Do More Of What Makes You Happy

Prior to last month’s shelter-in-place orders going into effect (aka: lockdowns, quarantines, or stay-at-home mandates re: Covid-19) I visited a lovely local shop and picked up several notepads for future gift giving. Not only did they offer upbeat sayings, they included a color-coordinated spatula. (Some folks call them “scrapers” — in this case a mini-scraper — but I still call them “spatulas” no matter what size.) Figured they’d come in handy for ekeing out the last of whatever folks were trying to use and was cheered by the postive message. Apologies to whoever coined the logo above; I’ve seen it a number of times so I figured it was “public domain.” May you reap your reward in heaven for such an uplifting thought! Thank you.

Little did I know how important that phrase would become in the coming months. These days we’re all trying to reduce/re-use/recycle bits and bobs at the bottom of the bottles lurking on our fridge shelves. Truthfully, they’ve escalated to even more importance than we ever could’ve imagined. One more ounce of flavor = another meal. For those suffering from food shortages, my prayers are with you. I feel entirely blessed to have enough (so far) and the means to splurge now and then. I also continue to donate to our local food shelf and I hope other folks do, too.

Mother’s Day came and went. My annual tradition usually includes making something with lobster (don’t I wish?) but it wasn’t meant to be this year. Frozen shrimp was the only seafood alternative. (Does anyone else dread going to the grocery store until absolutely neccesary like I do?) Still, I was overjoyed that they carried some sort of crustacean. I also had a recipe in mind…

Spicy Grilled Shrimp

(adapted from Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything)

1 large clove garlic (I used 1 tsp. refrigerated minced garlic)

1 T. Kosher salt (his recipe specified “coarse salt”)

1/2 tsp. sweet paprika

1/2 tsp. hot paprika

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp. freshly-squeezed lemon juice

15 to 20 medium-sized shrimp, peeled & deveined with tails intact (I used the frozen/thawed equivalent)

  1. Mince garlic with salt until fine. Add both paprikas and blend well.
  2. Stir in lemon juice and EVOO to make a paste. (I transferred the above to a bowl before making the paste.)
  3. Add shrimp; mix gently to coat thoroughly.
  4. Allow to marinate for a few minutes or up to 1 hour.
  5. Preheat grill (or broiler) to high. Place shrimp skewers as close as possible to heat source.
  6. Grill (or broil) 2-3 minutes per side or until shrimp are pink.
  7. Serve immediately with lemon wedges.

I added two skewers of veggies, too — mushrooms, onions, and grape tomatoes — before I tossed the shrimp on the grill (shown slightly “charbroiled” above by the time I got to ’em) but they were a delightful addition to my holiday meal. Bonus points for “Chili Lime Fish En Papillote.” (No recipe… just sprinkle fish filets with extra virgin olive oil, S & P, chili powder, and freshly-squeezed lime juice wrapped in foil.) YUM! The rest of the shrimp and veggies are headed for a batch of Jambalaya tonight along with some rice, smoked sausage, and chicken from my freezer. Reduce/reuse/recycle. And, do more of what makes you happy!

For me that involves cooking (or grilling) by the seat of my pants, letting nothing go to waste, watching Jeopardy (even the re-runs lol), reading books, practicing the piano, going outside to snap a photo now and then, writing letters, keeping “the castle” clean for TMOFW, and hopefully posting an upbeat message whenever I’m so inclined.

Be safe and well, my friends, xo.

Enjoying present-day life despite the ongoing restrictions,

~ Kim

Did I mention dancing?! What makes YOU happy these days?

New Years Reasons To Smile

Armadillo Risotta with Oven Baked Shrimp Scampi

Recently The Man Of Few Words tripped on his way to work (at 5:00 a.m. in the dark) when his foot caught on an immovable object on our patio. After ascertaining the source of his unexpected imbalance, he cordially offered a greeting: “Hello, armadillo!” It didn’t budge. He finally had to step over it and they both skittered down the drive on their separate ways.

I recounted that story to my son when he arrived in early December and we both chuckled over the odds. Gotta love Okie “critters.” Fast forward to my grocery list.

My son said he’d never tried risotto so I added Arborio rice to my “must haves” intent on making him that wonderfully creamy side dish. Come grocery shopping day, he glanced at the list and asked: “Mom, what’s armadillo rice?”

Frame of reference is everything.

During the past year, I’ve experienced a number of highs and lows in my kitchen and elsewhere (aka: life), but food — really good food — has been a constant source of amusement and solace, not to mention an equalizer in the unexpected chaos. (Sort of like encountering an armadillo in the dark — you never know what to expect — or when.) Have FUN with it!

Enter a newly discovered “online” cookbook… Eating Heart. Goodness gracious, how it spoke my language — family, heart, and SOUL! (With fabulous risotto-making tips, among other things.) My son was pleased with the outcome. I added Shrimp Scampi, for FUN.

To round out the year, I offer a brief glimpse into my tasty existence as of late:

There’s SO much more, but that’s what the New Year is for… Hope. Truth. Inspiration! Will catch up with y’all soon, xo.

Sunset by Tom

Enjoying one or two last sunsets (and really good food) at the lake before 2018,

~ Kim

Simple Shrimp Boil

Old Bay mug

Most shrimp boil recipes include corn and potatoes (and sometimes sausage), plus they make enough to feed an army. But, I was cooking for one (that’d be me) and I just wanted the “flavor.” The simpler, the better.

