Classic Shrimp Scampi

 

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Every week when I sit down to plan our weekly menu I turn to my husband and ask, “is there anything in particular you would like to have for dinner this week?” While I wear the chef’s hat in our relationship, I love to incorporate his favorites. And while his favorites are usually carbohydrate and butter heavy, I typically save them for our weekend indulgent meals :).

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A few weekends ago we spent a Saturday walking around downtown, looking at shops and grabbing a bite to eat at our favorite deli. We came across a specialty seafood shop that smelled (let’s say) fresh in the summer heat. Despite my efforts to walk away quickly Evan proclaimed a sudden need for a shrimp scampi dinner. With weekend vacations until the next time we would be together I put it on the back burner until this past weekend.

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The combination of freshly squeezed lemons, buttery garlic and parsley clipped from the back porch made this a perfect dinner to enjoy on the patio with a cold glass of rosé. Dive right in!

Classic Shrimp Scampi

Ingredients

  • 1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Directions

  1. Mix the flour with the salt and pepper on a larger plate. Dredge the shrimp into the flour mixture and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, pan fry the shrimp until just golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Note: I kept the tails on mine but this is certainly not required!
  3. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Repeat until all shrimp has been cooked.
  4. Drain oil from pan and return to stove over medium-high heat. Carefully add wine, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, lemon juice and stock to pan.
  5. Cook until liquid is reduced by half, about 6-8 minutes. Whisk in butter and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Reduce heat to medium-low and add shrimp to reheat, tossing to coat.
  7. Sprinkle with parsley just before serving.
Classic Shrimp Scampi

Chocolate Cupcakes with Whipped Ganache Topping

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Chocolate Cupcakes with Whipped Ganache Topping

Love is in the air…can you feel it?! I’ve been planning our Valentine’s menu for a few weeks now…I’m ahead of the game I understand but I do love Valentine’s Day. We’re a no fuss, no frills couple when it comes to celebrating this national day of love and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We usually just enjoy a nice dinner out with no gifts, just some much needed quality time together to enjoy each other’s company.

This year I made a request that we stay in. I’ll cook, he cleans, and we enjoy our new home with a dinner made with love. I’m sure when the kitchen is a mess I’ll be wishing we would have made reservations but if you know me, I love any opportunity to plan a meal, put together a themed tablescape and enjoy a full glass of wine over candlelight. So, to appease my love of entertaining and to appease Mr.’s budget we’ll be spending next Tuesday together at home. I’ll be sure to post next week on how we celebrated!

To hopefully prepare you with some Valentine’s inspiration I wanted to share a two recipes I blended together into one. My holy grails of Ina Garten and Martha Stewart never set me up for failure. I blended Ina’s Chocolate Ganache Cupcake recipe with Martha’s Whipped Ganache Topping into one scrumptious chocolate confection that will make you and your loves full adoration. And full warning theses babies are rich and chocolate heavy. 

Whether you’ll be spending your Valentine’s with a group of girlfriends or with your special one close by I hope you feel full of love for all of the wonderful people in your life. I am full of love and appreciation for all of you that continue to follow me and this creative outlet of mine! 

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Chocolate Cupcakes with Whipped Ganache Topping

Yields: about 18

Ingredients

For the cupcake:

  • ¼ pound unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1, 16 ounce can of Hershey’s chocolate syrup
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules

For the whipped ganache topping:

  • 8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarse salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 18-20 cups of 2 standard (12-cup) muffin pans with baking cups.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the chocolate syrup and vanilla. Add the flour and coffee granules and mix until just incorporated. Don’t overbeat or the cupcakes will be tough.
  3. Scoop the batter into the muffin cups and bake for 30 minutes, or just until set in the middle. Don’t overbake! Let cool thoroughly in the muffin pan.
  4. For the ganache, coarsely chop the chocolate with a serrated knife and place into a mixing bowl.
  5. Bring the cream just to a boil over medium-high heat. Pour over chocolate then add the salt. Let stand for 10 minutes (do not stir).
  6. Stir with a whisk until smooth and shiny to break up any pieces and emulsify the cream and chocolate.
  7. Chocolate will often settle on the bottom or sides of the bowl. Scrape the dish with a rubber spatula to incorporate all of it.
  8. Let ganache cool to room temperature, stirring often, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Beat it with a mixer on medium-high speed until paler and fluffy, about 2-4 minutes. Transfer to a pastry bag and use to top cupcakes.

Please note that I include all of my posts on my Sara from Scratch Pinterest board if you would like to save these recipes and ideas!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Whipped Ganache Topping

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

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Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Winter is coming to an end (sort of) and I’m trying to cram in as many soup nights as I can before the weather starts warming up again. Soups are so satisfying, filling and cozy. Not to mention they can be so easy. Easy to make ahead of time, easy to freeze and easy to eat.

