Loving Late Summer Grilled Shrimp Tacos with Charred Corn, Tomatoes & Salsa Verde

The back-to-school ads have started. Backpacks, notebooks, laptops and high tops – it’s a sign. A sign that summer is waning and fall will be here before you know. However, it is a sign that I suggest we all choose to ignore. After all, late summer might be the very best kind.

Think about it for a minute.

If you’re nine, you’re ecstatic. After several tries, finally, you passed your raft test. Since then you’ve been back and forth to the raft at least a thousand times. Maybe more. There is nothing better than swimming out to the raft with your friends. Okay, maybe a swim to the raft with your great-grandpa beats all.

If you’re nineteen, you’ve had a bit more than half the summer to develop a gorgeous tan. You may be due back at school in a matter of days but you don’t care. You’ve had a great summer. The menial summer job you were expecting to hate turned out fine. Your co-workers were fantastic and you made some money. You read several unexpectedly great novels. You look marvelous. Your friends will be green with envy.

If you’re twenty-nine you’re probably on a wonderful adventure or just back from one. Maybe you traveled through Europe or hiked the Himalayas. Maybe you took a week, maybe the entire summer. When I was twenty-nine, I spent the summer in Switzerland. And then, wouldn’t you know it, I forgot to come home. My friends were divided, some were jealous. The rest didn’t quite know what to think.

If you’re thirty-nine you may be having a bit of a crisis. At least I did. Don’t worry about it. You’ll be fine. With all that running (I ran a lot in my thirties) and Sundays at the beach and sailing, you look stunning. Confidence becomes you. Admit it; you’re coming into your own. You may not be the smartest person in the room but you get it. You know how great you are.

If you’re forty-nine or maybe fifty-nine and lucky, the summer sun has had plenty of time to give your hair a few highlights. You can pretend all those streaks are blond, not gray. Your friends will be amazed at how young you look. And that crisis-thingy you had back in your late thirties, it’s long gone. Wisdom looks good on you. Speaking of wisdom, you know and really don’t care that those streaks are gray. Truth is – you don’t want to spend half the afternoon every third week at the hair salon.

If you’re sixty-nine and beyond, you’ve made an exciting discovery. You are happier than you have ever been. You’ve spent the good part of the summer enjoying life. That’s what retirement is all about. Maybe you’ve taken a trip, maybe not. When you live in a beautiful place, a staycation is just fine. In fact, it’s more than fine.

Now finally, if you’re ninety or even ninety-nine the water is finally warm enough for your annual swim. Unlike your nine-year-old great-grandson, you have not been back and forth to the raft a hundred times a day. However, your friends of all ages will still be very much impressed that you continue take your annual plunge. They should be.

So, you see, regardless of your age, life couldn’t be sweeter.

All the best for the final days of summer and bon appétit!

Grilled Shrimp Tacos with Charred Corn, Tomatoes & Salsa Verde
A tasty late summer feast for people of all ages! Enjoy!
Serves 8

3-4 ears corn
Olive oil
2 – 2 1/2 pounds extra-jumbo (16-20 per pound) raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons dry white wine
Zest and juice of 1 lime
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tablespoons chipotles in adobo puree*
1 teaspoon cumin
Kosher salt to taste
16 small or 8 large flour tortillas
Salsa Verde (recipe follows)
2 cups cherry tomatoes, chopped
About 4 ounces queso fresco or feta cheese, crumbled

Preheat the grill to high.

Brush the corn with a little olive oil. Lay the ears directly on the grill and cook for 5-7 minutes, turning to cook evenly. Remove from the grill and when cool enough to handle, use a sharp knife to remove the kernels from the cob.

Meanwhile, put 2-3 tablespoons olive oil, the wine, lime juice and zest, garlic, cumin and chipotle puree in a bowl, season with salt and stir to combine. Add the shrimp and turn to coat. Stirring once or twice, marinate the shrimp at room temperature for about 15 minutes.

