Blog number two.... it might explain my current lack of enthusiasm for blog number 1

Monday, January 28, 2008

Entertaining Gran

Bradley had a tradition with his grandmother that every Christmas the two of them would go to Red Lobster and dine on shrimp scampi and that would be his gift to her. It is one of her favorites and Bradley, much like me, loves all things seafood. A couple of Christmas' ago he was short on cash and decided to make scampi himself and have her over. It was actually our first Christmas back together and of course I was invited. Our company had paid for all of us to get the flu vaccination that day and I felt like complete crap, I went straight from work to the recliner in his living room and dozed in and out of consciousness. Well, he wasn't having the best day either. He had to stay late at work which meant dinner wasn't going to be ready on time, and the recipe he had found online from a "copy cat" website, left much to be desired. I think it went something like, "wine butter lemon and shrimp - bake at 400 degrees". I couldn't help him because of the whole dead to the world thing, and it was too late to find a new recipe, so we ate tough, tasteless shrimp and have joked about it ever since.

The following Valentine's Day, I decided to really wow him. We had just gotten engaged and were all in love and instead of him spending money taking me out, I wanted to show him how grateful I was to have him as a Valentine for the rest of my life. So our menu was simple: Filet Mignon wrapped in bacon with Burgundy mushrooms (which was special because it was the first dish I ever cooked for him), twice baked potatoes, salad, bruschetta and... shrimp scampi. I made it with jumbo shrimp and we each had 3 shrimp with our steak. It was divine, it was delightful, it was.... now my job to prepare the shrimp scampi every Christmas. Since our kitchen had been packed since Thanksgiving and we didn't get it unpacked until after new year's, Gran's Christmas present was a little belated.

I had spent almost a week researching scampi recipes and picking what I thought were the best qualities of each of them, to make into one ultimate recipe. I found that the one key ingredient was good wine. You could not skimp on the white wine. There are a million variations of white wine out there, so I just began reading labels until I found one that fit the dish.

It is hard to measure each ingredient because this is a dish that you need to tailor to the amount of guests you are having - in other words... do not get mad when you see the recipe.

I never thought I would be doing this, but here goes...

DeLa's Shrimp Scampi
recipe by me

enough shrimp for all your guests
olive oil
salt n pepper
minced garlic
chopped green onions
white wine
fresh lime juice

Let's start with the wine selection. I spent Thursday night in the wine section of a food giant reading labels and let me just say, unless you want wine in a box or arbor mist.... find some where else to get your wine. Finally I picked up a riesling and started reading it, the first sentence grabbed me and I threw it into my buggy, "Lemon and lime will leap from your glass.....". Well we need the tastes of both in this dish! Once I got home and kept reading, it added that it was the perfect addition to "prawns hot off the grill". Is that the perfect wine for this dish or what?!
Of course you have to make sure it is good, because we all know that you should never cook with a wine that you would not drink...

Mmmm, yes, perfect.

Now you need to clean your shrimp. For the three of us, I bought 2 pounds of medium sized shrimp. I would prefer that they be de-veined and peeled, but again... I was at Food Giant. Just give them a good rinse

Peel them how you like and toss them into a large skillet.

You could leave the tails on for an added "vacation feel", but I chose not to this time.

Drizzle with olive oil, just enough to slightly cover each one, you don't want it to be too oily.

Then sprinkle kosher salt (or any kind of salt) and fresh ground pepper on the top - to your liking. Once you have enough, jump in hands first and toss them around making sure that each one gets a little bit of all three ingredients.

The next two ingredients are also very important - the garlic and green onions.

I know what some of you are saying, "I don't like to bite into an onion". Well, I promise that in this dish you won't. In fact, you have to actually hunt for an onion to eat in the sauce because they do not stick to the shrimp. The onions add flavor and color and that's it. No crunch, so onion haters - please do not omit them!

I roughly chopped about 3 green onions and minced a clove of garlic and threw them right on top of the shrimp.

Now, add the wine. You just want enough to reach the middle of your pile of shrimp, not enough to float them around.

Give it a good stir to get the garlic and onions covered in the wine, too.

Here comes the time where you can just walk away. Let them soak for 30 minutes or just however long you've got.

Once you've finished letting them soak, set the skillet on the eye, turn it on about medium and do a constant stir while they are cooking. You want to keep moving them around so they all cook evenly.

Once they are all pink, remove the skillet from the eye and squeeze a lime over them.

Give the dish another good stir to blend in the lime juice... and there you have it. A perfect shrimp scampi.

Just a few pictures of the house

The kitchen stayed in disarray this weekend. We did a lot of cooking, I even got to use my stand mixer - TWICE. So I don't have any pictures of that just yet. Here are some of the master bed and bath and the guest bath.

I replaced the plates in the master bed and bath with these :

This starts the guest bath:

Notice that the birds on the basket....

Are also found on the shower curtain!

And this little buddah guy was too cute not to buy!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Confronting my fears

If you know me you know.... I have a fear of eating foods "off the bone". I started taking baby steps back in the summer as to killing my fear. I would sneak a bite from one of Bradley's extra meaty chicken drummies. If my teeth didn't hit bone, I was ok. As much as I want to be that girl in the bar eating wings and yelling at the ref's on tv with the guys.... I just can't. There are things attached to that bone that I do not want to bite down on. Not to mention it gets stuck in my teeth and don't get me started on the close relation I feel that it has to cannibalism. I know... I'm weird. But you knew that, too!

