Shrimp Fra Diavolo

I am always on the lookout for a new yummy shrimp dish, and when I stumbled upon this recipe from Giada De Laurentiis from the Food Network, I knew it would be a winner in our house. Spicy + light sauce = delicious. We paired the Shrimp Fra Diavolo with penne pasta.

Photo courtesy of Nicholas Draney Photography

Shrimp Fra Diavolo
From Giada De Laurentiis at the Food Network

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 teaspoon salt, plus additional as needed
1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 to 2 teaspoons
1 medium onion, sliced
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 cup dry white wine
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (I omitted because I didn't have this on hand)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves

Toss the shrimp in a medium bowl with 1 teapoon of salt and red pepper flakes. Heat the 3 tablespoons oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and saute for about a minute, toss, and continue cooking until just cooked through, about 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a large plate; set aside. Add the onion to the same skillet, adding 1 to 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the pan, if necessary, and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices, wine, garlic, and oregano. Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. Return the shrimp and any accumulated juices to the tomato mixture; toss to coat, and cook for about a minute so the flavors meld together. Stir in the parsley and basil.

We served our shrimp with penne pasta & a sprinkling of parmesan cheese on top.


Rice Krispies Treats

Who doesn't love Rice Krispies Treats? Such a quick and easy snack to make to satisfy your sweet tooth. I used the recipe right off the side of the cereal box.

Kellogg's Rice Krispies Treats

3 Tbs. margarine or butter
1 package (10 oz., about 40) regular marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal

Melt butter in large saucepan over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat. Add Rice Krispies cereal. Stir until well coated.

Using a buttered spatula, press mixture evenly into a 13 x 9 pan coated with cooking spray. Cut into 2-inch squares when cool.

Makes 24 squares.


Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce

I love these lettuce wraps; they are healthy, delicious and super easy to make. I use butter lettuce for the wraps because it tends to hold together best as you eat it.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Head of butter lettuce
Garlic-Soy Chicken, recipe below
Peanut sauce, recipe below

Slow Cooker Garlic-Soy Chicken
From The Busy Mom's Slow Cooker Cookbook

1 small onion, sliced
2 tsp. garlic powder
3/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup vinegar
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Combine onion, garlic powder, soy sauce, and vinegar in small bowl and mix well. Place chicken breasts in slow cooker and pour soy mixture over chicken. Cover and cook on low heat for 6 - 8 hours.

Remove chicken and shred. Drain onions and serve on the side as topping for your wraps.

Peanut Sauce
From Cooking Light

1/4 cup lime juice
3 Tbs. peanut butter
3 Tbs. soy sauce
3 Tbs. honey (I only used 2)
1 Tbs. chili paste with garlic
4 garlic cloves, minced

Combine ingredients in small bowl and stir well with a whisk. Can be used as a dipping sauce, or poured over the contents of your wrap.

Yields 1/2 cup sauce.

Photo courtesy of Nicholas Draney Photography


New Toys

I really love getting new kitchen gadgets, tools, and bakeware, so I thought it would be fun to post some of my recent acquisitions.

Microplane - from Williams-Sonoma

Capresso Stainless Steel Burr Grinder - from Sur La Table

We are both big coffee-drinkers - we have both a french press as well as a Bialetti® Espresso Maker, so we really needed something that would make both coarse and fine grounds. I used it this morning and it was really efficient and made some great coffee!

Le Creuset rectangular baker - from Sur La Table

I have only gotten to use this once so far, but I love it! I made chicken enchiladas in it a couple of weeks ago, and they came out perfectly. I absolutely love Le Creuset and would love to buy more of it.


Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

So, my husband really loves a soft, chewy cookie. I decided to bake some chocolate chip cookies this weekend and happened upon this recipe on All Recipes. Oh.my.god. These are some of the best cookies, with tons of chocolate chips in each bite. Delicious! Some hail this recipe as the Holy Grail of chocolate chip cookies, and it is easy to see why.

Best Big, Fat, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar (I substituted Splenda)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325. Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar, and white sugar (Splenda) until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.

Bake for 15 - 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. Yields ~ 18 cookies.


Classic Banana Bread

I wanted to make some sort of baked goods for breakfast this weekend, and had a hankering for some banana bread. This recipe is from Cooking Light, and came out really moist and tasty.

(Photo courtesy of Nicholas Draney Photography)

Classic Banana Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar (I substituted Splenda)
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (I used 3 bananas)
1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.

Place sugar and butter in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute). Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add banana, yogurt, and vanilla; beat until blended. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist. Spoon batter into an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 1 hour, or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.


