Tequila Orange Shrimp

Tequila Orange Shrimp“Yes, I like Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain.” Well Jimmy Buffet sang this anyway. My Pina Coladas are generally of the virgin kind. I am not much of a drinker anymore, but I have found that alcohol can make some of the best cooked meals. For example, try roasting a pork tenderloin with a beer in a crock pot some time, and you will see what I mean. SOOOOO “Love Me Tender.”

Last Night I made for the first time Tequila Orange Shrimp. Between this and the Rasta Pasta, (coming next week) I had my hands pretty full.

I originally bought some shrimp deveined and with tails on, but didn’t think that they were big enough. If I am going to grill shrimp, then I want them to have some size to them. So I went back and got some fresh large shrimp from the meet counter at the grocery store. Then I had to figure out how to devein these things. The easiest way is to put the knife in the hole at the head of the shrimp and cut backwards. It was however a little time-consuming. I know, it seems like it should be obvious, but hey, I am still learning.

I first mixed the oil, jalapeno, garlic, salt and pepper, and lime zest together, and then I placed each shrimp in the marinade as it was ready. That was the easy part. Once they are in the mixture, they are supposed to set for 15 minutes to an hour. Of course it took me that long just to get them all in there, and this gave me the chance to work on the other recipe.

The hard part is the Tequila-Orange sauce. The recipe said to take the rest of the Jalapeno and garlic and mix it with the orange juice, tequila, and shallots. Bring this to a boil and cook until it is a syrupy consistency. The problem is that mine did not turn to syrup. I still don’t know what happened that it didn’t get to the right consistency, but I guess that will come with time and experimentation.

So the next time that you want to have a “Straight Tequila Night,” throw some in with some shrimp and orange juice, and you will find a tasty treat. So remember, “Stop worrying about whether ‘Tequila makes her clothes fall off;’ this dish will put a song in her step.”

You can Find the Recipe Here: Tequila Orange Shrimp.

What Makes a Cowboy Cookie?

OK, so I have been on this Cookie Kick for a little while now. I am sure that the calories are going to make me look as round as they are, but I have been enjoying baking and eating them way too much if you ask me! My latest experiment is the “TEXAS COWBOY COOKIE,” and they are wonderful.

I am not sure as to what makes a “Cowboy Cookie” though, let alone a Texas one. I am guessing it has to do with a comment made in the recipe. It states, “Makes 24 Texas sized cookies or 36 Yankee cookies.” Yes I guess everything really is bigger in Texas, even our cookies. These cookies are also very hardy and will fill you up pretty easily. They are everything that you would want a cookie to be.

Be careful when you make them though. The recommended recipe, is enough for a large posse. You might want to cut the recipe in half for just the family to enjoy. You can adjust the recipe a little through the Bigoven website. I have enjoyed having them around though – with the emphasis on the “round”.

Even though I am from Texas, these cookies are as cowboy as I get. In other words, just call me a city boy! I do love a hardy cookie though; especially one with pecans, chocolate chips, coconut flakes, cinnamon, oatmeal, and a whole lot of flavor. The cinnamon really enhanced the flavor, inspiring a miriad of comments from friends and family.

Check out the recipe. They are easy! They are filling! They are wonderful! Remember, “The size of a cookie can bring a whole new meaning to the term round-up.”

Click here for Recipe!

UMMM! Magic Cookie Bars

Magic Cookie BarsMost cookies could be considered magic – in my opinion anyway. Yes these wonderfully delectable pieces of heaven have captivated children “SINCE THE DAWN OF TIME.” Well I cannot say that for sure, but every child I have ever known would eat them until their stomachs hurt if they were allowed.

Magic Cookie Bars are no exception. They are made of graham crackers, butter, Eagle Brand condensed milk, chocolate chips, coconut flakes, and walnuts. They also have the variation of adding butterscotch chips, raisins, or cranraisins.

However, I have never seen this recipe with Peanut Butter Chips, and I cannot understand why. They add so much to the recipe, and I don’t always get into the butterscotch chips, raisins, or cranraisins. If you use approximately the same amount of total chips that the recipe calls for, in varying amounts of each flavor, then I think that these peanut butter chips are great additions to the recipe. Most of the people who ate them said that they prefered, and even really loved, the ones with the peanut butter chips in them. I highly recommend this variation!

A word of caution: the Recipe from the Eagle Brand Website, states to use parchment paper to make it easy to remove the cookies from the pan. This would have been great, but I came across two problems. First I immediately tryed to remove them from the parchment paper, and they were still too moist. This caused them to want to bend, so I left them in the pan for a while longer. After a bit of time, they did stiffen, but then they stuck to the parchment paper. This was an unexpected outcome that I think the condensed milk influenced.

It was not fun trimming paper off the sides of the cookie, but the bottoms slipped right off the paper. Unfortunately, with trimming the paper off the sides, I had to throw some of the cookies away too. That is like Cookie abuse. Oh well, at least I learned something from it. Parchment paper may be a good idea, but I will seek out a better way to do this. Stay posted!

