Sunday, November 27, 2022

ChezCindy: One-pan Shrimp Scampi with Orzo Pasta


As much as I enjoyed cooking the Thanksgiving meal this year, washing up all of the pans, skillets, and baking dishes wore me out!  I was looking for a break but still wanted to cook something that did not require so many pans.  Just before the holiday, I had purchased a new cookbook by Melissa Clark, titled Dinner in One - Exceptional & Easy One-Pan Meals.  In this new book was my answer.  

Ms. Clark's latest cookbook is filled entirely with recipes for one-pan meals that I plan on fully exploring.  The first one I tried was her Skillet Shrimp Scampi.  Each recipe includes notes on following the exact recipe or how to make it your own with what you prefer or have available.  And that is exactly what I did here.  I started with the shrimp scampi orzo pasta, but added in arugula greens in two ways, first wilted into the orzo, and then a sprinkling of fresh chopped arugula to finish on top.  I look forward to creating many more of the recipes in this cookbook.  Below is my version of Ms. Clark's shrimp scampi recipe.  

Shrimp Scampi Orzo with Arugula
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
pinch of red pepper flakes
1-pound large shrimp, (U13-15)
1 cup orzo
2 large Roma tomatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups fresh arugula, divided

Fresh grated Parmesan cheese for serving
olive oil for serving

Prepare the shrimp by peeling and deveining them, rinsing under cold water.  Place the shrimp onto a paper towel to absorb the extra water from rinsing.  Set aside. 

Working with a 12-inch skillet with a lid, melt the butter, adding in the olive oil, swirling to combine.  Add in the chopped garlic, stirring for 30 seconds.  Add in the wine and broth, 1 teaspoon salt and the pinch of red pepper flakes.  Let this cook for 1-2 minutes to reduce slightly.  

Carefully place the shrimp into the simmering liquid to sauté for 2 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon or tongs, remove the shrimp to a plate.  The shrimp will be partially cooked.  

Add in 2 cups of water and the orzo, along with the remaining teaspoon of salt, stirring to combine.  Cover the pan with the lid, reducing the heat to medium.  Cook the orzo until it is tender, and the liquid is mostly absorbed.  This will take about 8-10 minutes.  Add in a few more tablespoons of water as necessary if the pan dries out before the orzo is tender.  

Return the shrimp and any juices to the pan, adding in the cut tomatoes, cooking for 2 minutes, stirring to combine.  Add in most of the arugula stirring into the pan to wilt, saving 1/2 cup for chopping as a garnish.  Turn off the heat.  Sprinkle the chopped arugula over the orzo and shrimp.  Serve each plate with a bit of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.  

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

ChezCindy: Brown Butter Pumpkin Spice Cookies


I love this season of holiday baking.  These past few weeks I have been working through my favorite pumpkin recipes and exploring a few new ones too.  Earlier this month I made my favorite pumpkin scones with brown butter glaze.  Which then reminded me of a cookie recipe in Rececca Firth's cookbook, The Cookie Book, for Brown Butter Pumpkin Cookies.   

As we lead up to Thanksgiving, making the traditional Libby's pumpkin role is a must-do.  And yes, I use their standard recipe, with maybe just a tweak to the cream cheese filling, adding a bit of ginger spice to the mix.  The Brown Butter Pumpkin Cookies from Ms. Firth's book, remind me of the pumpkin roll with similar flavor profile and texture.  Maybe a cross between the pumpkin roll and pumpkin whoopie pies.   

The cookie recipe takes a bit of planning ahead as the cookie dough requires chilling for 30-60 minutes to firm up before baking.  The cookies are worth the wait.  They are soft and pillowy, topped with a creamy spiced frosting.  Below is my take on Ms. Firth's recipe with a few changes.  Her cookbook is wonderful filled with many bake-worthy recipes.  

Brown Butter Pumpkin Spice Cookies
8 tablespoons unsalted butter 
1/2 cup canola oil
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves

chopped toasted pecans, optional for topping

Working over medium-high heat, place the butter into a heavy-bottomed saucepan to melt.  Continue heating the butter, stirring occasionally until the butter begins to brown.  This should take about 4-5 minutes.  Once browning begins, remove the pan from the heat, continue stirring as the butter will continue to brown even after off the heat.  It will smell wonderful.  Set aside to cool. 

