Salt & Pepper Shrimp

Salt & Pepper Shrimp ~ The Way to His Heart

I’ve been really doing well this winter with keeping my snacking to a minimum and eating better. My biggest hurdle has always been lunches. Between feeding the kids and getting the little guy down for a nap, there just isn’t time. So I used to skip it or simply eat the random bits of food that they didn’t eat. Make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, take a spoonful for myself. Cut half an apple for them and I’d eat the other half. These weren’t poor food choices, but it often left me hungry later and then the snacking would begin. Enter shrimp, which has always been my little life savor. So quick to cook up and always tasty, I make time for lunch if I know I’m going to eat something super yummy.

I love this recipe for it’s flavor and ease, but I also love tossing cilantro into anything I can since it always seems we have an abundance of it! This stir fry method lightens the calories while still keeping the flavors of the original method with deep frying. A flavor lunch, or dinner, ready in minutes and extra tasty to boot! I will note, I’m not a huge fan of cooking shrimp with the peels on because it makes eating a giant pain in the rear, but I’ve made this a few times both ways and the flavors really just seem to incorporate into the shrimp better with the peels on. So, if you want cook with peels on and before plating if you want to be nice, you can quick remove them!

Salt & Pepper Shrimp

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tsp each black, green, red, and white peppercorns
  • 2 lbs shrimp, shells on
  • 2 tsp salt, divided
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable or peanut oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

Crush peppercorns. Put shrimp, half of crushed peppercorns, and 1 teaspoon of salt into a large bowl and toss to coat. Set aside.

Heat a large pot over high heat. Add oil, garlic, remaining crushed peppercorns, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minutes. Add shrimp and cook, stirring constantly, until pink and cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add cilantro, turn off heat, and toss to combine. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Source: Sunset magazine

Sausage, Cannellini, and Tomato Ragout ~ Simple, delicious, healthy, and quick. Everything you want in a dinner! ~ The Way to His Heart

This weekend I was looking for something to make for my husband and I. I wanted something that didn’t require a trip to the store. I’m all about cleaning out my pantry lately. I also wanted to make something that I knew he’d love since we’ve had a few “kid-centric’ meals lately. Here is a simple, earnest recipe that is absolutely delicious and really quick to make. It’s also pretty healthy, but you wouldn’t know since the flavors are so rich and have depth. This “stew” takes less than 20 minutes to make, yet has all of that depth of a slow simmered stew thanks to the red wine. The fresh oregano right at the end gives it that extra oomph as well. The crushed red pepper gives it a nice amount of heat, which my husband loved.

So, if you are craving some warm comfort food and don’t feel like simmering a pot all day or even prepping the slow cooker in the morning, this is your meal. Frankly, it’s great even if you do want to spent lots of time in the kitchen! To save even more time, my new favorite “why didn’t I think of that trick” is to use frozen diced onion. Dinner time is a bit chaotic around here nowadays!

Sausage, Cannellini, and Tomato Ragout ~ Simple, delicious, healthy, and quick. Everything you want in a dinner! ~ The Way to His Heart

Sausage, Cannellini, and Tomato Ragout

Ingredients

  • 6 oz bulk hot Italian sausage
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted tomato paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup dry red wine
  • 3/4 cup unsalted chicken stock
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • Dash of crushed red pepper
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can unsalted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (15 oz) can unsalted cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh oregano

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage to pan; cook 2 minutes, stirring to crumble. Remove sausage from pan. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion; saute 3 minutes. Add tomato paste and garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add wine; cook 1 minute, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Stir in stock and next 5 ingredients (through beans); reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 8 minutes or until slightly thickened. Stir n cooked sausage and oregano.

Source: Cooking Light Magazine, January 2016

Perfect Mashed Potatoes

Perfect Mashed Potatoes ~ Simple ingredients and easy technique yield perfectly mashed potatoes every time ~  The Way to His Heart

Growing up one of my favorite meals was my mother’s roast beef and mashed potatoes. She made this dark gravy that was divine. I still can’t seem to master it, but it’s close enough that it makes me and my daughter happy. While the gravy was great, the mashed potatoes were that much better. I know, I was a child and loved mashed potatoes. Most kids do.What I didn’t realize though was that my mother’s were the best. Yes, I know your mother’s mashed potatoes are great too. Seriously though. I started going over to other friend’s houses and while they were decent, they weren’t my mother’s mashed potatoes. I knew they were great when my friend’s ate at our house and agreed with me.

When I met my husband and moved in with him I was surprised to not find a potato masher or ricer in his cabinets. So, along with buying some other key kitchen and pantry items, I brought home a great potato masher. Great means that it has the square shape holes that really push down and mash the potato, not one of those squiggly line ones. Those are flimsy. Flimsy is no good when you’re about to start mashing a ton of potatoes. I also brought home a large, study whisk. He thought I was ridiculous. Why buy more gadgets and put in more elbow grease than was needed? He had an electric mixer that would mash the potatoes up in no time. That night we made mashed potatoes my way, my mother’s way. It’s been ten years and we’ve never made them any different. He’s even the potato guy. Anytime we make them on the weekend or for holidays, he gets to mashing and doesn’t protest because he knows, these are perfect mashed potatoes!

