Cajun Shrimp & Grits


Talk about a quick and easy, yet tasty dinner. I paired with a nice salad and a good Pinot Noir.

For the Grits:

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup uncooked quick-cooking or regular grits not instant
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese, about 2 ounces ( I used about 4 oz)
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, about 1 ounce, plus additional for serving
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions white and green parts, plus additional for serving

For the Shrimp:

  • 2 teaspoons EVOO
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, 25 count, peeled and deveined, with tails on

Instructions 

  • In a 3 quart saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the salt, then slowly add the grits in a thin stream, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the grits thicken, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, then stir in the butter, black pepper, cheeses, and green onions.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • In a large bowl, stir together the olive oil, garlic, paprika, thyme, oregano, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Add the shrimp and toss gently to coat. Spread the shrimp in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Roast the shrimp for 5 to 6 minutes, until just pink and cooked through.
  • Serve a top the grits, sprinkled with additional Parmesan cheese and green onions.
Cajun Shrimp & Grits

Dancing in the Wind

Back to my makeshift studio to paint. This is 60″ x 48″ and is designed to hide a water heater. Not the best reason to paint, but any reason in my mind is a good reason. When I sold my waterfront home, I gave up my perfect painting studio over my three car garage. It was designed to have perfect north lighting, lots of space for storage and close to main street where I could sell my art.

When I sold it, I bought a small cottage with a finished garage, so I could set up my studio there. It was great, people walked by and said hello and it was clean and organized with lots of storage. I still own the home, but do not live there.

Where I live now, really has no studio. It is a wonderful 1912 California Craftsman Bungalow with a not so lovely 1912 one-car garage. I’m not sure it ever really housed a car. It is unfinished, has that “old house” smell, and it has taken me a while to want to paint in it. In time we may dry-wall it, so I can hang some art and hopefully get some shelves so I can store some of my supplies. I did order a lamp this weekend to help with the lighting.

Dancing in the Wind

Salmon with Parsley Sauce

Having lived in the Pacific Northwest for over thirty years, I love Salmon of all types and cooked in a variety of different ways. I found this sort of accidentally online and thought I might try it with some of the beautiful parsley I grow in my herb garden. I planted my garden several months ago and it is finally starting to take off. The following bright and flavorful parsley oil makes a great salmon sauce. I served it with bacon wrapped asparagus for the perfect dinner. We paired it with a nice Pinot Noiir.


Ingredients


For the parsley salmon sauce:
1 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 large clove garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the Whole30 salmon:
4 3-ounce salmon llets, skin on
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper


Instructions

  1. First, make the salmon sauce: combine all of the ingredients in a high-speed blender, and
    pulse until very smooth. Pour into a jar, and set aside.
  2. Next, sprinkle salt and pepper on each side of the salmon llets, and heat a large skillet
    over medium-high heat.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400-degrees F.
  4. Add the olive oil to the pan, and then add the salmon, SKIN SIDE DOWN.
  5. Watch the salmon cook on the edges. When it’s half-way cooked, move the skillet to the
    oven to nish cooking. No need to ip this salmon!
  6. Cook the salmon in the oven to your desired level of doneness. I like my salmon a little red
    in the middle, so I cook it for 8-10 minutes, but if you prefer it all the way done, cook it for
    12-15 minutes.
  7. Remove the salmon from the skillet, place on a serving dish and drizzle with the pars

Bacon Wrapped Asparagus is one of the best recipes for easy entertaining! Cook it in the oven, on the
grill, or stove. Crispy and flavorful every time! It is so easy in the oven and you can cook it at the same temperature as the fish. I like to make many things with asparagus. The other night we had a simple asparagus soup. I used the leftover asparagus, cut up and added to our dinner salad.

Ingredients  

  • 1 pound asparagus spears trimmed (about 20 to 24 spears)
  • 1 Tbl Olive Oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 strips thick-cut bacon

Instructions

  • Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. For easy cleanup, line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. ( and I put tin foil under this to make sure there is no mess)
  • Place the asparagus in a large bowl or on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Count the spears and divide the total number by 8. Gather that number of spears (likely 2 to 4 spears, depending upon their thickness) and hold them together in a single bundle. Starting midway to the top, wrap the bundle with one piece of bacon (overlap the starting end of the bacon slightly to secure it) and place the bundle on the prepared baking sheet, seam-side down. Repeat with the remaining spears.
  • Bake until the bacon is crisp and the asparagus is tender, about 22 to 28 minutes, depending upon the thickness of your bacon and how crisp you’d like it to be. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note

  • You can add additional toppings, such as balsamic glaze, cheese, honey, and more!

Thought you might like to see a photo of my growing, still growing Herb Garden in California.

Note that the parsley is taking over the world and the chives are not doing so well yet! Hopefully they will take off growing soon, as they tried to take over my garden in Washington.

Salmon with Parsley Sauce

Mussels with White Beans & Tomatoes

Cooking mussels may seem intimidating, but this recipe is quick and easy. The white beans to turn this classic mussels-in-white-wine-sauce dish into a heartier weeknight meal. Serve with whole-grain crusty bread to sop up the flavorful broth. I found this recipe in Eating Well and it was a big hit in our house.

