Shrimp in Tomato Sauce with Feta

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I am working on a verrrrry long China post (hopefully will be posted tomorrow morning), so this is going to be short and simple! Much like the preparation of this meal.

The most time consuming part of this dish was removing the shells and de-veining the shrimp. Luckily you can purchase raw shrimp without the shell. I forgot that half of the shrimp in my freezer had the shell/vein so when it came time to prepare the meal I was happy to have my mom there to help me get through it quickly. As a side note, I can appreciate the tail on for the appearance of the dish, but when it comes to eating I think it would be more pleasant to have the tails removed. It’s really up to you and the dish will turn out great either way.

I think this shrimp would go wonderfully with a simple side of pasta in garlic butter, with rice, or, as I served it, with a nice crusty bread brushed with garlic butter. I liked to use the bread to sop up the extra sauce. Add a green salad or green beans and you have a well rounded meal that will be well received by guests, but also simple enough for week night.



Shrimp in Tomato Sauce with Feta
(Adapted from Annie’s Eats)

3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes, with liquid
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1½ tsp dried oregano
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
3 tbsp minced fresh parsley
1.5 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails on if you like)
5 oz. crumbled feta cheese
Juice of 1 lemon
Fresh lemon wedges, optional for serving

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil . Then add the onion and cook until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine to the pan and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits stuck to the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by half.

Reduce the heat to low. Stir in the tomatoes with the liquid, tomato paste, oregano, salt and pepper and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

In a small bowl, toss together the bread crumbs, parsley, and the remaining tablespoon olive oil.

Carefully pour the tomato sauce into a medium size casserole dish, then lay the shrimp in a single layer on top of the the tomato mixture. Sprinkle the feta cheese then the bread crumbs over top of the shrimp.

Bake for 15 minutes until the shrimp is pink and the bread crumbs have started to brown. Squeeze the fresh lemon juice over top and serve immediately.

Margherita Time

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This time last year Jesse and I were taking the first giant step of this newest journey in our life. We left the Thursday before Memorial Day and made our way across the United States to San Diego. I’m pretty used to long drives but this was in a class of it’s own. Still it was amazing. It was great having a chance to spend 3 days with just the 2 of us. Plus let’s be honest, this is a pretty cool country and we went from lush farm lands in the midwest, to wide open spaces in Texas, to dry flat dessert in Arizona, then green beautiful mountains in Arizona, then the most amazing mountains that looked like giant mounds of over-sized pebbles, and finally we landed in San Diego where the palms trees are plentiful and the air smells of the ocean. Just awesome.

Looking back a year later I don’t think I could have guessed how many incredible changes and wonderful experiences we would have in just one year of our lives. Of course with the good came some bad. The worst of it being that we have been separated for more than half of the last year. That part sucks, no way around it. But we’ve made the best of it and in 3 weeks we’ll be together again! Here is to hoping that this next year is even better (and has us together more than we are apart!)

What’s all that have to do with Margherita pizza? Uh, nothing. I just had some things to get off my chest before sharing the recipe. This pizza tasted great and would be perfect for a quick weeknight dinner. You can double the dough recipe, divided it into 4 and freeze 3 parts individually so you always have homemade pizza dough on hand. You’ll never need a processed, sodium laden frozen pizza again!

Margherita Pizza

1 ball pizza dough (recipe below)
2 Tbsp olive oil
Sprinkle of garlic powder
1-1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup diced (or sliced) tomato
3-4 fresh basil leaves, julienne

Preheat oven and pizza stone to 500 degrees, with rack in the lowest position in oven.

Roll out pizza dough until ~1/4 inch thick and ~10 inches across and transfer to a piece of parchment paper. Brush the dough with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder.

Spread the mozzarella cheese over the pizza dough and sprinkle the tomatoes and basil on top.

Remove hot pizza stone from oven and carefully transfer the pizza (parchment paper and all) to the stone. Bake for 8-10 minutes, keeping an eye on it the whole time so the cheese doesn’t burn.

Easy Weeknight Pizza Dough
(Adapted from Amber’s Delectable Delights)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 package quick-rising (instant) yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

In a measuring cup, add the sugar to the warm water and stir until dissolved. Add the yeast and let rest while you prepare the dry ingredients.

In the bowl of a food processor add the flour and salt. Pulse a few times to blend the flour and salt.

Turn the food processor on and stream in the water/yeast mixture. Turn the food processor off and stream in the olive oil. Then pulse in 4 second increments until a ball of dough is formed. It should be slightly sticky but not wet. If it is too dry add water a tablespoon at a time. If it is too wet add flour a tablespoon at a time.

At this point you can do one of two things. One, let the dough rest for 15 minutes while you gather your toppings, then roll out. Two, transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with a towel and let rise for 45 minutes to an hour until almost doubled in size. Then divide the dough in half and roll out. I typically let it rise, but the great thing about this recipe is that you don’t have too. I’m just used to letting it rise (for other recipes) and I like my dough to be a bit fluffier. I also feel like I have more dough to work with if I let it rise for longer (able to get 2 balls of dough).

I Love Lasagna and Happy Mother’s Day!

