Sunday, July 25, 2021

Cajun-Style Broiled Shrimp {Summer Slim Down Series #9}


One of my very first memories is looking down and watching my little toddler feet walk up porch steps with my mom hovering over me telling me to "hurry up before the alligators get you."

I went to Houma, LA when I was 2 years old. My mom's dad lived there and we went for a visit. My mom used to call me Turtle because I was real slow and she was deathly worried I would get eaten up by alligators just walking up the porch steps. She must've talked about those gators until she was blue in the face because it's all I remember about my first, and only, trip to Louisiana. 

New Orleans has been at the very top of my list for travel destinations for as long as I can remember. I mean the culture, the swamps, the architecture, the history, and the is truly a one-of-a-kind destination. You just know it's going to be a wonderful time! 

Our family hasn't had a chance to take our usual summer vacation this year, but we are really hoping we can get to New Orleans this fall during our fall break from school! If we do, I am going to want to eat ALL the things. Isn't that what you do in New Orleans? Beignets, Muffalettas, Etouffee, Gumbo, Jambalaya, Red Beans and Rice, Po'Boys, Bananas Foster, Pralines, and all the shrimp.

One does not go to New Orleans to be healthy for the week. It is all about the decadence! Until then, however, I am still practicing my healthier lifestyle (and by the way, I have lost 25 pounds - woohoo!) One of the things that has really helped me lose weight has been eating shrimp at least once a week. Shrimp is something that you can really indulge in as it is really low in calories. If you chose the right preparation as I did here with Mark Bittman's Cajun-Style Broiled Shrimp, you can really eat like a king!

All you need to do is get some shrimp and make a flavorful paste of: garlic (lots of garlic), salt, cayenne, paprika, lemon juice, olive oil, and lots of black pepper. Then you just slather that flavorful paste all over the shrimp and broil it. It might not look like there is much seasoning on the shrimp, but wow! The shrimp are full of garlicky cayenne flavor! This really does make for a wonderfully light and flavorful summertime meal. 

Let the good times roll!


Cajun-Style Broiled Shrimp

Adapted from Mark Bittman

NY Times Cooking

Serves 3-4

1 garlic clove* (more like 5)

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon paprika

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

lots of black pepper

1-1/2 pounds peeled shrimp

lemon wedges and hot sauce, for serving

Notes: I have no idea why Bittman only wants you to use 1 little clove of garlic in this recipe. I used at least 5, maybe eve 6 or 7 cloves. Also, feel free to add more cayenne, or less, and don't be afraid to make it your own!

 Turn on the broiler, and put the rack close to the heat. Mash 1 garlic clove (or 5 cloves) with 1 teaspoon salt until it forms a paste. Add it to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil and lots of black pepper. Rub paste all over 1-1/2 pounds peeled shrimp. Broiler, 2 to 3 minutes per side. 

Serve with rice and veggies and/or serve alone with bread. Enjoy!

Vacation Eats @ IHCC

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Peking-Style Roast Chicken {Summer Slim Down Series #8}


Dear Mr. Jacques Pepin,

I wanted to cook a healthy meal that the whole family loves, roast chicken. We all love roast chicken and we also love using the leftover in dishes throughout the week, so I turned to you and your French ways for a good roast chicken recipe. Now, maybe some of this is my fault. I suppose I was walking on the wild side yesterday because I chose your Peking-Syle Chicken.

I chose this particular recipe because we were featuring condiments, sauces, dressings, and all manner of sauces over at I Heart Cooking Clubs. When I saw your recipe for Peking-Style Chicken using soy sauce, honey, Tabasco, and balsamic vinegar I thought, "great, I can kill two birds with one stone."

I started with a really good organic chicken. We can roast any chicken, but a quality organic chicken always tastes a whole lot better.

Then I unpacked my chicken from the wrapping and decided that I wasn't going to take out the wishbone in order to make it easier to carve. I do not like handling raw chicken, Jacques. I always short change this part. I also didn't truss the chicken like you wanted me to because again, I dislike handling raw chicken. I trussed the bird real quick while grimacing and cringing on the inside. I was a vegetarian for 7 years for this reason. I do not dealing like with raw meat.

After washing my hands one hundred millions times and wiping down every hard surface in my kitchen because I loathe raw chicken, I then proceeded to boil the chicken for 3 minutes and then simmer it for 2 minutes. I understand this will help crisp up the chicken skin, which is a desired goal for Peking Chicken.

Then I slathered my chicken with the Peking mixture of soy sauce, honey, Tabasco, and balsamic vinegar. This is going to be excellent I thought. Everything is looking good. Jacques will not let me down.

I slid that chicken in the oven and at the half hour mark it looked beautiful, with gorgeous color. I basted it with the Peking sauce again and slid it in for another half hour. When I pulled it out I panicked. Why was my chicken looking so burnt, Jacques? Do you know the horror I felt? Nevertheless, I persisted. I guess this chicken is meant to look burnt, so I slather it with the remaining Peking sauce and stick it back in the oven. Now I am fretting and freaking out because I'm counting on you for a wonderful roast chicken. Except, the air smells somewhat acrid in my house - a burning smell like hot burning soy sauce and vinegar. I start totally questioning my choices and I run to the kitchen to cover my chicken with tinfoil so the skin won't get any darker. I know this may prevent the skin from being crisp. I start freaking out about ruining the chicken.