Thread the shrimp onto wooden skewers** or place them directly on the grill. Grill the shrimp, turning once, until just opaque, 1-2 minutes per side.

Wrap the tortillas in foil and, turning once, warm on the grill for 2-3 minutes.

To serve: place a tortilla on each plate, top with shrimp, charred corn and chopped tomatoes, drizzle with Salsa Verde and sprinkle with queso fresco.

* To make chipotle puree – take a can of chipotle in adobo and toss the peppers and the adobo sauce in a small food processor or blender and process until smooth. Transfer to a clean glass jar and store in the refrigerator. Use as needed.

** If you like, you can thread the shrimp onto wooden skewers like kabobs. When cooking for a crowd, it is quicker to turn kabobs than lots of individual shrimp. Be sure to soak the skewers in water for about 30 minutes.

Salsa Verde
Makes about 2 cups

Zest and juice of 1 lime
2-3 tablespoons (to taste) white wine vinegar
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons capers, drained and finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2-1 ancho or jalapeno chili, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
About 1 1/2 cups fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
About 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
About 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup or to taste extra-virgin olive oil

Put the lime zest and juice, vinegar, scallions, capers, garlic and chili in a bowl, season with salt and toss to combine. Finely chop the herbs, add to the bowl and toss to combine. Whisking constantly with a fork, slowly add the olive oil and whisk to combine.

If you prefer, you can make the salsa in a mini processor. Throw everything in and give it a whirl.

Let the salsa sit for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve at room temperature.

Can be made ahead, covered and stored in the refrigerator for 1-2 days.

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One Year Ago – Heirloom Tomato Salad with Grilled Corn, Cucumber & Feta
Two Years Ago – Bluebree Grunt
Three Years Ago – Almond Macarons with Chocolate-Raspberry Ganache
Four Years Ago – Watermelon-Limeade
Five Years Ago – Filet de Sole Meunière
Six Years Ago – Artichoke Leaves with Shrimp
Seven Years Ago – Spicy Grilled Chicken
Eight Years Ago – Corn & Tomato Salad
Nine Years Ago – Summer Rolls

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What about you? What do you love about late summer? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Fighting the Flies Weekend Special

Well, isn’t that just like New Hampshire? In case you haven’t heard, it snowed on Mother’s Day. Yes, snow in May on Mother’s Day. Now, here it is a few days later and we’re having a heat wave and fighting the black flies. I thought maybe the snow would do them in. It didn’t.

If you haven’t dusted off the grill and rolled it out of the garage and onto terrace or deck, then all I can ask is, “why not?” Get to it! The summer weather is about to give way to spring but you can still get grilling this weekend. You will need to swat a few flies but it will be worth it.

Start with a glass of wine and a delicious Pissaladière. Served warm or at room temperature, you can bake it in advance or prep in advance and pop it in the oven as soon as your friends arrive.

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On to the main course! Why not take your wine and Pissaladière outside, watch the sun go down and grill up some shrimp? They are quick and easy and everyone likes them. Grilled shrimp will be delicious with … Tarragon Aioli. I like to serve the shrimp with Grilled Balsamic Vegetables … especially asparagus.

Unless, you’d like to take your dinner international! From your French appetizer move on to a Mexican main dish with my Grilled Shrimp Salsa de Cacahuate y Chile de Arbol – a spicy peanut sauce. Serve the shrimp with steamed rice and Grilled Zucchini. Or go down under and try my Piri Piri Shrimp in Lettuce Wraps.

For dessert? Is it possible the first of the rhubarb has come up? It might be time to try a batch of Ginger Shortcakes with Rhubarb Compote? No, then you can’t go wrong with a Lemon Tart.

Have a great weekend! Bon appétit!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

What’s up with you this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Cinco de Mayo & Grilled Shrimp with Salsa de Cacahuate y Chile de Arbol

May 5th, better known as Cinco de Mayo, is this coming Friday. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. Celebrated from coast to coast with tequila shots and tacos, it is an excellent excuse for a party. Perhaps you’ve been thinking that it would fun to have a totally authentic Cinco de Mayo celebration. You know, skip the queso dip and Macarena in favor of real Mexican flavors and dance steps. I get it. You want to a party like they do down in sunny Mexico.