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This recipe belongs to my mom, which I believe she has inherited over the years, and was something we grew up eating throughout the cold months. I’ve really begun to enjoy recreating the recipes that I ate as a child. I find so much comfort in reading these recipes and making them for my husband…and you all of course.

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I made a giant batch this Sunday evening, froze 1/2 and will send the other 1/2 off with my husband for lunch this week. I hope you all enjoy this recipe as much as I do and soak in the last few weeks of winter temps (or count them down until warmer temps).

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Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 bags frozen chopped broccoli
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cans cream of mushroom soup
  • 3 cans milk (I recommend using whole)
  • 2 tubes Velveeta cheese, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons pickled jalapenos, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Directions

  1. Saute minced onion in butter until translucent and cooked through. Add cans of soup, milk, garlic, jalapeno and cubes of Velveeta cheese, stirring continuously to prevent scorching on bottom of the pan.
  2. Meanwhile, steam frozen broccoli until crisp, about 6 minutes.
  3. Once cheese has completely melted add steamed broccoli. Let simmer for 30 minutes stirring periodically to prevent scorching on bottom of the pan.
  4. Serve with toasted bread or saltine crackers.

 

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Why (and how) I Create a Weekly Meal Plan

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Why (and how) I Create a Weekly Meal Plan

If you haven’t noticed by now, I’m a planner. And although I shamelessly admit that I try to plan for anything and everything that just isn’t always the case. Meal prep and planning is one of those things that in 10 minutes time I can create a little bit of normalcy to what can be a hectic week of clashing schedules, overflowing to-do lists and the always unforeseen circumstance.

Some people ask why I plan our dinners out for the week and how I manage to only go to the grocery once. And my answer is always because I simply don’t know any different. I grew up with an at times organized mom (love you, mom!) who spent every Sunday morning at the breakfast table planning our meals for the week. Some meals were cooked on Sunday and just reheated during the week and some were made that night. It was always consistent to our schedules  but it was truly what I grew up thinking everyone did.

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So when Evan and I moved in together a little over two years ago we made an agreement  – I would worry about the groceries, meal planning and prep and other various household items if he stays on top of our bill payments and budgeting. Essentially, I make sure the man is fed and he makes sure we have a bed, running water and electricity :). So far I’d say it’s worked out pretty well.

I spend every Wednesday planning our meals for the week (starting that Saturday to the following Thursday — I do not cook on Friday nights). I typically base it off of the weekly circular that’s published that morning and try to buy as much on sale as I can which can prompt for a little creativity and sometimes a good, hard Google search. I fill out a Google Sheet (the same way I planned our Thanksgiving menu) that organizes meals by day and then fill in the appropriate grocery items that need to be picked up. For me, it’s easiest to go day by day and fill in the ingredients per recipe rather than going back and filling in my grocery list after the fact.

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Once complete I try to print it out and keep it as a reference throughout the week but most of the time I forget and just rewrite everything before my weekly Saturday morning grocery trip. My goal isn’t perfection….just as good as I can get it.

Now I know some of you are thinking I’m crazy…a lot of the times I think so too but this is what helps me ensure that we are eating a well balanced meal and that we aren’t visiting the grocery every night on the way home from work (which can get pretty pricey!).

Do any of you meal plan every week? Kudos to any of you that meal plan and prep everything before the beginning of the week. It’s hard but so worth it.

If you are interested in creating a Google Sheet for your own use please let me know in the comments below and I will be happy to send you a great template to work from!

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For the few that asked, here is the Chicken Pot Pie recipe that I made during the week. Wednesday to be exact 🙂

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Why (and how) I Create a Weekly Meal Plan

Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

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Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

Happy October, friends! Thank you all for the kind notes on my first post. I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t admit to a little bit of hesitation about this new project so your support and encouragement means the world to me.

October is by far my favorite month of the year. Not just because it’s the month I happened to get married but something about the cooler, crisper air allows everything to feel new again. I see it as the time to slow down, enjoy the foliage (and seasonal foods) and relax a little before the holiday season gets into full swing.

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With the temperatures somewhat starting to cool down and a cold that I can’t seem to shake, comfort foods have been on the brain. I love using Saturdays as a day to catch up from a busy work week and letting fuss free recipes sit on the stove and stew.

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This recipe makes a great weeknight meal that can be easily made ahead of time or can serve as lunches for during the week. Because we’ll be eating this next week for dinner I made the soup, allowed it to cool and popped it right into the freezer. No frills. No fuss.

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The recipe is simple but certainly doesn’t skip on the savory. The grilled cheese is optional and trust me, the plain sandwich does just fine, but can only enhance and elevate the richness of the soup.

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So, take some time for yourself (you’ve earned it!) and let this recipe do most of the work for you.

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I’d love to know what you would like to see! Leave me a comment below.

 

 

Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons