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Penne with Shrimp and Herbed Cream Sauce

October 23, 2017

This is an easy weeknight meal from Giada De Laurentiis.

Just a few tiny changes:  I cut the penne amount in half, probably used a bit more grated parmesan and used diced tomatoes instead of whole tomatoes.  Otherwise I followed the recipe exactly.

If you use frozen shrimp, make sure it’s the wild caught.  Do not get the farmed fish from Taiwan or wherever.  I took a class from the CIA called Under the Sea and the professor talked about farmed fish.  Farmed fish is pretty disgusting.  To know absolutely sure you are getting wild caught shrimp, fresh or frozen, they should still have their ‘legs’ attached.  If they do not have them, then it means they were farmed where it is nearly impossible for them to swim and thus no need for ‘legs’  shrimp with legs

This is the first time I added the pasta to the sauce.  Usually I don’t do that and serve them separately but it worked this time, especially with half the amount of pasta.

Penne with Shrimp and Herbed Cream Sauce (from Food Network Giada De Laurentiis)

1/2 pound penne pasta

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, fresh or frozen

4 garlic cloves, minced or grated using a box grater

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1, 15 ounce can of petite diced tomatoes, drained

1/2 cups chopped fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

1 cup white wine

1/3 cup clam juice

3/4 cup heavy cream

1-1/2 ounces Parmesan Cheese, grated

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat.  Add the fresh or frozen shrimp, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.  Cook, stirring frequently until the shrimp turn pink and are cooked through, about 3 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the shrimp onto a plate.

Add the diced tomatoes, basil, parsley and optional red pepper flakes.  Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add the wine, clam juice, and heavy cream.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 7 to 8 minutes until the sauce thickens.  Add the Parmesan cheese, cooked shrimp and pasta.  Stir together until combined.  Serve immediately.

weigh out pasta and cook according to package directions:

the shrimp I used:

mise en place:

cooking shrimp and setting aside:

add tomatoes, basil, parsley and cook:

add wine, clam juice and heavy cream:

add Parmesan cheese, shrimp and pasta:






Easy BBQ Short Ribs

October 15, 2017


This is an excellent recipe from Sunny Anderson and so simple and delicious!

I usually find a recipe and then get the ingredients but I did just the opposite this time.  I had read an article in Cooks Illustrated about boneless beef short ribs awhile ago but really wasn’t interested in trying their recipe.  But the boneless beef short ribs stuck in my head.  So when I went to Hannford’s a few weeks later I got them and found a recipe when I got home.  So glad I did 🙂

The video and directions from Food Network are slightly different. The video with Sunny suggests 2-1/2 hours cooking with aluminum foil and 1/2 hour with aluminum foil off.  The recipe directions on Food Network says 3 hours cooking with the aluminum foil and 1/2 hour with aluminum foil off.  My directions are 3 hours aluminum foil on and that’s it, you are DONE!

Also, watching the video, I have no idea where Sunny got those boneless beef short ribs.  Mine do not look like that at ALL :/   I went with Cook’s Illustrated description.  “Boneless Beef Short Ribs aren’t actually cut from the rib section of the cow, as their name implies.  They are cut from the chuck or shoulder, of the animal.  …..are basically butchered and trimmed chuck roast.”

Easy BBQ Short Ribs  (from Sunny Anderson)

3-4 pounds boneless beef short ribs

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2/3 cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1/2 teaspoon thyme

2/3 cup ketchup

1 tablespoon mustard (yellow, Grey Poupon, smooth, grainy, it really doesn’t matter, whatever you have in your refrigerator)

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Arrange the short ribs in a 13 x 9 inch glass baking dish and season with the Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper on both sides.

In a medium bowl, combine the brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, vinegar, thyme, ketchup, mustard and Worcestershire sauce.  Stir with a whisk until completely combined.  Pour the sauce over the ribs and turn the ribs over in the sauce until all are coated.  Cover with aluminum foil.

Cook for 3 hours.  Remove from the oven and serve.

Couple of suggestion here:

If you are not serving right away, place the whole thing in the refrigerator.  After a few hours the fat from the beef will congeal and will be very easy to remove.  This saves a bit of calories.

I ate them the way they were and served with other stuff on the side.  But I think the ribs could be easily shredded, put back in the sauce, stirred and served over rice, noodles, polenta or on buns. Yum!!

arranged ribs:

what to look for in the supermarket:

sauce ingredients:

pour over ribs and cover ribs completely:

cover with aluminum foil:

after 3 hours:

served with Sweet Potato Puree with Smoked Paprika and little corn muffins:


Blueberry Muffin II

September 16, 2017

Another muffin 🙂

This is a combination of two recipes.  One from The New York Times Cooking which includes smashing some of the blueberries (which intrigued me) and a very old recipe from my mother in law that included sour cream and that I knew was really good.   I did add a bit of lemon zest because lemon and blueberries are such a lovely combination.

The blueberry muffin recipe is a hand written affair that I wrote down with instructions from my mother in law.  The recipe was received in the infancy of our marriage, so we are talking about 40 years ago.  Wow, is all I can say about that!

Blueberry Muffin II (Jordan Marsh’s Blueberry Muffins (now, you have to have a subscription to The New York Times Cooking to access all their recipes 😦 ) and Blueberry Hill Muffins)

1/2 cup butter, softened

1-1/4 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup sour cream

1-1/2 teaspoons lemon zest

2-1/2 cups fresh blueberries, stems removed if any

1 -2 tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray 15 muffins cups, from 2, 12-cup muffin pans, with baking spray with flour (like Pam Baking Spray, my favorite).

Combine eggs and vanilla in a small bowl.

In a medium bowl, place the flour, salt and baking powder.  Stir together with a whisk.

Smash/crush with a fork or whatever, 1/2 cup of the blueberries and set aside.

Place softened butter in mixing bowl.  Add sugar, and beat until combined.  Add eggs and vanilla and beat thoroughly until smooth.

Gradually add flour mixture alternately with sour cream.  Add lemon zest and beat until almost combined.

Add smashed/crushed blueberries.  Stir by hand using a rubber spatula until almost combined then add whole blueberries and stir until just combined.

Measure batter evenly among the 15 muffins cups.

Sprinkle each muffin with sugar and place in the oven for 25 – 30 minutes.

Remove from oven, cool muffins on wire rack and when completely cooled remove from muffins pan.

hand written recipe from my mother-in-law:

mise en place:

preparing pans:

mixing in crushed blueberries:

adding whole blueberries:

batter complete, a little blue but you do not really see that when baked:

dividing among muffins cups ( I only sprinkled sugar on some of them but I recommend all ):

out of the oven:





Lemon Zucchini Muffins

September 3, 2017

I have just recently started following Two Peas and Their Pod.  A great site with reliable, delicious recipes.  This is one of them.

I just love the addition of lemon.  I think it gives the muffins a vibrant taste.

Instead of the bread shape, I made these into muffins and added chopped walnuts (my husband’s favorite).  Make sure you get LARGE lemons.  All that zest is just lovely.  And instead of olive oil, I used canola vegetable oil.  I did not use the glaze on the muffins but it sounds wonderful, enhancing that delicious lemony flavor 🙂

And this right now is my favorite  Grater.  It makes beautifully grated zucchini. I love it for Parmesan cheese, too.   It is super sharp and the grated food is light and fluffy, it’s just amazing.  Sometimes the right tool makes baking/cooking joyful:  this one does it for me 🙂

Lemon Zucchini Bread from Two Peas and Their Pod

3 cups flour (make sure to fluff up your flour with a large metal spatula or spoon before measuring to insure that your measuring is accurate)

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup chopped walnut

2 cups sugar

zest of 2 LARGE lemons

3 large eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)

1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups finely grated zucchini (from 3 small)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Canola oil spray 1, 12 cup muffin pan and 4 cups on another 12 cup muffin pan.  You will have sprayed 16 muffins cups.

In a very large bowl add the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.  Whisk together.  Add the chopped walnuts, stirring to disperse evenly.

In a medium bowl add the sugar and then add the lemon zest.  Stirring with a rubber spatula and then finally rubbing the sugar together with the zest with your fingers until combined and fragrant (what a delightful smell!).

