Super Simple Skillet Shrimp

Super Simple Skillet Shrimp

Well hi, strangers! How is the holiday season treating you? If your days are anything like mine, it’s been a whirlwind so far. But a lovely, twinkly, holly jolly whirlwind. This time of year it’s a challenge to eat healthfully. Between parties and preparation, cookies and cocktails, it’s very tempting to say “to heck with it”, indulge with abandon and vow to do better in the new year. The problem with that strategy, of course, is that we wind up feeling a little…less than stellar during December. And in a month where we’re more likely to see old friends and family than any other, it would be nice to feel (and look) our best. Luckily, wholesome meals can easily fit into this busy holiday season. This Super Simple Skillet Shrimp is ready in a flash and is so tasty and filling you may just find the willpower to say no to the cookie tray.

Super Simple Skillet Shrimp

Over the past year I’ve come to favor shrimp as my go-to salad protein. It cooks quickly and seems more inspired than plain old grilled chicken. This method has become my favorite way to prepare it. Four simple ingredients- shrimp, salt, pepper and butter, are all it takes. Since shrimp is so lean, I splurge by cooking it in a little butter. The butter solids brown and stick to the shrimp, creating a delicious crust. You’ll swear that there’s more going on, but I promise, it’s that easy. Your protein will be done within 10 minutes total and ready for whatever you have planned- salad, pasta or platter. I like to make a big batch on Sunday to put on salads throughout the week. Lunches at my desk are not quite as sad when I have yummy, and healthy, shrimp salad to look forward to.

As always, a couple of tips to make sure you get the best result: Make sure the shrimp is dry when you put it in the pan- you don’t want any residual moisture when you put it in the skillet. The yummiest part of this recipe are the brown bits of butter stuck to the shrimp and those won’t develop if your shrimp is wet. Pat dry thoroughly with paper towels. Next, allow the butter to sizzle before putting the shrimp in the pan. The shrimp cook super fast, so if you don’t let the butter come up to temp before placing the shrimp in the pan, you won’t get those delightful browned bits. Finally, allow adequate space between shrimp while cooking. You don’t want them on top of one another. If needed, you can do it in two batches and add a tiny pat more butter if the skillet looks dry. It cooks quickly enough that the first batch will stay warm while you cook the second.

How are your preparations for the holiday going? I’ll be sharing some cookies and indulgent recipes in the coming weeks. Please let me know if you have any requests! My Grandma’s Anise Italian Cookies are always a must have. Happy Holidays, guys!

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Super Simple Skillet Shrimp

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb peeled, deveined shrimp, patted dry with paper towels
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Instructions:

Make sure shrimp is thoroughly dry by patting with paper towels. Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of the shrimp.

In large nonstick skillet, heat butter over medium high heat. Once sizzling, add shrimp in single layer, being sure to allow adequate room between shrimp. Cook shrimp for 1-2 minutes, until pink on one side and butter solids have browned and stuck to shrimp. Flip shrimp and cook an additional minute. Shrimp may be cooked in batches if your skillet is not large enough to cook them all at once.

Serves 3-4.

Super Simple Skillet Shrimp

Pappa al Pomodoro (Tomato and Bread Soup)

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If you’re living the low-carb life right now, you might want to look away. Here, look, this Veggie Breakfast Hash is a low-carb dream. But if you stick around, be prepared to break all the low-carb rules. Because…I went and put a loaf of bread in our soup. Not just on it, in it. And I’m not even a little bit sorry. It’s SO stinkin’ good. Pappa al Pomodoro is an Italian tomato soup thickened with, you guessed it, bread. While this may not sound like anything particularly special, please trust me when I say this soup will make you a believer. I love all tomato soup, but this is by far my favorite way to eat it. Day old ciabatta bread is browned with the aromatic soup base and whisked into creamy tomato soup until dissolved. It’s very rich and hearty, so while it’s not an everyday recipe, it’s a perfect “sometimes” treat. Save the grilled cheese for another night- this soup is a meal all on its own.

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Start by sautéing onion, celery, carrots and garlic in a combination of butter and olive oil. Add in some cubed, day old ciabatta and toast the bread for a few minutes to let it absorb some of the oil and flavor from the aromatics. I used a full teaspoon of red pepper flakes because I like the way the heat stands up to the bread and cream. But if you are heat-sensitive, scale it back to a half a teaspoon, or a tiny pinch, or omit entirely. Use a blender or food processor to puree canned San Marzano tomatoes (this soup is made of humble, inexpensive ingredients. Spring for the fancy tomatoes, they’re worth it.) Add the tomatoes, some chicken broth and dry red wine to the pot along with a bay leaf and some basil. As the soup simmers away, the bread will soften in the liquid. When ready to serve, use a whisk to break down the bread, which will thicken the soup. Top it off with some heavy cream because: a- it’s delicious and b- at this point, why not? Serve with some homemade croutons, courtesy of the remaining ciabatta. Simple, hearty and so much more delicious than the sum of its parts, this Pappa al Pomodoro is sure to become a cold weather favorite in your household.

