Tag Archives: shrimp

Memories of Taco Bell

My first exposure to Mexican food was at a local Taco Bell restaurant.

I know, I know … but it’s the only Tex-Mexican restaurant locally. I had to cross the Canadian-US border before I was able to get anything more ‘authentic’. And, since my passport has been expired for some time, I haven’t been back in ages.

My last Taco Bell visit is more recent … 2 or 3 yrs, I think.

But, I DO still eat Tex-Mex food.

This weekend, I made a batch of flour tortillas and used them for beef and bean burritos and shrimp quesadillas.

Some of the changes/tips in  making the tortillas from the original recipe.

Trial 1 (10/20/2018): 1/4 cup lard, less water, made 10 8-9 inch diameter tortillas. I ended up with ~420 gm of dough so I made 10 40-42 gm balls of dough and rolled them out using as little flour as necessary to prevent sticking. My cast iron frying pan gets HOT so I preheated it over a setting of 3-4, wiped the pan with a folded paper towel dipped in vegetable oil. Each tortilla was fried for a total of 1 min 15 sec … about 45 sec on the first side and then another 30 sec on the second side. Since there were lots of bubbles during baking the first side, I used the bottom of a thin metal spatula to ‘pat down’ the bubbles.

The tortillas are nice and thin and the edge was a bit fragile. A change from the sourdough flour tortillas I usually make, which are more sturdy.

Beef and Bean Burritos

Beef and Bean Burritos – makes 8 burritos, serve 2 per person

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb lean ground beef
2 tbsp sauteed onion
1 tbsp dry taco seasoning mix
1 cup refried beans
1/4 cup salsa, medium or hot

8 9 inch flour tortillas

Add-ins
avocado, diced
shredded cheese (cheddar or Monterey Jack)
salsa, medium or hot
sour cream
diced green onion

In a large saute pan, preheat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and the sauteed onion and fry until the ground beef is cooked through and slighly browned. Break up the beef as much as possible. Drain off any excess oil. Add the dry taco seasoning mix and stir through. Add the refried beans and salsa and cook through until the mixture has tightened up a bit.

Warm up the flour tortillas so they’re more pliable. Add about 1/8th of the filling to each tortillas as well as any add-ins. Wrap up the bottom, and then both the sides. Enjoy

I also thawed the last of the corn tortillas from my freezer and enjoyed a few spicy shrimp tacos.

Spicy Shrimp Tacos

While firming/warming up the corn tortillas in the oven, I … lost track of time, and ended up with some very crisp (tostada type) tortillas. So, I decided to use some of them to make a copycat Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme. I used my beef and bean burrito filling in place of the meat but scaled down the Nacho Cheese recipe so it would make only four wraps.

I had to break the edges off the corn tortillas so I could wrap the flour tortilla around the package.

Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme – makes 4

4 9-10 inch flour tortillas
4 corn tortillas, crisped up, or tostadas

1 recipe Nacho Cheese (recipe below)
1 cup Beef and Bean burrito mixture from above
1/2 cup shredded lettuce
4 tbsp sour cream
2-4 tbsp diced tomatoes (or salsa)

Nacho Cheese – enough for 4 crunchwraps

2 tsp butter
2 tsp all purpose flour
1/3 cup milk
2 slices of American cheese, roughly torn
1/8 tsp salt

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Pour in the milk, a bit at a time, while whisking until you’ve added all of the milk and the mixture starts to thicken. While whisking, add in the salt and cheese. Continue to stir until the cheese melts and the mixture is smooth.

Spicy Shrimp Quesadilla

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Black Pepper Shrimp

I’m cooking more dishes for one or two these days, rather than pots of ‘stuff’. This black pepper shrimp makes a fast work day supper served over plain rice or noodles.

Black Pepper Shrimp with Udon Noodles

Black Pepper Shrimp – serves 1

4-6 oz/113-170 gm peeled, headless raw shrimp, tail on
1 rounded tsp whole black peppercorns
2 tbsp butter or margarine
1 clove garlic, finely minced or 1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp Chinese rice wine, or dry sherry or dry white wine
1 tsp sugar
pinch (1/8 tsp) of salt
1 tbsp green onion tops, thinly sliced on the diagonal

Lightly pound the black peppercorns using a mortal and pestle until they are coarsely cracked. (If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, put the peppercorns in a sturdy freezer bag and crack with the smooth side of a meat tenderizer. Don’t leave any whole peppercorns but you don’t have to pound the peppercorn to a powder.)

