Shrimp Toast

For the holidaze, my husband had a taste for shrimp cocktail, with my own home made Cocktail Sauce, of course, so, since we were at a store known for their spendy, but usually quite good stuff; we picked up a (two pound!) bag of frozen cooked shrimp, planning for a bit of a treat.

And then, we tried the shrimp.

And, well, were both disappointed, but really glad we hadn’t planned on serving it to friends. It wasn’t bad, per se, it was just…

there.

My cocktail sauce, of course, rocked; but I obviously needed to plan something else for the lion’s share of organic shrimp remaining in my freezer.

And then, I came across…

Shrimp Toast.

And thought, “This. Could. Work!”

And it did.

INGREDIENTS
•8 oz deveined shrimp
•3 tbsp mayonnaise
•3 tbsp butter, melted*
•1 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce – or your fave hot sauce, to taste
•1/4 tsp garlic powder
•1/4 tsp black pepper
•1/4 cup diced celery
•Naan or ciabatta
•Fresh basil, chopped

*If you like, skip the butter and add three tablespoons of cheese. I think that Boursin would be a boss here.

Note: the original recipe I found on line called for using the whit and light green parts of scallions; but we had a dinner guest who is, however inconceivably, anti-onion; so I used finely chopped celery.

Our shrimp came cooked and tail on, so I removed the tails.

Chop your shrimp – by hand or in a food processor – until you have small shrimp pieces. If you use a processor, pulse the shrimp so you don’t end up with shrimp paste. Which, I guess, you could still use.

In a medium bowl, stir the shrimp together with the mayonnaise, butter or cheese, hot sauce, garlic powder, black pepper and celery (or chopped scallion) until blended.

Transfer to a covered bowl and stash in the fridge for an hour or so, or until you are ready to make the shrimp toast.

When ready to toast, heat your oven to 400º and place a rack in a rimmed baking pan.

Note: I used roasted garlic naan, which I thought gave the shrimp toast a nice kick of extra flavor.

Arrange two sheets of naan on the baking pan and spread with the shrimp mixture.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the top is browned and the naan is crispity.

Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the chopped fresh basil, then slice and serve.

For four folk having just finished cocktails and munchies, one naan (there are two in the package) was plenty; but that meant that I could give the leftovers to anti-onion guy, who seemed pretty happy with it.

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Fireball Fizzz

It’s Monday; a holiday for some, and a pretty crappy winter storm day for others, so why not make a drink?

Or three.

We actually made these for a small dinner with friends in Saturday, and everyone seemed pretty happy with them.

Not as happy as Michael was when he discovered the joy of a Rusty Nail after dinner, but still pretty happy.

INGREDIENTS
•2-1/2 oz Jack Daniels
•1-1/2 oz Fireball
•4 oz Coke

Combine all in a blender with ice. Mix until desired consistency…

Note: mine never attained the “slushy” consistency I had pictured when I first read the recipe. Perhaps I should’ve pulled out the big boy blender from exile in the garage.

Serve with pitted, stem on cherries. I prefer mine swozzled, wherein I drain a jar of cherries, then return the cherries to the jar and pour vodka, or, as in this case, vodka and cherry liqueur over to cover, then stash ’em in the fridge for a couple of days.

Lovely.

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Air Fryer Pork Flautas al Pastor

This recipe is a variation on another food kit that we quite enjoyed, though the food kit used thinly sliced pork and, going forward, I am gonna use ground pork. If pork doesn’t work for you, feel free to substitute ground beef or turkey. The original kit recipe called for pan frying the flautas, but the air fryer worked a treat.

I am also not a huge fan of cilantro, so I used a very little bit on my flautas, adding chopped parsley in its place, and added a bit of extra hot sauce on top.

INGREDIENTS
Flautas:
•1 tbsp olive oil
•1 lb ground pork
•1 cup diced sweet onion
•8 oz pineapple chunks
•1 lime
•1/2 cup water
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce – or your fave hot sauce, to taste
•1 tsp cornstarch
•1-1/2 tsp chile powder
•1-1/2 tsp cumin
•1/2 tsp Seasoned Salt
•8 flour tortillas

Toppings:
•2 tbsp sour cream
•1/4 tsp Seasoned Salt
•Crispy jalapeño pieces**
•Sliced scallions
•Cilantro

*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.

**Like canned fried onions.

Drain the pineapple chunks well and chop.

Cut the lime in half, cutting one half into wedges and juicing the other half.

Stem and coarsely chop the cilantro.

