Shrimp Fra Diavolo

Quick Post: If you like spice, love shrimp and adore carbs and cheese – this is the dinner for you! We thoroughly enjoyed this meal, and I will make this again. I served it with some quick garlic bread (I forgot to roast the garlic for this), but it hit all the right buttons ūüėČ I used a loaf of this, lots of chopped garlic, butter and four different Italian cheeses. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Shrimp Fra Diavolo – adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

    • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined
    • 1 teaspoon salt, plus additional as needed
    • 1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
    • 1 cup dry white wine
    • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
    • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
    • 3 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves

Directions:

 Heat the 3 tablespoons oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat, add the red chili flakes to the oil. Add the shrimp and saute for about a minute, add the salt and toss, and continue cooking until just cooked through, about 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a large plate; set aside. Add the onion to the same skillet, adding 1 to 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the pan, if necessary, and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices, wine, garlic, and oregano. Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. Return the shrimp and any accumulated juices to the tomato mixture; toss to coat, and cook for about a minute so the flavors meld together. Stir in the parsley and basil. Season with more salt, to taste, and serve.

PW’s Spicy Beans

My sister visited this summer – and while that was awesome, she made it even more memorable by making these amazing beans! This will forever be my go-to recipe for pinto beans and the whole family enjoys them – so much that I made them three times in one month. Don’t let the “spicy” deter you, these are easily modified. Two teaspoons of pepper is too much for our palettes, so I only add 1 or 1 1/2 teaspoons. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Spicy Beans – adapted from The Pioneer Woman

  • 4 cups¬†Dry Pinto Beans
  • 1 whole¬†Ham Hock
  • 2 quarts of water (this is the perfect amount for me)
  • 1 whole¬†Onion, Diced
  • 4 cloves¬†Garlic, Minced
  • 2 whole¬†Jalapenos, Sliced
  • 2 teaspoons¬†Salt, More To Taste
  • 2 Tablespoons¬†Chili Powder
  • 1 – 1 1/2 ¬†teaspoons¬†Black Pepper

Directions –

Sort through the beans, making sure to pick out all the weird looking and broken beans and rocks. Dump the sorted beans in a large colander and rinse thoroughly with cold water.

Place beans in a stock pot with the ham hock and cover with water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover the pot and simmer for 2 hours, checking occasionally to make sure the water level is fine. Add more water as needed.

Then throw in diced onion, red bell pepper, garlic and jalapeno. Cover and continue cooking for another hour or two, remembering to check the water level.

Add salt, chili powder (if desired) and pepper, then cover and cook for another 20 to 30 minutes, or until beans are lovely and tender.

Buffalo Wings

I have never made wings before, so what better time to make them than for Super Bowl Sunday?? It wasn’t the easiest task to prep the wings, but now that I know where to cut it should be much easier next time. I like this method of cooking the wings, because I’m not a big fan of frying – I enjoy eating fried foods, just not being the one responsible for not burning the house down ūüėČ The steaming renders off a good amount of fat so that when they roast in the oven, there is far less steam and mess to deal with later. It’s actually slightly healthier, too – especially when compared to deep frying. We will soon see if the extra effort and my cautious nature pays off.¬†I have a new 5 quart stainless steel pot that has a steamer insert in it and was able to cook the wings in two small batches. The insert in so much easier to clean than those small, collapsible steamer baskets.

Verdict:¬†These were so good, I wished I bought the party pack! I used Frank’s Red Hot, which has the perfect combination of flavor and heat and the minced garlic gives it a little something extra. These aren’t difficult to prepare, and the only part I didn’t like about making them is dividing the wings. However, after tasting these I would make these again – they’re perfectly moist, tender, juicy and flavorful. The only thing that’s missing is the super crispy skin you get when you fry them. I’m so glad when a little extra effort goes a long way in flavor. Oh, I made a blue cheese dip for these too. It couldn’t be easier! I’ll post that below the wing recipe. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Buffalo Wings – adapted from Alton Brown

  • 12 whole chicken wings
  • 3 ounces unsalted butter
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Directions:

Place a 6-quart saucepan with a steamer basket and 1-inch of water in the bottom, over high heat, cover and bring to a boil.

Remove the tips of the wings and discard or save for making stock. Using kitchen shears, or a knife, separate the wings at the joint. Place the wings into the steamer basket, cover, reduce the heat to medium and steam for 10 minutes. Remove the wings from the basket and carefully pat dry. Lay the wings out on a cooling rack set in a half sheet pan lined with paper towels and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Replace the paper towels with parchment paper. Roast on the middle rack of the oven for 20 minutes. Turn the wings over and cook another 20 minutes or until meat is cooked through and the skin is golden brown.

While the chicken is roasting, melt the butter in a small bowl along with the garlic. Pour this along with hot sauce and salt into a bowl large enough to hold all of the chicken and stir to combine.

