Archive of ‘Recipes’ category

Tailgate Shrimp – A Little Spice Is Nice


Spicy Tailgate Shrimp tastes good even when you’re not standing in a parking lot. You don’t even need a plate – a toothpick works just great!

It’s been almost 24 hours since I watched my Oregon Ducks facepalm at the College Football National Championship. There’s always next year, right? Sigh.

The night started out with high hopes and lots of yummy food at my friend’s house. My contribution to the spread was Spicy Tailgate Shrimp. It’s a make-ahead dish that is portable, cooks quickly and is a crowd pleaser.

My first taste of this shrimp was several years ago at one of the Chargers home games, where the tailgate was often the highlight of the day. A dear friend came up with this recipe and quickly rattled off a list of ingredients which I promptly forgot (I’ll blame the beer) and then tried to remember much later when I made the dish.

This is a perfect dish to make for the upcoming Superbowl or any other pot-luck type event. It would also be delicious over linguine or rice for a main dish.

The shrimp can be cooked on a barbecue, in the oven or on the stove top so pick your poison. It’s versatile.

After a few variations on ingredients, I’m finally satisfied with the recipe listed below.

Warning: here comes my “know your food” rant…Let’s talk shrimp. Or actually not. I get really grossed out when I think about foreign shrimp farms. Read this article if you want to know more. This is a more helpful article that breaks down what type of shrimp to buy. I buy wild caught shrimp from the U.S. and rarely eat shrimp when I’m at a restaurant unless I know its origin.

Back to my delicious recipe now that you’re thoroughly grossed out.


I prefer shell-on shrimp but if you want to make this recipe even quicker, get peeled and deveined shrimp. Don’t buy the pre-cooked ones!

Clean your shrimp if you buy them with the shell on. If they are already shell-less and deveined rinse them under cold water and let them drain while you prepare the other ingredients. I buy 26/30s or 31/40s. We’re going for a hefty bite-size here. Any bigger and it’s awkward and any smaller is just silly. WTF am I talking about? Read this for shrimp sizing because jumbo shrimp is just an oxymoron and you can’t eat those.

Chop a crap load of fresh garlic and gather up your olive oil and dried seasonings. There are a lot so make sure you have them all: cayenne, red pepper flakes, paprika, old bay, onion powder, salt and pepper. Yep, that’s it for prep. Told ya it’s quick.

Put your clean shrimp in a bowl and add all of the ingredients on top. Now, if you like less heat, decrease the cayenne by half. Add more cayenne if you like it hotter. The amount I’ve included in this recipe was consumed by a room full of white people so you can guess that it’s got just a little kick but not that much.


Stir it up.Shrimp-Stirred

Dump it into a zip top bag and refrigerate for at least two hours or up to 24 hours. I set mine in the 8 x 8 foil pan that I’ll use to cook the shrimp.Shrimp-Baggy

When you’re ready to cook the shrimp you have several options as I mentioned. Regardless of the method, remember that shrimp cook quickly!  It will take roughly 10 minutes for any method. They have their own built in thermometers so once they are opaque (not see through) then they’re done. If you’re taking this to a tailgate, put the “shrimp on the barbie” (in the foil pan) on medium low heat. Put them in a 425°F oven or on medium heat if using a stove top (put them in a saute pan, not the foil pan). After a few minutes, check on them and stir them to ensure even cooking.

Once cooked, squeeze fresh lemon juice over the top and dig in. I’ve always eaten them with a toothpick



Spicy Tailgate Shrimp
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A quick and easy make-ahead appetizer for tailgating, summer barbecues or any party!
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Serves: 8 - 10 servings
  • 2 lbs wild-caught shrimp, cleaned
  • ⅓ to ½ cup organic olive oil (use your judgement...if the shrimp look dry use more)
  • 3 tbsp chopped organic garlic (about 6 cloves) - or more if you like garlic
  • 1 tbsp old bay seasoning
  • 1 tsp organic paprika
  • ½ tsp organic onion powder
  • ½ tsp organic red pepper flakes (add more or less to adjust intensity)
  • ¼ tsp organic cayenne (add more or less to adjust intensity)
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¾ tsp organic black pepper
  • 1 organic lemon, juiced
  1. Clean and rinse shrimp.
  2. Add shrimp and all ingredients except the lemon to a bowl.
  3. Stir thoroughly and add olive oil if it looks dry.
  4. Refrigerate for 2 - 24 hours.
  5. Cook in a foil pan on the barbecue or in the oven. Use a saute pan if cooking on the stove.
  6. Add lemon juice to the shrimp after they are cooked.


