Thursday, February 25, 2010

Herb Crusted Shrimp

This recipe is really intended as an appetizer, so I served these little babies the night of the Super Bowl, but the leftovers were excellent the following night over a big green salad.  I'd just gotten my new Food Network Magazine a week earlier, and once I saw this recipe, I knew I wanted to try it (with a couple of tweaks, of course. ;-)

If you're looking for a new way to make shrimp...give this recipe a go. :-) They're so easy to make...I guarantee this will become one of your favorite recipes for shrimp.

I'm posting this now so you can make it on will follow this weekend!

Herb Crusted Shrimp
Adapted from Food Network Magazine

1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup olive oil
1 whole lemon
1 small handful fresh parsley, chopped
1 small handful fresh thyme, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

Preheat the broiler on high.

I bought these shrimp with the heads on...this is what you want to get if you can.  Save the heads and shells to make stock if you're into that sort of thing.  I decided not to do that I pitched 'em into the trash...outside (otherwise you will smell fish in the morning...and not in a good way!). 

Just pull the heads and shells off, and devein them.  Don't be afraid...they're not going to bite you!

See?  They're like people...they clean up real good. 

In a medim bowl or other shallow dish, combine the panko, olive oil, the juice AND zest of the lemon, and the chopped fresh herbs.  Season with salt and pepper.

Coat the shrimp with the breadcrumb mixture, pressing firmly on both sides.  I've found the easiest way to bread these is to essentially bury them in the crumbs and use my fingers or a fork to really push the crumbs in.  Lay the breaded shrimp out on a non-stick baking sheet.  Take any leftover breading and sprinkle it over the top. 

Broil for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown.  Do not leave the kitchen while you're broiling the shrimp...burnt shrimp are not pretty, nor do they taste good! You'll see mine are just a tad dark, and I broiled 'em for barely 4 minutes. 

Remove from the oven...careful, they'll be hot!  Serve the shrimp immediately...garnish with additional fresh herbs if desired. 

I made some simple roasted baby carrots and broccoli on the side, and put a wedge of lemon on the plate's the final touch that really takes the shrimp over the top. 

Note:  The original recipe called for parsley, basil, and chives.  I used parsley, thyme, and rosemary because that's what I had on hand.  And like I said, the leftover shrimp were really, really good over a salad the next day.  These would be great served over rice pilaf, or with a green vegetable.  But next time, I'm making a shrimp po'boy with these.  Now doesn't THAT sound good? 

David came home late for dinner, but polished off his plate in under 10 minutes, even with a wriggly toddler on his lap.  He said they were "delicious." ;-)

Enjoy...and God bless your table tonight!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fish Tacos

Fish tacos are as easy to make as your regular tacos with ground beef.  A few fillets of tilapia or other delicate white fish, some shredded cabbage, pico de gallo, and you have perfection in a corn tortilla.  I'd never had fish tacos until a few years ago, but David loves them...and asked me to try and replicate them at home. 

I've tried to streamline the process by using some components that are pre-made.  Not only does this make it easier for makes it easy for you too! 

Please buy the freshest fish you can...every grocery store has fish on special during Lent.  Don't buy it prepacked in the frozen section...get some from behind the fish counter.  It might have been pre-frozen...but it usually hasn't been out as long.  And if you keep going back to the same grocery store, the nice guys behind the counter will recognize you and give you a clue as to what will go on sale within the next few days.  I know fish can be expensive, but spending just a little bit more money really makes a different when you're buying seafood. 

Fish Tacos

2 pounds tilapia fillets (or other mild whitefish like cod)
2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
Salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 whole limes, quartered
2 whole lemons, quartered
1 bunch fresh cilantro
1 package (16 ounces) prepared coleslaw mix
2 cups prepared pico de gallo
Prepared tarter sauce for serving (optional)
1 package (30 count) corn tortillas

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Sprinkle both sides of the tilapia fillets with salt, pepper, and the Old Bay.  Lay the fish out in a single layer on a baking sheet, and drizzle with the olive oil.
Bake for 6-10 minutes or until the fish flakes easily with a fork. 

