Roasted Shrimp

What’s for dinner? It’s the question we all struggle to answer on a busy weeknight. Shrimp answers that question and delivers in spades – quick, tasty, cost-effective and kids love it! I personally love any recipe I can make in the oven, it’s hands-off and I know I won’t burn anything while I’m helping my kids with their homework. Consider this less of a recipe and more of a guide, once you master this technique, you can tailor the flavor of the dish to suit your family’s preferences.

Shown here with my Oregano Marinade

Oregano Marinade


Roasted Shrimp
Author: 
Serves: serves 4
 
Try any of my marinades with this technique. If you are using a marinade then you can skip the ingredients below and just follow the cooking instructions. The choices for how you put this meal together are endless and your kids will love the chance to assemble their own plates. Rice bowls or tacos would be fun. And how about some mouthwatering dinner salads for the adults? Try my Vidalia Onion, Caesar or Feta Vinaigrettes...each would work beautifully with the shrimp. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. Shrimp, large, uncooked, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil or Canola oil (see note)
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • ½ tsp Garlic powder (see note)
  • Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Toss shrimp with oil, Kosher salt and garlic powder and/or pepper if using.
  3. Spread in a single layer on the baking sheet.
  4. Roast 8 - 10 minutes until the shrimp is pink and cooked through.
  5. Immediately remove from the baking sheet (so the shrimp don't continue to cook).
  6. Serve immediately or store in the fridge for up to 2 days.
Notes
What type of oil to use? It really depends on what type of flavors you are highlighting in your meal. Olive oil will work for everything except for Asian flavors. Mexican themed meals will work with either olive or canola.
Garlic powder - I love garlic powder. Used in small quantities like this recipe, it adds just a hint of flavor that really enhances the shrimp.

 

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Poached Chicken Breasts

Having a couple of poached chicken breasts on hand means an open door to so many dinner options…salads, soups, quesadillas, sandwiches, lettuce wraps…the possibilities are endless. Below is a basic technique for poaching tender and perfectly cooked chicken breasts.

This recipe doubles easily. Beyond 4 chicken breasts, you are not guaranteed that the breasts will cook through, so it would be better at that point to make 2 batches. Why the Kosher salt and garlic powder? They do not impart a distinct flavor, but add a perfect amount of seasoning that’s ready for all types of flavor profiles.

2 Chicken breasts, skinless, boneless, trimmed if needed

1/2 tsp Kosher salt

1 tsp Garlic powder

Place chicken breasts in a large saucepan with a top. Cover the chicken breasts with water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook 3 minutes, then cover the saucepan and remove from heat. Let stand until chicken is cooked through, 15 to 18 minutes, flipping halfway through. Remove chicken from poaching liquid immediately. Allow chicken to cool to the touch and then shred. Use the chicken immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days.

 

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Veggie Egg Scramble

My new favorite breakfast! Jeff is the omelet maker in our house, but that’s only on the weekends, and I get bored with regular scrambled eggs with cheese. Enter a veggie egg scramble. I have made these several mornings this week…I love that I grab a few veggies and make a yummy breakfast!

Just like a stir-fry the cooking time goes quickly, so have everything ready to go. I start with a little bit of minced shallot, garlic or onion. I saute the shallot in a tablespoon of olive oil. Next I add Campari tomatoes that I have seeded, scooped out the insides and roughly chopped. I throw the tomatoes, along with a handful of baby spinach into the skillet. After letting the tomatoes and spinach cook for a few minutes, I add the whisked eggs (I use 2-3 eggs depending on how hungry I am and lighten up the scramble by swapping in an egg white), a sprinkle of cheese (sharp Cheddar is a constant fridge presence in our house) and finish with a twist of sea salt. Reduce the heat to low and scramble the eggs. Enjoy your delicious breakfast! Happy cooking!

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Refrigerator Pickles

Somehow it’s taken me all these years to make pickles and now that I have, and perfected this super easy recipe, I’m wondering what took me so long! We love pickles in our house, for snacking and also on sandwiches, so homemade pickles make a great addition to our fridge. Plus, the flavor is sooo much better, and of course they taste so fresh. It also occurs to me that making a quick jar of pickles is an excellent way to make sure all those cucumbers we are always buying (we love to snack on cucumbers) never go to waste. And if you are farmers market regulars you can also use this brine to pickle all sorts of in season produce – carrots, cauliflower, you name it, it can probably be pickled.