Rainbow Spaghetti & Art Class Sugar Cookies Inspired by Jackson Pollock

Art Class - Sugar Cookies and Rainbow SpaghettiJ has been taking an art class at a friend’s house since the end of October. Sadly, we only have one class remaining. She gets to paint and glue plastic jewels (which she LOVES) and I get to see friends. The class is an hour and half and includes a snack/lunch break for the kids.

At the start of classes, we signed up to take turns as “snack mom”. Each week of art has a theme and it turns out that snacks were also themed accordingly. I signed up for Jackson Pollock week and crossed my fingers that I could come up with something creative for a meal — after all, this is (kids) art class!

Painters Palette Sugar Cookie

The painter’s palettes look a little like brown pac-mans.

I knew I would make decorated sugar cookies for dessert. After some internet searching, I decided to make an artist’s palette and splatter design à la Mr. Pollock. Deciding what to serve for lunch proved to be a little more challenging as I wanted one stand-out item on the plate. I found a rainbow pasta recipe which looked easy, portable and kid-friendly.

I made the cookies first since I let them dry over night and needed two nights to work on them. Actually, it was three nights total. The first night I baked and cooled the cookies. The second and the third were spent decorating. Here is the sugar cookie recipe. I made 4″ round cookies for the painter’s palette and 2″ squares for the splatter design. Surprisingly, I don’t have a painter’s palette shaped cookie cutter in my arsenal of 100+ cutters.

I made chocolate royal icing for the palettes since they had to be brown. I added a bit of brown food color to make them a deeper brown. I didn’t want my palette to look like balsa wood.

Jackson Pollock inspired Splatter Design Sugar Cookie

I put one painter’s palette cookie and two of these little “paintings” in each bag that I gave to the kids.

For the white royal icing, I used some that I had frozen from Halloween. Yes, it really does freeze well!! I had it stored in two zip top bags and let it thaw on the kitchen counter. It may have taken 30 minutes to soften, which was really quick.

After piping and flooding the round and square cookies I let them dry overnight. The next night was the fun part! I took the remaining white icing and divided it into five bowls. I made red, yellow, green, blue and purple for the “paint”. It was flood consistency as I wanted it thin enough to splatter across the white cookies.

By now you are probably wondering where all the photos are of the cookie decorating process. Well, I was too tired to stop and take photos. And at night the light is very bad for picture taking.  So sorry!

I used a toothpick to drip the colors onto the painter’s palettes. For the splatter, I lined up all of my cookies next to each other in a giant square. Then I dipped a spoon into the icing and let it drip onto the cookies. It was a lot of fun to do and super quick.

Art Class - Painting in the style of Jackson Pollock

J is using a toy elephant to apply green paint on her canvas.

During J’s art class, the kids each made a splatter paint picture…or at least as close as three and four-year olds can come to replicating Pollock’s style.

Oops, almost forgot to talk about the spaghetti. So here’s the dichotomy of my rainbow spaghetti. I used organic spaghetti noodles and then soaked them in artificial food dye. Am I the only one that finds this humorous?! I do have natural food coloring that I will use if I ever make them again.

Rainbow Spaghetti noodles

I cannot think of anything less appetizing than blue noodles. However, the kids loved it!

Is it a surprise that I made a couple changes from the original recipe? Here is my version:

Rainbow Spaghetti
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Lunch, Dinner
Cuisine: American, Kid
Serves: Varies
  • 1lb Spaghetti or linguine noodles
  • Food color (four or five colors)
  • Water
  1. Boil noodles according to package directions
  2. While noodles are cooking, mix food color with ½ cup of water in a color-safe bowl. (One that won't soak up the dye -- not a wooden bowl.)
  3. The amount of food color needed will vary depending on the intensity of color desired and if it's gel or liquid food color. I used ⅛ of a teaspoon of gel per bowl.
  4. Drain and rinse with cool water (that step was painful for me...I never rinse my pasta!)
  5. Divide pasta evenly among bowls and make sure the water covers most of the noodles.
  6. Let sit for a few minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even color distribution.
  7. Gently rinse noodles to remove excess food color.
  8. If serving immediately, mix noodles together and toss with butter or olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  9. If saving for later, stir in a few drops of olive oil to each color of noodle to ensure they don't stick together. Keep colors separate until you're ready to serve so the color doesn't run. Store in bowls or baggies in the refrigerator.
  10. Note: One pound of noodles was about a half pound too much for 10 preschoolers.



