Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Joey's Garlic Butter Shrimp Scampi



 This is one of my favorite things, like ever in life, so it kind of amazes me that I somehow never posted a recipe for it. UNTIL NOW!! You can call it garlic butter shrimp, you can call it shrimp scampi, I call it both! It's basically shrimp in a fabulous butter and garlic sauce, usually (but not necessarily) with white wine and it sounds A LOT more swanky and fancy than it actually is. It only takes a few minutes to prepare and it's sure to impress. An added bonus is that it just happens to be like WAY low in carbs, in case you happen to be making low carb choices.
 There are many versions of it out there, and this one is my slightly tweaked version of a recipe I found on a blog called Damn Delicious. As always, I love to take other peoples' recipes and turn them into my own. I encourage you to do the same! Then again, if you happen to love my version just as it is, I won't mind it at all if you make it as written! Hope you like it!




8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 pounds large shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed
Kosher salt
Crushed red peppers flakes
5 cloves garlic,sliced
1/2 cup shrimp stock*
1/2 cup white wine
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Chopped fresh parsley leaves or green onions


*To make shrimp stock:
Add shrimp shells and tails to a small pot, add water until just covered. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Pour through a sieve to remove shells. That's all there is to it!


Melt a couple tablespoons butter in a large skillet. Add shrimp to pan, all in one layer. (work in batches, if you need to). Season shrimp with a pinch of salt and a few shakes of crushed red pepper. Cook shrimp, stirring occasionally, until they just barely turn pink. Don't overcook! Remove shrimp from pan and set aside. Add garlic to skillet. Saute for just a minute, then add shrimp stock, wine, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer until the sauce reduces by about half. Add remaining butter a little at a time, stirring until it's melted and the sauce is rich and glossy. Add the shrimp back to the pan. Stir to coat with sauce. Top with chopped parsley or green onion.  Serve with warm crusty bread or pour it over your choice of long pasta.



Tips:
If you're using salted butter, don't add salt until the very end. Then taste it and adjust the seasoning.
I only did a few shakes of crushed red pepper, but if you like a spicier hit, go right ahead and add as much as you like!
I like big honkin' pieces of garlic, so I like to just slice it instead of mince it. This also makes it easier to push the garlic aside of you just want to flavor the sauce but don't want to bite into it. But really, they turn so mild and sweet, I never push them aside!
For a little extra texture and a slightly thicker sauce, you can dredge the shrimp in a little bit of flour before you saute them in the pan. Just make sure you pat away as much of the flour as you can. You just want a tiny coating of flour. Then saute as directed.
If you don't have wine and you don't feel like making the shrimp stock, just use an equal amount of chicken broth. It will still be fabulous!


Monday, August 12, 2019

Basil, Corn, and Tomato Bake




  OK, first, let me just say that this is a FABULOUS casserole, but here's the thing...I don't like the name. There. I said it. It's a Taste of Home recipe, and this is what they named it, but if this were my recipe, I'd called it a Zucchini, Corn, and Tomato Bake. Doesn't that sound better? I mean, clearly zucchini is one of the stars in this play, so why would you leave his name off the marquis? That just makes no sense to me. Who's with me on this? Anyone? Anyone? OK rant over.
 I made this dish for a family event a few weeks ago, and it was a big hit. If you know me, you know how much I love Jersey corn and tomatoes, so this was the perfect vehicle for them. And with the fresh basil, it tastes like summer in a casserole. So fresh, so flavorful! To be honest, I thought of adding bacon to it, because BACON, but then I kind of liked the idea that this was a vegetarian option at a barbecue with all kinds of big meats happening on the grill. Still, I'm sure bacon would be a good option. Or maybe some other kind of protein. Maybe some shrimp? ooo that sounds good! (You know I can never leave well enough alone, right?).  Anyway, definitely give this one a try. And let me know if you agree with me about the name! hahaha




2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large eggs
1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of celery soup, undiluted
4 cups fresh or frozen corn
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped
3/4 cup soft bread crumbs*
1/3 cup minced fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Additional minced fresh basil, optional



Preheat oven to 350°. 
In a small skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion; cook and stir until tender. In a large bowl, whisk eggs and condensed soup until blended. Stir in vegetables, bread crumbs, basil, salt, and onion. Transfer mixture to an 11x7-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake, uncovered, 40-45 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake 5-10 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. If desired, sprinkle with additional basil.

* To make soft bread crumbs, tear bread into pieces and place in a food processor or blender. Cover and pulse until crumbs form.

Tips:
Whenever I add zucchini to a casserole, I like to saute it a bit before assembling everything. This helps to evaporate some of the excess water from the zucchini. So I just added it to the pan when I sauteed the onions. Also make sure to seed the tomatoes before you add them. Again, you don't want all that extra liquid going in. No one likes a runny casserole!

Monday, August 5, 2019

Joey's Slow Cooker Ratatouille


  Do you have a vegetable garden? I must say that one of the drawbacks of living in an apt building is that I don't have a back yard in which to grow my own vegetables. I just love the idea of planting tons of zucchini and eggplant and peppers, and of course I would also grow lots of fresh herbs. I remember my brother Denny used to have a garden when I was growing up and I loved all the fresh tomatoes an basil he would grow.
 Anyway, when Denny had his garden, I remember thinking "what are we gonna do with all of this extra eggplant and zucchini?" Well, ladies and gents, here's your answer! You throw them into a slow cooker and you make ratatouille! Now, I know that this is not the same ratatouille as in the Pixar movie (eventually I'll get around to making that one). This one is just a basic vegetable stew, and it's absolutely fantabulous. It's super simple too! Make as much or as little as you like. Then serve it with some crusty bread. YUM. Sounds like the perfect summer dinner to me! And you didn't even need to turn on the oven.  Hmm.. maybe SOME DAY I'll have my own garden!!! Who knows?



1 large eggplant
2 medium zucchini
2 medium yellow summer squash
1 large red bell pepper
1 large green bell pepper
1 large yellow onion
2 large tomatoes
3-4 cloves garlic
1 small can tomato paste
1 bay leaf
6-7 sprigs of fresh thyme
a pinch or two of crush red pepper flakes
kosher salt to taste
1 tbs sugar
fresh basil
grated Parmesan cheese


Cut eggplant into large cubes (no need to peel). Lay the cubes in one even layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with a few teaspoons of kosher salt. Set aside for at least 30 minutes. In the meantime, slice all other veggies into large chunks. Chop garlic. Tie a few sprigs of thyme together with cotton twine.
 Rinse eggplant cubes of excess salt and drain well. Pat extra liquid dry with paper towels.
 Add everything to the slow cooker except for the basil and grated cheese. Stir well until the tomato paste is mixed throughout. Cover and cook on low for 5 hours, stirring about halfway through.
To serve, sprinkle with grated cheese and chopped basil. Can be served hot, chilled, or at room temperature.



Tips:
Fresh herbs are definitely the way to go. Just sayin! I mean, sure you could use dried herbs but it won't be the same. 
Be sure to salt the eggplant for at least a half hour before you cook it. It helps pull out all the bitter liquid inside the eggplant, so I stand by it for all eggplant dishes. This is one rule that I NEVER skip!!