Alright then, here’s what you do … nothing. Yup, that’s right. Absolutely nothing.

Cinco de Mayo is not celebrated in Mexico. Widely mistaken for Mexican Independence Day, Cinco de Mayo commemorates an early victory in the Franco-Mexican War. The Battle of Puebla took place on May 5, 1862. The resulting victory was more than fifty years after Mexico declared its independence from Spain. In case you’ve forgotten, Mexico was a colony of Spain not France.

So indeed, our enthusiastic celebrations of Cinco de Mayo are somewhat akin to the Swiss celebrating the American victory against the British in the 1814 Battle of Plattsburgh. In case you’re wondering, they don’t. I know where Plattsburgh is but I doubt that too many of my Swiss friends do. I also know where Puebla is. Not because I’m a geography or history whizz but because I looked it up on a map a few minutes ago.

Regardless of whatever convoluted calculations or interpretations you might try to make, Cinco de Mayo adds up to being a mostly American holiday. I suppose that’s makes sense. After all, we are a nation of immigrants and many of our holidays reflect that. The Chinese New Year celebrates our ties with China. Everyone is Irish on Saint Patrick’s Day. Oktoberfest has found its way from Munich to Muncie and several other U.S. cities.

Now the question arises – how to celebrate? Well, you could find one of those 100-foot margarita bars, the kind that serves fruity cocktails in glasses the size of fish bowls. Alternatively, you could expand your horizons and spend the day learning something about Mexico. Listen to Mexican music, study Mexican artists, investigate true Mexican cuisine or get a better understanding of how our two economies can and do work together.

Complete your day with a Mexican-inspired celebration. Skip the taco chain restaurants for a more authentic experience. I’m not sure if you can find real Mexican food this far north but you can always try. Many of us dream that one of those absolutely wonderful Mom and Pop-type Mexican restaurant will miraculously appear close to home. So far, it hasn’t happened but one can always hope.

For now, invite a few friends over and try your hand at some Mexican-inspired dishes. Dinner outside in early May in New Hampshire is probably pushing it but cocktails on the porch might work. Set your table with a brightly colored cloth and flowers and think warm and sunny thoughts.

Feliz Cinco de Mayo y ¡buen apetito!

Oh, and by the way, Mexican Independence Day – it’s on September 16.

Grilled Shrimp with Salsa de Cacahuate y Chile de Arbol
Appetizer or main course, shrimp with spicy peanut sauce will make a delicious addition to your Cinco de Mayo feast. This smooth peanut sauce is also good with chicken. Enjoy!
Serves 8

Salsa de Cacahuate y Chile de Arbol
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Olive oil
3/4 cup roasted peanuts
1/2 onion, chopped
4 or more (to taste) dried arbol (also called bird’s beak) chiles, stemmed
1/2 teaspoon allspice
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2-3/4 cup chicken stock or broth
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Juice of 1/2 lime or to taste

Lightly coat a skillet with olive oil and heat over medium. Add the onion, peanuts and chiles, season with allspice, salt and pepper and sauté until the onion starts to become translucent. Add the garlic and thyme and sauté until the onion is soft and the garlic is fragrant, 2-3 minutes more.

Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Let the salsa cool for about 15 minutes, transfer to a blender and process until very smooth. Cool to room temperature, stir in the lime juice and serve.

The salsa can be prepared in advance, covered and stored in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Grilled Shrimp
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
About 2 1/2 pounds extra-large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Wooden skewers, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes (optional)

Put the olive oil in a bowl, add the garlic, lime zest and juice and whisk to combine. Add the shrimp, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Marinate in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes.

Heat the grill to medium-high. Place the shrimp directly on the grill or thread them onto the soaked skewers. Grill the shrimp, turning once, until just opaque, 2-4 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with Salsa de Cacahuate y Chile de Arbol.

