Tuesday, April 29, 2014


This pasta looks and tastes super fancy, but you can get it on the table in less than 30 minutes.  Pasta, creamy spicy Alfredo sauce, and crispy flavorful shrimp.  So simple, yet so amazing.  This recipe was inspired by Kevin and Amanda's Crispy Shrimp Pasta.  Their version uses heavy cream and fettuccine, but I wanted to make a dairy friendly dinner.  I used my favorite alfredo sauce mix and made it with Lactaid milk.  The original recipe serves two, but this modified version will serve four.

Simply season shrimp with salt and pepper, then coat with two tablespoons flour.  Saute in butter and olive oil until lightly browned on both sides, about 6 minutes total.  Remove to a plate and prepare the sauce in the same skillet.

Meanwhile, cook pasta until al dente.

Fun shapes are more delicious.  Scientific fact!
Season alfredo sauce with your favorite cajun seasoning.  Or seasonings.  I have two faves, and I don't want either of them to have hurt feelings, so I use both!  Season safely at first and taste as you go, since most cajun seasonings are very salty.  Remember: you can always add more, but you can't take any out!

Drain pasta and add to skillet with shrimp.  Mix to combine and enjoy!


1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails removed
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 lb (8 ounces) pasta
1 packet Knorr Alfredo Sauce + required milk (or 1 3/4 cups prepared Alfredo)
Cajun seasoning to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions.  In a large bowl, season the shrimp with coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Toss shrimp to evenly season.  Sprinkle on 1 tablespoon flour, then gently stir to coat.  Add the second tablespoon and stir.  Melt butter and olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium high heat, then add shrimp in a single layer.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, until lightly brown.  Flip and cook for 2-3 more minutes, until shrimp are crispy.  Do not overcook!  Remove to plate and cover with foil to keep warm.  Add packet of Alfredo seasoning and milk.  Follow package directions to prepare.  When sauce is thickened and done, add a couple shakes of Cajun seasoning.  Taste and add more if necessary.  Add drained pasta and shrimp to skillet, stir to combine.  Serve immediately.

Thursday, April 24, 2014


Shredded beef burritos smothered in meaty sauce and cheese.  That's all you need to know before you make this meal.  Oh, and the meat is cooked to tender perfection in a crockpot all day long.  If you aren't sold, I feel sad for you.

Now, this recipe adventure could be filed under failure AND disaster.  There are tons of recipes out there for homemade enchilada sauce, so I decided to give it a shot.  It was awful.  Not sure if it was that particular recipe, or I just love the canned stuff too much.  Anyone out there have a fabulous, homemade version to share with me?

Onto plan B.  Luckily, there are always several cans of enchilada sauce in our pantry, so this meal wasn't ruined.  It was the opposite.  This was amazing.  Please make this meal ASAP.   This made 8 burritos, but if you don't want leftovers or aren't feeding a crowd, just halve the recipe.

Quickly give the stew meat a quick browning in the skillet, then throw it in the crockpot.

Pour in enchilada sauce, chopped green chiles, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, bay leaves and salt.  Cook on low allllllllll day long.

Usually, flour tortillas get a weird, sticky and gummy texture when they get super saucy.  Luckily, Trader Joe's Trader Jose's exists.  My friend Kat served these amazing tortillas with tacos and I was instantly converted.  They keep their texture when smothered with sauce and taste like they're from a restaurant.  Do yourself a favor and get some.

You can stick with an all meat filling, or throw some beans in there as well.  These chorizo refried beans are deliciously flavorful and have a slight kick.  Found them at World Market.

The first night we had this meal, we did beans and meat.  The burritos were super filling and one was enough for a meal.  Spread on beans, top with drained beef.

Oh, hey feet.

OR fill with meat and cheese, like we did with the leftovers.

Roll them up burrito style, smother with sauce and cheese, then stick under the broiler for a few minutes.

Serve these with rice and beans or a side salad with sour cream and guacamole.

With white rice and chorizo refried beans.

With Uncle Ben's chicken rice and refried black beans.

3 lbs lean stew meat
3 cans enchilada sauce, 10 oz each
1 can chopped green chiles, 4.5 oz
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cumin
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon coarse Kosher salt

shredded cheese
refried beans

Brown meat in skillet until browned on all or most sides.  Do not cook the meat all the way through.  Place in crockpot, and top with enchilada sauce, chiles and spices.  Stir, cover and cook on low about 4-5 hours.  Meat is done when it is falling apart.  Remove bay leaves.  You want your sauce to be almost gravy-thick at this point, but the meat juice has probably watered it down.  If your sauce is too thin to use as a topping, mix together 3 teaspoons of cornstarch with 3 tablespoons of water in a tiny bowl, then stir into crockpot.  It'll thicken up quickly.  Taste your sauce, add more spices or salt if necessary.

Assembling burritos:  scoop meat from crockpot using a mesh strainer, so the burritos will be meaty, not runny.  Fill each burrito with half a cup of meat (or beans and meat, or meat and cheese, or all three!) slightly fold in both sides, then roll up.  Place on baking sheet or baking dish, then smother with meat sauce.  Sprinkle with shredded cheese.  Place under broiler set on high for about 3 minutes, watching carefully the entire time until cheese is melted.  Serve with beans, rice, or additional sauce.

Friday, April 18, 2014


Say it with me, people: EASY MEALS ARE BEST!  WASHING DISHES IS THE WORST!  You'll love this fabulous pasta dinner because it only requires two pots.  Hooray!

This meal is also fab because it's super versatile.  If you want a meatless meal, use cheese filled pasta.  Substitute your favorite veggies, or add even more.  I was in a rush, so I used a frozen steamer bag of broccoli and canned tomatoes (sorry, Adam).  Surely, this would taste even more scrumptious with all fresh vegetables (just ask Adam).  Fresh mushrooms are a MUST, as is refrigerated tortelloni.  The dry kind is cheaper, but those little guys just don't cook up as plumply.  Another plus about this meal is the lack of a heavy sauce.  The simple combination of extra virgin olive oil and pasta water make it perfectly saucy.  Seasoning here is key: use the amount of salt, pepper and crushed red pepper that suits your palate.

The main lineup

The flavor (tomatoes in both pics, oops)
Harris Teeter brand is my favorite, especially this flavor.  But use the kind you love!

Begin by sauteing your mushrooms with salt and pepper.  When they look done, after about 10 minutes, stir in your garlic. 

Pour in the undrained tomatoes and add some crushed red pepper.  Toss in the cooked broccoli.  Boil the pasta.  The directions call for 5 minutes, but it always seems crunchy, so I let it go 10 minutes.

When pasta is done, drain it and add it to the veggie filled skillet.

Cheese time!

Mix it up!


2 packages fresh tortelloni (9 ounces each)
1 lb sliced mushrooms (I used baby bella)
1 can petite diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, oregano (undrained)
1 bag frozen broccoli, prepared according to package directions (or a fresh head of broccoli)
4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup to 1 cup fresh, shredded parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
crushed red pepper, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste

Begin boiling a large pot of water for the pasta.  Saute mushrooms in large nonstick skillet with salt and pepper.  When the water begins boiling, salt it and add the pasta.  Your mushrooms should be nicely sauteed by now, so add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about one minute.  Add the can of tomatoes, crushed red pepper and cooked broccoli.  Simmer while pasta cooks, about 10 minutes.  Before draining the pasta, scoop out 1-2 cups starchy pasta water and set aside.  Add drained pasta to skillet with the olive oil and give it a stir.  Add pasta water until it's easily stirrable.  Mix in the cheese, adding additional pasta water if necessary.  Serve immediately.