Jumbo Shrimp w/Thyme infused cream dip

This was an appetizer I made for my Sauvignon Blanc Wine & Dine event. It’s a refreshing dip and a nice change from the traditional cocktail sauce.

Jumbo Shrimp w/Thyme infused cream dip

Tarragon Thyme Infused Cream
4 springs of thyme
2 teaspoons dried tarragon leaves

1- 16oz sour cream

Combine all the above ingredients and chill overnight.
Serve with steamed shrimp, in sandwiches or as a dip.


Delicious Experiments!

In preparation of our cookout tonight, I experimented with a few recipes in hopes of something unique and delicious. What resulted was some awesome offerings to our cookout table.Croutons are surprisingly packed with flavor and are a great ingredient to incorporate into dishes aside from topping salads. In fact, croutons are the “secret ingredient” to my deviled eggs! Here is my recipe for Ceasar Deviled Eggs:2 dozen eggs – hard boiled
1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup yellow mustard
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 package ceasar croutons – processed into crumbs.

Prepare your hard boiled eggs and cut in half.
Carefully remove the yolk and place in a large bowl.
Break up the yorks well.
Add all the remaining ingredients to the bowl and combine.
Allow the filling to chill for flavors to meld.
Place filling into a ziploc bag and pipe into eggs.
Top with a sprinkle of paprika and parsley leaf.

Another dish I prepared for the cookout was fajitas, using my own mixture of spices. It was spicy sweet and a tad smoky. Everyone loved it as it was a twist to just grilled meat. Here is my recipe for the fajita seasoning I used:3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon chicken ramen packet
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon cumin

Combine and sprinkle over meats as a rub.For a nice summertime cocktail, I threw together a quick drink. I was a little embarassed at first with the ingredients but it was a hit at the cookout! Here is my recipe for Watermelon Berry Punch (alcoholic): 2 cups watermelon martini mix
1 bottle Strawberry Hill Boones Farm
1 liter club soda

Combine in a pitcher and serve chilled over ice.

For the Love of Leftovers!

It has been a hot & humid Chicago summer night… so in hopes to cool off, I made a light dish using leftovers in my fridge. In fact, I love using leftovers in my fridge. Its almost like a challenge to find creative ways to use bits and pieces together to make something incredible. Well, I’m not sure if it was incredible, but dinner tonight was impressive according to my husband.

Here’s what I used up in concocting my Lemon Thyme Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken:

goat cheese I previously infused with fresh thyme & lemon juice
2 chicken breasts, split for stuffing
cooked angel hair pasta
fresh asparagus
1 ripe plum tomato
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil for sauteing

Season the chicken breasts with S&P.
Cut a small slit in the thickest part of the chicken horizontally.
Stuff goat cheese inside the slit of chicken.
Drizzle olive oil over chicken.
Bake at 350 for 25-30 or until juices run clear.

In a grill pan, add olive oil.
Slice asparagus on a bias and add to hot pan.
Grill until softened.
Add cooked angel hair pasta to heat up.
Dice tomato and add to pan.
Serve cooked chicken over pasta.

Love is in the Air…

Today marks our one year wedding anniversary and to start it off, I prepared my loving husband a big breakfast including a fresh veggie omelette, oven baked bacon and buttered toast. An omelette or omelet or omlet is a preparation of beaten egg cooked with butter or oil in a frying pan, usually folded around a filling such as cheese, and/or mushrooms. Gourmet cook Julia Child famously described an omelette as soft-cooked scrambled eggs wrapped in an envelope of firmly-cooked scrambled eggs.

In the omelette I prepared for breakfast, I used sliced mushrooms, chopped bell peppers, spinach, chopped tomatoes, diced lean ham & turkey and a blend of asiago & parmesan cheeses.Here is my recipe for veggie omelettes (serves 2):

6 eggs
1 stalk green onion, sliced
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1/8 cups chopped bell peppers
1/8 cup chopped spinach
1/8 cup seeded & chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup diced lean ham & /or turkey
1/8 cup shredded asiago & parmesan cheese
cooking spray
pinch of kosher salt
1 tablespoon cold water
fresh thyme leaves

Spray large saute pan with cooking spray.
Saute green onion and mushrooms.
When mushrooms have caramelized, add peppers.
When peppers have softened add remaining ingredients.
Cook through until heated.
In a separate bowl, whisk eggs.
Add water & a pinch of kosher salt to eggs.
Add scrambled eggs over sauted veggie mixture.
Allow eggs to set over medium heat.
When is it almost fully cooked, sprinkle cheese on one half of egg.
Fold over other half of egg over the cheese portion.
Slide onto plate to serve.
Sprinkle fresh thyme leaves for extra flavor.

I served this with buttered toasted a oven baked bacon.

‘Sketti please..

I intended to make a lovely shrimp stir fry for dinner tonight however, I decided on some good ol’ spaghetti & meatballs to clear up some freezer space.
Nothing really special about my spaghetti & meatballs, aside from both the sauce and meatballs that were prepared in advance. Although I don’t have exact measurements, this is what normally goes into my spaghetti sauce:

browned ground beef
browned sweet italian sausage
chopped onion
minced garlic
chopped carrots
sliced mushrooms
diced green pepper
canned whole tomatoes
canned diced tomatoes
tomato paste
beef bouillon cubes
red wine
garlic/onion powder

In a pan, brown ground beef & sausage.
Remove from pan and place in crockpot.
In same pan, add carrots, green pepper, onions, garlic & mushroom.
Cook until softened and add to crockpot.
Add remaining ingredients to crockpot.
Stir and cook on low 6-8 hours or n high 4-6 hours.
Allow to cool before freezing.

Adding Spice to a Chilly Night…

It is yet another cold blusterous day in Chicago… so what better way to warm up the belly with some heat! Tonight I made my version of a cajun shrimp & pasta dish.

Cajun cuisine originates from the French-speaking Acadian or “Cajun” immigrants in the Acadiana region of Louisiana. It’s considered a rustic cuisine that was developed out of necessity usually involving a main dish, rice and vegetables. There is a common misconception outside of south Louisiana that Cajun food is hot and spicy. An authentic Cajun dish will usually have a bit of a “kick” but will not be eye-wateringly hot.

Cajun cuisine is sometimes confused with Creole cuisine, and many outside of Louisiana don’t make the distinction. Creole is more city – urban, cosmopolitan, and inspired by the Spanish, Italian, and African influences of New Orleans – while Cajun dishes have more of a French influence, filtered through common (to Louisiana) ingredients and techniques.

Here is my recipe for Cajun Shrimp & Pasta:
(as you can see, I’m getting better at food porn!)

1 lb raw shrimp, peeled & deveined
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup of sliced bell pepper strips
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 paprika
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 bay leaf
pinch of thyme
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
penne pasta
shredded italian cheese blend for garnish

— Prepare pasta according to directions on package.
— In bowl, season raw shrimp with all the seasonings; set aside.
— In a shallow pan, saute garlic and onion in some cooking oil.
— Add shrimp and cooked it it starts to turn pink.
— Add tomato sauce and paste. Stir.
— Season with salt & pepper to tastes.
— Add bell pepper strips. Cook through.
— When pasta is cooked & drained, add to pan.
— Toss to combine. Plate & garnish with cheese.