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This meal is in honor of Mother’s Day! Last summer my mom and I took a vacation to Disneyworld. It was the first time either of us had ever been and it was so much fun! We stayed at the Movie All-Stars resort and we were able to go to Epcot, Magical Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios. Truly an amazing trip and it was so great to get to hang out just my mom and I. One night we made dinner reservations for Tony’s Town Square in the Magic Kingdom. We both ordered the vegetable lasagna and it was actually pretty darn good. Of course the portion sizes were huge so we wound up wishing we just would have shared (but then I wouldn’t have been able to eat ALL of the cheesy top so maybe it was better that way). Since that time I have had vegetable lasagna on my to-try list.

Part of the trouble with lasagna is that it makes a ton. It was just me eating the lasagna last night so I didn’t want to make a 9×13 pan. I initially planned on using a small Le Crueset baker that I have but after pulling it out I thought the sides weren’t tall enough. I wanted to have lots of room for cheesy goodness in my lasagna. I looked around the rest of my bakeware and finally I decided that my 9×5 bread pan was best suited for the small lasagna job. It worked out perfectly! I think as is this recipe would serve 3 people perfectly, or in my case dinner and leftovers for 2 lunches.

This lasagna was DELICIOUS! The bechamel sauce added a rich flavor that went so well with the tangy tomatoes. I used zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, onion, mushrooms, and spinach, but this recipe is so adaptable you could really use any of your favorite vegetables. Eggplant and bell peppers would make an excellent addition. Play around and see what combination you like best!


Bread Pan Vegetable Lasagna

Vegetable filling –
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 zucchini, sliced
1/2 yellow squash, sliced
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
4 baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 (14 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes in juice
1/2 tsp dry basil
1/2 tsp dry oregano
pinch of rosemary
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp kosher salt
fresh ground pepper to taste

Ricotta filling-
8 ounces (1 cup) ricotta cheese
1/3 cup frozen spinach, thawed and excess liquid squeezed out
1/3 cup shredded italian cheese blend (or a mix of mozzarella and parmesan)
1 egg, lightly beaten
3-4 large fresh basil leaves (cut in a Chiffonade)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Bechamel sauce- (adapted from Mario Betali)
2 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 tsp salt
pinch of nutmeg

1 1/3 cups shredded Italian cheese blend
6 no-boil lasagna noodles

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large skillet, over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the zucchini, squash, onion, mushrooms and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes or until the onions start to turn translucent. Add the seasonings and can of whole tomatoes. Use a wooden spoon to break apart the whole tomatoes. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer while you make the bechamel sauce.

In a small saucepan, over medium-low heat, melt the butter. While the butter is melting heat the milk in the microwave for 1 minute and 30 seconds. When the butter is melted, slowly add the flour whisking constantly. After 4 minutes, when the butter is a light golden color, slowly add the hot milk whisking constantly. Increase the heat to medium and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking often. Cook for 10 minutes then remove from the heat and add the salt and nutmeg. (during this time I made the ricotta mixture, remembering to whisk often) Then remove from heat and set aside until ready to assemble the lasagna.

In a small bowl combine the ricotta, Italian cheese, spinach, egg, basil, salt and pepper.

Pour a small amount of bechamel sauce into the bottom of a 9×5 bread pan. Lay one whole lasagna noodle and break a piece off of another to fill the pan (about 1/3 of another noodle). Continue to layer the ingredients in the following order:

1. Noodle
2. 1/3 of the Ricotta cheese mixture
3. 1/3 of the Vegetable mixture
4. 1/3 cup Shredded cheese
5. 1/3 cup Bechamel sauce

After the 3rd group of layers, top off the lasagna with another noodle, the last of the Bechamel sauce and the last 1/3 cup of shredded cheese.

Cover the bread pan with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes. (I also gave mine 2 minutes under the broiler to make the cheese a deeper golden brown)


So You Grew a Garden…Now What? 1

** This post was imported as a part of my top 30 from my old blog – What’s Cooking in the Orange Kitchen**

For a month now I have been patiently waiting to find a ripe vegetable in my garden that is ready to pick. Finally, when I went to water the garden yesterday, I saw a cucumber through the big beautiful green leaves. When I went to pick it I was even more excited to find that there was another one just a few inches away! Every year I am always amazed at how quickly a vegetable will grow. One day you’ll see a little cucumber that’s a measly 2 inches and then the next day, BAM, it’s a full grown cucumber and that’s exactly what happened! We planted several different kinds of cucumbers and the 2 that were ready yesterday were an English style, so they were long and skinny. (We also planted a pickling variety so you can except a pickle recipe in the series!)

It really was perfect that a cucumber was the first vegetable that was ready because over the weekend I thought of a recipe idea and it has been on my mind ever since. This recipe would also be great with fresh garden tomatoes but mine are still all green, so I bought one from the store. Hopefully it will be my last store bought tomato of the summer!

So You Grew a Garden… Now What? – Recipe #1
Cucumber and Tomato Salad

Salad Ingredients

1 cucumber, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
1 tomato, cut into bite size pieces
1/4-1/2 small red onion, cut into 1 inch strips
2 tbsp crumbled feta cheese

Dressing ingredients

3 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp dry oregano
salt and pepper to taste
juice of half of a lemon

Directions

Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients. Pour the dressing* over the chopped vegetables and feta cheese, refrigerate for several hours. I dressed the vegetables in a Tupperware so that I could occasionally give it a shake and redistribute the dressing.

* I recommend pouring just half of the dressing on at first and tossing with the vegetables. Then if it needs more you can add more. Depending on the size of your vegetables you may need all or less of the dressing.