Refrigerator Pickles

Refrigerator Pickles
Author: 
Serves: 3 (8 oz) Mason jars
 
This recipe is super easy to multiple. So if you have a lot of produce, grab some extra Mason jars, double or even triple the brine and start pickling. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 2 cups water
  • 6 tsp Minced garlic, divided into thirds
  • 1 cup White vinegar
  • 6 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1½ tsp Fresh dill, finely minced
  • 1½ tsp Celery seed, divided into thirds
  • 1½ tsp Coriander seed, divided into thirds
  • 1½ tsp Yellow mustard seeds, divided into thirds
  • ¾ tsp Black peppercorns, divided into thirds
  • 28 oz Mini cucumbers (2 pkges, trimmed and sliced in half) (see note)
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups water to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer and add the garlic. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and salt, increase heat and bring to a boil, stirring until the salt dissolves. Remove from the heat.
  2. In each of the 3 Mason jars, place ½ tsp of dill. Divide the celery, coriander and mustard seeds and black peppercorns between the jars. Drain brine into a bowl, using something to catch the garlic (I use a fine sieve). Then pour the brine back into the saucepan. Divide the garlic between the 3 jars. Then pack the jars full of cucumbers.
  3. Bring the brine back to a boil, pour it over the cucumbers to cover completely, let cool, then cover and refrigerate overnight. The pickles will be really good after about 24 hours and even better after a few days. Refridgerate for up 3 months.
Notes
I used just cucumbers, the mini ones, because they were on sale at the grocery store. This recipe would also be a great way to enjoy so many different veggies - Kirby cucumbers, carrots, green beans, cauliflowers....

 

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Weekend Pancakes

When it’s the weekend and time for a lazy morning at home, make these pancakes! It’s really just a tiny amount more work then a box mix and they are sooo delicious! Plus, there’s just something fun about making them from scratch. These recipe makes a lot, so you can freeze the extras for a busy weekday morning.

I always use my griddle and can fit 6-8 pancakes on at a time.
I always use my griddle and can fit 6-8 pancakes on at a time.
Just missing the butter and syrup!
Just missing the butter and syrup!

 

Weekend Pancakes
Author: 
Serves: 28 pancakes
 
Think of this as a pancake foundation recipe. Go ahead and add blueberries, cinnamon, whatever your family loves. My crew happens to like them pretty basic. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 3 cups All-purpose flour
  • 6 tbsp Sugar
  • 1½ tsp Salt
  • 1½ tsp Baking powder
  • ¾ tsp Baking soda
  • 2¼ cups Buttermilk
  • ¾ cup Milk (I use skim)
  • 3 Eggs, separated
  • ½ cup Honey
  • 6 tbsp Butter, unsalted
  • Vegetable spray for cooking (I use canola)
Instructions
  1. Whisk the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda together in a large bowl.
  2. Pour buttermilk and milk into a small bowl.
  3. Melt butter in a Pyrex measuring cup.
  4. Separate the eggs, adding the egg whites to the milk mixture and the egg yolks to the melted butter. (see note)
  5. Whisk egg whites into the milk mixture. Add honey to the butter mixture and whisk to combine.
  6. Add milk and butter mixtures to the dry ingredients and whisk until combined (see note).
  7. Heat a griddle or non-stick skillet over medium heat and spray with canola oil.
  8. When your griddle is hot (you can test by dropping a tiny bit of batter onto the hot surface), pour ¼ cup of batter onto griddle to form 3-inch pancakes. Be careful not to crowd them too closely, it makes in hard to flip them.
  9. Flip when the top surface starts to bubble, 2-3 minutes. Then cook until the other side is browned, 1-2 minutes more.
  10. Spray the griddle before starting the next batch.
Notes
Why separate the egg? After doing lots of testing and research, I came to the conclusion that this little extra step really makes a big difference. The pancakes are so much more tender and airy.
Only mix your batter until it is just combined. Why? Because overmixing develops the gluten and the result is a tougher pancake.

