12 January 2009

January's Verse

Rachel Anne, over at Home Sanctuary, has posted our focus verse for January. She always makes such beautiful artwork to help us reflect on each month's verse and this month is no different. She has taken us back to one year ago when she first started those small, daily things we could do to make our homes a sanctuary for the ones who live there and those who visit. Psalm 90:17 helps me to remember that without God's help, all the work I put into my home, including cooking, will really amount to nothing. However, if I commit my work to Him, there will be beauty and rest in all that I do. Thanks for the reminder Rachel Anne!

10 January 2009

Shrimp Scampi

We helped my husband's parents bag fresh shrimp last week. As payment, we get shrimp by the quart (about 1.5 lbs. each) whenever we want it. So, last week I brought home 3 quart-sized bags and put them in our freezer. Scampi is another quick and easy dish that we could easily have once a week I didn't mind us all reeking of garlic. I usually make homemade Foccacia bread and serve a salad if I have my act together enough to make one.

  • 1.5 lbs. fresh shelled shrimp
  • butter (Under no circumstances are you to use margarine. If you don't have butter, wait until you get some before making this. Seriously.)
  • fresh garlic, minced - as much as you like (You can use the already minced in olive oil, but you need it as fresh as possible...no dried.)
  • white wine (I prefer to have the real stuff; better flavor and more depth.)
  • 1 c. sliced fresh baby Bella mushrooms
  • 1-2 tsp. flour
  • 8 oz. angel hair pasta

Saute mushrooms in plenty of butter. Reduce heat and add in garlic. Cook for approximately one minute being careful not to burn the garlic. Toss in some white wine and more butter. Add a little white wine (or water, if you prefer) to the flour to make a slurry and then add to mushrooms and garlic. You want the liquid to be the consistency of a thin gravy and you want plenty of it to coat the shrimp and be the sauce for your pasta. So, keep adding in butter and white wine until you get it how you like it. If it needs to be thicker, just make the flour/wine/water slurry to thicken it a bit. Just remember NOT to add in the flour on its on. It doesn't make friends with the other ingredients very easily and will stick together and get all lumpy. Not good.

While you're doing all this, cook your pasta according to directions; drain, toss with a little olive oil and keep warm.

Now that your sauce has come together and your pasta is ready, it's time for the shrimp. Toss it in and cook for about 3 minutes or until no longer pink. You want to keep it moving in the pan so that it all cooks together and gets a good coating of the sauce. Remove from heat and toss in pasta.

You can serve this a number of ways. Sometimes I add in little pieces of broccoli when I add in the garlic and let it cook in the pan. Other times I've blanched some asparagus and then served the scampi over it. Delicious! I've also tossed in some torn pieces of fresh spinach after I've removed the scampi from the heat and just let the spinach wilt a bit. Oh. my. So good.

I'll post the Foccacia recipe later. Time to get cooking for tonight!

Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

This has become a favorite of ours. So much so that when I was preparing it the other night and my kids asked what we were having, their response was "Oh good! I love that!"

1 box Uncle Ben's Long Grain and Wild Rice
1-10 3/4 oz. can cream of mushroom with roasted garlic condensed soup
1-10 3/4 oz. can cream of chicken with herbs condensed soup
2 chicken breasts
1 large head broccoli

Preheat oven to 350F. Cook rice according to package directions. While the rice is cooking, boil chicken in large pot for approximately 10 minutes. Allow chicken to cool; dice. Cut broccoli into small pieces and steam for 2 minutes. Drain water and set aside.

Combine soups, rice, chicken, broccoli and one soup can of milk. Pour into 3 qt. baking dish and bake 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned on top. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

*Quick and Dirty Method*
Use a rotisserie chicken and pull off enough meat to equal 2 cups. Microwave 2 packages of the Uncle Ben's Ready Rice, Long Grain and Wild Rice. Combine all ingredients and bake as above.

I sometimes saute a few mushrooms if I have them in the fridge and toss those in as well. You can easily substitute another veggie for the broccoli or omit it completely and serve a different side. I like combining it all because I'm lazy like that.

