White Roasted Stir Fry

Have you ever wanted to make dinner but you didn’t actually want to “make dinner”? That was my night tonight.  I had an idea to make a stir fry, using a bag of frozen shrimp that I had thawed during the day, but I had no desire to stand by the stovetop.  Enter the idea of a “roasted stir fry”.  While it was a bit of a gamble, I do think it paid off in the end when we sat down to dinner.  It was yummy!  The best part is that it can qualify as a Starter Recipe because it’s just so darn simple.  Check out the recipe for yourself!WhiteRoastedStirFry.jpg

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag frozen shrimp
  • 1 bag broccoli bites
  • grape tomatoes (sliced in half)
  • half onion, cut in half and sliced
  • a thumb of garlic (I used a tube, so it was about the size of my thumb… probably 1 clove, crushed)
  • teriyaki sauce (just a small pour)
  • white wine (a large splash)
  • Splash of cream (totally unnecessary but looked good)
  • 1 pkg 90-second brown rice

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven at 400 degrees and cover baking sheet with foil.
  2. Remove shells from shrimp and put raw shrimp in a bowl.  Toss in broccoli, grape tomatoes, onion, and garlic.
  3. Pour sauce over shrimp mixture and toss to combine.
  4. Pour shrimp mixture onto baking sheet and pop into oven.  Cook 20-25 minutes, until shrimp are cooked.
  5. If you decide you want to add the splash of cream, you can add it by removing baking sheet from oven, pour cream, and toss to blend before serving.
  6. Cook brown rice packet as directed.
  7. Serve with shrimp mixture over brown rice.

To finish off our dinner, I like to add bread when I make dinner… I typically have sliced bread in the freezer, so I grab a few pieces, spray it with Pam and season with garlic salt. Feel free to play with the ingredients and create something that fits into your family’s favorites… add veggies, serve on noodles, change out some of the sauce flavors… the sky’s the limit when it comes to making dinners that everyone will like!  Enjoy…

Shrimp and Peas with Pasta

We were looking for something easy and delicious for dinner tonight.  I knew I wanted to use shrimp, so I started there.  Scrounging around the fridge produced grape tomatoes and some frozen peas, so I came up with this yummy meal.

ShrimPeasPasta

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag frozen shrimp, thawed and shelled.  Salt and pepper shrimp before cooking.
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • Coconut oil
  • White wine
  • Savory nutritional yeast flakes
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Pasta water
  • Thin Spaghetti, cooked al dente’
  • 1 Egg yolk, whipped with a fork and tempered with a few spoons of pasta water

Directions:

  • In boiling, salted water, cook your pasta, saving 1 cup of pasta water
  • In a large saute’ pan, heat coconut oil and sear shrimp on both sides until toasty.
  • Add peas and tomatoes, saute’, then add some white wine and allow to cook through.
  • Season dish using dashes of yeast flakes, parmesan cheese, and a bit of pasta water. Taste after each addition before moving forward, adjusting as needed.  Pasta water will add a bit of thickening, so take your time with this step.
  • Drain pasta and add cooked pasta to shrimp mixture and toss to combine.
  • Remove from heat and add whipped egg yolk to add in a bit of creaminess.
  • Toss well and serve.  I like to top with parsley or minced chives.

This is one of those meals that can be thrown together fairly easily.  I like to keep bags of frozen shrimp and peas on hand.  If you don’t happen to have grape tomatoes in your fridge, you can substitute a small amount of sun-dried tomatoes (sliced thin) or leave them out altogether.  Play with your ingredients and come up with your family’s favorites. Enjoy creating your own version!

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: Anniversary Alfredo

Our “dating” anniversary was this past Thursday and, while we don’t go to great lengths to celebrate it, I was in the mood to make a special dinner to commemorate this auspicious occasion.  My husband loves steak, but that wasn’t something I could easily cook in our current apartment, so I opted for a seafood dinner… specifically, a special seafood alfredo.

For this seafood alfredo, I decided to use the meat of one cooked lobster (diced), one pound of large shrimp (sliced in half lengthwise and roasted in a 400 degree oven with salt/pepper/herbes de provence/smoked paprika until pink and curled), and one pound of angel hair pasta (cooked al dente’).AnniversaryAlfredo

NOTE:  A traditional alfredo sauce is made by melting equal parts butter and heavy cream together before adding in mouthwateringly large amounts of parmesan cheese.  Since heavy cream is something that I (1) didn’t remember to purchase and (2) typically try not to use because it doesn’t agree with my stomach, I opted for a unique way to create the taste of an alfredo sauce without the dense feel.  I do hope you’ll consider trying it this way sometime as it’s rather tasty.