Tilapia is pretty thin, so if your fillets are very small, they'll be done in no time.  Larger, slightly thicker fillets will take a couple minutes longer.  Also keep in mind any fish will continue to cook on the plate, so if you undercook the fillets just a hair, by the time you serve them, they'll be done. 

While the fish is cooking, toss about 3 cups of the coleslaw mix with some salt, pepper, and lime juice.  Set aside for a few minutes. 

If you'd like, you can use 1/4 of a head of red cabbage, shredded, but the coleslaw mix I got was free, along with 6 other items at HEB if you bought 2 pounds of fish.  So I figured why not use it?  Nobody in our house cares for traditional coleslaw with the mayo-based dressing, so I had to come up with another way to use it. 

To serve, stack 2 corn tortillas together on a plate.  (Corn tortillas aren't as sturdy as their flour traditionally, 2 are used for fish tacos).  Lay a piece of tilapia on top (cut the fillets into smaller portions as necessary)...

and garnish with some of the coleslaw mix, a spoonful or so of pico de gallo, a couple cilantro sprigs, and a squeeze of lemon or lime juice.  It's up to you. ;-).  David likes tarter sauce with his fish taco...but I don't, so it's optional. 

I have to give a little shout out to this condiment tray I found at a garage sale for $1.00.  It makes taco assembly easy...because all your toppings are on one dish, and you don't have to pass everthing back and forth. 

So there you go...simple, fresh, and figure-friendly!  Of course, if you fried the fish, that would be heavenly...but weeknights are so busy, I really don't have time to mess with the deep fryer.  And everyone I know gave up sweets and such for did I...and I don't want to sabotage anyone with deep-fried fat. 

Hope you week I'll have another meatless dish.  What will it be?  Shrimp?  Soup?  Salad?  Make sure you check back to find out!

God bless your table tonight!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Broccoli Cheese Soup with Rosemary Parmesan Bread

I am kicking myself for not making this before we had our first cold snap last year.  After that, the broccoli succumbed, and I had to buy broccoli at the store to make this hoo!

But, in order to ease my sorrows, I made some homemade bread to go along with the soup, and one slice instantly soothed all my woes about store-bought broccoli. ;-)

I know some people are intimidated by making bread, but if you have a bread machine...break it out and let it do all the work for you.  I let the bread machine do all the mixing and rising (except the final rise), and baked it in two loaf pans.  Sometimes my dough collapses during the final rise in the machine, and I end up with a short, slightly dense loaf...which irritates me to no end.  Having the final rise and baking it in loaf pans eliminates that problem, plus I don't get the indention at the bottom of the bread from the mixing paddle. 

I'm posting this now so you can make this tomorrow for Ash will follow shortly!

Broccoli Cheese Soup

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups half-and-half
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
salt and black pepper to taste
4 cups broccoli florets
1 large carrot, diced
2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Melt the butter in a stock pot over medium heat.  Add the onions and saute until tender. 

Whisk in the flour and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes. 

Gradually whisk in the half-and-half until the mixture is nice and smooth.
Add the chicken broth, bay leaves, and nutmeg, and season with salt and pepper. 

Lower the heat to medium/medium low, and simmer gently for 20 minutes, or until the soup thickens.
Stir in the broccoli and carrots and simmer another 20 minutes. Make sure it's a gentle simmer, or you risk scorching it on the bottom of the pot. 

Remove and discard the bay leaves.  Puree the soup in a blender in batches (or use an immersion blender like I did) until creamy and smooth.  There will still be visible flecks of broccoli and carrot.
Return the soup to the pot and stir in the cheese over medium heat.  Add a little bit of water (up to 3/4 cup) if you think the soup is too thick.  Serve immediately and garnish with more cheese if you'd like.  In our house...we always put more cheese on top!

