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Shrimp & Grits…sort of

One of the dishes I used to like to order when I was on the road was shrimp & grits. This was not a dish that I grew up with or one that I made, until recently (of course with my own spin on it).

To make my version of this dish I prepared some polenta (follow the instructions on the bag). I use chicken broth (or you can use vegetable broth) instead of water – this gives the polenta a richer flavor. When the polenta is nearly done cooking (remember to stir, stir, stir) I add about a tablespoon of mascarpone, which makes the polenta creamy and yummy. Remove from heat and prepare the shrimp.

In my wok (or sauté pan) I steam some fresh broccoli rabe for about 7 minutes (again I steam this in chicken broth, which removes some of the bitterness). Strain and refresh with cold water. Season with salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, drizzle with a little EVOO and set aside.

Now, back to your wok or sauté pan. Add a little EVOO, when warm add some fresh minced garlic and either fresh chopped onion or scallion and cook for about 3 minutes. Add fresh, cleaned shrimp and sauté until just pink. I usually have mint & basil growing on the patio, so I would mince some up and toss in towards the end of cooking.

Now to plate this baby. Spoon polenta on the plate, top with shrimp and a helping of the broccoli rabe. I garnished with fresh avocado. You can drizzle with EVOO and viola!

Pro-tip: you can use any type of protein and/or veggie for this dish. Chicken would be great or LOBSTER…broccoli or zucchini noodles would work too.

Cheese please…

15 Minute Meal!

Hubby is away so I am going crazy with putting cheese in everything!

Last night was a quick orecchiette, with sautéed spinach, tons of crushed garlic cloves and red Argentinian shrimp from Trader Joes (sometimes I just don’t feel like going to the fish monger, and these tasty, frozen shrimp are a great Plan B). First get your salted water boiling for the pasta. While this is happening sauté fresh crushed garlic and the shrimp in a little EVOO until shrimp are mostly cooked, then add spinach until cook until wilted (use a large sauté pan as you’ll add the pasta when it’s cooked). When water is rapidly boiling add your pasta cook for 9-10 minutes (or until it’s cooked al dente). Save about a cup of the starchy water and strain the pasta. Add pasta to sauté pan with shrimp, garlic and spinach adding the water if you need to loosen up the mixture. Keep heat on low and mix until well incorporated.

After plating this ‘beaut I topped with red pepper flakes and as much grated cheese as I could get on the plate.

Pro-tip: Did you know that Orecchiette means “little ear” in Italian? Think about that next time you cook it – notice the shape.

Freshness is paramount…

My obsession with Trader Joes continues. The hubby is traveling so I took some time to shop and load up on fresh produce and all the products I love from this store. I don’t do a lot of carbs but I am now a bit obsessed with this flatbread. I used it last night for the chicken gyros I made (stand by for that recipe, it was great!) And used one this morning for avocado toast.

I love a super fresh avocado toast. I never order it in a restaurant because it always looks so sad and pale, like it came from a container. TJ’s had super fresh and perfectly ripe avocados yesterday. I like my guac a bit chunky so I roughly mash it, add onion, jalapeño, salt, pepper, and the juice from 1/2 a fresh lemon. I toasted my flatbread, topped with guac, feta cheese, and fresh San Marzano cherry tomatoes cut in half. I usually sprinkle a bit of either cayenne or red pepper flakes on top, but the jalapeño I had today was pretty hot and I didn’t need more heat.

Simple Yummy…

I’m back in the office now (good riddance COVID) so quick dinners after a long day are key now. This dish was so good and super easy to pull together. First, I love to use as few pots/pans as possible, so the order of my construction here is key. I start by sautéing the spinach in a bit of EVOO, a touch of butter, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper. After it’s fully wilted and cooked I removed it from my wok and placed in a bowl in my microwave to keep warm. After that I prepared my polenta using chicken stock instead of water – for added flavor. Polenta is a pain because it needs all of your attention (to avoid lumps & bumps). After slowly drizzling in all of the polenta to the boiling chicken stock I season with a little butter, salt, pepper, and mascarpone while constantly stirring for about 30 minutes on low heat until you end up with the desired consistency (we like it on the thicker side). Then back to the wok – I sautéed the butterflied shrimp (our fish monger had gorgeous tiger prawns that were huge). Before adding the shrimp I quickly sautéed minced garlic, diced fresh tomato and seasonings then tossed in the shrimp (or whatever protein you choose). When the shrimp turn pink they are cooked (time depends on size of shrimp).

To plate this gorgeous dish I put the polenta down first followed by the spinach and then the beautifully sautéed shrimp.
I added a garnish of fresh sliced avocado (only because I had it around).

Enjoy!

Slow and low kind of day…

There’s nothing easier or better than tossing a few ingredients (short ribs, one jar of Goya Sofrito and one jar of Goya Recaito) into the crockpot and letting the magic happen – eight hours on low.

Last night was short ribs over polenta preceded by antipasto on the patio and our go-to wine, Ghost Pines. Hubby making his cameo.

Quick dinner…

Need a quick, healthy dish that is super tasty?

Add well cleaned, chopped escarole to rapidly boiling water (add a chicken bullion cube for extra flavor and to remove any bitterness from the escarole), cook for 7 minutes, strain and refresh with cold water. Then, sauté shrimp with a little EVOO, butter, lemon, garlic, red onion, fresh cherry tomatoes that have been halved, pepper, fresh cilantro (I have this growing on my patio so I’ve been adding that to everything!) When shrimp is cooked add escarole and combine. Viola! Dinner is served.

Pro-tip: This is a good recipe to improvise on – i.e. get rid of any vegetables that you have in the fridge – you can toss anything into this dish and it will come out great!

Easy side dish…

If you need a healthy, easy to prepare side dish try this:

Buy a bag of fresh string beans (haricot verts if you’re fancy) snip off the stem side (top of picture below):

Snip off the stem side (top of picture below):

After snipping and cleaning, submerge the string beans into rapidly boiling, salted water and cook for 7-8 minutes (we like ours on the crunchy side but if you don’t, just cook longer). When done cooking, blanch the string beans by dumping into strainer and rinsing with very cold ice water. Blanching the string beans will bring back the bright green color of the string beans

(Science tip: Blanching stops enzyme actions which would otherwise cause loss of flavor, color and texture.)

Place blanched string beans in serving dish, drizzle with a little EVOO, season with kosher salt, pepper and diced red onion (or whatever spices you like) and serve!

Chili even when it’s hot out

I did an experiment the other day and tossed two packages of ground turkey, chopped red, yellow and green peppers (one of each) a chopped onion, cilantro, salt & pepper, taco seasoning and a 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes into my slow cooker. I cooked it for six hours on high.

It came out great! I topped with some shredded cheddar, sour cream, chopped red onions and fresh diced jalapeños and it was both a great presentation and delicious.