Firecracker Shrimp

Spicy-in-your-mouth shrimp for dinner?  Yes, please.

I originally saw this recipe on The Pioneer Woman, but with the cold weather up here right now, I decided to pan-fry these inside, rather than fire up the grill.  I have made a resolution to become grill-literate once it gets warmer out, though.  Don’t worry – I plan to blog my mistakes (and hopefully my lessons-learned) of my fear-of-fire throughout the way.  For now, grilling in the pan works just fine, thank you.

Firecracker Shrimp

2 Tablespoons Sriracha sauce (or more/less to taste)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons sugar (I like mine sweet)
2 cloves of pressed garlic
1 lb shrimp, deveined (moans) and tails off, if you like

Put all ingredients in a bowl and mix together.  Place in a ziploc bag and add shrimp.  Marinate for at least 30 minutes.  Add to skewers and grill, or pan fry until no longer translucent and showing pink.

I served with some rice pilaf (you’ll need something to contradict the heat!).

Mini Cinnamon Rolls

This Sunday morning, I experimented with some new icing concoctions, and found a perfect accompaniment to some miniature cinnamon rolls.  This may be my new staple for breakfast guests!  I mean, they are mini, which just makes them more fun, they’re cute, and they’re quick and easy to make.

Score!

Mini Cinnamon Rolls

Makes 16 rolls

1 crescent rolls package (or crescent rolls sheet if you want to skip a step)
2 tablespoons melted butter, or to taste
2 tablespoons cinnamon, or to taste
2 tablespoons light brown sugar, or to taste

For the icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
4 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 teaspoon maple extract (or 2 teaspoons maple syrup in a pinch)

Open the crescent rolls and pinch the seams together to make two seamless sheets.  Brush on melted butter, sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar.  Quantities above are listed as a starting point, but don’t be shy!

The fun part!  Start rolling the crescent roll sheet towards you, the tighter, the better, until you have two rolls.

Cut each roll into 8 slices, and transfer to cooking sprayed-non stick mini muffin pan.

Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes, until the crescent rolls are done.

Taking a peek, yum.

While the rolls are in the oven, it’s time to make the icing.  Mix together powdered sugar, melted butter, milk, and a splash of maple extract (not too much, it’s very strong!).  Add more powdered sugar if needed to make get the consistency just right.

Once the rolls come out of the oven, let them cool for a couple minutes (just a couple) and then drizzle with the goodness.

Enjoy!

I first found this recipe on Iowa Girl Eats, but the above includes my take.

Winter Warmerland?

This beautiful weather in DC has me missing when I thought 60 degrees was cold, when I called Miami home, and when I talked like this.  Okay, maybe not that bad, but I got a kick out of that link when I saw it floating across the web yesterday.

My husband and I lived in Miami for four years in our mid-twenties.  What a fabulous place to live when you don’t have any real responsibilities yet.  We are fond of that city, the city where we explored, made our own.  Where our favorite restaurants, shops, and streets are.  I think there is a city like that for everyone, right?  A city that stays close to one’s heart, where a true affection and attachment lies.

We miss it, but also cherish the DC area, where our family and many of our friends reside.  This is our home, and we love it, but usually the winters are our least-favorite time of year.  This winter has been unseasonably warm, and I keep thinking I’m going to wake up one day and it’ll be freezing, but it hasn’t happened yet, really, and it’s almost February.  Hoping the groundhog doesn’t see his shadow and warm weather will continue into a beautiful spring and summer.  A little bit of Miami in this cold climate, yes, please!

Spaghetti Braid

When I saw this post on rhodesbread.com, I knew I’d have to try it for myself.  I mean, spaghetti and a fancy bread braid – a fun and easy, yet impressive dinner.  My interpretation of the original recipe is below.

Spaghetti Bread Braid

  • 1 Loaf Bread Dough, thawed to room temperature
  • 3 handfuls of spaghetti, broken in half and cooked
  • Most of a jar of thick spaghetti sauce
  • 4 oz block of mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2 –inch cubes
  • 1 egg white
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Parsley flakes

Thaw the bread loaf (I like to put mine in a bowl with a kitchen towell draped over it, for 4-8 hours

Preheat oven to 375.

On a sheet of parchmant paper, roll out the bread to a rectangle-like shape.  Transfer to a baking sheet.