Perfect Mashed Potatoes ~ Simple ingredients and easy technique yield perfectly mashed potatoes every time ~  The Way to His Heart

So, what makes them perfect? It’s not just my childhood memories that have forged these in my mind as perfect. There are actually reasons. Let’s start with the potatoes. Starch matters. Yukon golds are great because of their starchiness and their buttery taste and nice golden color. Russets work as well, but I always go with golds. Next, cut them up the same size. Simple cooking tip. Equal size means equal cooking time. You don’t want them too large or too small. About 2″ or so is good. Next, salt the water. Same theory as pasta, season from the start! Do not overcook. Sounds simple, but so many people overcook them because they are in a hurry and then you are left with mush that wont ever whip up right. Under cooking leaves you with those little tiny chunks of potato that are hidden within your  mashed potatoes. You’re not fooling anyone, we see them and feel them. It happens, though. What is a perfectly cooked potato? Fork tender, which means the fork tines slide in easily and then pull out, without the potato fall apart in the water. Next, when you start mashing and whisking the potatoes, don’t overwork them. This is why the electric mixers are awful for potatoes. They overwork the starch and it becomes glue. Lastly, nutmeg. I add it, most of the time my husband doesn’t. There is no foul in not adding it, but it really does make your potatoes taste better. Give it a try. You wont taste the nutmeg, it will just enhance the flavor and give it a nice, subtle note, very similar to what it does in bechamel sauce, or what vanilla does in most baked goods, etc. Just try it.

There you have it. A very simple, honest recipe that I’ve been meaning to post on this blog for ages. It uses no fancy tools or ingredients. No need for creams, the milk does its thing. We use whatever we have on hand, whole or 2 percent. While I don’t have the gravy mastered, I can still whip up a mean batch of potatoes!

Perfect Mashed Potatoes ~ Simple ingredients and easy technique yield perfectly mashed potatoes every time ~  The Way to His Heart

 

Perfect Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes
  • 2 tsp salt, divided
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch of nutmeg

Peel and quarter potatoes. You want the potatoes to be the same size. Place in a large pot and fill with enough cold water to cover. Add 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook on medium-high heat until fork tender, about 30 minutes. Do not overcook! The potato should slide off of the fork, but not start to crumble.

Remove from heat and drain potatoes into a colander. If you are making a gravy save the potato water, that starchy goodness is like gold!

Pour potatoes back into the pot and add butter. With a good potato masher, one that has the square holes not those wavy lines, mashed that butter into the potatoes. Mash until you have removed all of the chunks. Add milk, remaining teaspoon of salt, pepper, and nutmeg and whisk to allow some air in and potatoes become fluffy. I whisk until you have nice, fluffy looking potatoes but there is still some heft to them. Over whisking will make them thin and runny.

The Way to His Heart

 

Slow Cooker Beef & Broccoli

Slow Cooker Beef & Broccoli ~ A no fuss meal that is healthier than takeout and rivals the taste ~ The Way to His Heart #copycatrecipe #chinese #slowcooker

I’ve been on a Chinese take-out kick lately. The problem is my husband doesn’t want it that often and my kids only like to eat from the buffet because they can have a little bit of everything. I know I can make it at home, but there is something comforting sitting at my counter eating something I haven’t made while everyone else is playing since I fed them beforehand. It’s a little oasis for me!

Alas, one can only indulge so much. So to satisfy the cravings and save my waistline and wallet, I make it myself. I love this slow cooker method because it’s super easy. Granted, you can fake this in a skillet and it doesn’t take as long if you forgot to get everything into the slow cooker in time, but sometimes, heck most times, just before dinner is the witching hour here. There are just nights where all I can get done is putting a pot of rice on the stove so the slow cooker saves me. That way I can work on homework, the crazy dogs, the toddler meltdowns etc. I’ve made this recipe even simpler by cutting out steaming the fresh broccoli. There is no need. Thirty minutes in the slow cooker is plenty of time to cook it and if you are using frozen, why defrost? Again, thirty minutes is plenty of time to defrost and cook! I call defrosting the meat a win each day. Defrosting veggies,etc. no thanks!

Slow Cooker Beef & Broccoli ~ A no fuss meal that is healthier than takeout and rivals the taste ~ The Way to His Heart #copycatrecipe #chinese #slowcooker

Slow Cooker Beef & Broccoli

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs flank steak, thinly sliced and chopped into 2″ pieces
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 2/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 4 cups broccoli florets, fresh or frozen
  • 2 Tbsp corn starch
  • 4 Tbsp cold water

Grease the inside of a slow cooker. Add steak, beef broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, and garlic. Cover and cook on high for 2 to 3 hours or low for 4 to 5 hours. Make sure you check along the way if you can, no matter what slow cooker I use, it always seems to cook faster!

In a small bowl, stir corn starch and water into a slurry. 30 minutes before serving, add to the slow cooker along with your broccoli. There is no need to defrost the broccoli if you are using frozen. Cover and allow to cook for 30 minutes.

Serves 4

Adapted from le creme de la crumb