Coconutty Shrimp

I spent the better part of one evening going back and forth to the fridge to see if anything for dinner had magically appeared. I was just trying to find something for myself and had no ideas.

Then I finally switched things up and checked out the freezer. When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a bag of frozen jumbo shrimp. Too early for Christmas quotes? No? Great!

I recalled adding coconut shrimp to my list. Baked Coconut Shrimp it was and there’s no time like the present!
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Ingredients:

6 jumbo shrimp, peeled & deveined
3 tbs cornstarch
1 eggwhite, wisked
¼ cup shredded coconut
¼ cup panko breadcrumbs

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Dredge the shrimp in cornstarch
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Then into the egg white (whisking it makes it more dip-able since egg white stays goopy and stuck to itself.)cocoshrimp_egg_590_390

And finally into the coconut & panko (plain coconut will burn without some breadcrumbs in there)
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Lay on baking sheet. Does mine look small? I put these guys into my toaster oven and set it to bake!
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Bake for 8 minutes, flip, then bake for another 8 minutes.
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Voila!

I wanted something sweet and spicy to dip them in so I again checked the fridge. I did notice a crate of clementines I’ve been eating up the ying yang to keep up with them. Perfect!

I peeled a clementine and added it to a pot. I put in some apple cider, apple jelly, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes. I brought it to a boil and mashed it up a bit then turned the temperature down until the shrimp were ready.
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These were so good and super easy. I figured I could whip them up anytime so I only made enough for myself to eat right then. They’d be great to prep in advance and just bake for guests. I hate frying things because of the mess, the grease, and the timing so baking them was much better. It also makes these a lot lighter.

My sauce needs some perfecting. I think I was on the right track but probably needed to refine the quantities.
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I’ll definitely make these again. My Mum would love them!

Blue Ribbon Wins In My Book

Mr. J and I squeaked in on cashing a discount deal we’d purchased to Blue Ribbon Barbecue and loved it! We went the last night before it expired and saw a few other with the deal in line behind us too.Blue Ribbon has 2 locations and I realized I’d been to the Newton, MA one way back when with my sis. Mr. J and I went to the Arlington one.
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I got pulled pork, collard greens, cole slaw, and I couldn’t resist a side of corn bread. I love pulled pork.
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The pulled pork was super tender and just begging for one of their many sauces. I couldn’t get over the collards. Sometimes they’re severely overcooked but they were fresh and leafy. I think they cook them with a ham hock…as if there’s any other way.
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I liked the cole slaw, but wasn’t wowed. Same with the corn bread. The corn bread was very crumbly, as it should be, but I thought it was too dry.
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Mr. J got ribs, baked beans, cole slaw. He liked everything and had been there before.
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They do catering and take out but we plopped down with our plates along their window counter. The outside seats were full since the season to eat outside was nearing an end.

Dare I say it? I think I like Blue Ribbon Barbecue BETTER than Red Bones. I’m not sure but it might be so.

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Watch Out Now: Food Truck Critique

If you’re not too fooded out from the holiday, here’s a wordy nugget about a fun fall activity. On a whirlwind weekend I managed to fit in my first ever Food Truck Festival. I’m an avid watcher of the Great Food Truck Raceand I enjoy food trucks whenever I can. I was SUPER excited about this festival. It was $5 to get in and I thought it was totally worth it.foodtruck_sign_590_390
Once inside the Suffolk Downs racetrack we saw a swarm of people because it also was a race day. I wonder if they throngs of people would have been there if there weren’t races? It was a beautiful day and so fun.

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I scoped out all the trucks before deciding. I’m not picky but I wanted my choice to be a good one.

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I ended up enduring the line at Lobsta Love. This food truck is normally near Harvard. I was 100% NOT impressed and wouldn’t do it again.

I expected a line. I didn’t expect to wait 25 minutes AFTER ordering for my food. Literally. I timed it. I ordered the lobster mac & cheese but unfortunately I didn’t realize it was going to be instant mac & cheese (minus the instant).

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It’s my own fault that I cheaped out. The sliders were $6 each and seemed very small. While spending some quality time in line (15 min or so)  I couldn’t see the menu and didn’t realize till afterwards that if I had chosen a slider I could have gotten the bisque shot for $1 which would have helped a tiny slider seem like enough.

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Mr. J waited in a line, got a crazy hot dog, ate it, and waited some more with me.

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While we waited and waited and waited, bisque came out of the truck, sliders, rolls, etc all came out. No mac & cheese. I was pretty disappointed when I saw the Annie’s Mac & Cheese powder go in. Bummer. I could have done that myself.

A bunch of us all waiting for mac & cheese asked if it was really coming or what. The owner said yes, but we were told it would take awhile when we ordered. I said no, I’d ordered from him and didn’t hear that. He’d give us our money back. I said I’d already put in 20 minutes of waiting after my order so I’d stick it out. I definitely gave him some ‘tude but he didn’t seem to care that we were waiting a pretty exorbitant amount of time. Watch out now sir, The Three Bite Rule was here!

I think he really could have thrown a few bisque shots our way, or opened the baggies of cookies they were selling to appease us. I’ve always felt really well taken care of when eating at Clover…not so much at Lobsta no-Love.

When I finally got my mac & cheese I was disappointed. There was about 1 normal fork-full of lobster split into about 3 bites. They dump some bisque on top of instant mac & cheese. Bahh. Sorry Lobsta no-Love, you weren’t impressive. Did I think you were cooking and cracking lobsters to order? Nope. Doubt it. How could it have taken so long? I still can’t figure it out.

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Now I’m going below the belt: why do they have a facebook page and a twitter account if they don’t use them? I get it you’re busy, but don’t have them if you a) don’t know how to use them or b) don’t bother to use them.

Anywho, the festival got a lot more fun when Mr. J and I discovered a FAST moving line for cookie ice cream sandwiches! Check ‘em out! Also, they know all about using their facebook and twitter accounts.

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We chose a gingerbread cookie with pumpkin ice cream. AMAZING! We split it and it was plenty. The cookie was perfect. It was strong enough to hold the ice cream but soft enough to bite into. The ice cream? Woah. So good.

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What a great idea…and more importanly, they know how to move their line though. Follow them on twitter or facebook (they know how to use ‘em).

Bottom line for food trucks: don’t run with the big dogs if you can’t keep up!

Fallish Potluck

Although Mother Nature seems mildly confused this fall in New England (it snowed before Halloween and was over 60-degrees in mid-November) and now we’re finally feeling some fall.  I’ve been sooo ready for fall food for awhile.

My office loves a good potluck (as seen here and here and here) and we chose fall foods just in time for Thanksgiving! I’m not sure what the difference between fall and Thanksgiving foods are though. It was really delicious. We had a FEAST and we were all ready for a nap afterwards.

I made a sweet potato puree with strusel on top. I was DYING to try it but thought the spoonful missing would be too obvious. It was very easy and would be a great addition to any meal, especially as a dish to make ahead of time or for anyone bringing a side. That recipe will follow soon!

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Wicked good Pumpkin Mac & Cheese with brussels sprouts and apple. Yes, you read that right. Genius move adding the brussels sprouts & apple!

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Orzo salad with spinach, tomatoes, and feta. This was fresh, and cool, and crisp…such great juxtaposition to everything else.
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Pumpkin Scones with Cinnamon Chips. I swoon over cinnamon chips. The scones absorbed the glaze and then we absorbed the scones.
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Cornbread Stuffing
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Apple Pie
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Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches. Even the cookies were baked on site.
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It was all delicious and we may or may not have eaten and come back for seconds in true Thanksgiving style ;)

 

 

Pumped Up Risotto

I love risotto and always think of it as a fall/winter comfort food. It is surprisingly easy and I even love it reheated. I like it better than regular rice, which we don’t eat a lot of at home.

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On my honeymoon I had some AMAZING risotto with shrimp and arugula which was a fantastic reminder to make some at home. I also was gifted a broccoli risotto recipe that I’m looking forward to making. I added it to my fall-to-make list.

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Ingredients

1 cup arborio rice
2 cups chicken stock (or veggie stock)
1 cup pumpkin beer (or white wine)
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
3 slices prosciutto, chopped
3 tbs grated Parmesan
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Directions

Toast the rice on medium low for 5 minutes while liquids are heating separately.
Add ½ cup of liquid mix until absorbed. Repeat until liquid is gone.

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Heat prosciutto until crispy.

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Mix pumpkin, prosciutto, Parmesan, and spices into risotto.

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I liked it a lot. I think there was a bit too much prosciutto but that’s an easy fix…it wasn’t that much of a problem seeing how I ate it for dinner, and 2 lunches in the days following.

The color was awesome and it felt really fall-ish. Sage would have been good in it too.

I’ve never put beer into my risotto so I was definitely a bit nervous about it. I worried what kind of aftertaste it would give. I think it worked though! I wouldn’t have included it if I didn’t have pumpkin beer on hand.

