Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Gambas Al Ajillo

Certain foods simply capture the essence of a trip or a vacation memory.  As a Spanish major in college I spent one summer in Seville, Spain traveling, studying and living with a host family.  Of course a huge part of my education came through eating and cooking with my "Spanish mother",Pilar, in her tiny galley kitchen.  This recipe for garlicky shrimp makes the perfect dinner party appetizer or even a delicious topper to any pasta dish, and simply exudes the bold flavors of Southern Spain.

1/2 pound fresh or frozen shrimp (about 25 large), thawed, rinsed and uncooked
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
3 tsp. minced garlic
kosher salt
dash red pepper flakes
sprinkle of paprika

Salt shrimp and set aside.
Heat large skillet on medium. 
Add oil, garlic, red pepper and paprika.
Stir for 30 seconds then  turn heat to medium high and add white wine and shrimp.
Shrimp will turn pink quickly so cook only about two minutes per side.
Remove to serving platter and garnish with freshly chopped parsley.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Kathy's Caramel Rolls

Caramel rolls are not sticky buns, nor are they meant to be chewy.  Caramel rolls are like cinnamon rolls with soft, creamy caramel topping instead of icing.  I was blessed to have married a man whose mother is famous for her caramel rolls.  Never a holiday has passed when tray after tray of these rolls aren't pulled from the freezer, having been made in advance, to grace our breakfast plates.  It is hard to pass by the tray all afternoon without secretly swiping a fingertip through the caramel to taste it again.  Best of all this recipe could not be easier!

2  12 count bags frozen Rhodes Cinnamon Rolls, frosting in bags will not be used
1 quart heavy cream
1 bag light brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla

Coat three 9x13 pans with cooking spray.   
Divide rolls evenly among pans.  Allow to raise 2 1/2 hours.  
In a large microwave safe bowl mix sugar and cream and microwave for 2-3 minutes.
Stir in vanilla and a dash of salt.  Mix until sugar and cream are well combined.
Pour approximately  two cups of sauce over each pan of rolls.
Cover pans with cling wrap and allow to raise another 2 1/2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 and bake rolls, uncovered, for about 30 minutes.
Rolls will be browned and sauce will be slightly runny.
Remove from oven.  When completely cooled, turn out onto large sheet of foil. 
Can be tightly wrapped in foil and frozen for up to two months. 
Microwave individual rolls about 20 seconds before serving.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Paulie's Salmon


My cousin's husband is from Seattle and knows how to grill a piece of salmon!  I always have trouble with the fish sticking to the grill but he uses foil which requires no fish-flipping.  It turns out perfectly.  My cousin put together the simple but flavorful seasoning and the sliced lemons on top make for a great presentation.

1-2 pound side of salmon
minced garlic (I used jarred)
dried dill
kosher salt 
freshly ground pepper
olive oil
1 lemon

Preheat grill to 350 degrees.
Place salmon skin side down on foil sprayed with Pam (I use Reynold's Release Wrap Foil which needs no spray).
Drizzle oil over salmon and rub in with fingers.  
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  
Spread lots of minced garlic over the fish.  
Sprinkle with dill and top with lemon slices.
Lay foil on grill leaving the top of fish uncovered. 
Close grill and allow to cook for 20-25 minutes or until done to your liking.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Creamy Brocco-flower Soup

My boys love broccoli-cheese soup at restaurants so I found a way to incorporate more veggies into an already delicious cream soup.

2 Tbsp. butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup flour
2 cups half and half
1 bay leaf
dash ground nutmeg
2 cups water
32 oz. vegetable stock
1/4 cup onion, minced

1 head broccoli, chopped, no stems
1/2 head cauliflower, chopped, no stems
3 stalks celery, diced
3 cups grated cheddar cheese
dash hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste
croutons for garnish

In a large soup pot bring vegetable broth and water to a boil.  Add onion, broccoli, cauliflower and celery and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan melt butter over medium heat.  Add garlic, stir for about one minute.  Add flour and stir for three minutes until rue forms and darkens slightly.   Whisk in half and half.  Add bay leaf and nutmeg.  Cook on low five minutes.  Remove bay leaf.  Pour milk  mixture into broth and vegetable pot.
Using an immersion blender,  puree until smooth. If using an upright blender, puree in batches and be careful when blending hot ingredients!  Always cover lid with a towel to protect from spills. 
Add cheese and stir until completely melted.  Stir in hot sauce and salt and pepper to taste.  
Top bowls with croutons when serving.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Blueberry Bliss Muffins

I am going through pints of fresh blueberries like candy these days.  They seem to hop into my grocery cart all on their own and then cover my morning cereal, polka dot my fruit salad and on Saturday mornings, they beg to be baked into soft, warm muffins.

