Sunday, April 23, 2017

Indian Shrimp Curry

You may (or may not, I won't judge) remember my telling you in this post that I had bought a lot of shrimp. Last night, finally feeling up to making a meal (as opposed to thawing one), I tried this recipe. Someone had given it to me years ago, so I don't know the source, but I will say that it is both easy and delicious. Because I am still so blasted tired from my battle with the flu, I measured out my ingredients, cleaned the shrimp, and did all of the prep work at various intervals throughout the day, so when it was time for dinner, everything was ready and came together in no time. It is so quick and easy to prepare that I started it when "Big Bang Theory" came on TV, and sat down to dine before the credits ran. I'll be making this again.

Indian Shrimp Curry

2 tablespoons peanut oil
1/2 sweet onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
1 (14.5 ounce) can chopped tomatoes
1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound cooked, peeled, and deveined shrimp
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
 1/4 teaspoon dried cilantro 

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat; saute onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and allow it to cool slightly, about 2 minutes. Return to low heat and add garlic, ginger, cumin, turmeric, paprika, and chili powder to the onion; stir to combine. Pour the tomatoes and coconut milk into the skillet; season with salt.

Cook the mixture at a simmer, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Stir in shrimp, fresh cilantro, and dried cilantro; cook another 1 minute before serving.

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Flu-fighting Smoothie

If you read my post from yesterday, then you know that I had a major bout with the flu. And, as I mentioned in that post, I eased my way through it (and I'm still easing) by pushing liquids, eating a lot of chicken soup, and cooling down with what I call a Flu-fighting Smoothie.  This delicious smoothie packs a nutritional punch, and uses ingredients that focuses in on what your body needs to get you through the flu or a cold.
Flu-fighting Smoothie

1 container Chobani Greek yogurt, the flavor of your choice 
(I used strawberry)
3 1" chunks frozen banana
3 frozen strawberries
4-5 cubes frozen mango (I use
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1 packet
Coconut/Pineapple EmergenC
Use your Bullet or standard blender and place ingredients in the order listed into the jar. Blend for 30 to 45 seconds. Pour into a tall glass and enjoy.

In case you're curious, here is the reasoning behind the use of every ingredient:

Bananas. Always! Recent studies have shown that the protein in bananas known as banana lethicin may not only shorten the length of a virus, but contains antiviral properties that may prevent you from getting one in the first place.

Yogurt. One serving a day labeled with "live and active cultures" will enhance immune function.

Strawberries contain vitamin C and immune boosting antioxidants.

Mangoes are packed with immunity-boosting Vitamin A, as well as the powerful antioxidant Vitamin C, also known to shorten the duration of colds.

Pineapple juice helps to soothe a sore throat.

EmergenC speaks for itself. :-)
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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Slow Cooker Salisbury Steak

Last week I was hit with the flu, and when I say hit, I mean like a hammer. Wow! Apparently, my darling little grandchildren were the carriers of this vile bug.  They gave it to me and their mother (fortunately my son was spared), as well as succumbing themselves, when we all got together here (and had a marvelous time, I might add) for breakfast on Palm Sunday. I’d set a darling little table with them in mind, that I’d hoped to share with you in detail, but, well, the moment has passed. I’m glad that was such a good day, because two days later there were no good days for any of us.

Because I felt so low, naturally, I did not feel at all like cooking, so was grateful to have filled up the freezer with single serving containers of soups and casseroles earlier in the year.

It’s very important to eat and stay hydrated while fighting an ailment. The first couple of days I lived on Chicken Noodle Soup. I’d like to say that it tasted as delicious frozen as it had when fresh, but I really couldn’t taste anything, so I am no judge. I will say that it was warm and soothing.

I also came up with a nutritious, throat-cooling, flu-fighting smoothie that was fabulous! The recipe is coming, but meanwhile, pack your freezer with banana chunks, strawberries, and pieces of mango. You’ll thank me later.

One thing that turned out to be a big hit with both me and dad was this easy-to-assemble, slow cooker version of Salisbury Steak. There is no greater need for comfort than when struck down by the flu.
Slow Cooker Salisbury Steak
 Adapted from Spend With Pennies

6 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms
1 medium yellow onion, sliced

Sauce ingredients:
1-14.5 ounce can low-sodium beef broth
1 1-ounce package brown gravy mix
2 tablespoons catsup
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Beef patties:
1-1/2 pounds ground chuck
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup dried minced onion
1/3 cup Panko crumbs
3 tablespoons whole milk
1 clove garlic minced
1/4 teaspoon Montreal steak seasoning

2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons water

Spray slow cooker with Pam; line bottom with mushrooms and onions.