Rosemary Parmesan Bread

Makes 2 loaves (or a 2 pound loaf in a bread machine)

1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (1/4 ounce envelope)
4 teaspoons olive oil
4 cups bread flour
2/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
4 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Dissolve the yeast in the water and let sit for 5-10 minutes until foamy.  If you don't see lots of little bubbles, either 1) your yeast is too old, or 2) you water was too hot, and you killed the yeast.   If this happens to you, start over with new water and another packet of yeast. 

Once your yeast has been activated, stir in 1 cup of the bread flour, and dump into a large bowl. 

In the pan of your bread machine (or a large bowl if you're doing this entirely by hand), combine the olive oil, the remaning 3 cups of bread flour, parmesan cheese, rosemary, sugar, salt, and pepper.  Add the yeast/flour/water mixture and set your machine according to the manual's directions.  I used the "basic white" setting. 

If you're hands on...dump the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-8 minutes until it's nice and smooth.  Lightly oil the bowl you just used, place the dough in it and turn it over to coat.  Let rise in a warm, draft free place for about an hour, or until double in volume.  One neat trick is to preheat your oven for 30 seconds, and then turn in off.  Quickly place the bowl of dough in the oven--now you have a warm, draft free place for the dough to rise. 

At this point, you can let the bread machine finish your bread for you, or you can punch it down, let it rise again until double in volume, and then punch it down a second time.

I'm sorry I don't have any pictures of the bread in progress...I tried to take some, but they just didn't come out right...too dark inside the bread machine!  And it wasn't easy to keep washing my sticky hands off to try and get a please forgive me. 

Lightly grease 2 loaf pans.  Divide the dough in half, and place the 2 portions into the prepared pans.  Let rise one last time for about 30 minutes or until double in volume.  Bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown on top.  If you tap the top of the bread, it should sound hollow. 

Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.  Or wait about 20 minutes to slice and serve warm. 

Update:  Would you believe  Christina ate this soup?  Our little girl who will not eat a single vegetable, green, orange, yellow, or otherwise gave it a taste at dinner, and said,

"Mommy, this is YUMMY!"  She gave it 2 big thumbs up and ate the entire bowl!  When I told David, he was really suprised too. 

So if your child avoids veggies like the plague, maybe this soup will change their minds.  I'll be making this more often for sure...I am still amazed Christina loved it!

God bless your table tonight!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Lenten Recipes

I have a whole list of brand new recipes to try out and post for Lent this year!  4 involved seafood (of course),  1 is a pasta,  and there are 2 new soups.  Yum!

Hope you don't mind being guinea pigs along with us, although I will say we've had about 1/2 of these dishes in some similar form...but I've never posted them here. 

I realize however, that Ash Wenesday is coming up here are all the Lenten dishes I posted last year to get you started (plus a few more meatless dishes thrown in for good measure)  I plan to post my new recipes by Wednesday or Thursday of every week, so you have time to go to the store, get what you need, and get busy in the kitchen.   Then I'll post pictures over the weekend.

Here's the list for ya!

Stayed tuned for my first Lenten post on Wednesday....Broccoli Cheese Soup.  It's SO GOOD!

God bless your table tonight!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sweets for your Sweets

David and I aren't much for going out, so when we do, it's nice to eat kids fighting, food flying, milk spilling adventures, all while we're trying to eat.  All of you with chittlins' know what I'm talking about!

Last year for Valentine's Day, I made these incredible burgers, homemade steak fries, and a peanut butter chocolate cake.  It was divine y'all...simply divine. 

This year, we got lucky.  One of David's clients gave us a gift card for Christmas, and friends of ours voluteered to babysit (provided I cooked them dinner for them beforehand).  Well I can handle that!

So I really don't have a big, lovey post for Valentine's Day...but I will make some suggestions if you want to make dinner for your special someone. 

Chocolate Cherry Cake with Chocolate Glaze

The Pioneer's Red Velvet Cake (turned into cupcakes)

Last but not least, I made these for the kids this week:

I just used my sugar cookie recipe, frosted, and decorated with red and white sprinkles.  Simple but pretty. 

