August 28, 2009

Spicy Seafood Soup!

Posted in Soups & Stews tagged , , at 10:45 pm by jenniec00ks

Yum yum yum!

Yum yum yum!

So I was just making myself a typical weeknight dinner (so Friday is sort of a weeknight!) and it was so good I decided to post it.  I found this recipe by Giada her latest cookbook, Giada’s Kitchen.  I sort of took the comments into consideration (about the Trader Joe’s frozen seafood mix, I happen to have just discovered Trader Joe’s after moving to Atlanta.)  I had a craving for tater tots, so I ate that with my soup instead of the garlic toast recommendation. Here goes!

2 servings that need an accompaniment (garlic bread, crusty bread, tater tots, whatever you’d like):

1 cup white wine (I used Starborough Sauvingnon Blanc, New Zealand, 2007, I’d recommend it.  ~$12/bottle)

1 cup Hunt’s garlic & herb spaghetti sauce (the kind I always use)

2/3 lb. Trader Joe’s Frozen Seafood Mix (Squid, scallops, shrimp)

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 dash of dried red pepper flakes (this is for a mild soup, 2 if you like it spicy)


1. Heat the olive oil over low heat.

2. Add the finely chopped garlic, sautee for 2 minutes.  Do not let it brown!

3. Add the cup of wine and turn the heat up to medium.

4. Let it bubble for 3-4 minutes.  It should reduce by only about a third.

5. Add the cup of tomato sauce and stir in along with the red pepper flakes.

6. Let it come up to a simmer and let simmer 6 minutes.

7. Add the 2/3 lb. of frozen seafood, let it come up to a simmer again for about 2 minutes or until all the seafood is cooked through.  Shrimp turn pink and curl, squid turns from clear to opaque, and scallops get a whiter color and feel bouncy to the touch.

ENJOY!  I did.


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.

Basics: Working with Shrimp (Jennie-style)

Posted in Basic Techniques tagged at 6:34 pm by jenniec00ks

This is by no means the only way to work with shrimp, but it’s just how I do it to keep things as inexpensive and simple as possible.

Shrimp Facts:

1. The U.S. has standardized the packaging of shrimp.  You will always see a “shrimp count” on the package, and sometimes a relative name to go with it (“large, small, jumbo”).  The “shrimp count” is the approximate number it would take that size of shrimp to weigh a pound.  For example, (some) “Extra Jumbo” shrimp are labeled “16/20” and it takes 16-20 of thses shrimps to comprise a pound.

2. Typically, the smaller the shrimp, the smaller the price.  Unfortunately, the greater repetitions of peeling you must endure.

3. The more processing that has been done on the shrimp, the more expensive it is.  Processing ranges from: Raw head-on, raw head-less, raw deveined shell-on, raw deveined and peeled, cooked tail-on, cooked peeled.

4.  Raw, whole, fresh shrimp have the most flavor.

5. Shrimp have a black string-like thingie down the back – it’s a digestive track.  It does not HAVE to be removed, but usually is because it’s gritty in texture and aesthetically unappealing.

springvegmas 007

Shrimp Rules, Jennie-style:

1. Raw 31/35 or 31/40 ez-peel shrimp (usually correspond to about “Large”) are the most cost-efficient for the amount of work needed to be done.  “Ez-peel” shrimp are raw and sliced down the back to make them easier to peel and usually the vein is removed.

2. If the shrimp in the case looks good & inexpensive and you’re going to use it in the next few hours, go ahead and get it.  But I always, always, keep a FROZEN 1 or 2 pound bag of 31/35 ez-peel shrimp around.  In Texas & Atlanta, I try to keep the cost to no more than $5.50 per pound.

3. To thaw shrimp, soak them in COLD water for 5 minutes, then peel/wash them under running cold water (the running water makes it easier.)

4. Unless you can throw out the shells somewhere far away immediately, pour some boiling water over them and tie them up in a plastic bag until you can throw them out.  An alternative for the extra savvy, you can freeze them raw and wait until you have enough to make shrimp stock.


