Shrimp & Sausage Skewers with Slaw & Black Bean Rice

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I ran across a picture of sausage cuddled up with shrimp on skewers in a magazine last summer. I tore the picture out because it was so intriguing to me and neglected to remove the recipe. They were covered in a rich, dark, barbecue sauce and just looked so tasty. I make up recipes several times a week, so I wasn’t too worried about the missing recipe and coming up with a sauce. A large part of the fun of cooking is winging it and seeing what comes out of the adventure, right? I thought the skewers would go really well with a creamy, spicy, cold slaw and a black bean rice dish. A great balance of different flavors and heat.

I keep hoping that if I wish really hard that spring will come and if we start grilling warm weather food, that it will appear on my timeline instead of its own lazy, cloudy, and rainy timeline. I guess I shouldn’t complain too much though, the rain comes with its own blessings. Lush green grass and beautiful flowers in late spring, a more moist ground for summer, and hopefully a reduction in fires that we sometimes get in this neck of the woods. So, until my wish of lazy days in the sun spent sipping iced tea and reading a great book come to fruition, I guess we’ll just have to fake it.

Shrimp & Sausage Skewers

1 Pkg. Al Fresco Chipotle Chicken Chorizo Sausage With Mango and Adobo

1 Pkg. Raw White Shrimp (51-60 count)

Peel the shrimp, leaving tails on, rinse, and pat dry. Slice the sausage.

Marinade:

1 Bottle Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

1/2 Lime, juiced

1 1/2 tsp. Garlic, chopped

1 Tbsp. Sriracha Hot Sauce

1 Tbsp. Dark Brown Sugar, packed

Place all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until combined.

Skewer the shrimp and sausage so that the shrimp is “hugging” the sausage.

Place in a shallow baking dish and cover with marinade, basting both sides. Let rest for 1 hour.

Creamy Slaw

1 12 oz. Bag Rainbow Slaw (shredded broccoli, cauliflower, & carrots)

3/4 Cup Mayonnaise

1 Red Jalapeno, finely diced seeds in

1  1/2 Tbs. Cilantro, chopped

1 tsp. Ginger, finely grated

1/2 Lime, juiced

About 1/8 – 1/4 Cup Rice Wine Vinegar (I used the Basil & Oregano)

Place all ingredients in bowl and whisk until combined. Pour over slaw and toss until thoroughly coated. Refrigerate for about 1 hour.

Black Bean Rice

1 Cup Rice Select Royal Blend Rice (Texmati White, Brown, Wild & Red)

1 1/2 Cups Gluten-Free Chicken Broth

1 1/2 tsp. Dairy-Free Butter

1/2 tsp. Sea Salt

1 Can 15 oz. Black Beans

Olive Oil

1 Tbsp. Garlic, chopped

1/2 Sweet Yellow Onion, chopped

4 Cremini mushrooms, sliced

2 Tbsp. Oregano, chopped

2 tsp. Dairy-Free Butter

Small squeeze of lime juice.

Combine the rice, chicken broth, 1 1/2 tsp. butter, and sea salt in a medium pan. Follow cooking directions on container of rice blend. Fluff with fork when done. Set aside.

Drain and rinse black beans.

Drizzle about 3 Tbsp. of olive oil into a large skillet. Heat on medium-high. Saute onions, and mushrooms until the onions start to caramelize, add garlic, oregano, and 2 tsps.butter and saute for about 5 more minutes.

Add black beans, toss, add rice, squeeze about 1/2 lime over the top, toss. Cover and set aside.

* Preheat Grill to Medium-High

Grill shrimp skewers until shrimp are done and sausage is heated through. (Sausage comes pre-cooked.) Be careful not to over cook the shrimp.

Serve with Creamy Slaw and Black Bean Rice.

Hellloooo…Breakfast

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This morning I was meandering through a fellow blogger’s food blog and ran across a delicious looking smoothie. Made me realize I haven’t had a smoothie in a really long time. It seems like we’ve had the longest, rainiest, cloudiest, winter ever…which makes me want to eat comfort food for breakfast. This morning, even though it’s still cloudy, I actually woke up to the sweet sound of birds singing, a true sign of spring! Goodbye heavy oatmeal and scrambled eggs and hello fruit smoothies.

This is kind of a “what’s in the fridge” smoothie. I also had spinach and parsley that I considered, but I just couldn’t stomach the thought today. I’ll have to do a super foods smoothie another day.

What’s In The Fridge Smoothie

*Makes 2 – 16 oz. glasses with a little left over

2 Tbsp. Brown Rice Protein Powder

1/2 Cup Almond Milk

1/2 of a Large Organic Banana, peeled

1/4 of an English Cucumber, peeled

1 Whole Mango, peeled & rough chopped

1/2 Cup Organic Carrots

6 Kumquats, washed and green end nubs removed

1 Cup Pineapple in its own juices, not sweetened

1 Cup Organic Frozen Blueberries

1 Cup Ice

Get all of the ingredients ready to go.

In a heavy-duty blender add the pineapple, protein powder, and carrots. Blend until smooth. Add the kumquats, mango, and cucumber. Blend until smooth.

Add the banana and blend until smooth. Add the blueberries a little at a time, blending until smooth. Add almond milk and ice and blend for about 1 minute.

 

Italian Pasta Bake

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I had a rather stressful and somewhat traumatizing trip to Pier 1 yesterday afternoon. I was in a rush and ran in for chopsticks, which they didn’t end up having, for the noodle soup I was cooking for dinner. Not surprisingly, I ended up coming out with several other items. Pillows, some greenery, and some really cool, over sized ramekins. Cool because they are just the right size for a personal serving of all kinds of good things. They are 5 inches wide and 2 1/2 inches deep. Tonight I did the pasta in them and next week I think I’ll focus on personal sized chicken pot pies.

The stressful and somewhat embarrassing part…well, I broke two things while I was in there…on two separate sides of the store! EEK! The greenery I had picked out had very long stems and when I bent down to pull another one out of the pile I knocked a small vase off of a shelf. You know when those types of things happen it all goes in slow motion? Well the vase bounced on the tile floor and I thought I was out of the woods, but on the second bounce it shattered all over the place. They of course, said it was no big deal and cleaned it up right away while I apologized profusely. The people standing next to me made a big deal out of it by saying, “Oh my gosh, that almost hit us!” Honestly? It was a three-inch vase lady, give me a break. Then, if you can even believe my bad luck, I had the greenery and three pillows in my arms while I was looking at the super cool over-sized ramekins on the other side of the store, turned around, and sure enough the top of one of the stems whacked a small bowl on another shelf and there it went…straight to the tile floor. It was a complete nightmare. I was stuck in an episode of Seinfeld. Unfortunately, this would not be the first time I have been stuck in an episode of Seinfeld in my lifetime, but, those are stories for another time.

Now, in my defense, those of you who have been to Pier 1 know how cram packed that place is with stuff. Honestly, it’s not that hard to run into something while you’re there…right? I figured pillows, some greenery, and cool ramekins were enough at that point and skedaddled up to the front counter to check out and hope that I didn’t see anyone I knew. My teenage son, luckily, had decided to wait for me in the car and missed the whole circus.

Well, such is life. I may be able to cook, but it’s obvious I’m not very graceful. The pillows don’t look as good on our couches as I thought they would, I bought the greenery to match the pillows, so I guess those will have to go back when I feel they’ll no longer recognize me as “the crazy lady who kept breaking things”. The positive part? We get to have an Italian Pasta Bake in those really cool ramekins tonight.

*This recipe will fill 1 9 1/2 x 11 baking dish or 6 five-inch ramekins.

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Italian Pasta Bake

1 lb. Lean Ground Hamburger

1 lb. Gluten & Dairy-Free Ground Italian Sausage

1 Cup Total, Chopped Fresh Basil & Oregano

1/2 Sweet Yellow Onion, chopped

1 Cup Spinach, packed

About 10 Cremini Mushrooms, sliced

1 Whole Jalapeno, diced with seeds

2 Tbsp. Garlic, smashed & chopped

1 Cup Good Red Wine

2 Jars of Newman’s Pasta Sauce ( I used marinara, and roasted garlic)

About 1 1/2 tsp. Sea Salt

About 1/4 Cup Dairy-Free Parmesan

About 1 Cup Dairy-Free Mozzarella

1 1/2 Pkgs. Tinkyada Spiral Gluten-Free Pasta

Preheat oven to 350°

Drizzle a small amount of olive oil in a large skillet. Brown sausage and hamburger. Add the garlic and chopped jalapeno. Saute for about 3 minutes. Transfer mixture to plate or bowl and set aside.

Leaving the drippings in the skillet, add the onions and mushrooms and saute until they start to carmelize.

Once the onions and mushrooms have browned a little bit, add the herbs and spinach. Toss until combined and then add the red wine to de-glaze the pan. Simmer until spinach and herbs are wilted.

Add the pasta sauces, bring to a boil, and simmer for 20 minutes. Boil pasta for 13 minutes, rinse with cold water when done and set aside.

Pour the rinsed pasta back into the pasta pot and toss with the sauce.

Sprinkle with the dairy-free Parmesan and mix carefully. Fill ramekins or baking dish of your choice, sprinkle with more dairy-free parmesan, and top with dairy-free mozzarella.

Place ramekins on a parchment covered baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.

