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Appetizers Grilling Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Seafood Shrimp

Hugo’s Barbecue Shrimp and Bleu Cheese Slaw

Hugo's Texas Barbecue Shrimp with Bleu Cheese Slaw // Karista's Kitchen

There is nothing quite like Hugo’s barbecue shrimp with bleu cheese slaw. This is an impressive and simple barbecue shrimp recipe that’ll absolutely become a family favorite. 

The first time I made this recipe I swear I could have sipped the barbecue sauce. It’s that delicious!

I first heard about this now famous recipe many years ago when I was working as a private chef and culinary instructor.  I was scheduled to cook for a holiday party for my good friend, Michele, and her husband Ron. When we discussed the menu, they asked me to include their favorite barbecue shrimp recipe, Hugo’s Barbecue Shrimp and Bleu Cheese Slaw.

The sauce is much simpler than I would have guessed but it works. Although, I backed off on the lemon juice because I felt the amount listed was a bit too intense for my palate. Otherwise, I followed the recipe for the sauce as written.

I also deviated from the recipe a bit by seasoning the shrimp with smoked paprika, salt and pepper. It happened to be a cold and rainy December during that time so I decided to pan sear the shrimp in ghee which gave them a deep, creamy flavor along with a hint of smokey flavor from the smoked paprika.

Hugos Texas Barbecue Shrimp with Bleu Cheese Slaw // Karista's Kitchen

As if that isn’t enough, I plated them along with the bleu cheese slaw and I promise I heard angels singing the hallelujah chorus. 🙂

The sauce holds for at least three days so when I serve it for dinner guests I’ll prepare the sauce a day in advance.  Then all I need to do is grill, pan cook or bake the shrimp and assemble the slaw.

I also like to serve this with warm garlic crostini or a crusty baguette for dipping into the extra sauce.

If you make this recipe let me know what you think. You’re going to love it!

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

Karista

Hugo’s Barbecue Shrimp and Bleu Cheese Slaw

Serving Size: 6

Ingredients

    For the barbecue sauce
  • 5 ounces Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
  • 5 ounces soy sauce
  • Strained juice from half a lemon (I used 1/2-1 tablespoon lemon juice)
  • 5 ounces tomato purée
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
    For the slaw
  • 1/2 cup (about 3 ounces) Maytag blue cheese (I used Rogue Creamery's Smokey Bleu Cheese)
  • 1 cup good-quality mayonnaise
  • Lemon juice, to taste
  • 1/2 head green cabbage, shredded
  • 2 scallions, sliced thin
  • Freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt to taste
    For the shrimp
  • 36 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (I leave the tail on for easy eating)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup peanut oil (I use olive oil or coconut oil for grilling and ghee for pan cooking)
  • 1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce (see recipe above)
  • 1 to 2 scallions sliced, to garnish
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese, to garnish

Instructions

  • To make the barbecue sauce base, combine all the ingredients except the heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from heat. Meanwhile, in another pot, bring the cream to a boil. Simmer until the cream has reduced and is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Gradually stir the barbecue base into the heavy cream, stopping when you like the flavor. Bring the combined mixture back to a boil, then simmer until it coats the back of a spoon. The shrimp cook quickly, so have your sauce ready before you begin to cook them.
  • To make the slaw, combine the blue cheese, mayonnaise, and lemon juice, to taste. Right before cooking the shrimp, toss the cabbage with just enough mayonnaise to coat. Add the scallions. Season with salt and pepper. Toss well.
  • Season the shrimp with salt, pepper and smoked paprika. In a large sauté pan, heat the oil or ghee until smoking. Add the shrimp, being careful not to crowd. Cook until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side.
  • To serve, place a mound of the slaw in the middle of each plate and lean six shrimp against it. Drizzle the shrimp with the barbecue sauce. Sprinkle with scallion slices and blue cheese.
  • Notes

    When the shrimp are done I usually take half the sauce and add it to the shrimp, allowing the shrimp to soak up all the flavor. Then when I plate, the shrimp are already sauced and I serve extra sauce with the platter.

    This is fun set up on a platter for an appetizer or even shared entree.

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    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Seafood Shrimp

    Scallop and Bay Shrimp Ceviche Tostadas

    Scallop and Bay Shrimp Ceviche Tostadas // Karista's Kitchen

    I was playing around with tostada recipes the other day and I decided I needed ceviche to top my tostada shells.  I was hungry at that moment and it just sounded delicious.  This is often how my recipes happen.  I’m hungry and something sounds delicious so it’s created and posted.

    I was set on my traditional halibut ceviche because I haven’t made it since the fall and the family keeps asking for it; but there was no halibut at the fish market.  So I grabbed the fresh smallish dry packed scallops, which are best in a recipe like this anyway, and some bay shrimp.  The small dry packed scallops, not to be confused with bay scallops, dwindle to nothing when they’re cooked.  It almost feels like a waste of time to pan sear the small ones, so I either poach them or use them in a ceviche.  I’m all about getting the most out of my ingredients.

    Well this turned out to be a grand idea.  I diced the small scallops and cold poached them in fresh lime juice overnight.   Then I drained them and combined them with the bay shrimp, along with lots of additional lush ingredients.  I think what I love about this ceviche is it’s easily adapted to suit everyone’s favorite flavors.  I love traditional ceviche with tomatoes, white onions and cilantro but instead of diced jalapeño I like a dash of hot sauce and diced cucumber pairs so beautifully with the bay shrimp.  Of course it’s all laced with additional fresh lime juice and a salt to taste.

    I smeared the tostadas with guacamole because it holds the ceviche onto the tostada.   Little pieces still roll off but at least most of it stays planted firmly on the guacamole.  Garnishing with crumbled goat cheese or salty Cotija cheese completed my tostadas and I couldn’t eat just one.

