them every 10 or 15 minutes, until they are caramel brown.

Caramelized Onions

Caramelized Onions

Once the onions are brown and caramelized, take the pot out of the oven and place on the stove over medium heat. Add the sherry and deglaze the pot, including scraping all the brown bits from the edges. Cook for about 5 more minutes, until the sherry reduces about half. Add the thyme sprig, bay leaf, and beef or chicken broth. If you don’t have homemade beef stock, I have read the soup will come out much better using a good quality store-bought chicken broth rather than beef.

Simmer the soup for 20 minutes, then finish it off with the cider vinegar. Take a sip, and season to taste with salt and/or pepper. I found it only needed just a pinch of salt, but I always use a lot of pepper.

About 10 minutes before you are ready to eat, slice enough French bread to top the amount of individual ramekins you will be cooking. Butter the tops of the slices, then place them in the oven or toaster oven on broil for a few minutes, until browned and crispy.

Soup Ready for Broiling

Soup Ready for Broiling

Ladle soup into the ramekins, top with a slice of crispy bread, then top with a good amount of grated Gruyere cheese. Broil for several minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove carefully from oven, and serve immediately.

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup ~ Please forgive my horribly focused shot!

Download and Print this Recipe

Download and Print this Yummy Recipe!

Chicken Tetrazzini Casserole

10 May
Chicken Tetrazzini Casserole

Chicken Tetrazzini Casserole

Busy, busy, busy! That’s what I’ve been lately, and when you’re busy it’s so nice to have a fairly quick and healthy casserole to whip together, just like this one. This is even something I wouldn’t mind cooking myself on this Mother’s Day (as long as I don’t have to do the dishes!). And Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers out there, be it mothers of humans, fur-kids, or nature! I hope you enjoy this recipe, this was a thumbs-up in my family all the way around.

Chicken Tetrazzini Casserole
Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

5 ounces uncooked linguine, snapped in half
2 1/2 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/4 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup Half and Half, or milk
1 ounce Neufchâtel cream cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 ounces sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped onions
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
1/2 cup frozen peas
2-inch thick chunk French bread baguette, torn into chunks
1 teaspoon oil

Shred that Chicken Breast!

Shred that Chicken Breast!

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain, and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt half the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and whisk for a couple of minutes until all combined. Pour in the chicken broth and milk, whisking constantly.

Stirring the Cheese into the Sauce

Stirring the Cheese into the Sauce

Bring up to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes, whisking occasionally. Stir in 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese and the cream cheese until combined, then turn off heat and set aside.

Suateing the Mushrooms and Onion

Sauteing the Mushrooms and Onions

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the rest of the butter. Add the mushrooms and saute for 3 to 5 minutes. Then add the onions, garlic, and thyme and saute for 5 more minutes. Add the sherry, then cook for a minute more.

Combining the Casserole

Combining the Casserole

Pour in the saucepan of milk/cheese mixture, the pasta, chicken, and peas. Toss to combine. Spoon the mixture into a 2-quart casserole coated with oil spray.

Casserole Ready for Bread Crumbs

Casserole Ready for Bread Crumbs

Place the torn bread pieces and the rest of the Parmesan cheese in a food processor and pulse until coarse crumbs form. Sprinkle evenly over the pasta. Bake for 30 minutes or until browned and bubbly.

Chicken Tetrazzini Casserole

Chicken Tetrazzini Casserole

Download and Print this Recipe

Download and Print this Yummy Recipe!

 

Fuss-Free Spicy Pork and Kale in a Crock Pot

5 Jan
Spicy Pork and Kale

Spicy Pork and Kale

I had a few pieces of frozen pork that had to be used stat, as they were starting to look slightly freezer-burnt around the edges. Then I had this HUGE bunch of organic kale I picked up the other day, for reasons still unknown to me this day. I must have had something in mind, but it never came back to me. Armed with those two ingredients, I thought about making my Spicy Pork and Kale Soup, but decided I needed to try out something new. After countless interwebz searches, I finally settled on a combination of flavors I thought would work together.