After being in full-blown panic mode for at least 30 minutes, I pull the chicken out and the chicken is dark and burnt looking. It's as dark as my cast iron pan. The bright sunlight is reflecting off the chicken and I cannot get a good picture of my burnt-looking chicken. My husband is laughing at me because I'm taking a picture of a burnt looking chicken and I'm doing it over and over again with a craze. Then I start laughing like a maniac because Jacques, you have me taking pictures of a burnt ass chicken! Why am I taking pics of a burnt looking chicken? My husband watches me move the chicken all over the kitchen trying to get a decent picture and he bellows, "it will look burnt no matter what you do."

Finally, in an effort to defy my husband, I decide to cut the chicken and take a picture of the thigh and leg alongside my baby red potatoes and creamed peas. There I think, it doesn't look so bad now.

The crisis is averted. The skin is definitely crisp and the chicken is just fine, but we definitely prefer a more classic roast chicken and decide that we are not fans of the Peking-Style. 

That said, I will not be walking on the wild side for awhile, Jacques. I thought the chicken would have a dark red lacquered look, but oh no that just wasn't the case, was it Jacques? You've never really stressed me out before, or done me wrong, and the chicken really was ok, so I won't totally quit you, Jacques. However, I will take a break. A warning about the color, Jacques. That's all I ask for.

I still love you though,

Kim of Stirring the Pot

P.S. Here are some links to great roast chicken recipes that I've shared on my blog. Roast chicken is a great way to have a healthy meal and also enjoy some quick healthy leftovers.

The Very Best (and also the fussiest): Julia Child's Roast Chicken

The Second Best (but also my go-to recipe because Julia's is so fussy):  Ina Garten's Engagement Roast Chicken 

The Roast Chicken Smeared With 2 Sticks of Butter (and from the archives): Tyler Florence's Ultimate Roast Chicken 


Peking-Style Chicken

Adapted from Essential Pepin

by Jacques Pepin

Serves 4

1 chicken (about 4 pounds)

1-1/2 teaspoons honey

2 tablespoons dark soy sauce

1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

12 ounces small button mushrooms, cleaned

1/2 cup water

Notes: I didn't have mushrooms so I added 2 heads of unpeeled garlic cloves to the bottom of my roasting dish prior to roasting the chicken. In my mind you can't go wrong with roasted garlic as a side.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Bring 10 cups water to a boil in a large pot.

Meanwhile, remove the wishbone from the chicken (I did not do this but will include directions below). Fold the wings of the chicken under the back and truss it with kitchen twine to help maintain the birds compact shape (I did not do this either).

Lower the chicken breast side down into the boiling water. Return the water to a boil over high heat (this will take about 3 minutes). As soon as the water is boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer the chicken gently for 2 minutes. Drain and place the chicken breast side up on a rack in a roasting pan.

Mix the honey, soy sauce, Tabasco, and vinegar together in a small bow Brush the chicken on all sides with some of the mixture. Roast breast side up for about 30 minutes.

Brush the breast side of the chicken again with the honey mixture, then roast for another 30 minutes. 

Arrange the mushrooms in one layer under the rack in the pan and add the water. Brush the chicken with the remaining honey mixture and roast for 15 minutes longer.

Transfer the chicken to a platter. Pour the accumulated juices and the mushrooms into a saucepan. Let stand for 2 to 3 minutes, then spoon off as much fast from the surface as possible, and reheat if necessary. 

Cut the chicken into pieces and serve with the juices and mushrooms.

How To Remove The Wishbone From The Chicken: The wishbone is often removed from chicken, duck, and other birds to make carving easier. To remove the wishbone, place the bird on its back and lift the skin at the neck to expose the flesh. Slide the point of a paring knife along either side of the wishbone, cutting into the flesh (about 1/2 inch deep for a chicken). Then insert your thumb and index finger on either side of the wishbone and pry it out.

How To Truss A Chicken: Trussing a stuffed bird helps keep the stuffing in. Trussing also helps a bird hold its shape, whether it is stuffed or not, so it cooks evenly and looks better on the serving platter. Nevertheless, trussing is usually optional!

To truss a chicken, use fairly thick cotton kitchen twine, so it doesn't cut your fingers. Slide a length of twine under the tail and around the tips of the drumsticks, then cross the twine above the chicken and slide both ends of the twine under the tips of the drumsticks to create a figure 8. Hold the ends of the twine together, which will close the tail opening. Pull the ends of twine around the sides of the bird until they join at the neck end, next to the wings, and tighten the twine, securing it behind the wings or behind the stump of the neck; tie a double knot so the twine doesn't slide off. Remove the twine before serving. 

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Greek Nachos with Feta Drizzle {Summer Slim Down Series #7}


It's fair season and everyone loves to cruise the midway at their local fair for some good eats!