    While I was photographing for this post, one of the tostadas broke – and darn it, I had to eat that one too.

    These little lovelies were a hit with the family and perfect for a mid-week casual meal.  I have to admit however, these will be so much fun to serve on a warm summer day with Sangria and a locally brewed beer.

    Wishing you all a very happy end of the week and weekend!

    Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Scallop and Bay Shrimp Ceviche Tostadas

    Serving Size: Serves about 4 as an entree or 6 as an appetizer

    Scallop and Bay Shrimp Ceviche Tostadas

    Ingredients

      For the Ceviche
    • 1lb small dry packed scallops, diced
    • 1/2 lb cooked bay shrimp (sometimes called shrimp meat)
    • Fresh squeezed lime juice (enough to cover the diced scallops and a little extra)
    • Handful fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
    • 4 roma tomatoes, diced
    • 1/2 - 3/4 cup diced white onion
    • 1/2 cup diced cucumber
    • Dash of hot sauce, or to taste
    • 1-2 cups Guacamole (recipe follows)
    • Tostada shells (usually found in the market or you can fry small corn tortillas)
    • 1/2 cup Cotija cheese, crumbled or crumbled Goat cheese
    • Salt to taste
    • Fresh cilantro for garnish
    • Serve with lime wedges
      For the Guacamole
    • 2-3 ripe avocados
    • 1-2 roma tomatoes, finely diced
    • 1/2 cup white onion, finely diced
    • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
    • Lime juice and salt to taste

    Instructions

  • Place the diced scallops in a glass or non-reactive bowl. Cover with fresh lime juice and refrigerate overnight.
  • Drain the scallops and discard the lime juice. Place the scallops in a large bowl with the bay shrimp, diced tomatoes, diced onion, cilantro, cucumber, dash of hot sauce and a squeeze or two of fresh lime juice and pinch of salt. Toss gently until the ingredients are nicely blended. Taste for salt and lime juice, adding more to your tastes. I usually end up adding more to suit my tastes.
  • Let the ceviche sit while you prepare the guacamole.
  • With a fork, mash the avocado and then gently blend it with the tomatoes, onion and cilantro. Season with a squeeze of lime juice and salt to taste.
  • Spread the guacamole onto the tostadas and then top with the ceviche. Garnish with extra chopped cilantro and crumbled Cotija or Goat cheese. Serve with lime wedges and extra hot sauce.
  • Serve immediately.
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    Halibut Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Salmon Seafood Shrimp

    Grilled Salmon Tacos with Chipotle Lime Crema and Fresh Cilantro Slaw

    Grilled Salmon Tacos with Chipotle Lime Crema and Cilantro Slaw

    I wish I could tell you this is a new recipe.  It’s not.  Actually it’s a revision, maybe adaption is a better word.  Most likely due to changes in my palate as well as changes in my culinary style.   I’ve been making assorted fish tacos for years.  Assembling the little lovelies differently each time.  Allowing my playful culinary visions to shine through.   I posted the original recipe way back in 2010, when I used my little point and shoot Canon to take food photos.  A hearty little silver blue camera that did the job for a while.

    But then I started getting fussy about my food pictures.  I read somewhere that chef’s are the worst food photographers.  At first glance I took offense to that statement.  But it couldn’t have been more true, especially way back in the day when I started this website.  For me, It’s always been about the food.  The explosion of flavor that happens when something delectable hits the palate.  But somewhere in the mix, I realized a great photo was a true representation of my masterpiece.  And it should look as good as the food tastes.  Not to mention, the old photo made me cringe.  Literally, it kept me up at night.

    This is a lovely dish that certainly deserves a lovely photo.  And it’s a lovely dish that can be prepared so many different ways.  Grilled or Roasted Salmon (or any fresh fish you have on hand), spicy or sweet crema, spicy or sweet slaw, with our without pineapple and/or mango.  And if you love avocado as much as I do, toss a slice on top of your taco to complete this lush recipe.

    I’ve included some fun options for these tacos in the recipe below.  Different ideas to season, additional options for the slaw and the crema… or as my family likes to say “the sauce”.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Grilled Salmon Tacos with Chipotle Lime Crema and Fresh Cilantro Slaw

    Serves 4

    Ingredients

    For the Salmon

    1 1/2 lbs fresh salmon filets

    Olive oil

    ½  teaspoon chili powder

    ½ teaspoon ground cumin

    ½ teaspoon smoked paprika

    ½ teaspoon dried oregano

    1 teaspoon salt

    ½ teaspoon black pepper

    Options:  Instead of using my fish spice mixture, feel free to use your favorite spicy fish taco seasoning or Emerils Essence Seasoning also makes a delish option for these tacos. 

    For the Chipotle Lime Crema

    ½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder (you may want to begin with 1/4 teaspoon, taste, and then add more if you like)

    1 cup crème Fraiche or sour cream

    zest of 1 lime

    2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

    1 teaspoon sugar

    Options: substitute mayonnaise for the sour cream and Sriracha or hot sauce for the chipotle chili powder. 

    For the Cilantro Slaw

    2 cups shredded fresh cabbage

    1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

    ½ cup mayonnaise

    2  tablespoons sugar

    1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

    Salt and fresh cracked black pepper

    Options:  add diced fresh pineapple, mango or papaya to the slaw. If you don’t like cilantro, substitute with sliced green onions.

    Garnish

    Your favorite salsa or pico de gallo

    8 – 10 corn tortillas, steamed or warmed (I either warm them over my grill, gas stove top or in the microwave.

    Fresh sliced Avocado (optional)

    Lime wedges

    Directions

    Heat the grill to 400F. Brush the grill racks with oil.

