Pasta with Shrimp

Tonight was a three course meal line of night.  I made a southwestern black bean soup for my appetizer, Southwestern Pasta with Shrimp for the entree, and blueberries with sweetened “whipped milk” for dessert. 

To make the whipped milk o use this nifty gadget that came with my mini-French press for coffee.

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I have been wanting to make black bean soup for a while.

Black Bean Soup with Avocado Cream

2 T olive oil
4 large carrots, dived (2 cups)
1 large sweet onion
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
4 cups chicken broth
3 cans bqlck beans, drained and rinsed
1 ripe avocado
1/4 cup Sour cream
2 T chopped cilantro
1 T lemon juice

Saute onions and carrots in oil until tender crisp. Add pepper, cook 1 minute.
Add broth and beans. Bring to a boil.  Lower to simmer and cook for 25 minutes.

Mash avocado, add sour cream, cilantro and lemon juice, mix to combine.  Salt and pepper to taste.

To serve place in serving bowls and place a dollop of avocado cream on top.

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Pasta with Shrimp – this is another recipe from the Tx Dept of Agriculture

Serves 4

2 T butter, divided
2 shallots
4 oz sundried tomatoes (NOTE: I only used 1/2 the amount, and that was plenty)
1 jalapeno pepper finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, divided and minced
3 oz. White wine
8 oz cream (NOTE:  you can substitute milk and add 1 teaspoon corn starch or floor for thickening agent)
2 oz chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined (NOTE: I also cut them up in two to three pieces each, or I can leave them whole) about 1#
8 shitake mushrooms, julienne
2 oz peas ( you can sub broccoli flowerlettes if you don’t like peas)
2oz grated parmesan cheese
3 oz pasta shells

Melt 1 T butter, add 1/2 tomatoes and shallots.  Saute until fragrant. 

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Add 1/2 garlic and deglaze with 1/2 of the wine.  Add cream and broth,  cook until reduced by 1/2.  Puree and strain (I forgot to puree…), season with salt and pepper.

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Cook pasta according to directions.

Melt remaining butter in saute pan, add shrimp, remaining tomatoes, mushrooms  and garlic.  Deglaze with remaining wine.  Add lease and sauce.  Season with salt and white pepper.  Place in servitude dishes and top with parmesan cheese.

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Serve with a glass of white wine.

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Made these cookies tonight. Easy, fast, yummy. I used crystal sugar I had in Easter colors instead of making it like Baker Bettie does. 🙂

Baker Bettie

Welcome to Baker Bettie’s Cookies Are The New Cupcake Series!  If you are a cookie enthusiast, make sure you check out the Cookie Wars 2012 Contest and enter by April 15th! Join this cookie revolution!

I often wonder about why I have such a fascination with other eras.

Is it because I spent so much time with my grandparents when I was growing up?

And because they played so much of their music for me that older music feels more familiar to me than the music of “my era?”

My grandpa Joe used to put records on for us all the time and teach us how to dance.  I think he did a great job, though my husband would argue that I am one of the worst dancers he’s ever seen.  He obviously has no idea what he is talking about.

This is one of the songs that we…

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Ginger Lime Ahi Tuna

I had taken a piece of ahi tuna from the freezer on Sunday for dinner, but my craving for Mexican food got the better of me.

So tonight, I took to the internet to find an Asian inspired way to make my tuna.  Here is what I came up with:

Ginger Lime Ahi Tuna with Colealaw

Olive oil
Lime juice
Balsamic vinegar
Garlic powder
Ground ginger
Chopped cilantro
Ahi tuna steaks

Mix everything except the tuna on a plastic baggie.  Set aside about 1/8 cup of marinade to use after fish is cooked.  Add tuna to marinade and marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour and up to 3-4 hours.  Remove tuna from marinade and cook either on the grill or pan sear until tuna is med rare.  Time depends on thickness of the steak. Cut in thin strips, drizzle reserved marinade over tuna and serve.

I put mine over some coleslaw left over from a few days ago. 

