Coconut Basil Shrimp

This was a hoooge hit with visiting family over the weekend.

Shrimp marinated in coconut milk, honey, and Tamari with green chiles, garlic, and ginger; then sautéed with onion, red pepper and basil.

I did (of course) make a few changes to the original food.com recipe; I swapped out green chiles for the poblano or jalapeño peppers called for, and subbed parsley for the cilantro, because I can.

INGREDIENTS
Marinade:
•1 can diced green chiles, drained
•3 garlic cloves, minced
•2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
•1/4 cup honey
•2 tbsp lower sodium Tamari
•1/4 cup coconut milk

Stir Fry:
•1 lb peeled and deveined raw shrimp
•1 tbsp olive oil
•1/2 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1 cup diced onion
•1/2 cup diced red pepper
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
•1/4 cup chopped green onion
•1/4 cup chopped parsley

Rice:
•1-1/2 cup Basmati rice
•1 cup coconut milk
•1 cup unsalted chicken stock
•1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
•1/2 tsp Seasoned Salt
•2 tbsp crushed pineapple

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Whisk the marinade ingredients together until well blended, then pour over the shrimp in a gallon sized zipper bag.

Stash in the fridge to marinate for at least 30 minutes, or up to four hours.

When ready to prepare, combine the rice (rinsed and drained at least twice) with the coconut milk, chicken stock, ginger, and salt in a rice cooker and push “Cook.”

Once your rice cooker cycle has completed, fluff with a fork and stir in the crushed pineapple. Cover the rice cooker and keep on warm while you finish the shrimp.

While the rice is cooking, warm the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion, red pepper, and salt and cook for five minutes or so, until the veggies are tender, but not browned.

Remove the shrimp from the marinade (save the marinade) and add to the pan with the onion and pepper.

Turn the heat to high, stir in the Sherry Peppers Sauce, and sauté until the shrimp are just turning pink – you do not want the shrimp fully cooked at this point.

Remove the shrimp, onion, and pepper to a bowl and set aside.

Pour the reserved marinade into the pan, bring to a boil, and simmer for five minutes to cook any fish juices and reduce.

Turn the heat off, stir in the shrimp mixture, basil leaves, and green onion and toss to combine. Cover the pan and let rest for a couple of minutes to finish cooking the shrimp and wilt the basil leaves.

Sprinkle the shrimp with parsley and serve over the rice.

This rocks as it is, but to really push it up and over the top, pass bowls of Garlic Butter Peanuts and Banana Mango Chutney for each person to add to their individual plate, should they choose so.

Our family all did, and even those who are not all that adventurous eaters loved the combination.

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Banana & Mango Chutney

The 1960’s Lobster Curry recipe that turned me on to Garlic Butter Peanuts, also called for serving the curry with a banana chutney.

Hmmm.

This, I had to try; with, of course, a few adjustments and tweaks here and there.

Raisins are just so… raisin-y, so out they went in favor of dried tart cherries. And, I like my chutney with a bit of ooomph, so, in went a dab o’ crushed red pepper!

Pretty terrific.

We enjoyed ours over Coconut Basil Shrimp and Coconut Rice, but you could easily use this for Pork Tenderloin Wellington, or try it just spooned over cream cheese and served with crackers.

INGREDIENTS
•3 cups bananas, peeled and sliced
•2 cups apple, peeled, cored and chopped
•1-1/2 cup mango chunks
•2/3 cup diced onion
•2/3 cup dried cherries
•1 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1 cup packed brown sugar
•2 tbsp crystallized ginger
•2/3 cup cider vinegar
•2 cups orange juice
•1 clove garlic, minced
•1 tsp black pepper
•1 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1/8 tsp red pepper flakes

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Stir together in a medium pot and simmer over medium low heat for 15 minutes.

Use an immersion blender to finely chop any chunks; or transfer in batches to a blender and pulse until smooth.

Continue cooking over medium low heat for another 15 or 20 minutes, until the chutney has reduced and thickened.

Cool, transfer to a container, then cover and chill until needed; or, ladle into prepared canning jars and process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Remove from the water and cool on a rack.

Check that the jars have sealed by pressing in the center of the tops. If the center stays down, you are good. If it pops back up, reprocess for 15 more minutes.

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Garlic Butter Peanuts

Who knew?

I had come across a 1960’s recipe for lobster curry, and it looked halfway decent!

But…

while, yes, the lobster curry looked tempting, the two toppings to serve with the curry looked even more so.

Which brings me to sautéing some salted peanuts with butter and garlic powder.