Cook spaghetti noodles and brown meat.  Add sauce to browned meat, then add in drained noodles.  Slightly cool and put in center of dough.  Place cubes of cheese on top.

Cut slits in dough, and start braiding from top, right over left, left over right (remember those Girl Scout knot-tying days)?

At the end, tuck under the braid.

In separate bowl, slightly beat egg white and brush over braid.  This will make the braid polished-looking when done.  Sprinkle some parsley to make it look fancy.  Add some parmesan if you’d like.

Bake for 35 minutes or until dough is cooked and golden brown.

Where to next? – Taormina, Sicily

My husband and I love to travel.  We’ve been fortunate enough to have traveled to many of the big-ticket cities separately before we met, euro-railing with our friends in our early twenties.  So, when we got married and started to travel together, we preferred to visit the smaller, more quaint cities that were a little less touristy.

I’d love to spotlight one of our most favorite cities we’ve traveled to, in an effort to inspire others to visit this town (but shhhh, don’t tell too many people or it may lose its charm) ;).

Meet Taormina, Sicily.  When deciding to take a trip a few years back, I originally wanted to go to Greece (and it’s still on the list).  My husband suggested Sicily – “same water, same terrain, but with pizza and wine,” he said, and I said, “perfect!”  We flew into Rome, because well, it’s just easier, took the train to Naples (only 60 minutes in a fast train), took a boat to Capri (I’ll save this for another post), eventually ferry-ed over to Sorrento, and then drove to Sicily (over many days of course!).  My husband loves driving, even in other countries where the speedometer makes you feel like you’re going 100+ MPH, so we weren’t intimidated with hitting the road.  The stormy downpour the entire 8 hour drive of our trip down the Amalfi Coast and beyond may have shed a couple of years off our life, but definitely a fun memory now.

So Sicily – we went to Taormina first, and this is what this post is about.  This city was beautiful, quaint, but still much to explore.  Because it’s so close to Greece geographically, there are many greek ruins to explore – the Sicilians told us they are better preserved in Sicily than in Greece (although I’m sure the Greeks would beg to differ).

The food is amazing.  I am still craving this bruschetta pizza and wine lunch I ate at a little cafe where men just happened to be serenading us guests.

The town sits higher than the beach – we stayed at the beach, Isola Bella it is called.  This place is beautiful – one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.  The water is so clear, so blue, so peaceful.

There are mountains to climb, volcanoes to see (Mt. Etna), and shops to browse in.  Put this one on your list, folks.  Sicily has much more to offer than the Godfather’s homeland.

Want S’more?

Cookies and S’mores blended together in mushy goodness?  What could be better?

I found this recipe from the-girl-who-ate-everything and had to try for myself.  I served as a desert when we had some friends over last week, and seconds were requested.  It’s a keeper!

S’mores Cookies

11 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 ½ cups flour
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup mini marshmallows
3 regular sized Hershey’s bars, broken into pieces
1-2 packages graham crackers, broken into squares

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Lay out graham crackers side by side on the pans as close as possible (they should be touching). I used 16 graham cracker squares on one pan and 10 squares on another. You may have to add or remove graham crackers according to how much dough you have. If you want your cookies thicker you will use more dough and less graham crackers.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, sea salt and cinnamon to combine. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter with white and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until combined.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixer and combine on low speed.

Fold in the chocolate chips and marshmallows. Chill dough in refrigerator for 1 hour to overnight (I did one batch right away and another after chilling overnight and found there was no difference.)

Place tablespoons of dough on graham crackers about 1 – 1 ½ inches apart. I averaged about 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough per graham cracker square as seen in the picture above. Press down slightly with fingertips.

Bake for 5 minutes then remove from oven to press Hershey’s bar pieces on to the top. You can place as many pieces or as little as you want depending how much chocolate flavor you want.

Bake for 5 – 7 more minutes or until dough is beginning to turn golden brown at the edges. Remove to a wire rack to cool. For clean cutting make sure cookies are completely cool and cut with a sharp knife.

Christmas Card Display

Get all giddy when you receive a Christmas card in the mail from a close friend or beloved cousin? Start to get frantic when they begin to pile up in your kitchen? This Christmas season, I tied a long piece of twine together, between two of my curtain rods, and used clothesline pins to put my cherished cards on display.

It’s now nearing Valentine’s Day, and I don’t have the heart to take them down. Soon, soon, I just want to admire them a little longer.

Price – Free.