Grilled Shrimp Scampi with Angel Hair and Garlic Bread Baguette

 

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Happy Monday! I will be doing two posts today to make up for my long absence from the blog!

Shrimp Scampi is the classic lemony, garlicy Italian delight. I hardly make shrimp, let alone Shrimp Scampi, despite my undying love for it sauteed, fried, grilled, as a dumpling filling. My husband just isn’t into shrimp; hey, to each their own.

But tonight, I  just really wanted shrimp. I put my needs before my husband’s (for the first time ever…ha), and it turns out that even the non-lover of shrimp enjoyed this one! We were both in absolute awe. I haven’t made this in years, but it suddenly came back to me, just like most Italian dishes I grew up making and enjoying.

This was one of those meals where every bite was just perfect. I did a lot of this by feel, so I am doing my very best with my approximation of how much I used of each ingredient. I will be sure to make it again and get the exact measurements for those of you who need a recipe to feel reassured! 🙂

I hope you enjoy. We most certainly did! 🙂

Shrimp Scampi with Angel Hair

1 pound angel hair pasta (or different pasta if you desire–angel hair cooks the fastest, though!)

6 tablespoons olive oil, divided (2 for shrimp, 4 for pan sauce)

1.5-2 pounds of uncooked, extra large shrimp, peeled and deveined (leave the tails on for presentation–also, keep shells if you want to make small shrimp stock)

1 tablespoon of sea salt (NOT for cooking–only for brining the shrimp!)

5 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (if you’re not into spicy, you can do 1/4 teaspoon)

2 teaspoons of garlic salt (I used the grinder from Trader Joe’s), divided (1 for shrimp, 1 for pasta)

1 teaspoon of Tastefully Simple Garlic Bread Seasoning, divided (1/2 teaspoon for shrimp, 1/2 teaspoon for pasta)

**(This seasoning is optional, but I love it! If you can’t find it, use a similar seasoning that has some or all of the following: garlic, onion, parsley, red bell pepper, chives).

1 lemon, juiced, plus 1/2 lemon, zested (make sure there’s no white, bitter pith)

1/2 cup dry white wine (I used a Chardonnay–be sure to drink the rest with dinner)

5 tablespoons salted butter (plus, I added more butter from the garlic bread butter spread–figure you’ll need a stick and a half for both)

1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley leaves

Garlic Bread Baguette

1 French, store-bought baguette

1 stick of unsalted butter, softened

1 tablespoon of Tastefully Simple Garlic Bread Seasoning  (If you can’t find it, use a similar seasoning that has some or all of the following: garlic, onion, parsley, red bell pepper, chives).

Directions for Garlic Bread Baguette

  1. Make sure your stick of butter is softened. If it’s not, use your microwave setting to do so (do not melt it!)
  2. Using a spatula, mix the Garlic Bread Seasoning with the butter. Let sit for 30 minutes for the flavors to meld.
  3. Cut your baguette in half and then slice the middle to make two even pieces.
  4. Once the Garlic Bread Butter flavors have melded, spread your butter evenly on the baguette. **
  5. **Note: Don’t be shy. You do not, however, need to use ALL the butter. Some of the leftover butter will be used for the shrimp scampi to finish!**
  6. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.
  7. When your sauce is almost done reducing, put your bread in the oven on a baking tray. It should take no more than 5-6 minutes. Check for doneness periodically. Be sure to toast to a golden brown, but not over bake!

