Saturday, November 9, 2019

CREAMY SHRIMP RICE BAKE

We REALLY enjoy this comfort food casserole served with a big green salad. It is packed with tons of shrimp, rice and veggies in a creamy cheese sauce and topped with seasoned bread crumbs.

It is perfect for ANY family potluck or as an "add on" dish for a large holiday gathering.

You can put this together early in the day and bake it off at dinner time...it serves 8 hungry people.






1 1/2 cups UNcooked long grain rice
3 cups chicken broth 
1 tablespoon butter

In a large sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat and add the RAW rice. Stir and let the rice kernels toast in the butter for a couple minutes, then add 3 cups chicken broth. Stir, COVER and turn heat down super low and cook the rice for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Keep covered and set aside.

Next, saute the following together:

1/2 cup butter (*don't freak out, see note below)
3 celery stalks chopped small
2 cloves of garlic minced
2 green onions sliced thinly
1 red bell pepper seeded and chopped small 
2 cups of your favorite fresh veggies (broccoli? mushrooms?)

Saute, gently till tender, then take off the heat and set aside.

Next, peel, de-vein, wash and pat dry  pounds of fresh shrimp (see note below about frozen shrimp). 

In a bowl, mix the following until smooth:

(2) cans cream of shrimp soup (undiluted)
1 cup milk
2 cups shredded colby-jack cheese
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Mix  the soup/milk/cheese/pepper until smooth, then gently stir in raw shrimp and cooked rice and cooked veggies.

Place mixture in greased 10 x 15 baking dish and sprinkle with bread crumbs (see bread crumb recipe below). Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes or until hot and bubbly.


ENJOY !!!

NOTE: It might sound like 1/2 cup butter is a lot, but remember that this recipe serves 8 (1 tablespoon per serving) and 1/2 cup of butter is necessary for the right sauce consistency.

NOTE: Make sure you use Colby-Jack cheese.  Cheddar (only) is not a good choice here. Just make sure your choice of cheese is creamy when melted.

NOTE: If you can't find cream of shrimp soup, cream of celery soup would work well too.

NOTE: For the bread crumb topping, Just put a couple of tablespoons of butter in a fry pan along with 2 cups of bread crumbs (plus a 1/2 teaspoon of  kosher salt and a healthy pinch of black pepper and a pinch of cayenne pepper) and stir them until they get toasty brown, then sprinkle on the casserole before you bake it.

NOTE: If you are using fresh shrimp, ignore the following note, but if you are using frozen shrimp, it is extremely important that you thaw the shrimp in a colander overnight in the fridge (do not speed thaw in running water). It is unbelievable how  much water will drain out of the frozen shrimp and that water will make your casserole SOUPY and SOGGY IF YOU SKIP THIS STEP. Let the shrimp thaw overnight, then the next day, rinse them and pat them dry. I usually use medium size shrimp for this recipe.


Happy Holiday!!





Wednesday, October 30, 2019

POTLUCK RIGATONI

This rich, delicious, full flavored Rigatoni IS the first entrĂ©e that people head for at ANY potluck or gathering. It will feed 5 or 6 people depending on their appetite. The recipe doubles (even triples) well.



1 pound lean ground beef
1 cup onion chopped
1 clove garlic minced
14 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 14 ounce can water
6 ounce can tomato paste
8 ounce can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon sugar (don't leave out)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (don't leave out)
2 teaspoons dry basil leaves 
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds (don't leave out)
1 teaspoon dry oregano leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese 
Mozzarella cheese grated (as much as you like)
Rigatoni noodles (eyeball this amount - about 8 ounces)

Cook the chopped onion in a tablespoon of vegetable oil for about 5 minutes or until it starts to smell a little sweet. Add the garlic and cook/stir for another minute or so, but watch it so it doesn't burn.

Stir the ground beef into the onion-garlic and cook until  the meat is no longer pink. Drain well and addthe crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, water, sugar and spices. 

Stir well and simmer SLOWLY for an hour and a half (stirring once in a while). After an hour and a half, most of the liquid should have cooked away and it will look like this (not too dry). If it looks overly dry, add a cup of water.


Stir in the Parmesan and Mozzarella (but save a little mozzarella to sprinkle over the top before you bake it).

Now a word about the noodles: You can use ANY noodle you want, but we really like the hardy (thick walled) rigatoni noodles. Boil them in salted water until they are ALMOST done (about 2-3 minutes before they are totally cooked). They will cook the rest of the way in the sauce.

I use half a package of rigatoni noodles in this recipe. If you are using another kind of noodle, just eyeball the amount.


Drain the noodles well and Stir them into the meat and cheese mixture. Top with a little extra mozzarella and bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or till bubbly.


NOTE: I often make this in the Crockpot. I follow the above directions until it says "simmer for 1 1/2 hours). Instead, I put it in the slow cooker and let it "cook" for 3-4 hours on low. Then I add the partially cooked noodles and let it all "cook" for another 1/2 hour....works great.


ENJOY !!!

Saturday, October 19, 2019

ROASTED ALMONDS

If you buy roasted almonds from the grocery store, they are, most likely, coated with oil...I don't know about you, but I certainly don't need those extra calories.



This quick and simple "recipe" has 
only 2 ingredients, almonds and kosher salt



These nuts are a slightly salty, 
toasty-crunchy, addicting healthy snack.

1 pound of whole almonds
3 tablespoons kosher salt (not table salt)
1 1/2 cups boiling water

Put 1 1/2 cups boiling water into a large bowl and add the kosher salt. Stir for about 30 seconds or until the salt is completely dissolved. NOTE: the amount of salt in this recipe sounds like a lot, but most of it stays in the water which is drained off. The final nuts have a light salty taste. 

Add the almonds to the hot water and stir again. Let them sit in the water for 20 minutes.




After 20 minutes, drain the almonds (but do not rinse). Place the nuts on a foil lined cookie sheet and spread them out.

Bake at 325° for 25 minutes. *I bake MINE for 30 minutes because I like them super toasty. 


Remove the baked nuts from the oven and let them cool completely before you eat or store them in an airtight container.



The nuts will be perfectly crunchy
when they cool off




ENJOY !!!