Which, if I might say so, is genius!

INGREDIENTS
•2 cups salted peanuts
•2 tbsp unsalted butter
•1/2 tsp garlic powder

Melt the butter with the garlic powder in a large skillet over medium heat, then add the peanuts (I used salted Virginia peanuts).

Cook, stirring, until the peanuts are warm.

Serve warm over your favorite dish, or turn into a paper-towel lined bowl to cool and absorb any extra butter.

These are lovely on top of any dish that would benefit from a scattering of peanuts on top, but they are also not too, too bad on their own as a munchie.

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Sriracha Barbecue Meatballs

Now that I’ve found some frozen meatballs that actually taste decent (Whole Foods), I’ve been exploring different sauces and flavor profiles to make simple, tasty meals that go beyond “spaghetti and meatballs.”

I had a bottle of Trader Joe’s Sriracha Barbecue Sauce open in the fridge, and came across am Asian-inspired recipe with gochujang and soy sauce and apricot preserves and thought…

“Hmmm, I can work with this!”

First, the only thing I really like apricots in is this wicked nice Guacamole, so apricot preserves got turned into my own Peach Butter; then the gochujang and soy sauce were swapped out with TJ’s Sriracha Barbecue Sauce and lower sodium Tamari.

All in all, we were wicked pleased with the results and – since you toss it all in the slow cooker, there was next to no muss and very little fuss involved.

INGREDIENTS
•1 bag (20 oz) frozen meatballs

Sauce:
•1 cup peach butter (or apricot preserves)
•1 cup Sriracha barbecue sauce
•1 cup diced onion
•2 tbsp lower sodium Tamari
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1 tbsp grated fresh ginger

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Stir sauce ingredients together in slow cooker.

Add meatballs and stir to coat.

Cover and cook on high for four hours.

Done!

We had ours over ramen noodles with sautéed veggies and loved it.

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Cherry Coke Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

If there was ever a time to settle back with a nice slice of cake, then surely now is that time.

The thing is, a lot of folk don’t want to be bothered the trouble of making a cake – even when you use a cake mix. I mean, there is oil, and eggs, and measuring and stuff, but…

What if there wasn’t?

This (quite tasty, I may add) cake was made with just two ingredients, and no measuring.

(!)

Full disclosure: my friend, Barb, who says that she cannot bake, still managed not to have her cake turn out when she tried this method at home, but I think there is something about her oven. That’s ok, Barb, we still love you, and wish we could have back porch get-togethers again.

Back to the cake – YES! TWO INGREDIENTS and NO MEASURING!

INGREDIENTS
Cake:
•1 cherry cake mix
•12 oz Coca Cola (or Pepsi)

Cake Pan Coating:
•1 tbsp flour
•1 tbsp solid shortening
•1 tbsp canola oil

Frosting:
•4 oz cream cheese, softened
•1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
•1 tbsp vanilla
•1 tbsp maraschino cherry juice
•1/8 tsp black pepper
•2-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Heat your oven to whatever the directions on the back of the box suggest – more than likely 350º.

Pour the Coke (and nothing else) into the cake mix in a large mixing bowl and beat according tto those back o’ the box direction.

Now, if you want truly easy cake, go ahead and transfer the batter to a 13×9 pan and bake for the time listed, again, on the back o’ the cake mix box.

But…

I was planning this cake as dessert for one of the very few times anymore that we were actually having friends over for dinner, so I wanted a bit more of a presentation.

Which meant my bundt pan, which meant the most amazing cake pan coating I have ever come across.

Stir one tablespoon each of solid shortening (Crisco), canola oil, and flour together in a small bowl until nicely blended.

Don’t worry about any lumps, they will disappear in baking.

Brush this mixture evenly over your cake pan(s) of choice – I went with a classic bundt pan, tho’ this has worked a treat with more involved “cathedral” or “flower” pans.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake according to the directions – you know where by now.

Once the cake has baked, allow to cool completely on a rack before turning out onto your cake pan.

To see how well that cake pan coating works, note the image at the beginning of this post.

Cake baked and cooled, let us frost!

Whip the cream cheese with the butter together in a mixing bowl until fluffy, then stir in the black pepper (trust me, it’s good), vanilla, and, if you have some, maraschino cherry juice.

Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until you have the frosting at the consistency you prefer. If the frosting seems too thick or too runny in the bowl, add a tablespoon or so of milk or cream to thin it out, or more confectioners’ sugar to thicken it.

Frost your cake and stash in the fridge (or at least someplace cool) until ready to serve.