Directions for Shrimp Scampi

  1. First, peel and devein your shrimp (leave tails on for presentation). **Optional, but recommended: keep your shells and make a quick shrimp stock by boiling hot water and pouring it over the shells that are wrapped in cheesecloth). Steep for at least 15 minutes.
  2. Next, add deveined and peeled shrimp to a bowl of cold water (about 3-4 cups) and add a tablespoon of sea salt (note: do not use hot or even warm water as that will literally COOK the shrimp). Swirl the shrimp around in the salt water and brine for at least 20 minutes–may do so for up to an hour.
  3. While the shrimp are in the brine and you are finishing prepping, get a large pot of water to boil for pasta.
  4. Mince up your garlic (or use a garlic press, like I do), roughly chop your parsley, and zest your lemon. Once you’re done zesting the lemon, cut in half to use the juice. Roll the lemon with the palm of your hand to get the most juice out of it.
  5. Add the pasta to a large pot of boiling salted water, over medium heat, and cook until al dente. Angel hair pasta should take no more than five minutes! Feel free to substitute a different pasta, like spaghetti or linguine, if desired, and cook to specified direction on the pasta box.  Leave the pasta in the colander and drizzle a little olive oil to prevent sticking.
  6. Once at least 20 minutes have passed, drain the shrimp and blot with a paper towel. It’s okay if there is a little bit of water left (but not too much).
  7. Add two tablespoons of olive oil, garlic salt (1 teaspoon), and Garlic Bread Seasoning (1/2 teaspoon) to shrimp. Toss to coat. If grilling, add to ungreased grill pan once your sauce is almost done reducing.**
  8. For your sauce, heat a large 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil.
  9. ***Note: I did not cook the shrimp in the pan like most people do (I wanted the grilled taste), so what is listed below is what most people will do if they do not have an indoor grill pan. If you do want to do what I did, preheat your grill pan to medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes and grill your shrimp (as mentioned later) when your sauce is almost done reducing.**shrimpgrill
  10. Once shimmering and hot, add the shrimp and saute until just cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove to a plate and reserve. (Only for those without a grill pan.)
  11. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes to the skillet, then saute for until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the lemon juice and white wine and raise the heat to high. Let the liquid reduce for 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk in the butter, add a ladleful of the pasta cooking water (if you made shrimp stock, add a little bit of that as well) and return the shrimp. Remove from the heat.
  12. Drain the pasta in a colander, and add it to the skillet along with the chopped parsley and toss. Add the lemon zest and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper, to taste.
  13. Add remaining Garlic Bread Butter (that was not used on the baguette) onto hot pasta to finish–about 1/4 cup worth.
  14. Transfer to a serving platter and serve immediately.

 

Mini Lemon Meringue Pies

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Happy Monday!

Forgive me for not posting. Life gets in the way sometimes! But what happens when you get lemons? You make lemonade? Nope. You make Lemon Meringue Pie–and make them small for added cuteness.

I love making two-bite desserts, like two-bite brownies. Not only are they adorable, but they also are good for dieters and dessert lovers alike. It’s a great palate cleanser! These are super lemony!

Personally, I am a huge fan of chocolate, but lately, I’ve been craving citrus. Lemons to me are so bright, fresh, and clean–and it makes me feel like I am not in a dull, cold, miserable winter. I feel like when I zest a lemon, it’s like a free aromatherapy session; all my tension seems to fade.

This dessert is for the lemon lover in your life, and it really couldn’t be simpler to make. I make it with a mini muffin tin, store-made crust (don’t tell anyone), and fresh lemon curd. The lemon curd is so good by itself that I would double the batch and have an English tea party. 🙂 This recipe makes 24 mini bites, but you may find that they disappear sooner than you anticipate. Enjoy!

Mini Lemon Meringue Pies (makes 24 servings…in which you may consume half in one sitting).

The Lemon Curd

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks (save whites for meringue)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)
  • 6 Tbsp lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)

The Crust

  • Store-Bought Pre-Made Crust (I used Pillsbury’s)–one out of the box is enough to make 24 mini pies. You can use a standard pie recipe you like too, but for this dessert, the pre-made works great!

The Meringue

  • 2 egg whites
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
 Directions:
  1. Take our crust and make sure it is thawed properly on the counter. It’ll become more pliable this way.
  2. Next, make the lemon curd. In a large heatproof bowl (or use a double boiler), mix eggs, yolks, sugar, lemon zest and juice.
  3. Set bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened and custard-like, about 8 minutes. If you see any small pieces of egg, not to worry! Your mixture will be strained and those fragments will not be in the final product.
  4. Once you strain the mixer, it will become velvety smooth. Strain mixture with a mesh sieve or metal strainer and into a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for approximately an hour and a half.
  5. While your lemon curd is cooling in the refrigerator, take out your pie crust and spray your mini-muffin pan with cooking spray. You should also at this time pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Using a small cookie cutter/biscuit cutter (or anything you have, like the bottom of a glass, that is the size of a silver dollar), cut out 24 circles.
  7. Using your thumb and forefinger, stretch the circles you would like a small pizza. Place each small circle of dough in the muffin tin. Press down the center with your finger first, then press along the side. Try to make sure each cup is even.
  8. Once your tart shells are formed in the mini-muffin pan, put shells in the oven for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Once finished cooking, allow the shells to cool in the mini muffin pan.
  9. While the tart shells are cooling, make the meringue using the leftover egg whites from previously. I find a hand mixer on high works best to get the peaks!
  10.  To make the meringue, you will beat egg whites in a bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar until stiff peaks form, about another 10 minutes. Fill a pastry bag with the meringue and top filled tarts. Tip: If you do not have a pastry bag, put your filling in a plastic Ziplock bag, twist around tightly, and cut the slightest bit at the tip to simulate a pastry bag. 🙂
  11. Once everything is cooled, put cooled shells on an oven safe plate or pan. Fill with the lemon curd, about a teaspoon each. Next, top with the meringue, swirling around the tart and making a small indent on top.
  12. Lastly, broil the tarts for about 1-2 minutes–until lightly brown or golden brown. Don’t leave them in too long–you just want the meringue to get toasty! Alternatively, if you have a kitchen torch, you could individually brown the tarts.
  13. Eat right away or stow in the refrigerator for a cool, refreshing snack! 🙂

Blueberry Zucchini Cake with Lemon Buttercream

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Happy Saturday!