Kale Bunch

Kale Bunch

About halfway through the cooking time my daughter said the kitchen smelled really good, so I was hopeful! And thankfully, it turned out delicious! It was spicy, tangy, filling, and made for a great meal for the fam after we spent a good part of the day cleaning out our junk room to make into a bedroom for a foreign exchange student we are hosting in February. (As well as painting my daughter’s bedroom a new color, which I had no part in. That was a father-daughter project for the day.) We served this over a bed of brown rice sided with thick slices of French Bread to sop up the juices. Yummy!

Spicy Pork and Kale Ready to Cook

Spicy Pork and Kale Ready to Cook

Spicy Pork and Kale in a Crock Pot

1 1/2 pounds thick boneless pork loin chops
Sweet Hungarian paprika
Ground black pepper
1 large bunch of kale
2 pints homemade canned tomatoes and liquid, chopped, or two cans of diced low-sodium tomatoes, with liquid
2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Cooked brown or white rice, for serving

Season the pork generously with paprika and black pepper. Add to a 5 or 6 quart slow cooker. Tear the kale off the stems into bite-size pieces and add to the crock pot. It fills up almost the entire crock pot, but don’t worry, it all cooks down. For my homemade pints of tomatoes, I just used a knife to chop them up straight in the jar. Pour the chopped or canned diced tomatoes over all, then sprinkle the Balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and crushed red pepper flakes over the kale.

Cook on high 4 to 6 hours or on low 8 to 10 hours. When ready to serve, shred the pork with two forks in the crock pot and give it a good stir. Serve over cooked brown or white rice, with bread for sopping up the juices. Minimal ingredients, fuss-free, huge taste!

Spicy Pork and Kale

Spicy Pork and Kale

Download and Print this Recipe

Download and Print this Yummy Recipe!

Bay Scallops and Shrimp Scampi

17 Apr
Bay Scallops and Shrimp Scampi with Rice

Bay Scallops and Shrimp Scampi with Rice

Our daughter is not a huge fan of seafood (bless her heart) but the hubby and I really enjoy a good seafood dinner here and again. She was off spending the night at a friend’s house this past weekend, and gave us the perfect chance to make us a seafood meal that doesn’t consist of frozen fish sticks, which inexplicably she does like to eat. A seafood scampi basically calls for a lot of butter, garlic, and lemon juice. Seeing as we were in an indulgent frame of mind, we used all that, and then some. Hey, you only live once, and we do try to eat healthy but in my mind the scallops and shrimp balanced out the fact we used real butter. Yes, you have to use real butter for this. Your results may vary, if not. We tag-teamed on this meal, helping each other out to get this on the table without overcooking it.

Bay Scallops and Shrimp

Bay Scallops and Shrimp

We prepared rice cooked in a deep golden homemade chicken broth to serve this over. You can use any kind of rice cooked in water or any broth, or even pasta. There is enough liquid to moisten up any accompaniment. Heck, sop up the juice with a big thick slice of crusty bread. Serve with a side salad, and all is good and well in the world for that time being.

Turning the Shrimp

Turning the Shrimp ~ My husband keeps his nails groomed nicer than mine!

Bay Scallops and Shrimp Scampi

1/2 pound bay scallops
1/2 pound shrimp
Hungarian or regular paprika, to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 green onion, diced
1/8 cup lemon juice, about 1/3 large lemon squeezed
1/4 cup white wine (or sub with chicken broth)
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon dried parsley, or fresh chopped if you have it, for garnish
Extra green onion chopped, for garnish
Lemon wedges, for garnish

Make your rice or pasta ahead of time and keep warm, as well as make a salad or whatever green you want with this. Rinse the scallops and shrimp, and pat dry. Put in separate bowls, and season them to taste generously with paprika. I used the sweet Hungarian variety —  it packs a lot of flavor! In a large cast iron or heavy skillet, heat the oil and butter over high heat until fairly hot. You want to sear the scallops, not “steam” them. I ended up with half-seared and half-steamed, as you can see by the photo. You might want to do this in batches to achieve the seared effect, but I was impatient and stuck them all in at once.  Cook for about one minute,  (seriously!) and then flip them over and cook for about another minute more. With a slotted spoon, remove from skillet and place on a plate and tent to keep warm.