Triple Chocolate Cherry Brownie Bites

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These brownies are sinfully rich. They are incredibly decadent, moist, and have enough chocolate to satisfy even the most serious chocolate lovers. I’ve tried several gluten-free brownie mixes and so far Namaste has the best mix. Even if you don’t add things like I have in the recipe below, they are rich and flavorful and equally delicious even without frosting. Today I’m going to bake mine in mini muffin papers and pans. Sometimes, because they are so moist, they are a little difficult to cut into serving sizes out of a pan. With muffin papers, each person has a tidy little brownie and  it makes frosting them a breeze.

Triple Chocolate Cherry Brownie Bites

Preheat oven to 350°

1 – 30 oz. Bag of Namaste Brownie Mix

3 Eggs

3/4 Cup Vegetable Oil or Olive Oil

1/2 Cup Water

3/4 Cup Dried Cherries, chopped

1/2 Cup Dairy-Free Miniature Chocolate Chips, heaping

1/2 tsp. Instant Coffee Granules

2 tsp. Frambois

Frosting

4 Cups Powdered Sugar

1 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

3/4 Cup Dairy-Free Butter

1 tsp. Vanilla

About 6 Tbsp. Almond Milk

Beat butter in electric mixer until light and fluffy, scrape down bowl. Add powdered sugar, cocoa, and vanilla on the stir setting. Slowly add in almond milk and then beat on high until fluffy scraping down bowl once or twice. Fit piping bag with small star tip and fill with frosting.

Preheat the oven and get the ingredients ready.

Place the brownie mix, eggs, oil, water, and coffee granules in an electric mixer and mix on medium until thoroughly combined. Scrape down sides. Add the cherries, chocolate chips, and Frambois. Mix thoroughly. Batter will be thick.

Put about a 1 1/2 teaspoons of the brownie batter into the mini muffin papers & tins.

Bake for 14-15 minutes, remove from tin and transfer to wire cooling racks. Allow to cool completely.

Once the brownie bites have cooled completely, prepare the frosting (recipe above). Frost each brownie.

Chicken & Shrimp Noodle Soup

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Three or four times a year I like to sit down and look through all of my cookbooks and recipes that I’ve pulled out of magazines. Like a lot of people, I sometimes get stuck rotating the same recipes over and over again.

Last year I was in organizational mode and created a binder of all of my favorite recipes broken down into 25 sections. Nothing fancy, just organized.

Then, I created a file box with the same sections, but the file box is only for things that I want to try, de-gluten, de-dairy, or want to combine with other things.

It might sound like a lot of work and come across as a little crazy and “Martha” like…but I’m telling you, every single time I look through the binder or the file box I’m thankful I did it. When I get tired of cooking the same old things, I sit down with a nice cup of tea or glass of wine and create an entire menu for a month, sometimes two. As much as I like an organized, scheduled, and predictable life, I don’t like my meals to be boring and predictable.

I pulled this soup out of the file box. It originally came out of a Food Network magazine and was called Vietnamese Noodle Soup. I made quite a few changes, partly because I didn’t want a beef based soup for tonight, and partly because I wanted to use what I had on hand. You can find the original recipe here.

Chicken & Shrimp Noodle Soup

10 oz. Rice Noodles, I used Phad Thai Rice Sticks

2 Partly Frozen Boneless, Skinless, Chicken Breasts, sliced thinly

1 Bag Frozen Shrimp, peeled

1/2 Sweet Yellow Onion, sliced thinly

1- 3 inch Cube of Ginger, peeled and chopped

3 – 32 oz. Boxes of Gluten-Free Chicken Broth

6 Green Onions, sliced

2 Jalapeno Peppers 1 Red 1 Green, leave seeds in if you like it spicy, sliced thinly

1/2 Cup Fresh Cilantro, leaves removed from stem

1 1/2 Tbsp. Garlic, smashed and chopped

2 Tbsp. Gluten-Free Fish Sauce

1 Cup Fresh Bean Sprouts

About 3 Tbsp. Gluten-Free Soy Sauce

About 2 Tbsp. Sriracha Sauce

Olive Oil

Sesame Oil

Sea Salt & Pepper

Chop and prepare all of the vegetables.

Slice the partly frozen chicken breasts very thinly, peel the shrimp, and set aside. Place a large pot over medium-high heat. Drizzle about 3 Tbsp. of olive oil and 1/2 tsp. sesame oil in pot and as soon as it starts to smoke, add the sliced chicken breast. When the chicken slices are white on both sides, remove from pot to a plate and set aside. Heat pot up again on medium-high heat and add a little more olive oil and just a couple drops of sesame oil, if necessary, and add the shrimp. Cook the shrimp only until it is barely pink and you can no longer see any of the gray original color. Pour onto a plate and set aside. Do not over cook it because it will be going into the hot soup later to finish cooking.

Next, add a bit more olive oil to the pan and add the onion, garlic, and ginger. When the onion just begins to brown slightly, add the chicken broth, about 1 tsp. of sea salt and about 8 grinds of pepper, scraping the bottom of the pan to de-glaze. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes.

Add chicken, jalapenos, fish sauce, soy sauce, and boil for 5 minutes. Add the shrimp, noodles, and boil for another 3-5 minutes or until noodles are tender. (They will cook quickly.) Add the green onions, sriracha sauce, and a few drops of sesame oil. Serve in bowls and top with cilantro leaves and fresh bean sprouts.

Mediterranean Salad

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It seems like it’s been a really long winter around these parts. Last summer went by much too quickly and wasn’t as warm as usual. Then fall and winter hit and now we’re into March with rain and still having some pretty chilly days. We’re starting to get into camping mode and really wanting to spend some more time outside, so my husband thought it would be fun to plan a little road trip and picnic today. It was just what the Dr. ordered to get rid of the winter blues! Even though the weather was a bit chilly, it didn’t rain until we were on our way home. It was wonderful to just sit and chat during our picnic and watch the dogs play in the sand and water.

I filled our picnic basket with sandwiches, veggies, sea salt chips, a couple of Cutie oranges, fresh-cut pineapple, a Mediterranean salad, water, a couple of beers, and a few of the jam thumbprint cookies I made a couple of days ago. It’s so much easier and healthier to pack our own food for a nice, relaxing, picnic than to try to find some greasy spoon out in the middle of nowhere where I can get something gluten and dairy-free.

This was the first time I’ve made the salad and it was really good and extremely easy. It was fabulous as a  picnic salad, which means it will also work well for camping when the weather warms up a bit.

Mediterranean Salad

1 – 15oz Can of White Beans

1 – 150z Can of Garbanzo Beans

1 1/2 Tbsp. Basil, chopped

2 Tbsp. Oregano, chopped

2 Tbsp. Parsley, chopped

1 Tbsp. Garlic, chopped

15 Pitted Kalamata Olives, sliced in half lengthwise

15 Small Grape Tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise

About 1/2 of a Small Red Onion, sliced

1/2 Block of Sheep’s Milk Cheese, crumbled

1/8 Cup Olive Oil

1/4 – 1/2 Cup Basil & Oregano Rice Vinegar

About 2 Grinds of Sea Salt

About 4-6 Grinds of Good Pepper

Rinse and drain both cans of beans.

Once beans have drained, pour into a medium size bowl. Add chopped herbs and sliced vegetables, garlic and olives, stir with spatula to combine.

Pour olive oil and vinegar into a measuring cup and whisk to combine. Pour over salad.

Stir carefully to combine. Allow flavors to meld at least one hour before serving.

I’ll sneak in a picture of Romeo and Abigail, our sweet babies. Romeo is on the right and is 2 years old, Abigail is on the left and turned 1 on Valentine’s Day. ♥ Our other sweet baby is human and 18… and opted to stay home and hang out with friends instead. Us old people are a little boring. Wink, wink.

Lake Roosevelt.

Chokecherry & Raspberry Thumbprints

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Sometimes I crave a light and fruity cookie that doesn’t have chocolate. Don’t get me wrong, I love chocolate, but there are times when I want a cookie that goes well with tea and this cookie fits the bill nicely. Delicately crisp on the outside, filled with chokecherry and raspberry jelly, and drizzled with almond frosting, they are delightful, a heavenly treat on a cloudy day with a cup of tea.

Chokecherry & Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies

Makes about 32 cookies.

Preheat oven to 375°

3/4 Cup Dairy-Free Butter

1/4 Cup Dark Brown Sugar, packed

1/4 tsp. Sea Salt

1 Egg Yolk

1 tsp. Pure Almond Extract

2 Cups Mama’s All Purpose Almond Flour

1/2 tsp. Xanthan Gum

1/4 Cup Chokecherry Jelly

1/4 Cup Raspberry Jam

1 Cup Powdered Sugar

2 Tbs. Dairy-Free Butter, melted

1 tsp. Pure Almond Extract

Little Water

Beat butter for 30 seconds, scrape down bowl. Add brown sugar and salt and beat until combined, scrape down bowl. Add almond extract, egg yolk, and xanthan gum, beat until combined, scrape down bowl. Slowly mix in flour. Beat for 30 seconds until well combined.

Shape into about 1 to 1 1/2 inch balls and place about 1/2 inch apart on baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Make an indent in the center of each ball with your pointer finger or thumb.

Place both jellies into a small bowl and stir with a spoon until completely combined and smooth. Drop about 1/2 teaspoon of jelly mixture into each cookie.

Place the filled cookies into the oven and bake for 13 minutes. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack.

Place powdered sugar, almond extract, and melted butter in a small bowl and stir with spoon. Add water a tiny amount at a time to make it drizzling consistency. Drizzle over cookies on cooling rack.

Serve with a nice cup of your favorite hot tea, relax, and enjoy your day!