Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Baked Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta

This is by far my favorite way to enjoy shrimp in the winter.  I love it all summer long on the grill, but when the high for the day is only 24 degrees, I feel bad making my husband stand out on the patio!
These are some wonderful, Mediterranean flavors -- feta cheese, oregano, mint, tomato.  Some of my favorites!  Almost like a taste of summer in the cold of winter.  

Also, I find that this is a great way to enjoy tomatoes in the off-season -- sauteing then baking cherry tomatoes brings out their natural sweetness, even when they aren't the best looking tomatoes in the market.  The juices in this dish are FABULOUS!!  Make sure you have some homemade rolls or bread to sop up those delicious flavors.  Enjoy the deliciousness!

Baked Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 thinly sliced scallions
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
2 lbs peeled and deveined large frozen shrimp, thawed, tails removed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
4 ounces feta cheese

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium.  Add scallions, garlic, and oregano, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add tomatoes and cook over medium, stirring occasionally, until no liquid remains in the skillet, 10-15 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.
Add shrimp and mint to skillet.  Stir to combine.  Transfer to a 9-inch square baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray.  Crumble feta over top.
Bake until liquid is bubbling, cheese is beginning to brown, and shrimp in the center of the dish is opaque, about 20 minutes.
Makes 4 hefty servings
Adapted from Martha Stewart

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Leftover Cookies

So this is what happens when I am stuck inside the house all day because they are calling for snow and ice!!  The bad weather never really happened, but I sure am glad I got to stay in and bake a little bit.  I like to call these Leftover Cookies because they are basically made from what little dribs and drabs of cookie additives I have hanging around in my pantry.  You know, what's leftover of a bag of nuts after you've used it for a recipe, or what's leftover of a bag of coconut flakes after you've baked up some other goodies.  Basically, this is a simple cookie recipe and you add whatever you like to it, and the cookies come out different every single time.  This time, I added about half a bag of semi-sweet chocolate morsels, half a bag of pecan pieces, a whole bag of shredded coconut, and a whole bag of toffee bits.  It sounded like a lovely combination in my head, and boy did they turn out delicious!!
The toffee and coconuts give the cookies a sort of chewiness that I LOVE, while the nuts and chocolate have more of an in-your-face flavor punch.  You can definitely make this with whatever goodies you have laying around in your pantry.  I wonder if M&M's and broken pretzels would be a good combination??  Or dried pineapple, white chocolate chips, and macadamia nuts?  The possibilities are endless!!  Enjoy the deliciousness!

Leftover Cookies
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
cookie additives (example: chocolate chips, nuts, coconut, toffee, dried fruit, etc) -- as much of each as you want!

Preheat oven to 375F.
Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.  Beat butter and sugars in bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and creamy.  Add in vanilla and eggs.  Gradually beat in flour mixture.  Stir in cookie additives. 
Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto cookie sheet fitted with parchment paper or a silicone mat.  Wet hands and slightly flatten each cookie.  Bake 9-11 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool cookies on pans for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks. 
Makes about 3 dozen cookies
Adapted from Nestle

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Homemade Dinner Rolls

I had a mega-craving for carbohydrates today.....and we had absolutely nothing in the house!!  I opened the door and stared into the pantry about a hundred times, and STILL, nothing jumped out at me.  I would've taken anything...a breadstick, a cracker...anything!  But alas, as many times as I stared into that pantry, nothing appeared, so I did what anyone else would do.  I made my own!!
I really wanted a true roll, not a quick bread.  And I definitely wasn't in the mood for anything sweet, I knew that much.  After a quick internet search, I decided I wanted to make a yeasty dinner roll.  Now the lazy part of me kicked in.  As much as I wanted that dinner roll, I really didn't want to knead the dough, let it rise, blah blah, wait a few hours....I wanted it now!  So I found this recipe and used it as my base off of which I would build. 
The rolls came out delicious!  I substituted in 1 cup of whole wheat flour for the all-purpose (pretending to be healthy here), and I think it gave the rolls a slightly nutty flavor that I appreciated.  I'd say the whole recipe takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes, from start to finish.  Definitely give it a shot one day if you are home and craving bread (pretty much every day for me!).  Enjoy the deliciousness!!

Homemade Dinner Rolls
1 package active dry yeast
1 1/3 cup milk, warmed to 105-115F
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon melted butter

Dissolve yeast and sugar in milk in the bowl of your electric mixer.  Stir in whole wheat flour, oil, and salt, beating until smooth.  Beat in remaining flour, scraping dough from sides of bowl, until soft dough forms.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
Heat oven to 400F.  Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.
Punch down dough in the center and fold a few times.  Divide dough into 12 equal parts.  Divide each of these parts into 3, rolling each of those into a ball.  Place 3 balls in each muffin cup, brush with melted butter, and sprinkle with coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, until crust is light golden brown.  Remove from pan and store loosely covered.
Adapted from Simple Daily Recipes