    Mix together the chili powder, cumin, oregano, paprika, salt and pepper.  Rub the salmon with oil and then sprinkle liberally with the spice mixture.

    When the grill is hot, place the salmon flesh side down on the grill. Let the salmon sear and cook for about 4 minutes, and then carefully flip the fish with a wide spatula and grill another 4 minutes, or a little longer for salmon that is cooked through.  If the salmon doesn’t want to flip, it’s probably not ready.  Just let it sit for another minute or two, turning the heat down if needed.  Rule of thumb: fish should cook 10 minutes for every inch of thickness.

    Transfer the cooked salmon to a platter to cool.

    While the salmon is cooling, whisk together the creme fraiche, chipotle chili powder, lime zest, lime juice and sugar. Season to taste with salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Set aside.

    Wisk together the mayonnaise, sugar, cider vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Toss the dressing with the shredded cabbage and cilantro.

    Flake the grilled salmon, removing any bones. Fill the steamed tortillas with the grilled salmon, top with chipotle lime crema, your favorite salsa or pico de gallo, and the shredded cabbage with cilantro. Serve with lime wedges and fresh avocado slices. Enjoy!

     

     

    Halibut Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Seafood Shrimp

    Brazilian Fish Stew (Moqueca)

    Brazilian Fish Stew (Moqueca)

    The day has arrived!  VRAI Magazine has launched!

    I feel honored to have been asked to be a VRAI Magazine Food Contributor and beyond delighted to be a part of this spectacular team of professionals.  VRAI Magazine is a lifestyle magazine reinvented for true living. “Real bloggers, true stories, genuine conversations”.

    Along with other fantastic articles, DIY projects, travel and fashion, you can find my newest recipe, Brazilian Fish Stew, also known as Moqueca, at VRAI Magazine.

    Moqueca is a traditional seafood soup from Brazil.  Every Brazilian family has their own special recipe for this dish, as does every chef who creates it.  Typically, Moqueca is a slow cooked seafood soup.  However, I’ve created a lovely simple and quick version that is big in flavor but doesn’t take a lot of time.  So simple, I sometimes prepare this stew on a weeknight, skipping the shrimp and just adding in the white fish.

    This light and enchanting spring soup is perfect for the season.  A base of coconut milk and seafood stock – it boasts huge flavor.  A lovely addition to your spring menu rotation.

    Click HERE to download the recipe and all the other fantastic articles and recipes at VRAI Magazine.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!

    Karista

     

    Karista's Kitchen Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood Shrimp vegetarian

    Spicy Pomodoro with Creamy Polenta

    spicy tomato sauce with pan seared shrimp over polenta

    Spicy Pomodoro with Pan Seared Gulf Shrimp over Creamy Polenta

    The Autumn fog has settled onto the valley landscape and created a halo of diffused light.  Intensifying the seasons colors and keeping just a little chill in the air.

    This is the time of year I pull out the heavier throw blankets and roam the house in search of the warmer socks and slippers.  Most of them in various unmarked boxes since our move.

    Even the dinner meals become spicier. Rich and flavorful tomato sauces lace the seasons dishes and create a welcome evening reprieve from the shorter and cooler days.

    spicy tomato sauce with pan seared shrimp over polenta

    Italian Inspired Spicy Pomodoro over Creamy Polenta

    This beautiful dish was inspired not only by the season but by my recent visit to Italy.  While pouring through delicious pictures of the loveliest people, mouth-watering food and soul soothing landscape, I knew I needed a spicy pomodoro over creamy polenta this week; and shrimp would make a lovely addition.

    If shrimp isn’t on your list of shellfish love, try serving this rich and satisfying sauce with roasted Autumn veggies.  It pairs well with roasted eggplant and zucchini as well as sautéed seasonal mushrooms.

    Top with plenty of pecorino Toscana and you just might think you were dining in Italy.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Spicy Pomodoro with Creamy Polenta

    Serves 4

    Ingredients

    ¼ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil (I use California Olive Ranch Arbosana)

    ½ cup finely chopped onion

    2-3 garlic cloves, finely minced

    Pinch or two of red pepper flakes  (I usually add about 1/4 teaspoon) (also a smoked chipotle powder is a fun substitution)

    1  28 ounce can crushed tomatoes

    1 – 2 teaspoons tomato paste

    1 teaspoon sugar (if needed)

    1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or ½ teaspoon dried basil

    Salt and pepper to taste

    Directions

    In a sauce pan over medium heat add the olive oil.  When the oil is hot add the onions to the pan and sauté until golden.

    Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté one minute longer.

    Take the pan off the heat (or you’ll be splattered with crushed tomatoes) and stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and basil.  Put the pan back on the heat and then bring the sauce to a very slow simmer.  Let it cook for about 15-30 minutes.  The longer the sauce cooks the richer the flavor.

    Stir in the sugar if the sauce is too “bright”.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with a little olive oil before serving.

    Add pan seared or grilled shrimp directly to the sauce and let the shrimp swim in the sauce for a few minutes to absorb those delicious flavors and then serve over creamy polenta (recipe below).  Garnish with plenty of pecorino Toscana or parmesan.

    Vegetarian:  Add roasted eggplant, red onions, zucchini, potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash and anything else you think would be delicious.  Garnish with lots of cheese!

    Creamy Polenta

    3 cups whole or 2% milk

    2/3 cup quick cooking polenta

    ¼ cup grated Pecorino Toscana or Parmesan

    Salt and pepper to taste

    Heat the milk in a 4-quart saucepan, stirring as you bring it to a boil. While stirring, add the polenta. Reduce the heat to low and continue to keep the polenta at a simmer for about 5 minutes. Once the polenta has thickened, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the grated cheese. Lightly salt and pepper to taste.