Recently I acquired this Old Bay mug (don’t ya love finds like that?) and I knew all I wanted to fill it with were shrimp and rice. (I’ll save the corn and potatoes for company dinner.)

In the time it took to cook the rice, the shrimp were prepped, simmered, and done — nothin’ else to do except spoon a dollop of each into my mug and eat!

Simple Shrimp Boil

(adapted from recipe #262 in 365 Ways to Cook Fish & Seafood by Charles Pierce… and Old Bay, of course)

3 sprigs fresh parsley (save some for garnish)

2 bay leaves

2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced in half

2 strips lemon peel

1/2 tsp. black peppercorns

1 Tbsp. Old Bay seasoning

1 cup water

1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)

1/2 tsp. salt

1 lb. large shrimp in the shell, deveined with tails intact

1 cup cooked jasmine rice (prepared per package directions)

1-2 green onions, including tops, thinly sliced

Place parsley, bay leaves, garlic, lemon peel, peppercorns, and Old Bay seasoning in a piece of cheesecloth (hint: I used a coffee filter) and tie with kitchen twine.

Bring water, wine, and salt to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add seasoning “bag”; reduce heat to medium and simmer 5 to 10 minutes.

Add shrimp; cook until pink and just beginning to “bend.” (Beware of cooking them until they curl into an “O” — it stands for overdone!) Drain well and discard seasoning bag.

Serve shrimp atop cooked rice. Garnish with green onions and parsley. Feel free to add a salad or steamed veggies and warm French bread for a complete meal.

Old Bay seasoning

FYI, I peeled the shrimp before serving and shared half with my hubby. (They made a flavorful shrimp fettuccine Alfredo, but he ate the evidence!)

‘Twas the least I could do after he constructed this to make my life easier.

Simplicity reigns at the lake. Ahhhhh…

Ramp.JPG

Enjoying shortcuts to happiness,

~ Kim

Gone Fishin’…

fishdish1

I’ve been playing with a new fish plate lately. (Picture a kid with a new toy… one that doesn’t beep, light up, come with a remote, and/or require batteries.) When the only prompt is imagination, what becomes of a toy — and the entertainment value derived from it — is entirely up to the beholder.

Good old fashioned fun? You bet!

First up was Shrimp with Lime Cilantro Linguine — half adaptation / half inspiration (recipe later) — followed by a simple, satisfying Antipasto a few nights hence.

Antipasto

(No recipe… hover and you’ll figure it out.)

Then there were toast points

I thought about making plain ol’ tuna salad sammiches for lunch one day and toast points seemed like a fun way to dress up ordinary mid-day fare. Plus, they rather resembled fish scales — in my mind, lol — and ‘the plate’ was beckoning.

(I get a lot of mileage out of my imagination and the few ‘props’ I’ve managed to acquire — and experimenting with settings on my camera. ;)

Technicolor Tuna Salad Toast Points

“Technicolor” Tuna Salad on Toast Points

Okay, back to…

 Shrimp with Lime Cilantro Linguine

(Adapted from Chef Dennis Littley’s Pan Seared Red Snapper & Shrimp In A Lime Margarita Sauce. Woohoo!!! Thank you, Dennis.)

Pasta:

12 to 15 strands Pappardelle’s Lime Cilantro Linguine

Sauce:

2 Tbsp. butter, divided

1 Tbsp. brown sugar

2 oz. tequila (I used one of those airline-sized bottles of Cuervo Gold cuz Margarita season is still a few months off)

1 to 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice (or more, to taste)

Shrimp:

12 large frozen shrimp thawed in cold water, drained and patted dry

1 Tbsp. olive oil (more if needed)

Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

Zest of 1 lime

Prepare pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain, but do not rinse. Plate as playfully as you wish. I had fun “swirling!” (The pasta, not me.)

Meanwhile make the sauce. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Add tequila and lime juice. Increase heat to medium and stir constantly until the alcohol evaporates. (Mandatory taste testing is required to adjust the lime juice “to taste”… of course.) Remove pan from heat and add the remaining tablespoon of butter; stir until melted. Cover to keep warm.

Next make the shrimp. In a small skillet over medium heat warm the olive oil until hot. Season shrimp with salt and pepper to your satisfaction. Sauté briefly on both sides. (Add more olive oil if needed to keep shrimp from sticking.) Transfer sautéed shrimp to saucepan; stir gently to coat with sauce. Pour shrimp & sauce over plated linguine and garnish with cilantro and lime zest. Serve immediately.

Note: I intended to present this dish per Dennis’ original recipe with pan-seared fish, but my fillets fell apart. (My fault, not his — I used flimsy flounder instead of red snapper.) But it sure made a tasty “side” and it left more sauce for the shrimp! Win-win.

shrimp with lime cilantro linguine

On a personal note, The Man Of Few Words and I are still in limbo this many months after the fire, but we’re hoping to be in our next home — a “fixer upper” — in early March. That said, I’ll be Gone Fishin’ the next couple weeks helping that beloved man o’mine with repairs.

Many thanks to each and every one of you who have contributed to the fundraiser my daughter started for us. We’re soooooooo grateful for your help! Temporary life (even ‘foodie life’ with just a few “toys”) has been blessed because of your kindness and caring. Thank you xo.

Now, go… have fun with your food (and props)… and hug your loved ones close! I’ll catch up with you soon.

Enjoying food tremendously- even when it’s served on the same plate twice… or three times, ;)

~ Kim