Shrimp Scampi Dip

What’s not to love about this? Shrimp in a creamy dip – a delicious and filling appetizer that will make your guests feel like they’re eating gold. OK, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but they will definitely perk up when they’ve heard you made a shrimp scampi dip and you give them some nice toasts or crusty bread to dip with.

I will warn you that this is super filling. We had a little bit leftover that I have now sitting in the freezer. I’m looking for the perfect opportunity to defrost this and repurpose it for an amazing pasta sauce.

I actually came across this recipe on Facebook. I saw it as a Food Network video. (Here’s the link to the recipe.) I thought that the directions were specific enough that I mostly copied and pasted them here with a couple of adjustments.


Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella

  • 1 cup sour cream

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan

  • 4 tablespoons plain dried breadcrumbs

  • Kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter

  • 1 pound large peeled and deveined shrimp, tails discarded, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

  • Large pinch crushed red pepper flakes

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped

  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

  • Slices of crusty bread and/or crackers, for serving

Beat the cream cheese, mozzarella, sour cream, mayonnaise, Parmesan, 2 tablespoons of the breadcrumbs and 1/2 teaspoon salt until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to add the shrimp.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the shrimp, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt and the red pepper flakes, and cook until the shrimp start to turn pink. Add the wine, bring to a simmer and cook until the shrimp are pink and cooked through. (there will be some liquid left in the skillet). Remove the skillet from the heat, and let the shrimp cool completely.

Meanwhile, mix together the parsley, the remaining 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs and 1 tablespoon melted butter, the lemon zest and a pinch of salt in a small bowl.

If you want more of this crust, I would suggest doubling the ingredients for this part. In fact, I think it would be delicious with some of it mixed right into the dip.

Once the shrimp has cooled, stir the shrimp and its liquid and cream cheese mixtures together to combine; transfer to a baking dish. (The dip and breadcrumb mixture can be covered and refrigerated overnight separately at this point. This is actually what I did until guests were starting to arrive.)

Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the dip, and bake until hot and bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes. Switch the oven to broil, and cook until the top is golden brown, 1 to 3 minutes. Let rest for a few minutes, then serve hot with bread and/or crackers.

I chose to serve this with ritz crackers and garlic melba toasts. Don’t be afraid when you scoop it; it will be a bit more watery than you expect, especially when it’s still hot. I hope you and your guests enjoy this hot and yummy dip!

Sincerely,

Fu’d

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Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Pitas

This was soooooo good! I made this meal once before, but I changed it up a little this time. I used a recipe from Pinterest (surprise, surprise) as my basis. (Here’s the link to the recipe.) The results were delicious. It was really filling, but I was still craving more.

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The Filling

The recipe calls for two heads of cauliflower. I had one large head, which was more than sufficient for Jake and I who like to eat a lot. First, I cut up the large head of cauliflower and cut off/discarded any really large pieces of the stem. Feel free to keep them if you like, but I wanted to make sure I had enough room filling the pitas to use all the florets.

The recipe also calls for 2 cans of chickpeas. I only used one – drained and rinsed. I put the drained chickpeas on a paper towel, took another paper towel and patted them down, then rubbed my hands around a bit over the towel and chickpeas. This is so I could dry them a bit and also loosen some of the clear shells around them. I picked those away and discarded them. (Don’t go crazy doing this – you could be there forever and drive yourself nuts trying to peel them all away.)

I decided to add a few chopped mushrooms, as well.

With all that in a large bowl, I drizzled some olive oil and added the seasonings. I mixed it around and did a little taste test. I ended up adding some more Garam Masala. I actually also decided to add some cumin and turmeric.

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I spread the filling out on two large baking sheets so there wasn’t too much overlapping and put them in the oven. I would suggest the middle rack. The recipe calls for the oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit, but I found that to be too hot – I was getting more of some burnt pieces than browned pieces (and my sensitive smoke detector went off, ugh), so I turned the oven down to 400 degrees Farenheit.

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Jake wanted some shrimp, so I planned for two shrimp per pita. I seasoned them with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. I then cooked them on the stove with a little butter.

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The Spreads

The Pinterest recipe includes directions on how to make an avocado cilantro lime dip. I didn’t feel like going through the trouble of all that, so I made a modified version. It was just one avocado smashed with some plain Greek yogurt, salt, pepper, lime juice, and some thinly sliced red onion.

