Saturday, September 24, 2011

Jumbo Gumbo Jumble

     The original plan was to throw some Italian sausage on the barbecue for dinner.  I wasn't sure what else to pair with it and was hoping meal inspiration would sort itself out.  Realizing that I had frozen shrimp in the freezer I decided to get daring and try to make gumbo or technically jambalaya since that recipe called for sausage.  I ended up mashing the two recipes together based on what I had available.
     I started by sauteing the sausages over low heat.  Once that was started I planned to peel the shrimp.  I didn't want to cook them and then have to take the shells off.  Then I could just pop them in the wok and have a one pot meal.  I believe in saving energy, especially mine.  However, not only were the shrimp frozen but they needed to be de-veined.  Oh fun, there's something I do all the time.  I ran the shrimp under cold water and set about prepping them.  Who knew shrimp could be so time consuming?  I really had the impression this recipe was going to be a snap to pull together. Next time I will have to buy the prepped shrimp and skip that step.
Brr! Peeling Frozen Shrimp
    Next I threw the shrimp in with the the cooking sausages. When they were turning pink I added a chopped jar of pickled okra because you always have that on hand, right?  I removed the sausages and sliced them up. Here's the part where I really veer off the recipe.  I added a gallon-sized freezer bag of ratatouille. I had made a double batch while the garden was plentiful and tucked it away in the freezer.  Please see "Easter Eggplant" for this recipe in my earlier post.  The sausages went back in to finish up.
   Since the ratatouille was already full of herbs I just added a dash of Frank's Red Hot and let everything simmer about 5 minutes.  The eggplant and zucchini released some water so I tried to let that cook down.  The recipe says to serve it over rice, but decided it was enough with all off the vegetables.  It produced six servings with leftovers and was met with good reviews. I offered Frank's Red Hot at the table in case anyone would like a more spicy touch. I am rather cautious with cooking seafood and was pleased that the shrimp were not overdone. I would recommended adding more water to serve it as a soup.

Both original recipes were found in the Betty Crocker Cookbook.

Shrimp Gumbo

1/4 cup butter
2 medium onions, sliced
1 medium bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups beef broth
1/2 teaspoon red pepper sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 bay leaf
1 package (10 ounces) frozen cut okra, thawed
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) whole tomatoes, undrained
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1 1/2 pounds uncooked fresh or frozen medium shrimp in shells
3 cups hot cooked rice
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1. Melt butter in 4-quart Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook onions, bell pepper, and garlic in butter 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in flour. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until bubbly; remove from heat.
2. Stir in remaining ingredients except shrimp, rice and parsley, breaking up tomatoes with a fork or snipping with kitchen scissors. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3.Peel shrimp. (If shrimp are frozen, do not thaw; peel in cold water.) Make a shallow cut lengthwise down back of each shrimp; wash out vein.
4. Stir shrimp into gumbo. Cover and simmer about 5 minutes or until shrimp are pink and firm. Remove bay leaf. Serve soup in bowls over rice. Sprinkle with parsley.

Quick Jambalaya

1 package (8 ounces) brown-and-serve sausage links
1 1/2 cups uncooked instant rice
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon chopped fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/4 chili powder
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
1 small green bell pepper, chopped (1/2 cup)
1 small onion, chopped (1/4 cup)
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 package (10 ounces) frozen quick-cooking cleaned shrimp

1. Cut sausages diagonally into 1-inch slices. Cook as directed; drain.
2. Stir in remaining ingredients. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Dinosaur Delights

     I attempted to make a cake from scratch.  Here's a little advice from my experience: leave your self plenty of time for a "dry run" before making something that you will serve to company.  Or you can be like me and have 7-10 different recipes for carob cake that you juggle to see which one has ingredients you may have heard of while you are trying to make a cake for a party tomorrow. In this case I went with the recipe for "Wacky Cake" since it looked less complicated than the 3 page long number that called for arrowroot and several other ingredients that were non-existent in my pantry.  I mixed the ingredients and it looked like brown soup, but I tried to keep positive and hope it would miraculously rise during the baking process.
     I doubled the recipe and cut it to look like a dinosaur.  I used carob chips for the eyes and toenails. There was a bit of cake leftover so we called that the swamp that the dinosaur swam in. You can catch a glimpse of the swamp in the picture.   The cake turned out super moist.  It didn't rise much although it did solidify while baking.  It took on more of a brownie quality than cake consistency. The frosting was amazing with a little dab of food coloring for the dinosaur green.  Next time, I think I will experiment more before debuting a new recipe, but I will keep the frosting on file.

"Wacky Cake" (Poor Man's Cake)

1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup honey
3 tbsp cocoa or carob powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp vinegar
1 cup water
1 egg (optional)

Stir and mix with electric mixer and bake at 350 degrees in ungreased 9 x 13 baking pan , 25 to 30 minutes.

 Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

1/2 cup unsalted butter
6 tbl Agave Nectar
1 cup nonfat dry milk
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
4 tbl whole milk
pinch of sea salt

Cream the butter with an electric mixer until light in color. Slowly add the agave nectar and beat until fluffy, about one to two minutes. Gradually add the dry milk and beat again.  Add the salt, turn the mixer to high speed, and beat about two minutes, or until very fluffy.  Makes 2 cups. Store in refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Yes We Have More Bananas

   Unlike the song that I'm sure you will thank me for placing in your head we always have bananas.  When they don't disappear into snackers or cereal I look forward to them turning spotty so I can make up a batch of my favorite muffins.  I usually double the recipe to make one dozen regular sized muffins and 2 dozen mini muffins.  Then I promptly freeze about half in Ziploc containers to have a handy snack or breakfast on a busy day.  That way I can enjoy baked goods on another day without having to clean up the kitchen again.  If you pop the frozen muffins on a plate in the microwave it gives them that "just out of the oven" warmth.
    To be honest with you the muffins in the picture are from a new recipe that was okay.  I'm sharing with you my favorite recipe instead.  These muffins always turn out moist and can be served as a dessert.  If you want to go all out, I'll include the icing recipe, though I usually serve them plain.

Banana Cupcakes
From Covered in Honey by Mani Niall

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp each: baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt
7 1/2 tbsp butter
1/3 cup honey
1 1/2 cup ripe banana
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup yogurt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil muffin tin. Sift dry ingredients. Cream butter and honey. Add banana, egg, and vanilla. Add half the flour and mix on low. Add yogurt and the rest of the flour. On high blend for 1 minute. Bake 18-20 minutes.

4 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup honey
1/2 tsp orange zest
Whip in mixer.