Heat up a skillet or wok over medium/medium-high heat and add the butter. Add the garlic and black pepper and saute until you smell the aroma of the pepper, then add the shrimp and stir to combine. Add the oyster sauce, stir a few times before adding the wine and sugar.

Stir fry until the shrimp are cooked.

Plate, sprinkle the green onion over the top and serve immediately.

NOTE: This is a fairly dry preparation (no sauce) so you can stir cooked noodles (ie udon noodles or spaghetti) into the skillet as soon as the shrimp are cooked to coat them with the butter and any juices released by the shrimp. If serving over plain rice, season the rice with some soy sauce.

Black Pepper Shrimp with Plain Rice

Pantry/Freezer Clearout – Shrimp Pesto Risotto

I bought a box of Arborio rice several years ago, to make risotto, and it ended up in the back top shelf of my pantry until this weekend. There was slightly under half a cup of rice left, just enough for two servings. I decided on a pesto risotto and referred to several recipes on line for ingredient amounts, proportions and technique for assembly. This is what I came up with.

Shrimp Pesto Risotto

Shrimp Pesto Risotto – serves 2

Sauteed Shrimp

12 large shrimp, peeled except for the tail
a pinch or two of salt
a few grinds of black pepper
1/2 tbsp butter, unsalted
1/2 tbsp olive oil

Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the shrimp and set aside in a small bowl.

Add the butter and olive oil to a medium sized saute pan. Place over medium heat and when the butter melts and starts to bubble a bit, add the shrimp. Saute until the shrimp just start to get pink, turn over to the other side until it changes colour as well. Remove the shrimp to a clean small bowl, cover and reserve.

Continue with the recipe for the pesto risotto, using the same saute pan.

Pesto Risotto

1/2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp white part of green onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup Arborio rice
2-3 cups warm chicken broth
1 tbsp Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup basil pesto, room temperature **

** I used shiso/mint pesto

Add the oil to a medium skillet. Add the onion and saute over medium heat for a few minutes, until it gets soft and just begins to pick up some colour.

Add the rice and toast until lightly golden brown, another couple of minutes.

Pour in the warm chicken broth, half a cup at a time, stirring occasionally, until the current batch of stock is absorbed, every 5-6 minutes or so. (Keep the chicken stock warm in a covered saucepan on the stove.) Cook for 20-30 minutes or until the rice is just barely tender.

Take the rice off the heat and add the Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, pepper, and pesto. Stir to combine and serve immediately.

Serve each portion of the risotto on a large flat plate and place half of the shrimp on top.

Mushroom Duo

Spring is finally here … daffodils are the first flowers that bloom in my ‘garden’.

I didn’t grow up eating mushrooms. In fact, my first exposure to them came in the form of canned mushrooms which, texturally, didn’t appeal to me at all.

And then I discovered fresh mushrooms, especially the ubiquitous white, button mushrooms that are often found on sale. They used to be available loose in grocery stores but now, they’re usually packaged in half and full pound versions, sliced or whole.

BUYING TIPS for button mushrooms: If possible, buy them whole as they’ll last longer. Also, make sure that the mushrooms in the package are compact and white without the browning ‘gills’ being exposed. Gills are an indicator of maturing/mature mushrooms and the flavour is more intense. If you want a ‘cleaner’ presentation, stick to the young, solid white mushrooms. Size is not an indicator of maturity so don’t be fooled. There’s also less wastage if you buy young mushrooms since, as they mature, the stems become tough and ‘woody’ and you’ll want to discard them.

Bacon and Mushroom Quiche

I used one of the pre-baked shells from the coconut cream pie recipe. With the additional baking and the savoury filling the pastry was perfect, backing up my belief that under-baking was one reasons for the disappointing cream pie result.

Bacon and Mushroom Quiche – serves 1

1 5 1/2 inch pre-baked pie shell
1 large egg
1/3 cup milk
pinch of salt
pinch of ground nutmeg
2-3 strips crispy bacon, sliced
1-3 (depending on size) mushrooms, diced
2-3 tbsp grated cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 deg Fahrenheit.

Place the pie shell on a baking sheet to prevent spillage during transport. Spread the bacon and mushrooms over the base of the pie shell.  Sprinkle some of the cheese over the top.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, salt and nutmeg. Pour the custard mixture over the contents of the pie shell. Sprinkle the rest of the grated cheddar over the top.