     

     

     

    Appetizers Halibut Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Seafood Shrimp

    Mixed Seafood and Avocado Ceviche

    ceviche with halibut, bay shrimp, cilantro, white onion, sriracha, and avocado

    Mixed Seafood and Avocado Ceviche

    I’ve forgotten how much fun it is to take a road trip.  Cruising down the highway to some cool tunes, aptly selected and managed by my teenage daughter.

    Stopping for a coffee and then a little snack. Talking, laughing, reminiscing about my daughter’s childhood and the adorable things she did and said when she was little.

    Thought provoking discussions about life, love and the pursuit of dreams; and how my little girl will someday help shape the world and make it a better place.

    All the while driving through cities and the green valley floor; over the rugged mountains to the end of the road that lead to the blue-gray Pacific ocean.  A magnificent vision.

    Angry storm clouds rolling past with wind and light rain, as if to say winter isn’t leaving just yet.  It was beautiful.  Magical.

    oregon oceanside

    My Sassy Gal, The Photographer

    After sharing such a lovely few hours with my daughter, once we arrived to our destination she was ready to kick off her shoes, lounge in her room and watch a movie.  Most likely, while texting or snap chatting her friends about how they were enjoyng their spring breaks.

    With the Sassy Gal happily lounging in her room, Ranger Craig and I were ready to explore the little seaside village.  First things first, we found a pub.  The cutest Irish pub with the freshest seafood, and of course, beer.

    A festive little pub filled with cheerful souls that made me want to stand on my chair and sing an Irish tune.  But I didn’t.  I gracefully refrained.  Although, I’m sure Ranger Craig wouldn’t have minded.  He’s watched me sing a tune or two.  Thankfully he’s charmed by my somewhat overzealous personality.

    Home again, home again and dreaming of the ocean, I decided it was time to bring out the ceviche recipe.  It’s a permanent resident in my frig most of the summer.  Typically prepared with different ingredients depending on my food mood or what I found at the Farmer’s Market.

    I hope you love the ceviche so much, it makes you want to stand on your chair and sing an Irish tune. 😉

    Mixed Seafood and Avocado Ceviche

    Feel free to add in your favorite ingredients.  Sometimes I add diced cucumber, diced red pepper, diced mango or diced pineapple.  Just for fun.

    Ingredients

    1lb fresh pacific halibut, diced into small bite sized pieces

    ½ lb bay shrimp

    1/2 cup white onion, small diced (1 small – medium onion)

    5-6 fresh Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced

    1 teaspoon or more of Sriracha hot sauce

    1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro (add additional cilantro if desired)

    Fresh lime juice, enough to cover the diced halibut (about 1/2 cup)

    sea salt and pepper

    1 ripe avocado, diced

    Directions

    Place the diced halibut and lime juice in a glass or non-reactive bowl. Let the halibut marinate refrigerated for about an hour or two until the small halibut pieces have been cooked through.

    Once the halibut is done, drain the all the liquid and then place the halibut back in the glass bowl.

    Add the diced onion, tomatoes, bay shrimp and cilantro. Toss gently with the Sriracha and season with salt and pepper to taste.

    Before serving squeeze lime juice over the avocado and then gently fold into the ceviche.

    Serve with blue or yellow corn chips as an appetizer or light dinner.  But my favorite way to enjoy this ceviche is in warm tortillas as tacos!  Top with a little Cotija or Mexican cheese and a dollop of sour cream if desired.

    Recipe from karistaskitchen.com

    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Seafood Shrimp

    Moroccan Spiced Shrimp with Polenta Cakes

    Moroccan Spiced Shrimp with Polenta Cakes

    Moroccan Spiced Shrimp and Polenta Cakes

    Fat Tuesday and Valentine’s Day… all in one week.   Boy, did those two events sneak up on me.

    Feeling like “Last Minute Karista”, I quickly planned my week’s menu and raced off to the market yesterday morning before the Andouille sausage could sell out.

    I know you’re wondering how Andouille sausage could ever possibly sell out here in Seattle.  I thought the same thing last year around Fat Tuesday.  I’m sure I dug through every type of sausage in my market’s meat cooler before asking where they hid the Andouille.  That’s when Mr. Meat Cutter told me my favorite brand of Andouille  sausage was sold out.  God help the Gumbo!  It just wasn’t the same without my favorite Andouille.

    As I walked into the market, I grabbed my food cart and power walked  to the back of the store.  I opened the cooler door and there sat the last two packages of my beloved sausage.  Phew!  Fat Tuesday will be a success.  The last ingredient to purchase was crawfish.   Of course, there would surely be lots of crawfish because who in Seattle eats crawfish.  Right?

    Behold devastation.  My fish market was completely cleaned out of crawfish.

    Moroccan Shrimp with Polenta Cakes

    Moroccan Shrimp with Polenta Cakes

    I can only imagine the look on my face as the two young fishmongers were wide-eyed and speechless.  I’m sure they were both wondering if I was going to have a meltdown in the fish market.  They tried desperately to make me feel better and promised more crawfish tails would be arriving soon.  In the meantime one of the fishmongers asked me if I could substitute.  Substitute? Normally I’m all over subbing, but this is Fat Tuesday dinner we’re talking about.  One. Must. Have. Crawfish.

    I quickly re-gained my composure and thanked the courteous young fishmonger for his help.  Feeling badly that I could hardly speak because they sold out of crawfish, I purchased fresh Gulf shrimp and my favorite Ahi Poke.

    Home with my purchases, I was now stocked with fresh produce, Andouille sausage, Ahi Poke and fresh Gulf shrimp.  So what to do with that beautiful fresh shrimp?

