Lemon Wine Sugar Scrub

It’s officially spring around here and I have been searching for something to help get my winter skin ready… I think this recipe is a FABULOUS way to give you the soft skin you want as we start wearing less layers each day.  I looked at hundreds of recipes that called for so many wonderful-sounding ingredients, but it all came down to the idea that I wanted to find something easy to make (and remake) anytime I want.  I hope you’ll find this recipe to be the easiest… and one that can be altered in a myriad of ways to suit anyone’s taste preference.LemonWineSugarScrub (1)

I started with one cup of white sugar and one cup of brown sugar.  To this, I blended in one quarter cup of coconut oil and one quarter cup of olive oil as well as one Tablespoon of lemon extract and one Tablespoon of white wine (I used a Chardonnay for this recipe).  Once all the ingredients are mixed together in the bowl, use a whisk and thoroughly incorporate the ingredients until they resemble a very light and airy cookie dough.  They will separate at a later point, but this is your scrub.

Once the sugar scrub is light and thoroughly blended, spoon it into resealable containers.  You can see that I chose one plastic jar and one glass jar for the photo – this is simply because I had both on hand.  Use whatever you prefer or choose to use.

This scrub will keep for a few weeks… it’s not necessary to refrigerate the scrub as the oils will solidify and have to be warmed up before use if you do so.  I like to use this scrub on my feet and hands to keep both soft and smooth.  Feel free to keep some by the kitchen sink to use after doing dishes or in the bathroom for use in the shower or at bedtime.  It smells lovely and your hands & feet will appreciate the attention. This makes a wonderful and thoughtful gift for anyone on your list.

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Starter Recipe: Easy Lemon Shrimp

It’s been awhile since I last wrote… but that doesn’t mean that I’ve stopped cooking, or planning out recipes for this blog! Here’s an amazing (and easy) recipe that is sure to impress even the pickiest of guests who enjoy shrimp.  I love pulling a dinner together in under 20-30 minutes, and this recipe is one that delivers every single time.  I hope you’ll try it and make it your own!

Ingredients:EasyLemonShrimp

1 bag of frozen raw shrimp (I buy mine whenever they’re on sale at the local grocer and keep them in the freezer… anything sized large or above is worth the money, in my opinion)

1 lemon

1 jar of your favorite preserves (I happen to like using fig preserves these days, but apricot or any light colored fruit would work well)

Butter (just a pat to sear the shrimp) and olive oil (just 1T for searing shrimp)

Wine (or your preferred liquid of choice)

1 package microwave brown rice (for convenience… feel free to use the cheaper stuff if you’d prefer)

Directions:

  1. Peel shrimp and have them ready to cook.  I always remove the tails because I hate the idea of having to put the empty tail shell back on my plate.  I also like to salt/pepper my shrimp prior to cooking, but it’s up to you if you want to do this step.
  2. Put butter and olive oil into a large skillet and turn the heat on to medium high.  Allow the fats to mingle and get really hot..
  3. Sear shrimp on both sides in the hot butter/oil mixture – my husband likes them to have a bit of “crisp” to the edges, so that’s how I make it in our house.  Just make sure the shrimp is thoroughly cooked before making your sauce.
  4. In a small bowl, make your sauce using the juice of the lemon, some wine (I used a half cup of sparkling white wine that we had in the fridge, but feel free to use whatever you have), and a few spoonfuls of preserves.  Mix everything together.
  5. Add sauce to the cooked shrimp and allow to thicken.
  6. Pop brown rice in the microwave and cook on high for 90 seconds (this is why I prefer to use this type of rice… so easy and quick!)
  7. Once the sauce has thickened, plate your meal with some brown rice, spoon the shrimp evenly between the dishes, and pour over the sauce.
  8. Yes, it’s just THAT easy.  Now, enjoy the compliments that come raining your way.

I have altered this recipe in many different ways, but I really love the way that lemon compliments shrimp.  If you want, you can make a vegetable and top the veggie with some lemon zest… brings all parts of the meal together nicely.  Last time, I used a bag of green beans, tossed the cooked beans with a pat of butter, salt/pepper, and the lemon zest. It was fabulous! Using the preserves counteracts the strong tart taste of the lemon juice and really does a nice job of pulling everything together.  Enjoy!

NOTE:  If making this shrimp dish, don’t use a red or deep colored preserve as it will make the shrimp look as if it’s under cooked or raw.  Trust me… I did this once and will never forget the reaction.