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The other spread was a carrot sriracha hummus that I bought at our local grocery store. The brand name on the hummus is Lantana.

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The Pita

I also just bought pita from our local store. The brand is Joseph’s – it is a Flax, Oat Bran, and Whole Wheat pita and only 50 calories per pita! These were the smaller kind – only about 5″ in diameter or so. Feel free to use whatever pita you want, though – most kinds should work great.

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I assembled all of the pitas ahead of time, mostly to get a good photo!  Otherwise, I would’ve served it tacos or a fajita style so that we could create our own custom pitas with all the fixings. In the end, this was really good and really filling. Although I wanted more of this, I didn’t even want snacks after dinner, like I usually do! 😉

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Happy eating!

Sincerely,
Fu’d

Spicy Asian Soup

Usually during the day, I think about what I’m going to make for dinner that night. Yesterday, I kept thinking about how I was going to make a shepherds pie with the vegetarian ground beef we had bought the previous week. Last minute, Jake texted me before heading home from work asking if we could have soup. Argh! He wanted to have a spicy asian broth with fish, shrimp, and bok choy. I gave in and so he stopped by the grocery store on the way home to get the ingredients. Turns out Jake thinks that this particular soup was one of the best things I’ve ever made!

Here’s what you’ll need to make the soup base:

  • 1 Tbsp Vegetable or Canola Oil
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 1.5″ Fresh Ginger Root (sliced)
  • 1 Green Onion (sliced)
  • 1 Small Onion (chopped)
  • 2 Star Anise
  • 1/3 cup Hot Bean Paste
  • 2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Sriracha
  • 7 cups Beef Broth
  • Dash of Chinese 5 Spice (optional)

Here’s what I used for the fixings, but feel free to mix it up and experiment with whatever you like.

  • 1 lb. Haddock
  • 10 Extra Jumbo Frozen Shrimp (remove the skin and chunk)
  • 1 Small Head/Bundle of Bok Choy (Baby bok choy is better. Otherwise, cut into smaller pieces.)
  • 1 Big Handful of Bean Sprouts
  • A couple of handfuls of Kale (torn into pieces)
  • 6 oz. Shiitaki Mushrooms (sliced)
  • 1/4 lb. Angel Hair Pasta (Any noodle should be fine. Udon would be great.)

To make the broth, start with oil in a large pot. (I used a 5 quart pot.) Add in the garlic, ginger, onion, green onion, and star anise. Cook on medium until fragrant and the onions start to become translucent.

Then, add in the hot bean sauce. I happened to find this particular one at the Asian market, but I think any sort of hot bean sauce will work. Start with approximately 1/4 cup. Reserve the rest in case you want to add more later based on the taste. Mix and cook with the aromatics for a few minutes. Because I have the copper pan, I don’t get a lot of stuck bits at the bottom, but if you do, don’t worry. That will add some extra flavor and you’ll have an opportunity to scrape it all up in the next step when adding the broth.

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Then, add the beef broth, a splash of the soy sauce, and squirt of the sriracha. This is when you should add the optional dash of the Chinese 5-piece powder. Taste test and increase the amounts of soy sauce and sriracha based on your liking. 20180924_191908.jpgBring the broth to a boil. When boiling, add the angel hair pasta.  Bring the boil down to a dull roar. I suggest letting that cook for about five minutes. Then, add the bok choy, bean sprouts, kale, and shiitake mushrooms. Let that cook for another five minutes or so.As a last step, I add the haddock chunks and shrimp. I cooked that for five more minutes. At this point, the soup is ready to serve, but feel free to continue simmering it for a bit longer to let all the flavors meld together. Finally, serve and garnish with more green onion if you’d like!20180925_173522.jpgYou’ll find a million Asian soup recipes out there. I’ve made a few of them and that’s where I’ve gotten some of these ideas. This is the easiest that I’ve tried so far, yet the most flavorful. I hope you give it a try!

Sincerely,
Fu’d

 

 

 

Oui Oui, French Bread & Shrimp Scampi

Jake’s dad makes a lot of really scrumptious seafood dishes. One of those dishes is his famous shrimp scampi that I have only heard whispers about, but had not actually witnessed or tried myself. Last night put an end to all those rumors! Jake’s parents came over and not only made that famous shrimp scampi for us, but also taught us how to make it. Warning: I’m not at liberty to divulge all the details, but I will talk about some of its ingredients and leave you drooling with some photos. In honor of the shrimp scampi, I also put my new stand mixer to use again and made a fresh loaf of french bread.