Transfer the baking sheet and quiche into the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the custard is set. Let cool and serve with a salad for a light lunch.

Mushroom and Shrimp Scampi

Mushroom and Shrimp Scampi – serves 2

2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 pound white button mushrooms, sliced and diced
1 small red, orange or yellow sweet pepper, medium diced
9-12 large raw shrimp, peeled except for the tail
2-3 tbsp green onion tops for garnish
salt and white pepper to taste
1/4 tsp garlic powder

200 gm fettuccine or spaghetti, cooked according to package directions

In a small bowl, combine the raw shrimp, a pinch or two of salt and the garlic powder. Let sit for a few minutes.

In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, add the butter and olive oil. When hot, add the mushrooms. Sprinkle about 1/2 tsp of salt over the top and saute until most of the moisture is gone and the mushrooms are lightly golden. Add the diced peppers and saute for another couple of minute until barely tender.

Push the vegetables to one side and add the seasoned shrimp. Saute just until the start getting pink on one side and then turn and continue sauteing until the second side is also pink and the shrimp have started to curl up. Combine the shrimp and veggies, taste and add additional salt and pepper if needed.

Add the cooked pasta, stir through to coat with the butter and olive oil. Taste and adjust seasoning a final time.

Divide the pasta evenly onto two plates, sprinkle the green onion tops over the pasta and serve

BONUS: Tortilla pizzas topped with the last of the mushrooms in the veggie crisper.

Shrimp and Chinese Sausage Quinoa Fried “Rice”

While browsing the Fridgg website, I decided to google the term ‘quinoa’ and ran across this great idea for a fried rice dish using quinoa. There was no need to add any protein to the dish, other than the traditional fried egg, but I like to go above and beyond whenever possible.

Shrimp and Chinese Sausage Quinoa Fried “Rice” –  makes 4 cups, about 3 servings

1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup carrot, small dice
3 large mushrooms, medium dice
1 small pepper (red, orange or yellow), small dice
2 green onions, bottoms added to the saute and tops used as garnish
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
3 large raw shrimp, peeled and tailed, halved and diced
1 raw Chinese sausage, halved and diced
1 large egg, slightly beaten
~ 3 cups cooked quinoa
2 tbsp Kikkoman soy sauce
shake or two ground white pepper

In a large saute pan, add the butter and oil and over medium heat, saute the carrot, pepper, onion bottoms and mushrooms until the carrots are tender. Add the peas, shrimp and sausage and fry for a couple of minutes until the shrimp are white and the peas are warmed through.

Push the veggies and meat to one side and add the beaten egg to the cleared area. Fry for a minute or two until the egg is almost completely set and then stir into the veggie and meat mixture.

Add the cooked quinoa, mix into the veggie and meat mixture and sprinkle the soy sauce and ground white pepper over the top. Stir through and taste. Add more soy sauce if needed.

Early October Wrap Up

I haven’t had a lot of inspiration for cooking in the last couple of weeks, and I’m just getting over a bad cold. A woman’s got to eat, however. Luckily, I threw a few things together before it got too bad.

I used the same basic dough recipe that I made those pumpkin and kaiser-shaped rolls with, but I left out the ground oats and threw in an egg and 1/4 cup of sugar. About 1/3 of the dough (300 gm) was rolled out and cut into six strips to wrap around Jumbo hot dogs … for pigs in blankets.

NOTE: Shaping and baking instructions found at link above.

I was going to make caramel rolls with some of the remaining dough but it turned out I didn’t have any caramel sauce in the fridge (just fudge sauce). So I got creative with the leftover cranberry sauce in my fridge and some quince jam from the pantry.

  

I transferred some of the cranberry sauce onto the quince jam portion, cause there was just too much sauce to roll up without it all oozing out. Originally, I was going to make two distinct fillings.

Icing sugar, softened butter and milk glaze

Close-up of crumb inside the rolls

Pantry chili with veggies from the crisper drawer and canned small red kidney beans and diced tomatoes (with herbs and spices). Served over or with those piggy buns.

   

Pasta is always a quick meal like this Shrimp aglio e olio over leftover linguine.  Sometimes finely minced garlic sauteed in olive oil is all you need to dress your pasta. And a sprinkle of pepperoncini (dry hot red pepper flakes). Cooking the pasta takes longer than cooking the shrimp and making the sauce.

