Friday, August 22, 2014

Amazing Coconut Shrimp

Folks - it's the WEEKEND (finally) and this party is about to get started!!!!!!

I'm ridiculously pumped to share this recipe with you - it's pretty much the perfect food to close out the summer.


 


A couple of weeks ago, I was trying to plan out our Sunday lunch and I was coming up with NOTHING. This was smack dab in the middle of my cooking rut (remember the Jello incident?), and there was not one thing that came to mind that sounded even remotely appetizing. I pretty much spent that entire Saturday night immersed in our favorite cookbooks, magazines, blogs and even Pinterest to get some sort of idea but NOPE - nothing.

I can't exactly let go of these sorts of things. When it comes to food, I MUST have a PLAN. ICANTLETGO.

Which explains why I was up until 1 a.m. reading cookbooks from cover to cover.

All I kept thinking about was how bad I wanted to go back to the beach. Because can we agree that the beach pretty much has some of the best food ever?



And the best views, obvi.




As thoughts of the beach kept creeping into my mind, my tastebuds started longing for something...seafood-y. Which led to shrimp. Which made me think of the time I ordered coconut shrimp at Margaritaville once in college.

Light bulb.

After much MUCH research (I had high standards, you see. Merher), I stumbled on the Crème de la Crumb blog ---- and her AMAZING recipe for coconut shrimp tacos.

Even better? It was an EASY 30-minute recipe from start to finish, practical ingredients, and...wait for it....BAKED.

Nope - not fried and unhealthy --- BAKED.

It's an explosion of all kinds of goodness that parties all night long on your tastebuds. Seriously -- the flavors are OUT. OF. THIS. WORLD.

And don't even get me STARTED on THE SAUCE. The sauce is just...indescribable.

It's JUST. SO. GOOD.

Probably my favorite thing that's come out of our kitchen since the beginning. And I'm not even exaggerating.


We ate it alongside some fresh homemade guacamole, lime and cilantro-seasoned black beans, and fresh corn. It was PERFECT.

In fact, we enjoyed the shrimp so much we kept forgetting we actually had tortillas to make tacos. I think we both just kind of dove in to the shrimp alone after only one taco.

But hey - whatever works AMIRIGHT?????

Just writing about this dish has me excited all over again. The results were even better than I anticipated, and I'm completely convinced it's what pulled me out of my crazy boring rut.

Your summer probably won't be complete until you make this. It takes a little bit of prep work (and only a few dishes ;) ) but it's totally worth it. Trust me on this, okay?

You'll love it. And then we can be completely obsessed with it together.

Happy obsessing!



Crispy Coconut Shrimp with Sweet Sauce

Serves 2-4
(adapted from Crème de la Crumb)
 
What you'll need:
 
Shrimp:
1 lb shrimp (fresh or frozen), peeled and de-veined with tails removed
4 eggs
4 tbsp water
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cups coconut flakes (I used a whole bag, which ended up being slightly more than 2 cups)
 
Sauce:
1 cup coconut milk
juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro (or more, if you prefer #iheartcilantro)
a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce
 
What you'll do:
Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.
 
Combine eggs and water in a small bowl and whisk until smooth and combined. In a separate bowl, mix flour, garlic powder, chili powder, and cayenne. Pour coconut flakes into another bowl.
 
Line your bowls in this order: flour, eggs/water, coconut.
 
Toss shrimp in flour mixture, dredge in egg mixture, then coat with coconut flakes - in that order.
 
Line shrimp on baking sheet, then bake at 400 for about 15 minutes or until shrimp are thoroughly cooked and coconut flakes start to turn a "golden brown" color.
 
While shrimp are baking, combine all sauce ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until combined. Place in refrigerator to chill until time to serve.
 
These shrimp taste excellent by themselves or on a taco with fresh salsa (I recommend either pineapple or mango salsa), guac, and fresh cilantro. Use the sauce as a dipping sauce, or drizzle on a taco. Either way, you can't go wrong with these babies. They're AMAZING.
 
Kudos to Tiffany from Crème de la Crumb for developing this recipe - go check out her GORGEOUS pictures, too!


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Toasty Ham Sandwiches

Super Simple Supper Alert!

And it's delicious.

Trust me on this, okay?




WEDNESDAY IS ALMOST OVER GUYS!

