Best Shrimp Salad

Shrimp Salad



We had the absolute honor of cooking for a few of the chefs who helped prepare the food for Maya Angelou’s funeral last weekend.  Since Art Smith tweeted #BestShrimpSalad with regards to one of the side dishes we prepared, I suppose I should share the recipe.  🙂

Peel and devein 1.5 pounds of shrimp.  Saute them in olive oil in batches just until cooked.  Be careful not to overcook them. Set aside.

Boil 4 ears of corn.  Slice the kernels off the cob.

Deseed and chop 2 yellow bell peppers, chop 2 ribs of celery.

Peel and segment 3-4 navel oranges.

In a large bowl, add a pint of whole cherry tomatoes and all of the ingredients above.

Mix the following to dress the salad:  Juice of 3 lemons, 1/3 cup of olive oil, 1-2 teaspoons of dijon mustard, 3-4 minced cloves of garlic, 6 splashes of tabasco sauce, salt and pepper.  Whisk it all together and taste, make adjustments to suite your palate before dressing the salad.

Just before serving, add fresh chopped basil and a diced avocado or two.


Photo by Art Smith




Fried Chicken


Chicken2 Chicken3 Chicken4I have a new method of preparing fried chicken.   I cut the chicken the morning I plan to serve it.  It gets sprinkled with paprika and put in the refrigerator uncovered for the day.  Right before frying, it gets a buttermilk bath then is shaken with a mixture of flour, salt, pepper, dill, garlic and cayenne.  Give it a try, I promise you’ll like it!

What’s For Dinner?

P1 P2 P3 P4 P5 P6We had roasted and dried tomatoes in the freezer and microbasil growing in our sunroom so I decided to make a sauce by combining them with red wine, garlic, capers and shrimp.  Served over pasta with parmesan cheese.   It’s fun playing with ingredients!

Cinnamon Rolls


Cinnamon rolls are a holiday staple at our house.  We have them Christmas morning every year.  I tried one year to make them before I went to bed so they would be ready to pop into the oven the next morning but they rose and then fell before I woke up.  Now I just lay out everything I’ll need the night before and get up early to get them going.  This recipe came from a Family Circle magazine probably 15 or 20 years ago.  It was billed as the T.J. Cinnamon’s recipe.  It is so very good, I hope you’ll try it!

Start by dissolving two packages of yeast in 1/2 cup of warm to the touch water and 1/2 teaspoon sugar.  Let it stand for at least 5 minutes to get foamy.  In a mixing bowl, combine 3 cups all purpose flour, 1/3 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon salt.   At low speed, gradually add in 1 cup warm milk, 1/3 cup salad oil, 2 eggs and the yeast mixture until well blended.  Slowly add in another 1.5 cups flour and knead the dough for 10 minutes.  I knead mine with a dough hook in my stand mixture but you could knead it by hand on a floured surface.

TJ2The dough is smooth and elastic after kneading.  At this point, put it in a bowl with about a tbsp. of oil in it, cover with a clean towel and let it rise for an hour.

TJ3While the dough is rising, make the filling.  You’ll need 1/2 stick of butter at room temperature, 1 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons of cinnamon.

TJ4Just mix all ingredients until they come together.

TJ5Here’s the dough after rising for an hour.  Turn it onto a floured surface.

TJ7Roll the dough into a rectangle approx. 18 by 10 inches.

TJ8Spread the cinnamon filling on top then roll it up on the long side.  You’ll end up with an 18 inch long log of cinnamon filled dough.  Cut the dough log into 14 equal slices.

TJ9Place the slices into greased 9 inch round cake pans.  This recipe makes two pans.

TJ10Cover and let rise for about 45 minutes.  Heres what they look like after rising.

TJ11Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes (until golden brown).  I remove them from the cake pan after about 10 minutes and glaze with a mixture of 1 cup confectioner’s sugar, 1 Tbsp. milk and 1 tsp. vanilla.   I hope you’ll give them at try, they will not disappoint!


Cornbread Stuffing

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Here’s my holiday stuffing recipe.  What I actually do is buy a bag of Pepperidge Farm cornbread stuffing and follow the recipe on the back, with lots of add ins.  The bag calls for melted butter and chicken broth.  I crumble, fry and drain a package of sausage and add it to the stuffing mix.  I saute shallots, celery and mushrooms in the amount of butter the package calls for and add it along with a package of raw cranberries and a huge diced apple.  The chicken broth gets added at the end and walnuts go into half.  It’s baked at 350 for 30-40 minutes.  If these ingredients sound good to you, the finished dish will be heaven!