Brunch – I love fried eggs over easy and bacon. For breakfast, lunch OR dinner. And some sort of dairy … like cottage cheese, or cream cheese if I can’t get that. Sometimes I pile it on top of toasted home made bread.

  

Red pepper hummus with home made sourdough tortillas for a quick snack or part of brunch

There’s still the weekend left for more cooking, but I think I’ll wrap things up here.

August/Summer Wrap-Up … Butter Saffron Basmati Rice and Pepperoni Pizza Sourdough Bread Loaf

PICTURE HEAVY WARNING

Summer has been much too short. Of course, I didn’t get much accomplished. In fact, I can’t even remember the semi-ambitious plans I had made.

Next year, I’m going to have to make and post a list of To Do‘s to keep me on track.

I hope work calls are more frequent this fall than last year and that my insomnia doesn’t flare up again. Going to bed at 5am is a bad habit and I need to get my sleep patterns back on track if I keep getting 6am phone calls to work.

And now, for a quick clear out of dishes I’ve cooked and pictures that I haven’t shared in August. Posting should slow  down quite a bit as work starts again.

I made butter saffron basmati rice with which to serve some leftover green chicken curry.

Butter Saffron Basmati Rice – ~3 cups

1 cup basmati rice
1 1/3 cup water
1 tbsp butter, unsalted
1/2 tsp salt

Saffron garnish
pinch or two of saffron threads
2 tbsp boiling water

Combine the boiling water and the saffron threads in a small bowl/ramekin and set aside.

Cooking the rice:

Wash the rice in several changes of cold water and then pour into a colander and drain.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and then add the drained rice. Saute for a minute or two. Add the water and salt to the saucepan and bring to the boil. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to the minimum setting on your stove and cover.

Cook for 20 minutes.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the rice continue to steam for another 5-10 minutes.

Fluff with a fork. Every rice grain should be separate from every other. Transfer to a serving bowl and drizzle the saffron over the top.

Serve.

I tested the suggestion that using bread flour instead of all-purpose flour in my sourdough baking would give me better oven spring. The result did not bear that out but as I made some other changes to my ‘go to’ no-knead sourdough recipe, they’re not conclusive. The add-ins (1 oz diced hot pepperette, 1 tbsp tomato paste, 1 tbsp sun-dried tomatoes, 2 oz shredded mozzarella cheese, and 1 tsp Italian herb seasonings), at least, gave me a very tasty, if flat, oval loaf of pepperoni pizza bread.

It was great as a dip for marinara sauce and toasted or plain, with butter, peanut butter or as a base for an open faced egg salad sandwich.

 

Mushroom and Tofu Egg Drop Miso Soup – It’s hard to take a nice picture of miso soup

A shrimp appetizer

Shrimp and Mushroom Scampi over home made Fettuccine pasta

Some breakfasts/lunches

 

Spicy pepperoni and mozzarella cheese stuffed omelette

Sourdough tortilla pizzas have been appearing often on my plate – from the classic pepperoni/mozzarella, with or without sweet peppers, Canadian bacon and fresh basil to pulled pork/bbq sauce to shrimp or mushroom on a base of shiso pesto. A bacon and mozzarella pizza made today isn’t pictured.

 

 

I was sure I had some fudgy chocolate cupcakes in the downstairs freezer for a quick dessert (even had a frosting idea that I was excited about) but then I had to scramble for a new plan when I discovered that I had eaten them all up, and all that was left were nine red velvet cupcakes. Making a cream cheese frosting was my immediate thought and, after weighing what was left of the last brick of Philly cream cheese (77 gm) in  my fridge, I searched my hard drive for one of the many ‘one day, I must try this’ frosting recipes that I could scale down. I was very pleased with the result … a thick, pipeable frosting with a touch of lemon juice to cut through the cloying sweetness of so many cream cheese frostings.

The last of the raspberry cupcakes with raspberry curd

Pesto Goes East – Shiso Pesto

My surviving green shiso plant (the red leaf plant died seedless) flowered and I made the mistake of NOT saving any of the seeds for the spring but shook them all into one pot. Long story short, I ended up with four crowded pots of shiso plants. The plants are leggy with huge leaves that I couldn’t figure out what to do with. So I went net surfing and ran across a genius idea on “Summer Tomato” … treat the shiso leaves like you would those from basil or mint plants and make pesto.