Combine beef patty ingredients and form into six patties. Place 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil into a 10" skillet and heat until oil starts to shimmer. Brown patties over medium-high heat about three minutes per side. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels and allow draining for a moment or two. Place the beef patties on top of the mushrooms and onions in the slow cooker. Combine sauce ingredients, and pour over
beef patties. Cook on the low setting for 5 hours.

Remove patties to a warm plate; set aside. Turn slow cooker to high, combine cold water and cornstarch, and stir into the sauce. Allow to cook a few minutes until thickened, and then return beef patties to the sauce. Let heat through, about 5 to 10 additional minutes. Serve over mashed potatoes or alongside rice.

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Besotted with Bunnies Tablescape

Last week I featured a Cabbage Bunny Tablescape that was made up of elements that once belonged to special people in my life. I wax a bit nostalgic in that post, encouraging you to enjoy what you have, and cast aside what no longer sparks joy. This week I have another tablescape that is equally sentimental, but in the creation of this tablescape, I got a bit of a jolt. Let me explain. 

My mother was someone who was not sentimental over dishware in the same way that I am. Last week, while I was having lunch at dad's, he had gathered up a lot of mother’s old Easter things to pass on to me. Many of them were used in this table, I'll get to that later, but in the going, I discovered that a set of six dessert plates that had belonged to the mother of my mom’s childhood best friend, Shirley, were no longer where they had been for many years. Apparently, in one of mother's purging efforts, she got rid of the set of plates. I was very upset to learn this. I am a great lover of antique plates, particularly those that have a history. So, while I encourage you to keep what you love and donate what you don't, please, please, PLEASE ask your loved ones if they would be interested in having these items before you do. I ask my boys every time I get rid of something if they would like to have it, telling them that it's okay if they don't, but I'm just checking to make sure. You need to do the same.

And now the table.
The centerpiece this week, like last, contains bunny items made by my dad and painted by me.
The bunny tins at each place setting I have had for so long that I don’t even know where they came from. They are so old, in fact, that they still had the price tag on them. Remember price tags?
The bunny sauce boat was my mother’s. I have been looking for this for years, and stumbled upon it when at dad’s and wondering just what was in the unreachable cabinets above the fridge. My question was answered, and now this adorable bunny is mine!
I am not a lover of soft-boiled eggs, but I do love these eggcups. At first I had placed filled eggs into them, but then, knowing the grandkids were coming, I decided to turn them into little Easter baskets, which ended up being a huge hit, (I also use these as holders for honey mustard when I serve chicken tenders.).

The subtly printed napkins are from Pottery Barn. I love these.
The wicker placemats, chargers, and spice brown plates are from Pier One.
Have a great Easter everyone!
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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Chocolate-Bourbon Pecan Pie (or something vaguely similar)

Those of you who follow me on my personal Facebook page, are well aware that I am a bit of a reluctant baker, and often end up with disastrous results. It's probably because, as I've said so many times, I don't like to bake, but I do like to make people happy. So when I go out to have lunch with my dad, I like to take him something special. And by special, I mean good. And by good, I mean edible.

Pretty much these days, if I make a dessert, I'm happy enough if it's edible. I just don't like doing it. This morning when I got up I decided I was going to take my dad a pie. I'm always going through dessert recipes, I print out a lot of them, and set them aside for making later. This morning, while rifling through my stack, I saw a recipe for something I thought dad would like. It was called Chocolate-Bourbon Pecan Pie. Chocolate. Bourbon. Pecan pie. What's not to like there? Pecan Pie is one of my dad's favorites, so I thought I would give this recipe a try.
I started off making the piecrust. I had it in the pan, the edges not fluted as expertly as they could have been, and headed for the freezer to get out some pecans to toast. It was then that I realized that I didn't have any pecans. I had three brand-new bags of walnuts, but no pecans. So, I thought to myself, does it really make that much difference? I mean, nuts are nuts, right?
So I used the original recipe and just substituted walnuts for the pecans. That done, I reached into the pantry for semisweet chocolate chips to pour into the crust along with the pecans, err, walnuts. It was then that I realized that I didn't have chocolate chips either. Well, I had chocolate chips, just not semisweet chocolate chips. 

I have entire shelf in my pantry full of baking chips. I have cinnamon chips, pumpkin chips, white chocolate chips, salted caramel chips, Butterfinger chips (Yes, they make those, but I haven't tried them yet, I'll report.), mini M&Ms, Bits of Brickle (both with chocolate coating and without), and I also happened to have a few remnants of mini chocolate chips, and milk chocolate chips. So, in place of the 1 cup of semisweet chocolate chips that the recipe called for, I emptied the bag of mini chocolate chips into a measuring cup (it came up about 1/4 of the way), then I emptied the rest of the milk chocolate chips into that same measuring cup (bringing the measurement to 1/2 cup), and then I reached for the Bits of Brickle (those covered in milk chocolate), and dumped enough in to fill up the cup. Huzzah! I sprinkled this creative mixture on top of the toasted walnuts, and then continued on with the recipe as written.

