Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Shrimp Snake Bite Sandwiches

I’ve been a big fan of Guy Fieri ever since he competed to win the Next Food Network Star. So, of course, when his first cookbook debuted, I was first in line to purchase one. His food is hearty, packed with heat, and there’s nothing stingy about the portions. However, one thing I discovered about his recipes is, instead of getting layers of flavor, one or more ingredients tend to overpower the others. For this reason, I usually modify his recipes to some extent. These Snake Bite sandwiches are from his book, Cookin’ It, Livin’ It, Lovin’ It. At first, I couldn’t figure out why he would name a shrimp sandwich a Snake Bite. After one taste, it was obvious. These babies are potentially lethal. No complaints here, though. I love a good sandwich that bites back. Even though these are packed with spicy heat, all the different layers of flavor did shine through. Shrimp, bacon, onion, garlic, wine, tomatoes, green onions, cilantro and a perfect combination of spices piled high on ciabatta rolls toasted with garlic butter. Everything about this Snake Bite sandwich is dramatically bold and beautiful! For me, this was a double header. Not only did I find an incredibly delicious shrimp recipe, but I also discovered a mouthwatering garlic butter recipe. Normally, I wouldn’t fuss and would just add minced garlic to softened butter; but Guy’s recipe sounded too tempting not to try. (You may want to “pin” this to revisit later, because once you sample this garlic butter, you won’t settle for any other spread.) 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Chocolate Butterscotch Swirl Jello Pudding Pops

Jello Pudding Pops

After a long day, I enjoy kicking back, tuning out, and catching up on a little prime time TV. But, along with that bad behavioral habit comes other pitfalls. Inevitably, you get the snacking urge. While there’s nothing better than scooping out a dish of ice cream, that’s a regretful choice with devastating consequences. So, I started thinking about alternative “guilt-free” options. What about pudding pops? Instead of just combining pudding with milk, what if I added some Cool Whip to the mixture to make it even creamier (you know, like faux ice cream)? Mike was excited about the idea and volunteered to run to the store to pick up some pudding mixes. Well, I guess he had a hard time deciding on a flavor, because he came home with a box of chocolate and a box of butterscotch. Hmmm. Decisions, decisions. Rather than make separate batches of each flavor, I decided to try a more fun approach. I swirled the two flavors into one pop. So, with every bite, you get a taste of chocolate, as well as a taste of butterscotch. Home run! This is a perfect ice cream substitute and it’s real easy to lighten it up by using sugar-free pudding, low fat milk and even Cool Whip Lite. (Of course, I didn’t go to those extremes, but I did use sugar-free pudding.) Refreshingly light, flavorful and a perfect way to satisfy those boob tube munchies. And, what an ideal frozen treat to always have on-hand for the little ones (that is, if you don’t beat them to it.) 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Vodka Rigatoni with Hot Sausage

If you’ve only experienced vodka sauce out of a jar, you don’t know what you are missing. The alcohol in vodka enhances the flavor of tomatoes. This prize winning recipe for Vodka Rigatoni with Hot Sausage (a Tuttorosso recipe contest runner up) is even more unique, because in addition to the vodka, red wine is also used. The final result is a very rich, velvety, full-bodied sauce that has intense warming flavors and is thick with sausage. Although it’s easy to make, it does require 2 hours cooking time, in order to burn off all the alcohol. But, it so worth the time and effort. This dish will elevate your palate to a magical place of incomparable culinary pleasure.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Fudgy Brownie Cake

Why do we have such a love affair with chocolate? Chocolate has been part of our culture since the 16th century. The ancient Mayans considered it sacred. Chocolate, in moderation, has been associated with so many health benefits (which we are reminded of, in countless ways, every Valentine’s Day when chocolatiers rally to boost sales). But, let’s face it, we love it because it tastes good…it’s that simple. It has an almost “naughty” appeal to it. We know we shouldn’t indulge, but just can’t resist that decadent bliss. Here’s the best one I’ve heard: Chocolate makes you happy because it contains tryptophan, which helps the body produce serotonin, a remarkable chemical that produces feelings of elation. I don’t know about you, but I associate tryptophan with turkey, which makes me sleepy, not elated. For whatever scientific mumbo jumbo reasons, there’s no denying that chocolate is a feel good food. So, today, I’m posting a recipe that is sure to satisfy your most intense craving for this luxurious treat. Do you have a hard time deciding between chocolate cake and fudge brownies? With this recipe, you don’t have to. Chocolate cake and fudgy brownie batter are combined, then topped off with a creamy ganache. This outrageous bundt cake is a chocoholic nirvana.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Crockpot Cube Steak (with Onions & Gravy)

Cube Steak with Gravy

Mike loves his cube steak, but it can be quite a challenge trying to find new ways to prepare it. Other than pan frying (which is not only boring, but tough and chewy), there’s only so much you can do with a cube steak. I usually make Country Fried Steak, but this time I wanted to find a more “tender” approach. The best way to get fork-tender meat is to slow cook it. So, I went online to see if I could find any crockpot recipes. Believe it or not, I actually found a website that is dedicated specifically to “cube steak” ( How cool is that? Of course, there’s not a lot of recipes there (like I said, cube steak is limited), but I did find one that peaked my interest. Not only are the steaks slow cooked in a crockpot, but they are smothered in onions and bathed in a succulent gravy. Sound reminiscent of Salisbury steaks? Well, that’s exactly how they tasted. Mike couldn’t stop raving about them. They were moist, incredibly tender, a breeze to prepare, and as hearty and satisfying as their retro counterpart.
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