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups grape tomatoes, halved ( I forgot to half them initially, so had to go back to the pot and do them one at a time. It is very important for the taste to do this.)
  • 1 medium shallot, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced ( I used four or five as I always say, garlic is yummy and so good for you! No vampires in this house)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 (15 ounce) can no-salt-added white beans, rinsed
  • 2 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded if necessary (see Tip)
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • Lemon wedges for serving

Directions

  • Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes and shallot; cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes start to release their liquid, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in garlic, thyme and crushed red pepper; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add beans and stir to combine. Place mussels on top and pour in wine. Cover and cook until the mussels open (discard any unopened mussels), 5 to 6 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges and garnish with more thyme, if desired. How easy it that and it was delicious!

Tip: To clean mussels, rinse well under cold running water and use a stiff brush to remove any barnacles or grit from the shell. Discard any mussels with broken shells or any shells that remain open after you tap them lightly. Pull off any fibrous “beard” that might be pinched between the shells; the “beards” of most cultivated mussels are already removed.

We served it with a lovely Pinot Noir.

Mussels with White Beans & Tomatoes

Spinach Soup

So easy and delicious and amazingly yummy! Made a few changes to the recipe I found in one of my cooking magazines. I doubled the amount of spinach used, added a little more homemade stock, did not add croutons and cooked my fresh spinach in the microwave to save time.

I view a lot of blogs that show step by step photos of all the simple food they prepare. At risk of being considered a food snob, I think all the illustrations are unnecessary if you know anything about cooking. I like to skip to the recipe and get to work. If you ever need assistance with a recipe, just let me know!

INGREDIENTS

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil 

1 onion, chopped

1 bunch green onions, chopped

1 cloves garlic, minced ( I used four and it was perfect)

russet potato, peeled and chopped into 1/2″ cubes

2 lbs fresh spinach, thick stems trimmed ( I did not trim it and the recipe called for 1 lb, but 2 was great. I precooked it in the microwave in big bowl to save time)

4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth (I used about 6 cups and make my own, so it has a lot more flavour.)

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper 

1/2 cup heavy cream, plus more for garnish

FOR THE CROUTONS ( did not add croutons, but served with Irish Soda Bread I had made the day before)

3 tbsp butter

1 cup cubed bread 

Kosher salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and green onions and cook until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, then add potato and spinach. Pour over broth and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until spinach is bright green, and potatoes are tender, 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Use an immersion blender to blend soup until smooth. Stir in cream.
  3. Garnish with more cream and croutons.

MAKE CROUTONS

  1. In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add bread in a single layer and cook, tossing often, until bread is golden all over, about 3 minutes. 
  2. Drain on paper towels and season immediately with salt.

We served this with a 2017 Suisun Valley Red Wine Petite Sirah from the Lanza Family Vineyard. Perfection!

Spinach Soup

My Little Cottage (not by the sea)

Life brings you joy, happiness, challenges, changes and a long list of other things. This last year I sold my beach house, got a divorce and could only afford a small older cottage. It is amazing how well we all can adopt.

So begins a new story in my life in a small waterfront town in Washington half a year, and in California the other half. The little house has literally nothing in the yard, but brush that people left for years under the trees. My gardener from my last house took out two full dump trucks full of yard waste and etc. I have spent a lot of time putting down beauty bark, and will slowly plant the garden. (not today) Friends have been generous with gleanings from their gardens, so I know in the long run it will be lovely and carefree! (In appearance, not maintenance)

The entire little house has been painted the brightest white available, and I would love to replace doors, trim and cabinets, but that is not in the budget at the moment. I cheated on the drawing, as the house is actually yellow, not my favorite color! So hopefully next summer we can paint it a nice dark gray.

Every day is a new and mostly fun challenge. Today I discovered who ever lived here waxed the ceramic tile floor. It was already kind of an ugly light pink, but it never looked clean. Today Clorox and a brush on my knees, and a metal scraper, helped it look a tiny bit better.

I serendipitously came to see my first love from college again about a year ago. His late wife was a sorority sister, a beautiful and smart woman whose Celebration of Life I attended. It was wonderful to see they had a wonderful life together. I guess I had always wondered how his life had gone. It was a beautiful celebration and I was so happy to know he had a good life and two wonderful children. It was amazing to reconnect with so many of my AX sorority sisters from fifty years ago.

Over time Reed & I talked and discovered, both being widowed there was still some magic in life. We are having a amazing time getting to know each other in our seventies. You never know what will happen in life.

With the wildfires and COVET 19 life is not simple for anyone. The air quality was so bad in Washington when I wrote this, I was not sure if it is even a good idea to go to my garage to paint. We are having strange times. I feel lucky to be sharing it with someone so positive, loving and laughing.

My Little Cottage (not by the sea)

Love sketching

I was in Vacaville, California when the pandemic began and it was a time, when the big excitement of the day was going for a drive or sitting on the front porch having a glass of wine. I don’t sit still well, so got some pens and started sketching the neighborhood. My oil paints were still in Washington, so could not paint. (Won’t do that again). Here are some of the in house and neighborhood sketches done at that time.

I started with simple sketches around the house.

Beautiful roses in a vase. Probably should have added color. (Oh well)

Drew the house on the corner.

And the house across the street.

Then added color to the house on the corner across the street.

Another house right across the street

And added color

Drew a tree rose in the front garden

Drove back to Bainbridge where I drew my girlfriend’s flower pot. I moved to my little Port Ludlow Cottage and spent the next couple of months trying to organize and move in to the house.

My friend and I were out and about and stopped in Port Gamble in a newly opened wine bar for a glass and a charcuterie plate and I like the house so I took a photo on the way out and drew the house below. I had an extra frame, so I framed the house and dropped by as a gift to the owners.

Once in a while it is just fun to do a nice and unexpected gift!

Love sketching