In another large bowl, place the eggs, oil, lemon juice and vanilla.  Add the sugar/zest mixture and stir together with a whisk until combined.   Add this mixture to the flour/nut mixture and stir together until almost combined.  Then add the zucchini and stir until just combined.

Divide the batter evenly among the 16 muffin cups.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the center, when tested with a toothpick, comes out clean.  Let cool completely in the pan and then remove onto a cooling rack.

grating the zucchini with my awesome grater:

zesting the lemon:

adding zest to sugar:

chopped walnuts:

adding walnuts to flour mixture;

eggs, vegetable oil, lemon juice and vanilla:

stir the sugar mixture into the egg mixture (almost looks like lemon curd, mmmm):

mix the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients:

add the zucchini:

divide among muffin cups:

out of the oven:

delicious: flakes of zucchini and small chunks of walnut with a lemony zing!









Spicy Peach Muffins

August 27, 2017

I do have a lot of muffin recipes but I love them.  Mini cakes in hiding or nutritious gems to take on the go, your choice.

This one is from King Arthur Flour, my all time favorite site for baked goods recipes and my favorite, favorite place to take classes (baking school).  Taking 2 this October with my friend Katie, can’t wait!!!!

Anyway, peaches are in season now and these are very tasty!

The original recipe makes 2 dozen but I halved it (in parenthesis) and increased the amount of peaches.  Their suggestion for peach jammy bits sounds divine, I must try.  You would have to send away for them, they are unique to King Arthur but well worth it as are many of their products.  Wait for a free shipping promo and add on a few more items 🙂

Spiced Peach Muffins (from King Arthur Flour)

4-1/2 (2-1/4) cups flour (preferably King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose Flour)

1 (1/2) teaspoon salt

4-1/2 (2-1/4) teaspoons baking powder

2 (1) cups dark brown sugar

1/2 (1/4) teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 (1/4) teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1 (1/2) teaspoon cinnamon

2 (1) large eggs

3/4 (1/4 plus 1/8) cup vegetable oil

1-1/4 (1/2 plus 1/8) cups milk (2% is fine too)

5-6 (2-1/2 – 3) cups diced peaches, not peeled (4 small peaches yields 2-1/2 to 3 cups)

1/4 (1/8) cup sugar, for topping

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray 2 (or 1 if you are halving the recipe) muffin pans with Pam Baking spray which is Pam with Flour (I used canola oil spray and found that even though they did not stick to the pan, they were very difficult to get out.  Use the Pam Baking spray, they will release with ease.)

In a very large bowl add the flour, salt, baking powder, brown sugar, allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon.  Whisk together, breaking up the brown sugar as you go along.

In a separate medium bowl, add the eggs, vegetable oil and milk and whisk together.

Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir together until almost combined, the batter will be stiff, but this is ok.

Add the peaches, and stir together until just combined.

Using a large ice cream scoop, scoop the batter into the muffin pans.  They will be very full but that’s good.  Sprinkle the sugar on top.

Bake the muffins for 25 to 30 minutes, until nicely browned and the center, when tested with a toothpick, comes out clean.

Remove from oven and cool muffins completely.

dicing peaches:

slice peach half in half:

Cut into 1/4 inch slices:

cut again the opposite way, into 1/4 inch dice:

mise en place:

spray muffin pan with Pam Baking Spray instead of straight Canola Oil Spray:

add liquid ingredients to dry:

then peaches:

batter will be stiff:

divide evenly among muffins pan cups and sprinkle with sugar:

out of the oven:





Shrimp Provencale

August 21, 2017

Bon Appetit used to have a section in their magazine “Too Busy to Cook”. It would feature home cooks with their tried and true recipes, which is where I got this one.  They no longer do this anymore but I wish they did.  I got a lot of great recipes from that column.

I have been making this recipe since 2000 and it never fails to be delicious.  I recently had an “aha” moment and realized that this is not only a great dinner recipe but a fantastic appetizer as well.  I served it at our Annual Croquet Party and it was a hit.  On top of crostini, place about 1 or 2 shrimp with the pepper/onion sauce, sprinkle with some grated Parmesan and toast for a minute or 2 until the cheese is melted.  Delicious!