Thanksgiving Pot Pie Recipe – Calling All Left Overs

Thanksgiving Pot Pie served with saladAh, Thanksgiving left overs. They are as coveted as the big meal itself. But what to do with all of those leftovers in one easy and delicious recipe? Enter the Thanksgiving Pot Pie – not to be confused with a turkey pot pie.

Awhile back I mentioned that Curt lurrrves chicken pot pie. Well, this baby just about tops them all. And the best part is that if you’ve made Thanksgiving dinner, chances are you have all of the ingredients on hand.

With all of my recipes and cooking, I use organic ingredients when possible. This year I bought two organic turkeys for Thanksgiving (Curt smoked one on our green egg and I cooked one in the oven). Ever buy an organic turkey? If you have, you’ll know why I am using every part of the turkey (ahem, I have 7 quarts of turkey stock). Those babies are expensive!! I managed to make almost all of the Thanksgiving meal organic, which means this pot pie is also organic. Ok, stepping off soap box now.

First, I started with a deep dish pie pan to make this recipe. I set it on top of a sheet pan in case the juicy deliciousness of the pie decided to escape while cooking. I don’t want to clean up the bottom of my oven and I doubt you do either.

Deep Dish Pie Plate

Then I got the pie crust I had made earlier in the morning out of the refrigerator. I recently discovered this Sour Cream Pastry Crust. I used the sweet version for my pumpkin pies and the savory version (minus the sugar) for this Thanksgiving Pot Pie. If making pie crust is not your thing, buy one at the grocery store and you’ll be good to go. You need two crusts. Roll them flat and put one in the pie pan and set one off to the side.

Pie Dough

Don’t be afraid of pie dough! It takes some practice but it’s not that difficult.

The pie is filled with left overs and topped with gravy. I didn’t have enough left over gravy (so I thought), so I made some out of the extra turkey stock I had from the initial round of gravy making. Confused. I may be. Three tablespoons of flour, three tablespoons of butter and about 2-cups of stock are what I used.

Turkey Gravy

I used homemade turkey stock for yummy gravy.

Next, I rounded up my ingredients. This is where it will vary, depending on what you have left over. I had stuffing, green beans, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and of course, turkey. I cut the beans to about 1-inch pieces and I made sure the pieces of turkey were bite size. I’m reasonably sure most savory left overs would taste wonderful in the pie. Curt asked if I could put pumpkin pie in it, and I politely dismissed his suggestion.

Thanksgiving left overs make great pie ingredients

I used stuffing, green beans, turkey, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes in my Thanksgiving Pot Pie.

Time to assemble! I put a layer of cranberry sauce on the bottom. It’s a nice little surprise and I think even people that don’t like cranberry with appreciate the mouthwatering zing. Next I layered turkey, stuffing and beans.

Layer ingredients in the Thanksgiving Pot Pie

I gently pushed each ingredient down to make sure the pie wouldn’t be 12″ tall!

I poured the gravy over the pie and topped with mashed potatoes.

Thanksgiving Pot Pie

The last layer of pie is mashed potatoes. If you wanted to make this more shepard’s pie style, you could stop here and not top with pie crust.

Finally, I put the second pie crust on top. Before I did this, I brushed the bottom edges of the pie with egg wash to use as glue to make sure the top stuck. I fluted the edges together to make sure they were sealed and brushed more egg wash all over the pie. Be sure to cut vents in the pie. I had a little piece of dough left so I made a crude looking leaf of some sort and stuck it in the center.

Thanksgiving Pot Pie Uncooked

I think it weighed 6 pounds before cooking!

I baked this baby for about an hour and 15 minutes. I saw some of the gravy bubbling out of the side and I knew it was done.

Thanksgiving Pot Pie Cooked

Yes, this looks impressive!

I let it rest for 10 minutes before serving with a salad. Oh, and I topped with giblet gravy left over from Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Pot Pie served with salad

Thanksgiving Pot Pie Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Serves: serves 8
  • 2 deep dish pie crusts
  • ½ cup cranberry sauce
  • 1 cup turkey
  • 1 cup green beans
  • 1 cup stuffing / dressing
  • 2 cups turkey gravy
  • 1½ cups mashed potatoes
  • 1 organic egg
  1. Roll out both pie crusts. Put one inside the pie dish and set the other aside.
  2. Add ingredients in layers: cranberry sauce, turkey, stuffing, green beans, gravy and mashed potatoes.
  3. Beat the egg and brush onto the edges of the bottom crust.
  4. Cover with the second pie crust.
  5. Crimp edges together.
  6. Brush top of pie with egg wash.
  7. Cut vents in the top.