Recipe: Chardonnay Chicken Piccata

Wow… this recipe was a huge hit last night.  It’s not a difficult recipe, but it has such huge presence and flavor that it’s quickly going to become one of my favorite recipes to make for company.  I really hope that you’ll consider making this for your family… It’s hard to imagine any chicken fan *not* enjoying this dinner!

Again, I started by using an actual recipe that I found by flipping through allrecipes.com and searching out a basic recipe that would utilize the half bottle of chardonnay that I had in my fridge.  Of course, I had to alter the recipe to fit my family’s preferences, but isn’t that what I do with every recipe I make?  NOTE: Most Piccata recipes also call for capers, but since my family isn’t big on them, I left them out of this recipe.  Here are the basics of Chicken Piccata:

Ingredients:

ChardonnayChickenPiccata

  • 3 whole chicken breasts (one package from my freezer), sliced in half, lengthwise
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Flour – enough to dredge breasts, approximately 1/2 cup
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 cup White Wine (I used a half bottle of James River Cellars Chardonnay)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock (I didn’t have any on hand, so I used 1 packet of G.Washington Golden bouillon and a little water)
  • 2 whole lemons (I used both juice AND zest)
  • Fresh Parsley
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream (I never have cream on hand, so I used 2 Tablespoons of nonfat plain greek yogurt instead)
  • Egg noodles or your favorite pasta

Instructions:

  1. Start by simmering your water so you can drop your pasta when your dinner is almost finished.
  2. Slice chicken breasts in half, lengthwise, so they are fairly thin and each person can have two breasts per serving and still not feel like they’re over eating.
  3. Sprinkle each chicken breast piece with salt/pepper and dredge in flour.
  4. Heat one Tablespoon of butter with one Tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Fry each chicken breast until golden brown on both sides, in batches as needed so as not to crowd the pan.  Once breasts are golden, remove to a separate plate and keep warm.  NOTE: I did this in two batches and used another Tablespoon of butter and olive oil each for the second batch.
  5. Once the chicken is done, reduce the heat in the skillet to medium low.  Pour wine into the skillet, add the juice and zest of both lemons, and use the liquid to stir in all the bits from the bottom of the skillet.  Add chopped parsley to the sauce and allow it to cook long enough for all the flavors to combine.  Add greek yogurt (or heavy cream, if you are so inclined) and whisk in to thoroughly incorporate.  This is when I taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings – add salt/pepper as needed while it’s cooking so you don’t have to add more when you’re serving your meal.  I also add a spoonful or so of pasta water to lighten up the sauce if it seems to be thickening too quickly.
  6. While you’re making the sauce, start your pasta so you have everything done at the same time.  Drain pasta and get it ready to serve.
  7. For this meal, I added a bag of green beans, so I microwaved the bag for about 5 minutes to cook them quickly.  My favorite way to serve beans (especially for company) is to put a sliver of butter in the bottom of the serving dish, top with salt/pepper/seasonings.  I then toss the hot beans in the serving dish, distributing the butter and seasonings throughout the beans and making them look impressive!
  8. As the sauce thickens, add the cooked chicken back into the sauce and flip them so both sides get covered in the sauce.
  9. To plate your dinner, put the egg noodles on the plate, top with two chicken breasts, and spoon a bit of sauce over both.  Add a serving of green beans on the side and you’ve got a well-rounded meal that will impress your friends and any company that may happen over for a special dinner.

I really did love this dinner.  I’m a fan of anything that has a great punch of flavor and still looks pretty when plated, so this recipe really fit the bill for me.  Add capers, heavy cream, or whatever else makes this recipe taste best to you.  The idea isn’t to follow *my* recipe exactly… it’s to create a meal for those you love.  Enjoy the process… it’s what makes cooking such a fun thing to do!

Recipe: Chardonnay Pesto Shrimp & Pasta

I started planning dinner before I left for work this morning.  I didn’t do anything as adventurous as get out the crock pot and start dinner… nope….  I just started thinking about what I wanted to make that evening.  Such is my life when I get to talk about wine all day.  Mind you, I’m definitely not complaining… just making an observation.  When I lead guests through a wine tasting at James River Cellars Winery, I gloss over recipe ideas and offer up ways to use the various wines we have to offer.  It’s the way I’ve always done wine tastings, but apparently it’s unique enough that people are stunned when I toss out recipe after recipe for our wines.  Thankfully, the winery owners have allowed my blog to be linked to the winery’s website, Facebook page, and Twitter account – guess I’m doing something right, huh?