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The surprising and not-so-surprising thing about the shrimp scampi recipe is that it is very simple – not a lot of ingredients. It is primarily comprised of clam juice, butter, clams, and garlic. Seasonings and other flavorings seem like they could be up to you. You could even add a little at a time, taste test, adjust, and repeat until you’re happy with the flavors. In my opinion, any of the following could add some nice flavors: salt, pepper, scallions, shallots, basil, parsley, red pepper flakes, a squirt of lemon, or splash of white wine or white cooking wine. You’ll obviously need shrimp to make it shrimp scampi, but you can feel free to add whatever other seafood you like. In this case, we had shrimp, scallops, and lobster – the trifecta. A flaky white fish or muscles would also complement this dish well.

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Lobster is prepped and ready to add into the sauce
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Sauce being cooked on the stove

We enjoyed the sauce with some linguini. I almost offered to make fresh pasta with my new stand mixer pasta attachments. But since I’m still a novice at that, I didn’t want to mess up the dish or the cooking lesson. Next time, it will definitely be worth a try.

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Whenever you have a pasta dish in front of you, it is a requirement that you have some bread to sop up that extra sauce. So, here comes the french bread. As usual, I used handy dandy Pinterest to find an easy recipe. (Here’s the link to the recipe.) The actual work to make the bread isn’t difficult, but I had no idea how time consuming the entire process is. If I ever make bread again, I would not make a single loaf. If I’m going to spend an entire day waiting for the dough to rise, I would probably make a few loaves.

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In this recipe (and I think most bread recipes like this), you need to let the dough rise for an hour, then punch it down, let it rise for another 30 min, then shape the loaf, and let it rise for another 30-60 minutes. I chose to brush the loaf with an egg white wash before baking. However, it seemed a bit dry, so I decided to additionally brush it with butter and some dried rosemary near the end of the baking time and after it was done and out of the oven. Wow, the aroma from the butter and rosemary was SO good. Also, about halfway through the baking, the bottom of the bread was browning a lot faster than the rest. Since the bread was firm enough at that time, I put it on a baking rack, which sat on top of the baking sheet.

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The bread had a nice flavor, but it was a bit dense. I had to do a little research afterward to see what it would take to get a fluffier inside. I suspect I didn’t knead the dough for long enough. Also, I might experiment with the different flours that I use. Also, the “jelly roll” method that was used to make the loaf left noticeable spirals inside when slicing the bread. I wonder if I just need to either roll it tighter or maybe next time I’ll just shape the loaf without flattening first and rolling.

To finish it off, Jake’s mom had brought cupcakes for us to enjoy for dessert. We were already so full from the pasta that having an individual-sized dessert hit the spot.

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All in all, it was a great dish to mark the end of summer. Even Whiskey and Brody (our pups) wanted to try some. I can’t wait to try the recipe and hopefully perfect it!

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Sincerely
Fu’d

My Birthday! A Hearty Homemade Dinner

Yesterday was my birthday! Ah, how time flies. Everything leading up until that night’s dinner really didn’t feel any different. It fell in the middle of the week – I worked a full day, didn’t mention it to anyone at work, and we hadn’t really made any plans. On my way home, I called Jake like I normally do. Come to find out, he had left work early and was in the middle of cooking me a birthday dinner! Not only that, but he had taken some photos for me along the way, knowing that I would want to blog about it. Am I that predictable?! Look below at what a great job he did!

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Wine is a staple in my diet, so the night before my birthday, Jake stopped by the local wine shop and purchased four bottles of wine. Yay! He chose one of the red wines to enjoy with the birthday dinner last night.

On my birthday, Jake had timed his cooking so that when I got home I had just enough time to shower and get into my sweats (the perfect birthday outfit) before he finished the appetizer. He made breaded air-fried shrimp with a dipping sauce.

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To make the shrimp appetizer, he tossed raw shrimp in a “secret” seasoning blend, coated the shrimp in egg whites, and tossed them with Italian Style breadcrumbs. He then air-fried the shrimp until the breadcrumbs were a golden brown. For the sauce, he mixed together Greek yogurt, sweet Thai chili sauce, and sriracha. Then, he garnished the dip with green onions. The dip had a really unique flavor and it paired perfectly with the shrimp.