1 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
dash of ground nutmeg
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup regular sour cream (light does not work as well)
6 Tbsp. butter, melted and allowed to cool
one pint fresh blueberries
cinnameg sugar* for topping

Preheat oven to 350. Spray muffin tine or use paper liners.  (makes 18 muffins)
Whisk dry ingredients together.  Add wet and stir only a few times.  Add blueberries and fold in gently until batter is thick and blended. 

Scoop into tins and top each with a sprinkle of cinnameg sugar.
Bake  20-25 minutes.

*Cinnameg Sugar
In a small bowl mix together 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg, and a pinch of salt.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lemon-Lime Tilapia

It has really surprised me how much my boys love tilapia.  They each easily eat two whole fillets at a meal and so I have tried to come up with various ways of seasoning and preparing this mild white fish.  My eldest son tasted this recipe and said, "Mmmmmmmmm, lemony."  It's a keeper and it's also faster than baking up frozen chicken nuggets!

4 tilapia fillets (I buy the individually frozen and thaw them in warm water in the sink for 5 minutes while I gather the rest of the ingredients)
1 lemon
1 lime
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. butter, softened

In a medium bowl, squeeze juice of half a lemon and half a lime.   Add thawed fish fillets and turn to coat.  Allow to marinate while preheating broiler on high.  Be sure to move oven rack to second from top level near the broiler.
Rub a little butter on the rimmed sheet pan.  Mix remaining butter with garlic.  Place tilapia on pan and evenly divide garlic butter by dotting top of each fillet.
Broil 7-8 minutes.
Remove from oven and squeeze remaining halves of lemon and lime over the fish before serving. 

Linking with Quit Eating Out

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Simple Spicy Salsa

My whole family loves chips and salsa.  We particularly love the salsa at Chili's restaurants.  This is our take on that tomatoey, spicy salsa.
This is also the salsa I use in the recipe for Salsa Chicken Soup.

1 small onion, diced
1 can whole tomatoes
1 can Rotel, we use Hot but may want to use Original
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Place all into blender.  Pulse until blended to your desired texture.
Can serve immediately but flavors develop if you chill for a few hours first.

Linking with Serenity Now
 Weekend Bloggy Reading

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Salsa Chicken Soup

This soup is so fast you can have it on the table in less than 30 minutes.  We like to serve ours with tortilla chips and chives with a side of guacamole to cool things down!

32 oz. low sodium chicken broth
1/2 red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
4 Tbsp. brown rice
1 Tbsp. chicken base
1/2 cup prepared salsa of choice
1 cup cooked chicken breast, cubed

sliced avocado
tortilla chips
sour cream
Monterrey jack cheese

Bring broth to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Add rice.  Simmer 10 minutes.  Add onion, garlic, salsa and chicken base and simmer for 10 minutes more.  Add cubed chicken and bring to warm.   Serve with desired garnishes.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

After Dinner Creamy Coffee

Next time you invite guests over for dinner, save some time and effort by serving coffee for dessert.
1 pot double strength coffee (or espresso if you have a machine)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 T. white sugar

Pour cold cream and white sugar into a large, deep bowl.  Using an immersion blender, blend on high until cream is very thick. (use beaters if you don't have and immersion blender)
Store whipped cream in the fridge until time to serve dessert. (can keep well for 1-2 days!)
While clearing dinner dishes, brew coffee.
Place a dollop of whipped cream in each cup and place before guest.
Pour hot coffee over cold cream and enjoy!

Linking with The Beach Cottage Good Life Wednesdays.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mom's Pumpkin Bread

While pumpkin bread may evoke a sense of autumn, at our house it is a favorite all-year long.  For me it brings me home to my mother's blue and yellow kitchen where we often enjoyed a thick  slice covered in cold butter. I especially love the contrast of the moist center with the crunchy top.  
Makes two large loaves.

3 cups sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp.  ground cloves
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 1/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 can pumpkin puree
1 c. canola oil
1 c. water
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray two large loaf pans with Pam.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients.
Make a well in the center of dry ingredients and add wet ingredients all at once.  Stir or whisk until well blended but do not beat.
Divide evenly between pans.  Bake at 350 for one hour.  Test that the top is firm and not wet.  May need another 3-5 minutes if moist.

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