I stopped off at the local grocery store to pick up a bag of shrimp on my wayChardonnayPestoShrimp&Pasta home and grabbed a tube of Pesto paste to use, along with some bow tie pasta.  I thawed, peeled, and sliced  the shrimp in half when I got home so that dinner prep would be as simple as possible.  Then I got out the rest of my ingredients:  a lemon, a pat of butter, olive oil, James River Cellars Winery Chardonnay, and a touch of half & half left over from another meal this week.  Once my husband got home, I was ready to start cooking.

I put some of the bow tie pasta into a pot with some salted water and got that started while I melted butter and olive oil in a large saute pan.  As soon as the butter/oil mixture was hot, I added the shrimp and allowed it to cook thoroughly – I had sliced the shrimp length-wise so the thin shrimp pieces curled up into little corkscrews.  Once the shrimp was cooked, it was time to start creating a sauce.

I made the sauce with the shrimp in the pan.  Sometimes I’ll remove the shrimp, but I was feeling a little lazy tonight and didn’t do this extra step.  I added some wine to the shrimp and let it sizzle for a bit until the chardonnay had almost been absorbed by the shrimp.  I then added the juice of the lemon, some pesto paste, a little more wine, a splash of half & half, and some of the pasta cooking liquid.  I allowed this to simmer until the sauce looked thick enough before I tossed everything with the cooked pasta.  It was quick and delicious!

The entire meal, cooking from start to finish, really only took about 15 minutes.  I even had enough time to defrost and toast a ciabatta roll so we could each have half to soak up the sauce.   While there are tons of different things I could have added or changed about this recipe, the clean taste of the wine, lemon, and shrimp paired with the pasta was just what I was looking for tonight.

I hope you’ll experiment with this recipe and come up with your own favorite version… it’s one of my favorite things to do.  Enjoy!

Recipe: Shrimp with Lemon/Chardonel Sauce

Wow…. Even *I* was blown away by how yummy tonight’s dinner turned out.  Shrimp with Lemon_Chardonel SauceThis dinner was an incredibly simple and amazingly flavorful meal… worthy of a blog post and definitely worth writing down so that others can make something like this for dinner sometime soon!

I started with a thawed pound of jumbo shrimp that I had already peeled.  Our local grocery store advertises deals on bags of frozen shrimp every week, a “buy one and get one free” sort of deal that I try and take advantage of every chance I get.  Shrimp is a big favorite of 3/4 of my family (and the older one, who isn’t a fan, is now in grad school and not being fed here) so I really like to have shrimp on hand for quick go-to meals.

I popped 2T of butter and two turns of the pan of olive oil into a large skillet and let it heat until the butter was browned and smelled slightly nutty.  I dropped the shrimp into the pan and gave the pan time to sear each side of the shrimp until both sides were toasty.  Since I knew this was going to be a simple dinner, I grabbed a bag of green beans and put them into the microwave for 5 minutes to cook.

Once both sides of the shrimp were browned and nicely seared, I added the juice and zest of 1 lemon to the sauce and did two turns of the pan with James River Cellars’ Chardonel white wine.  Honestly, I could have used a Chardonnay or another white wine that I liked, but I had a bottle of Chardonel open in the fridge and it was just calling to me for this dinner.  For this recipe, feel free to use/try your own favorite white wine for the sauce.  Something that is light with some tropical fruit notes should fit the bill nicely.  Just always make sure to cook with a wine that you’d want to drink.

I allowed the shrimp to simmer in the lemon/wine sauce while I pulled the green beans out of the microwave and popped in a bag of Uncle Ben’s Brown Basmati Rice for the 90 seconds, as directed.  Once the sauce had thickened and the rice was done, I plated the meal and it was done… the meal was finished and dinner was complete.  This one was totally yummy and worthy of sharing with you all.

Note:  The next time I make this dinner, I’ll probably make pasta, instead of rice, to go along with the shrimp… that will allow me to use a bit of pasta water to stretch the sauce a bit.  That’s the only real change I’d make to this dinner… otherwise, it’s just fabulous!

I hope you’ll consider trying this recipe.  It’s easy… it’s incredibly flavorful… and it made everyone smile.  That, in my book, makes this recipe a huge winner!