This is a partial excerpt from the woman who presented this recipe in Bon Appetit:  “….I mostly use recipes that I learned from my mother while I was growing up in Toulon, France.  She was a wonderful cook, and many of her specialties are typical of Provencal cuisine, calling for light and fresh ingredients like vegetables and seafood….”

I don’t add the fennel seeds or Kalamata olives.  But certainly do if these are ingredients that you like.  They are in the original recipe in the link below.

Shrimp Provencale from Bon Appetit

3 tablespoons olive oil

1-1/2 pounds uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined (you can also use frozen, using the defrosting directions on the package)

2 cups chopped red bell peppers (from 1-2 peppers)

1 cup chopped onion (from 1 large onion)

2 teaspoons dried thyme

3 large garlic cloves, chopped

1, 14-1/2 ounce can petite diced tomatoes in juice

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

Heat the oil in a very large skilled (not non stick) over medium high heat.  Saute the shrimp until they are just pink, about 2 minutes, turning the shrimp after 1 minute.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to a bowl or dish.

Reduce heat to medium and add the bell pepper, onion, thyme and garlic to skillet and saute until the onions are cooked, about 8 minutes, stirring several times.

Add tomatoes with their juice, wine and tomato paste, stirring all together, then bring to a  boil.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Uncover, add the shrimp and simmer until shrimp are just cooked, about 3 minutes.

Add salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle with the basil and serve over angel hair or Campanella spaghetti, or rice or toasted French bread.

mise en place:

sauteing shrimp:

cooking red pepper, onions, thyme and garlic:

chop basil while this is cooking: chiffonade the basil leaves

then cut the basil in the opposite directions to make a fine chop:

onion/pepper mixture cooked:

then add diced tomatoes, white wine, tomato paste and simmer:

after 10 minutes add shrimp and cook another 3 minutes:


Strawberry Cake

April 18, 2017

This is a simple cake that is perfect for beautiful summery strawberries.  Once they have arrived at your Farmer’s Market, this is a must do recipe.

Martha asks for a 10 inch pie plate.  Unfortunately I don’t have one but I do have a 9-1/2 inch deep dish (1-1/2 inches deep) glass pie plate, which I highly recommend and that worked very well for this recipe.   Per Smitten Kitchen a 9 inch regular glass pie dish (less than 1 inch deep) will be too small.  Deb Perlman also suggests using a 10 inch spring form pan if you don’t have a pie plate.  I experimented with this and I agree, it will work as well.

Be very careful measuring out your flour.  When I made it this second time, I was careless and the batter was overly thick.  So the third time, I made sure I fluffed and stirred my flour before measuring.  The batter had a much better consistency.

**Also, make sure you reduce the temperature of the oven from 350 degrees to 325 degrees.  I made a mistake and kept the oven going at 350 the whole time.  It was good but the outside was a bit too crusty.

Serve this with ice cream, whipped cream or just a sprinkling of confectionery sugar.

Strawberry Cake (Martha Stewart via Smitten Kitchen in the recipe section, Strawberries, Strawberry Summer Cake)

6 tablespoons butter, softened

1-1/2 cups flour

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup milk

1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved (small to medium size strawberries are the best)

2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 10 inch pie plate or 9-1/2 inch deep dish (1-1/2 inch deep) pie plate or a 10 inch spring form pan with Pam with Flour or Bakers Joy.  Set aside.

Measure flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and whisk together.

Place egg and vanilla extract in small bowl.

Place butter in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed.  Add sugar and mix until thoroughly incorporated.  Add egg/vanilla mixture and beat for 3 minutes until fluffy.

Reduce speed to medium low and add milk.  Gradually add flour mixture until just mixed.

Pour batter into prepared pan.  Arrange strawberries on top of batter, cut side down placing them very close together.  Sprinkle the berries with the 2 tablespoons of sugar.

Bake cake for 10 minutes.   ****Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.*****  Bake until cake is golden brown and firm to the touch.  About 1 hour.

Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.

Cut into wedges and serve.

Spray pan with Bakers Joy or Pam with Flour

Wash strawberries, remove stem and leaves and cut in half:

mise en place cake batter:

batter into the prepared pan:

place strawberries on top and sprinkle with sugar:

after 1 hour of baking: