Sunday, January 18, 2009

Shrimp and Avocado Lettuce Wedge

Some nights you just don't have it in you to cook a big meal. The whole process of being creative, and then having to clean up a huge pile of dishes after the meal is just daunting! I've been there...every cook has. Here was my remedy one night this past week, a super simple and yet very appealing salad that was filling enough to be an entire meal. Don't you just love those?


6 large shrimp

1/2 an avocado

1 wedge of ice-burg lettuce

Ranch Dressing



1/8 of a lemon (wedge)

Serves 1

I am in love with those bagged, frozen shrimp that you get at the supermarket. The Foodlion near me usually has at least one size of the shrimp on sale each week, so it winds up being a rather affordable option for a fast dinner. For this recipe, I thawed 6 shrimp by placing them in a bowl and running them under warm water for a couple of minutes. Next, place the shrimp in a small pan with about an inch of water, and boil over the stove until nice and pink. This can take anywhere from 2-5 minutes depending on the size of the shrimp. While the seafood steams, rinse a quarter of a head of ice-burg lettuce, and pat dry. Set the wedge on a plate, and then chunk up 1/2 an avocado and sprinkle on top. Once the shrimp are done cooking, peel them and slice them each in half. Toss the pieces in a bit of fresh lemon juice, and scatter around the top of the lettuce wedge. Season the entire salad with salt and pepper, and top with 2- 3 tablespoons of your favorite ranch dressing. Fast, easy, and elegant. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Roasted Pork Lion with Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette

Here is a recipe that just has to be shared. This is one of the tastiest pork dishes I have had in quite some time, and the sauce even doubles as a killer salad dressing. So here we go folks, courtesy of every-one's favorite Italian goddess, Giada De Laurentiis.



2 heads of garlic
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper


1 3.5 to 4.5 lb pork roast
salt and pepper for seasoning

Serves 6-8

Preheat your oven to 475. Slice the heads in half cross wise. Place the halves on a piece of tin foil and drizzle with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Crumple the foil together to make an airtight packet. Roast for about an hour until golden and soft.

Thirty minutes into the roasting of the garlic, place your pork lion in the oven. Be sure to season all sides, and roast for about 30-40 minutes or until the internal temperature registers 140-145 degrees. No need to cook until absolutely well done. The days of trichinosis are behind us!

To prepare the sauce, open the packet of roasted garlic and put the flesh into a blender by squeezing the bottom of each half and allowing the cloves to pop out. Add in parsley, balsamic vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper, and pulse until well blended. Drizzle in the olive oil slowly while the blender is running, and you are all set. Once Pork is out of the oven allow it to rest for about 7 or 8 minutes, and then slice into 3/4 inch thick pieces, and serve topped with plenty of the sauce. I served this the other night with biscuits, buttermilk mashed potatoes, and a salad. This will feed a big group, so invite your friends over and have a party!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Beef Wellington

Oh Internet! I have a confession to make. On New Years Eve, I prepared and served one of the most delicious and elegant dishes I have ever made, the aforementioned Beef Wellington. As I cut into the beautiful layers of pink meat and laid them across each of my guest's plates, I was so happy with the presentation, and so excited to share with my guests that I completely forgot to take pictures! As promised though, here is a very simple and delicious beef wellington recipe that I hope your guests can enjoy as much as mine did.


2 tablespoons of soft butter
2 pound beef tenderloin (trimmed of excess fat)
1 box frozen puff pastry (thawed)
1 egg
1 onion
3 large cloves of garlic
8oz box of button mushrooms
2 tablespoons of fresh parsley
1 tablespoon of fresh sage
2 tablespoons of olive oil

Start by preheating the oven to 425 degrees. Rub the tenderloin with butter, and then season heavily with salt and pepper. Cook for 30 minutes. This will allow a light crust to develop on the meat before it is wrapped in the puff pastry.

While meat is in the oven, make your mushroom topping. Start by finely chopping one medium sized onion and the 3 garlic cloves. Saute for about three minutes over medium heat with olive oil. Next add in 8 oz of finely chopped mushrooms, and cook for 5 minutes more. Stir in the sage and parsley, remove from the heat, and season well. Set aside 1/2 cup of filling to use later in a sauce.

Once the tenderloin has cooked thirty minutes, remove from the oven and allow to rest for about 10 minutes. Take the meat out of the pan, top with the sauteed mushrooms, and wrap in your puff pastry. Save the roasting pan and all of the crispy meat drippings for a final sauce to use when serving.

This is where you get to be creative. I was able to place the meat in the center of one puff pastry, and then use strips of the second to cover the top portion of the meat. Brush the individual pieces with egg to help everything stick together. I used any leftover scraps to decorate the top of the roast. (Try using cookie cutters to create really decorate shapes!) You may need to roll out the puff pastry a little bit with a rolling pin in order to make it fit your tenderloin. This is not a long as your puff pastry is somehow secured over your meat using the egg glue, you are all set. Next place the wrapped beef into the oven in a second, clean roasting pan and cover with tin foil. Cook for 15 minutes then remove the foil, and continue to bake for another 20-30 minutes for a medium rare roast. You may use a thermometer to get the beef just right for your family. Use this chart as a guide. When the meat is done, allow it to rest for 15 minutes while preparing the below sauce in the meantime.

Beef Wellington Sauce

1/2 cup mushroom topping
1/2 cup red wine
3/4 cup beef stock
2 tablespoons flour
pan drippings
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Heat pan with drippings over the stove. Mix 2 tablespoons of flour into the mushroom topping, and saute in pan for about 2 minutes. Add in stock and wine, and whisk together until a thickened sauce begins to form. Season with salt, pepper and parsley. Serve beef slices with a drizzle of sauce, and enjoy!