Roasted Tomatoes

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We’re swimming in tomatoes this year.  Since I refuse to toss a single one, I’m preserving excess cherry tomatoes by roasting them.  They go into a 350 degree oven with olive oil, salt and pepper for about 35 minutes.  After they cool, I scoop them into a quart freezer bag and pop them into the freezer.  Sometime around December, I’ll defrost them and toss them with pasta for a blast of summer.

Roasted Peppers With Goat Cheese and Basil

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We grew Alma Paprika peppers specifically for this recipe. Any thick skinned cherry pepper would do nicely.  I cut off the top and scooped out the seeds, then placed them in a baking pan.  I lined the inside of each pepper with a large fresh basil leaf then filled it with goat cheese.  I’ve also tried this with a chunk of parmesean and some fresh marjoram.   Drizzle the peppers with olive oil and sprinkle on salt and pepper.  They get baked at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.  They are creamy and just plain yummy both warm from the oven and cold from the fridge (if you have any leftovers!).

My Paella Recipe

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I made paella last weekend and thought I’d post my recipe.  My family loves it so now they know where to find the recipe when they need it.  I make everything but the chicken and rice ahead of time then gently warm everything in the microwave and assemble it right before serving.

The first thing I make is lemon garlic mixture that will flavor the rice when it’s done.  In my mini chopper, I whirl together:
The zest of a lemon
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
12 garlic cloves
salt & pepper
This goes into tupperware and waits in the fridge for assembly.

Then I saute the sausage.  I used a fresh chorizo and a fresh andouille sausage removed from their casings, crumbled and browned and smoked andouille sausage links sliced and browned.

Red and yellow peppers were sliced, seeded, splashed with red wine vinegar and olive oil then roasted for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.  Once they’re cool enough to handle, I peel the skin off.

Then comes the seafood.  Sea scallops patted dry and sauteed in a little olive oil just 2 minutes per side.  Then shrimp were peeled, deveined and sauteed in a little olive oil.  They just take a minute or two per side.

To do the chicken thighs, brown both sides in a little olive oil and butter.  Put them skin side up on a baking pan, season with salt and pepper then put them in the oven at 450 degrees for 30-40 minutes depending on how big they are.  They come out crispy and delicious.


Here’s what goes into the rice:
3 cups of long grain rice sauteed in a little butter
6 cups of chicken stock
A pinch of saffron
salt and pepper to taste
Bring to a boil then simmer for 15 minutes, toss 1 cup of frozen peas in during the last 3 minutes of cooking.

Assemble everything and enjoy!


Red Roosters

Cranberry orange vodka slushies, aka Red Roosters, are a staple in our house this time of year.  They’re super simple, just three ingredients:

A bottle of Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktail (cheap store brands just don’t work for this, I think they probably have a lot of water in them)

Frozen orange juice concentrate (the large one, they come in two sizes)


Grab a container with a lid that’s freezer safe.  I always use some sort of plastic for this recipe, like Tupperware.  Dump in the entire container of cranberry juice into your container then add the frozen OJ concentrate.  You may want to let it sit at room temp for about 30 minutes, that will help with mixing the OJ in.  Depending on how strong you want it, fill the emptied frozen OJ can from 1/2 to completely full with vodka.  Mix everything together well then put a lid on it and  pop it in the freezer for overnight.  The next day, scoop it into glasses and serve it with a spoon.  The alcohol keeps the juice from freezing solid.  It comes out like shaved ice and is super yummy.


Chocolate Caramel Apples

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Williams Sonoma makes the most amazing chocolate caramel apple.  We usually send one to our daughter Claire for her birthday but since she was home for it this year, we made her one ourselves.  You start with the best crisp large apple you can find.  We’ve used fuji in the past but are now fans of the giant honey crisp apples.  To cover two apples, I used a half of a bag of caramels.  These were melted very slowly in the microwave at half power, like 10-25 seconds at a time.  Once they were melted, I stirred in about 2 Tbsp. of corn syrup to soften the finished caramel and then added about a half tsp. of good vanilla.  This caramel mixture gets spooned onto the apples, which set up in the fridge on a square of waxed paper.  Once they are set, in about 20-30 minutes, I spoon on gently microwave melted chocolate.  Claire likes semisweet so that’s what I used.  We’ve also used milk chocolate and bittersweet in the past, too.  Once the chocolate sets up – just slice, core and serve.  A guaranteed crowd pleaser!

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