Friday, March 23, 2012

Macaroni Shrimp Salad

The best thing about this salad is: it is so easy to make. It's great for a summer party, it looks very gourmet, and it's a crowd pleaser.  This could feed 4 to 8 people.  This takes about 30 min to make, and I highly suggest making it ahead, so it can have time to marry flavors in the fridge.

1 Cup Macaroni - you could substitute sea shells or another small pasta
1 Can Yellow Corn
1/2 Small yellow onion, minced
2-3 handfuls of shrimp (I used frozen, but you could use any shellfish, fresh or frozen)
1 handful chopped green onions
1 handful sweet peas (frozen works best)

2 heaping spoonful Sour Cream
2 heaping spoonful Mayo
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp dried dill (or 1 tbsp fresh dill)
salt & pepper to taste

I used frozen Publix Shrimp, Luckily I had a bag that was half full
and I just used what was left about 25-35 med. shrimp.  Place
in a bowl of cold water to thaw, shell if needed.

I always add plenty of salt to the water when I cook pasta, probably
close to 3 tbsp.  It seasons the pasta, and in this case, we're going 
to cook everything in one pot, so I'm seasoning everything else too.

Bring a medium Sauce pan of water to a boil.
Put in the macaroni.
While you wait for the water to boil, and whilethe pasta cooks, we prep:

I like making dressing in a large glass measuring cup so I can pour
it easily.  I used whatever was in my kitchen at the time.  I keep
lemon juice like this in my fridge, since every time I buy lemons,
they go bad before I can use them.

Shell the shrimp if necessary, making sure any veins are gone.

Mix all the ingredients for the dressing and set aside.  Taste it
and add more of what you need.

When Pasta is about halfway cooked, add in the corn.

TIP: take out one piece of pasta and bite into it,
if it has a thick darker line, or if it's very chewy, but the outside
is slightly soft, you're ready.

Chop all of the shrimp into smaller bite-size pieces.

Add the shrimp to the pasta and corn.

The shrimp really should take 2 minutes to cook through,
you can tell it's done when it turns pink!
Drain the pasta and put in a large bowl.

Chop the onions.  

TIP: For green onions, I have them on hand all the time.
Anytime I buy green onions, I immediately chop them and put them
in my freezer in a water bottle.  They keep really well and I just
shake out how much I need.  Anytime they're on sale: STOCK UP!

Combine all of your ingredients while they are warm, and they will
really absorb the dressing flavor.

Make sure to taste again, and add salt and pepper to taste.

Before serving, chill in fridge for at LEAST an hour. 
(Although, it's good hot too!)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Thunder Soup - Recipe

Thunder is a word my husband and I use for food that's really really good.   We REALLY love this soup.

Thunder Soup, as I've named it, is something I came up with as an experiment in the kitchen.  I happened to have all of these supplies lying around, and I think you'll probably have some of them if not most of them currently in your pantry.  Not only is it delish, and full of veggies... The best part about this soup - to me, anyway - is the leftover factor.  Not only is it GREAT the next day, I've also frozen half and eaten it weeks later, and it's possibly even better than the day I made it. 

There are a lot of ingredients, so lets get started!

- 1/2 lb Bacon, chopped
- 6-8 chicken tenderloins or 3-4 boneless skinless breasts, cubed
- 1/2 pkg. Smoked Sausage, chopped
- 1 Medium Sweet Onion, Chopped
- 1/4-1/2 Cup Milk or Heavy Cream (optional. this binds the soup more)
- 2 cups Chicken or Veggie Stock
- 1 Can Sweet Corn, drained
- 1 Can Carrots, drained and chopped
- 1 Can Butter beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 Can Campbell's Golden Mushroom Soup  
(this is my go-to ingredient, I buy some every time I go shopping)
- 1 Can Cream of Potato Soup
- 1 Cup frozen Spinach
Salt and Pepper to taste


Chop the bacon, onions and chicken first while your pan is heating up.  In a large Stock Pot over medium heat, brown the bacon and onions, and remove from the pan immediately once it's done.  Raise the heat to med high. Add the chicken to the bacon fat and cook till almost done. Reduce heat to low. 

Now dump in the rest of the ingredients, yep all of them. Chicken and bacon, sausage, spinach, cans of everything - Dump it all in. Stir until it comes to a slight boil, and turn to the lowest setting on your stovetop.  Cover, and go do something for 30 minutes (check on it occasionally, to stir).  Let the flavors marry... then Taste it. Add salt and pepper to taste, and you're done!
(If it comes out thick, I serve over green onion mashed potatoes)

This one was freshly made.

*IMPORTANT: Make sure your pan is fully heated before adding chicken, otherwise you'll end up with water instead of bacon grease at the end.  If that happens, dump the pan, and use reserved bacon grease, crisco or butter.