Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pan Seared Shrimp with Romesco Sauce over Creamy Grits and Greens

Have you been watching the Food Network program - Worst Cooks in America?

I'm not sure why I even started watching this show. I consider myself a decent cook, so it's not like I thought I would learn anything. Maybe it's like watching the American Idol Auditions, you just want to be sure there is someone out there that is worse than you?

I kept watching even after the auditions, and was amazed at the kinds of recipes they were teaching these self proclaimed terrible cooks. I was shocked at the techniques and ingredients that I was not familiar with.

Pan Seared Shrimp with Romesco Sauce over Creamy Grits and Greens

A few weeks ago they featured this recipe.

It included:

Shelled and Deveined Shrimp (I've always purchased mine already deveined and had no idea how to do it myself).

Creamy Grits (seen them made - never eaten them or cooked them at home)

Mustard Greens (unless you count spinach - I've never cooked any kind of greens)

Romesco Sauce (I'm a total sauce girl, and even I didn't know what this was)

Grapeseed Oil (again, seen it, heard of it, but never used it)

In case you lost count - that 5 ingredients that I have never used before. How can that be? I'm a good cook! I watch all kinds of cooking shows and try all sorts of new recipes.

New Ingredients

There was no way I was going to have the Worst Cooks in America be better skilled than me.

The Challenge was ON - I was going to make this recipe!
The first hurdle was deveining the shrimp.

Looking for the Vein

It's supposed to run along the back of the shrimp.

The Vein

Just cut along the vein with a sharp knife and it can be pulled right out.

Sometimes the vein is hidden.

Hidden Vein

This one was along the belly of the shrimp. But it works just the same - cut with a knife along the vein and pull it out.

Deveined Shrimp

OK - that was easy enough. All the shrimp peeled and deveined.

Now on the the Sauce. I think I've actually had this sauce (and even tried to replicate it at home). One of my favorite dishes at a local restaurant back home in Pennsylvania serves delicious crab cakes with a Roasted Red Pepper Sauce. It think it might be the same as the Romesco Sauce (just without the fancy name).

Romesco Sauce

It's easy peasy to make. Just throw everything into a food processor and blend away. It reminds me of a pesto because it has nuts, herbs, garlic and oil, but What's interesting about this sauce is that it's thickened with crusty bread (crumbs) rather than Parmesan or Romano cheese.

Greens and Bread

Now that the sauce is made, on to the Grits. My only comment would be to follow the liquid/grits ratio on your particular brand of grits. When I used the proportions in the recipe, the grits were way to thick and I had to almost double the liquid (and therefore ended up with way more grits than I needed but had them for breakfast the next day - Yum).

They stayed nice and warm parked on the back of my cooktop.


The greens were much easier than I expected. For some reason I thought they had to cook for hours on end with a ham bone or some kind of fatty seasoning to take out the bitterness. Not the case - they were basically just wilted in a saucepan just like I've done spinach. The dash of red pepper flakes was a nice addition.

Pan Searing Shrimp

Now that the shrimp were all cleaned and ready to go, they only had to be seared for a few minutes and then the pan deglazed.


The finished dish was beautiful and delicious, and I feel better having mastered several new techniques and ingredients.

The final episode of Worst Cooks in America is on this Sunday night - I'll have to watch to see I can make the final meal, or if there is still more I need to learn.

I guess it's never too late to teach an old dog new tricks.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sweet Valentine

It's been a busy weekend for us filled with all things Valentine.

Sweetheart Ball

Starting out with a fun night spent at the Sweetheart Ball - a fundraising dinner and auction held for Little K's school. Delicious food, great items to bid on (we didn't win any though), and a good time hanging out with neighbors and friends.

Little K had just as much fun at home with the new babysitter, and can't wait for us to go out again.

We still had lots to do before the Valentine Party at school, including making cards for Little K's classmates.

Birdie Valentine

This was the prototype.

Tweet Valentines

The final version of the cards ended up having a few less details. She made two styles - Pink for the girls and blue for the boys.

Valentine Postcard Back

With a postcard style back.

Postcard to ME

She even made one for herself.

While Little K was busy creating cards - I was in the kitchen making snacks. Her teacher requested that any treats brought in be a healthy choice - no cupcakes or chocolate dipped goodies allowed.

Valentine Treats

So we decided on Apples and Cheese. Both with sweet little heart details added for the occasion.


I also tried making some homemade granola using this recipe. The reviews commented how the bars didn't stick together very well, so I just broke it up into chunks.

Granola collage

My first attempt at home made granola - and it's delicious. I used almond slivers, red walnuts, yogurt covered raisins and cranberries instead of the recommended nuts and fruits to go with the red and white Valentine theme. I'll be making this one again.


A few more of our decorations. We call them Heartflakes. Made just like paper snowflakes but incorporating hearts.

Happy Valentines Day - give someone you Love a Hug today!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Valentine Card Holders

Monday is Valentines Day - so that means the craft fairies are hard at work at our house.

Little K will be making her Valentine Cards over the weekend - so we'll have to share those later.

I've been working on a little craft project for the kids to collect their cards in.

Valentine Card Holders

Made out of paper gift bags and shapes from construction paper. The larger shapes are drawn for the kids - they will just have to cut them out. The smaller shapes are already punched and will be included in their "kits".

Love Bug

I'm pretty sure the Love Bug was originally an Oriental Trading craft. Don't you just love their ideas? If I didn't have such an aversion to fun foam, I might actually purchase more from them. Our projects are made from paper - no fun foam to be found here.


I wanted to give them a choice, so there will be Panda kits as well. I had to buy the black gift bags individually (more expensive than the bakers dozen of white bags available at Michaels), so there won't be as many Panda's to make...I sure hope I don't have a riot on my hands - because he's awful cute (yep - that a puffy little panda tail up there).

I'll also have plain white bags and shapes available for those kids who want to "freestyle". I'm amazed at how much the 4th graders still like crafting - even the boys. Especially the boys!

I'm looking forward to crafting with the kids on Monday - now I have to get back to putting all those bits and pieces together into kits for them. Oh, how I miss the days when there were just 20 kids in a class (sure I'm not the only one).

Have a great weekend - hope you are creating something fun for Valentines Day as well.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

February: Ten on Ten

A photo taken every Hour, for Ten consecutive hours, on the Tenth of the month. You can read more about it here.

An Old Friend

Valentine Laptop Lunch


Taking My New Camera Bag for a Ride

The Perfect Dress



Dove Love


Ballet Class

It happens every month. Won't you come join the fun next time?