Lemony Shrimp Scampi

Good Afternoon Fine People! As the warm days are waning (thank goodness in my simple opinion!), I offer those of you who only enjoy shrimp during the summer months one more recipe to ease through your palate with brightness. As I watched the “winners” being announced during the Emmy Presentation Sunday night, I couldn’t help but to think that there are no “Category Winners” on this site. I love everything that I post; and if I attempt something that is less than suitable, it doesn’t make it “on air”, sorta like some early versions of TV shows! This is a sure red carpet winner; so go ahead, be fabulous, then sit back and wait for the oohs and aahs!

Entree Seafood Lemony Shrimp Scampi
Vinaigrette:
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Zest of 2 large lemons
Juice of 2 large lemons
1/2 t kosher salt
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
In small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper until smooth.
Set aside.

2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, chopped
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 t kosher salt
1/2 cup dry white wine, such as pinot grigio

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.
Add the pasta and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes.
Drain and reserve 1 cup of pasta water.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.
Add shallots and cook until soft, 1 to 2 minutes.
Add shrimp, salt and pepper.
Cook until the shrimp turn pink and are cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes.
Remove shrimp from skillet.
Increase the heat to high.
Add wine.
Cook for 1 minute until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Add cooked pasta, cooked shrimp and vinaigrette to the skillet.
Toss until all ingredients are coated, adding the reserved pasta water, if needed, to loosen the pasta.

Transfer to a large bowl, garnish with dill, and serve.

Baha Peninsula Artichoke Appetizer

I Know I Know I Know…Cabo Stories are becoming a bit nonplussed; however, to know me is to know that I love our Diamante villa in Cabo. You may find it odd that I am a very pale, natural blond, 66 year old Grand. That is to say that I don’t sit in the sun; but I am all about being out there in the pool with the fam and friends, 50+ sunscreen, most of the time in long sleeve SPF shirts, soaking up the fun. In the interim, I’m all about dreaming up new manners in which to cook our favorite bites when we gather around the dinner table! The Baha Peninsula is known for many, many things, one of which is growing artichokes. The baby ones are the best, most tender, and just yummy. So, we enjoyed them, a lot!

Above, from left: the don is mixing the cheeses. ~ the Cabo Grocery Girls couldn’t find wonton wrappers while stocking our kitchen, so…improvise. I used the Diamante Market pizza dough instead; and with no rolling pin, enter the empty Ciroc bottle to roll the dough (yes my arms did get some sun that day!). ~ Improvising again, with no cookie cutter, hello glass to cut the rounds of dough to fit into the muffin tin. Check out the results below!

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 t garlic powder
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup water packed baby artichokes, drained and chopped
24 wonton wrappers
Chopped fresh chives for garnish
Mini muffin tin

In mixing bowl, combine Parmesan, mayonnaise, and garlic powder.
Mix well.
Stir in Monterey Jack and artichokes.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Spray 2 mini muffin tin pans with nonstick spray.
Press one wonton wrapper into each small muffin cup.
Bake 5 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned.
Fill each cup with artichoke mixture.
Bake until golden brown, about 5 minutes…but keep your eye on it!
Garnish with chives and serve warm.

Cinnamon Bread Pinwheels

Hellodie Hellodie and Happy Hump da Hump Day! Each post that involves my grands is especially fun for me, so come on and get happy! They may seem to be bouncing off the walls sometimes, but they’re just being children; so hold on to the magic…they grow up fast! And now, here’s a little show and tell. May your cookie jar never be empty!

4 slices cinnamon raison bread
2 Tbs butter
1 Tbs sugar
1/4 t cinnamon
4 long hors d’oeuvres picks

Cut the crust off each piece of bread, keeping it totally intact.
Start at one end of each piece of bread crust and roll it up, creating 4 pinwheels.
Secure each pinwheel with a pick.
Melt butter, sugar, and cinnamon in skillet, stirring to combine.
Add pinwheels to skillet and allow to toast about a minute per side.
Remove from skillet onto plate and allow pinwheels to cool and crispen.

Avocado Toast with Eggs and Tomatoes

Home from Cabo and happily back to life as Grand and GrandDad for the weekend. Tomorrow begins with a 5:50am wakeup call for Liam’s travel league baseball games, and then soccer matches for “the littles”. We will divide and conquer for the different locations; but we will all reunite in the Rock Dam Kitchen for a healthy brunch to refuel us all for the afternoon. Transfer the familiar into the fantastic. We’re taking all familiar ingredients and combining them in a wonderfully twisted way. So drop the mask for a few minutes to enjoy a meal…the stars are going to align on our taste buds and all the way down to our tummies! Here’s wishing all of you a happy, healthy, fun loving, athletic Saturday!

2 eggs
2 slices bread
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
1 avocado, gently mashed
1/2 lime, zested and juiced
Dash garlic powder
Dash onion powder
Fresh spinach
Gourmet Medley cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup Alfalfa sprouts
Drizzle of honey
Drizzle of olive oil

Place eggs in boiling water for 6 minutes to soft boil.
Lightly sauté tomato halves in olive oil.
Toast bread.
Spread with Dijon.
Mix avocado with lime, garlic, and onion.
Spread avocado mixture on top of Dijon.
Top with a few spinach leaves.
Top with sprouts.
Top with eggs.
Top with tomatoes.
Drizzle with honey and olive oil.
Salt and pepper to taste.

Watermelon, Goat Cheese, Asparagus Salad

When it’s watermelon season, you create watermelon salad. The first time I served this at a dinner party was way back in around 2009; I was stunned at the positive reactions. So now I make larger servings to avoid that questioning look of “is there more back in the kitchen!” After all, recipes are made to be tweaked; so gather, graze, and savor the season my friends. See you in the kitchen and dining room; heck I’ll see you eating on my lap!