Sweet and Sour Pork Recipe

Sweet & Sour PorkA little while back, I made Sweet and Sour Pork because I had an extra pork tenderloin on hand. No, it’s not as strange as it sounds. I made Simply Recipes’ Panko Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Dijon Cream Sauce and I only used one of the tenderloins that came in the package. I always forget that they usually sell them in pairs. They’re so squished up in the vacuum sealed package that you can’t tell what you’re buying! BTW, that recipe is DELICIOUS and easy. I will be making it when we have company over for dinner because it looks like it took a lot of effort but it doesn’t.

Back to the stir fry…So I had a pork tenderloin and decided to make one of Curt’s favorite dishes. As I Googled recipes, I couldn’t find one that I liked, so I modified this Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe. I like to put a lot of veggies in my stir fry so that is the main modification from the original (aside from the fact that I’m using “the other white meat”). I didn’t account for the increase in volume of ingredients compared to the amount of sauce. For me this wasn’t a problem, but Curt said it needed more sauce. Yes, he’s a sauce man.

In the recipe below, I’m doubling the amount of sauce from the original. If you think it’s too saucy, well, you can suck it. HA.

First I took my tenderloin and cut it into 1″ cubes. I put it in a bowl with the egg white and cornstarch. I let it hang out on the counter while I cut up the vegetables and measured out the other ingredients.

Sweet & Sour Pork - Tenderloin

Sweet & Sour Pork - Tenderloin Marinade

Sweet & Sour Pork - Sauce

You will have twice as much sauce as seen here.

I mixed the pineapple juice, vinegar, ketchup, salt and brown sugar in a measuring cup. Remember, I should have doubled the recipe (which I did in the list below). Your measuring cup will be twice as full – yep, that’s double.

Then I cut up an onion, red pepper, celery, and garlic. I grated the ginger with a micro-plane.

Sweet & Sour Pork - Chopped Vegetables

I busted my wok out of the depths of my cupboards and got it nice and hot. I added the oil, tested the temperature with a splat of water and then added half of my pork. After a minute I turned the pork and let it cook another minute or so. The idea is just to sear, not thoroughly cook the pork.

Sweet & Sour Pork - Tenderloin Saute in Wok

Put the pork on a plate and cook the other half of the pork. The amount of oil in the ingredient list is a guideline and you will probably need more. I had to add more oil for the second batch of pork and then more oil for the vegetables.

Sweet & Sour Pork - Pork Seared

The first time you cook the pork, the idea is to get it nice and crusty on the outside, not cooked through.

Once the second batch of pork was done, I turned the heat down to medium and sautéed the onions and celery for a few minutes, then I added the red pepper, garlic and ginger. After a few more minutes I added the pineapple pieces and sauce.

Sweet & Sour Pork - Vegetable Saute

Crank the heat and put the pork and any juices on the plate back into the wok. Cook for a few minutes until the pork is done…which the USDA now says is an internal temperature of 145°F. At this temperature your pork will be a little pink. If the sauce looks too runny, add a slurry of 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water.

Sweet & Sour Pork - Pork Vegetable Sautee

Serve over rice. I sprinkled some chopped chives on top of mine because I thought it needed some color.

Sweet & Sour Pork

The recipe is below. Use organic ingredients whenever possible. The least you can do is buy antibiotic and hormone-free pork.

Sweet and Sour Pork Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Dinner, Main Dish
Cuisine: American-Asian
Serves: 4 servings
  • 1 pound of pork tenderloin, cut into 1″ chunks
  • 1 organic egg white
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons organic cornstarch (plus 1 tablespoon if sauce is too thin)
  • 1 10-ounce can pineapple chunks (reserve juice)
  • ½ cup juice from the canned pineapple
  • ½ cup organic white vinegar
  • ½ cup organic ketchup
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 tablespoons organic brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons organic vegetable oil
  • 1 small organic yellow onion, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 stalks organic celery, sliced (about ½ cup)
  • 1 organic red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 tablespoon organic minced garlic – about 3 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh organic ginger
  • 2 tsp Organic Chives or Scallions for garnish (optional)
  1. Combine the pork, egg white, salt and cornstarch in a bowl. Stir to coat the pork evenly. Let sit for 15 minutes at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Mix the pineapple juice, vinegar, ketchup, salt, and brown sugar in a measuring cup or bowl.
  3. Heat a large frying pan or wok on high until a bead of water instantly sizzles and evaporates. Add the oil and swirl around the wok. Add half of the pork in one layer. Fry until the bottoms are browned, about a minute. Flip the pork and cook another minute. The pork is not cooked, we’re just searing. Put the pork on a plate and cook the other half using the same method. Add more oil to the pan if it looks dry. It’s ok if there are bits of the coating stuck to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Lower the heat to medium and add another tablespoon of cooking oil. Let the oil heat up and add the onion and celery. Fry for a minute then add the bell pepper, garlic and ginger. Fry for another minute and add the pineapple chunks and the sweet and sour sauce.
  5. Turn the heat to high after adding the sauce, then add the pork and juices back into the wok. Simmer for several minutes, until the pork is cooked.Use an instant read thermometer to check the internal temperature. Add more cornstarch if the sauce is too thin.
  6. Serve over organic rice and top with chopped chives or scallions.