For my alfredo sauce, I started by melting a stick of margarine and a dollop of olive oil in a saute’ pan.  Once the margarine was melted, I added a generous splash of white wine (I used a local crisp white wine, but this would have been a great place to use either an oaked Reserve Chardonnay OR a sweeter Vidal Blanc) and then added two palms full of Parmesan Cheese and some garlic, whisking everything together well.  Once the cheese is fairly well melted, you’ll notice that it doesn’t look entirely appealing at this point.  It seemed a bit thin and didn’t really have the creamy texture that I wanted, nor did it have that amazing taste that I wanted.  It was a bit salty to taste, so I added freshly ground pepper and some smoked paprika, along with two spoons of creme’ fraiche that I had picked up at the store.  The sauce thickened up nicely, but to complete the sauce I added a single wedge of Laughing Cow light swiss cheese, which melted into a creamy bit of heaven.  NOTE: I added the diced lobster to the sauce to warm the meat.

When ready to plate the meal, I chose not to add the shrimp to the sauce.  Instead, I placed a serving of the pasta on each plate, divided up the shrimp among the plates and then spooned the sauce (with lobster bites) over the pasta and shrimp.  I had popped a loaf of crusty bread into the oven (as you can see in the corner photo) and sliced this up to serve along with dinner.  While I did cook some snow peas to add a vegetable to round out our meal, these went largely uneaten and could have easily been avoided altogether.

In the end, we had a really lovely anniversary dinner.  It’s been 27 years since our first “date” and 26 years since we married, so I thought it was fitting to name this recipe as our Anniversary Alfredo.  I’ve been blessed with a wonderful man who knows how much I like to cook and will eat just about anything I cook, wine or no, because he loves me.  How much better can life get than that?  Happy Anniversary to my husband… wishing everyone else a fun time with this recipe!

LAST NOTE:  If you don’t like seafood, this recipe would be lovely with roasted bites of chicken, beef or even simple roasted vegetables.  Cook what you like and your loved ones will enjoy it!

Recipe: White Wine Seafood Stew

Sometimes, you have to alter what you’re going to make for dinner when you find a good deal at the local grocery store.  This is what happened to me yesterday… the store had some beautiful scallops and shrimp on a 50% off sale, so my recipe plan took on a life of its own.SeafoodStew

I started with two small packages (each) of scallops and shrimp.  I shelled the shrimp, washed the seafood, and then seasoned everything with a dash of soy sauce, herbs de provence, salt, and freshly ground pepper, before letting it sit in the fridge for an hour or so.  NOTE: This step isn’t necessarily important… I was bored and wanted to get dinner prep started early.

Once I started cooking, I began by sauteing the seafood in some olive oil.   Since I had so much seafood, I did this in two batches to keep the heat up.  Once the seafood was cooked through, I removed it all and added a few cups of diced vegetables.  I also added a healthy amount of Viognier white wine for flavor.  NOTE: If I’d had it around, I would have used either James River Cellars Gewurztraminer or Vidal Blanc… either would be a great background taste for this stew.  The vegetables were ones that I had picked up at the salad bar of the grocery store recently, so it was a great way to use up leftovers that needed to be eaten or tossed.  While the vegetables were cooking, I decided to cook some pasta to throw into the stew, so I boiled some spaghetti noodles that I broke in half.  I added the cooked spaghetti to the vegetables and then also added the seafood back into the stew.

Once the components of the stew were together, I decided to play with the seasonings a bit.  I used varying amounts of parmesan cheese, Viognier white wine, a little mozzarella cheese, and bumped up the tastes of the original spices.  It was a fun dinner to create and delicious to eat… I added some garlic toasts and called it a night!

Enjoy playing with your spices… they can make a huge difference in the flavor of your final product.  Try one new spice at a time and see how it works with your meals and recipes.  Have fun with your cooking… after all… it’s just food!

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: Teriyaki Shrimp Stir Fry

I have to give my husband credit for the inspiration for this recipe.  I asked what he wanted me to make (using a pound of shrimp) for dinner and he rattled off a list of options that included the name of this dish.  I wasn’t thinking “teriyaki” until he threw that idea out… but it sounded yummy to me, so I set about rifling through the fridge to come up with ingredients that might work as a teriyaki sauce.