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I’ve made one using tomato juice and zucchini. It’s an awesome vegetarian one and the V-8 is a great addition for even more veggie perks. I’ll have to make that one sometime soon too! If you’re not too pumpkin-ed out after Thanksgiving, make this one when the pumpkin shelves are restocked!

Pasta Pie

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Dr. Seuss (whose birthday is my birthday’s eve) has a cute book people give to high school graduates about Oh, The Places You’ll Go. After celebrating all the ups he then turns to:

“Except when you don’t cause sometimes you won’t
I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.”

Then he goes into decisions and second chances yada yada yada. Well, this is how I felt making this Pasta Pie. Mostly I share my triumphs and surprises but I have a doozy for you.

I saw this recipe on Pinterest by way of another blog but it sounds like it originated with Martha. I thought it looked so fun and it seemed genius! It didn’t work that well but was still totally edible.

Ok, let’s start from the beginning.

I don’t have a springform pan. The last time I made cheesecake I figured it was safer in a circular pan anyway. Well, I have a new rockin’ baking piece from Le Creuset and I thought this Pasta Pie would be perfect in it too!
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Ingredients

1 pound rigatoni
3 cups pasta sauce
8 oz sweet Italian sausage
1 cup shredded cheese (Asaiago and Parmesan blend)

Directions

Cook pasta partially, until just before al dente (it will cook more in the oven)
Brown sausage.
Transfer cooked pasta into baking dish or springform pan and stand up pasta.
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Spread sausage and sauce over the top and finish with cheese.
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Bake 20 minutes at 375.

I didn’t take the time to push the meat and sauce into the upright noodles so mine didn’t stay together at all. I also think my sauce was too chunky and the sausage chunks were too big. I definitely should have tried to get it into the holes though.
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Standing the pasta seemed daunting at first until I figured out my technique. I couldn’t get them to stay even with the help of a wooden spoon corralling them. Then I dumped ALL the pasta in and the ones I hadn’t stood up yet helped to keep the others standing.

It actually reheated better than it was even that night. It mixed well like baked ziti would and the pasta wasn’t overdone.

They can’t all be winners…can they?

Better Than Ice Cream

Happy almost weekend. Don’t ya just need some ice cream? I could probably go for some ice cream any day, anytime. BUT there’s ice cream, and then there’s gelato. One of my favorite things in Italy is all the gelato. It’s so amazing. I also just looks so much nicer than American ice cream too. I remember how much I loved it the first time I had some in 2011 in Rome.

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It was just as delicious this time. I was also psyched to introduce Mr. J to it. Of course he loved it! He imagined it to be more icy and less creamy than it is.

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Gelato was our “meal” during our six hours exploring in Florence. In Spain we spotted this stick place that had it coated in a hard shell. Mr. J had to try one. Afterwards we kind of felt like just experienced a European tourist trap.

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It wasn’t as good as regular gelato. It also was quite pricey…darn those euros.
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Gelato is so pretty piled high overflowing from the metal containers. I scooped ice cream for a good portion of my high school & college life so I feel qualified to attest that 3 gallon tubs we hung over to scoop from never look this nice.

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The crisp stuck in is the perfect touch for gelato in a bowl. Love it!

Piggy Went to the Crockpot

I’ve been just on the edge of my seat to share my pulled pork with you! HUGE win for me. See, I attempted this once before. I cooked my pork butt for HOURS over the course of 2 days and it was terrible and undercooked. I tried to salvage it but it was a wash. I was annoyed, felt betrayed by the pork, and felt wasteful.

This time was different since I used my shiny red crockpot for the pork butt/pork shoulder. Fun fact: pork butt and pork shoulder are the SAME thing. Pulled pork cooks low and slow for hours. Mr. J and I work too long for most crockpot items to be weeknight dinners. I was out of ketchup so I improvised with my fav tomatoes and some vinegar, salt, and sugar.
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The prep was super fast  in the morning and then it cooked low and slow for 10 hours all while the pup was probably drooling. I always wonder if he is driven crazy by the food smells or if he loves it. Well, he loves most things in life so I’d guess he loves it.
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Ingredients

4 pound pork shoulder/pork butt
1 onion, chopped
2 tbs garlic, chopped
1 cup canned tomatoes (or ketchup)
2 tbs white vinegar (omit if using ketchup)
⅓ cup cider vinegar
⅓ cup packed brown sugar
2 tbs paprika
3 tbs spicy brown mustard
2 tbs salt
2 tbs pepper
1 tsp liquid smoke

Directions

Mix onion, garlic, tomatoes, vinegars, sugar, paprika, mustard, salt and pepper.
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Cut pork into quarters being mindful if it is a bone-in cut (mine was).
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Add everything into the crockpot.
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Set for 10 hours on low and return home to delicious barbecue smells!
Gently remove pork and reheat the sauce on high or in a pot to thicken.
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I was so excited! This was good and really different from meat I typically serve. I used tongs to get it out of the crockpot and it FELL off the bone. Success! I didn’t even have to fork the meat appart…it separated enough just when I picked it up with the tongs a bit!
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There was a lot of meat here given I’m feeding two of us. We ate it a few times then I froze the rest with the sauce. I’m curious to see how it is defrosted.