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Salad of romaine lettuce, blueberries, feta cheese and olive oil and Balsamic vinegar dressing.

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Texas Bay Shrimp Cocktail

Today I came across a recipe card from Texas Dept. of Agriculture – Commisioner Food Staples (www.gotexan.org) with a recipe for shrimp cocktail, the way it is made in Texas.  I love this stuff, and get it at restaurants all the time.  I don’t remember where I picked up the card, probably at one of the grocery stores in Houston some time ago (H.E.B. probably).    And so… while I have a bunch of veggies, etc. in the fridge, I was thinking about this all day… There is only one thing to do when you have a craving like that – indulge it.  🙂

Everything I picked up at the grocery store was on sale too… including the shrimp!  (5.99/#)!!  I forgot to get jalapeno pepper, so in my usual fashion – I improvised.  I used some redand orange small sweet/spicy peppers instead of the jalapeno, and added a dash of cayanne pepper too.  I also put cayenne pepper in the water I boiled the shrimp in.

Texas Bay Shrimp Cocktail

2 1/2cups cocktail sauce
2 cups chopped tomatoes (I used Roma tomatoes – they are more meaty, less seeds…)
1/2 (Texas) Jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped into small pieces (I used small red and yellow peppers instead
2 T lime juice
1 T lime peel, grated (I used a microplane and zested the lime instead)
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp, black pepper (or you could use cayenne pepper as I did, or maybe both…)
1 T fresh chopped cilantro
1# cooked texas shrimp, peeled and cut into large pieces about 1/2 – 1 ” in length
1 Avocado cut into large pieces (I added this to the recipe…)

1 cup Torilla chips (I bought pita chips – then discovered they were stale… YUCK!)  I knew I should have made my own fresh chips…
Watermelon for garnish (optional)
Cilantro for garnish

In a bowl, combine everything except the shrimpn and avocado. Mix well until blended and chill.  Fold in shrimp and avocado.  garnish with torilla chips, watermelon and chilantro.  Makes 6 servings.

A slice of pear pie I made last night for dessert…

Wedding Dress Transformation to Christening Dress

For those of my friends reading/following my blog, you may not know that my mom passed away in August 2008.  I was very close to her, and miss her dearly.  When my brothers, sister and I were cleaning out the house, I kept my mom’s wedding dress.Last summer one of my nieces got married and recently had a baby girl.  Between the time she told me she was pregnant and the baby arrived, I came across a link on Pinerest.com where someone had “transformed” old dresses, and other vintage items into new clothing, and I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could make my great-niece’s christening dress from my mother’s wedding dress.

Mom's Wedding Dress

I realized, gee – I need to find out 1) if my niece planned on having the baby christened, and 2) if she would like me to make the baby’s dress from my mother’s wedding dress.  Well, the answer to both of these questions was yes.  Of course I left her an emotional voicemail message on her cell phone when I called to ask her… and then when she said she would love to have the christening dress made from my mom’s wedding dress – that it would be a way to have her “there, and present in spirit” for the christening, well of course I got all emotional again.

And then… I began to panic; I started questioning whether I could bring myself to dismantle and cut up my mom’s dress.  While it has been boxed and put away ever since we cleaned out the house, the thought of cutting it up felt like I was betraying my mom in some sense.  Her wedding dress was the last “tangible” personal thing that I have, and seeing her dress made me feel closer to her in some way.  Odd… unusual, I know, but that was the way I was feeling.  I was half expecting the heavens to open up and lightnening to hit me when I made that first cut of the material…

Before I dismantled the dress, I wanted to preserve it in digital form.  Yes, we have my parent’s wedding pictures – my brother is the keeper of the wedding book – and this was for me.

I decided that I would document the transformation of my mom’s wedding dress into Sahara’s christening dress that would, hopefully, be kept and handed down through the family throughout the ages.  This process hasn’t been without a lot of tears shed (by me) in memory of my mom, but those tears have been a cleansing of the soul experience, a recognition of the circle of life, both in human form ( my mom may have passed on, but she, and my dad, live on in their great grand daughter, Sahara, because she has part of their DNA in her) as well as in material form (from wedding dress to christening dress).

