Grilled Greek Lemon Shrimp

I had planned on a different prep for this recipe but the shrimp I had were pretty small. Therefore, I decided to slice the lemons and use them as a base to keep the shrimp from dropping through the grill basket.

It worked really well for the grill – I think I only lost 2 shrimp to the fire!

If you don’t want to grill the shrimp, you could always put a layer of lemon slices on a sheet pan with the marinaded shrimp on them and bake at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes or so.

I also used Penzeys Greek Seasoning for the marinade. You could certainly make your own – see below for a recipe.

I served them with grilled zucchini (quartered into spears and tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper – grill them maybe 5 minutes longer than the shrimp) and rice.

The shrimp are really flavorful with both the spices, the grilled lemon and smoke. As this was for my mom’s birthday, I was super glad they turned out perfectly.

Grilled Greek Lemon Shrimp

1 ½ lbs of shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Greek Seasoning
3 lemons

Juice one lemon. Mix together the olive oil, spice blend and lemon juice. Pour into a zip top bag and add the shrimp. Gently massage the marinade into the shrimp and then seal and place in the refrigerator while you set up the grill (no more than 30 minutes).

Set up the grill for direct cooking. I use a Weber kettle and used a half a chimney of charcoal briquettes. After they got ashy, I spread them evenly over the center of the grill, in the shape of my grilling basket.

Thinly slice the remaining lemons. Place a single layer of the slices in the bottom of the grill basket and then spread the shrimp over the slices. Close the basket so no shrimp can escape. Grill for 5 minutes with the lemon side down. Flip and grill for 3-5 more minutes or until shrimp are done. They will be pink, opaque but not too firm to the touch.

Remove from grill and place shrimp in a bowl. Squeeze some of the lemon slices over the shrimp and serve.

You could definitely make your own Greek Seasoning. I’m at my parents and the blend was easier than mixing up my own. Here is my recipe:

[Greek Seasoning]

1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon granulated garlic

Mix together all the spices and store in an airtight jar.

[/recipe]

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Ham and Cheese Croissant Casserole

This is a recipe that you can scale up or down, based on how many people will be at the table. The below recipe is for four people.

Once you’ve built the casserole, it can stay in the fridge for up to 8 hours before cooking. Makes it very useful to make ahead to slide into the oven when you get home from your holiday shopping.

Feel free to adjust with your favorite cheeses and herbs. Michelle wants to do it again with salsa in with the milk and pepper jack cheese in place of the Gouda. I think that will be delicious!

This is a very comforting dish and everyone at the table was a member of the clean plate club.

Ham and Cheese Croissant Casserole

1 day-old croissant per person, cut in half
1 cup whole milk
½ teaspoon dried thyme
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 thin slices ham, diced
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup Gouda cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350°F and butter a casserole baking dish. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, thyme, eggs, salt, and pepper. Pour into a pie plate. Dip croissants in egg mixture, then arrange in baking dish. Distribute ham over the bread. Pour remaining egg mixture over the croissants and sprinkle the top with the cheese.

Bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until cheese bubbly on top, 5-10 more minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Trout Almondine

My roofer had taken advantage of the full moon high tide to head down to Grande Isle for some fishing. As an apology for then coming to my house late and without all the necessary tools to do the job, he reached into his cooler and handed me a fresh caught trout.

My go-to preparation for trout is simple but elegant – fish, lemon, butter and almonds. As I only had the one fish (ie two filets), I cut the below recipe in half. That gave me lots of lovely sauce.

Don’t be like me and take a phone call after tossing the almonds in, as then your butter might go a bit past ‘browned’ but it was still mighty tasty!

Trout Almondine

4-6 trout filets
1 cup milk
Salt, pepper, flour
1 stick unsalted butter, divided in half
½ teaspoon pepper (white, if possible)
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup slivered almonds
juice of 1 lemon

Soak filets in milk for 1 hour.

Remove from milk and sprinkle with salt and pepper and dredge lightly in flour. Sauté the filets in half a stick of butter for about 3-4 minutes per side or until golden. Transfer to an oven proof dish and keep warm in a very low oven (170 degrees F).

Melt the remaining ¼ cup butter over medium heat until it begins to brown and smell toasty. Lower heat. Add in almonds and toss well. Stir in lemon juice.

Arrange filets on the plate. Pour over sauce.

And, he swears he will come back on Sunday to finish the job!

