Comfort Foods and Indulgences

almost-sauceless-creamy-corn-fettucine-with-blackened-shrimp-a-delicious-mealI love Fettuccine Alfredo, but during the summer months it's a little heavy. It doesn't mean I still don't crave it. 

I have made "Lighter" Fettuccine Alfredo and a quick "weeknight" version of Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo. Both are fabulous but I still wanted something lighter, something more summery with a kiss of sunshine. After racking my brain, I decided charred corn, basil an eensy bit of cream (1/4 cup) and some lemon juice would make a perfect summer alfredo sauce. Okay, honestly I didn't even know if it was going to work.

But it did! It's not heavy and almost seems "sauceless" but at the same time it's creamy. I know that's hard to imagine but you'll get it once you taste it. Let's just call it an anomaly. 

I am currently into shrimp, mostly in tacos, but they seem to be appearing in my other dishes too. I couldn't resist topping this very summery pasta with some blackened shrimp.

Let me set the stage, a bite of the shrimp, with its cajun flavors, the sweet corn and bright lemon taste in the pasta...it's heaven and summa' all in one bite. You will make this again and again.

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VEGETABLE-SOUP2I do my marketing on Friday’s. Sunday’s I load up on fruits and veggies at a local farmers market. By the time Saturday roles around, whatever is left in my vegetable bin isn’t so pretty. Inevitably, these items end up in a soup or a salsa or something random.

Cleaning out the vegetable bin (to make room for the newest and the freshest) left me with a few string beans, broccoli, left over roasted cauliflower, sauteed leeks (I keep sauteed leeks on hand to put in weekday morning eggs), about 1/2 cup of cooked lentils (leftovers from a previous meal), a carrot, a few stocks of celery, and a minced shallot.

A pot of soup was whipped up in less than 45 minutes and it was the perfect Saturday afternoon lunch. It is always so gratifying when I can create a healthy, whole meal without a plan or a recipe.

Soup, unlike baking, does not have to be exact. It’s not a science. Check your provisions, be creative, chop away, and make a double batch!

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cookie shortbread.coconut.3Traditional shortbread should really be called “several sticks of butter – cookies”. The butter could very well be what makes them so additively mouth watering. Shortbread is not something that could linger around my house. If it does, I end up consuming 98% of it. With the weather shifting into summer and tank top season upon us, eating a large batch of shortbread would most likely keep me in turtlenecks and long sleeve t’s rather than a cute maxi or simple sun dress.

I have been  wanting to recreate this favorite, household cookie, yet in a gluten free version. Playing with ingredients has become my new hobby (or obsession) and when something hits and comes out right, the kitchen dance begins! The neighbors up the street can hear me singing with joy as the kids wait patiently by the oven door. I found, rolling out the dough and letting it rest in the fridge before shaping helped the cookies not spread when baked. In addition, cut dough can be flash frozen and saved for another day.

Making shortbread was a high priority. It’s, yet another one of those freezer friendly doughs, and when baked not only does the house smell divine, but the rich, buttery biscuit easily melts in ones mouth. Using ingredients on hand; macadamia nuts, limes, and coconut, a successful cookie was born. This basic dough could easily find a home with lemon, almonds, bittersweet chocolate, dried fruit, and a host of other pantry staples. I am going to experiment. You can too! Then come back here and tell me what you come up with!

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beerburgerWowzer. That's all I can say. Dad is going to love this one! But then again, why wait until Father's Day, have it tonight.

Food Network Magazine had a section on burgers this past month and there were a few I had to try...this was one of them.

The sauce was made with beer, sharp cheddar and horseradish. It is a nice addition to a meaty burger, and the cheese sauce adds some nice complexity.

It has your name on it, you must try it. You could easily make them into sliders as well.

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Cobbler, slump, or grunt; have you heard of these desserts? Most people can recognize a cobbler, a fruit dessert baked in a casserole with a dough topping but with no bottom crust. A slump or grunt is almost the same thing except that they are simmered on the stove, resulting in a steamed dumpling-like top. Supposedly one dessert is named after how the dumplings look (they slump) and the other after the sound the bubbling fruit makes (it grunts). All three are considered New England specialties dating back to Colonial times, when they would have been made in a cast-iron pan over a fire. Luckily we now have the luxury of using a stove or oven.

Many fruits make wonderful cobblers, slumps, or grunts. Apples are very well known in cobblers, but I like mine with stone fruit, especially peaches or plums. Nectarines and cherries, or a combination of all of the above would work extremely well too. Recently I picked up a few pints of very nice red plums at Sherwood Farm in Easton, CT. Lately they have become one of my favorite farm markets selling a little bit of every fruit and vegetable. When I saw those bright red plums, I immediately knew that I was going to make one of these simple and homey desserts.

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