The shrimp can be grilled in advance, covered and stored in the refrigerator.

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One Year Ago – Puffy Apple Pancake

Two Years Ago – Tostadas with Avocado Crema & Black Bean Salsa
Three Years Ago – Cheddar-Sage Biscuits
Four Years Ago – Lemon-Lime Squares
Five Years Ago – Tarte à l’Oignon (Onion Tart)
Six Years Ago – Honeyed Apricots with Creamy Yogurt
Seven Years Ago – Black & White Brownies
Eight Years Ago – Rhubarb Muffins

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What about you? How will you celebrate Cinco de Mayo and our southern neighbor on Friday? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Be Bold for Change & Shrimp Curry with Spinach

International Women’s Day is tomorrow. Although it has been around for more than a century, IWD is not particularly well known in the United States. I doubt you’ll find a large stock of cards to choose from at the Colonial Pharmacy or even your favorite gift shop. However, after the historic Women’s March in January, there might be a bit more interest and excitement this year.

So what’s it all about? A National Women’s Day was declared in the early days of the last century to honor the Garment Workers’ Strike of 1908. It quickly went international. From Armenia and Azerbaijan to Chile, Herzegovina, Macedonia, Romania, Zambia and more, people around the world observe International Women’s Day on March 8. It is a day to celebrate women’s achievement s and push for gender equality.

How can you, should you celebrate International Women’s Day? Be bold, be bold for change. IWD is a call to action to help make a better working world, a gender equal world. Think of it as an opportunity to commit yourself to change. Overwhelmed? Don’t be; it’s okay to take one simple step. And please, don’t be shy. Feel free to declare what you will do to help accelerate gender parity in your home, in your state or across the world.

The leaders of the Women’s March have suggested that, if they can, women should take the day off from work. More than forty years ago, the women of Iceland went on one-day strike and it changed the course of history. They skipped the office as well as the never-ending pile of laundry, cooking and childcare. They took to the streets for a massive demonstration and brought the country to a standstill. Schools, shops and offices closed. The businesses that remained open were bedlam with harried fathers trying to get some work done and keep their children entertained.

Next, women can exercise their economic power and stay out of the stores. Women drive seventy to eighty percent of all buying decisions in the United States. Decide to buy nothing on March 8. If you feel you can’t possible stay out of the shops for even one day, stick to small, local women- or minority-owned businesses.

And finally, you can put your pink hat away. The color of International Women’s Day is red. There may not be a march up Main Street in your town or mine. However, when you stroll into the local bookstore or visit a friend in the hospital, your red sweater will show your support.

Don’t forget to celebrate. Read a book by your favorite woman author, visit the Soo Sunny Park exhibition at the Currier Museum or see the stars at the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center. International Women’s Day is a time to honor women and feel inspired by their long list of social, economic, cultural and political achievements.

Be bold, celebrate and bon appétit!

Shrimp Curry with Spinach
Perhaps you will end your day with a gathering of friends to celebrate your own accomplishments, friendship and solidarity. Enjoy!
Serves 6

About 1/4 cup your favorite curry paste*
Olive oil
1/2 onion, cut in thin wedges
1 carrot, cut in small dice
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced
1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1/2-1 cup shrimp or chicken stock
1 1/2 cups Basmati rice
1-2 tablespoons butter (optional)
1 1/2-2 pounds jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
8-10 ounces fresh baby spinach
Zest and juice of 1 lime
Chopped cilantro

Heat the curry paste in a saucepan over medium high. If the paste is stiff, add a little olive oil. Add the onion and carrot, season with salt and pepper and stir to evenly coat the vegetables. Sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté 2 minutes more.

Stir in the coconut milk and stock and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Can be made ahead to this point. Cool the sauce to room temperature, cover and refrigerate.

While the sauce simmers, cook the rice. Bring 6 cups of salted water to a boil. Add the rice and cook for 15 minutes. Drain the rice and return it to the pot. Stir in the butter, cover and let the rice sit for 10 minutes.