May 6, 2009

Shrimp and Feta Penne in Photos

Posted in Pasta: stovetop tagged , , at 11:09 pm by jenniec00ks

Yum-O!!  Shrimp and Feta Pasta

Yum-O!! Shrimp and Feta Pasta

So this is essentially Rachael Ray’s “Anna Maria’s Greek Shrimp and Feta Penne” from her Classic 30-Minute Meals cookbook.  We’re using that marjoram and feta from the Red Onion Pasta I showed y’all the other day.

shrimpandfeta-001Frozen shrimp is a fabulous protein to keep on hand because it keeps well over several weeks time and more importantly, dethaws in just minutes under running cold water.  I recommend the “easy peel” kind that have a cut down the back and the vein removed.  The “vein” is shrimp’s digestive track and looks like a black thread running down the back.  I have also found that peeling the shrimp under running water makes it easier to peel and washes out any remains of a vein as well.  Shrimp are labeled with the usual unhelpful relative terms small, medium, large, etc., so pay attention to the count in the bag.  The numbers will look something like “31/40” (on large) or “41/50” (on medium).  The numbers represent how many of that size shrimp constitute a pound, i.e. 31-40 large shrimp will weigh ~1lb.  I used about 14-16 large shrimp for 2 servings.

shrimpandfeta-002Moving on, you’ll also need half a box of penne, a touch of white wine, ~18oz. of crushed tomatoes (I had to use diced, it’s all I could find that day), 1/2 of the 8oz. box of crumbled feta cheese (any variety you like, I’m still using up the reduced-fat I had last night), and some fresh marjoram.  The parsley is optional, and as is any Italian dried herb combination you’ve got on hand.  To start, I really like garlic so I put 6 cloves in this dish; if you don’t share my love for it, you could go with 3 to still flavor the sauce.  Let’s have a quick garlic peel/chop recap, shall we?



Separate the cloves, lay your knife flat over one clove, give it a light whack (avoid the blade), and the peel should come right off.  Then mince as fine as you’d like.

As usual, get a pot of water on to boil (high heat, with a cover).  You can add salt to the water to “flavor the pasta” as many would recommend, however, I find you have to add an awful lot of salt to taste the difference in the pasta.  When the water boils, remove the cover and add about 2 cups of pasta (1 cup is a pretty large serving of penne).  Always boil the pasta uncovered, otherwise the starchy water will foam up and overflow.  Cook the penne for however long your box says, mine goes for ~11 minutes.

shrimpandfeta-012Heat up about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the usual saucepan/wok over medium heat.  After the oil is heated, get the chopped garlic in.  If your garlic turns brown, your heat was too high!  Pick up the pan and lower the heat like I did.  After about a minute, I added ~1/3 cup of white wine.  If you’ve got an open-flame cooking range (usually gas), make sure you MOVE THE PAN off the fire before adding alcohol.  Let the alcohol bubble off for about 3 minutes, after that about half of what you added should be left in the pan.

shrimpandfeta-013shrimpandfeta-014Then add the crushed (in my case, diced) tomatoes and let it simmer for a minute.  Add the crumbled feta cheese and stir so that it melts.  Don’t be disturbed if the crumbled kind doesn’t melt all the way into the sauce, it doesn’t always for me.

While you’re stirring in the feta cheese, add the fresh marjoram and any dried herbs you’d like to flavor the tomatoes.  I happen to have some McCormick’s Italian blend nearby, so I threw a pinch or two in.  Then it’s time for the shrimp!shrimpandfeta-015shrimpandfeta-017

Stir in the shrimp and let it simmer for a few minutes, or until the shrimp become pink and begin to curl.  Then it’s time to turn off the burner and add the pasta and fresh parsley.  Give it a good toss together, then you’re ready to serve!


Bon appetit!  Wait, one more thing.  If you don’t take out your trash on a daily basis, throwing those shrimp shells away raw will make your kitchen smell something fierce by the next morning.

shrimpandfeta-016So drain your pasta water over the shrimp shells to cook them, and be sure to get them outside within 48 hours.  If it’ll be longer than that, put them in a plastic bag and tie it shut to keep the odors in.  If you’re really dedicated to stocks, you could also freeze your shrimp shells ’till you collect a pound or two to make shrimp stock out of.  I’ve only done it once or twice to make a fabulous gumbo base.