I also have a fear of eating most meats not prepared by me. I will not go into a restaurant and order chili. I don't know if they prepared the meat right or not. So I applied this to my bone fear and thought, "I bet I could cook chicken drumsticks that even I would be tempted to eat." And I did, and you will be tempted to eat them also.

This recipe is number one, VERY easy and number two, VERY versatile. You can change it up however you like to fit your taste. I was feeling a little spicy last night, so I went with that.

Start out with however many chicken drumsticks you think you can eat. I chose ten, thinking that it would be a good lunch for both of us the next day. Rinse them and make sure there are no... gulp.... feathers still stuck to them, and place them in a bowl to sit quietly until you are ready for them.

Now you need to melt one stick of butter...

Add in about a 1/3 cup lemon juice...

And one tablespoon of seasoning... your choice! I chose a creole seasoning.

Let that get hot and blended. Then one by one, swirl the chicken legs around in the mixture with your favorite pair of tongs.

Repeat the process until all legs have taken a butter bath and are resting peacefully on a rack inside your favorite roasting pan. You should have some butter mixture left over when you finish, so grab a basting brush and go to town!

You can start cooking these now or you can be like me and want to continue spicing them up. I could of just sprinkled more creole seasoning on top of them, but I opted for my favorite seasoning salt, "Season All"

Just give each one a little sprinklin'...

and put the pan into a 400* over for about an hour. You'll know they're finished if you can press on them and no, gag, pink juices flow out. You'll want them to get golden brown, also! Once they are finished all that is left to be done is plate them up!

This is such a great dish because it keeps the juices inside the chicken. They are tender and flavorful. And while I still couldn't bring myself to just pickin' up a leg and chowin' down like I was having dinner around the campfire, I did thoroughly enjoy them.

***STAY TUNED*** next week I will be giving away my secret scampi recipe and posting up pictures of the new house!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Team O-Town

My 2 best friends, and one of my best friend's older brother, are now competing in "Scale Back Alabama". It is a state wide competition where teams of four work together to each lose ten pounds in ten weeks, and have fun while they are doing it the healthy way.

Our name is "Team O-Town", which is very fitting and very reminiscent of our high school days. And no, we aren't named after the boy band.

Weigh in was last night and the dieting started immediately after. I went to Publix because I wanted to make fish tacos, but with all the moving in and setting up.... the fish is still setting in the fridge letting the rub soak in. So while Bradley was working his fingers to the bone in the basement, my stomach was screaming at me upstairs while I was unpacking. Being in my healthy state of mind, I dug through the freezer to see what we had. Our freezer is actually very healthy... if only I could say the same for the refrigerator and pantry.

Have you tried these? They get my "rave review" of the day! Despite the fact that the fillet is a perfect square, it is actually a real piece of fish that cooks up nice and tender in the microwave. While it was cooking I made a salad of half spring mix and half baby spinach, topped it with a couple of pepperonis and a little low fat shredded cheese, then spritzed it with my Salad Spritz Cesar Dressing. I ate that while the fish was cooking and cooling. The combination was very filling, extremely tasty and all for under 250 calories!

Then at 10:30 when Bradley finally found his way to the couch, I made him a ham and cheese melt and he ate every bit and went right to bed and his pants still buttoned in the morning. Ugh.
Hopefully I will be able to post up some healthy recipes that are still very tasty. That's my plan, make it taste great so I won't have to cook two separate dinners every night!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

first meal of the new house

I don't know where my camera battery charger is right now, so you are going to have to visualize this. Once I find it I will show you what Bradley got me for Christmas and also show you how utterly sexy my stand mixer is on my counter and how cute my little teapot is on my stove.

But first I'm going to tell you about last night's meal. I had almost forgotten that I knew how to cook! It's been a long while since I got to make dinner. We don't have many groceries but we have some good staples so while we were unpacking the kitchen, I laid out some chicken breast strips to thaw. Chicken Alfredo sounded good to both of us.... actually, anything home cooked sounded good. You would not believe the amount of fast food we have been eating.

So I boiled some small shell pasta and topped it with a jarred Alfredo sauce. I'm picky about my jarred foods.... but I do love Classico's line of sauces.

I initially wanted to do a Chicken Bacon and Ranch pasta, but couldn't quite figure out how to make the sauce "ranchey" or if that would even turn out good. But I still wanted to include the bacon. So I rubbed one side of the strips with garlic powder, basil, oregano and ground red pepper. While that was soaking in, I fried 2 strips of bacon. Then I put the strips, spice side down, right into the grease. Yes... there goes that lean cuisine I had for lunch. Anyway.... let them get golden on that side, then turn them over and turn the heat down and just let them finish cooking.

Plating - Pasta mixed with sauce, crumbled bacon, freshly grated Parmesan and then lay the strips on top. Add a fork and a napkin - voila!

Now.... Let me introduce you to one of my kitchen besties. It is a chunk of fresh Parmesan that is contained in its own grater. I'll give you some time to pick your jaws up off the floor. Bradley is completely addicted to Parmesan, he puts it on everything. So this little guy gets used a lot! It is not on the aisle where the other Kraft parm's are, it is in the refrigerated section. Go get one... NOW!

Well... that is it for now. At least until I find my battery charger. I just had to make sure to tell you all about the "first meal".