Transfer the sauce to a large skillet and raise the heat to high. When the sauce is bubbling, add the shrimp and toss to coat. Add the spinach in handfuls and toss to coat and wilt. Continue tossing until the shrimp are pink and all the spinach has wilted, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lime zest and juice.

To serve: spoon the rice into shallow bowls, top with shrimp and spinach and generously sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

* Curry paste combines many different and all wonderful spices. You can make your own or find a jar in specialty food stores and some large supermarkets. Look for curry paste NOT curry sauce. You don’t want to overpower the shrimp so start with a mild paste and continue experimenting from there.

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One Year Ago – Mini Tarte Tatin
Two Years Ago – Rainbow Salad with Black Olive Vinaigrette
Three Years Ago – Potato & Cheddar Soup
Four Years Ago – Traditional Irish Soda Bread
Five Years Ago – Guinness Lamb Shanks
Six Years Ago – Strip Steak with Gorgonzola Sauce
Seven Years Ago – White Bean Dip
Eight Years Ago – Warm Chocolate Pudding

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What about you? Now that the seasons are changing, how will you spend time outside? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Valentine’s Day DOs and DON’Ts & Scrod Florentine

Valentine’s Day is the most wonderful, romantic day of the year.hearts Alright, maybe from where you’re sitting, it’s just another Hallmark holiday … or worse a painful reminder of a relationship gone bad. Whether you are ready to embrace or shrug off the day, here are a few DOs and DON’Ts.

Like it or not, if you are a woman, your enthusiasm for Valentine’s Day is tenfold that of your sweetheart. Yes, there are exceptions but for most women, a big romantic gesture is not going to happen. DON’T go out and buy every vase you can find. Unless you are dating a billionaire (and you’re in a movie), you probably won’t be receiving 200 dozen roses. Same goes for packing a suitcase for a surprise trip to Paris; it’s probably not going to happen.

Even with this reset to your expectations, you can have a lovely Valentine’s Day, romantic even. DO get dressed up, DO enjoy a fabulous meal and DO drink champagne. DO insist that your sweetheart do the same.

By all means, remember Valentine’s Day deserves a special venue. Unless there is some delightfully romantic story involved, DON’T pick up dinner at the drive-thru. At the very least, there should be a candle and flowers on the table and a waiter to take your order.

Or forget the restaurant, cooking together can inspire all sorts of passion. DO know your limits; it’s not the night to make your very first beef wellington. DO choose a menu of foods you both love and can have fun with it. Turn on the music, pour some champagne and cook up some magic.

Think outside the box for your romantic gift. Instead of a dozen red roses or a box of chocolates, DO give her an armful of tulips or give him a dozen of his absolute favorite bagels. DON’T give any grown man or woman a giant teddy bear or a star. You have each other to cuddle, you don’t need a giant stuffed animal. As for the star-thing, sorry but that’s more or less a hoax.

Think outside the box for your amorous celebration. DO go on a hike and share a delicious picnic afterwards … or go ice-skating (preferably in Central Park!) or rent an amazing sports car, channel Grace Kelly and Cary Grant and go for a long drive.

If there is no Mr. Wonderful in your life right now, DON’T go and get all depressed. DON’T go and eat a pound of chocolate all by yourself. Instead, DO indulge with your girlfriends. DO girly things like spa treatments, mani-pedis or a chick flick marathon … and DO drink champagne.

However, DON’T drink too much champagne. It’s not a night to drive by an ex’s house six or seven time. DON’T stalk him on Facebook, text him incessantly or call him – even if you hang up before he answers. Remember, he has caller ID; everyone has caller ID so don’t call his new girlfriend either.

If you go out on the town with your girlfriends, DON’T reserve a table at the most romantic bistro in town. DON’T surround yourselves with cooing lovebirds. Instead of one lone sobbing and/or cursing woman at home, you’ll have with a tableful of sobbing and/or cursing women. Although I think I’d prefer karaoke, a sports bar might work. You might even find a new Mr. Wonderful.