    I remembered a Moroccan shrimp recipe from Claudia Roden’s Middle Eastern Cuisine cookbook I wanted to try, and hoped I had all the ingredients on hand.  I didn’t.  But I’m an expert at subbing (unless it’s crawfish) and winged the recipe a bit.

    Score! This is now one of Ranger Craig’s favorite shrimp dishes, besides the shrimp taco’s of course.  A rich and spicy sauce glazing the flavorful Gulf shrimp and served on polenta cakes .

    A delicious dish that is filled with enticing and fragrant flavors.  The perfect recipe for a spicy Valentine dinner. 🙂

    Moroccan Shrimp with Polenta Cakes

    Serves 2-4

    This dish is also great as an appetizer.  Serve one shrimp on a mini polenta cake, trimmed with a small cookie cutter.

    Ingredients

    1 lb large fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined

    2-4 tablespoons clarified butter or high heat oil

    Salt and pepper

    2 cloves garlic, minced

    2 teaspoons paprika

    1 teaspoon cumin

    1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

    1 teaspoon Harissa (a hot or spicy chili paste used in North African cooking.  It can be purchased at most markets, Whole Foods or a Gourmet specialty store, or you can make it at home.  If you don’t have Harissa or don’t have time to make it substitute with Thai Kitchen Roasted Red Chili Paste, a splash of Sriracha or pinch of red pepper flakes or Cayenne pepper.

    1 cup tomato sauce

    1/4 cup water

    1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro

    Quick cook polenta

    Directions

    Prepare the quick cook polenta to package directions.  I like to add a little grated parmesan to my polenta and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Pour the polenta into a baking dish and let it cool.  Once cooled, cut out rounds of polenta with a 3″ cookie cutter.  Heat a little oil in a saute pan and pan sear each side of the polenta cakes, making them a little crispy on the outside.  Place on a paper towel to cool.

    Mix together the paprika, cumin, ground ginger and minced garlic and Harissa with a splash of olive oil.  Set aside.  Mix the water with the tomato sauce.

    In  large skillet over medium high heat add the clarified butter.  Sprinkle the shrimp with salt and pepper and when the butter is hot, pan sear the shrimp on both sides.  You may need to do this in batches.

    When each side is nicely golden brown and the shrimp are opaque, take the skillet off the heat and toss with the garlic and spice mixture.  Mix in the tomato sauce and then place the skillet back over medium heat just for a few minutes to let the sauce coat the shrimp.

    Place a polenta round on a plate and top with shrimp.  Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro and serve immediately.

    For family style service, pour the quick cook polenta onto a platter.  No need to cut out and pan sear.  When the shrimp is done, ladle the shrimp and sauce over the polenta and garnish with fresh chopped cilantro.  Serve immediately.

    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pasta Seafood Shrimp

    Shrimp Linguine with Fresh Arugula Lemon Pesto

    www.karistaskitchen.com

    www.karistaskitchen.com

    From the time my two sassy gals were little, I’ve given them this tidbit of advice.  Be aware of your surroundings. Keep alert, watch where you’re going, and watch your step.  Excellent Motherly advice.  Right?

    Why you ask? Because I am notorious for ending up sprawled out on a parking lot, grassy hills,  rocky slopes, sidewalks, and several times down the stairs of my back deck.  Yep, if there is a fall waiting to happen, I usually oblige.

    Winery Tours with my most amazing cousins John and Shelby. John is a Wine Master with Rocca Vineyards.

    Winery Tours with my most amazing cousins John and Shelby. John is the Sales Director for Rocca Vineyards.

    I do heed my own advice.  Really I do.  But sometimes I’m mentally multitasking and probably not paying close attention (ya think?) to where my feet are going.  I’m not the only one with this affliction.  My twin sister.  Yep, she’s got it too.

    My sister, Kristin, and I recently discussed our unintentional inability to stay firmly planted on our feet.  It’s been too long since we’ve seen each other and we met in Napa for a little fun, wine, and film at the Napa Wine and Film Festival.

    Touring Napa with Ranger Craig, Kristin and Kevin (my Sis and Brother in law)

    Touring Napa with Ranger Craig, Kristin and Kevin (my Sis and Brother in law)

    Between wine tastings, divine food and film, Ranger Craig and my handsome Brother in law, Kevin, decided we should all go hiking.  K and I love to hike, so we were eagerly on board with the idea.

    Just as I got out of the car what does my hunk of burnin’ love say to me? Smiling and trying oh so hard not to laugh… “Babe, watch your step. I don’t want to have to carry you back down the mountain”.

    A beautiful day to hike Napa

    A beautiful day to hike Napa

    Yep.  This has happened.  Probably on more than one occasion, but I think I’ve repressed those memories.  The last time Ranger Craig and I hiked, I did a “slide into home base” down Mt. Si.  Ranger Craig and I had hiked up the mountain (without so much as a trip!) but when we were on our way down, we were deep in glorious conversation (or rather I was) when all of a sudden the mountain moved right out from under me.  And thus sending me into a forward pitch down the hill to claim home plate.

    Thankfully, hiking in Napa proved painless and crashless. My sister and I laughed and reminisced through the hike about our variety of mishaps, sidewalks moving, and wide holes opening in the ground for us to step in and perform unladylike face plants.

    I’m so thankful I’m not alone in the world of stumbling, falling, slipping out of my jeep onto the pavement, and those beautiful and graceful face plants. I couldn’t be more thankful for my beautiful sis. A brilliant woman who amazes me with her determination, leadership, cleverness and hilarious sense of humor.  She has a big heart and a generous spirit. I love her.