I haven’t blogged again a while. Life has been changing so fast for me lately; I can barely keep up! Moving, new employment opportunities, and an upcoming wedding is enough to stall my recipes.  I just had my bachelorette party last night, and even though I am exhausted, I am not only making this cake, but I am also writing about it. If I can make this cake on only a few hours sleep, know that you can too. This is easy and delicious. Zucchini cake is perfect for summer baking as zucchini is plentiful and in season!

My future mother-in-law told me about this recipe. A woman from her church made this Blueberry Zucchini Cake, and she told me that it was a huge hit. I do believe in the power in numbers; that is, if you bring a dish or eat a dish at a potluck and almost everyone is coming back for seconds, that means that it’s a dish worth recreating yourself. She wanted the recipe, and the woman from her church gave it to her; here’s the original recipe.

If you love zucchini bread, you will love this cake. Zucchini has a lot of water, and thus, it makes for incredibly moist baked goods. I also think the inclusion of oil in this recipe also helps assure you that you’ll have a good bite. In addition, the amount of flour and eggs makes this cake dense, but I think it works well. Lemon and blueberry are always a great marriage; the perfect balance of sweet and tart. I was a little alarmed when I saw that there is four cups of powdered sugar for the icing, but it makes a firm icing that I think is necessary for the texture of the cake, and the sugar isn’t as overpowering as one may think.

Lastly, this zucchini cake made me remember why I love a food processor. My mother-in-law and I made this cake using the food processor for two purposes: 1.) to shred the zucchini quickly and evenly, and 2.) to whip up the lemon buttercream. If you do not have a food processor, go get one immediately. It’s a very underused kitchen tool that I think needs to be brought out more than once in a great while. It makes the prep work of cooking and baking such a breeze!

P.S If you make too much zucchini, freeze it in a ziplock bag. You could make my favorite zucchini fritters, too. They’re latka style and tasty!

Zucchini Cake

    • 3 large eggs
    • 1 cup vegetable oil
    • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
    • 2 1/4 cups sugar
    • 2 cups shredded zucchini (depending on the size of your zucchini, you will need 1-2 pieces of zucchini)
    • 3 cups all purpose flour
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp baking soda
    • 1 pint blueberries (tossed in 1 tsp flour so they don’t sink down into your cake!)
Lemon Buttercream
  • 1 cup butter, (2 sticks, 8 ounces) at room temperature
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • juice of one lemon (buy two just in case you don’t have enough juice)

Directions

  1. Set oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lightly grease and flour a 9×13 baking pan. Preferably, use a dark pan (but if you only have glass, it’s okay; just watch your edges!
  3. You will make your cake first; while your cake is cooling in the refrigerator, then you make your icing!
  4. Prep your ingredients. Cut a zucchini in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Cut off the ends of the zucchini and discard. Slice your zucchini halves into smaller pieces to throw into your food processor. Use the shredding attachment until you get two cups. Do not drain the liquid.
  5. Once you have shredded your zucchini, beat the eggs, oil, vanilla and sugar until well blended. Fold in the zucchini.
  6. Whisk the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda to combine. Slowly add it to the wet mixture, mixing just enough to blend. I add about 1/3 of the flour at a time, sometimes 1/4 of the flour. DO NOT OVERMIX! IT WILL BE CHEWY OTHERWISE!
  7. Fold in the blueberries, and pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 50 minutes, just until the top is turning golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out without wet batter clinging to it. Cool on a rack. You may need to cook the cake more
  8. To make the frosting, put the softened butter into the bowl of a food processor and process until creamy. Add the sifted powdered sugar, one cup at a time, processing till smooth after each addition. After the second cup of sugar, add in the lemon juice. Scrape down the sides of the machine as necessary. Adjust the texture by adding a little more lemon or a little more sugar depending on your taste.
  9. Frost the cooled cake and store in the refrigerator.
  10. Enjoy with company; it’s your new easy to make and eat potluck dessert. 🙂