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Pappa al Pomodoro

Ingredients:

Soup:

  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/2 loaf day old ciabatta bread, cubed
  • 2 28 oz cans San Marzano tomatoes, pulsed until coarsely pureed in food processor
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine (such as Pinot Noir)
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup torn fresh basil, plus more for garnish
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • pepper

Croutons:

  • 1/2 loaf day old ciabatta bread, cubed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • pepper

Instructions:

Heat butter and olive oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onions, carrots and celery and cook 7-8 minutes, or until tender. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook another minute, until garlic is fragrant. Add bread and toss with aromatics. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, red wine and chicken broth to the pot. Stir in bay leaf and basil. Season with 2 tsp salt and pepper to taste. Allow soup to come to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and allow to cook about 40-45 minutes. While soup is simmering, prepare croutons (instructions below). When ready to serve soup, remove bay leaf and use whisk to beat soup until bread is dissolved and broken down. Stir in heavy cream. Taste soup and adjust salt and pepper accordingly. Top with croutons and fresh basil.

To prepare croutons, heat oven to 375. On sheet pan, toss ciabatta cubes, olive oil, cheese,salt and pepper until bread cubes are well coated. Spread into single layer and cook until crisp, about 20-25 minutes, tossing halfway through.

Serves 6-8

Recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics by Ina Garten

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Truffled Pappardelle with Pancetta and Asparagus

truffled-pappardelle-with-pancetta-and-asparagusHave you carried over any routines from your childhood household to your adult life? I have retained so many that I’m 95% sure I have morphed into my mother. (Which is a pretty awesome thing, my mom is the best!) For example, like my mother before me, my Thursday nights are for cleaning the house while Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune play in the background. The first 15 minutes after arriving home from work are reserved for a fresh cup of coffee and a magazine. And Friday nights are “no cook” nights. While there were occasional Friday evenings where we had tuna noodle casserole, by and large our Friday nights were pizza nights. Nothing was so simultaneously thrilling (pizza!) or terrifying (I didn’t want to open the door and awkwardly pay the delivery guy) as seeing the Pizza Hut delivery car pull into the driveway.

For the past 5 years, my husband and I have carried on the Friday night pizza tradition. However, in the past few months pizza hasn’t really been hitting the spot. I want something…else. Sometimes we’ll pick up Chinese from the place around the corner. Other times, if I’m reeaaally nice, I can convince Justin to drive out to our favorite Thai restaurant to grab takeout. And no, I really don’t feel like eating out on Fridays. For one, I’m exhausted, and two, my cats have been home by themselves all week and need our attention, thankyouverymuch. Surprisingly, the most satisfying Friday night dinners in recent history have been the ones where I’ve gotten over my initial weariness, poured myself a glass of wine and gotten to work in the kitchen. Maybe it’s the little thrill of bucking tradition. More likely it’s been the phenomenal and phenomenally easy pasta dinners I’ve thrown together. Today’s Truffled Pappardelle with Pancetta and Asparagus is one such home run.

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This recipe was inspired by the meal I ordered at our anniversary dinner a few weeks ago at  Chow Bistro. It’s one of those recipes that is delicious and impressive and has the added bonus of being unexpectedly simple to make. Perfectly al dente pasta is tossed with crisp bits of pancetta, lightly charred asparagus and coated with savory, slightly funky (in the best way) truffle butter. Plus, it’s topped with a fried egg. Fried eggs = happiness in my book. If truffle butter is a deal breaker for you, or if you simply can’t find it, you can easily substitute browned butter. The result is a rich and special occasion-worthy pasta dish that is done within 30 minutes. Go ahead and invite some friends over for a weeknight or Friday night dinner- they’ll think you’re a rockstar with this meal.

Pappardelle is a medium wide egg pasta usually sold in adorable little “nests.” The cute factor obviously makes it that much more tasty. While the water is coming up to a boil and the pasta cooks, diced pancetta is browned in a large skillet. Once the pancetta is crisp, remove it from the skillet and rest in a bowl lined with paper towels. Toss the asparagus into the skillet and quickly cook it in the fat rendered from the pancetta. If you have time before the pasta is done, you can take the asparagus out of the skillet, fry the eggs and set them aside. Otherwise you can quickly fry them up after the pasta is plated. Once the pasta is done, toss it into the skillet with a generous amount of truffle butter, the asparagus and pancetta and toss until everything is coated in decadent, buttery goodness. Shave parmesan over the pasta, top each serving with a fried egg and eat! Give this a try one Friday night, or any night. The only loser here is the local pizza shop- they’ll miss you!

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Truffled Pappardelle with Pancetta and Asparagus

If you cannot find or do not like truffle butter, you can substitute an equal amount of browned butter. Truffle butter can be found near finishing butters in grocery store.

Ingredients:

  • 9-10 oz dried pappardelle pasta (1 package)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 oz diced pancetta
  • 1 bunch asparagus, about 1 lb, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 Tbsp truffle butter (or browned butter, if desired)
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 eggs

Instructions:

Fill large stockpot with water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add salt to water. Add pappardelle and cook until al dente, per package instructions (around 7 minutes.) When pasta is done, reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water and drain.

In large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add pancetta to skillet and cook until browned and crisp, about 4 minutes. Remove pancetta from skillet to bowl lined with paper towels. Add asparagus to skillet and cook until lightly charred, about 3 minutes. Season asparagus with salt and pepper. Remove asparagus from skillet and add eggs. Season with salt and pepper and fry until the whites are set and yolk remains runny. Set eggs aside.

Reduce heat under skillet to medium. Add truffle butter, pasta, pancetta and asparagus. Cook until truffle butter is melted and all ingredients are coated. Taste and season again with salt and pepper. If the pasta looks dry, add reserved pasta water in small increments until you reach desired consistency. Note that this will not be a heavily sauced pasta.

Portion pasta onto plates and top each serving with parmesan and fried egg.

Serves 3-4

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Cheesy Bacon Guacamole Chicken

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By the time I’m halfway through the work week, I need all the help I can get. Is anyone available to do my laundry, pick up my dry cleaning, clean my house and maybe just do my job for me, too? No takers? Darn. I don’t know how those of you with kids do it. I’m lucky if my shoes match by Wednesday. Luckily I have a few simple and tasty last minute dinner recipes up my sleeve to save me from the after work hangries (hunger + anger, for those of you lucky enough to be unacquainted.) This chicken, for example, is ready in a snap and checks enough delicious boxes to keep me going until Friday. Cheese? Check. Bacon? Check. A heaping pile of guacamole? Ohhhhhh, check. Served over a bed of greens dressed with olive oil and lime juice, this is a delicious, relatively healthy low carb dinner. Served with tortilla chips and margaritas… can I come over?

This recipe has a lot going for it even beyond deliciousness. It’s done in 30 minutes and leaves virtually no dirty dishes in its’ wake. Start by lining a rimmed cookie sheet with foil and bake the bacon in a hot oven. No greasy splatters and the bacon grease can be rolled up in the foil and thrown out once you’re done. While the bacon sizzles away in the oven, prepare the remaining ingredients. Chicken cutlets are a favorite of mine for a quick weeknight protein. They’re easy enough to make yourself with a chicken breast, a sharp knife and a steady hand, but if you’re really pressed for time they are also easy to find in the grocery store. While the bacon is cooking you’ll have plenty of time to season the chicken, shred some cheese and mix a quick guacamole. The chicken is baked on the same sheet you use for the bacon, then topped with shredded cheese and bacon and popped back in the oven until the cheese and bacon melt into the chicken in a gooey delicious mess. Top each chicken cutlet with as much guacamole as you please and you are DONE! You could also use shredded cheese and store bought guac to make this even more of a time saver. Enjoy this quick and easy mid-week dinner and keep your chin up. There’s light at the end of this tunnel.

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Cheesy Bacon Guacamole Chicken 

Ingredients:

  • 8 chicken cutlets (either purchased as cutlets or 4 chicken breasts cut in half to make cutlets)
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp kosher salt, divided
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 slices bacon
  • 1 heaping cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 ripe avocados, mashed
  • ½ tomato, diced
  • ½ medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • juice of 2 limes
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 450. Line rimmed cookie sheet with aluminum foil and place a baking rack inside of sheet. Spray baking rack with cooking spray. Place bacon on rack and bake for 15 minutes or until crisp. Remove bacon from rack and chop when cool enough to handle.

While bacon is cooking, season chicken cutlets with chili powder, cumin, 1 tsp kosher salt and black pepper. When bacon is done, wipe excess grease from sheet with paper towels and place chicken on baking rack. Cook chicken 3-4 minutes, then remove from oven. Divide bacon evenly over chicken cutlets and top with cheese. Place chicken back into the oven for 2-3 minutes.

While bacon and chicken are cooking, prepare guacamole. In medium bowl, mix avocados, tomato, onion, garlic, lime juice, cilantro, remaining 1 tsp kosher salt and black pepper.

Once chicken is completely done, spoon guacamole on top and serve.

Serves 4, 2 cutlets per serving.

