Saturday, May 23, 2015

Easy Shrimp Scampi with Pasta

I had a goal to post more recipes this month than last month. But it's almost the end of May, and this is only my second posting for the month (and my first one wasn't even a recipe, it was a recipe round-up). I ended up having a lot going on in the beginning of the month. I had to finish all of my student teaching assignments and complete an online portfolio with artifacts that demonstrate my knowledge on certain teaching standards, with reflections. Then I had to prepare for an exit conference with my supervisor, mentor teacher, and the director of the education program I am enrolled in. Sounds intimidating, right? Well, I was super worried and stressed about it, but it went very smoothly. I am so happy to have it over with, and I'm also really happy that my summer vacation is just around the corner. Greg and I were talking the other day about comfort foods. He said that there are so many comfort foods we eat during the cooler weather, like hearty soups, but not many foods that are good for the soul in the spring and summer. I told him maybe shrimp scampi was a warmer weather comfort food, and he asked me to make some. I realized I had actually never made shrimp scampi before, and I was excited to find out that all the recipes looked super easy (so it is kind of funny that I call this easy shrimp scampi, because I'm not sure there are any tricky shrimp scampi recipes out there). This meal was made in less than 15 minutes and tasted great. I loved it because I have been really cutting the carbs out of my diet recently, so I just had the shrimp with a sprinkle of Panko bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese, and Greg enjoyed the shrimp and pasta. It was a nice change from all the grilled chicken I have been eating lately. If you are looking for an easy meal that is refreshing and satisfying, try this easy shrimp scampi over pasta! Enjoy.

Recipe for Easy Shrimp Scampi with Pasta

8 ounces of uncooked linguine or spaghetti noodles (I used Dreamfields pasta)
3 Tbsp. of unsalted butter
1 pound of frozen medium shrimp, thawed, deveined, and peeled
1/2 - 3/4 tsp. of crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup of dry white wine or chicken stock
Zest of one lemon 
1/4 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice (about one lemon)
A pinch or two of kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. of chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Panko bread crumbs, if desired

Cook the pasta according to package directions. When it is finished cooking, drain in a colander.

While the pasta is cooking, prepare the shrimp scampi. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-heat. Once it is melted, add in the shrimp, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the shrimp is pink (about 3 minutes). Then add in the wine or chicken stock and the lemon juice. Sprinkle on the salt and pepper. Give it a stir, then adjust the heat to medium-low and bring to a simmer. Once it comes to a simmer, remove from heat. Carefully add in the drained pasta, lemon zest, and parsley and toss.

Serve immediately. Top each serving with Parmesan cheese and Panko bread crumbs, if desired.

Makes approximately 4 servings. 

Recipe Adapted from: Damn Delicious, originally from Closet Cooking

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Great Recipe Ideas for Cinco De Mayo

Burritos made with Shredded Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken.
I love Cinco De Mayo! It is a great excuse to make (and eat) exciting new dishes and to get together around the dinner table with friends.  In this post, I compiled Mexican-inspired recipes together that I think are great and other ones that I want to try very soon (like maybe on May 5th)! The recipes marked with an asterisk are ones that I have tried and loved. Enjoy.

Great Recipe Ideas for Cinco De Mayo

Main Dish Recipes
Shrimp and Vegetable Enchiladas with a Creamy Poblano Sauce*
White Fish Tacos *
Baked Chicken Taquitos - one of our favorite meals!
Mexican Flag Chicken Burritos*
Green Chile Chowder with Black Beans*
Shredded Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken (Like Cafe Rio)*
Baked Chicken Taquitos*
Black Bean Roasted Poblano Enchiladas (vegetarian)
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Sweet Potato Tacos*
Restaurant-style chicken fajitas*

Side Dish/Appetizer Ideas
Mexican Seven Layer Dip
Loaded Nachos
Perfect Guacamole
Mexican Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette*
Corn Pudding*

Dessert Ideas
Mexican Wedding Cakes*
Key Lime Pie Tarts
Tres Leches Cake*
Homemade Churros
Key Lime Pie Tarts*
Sopapilla Bites

I hope you will enjoy these recipes. I think that I am going to try out the black bean roasted poblano enchiladas for our meal on Cinco De Mayo. I want to do something vegetarian and something that is mild enough so that my daughter can eat it. I will let you know how they turn out! Hope you have a wonderful Cinco De Mayo.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Shrimp and Vegetable Enchiladas with a Creamy Poblano Sauce

I have a confession to make. I have a cooking blog and the truth is, there are so many things that I have never even attempted to make in the kitchen. When I made these shrimp enchiladas for the first time about a month ago, I realized that I had actually never made enchiladas before! I seriously couldn't believe that I had never made something as easy and delicious as enchiladas. I loved these shrimp enchiladas so much that I made them for the third time last night. The first time I made them they took a while to prepare, but last night they only took 1 hour 25 minutes from start to finish (and by finish I mean served on a plate and ready to eat). The nice thing about these enchiladas is that they are loaded with a lot of vegetables and they taste absolutely scrumptious. All the flavors in the recipe come together so well. Sometimes you just really have to trust a recipe, and I am so glad that I went with this one. Greg, Wendy, and I loved eating leftovers tonight. I hope you enjoy these enchiladas as much as we do, and please do not skimp on the amazing poblano sauce!

