Saturday, September 28, 2013

Succulent Shrimp Scampi at home

Have you ever seen this at the grocery store?
Well next time you go, you better be grabbing a pack because oh have I got a recipe for you.
I use this pack of scampi mix, but I don't fallow the directions on the back... rebel, I know.
Here's what I did instead, for a rich and creamy shrimp linguini dinner.
NOTE: If you are afraid of butter you need to click away now. This recipe is not for the faint of heart. It is loaded with delicious flavor and you know what that means... butter and cream.
Every once in a while I have to splurge and go for the good stuff.
Tonight was dinner for two so all of my measurements need doubled if you are serving 4 or more guests.
I started with about 8 oz of linguini. Make sure to add salt to your water to help pre-flavor the pasta. Turn that baby up to high and get it boiling.
I didn't have any fresh shrimp but I love Kirkland Brand (Costco's) Raw frozen shrimp. You can set it out to thaw or if you're in a hurry, toss it in the microwave on low defrost. I like to buy the raw as opposed to pre cooked because If you re-cook shrimp and overcook it, it gets very tough and rubbery. Raw only takes a few minutes to cook anyway.
I used about 20 shrimp for the two of us. (He got 13 I got 7 yep... I love him)

Next up, pull out your biggest fry pan.
Melt 1/4 cup of butter in the pan, and add 1/2 teaspoon olive oil.
Then add about 1/2-3/4 packet of scampi mix.
(full packet if serving 4 or more)

Add your shrimp.

Make sure to spread out the shrimp so it cooks quickly and evenly.
Don't be afraid of cooking shrimp... its easy and here is how you tell if it's done...
See how most of the shrimp is pink but the center is still gray and translucent?
That means it still needs a minute or two...

 Ok now, all of the shrimp are pink and white all the way through, and they are as curled up as can be.
Turn your heat to low, we are almost done.

Next, while heat is on low add 1/2 cup heavy cream. This will make for a rich and creamy garlic sauce... a perfect topping for your pasta.

Next you will want to add a little bit of cornstarch to your cream sauce to help thicken it. DONT LEAVE THIS STEP OUT! All you have to do is mix a teaspoon or so cornstarch in a little bit of water and pour a very small amount of it in your sauce while whisking. As soon as you see it thicken, remove the pan from the heat.

If your kitchen smells like Red Lobster, you're doing it right :) MMMMmmm
By now your pasta will be done, pull it off the heat as well. Drain it and add a small tab of butter and give it a good stir.
Add it to a plate and top it with your delicious sauce and shrimp. I added a side of garlic toast to mine as well.

YUMMY! This meal easily takes less than 30 minutes to whip up and it is sure to please.
I hope you enjoy it as much as we did :)
Note: This meal is Gluten Free as long as you use Gluten Free Linguini noodles (and omit the garlic bread of course)
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Monday, September 23, 2013

Delicous French Bread in a flash

I am soo excited about this recipe for French bread that I found. I changed it up a little from the original and I was ecstatic with how it turned out! 3 loaves in just over an hour? NOW THAT'S MY KIND OF BREAD MAKING.
This bread is crunchy on the outside, and soft and chewy on the inside. It stores great in the freezer and thaws in about an our so you can pull it out and add it to your meal. Your family will LOVE it and your home will smell incredible as this bread bakes in the oven.
If you are a beginner to bread making, this is the perfect recipe to try, especially if you have a stand mixer because you don't even have to knead the dough. Its fast and rewarding.
Here's how I did it...
Triple French Bread in a flash:
1 cup boiling water
1/3 cup warm water
1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon shortening
1 cup cold water
 3 cups all purpose flour
3 cups bread flour (bread flour has higher gluten content to make for more chewy bread)
 1 egg
Preheat your oven to 170 degrees.
Next, pour 1 cup of water into a cup and heat in the microwave for 3 minutes so the water is boiling.
Fill another cup with 1/3 cup warm water. Add 1 tablespoon of yeast in the water. Sprinkle in a pinch of sugar (this helps the yeast foam) and stir quickly with a butter knife. Set a towel over the glass and let the yeast start activating.
Pour the sugar, salt and shortening into the bowl of your stand mixer. Mash these ingredients together with a fork that way the Crisco wont stay in little chunks, they will blend with the sugar.
Pour the 1 cup of boiling water over the shortening mixture in the stand mixer. Add the 1 cup of cold water into the mixer. Then pour in the yeast mix (use a spoon to get all of it out of the cup).
Add 3 cups of the all purpose flour into the mixer and turn mixer on low speed. Once this is blended, swap your mixer to your dough hook. Slowly add in the remaining 3 cups of bread flour, 1 cup at a time. Once all 6 cups are in, turn speed to medium and let the dough mix for 6-8 minutes. At this point, you should be able to stick your finger on the dough and it will feel elastic and not too sticky. If it is, add 1/4 cup more flour until it is easier to handle and comes off your finger when you touch it. DO NOT ADD TOO MUCH FLOUR or your bread will be dense and dry.

Once the dough is mixed, let it rest in the bowl for 5 minutes.

Spray a large cookie sheet with non-stick spray. After the dough has rested in the bowl, dump it onto the greased cookie sheet. Form it with your hands into an oval shape.
Take a sharp knife, spray it with non-stick spray, and cut dough into 3 equal pieces.
**UPDATE** This recipe can also be made into TWO larger loaves by doing the same process but cutting the dough into two pieces instead of three. Once dough is folded, squeeze it a little to lengthen it and you will have two large beautiful loaves! At our house we leave one plain, and slice one in half to smear with garlic butter! You can also use left overs of this bread for homemade French toast the next morning... FOOD COMA!