Combine the sour cream with one teaspoon of the lime juice and the Seasoned Salt and set aside.

Add one tablespoon of olive oil to a large pan over medium-high heat.

When hot, add the pork and onion and cook, breaking up the pork, until cooked through and no pink remains; mebbe five minutes.

Stir the cornstarch into the pork and onion mixture until totally blended in, then add the water, Sherry Peppers Sauce, hot sauce, pineapple chunks, and seasonings.

Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often, until pan juices are evaporated, about five minutes more.

Heat your air fryer to 400º.

Divide the filling evenly between the tortillas and roll tightly, arranging in a single layer, seam side down, on your air fryer rack.

Spray lightly with olive oil.

Note: canned cooking spray can leave a coating on your air fryer rack that is difficult to clean off. I keep a spray bottle filled with olive oil for applying to the rack or food when air frying.

Pop the flautas into the air fryer and cook until browned, six to nine minutes.
Note: I left mine for the full nine minutes, and they were almost too brown, so keep an eye on them.

Turn the flautas over, spray a bit more olive oil over them, and return to the air fryer for another three minutes or so, just until golden brown.

Remove from the air fryer and serve with the lime and sour cream mixture. Top with the crispy jalapeño pieces, scallions, and cilantro (and parsley).

Squeeze a lime wedge over the top and enjoy!

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Another Onion Jam

A bit over a week ago, I posted about a most excellent Balsamic Onion Jam that was wicked simple and pretty darned tasty on burgers and other sammiches.

It put me in mind of another Onion Jam I had made last March after doing some research to make Martha Stewart’s most excellent Grilled Gruyère sammich. Mz Stewart had recommended a certain brand of onion jam, but then, I came across this recipe, which starts out, interestingly enough, with a sugar syrup made with oil.

The recipes I had found called for sweet onion and either white balsamic or red wine vinegar. I went red onion and, for the vinegar? Aged sherry, baby, all the way!

Making this batch so soon after making the spiced balsamic version, I can say that both a very good, with subtle differences; and I think that both will be in pretty common rotation around about here.

INGREDIENTS
•1/4 cup canola oil
•1/2 cup sugar
•4 cups diced red onion
•1/2 tsp dried parsley
•1 bay leaf
•1/4 tsp dried rosemary
•1/4 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1/4 tsp black pepper
•1/2 cup sherry vinegar

Note: for this batch, I only had two cups of diced red onion, and so cut the rest of the amounts in half. Still made a respectable amount, and more than enough for my planned Gruyère sammiches.

Heat the oil in a pan (a 2-1/2 quart will work a treat) over medium heat, then add the sugar and cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup is a caramel color; about five to ten minutes.

Add the onion and seasonings – not the sherry vinegar – and continue to cook, stirring often,  until the onions have browned a bit and are tender.

Now, you can stir in the sherry vinegar, adjust the heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring often, until the cooking liquids have thickened and reduced to a jam consistency. This could take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes, so keep and eye on the pan.

Remove from the heat and set aside to cool before using on your sammich or burger; stashing any remainders in a jar in the fridge.

Now…

About those grilled Gruyère sammiches?

Did not happen. Total change in our dinner plans, but…

A nice, rounded teaspoon or so stirred into a pot of cooked rice while it is resting turns out to be a very good thing, so, bonus!

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Boneless Leg of Lamb

In contrast to Thanksgiving, when we had most of my husband’s family for dinner; Christmas was just the two of us, so I went in search of something small, but Holidaze Feast worthy.

My market delivered in the form of a tiny (1-1/2 pound or so) boneless leg of lamb.

And it was perfection; with Kickin’ It! Mashed Potatoes and a side salad.

And, oh! Those roasted tomatoes.

INGREDIENTS
•Boneless leg of lamb (1-1/2 lb)*
•1 pint cherry tomatoes
•4 cloves garlic, minced
•1 tbsp olive oil
•1 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce – or your fave hot sauce, to taste
•1 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1 tsp black pepper
•1 tsp dried rosemary
•1 tsp dried thyme

*My leg of lamb was wrapped in twine and pre-seasoned, so I tossed the seasoning mixture with the tomatoes before tucking them in next to the roast.

Heat your oven to 425º and line a large roasting pan with foil.

Stir the garlic together with the olive oil, hot sauce and seasonings, then toss with the tomatoes to coat.

Note: if your lamb has not been pre-seasoned, rub the garlic mixture all over the lamb instead of the tomatoes.

Place the lamb in the pot, then scatter the seasoned tomatoes all around.

Bake, uncovered for 45 minutes.

Check the temperature in the center of the lamb, depending on your preferences, it should be:

•Medium Rare: 130º – 135º
•Medium Well: 140º – 145º
•Well-Done: 150º – 155º

You may need to continue roasting, checking the temperature every 15 minutes or so.

Because my pre-seasoned lamb also included a pop-up indicator, I left mine in until, well, it popped up; perhaps a bit longer than would’ve been perfect for our decidedly “Medium” preferences.

Remove the lamb from the oven and all to rest for 15 minutes before slicing and serving with those lovely roasted tomatoes.

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Lunch Lady Pizza

Yesterday, I posted Lunch Lady Pizza Sauce from justcookwell.com; today we’re gonna bring the whole shebang home.

With, ermmm, a few alterations of my own.

See, justcookwell wanted me to make their pizza dough in a bowl with a spoon

!

Folx! I have a perfectly serviceable bread machine for stuff like that.

So, I literally dusted off the machine, punched in “pizza dough,” and minded my own bidness for a bit.

Note 1: the original dough recipe called for rapid-rise yeast, but regular yeast will work a treat. You will just need to allow more time for the dough to rise.

Note 2: this dough is wicked sticky. I had my hands drenched in olive oil and was stil peeling it off my fingers. Baked up nicely, though, so no real complaints.

INGREDIENTS
Crust:
•13 oz warm (110º) water
•2 tbsp vegetable oil
•2-2/3 cup flour
•3/4 cup powdered milk
•2 tbsp sugar
•1 tsp salt
•2-1/4 tsp yeast

Toppings:
•8 oz grated cheese
•Sweet onion, thinly sliced
•Black olives, sliced

Meat:
•1 lb ground beef
•1/2 lb ground sausage
•1/2 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1/2 tsp black pepper
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce – or your fave hot sauce, to taste

*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 flour together with the powdered milk, sugar and salt.

If using a bread machine; add the crust ingredients together in the order called for by your machine. Mine is “Wet. Dry. Yeast.” and select “Pizza Dough.” My machine cycled for a bit under an hour, but because I was using regular yeast, I gave it an extra 60 minutes to rise properly.

If making the dough by hand, stir all the ingredients together in a large bowl just until a batter forms. Set aside to rise.

While the dough is rising, cook your beef and sausage in a large pan, breaking up into small pieces.

After about five minutes, add the salt, pepper, Sherry Peppers and hot sauce and continue to cook, stirring every now and then, until the meat is cooked through and any pan liquids have been cooked off.

Now.

I liked this pizza, but I love this hack!

Apply cooking spray to a sheet pan, then line with parchment paper. The spray helps keep the parchment in place.

Heat your oven to 475º.

Punch down your risen dough and spread it out on the parchment lined sheet pan. Remember, this dough is wicked sticky.

Pop just the crust into the hot oven and bake for eight minutes, until golden brown on the edges and a bit firm in the middle.

Remove from the oven and spread the pizza sauce evenly over the crust.

Top with the meat mixture, onion slices, black olives, and then the shredded cheese.

Note: obviously, my seat seasonings and the onion and black olives would not be on most lunch lady’s menu; but that is the joy of having my own kitchen, so…

Bake for another eight to ten minutes, until the cheese is melted and brown in places.

Remove from the oven and let rest for five minutes before slicing and serving.

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Lunch Lady Pizza Sauce

I came across a recipe from justcookwell.com for pizza “just like at school” and decided that this would be our New Year’s Day good luck meal.

All of the ingredients were simple and on hand, the recipes pretty basic and easy to do, so why not?

And besides, who didn’t think it was the best day ever when school lunch was pizza?

But first, the sauce…

INGREDIENTS
•6 oz can tomato paste
•1 cup water
•1/3 cup garlic olive oil*
•1 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1 tsp black pepper
•1/2 tsp dried oregano
•1/2 tsp dried basil
•1/2 tsp dried rosemary

*Or, use 1/3 cup of your fave olive oil and two cloves of garlic, minced.

Whisk ingredients together in a small pan and simmer over low heat for ten minutes, stirring every now and then.

Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Note: this sauce is best if made the day before and allowed to rest in the fridge so that the flavors can blend.

That is it! Like I said, simple, and tasty! This will make enough sauce for one sheet pan pizza.

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Best! Ever! Cocktail Sauce

It is almost New Year’s Eve; that time of year when everyone and their dogs are offering shrimp cocktail like we are all in just about any casino in Vegas.

And, the thing is

you can easily buy a platter of shrimp artfully arranged around a plastic tub of middling cocktail sauce at any local supermarket and some gas stations (yeh. Like I am buying my seafood from the corner gas station mini-mart).

The thing is…

Truly spectacular cocktail sauce is just a few bottles of great, good stuff and a bit of stirring away.

The basics are, of course, chili sauce (I like HOMADE brand), ketchup (I prefer 78  Spicy), horseradish, and lemon juice.

A lot of lemon juice.

Over the years, I’ve added hot sauce (Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper is my standard), and Worcestershire sauce, so this cocktail sauce is gonna be packed with flavor.

INGREDIENTS
•1/2 cup ketchup
•1/2 cup chili sauce
•1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
•2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
•1/4 cup horseradish
•2 tsp hot sauce

The most difficult thing about the prep is that you should make this one day before you plan to serve it, to allow the flavors to really blend.

Stir the ingredients together in a bowl, then transfer to a jar, cover, and stash in the fridge for at least a few hours or, always more better, overnight before serving.

Note: YEH, shrimp cocktail is the classic accompaniment, but, think outside of the box and consider calamari.

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Zippy (or not) Balsamic Onion Jam

Another winner from our weekly food kit!

This red onion jam with balsamic vinegar is nicely spiced (or not, that is up to you) with crushed red pepper flakes and worked a treat on this burger with cheese, baby arugula, and aioli.

But…

it would work a treat on most any sammich, think grilled cheese, or mebbe a wrap of some sort.

It is also wicked simple to make.

INGREDIENTS
•1/2 large red onion
•1-1/2 tsp olive oil
•1/4 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1/4 tsp black pepper
•1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
•1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

Warm the olive oil in a pan over medium heat, then add the onion, Seasoned Salt, and pepper and cook, stirring every now and then until browned, mebbe 10 to 13 minutes.

Note: if the pan appears to be getting too dry, add water, one tablespoon at a time, during this part. I ended up adding two tablespoons.

Stir in the balsamic vinegar and bring to a simmer, stirring, for one to two additional minutes, until any liquid in the pan is mostly cooked off.

Remove from the heat, stir in the red pepper flakes, and enjoy.

Note: feel free to cut back on the amount of red pepper flakes you use, that 1/4 teaspoon in this small batch of jam is quite zippy; but that zippiness works really well with the baby arugula and aioli on this burger, so mebbe give it a try.

This is a small batch; just enough for two, mebbe three sammiches.

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Air Fried Potato Wedges

So, YEH, this is a riff on a recipe I posted back in August, but I’ve adjusted the seasonings, and added Aioli.

Of course, I say “I” when the potatoes and the idea of the Aioli came from a food kit subscription we’ve been using for a while now. Most weeks, we order two to four “meals” packed with an illustrated recipe card detailing prep work and how to make the whole shebang.

One of my fave things about the kits is that

they are so flexible. They can (and do) suggest I pan fry some chicken, but we are much happier when I use the air fryer, as in this tasty case.

Same with these potato wedges, they suggested oven roasting, but really, this air fryer method is pretty darned simple, and so very good!

First thing, is wash your potatoes, cut in half, then into wedges, mebbe 12 to 14 wedges per whole potato, and pop the wedges in a pan and cover with water.

Then, leave ’em to sit for ten or 20 minutes, just to help draw out the excess starch.

INGREDIENTS
•2 russet potatoes, prepped and soaked.
•Boiling, salted water
•1-1/2 tsp olive oil
•1/2 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1/2 tsp black pepper

Drain your potatoes after soaking, then rinse well while you bring a pot of salted water to a roiling boil.

Add the potatoes and boil for five minutes, then drain again under cold running water.

Note: I do the soaking and rinsing and boiling an hour or two ahead of time to give the potato wedges some time to air dry well before seasoning and air frying.

When ready to cook, preheat your air fryer (if it needs to be preheated) to 400º.

Note: some air fryers do not require preheating; consult your owner’s manual.

Toss your potato wedges with the olive oil, Seasoned Salt, and black pepper, then arrange in a single layer in your air fryer basket.

Pop into the air fryer and cook for ten minutes.

Pull the basket out of the air fryer, your potato wedges are nicely golden in places.

Turn the wedges over and pop back into the air fryer for another five to ten minutes, until your potatoes are as browned and crispity as you like.

Oh, and do not skip trying these with the Aioli; wicked tasty!

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