What I found, already in my fridge, were the following items:  half a jar of orange marmalade, Bragg Liquid Aminos (something like soy sauce, that *isn’t* soy, that my niece mentioned once on her blog so I bought it), homemade BBQ sauce, and a bottle of James River Cellars Montpelier wine (this new vintage is 100% Cabernet Franc, made as a semi-sweet blanc/rose’ wine… soooo yummy).  Since I hadn’t cooked with Montpelier yet, I was eager to try and find a way to use this fun wine.  NOTE: If you don’t have access to this specific wine, you’re welcome to substitute your favorite semi-dry/semi-sweet white wine or a lightly dry rose of your choice.  You could also just substitute chicken stock, if you prefer, but I really like the back note of wine in this dish.

TeriyakiShrimpStirFry

I defrosted a pound of frozen shrimp (I always like to have this on hand for quick and easy dinners that I know my husband will love) and sliced them in half, length-wise.  I love doing this with shrimp because they end up looking like little cork-screws of shrimp and they cook so quickly.  Feel free to cut them up or leave them whole… it’s entirely up to you!

I sauteed the shrimp in good olive oil until they were slightly toasty and browned.  Again, cook your shrimp according to your family’s preference… this is simply the way we like to have shrimp.  I wanted to add some sort of vegetable into dinner, so I used about a cup of broccoli slaw and tossed that with the cooked shrimp until it started to look a little glossy from the olive oil.  NOTE: If you’ve never used broccoli slaw before, you can find it in most grocery stores in the bagged vegetable area.  I love this stuff and try to keep it on hand to add to dinners whenever possible.  It cooks amazingly fast and is a nice addition to stir fry dinners.  I also like to use it in egg rolls, but that’s for another post on another day…

Once the veggies were well incorporated, I added the sauce that I’d made, using the ingredients i found in my fridge.  To be more specific, I used the half jar of orange marmalade, a few tablespoons of liquid aminos (this stuff is really salty, so go slow when adding and taste as you go), 2-3 Tablespoons of BBQ sauce, and 1/4-1/3 cup of Montpelier wine.  I tasted the sauce to make sure all the flavors combined well and adjusted as needed.  I let the sauce simmer with the shrimp/veggies until it had reduced a bit and didn’t look quite so wet in the pan.

Once the stir fry was done, I plated dinner in two different ways.  My husband really likes rice, so I like to keep microwaveable brown rice in the cupboard for meals.  I heated his rice and chose to put my dinner over a bag of Shiritake (tofu) noodles.  Let me say that I really like substituting regular pasta with these spaghetti-shaped noodles.  They’re low cal, low carb, gluten-free, vegan, and only about 30 calories for the entire bag (which is the amount I always eat).  They need to be rinsed REALLY well, as they are kept in a brine of some sort, but I find them to be a fun substitute that works well for me and how I want to eat.  I’m very visual, so I want to see a big plate of food or I feel like I haven’t eaten enough (no matter what my stomach actually says) and will snack more later.  NOTE:  The link I’ve included is the the Google search page for Shiritaki noodles… I didn’t want to limit you by suggesting a specific brand, since I’ve tried a few and don’t really have a favorite.

This dinner was super-simple and used things that I already had in my fridge or pantry.  I love being able to create something for dinner that doesn’t need tons of unique/single-use ingredients.  Orange marmalade is a terrific example of something that I keep on hand for tons of different uses.  Find your favorites and you’ll be able to pull dinner together in a snap – this was even faster (and cheaper) than take-out!

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!

Recipe: Baked Spaghetti x two

535048_10151622969642953_1426933668_n(1)I have to confess that I rarely like to make two separate meals for my family.  I tend to stand by the idea that if I’ve taken the time to cook dinner, the least they can do is eat it, right?  I decided to take pity on my older son, D, who is not a fan of seafood and make two versions of this baked spaghetti.  While it wasn’t difficult to do, it was definitely made as a treat since D will be heading off to grad school soon and I won’t have the opportunity to cook for him for a bit.

I began dinner by cooking spaghetti – I used most of a package of thin spaghetti, cooked as the package directed, but could have just as easily used linguini or some other pasta shape.  Spaghetti just seemed “right” to me for this meal.