Hope you enjoy a special meal with someone you love.  God bless your table tonight!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sausage and Bean Soup with Kale

We had a long cold snap back in December...cold for our neck of the woods anyway.  The temperature hovered below 30 for 3 days straight, and it got into the teens at night.  Needless to say, almost everything in the garden died.  The broccoli is trying to make a comeback...but the eggplant, beans, lettuce, and some of my herbs all succumbed to the bitter cold. 

Thankfully, all the herbs bounced back except the basil (it's a warm weather herb), the onions, cilantro, and parsley are doing great...and the kale...well Lordy mercy.  The kale barely flinched, and is going strong. 

See what I mean?


We actually have 2 kinds of of David's "experiments" this year.  It occured to me the other day I hadn't cooked and kale yet this winter (shame on me!).  That, and seeing we were in for a spell of cold, wet, and rainy weather meant only one thing.  It was time to break out the ol' soup pot!

I meant to buy italian sausage for this soup, got home, and realized I'd bought bratwurst instead.  Oh wasn't worth a trip back to the grocery store...and definitely not with a 2-year-old (although he behaves himself for the most part). 

This soup is hearty, nutricious, and dare I say, figure-friendly?  Yes, it has sausage in it...but you don't get much per serving.  It was quick to make, and the whole house smelled great while it simmered on the stove...what more could you ask for, right?  I did make about a batch-and-a-half, so you'll see bigger amounts in the pictures, but the recipe is for a single batch

Sausage and Bean Soup with Kale

1 pound italian sausage, (you can use link sausage also, or accidently use bratwurst, like I did ;-)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and black pepper to taste
4 cups kale, chopped (about 1/2 a bunch)
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 can (15.5) ounces red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15.5) ounces great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (14.5) ounces italian seasoned diced tomatoes
1/2 cup dry red wine (I used a cabernet)
1 teaspoon dried basil

In order to cook the sausage, we'll need to remove the casings first.  (If you're using kielbasa, just cut into 1/2 inch rounds).  Use a small knife to score the casing along one side of the sausage. 

Now just peel away the should come right off and stay in one piece. 

Repeat until you have all the sausage nice and naked!

In a large stock pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium high heat.  Add the sausage and break it up with a large spoon.  Continue to cook until the sausage is no longer pink.

Since I was using bratwurst, I added some italian seasoning blend.  But if you didn't oppsie like I did, you can skip this step. 

Remove the meat to a plate lined with paper towels to drain off the fat. 

Pour out all but one tablespoon of fat from the pot, and set it back on the stove over medium heat. 

Add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic, and season with some salt and pepper.  Saute the veggies until tender, about 6-8 minutes. 

While that's cookin', remove any tough stems from the kale and chop it into 1 inch strips.  I couldn't decide which variety of kale to put in the soup, so I decided to use a little of both. 

Add the chicken broth...
the wine and the kale...I know, it looks like a lot, but it'll wilt down, don't worry.  And yes, I sampled the wine first...I mean you have to right?  Don't forget to drink a little more along with the soup at dinnertime, lol!

Drain and rinse your beans, and add them to the pot, along with the tomatoes.  You can see the kale has wilted down nicely (in the time in took me to get the beans ready).

Lastly, add the sausage back to the pot, and the dried basil.  Give the pot a couple of stirs and bring to a slow simmer.  Let it go for about 15 minutes to meld all the ingredients together.  If the consistency isn't to your liking (not enough broth), feel free to add some more chicken broth.  (Even though I made 1 1/2 batches, I used 6 cups of though I'd made a double batch). 

Ladle out the soup and serve with some crusty bread.  (I admit I made refrigerated cresent rolls...they were on sale, plus I had a coupon. ;-)

There can't be anything better than a hot bowl of soup on a cold rainy night.  It just makes you feel good, don't you think?

For an extra layer of flavor, try adding a squeeze of lemon juice to the bowls, or some freshly grated Parmesan cheese...which I intend to do tonight when we have the leftovers!

Stay warm wherever you are, and God bless your table tonight!