Which means it's almost Thursday, so it's basically Friday right?

Definitely.

WEEKEND!!!!!!!!

Seriously CAN. NOT. WAIT.

....

But BACK TO THESE SANDWICHES!

And these incredible buns of glory!




NO that's not the name of my future workout video - it's what I call THESE BABIES:



The magic is in the bread -- I LOVE Kings Hawaiian Sweet Rolls. THEY are what really make the dish. Seriously - can we just take a moment to relish the mere SIGHT of these things?




If you've never tried these babies, please know that they will change your life and your expectations of bread forEVER. You just HAVE to.

One of my co-workers found the key to my heart a few weeks ago and handed me this recipe, declaring it was a huge hit with her family. I tweaked it slightly because I'm AWESOME like that and NO REGRETS. Hubs and I devoured them at suppertime and had to straight up put them in the fridge and OUT OF SIGHT before we ate them all.

Thankfully, we were able to devour them yet again at lunch the next day. If ever there was a sandwich you'd want to eat again and again, believe you me THIS IS IT.

Am I being slightly dramatic considering this is a SANDWICH? And a MINI SANDWICH at that?

Probably.

But just you wait 'enry 'iggins. Just. You. Wait.

You'll fall in love too.

Toasty Ham Sandwiches

Serves 2-4
(leftovers for 2)

Pack of 12 dinner rolls (King's Hawaiian if you're awesome)
1/2 to 3/4 stick of butter or margarine, melted
1 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (<- how DO you say that?)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1-2 tbsp poppy seeds (your preference)
1 pack of thinly sliced honey ham
1 pack of provolone cheese

Spray a baking pan or casserole dish with non-stick spray or lightly rub with a little butter/margarine. Separate rolls and line pan with the bottom portions - rolls should be close together. Layer with ham, cheese, then more ham. Top with the top layers of bread (it's okay if rolls are touching!). 

Mix remaining ingredients, then pour evenly over rolls. Back at 350 for roughly 15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Dinner is done!

Fun option: Spread dijon mustard on the rolls before layering ham and cheese. YUM!




I want them IN MY BELLY.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Monday Mushroom Pizzas

I told you I started cooking again --- and here's the proof!

Invisible Internet Friends...I give you:


Portobella Mushroom Pizzas!



Although I've tweaked it a little, I can't exactly take complete credit for this one. It's actually a recipe from when I worked on THIS SHOW way back when. It was one of my favorites of that season and I make it at least once or twice a month. It's boy-approved, too, because the Hubs LOVES it.

It's so super simple to make, and what takes the longest is just cleaning out the 'bellas.

Which, let's be honest, cleaning two of them takes about two minutes, tops.

Fast supper? Coming right up.





I've used both chopped fresh tomatoes and canned diced tomatoes, depending on what I have on hand (sometimes a combination!) - and both will work fine. Occasionally I'll have leftover sauce and I'll put it over fish or chicken or whole wheat pasta the next day, and it still tastes just as good!

And BONUS POINTS because it's super healthy and tastes like delicious little drops of fungi.

Too far? Yeah, probably. But trust me on this. You'll love it.

At least I hope so.

You won't regret it!

And a little birdie once told me this is a gluten-free recipe. If you're into that sort of thing. So try it out! It'll be fun :)




Portobella Mushroom Pizzas

Serves 2


What you'll need:
2 medium-sized portobella mushrooms
2 whole tomatoes (or 1 can of low-sodium diced tomatoes)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil (separate from previous)
1 tsp garlic powder (NOT salt!)
half tsp garlic powder (separate)
1 tsp onion powder (NOT salt!)
half tsp onion powder (separate)
2 tsp tomato paste (tomato sauce will work, too!)
1 tbsp water
2 tbsp part-skim mozzarella cheese
cracked red pepper, to taste
black pepper, to taste
dash of cayenne pepper
dash of oregano
dash of basil

What you'll do:
Clean the mushrooms by first twisting off the stems (set these aside), then using a spoon to gently scrape off the gills (you won't need these). Rinse thoroughly. Heat 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil in a skillet on medium heat and sprinkle in garlic and onion powder. Sauté mushrooms in mixture for 2-3 minutes (longer if needed), flipping to give both sides flavor.