Now we all know that fair food gets a bad rap because of dishes like deep-fried Oreos, but I'm about to give the fair some major props. Did you know that the World's Fair in 1904 inspired lots of our favorite dishes?  They needed to make food more portable for the fair-goers so they invented ice cream cones, hamburger buns, and hot dogs buns! Who knew the World's Fair was such an inventive place?

We have to give credit where credit is due and I will tell you, I was inspired by the need for portability at the 1904 World's Fair. I chose a dish called Greek Nachos with Feta Drizzle from Mark Bittman's The Food Matters Cookbook. Bittman says this is a portable way to eat salad, which ticks two boxes for me since it is both a healthy dish and a dish that fits this week's IHCC theme.  

Plus, who doesn't love nachos, of any kind? Bittman's version of Greek Nachos calls for a Feta Drizzle made with: feta, yogurt, lemon juice/zest, olive oil, and mint, blended until smooth. I loved the feta drizzle (I love anything feta), but I also think a tahini sauce would be great! I wanted to keep my version light and healthy so I topped my homemade pita nachos with tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, sliced black olives, and sauteed chickpeas. I also love the idea of adding some seasoned ground lamb to the dish.

I really love dishes like this because they please everyone! Chop up tons of veggies, make a couple sauces, have a vegetarian option with chickpeas and some seasoned ground lamb for the meat eaters. Everyone gets to customize their own meal and everyone walks away happy! Nachos for world peace! Nachos for the World's Fair! Nachos for everyone!

Greek Nachos with Feta Drizzle

Adapted from The Food Matters Cookbook

by Mark Bittman

Serves 4-8

4 pitas, split and cut into wedges

1/4 cup olive oil, plus more as needed


4 ounces feta cheese

1/2 cup yogurt, preferably Greek or whole milk

1/2 cup chopped mint

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

black pepper

2 or 3 ripe tomatoes, chopped

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped

1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and or sliced

1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced

Notes: Adapt this recipe to your tastes. I added canned and drained chickpeas that I sauteed with some spices in a little bit of oil. You could add any other veggie, herb, spice, or meat to the dish! Skies the limit.

Heat the oven to 350F. Arrange the pita wedges in one layer on baking sheets and brush or drizzle with oil if you like. Bake, turning as needed, until they begin to color, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt, turn off the oven, and put the chips back in the oven to keep warm.

Combine the feta, yogurt, 1/4 cup oil, mint, and lemon zest and juice in a food processor; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Process until smooth (or use a for to combine the ingredients in a bowl).

Put the chips on a serving plate (or use the baking sheets). Top with the tomatoes, cucumber, olives, red onion and drizzle with the feta-yogurt sauce.






World's Fair Food @ IHCC



Saturday, July 3, 2021

Sheet Pan Parmesan Shrimp and Veggies {Summer Slim Down Series #6}

Inspired by the fireworks on the 4th of July, I wanted to make something really colorful that would pop with flavor. When I stumbled across Giada's Sheet Pan Parmesan Shrimp and Veggies... I knew it was perfect. It starts with a colorful arrangement of vegetables: broccoli, cherry tomatoes, cauliflower, purple onion, and then, of course, the shrimp. Not to mention, roasting veggies and shrimp really helps to bring out the flavor and get everything popping in your mouth, just like the fireworks.

This was one our favorite slim down meals so far this summer! The shrimp are coated with Parmigiano Reggiano, as well as garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and Italian seasoning. They are oh so delicious served over the flavorful roasted vegetables and make for such a satisfying but somewhat light meal. Plus, it is so easy and comes together so quickly. You can't go wrong. This is totally worth turning your oven on for!

YIt's worth noting that I read the directions wrong and completely removed the veggies from the ssheet pan after they roasted for 15 minutes. I was supposed to leave the veggies on the sheet pan aand continue to roast them when I added the shrimp, but it all worked out ok. Of course, this is also why I have no pictures of the meal on the sheet pan, but nevertheless, it still tasted delicious!

Sheet Pan Parmesan Shrimp and Veggies

Adapted from Eat Better, Feel Better

by Giada De Laurentiis

Serves 4

 1 small broccoli crown, cut into 1-inch florets

1 red onion, cut into 1-inch dice

1/2 medium cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets

4 tablespoons olive oil

1-1/2 teaspoons salt

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano*

2 tablespoons panko*

1 lemon

Note: I omitted the oregano and used Italian seasoning, garlic powder and red pepper flakes instead. All to taste, no specific amounts.

 Preheat the oven to 450F. 

In a large bowl, mix the broccoli, onion, cauliflower, tomatoes, 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Spread the vegetables on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes, until cooked through and just beginning to brown.

Meanwhile, combine the shrimp, Parmigiano, oregano, the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt to the same bowl that was used for the vegetables. Toss well to coat evenly in the cheese and oregano. Remove the vegetables from the oven and scatter the shrimp on top. Stir gently to combine andsprinkle with the panko, if using. 

Return to the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until the shrimp are pink and cooked through. Grate the zest from the lemon over the mixture and toss to combine. Cut the zested lemon into wedges and serve with the shrimp and veggies.