So remember, “Trimming down, is a sticky situation.”

More Than a Sidekick

Bacon Ranch Potato SaladMarriage is the spice of life, especially when it starts in the kitchen. Last week was Memorial Day, and I got to cater my first luncheon. Well I have cooked for more than 15 people before, but in some ways this was different. I got the chance to enjoy cooking with my wife, and we had a wonderful evening at the same time.

Most often I am cooking while she is entertaining the guests. On this occasion, we got to spend the time together and not be in a rush. Don’t get me wrong. It was late when we finished, but we created a night to remember.

We made Bacon Ranch Potato Salad and Broccoli Salad.

The potato salad was great when it was warm, but it seemed to have less flavor the next day after it cooled in the refrigerator. It seems like a dish that has both ranch and bacon in it would be fabulous, but the truth of the matter is that it was just alright. My wife does not like potato salads with egg in it, so I found one that she might enjoy. She would at least eat this one. It is a fair alternative if you are looking for something different.

Broccoli SaladThe Broccoli Salad on the other hand was a complete success. I am not really sure why they call it Broccoli Salad though, because it has a lot more grapes than broccoli. I guess that “Grape Salad” just does not have the same ring, particularly with  other ingredients, like the villain that broccoli can be for some people. I enjoyed this dish and had several rave reviews regarding it. This dish is easy to make. In fact, all you really do is chop a bunch of produce and stir in some saucy things. After finishing the dish, we snuck a taste. The vinager was stronger than desired, but by morning it had subsided. The flavors meshed together perfectly, and it made a great addition to the luncheon. This is a ‘Grape’ Broccoli Salad!

These are two staple dishes for BBQs and picnics, but don’t take my word for it, give them a try!

So remember, “Even an odd couple can make a SUPER dish!

Click link below for Recipe:
Bacon Ranch Potato Salad or Broccoli Salad

Memorial Means More Than BBQ

Well it is Memorial weekend and what does that mean? Well it means more than BBQ. This year I wanted to do more than just stand at the grill to commemorate a day that most of the time I just don’t think about. Memorial day is meant to commemorate those who have fallen in the line of service for our country. It needs to be more than just the military, or officers, or firefighters. We can remember everyone who have gone before us. Each, whether they died for our freedom, security, or even safety, are our heroes, but there are so many more.

For many it is a lost husband or wife, child or parent, friend or relative. I want to make this Holiday mean more than I have before. I want to make it mean more than a day to BBQing, or that I get to spend the day off. I want to commemorate those who are heroes: PAST and Present!

In today’s society, it is easy for a person to be called a Hero – but it means much more TO BE ONE. If the media to catches wind of a great story, they can make that person a star or even a villain.

This weekend, I got the chance to be a caterer for a group of people who I enjoy serving with, but are all heroes in my eyes in some sort of way. Mothers with their children, Pastors with their congregations, engineers with their friends. These people are worthy to be heroes because they know what to give value to. Unfortunately many of those who deserve such a title don’t receive it, while others who don’t deserve it are called Heroes everyday.

So I say Kudos to those who are EVERYDAY HEROES in our lives, in the lives of their children and ours, to family, friends, co-workers. I say Kudos to those who have given up time with their families to serve, to protect, to give their lives. I say Kudos to those who have gone before us to give us the life that we have.

Next week I will talk about the INS and OUTS of what I made, but this week I just want to REMEMBER. As you are BBQing this weekend or whatever you do to celebrate this memorial holiday, don’t just brush it aside as a day that you get to take off. Take some time with your loved ones to “JUST REMEMBER!”

Pesto It’s Magic

Magic has always garnered the interest of both children and adults alike. There is David Copperfield, Houdini, or even just a dad pulling the coin out of a child’s ear. Recently I watched a friend of mine do this to another friend’s daughter, and all I heard was, “do it again.” She just couldn’t figure out how he did it. She wanted to know the secret. That is why I say Pesto is magic. Some dishes are just alright, while with other dishes we scream with glee, “Do it again, Do it again!” We are trying to figure out the secrets of great dining.

The best magic comes with great time, energy, and planning to make some of the greatest and most memorable performances that can be imagined. Most of the dishes that I have made for this blog have been fairly simple. Linguine Al Pesto Alla Moda Ligure from “A Culinary Courses Journey – Princess Cruises“, is not an easy dish to make, at least for a beginner. I think that the “talent-level” verdict is still out on this one, however, this is a delicious dish, and I am sure that there are ways to simplify it.

For instance, in following the recipe, I boiled the potatoes before adding them to the Linguine, but I don’t know that the potatoes are that necessary. I would recommend trying it both with them and without them, just to see what your taste might be. My mother-in-law enjoyed finding the potatoes as she was eating the pasta. Also make sure that you have all the ingredients before you begin. Ensure the herbs are fresh. I had to send my wife to get some things that I still needed and wait for her return. The Pesto can be prepared a day in advance, but more than that will affect the flavor.

