Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Secret Sayings

Every family has their own inside sayings and phrases.  Those ones that everyone knows exactly what they mean and what they mean usually isn't what they sound like.  Just like in The Godfather, they all knew what it meant when the phrase was uttered to "take 'em to the mattresses".  We have a similar phrase in my family although it has nothing to do with war amongst rivals.  We are Italian, but not THAT Italian ;-)

Now that we are all adults we joke quite often about "Going to Popeye's".  This isn't nearly as delicious as it sounds and it has absolutely nothing to do with fried chicken.  It originated because growing up we had Popeye's for lunch on Sundays.  Sunday, as it goes, is the day after Saturday night and usually a day where you were in trouble for something you did one of the two previous nights before.  My Mom was a very strict mother, but she was normally calm and collected in her strictness.  She was the school disciplinarian so her parenting frequently mirrored that style.  She was gathered and diplomatic in her disciplinary actions, but oh so pointed!  She wasn't one to cause a big scene when we walked through the door late or forgot to call when we changed our plans (these were minor offenses, since one day my son might read this I will leave the really bad stuff to your imagination).  She wouldn't utter a word about it and she would let you go to sleep thinking you had won and you had gotten away with your dirty deed.  But then she would come into your room the next morning and announce you would be taking a ride with her to Popeye's to get lunch for the family.  If she said, "get dressed, we are going to Popeye's" you knew you were toast.

I am one of four children and we all talk about those car rides now that we are adults.  Each of us experienced our fair share of them.  The things she uttered to us on those trips to Popeye's are funny now, but they had us shaking in our boots at the time.  Those one on one sessions where we were put in our places were never fun, but they were very effective.  And to this day if any of us are "getting in trouble" in a one on one fashion we still call it "Going to Popeye's".

I do most of my fancy cooking on Sunday's.  I work and my weeknight meals tend to be less involved.  I save all of my very detailed or time consuming recipes for Sunday lunch and dinner.  As I stood over the stove pulling together this recipe (which by the way was easy enough to be a weeknight meal), I thought about those Sunday trips to Popeye's and how I would be depriving Rex and any of our future children of those life lessons if I continue to cook on Sundays.  I need to think up a substitute car ride I can take my kids on when they are teenagers, should they ever need it.  Any suggestions, Mom?


Guinness Mac and Cheese
Adapted from Cooking Light April 2013



  • 8 ounces uncooked rotini pasta
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 6 ounces bulk turkey sausage
  • 3/4 cup diced onion 
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup Guinness Stout beer
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 2.5 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 ounces light processed cheese, shredded (such as Velveeta Light)
  • Cooking spray 



1. Preheat oven to 450°.

2. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.

3. While pasta cooks, heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add sausage and onion to pan; cook 6 minutes, stirring to crumble sausage. Add flour, pepper, and salt; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in beer; bring to a boil. Cook 3 minutes or until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat. Add milk and cheeses,

stirring until smooth.

Stir in pasta.

Mix to incorporate.

Divide mixture evenly among 4 ceramic gratin dishes coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.  Top with fresh parsley or dried parsley flakes and serve.

Click Here for My Adapted Printable Recipe

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Shrimp Scandal

I love to eat dishes with shrimp, but hate hate hate to peel shrimp.  Luckily I have a very willing shrimp peeler in my home.  Forrest always steps up to the plate without complaint when it is time to peel shrimp.  And EVERY single time he is peeling shrimp for us he reminds me why he really doesn't mind peeling shrimp.  As the story goes, he used to peel shrimp during P.E. class in high school.  His P.E. teacher would pay Forrest and his friend $5 for every 5 gallon bucket of shrimp they would peel for him during their regularly scheduled P.E. class.

Now.....there are so many things wrong with this story I don't even know where to begin.  First off, that is highway robbery.  Five bucks for the labor that would go into peeling a five gallon bucket of shrimp is nearly slave wages.  Then there is the whole "teacher paying their student" factor in addition to letting them miss their regular P.E. class for his own benefit!  Those are all of the more serious issues associated with the tale.  Then the practical side of me kicks in and I start thinking about the minor logistical details, like where did he refrigerate 5 gallon buckets of shrimp before and after they were done.  Or what was he doing with 5 gallon buckets worth of shrimp, did he own a restaurant? Cook for a shelter?

Regardless of the wackiness of this memory, I am just glad it didn't turn my husband off of his shrimp peeling ways.  And I am happy it worked in my favor, because my going rate isn't even $5 bucks..... all I can offer in the end is a really delicious meal!

Shrimp, Corn & Chorizo Salad
Adapted from Cooking Light July 2013



  • 12 ounces large shrimp, peeled
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Sriracha (hot chile sauce)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 3/4 ounces sliced fresh Mexican chorizo sausage
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, divided
  • 12 red grape tomatoes, halved and divided
  • 12 yellow teardrop tomatoes, halved and divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice



1. Combine green onions, garlic, corn and tomatoes in one bowl.

Combine Shrimp, Chorizo, Sriracha, and salt in another bowl.

Stir to distribute Sriracha.  Combine both bowls of the two mixtures.  Add 1/4 cup minus 1 Tbs chopped basil; toss shrimp mixture gently to combine.

2. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add olive oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add shrimp mixture to pan, and cook for 4 minutes or until shrimp turn pink and sausage is cooked, stirring frequently. Place about 1 1/2 cups shrimp mixture in each of 4 shallow bowls, and sprinkle each serving with 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind, 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice, 6 tomato halves, and a sprinkle of the remaining chopped basil.

Click Here for My Adapted Printable Recipe

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Craving Creoles

It is hard to imagine a New Orleans summer being known for anything other than its oppressive heat.  Surely if you aren't a local that is how you would most rapidly associate our summer months.  Shoot, even if you are a local, it is pretty hard to deny this place is hot - really hot!  But I think foodie New Orleanians (aren't all New Orleanians foodies?) have two things to get us through these rough hot months of summer: snowballs and creoles.  Creole tomatoes are the delicacy of the summer months here in New Orleans and it is hard not to be totally addicted to these thick, meaty, juicy, bright red tomatoes.  I don't even really like tomatoes, but I can't get enough of the perfect creoles offered in South Louisiana.  You can find them anywhere from the local supermarkets and roadside stands to your Great Uncle's backyard garden. I don't remember a summer day growing up where my Grannie didn't have at least three creoles resting on her windowsill above her kitchen sink just waiting for their turn in the daily rotation of creole tomato sandwiches or creole tomato salad.

I have been buying a few creole tomatoes each week and finding different ways to incorporate them into our weekly dinners.  I have exhausted the more expected combinations and was thrilled when I came across this recipe.  It advertises this dressing as "tomato's new best friend" and I new immediately which type of tomato would round out this "friendship" perfectly.

Cucumber Basil Buttermilk Dressing
Adapted from Southern Living June 2013



  • 4 cups peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced cucumbers (about 4 large cucumbers)
  • 2 teaspoons table salt
  • 1 1/2 cups Non-Fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups light mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated sweet onion (about 1/2 large onion; do not use juice)
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated garlic (about 3 large garlic cloves)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup whole buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar 
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper 


Toss together first 2 ingredients; drain in a colander 30 minutes.

Mix together yogurt and next 9 ingredients using a rubber spatula.

Until well combined.

Stir in cucumbers; let stand 30 minutes.

Cut thick tomato slices and server dressing drenched over the top.  Finish with a sprinkle of fresh basil and cracked black pepper.  Refrigerate dressing for up to 2 days.   This makes a TON of dressing, so halve the recipe if you are only looking to serve this once.

Click Here for My Adapted Printable Recipe