Have a happy Valentine’s Day! Bon appétit!

Baked Scrod Florentine
Baked Scrod Florentine is one of those wonderfully flexible dishes – you can make it for two or for a dozen or more. Enjoy!scrod_florentine_04

Butter
Olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Dry white wine

Per portion:
1-2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
About 4 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1-2 tablespoons Panko bread crumbs
1-2 tablespoon grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Pinch thyme
5-6 ounces fresh scrod

Garnish: lemon wedges

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Depending on how many portions you are preparing, butter a baking dish, ovenproof skillet or baking sheet.

Heat a little olive oil in a skillet over medium, add the onion and sauté until translucent. Remove from the heat, add the spinach, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine.

Put the breadcrumbs and Parmigiano-Reggiano in a bowl, season with thyme, salt and pepper and toss to combine. Add a little olive oil, enough to lightly coat the breadcrumbs,and toss again.

Season the fish with salt and pepper and place the portions in the prepared pan. Drizzle with a little white wine. Top each piece of fish with spinach and sprinkle with the cheesy breadcrumbs.

Bake the scrod at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through. The fish should be flaky but not dry.

Remove from oven, transfer to a platter or individual plates and serve immediately with a lemon wedge.

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One Year Ago – Lemon Risotto with Spinach & Herbs
Two Years Ago – Black Bean & Beef Chili
Three Years Ago – Coq au Vin
Four Years Ago – Crostini with Beef Tenderloin & Stilton
Five Years Ago – Flatbread with Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions & Spinach
Six Years Ago – Lemon Cheesecake
Seven Years Ago – Pork Tenderloin with Mushrooms
Eight Years Ago – Raviolis in Broth with Meatballs & Escarole
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What about you? How will you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Feast of Fishes Special

Christmas_MantleFrom Stockholm to Sicily and New England’s rocky shores, seafood is a Christmas Eve tradition. It is also a delicious choice anytime during the holidays. If you have family flying in this weekend or just want to get together with friends, think seafood.

Start the evening with salmon. Who would not love a thin slice of Gravlax with Tarragon-Caper Mustard Sauce. No time; then try my Smoked Salmon Mousse. it comes together in minutes.

When you are ready to sit down, enjoy a colorful salad. Toss together colorful reds and greens for my Radicchio, Fennel, and Arugula Salad or Roasted Cauliflower, Radicchio & Arugula Salad.

For the main course, why not toss together my delicious Garlicy Shrimp with Tomatoes & Olives. It comes together in minutes. If you’d like to go all out and New England to boot, then you should stir up a batch of my Lobster-Corn Chowder.

You’ll want to end the evening with something sweet. If you are thinking creamy delicious, then try my White Chocolate & Cranberry Trifle or Maple Mousse with Apple Compote. Then again, when was the last time you had a really good brownie? Not just any brownie … an over the top, no holds barred brownie. If it’s been a while, give my Espresso Brownies a try.

Happy holidays and bon appétit!

… by the way … if you are looking for a Feast of the Seven Fishes Menu, search no further.

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

What are your plans for the weekend? I’d love to hear from you. Let’s get a conversation going.

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2016

What NOT to Give this (or any) Christmas & Garlicy Shrimp with Tomatoes & Olives

santa_sleigh_presentsIf you have finished all of your Christmas shopping, well then today’s post is not for you. However, if you have a long list of friends and relatives that you still need TO buy for – well, read on. Unfortunately, I’m not up on the latest and greatest, so, I can’t tell you what to buy for your spouse, your mom and dad or your best friend. However, I can make a few suggestions of what NOT to give to more or less anyone.

Fruitcake. A perennial non-favorite, fruitcake is THE what-not-to-give gift. The world’s most popular re-gift, this sticky-sweet cake is an acquired taste; one that few acquire. I’m guessing that hundreds, even thousands, of re-gifted fruitcakes have been bouncing from one house to the next for decades.