In a separate skillet, heat 1 tsp oil on medium heat with half a tsp of garlic and onion powder. Once heated, add diced tomatoes and stir until lightly coated in oil mixture. Let simmer, adding 1 tbsp water as tomatoes begin to cook down. NOTE: You may need an additional tbsp of water, depending on the consistency you prefer for your sauce. Add cracked red pepper, black pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste and stir. Turn heat to low once you've reached your preferred consistency and taste.

Meanwhile, remove mushrooms from skillet and place in a baking dish or cookie tray. Keep heat on skillet medium low. Chop the stems that you removed earlier and sauté in leftover oil in skillet. If you need to add a little more, add about half a tsp at this point.

While stems are cooking, assemble your "pizzas." Place 1-2 tbsp of sauce on the bowl side of mushrooms, then add a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese. Add mushroom stems and top with a dash of oregano and basil. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes or until cheese is completely melted.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Crock Pot Pulled Chicken

It's FRIDAY!!!

And I'm still only slightly in denial that it's not quite 5:00 yet ------ My brain prettttty much checked out at lunchtime.

But that's okay because GUESS WHAT YOU GUYS I'M FINALLY COOKING REAL FOOD AGAIN!!!!!!!!




...unless you don't count the Crock Pot as "cooking" - but since it DOES taking some planning and preparation, I definitely do.

This is the easiest recipe EVER. No joke. I just made this yesterday so it's perfect for the weekend when you'd rather be outside enjoying the beautiful weather rather than cooking!

It's also a HUGE HELP for the days that you know will be long and tiring - much like yesterday was for us! We didn't get home until after 8:30 last night - so the fact that supper was ready and waiting on us was a delicious RELIEF.

If you don't know me, then you must know this: I love BBQ. As in, ABSOLUTELY LOVE it.




I've never made pulled chicken or pork before now because it just seemed like a long, drawn-out process, but when Julie of PBfingers posted her easy Crock Pot method, I couldn't believe I'd never tried it before.

I used two legs and two thighs (dark meat YEAH), but you could easily sub chicken breasts if that's what you have on hand.

I let the chicken thaw out overnight, so all I had to do in the morning was put it in with two cans of chicken broth and some seasoning and turned it on Low. It only needs 8 hours to cook, but the longer it cooks, the juicer it gets, and the more it falls apart! Side note: We were gone for over 12 hours yesterday --- so that chicken was TENDER.

Once we got home, I just drained the chicken, separated it a little more, and mixed it with some fabulous BBQ sauce. Done.

Hubs and I are currently on a quest to find the best BBQ sauces around, so about once a month we'll grab a new brand to try. This month's challenger:




Sticky Fingers Carolina Sweet! At this point, it's the one to beat. It's sweet, but it's got a nice kick to where it's just a little hot, but not so much so that you can't enjoy the flavor. My kind of sauce, exactly! :) You can guarantee there WILL be more in our future.


Side note: The runner up at this point is Cheerwine BBQ sauce that a friend of ours gave us a few months back. Hubs lived in North Carolina for awhile (where Cheerwine is made), so he's QUITE the fan. ((We even toasted with it at our wedding!))

((We toasted with Cheerwine, not with the BBQ sauce))

((Although that would have been delicious))




We grabbed a few slices of the Nature's Own Sandwich Rounds and made BBQ Pulled Chicken sandwiches (less calories = more room for MORE BBQ!) - and it pretty much blew my mind at how delicious it was. I even added some dijon mustard for an extra splash of flavor. YUM.


Bottom line: I HIGHLY recommend that you do this sometime in the near future. You shan't regret it - unless you're allergic to chicken or awesomeness or something.


Now let's celebrate because IT'S FRIDAY and the kitchen is my friend again!!!!!






Crock Pot Pulled Chicken

From the PBfingers blog
Serves 2-4 hungry folks

What you'll need:
Chicken - breast, thighs, legs, etc. (I used 2 thighs, 2 legs)
2 cans of low sodium chicken broth
2 cups (at least) of your favorite BBQ sauce
Seasonings of your choice (I used salt, pepper, and Tony's)


What you'll do:
Thaw chicken completely and place in a crock pot. Season to taste, then cover in chicken broth. Cook on LOW for 8-12 hours. Remove chicken (be sure to pick out the bones!) and place in serving dish. Pull apart with tongs or a fork, then cover with your favorite BBQ sauce. The more sauce, the better!

