Sunday, March 30, 2014

Shrimp & Veggie Tortellini

If I had my way, I'd have a pasta dish every night of the week. I love it any way it's fixed. Pasta is one of my go-to dishes when I have an assortment of veggies in the fridge and I can't figure out what to do with them. I threw this one together the other night and we loved it. Blair loved it. If she loved it, then you know it's good. There are hints of a few of my other favorites in this one...Shrimp & Crawfish Denise and Creamy Shrimp Pasta but I did spice it up a little differently. As an added bonus, this tastes just as good, possibly better, the next day.

1 large onion, sliced in half
2 red peppers, sliced
1 lb. large peeled raw shrimp (or substitute with pre-cooked)
1 10 oz. bag spinach
12 oz. Barilla Three Cheese Tortellini (Cook per directions on the box and drain)
16 oz. half and half
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cup chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning (or more to your taste)

 Saute onions and peppers in extra virgin olive oil & two tablespoons of butter. 
Salt and pepper to taste.
 Drop handfuls of spinach in and wilt.
 Continue until all spinach is heated through.
 Stir in cream, chicken broth and Parmesan cheese and seasonings. Mix well. Taste broth to determine if you need additional seasoning. Bring to a boil.
Once broth is bubbling, add in shrimp.
Cook until shrimp is done, stirring frequently. Do not overcook!
Taste broth again to see if this needs more seasoning.
Stir in cooked, drained tortellini. Serve with a salad and garlic bread.

Easy Fried Onion Strips

First let me apologize for the lack of pictures. This is one of those sides where your hands are going to get messy and you seem to be in motion the whole time...for the short time it takes to fix these. Andy was wanting fix Sloppy Joes one night to use up some hamburger buns. With just two in the house, eight is a lot to eat before they ruin. I was good with that, but I really didn't want to eat french fries. So...I thought I'd try my hand at fixing some fried onion strips. We've made the blooming onion before and it was pretty good, so I figured this couldn't be too difficult. I broke out the circa 1980s Fry Daddy and it did the trick.  The only two complaints I have are: I couldn't keep someone from practically eating them as fast as I was fixing them and I remember why we don't do much frying in the house. My cloth purse smelled like we were living in a greasy diner.

2 large sweet onions cut into chunks and separated.

2 cups flour
1 tsp. Lawry's Garlic Salt with Parsley Flakes
3 tsp. Lawry's Season Salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper

1 egg, beaten
1 cup half & half
I didn't have buttermilk, my first choice, but I  had half and half and it worked pretty decent in a pinch.

Pre-heat your fryer. (Don't overfill the oil! You want room for the oil to bubble when you drop the onions in.)
Soak a large handful in the egg/cream mixture. Coat in the flour/seasoning mixture. Carefully drop the onions into your fryer. Once they start floating, look for any that need turning. Once they are a nice golden brown, remove to a paper towel-lined pan.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Creamy Mushroom and Spinach Pasta

I'm sure most of  you finding my recipes found me through Pinterest. I have a board called, "Food I've Gotta Make." I'm forever pinning recipes that look really, really good. Well, let me back up, pictures that look really, really good. Sometimes the recipes are "meh" and sometimes they're keepers. Go ahead and add this one to your keepers stack. The original recipe on Pinterest is here. I did make a few tweaks to it, but nothing really earth-shattering. It was delicious! It's vegetarian! Not that we are vegetarians, but we do make an attempt to eat healthy...healthier from time to time. There are a lot of steps, but they're easy. A beginner can make this and impress someone. The taste is delish!!! My only gripe is I have to use two skillets. An extra large to build the sauce in and another to saute the mushrooms.

3 large sweet onions chopped
16 oz. Portobella mushrooms sliced
Small bag spinach (about 5-6 oz.)
1 box Dreamfields spaghetti
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup milk
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Salt for seasoning

 In your extra large skillet, carmelize your onions. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil, add onions and cook on high for 6 minutes. Stir, stir, stir!! Add a little salt, turn heat down to medium and continue to cook.
 In another skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and begin cooking your mushrooms. Add a little salt and let them cook for around 15-20 minutes. Turn them periodically.
 Let's get back to the onions. The edges are going to start to turn a little brown on some of them. Add the balsamic vinegar and stir. I cooked these for a total of 20 minutes.
 Add the cooked mushrooms to the onions and blend well.
 Stir in the spinach by handfuls and let it wilt. As it cooks down, add more. At this point, start the water for your pasta and cook per the directions on the box.

In the skillet with the veggies, add the cream, milk, Parmesan cheese and salt to taste.
Let this heat on medium low. Blend well.
Once the pasta has been cooked and drained, add it to the sauce.
Serve in a bowl (or plate) and top with shredded Parmesan cheese.

Buttery Stewed Potatoes

With or without the peels? I love them both ways, so I'll leave that call up to how picky your kids are. Now, if I'm sick, I could eat a vat of creamy, smooth, stewed potatoes, but they have to be peeled. I remember when I had my wisdom teeth removed many moons ago and my mother-in-law brought over a big pot of stewed potatoes. I had not eaten for a few days thanks to some dry sockets and those potatoes really hit the spot.

The other night Blair called to ask me how I fixed them and I could have sworn I had already posted the recipe. Well, I am a little behind, and no I had not. You might be sitting there thinking, how hard can it be to stew potatoes? Well, it's not hard, but for them to be top notch and the kind people remember eating, there are a few secrets. Let me tell you, I've eaten plenty that weren't very impressive.If they're watery, the cook didn't pay them enough attention.

We love to eat these with kraut and wieners, black eyed peas and cornbread. They are a great mashed potato substitute if you get the texture just right.

About 8 medium potatoes (peeled/unpeeled and chopped into 1" + cubes
1 stick of butter (or more)
Salt and pepper to taste

Barely cover chopped potatoes with water in a medium to large pan. Add stick of butter, salt and pepper and bring to a rolling boil. Turn heat down to medium-high. After 15 minutes stir potatoes real well. Now is the time to really start paying attention. You may have to adjust the temperature if the water is cooking down too fast. As the potatoes continue to cook, stir frequently. When the edges of the potatoes start to soften, using your spoon, chop/scrape the sides down some more. As you do this, the water starts to thicken with the cooked down potatoes. They will be done once the broth is creamy and smooth. The potato cubes will dissolve down to about 1/2".