Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Valentine's Day Garlic Shrimp Alfredo Dinner for Two

I love Buzzfeed Tasty’s video recipes.  They always make the meal look so simple. Luckily, this one was actually as easy as it looked.

When we were trying to decide what to cook for Valentine’s Day, I stumbled upon this menu for two with bruschetta, garlic shrimp alfredo pasta, and chocolate mousse for dessert. 

While it says “for two,” it really should have said “for two for a week” because we could have fed ten.  Which was fine because the meal was delicious and we wanted leftovers. 

We didn’t follow the mousse recipe from Buzzfeed.  I actually had found a recipe that used coconut cream instead of whipping cream, but it didn’t work at all. No matter how long I whipped the coconut cream, it just wouldn’t fluff up.  We ended up adding normal cream and saving the dessert (I would still include the coconut cream because I liked the slight coconut taste it added). 

We enjoyed the meal with wine from one of our new favorite restaurants, Cooper’s Hawk.  Their Barbera is an amazing deep red wine that we received with our Cooper’s Hawk “Wine of the Month” club. We aren’t connoisseurs of wine by any means (we are happy with our “Two Buck Chuck” Shiraz from Trader Joe’s), but this wine is really fantastic.  My friend James gave us a wine aerator that attaches to the bottle so there's no need for a separate decanter to enhance the wine's flavor.  

The wine of the month club costs $18.99 to sign up, and they give you and your significant other $15 gift cards the month of your birthday. Since Lance and I both have January birthdays, we received a bottle of wine plus a $30 Cooper’s Hawk gift card for only $18.99 (you can cancel the card anytime…)  

Below is the full dinner recipe if you’d like to recreate this dinner!

Tomato Basil Bruschetta  (adapted from Buzzfeed Tasty)

·        1 6-inch baguette
·        ¼ cup olive oil
·        3 medium tomatoes, diced
·        1 clove garlic, minced
·        1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
·        1 tablespoon basil, chopped
·        ½ teaspoon salt
·        ½ teaspoon pepper
·        1 clove garlic, whole


1. Preheat oven to 450°F
2. Slice the baguette into ½-inch rounds and place on a baking sheet.
3. Brush both sides of the baguette slices with olive oil.
4. Bake for 6 minutes until slightly crispy.
5. In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, minced garlic, balsamic vinegar, basil, salt, and pepper.

6. Rub the garlic into one side of the baguette slices, then spoon the tomato mixture evenly across the slices.

Garlic Bacon Shrimp Alfredo  (adapted from Buzzfeed Tasty)

·        6 slices bacon, chopped
·        1 pound shrimp, deveined and peeled
·        1 teaspoon salt
·        ½ teaspoon black pepper
·        ½ onion, diced
·        1 medium tomato, diced
·        3 cloves garlic, minced
·        2 cups heavy cream
·        1 pound fettuccine, cooked
·        1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
·        ½ parsley, chopped

1. Cook the bacon in a large pot until crispy.
2. Add the shrimp, salt, and pepper, cooking until the shrimp is pink throughout.
3. Remove the shrimp and bacon.
4. Add the onions, tomatoes, and garlic, cooking until the garlic is slightly starting to brown.

5. Add the cream and bring to a boil.
6. Toss in the fettuccine with the shrimp, bacon, parmesan cheese, and parsley, stirring until the cheese has completely melted and the sauce coats the shrimp and pasta nicely.

Chocolate Coconut Mousse  (adapted from Cafe Delites)

·        1 can full fat coconut cream
·        1 cup heavy whipping cream (not shown below, but the coconut cream did not fluff as expected...) 
·        2 T confectioners’ sugar
·        3 T unsweetened cocoa powder
·        2 squares dark chocolate, shaved
·        Strawberries, raspberries and/or mint to garnish

1. Place sealed can of coconut cream in the refrigerator overnight.  Without shaking the can, open and scoop out the thick cream sitting on top of the water.  Discard the liquid.
2. Add the heavy whipping cream and confectioners’ sugar, then beat on high with either a hand mixer or stand mixer (I used my KitchenAid).  When thick and creamy, reserve 4 T of the plain whipped cream to the side to use as a topping.
3. Fold in the cocoa powder and beat until smooth. 

4. Serve the chocolate mousse in a glass topped with the plain whipped cream.  Garnish with the fruit, mint, and shaved dark chocolate.  

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Christmas Family Recipes - Red Hot Popcorn & Great-Grandma Kelly's Gingersnaps

I can’t believe it’s already been two weeks since Christmas!  You may have seen some photos on Facebook or Instagram of a mother/daughter baking day I had with my mom over the holidays.  We baked several treats that are family recipes I wanted to share.

We made red hot popcorn, which is the most addicting popcorn you’ll ever eat.  This is one of my favorite family recipes.  Coated in melted butter, Karo syrup & red hots, it is like a cinnamon version of kettle corn. If you’re not careful, you can easily finish off a bag in one sitting.  The recipe looks like it makes a lot, but trust me, you’ll want more. 

Then we made gingersnap cookies that are my Great-Grandma Kelly’s recipe (my mom’s mom’s mom…) They are one of my favorite cookies ever with lots of molasses and dusted with a coat of sugar.  They aren’t really ginger “snaps” because they are actually soft gooey cookies.  The red hots obviously aren’t part of the original recipe, but my mom has adds them in the center for decoration in her version. Again, the recipe makes a lot, but you’ll want them all! I have a copy in a cookbook from elementary school – all the parents submitted their favorite family recipes and compiled them into one book. 

