Archive for the ‘cooking’ Category

To go along with our coconut shrimp appetizer last weekend, we decided to attempt a seafood risotto. I love making risottos, and this risotto turned out great. I love how creamy it gets, with no cream or cheese or anything; it’s like magic! It was still delicious left over as well: more flavor and creaminess.

We used shrimp and bay scallops, both frozen, but you could use any type of seafood you like: scallops, clams, lobster, squid. And a squeeze of lemon right on top is necessary.

Seafood Risotto

About an hour, serves 4-6

  • 6 cups seafood stock
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped shallots or onion (I used shallots and yellow onion)
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 14 oz can stewed tomatoes
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 lb peeled raw shrimp
  • 3/4 lb bay scallops
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lemon, zested

Heat the stock in a saucepan and keep warm on stovetop. Heat 3 tbsp olive oil over medium heat and saute shallots until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the rice and saute for about 2 minutes. Add the wine and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Add the can of stewed tomatoes and stir until liquid is absorbed. Add Italian seasoning and stir to combine.

Add the heated stock about 1/2 cup at a time and left absorb into the rice; keep the rice moving so it doesn’t burn or stick. Continue to add stock until the rice is tender: taste testing is necessary! This will probably take around 30 minutes.

Heat the remaining olive oil in another pan and add shrimp, scallops and garlic. Cook together until opaque. Mix seafood and lemon zest into the rice. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Serve with a fresh squeeze of lemon. Enjoy!

Adapted from Epicurious


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Savory & sweet. Crispy & delicious. That pretty much sums up this coconut shrimp. While I was in Charlottesville this weekend, we did a ton of cooking as always. While Cainon was in the Virgin Islands for part of his holiday he had coconut shrimp and raved about how good it was.

Thus, cooking adventure #1 for the weekend: make coconut shrimp. We ended up using a spicier jerk seasoning in the flour mixture and sweetened coconut for a sweet and spicy nice balance. We both stood at the stove coating the shrimp, frying, and eating. They were just too delicious to wait!

Coconut Shrimp

  • 1 lb peeled and deveined shrimp, tails on
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp Caribbean jerk seasoning
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used Panko)
  • 3/4 cup coconut (I used sweetened, but feel free to use unsweetened)
  • Canola oil for frying

Heat about an inch of oil and a deep frying pan. I kept my oil around medium heat on the burner. Mix flour and jerk seasoning together on a small plate. Crack and scramble eggs in another bowl or deep plate. Mix bread crumbs and coconut together on a third plate.

Coat each shrimp and flour, egg and then crumb and coconut mixture; be sure to press the coconut onto the shrimp to make sure it sticks! Drop the shrimp into the oil and cook until golden. It should only take 2-3 minutes on both sides. Make sure not to crowd the pan or the oil temp will go down and they won’t crisp up as nicely. Enjoy!

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Happy New Year! I hope everyone has a happy and healthy 2012. I decided to start the morning off with some bacon and eggs a little differently than I usually have them. I baked them in cute little ramekins!

Of course while I was cooking breakfast, I had a cup of coffee with a little Coffee-Mate Natural Bliss Vanilla creamer. I don’t like my coffee with too much cream or sugar, but this adds just the right amount of both, without that fake taste that I usually get from creamers or flavored syrups. It also doesn’t hurt that there are only four ingredients on the label: milk, cream, sugar, and the vanilla flavoring. I’m a big fan.

So, back to breakfast.

Baked Bacon and Eggs
2 servings

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 slices of bacon
  • 2 oz white cheddar, cubed
  • 1 tbsp cream
  • salt and pepper for seasoning

Preheat oven to 375. Fry two slices of bacon and cut up into small pieces. Butter two ramekins and place 1/4 of the bacon and a few cubes of cheese in the bottom of each ramekin.

Carefully crack two eggs in each ramekin and add 1/2 tbsp of cream to each one. Season each with salt and pepper and sprinkle the rest of the cheese and bacon on top of the eggs.

Place ramekins in oven for 10 minutes or until whites start to set. Change oven setting to broil and finish cooking the eggs for another 5 minutes. You may want to vary the cooking times depending on how runny you like your eggs. Serve with some toast to dip in the yolks and enjoy!

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I hope everyone’s holiday is going well. I have a two day work week this week and then a three day weekend for the new year! Woohoo! We had family come up to visit after Christmas this year. I decided to make some cinnamon rolls the night before so they would be easy to pop in the oven in the morning.

I used a recipe from Alton Brown; I can always trust him for some good food. This method is a little more difficult than the Pillsbury cans of cinnamon rolls, but so worth it. They were delicious.

Cinnamon Rolls

  • 4 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 whole egg, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp melted unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 package rapid rise (instant dry) yeast
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • Cooking spray


  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tbps melted butter, for brushing on dough


  • 1/4 cup softened cream cheese
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

In a stand mixer, wisk together eggs, sugar, butter, and buttermilk. Add 2 cups flour along with yeast and salt, wisk to combine. Replace wisk with dough hook, add another cup of flour and knead on low for 5 minutes. Check dough and it should be soft and moist but not sticky. I ended up using another cup of flour to get my dough right. Knead for another 5 minutes until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.

Knead dough on a lightly floured surface for about 30 seconds. Oil a large bowl and place the dough in it, cover the top of the dough with oil as well. Cover and let rise for around 2 hours. I used a damp paper towel and a dish towel on top of that.

Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt filling in a separate bowl. Butter a 9×13 inch baking dish. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and shape dough into a rectangle, with the longest side closest to you. Using a rolling pin, roll into a large 18×12-inch rectangle, i just estimated. Brush the dough with the melted butter, leaving about a 1/2 inch at the top edge. Spread filling mixture out over the dough, leaving that top edge clear. Starting with the edge nearest you, roll the dough tightly and pinch the seam to seal the dough. Reshape as needed to make the roll even. Using a serrated knife, make 12 even cuts, about 1 1/2 inches each. Arrange in the baking dish and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator overnight.

When ready to bake in the morning, place the rolls in a cold oven, don’t turn it on! Fill a pan with boiling water and place it below the rolls in the oven. Close the oven and let rise for around 30 minutes. Remove both pans from the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

When heated, place the rolls on the middle rack and bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Mix cream cheese and milk on medium speed with a mixer. Add powdered sugar about 1/2 cup at a time. Spread over hot rolls and enjoy!

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It’s mid-December and you know what what means! My sisters are home from college! My middle sister, Emily, came home late on Wednesday night and we decided to cook a few things up on Thursday.

Emily decided to make one of her holiday favorites, Cracker Toffee! This thing goes by a few different names, so you might call it something else: saltine toffee, white trash toffee, etc. etc.

It starts out with a sleeve of club crackers spread out in a single layer on a foil lined cookie sheet.

Then comes the cooking of the caramel. Melt together one cup butter and one cup brown sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Let it melt and cook over medium heat until bubbly and gaining the consistency of caramel. Make sure to keep stirring so it doesn’t burn or stick!

After everything melted and ready, quickly pour the melted toffee over the layer of crackers.

It looks awesome. Then spread out the toffee over all of the crackers.

In a 350 oven, stick the cookie sheet in and let the caramel and crackers cook and solidify for about 8-10 minutes.

After the cooked toffee and crackers come out of the oven, you spread chocolate chips all over the top. Make sure that this is done pretty quickly after you take the toffee out of the oven to make sure they all melt!

After they’re on the toffee, give it a second and then use a spatula and spread out the chips as they melt to cover all of the sugar and crackers. After the chocolate is melted and spread out, sprinkle the Heath bar pieces all over the toffee. Stick it in the fridge and let it cool down and totally solidify for a few hours. You really could top this with almost anything.: candy cane pieces, more chunks of chocolate, coconut!

YUM! Seriously this stuff is so good. Sweet, salty, chocolatey. Cheap, simple, delicious. What more could you ask for?

Thanks for making me treats, Em!


Cracker Toffee

  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 12 oz bag of chocolate chips
  • 1 sleeve club crackers or saltines, whatever cracker you prefer
  • 20 crushed up mini Heath Bars

Heat oven to 350. Spread the crackers out over a foil-lined cookie sheet.

Melt together butter and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Stir continuously until the mixture is thickened.

Pour the caramel mixture over the crackers and spread out to cover all of them. Place cookie sheet in oven and cook for 5-7 minutes. Keep an eye on it and make sure it doesn’t burn!

After it comes out of the oven, sprinkle the bag of chocolate chips over the toffee. Let it melt for a minute or two and spread out to cover all of the toffee.

Sprinkle the crumbled toffee pieces over the top and place in the fridge for several hours until hardened. Break into pieces and enjoy!

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Pulled pork is probably one of the easiest and most delicious things ever. Stick a big hunk of meat in the crock pot with some liquids and spices. Turn it on. Wait, which is the hardest part. Shred and eat.

While getting supplies for soup the other night, Cainon and I picked up a 4 pound pork end roast. We stuck in in the crock pot with a bottle of amber beer, 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, and 1/2 cup barbeque sauce. Turned that baby on low and let it cook overnight for about 9 hours. I removed some of the liquid before I shredded it in the pot, then added a little bit back to keep the flavor.

We both thought something was missing; I think it needed more heat. The spicier the better!

Nevertheless, it was still pretty darn good.

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I thought I had decided weeks ago what cookies to make for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, but then the day before I had planned to make and send the cookies, I got inspiration from my good friend, NPR.

I was listening to this story and there was a line about a coconut being cracked open  and eaten at an open air market in Miami. I wanted that coconut. And from there, ta-da! Coconut cookies!

To make them a little more seasonal, I decided to make a chocolate and coconut cookie, which turned into a double chocolate coconut cookie! I hope all of my matches enjoyed them; I sure did in my taste tests!

Double Chocolate Coconut Cookies

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips
  • 1 3/4 cups sweetened flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 350.

Beat together the butter and sugars for  few minutes, until smooth. Turn the mixer on low Add the eggs one at a time until combined. Add vanilla and mix until combined.

Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add dry ingredients to the wet with mixer on medium speed until well combined. Fold in the coconut and white chocolate chips.

Place rounded spoonfuls on a cookie sheet lined with parchment (or on a silpat, which I love!) about 2 inches apart as they will spread slightly. Bake until set for around 15 minutes. Adapted from Martha Stewart.

Thanks to all of the lovely ladies who sent me cookies as well!

Thanks to Monique, from Food Snob, who sent Dried Cranberry and White Chocolate cookies. Delicious and very Holiday appropriate. Thanks again Monique!

Thanks to Kelli, from The Corner Kitchen, for her Greek Almond-Anise cookies, simple and delicious with that great anise flavor. And I love anything coated in sugar.

Thanks to Julie, from Table for Two, who let me know about this cookie swap in the first place, and gave me mint chocolate truffle cookies! They were so good; kind of like a thicker thin mint!

And finally, thanks to Lindsay of Love and Olive Oil and Julie of The Little Kitchen for putting this great event together. I can’t wait for next year!

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