Creamy Pesto Shrimp Alfredo over Home Made Fettuccine Pasta

Instead of Parmesan cheese, the blogger suggested miso for its salty umami flavour. I used red miso, cause I had run out of the white, and instead of pistachio nuts, I used equal parts of pine nuts and roasted, salted sunflower seeds.

Creamy Pesto Alfredo Shrimp over Fettuccine – serves 2

150 gm fresh fettuccine pasta

8-10 raw large shrimp, seasoned with salt, white pepper and garlic powder

Creamy Pesto Sauce

1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oi
3 tbsp pesto (basil or shiso)
6 tbsp whipping cream
salt, to taste

Fresh pasta cooked for 2 1/2 minutes in a large pot of boiling salted water. Drained, rinsed with cold water.

In a large saute pan, heat up the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Cook the shrimp until pink on both sides and starting to curl up. Remove to a small bowl.

Add the whipping cream and pesto to the same saute pan that you cooked the shrimp in. Simmer for a couple of minutes, add drained pasta and stir through. Taste for seasoning and add salt, if needed.

Serve immediately with shrimp on top.

Seeing if I can root some miso cuttings on a sunny kitchen window. (PS: I have long roots now … I should really plant them. But WHERE?)

December 2016 Cooking Wrap-Up

Cooking wise, if not in other respects, 2016 has been a successful year.

I made a second sourdough starter with canned pineapple juice and whole wheat flour and then made some great breads with it. I thickened it up quite a bit compared to the one I made in 2105 and that may have accounted for some of the success. Experience helped as well, as I’m less hesitant about trying new sourdough recipes. I did revisit the old stand-by, regular yeast, and made a delicious honey challah just before Christmas. Definitely something I’ll be repeating next year.

Bacon, Cheddar Cheese and Cracked Black Pepper Sourdough loaf and round Honey Challah

Crumb of the challah

Cooking on an even stricter budget than ever before resulted in having to be creative with simple ingredients bought on sale, like chicken, pork and ground beef, or leftovers, and the results were mostly successful. You’ll have to scroll back through the posts to see them. I do miss fish, seafood and steak however. I’m also grocery shopping less often and there’s less wastage as I try to use up what’s most perishable first. I’m also going back to basics with the dishes I’ve been making such as cookies and fudge. I haven’t been buying as many jarred sauces as in the past, while using up the ones I already have in things like stir-fries.

The meat sauce I made recently with a simple spaghetti sauce base was delicious as well as economical.  One pound of ground beef was stretched to make eight cups of sauce.

I turned some leftover mashed sweet potato into muffins with raisins for added sweetness using a recipe found on Rachel Ray’s web site.

And because I missed seafood … I bought a package of mussels in garlic sauce on sale, and one of cooked shrimp, and made this pasta dish with the spaghetti sauce.

Risotto Duo … Lemon Shrimp Risotto and Fresh Corn Risotto/Arancini

My brother did a grocery drop off … ok, it was beer, a grapefruit cooler and corn on the cob, but it still counts as groceries in my book. I am attempting to think of creative things to do with my goodies.

First, the fresh corn.

Risotto is usually a side dish like pasta but, like pasta, you can make it an entree by adding a protein.

Lemon Shrimp Risotto

I decided to make a basic risotto with a flavourful chicken stock (Better than Bouillon, in this case) with saffron threads and a half glass of Reisling Pinot Grigio. I removed one third of the risotto when it was almost done to a second saucepan and added diced sauteed shrimp to it and a bit more stock. I stirred in some lemon zest and juice just before serving.

Ingredients: 1 1/2 cup arborio rice, 1/2 cup white wine, 5 cups chicken stock with a pinch of saffron threads, 1 onion, finely diced, 1 large clove garlic, finely minced, 1 cup fresh kernel corn, 6 tbsp unsalted butter, 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, 3/4 pound peeled and deveined shrimp, zest and juice of 1/2 lemon, salt and pepper as needed. If desired, fresh basil leaves, julienned, may be added to the risotto along with the lemon zest and juice.

To the rest of the risotto, I added fresh corn kernels, cut off the cob and sauteed in butter and olive oil, and after refrigerating the risotto overnight, I made cheese arancini. I was going to add fresh basil to the filling but I got too tired to bother going outside to pluck fresh basil off my plants.



Speaking of basil … here are a few pictures. Of course, the hot weather has got me down so I’m letting my plants go to seed rather than harvesting them and making pesto as I’d planned.