Usually, when I make a cake, I save the extra frosting for a friend, who will then save it for a gluten-free treat for herself (if she can hide it from the kids), but this time, I just spread it on extra thick over the cake.

Nobody complained.

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Catalina Tacos

Let us face it, it is most always a good day for tacos, and these tacos have a little sumpin’ sumpin’ extra.

Salad dressing.

Catalina salad dressing.

Not added on top, though, cool beans if you do, but cooked in with the ground meat and veggies and taco seasoning and all to make for a nice, tasty twist that will make folk wonder what, exactly, is your secret?

I started out with a taco kit; seasoning packet, hard and soft tortillas, all the usual suspects, but, I added additional veggies as well as the Catalina, because, veggies are our friends, right? And if I can sneak ’em into places where no one is expecting ’em, bonus!

INGREDIENTS
•Taco kit

Meat:
•1 tbsp olive oil
•1 lb ground meat
•1 cup diced onion
•1 cup diced celery
•1 cup shredded cabbage (coleslaw mix)
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1/2 cup Catalina dressing
•1 packet taco seasoning
•2/3 cup hot water
•1 tsp hot sauce

Toppings:
•Shredded lettuce
•Shredded Mexican cheese blend
•Diced sweet onion
•Diced tomato
•Taco sauce
•Refried black beans

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, then add the veggies and cook, stirring often, for about five minutes.

Add the ground meat (I used meatloaf mix – ground beef and ground pork – here but beef, chicken, or turkey are all good, too) and cook, breaking up the meat, until cooked through and no longer pink.

Stir the Sherry Peppers Sauce, Catalina dressing, hot water, and hot sauce into the taco seasoning until blended, then add to the meat and veggies in the skillet.

Cook, stirring often, until the sauce has been mostly reduced.

Make your tacos.

I like to slather some warm refried black beans on a soft taco, then slide a hard taco in and fill with the meat and toppings.

Note: like the whole concept, but not a fan of bottled salad dressings? We have you covered! Checkout this home made Catalina Dressing – less sugar and “stuff” – but all of the flavor.

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Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

This is one of those recipes from the nice folk at delish.com that showed up on my husband’s computer that he immediately wanted to try.

It looked good, and is really wicked simple to toss together, so I figured, “why not?”

Of course, I added a few things to zip up the flavor a bit, but even after a late afternoon trip to physical therapy, I was able to get these tasty peppers on the dinner table by 7:30 – which is our default dinner time.

INGREDIENTS
•1-1/2 lb thinly sliced steak
•Juice from a jar of peperoncini (or vinegar)
•2 tbsp olive oil
•2 cups diced onion
•8 oz sliced ‘shrooms
•2 cloves garlic
•2 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
•1 tbsp Arby’s Sauce (optional)
•1 tsp hot sauce
•1/2 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1/2 tsp black pepper
•1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
•2 tsp Italian seasoning
•4 red peppers, halved
•Provolone cheese slices
•Parsley

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Note: the original recipe called for using thinly sliced sirloin steak, but my butcher had “beef for stroganoff” at hand, so I used that, cut the strips in quarters, and marinated them in some juice from a jar of sliced peperoncini for a couple of hours.

Worked a treat.

Once you have marinated your beef, the peppers will come together pretty quickly – like, in under 45 minutes start to table – so don’t stress about the prep.

Heat your oven to 325º, cut your peppers in half, and clean out the seeds and extra ribs.

Arrange in a baking dish and bake for 30 minutes, until the peppers are tender.

While the peppers are in the oven, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat, then add the onion, ‘shrooms, and garlic.

Season with the salt, black and Aleppo pepper, Italian seasoning, and one tablespoon of the Sherry Peppers Sauce and cook, stirring often, until any cooking liquid is reduced and the onion is tender – about six minutes.

Remove the beef from the marinade (discard the marinade) and add to the pan with the veggies along with the remaining tablespoon of Sherry Peppers Sauce, the Worcestershire sauce, Arby’s Sauce (if you’re using), and the hot sauce.

Stir to combine, then cook, stirring often, until the meat is cooked and most pan liquids have been cooked off.

Remove the peppers from the oven, pouring out any liquid in the bottom of the peppers  and press a slice of Provolone cheese into the bottom of each pepper half.

Note: I bought deli-sliced rounds of Provolone, and splitting each slice in half seemed to fit into the peppers well.

Top the Provolone with the beef mixture, then top each pepper with more Provolone.

Pop under the broiler for three to five minutes, until the filling is heated through and the cheese on top is nicely melted and browned in parts.