    Friends and family are constant reminders of true love, joy and the spirit of Christmas.  Wishing you all a joyous and delicious holiday season.  And be sure to keep alert, watch where you’re going and watch your step. 😉

    Shrimp Linguine with Fresh Arugula Lemon Pesto

    I love fresh.  I love delicious.  I love simple.  Especially this time of year when it’s tempting to get take out instead of cook.  This is one of my fave pasta dishes.  It can easily be vegetarian with roasted veggies subbed for the shrimp.  It’s a great way to use leftover roasted chicken,  and sometimes I sub the shrimp for pan seared or grilled scallops.  Delicious!

    Shrimp Linguine with Fresh Arugula Lemon Pesto

    Serves 4-6

    Ingredients

    1 package good quality dried or fresh linguine, cooked according to package directions (my fave pasta is Jovial Brand Pastas, delicious every time!)

    1½ lbs fresh shrimp (I like larger shrimp), deveined and peeled just to the tail.  Keep the tail on as it’s easier to prepare.

    2 tablespoons butter

    Salt and pepper to taste

    Pinch of cayenne

    For the Pesto

    2 heaping cups fresh arugula (I used baby arugula) about 3-4 ounces

    ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley

    2 cloves garlic (or more if you love garlic)

    2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

    ¼ cup toasted pine nuts

    ¼ cup grated fresh parmesan

    ½ cup good quality extra virgin California Ranch Olive Oil (I love the Arbequina in this dish)

    Salt and pepper to taste

    Zest of one lemon

    Fresh grated parmesan for garnish

    Directions 

    Prepare the Pasta.

    Prepare the pesto.  While pasta is boiling, place the pesto ingredients, except the olive oil, lemon zest, salt and pepper, in a blender, vitamix or food processor.  Pulse the ingredients just until nicely incorporated.  Then drizzle in the olive oil until the ingredients are a smooth puree.  Fold in the lemon zest and season with salt and pepper to taste.

    Prepare the Shrimp.  In a large skillet over medium high heat add the butter.  Season the shrimp with salt and pepper.  When the butter is frothy, place each shrimp one at a time in the bottom of the pan.  You may need to pan sear the shrimp in batches.  Sear the shrimp on both sides, about 1-2 minutes per side.  You will want the shrimp to be golden brown on the outside and opaque to the eye.   Transfer the shrimp to a bowl and sprinkle with just a pinch of cayenne. This may seem tedious but shrimp cook quickly and pan seared shrimp will add a lot more flavor to the dish.

    Toss the warm pasta with the pesto.  Pour the pasta in a large serving bowl and layer the shrimp on top.  Garnish with additional chopped Italian parsley and grated parmesan.

    This dish can be prepared in about 30 minutes.  🙂

    Kid Friendly Pasta Seafood Shrimp

    Shrimp Scampi Linguine With Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Fresh Basil and Lemon

    Shrimp Scampi Linguine with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Fresh Basil and Lemon

    There’s a new guy in my life.   And I’ve fallen in love.  Again.  Another dark brown-eyed, silky smooth haired, cute as a bug Terrier.

    Gucci, a Biewer Terrier,  came to visit for a few days and we’re all smitten.  Especially Suzie Q.

    Gucci, the Biewer Terrier, and his new favorite girl 🙂

    I walked into my youngest daughter’s room to check on our handsome little guest.  He was as snug as a bug in one of my old willow clothes baskets.  My daughter had padded it down with lots of soft, fluffy blankets and set the basket at her feet while she finished her homework.  Gucci barely opened his sleepy eyes when I peeked in her room.  He gave me what I could swear was a half-smile, and then went back to sleep.

    Gucci Bear

    As you can tell I love dogs.  Actually I love most animals.  Except snakes.  But those aren’t animals.  Thankfully.  And I don’t care for rodents of any kind especially after the squirrel incident.  That’s a long story.

    But to make it short… years ago, a very large and wooly, less than friendly squirrel decided I had invaded his portion of the parking lot.  He made that very clear when he started slowly walking toward me, watching me intently with those brown beady and terrifying eyes.  I thought I might be in a Stephen King movie.

    No matter how far I ran, he ran after me.  Finally jumping on my leg and scaring me speechless.  Actually, I was screaming.

    After doing a little jig and lots of leg shaking around my side of the parking lot, the less than friendly squirrel decided I was too much trouble and let go of my pant leg.  I can truly say this squirrel incident was one of the most horrific animal experiences of my life.

    Although I may need to re-think “most horrific”.  I’ve been bitten on the bum by my pet pig, bucked off my horse into a ditch (because she wanted to chase the hay truck),  had a little standoff on my front porch with a cantankerous raccoon and the ONE camping trip my family took when I was a child, ended after the first day.  Yes…a bear attacked our camp.  I should have known early on that my love of animals came with a price.

    Maybe that’s why I only have dogs.  Though I’d love a miniature donkey.  And I’ve been rallying the Bennett Crew for a chicken coop.  Ranger Craig is always telling me I need to live on a farm.  One day. 🙂

    You may be wondering how in the heck is she going to bring this post back to the subject of food?  I’ll show you a picture.

    Shrimp Scampi Linguine... a perfect spring meal!

    I whipped up this little dish while Gucci was visiting. I had gone a little nuts with the cherry tomatoes and decided to roast the last two pints for a lovely pasta dish.

    Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

    What could be more delicious with roasted cherry tomatoes than fresh basil, lemon and shrimp scampi.  All ladled beautifully over linguine.  A perfect spring meal!

    For more information about our adorable little Gucci and Biewer Terriers check out my friends website:  http://www.cascadesunrisebiewers.com/

    Spicy Shrimp Linguine with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Fresh Basil and Lemon

    Ingredients

    Serves 4-6

    1 lb linguine, cooked according to package directions

    1 lb shrimp, larger size,  peeled and de-veined (preferably fresh and not farm raised as the farm raised can be mushy)

    2 pints cherry tomatoes

    1 bunch fresh basil, chiffinade (cut into ribbons) Or hand torn

    3 cloves garlic, finely diced

    1 lemon, zested and juiced

    4 tablespoons unsalted butter

    4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

    ½ pint heavy cream

    ¼ cup white wine

    ½ teaspoon roasted red chili paste (Thai Kitchen) or a good pinch red pepper flakes or even a good splash of Sriracha hot sauce will do the trick.

    Directions

    Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

    Drizzle the tomatoes with a tablespoon or two of oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet  and roast in the oven until wilted, about 10 minutes.

    Remove them from the oven and set aside.

    To prepare the shrimp:  Heat a skillet on medium high heat and add two tablespoons of oil.  Season the shrimp with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar, to aid in carmelization.

    As soon as the oil is hot but not smoking, add the shrimp in a single layer.

    If your pan isn’t large enough you may need  cook your shrimp in two batches.  Let the shrimp cook on one side and then flip them to cook on the other side.  You’re looking for some nice golden brown color on your shrimp.  Total cook time should be about 2-4 minutes depending on the size of the shrimp.  Once the shrimp are done, remove to a plate or bowl and reserve.

    To prepare the sauce:  In a sauce pan or cleaned skillet, add the butter to the pan over medium high heat.  Once the butter is frothy add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds.  Then whisk in the white wine and heavy cream.  Turn the heat down to medium and let the sauce simmer to thicken a bit.  Don’t worry if the sauce doesn’t look thick and creamy.  This is a “lightly” sauced pasta dish allowing the flavors of the ingredients to shine through.

    Whisk in the chili paste or sriracha, lemon juice and zest and take the pan off the heat. Taste for salt and pepper.

    Fold in the fresh basil and toss the sauce with the pasta.

    Before serving, lightly toss the pasta with the shrimp and tomatoes and add one more drizzle of really good olive oil if desired.

    Garnish with fresh chopped basil and shredded parmesan.  Enjoy!

    Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood Shrimp

    Asian Style Rhubarb and Ginger Sauce with Mandarin Oranges… Perfect for Scallops, Shrimp or Pork

    Asian Rhubarb and Ginger Sauce with Mandarin Oranges

    Vivaldi is playing softly in the background and songbirds are humming a tune outside my window.

    A tranquil moment in time.

    A moment I relish with deep pleasure.

    Another picture of the Scallops... I couldn't decide which to post!

    And then the front door slams.

    Tank, the mean and ferocious terrier, barks and howls as two voices chatter loudly all the way into the kitchen.

    Which is right next to my office.  Which happens to be the dining room we never use.

    It has the best view of the mountains.  So I joyfully turned it into my office, hoping the beautiful view and songbirds would inspire.

    And they do.  Most of the time.

    Until the Bennett Crew arrives home and Vivaldi is replaced by Jason Mraz, and songbirds are replaced by the ever escalating giggling conversations of the two sassy Bennett gals.  Ahhh… the tranquility.

    I wouldn’t trade it for a thing.

    Asian Style Rhubarb and Ginger Sauce

    Serve this sauce with pan seared scallops, grilled shrimp, roasted pork loin or pan seared or grilled pork chops.  I also love it served with mandarin oranges and lots of sliced scallions (green onions).

    Serves 3-4

    Ingredients

    2 – 3 stalks fresh rhubarb (try to find the thinner stalks, about 1- 1 1/2 inches in width)

    1/4 cup brown sugar

    2 tablespoons Tamari (I used low sodium)

    1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

    1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger (or more to taste)

    1 clove garlic, minced

    1/2 teaspoon roasted red chili paste (I like Thai Kitchen), or a dash of Sriracha or a pinch of cayenne

    1/2 – 1 cup mandarin oranges

    1/4 cup or good handful sliced scallions (green onions)

    Directions

    Trim the ends of the rhubarb and then thinly slice the rhubarb stalks and place into a small pot.  Add the brown sugar, Tamari, vinegar, grated ginger, garlic and red chili paste and stir over medium high heat.

    Bring the mixture to a lively simmer and stir.  Turn the heat down and let the sauce simmer until the rhubarb has softened and broken down, about 8-10 minutes.

    Give it a good stir and let it cool for a few minutes.  Place the sauce in a blender or food processor and puree.  Adding a tablespoon or two of water if needed to thin the sauce.  Taste for seasoning, adding salt, pepper, chili, ginger or cayenne as needed.  This is definitely one of those sauces prepared to taste.

    Serve the sauce with mandarin oranges and sliced scallions (green onions).  Serve with pan seared or grilled scallops, shrimp, or pork.  Great as a grill sauce!

    Karista's Kitchen Seafood Shrimp

    Crawfish Etouffee

    Crawfish Etouffee

    When I lived in Louisiana I worked in healthcare (my first career… or maybe it was my second).  To say thank you, one of my patients brought me a beautiful Cajun chicken stew, sweet potato biscuits and braised greens.  Ranger Craig and I ate for a week on that delicious meal!

    Mrs. Breaux’s kindness touched my heart.  Her meal was divine.  A born and bred Cajun lady who cooked the best chicken stew I’ve ever tasted.  The sweet potato biscuits were soft as pillows and the greens were silky and perfectly seasoned.  It’s been 20 years.  I still remember her sweet face and that beautiful meal.

    Sweet Potato Biscuits from SouthernFoodNetwork.com

    Mrs. Breaux not only touched my heart, she peeked my taste buds.  I became obsessed with Cajun food.  I tried cooking it, but we all know how that turned out.  I was hands down the worst cook in the history of cooks.  Even one of my chef instructors said he thought I might be hopeless.  But, practice makes perfect!

    I mastered the chicken stew, although still not as good as Mrs. Breaux’s, and I learned to prepare one mean and spicy gumbo.  Etouffee is icing on the cake after mastering gumbo.

    My First Chef Crush

    And it’s icing on the cake when the recipe just happens to be written by my very first chef crush, Emeril Lagasse.  That man couldn’t create a bad recipe if he tried.

    Yes, Ranger Craig knows he’s got some competition.  But he doesn’t mind.  As long as the food is delicious!

    Emeril Lagasse’s Crawfish Etouffee

    Ingredients

    1 stick unsalted butter

    2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

    1 cup chopped yellow onions

    1/2 cup chopped celery

    1/2 cup chopped green bell peppers

    1/4 cup chopped green onions (I like extra for garnish)

    1 tablespoon minced garlic

    2 bay leaves

    1 teaspoon salt

    1/4 teaspoon cayenne

    2 tablespoons dry sherry

    1 1/2 cups shrimp stock or water (I used seafood stock)

    1 pound crawfish tails

    2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (I squeeze half a lemon)

    3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley, plus more for garnish

    Cooked long grain white rice

    Directions

    In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Add the flour and cook, stirring to make a light roux.  This will take a few minutes.  I cook the roux until it looks the color of peanut butter.

    Add the onions, celery, bell peppers, green onions, garlic, bay leaves, salt and cayenne pepper and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft.  About 5 minutes.

    Add the sherry and cook for 2-3 minutes longer.  Add the stock and crawfish tails and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.  Add the lemon juice.

    Stir in the parsley and remove from the heat.

    Adjust the seasoning to taste.  Serve over rice and garnish with additional parsley or green onions.

    I love this dish after it’s sat on the stove for about 30 minutes.  And it’s even better the next day.  If you want to prepare this the day before, follow all directions as listed above.  Cook and store the etouffee in a separate container from the rice.  Reheat them separately the next day and then serve them together.

    Kid Friendly Seafood Shrimp

    Oven Barbecue Shrimp with Sweet Potato Polenta

    Oven Barbecue Shrimp with Sweet Potato Polenta

    Louisiana is where I learned to love seafood. With dishes like fish crusted in chopped pecans and smothered in fresh crab and a lightly spiced white wine beurre blanc, dark and richly flavored seafood gumbo that’s been simmering for hours, and finger licking good crab and crawfish boils.

    Once I got a taste of Cajun cuisine, there was no turning back. My love of all things Cajun was born.

    My twin sis (Kristin) and me at Mardi Gras 1990. It was a blast!

    So when I found this recipe, I was over the moon excited. Cajun Barbecue Shrimp over Sweet Potato Grits.  I was hooked.  On everything except the grits.

    I like grits, but I like grits sweet with sugar and butter.  And that’s about it.  But… my food lovin’ mind got creative and decided a sweet potato polenta would be an excellent substitution.

    A tangy but spicy sauce, smothering fresh Gulf shrimp and then all that goodness ladled over sweet potato polenta.  Someone pinch me!

    Beautiful Gulf Shrimp

    The recipe did not disappoint. Even my little “I don’t eat fish” gal (Suzie Q) loved it.  And Tink raved about the sauce.  It’s a snappy little sauce that would taste just as good over chicken.

    I was hoping for leftovers. The shrimp flew right off the platter, with only a little sweet potato polenta for breakfast tomorrow.  I’m hiding it!

    Unfortunately there aren’t too many sneaky spots to hide food in the frig.  Too bad it couldn’t be stashed in my secret hiding spot for chocolate.

    Oven Barbecue Shrimp with Sweet Potato Polenta

    Ingredients

    Serves 2-3 (can easily be doubled)

    2 lbs Gulf Shrimp (16-20 count), peeled with tail on and deveined

    ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted

    ¼ cup chili sauce

    1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

    1 tablespoon lemon juice

    1-2 teaspoons Sriracha (Asian Hot Sauce)

    1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika

    Salt and pepper

    1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

    Sweet potato polenta (recipe follows)

    Directions

    Pre-heat the oven to 350F.

    In a large bowl whisk together the butter, chili sauce, Worcestershire, lemon juice, Sriracha and smoked paprika. Toss in the shrimp in the sauce and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper.

    Lightly oil a large baking dish and pour the shrimp with sauce into the baking dish.  Spread out the shrimp into a single layer.

    Bake the shrimp for about 8-10 minutes and just before the shrimp are done turn on the broil and slightly brown the shrimp.  Watch the shrimp carefully or they’ll burn.  (yes, I did this)

    Spoon the sweet potato polenta onto a platter or large bowl and pour the shrimp over the polenta.

    Sprinkle with chopped fresh thyme and serve hot.

    Sweet Potato Polenta

    Serves 4

    1 cup quick cook polenta

    2 cups water

    1 cup whole milk

    ¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese

    ¼ cup shredded Gouda, Monterey jack or Swiss

    1 – 1 ½ cups mashed, baked sweet potato

    Salt and pepper to taste

    Directions

    On medium heat, bring the liquid to a slight boil. Add the polenta and cook for a few minutes until it begins to thicken.  Take the polenta off the heat and stir in the cheese and mashed sweet potato.

    Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    Quick cooking a sweet potato – slice a sweet potato in half and place cut sides down on a greased baking sheet.  Bake in a pre-heated 400F oven for about 20 minutes or until soft to the touch.

    Recipe adapted from Louisiana Cookin’ (A fabulous resource for all foods Cajun and Creole!)