December 16, 2009

BLT Orzo

Posted in Pasta: salad-like tagged , , , at 5:49 pm by jenniec00ks

This is a JENNIE original!  I was reading about BLT recommendations on twitter and I thought it’d be a great way to use up the leftover bacon in the fridge.  But alas, I didn’t have any bread or lettuce on hand so I worked with what I had and came up with this.  This recipe makes about 3 large dinner portions, so adjust to your liking.

Ingredients:

~5 oz. fresh baby spinach
~10 oz. grape or cherry tomatoes
1 clove garlic, sliced
6 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 pieces
5 cups chicken broth (to boil the orzo in, you can use water)
1/2 lb. (8 oz) orzo pasta

For the baby spinach and tomatoes, just get some package close to the weight suggested, a little more or less of either won’t hurt.  2 regular sized cans or 1 box of chicken broth equals about 4 cups, and I added an extra cup of water so the orzo didn’t burn or stick to the pot.

1. Boil the orzo in the chicken broth (or chicken broth+water or water) for however long the package says.  Mine was 8-10 minutes, I’ve used brands that were 6-8 minutes, so expect somewhere in that range.

2. Preheat a pan (mine was a regular frying one, about 12″) to medium high heat and slice up the bacon into 1/2 inch pieces if you haven’t already.  Then toss ’em in the pan once it’s hot.

3. Let them sizzle away, giving them a stir 2-3 times over the next couple minutes so they get crispy on all sides.  In the meantime, slice the cherry or grape tomatoes in half.

4. When the bacon is crisp to your liking, put it on a paper-towel lined plate on the side.  Then pour out any excess bacon fat from the pan.

5. Turn the heat down to medium-low and return the pan to the heat.  Toss the halved tomatoes in. Let them work a minute while you slice up the 1 clove of garlic, then add that to the tomatoes.  Let the tomatoes cook for about 5 minutes, or until they’ve softened up.  Move them around the pan so they don’t burn though.

6. Add the spinach to the bottom of a large bowl.  Then put the hot tomatoes/garlic pieces on top, and add the bacon on top of that.  Finally, drain the orzo and immediately pour it in the bowl while it’s still piping hot!  Else the spinach won’t wilt nicely!

7. Add the drizzle of olive oil (1 tsp) and then stir everything together and ENJOY!!  This recipe even tastes great at room temperature!  Haven’t tried it cold yet.

August 27, 2009

Simple Spicy Shrimp in Photos

Posted in Appetizers tagged , , , , at 7:15 pm by jenniec00ks

((Remember: all pictures are clickable so that you can see the larger image and be hungrier!!))

springvegmas 020So this is actually a triple-hitter because I’ve got 3 (w00t!) fantastic seasonings of shrimp to go with pretty much anything or to become an appetizer by themselves.  First up, the one in the photos.  To the left is a rosemary & red pepper flake shrimp!  You can swap out the rosemary for ground dried sage and have a whole new flavor palette.  I’ll also be giving you the recipe for a sage & bacon shrimp.

I think these simple seasonings are an easy throw together since you should always keep shrimp on hand, and they’re SUPER quick to dethaw!  Check out my shrimp basics post for the rundown on the kind I use!!

1. Allocate 10 to 12 shrimp (31/40 count) per person for a dinner portion.  Preheat a skillet with about a tablespoon of olive oil (per portion)!

springvegmas 0092. Version 1: Season each portion of shrimp with two pinches of finely chopped FRESH rosemary (1/2 tsp) and a dash of dried red pepper flakes (1/4 tsp, you can up this a bit if you like it spicy).  Salt & pepper to taste, but I don’t think these shrimp need either.

2. Version 2: Season each portion of shrimp with two pinches of DRIED ground sage (1/2 tsp) and a dash of dried red pepper flakes (1/4 tsp, ditto with the make it YOUR spicy tolerance)

springvegmas 0113. Cooking time depends on the size of the shrimp.  I’d say these shrimp need 2-3 minutes on the first side, and 1 minute on the other side.

Version 3

1. Preheat a skillet over medium high heat.

2. Season each portion of shrimp with two pinches of DRIED ground sage (1/2 tsp).  S&P to taste, but I don’t add either.

3. Add 2 strips of bacon, chopped up into small (1/4 in) pieces per PORTION.

4. Cook the bacon to your liking (I like mine just crisp)

4. Drain all the oil you can pour out of the skillet without losing the bacon pieces.  You should have the equivalent of a teaspoon per portion scattered around the skillet.  Sorry, this step is more of an art than a science.

5. Add the shrimp.  Cook for 2-3 minutes on the first side in the bacon fat (YUM) and 1 minute on the otherside.

Final note! You want them just barely pink and curled.  If you let shrimp overcook, then they’ll be tough and rubbery.