Eat!

Eating is a necessity. However, we choose what to eat. The choices we make reveal a great deal about us. The food you eat can tell quite a bit about your heritage, your family, your fears, your sense of adventure, your attitude toward yourself and others, and a myriad of other personal tidbits to anyone paying attention. Everything about eating is a glimpse into your soul.

I hope to reveal a little bit about myself to you through my food. I enjoy cooking. I enjoy eating. I find pleasure in bringing pleasure to others. I hope that by sharing my recipes I bring you a little bit of joy.

Cook my food. Feed it to the people you love.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Spicy Shrimp Chowder



Spicy Shrimp Chowder

The temperature dropped into the 40s here last night. In Florida, we consider that Arctic. Frigid weather (it was 53˚ when I went out this morning) requires fuzzy socks, spiking my hot tea with a little brandy and Spicy Shrimp Chowder. Sweet corn and shrimp balance smoky bacon and a little heat to create happiness in a bowl. I love this.

As with all of my recipes, I encourage you to take this and make it your own. I love spicy food. So, I used Ro-Tel Hot Tomatoes with Habaneros. You can have less heat by choosing Ro-Tel Original. If you prefer your dishes without any spiciness use Ro-Tel Mild. You could also add a chopped green pepper with the onions and garlic, but I found that using the Southwest style corn did the trick. Finally, if you want something lighter, skip the butter and the flour and thicken the chowder by adding a cornstarch mixture (2 tablespoons cold water/1 tablespoon cornstarch) with the potatoes.

I made this yesterday. This dish was amazing. I woke up in the middle of the night and had another bowl. I took a bowl of it with me to work. Truth be told. I would have eaten for dinner again tonight, but there wasn’t enough left for both of us and I didn’t want to share.

Servings: 4-8 (depending on how hungry you are)
Time: Active: 15 minutes; Cook: 35; Dinner in about an hour
Hardware:  Measuring spoons and cups, a cutting board and knives, a soup pot, a can opener, a wooden spoon

Ingredients:

  • 4 pieces bacon
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion (4 ounces or ½ cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 7 cups chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 ½ pound potatoes
  • 1-10-ounce can Ro-Tel tomatoes-drained and rinsed
  • 10.8-ounce bag Southwest style steam in bag frozen corn (the kind with red and green peppers)
  • 1-pound large shrimp (21-25 count) peeled and cleaned
  • 1 cup half and half
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Garnish:  Crumbled bacon, chopped pickled jalapeños, chopped green onions, parsley, croutons, and/or oyster crackers

  1. Peel the potatoes. Dice into 1-inch cubes. Chop the onions, garlic and bacon. Set aside.
  2. Melt the butter over medium heat in the soup pot. Add the chopped bacon, onions and garlic. Cook until the onions are soft (5-6 minutes).
  3. Add the flour, cumin and paprika. Stir until it is a paste the color of honey. Slowly add the stock, stirring the entire time. Bring to a low boil. Taste and adjust the salt. Add the oregano, potatoes, Ro-Tel and corn (frozen, straight from the bag.) Gently boil until the potatoes are tender. (20 minutes)
  4. Add the raw shrimp and lower the heat. Stir in the half and half. Simmer for 5 more minutes or until the shrimp are cooked through.
  5. Salt & pepper to taste. Serve warm.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Gamberi alla Marinara



Gamberi alla Marinara
Gamberi are jumbo shrimp. The crunchy, fried shrimp blends perfectly with the slightly sweet, homemade marinara. What? I know most of you probably buy your pasta sauce. Homemade sauce has no preservatives or unnatural ingredients. It is less expensive. Most importantly, the sauce that you make yourself tastes so much better. This recipe makes a great deal of sauce. It freezes nicely.

I use Pomì tomatoes because they have no preservatives, no added citric acid and are straight from Italy. Pomì tomatoes are also in paper rather than cans. The acid in tomatoes can eat into cans and add lead to your diet. You can use sautéed zucchini and mushrooms instead of shrimp if you want this meal to be vegetarian.  

If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can use a regular blender. Just make sure to hold the lid down because the heat will cause the lid to fly off. If the sauce isn’t thick enough for you cook it on high for the last hour without the lid. Some of the liquid will evaporate.
Serve this over a long, thin pasta.

Servings: 4-6 (lots of leftover sauce)
Time: Active: 15 minutes; Cook: 8 hours minutes; (After the sauce is finished) Dinner in 30 minutes
Hardware:  A cutting board and knives, measuring spoons and cups, a crock pot, an immersion blender, a wooden spoon, a large pot, a colander, a gallon Ziploc, a heavy, deep skillet, tongs, a slotted spoon a large paper towel lined bowl, and an oil thermometer 

Sauce Ingredients:
  • 26 oz. strained tomatoes
  • 1-pint cherry tomatoes
  • 6 oz. tomato paste
  • small yellow onion (4 oz., 1 cup)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  •  ½ teaspoon brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Optional-1 teaspoon fresh basil and ½ teaspoon fresh oregano
……………………………..
Shrimp:
  •  1-pound large shrimp (16-20 count) You can buy them cleaned without tails
  •   Garlic salt
  •    1 cup flour 
  •  ¼ cup seasoned Italian bread crumbs 
  •  ¼ cup corn starch 
  •  Oil 
  •  Long thin pasta like fettuccine, linguine, spaghetti or tagliatelle, fresh parsley, grated Parmesan