Sprinkle with fresh parsley, then serve with a nice side salad.

We also chose to drizzle a bit of ranch dressing over each.

Nice.

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Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken

The original version of this recipe, from the nice folk at Kraft foods, called for using chicken wings, and suggested it as a perfect party food.

Let me just say this about that…

The wings were very good, but also wicked messy and not something I want to pass around to a throng of folk wandering and chatting and drinking and such.

Then, my husband had a great idea…

“Why not use another cut of chicken and serve it as a main course, mebbe with rice?”.

And that is what I did.

And it was very good.

INGREDIENTS
•2-1/2 lb chicken thighs, bone-in
•1 onion, sliced
•1-1/2 cup barbecue sauce
•3/8 cup orange juice
•3 tbsp honey
•2 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Note: I used bone-in thighs, because that is what we prefer; if you’d rather boneless, or breasts, go for it – it is your kitchen, after all.

Stir the barbecue sauce together with the orange juice, honey, and Sherry Peppers Sauce in a slow cooker, then add the chopped onion and the chicken pieces.

Cover and cook on high for three hours, or on low for six hours.

Full Disclosure: I was a bit late getting these started, and so popped the crock in a 400º oven for the last 30 minutes or so, giving me some nicely blackened edges.

Nice chicken, and most certainly better than using wings.

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Lois’ Five(!) Bean Salad

Yeh. You can keep your three bean salad, because our cousin, Lois, hass set me up with this pretty nifty five bean version, and I, for one, am not goin’ back!

Also, what could be better for a summer cookout than a salad that comes together in minutes with no slicing or dicing, and has no ingredients to spoil on a warm summer’s afternoon?

I’m thinkin’ “winner winner, Five Bean Salad with dinner!”

INGREDIENTS
Salad:
•1 can green beans
•1 can wax beans
•1 can chick peas
•1 can kidney beans
•1 can black beans

Dressing:
•1/2 cup cider vinegar
•1/2 cup canola oil
•1/2 cup sugar
•1 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1 tsp black Pepper
•1 tsp Aleppo pepper

Drain and rinse the beans well, then whisk the dressing ingredients together until well blended, pour over the beans in a large bowl, and toss to coat all the beans with the dressing. Cover and chill until time to serve.

Note: would you like to add diced onion, or mebbe even scallions? Go ahead!

This made enough salad to fill a two quart container, so you’ll have plenty to enjoy on your own with enough left over to share.

I like that in a salad!

As an added bonus, none of the ingredients lend themselves to wilting while they chill, so you are golden for a couple of days.

Go ahead, eat your beans.

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Better Pasta Salad Hack! Plus Chopped Salad!

Who doesn’t love a nice chopped salad?

Lettuces (Green Leaf and Romaine in this case), assorted veggies – I went with radishes and Blanched Asparagus and shredded cabbage and carrots and celery – and then, of course, meat(s) and cheese – in this case crumbled Nashville Hot Bacon from my butcher and aged Provolone. And… if you’ve been really good – Pasta!

But, how to keep the pasta from being a bland addition to your salad?

With this wicked simple hack – which works for any pasta salad you may have planned!

First, cook the pasta in salted water according to package directions, then drain and – key for pasta salad – rinse well.

Second, it makes no matter what type of dressing you are planning for your pasta salad – in this case I used Italian – the key is to double the amount of dressing called for in your recipe; pour half of that over the cooked, drained, and rinsed pasta in a bowl, then cover and stash in the fridge over night.

Consider this small-ish bowl of Ditalini pasta I planned on using for my salad.

I poured enough dressing over the pasta to cover, then gave it a bit of a stir, covered the bowl, and into the fridge with it.

The next day, just before I was ready to put together my chopped salad, I pulled the pasta out of the fridge to give it another toss and…

will you look at that?

That pasta, which had been covered in dressing the day before, has now soaked up all of that excess liquid – and flavor! – and is ready to become a worthy addition to any salad, or, for that matter, stand on its own as a fine base for pasta salad.

To make the salad – I chop and generally prep all of the ingredients well ahead of time, then assemble in a large bowl just before I plan to serve it.

This was a salad for four, so I cooked 3/4 cup of pasta, then drained, rinsed, dressed, and set aside to soak up all that excess dressing goodness.

Lettuces, veggies, meats, cheeses, all the rest are up to your personal preferences – I wouldn’t say “no” to some crumbled Feta, sliced peperoncini, and Kalamata olives.

Why order out when you can make a pretty terrific chopped salad at home?

And that pasta!

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