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For the protein in the main meal, he made steak. The steaks were simply seasoned with a Hawaiian Alaea (pink) salt, pepper, and paprika. If you want to do that yourself and don’t have the Alaea salt, don’t worry about it – just use any salt you have in your spice cabinet. He grilled the steaks and then let them rest so the juices would “‘re-absorb” into the steaks.

On the side, Jake made oven-roasted sweet potatoes and sauteed brussel sprouts. The sweet potatoes were cubed and seasoned with salt, pepper, and a dash of cinnamon to help bring out some of the sweetness. He roasted them in the oven at 360 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes.

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The brussel sprouts were divine. First, he cooked up maple bacon in a pot on the stove top. Once crisp, he removed the bacon, and added some sliced sweet onion. He cooked those down a bit to soften them. He then added the whole brussel sprouts and added salt, pepper, and sugar. He let that cook on the stove, covered, for about 15 minutes. This gave enough time for the greens to cook and to caramelize the onions. They got that deep brown color and mouth-watering sweet/savory flavor. I’m drooling right now thinking about it! As the last step, Jake crumbled the cooked bacon over the brussel sprouts and tossed to mix.

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I ate a lot of food last night and I refuse to feel guilty about it! Not only was it my birthday, but there’s no way I was leaving any part of my dish untouched. It was just too good.

To top it off, we had dessert. Jake opted to buy the dessert this time instead of baking since he was already going to have his hands full cooking. He knows I’m not a big sweets lover, so he got me two mini fruit tarts. (He got himself a chocolate cupcake with a mint chocolate chip frosting.) Perfect. 🙂 It was the perfect kind of birthday; it was a food-i-licious, no frills, yoga pants, wine drinking, and binge TV watching night with my thoughtful husband.

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Just wait until his birthday in June and you’ll learn about why I’m obligated to make him lobster mac and cheese. 😉

Sincerely,
Fu’d

Black Bean Soup With a Fishy Twist

We typically reserve Monday’s for some sort of fish dish. We had skipped these the past couple of weeks for various reasons, but we are back on track! Tonight was inspired by three things:

  1. Our recent lack of fish
  2. The chillier, rainy day we had here in New England
  3. Seeing some black bean soup recipes while perusing the internet

It was perfect. We had some leftover vegetables from last week that I wanted to use up. Plus, we still had some haddock frozen from Jake’s fishing trip a few weeks ago and fresh garden tomatoes his parent’s gave us a week ago. Additionally, we always carry black beans in our pantry and extra jumbo frozen shrimp in our freezer.

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I didn’t follow a specific recipe for this one – just played on the seasonings that I knew were in some other black bean/taco type dishes I had made before. Here’s what you’ll need:

Produce

  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 2 ears of corn
  • 1 can of low sodium black beans
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • haddock (A pound or less is fine)
  • shrimp (I used 10 extra jumbo)

Seasonings (approximate)

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon jalapeño pepper powder (optional)

I small chopped one red bell pepper, one green bell pepper, and half a sweet onion. I sauteed that in a pot with a drizzle of olive oil until soft.

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I then chopped up two tomatoes and put them in the pot. I let the tomato juices render out for about 5 minutes.

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I added kernels from 2 ears of corn, a can of rinsed and drained black beans, and approximately 3 cups of chicken broth. Ok, you caught me. I added a splash of red wine, too. 🙂

I added all the seasonings that I mentioned in the list above. Everything simmered for about 10 minutes while I filleted the skin off the haddock.

I actually had decided to use my immersion blender to blend some of the vegetables to give a slightly thicker consistency. Finally, I added the chunks of haddock and added some frozen shrimp. I let it cook for another 5-10 minutes (since the fish and shrimp cook quickly). I finished it off with a squirt of lime juice. Then, it was ready to serve.

I didn’t have any ripe avocados or cilantro on hand, but those would be wonderful additions. In that case, you might even want to add extra lime or serve with lime wedges.

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Overall, I was actually surprised that the fish flavors melded with the black bean soup flavors. I think because the haddock is so mild, it takes on the flavors of whatever you cook it in. Although not the most attractive looking soup, I would make this again! I would love to hear if you try this with some adaptations!

Sincerely,
Fu’d