Archive for December, 2011

December 30, 2011

Day of Fun!

Joey and Janice’s Day of Fun


Today we are making good on one of our Christmas traditions; a girls day out. Thanks to Friends, this year we are renaming it the Girls Day of Fun! Hope you have fabulous NYE plans!

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December 28, 2011

Shrimp and Grits

I have been taking a bit of a break and enjoying the holidays at home with the fam. Our white Christmas got the better of me and I am nursing a bit of a cold. In honor of my NC State Wolfpack winning their bowl game last night (and my need for comfort food) I thought I would share a Southern treat with you today. Outside of the South, grits are a bit understood, but I promise this recipe will make a convert out of anyone. The key is to get the right ingredients and a little bit of patience, what you will get is creamy goodness perfect for cold winter. I hope you are enjoying your holiday season!


Shrimp and Grits

For the Grits:

1 Cup Stone-Ground Grits

4 Cups Water (plus a little if needed)

2 Tablespoons Butter

Salt and Pepper to Taste

Pinch of Cayenne Pepper

Small Grating of Nutmeg

Dash of Tabasco

1 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese

½ Cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese

For the Shrimp:

1 Pound Shrimp, Peeled and Deveined

6 Slices Bacon

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

2 Cups White Mushrooms, Sliced

1 Bunch Scallions, Sliced

1 Clove Garlic, Pressed

Juice from 1 Lemon

¼ Cup Vermouth (or White Wine)

Dash of Tabasco

2 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley, Chopped

Salt and Pepper to Taste

Pour the grits into a large bowl and cover with cold water. Skim off the chaff as it floats to the surface.

Stir the grits and skim again until all the chaff has been removed. Drain the grits in a sieve.

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add salt and slowly stir in the grits.

Cook at a simmer, stirring frequently, until the grits are done, about 40 minutes. Add more water about ½ cup at a time if they are not quite getting tender. They should be quite thick and creamy. Remove the grits from the heat and stir in the butter, cheese and spices. Serve immediately or keep warm over a double boiler for 30 minutes.

While the grits are cooking, prepare the shrimp. Rinse the shrimp and pat dry. Dice the bacon and fry in a large skillet until browned. Drain on paper towels.

Pour off the excess fat, leaving a couple tablespoons to cook the shrimp. Add olive oil if you need additional fat. Heat over medium-high heat, add the shrimp and cook until they begin to color, turning once. Remove then add the mushrooms and sauté, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle with the scallions and garlic.

Then add the bacon and shrimp back. Add the lemon juice and Vermouth to deglaze the pan. Allow to simmer about 1 minute then add Tabasco, parsley, salt and pepper.

Serve shrimp over the cheese grits.


December 12, 2011

Christmas Cookie Extravaganza

Do you have a Christmas cookie making tradition? A recipe you can’t live without? While we have favorite cookie recipes throughout the year, we do not usually do the traditional cookie baking day at Christmastime. This year however, our friend Lisa got inspired to make cookies and invited us along to make a day of it. What we thought might take a few hours ended up as a full day of flour, butter and sugar…lots of sugar! We made 8 kinds of cookies covering all shapes and sizes; some traditional, some experiments and some personal favorites. We think we ended up with about 450 cookies! We kept making plates for people and it didn’t seem to make a dent. We divied up the stash and will be sharing some with friends and family and some with some US Marines who are looking out for us this holiday season. After we finished, we took some notes for next year over a glass of wine and decided we are on a cookie baking break. I have to say, this is a great way to spend a day getting into the holiday spirit with some good friends. Stay tuned for our favorite recipes this week!

While we each had some people who were interested in joining our extravaganza, we decided to try it out before including others in our craziness. We cook together a lot and managed to find a good rhythm and system. If you find yourself making LOTS of cookies, here are some things that helped:

  • Gathered all of our combined baking supplies and laid them out to survey and plan
  • Made a photo copy of each recipe (this is a REALLY good idea to simplify)
  • Pulled out butter out to soften ahead of time
  • Laid out the mise en place for each recipe individually, putting each on a sheet pan for easy transport
  • Created separate work spaces for separate tasks
  • Each found a task that suited us and worked on multiple recipes
  • We were lucky to have two ovens and several kitchen timers
  • We all pitched in on the clean up!

P.S. We all knew in advance that clean up help is a given in our group, but if it isn’t in yours, our suggestion is to confirm that part of the deal in advance. It is not so bad if you all pitch in!

P.P.S. Check out our photo montage below! Thanks to Lisa for hosting and for the photography!!

Kelly & Mary



December 5, 2011

Orange Glazed Shrimp

We are in the middle of a cold snap here in Colorado and I have been craving comfort food. There are so many ways that you can do comfort food, but I was looking to change things up a bit. So, I thought maybe risotto would be a good start; I have made this Orange Risotto before and loved it. When I saw shrimp was on sale, I thought I would do a complementary orange glazed shrimp. I love how this came out spicy and sweet with tons of flavor. It really complemented the risotto perfectly, though it could easily go with lots of fresh veggies or rice. (I know many people oppose serving dairy with seafood, but I liked this combination, you could always leave the cheese out of the risotto in this case.) There are lots of options for this one, but it was FAST and super tasty!


Orange Glazed Shrimp

1 Pound Shrimp, Peeled and Deveined

1 Cup fresh squeezed orange juice

2 Cloves Garlic thinly sliced

2 Tablespoons Shallots, finely chopped

1 Tablespoon Meat Magic (you could substitute your favorite seasoning salt, but I love this one)


Splash Vermouth

Salt & Pepper

2 Tablespoons Butter

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil


Heat 1 Tablespoon butter and 1 T olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and shallots and cook until lightly browned around the edges.

Make sure the shrimp are clean and dry, then add them to the pan.

Cook about 1 minute on each side sprinkling with meat magic on both sides, then remove from the pan.

Add vermouth to deglaze scraping the drippings off the bottom. Then add orange juice seasoned with remaining spices.

Simmer to reduce for about 5 min. Add final tablespoon of butter and salt and pepper; incorporate when the sauce coats the back of a spoon, add the shrimp and toss in the sauce.

Allow to cook another 2 minutes. Serve over orange risotto (or rice and veggies).

December 4, 2011

Chocolate Pumpkin Roulade

Now is probably the time to share with you that I am on strike. Pumpkin Pie making strike. Why? I tried for years to create a pumpkin pie that could beat Costco – we even had taste tests – with my crust usually faring well but Costco winning overall. My guess is it is kind of like trying to beat Campbell’s tomato soup, it will never be the same as people’s memory food. I personally think that I accomplished that at least once, but I am not a gelatin in pie fan, so I just can’t create that same texture that people seem to love in store bought pie. I have pretty much perfected my pie crust recipe and would put it up against anyone’s, however I am not going to waste the work on something I don’t really care about. See, I got all caught up in this beating Costco at Thanksgiving challenge that I completely overlooked the fact I don’t actually like pumpkin pie. Since it is a must have for many people at Thanksgiving, that gets delegated for someone to pick up from Costco. Chocolate pumpkin roulade on the other hand is right up my alley. It combines chocolate with a light, creamy, spice filled mousse. This is something you can make ahead and freeze to be pulled out and defrosted during your party (as we did.) You could use it at any holiday party for an instant hit. This is absolutely worth the effort!


My friend Lisa’s mom used to make pumpkin roulade and she made it once. That is what got me thinking about making this. Then we came across Jacques Pepin’s chocolate roulade in Cooking at Home. It is more like flourless chocolate cake in a roll. Since I had many years of experience cutting wedding cakes and having butter cream up to my elbows I really don’t like cake, so this sounded like a perfect compromise, plus we already had our pureed pumpkin and needed to use it. We have made pumpkin mousse in the past several times that came out great and is a LOT lighter than pumpkin pie. I am ok with pumpkin pie – just not after Thanksgiving dinner. I would rather have it for breakfast afterwards. So thank Jacques for the chocolate roulade and the pumpkin cream is our own in place of his crème-Chantilly. He also uses this as the base for bûche de Noel, so you can use this for any upcoming Christmas parties. One more note – this is WAY easier than it looks. I was pleasantly surprised at how easily this came together.


Chocolate Pumpkin Roulade

Chocolate Roulade Ingredients

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, for pan

1 cup heavy cream

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, in small pieces

7 egg whites, room temperature

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon cocoa powder, plus more for garnish

Pumpkin Cream Ingredients

1 pint whipped cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon sugar

1 cup pumpkin puree

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon fresh nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger



Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in center. Butter an 11-by-17-inch jelly-roll pan or a 12-by-17 1/2-inch sheet pan, and line with parchment paper. If you butter half of the parchment and fold it in half then cut a one inch slit in the non-fold corners, you will have a perfect pan liner every time!

In a small saucepan, heat 1 cup cream to a simmer. Add chocolate, reduce heat, and whisk until chocolate is melted. As soon as mixture is a uniform dark color, remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.

In a large bowl and using a hand mixer, whip egg whites and 2 tablespoons sugar to stiff, glossy peaks, about 1 1/2 minutes.

Whisk one-quarter of the egg-white mixture into the chocolate mixture.

Gently fold chocolate mixture back into the original egg-white mixture, and mix until smooth and well combined.

Pour batter into the prepared pan, and spread it in an even layer with a rubber spatula.

Bake until cake is set and puffy, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and cool to room temperature. Lift parchment paper to remove cake from pan, and set it on work surface with long side facing edge of table. Using a fine-mesh sieve, lightly dust cake with cocoa powder.

Make the pumpkin cream. Whip the cream with vanilla and sugar until soft peaks form. Fold in pumpkin puree and remaining spices until just combined. Spread a layer over the cake leaving at least an inch boarder.

Roll the cake lengthwise, starting at a point 2 to 3 inches over the pumpkin cream. Roll cake another few inches, pressing against parchment paper to make a tight spiral. Gently peel parchment paper off as cake layer rolls away.

Complete the roll, stopping at the far edge of the parchment paper.

Tuck the loose parchment paper around and underneath the cylinder so it is well wrapped and can be moved easily.

Serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours. (You can also freeze the roulade wrapped in the parchment and a layer of plastic wrap.)

When ready to serve, transfer roulade to serving platter. Remove parchment paper, gently rolling cake into center of platter, with seam on bottom. (If roll has slumped or twisted, lay a piece of plastic over top and sides, and reshape with hands.) With a sharp knife, trim both ends of roll crosswise or on a diagonal. Dust top with confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder, and garnish with seasonal fruit. To serve, cut the roll into 1-inch-thick slices, and lay flat on dessert plates.

Please excuse the last photo, I forgot to take a final picture, so this is after being frozen, cut and refrozen and picked at. It was much prettier the day of, especially with a dollop of whipped cream! One of our guests said “I think Jacques would approve of the pumpkin cream.” I think I would have proudly served it to him if I was fortunate enough to host him!

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