 Then let it rest again for 5 minutes.

The resting periods are a very important and needed to let the yeast start helping the dough rise and become softer and airy so you end up with chewy delicious bread.

Now for the bread shaping!
Take one section of dough and spread it out into a rectangle. This is easy and the dough is pliable.  Fold one long end up over half of the rectangle, then fold the other half over the top of the fold you just made.
Now you should have the bread shaped into a line shape. Take the bottom and fold it half way up, and then fold the top down over that fold. Then turn the loaf over so it is seam side down. SEE PICTURES BELOW TO BETTER EXPLAIN THE FOLDING PROCESS!
Use your fingers to "smear" and smooth seams down underneath the loaf and shape it. Repeat this process with the other 2 pieces of dough. After this, cut 3 angled 1/2 inch slits onto the tops of dough. (A serrated knife makes this a little easier)
Now crack your egg into a bowl and whisk with a fork until frothy. Spread the egg over the tops of each loaf with a brush, making sure to get inside the slits.
Place the loaves into the preheated oven and let them "rise" for about 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes turn oven up to 400 degrees... leave the bread in the oven and try not to open the door. You want to keep it nice and warm in there. Let the loaves bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until the tops are golden. Now turn the oven down to 350 degrees and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
Remove  the loaves from the oven and place them on a cooling rack. ARENT THE LOVELY?
Original recipe found here.
Here are a few pictures to walk you through the process visually... 


Try it you will love it!
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Friday, September 13, 2013

Make a beautiful centerpiece in less than 10 minutes

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I LOVE FALL... and anything that has to do with it.
I decided to whip up a new little centerpiece for my kitchen table, to add a little d├ęcor for the season. Its easy, cheap and takes less than 10 minutes to make.
You're going to need these....
1. A 33x33" square of burlap. (Its super cheap and there are a lot of cute different colors)

2. Scissors & a hot glue gun
3. Some thick lace and twine (enough to wrap around your cylinder and tie a bow)
4. An empty food storage tin, flower vase, or some kind of cylinder to hold your apples or flowers. (you can cut up an empty cereal box and hot glue it into a cylinder if you want to save $)
5. A small piece of string or yarn
6. Fruit or flowers to fill your vase.
Center your vase in the middle of the burlap square. Stuff all off the tops of the burlap inside the vase and use something to stuff on top to keep them in place. As you can see a zip lock container came in handy for me.

Tie a string of piece of yarn (this will not be seen so it doesn't matter) around the center of the vase.

Now cover it with your pretty lace. You can use really thick or thin lace.

Next take your twine and wrap it over the top of the lace. Tie a bow over the knot of the lace and make sure it lays nicely.

Now pull your center out and it will be falling all over the place.
Trim the unruly edges but not so much that it goes beneath the top edge of the vase.

The right length will make it so the edges point straight up like so...

Now plug in your trusty glue gun and glue some of the folds around the top edge of the tin. That way you cant see any silver shining through and the burlap sticks close to the top.
Try to keep the natural folds and layering.

Voila! Now add foam or newspaper in the bottom and top with apples or fresh fruit, or you can add some beautiful flowers.

I hope this little fall craft idea brightens your day!

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Fall apart Pork crock pot roast

Today was a rainy stormy cravin' some home cooked lovin' kind of a day.
I purchased a 5.64lb pork roast from Costco and decided to cut that beast in half and freeze part of it. This half will be plenty for my small family for one dinner plus left overs.
Note: If you are serving 4-6 adults I would definitely use the whole roast.
I started by adding the roast to my crockpot (leaving the cooking twine attached as it helps hold the roast together)
and added 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder and
1 teaspoon salt (pork is very bland and needs to be well seasoned to add flavor)
and as much fresh cracked pepper as your family enjoys.

Next I filled a pitcher full of hot water and mixed in 1/2 cup of beef gravy mix. You can also use one box of beef broth, either works great. Make sure that the liquid is at least 3/4 full in the crock pot around the roast.

Next I added one medium sweet onion cut into quarters.

Put the lid on and turn your crock pot on high. I make sure and let mine cook for AT LEAST 7 hours to really get the fall apart tender pork roast you want. The best part about this meal is, when people see it and eat it they think you slaved for hours when in reality, the crockpot does all the work :) [insert victory dance here]

About and hour-and hour and a half before you a ready to eat, you can add carrots and potatoes. We like our carrots whole and rustic and the potatoes sliced thin. The thicker you cut them obviously the longer they need to cook.
Now for the gravy
Scoop some of the delicious broth out of the crockpot into a small saucepan.

Then take a measuring cup and scoop some of the broth into that. Add a tablespoon of corn starch and stir. set aside. Turn your burner to high and let your saucepan full of broth come to a light boil. Add the cornstarch mixture and 1/2 teaspoon salt while whisking consistently. The broth should thicken instantly.


The gravy should be just thick enough to coat your spoon. If it is too thick for your taste, just add a little more broth from the crockpot. Keep this on low temperature until ready to serve. you will want to cover it with a lid or it will built a "skin" on top.
Next, dish up a plate of deliciousness for your guest. I added a little sprig of the carrot leaves for color and garnish.
My husband of course responded by asking "why is this weed on my plate?" :)
The pork has been cooked to submission! It is tender, well flavored and FALL-A-PART

Note: This meal is naturally gluten free as long as your beef gravy mix does not contain gluten.
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