Tastes great on a warm bun with dijon mustard and a dash of hot sauce!




Question:

What are your recommendations for our BBQ sauce tasting????

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Final Product

So LAST WEEK - I finished a month-long course in basic cake decorating (!!!!) - and it was all kinds of fun. On Monday night I wanted to practice and prep so I would feel a leeeetle more comfortable in class on Tuesday, plus it helped me determine my strong points so I COULD WIN.

Just kidding. There was no contest or winners. We weren't even graded or given a Pass/Fail.

But the teacher liked mine best so WIN!!!!!

Actually, she never exactly said that OUT LOUD, per se...but I could tell. I could totally tell. For. Realz.

Sooooo this here is the practice cake --- I couldn't decide between the stars-slash-tiny-flowers look or big luscious roses, so I just divided it up and went for both.






As we can see here, this side was pretty girly and ever so slightly lame but HEY roses = icing so YES.







Plus the icing colors worked out really well. Neon Food Coloring FOR THE WIN.


And as we can CLEARLY see -- my "cascading" stars-slash-let's-pretend-they're-tiny-flowers look didn't QUITE pan out. But it was actually fun just piling on the icing.




So, since I only slightly failed at the flowery look, I threw on some sprinkles and called it a night. Because sprinkles make everything better. EVERYTHING.



...despite the aftermath in our tiny kitchen.



By Tuesday night, I was amped and ready to go -- I shared a table with one other girl during class and we had equipment and tools GALORE. It took me the entire two-hour class, but I finished and was actually really happy with the final product!





My only reservation was that, at some point in the mixing process, I got a little too happy with the green  coloring. So rather than a calming meadow green it came out rather hunter green. But hey, we'll just pretend it's garden cake!

Grass looks appetizing right?




Oh, and I overestimated the size of my cake and made WAY too many roses -- but they did turn out pretty and shiny, and that was exciting :)




  



For the rest of the week, we had CAKE. FOR. DAYS. DAYS, I tell you!

And while that's never a bad thing for cake-lovers such as myself and the Mister, having THREE CAKES in ONE KITCHEN seemed a little much.

((...I made an extra cake the night before just in case something happened to my cake in class))

((#klutzproof))


Thankfully, the Mister's co-workers were gracious enough to devour one cake, we did some SIGNIFICANT damage to another one at home, and the extra one - well, it wasn't exactly wrapped properly and grew stale kind of quickly.

Works for me! #lesscalories

At some point in the future I'm hoping to take the next level course - so who knows WHAT we'll get ourselves into next????


Also --- with all the cake behind us, I've actually been able to cook again! I've got a quite a few recipes up my sleeve and can't wait to share!

I'm off for a quick workout! Hollaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!


Monday, August 4, 2014

CAKE-spiration

Happy Monday, folks! And, really...happy AUGUST -- Let me just add to the endless amount of people that are saying WHAT IN THE WORLD. August? Seriously? That's like...basically the end of summer! Not to mention we're now only about 4 months out until all of the holidays kick in.


WHAT WHAT


Meanwhile, I'm busy prepping and practicing for my final {beginner-level} cake class tomorrow night - I made and crumb-coated a practice cake last night (MUCH to my husband's delight) and will decorate it tonight in hopes of having a well-practiced fun design ready to pump out tomorrow evening.

I'm crazy excited about it but also really nervous - typically the only cakes I decorate stay within the walls of our little apartment, so I'm a little nervous to be working alongside a group of other people who have their own designs in mind. I've been Googling and doodling simple designs like crazy because WINNING. I want to be the best, plain and simple. I need it, want it, gotta have it DON'T STOP GET IT GET IT.

I'm not competitive at all. AT. ALL.

And although the only real thing I'm moderately good at when it comes to icing is making roses, I'm actually not 100% sold on using them in my design tomorrow. Weird? Maybe. I honestly don't care for roses in general - but I can tolerate them in a pretty yellow color, so we'll see where this goes!

So before I have to jet - here are some cake pictures that have been sparking my creativity lately. Some I like the design, others I like the colors, others I included just because they look simple enough for even ME to make them look halfway decent!

I'll report back later this week with the final product - my hands are shaking already!