Transfer the cooled brown butter to the bowl of a stand mixer, adding the oil, pumpkin, both sugars, vanilla and eggs.  Mix until thoroughly blended.   

In a separate medium size mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.  Whisk together to combine.  Add the dry flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture, using a rubber spatula fold together until just combined.  Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap, placing it in the refrigerator until the dough is firm, 30-60 minutes.  

 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  

Once the dough is chilled, using a 2-tablespoon spring-loaded scooper, scoop out the cookie dough, forming it into balls.  Place each cookie ball onto the parchment lined baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart.  Bake one sheet at a time in the center of the oven for 10-11 minutes.  Remove the baking sheet from the oven, allowing the cookies to cool for 10 minutes before transferring each cookie to a cooling rack.  Continue baking the remaining cookies.


While the cookies cool, make the Cream Cheese Frosting:  

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3 ounces Philadelphia cream cheese, room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2-3 tablespoons milk

Add the butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and spices to a mixing bowl.  Using a mixer, mix together until smooth.  Add in 1 tablespoon of milk to thin, adding in more until creamy and spreadable.  

Once the cookies are cool, spread a generous portion of the frosting on top of each cookie.  Top with chopped toasted pecans if desired.  

Sunday, November 20, 2022

ChezCindy: Roasted Acorn Squash filled with Caramelized Vegetables and Rice


I created this dish in late summer for a cooking class featuring end of the season harvest.  Working with the farmers market and my go-to farmer, she had what seemed like endless poblano peppers, and zucchini.  Turns out I really like poblano peppers.  My expectation was that they would carry some heat but are a mild flavorful pepper.  So much better than the standard green bell pepper.  

Now that we are in Fall with Thanksgiving looming ahead, I swapped out the zucchini and poblanos for Brussels sprouts and mushrooms.  Think of this recipe as a base to use seasonal vegetables or just what you prefer.  Each stuffed acorn squash is perfect as a side dish or serving two halves as a main course.  For a hardier dish, stir in a half-pound of fresh ground sausage meat, cooking it along with the vegetables before filling the squash halves.  

Roasted Acorn Squash with Caramelized Vegetables & Rice
2 cups brown rice, uncooked
3 small acorn squash or 2 large
3 tablespoons oil, divided
1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 medium onion, diced to equal 1 cup
baby bella brown or white button mushrooms, sliced to equal 1 cup
Brussel sprouts, sliced to equal 1 cup
1 large clove garlic, minced   
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3 tablespoons vegetable stock
1/2 cup grated white cheddar cheese
black pepper to taste

chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Cook the brown rice according to package directions.  Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line a sheet pan with foil.  Cut each squash in half horizontally.  Using a large spoon, scoop out and discard the seeds.  Using 1 tablespoon of oil, evenly rub over the cavity and outside of each half squash.  Sprinkle the cavities using ½ teaspoon of salt.  Place cut-side down onto the prepared baking sheet.  Roast in the preheated oven for 25 minutes.  Remove the sheet pan from the oven, flip each squash over with cut-side up.  Continue roasting for about 5-10 additional minutes.  The squash should be fork tender but still holding their shape.  Remove from the oven and set aside. 

Working with a large skillet over medium-high heat, add in the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil.  Add in the chopped onion and sliced mushrooms, along with ½ teaspoon of salt.  Stir, cooking until the vegetables begin to soften.  Add in the sliced Brussel sprouts and the garlic, continue cooking and stirring until the vegetables are soft and begin to brown.  

Measure out 3 cups of cooked rice.  Add to the skillet with the vegetables along with the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt.  Stir and cook together for 1 minute.  Add in the dried cranberries and vegetable stock stirring to combine.  Remove from the heat.  Stir in the cheddar cheese and black pepper.  

Divide the rice mixture evenly among the squash halves.  Return the sheet tray to the oven, heating for about 10-12 minutes until warmed through and lightly browned.  Transfer to a serving plate, garnish with chopped fresh parsley.