Pizza Night

I have been wanting to make a pizza at home for awhile now, and my recent purchase of this pizza stone from Crate and Barrel gave me the perfect opportunity. It is such a quick and easy way to make a fresh pizza at home, and allows you complete control of the amounts and types of ingredients you want.

For this pizza, I used a premade pizza crust from the store, but I plan to start making my own crusts next time. I have also heard Trader Joe's pizza crusts are terrific, and come in a variety of flavors.

1 thin pizza crust (premade)
1/2 cup tomato sauce (I used Classico Spicy Tomato & Basil)
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
toppings - I used chopped onion, oregano, and fresh basil, plus salami & roma tomatoes on Nick's half

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Place pizza stone in the middle of the oven to preheat; it needs about 15 - 20 minutes to heat up enough to make your pizza nice and crispy. Sprinkle stone with cornmeal

Bake pizza at 450 for about 8 - 10 minutes until crust is browned and cheese is bubbly. Remove pizza from stone to cut and serve

*note about cleaning your pizza stone: never use soap on your stone to clean; it is like a sponge and will suck all liquids right up. The manufacturer recommends submerging your baking stone in warm, clear, plain water for 15-20 minutes. This should thoroughly saturate the stone with clean water and dilute the soap residue. Next, remove the stone from the water and place it on a cooling rack on your kitchen counter. Allow the stone to dry completely overnight.


Cheater Brownies

I call these my cheater brownies because they come from a box. The mix comes from Trader Joe's and is called No Pudge Fudge. They are only about 100 calories per brownie, and only need one additional ingredient: vanilla yogurt.

No Pudge Fudge

1 package brownie mix
2/3 cup non-fat vanilla yogurt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 8x8 baking pan and set aside. Add mix to mixing bowl, and add 2/3 cup vanilla yogurt. Mix until batter becomes shiny; it will be very thick. Pour batter into baking pan and bake for 34 minutes.

If you are looking for a more cake-like brownie, you can add an egg white and reduce the yogurt to 1/2 cup, then bake as directed.

Baked Tortilla Chips

I wanted to make a snack on Sunday afternoon, but I wasn't sure what sounded good. I had always wanted to make my own tortilla chips, so I figured this was a good time to try them out. I used sea salt & chili powder to season them, but next I would love to try cinnamon & sugar for a sweet treat. I used flour tortillas for these, but intend on trying out corn tortillas next time for a more "authentic" tortilla chip. Super quick and easy, just make sure to watch them to make sure they don't start to burn!

Baked Tortilla Chips

4-6 flour tortillas
cooking spray
sea salt
chili powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray both sides of each tortilla with cooking spray. Stack the tortillas one on top of the other, and cut them down the middle. Next, take the halves and cut them in half again. Cut remaining pieces into triangles. Arrange triangles on cookie sheet and season with salt & chili powder. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes.


Oh, Kitchen Aid, how I love thee

Photo from Williams-Sonoma website

I have wanted one of these puppies for a really long time. I was so happy when I received this from my mom & dad (in Empire Red, of course) for Christmas 2007. It is freaking amazing. How did I ever live without one?

Spicy Orange Chicken

This is adapted from a WW recipe I found on Recipezaar, so it is fairly heathly and low in calories & fat. I substituted chicken for beef, as we are not big on red meat (I don't eat it at all.) This is a yummy, quick meal that would be easy to put together on a busy weeknight.

Spicy Orange Chicken
(sorry, no picture)

2 chicken breasts
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp grated orange rind
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup orange juice
2 Tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp chili garlic sauce (I added an extra tsp 1/2 since we tend to like our dishes spicy)
4 tsp canola oil
1/2 Tbsp ground ginger
1 cup stir fry veggies (broccoli, carrots & snap peas)

Combine chicken, 1 Tbsp cornstarch, and orange rind in medium bowl; toss well to coat, and set aside. Combine remaining 1 Tbsp cornstarch, chicken broth, orange juice, soy sauce, sugar, and chili garlic sauce in small bowl; set aside.

Heat non-stick wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tsp of oil, then add chicken. Stir fry until cooked, about 2 - 3 minutes; transfer to plate. Add remaining 2 tsp of oil, then add ginger. Stir fry until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add broccoli, carrots & peas. Stir fry until crisp and tender, about 2 - 3 minutes. Add broth mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture boils and thickens, about one minute. Add chicken and cook until heated through, about one minute.

Serve with brown or white rice.

My first time

Well, with my first entry, I officially enter the world of blogging. I mostly mean to keep this blog to keep track of recipes I try and enjoy, as I continue my foray into the world of cooking and baking. I was never much of a cook growing up (definitely not living up to my namesake), but ever since Nick and I were married, I have had an itch to cook up new & delicious things in our tiny apartment kitchen. Enjoy!