Remove the wings from the oven and transfer to the bowl and toss with the sauce. Serve warm.

Super Easy Blue Cheese Dip –

  • crumbled blue cheese – as much or as little as you want
  • mayonnaise
  • sour cream
  • fresh cracked pepper

It couldn’t be easier – just add the amounts that you prefer. For about one cup of dip, I use at least 1/4 cup of crumbled blue cheese, 1/2 a cup of sour cream and 2 – 4 TBSP of mayonnaise, and lots of pepper to taste.

Chipotle Honey-Glazed Chicken

I’m always on the lookout for new ways to prepare chicken. Chicken can get so boring, especially if you use the same few recipes over and over. Now, some people might be okay with that – but history shows me that my family quickly becomes “burned out” with certain meals. Years ago I used to make something called salsa chicken – it was so good. I would make it at least a few times a month (this was before I was brave and more experienced in the kitchen). Because of all that salsa chicken overkill, I haven’t made it in at least 4 or 5 years and I doubt I’ll ever make it again.

Verdict:¬†If your family loves the smokey flavor of chipotle, this meal is for you. The honey chipotle glaze is slightly sweet so it cuts some of the heat of the chicken. My husband even said it should be on a menu…pretty high praise coming from a man who’s not very descriptive ūüėČ I’ll take that as a thumbs up from him. We ate this on a homemade sub roll (to be blogged about soon) with lettuce, tomato, avocado and some more of the glaze. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Chipotle Honey-Glazed Chicken – adapted from Smells Like Home

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp¬†chipotle chilies in adobo
  • 1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp ancho chili powder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2‚Ä≥ thickness
Directions –
1. The night before grilling, mix 1 TBSP ancho powder, cumin, coriander, paprika and salt in a small bowl. Place prepared chicken breast pieces in a zip top bag, drizzle with oil and pour spice mixture over all. Mush the bag to evenly coat the meat, then place the bag in the fridge.
2. Heat your grill to high. With a stick blender or food processor, blend together the honey, chipotle puree, mustard, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tbsp oil.
3. Place the chicken on the grill and grill for about 7 minutes.  Flip the chicken and brush the pieces with the honey-chipotle sauce.  Cook for an additional 7 minutes.  Flip the chicken again and brush the other side with the sauce; cook for 1 more minute.    Flip once more and cook for another minute. Remove chicken from the grill and brush on more sauce as desired.

Pico de Gallo

I haven’t made this in a long time – which is probably due to the fact that there is no short cut to making this. There is lots of chopping, dicing, and mincing involved; thankfully it’s totally worth the effort. This recipe comes from one of my favorite bloggers – The Pioneer Woman ūüôā She knows her stuff and she is a home cook just like me – no formal training is required when you have a love for food and a desire to try out new techniques. I have come a long way in 8 1/2 years of marriage. In the beginning, I used a lot of boxed meals, frozen and prepackaged stuff – I had to start somewhere, right? Thankfully, my husband wasn’t raised around a lot of fabulous cooks, so he didn’t know what he was missing out on! ūüėČ I could never go back to that kind of cooking and those fuss free, easy stuff. I get such a feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment out of giving my family the very best.

Anyway, this turned out perfectly and wasn’t too spicy when we added it to these tacos. By itself though, it has quite a kick! Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Pico de Gallo – adapted from The Pioneer Woman

  • 5 whole¬†Plum (roma) Tomatoes
  • ¬Ĺ whole¬†Large (or 1 Small) Onion
  • 3 whole¬†Jalapeno Peppers
  • Cilantro
  • Lime Juice
  • Salt To Taste

Directions –

Chop jalapenos, tomatoes and onions into a very small dice. (Leave seeds in your jalapenos for a hotter pico). Adjust amount of jalapenos to your preferred temperature. Next, chop up a nice-sized bunch of cilantro. Just remove and discard the long leafless stems before chopping. No need to remove the leaves from the stems completely. Place all of these ingredients together in a bowl and give it a good stir.

Squeeze the juice of half of one lime into the bowl. Add salt to taste and stir again.

Hot Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

These are always really tasty! I have used this recipe more times than I can count. If you love the taste of Franks Red Hot and blue cheese you’ll love these. I bought boneless, skinless chicken breast halves and pounded them to make them cook quicker and for ease of eating. Doing this at home saved me over a dollar per pound – Publix wanted over 5 dollars for cutlets.