Socks and underwear. Forget coal, socks and underwear are what bad little girls and boys find in their stocking on Christmas morning.

Appliances. Unless you are ready to sleep in the garage for the next month or two, never, ever give your spouse a vacuum cleaner for Christmas. Same goes for a dish washer or washing machine.

Exercise equipment. Buying a loved one exercise equipment is a sort of like hesitating before answering the question, “Does this dress make me look fat?” The same holds true for a gym membership, a diet book or, heaven forbid, a scale.

The obvious re-gift. Re-gifting is somewhat controversial. While few admit, many do it. Controversy aside, there are re-gifts and, then, there are re-gifts. If your initials are monogrammed on the cuff, don’t re-gift that shirt. Yes, even if it makes your skin look sallow. Keep it for a Halloween costume or donate it to Goodwill.

Now, are there exceptions to any of these rules? Of course, there are always exceptions. Well, make that usually exceptions. I can’t think of a soul who is pining for a fruitcake. As for that canvas bag with your initials? Sorry, throw it in the truck of the car. Orange may not be your color but it will be great for grocery shopping.

Anyway, back to exceptions. You can break the socks and underwear rule if your gift is beyond special. The key to socks is finding pairs that your friends would never buy for themselves. Simple black, navy and brown or athletic socks are not for gifting. Colorful rainbows, alligators and pink flamingos work for me. Nor should you give a three-pack of tidy-whities to your sweetheart. Think lingerie, silk and sexy. (But make sure you get the right size. Otherwise, you could be sleeping in the garage until Valentine’s Day.)

While a vacuum cleaner never works, a young foodie who is assembling her first kitchen will be delighted with a gourmet gadget or fancy cookware. Think food processors, stand mixers and pasta makers. Or one of those fabulous French cast-iron pots.

Although they make great clothes racks, forget the treadmill or stationary bike. However, it may be okay to give the kids the latest athletic status symbols. Or maybe not. If one of the kids on your list failed the bean bag toss and has trouble walking and chewing gum at the same time, well, you might want to think again.

Happy shopping and bon appétit!

Garlicy Shrimp with Tomatoes & Olives
This quick dish is perfect for the busy holiday season (and that fabulous French cast-iron casserole). Enjoy!

Serves 8 for dinner & 12-16 as a small plate, tapas or appetizer

Olive oil
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch or to taste red pepper flakes
About 1 pound cherry or grape tomatoes*, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup dry white wine
About 2 pounds extra-large shrimp, shelled and deveined
About 1/2 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted and halved
2 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons butter, cut in small pieces
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
8 slices thick cut ciabatta or country bread, toasted

Coat a large skillet with olive oil and heat over medium. Add the garlic and pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and sauté until they begin to bubble. Add the wine and simmer until the liquid is reduced by about 1/3.

While the tomatoes simmer, season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Raise the heat to medium high, add the shrimp and toss to combine. Cook the shrimp, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes or until pink.

Transfer the shrimp to individual shallow bowls.

Add the olives, capers and butter to the skillet and toss to combine. Stirring frequently, cook the sauce for about 2 minutes.

Spoon the sauce over the shrimp, sprinkle with chopped basil and parsley and serve immediately with a slice of toasted ciabatta or country bread to soak up the sauce.

* You can use regular tomatoes but I find that the ones in my grocery store have little taste during the winter months. If you use regular tomatoes, seed and chop.

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One Year Ago – Wild Rice Pilaf with Roasted Mushrooms & Kale
Two Years Ago – Maple-Nut Sundaes
Three Years Ago – Rosemary Cashews
Four Years Ago – Greek Stuffed Mushrooms
Five Years Ago – Ginger Crème Brûlée
Six Years Ago – Aunt Anna’s Pecan Pie
Seven Years Ago – White Chocolate & Cranberry Trifle
Eight Years Ago – Chicken with Mushrooms, Tomatoes and Penne
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What about you? How do you get in the holiday spirit? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2016