Sunday, August 15, 2010

Shrimp and Spinach Salad or Dip

It was my first summer in Phoenix, Arizona and it was sweltering. I was looking for recipes that I could make in the microwave instead using the stove or oven thus heating up the house and I also wanted something cool to eat. Someone brought a Vegetable Dip to work, made from the Knorr Vegetable Soup mix. I absolutely loved it, but OMG was it ever fattening! I kept wondering, how can I modify this recipe to make it less fattening, more healthy but just as enjoyable? After some thought, I decided to cut back on the amount of sour cream and mayonnaise, increase the spinach and add seasoned, steamed shrimp. It turned out to be a winner!!!

3-10 oz boxes chopped spinach, steamed and squeezed dry
1- 8 oz container sour cream
¾ cup Hellman’s mayonnaise
1 package Knorr vegetable soup mix
3 green onions, chopped
1 lb shrimp, peeled
3 tbl Zatarain’s liquid Shrimp/Crab Boil
2 tbl salt
New York Style Garlic Bagel Chips or Roasted Garlic Panetini Toast

In a large bowl, combine sour cream, mayo, Knorr Vegetable soup mix and green onions; set aside. Steam spinach in microwave until cooked. I open the boxes, sprinkle some water in each and steam the spinach in the box until done then squeeze the excess water out and allow to cool.

Peel shrimp, place in microwaveable bowl, cover with water, add seafood boil, salt and Tony’s to taste, cover and cook in microwave until done (in increments of 6 min, stirring in between). When cooked, drain and allow to cool.

Combine the shrimp and the cooked/drained spinach with the mayo/sour cream mixture and stir well to fully incorporate all. Refrigerate overnight (doing this allows the flavors to bloom). The next day, check seasonings and add salt and Tony's if necessary. Serve on New York Style Garlic Bagel Chips or Roasted Garlic Panetini Toast. I serve this as a lunch item with fruit or as a dip. Wonderful!!!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwiches

When I was young I frequently stayed with my grandparents for long durations in the summers. One day, when I was about 8, my grandfather brought home a sack of home-grown tomatoes and asked me to take them into the house and put them on the kitchen counter as they were for dinner that evening and he was in a hurry to go back to work. Well, the second he left, I grabbed a salt shaker and the sack, went out and sat on the back steps and proceeded to eat every single tomato like it was an apple!!! I wish I had a picture of that....

To get started, I would lick a spot on the skin, sprinkle some salt on it where it was wet and bite! Sprinkling a little salt on each bite, I devoured every tomato except one! There must have been a dozen in that sack! When my grandfather got home, my grandmother fussed at him for not bringing home any tomatoes like she asked. He said he did and that he had given them to me to take inside. They both looked at me and fell out laughing when they saw my rather sheepish look! ;-} Each summer to this day (when I have access to them), I grab a salt shaker and my very first "homie-grownie" of the season and eat it the same way I did that day...just like an apple! Some things are better left unchanged!

At the beginning of each tomato season I crave BLT's made with home-grown tomatoes. Ok, I know everybody knows how to make a BLT. However, I'm posting this for three reasons: 1. The entire time I lived in the desert (8 years), I did not have a single home-grown tomato; 2. I LOVE home-grown tomatoes and BLT's made ONLY with home-grown tomatoes; 3. I save the bacon grease for another summertime recipe: Southern Fried Corn!

Here's how I make my BLT's...

3 slices thick-sliced hickory smoked bacon
1 Beefsteak or Big Boy home-grown tomato, peeled
1 leaf Romaine lettuce, washed
Hellman's (Best) mayonnaise (the closest you'll get to homemade)
2 slices whole wheat bread, toasted
salt and pepper

Put bacon on to fry. If making three or more BLT's, you can place the bacon on a rectangular cookie sheet and bake it in the oven! This way you can cook more bacon all at once! While the bacon is cooking, peel and slice the tomato. I only use Beefsteak or Big Boy's for my BLT's as they are just the right size for the bread.

Core the tomato, peel it, slice it into 4 thick slices and salt and pepper each slice. To peel the tomato, use the back of a paring knife, firmly run it all over the tomato skin to bruise the tomato. This releases the skin from the meat thus making it easy to peel (See Tips and Information for more info on how to peel a tomato).

When bacon is cooked and draining, toast the bread. When the toast is ready, slather it with Hellman's and assemble your BLT! FYI, Hellman's is the closest you'll get to homemade mayonnaise with a commercial product.

If you plan on making Southern Fried Corn, save your bacon grease. Place about 3 tbl in a small plastic container or condiment jar and refrigerate. It can also be kept in the freezer until you are ready to use it!