I took many liberties with this recipe starting with marinating the chicken – that’s a must in our house when we grill chicken. It adds so much to this meal and it couldn’t be easier. I also combine mayo with the sour cream to mellow out the sauce – it makes a lot so if you want to use the suggested celery and carrots you have plenty left over to dip. I’m sure I can talk M into getting us some buffalo wings later on this week to use the rest!;) We love all things “buffalo” and if you’re a regular visitor to this blog – that’s easy to see. Here are just some of the other buffalo style meals¬†I have made. My two favorites by far are the buffalo chicken calzone and the buffalo chicken macaroni and cheese…so good!! Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches – (heavily) adapted from Rachel Ray

  • 1.5 – 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast – pounded to an even thickness
  • 3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of one large lime
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, optional

Sauce for Chicken –

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot
  • Romaine lettuce¬†leaves
  • 4 crusty rolls, split
  • 1 cups sour cream
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • 1/2 pound blue cheese, crumbled

Prepare your marinade by combining the lime juice, olive oil, minced garlic, salt, pepper, chili powder, paprika, and cayenne in a small bowl. Place your chicken in a zip-top bag and pour the marinade over all. Mush the bag and place in the refrigerator for at least two hours – the longer the better.

Preheat your grill to medium high heat, then cook your chicken for 5-7 minutes each side.

Heat a metal or oven safe glass bowl over low heat and melt butter in the bowl. Add hot sauce to the butter and combine. When the chicken breasts are done, remove from pan and add to the bowl and coat evenly with hot sauce mixture.

Place chicken breasts on bun bottoms and top with crisp lettuce. Combine sour cream, mayo, pepper and blue cheese and slather bun tops with blue cheese mixture. Affix bun tops on sandwiches and enjoy!


Jamaican Jerk Chicken

It’s my SIL’s 18th birthday today so I asked her what she’d like me to make for her birthday dinner. This was one of her requests, and to be honest I wasn’t crazy about it. I have never eaten this let alone tried to make it before. I have heard of this style of preparing chicken but I had no idea how many seasonings were required. I’m just glad that I have a well stocked spice cabinet! It’s weird because I had all but two ingredients on hand for this marinade – it’s like she knew I have all the stuff this dinner. Well, whether she did or not, I’m glad she chose it. It’s always a good thing to try new types of cuisine with interesting flavor combinations. The scotch bonnet is a mean pepper! I was grating it over the marinating chicken and the fumes made me choke, so I thought it best to use about one third of it.

This dinner was a success! We all enjoyed the unique flavor of the chicken, and it wasn’t too spicy. Next time I will use the whole pepper instead and maybe use dark meat next time. Oh, and I tried this sauce¬†(I made half a batch)¬†that was recommended to me. She said it helped to cool down the chicken, which was something I worried about once I added the scotch bonnet. I had everything for this recipe too, except the cucumber but I don’t think it would have made a huge difference. The sauce had good flavor and paired well with the flavors of the chicken. If I make this again, I will be sure to update this post with the changes I plan on making. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Jamaican Jerk Chicken – adapted from Carribean Choice

  • 1 tbs. Ground allspice
  • 1 tbs. Dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Ground sage
  • 3/4 tsp. Ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp. Ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbs. Salt
  • 2 tbs. Garlic powder
  • 1 tbs. Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup White vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Orange juice
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 Scotch bonnet pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 cup Chopped white onion
  • 3 Green onions, finely chopped
  • 4 Chicken breasts (6 to 8 oz)trimmed of fat
Directions –
In a large bowl, combine the allspice, thyme, cayenne pepper, black pepper, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, garlic powder and sugar. With a wire whisk, slowly add the olive oil, soy sauce, vinegar, orange juice, and lime juice. Add the Scotch bonnet pepper, onion, and green onions and mix well. Add the chicken breasts, cover and marinate for at least 1 hour, longer if possible. Preheat an outdoor grill. Remove the breasts from the marinade and grill for 6 minutes on each side or until fully cooked. While grilling, baste with the marinade.


Bulgur Chili (vegan)

I have never cooked with or tasted bulgur before today, but I can now say it’s a great healthy, whole grain to use. My only dilemma now is finding more tasty recipes to use up the rest of the package of bulgur! I’ve been looking through my trusty, stand-by websites for inspiration, but there aren’t a whole lot to choose from. I did however find a ton here, some of which I bookmarked and hopefully will get around to trying soon. I have so many bookmarked recipes…really, way too many! Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Bulgur Chili ingredients – adapted from Naturally Ella

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 whole cloves, minced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 cup corn kernals
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 2 mediums jalapenos
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained (I didn’t have kidney beans, so I used black beans)
  • 1/2 cup bulgur
  • 1/2 teaspoon each cumin, cayenne pepper, chili powder, paprika
  • 3-4 cups vegetable stock (I ended up using 3.5 cups, it just depends on how thick or soupy you prefer your chili)

Directions –

In a large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onions, garlic, and peppers, saute until they begin to soften.  Stir in spices, corn, and tomatoes.  Continue to cook for 2-3 more minutes.  Stir in remaining ingredients and bring to a boil (start with 3 three cups of stock.)  Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and stir occasionally.

If the chili begins to thicken too much, continue to add stock until it reaches a chili-like consistency (the bulgur will soak up a good majority of the liquid.)  Let simmer for 45 minutes until bulgur has softened.  Taste and adjust seasoning.