Sunday, December 4, 2016

December 2016 Newsletter

Beautiful Gems
Thank You, Great Spirit, for the beautiful gems You've placed in my pathway.
 Family, friends, all of nature to brighten my life each day.
 Thank You, Great Spirit, for the varied ingredients You've provided to compile life's recipe.
 Family, friends, all of nature; unique, yet pertinent, compiled to reveal a life of beauty.
 Thank You, Great Spirit, for Your Love and Guidance, that You shower upon us each day.
 Family, friends, all of nature; leaving a glimpse of You while crossing my pathway. 
Paula 2003


Vodka Cream Sauce
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano (or 1/2 tsp. dried)
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp. dried)
1/4 tsp. dried red chile flakes
1/3 cup homemade or low-salt canned chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup vodka
1/2 to 2/3 cup heavy cream
In medium skillet, heat olive oil, add onions & sauté until translucent. Add garlic & cook 1 minute. Add tomatoes, oregano, thyme, chile flakes, broth & vodka. Cook until reduced by half. Stir in cream & cook until thickened, 3-4 minutes.
Tomato Grit Cakes
2 cups chicken broth
1 can Rotel tomatoes w/green chiles
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1-1/2 cups quick cooking grits
Bring first 4 ingredients to a boil, stir in grits. Reduce heat & cook until thickened 10-15 minutes.
Stir in:
3 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Spray a small sheet pan with cooking spray. Spread grits onto pan, about 1" thickness. Refrigerate until firm.
Cut rounds with 2" biscuit cutter. Dredge in seasoned flour.
Heat 1/2" canola oil in large skillet. Add grit cakes in single layer. Cook until lightly Browned & heated through. Place on paper lined baking sheet & keep warm in 200 degree oven.
Sautéed Shrimp & Andouille
1 lb. 18-20 jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveined w/tail on
1/2 lb. andouille sausage, sliced on a diagonal
2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. Old Bay seasoning
Season shrimp with Old Bay. Melt butter in large skillet. Add sausage and cook 5-7 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon. Add shrimp to same skillet & cook 2-3 minutes per side until cooked through. Do not over cook the shrimp.
On a bed of fresh baby spinach. Place a grit cake, top with a couple of shrimp & sausage slices. Repeat 1 or 2 more times. Spoon warm Vodka Sauce over the top & garnish with fresh parsley.
Crab & Shrimp Dip

1-1/2 cups raw shrimp, chopped
8 oz. crab meat
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
4 Tbsp. Butter
1 tsp. Seasoning salt
1 tsp. Smoked paprika
1 Tbsp.  Old Bay seasoning
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 cup sour cream
2-3 Tbsp. Mayonnaise

Shredded Colby Jack cheese
Tortilla Chips for dipping 

In saucepan or skillet, sauté shrimp, onions, bell pepper with seasonings until onions & peppers are tender. Add cream cheese, mozzarella, sour cream & mayo. Stir until thoroughly combined and cheeses are melted. Fold in crab meat. Chill for 1 hour before serving. 
For individual servings, place 1/2-3/4 cup in ramekin, heat for 2 minutes in microwave, stirring halfway through. Top with shredded Colby jack cheese to garnish. Serve with tortilla chips for dipping. 
For serving full amount, place in casserole dish & bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes until bubbly. Top with shredded cheese & bake for 5 additional minutes. 

Shrimp Lo Mein

1 lb. medium shrimp, thawed
1 large clove garlic, minced
1" piece of fresh ginger, minced
1/4 cup diced red onion
2 cups spinach/Swiss chard (or green of your choice, like bok  choy) This is just what I had on hand. 
2 cups broccoli florets
1/2 cup baby carrots sliced on the diagonal
1/2 red bell pepper, cut in strips
1 pkg. Hokkein stir fry noodles (use both packets in package)
1 tsp. Chicken base mixed with 1 cup water
1/2 cup TSang Classic Stir Fry Sauce
2 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil, divided

Heat wok with 1 Tbsp. Vegetable oil, add onion, garlic & Ginger. Stir fry for 1 minute, add shrimp & cook 1-2 minutes longer. Remove shrimp & aromatics to plate. 
Add 1 Tbsp. Oil to wok. Add broccoli, carrots, greens & bell pepper. Sauté 1-2 minutes. Add the chicken base & stir fry sauce & cook until vegetables are crisp tender, 3-4 minutes. 
Stir in noodles & shrimp with aromatics, cook 2 minutes longer, tossing to coat noodles with sauce. 