Sidenote: These next few photos are rather....downright TERRIBLE. Basically, it was me simply taking a picture of a picture on a computer screen so I could save it for later. #talent






Question:

Which ones are your favorite? Should I attempt any of these at all, or even a combination? I have some ideas.... ;)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Few (caffeinated) Thoughts

Today my boss liked one of my ideas (I know it's true because she used an exclamation point in her email - WHAATT) so I celebrated by getting a tiny fancy coffee on the lunch break.




Delicious AND invigorating, I tell you.

I should do that everyday. The wonders that it works on my mind and energy are astonishing.

SO! To add to the pointless, rushed, and thrown-together blog post from yesterday - here are some very random, only slightly-caffeinated thoughts that are ping-ponging around my head at the moment. Enjoy!


one. I've been taking a cake-decorating class for the past few weeks and, while it's been loads of fun, I'm incredibly BAD at it. Next week is our final class and we'll have present a fully baked and decorated cake - so I'll be baking and decorating up a storm over the weekend to prep for it. My Mister could not be happier.


two. Despite my atrocious work with icing, I'm surprisingly decent at making roses. If all efforts fail next week, you can expect photos of a cake covered with roses and edible glitter. Because that's just what everyone looks for in a cake decorator, right? "Surprisingly decent" work?




three. I've been on a MAJOR Broadway music kick for the past three weeks or so. Particularly and really ONLY all things sung by the likes of Sutton Foster. From Shrek to Little Women and Anything Goes - it's all on my Spotify playlist at work. And I can't stop singing "Christopher Columbus -- I'll be astonishinnnng...ASTONISHIIIINNNNGGG!!!!" (via Little Women).

...And Thoroughly Modern Millie is on REPEAT in my car and no one can stop me! :)

Fun fact about me: I've kind of  been obsessed with musical theatre since I played an owl in our community theatre's AMAZING production of "Snow White" when I was 7 years old. I got GLOWING reviews, by the way. GLOWING. Snow White who? I mean, "HOOOO!"


four. If you're not a musical theatre fan: sadly, I am only kind of sorry for the previous note.


five. I read Mindy Kaling's book, "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?" on the Fourth of July a few weeks ago and laughed harder than I have at any book in a long time. It's ridiculously relatable and a wonderful, lighthearted read. It also made me remember how badly I've always wanted to be a writer - whether in print or on TV, it just sounds exciting and challenging and fulfilling. The way she describes the creative process, the atmosphere in the "writers room" (oooohhh), and other aspects of the job - I couldn't put the book down and kept wanting to know more and more.

Side note:  Last year, Hubs and I met up with some friends for a teacher's retirement party. At the party, the teacher displayed work from lots of the students from each class, and wouldn't you know we found one of my projects from EIGHTH GRADE? The project was something about jobs and whatnot and what I wrote back then (as a chubby, awkward 13-year-old) kind of floored me. I wrote about wanting to work in film and TV; I wanted to "direct and produce and even write the scripts because I love to write" -- no kidding. Funny how some things never change ;) Aaah, dream jobs. There are SO MANY in my mind - ha!


six. I've been a terrible cook as of late. Lately our meals have consisted of "what can be thrown together the fastest and still taste decent" alongside frozen vegetables. I almost tried to pass off Jell-o as a meal one night but figured that might be taking things a LEEETLE too far. So what did we pair it with? Vegetables. I really don't remember the last time I cooked meat and our last few meals are kind of a blur in my mind. Tonight I'm planning to make Butter Chicken (as in, Indian Food YEAH!), but let's face it --- while it SOUNDS fancy, the sauce is pre-made and all I have to do is throw it on some cooked chicken. I'm pretty much failing at this wife thing. But, hey, at least our clothes are washed and clean! Right? Right? :p


seven. Last night I was grocery shopping and I guess God knew I needed a laugh because, as I was reaching for some Jamaican Jerk marinade - the BIGGEST FREAKIEST MOST GIANT GRASSHOPPER I HAVE EVER SEEN came out of NOWHERE and started wigging out that I moved the jar in front of him. I'm NOT proud of the fact that I, too, wigged out in the middle of the store. I mean, wouldn't you???? Look at this thing!!!! He was about the size of my whole hand!




UGH. I'm getting the creeps and shivers just looking at the thing again. AAH. #notabugfan

Happy Wednesday, friends - here's to a MUCH less weird post next time!