I think that the hardest part really was handling it though. The recipe says that it serves 6, but it sure seemed like much more than that. I have a large Wok Pan that was filled to the brim. Trying to sear or cook the noodles a little bit near the end was difficult, because the wok was filled to capacity.

The best part of making pesto is that you do not have to use it for just this recipe. What about a pesto pizza, pesto tortilini, or pesto chicken? Getting creative is the best part of cooking other than getting to enjoy the meal. I say that Pesto is Magic, and you too can create enchanted meals to remember. So remember, “Any cook great or otherwise can create magic in the kitchen.”

Recipe:
Linguine Al Pesto Alla Moda Ligure <– Click here

Cinco De Mayo – Fiesta Tacos

Fiesta TacoThis has been an interesting week. It has been a while since I started this blog, and I have been enjoying all of the different dishes that I have made. There are a couple of things that I still want to talk about (a linguine dish and a potato dish), but for various reasons, I am not yet ready to report on them. I will definitely make these dishes again, because they are worthy of sharing with you.

It was Cinco De Mayo yesterday. To celebrate, I want to talk about a Mexican staple – the Taco Bowl. Well I don’t know if it is a staple, but if it isn’t it should be. Thank God for a bowl that you can eat, and an ingenious people who would think of such a wonderful thing.

I haven’t actually made a tortilla as of yet, but I have enough friends that sooner or later one would probably show me how. My focus right is just to shape the tortilla. I recently prepared a Fiesta Taco recipe that taught me how to do so.

Recently I purchased some Ramekins (custard dishes) for $1.99 each at World Market. They are small ceramic bowls that you can use to bake various delicacies. Basically, you just place the ramakins upside down on a baking sheet. Then you take some store-bought or homemade tortillas, and spray them with cooking spray. After spraying the tortillas, you place them upside down on the bowls to shape them. Cook them at 425 degrees F. until they are a golden brown, and viola, you have a bowl you can eat. LOVELY! Fill it with the stuff you like, and you have a delicious little taco salad. It’s a wonderful thing.

Just remember, “Creativity is a thing of life, and its even better when you can eat it.” Enjoy.

What a Crepe Morning

Berry Good CrepeI think that a Blue Jay was singing out the window this morning, figuratively speaking anyway. You know, one of those days you wake up and it just feels like it’s going to be a wonderful day. That is how I felt this morning.

We have a ministry going on at our church, and I got to cook for the group that is involved in that ministry. Not something that you think would brighten up your day. After all, cooking is a lot of work. However, I actually like to cook, and this morning I got to cook with a group of people whom I adore and have fun with. We met together and started cooking around 8AM, and we were supposed to be ready by 9AM. Let’s just say we missed our mark.

We cooked eggs, bacon, Cajun potatoes, and Berry Crepes. I was like a head chef for a day! People were cutting potatoes, cooking bacon, and preparing the fruit, music was playing in the background, and we just enjoyed putting everything together. Friends definitely make cooking better. Then you get to eat what you make. MMMMMMMM!

Crepes are not really all that hard to make either. One at a time I mixed the ingredients together: Eggs till it frothed, milk, salt, sugar, flour, and butter. Then I got to flip them in a pan. I felt like a professional cook today, without all the stress that is involved.

These crepes turned out awesome. The recipe called for fruit filling with cherries and strawberries, but I am not a big cherry person, so we used raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries. It also called for mixing sour cream with confectioners’ sugar as a topping. I thought it was a weird combination, but it was great with the fruit and the crepes. Once I tasted it, it didn’t crepe me out anymore. (Sorry I had to add the pun.)

I recommend this one. It is easy, fun, and enjoyable to eat. Remember, “Cooking with friends can turn an ordinary day into a crepe day!”

Berry Good Crepes:
Crepe Ingredients:

2 Eggs
1 Cup of Milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Filling:
1 Cup Strawberries
1/2 Cup Raspberries
1/2 Cup Blackberries
1/2 Cup Blueberries
3 tablespoons of Sugar

Topping:
1 cup sour cream
1/3 Cup Confectioners’ Sugar

Directions:
1) Beat eggs in a medium bowl until foamy. Add milk, salt, sugar, flour, and butter; whisk until smooth. Cover bowl; let stand for 10 minutes. Grease a small skillet with cooking spray.
2) Meanwhile, for filling mix berries in a bowl. Sprinkle with sugar; stir to coat. Let stand. For topping mix sour cream and confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl; set aside.
3) Heat skillet over medium heat; add 1/4 cup batter. Quickly tilt skillet to spread batter. Cook until the edges lift easily. Turn; cook until bottom is lightly browned, about 30 seconds.
4) Remove crepe to a plate. Repeat with remaining batter. To serve, place 2 tablespoons fruit mixture into crepe. Fold and roll tightly to enclose filling. Add topping.