Bang Bang Shrimp
Aka Paula's Mo' Betta Shrimp
Dipping sauce:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 Tbsp. Thai chili sauce 
1 Tbsp. honey
Dash of Kosher salt
Few grinds of coarse black pepper
1 Tablespoon water

Whisk together ingredients for dipping sauce.

Vegetable oil, for frying
1 cup buttermilk

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/4 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tail-on
Bibb lettuce leaves, for serving
Thinly sliced scallions, for garnish
Make the sauce: Mix the mayonnaise, chili sauce, honey, 1/4 teaspoon salt, black pepper, Old Bay and 1 tablespoon water in a large bowl; set aside.

Prepare the shrimp: Heat about 2 inches of vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350 degrees. Meanwhile, pour buttermilk in a shallow bowl. Whisk the flour, cornstarch and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper, Old Bay in another shallow bowl.

Working in batches, dredge the shrimp in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess, dip in the buttermilk then return to the flour mixture, turning to coat each side. Fry the shrimp in the hot oil until lightly golden, 2-3 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain the oil temperature. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon.

Arrange the lettuce in a shallow serving bowl or on individual plates. Top with the shrimp and garnish with scallions. Serve the dipping sauce on the side.

   Cannoli Dip

Yield: 8 - 10 servings


15 oz Ricotta cheese, strained*
8 oz Mascarpone cheese
2/3 cup powdered sugar, plus more for dusting if desired
1 cup heavy cream**
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (chopped pistachios would also be good)


In a mixing bowl using a spatula, blend together Ricotta and Mascarpone cheese, while pressing mixture along bottom of bowl to smooth mixture. Fold in powdered sugar. In a separate mixing bowl, whip heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Add half of whipped cream to Ricotta mixture and fold until combined, then add remaining half and fold until combined. Fold in chocolate chips, reserving 1 - 2 Tbsp to garnish. Serve topped with remaining chocolate chips, dusted lightly with powdered sugar if desired and serve with graham crackers, strawberries, cannoli chips or fried flour tortilla chips dusted lightly with cinnamon.
*To strain I simply lay the ricotta over several layers of paper towels, then wrap and squeeze to remove excess moisture. You want to remove enough moisture that the Ricotta should hold it's shape pretty well so you may want to do this step twice.
**If you don't want the dip fluffy you can reduce the amount of heavy cream or even omit it (which will give it a texture closer to a traditional cannoli filling). If you do omit it you may want to reduce the powdered sugar by a few Tbsp.

Recipe Source: Cooking Classy

Serve with broken waffle ice cream cones or in mini puff pastry shells.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Georgia Cornbread Cake

Georgia Cornbread Cake Recipe 
This recipe comes courtesy of a 86 year old lady that has been cooking since she was 9 years old. The recipe has been in her family for many years. The ground pecans gives it a texture of cornbread, but there isn't any cornmeal in it. This cake is perfect for potlucks or to pack in lunchboxes.

55 min | 20 min prep

1 cake

1 cup sugar or 1/2 cup Splenda sugar substitute, for baking 
1 cup brown sugar or 1/2 cup Splenda brown sugar blend 
4 eggs, beaten 
1 cup vegetable oil 
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour 
1 teaspoon vanilla 
2 cups pecans, chopped very fine ( I used pecan meal)

I also added 1 cup finely chopped pecans and 1 cup finely chopped dried apricots.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees; lightly grease and flour a 9x13-inch baking dish. 
Stir together sugar, brown sugar,, eggs and oil in a medium bowl until smooth. Stir in flour and vanilla; add pecan meal and stir until evenly mixed. Stir in chopped pecans and apricots. 
Spoon into prepared pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. 

King's Ranch Casserole

Fall brings out the need for comfort foods as the weather begins to change.
Tonight, called for King's Ranch Chicken Casserole.

3-4 lb. chicken, cooked, deboned & shredded
or I use 1 rotisserie chicken skinned, deboned & shredded
1 onion, chopped
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 pint sour cream (I use reduced fat)
1/2 lb. cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 lb. Monterray Jack cheese, grated
1 package corn tortillas chips
1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes and green chiles ( 1 large jar chunky Pace Medium heat salsa)
1 or 2 small cans diced green chiles
Mix chicken, onion, soups, sour cream, salsa or Rotel tomatoes, & diced green chiles. 
Layer: 2 cups, slightly crushed tortilla chips, 1/2 of the chicken mixture. 1/2 of each cheese. Repeat layers. Cover with foil & 
Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes, remove foil & bake 10 additional minutes. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Blackberry Wine Cake


1 Duncan Hines white cake mix
1 (3 oz.) pkg. blackberry Jello
1/2 c. oil
1 c. blackberry wine
4 eggs
1 c. pecans, finely chopped