We also made WAY too many cutout cookies, which were from a Pinterest recipe.  My mom made the dough from the blog Babes in Disneyland.  We couldn’t find her rolling pin, so at first we were rolling them out with a wine bottle (didn’t work as well as we hoped).  Luckily, we were able to borrow one from a neighbor for the rest. 

We started out with super intricate designs, but quickly realized that it would take days to decorate them all at that pace, so towards the end they just got dunked in icing and coated in sprinkles. 

Lance and I have been in our house since March and had still only met a couple of our neighbors, so we wrapped the cutout cookies up and brought them to all our neighbors on our block.  It was such a nice way to meet everyone, plus it saved us the calories of eating them all ourselves. 

Hope you enjoy these family recipes. If you have any family favorites, send them my way – I’d love to try them!

Red Hot Popcorn

  • 5 bags kettle corn
  • 4 boxes Red Hots
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup clear Karo Syrup

1. Pop popcorn & empty into a large pan.

2. Melt butter in a saucepan & add Red Hots & Karo syrup. Stir constantly on medium so they don't burn until Red Hots are dissolved.

3. Pour Red Hot mixture carefully onto popcorn small amounts at a time. Mix popcorn until all of it is coated and mixture is gone.

4. Bake in 250 degree oven for 1-1/2 hours, turning every 30 mins. Put on wax paper to cool.

Great-Grandma Kelly’s Gingersnaps

  • 4 cups sugar
  • 3 sticks butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 7 cups flour
  • 3 t. baking soda
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 4 t. vinegar
  • 4 t. ginger
  • Dash of cinnamon and cloves
  • Red hot candies (optional)


1. Cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs, molasses, vinegar, and remaining dry ingredients, sifted together. 

2. Form into balls.  Slightly flatten down, add a red hot candy to the center, and top with granulated sugar.  Bake at 375 degrees for 9-10 minutes.  

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

This year, Lance’s parents joined us for Thanksgiving, so for the first time we did it with both sides of the family.  My parents hosted and most of the traditional dishes like stuffing, sweet potatoes, etc were already taken by other relatives, so I contributed a couple appetizer dishes and a punch.  They were all new recipes to me that I found on Pinterest, and luckily they were all keepers. 

My first dish was a fig crostini.  When I went grocery shopping, we found out that fresh figs aren’t in season (I called around to all our local stores…) so I settled for dried figs.  Everyone actually loved it with the dried ones though, so I think I’d do it the same way again next time I make it. 

Fig Crostini (adapted from Alexandra’s Kitchen)

  • 12-15 dried figs
  • Sea salt & fresh black pepper
  • 2 T honey
  • 1-1/3 cups ricotta
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 3 T chopped chives
  • 1 baguette
  • 1 cup fresh Basil


1. Preheat your oven to 400F. Cut the baguette into slices about 1/4" thick and put in the oven to toast (keep an eye on it until they are slightly browned)
2. Mix the ricotta, Parmesan, and chives. 

3. Cut the figs into slices.

4. When the bread is toasted, remove from the oven.  Top with the ricotta mixture then the sliced figs.  Garnish with a piece of basil then drizzle with honey. 

Stuffed Mushrooms (adapted from Marla Meredith)

  • 12 whole baby bella Mushrooms, rinsed & pat dry
  • 3 tablespoons Bacon crumbles, set 1 tablespoon aside
  • 1 oz fresh cheese (I used Trader Joe’s Unexpected Cheddar, which is a white cheddar mixed with Parmesan)
  • 1 t fresh Rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon chopped Chives, plus some for garnish
  • pinch of Garlic Salt
  • pinch of cracked Black Pepper
  • pinch of Smoked Paprika
  • Cooking Spray

1. Preheat your oven to 350F.  Cook bacon according to the package, let cool, and crumble into pieces. 
2. Gently remove the stems from the mushrooms and chop into small pieces.
3. Spray a nonstock skillet.  Over medium heat, sauté the mushroom stems, chives, thyme, garlic salt, pepper, and smoked paprika for a few minutes.  Mix in 2/3 of the crumbled bacon. 
4. Put the mushroom cap-side down into a glass baking dish.  Add cheese into the mushrooms, top with the mushroom cap mixture, then top with more cheese.

5. Bake for 20 minutes until cheese is melted.  Garish with extra bacon and chopped chives. 

Cranberry Pineapple Punch (adapted from Celebrating Everyday Live)

  • 2 quarts pineapple juice
  • 1 quart 100% cranberry juice (not from concentrate)
  • 8oz pomegranate juice
  • 1 liter ginger ale
  • 12oz fresh cranberries

1. Combine all ingredients (wait until you’re about to serve to add the ginger ale to make sure it’s still fizzy).  That’s it!

In previous years I’ve made some sort of turkey shaped dish (2 years ago, cinnamon rolls and last year some cupcakes).  This year, my mom-in-law, Rita, made cheese-filled crackers with pretzels, carrots and olives shaped into turkeys. 

My parents had some fun with this year’s turkey and put a sliced lemon beneath the skin to give the turkey some enhancements. 

We enjoyed a huge meal, then later on, ended it with several Mike’s Pies desserts. 

We’re finishing the day up now watching the Steelers game on our new Black Friday purchased TV (early Christmas present).  I’m normally completely against shopping ON Thanksgiving since I think stores should be closed, but our TV took a dive when our wall mounted console fell last month, so it needed to be replaced. 

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving surrounded by your loved ones.