So here are a few pictures of my mom’s dress.

Bodice with lace. I originally thought I would try to use this for the bodice of the christening dress, in the end, I kept the bodice of the dress intact.

Back and train

Close up of the back. I used some of the buttons for the christening dress.

When I took the dress out of the box and started looking at it closely, I found that the thread had aged to much that the back seam was literally falling apart. I took this as a “sign” and dismantled the dress.  🙂

dismantled dress. the only thing left together was the bodice, that I will keep, and try to think of some way to use it in it's original form.

My goal was to only use materials from my mom’s wedding for the christening dress.  I found this; I dimantled it and used the lace and flowers on the dress.

This was my mom's reception head dress.

My mom also kept the ribbons from her bouquet.  They had little flowers attached to them.  I used some of them and the flowers on the front of the christening dress as well.

Laying out the pattern for the dress, figuring out which of the dress panels to use, etc took some time.  I was able to lay out the bodice of the baby’s dress so that it has lace on it that was appliqued on my mom’s dress.

Laying out the pattern for the christening dress

skirt piece for the baby's dress

All the pieces cut out and ready to be sewn together. Boy was I nervous!

I'm really happy with the way the lace for the bodice came out.

The sleeves with the lace attached

The bodice completed and ready for the sleeves to be attached.

completed sleeves ready to attach to the bodice

completed top of dress, ready for the skirt.

lots of pins used to get the gathering just right for the skirt

I wanted to see how it would fit a baby.... So I put it on one of my baby dolls I have from when I was little.

Back of the completed dress.

Front of dress.

I think my mom would be proud of the transformation of her wedding dress. 🙂

And… I have quite a bit of the fabric left…mmm, what to make next that can be handed down in the family for generations to come???

Grandma’s Valentine’s Day Cookies

I get a lot of compliments and requests from my friends for my recipe for these cookies.

They are sort of like “linzer” cookies, but made without all the sugar on top. And a whole lot better (according to my friends).

The recipe is from my Grandmother, with my own little twist.  They are a “roll out cookie”, as you can tell.  My grandma would simply cut them out with a heart-shaped cookie cutter.  I decided it would be fun to cut out the center of 1/2 of them; use jam, and make them like a Linzer Cookie.  Rather than combining all the small hearts that were cut out of the center of the larger ones, I baked those too; and put jam between them to make little cookies.  can see that I also cut tiny hearts out of some of the smaller cookies too.  I also took some of the left over dough and made those tiny hearts on the plate as well.  They are great for little kids!

This recipe can also be used to make any sort of holiday cookie – Christmas, Easter, St Patty’s day, etc.

Grandma’s Valentine’s Day Cookies

1 cup butter
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons milk

Your choice of jam for the filling.  (I have used red currant, strawberry, and cherry jams, it just depends on what I have on hand – and since I make them for Valentine’s day, I use a red jam).

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add egg and beat well.

Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Wrap in wax paper and chill several hours or overnight.  If you refridgerate the dough overnhight, take from refridgerator and let it set out of 15-30 minutes until it is soft enough to roll out without cracking along the sides.

Roll to 1/8 inch thick on floured board and cut with heart shaped cookie cutter.  If you wish, using a smaller cookie cutter, cut out the middle of 1/2 of the cookies to use a the tops.

Place on un-greased cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.

Instead of using jam and making cookie sandwiches you could do as my grandma did and ice cookies with favorite confectioners’ sugar icing with red coloring added).

Another alternative would be not to cut out the centers of the cookies, use the jam to make cookie sandwiches AND ice them as well.  🙂

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Sweet & Sour Chicken

Tonight I was in the mood for something Asian with noodles. I was thinking something like Pad Thai, but instead I found a recipe in a cookbook called “SIMPLY COLORADO” that my sister-in-law Sarah gave to me a long time ago.  Of course I tweeked it a bit, based on what I had in the house.  I swapped out snap peas for carrots, used yellow sweet pepper, added some red jalapeno pepper to give it a slight spicy kick.