1 c. powdered sugar
1 stick butter
1 c. blackberry wine

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour bundt pan. Place pecans in bottom of pan. Combine cake mix, Jello, oil, blackberry wine and eggs. Beat for 2 minutes until smooth. Gently pour batter into pan over pecans. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes. Allow cake to cool.Melt butter and sugar and blackberry wine. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and slowly drip glaze over cooled cake. Pour extra glaze over cake.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Chicken Pot Pie Soup with Puff Pastry Croutons

Check it out here:

  Chicken Pot Pie Soup with Puff Pastry Croutons
 from Splendid Soups and Spectacular Sides 
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
 1 cup diced onion 
1 cup diced celery 
1 cup quartered button mushrooms ( I used Baby Bellas) 
1/2 cup diced carrot 
2 tsp minced garlic (I used 4 large cloves, minced) 
1 1/2 cups diced red potatoes (I used, unpeeled red potatoes) 
1/4 cup flour 
2 Tbsp dry sherry (I used 1/2 cup Dry Vermouth) 
5 cups chicken broth 
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken ( I cut and sautéed 3 chicken breasts in 2 Tbsp. Olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper) 
2 Tbsp fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. dry) 
1 bay leaf 
1/2 tsp kosher salt 
1/4 tsp black pepper 
pinch of ground nutmeg 
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels 
1/2 cup frozen green peas 
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (or 1 Tbsp. dry) 
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice 
salt & pepper, to taste (I didn't find it necessary to add any more salt or pepper)
 Puff Pastry Croutons
 Melt butter over medium high heat in the pot you will use to make the soup. Sauté onion, celery, mushrooms, carrot and garlic for about 4 minutes. Add potatoes and cook about 3 minutes more. Whisk in the flour and cook a couple of minutes to get rid of the raw taste. Deglaze pan with sherry. Stir in broth, chicken, thyme, bay leaf, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes until potatoes are cooked through and the mixture has slightly thickened. Stir in the corn, peas, parsley and lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasonings. Ladle into bowls and top with croutons. 
Puff Pastry Croutons 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed 1 egg 1 Tbsp water kosher salt grated Parmesan (about 1/4 cup) paprika (about 1 tsp., I used Smoked Paprika) Preheat oven to 450°F and line a baking sheet with parchment or Silpat. Roll pastry out on floured surface to 1/4" thick. Beat egg with water and brush over dough. Sprinkle with salt, Parmesan and paprika. Cut in 1 1/2" squares and transfer to baking sheet. Bake 15-20 minutes or till puffed and golden brown.
Note:  Another favorite soup that I served at the restaurant in Athens, AL...

Chicken Ole' ...

Can also see it here! MEAL Plan Monday #31

from Southern Living Cooking School circa '90's

Chicken Ole'

From Southern Living Cooking School

2-7 ounce packages Zatarain's Red or Black Beans w/Rice
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cans tomatoes & green chiles
2 cups water
2 Tbsp. lime juice
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Shake 2 Tbsp. flour in large Reynolds Oven Bag.
Place in 13x9 pan. Add first five ingredients. Seal. Squeeze to blend. Top
with chicken breasts. Close with tie and cut 6 slits in top of bag. Bake for
45-55 minutes. Serve with desired toppings:
Shredded Mexican Cheese
Diced Green Onions
Sliced Black Olives
Diced Avocado
Sour Cream, Lettuce & Tomatoes

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Avocado Brownies

Meal Plan Monday #30

I had a large, ripe Florida avocado on hand...knowing that we would be gone for a few days, I was trying to think of something to make with it...brownies would make a great snack for our weekend trip so off I go in search of a recipe using ingredients on hand. A search online & a search of the pantry resulted in an adaptation from a blog, Friday Night is Cake!

Avocado Brownies

1 cup chocolate, melted (I used 1/2 bittersweet & 1/2 semi-sweet)
2 Hass avocados or 1 lg. Florida avocado
1 cup organic sugar or coconut sugar
4 eggs
1 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. Vanilla extract (I always use my homemade extract using vodka)
1/4 tsp. Salt

Preheat oven to 350, or 325 convection. Line a 9" square pan with foil & spray with cooking spray.

Cream avocado & sugar in medium mixing bowl until fluffy. Add eggs, ground almonds, cocoa powder, extract, salt & cooled chocolate; mix until thoroughly combined. Spread into pan & bake until toothpick comes out almost clean. Cool in pan on wire rack, cut in squares when cool. Store covered in fridge. This will make 16 very moist & tasty brownies. Enjoy!

BTW, you will never know they have avocado in them & that they are healthier than traditional brownies. They definitely don't lack in flavor!