1.      Mince the onion and the garlic. Then add them and the rest of the sauce ingredients to the crock pot. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Remove the bay leaf. If you are adding fresh herbs, add them now. Use the immersion blender to smooth the sauce. Adjust the salt.
2.      Cook the pasta while the shrimp is cooking. If you use dried pasta, it should finish up just about the same time as the shrimp.
3.      Generously sprinkle the shrimp with garlic salt.
4.      Place the flour, crumbs and corn starch in the Ziploc. Shake the bag. Add the shrimp to the Ziploc bag and shake like crazy. Set aside.
5.      Add enough oil to fill the heavy skillet up half way. Heat it on medium high. When the temperature reaches 375°, the pan is ready.
6.      Shake as much flour as you can from the shrimp. Place the shrimp in a single layer in the hot oil. Fry them for 3-5 minutes or until cooked through. Don’t crowd the shrimp, they shouldn’t be touching. You may need to cook them in batches. Use the thermometer to keep the temperature between 370° and 375°. Using the slotted spoon, move them from the oil to the paper towel lined bowl. You can keep them warm by placing the bowl in the oven on the lowest setting.
7.      To plate, place the pasta in a bowl, top with a generous amount of marinara, then pile on the shrimp. Sprinkle with parsley and grated cheese.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Southwest Stuffed Chicken



My husband loves the flavors of the Southwest and Mexico: chiles, cilantro, cumin, peppers, onions, tomatoes and a bit of heat. If you look through the blog, you can see that I try to make him happy. Of course, I love the food as much as he does. But it gets harder and harder to do something original. Stuffed chicken isn’t something new, but this is my idea, my selection of the ingredients and my instructions.

If you are like me, a recipe is just a starting place. When I was less experienced or if I am not confident, I do follow the recipe teaspoon by teaspoon. But most of the time, I read a recipe and use it as a canvas, but add my own color and brushstrokes by changing it up to please our family of two. Knowing this, I always list a few changes that you could make while following my recipes. 

While making this recipe, you can follow it exactly or change it up. You could buy taco seasoning or make your own. I prefer to make my own because most prepackaged seasonings are salt flavored salt. You can also control the amount of heat in this dish by omitting the jalapeño and choosing the variety of Ro-Tel you want. I used Ro-Tel with Habaneros. I love spicy. You could use Ro-Tel Mild. I also used ¼ cup shredded cheddar and ¼ cup shredded pepper jack. You could use all cheddar or all pepper jack or all Swiss if you wanted. (Don’t use Swiss, I was joking.) I think that it is important for food to be visually appealing, so instead of using one green bell pepper, I used ½ red bell pepper and ½ yellow bell pepper.

I served this with Yellow Rice, slices of cucumber and Spicy Pintos, the quick recipe for them is at the end.


Servings: 4-6
Time: Active: 25 minutes; Cook: 50 minutes; Chicken in about an hour
Hardware:  A cutting board and knives, a meat mallet (or a rolling pin or a very sturdy coffee cup,) plastic wrap, food safe gloves, measuring spoons and cups, toothpicks, tongs, a bowl, a large plate, a heavy skillet that can be used on the stove top and in the oven (I use cast iron,) a metal spoon, a can opener, a meat thermometer, an oven mitt

Ingredients:


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°.
  2. Slice the onion and green peppers into long thin strips. Wearing gloves, dice the jalapeño, removing the seeds and white ribs. Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of the skillet over medium high heat. When the skillet is hot, add the veggies and cook to desired tenderness. Some people like them very soft, but I prefer them to have some crunch. Remove the veggies to the bowl. Set aside. Don’t wash the pan.
  3. Dice the sun-dried tomatoes into very small pieces. Add them to the bowl with the veggies.
  4. Wearing gloves, trim the fat from the chicken and cut each cutlet in half long ways. (You want long, flat pieces of chicken not chunks.) Cover each cutlet with plastic wrap and pound flat (with whatever you have handy.) If the breasts are thick enough, you may be able to get 3 pieces from each breast. Generously season both sides of the chicken with taco seasoning.
  5. Do one roll at a time. Place a small amount of the veggie filling on the short end of the chicken. Roll up tightly and secure with a toothpick. Place the roll on the plate. Do this with the rest of the chicken.
  6. Add a little more oil to the pan and heat over medium heat. Add the chicken to the pan, seam side down, cook for 5-7 minutes or until the chicken is brown. Flip the chicken and spoon off as much fat as you can.
  7. Nestle the unused filling around the chicken and add the can of Ro-Tel. Don’t pour it over the chicken as you will make the crispy top become soggy.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the chicken is 160°. Remove the pan. Using the tongs, remove the toothpicks. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the chicken and return it to the oven and cook for 5 more minutes or until the cheese melts.
  9. Allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes.
  10. Scoop up everything left in the pan and serve as a side.Serve with Spicy Pintos, cucmbers and Yellow Rice,

 Southwest Stuffed Chicken




 
















Spicy Pintos
Quick recipe: Put pintos, cilantro and a bay leaf in the crock pot and cover them in water. Set the crockpot on low for 5 hours. You may need to add more water while they are cooking. Check to see if they are tender at 4 hours because every crockpot is different. When the beans are tender add chopped jalapeños, onion, 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, a splash of vinegar, a pinch of cayenne pepper and salt. Simmer them for another hour. Remove the bay leaf. (Culantro is a cilantro substitute. It gives a similar flavor with no soapy aftertaste. Also, if you add salt or anything with sugar or anything with tomatoes before the beans soften, they will never get tender.)