Monday, September 20, 2010

Shrimp Avacado Pasta Salad

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 I found this recipe  a couple of weeks ago and was so excited to try it.  We ate it as our main dish because it is very hearty and filling.  My kids liked it!  I love the combo of bacon and avacado then add the shrimp and creamy dressing and this is just perfect to me.  It makes a lot and would probably feed 6-8 adults.  It was way too much for us even with Ben and I eating it for lunch the next day.  It doesn't keep long either because of the avocado.  Read the instructions well beforehand so you don't make the same mistake that I did.  I chopped the lettuce and threw it in before realizing that I was supposed to served the salad ON TOP of the lettuce. I'm seriously the biggest clutz in the kitchen!  It was an easy save though.  Oh, and I added chopped fresh basil which was delicious but definitely optional.  Hurry and try this before the warm summer days are over!


1 (16 ounce) package uncooked penne pasta
1/4 pound bacon
1 pound cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 avocados - peeled, pitted and diced
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tomatoes, diced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 cups shredded lettuce
1/4 C chopped fresh basil (optional)

1.Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Place pasta in the pot, cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until al dente, and drain. Rinse under cold running water to cool.

2.Place bacon in a skillet over medium high heat, and cook until evenly brown. Drain and crumble.

3.In a large bowl, gently toss together the pasta, bacon, shrimp, avocados, Cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, lemon juice, tomatoes, and red pepper. Serve over lettuce and garnish with basil.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Almost-Famous Broccoli-Cheddar Soup

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Fall is almost here and I am so ready for it.  This summer flew by! I hardly ever make soup in the summertime so I've been waiting to make this for a few months now.  Have you ever been to Panera Bread?  It's a bakery-cafe chain that is soooo yummy!  If you haven't been you must try it!  They're Cinnamon Crunch bagels are to die for.  So is their broccoli cheddar soup!  I was skeptical that Food Network was able to copy it but it tasted just like it.  I didn't serve with sourdough bread bowls but Panera does that and it makes it even better.  I made a bit of a mistake with this and blindly followed directions :)  I should have checked the tenderness of the broccoli before blending it.  It wasn't quite soft enough so the soup didn't taste as smooth as it should have.  I was in a hurry ok?!  So make sure the broccoli is very soft before starting the blending process!

(Food Network Magazine)
Serves 4-6

6 TB unsalted butter
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 C all-purpose flour
2 C half and half
3 C low-sodium chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 C broccoli florets (about 1 head)
1 large carrot, diced
2 1/2 C (about 8 oz total) grated sharp white AND yellow cheddar cheese, plus more for garnish

Melt butter in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.  Whisk in the flour and cook until golden, 3 or 4 minutes, then gradually whisk in the half-and-half until smooth.  Add the chicken broth, bay leaves, and nutmeg, then season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, until thickened, about 20 minutes.

Add the broccoli and carrot to the broth mixture and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes.  (Check it!)  Discard the bay leaves.  Puree soup in batches in a blender until smooth; you'll still have flecks of carrot and broccoli.  Return to the pot.  (Our puree soup in the pot with an immersion blender.)

Add the cheese to the soup and whisk over medium heat until melted.  Add up to 3/4 C of water if the soup is too thick.  Remember to taste test for seasoning!  Ladle into bowls and garnish with cheese. 

Tip: If you blend the soup in a blender you must follow these instructions.  If not, you will have hot soup all over yourself and your kitchen!  Pour only enough soup to fill the blender halfway.  Leave the lid off or the smaller opening that is within the main lid.  Cover with a kitchen towel and hold the towel on with your hand loosely.  Blend.  This allows steam to escape so you won't have a soup explosion :)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

BBQ Jalapeno Poppers

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Have you heard of Pioneer Woman?  If you haven't you must go to her cooking blog at and check out her huge collection of amazing recipes and hilarious commentary. She is my inspiration! Her blog is a huge success and she has now been on many tv shows, magazines, and has her own cookbook.  They're even making a movie about her!  I was so excited to make these bacon-wrapped jalapenos.  I totally forgot to brush them with BBQ sauce the first time I made them (as seen above) but I now know it is a must!  These are great because it makes 36 and freezes well.  You can make a whole batch, freeze them, then take as many out as needed at the time.  Let them thaw completely, though, before cooking them.  I've now made them in the oven and on the grill and I like them both ways.  When grilling just keep them over low heat for about 30 minutes.  I hope you enjoy these as much as we did!


18 whole Fresh Jalapenos, 2-3 Inches In Size
One 8-ounce package cream cheese
1/2 C grated cheddar cheese
1 green onion, sliced
18 slices thin bacon (regular), cut into halves
1 C BBQ sauce
Preparation Instructions:

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.

If you have them, slip on some latex gloves for the pepper prep. Cut jalapenos in half, length-wise. With a spoon, remove the seeds and white membrane (the source of the heat; leave a little if you like things HOT). In a bowl, combine cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and chopped green onion.

Stuff cheese mixture into each jalapeno half. Wrap jalapeno with bacon pieces (1/2 slice). Secure by sticking toothpick through the middle. Be careful not to stretch the bacon too tightly around the jalapeno, as the bacon will contract as it cooks.  (At this point, you can freeze them, uncooked, in a Ziploc bag for later use).
Brush the surface of the bacon with your favorite barbeque sauce. Chutney or apricot jelly work well too!

Bake on a sheet pan for 1 hour, or until the bacon is sizzling. 

Serve immediately, or they’re also great at room temperature.

Poppers can be assembled up to a day ahead of time and kept in the fridge before cooking.