Easy Stroganoff

This was a cheap and uncomplicated comfort food from when I was a kid and I still have it as one of my go-to’s when I need a fast and easy meal as it only takes 30 minutes to make. Is it particularly authentic? No but if you want one closer to the old country, I blogged about it here – Leftover Brisket Beef Stroganoff.

I usually use ground chuck as I normally have some in my freezer but any ground meat will do. It is a good idea to pull the sour cream out ahead of time to come to room temperature as it could break or curdle if it is added to the hot dish while still cold.

Creamy without cream and super comforting.

Easy Stroganoff

1 lb ground meat
1 clove garlic, minced
½ lb mushrooms, sliced (fresh or canned)
2 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup sour cream
dash of paprika (optional)

Brown meat. Drain most of the rendered grease, leaving about a tablespoon. Stir in garlic and mushrooms (if canned drain them). Sprinkle over flour and cook, stirring regularly for five minutes. Add seasonings and soup and cook for 10 minutes more. Remove from heat and slowly stir in sour cream. Sprinkle on the paprika and serve over noodles or rice.

Cheesy Leftover Chicken Pot Pie

I bought a rotisserie chicken the other day and after dinner, I picked the remaining meat from the bones. Later in the week, once I got home from a busy day of being out and about, I further cut down on prep time by using a seasoning blend and a refrigerated pie crust to have a delicious pot pie on the table in about 90 minutes.

I’m not a pea or carrot fan, so I instead I used fresh broccoli. The broccoli goes well with the cheesy sauce and the cheddar adds enough saltiness that the rest of the dish needs no added salt.

I made two small pies instead of one large and froze the second before baking. When I’m ready to eat that one, all I will need to do is put it in the oven from frozen and add about 15 minutes to the bake time.

The pot pie is very filling and full of comforting flavors. It was so good, I ate the entire half!

Cheesy Leftover Chicken Pot Pie

2 pie crusts (I used 1 package of Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crusts)
4 tablespoons butter
2 cups seasoning blend (PictSweet) or dice 1 medium onion, 2 stalks of celery and 1 bell pepper
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 large head broccoli, broken into individual florets
2 cups cooked chicken, shredded

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Sauté the veggies until soft, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the flour into the pan and continue to cook for 5 minutes more. Whisk in the chicken broth to loosen the flour and remove any lumps. Slowly add the milk and whisk until well combined and the sauce has thickened and just reaching a simmer, around five minutes. Drop in cheese by the handful and stir until melted. Stir in broccoli and chicken. Remove pan from heat.

Place one pie crust in the bottom of a pie pan. Pour in the filling. Place top crust on and pinch and roll the edges together. Cut 4 two inch slices in the top for steam to escape. Place on a rimmed baking sheet to contain any drips

Cook for 45 minutes, rotating pan midway through cooking. Let stand for 15-30 minutes before slicing and eating.

One Pot Jambalaya

I made some Tasso ham the other day and set aside a cup of the cubes for this recipe. I also cheated and used a seasoning blend so I didn’t have to chop the onion, celery and bell pepper. I just used two generous cups of the frozen veggies to speed things up. And if you already have a favorite Cajun/Creole Seasoning, use a tablespoon of it to season the chicken. Here is my recipe for a batch to keep on hand.

Everything, including the rice is cooked in the jambalaya making this the perfect one pot meal. Because the Cajuns who developed this meal were a thrifty bunch, this meal stretches with your budget – have shrimp? Toss a handful or two in at the end when returning the chicken to the pot. Only have squirrel or rabbit? Use it in place of the chicken. Vegetarian? Leave out the meats altogether, swap vegetable stock for chicken stock and add red beans to cook with the rice. My version has chicken, ham and sausage so 2 chicken breasts, 1 cup of diced ham and 1 link of sausage add plenty of protein to serve four people while not breaking the bank.

This is a pretty quick recipe and in about an hour you’ll be eating a deliciously, hearty dish that has so many layers of flavors. Fix your plate and we’ll have big fun on the bayou!

One Pot Jambalaya

1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1” pieces
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 ribs celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup diced Tasso Ham
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 cup long-grain rice
3 bay leaves
3 cups chicken stock
1 link andouille sausage, cut into ¼ inch coins

In a small bowl, stir together paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, thyme, basil, cayenne and salt and pepper. Or, a tablespoon of already prepared Creole/Cajun seasoning. Place the chicken into a medium bowl and toss in the spice mixture until completely coated with the seasoning.