06 January 2009

Shrimp & Grits

A southern favorite! Here's my spin on it and what we're eating tonight!

1 lb. fresh shrimp, shells on
1 c. grits (I prefer stone-ground but the quick-cooking kind work fine, too.)
2 c. water
1/2-3/4 c. milk
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
3-4 shakes Tabasco sauce
*edited to add* 2-3 T. chopped bacon (I use the Oscar Meyer bacon pieces in the salad section of the grocery store. Less mess and tastes good, too!)
1 t. minced garlic (I use the garlic already minced in olive oil. Quick and easy and no sticky garlic fingers!)

Fill a large stock pot 3/4 full with water and salt heavily. Bring to a boil and add shrimp. Cook for approximately 3 minutes, or until pink. Remove from heat, drain and rinse with cold water. Peel and set aside.

In a Dutch oven bring 2 c. water to a boil. Reduce heat and slowly add in grits, stirring with a whisk. Add 1/2 c. milk and continue stirring. Once milk is heated through, stir in cream cheese until completely incorporated. If too thick, add milk, depending on consistency needed. Add Tabasco, salt, pepper and generous amounts of butter. Continue stirring with whisk to insure the grits don't stick to the bottom of the pot. Stir in bacon pieces and garlic.

When grits are fully cooked and are creamy and smooth, fold in shrimp until heated throughout. Remove from heat and serve with hot buttered biscuits.

05 January 2009

Easy Potato-Sausage Soup

This recipe is one of our favorites. It is quick, easy, delicious and what I'm cooking tonight!

HT to Anne Garner for passing this one along!

1 lb. pork sausage
4 c. (16 oz.) frozen hash browns
1 lg. onion, chopped
1 can (14.5 oz.) chicken broth
2 c. water
1 can (10 3/4 oz.) cream of celery soup
1 can (10 3/4 oz.) cream of chicken soup (sometimes I sub. cream of mushroom)
2 c. milk
shredded cheddar cheese

Brown sausage in a large Dutch oven, over medium heat, stirring until it crumbles and is no longer pink. Drain and return to Dutch oven. Add potatoes and next 3 ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes. Stir in soups and milk; cook, stirring often, until thoroughly heated. Do not boil. Garnish, if desired, with shredded cheddar cheese.

Serve with pimiento cheese sandwiches or pimiento cheese toast.

Monthly Menu Plan

Rachel Anne over at Home Sanctuary posted today's "Simple Thing". And guess what it was...a monthly menu plan! Hooray! I sat down this morning and made one and then found out that Rachel Anne would give me 100 points for doing it!

So, here's my plan for the month. I don't have exact days planned, because although our life and routine are fairly normal, my moods aren't and I may decide I want to cook Chicken Pot Pie on a day I have "scheduled" to make soup. And I like to have options and plenty of flexibility. I have 20 meals listed. Yes, I know it seems like that won't get me through the month, but it will. We have 2 adults and 2 children in our house and I usually cook enough each meal for 4-6 adults. There are almost always leftovers for hubby's lunch and for eating later in the week. We try to have a date once a week and the kids get "kid fare" that night. And we usually have one night that is either leftovers or breakfast-for-supper.

Oh, one more thing...I pair sides according to my mood as well. We usually have some kind of starch and at least one vegetable, and some kind of bread. One goal for this year is to incorporate more salads, but we'll see if I can really do it or not.

I'll hopefully post recipes as I make the dish, but if you see something you want more info. on and don't want to wait, just let me know. I may post pics, too. We'll see how much time I have!

  • Shrimp Scampi
  • Spaghetti with meatballs
  • Lasagne (yes, I know it's spelled Lasagna, but I like the French way better!)
  • Ravioli
  • Tenderloin
  • Chops
  • Meatloaf
  • Shepherd's Pie
  • Steak
  • Stir-fry
  • Athenian Shrimp
  • Shrimp and Grits
  • you could put the Scampi here too, but since it's so heavy on the pasta, I stuck it there.
Happy Cooking!