Simmering Scallops

Simmering Scallops ~ I should have done in batches!

In the same skillet, add the garlic and green onion, reduce the heat to medium and saute for just a few minutes until the onion starts to soften and the garlic becomes fragrant. Add the lemon juice, white wine or chicken broth, then add the shrimp in a single layer. Season with ground black pepper to taste, and cook the shrimp for two minutes or so on each side. Basically after you get them all in, you’ll have to start flipping over the first ones you added over to cook on the other side. This is a quick process! Now dump in the scallops, then toss everything around until simmering again and warmed up. You don’t want to overcook these puppies, or they will get tough. Put on your quick dancing shoes for this dinner  (God Bless you Donna!), as it all goes quite fast. Remove from heat, garnish with dried or fresh parsley, green onion, lemon wedges, and serve it over rice, pasta, or just plop in a bowl and eat it and sop up with a crusty bread. And don’t forget your nice crisp side salad to balance it all out.

Bay Shrimp and Scallops Scampi

Bay Shrimp and Scallops Scampi

Asparagus, Potato, and Chicken Soup with Ricotta Cheese

2 Mar
Asparagus, Potato, and Chicken Soup with Ricotta Cheese

Asparagus, Potato, and Chicken Soup with Ricotta Cheese

My husband really does cook a lot in this household. The problem is, whenever he cooks, I’m usually off and about doing other things since I don’t have to cook that night, so don’t get the photos or the recipe or method he used. Last night however, I hovered around him, took a few photos, helped out a tad, and probably made him a little irritated with my cooking opinions. He’s made asparagus soup for us before, but this time he added some different ingredients that I felt made it worth a new post. He also cooked the turkey broth base from scratch! OK that was one thing I did help him with. I’m the queen of broth-makers, and had to make sure it was done right. (Although in reality it’s hard to mess it up at all, hmmm.) Nonetheless, this was a satisfying meal and the Ricotta cheese really gave the cream base a nice flavor that prevented it from tasting too floury. He made my Spinach Lasagna the other night, and had leftover Ricotta cheese he wanted to use. Also fresh early spring asparagus has started showing up in the stores and he had bought some of that. Then we had a leftover roasted chicken breast from the night before. He did some interwebz searches, and this is what he came up with. Thumbs up, hubby!

Asparagus, Potato, and Chicken Soup with Ricotta Cheese

1 pound asparagus, woody stems removed, tips cut off and reserved
4 to 6 cups chicken or turkey broth, homemade or low-sodium
1/2 cup diced onion
3 cups diced potatoes
1 cup low-fat Ricotta cheese
1 cooked chicken breast, shredded
1 tablespoon real bacon bits, optional
Ground black pepper, to taste
Salt to taste, optional
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons flour
Shredded Parmesan for garnish, optional

In a large soup pot or dutch oven, add the broth and asparagus (minus tips) and onions and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes, until asparagus is very soft. Meanwhile parboil the diced potatoes in another pot for about 10 minutes, drain, and set aside. Using tongs, remove half of the asparagus to a large blender or food processor and puree with about a cup of the broth and the 1 cup of Ricotta cheese. Pour mixture back into pot, then remove the rest of the asparagus and some of the liquid and blend again. Pour that back into the pot and add the reserved potatoes and asparagus tips, shredded chicken, bacon bits (optional), black pepper, and salt to taste.  In a small bowl, whisk the milk and flour together then slowly pour into the soup. Mix well and bring up to a low simmer again, and heat through about 10 or 15 minutes. Serve with warm French bread and garnish with Parmesan cheese.

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