Instead of brown rice, I used spaghetti noodles (since I didn’t have rice noodles).
3/4 # boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into cubes
1 T oil
Bunch of snap peas (or carrots, or other veggie(s) you have on hand)
1 Jalapeno pepper chopped into small bits
Pineapple rings (I used 2), cut into small chunks
pineappe juice
1 T cornstarch
1/8 cup low sodium soy sauce
3T brown sugar
3T vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ginger

I used my wok to make this dish, but you could certainly use any sort of large pan you have on hand.

Cook noodles (or rice) according to package directions.

In a wok, heat oil and brown the chicken until cooked through.

 Add veggies and cook a couple more minutes.  Add peppers, pineapple and juice.

Combine cornstarch, soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar and ginger, mix well and add to wok.  bring to a boil stirring constantly (the sauce will thicken up quickly).  If the sauce gets too thick, add some water to thin it out a bit.  If you put in too much water, don’t worry, just cook until the sauce thickens up some more.

Serve over hot noodles.  Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

Butternut Squash Rissoto with Spicy Cream Sauce

I didn’t post anything last night, but I did make an interesting dinner.  This was inspired by another recipe from the “Simply Colorado” Cookbook from my sister-in-law Sarah.  The sauce was inspired by a Fettuccine with Sprimp Sauce recipe.

I took some of the butternut squash gnocchi that I made a few days ago, and cut them up into little bits, like Rissoto.  In order to help the pieces not stick together I tossed them with a little bit of flour and cut them on a board with flour on it.  The pasta was then boiled for 4 – 5 minutes, until done.

"Rissoto" after it was cooked

Spicy Cream Sauce

1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 teaspoon dried whole marjoram
dash of pepper
1 Jalapeno pepper, diced into small pieces
1 T cornstarch
1 cup milk (the recipe calls for skim milk, but I just used what I have on hand – 1%)
2 slices provolone cheese (recipe calls for 2 slices of swiss cheese – I would suggest you use whatever sliced cheese you have on hand, because that is the cheese you like)
2 T snipped chives or green onion tips (would you believe it – I have chives in my herb garden, but completely forgot about them!! So I didn’t use any)

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Combine chicken broth, wine, marjoram, jalapeno pepper and pepper in a saucepan.  Bring to a full boil and boil until sauce is reduced to about 1/2 cup.

Combine cornstarch and milk., add to reduction in the saucepan.  Using an immersion blender, blend the mixture to further chop up the jalapeno pepper.  Cook sauce until it thickens and is bubbly.

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Pour some of the sause over the rissoto and serve.

Sorry, I ate this before I realized I forgot to take a picture of the final dish… 🙂   It was delish!

Pan Seared Ahi Tuna Sandwich

Yesterday I picked up some Ahi Tuna from Costco.  I decided I wanted to make some of it for dinner tonight, so I did a little internet research to find a good recipe that included coleslaw (I have 2 whole heads of cabbage that I have to use…).

I came across a pretty good recipe at http://mykitchenmoovement.squarespace.com

I did a little modifying to the recipe because I was out of garlic, so I just omitted it completely.  It was still very good.  I also cut the recipe to 1/4 as well.

COLESLAW

1/4 cabbage, chopped

1 carrot, peeled and shredded

DRESSING

1/2 cup mayonaise
1/4 up cider vinegar
3/4 teaspoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon grated onion
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon celary salt

You may want to modify the amounts of the above once you have mixed them all together to your own liking.  I actually added a bit more celary salt.   Once dressing is mixed together, pour over cabbage and carrot mixture and set aside for the flavors to blend.

Heat a skillet with 1 teaspoon oil until very hot.  Pat tuna dry with paper towel, coat with a bit of oil, season with salt/pepper.  Sear tuna on each side.  The length of time will depend on the thickness of the tuna steak.  Mine was a bit thin, so I didn’t sear it for very long.

Place tuna on your favorite toasted bread/bun, top with coleslaw.  I used toasted Jewish Rye bread, simply because that is what I had on hand.