Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cajun Shrimp

I know I've been pretty slack in the recipe posting department lately. Keeping Deacon still in the evenings is a feat that requires the 4 hands of 2 people, sedatives, and chew toys. On the rare evening the sedative actually powers through his ability to fight it off and he calms down before dinner time, I actually have a chance to step back into the kitchen. Albeit briefly. Which is why this cajun shrimp recipe is fantastic in its simplicity and tastiness!

I pulled this recipe because shrimp were on sale and all the other ingredients I have on hand anyway. This recipes is just about as easy as shake and bake....except in this case, it's shake and saute.

We had these spicy shrimp over asiago cheese polenta and it was delicious!

Cajun Shrimp
(Source: Cooking Light, October 1997)

1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Combine first 8 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag; seal bag and shake to coat. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add shrimp; sauté 4 minutes or until shrimp are done. It is just that easy!!

Nutritional Information
Calories: 185 (29% from fat) Fat: 6g (sat 1.1g,mono 1.4g,poly 2.7g) Protein: 29g Carbohydrate: 2.2g Fiber: 0.3g Cholesterol: 215mg Iron: 4.1mg Sodium: 357mg Calcium: 85mg

Monday, November 24, 2008

Festival of Trees

Yesterday was the last day of our local Festival of Trees. Every year around this time the Orlando Museum of Art becomes home to a glittering collection of fantastically decorated trees, wreaths, and gingerbread houses. It's a fun way to spend an afternoon and a great way to kick off the holiday season. Here's some pics from the festival...Courtney celebrates Christmas at Hogwarts with Harry Potter....and I'm with some kind of Mardi Gras-fabulous tree.

I'm not one that needs much prodding to get into the holiday spirit. I LOVE Christmas and all that comes with it. I just love decorating our home for the holidays...I love all the baking and cooking and lights and decorations. Floridians do it up right when it comes to holiday lights...we don't get cold weather or snow so we make it feel like Christmas with LOTS (!!) of twinkle lights. Last year, we grabbed some Starbucks and hopped in the car to drive around and look at some of the lights in our neighborhood...we weren't disappointed and can't wait to go again this year! I'll have to get pictures so you can fully understand what I mean...

Anyway, despite my love for Christmas, it is also important to me that Thanksgiving has its day. So normally the Christmas songs and decorations don't come out until the last of the leftovers have disappeared. But this year, I'm finding myself sneakily listening to the all Christmas station (105.9 for my fellow Orlando residents) in my car...and just itching to get out the holiday trappings!

So spending some time walking around the Festival of Trees with my sister did me some good yesterday. After a little hint of Christmas, I'm ready to prepare my first Thanksgiving meal and then get the house all decorated with the help of family that will be in town. I'm trying some new Thanksgiving recipes....so if they turn out, you'll see them here soon! :)

And lastly here's a cutie picture of Deacon I took this weekend...a little sunshine and fresh air to help him continue to feel better! 2 weeks down....6 more to go!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Too Cute

I just went home for lunch and found the cutest get well card in the mailbox for Deacon from his fabulous friend, Bella (often blogged about here). Deacon tried to read it himself but then decided a nap would be far less work...

He's probably dreaming about when he feels better and can go back to fun times with his number one girl like these:

FAVORITE Broccoli Salad

You've probably had this salad at some picnic or potluck along the way. I think I first had this salad after my roommate in graduate school made it for a church fellowship dinner...and I still can't get enough of it! Wherever it originally was created, this is definitely one of our favorite sides. We typically prepare it in the summer alongside anything grilled. But today is my office's Thanksgiving celebration so Broccoli Salad was my contribution.

This is the perfect, make ahead food. It is one of those excellent dishes that actually gets better the longer it sits in the refrigerator. It couldn't be easier to put together...and I've still yet to meet someone that didn't love it and ask for the recipe. So I'll save you a step and give you the recipe here. Note that the picture above was taken before adding the bacon and sunflower seeds...not everyone in the office eats meat and/or nuts so it is easy to customize!

Broccoli Salad

1 head of fresh broccoli
10 slices of bacon
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup mayonnaise
3 T white wine vinegar
2 T sugar

1. Cook bacon and crumble once it has cooled. Set aside.
2. Cut broccoli into bite-sized florets.
3. In a large bowl, combine broccoli, red onion, and raisins.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, sugar and mayo.
5. Pour mayo mixture over the broccoli and toss well.
6. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Toss with bacon and sunflower seeds before serving.

**Thanks so much to all of you that have sent little Deacon get well wishes! We go to the vet today to have his stitches removed and are so excited that he won't have to wear the e-collar anymore! We've also finished with his prescriptions which is wonderful because I'm convinced he should have been a drug sniffing dog...no matter what I did, he found the hidden pills so meal times were no picnic! He is walking better every day and the hard part now is just keeping him as calm as possible!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Comfort food for the caretaker

Taking care of a puppy recovering from major hip surgery is not easy! Especially when the puppy is trying to go back to his old tricks of hunting lizards and jumping on furniture already. We're on day 3 which means we have 53 left before his recovery is complete. Yay...