In a large, Dutch oven, heat half of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and any extra seasoning from the tossing and sauté until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the rest of the olive oil to the same pot, along with the onion, bell pepper, and celery; sauté about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce and rice, stirring to coat well. Cook about 2 minutes or until every grain of rice is glistening. Add bay leaves, Tasso ham and chicken stock. Stir well to combine. Bring mixture to a boil then turn the temperature down to just hold a simmer. Cover.

Cook until rice is just tender, about 15-20 minutes. Stir in chicken and andouille sausage. Cook about 10 minutes more with the lid off. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and/or pepper, if needed. Serve.


Sourdough Pastry Dough to Make Artichoke Bacon Hand Pies

I tuned into Kitchen Queens New Orleans and watched the owner of Gracious Bakery make her Artichoke Bacon Hand Pies. I knew I had most of the ingredients in my pantry/fridge and decided that it would be a good opportunity to try making pastry using my sourdough starter.

I took a basic pate brisee crust recipe and reduced the flour and water by the weight of the sourdough starter. If using 1 cup starter (8 oz or 227g), it means reducing the flour by a scant cup (4 oz or 113 g) and the water by ½ cup (4 oz or 113g). Easy peasy and using the food processor to cut in the butter makes it even more so.

You could certainly make the hand pies with a regular pastry crust (home-made or store bought) but I’m always chuffed to find something else my sourdough starter can do.

The crust turned out to be perfectly flaky. It is strong enough to stand up to a fully loaded hand pie and would be perfect for a base for a fruit pie or other savory/sweet delicious treat.

Sourdough Pastry Dough

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into slices and frozen
1 cup sourdough starter discard, chilled

In a food processor, pulse together the flour and salt. Place in the butter and pulse to cut it into the flour until coarse, pea-sized crumbs appear. Place the sourdough starter into the processor and pulse just until combined.

Dump the dough in a large bowl and bring it together with your hands. If it is very crumbly, add some ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time (2 tablespoons maximum). Push the dough together into a rough ball. Flatten into a disc, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate about 1 hour or up to overnight. The dough can even be frozen at this stage. Make sure it is wrapped well and defrost in the fridge overnight before using.

Remove dough from the refrigerator and let rest for a few minutes at room temperature so it will be soft enough to roll out. Lightly dust workspace surface with flour. Use even pressure to roll the dough out front to back. Give the dough a quarter turn to roll the pastry out into a circle with a thickness of approximately ¼-inch. Cut into individual pies with a larger cutter – traditionally over in Natchitoches, they used an old coffee can as a cutter. I’ve got a handy dandy set of empanada molds that Michelle gave me. You cut with one side and use the other to fill and seal.

You will want to make the filling while the dough chills so it can be cooling in the fridge before making the pies. To keep the pastry flaky, you do not want the butter in the dough to melt too early.

I recommend rinsing the canned artichokes to reduce the citric acid taste.

I substituted a sweet vidalia onion for the green onions and altered the cheeses a bit from the original recipe. I like the flavor of the mix of Parmesan, Romano, and Asiago cheese versus just plain Parmesan and a sharp cheddar is definitely a nice touch.

Artichoke Bacon Sourdough Hand Pies

1 medium onion, diced
6 slices cooked bacon, chopped
2 14-oz cans artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained and chopped
80 grams cream cheese (⅓ of the package)
100 grams shaved Parmesan, Romano, and Asiago cheese
100 grams sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper

In a large pot, sauté the diced onion until golden. Add in the chopped bacon and cook until crisp. Stir in the chopped artichoke hearts. Cook until heated through, then add the cream cheese in chunks. Stir until the cream cheese is melted and combined. Turn off the heat and add the Parmesan, Romano, and Asiago cheese, white cheddar cheese, salt and cayenne. Transfer the filling to a bowl and refrigerate for an hour.

Place a generous amount of filling in the center of each pastry round and fold the dough over the filling, pressing the edges to close. Crimp to seal the edges with a fork or the empanada mold. Refrigerate for an hour or until ready to eat. At this stage, you could also freeze the pies – wrap in plastic wrap and put in a zip top bag.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine 1 egg, 2 tablespoons of water and a pinch of salt to make an egg wash. Brush the tops of the formed hand pies with egg wash. Bake in a preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown.

The savory filling from Megan Forman is delicious with all the flavors from the bacon, artichokes and cheese.

Salt and Szechuan Pepper Shrimp

I placed a large order at Penzy’s for spices and one of the things I bought was Chinese Szechuan Peppercorns. They aren’t actually peppercorns but are seed husks and they have a complex flavor when made into a simple seasoning for shrimp.