Mini Frittatas Recipe

Mini Frittata PlatedI take a lot of the food I make to J’s playgroup. We will often get together at a park or someone’s house in the morning and make it a pot luck. I’ve been making these mini frittatas for quite awhile now. It’s become my de facto dish.

My recipe is based on Giada De Laurentiis’ mini frittata dish, but I alter quite a bit. Click that link and you’ll go to her original recipe.

I usually make two kinds of frittatas. The first is just egg and cheese. To the other half of this mixture, I’ll usually add something like sausage. I typically use vegetarian sausage…I get a big box of Morningstar Farm’s sausage patties (not the maple flavor – yuck) from Costco. However this time I had leftovers from making Sausage, Mushroom and Broccoli Calzones so I used some of that. It was delish!

Here’s my soapbox disclaimer…use organic ingredients whenever you can!! Substitute conventional if you must, but I’m really trying to cut back on my GMOs!

Greased Muffin Tin

This pan may look like it has enough cooking spray in it, but it doesn’t!! I forgot to spray the sides and it was a real b*tch to clean.

Get out your 24-cup mini muffin pan and liberally spray it with cooking spray. I didn’t spray enough and it took forever to clean the darn thing. (Thanks to my husband for scrubbing the pan for me!)

Crack your organic eggs into a large bowl and add salt and freshly ground organic pepper.

Frittata Cracked Eggs

Remember to crack your eggs in a perfect circle/flower shape. KIDDING!! I didn’t even realize this was how I cracked them until I loaded this picture onto my computer.

Whole milk for the frittataMeasure out a half cup of organic milk, pour it in and whisk everything together.

This is where I stopped the process to make both kinds of frittatas. I poured half of the mixture into a 2-cup pyrex and then added a handful of shredded cheese. Pouring the eggs into a measuring cup makes it very easy to fill the muffin tin.

Pour the egg mixture for your frittata into a Pyrex.

I poured the egg and cheese mixture into as many tins as it would fill. The cheese sinks to the bottom of the measuring cup so you may have to scoop a little out to make sure each frittata has cheesey goodness inside. Side note: I ended up overfilling them (keep reading for further clarification).

Then I poured the remaining eggs from the large bowl into the pyrex and added about a half cup of the calzone mixture. I chopped it up into small pieces. Once added to the eggs, I put in a handful of shredded mozzerella cheese. You can use almost any filling in these frittatas. I hate to waste food so this was one way to use up my left overs.

Frittata sausage filling from leftover calzone

Now we see the result of overfilling the trays. Giada’s recipe says it makes 40 mini frittatas. HA! This time I got 23. In hindsight, I do fill the cups almost 3/4 full and that’s too much. I’d say 1/3 full would be better.Frittata Filled Tray

Frittata Cooked

This picture was taken as soon as them came out of the oven and I set them on the counter. Already the plain egg and cheese frittatas are deflating. The sausage filled ones don’t puff up as much.

Bake at 375° until the center of the eggs are not shiny. The original recipe says to bake for 8 – 10 minutes but mine took 14 minutes. I set my time for 8 minutes, checked them and saw how uncooked they looked. I put them in for 3 more minutes…checked again and decided they needed 3 additional minutes.

When you first take them out of the oven, they will be puffed up and beautiful. Then 5 seconds later they deflate.

Mini Frittatas
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: American, Italian
Serves: 24 - ish
  • Nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 8 large organic eggs
  • ½ cup whole organic milk
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground organic black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup grated cheese
  • ½ cup chopped sausage or other filling (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Spray a 24-cup mini-muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Whisk eggs, milk, black pepper and salt together in a large bowl.
  4. Pour mixture into a measuring cup and add the cheese and sausage (or other filling) if using.
  5. Fill each cup about ½ full.
  6. Bake at 375°F and check after 8 minutes. Cooking times will vary depending on your ingredients and how full you make the muffin tins.

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