As I’ve mentioned, my daughter and her boyfriend recently got their own apartment about 20 minutes away from us, it’s a milestone for us all. They came for dinner last night. The day before, I asked the princess what she wanted me to cook. Her response was, “Can you send me a few options and I’ll pick one. Also mommy, I’d love brie and crackers as an appetizer…” So you see what I’ve created here.My fault, entirely.
We settled on polenta, broccoli rabe and sautéed shrimp. This is a super easy, dish that’s healthy, tasty and filling. I start by preparing the broccoli rabe, which if you read this blog regularly you’ll know the drill. Boil water with chicken bullion, add chopped broccoli rabe, cook for 6 minutes, strain, blanche and set aside. Then, sauté shrimp with chopped garlic, salt and pepper, and a little EVOO (I actually used sesame oil because I was out of EVOO. This added an aromatic flavor that really went well with the shrimp.) Then add the strained broccoli rabe to the shrimp. Add a little crushed red pepper and set pan aside.
Now to prepare polenta – I use chicken broth to make the polenta, this gives it a rich taste. Follow the instructions on the packaging. Basically – don’t stop stirring! I use a whisk. You’ll need to add more polenta very slowly to get the desired consistency. Some folks like polenta very thin and soupy, others like it thicker and more like a pasta – we’re in the middle. When it’s nearly done I add a tablespoon of butter and two tablespoons of mascarpone to thicken it up and flavor it. I also top with a few chopped scallions to add a crunch and a pop of color.
Pro-tip: When we were in Mexico last year we found this great seasoning that I like to add to seafood. It’s called Tajin – it’s actually a combination of dried chili peppers, dehydrated lime, and sea salt. I seasoned my shrimp in this before sautéing. I also think this would be great to use to rim a glass for a Bloody Mary. I may need to try that this weekend – I’ll let you know!
That’s it! This entire dish took about 20 minutes to prepare so it’s a good work week go-to recipe. Enjoy!
Spaghetti squash is our new go to lately. It’s super versatile, easy to prepare and low carb/calorie. The hardest part of this squash is cutting it open!
To prepare this dish I halved a spaghetti squash and removed the seeds. I then seasoned with a little EVOO, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes (you can add whatever seasonings you’d like). Place cut side down in a baking pan and toss in pre-heated 350 degree oven for about an hour (depending on size). You can tell it’s done by poking a fork in the squash – if it goes in easily it’s done.
The fun part is the toppings – we’re trying to empty out our freezer so I’m using everything in there. I sautéed some sausage and shrimp (adding garlic, red pepper flakes, salt & pepper). I also had some left over escarole and frozen peas which I added.
To plate this dish I first scooped out the spaghetti squash, topped with escarole, then topped that with the shrimp & sausage, pea sauté. Of course a healthy sprinkling of parmesan makes everything better. It was super flavorful and filled us up!
I have been jonesing for a BBQ. I don’t ever BBQ for myself because I never seem to figure out temperatures, so I leave that to my hubby. I’ll throw anything on the grill and just know it will taste better. So for this BBQ, we started with some fresh clams with butter. Literally just soak the clams for 30 minutes before cooking to get them to release any sand and toss them on the BBQ until they open. A little melted butter for dunking just makes it even better. And of course we had to throw some shrimp on the barbie too…
After that yummy appetizer, we prepared some steaks (don’t forget to leave them out before cooking – never cook a steak straight from the fridge). Simply salt & pepper and ready to grill. I love a ribeye and hubby goes for a filet mignon so we need to adjust our cooking times. We also wrapped up some potatoes in aluminum foil – get these on the grill way before the steaks as they’ll need more time to cook.
As a side dish, I made an old school recipe that I haven’t made in million years – escarole with white beans. I actually had to call a friend to remind me how to make this. You really have to clean the escarole well as it tends to be sandy. After that, roughly chop and blanch for 7 minutes (I add a bullion cube to the boiling water, which takes some of the bitterness out of the escarole), strain the cooked escarole and immediately rinse with cold water to bring back that pretty green color. Sauté minced garlic in a little EVOO, add escarole, warm through, add a can of rinsed white beans, warm through, season with salt & pepper and serve. I could have this as a main dish, it was really flavorful and filling.
I seem to be on a protein bowl kick. I think they’re super fun to make and have endless variations. Low carb, full of flavor and fresh veggies and protein.
This yummy bowl started with blackened shrimp (my new obsession – I use Old Bay Blackening mix, it’s great and not super salty). I simply sprinkle the shrimp with the seasoning and saute them quickly in my wok. When cooked, I removed the shrimp from the wok and quickly stir fried the black beans, diced tomatoes, red bell pepper, red onion, and jalapeno.
For the layers I started with spaghetti squash (which I had leftover and just warmed up) followed by the stir fried veggies, shrimp, avocado and a little cheddar to top it off.
What to cook on a cold night with only a few ingredients? Shrimp! Super versatile, quick and yummy. Tonight I simply sauteed these jumbo babies in a little EVOO and butter with whatever fresh herbs I had on hand (today it was fresh sage) a little diced onion and of course minced garlic (to taste).
I also prepared a creamy polenta garnished with fresh chopped basil and mint. Pro-tip: use a chicken stock base to make the polenta, it adds a deeper flavor. You can also add either a drop of heavy cream or mascarpone to enhance the flavor.
As a starter I prepared a creamed cauliflower soup. In boiling water add a cut up head of cauliflower (core removed), cook until soft (about 10 minutes). Drain. Warm up about four cups of chicken stock, add cooked cauliflower, salt, pepper. Using an emulsifying blender, blend until soup is creamy smooth. Now add either 2 tablespoons of mascarpone or 1/4 cup of heavy cream. You can add more broth to thin or more mascarpone or cream to thicken. I topped with a handful of cooked, diced bacon. This was a winner! Pro-tip: you can make a soup like this with almost any vegetable. We often make zucchini soup, mushroom soup, butternut squash…etc.