I served it with some cornbread muffin tops I made. I rarely use my muffin top pan for actual muffins but I did this time! I used a mix but they’re easy enough to whip up.
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Festive Pumpkin Breakfast for Dinner

These pumpkin pancakes were supposed to be festive Halloween dinner since they’re orange. Long story, but they got a bit delayed. They were dinner another night and they were delicious! Cross it off my list!
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Pumpkin pancake batter is definitely more sticky than regular pancake batter. I made pumpkin waffles way back when for a girls night dinner. I recall them sticking A LOT and these lovely girls being sweet pretending it was fine that I had such trouble getting them out of the waffle iron.I made them as ebelskiver because that’s (almost) the only way to eat a pancake! Dropping some of our fillings into a standard pancake would be A-OK too. This is a half recipe which will feed 3-4 people.
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Ingredients:

½ cup flour
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp pumpkin pie seasoning (or ginger, allspice, and nutmeg)
½ tsp cinnamon
1 egg
½ cup milk
½ can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 tbs vegetable oil

Directions

Mix dry ingredients.
Add wet ingredients mixing only until combined (lumps are OK).
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Cook pancakes.
These pancakes are a bit wetter/looser than regular pancakes which is perfect for ebelskiver. I pour some in each well of the pan. Then the filling goes in, before more batter covers that. One little flip ensures the even cooking.
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I used cinnamon chips as a filling. Have I proclaimed my love for these here? No? Ohh my goodness. These are so great in anything! Cinnamon chips make such a wonderful difference in pumpkin bread too. I grab some whenever I see them in the baking aisle…and by some I mean 3 bags.

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I also did maple sausage and some apple ones too. The apple wasn’t enough on it’s own. I think chopping apples with cinnamon and sugar might have made it sparkle more. It sure was fall feeling though!

The savory fillings get me every time. Yum. So, tell me. Is breakfast for dinner OK in your house?

Honeymoon Eats Roundup

I’m still recuperating from the wild blogaversary…just kidding! Here’s a rare weekend post because since the honeymoon, I’ve been to New York city and Charleston and have so much to catch up on! I photographed all my meals on the honeymoon. I’ll spare you a week’s worth of delicious three course meals but I wanted to document our favorite dishes.One of the beauties of cruising around Europe was that I got to eat anything I wanted and since meals on the boat are included, I never cheaped out! The downfall is that we weren’t ever in these amazing cities (Florence, Rome, Naples, Palma) at dinner time. Mr. J and I hurried to get  to see all the sites we possibly could in each place so we rarely even stopped for food! Eating buffet breakfast before entering the city kept us full anyway.

We got in the habit of relaxing poolside after running around all day and before dinner. Then, here’s where it got tasty. We would make a cheese plate and go to our balcony to watch as the ship pulled out. That is the life I tell ya.

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Now, let’s get to the meals. I had this pear salad with blue cheese and balsamic vinaigrette. What wonderful combos of flavors.

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My number 1 best meal I had was risotto with shrimp. DELECTABLE. I think I ate every bite. I loved the arugula on top. Remember risotto is on my list of dishes to make soon.
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Mr. J’s favorite meal was this angus pot roast. It was falling off the bone and he was really happy with this choice. Also, this guy loves any meat that comes with sauce/gravy.
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I ate fish at every opportunity I had. One really good one was tilapia over peppers and potatoes. The sauce was light but creamy and the fish was cooked perfectly. It didn’t look amazing but it was soooo good.
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Mr. J had a NY strip that he liked a lot too.
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Our favorite desert was a bread pudding with sticky toffee sauce. It was sweet without being sickeningly sweet and the egg flavor came though. The top was crispy, the underneath was soft, and the sauce was sticky…wow. There wasn’t definition from one bread chunk to another.
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All the meals were really good. I love Norwegian Cruise Line because of their freestyle dining options. We could show up to dinner at any of the restaurants at anytime and be seated alone. This was especially nice after racing around the cities and taking time to relax by the pool. I highly recommend NCL and hope to go on another soon (hint hint, wink wink)!