12 asparagus spears, ends removed,
6  squares or triangles of watermelon centers
1/2 cup goat cheese, room temperature
2 Tbs olive oil
Add the goat cheese and olive oil and stir to combine.
Roast asparagus at 400 degrees with olive oil, salt and pepper for 8 minutes.

To Plate:
Place watermelon on salad plate or serving tray.
Place asparagus on next.
Top with dollop of goat cheese.

Naturally, I trim the asparagus for this recipe; but never throw away the stalks. Add this to other vegetables to make your own veggie broth. Homemade is always the best, and keeps the sodium in check.

Sausage, Egg, Cheese Strata

Happy Sunday to one and all. All of the hustle and bustle is fun…until it’s not. The Don was fortunate and received his Covid booster Friday (remember that lymphoma situation) and was feeling a tad run down yesterday, so we stayed quietly at home and I made this comfort strata. Perfect for our Saturday early supper, and brunch or supper any day for that matter. It’s early in the day; go grab what you need and whip this up for Sunday Supper. Think, a little denser than a quiche, and a little more comforting as well. Now here’s your breakfast/brunch giggle of the day thanks to comedian Steven Wright: “I went to a restaurant that serves breakfast during any time. So I ordered French Toast from the Renaissance; and they just looked at me!”

1/2 lb ground sausage, browned and drained
1 sweet onion, diced
12 eggs, slightly beaten
4 oz Gruyere cheese, shredded
4 oz blue cheese, crumbled
4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded, divided
1/2 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
1/2 t ground nutmeg
1/2 cup breadcrumbs, tossed with 1 Tbs melted butter
Sour cream for garnish
Chopped chives, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a pie pan.
In large mixing bowl, using rubber spatula, combine sausage, onions, eggs, Gruyere, blue cheese, half cheddar, Parmesan, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
Pour mixture into baking pan.
Add remaining cheddar, and then breadcrumbs on top.
Bake 45 to 50 minutes, until just set.
Let cool 5 minutes.




Shrimp and Strawberry Ceviche

Hold Everything! The first time that I ever made ceviche was in the Culinary Center, Ritz Carlton, Cancun, with Chef Rory Dunaway in 2007. THIS was our view out of the kitchen window. Truly a delight! Enjoy this Ohh la la version as we are in the waning days of August. While technically not a true ceviche, it’s darn good y’all. Roger that!

1 lb cleaned shrimp
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
1 sweet onion, chopped
Corn from 2 cobs
1 lb strawberries, hulled and diced
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

Cook shrimp in boiling water 2 minutes.
Drain and put in ice bath for 5 minutes.
Drain well.
Cut shrimp in half.
In medium bowl, combine shrimp, lemon juice, lime juice, jalapeño, and onion.
Chill in refrigerator at least 1 hour (but no longer than 6 hours).
When ready to serve, toss in strawberries and cilantro.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Summer/Anytime Chicken Soup

Ah Ha!! My grands all began school today, all in one drop off location for the first time ever! So I’m making chicken soup to begin the new school year and soothe their souls. Enjoy in good health and I’ll give you an “A”. Consider making a double batch and sharing with family, a neighbor, or a friend. This is good Southern “know how!”

1 whole uncooked chicken
Water
1/2 t fresh thyme
1/2 t fresh oregano
1/2 t fresh basil, chopped
1/2 t dried red pepper flakes
1 t mustard seeds
3 Tbs olive oil
1 sweet onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 large carrots, diced
1 bunch spinach

Place whole chicken into large soup pot.
Add all spices, seasonings, and cover with water until chicken is submerged by two inches.
Bring chicken to boil, and reduce to simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
Remove chicken and set aside to cool.
Continue to simmer broth another 30 minutes.
After chicken cools slightly, shred chicken by pulling apart with two forks.
Heat oil in skillet; add onion; cook until transparent, about 3 minutes.
Add remaining vegetables and cook for two minutes.
Add vegetables and chicken back to soup broth.
Toss in spinach at last minute and allow to wilt, about 1 minute.
Serve warm.

Creamy Salsa Cheddar Dip

Looking for a healthy, simple, quick, and pleasing appetizer or afternoon snack? Wonderful for even a Monday, or any week night for that matter. I’ve got you covered. So please pay attention ’cause raw veggies are waaaaay underrated.

Small bites + Big Flavors = Don’t Mind if I Do!

Sculpture by Jeff Kiefer from my private collection; additional pieces available at City Art Gallery of Greenville, NC.

16 oz reduced fat cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups pico de gallo
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 t black pepper

Pulse all together in food processor.
Serve in cocktail glass with veggies on top.
This is also great with sweet ginger cookies or chips.

Avocado Sprout Toast Appetizer

Who’s in the kitchen this weekend? Even the youngest, well almost, can create this yummy appetizer or breakfast. Yes this is a truly simple creation. But, hey…we’re not trying to impress anyone. It’s about making our family or guests feel comfortable; and trust me, this makes everyone feel just that! Remember that food is our common ground. So go out and have yourselves a wonderful weekend! Stay safe, well, and away from that nasty Delta Variant good people!

2 slices whole grain bread, toasted*
1/2 ripe avocado, gently mashed
Dash kosher salt
Dash pepper
1/4 cup alfalfa sprouts
2 t sunflower seeds
Wedge fresh lemon

Spread avocado on top of bread.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Top with sprouts.
Sprinkle on seeds.
Squeeze lemon juice evenly on top.

Makes 8 Appetizers.
Excellent as breakfast as a whole slice of toast.
*My personal favorites are Ezekiel and Genesis, made by Food for Life.
Earthy tasting, in a great way.