Orzo “Paella”

There is something about orzo.  The texture.  The size. It’s just the most amazing little cross between rice and pasta.  A rice / pasta cross-over!  This recipe calls itself a “paella” and it makes for a wonderful “when I grow up I want to be a paella” dish.  The flavors come together really nicely and are a great compliment to each other.  I was able to use left over chicken, which is always a plus for me, and it had shrimp.  As most people know, we are a big shrimp eating family.  The peas were a “no go” for the kiddos, but that was no surprise.  This got a big thumps-up and was wonderfully quick to make!

Ingredients:

¾ lb large frozen shrimp; cleaned, shelled, thawed with tails on (I used what I had in the freezer, which were medium, and they worked just fine)
Juice of ½ a lemon
¼ tsp each salt and pepper
1 Tbs plus 1 tsp olive oil
3 ½ cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
¼ tsp turmeric
1 lb orzo (can sub whole wheat for a healthier meal)
½ cup frozen peas
½ small onion, finely chopped (time-saving tip: buy pre-chopped either in the freezer section or fresh in produce)
2-4 cooked chicken thighs cut into 1″ chunks
¼ cup roasted red pepper, cut into thin strips (I bought the jarred version, though you could roast your own)
¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 425°.  Place first four ingredients and 1 tbs of olive oil in large zip-lock bag.  In medium pot, bring chicken broth and 2 cups water to boil.  Add turmeric and orzo; boil for 6 minutes.  Drain, reserving ¾ cup of cooking liquid.  Place frozen peas in the broth and let sit.

Heat remaining 1 tsp olive oil in a large pan.  Add onion and cook until translucent.  Add shrimp and cook 3 minutes; flip halfway through.  Add chicken thighs; cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add drained orzo to pan.  Pour peas and reserved liquid over orzo and stir.  Finally, stir in red pepper.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Top with parsley and serve.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Beaujolais
Chianti
Garmay
Grüner Veltliner
Sangiovese

Serves 6 (and probably some left for lunch)

Prep time: 15 minutes  Cooking time: 22 minutes

Orzo "Paella

Orzo “Paella

*Derived from Fitness Magazine

Linguine with Shrimp Scampi

I don’t think I have discovered a way to make shrimp that my kids WON’T eat.  Not that I’m really trying.  But sometimes I think, “There is no way they are going to go for this.”  And they do.  We even went to our favorite Chinese place earlier in the week at the request of D, for the honey walnut prawns.  I was telling the owner that I tried making them at home, and while they were very good, they weren’t OIC Bowl good.  After she walked away, Berto leaned across the table and whispered to me, “Yours were REALLY good Mommy.”  Heart melting.  Right there.  Right then.  Well, these got the same reaction from the kids, and the Hubs, too!

Ingredients:

Vegetable Oil
Kosher salt
1 1/2 lbs linguine
6 Tbs unsalted butter
5 Tbs olive oil
3 Tbs minced garlic (time saver tip:  Buy jarred minced garlic, such as Spice World)
2 lbs large, peeled and deveined shrimp (I always buy them that way)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 4 small lemons)
1/2 lemon thinly sliced in half-rounds (left mine whole rounds, but half is better)
1/4 tsp hot red pepper flakes (optional, I omitted)

Preparation:

Drizzle some vegetable oil in a large pot of boiling salted water, do not skip this step.  It helps keep your linguine from clumping together.  Add 1 tbs salt and the linguine.  Cook for 7-10 minutes, or according to package directions.

While water is boiling and pasta is cooking, in another large, heave-bottomed pan, melt the butter and olive oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute.  Keep a close eye, the garlic will burn very quickly.  Add the shrimp, 1 tbs salt, and the pepper.  Sauté until the shrimp have just turned pink, about 5 minutes, stirring often.  Remove from heat, add parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, lemon slice, and red pepper flakes (if using).  Toss to combine.

Drain the linguine and add it back to the pot in batches.  In-between batches, add some of the shrimp and sauce.  Toss well, and devour!

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Albariño
Chardonnay
Friulano
Picpoul Blanc
Vinho Verde

Serves 6

Total time: 40 minutes

Linguine with Shrimp Scampi

Linguine with Shrimp Scampi

*Courtesy Ina Garten

Honey Walnut Prawns

I love Honey Walnut Prawns. I love them so much I even remember the first time I put one of the tasty morsels in my mouth, “Where have you been my whole life? Why have I not experienced you until now, my sweet little prawn?” Adding to the  mix, we are one prawn loving family. The only caveat is that some restaurants use too much mayonnaise. Maybe it’s because mayonnaise is relatively cheep. Maybe it’s because the chef of that particular establishment really likes mayonnaise. If I can taste the mayonnaise and have a conscience understanding that my prawn is dripping with it, I’m not likely to eat it. I can handle mayonnaise if I don’t put too much thought into it. This recipe does the Honey Walnut Prawn justice and makes me want to eat in more often!

Ingredients:

1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup walnut halves (I, as always, used what I had on hand which was walnut pieces. Daniela gave them a hearty thumbs up after they had cooled)
1 ½ tsp honey
1 ½ tsp condensed milk (personally, I think this is the secret ingredient. SSSHHHHHhhhhhhh)
1 lb medium shrimp, peeled & deveined
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 egg beaten
1/2 cup cornstarch

Preparation:

Heat 1/2 cup water in small saucepan and bring to boil. Add sugar and stir constantly, until golden and thickened. Add walnuts and gently toss to combine. Transfer to parchment paper lined flat surface to cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, honey, and condensed milk. Set aside.

Heat vegetable oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Season shrimp with salt and pepper to taste.  Dip shrimp into egg mixture, being sure each prawn is well-coated. With cornstarch in a ziplock bag, add shrimp and gently shake to coat.

Add 8-10 shrimp to the heated skillet at a time. Fry until golden brown and crispy. Transfer to paper towel lined plate.

When all shrimp are cooked, combine shrimp and honey mixture. Gently stir to coat completely. Serve immediately over steamed rice and topped with walnuts.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Blanc de Blanc
Chardonnay
Fume Blanc
Sauvignon Blanc
Viognier

Serves 4 (small portions)

Total time: 30 minutes

Honey Walnut Prawns

Honey Walnut Prawns

*Derived from Damn Delicious

Puff Pastry-Wrapped Shrimp

It seems this Thanksgiving I was all about the puff pastry for the appetizers.  Isn’t it weird how we get stuck on a certain ingredient or type of cooking?  This Thanksgiving my focus seemed to be on puff pastry and bacon.  More to come regarding the bacon 🙂

Ingredients:

All-purpose flour
1 pkg (5.2 oz) garlic & herb spreadable cheese, softened (I used the little wedges by The Laughing Cow
1 Tbs finely chopped parsley
2 sliced bacon, cooked and crumbled
18 fresh jumbo shrimp (peeled & deveined)
1 sheet of Pepperidge Farm puff pastry

Preparation:

Heat oven to 400°F.

Stir cheese, parsley, and bacon in a medium bowl and set aside.

Unfold puff pastry sheet on lightly floured work surface.  Cut puff pastry sheet crosswise into 18, ½” wide strips.  Spoon at 2 teaspoons cheese mixture onto each strip. Wind 1 pastry shrimp around 1 shrimp, slightly overlapping the pastry.  Repeat with remaining pastry strips and shrimp.

Bake 15 minutes or until pastries are golden brown.

Serves 18 (pieces)
Total time: 50 minutes

Puff Pastry-Wrapped Shrimp

Puff Pastry-Wrapped Shrimp

*Derived from Pepperidge Farm

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Lemon Pepper Scampi

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I’m back, Baby, I’m back! It’s been a tough cooking week with my harshest critics (being 4 1/2 & 6) not liking anything I was dishing out. Truth be told, I didn’t like everything either, but I’d never tell my kids that. And it’s ok if they don’t like everything, but they need to try it. The problem comes when they know that the Hubs or myself doesn’t like something. Then, magically, they don’t like it either. It could be that they’ve never even tried it, but if Mommy or Daddy doesn’t like it . . . . Anyway, I kind of cheated on this because I know how much my kids LOVE shrimp. But I also wanted to try something new, but safe, to redeem myself from this weeks previous disasters. PS – I haven’t forgotten, I still owe you Cooking Pasta tips 🙂

Ingredients:

1/3 cup olive oil
1 Tbs minced garlic
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 Tbs McCormick Lemon Pepper Seasoning
1 tsp dried parsley flakes

Preparation:

Heat oil in large skillet on medium heat. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add shrimp and lemon pepper seasoning, cook and stir 3-4 minutes, until shrimp turn pink. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve over rice (I made my garlicky rice, which can be found here on this blog).

Prep Time: 5 minutes; Total time: 15 minutes

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