Dinner in 15 – Sweet Chili Shrimp

IMG_3526.JPG “Mommy! Are we home yet?”
“No, my love. Do you see our house?”
“No, Mommy.”
“Then we are definitely not there yet, kid.”

6 hours of these questions, sibling arguments, and Frozen sing-a-longs and our trip finally ended. A small SUV is a very small space for a long weekend road trip. Our long weekend vacation was wonderful and culminated at a fabulous dinner with the best of friends last night (hello bacon wrapped chorizo stuffed dates- I will figure out how to make you.)

But after a long road trip that included a filling and tasty bbq lunch at 2, we just weren’t in the mood for a big dinner or for a lot of cooking. I couldn’t stomach fast food after such great food last night (The bbq place was actually very good, not your average bbq.) I pulled open the freezer and found I had a bag of frozen, uncooked, peeled and deveined shrimp. And a bag of frozen edamame. Perfect.

Fresh is always better. Always. But sometimes you just gotta work with what you got. And I had shrimp.

So, here you go! 15 minutes from defrosted shrimp to on your plate, light and healthy dinner.

Ingredients
1 lb defrosted or fresh peeled and deveined shrimp
1/2 tap minced garlic
2 tbsp canola oil
1/3rd cup Thai Sweet Chili Sauce
1 bag of frozen edamame
Salt and pepper to season

Start by boiling 4 cups water on the stove for the edamame. While the edamame water is coming to a boil, heat a wok or skillet to med (350 degrees) and add garlic. Let cook until fragrant, just about 30 seconds. Add shrimp, season with salt and pepper, and cook until pink and no longer translucent. When the water is boiling, cook the edamame 3 minutes and then drain. Season with sea salt.

Add chili sauce to the shrimp and keep tossing for a few minutes until well coated and heated through. Remove shrimp and serve with the seasoned edamame.

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Gorgonzola and Bacon Stuffed Chicken Topped with Toasted Almonds and Strawberry Sauce

Gorgonzola and bacon stuffed grilled chicken with strawberry sauce
When I was in 3rd grade, my teacher read us a book called The Strawberry Girl.. Since I had just moved to Florida, I fell in love with it. It epitomized the Florida landscape, and the culture, which was just as new to me. So, I have always associated strawberries with Florida. And while strawberries are picked here in February, I always seem to associate them with summer.

As summer peaks here in August, as noted by the recent 100F degree days with 90% humidity, I felt like tonight needed to celebrate the summer goodness. So, I took a favorite summer salad of mine and turned it into a delicious main course.

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Shrimp ‘n Grits

IMG_3324.JPG A little spicy. A little creamy. A little salty. A little feisty. Shrimp ‘n grits have a lot of personality. This version is inspired from a dish from a place called Austin’s in Metarie, LA, just outside New Orleans. When I ordered shrimp and grits, I discovered it sat on a bed of creamed spinach. Delectable!

So, tonight, a weeknight, the first day of the new school year with a ton of “to dos”, I thought about how good that dinner was and grabbed a bag of frozen shrimp out of the freezer and thawed them quickly under running water. With 3.5 cups of salted water coming to a boil on the stove, I patted the shrimp dry and seasoned with Cajun seasoning from the spice cabinet.

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Next, I chopped up a clove garlic.

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Time to fry the bacon!

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Slowly add 3/4 cup of grits to the pot of boiling water, reduce heat to low and summer for 15 mins.

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After it’s fully cooked, add at least 1 cup of shredded cheddar. At least 1 cup. You can add 3, I love cheese!!

After the bacon is crisp, remove it to a plate with paper towels to drain. Remove all the grease but two tbsps and add 1 pat of butter. Add garlic and cook on med low until fragrant, about 1 min. Turn it up to med. Then add the shrimp and cook until pink, about 4-5 mins. Add the bacon back in.

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Add about 1/2 cup of chicken broth, 2 tbsps of lemon juice and spinach. I used a package of frozen spinach (defrosted and squeezed dry), but would much preferred to use a few cups of fresh baby spinach. Finally, add about 1/4 cup cream cheese, just to bring the spinach together. It just adds that perfect texture to the mixture.

To serve it, spoon the grits into a bowl. Then add the shrimp mixture on top. Finally, add a dash of hot sauce over the entire dish. Serve immediately.

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I licked the bowl with my fingers, Hubby got seconds and no, I didn’t even try it on my kids. They have my childhood taste buds and eat only 5 things. No reason Mommy and Daddy can’t have good food!

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Fresh Cherries with Creamy Limeade Dip

IMG_3304.JPG We are so deep into summer that I just killed a mosquito that landed on the side of my phone, while sitting inside on my couch. Don’t get me wrong, I love summer.

Yesterday, I took my family canoeing and my 3 year old asked 3 minutes into the trip, “When are we going to get there?” Oh boy. After 30 minutes of paddling, we decided to turn around and discovered we had to return against a strong outgoing tide. By the time we go back to the dock, Hubby was covered in sweat and I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to move within 24 hours. I was almost right.

So, when it came time for an impromptu neighborhood cookout, I wanted our food to scream summer. Fresh salsa, guacomole, grilled tequila lime marinated flank steak, and roasted red potatoes were all on the menu. AND I had the best bag of fresh cherries in the fridge.

However, I did not want to make cherry pie, cobbler, crisp, or anything else in the dessert realm. There are not many other options, but after thinking about it, I realized they were best served as the main event. So, I placed them on a bed of ice and whipped up this SIMPLE dip to serve with them. What could be better than cherry limeade for a summer quencher? Oh, probably the Limeade cooler to go with it..

Limeade Fruit Dip

Ingredients

1 8 oz block of cream cheese (softened)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsps frozen limeade
1 lime rind

Using a mixer, whip the cream cheese until smooth. While mixer continues blending, add in the powdered sugar, a little at a time. Then add in the frozen limeade. Continue mixing until smooth. Place in serving container and grate lime rind over it.

And because I think you should get to enjoy the drink….

Limeade Cooler

Ingredients
Remaining can of frozen limeade
3/4 can of vodka (using the frozen limeade can obviously)
1/2 bottle club soda
Ice to fill the blender
Limes to garnish

Blend until slushy. Serve. :)

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Chef Watson Selects The Suburban Cook’s Potato Salad!

My cooking journey started almost 10 years ago when Food Network started winning over prime time and I started trying all new flavors.  Then I started reading magazines like Bon Appétit, Cooking Light, Food and Wine and many others.  Eventually I was obsessed with food and got the opportunity to spend time in my own kitchen creating and testing my own recipes on my family and friends.  Little did I know that my journey would take me to national acclaim!  20140703-233026-84626038.jpg

Today, I am extremely proud to announce that Bon Appétit selected my recipe for Smashed Potato Salad as their favorite in the Chef Watson challenge.  Last week I received an email from staff writer, Rochelle Bilow, who congratulated me and set up some time to interview me on how I went about making the potato salad.  You see, I had to use all twelve required ingredients that Chef Watson, the IBM supercomputer, had declared would make a good potato salad.  The  ingredients included two types of oil, ginger, buttermilk, mayonnaise, and watercress.  It was not easy, but I am never one to back down from a challenge and this time I was rewarded with great honors!  My recipe will be included in the Bon Appetit database under my name.  

Please read the full article.

Here’s Our Favorite Chef Watson Potato Salad Recipe

Thank all of you who have supported my blog and been test subjects for my food!

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