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Poached Chicken

I can not empathize enough how crucial it is to have a building block skill like this in your back pocket! Knowing how to properly poach chicken opens the door to a vast array of recipes – from sandwiches and salads to soups and casseroles – and tons of dishes in between! I was inspired by a Martha Stewart Cooking School recipe, I went ahead and simplified it down to the basics. Use this recipe as a guideline, these two ingredients would flavor chicken that could work in any recipe Italian – Thai and every cuisine in between.

Poached Chicken
Author: 
Serves: 4-8
 
If I know what type of dish my chicken is going into - as opposed to just making a batch for a variety of dishes, then I play around with ingredients. If I am doing Italian I like to add onions, bay leaves, fresh thyme and lemon, whereas for a Thai meal I might add some lemongrass, garlic and ginger. Play around with this terrific foundation technique! Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 4 (6-8 oz each) Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp Garlic powder
Instructions
  1. Place all three ingredients in a stockpot or deep pan.
  2. Add water until chicken is completely covered and submerged by approximately 1 inch.
  3. Set to burner to high heat. Watch carefully, once the chicken boils, turn down from an aggressive boil to a rolling boil - this usually entails turning the burner down to medium-high heat.
  4. Allow chicken to boil for 3 minutes.
  5. Turn off heat and cover the pot or pan. Let stand for 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  6. Remove chicken to a plate, and if shredding allow to stand for 5-10 minutes until warm but no longer hot. Shred with 2 forks or your hands.
  7. At this point, you can add to a recipe immediately or let the chicken cool then store in a ziploc bag or tupperware for 3-4 days, using as needed.
Notes
A digital thermometer is so helpful here and eliminates any guesswork. Once the chicken reaches an internal temp of 160 you can remove it from the pot. While resting on a plate the internal temp will continue to rise and your chicken will end up at the perfect temp of 165.

 

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Springtime Risotto

Years ago I discovered the most amazing fact – risotto is so much easier to make when you start it on the stovetop and move it to the oven. I first tried the technique in one of my favorite “winter” cookbooks, Martha Stewart’s Favorite Comfort Foods. I loved the results so much, that any time I make risotto, whatever time of year, I always start use the oven technique and then adapt my flavors and ingredients to the season.

Springtime Risotto

Springtime Risotto
Author: 
Serves: 8
 
This really is a true foundation recipe. Get comfortable with the technique and then make this recipe your own – herb combinations, different vegetables, cheese choice – this dish can go in so many directions and be so great! I always find I want risotto leftovers – it makes a great breakfast or lunch too. I recently made this for Jeff and me to go with grilled lobster tails and grilled asparagus. I still made this much and enjoyed amazing lunches with leftover risotto and grilled veggies for a few days. If you don’t want this much just halve the recipe. Happy Cooking!
Ingredients
  • 4 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 Red onion, minced (I throw mine in the food processor)
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup White wine (see note)
  • 4 cups Chicken stock, low-sodium
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt
  • ¼ cup Butter, unsalted
  • ½ - 1 head Spinach
  • 2 tbsp Fresh herbs, any combination or just one (I used thyme and chives, but use your imagination)
  • 1 Lemon zested and juiced
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450.
  2. In a Dutch oven, heat canola oil over medium heat, add onion and cook, stirring until the onion is softened, 5-8 minutes.
  3. Add rice and stir until coated with oil, 2 additional minutes.
  4. Add wine and cook, stirring often until most of the wine is absorbed, 3-5 minutes.
  5. Add chicken stock and kosher salt, stir to combine, cover pot and transfer to the oven. Bake for 25 minutes. Make sure all of the chicken stock is absorbed and the rice is tender if not return to the oven 5-10 additional minutes (check pot after 5 minutes).
  6. Carefully remove from the oven and add spinach, fresh herbs, lemon zest and juice, butter and cheese. Stir to combine. Put top back on the pot and let the pot rest for 5 minutes while the butter and cheese melt and the flavors meld. Enjoy!
Notes
When cooking with wine, do not use those awful cooking wines they sell in the grocery store! They are full of additives and don’t resemble wine in the slightest. If you don’t have leftover wine sitting around, use this trick of mine. Buy the 4 packs of sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio and use those for cooking. Each mini-bottle in the ones I buy is 1 cup, so I don’t even need to measure them out. And they stay fresh until you need them. Just don’t buy chardonnay – the oak notes in some chardonnays would not work in this recipe.

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Oven-baked Shrimp

When you are having a fried shrimp craving make this recipe! These shrimp are super simple, healthy and delicious!

