March 23, 2017

Spinach Pesto Shrimp

I got my most recent Cooking Light magazine and found a recipe for Spinach Pesto Pasta. Since my mom loves shrimp, I figured I'd use the pound of shrimp I had in the freezer to adapt this recipe to fit my Whole 30.

I'm excited to use the rest of the pesto, and I enjoyed this recipe more than I expected. I like shrimp, but I'm not completely confident in my ability to prepare it myself.

Spinach Pesto Shrimp
2 cups packed fresh baby spinach
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup grape tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
Dash of cayenne

To prepare pesto, bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add spinach and basil. Cook 20 seconds, remove and place immediately in an ice water bath. Let stand 30 second to cool, and then remove. Pat dry with toweling. Combine all pesto ingredients together in a blender, and process until well combined.

To prepare shrimp, heat olive oil and butter together over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add shrimp, and season immediately with black pepper, salt and cayenne. Cook 2 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Add in about 1/4 of the pesto, reserving the rest for other recipes. Toss to coat with halved cherry tomatoes to serve. Serves 2 (at least if you're like my mom and I who easily can eat a half pound of shrimp).

Sheet Pan Steak & Veggies

I've never done a sheet pan meal before this week, but apparently they're a thing where you cook your entire meal on a single sheet pan. Wait, do nachos count?

The idea is you have a quick meal without a lot of dishes. I tried this version from Damn Delicious, adding in a handful of asparagus I had and an onion.

The verdict? Tasty and fast, especially if you prep all the veggies ahead of time. Here's my adaptation.

Sheet Pan Steak & Veggies
2 pounds baby red potatoes
16 ounces broccoli florets
8 oz. asparagus
1 red onion
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 pounds (1-inch-thick) steak, patted dry

Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large pot of water, cook potatoes until parboiled, about 12-15 minutes. Drain well, and cut into quarters.

Place all the vegetables on a large baking sheet, and toss with olive oil, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until vegetables are close to done.

Season steaks with additional salt and pepper. Add to baking sheet.

Turn oven to broil, and broil steaks for 4 minutes on each side or until desired doneness. (You might need to remove some veggies a bit early or cook some steaks a bit longer depending on personal preferences. Serves 4.

March 15, 2017

Breakfast Sausage

Last weekend I made breakfast sausage from scratch. Well, I didn't raise a hog, butcher it and use my own meat. But I bought the ground meat at the store and seasoned it myself. That's about the easiest way to find breakfast sausage that fits the bill for Whole 30.

I used this recipe from Wellness Mama as my starting point and made a few adaptations in my version. The mixture of pork and chicken turned out perfectly for me without pools of grease or any dryness. The end result was really tasty ... not as good as Smith Brothers in Colby, WI or Maplewood Meats outside of Green Bay, but it's really hard to compete with those.

Breakfast Sausage
1 lb. ground pork
1 lb. ground chicken
1 Tbsp. salt
2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. dried ground sage
1/4 tsp. dried fennel, crushed
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powde
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1/2 tsp. teaspoon dried thyme
A dash of cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients together, and mix well. Shape into patties of desired size (mixture will be sticky) and pan fry until done, flipping once.

Note: To freeze, place shaped patties on parchment paper, and freeze until solid. Then you can transfer individual patties into a storage bag. Thaw, and cook.

This made approximately 18-20 patties.

February 21, 2017

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cake

My husband picked this cake from Brown Eyed Baker for his birthday cake. The cakes are moist and full of chocolate flavor. The frosting is amazing and delicious. This is a mighty tasty cake. Well chosen, David, well chosen.

All told, this is less than 2 hours of time to create. I baked the cakes in advance and froze them for easy frosting that I did in about 30 minutes. I tossed the cake in the fridge while we went out to meet Dave at work for a quick lunch and then made the ganache when we got home. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cake
2 1/2 cups + 1 Tbsp. flour
3 cups sugar
1 cup + 1 Tbsp. Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
1 1/2 cups boiling water
3/4 cup vegetable oil
4 1/2 tsp. vanilla 
Peanut Butter Frosting
2 cups powdered sugar
2 cups creamy peanut butter
10 Tbsp. butter, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup heavy cream 
Chocolate Ganache
8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
30 mini peanut butter cups

To bake the cakes, preheat oven to 350°F. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper, grease the parchment, then flour the insides of the pans and tap out excess. Set aside.

In the bowl of a large electric mixer, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, water, oil and vanilla.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, and mix for an additional 20 seconds. (Let me just say ... this was the biggest mess I think I've ever created. My standard mixing bowl was not large enough for this recipe.)

Divide the batter evenly among prepared pans. Bake for 20 minutes, and rotate the pans in the oven. Continue to bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cakes comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs), about 12 more minutes. Cool the cakes (in the pans) on wire racks for 20 minutes, and then carefully turn them out onto cooling racks to cool completely.

To make the frosting, place the powdered sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the heavy cream, and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.

If your cakes baked up uneven or have domed on top, level the cakes. Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Cover with 1 cup of the peanut butter frosting, and sprinkle 10 of the chopped peanut butter cups over the frosting. Top with a second cake layer, and cover with another 1 cup of the peanut butter frosting, and top with another 10 chopped peanut butter cups. Place the final cake layer on top face-down. Frost the cake with the remaining peanut butter frosting, finishing it as smoothly as possible. Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour, until the frosting is set.

While the cake chills, make the chocolate ganache. Place the chocolate in a 4-cup measuring cup; set aside. Place the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat, and warm until it just comes to a boil. Pour the cream over the chopped chocolate, and let sit for 2 minutes. Begin whisking the mixture in the center, gradually working your way outward until the ganache is completely smooth. Set aside to cool, whisking occasionally, until it has thickened slightly, yet still a pourable consistency.

Slowly pour the chocolate ganache into the center of the cake, letting it push itself outward and flow over the sides of the cake. Top with the remaining 10 chopped peanut butter cups. Refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes, giving the ganache a chance to set up. Keep the cake refrigerated, removing it from the refrigerator about 20 minutes prior to serving.

February 20, 2017

Crab Rangoon Dip

Every year my brother and his girlfriend host a Dip Off party for the SuperBowl. It's advanced to the point where there are sweet and savory categories with the winner earning bragging rights and everyone earning stuffed stomachs.

I had a couple dip recipes bookmarked that I never found an excuse to use since my husband doesn't eat dip. (No dips. Seriously, he's weird. At least I dated him forever before I agreed to marry him, so this wasn't a surprise.) Anyways, this recipe from Spend with Pennies was hanging out on my to-do list for a long time given that my husband won't eat dips and my good friend is allergic to shellfish, so that ruled out making it for my friends.

This is a recipe worth trying. The wonton chips were surprisingly addictive.

Crab Rangoon Dip
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
12 oz. crab meat, drained
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
2 Tbsp. fresh chives
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp. pepper 
Wonton Chips
1 package wonton wrappers
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare wonton chips first. Cut wontons in diagonally. Spray with cooking spray, (or brush with olive oil) and spread chips on a pan. Bake 7-8 minutes or until brown and crispy. Set aside.

Combine all dip ingredients in a casserole dish reserving 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese for topping.Top with remaining cheese. Bake 25 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Garnish with chives if desired and serve with wonton chips. Serves 8-12.