Cooking

Southwestern Shrimp Salad

Friday night is Date Night in our house.  I try really hard to stick with this rule because 1) on Friday night’s I’m beat 2) I like to have some chill out time with Jerry.  90% of the time, date night is spent at home.  I make dinner, we catch up on the DVR and it’s light’s out by 9:30.  We’re old.  I’m perfectly OK with this.

This was a particularly long week and I didn’t really feel like spending a ton of time in the kitchen.  Salad is always a quick go to option.

I made my favorite cilantro lime vinaigrette:  juice of one lime, one clove of garlic, big handful of cilantro, a couple tablespoons of olive oil and salt & pepper to taste.  Whirl in the mini food processor (or magic bullet)…done and done.

I sautéed some large shrimp in my favorite hot pepper oil from Trader Joes.  2 minutes per side is all it takes!  Once the shrimpies are cooked, toss them in 1/2 the vinaigrette and set aside.

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The remaining viniagrette gets tossed in our favorite salad fixins…romaine, spinach red peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, shredded cheddar.  Pour the shrimps (and all the yummy sauce) over the salad and dig in!

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We currently are without cable.  It’s only 3-4 months. (No HGTV, No DIY, No Food Network…ARGH!!!) and we’re making due with Netflix and Hulu streamed through our AppleTV.  Right now we’re on Season 5 of Mad Men. Ugh, that Don Draper…he is something!

And as it is STILL FREEZING in Western PA, I’m bringing the springtime indoors!  Courtesy of Costco…

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Cooking

It’s shake n bake…and I helped

How’s that for a Throw Back Thursday?!?!

I probably shouldn’t be offended that Jerry loves Shake n Bake pork chops.  Because despite the fact that I’m a pretty decent cook, my pork chops are pretty lousy.  I’ve brined, marinated, baked, grilled, slow cooked, breaded & fried…and they seriously never turn out as good as old school Shake n Bake chops.  So if he wants pork chops, he’s getting SnB from now on!

My fragile culinary ego was determined to make a homemade side dish to go with those out-of-a-box chops.  And what is my all time favorite side dish…mac & cheese!  We’re in clean out the kitchen mode and I had about a cup of elbow noodles that needed used up so it was fate.  Mac & cheese it is!

Basic Roux (melt 1T butter, add 1 T flour…whisk, whisk, whisk), dump in some 2% milk (maybe a cup), 2 T light cream cheese (keep whisking),  1 cup freshly shredded sharp cheddar.  S&P to taste.  There is your sauce.  Add the cooked elbows, stir well, cover and turn off the heat for 5 minutes.  Boom!  Easy, peasy stovetop mac & cheese in about 15 minutes…which is almost exactly how long it takes to make Shake n Bake pork chops.

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Cooking

Valentine’s Dinner

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The week before Valentine’s Day, I came down with a wicked cold.  Horrible headache, coughing, chest congestion, aches, etc.  My office is the worst for passing germs around!!

Jerry is so good to me when I’m sick, letting me go to bed at 7:30 and taking care of Jacob so I can rest.  It took me 4-5 days to knock it out but by the time Valentine’s Day rolled around, I was definitely feeling better.  So I made him one of his favorite dinners…flank steak, roasted veggies and fettuccini alfredo.

It’s no secret that we tend to get fat & happy during the winter months.  Comfort food tastes amazing when it’s freezing and we love to snuggle up on the couch and binge watch lots of good TV.  This winter it’s been House of Cards (so good!), Orange is the New Black (so good!) and Mad Men (so good!).

Now, I’m pretty famous for my fettuccini alfredo because its so freakin’ delicious…but it’s also so freakin’ bad for you.  Butter, parmesan, butter, milk and more butter.  Comfort food at it’s finest.  But as we have to squeeze ourselves into bathing suits in less than 3 weeks (Florida or bust!), I decided to try a lightened up version.  And was quite pleased with the results.

I used this recipe from the food network:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (I would not add this again)
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 cup low-fat (2%) milk
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons Neufchtel or low-fat cream cheese
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (I didn’t have any so I didn’t use it)
12 ounces fresh fettuccine (I used 9 oz)
Freshly ground pepper

Directions:
Make the sauce: Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and lemon zest and cook until the garlic is slightly soft, about 1 minute. Add in the flour and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon,1 minute. Whisk in the milk and 3/4 teaspoon salt and cook, whisking constantly, until just thickened, about 3 minutes. Add the Neufchatel and Parmesan cheese; whisk until melted, about 1 minute. Stir in the chopped parsley.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fettuccine and cook until al dente, 2 to 3 minutes. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain the pasta and return to the pot.

Add the sauce and 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking water to the pasta and gently toss to combine, adding more cooking water as needed to loosen. Season with salt. Divide among bowls and top with Parmesan and pepper.

Per serving: Calories 490; Fat 15 g (Saturated 8 g); Cholesterol 48 mg; Sodium 734 mg; Carbohydrate 66 g; Fiber 3 g; Protein 20 g