Recipe for Shrimp and Vegetable Enchiladas with a Creamy Poblano Sauce

For the roasted poblano pepper sauce
2 large poblano peppers
2 1/2 Tbsp. of unsalted butter
4 Tbsp. of all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups of chicken broth
1/4 tsp. of garlic powder
1 cup of sour cream
1/4 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped

For the filling
1 1/2 Tbsp. of extra-virgin olive oil
1 very small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
1/4 tsp. of oregano
1/8 tsp. of cayenne pepper
2 cups of shredded green cabbage (I used a packaged coleslaw mix)
2 cups of shredded carrots (I used packaged shredded carrots for this - you can also peel and shred regular carrots)
3 cups of baby spinach leaves
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped and seeds removed (seeds have a lot of heat
1 pound of large Easy Peel and deveined Frozen Shrimp, thawed and coarsely chopped

For assembling
10 8-inch flour tortillas
8 ounces of grated Monterey Jack cheese

Roast the poblano peppers first. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Place the peppers on a baking sheet and put into the hot oven. Cook, for about 7 minutes, then use tongs to flip the peppers over. Continue cooking, flipping as needed and checking frequently, until the peppers are mostly blistered (about 20 minutes) Remove from oven and allow them to cool before handling. Lower the oven temperature to 400 degrees.

While the peppers are roasting, chop up the onion and chiplotle peppers and set aside. Grate the cheese and set aside. You can also thaw the shrimp if you haven't already done so and peel and chop the shrimp and set aside.

Once peppers are cool enough to handle, make the sauce. Put the butter into a small saucepan over medium-low heat. While you are waiting for the butter to melt, carefully peel off the skin of the pepper and discard. Remove the seeds and stem and diiscard. Then coarsely chop the remaining pepper or use your hands to tear into pieces. Once the butter is melted, stir the peppers into the butter. Then add in the flour and stir constantly until the mixture is golden, about 1 minute or so. Add in the broth and garlic powder and cook, stirring often, until the sauce is thickened and bubbles up. Remove from heat and immediately stir in the sour cream and cilantro. Set aside.

Put a large skillet over medium heat and add in the olive oil. Once oil is hot, stir in the onions, garlic, oregano, and cayenne pepper and cook for about 5 - 7 minutes, or until onions are tender. Then add in the cabbage, carrots, and spinach. Cook, stirring frequently, until the spinach wilted, about 3 minutes. Add in the chipotle pepper pieces and the shrimp and cook for a couple minutes. Remember the shrimp doesn't need to be fully cooked because it will continue to cook once in the oven. Remove skillet from heat.

Assemble your enchiladas. Choose an oven-safe 9 x 13 baking dish to arrange the enchiladas in. To make them easier to roll up, I recommend putting the tortillas between a paper towel and heating in the microwave for about 30 seconds first. Then use a workspace and spread about 1/3 cup or so of the shrimp mixture down the middle of the tortilla. Top with 2 - 3 tablespoons of the grated cheese. Then tightly roll up the tortilla around the filling and place on one side of the baking dish, seam side down. Continue doing this until you can no longer fit any enchiladas in your pan. Evenly pour the poblano sauce over the enchiladas. Place enchiladas in the oven and cook for 20 - 25 minutes, or until a bit browned and sauce is bubbly. Remove from oven and let cool for just a couple minutes before serving.

Recipe Source: Annie's Eats

Recipe Makes Approximately 4 - 6 servings. They taste great leftover! Cover the baking dish you used for the enchiladas tightly with foil and store in the fridge. To reheat, cook at a low temperature (275 degrees) in the oven for about 20 minutes. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Best Banana Pudding

My little girl turned 1-year old last Tuesday! This past year just flew right by, and a lot of it is kind of a blur to me. Wendy is a total sweetie, and she brings such joy into our lives. We celebrated her birthday on Easter with family. Greg made North Carolina-style barbecue, and I made coleslaw, hush puppies, and this banana pudding for dessert. It was quite fun experimenting with deep frying hush puppies, and they were delicious, but my favorite part of the meal was definitely the banana pudding. Greg's father, who has had a lot of banana pudding in his lifetime, said it was the best banana pudding he has ever had. Wendy has been eating bananas since she started eating solid foods, and she went crazy over the banana pudding. I couldn't resist posting a picture of her eating the banana pudding. We had decided to do the pudding in place of cake for her celebration, but on her actual birthday, we let her have a chocolate cupcake. She loved that too and definitely has my chocolate-loving gene! If you are looking for an easy dessert to make for a big crowd, this banana pudding is perfect. Enjoy!

Recipe for The Best Banana Pudding

1 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups of ice cold water
1 package of Jello Brand instant vanilla pudding mix (3.4 ounce)
3 cups of heavy cream
1 1/2 - 2 boxes of Nabisco Nilla Wafer cookies
4 cups of sliced ripe bananas, cut into 1/4-inch slices

Put the sweetened condensed milk and ice cold water into a small bowl. Use an electric hand mixer set on medium speed to mix until they are well combined, about 1 minute. Then add the instant pudding mix into the bowl and beat for about 2 minutes, or until well incorporated. Cover the bowl and put into the fridge for at least 4 hours.

Put the heavy cream into a large bowl and use the electric hand mixer set on medium speed to beat until stiff peaks form. Then gently fold in the pudding mix and blend until you no longer see any streaks of the pudding mix.

Assemble the banana pudding. In a large and wide glass bowl, arrange the wafers on the bottom and then add one-third of the banana slices on top of the wafers. Cover with 1/3 of the pudding mixture. Then repeat with the wafers, bananas, and pudding two more times, finishing with a layer of pudding on top. Garnish the top layer of pudding with wafers and banana slices. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for at least 4 hours, but no more than 8 hours, before serving.

 *This recipe requires a lot of time to set, so make sure you start it well in advance to when you want to serve it. I started it at 9 AM in order to serve it for dessert by 6:00 PM.

She loved celebrating her first birthday, and she was crazy about the banana pudding!
Recipe from: Eclectic Touch, originally from Magnolia's Bakery Cookbook