I started by making the salt and pepper powder. Take two tablespoons of the Szechuan peppercorns and toast them in a dry skillet over medium high heat. Remove to a mortar and let cool while you lightly toast one tablespoon of sea salt. Add it to the mortar and use the pestle to grind the salt and pepper into a fine powder.

While the shrimp shells offer some additional flavor, I don’t like wrestling with peeling the shrimp at the table, so I peel them first. Besides, you lose the coating if you peel it after. Your choice to leave the tails on or not – they make a good handle.

The light corn starch coating gives them a little crunch and the salt and Szechuan pepper powder gives them a delicious bite. Served with rice and garlic and ginger green beans (recipe here), you’ve got a quick and terrific meal that takes no time to prepare.

Salt and Szechuan Pepper Shrimp

1 1/2 pound large shrimp
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons salt and pepper powder
1 cup vegetable oil

Peel and devein shrimp and pat dry.

Whisk cornstarch, salt and pepper powder together in a large bowl. In handfuls, add shrimp and toss to coat.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Working in batches, fry shrimp until golden, crisp, and cooked through, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to a flattened paper bag and let drain (paper towels can make them soggy). Taste for seasoning and sprinkle on more salt and pepper powder if necessary.

Serve with rice.

Beefy Corn and Black Bean Chili

We’ve had the first week of sustained 60 degree days, so I decided that I needed to put on a pot of chili to warm the cockles of my heart. Because I’m using canned beans, jarred tomato sauce, frozen corn, etc it doesn’t need to simmer for hours on the stove. In about thirty minutes, you can have a delicious chili with a southwest flavor on your table.

I usually eat this chili with corn tortilla chips instead of the saltines I choose when eating my Chili con Carne. Other toppings you can bring to the table include sour cream, cheddar cheese and slices of jalapeños, if you want some heat.

Such delicious comfort food and so pretty, too!

Beefy Corn and Black Bean Chili

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 pound ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 can (15-1/2 ounces) black beans, drained
2 cups frozen corn
1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
1 can Ro-tel diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
1 cup beer (or water)

In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, sauté the onion in the olive oil until golden, about 10 minutes. Add in the ground beef and brown. Once the meat is browned, siphon off the fat. Add in the garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add in the rest of the seasonings and stir to bloom their flavor.

Stir in beans, corn, tomato sauce and Ro-tel. Pour in beer (or water) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste for seasonings and serve.

Slow Cooker Tikka Masala Chicken and Rice

I’ve been working on recovery from Hurricane Ida and wanted something easy but delicious for dinner with friends on a weeknight. I have a jar of Maya Kaimal Tikka Masala simmer sauce and I decided to use the method of one of my favorite chicken and rice meals from when I was a kid, updated and with a subcontinental flavor.

A great casserole for my working mom was to put rice and water in a baking dish in the morning. She’d top that with a can of condensed soup (cream of mushroom, cream of celery, cream of broccoli, etc), chicken breasts and maybe some frozen veggies and/or cheese. Covered tightly and refrigerated while we were at school and they went to work. Whoever was home first was responsible for putting it in a 350 degree F oven an hour before dinner time.

Transferring it to a slow cooker meant it needed to get a head start so I used boiling water. To not dilute the sauce, I waited and added the tikka masala sauce after at least 90 minutes of cooking.

The overnight marinade makes the chicken tender and moist. All the flavors of the marinade and tikka masala simmer sauce coming together will make your mouth happy. Using strips of naan to pick up chicken and rice sure beats using a fork and it is a very tasty way to get deliciousness in every bite.

Slow Cooker Tikka Masala Chicken and Rice

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken – breasts or thighs
½ cup yogurt
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon ginger, grated
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons garam masala (optional)
1 cup jasmine rice
1 12.5 ounce jar of Tikka Masala sauce

Cut chicken into inch size pieces.

In a bowl, combine yogurt, garlic, ginger, salt and garam masala, if using. Add the chicken pieces and toss to coat evenly. Place in a zip top bag and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

Mix together rice with 2 cups of boiling water in the slow cooker. Place the chicken into slow cooker and cover and cook on low for 1 1/2 hours. The rice should have absorbed most of the water by then, if not let cook for 30 minutes more or until rice is soft and chicken is fully cooked. Pour the jar of Tikka Masala sauce over the chicken and stir to mix well. Cook for thirty minutes more for the flavors to come together.

Serve with naan flatbread.