While Deacon napped last evening, I was able to throw together this Cooking Light version of Macaroni and Cheese. The ultimate comfort food. I've always been a fan of throwing a thinly sliced tomato onto grilled cheese sandwiches so the roasted tomatoes sounded excellent to me!

This macaroni and cheese had a great texture and consistency! It was very creamy and tasted way more indulgent than it is! I accidentally grabbed sharp cheddar instead of extra sharp cheddar which may be why it wasn't quite as cheesy as I would have liked. But the tomatoes and breadcrumbs are a fantastic way to easily dress up macaroni and cheese! Throw in a side salad and you've got a not-so-bad-for-you but still very tasty, comfort food!

Stove Top Macaroni and Cheese with Roasted Tomatoes
(Source: Cooking Light, January 2005)

3 cups halved cherry tomatoes
Cooking spray
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 ounces sourdough bread, torn into pieces
1 teaspoon butter, melted
12 ounces large elbow macaroni
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded extrasharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup egg substitute
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated low-fat milk

1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Place tomatoes in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with black pepper. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally.

3. While tomatoes cook, place bread in a food processor; pulse 2 times or until crumbly. Toss crumbs with melted butter. Sprinkle the crumbs on a baking sheet, and bake at 375° for 12 minutes or until golden, stirring frequently.

4. Cook macaroni in boiling water 7 minutes; drain. Return macaroni to pan; place over medium-low heat. Add cheese and remaining ingredients; cook 4 minutes or until cheese melts, stirring constantly. Stir in tomatoes. Sprinkle each serving with about 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs.

Nutritional Information
Calories: 357 (29% from fat)Fat: 11.4g (sat 6.6g,mono 3.1g,poly 0.8g) Protein: 18.1g Carbohydrate: 45.2g Fiber: 2g Cholesterol: 33mg Iron: 2.7mg Sodium: 669mg Calcium: 350mg

Monday, November 10, 2008

Hoping for a speedy recovery...

Probably won't be too many posts here over the next several weeks. Deacon went in today for hip surgery and has an 8 week recovery time where we have to keep him from running, jumping and basically being a puppy. Ugh. If he is back to his typical, spazzy self in no time, it will require all our energy to keep the little guy quiet! So either way I will likely not be able to spend much time in the kitchen...I'll keep myself busy pulling recipes for the very first Thanksgiving hosted by yours truly!

Here's a pic of Deacon on the new bed we got for him to help him recover in comfort! This bed is roughly the size of a planet!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Brandied-Peach Pork Chops

I don't typically prepare pork often at home (unless it is pork tenderloin). I tend to overcook boneless pork chops and find bone-in pork chops to be a little too much work when it is time to eat! But I thought I would give the other white meat another shot when I saw this Brandied- Peach Pork recipe on Epicurious. It sounded simple enough, got great reviews, and just seemed like a good, hearty Fall meal. Plus, I love the chance to flambe and let out my inner pyromaniac.

We really enjoyed this recipe. Even though I think I still overcooked the pork, it wasn't dried out which I think I owe to the delicious peach sauce. The peach topping was very tasty and was such a great complement to the pork...that perfect combination of savory and sweet. The shallots and thyme cooking in the butter smells amazingly delicious and might tempt you to rush the last few steps but try to resist because the peach sauce is worth it!

Brandied-Peach Pork Chops
(Source: Gourmet, January 2008)

4 (1-inch-thick) loin pork chops
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon brandy, divided
1 (10-ounce) bag frozen peaches, thawed
1/3 cup peach preserves

1. Pat pork chops dry, then sprinkle on both sides salt and pepper

2. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then cook pork chops, turning once, until browned and just cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes total.

3. Transfer to a platter and keep warm, loosely covered with foil. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from skillet.

4. Heat butter in skillet over medium heat until foam subsides, then cook shallots with thyme, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden-brown, about 5 minutes.

5. Add 1/4 cup brandy to skillet and carefully ignite with a kitchen match (use caution; flames will shoot up), then cook over medium heat, scraping bottom of skillet to loosen brown bits. When flames subside, add peaches, preserves, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper and cook, covered, until peaches are tender and juicy, about 3 minutes.

6. Stir in remaining tablespoon brandy, any meat juices from platter, and salt and pepper to taste, then spoon sauce over chops.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It's over!

Thank goodness the election is over!! No more commercials and my gosh, no more phone calls! If you're looking for a libation to either drown your sorrows or celebrate your candidate's win, The Maverick is a great little cocktail (it's even more fun if you say Maaaverick with a Sarah Palin accent). I found it here where there were several fun election night drinks...having both bourbon and champagne-lovers in the family, this drink got every one's vote. OK, enough election humor (I use the term loosely).

The Maverick

1 oz bourbon
3/4 oz simple syrup
1/2 ripe peach
3 lemon wedges
1 oz champagne

1. To make the simple syrup add 2 parts sugar to 1 part boiling water. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved and then remove from heat and chill.

2. Muddle the peach and lemon wedges in the simple syrup.

3. Add bourbon and ice and shake well.

4. Strain into glass and top with champagne and a peach wedge. Salud!