Quick Pork Chops with Apples and Sage Cream Sauce

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Do you ever get stuck in a rut when it comes to an ingredient? When I was a kid my mom made (really excellent) pork chops dipped in an egg wash and tossed with breadcrumbs and topped with onions. For the longest time, that was the only place my mind would go when it came to pork chops. More recently I’ve come to appreciate the versatility of quick cooking pork chops on nights when I just can’t deal with the thought of one. more. chicken breast. Of course, pork chops and apples are old pals, a classic pairing. However, classic doesn’t always mean delicious. Too frequently, the pork winds up dry and flavorless and the apples turn to mush. This recipe remedies both of those problems and restores the classic duo to their rightful glory.

This dish is a delightful autumn dinner, fast enough to whip up on a weeknight but special enough for company on the weekend. Thin cut pork chops are quickly seared to form a flavorful crust while the interior stays moist and tender. Then sweet and tart apples and onions are sautéed in the same pan. Finally a savory, herby cream sauce comes together at the last minute in the pan, lightly coating the pork and apples with just a bit of richness. Serve this with mashed potatoes or polenta (hint hint, an awesome recipe is coming your way tomorrow) for a hearty supper or serve along side a mixed salad for a lighter, low carb option. Either way, you’ll have a cozy, tasty fall dinner on your table in no time.

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Quick Pork Chops with Apples and Sage Cream Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 4 (5-6 oz) thin cut bone-in pork chops
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh sage
  • 2 medium apples, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup heavy cream

Instructions:

Heat large skillet over medium high heat. With paper towels, dry pork chops. Season pork chops with ½ tsp each salt and pepper. Add oil and butter to skillet. Once oil and butter shimmer in pan, add pork chops and brown on each side, about 2 minutes per side. Remove pork chops from pan to a plate. Reduce heat to medium.

While pork chops are browning, mix mustard and wine in small bowl. Once pork chops are removed from skillet, add wine and mustard, stirring to scrap up browned bits from bottom of pan. Add apples, onions and herbs. Cook apples and onions until softened and wine has reduced, about 3-4 minutes. If pan becomes too dry, add water or wine. Add pork chops back to pan and cook until cooked through, about another 3 minutes. Turn off heat. Add heavy cream and remaining ½ tsp each salt and pepper to pan, stirring until sauce is combined.

Serves 4.

Adapted from Cooking Light

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Ham, Gruyere and Apple Panini

ham-gruyere-and-apple-paniniWell hi there! Sorry for the silence in these parts the past few days. We unexpectedly adopted a kitten on Monday and the past two days have been full of vet appointments and crawling under the bed to socialize with our little Miss Elle. The inspiration for her name? That’s right, Stranger Things. We’re big fans of Eleven in this house. I’ll post a picture of the little lady as soon as she’s not curled up next to some old shoes shoved under my bed. No demogorgons allowed 😉

Anyway, on to the main event today- a fantastic ham, gruyere and apple panini, perfect for pairing with soup on a chilly fall evening. I love putting apples into grilled sandwiches. The fresh, sweet crunch of thinly sliced apple is a wonderful complement to warm, melty cheese. This panini pairs apple, dijon mustard and hearty bakery bread with the classic combo of ham and gruyere cheese. The real showstopper here is a sprinkle of crispy sage leaves on the inside of the sandwich. It’s such a small touch but makes an enormous difference and really elevates the standard ham and cheese sandwich to something special. Of course you can make the sandwich without the crispy sage, but please please please, if you have an extra 3 minutes and some sage around, do it. Just heat a little bit of butter in the skillet you’ll use to grill the sandwich and crisp up the sage while you assemble the rest of the sandwich. One other tip- it is worth the effort to shred the cheese rather than slice it. The shreds melt more quickly and evenly, meaning that your bread won’t burn before the cheese melts. The resulting panini is far superior to anything you’ll find at the local sandwich shop. Pair with a bowl of soup and a glass of wine and you’re on your way to an excellent evening.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a kitten to go cuddle!

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Ham, Gruyere and Apple Panini

Makes 1 sandwich. Double, triple, etc. until you’ve fed all the hungry people you need to feed.

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices hearty bakery bread, about 1/2 inch thick each
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup shredded Gruyere cheese (sharp cheddar can be substituted)
  • 2-3 thin slices ham (I used Citterio Rosmarino ham)
  • 3 thin slices of apple
  • 1 Tbsp chopped sage leaves
  • 2 Tbsp butter

Instructions

Heat 1 Tbsp butter in skillet over medium heat. When butter sizzles, add sage leaves and cook 3-4 minutes, until they are crisp but not burned. While sage cooks, prepare the rest of the sandwich.

Spread mustard on slices of bread. Sprinkle half the cheese over one slice of bread, then top with ham and apple. When sage leaves are crisp, remove from butter and sprinkle on top of apples. Top apples and sage with remaining cheese and close sandwich. Spread remaining 1 Tbsp butter on each side of the sandwich.

In the skillet used to crisp the sage, grill the sandwich over medium heat, about 3-4 minutes per side. Serve and enjoy!