 As it turned out the pie was pretty darn good. Dad was more than happy with it, but that in itself is no recommendation, because he is a guy who eats a lot of Marie Calender and Aunt Jemima frozen meals. At any rate, the original recipe, a product of Southern Living, is below. The reason I shared this story is so that you won't be held hostage by recipes for which you may not have the exact ingredients. Feel free to use my example, or make some substitutions of your own. As long as the ingredients for the custard are there, you really can get a little creative in a pinch, as long as you substitute cup for cup.
Chocolate-Bourbon Pecan Pie
As seen in Southern Living  
1/2 (14.1-ounce) package refrigerated piecrusts (or make your own, please make your own)
 1 1/2 cups chopped toasted pecans
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate morsels
1 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup bourbon or water
4 large eggs
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons plain white cornmeal
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon table salt

Preheat oven to 325°F. Fit piecrust into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate according to package directions; fold edges under, and crimp. Sprinkle pecans and chocolate evenly onto bottom of piecrust.
Stir together corn syrup and next 3 ingredients in a large saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Whisk together eggs and next 4 ingredients. Gradually whisk one-fourth of hot corn syrup mixture into egg mixture; add to remaining hot corn syrup mixture, whisking constantly. Pour filling into prepared piecrust.

Bake at 325° for 55 minutes or until set; cool pie completely on a wire rack (about one hour).

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Saturday, April 8, 2017

Coconut Bunny Cakes

I don't know what it is about Nordic Ware pans, but we just don't get along. Having seen little bunny cakes on other blogs, I caved and bought this Nordic Ware bunny pan. Because I'm taking lunch to my dad tomorrow, and because he loves coconut cake, I decided to make coconut pound cake bunnies. Well, it didn't work out exactly as I'd planned. With the exception of one or two, most of my bunnies looked like war victims. I did everything I possibly could have to keep them from sticking. I melted Crisco, I brushed it into the pan not once, not twice, but three times, then filled each cavity with sifted flour covering every nook and cranny, and tapping it out. I just knew these bunnies were going to pop out like beautiful little animals. No! I had to tap the pan on the counter, I had to tap it on the side, I inverted it, I "re-verted" it. I used a knife to encourage the bunnies out of the pan. Nothing. I tried to get some out while warm (that seemed to work better), then remembered reading somewhere that said allowing them to cool makes them come out easier. No! At any rate, you may have better luck than I did (as so many other people have), and end up with darling cakes. Me? Next year I'm going for the big bunny pan like this one.

On a positive note, the coconut cake was phenomenal! The best coconut cake I think I have ever eaten. In fact, it
is the best pound cake I've ever eaten, coconut or otherwise. I tinkered with a couple of recipes to come up with this one, and, instead of icing mine, because I'm not a huge fan of super sweet icing, I made up a glaze and drizzled it over the warm cakes. It gave them a nice sheen, and an extra good taste. Then, I lightly dusted them with sifted powdered sugar. I cannot recommend this cake enough. If you decide to make mini cakes, like I did, you'll be baking them between 10 and 15 minutes less than you would if you were making an entire cake. Just watch them, when the edges turn light brown, and the cake springs back when lightly touched it's done.
Best Ever Coconut Pound Cake

3 sticks (1½ cups) butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
½ cup sour cream
½ cup vanilla Greek yogurt
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon coconut extract
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
1¾ cups flour
2 cups flaked coconut

Coconut Glaze:
1 cup sugar
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon coconut extract

Preheat oven to 325°F. Generously (And I am talking GENEROUSLY!) grease and flour a Bundt or cakelet pan.
In a medium bowl, mix flour and flaked coconut; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, and at a time, and mix until light and fluffy. Add sour cream, yogurt, baking powder, and extracts. Mix well.

Add half of the flour mixture to creamed mixture and mix well; add remaining flour mixture and mix until combined.

Let cake batter rest for 5 minutes.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 60 - 70 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool 25 minutes. Invert onto serving plate; coat with coconut glaze.

For the glaze: Mix ingredients together in a medium saucepan. Cook and stir over low heat until sugar is melted. Pour on top of cake and let the glaze soak into the cake. Allow glaze to dry and then dust cakes with powdered sugar.

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