This is a very simple recipe with very little seasoning. I really was trying to develop this recipe with my kids in mind and they like simple food! You could jazz the seasonings up in so many ways, let your creativity run wild!

Oven baked Shrimp

Oven-baked Shrimp
Author: 
Serves: 4
 
This would be a great recipe to double for leftovers or if you are serving more that 4. I made this for myself and my three children and there was not a shrimp left, so 1½ or 2 lbs is going to be a better amount for 4 adults or a family of 5. Happy Cooking!
Ingredients
  • 2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • ½ garlic powder
  • 4 tbsp olive or canola oil
  • 1 lb raw shrimp, shells removed, tails left on
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray thoroughly with canola or olive oil spray.
  3. Set out two small bowls – in one combine the Panko breadcrumbs, Kosher salt and garlic powder, in the other bowl add the olive or canola oil.
  4. Holding each shrimp by its tail, dip into the oil and then gently roll in the Panko breadcrumbs.
  5. As you bread each shrimp line up in rows on the prepared baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes, the coating should be golden brown and the shrimp opaque.
Notes
Why Panko breadcrumbs? Panko breadcrumbs are different because they are made from bread without crusts included, so they are much lighter and I think they have a crisper taste.

Because I wanted a weeknight recipe, I opted to skip the traditional three step breading process, so the breadcrumbs will cling to the shrimp but not completely coat it.

These shrimp would also be delicious on a salad!

 

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Ridgely’s Brussel Sprouts

This past Christmas, and for her 7th birthday in January, Ridgely asked for “real” cooking stuff. You can imagine how happy I was! She and I have the best time cooking, she has her own cabinets and loves to be in the kitchen with me! I promised Ridgely that if she started to measure her ingredients, I would post her recipes. She was so excited!

We love Brussel sprouts with bacon in our house – it’s one of our favorite winter sides. For spring, Ridgely decided to switch to shallots.

Brussel Sprouts with Shallots

Ridgely will tell you that salads and brussel sprouts are her favorite things to make. And as this picture shows, she is serious!

True Brussel Sprout Love!
True Brussel Sprout Love!

Ridgely's Brussel Sprouts
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
A classic stovetop recipe - I encourage you to play around with the flavors. Once you understand the technique of Brussel sprouts you can really personalize this dish. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 6 tbsp Olive oil
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 lbs. Brussel sprouts, halved (I do this task)
  • 2 tbsp shallots, finely chopped (I take the skins off then Ridgely chops with her little knife)
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat, sprinkle Kosher salt across the pan.
  2. Add brussel sprouts and toss thoroughly in the olive oil mixture. Try to make sure each sprout has contact with the pan.
  3. Turn the heat to low, and let the brussel sprouts slowly cook, turning occasionally for about 15 minutes. Add the shallots and mix to combine.
  4. Continue to cook for 10-15 minutes more until one side of the sprout is caramelized.
  5. Remove from heat and serve.

 

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Roasted Potatoes

How do you make terrific roast potatoes? The secret is in the two different temperatures! This recipe will become a family favorite – they go with everything and kids love them! I am not exaggerating to I say that I make these twice a week – all the kids request them and they work, whatever time of year. In the winter roasted potatoes are my go-to starch with roast chicken, meatloaf, all types of yummy comfort food. In the summer I change it up to burgers, grilled chicken…you name it, roasted potatoes are on the table at my house!

Roasted Potatoes

Roasted Potatoes
Author: 
Serves: 6-8
 
The high temp crisps the potatoes and then the lower temp cooks them through. Once you are comfortable with this technique you can experiment with lots of different seasonings - and make this your own special signature side. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 2 ½ pounds red skin or yukon gold potatoes (about ½ of a 5 lb bag)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cover a sheet pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
  2. Cut the potatoes into pieces that should be about 1 - 1½ inch in size.
  3. Toss with olive oil, garlic powder, Kosher salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Place on a baking sheet, making sure the cut-side of the potato is on the baking sheet. (this makes sure you get that crispy crust)
  5. Roast at 425 for 30 minutes.
  6. Reduce temperature to 375 degrees and continue to cook for 30 minutes.
  7. Potatoes are finished cooking when the cut side of the potato is golden brown.
  8. Remove tray from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes.

 

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