Then I started with the protein side of things.  I sauteed a package of chicken tenders in a large stock pot until they were nicely browned and thoroughly cooked.  After removing the chicken, I added a pound of medium-sized raw shrimp without the shells and sauteed them in the same stock pot until they, too, were nicely browned and thoroughly cooked.  After giving them each their own photo shoot, I popped them into separate casserole dishes and set about making the sauce.

This sauce was a fairly simple one to do.  I began by melting 2T butter in a saute’ pan and adding half an onion, finely diced.  I let the heat take over and turn the onions translucent before adding some flour, and James River Cellars Chardonnay to start the creative juices flowing on this sauce.  I added some skim milk, simply because I wanted the sauce to have a little more body than the leaner Chardonnay sauce, then added  1/2 c asiago cheese, and 1/4 c shredded cheddar cheese.  Once the cheeses had melted into the sauce, I thinned it out with a little pasta water and some freshly ground pepper.  Throughout the process, I would taste the sauce to make sure things were blending nicely – this is where you should add or alter your recipe when you can.  Throwing salt on a finished product makes for a flatter taste in the meal, in my opinion.

Once the sauce was complete, I topped the two casserole dishes each with half the cooked pasta, and half the cooked sauce, then stirred them both to combine all the ingredients.  My final step was to bake the casseroles for 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  I sprinkled a touch of cheese on the top, but that’s totally up to you.  I just like the toasty cheese look when it comes out of the oven.

As you can see by the photos above, incorporated into this collage, dinner looked similar but tasted different, depending on the meat that was included.  M was happy with his Baked Shrimp Spaghetti and D was thrilled that his Baked Chicken Spaghetti had no seafood.  It was a win-win over all…especially since I got to have a ramekin of each recipe!  YUM!

Recipe: Shrimp Puttanesca

I have to caveat this post by saying that this sauce is not a true Puttanesca… it has none of the tomatoes, olives, and capers one would expect in a traditional puttanesca sauce, should you place an order for this in a restaurant.  My darling husband isn’t a fan of olives and capers, but I was hungry for something along the same lines of a puttanesca sauce with shrimp, so this is the recipe that came about.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

I started with a frozen package of Extra Jumbo Shrimp from my local grocery store.  I love to pick up packages of shrimp any time they’re on sale, so this is always a “go to” for me… especially since my husband and I both love shrimp.  I thawed and shelled the shrimp while they were still partially frozen, so they were easy to peel.  I also put a pot of pasta on to cook… cook as much as you’d like for your meal.  We like either bowties, rotini, or ziti as any of these hold the sauce nicely and are easy to eat with a fork.  If you like spaghetti or linguini, this would be a great recipe to use as well.ShrimpPuttanesca

Once the pasta is almost cooked, I warmed up some olive oil and then sauteed a large amount of finely chopped garlic and shallots until softened and lightly browned.  Into the pan, I then added two anchovy fillets (I used the ones packed in oil, because that’s what I had in the cupboard – I’ll use anchovies packed in water for the next rendition) and allowed them to melt into a sauce.  SIDE NOTE:  Anchovies are fun to cook with because they really do melt into the sauce when exposed to heat and bring a salty back note to any sauce.  I find them fun to use, as long as my family isn’t aware that I’m using them… they’re a little finicky about fish in their sauces.  Once the base of the sauce was cooked and the anchovies were incorporated, I added the shrimp.  As you can see in the photo, I sliced the shrimp length-wise so they would curl up and look pretty in the dish.  This also allowed the shrimp to cook pretty quickly and pick up the sauce even better than if they were whole.

With the shrimp were in the pan and starting to cook, I added some James River Cellars’ Chardonnay to fill out the sauce.  If I were trying to make a meal without wine (why would anyone DO that??), I’d simply substitute chicken stock for the wine.  I allowed the wine to cook into the shrimp and add a lovely taste to the seafood before topping the entire dish with some chopped parsley.  If the sauce is still a little thick, you can add more wine OR you can add a little pasta water.   The pasta water will end up thickening the sauce as well, so adding both is not a bad idea either.

For plating purposes, I drained the pasta and then tossed it into the shrimp and sauce.  This dinner was a huge hit and will definitely be seen often in my “easy/go-to” line up of recipes.  Try it yourself and see if you don’t add it to your own family’s favorites!

If you’re thinking about making a Valentine’s dinner, this is wonderful for a seafood lover.  Just add some crusty bread and a decadent dessert, and your loved one will be putty in your hands.  Happy Valentine’s Day!