Angel Hair with Shrimp and Asparagus

One of the fun things about going shopping for groceries, besides running into friends or acquaintances who you haven’t seen for a while, is trying to come up with recipes that go with items that are on sale.

shrimpasparagusThis past week, our neighborhood Hugo’s supermarket had asparagus on sale. The price was so good that I bought a bunch on three separate visits.

On my third visit, I chatted with produce manager Loren Kartes. I complimented him on the sale price for the asparagus and in our ensuing conversation, he told me about a recipe he found on the website It was for a shrimp and asparagus dish that he said was fantastic.

That’s all it took for me to check out the recipe and decide that’s what we were going to have for supper that night. It was a good choice. Not only was the meal delicious, it took just a half-hour to prepare and have on the dining room table. And to top it off, it was low in calories and fat.

Angel Hair with Shrimp and Asparagus
1 bunch asparagus, tough ends removed, quartered
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 14½-ounce can ripe plum tomatoes, diced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
12 ounces shrimp, peeled and deviened
½ cup fat-free chicken broth
2 ounces white wine
Salt and fresh pepper
½ teaspoons herbs de Provence (or your favorite herbs)
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
8 ounces angel hair pasta
Heat a large skillet on high heat. Season shrimp with salt and pepper. When skillet is hot, spray with oil and add shrimp. Cook shrimp about 2 minutes in each side until almost cooked through and remove from the pan. Set aside. Reduce skillet heat to medium, add olive oil and garlic and saute until golden, careful not to burn. Add tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Simmer about 4 minutes. Add white wine and broth and stir. Add asparagus, salt, pepper and herbs. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes on medium low heat. While sauce is simmering, boil salted water and cook pasta until desired tenderness. Drain when done. After sauce simmers 10 minutes, add shrimp to sauce to finish cooking, about 1 minute. (Do not overcook or shrimp will get tough). Add pasta to the sauce and toss well. Divide equally in 4 bowls and top with a good grated cheese.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 378 calories, 6.8 grams fat, 52 grams carbohydrates, 8.5 grams fiber, 31.6 grams protein.

Barbecued Pork

A good pork roast dinner, complete with potatoes, winter squash and whole-kernel corn is a great way to enjoy a Sunday afternoon when the temperatures outside are a bit on the cold side and the wind is howling. And as usual, there always are some good leftovers.

bbporkphotoFor working families, that makes for a great lunch. But with a 4- to 5-pound roast, there’s still plenty of pork for other things. Barbecued shredded pork is one such option. All you need to make your sauce can be found in the pantry or the refrigerator. And throw in some nice buns or hard rolls and you have a meal that’s almost as good as the original.

Barbecued Pork
2 pounds pork, cooked and shredded (from a roast preferably)
1 cup ketchup
1 cup water
4 tablespoons cider vinegar
4 tablespoons brown sugar
|4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
1 dried cayenne pepper, with seeds, chopped
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Saute onion, garlic and celery in olive oil. Add other ingredients except pork. Simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add pork and continue to cook for another 20 to 30 minutes. Serve on buns.

Boston Cream Pie

When is a pie not a pie? That’s easy — when it’s a Boston cream pie. In this case, the pie is really a cake.

cakeThe creation of Armenian-French chef M. Sanzian at Boston’s Parker House Hotel in 1856, this pudding and cake usually is comprised of two layers of sponge cake filled with vanilla-flavored custard that is topped with a chocolate frosting.

Recently, Therese tried her hand at one but wasn’t totally satisfied, so she tried again, the day before Boston’s biggest celebration of the year, St. Patrick’s Day. And what she made was fantastic.

The cake wasn’t made the traditional way, though. Therese’s had four layers, with a plum jam on the first, vanilla pudding on the second, jam again on the third and chocolate frosting on the final layer. It was a fitting way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

Boston Cream Pie
box white or yellow cake mix
1 box vanilla pudding
3 tablespoons any red jam
1 tables
poon butter
1 square unsweetened chocolate
¼ cup milk
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
Make the cake
s (2 9-inch rounds) per instructions on box. (Therese used whole eggs instead of just the whites.) Cool cakes. Make the pudding and cool. Cut the cakes in half with a sharp knife. Put ½ of one round on a plate, stir jam and spread on top. Set the other half on top. Spread the pudding on this layer. Add half of the second round and repeat with the jam. Top with the final half.
To make a shiny chocolate frosting, melt butter in a small saucepan with a square of unsweetened chocolate and milk. Heat slowly, stirring constantly until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Cool to lukewarm. Beat in confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. (Frosting will be soft and glossy.) Frost the cake, letting some of the chocolate drip down the sides. Refrigerate.

Pheasant Stroganoff

Cooking meals for a family on a daily basis can be challenging, especially if you are trying to mix things up a bit and not have the same thing week after week.

FN_Paula Deen Beef Stroganoff.tifThe past four days, our grandson has come over for supper, having a break between hockey and baseball season. The first night, we had a casserole, fondly called “Grandma’s Hotdish” by family members. That was followed by pork steak cooked in my homemade barbecue  and served with mashed potatoes and whole-kernel corn. Next came mac ‘n’ cheese.

But the coup de grace was a pheasant stroganoff. Not only was the stroganoff delicious and loaded with mushrooms, it also was a good way to use some of the game that’s in the freezer. (You also could substitute chicken for the pheasant.)

Pheasant Stroganoff
|1 pound pheasant meat, about ½-inch thick
2 tablespoons butter
½ pound mushrooms, washed trimmed and sliced
1 medium onion, minced (about ½ cup)
1 10½ ounce can condensed chicken broth
1 10-ounce can cream of mushroom soup
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
4 tablespoons flour, divided
1 cup sour cream
¼ cup cooking sherry
3 to 4 cups hot cooked wide egg noodles
Cut meat across the grain into ½-inch strips, about 1½ inches long. Melt butter in large skillet. Add onion and garlic; cook and stir until onion is tender. Add and saute pheasant until cooked through. Add half of the flour, spices and mushrooms. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add soup and half of broth. Stir in ketchup, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Blend reserved broth and flour then stir into meat mixture along with Worcestershire sauce. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Reduce heat. Stir in sour cream and sherry, heat through. Serve over noodles.

Tomato Cheese Tortellini Soup

Soups that are thick and hearty are generally full of flavor. That can be said of most Italian soups, such as pasta e fagioli, stracciatella and minestrone. Many are also creamy as a rule. And the ones that are heavy on cheese and pasta makes them popular with just about everyone, even the kids.

tortsoupI recently was given the following Italian soup recipe by a friend, Penny Cieklinski, who said it is a family favorite. The recipe can easily be doubled, which will make for plenty of tasty leftovers.

And there’s nothing like nice Italian soup recipes to take the chill out of a cold, cold day

Tomato Cheese Tortellini Soup
½ pound Jimmy Dean pork sausage (hot)
½ pound pork sausage
1 26-ounce can tomato soup
13 ounces water
13 ounces milk
1 14½-ounce can diced Italian tomatoes
½ cup grated mozzarella cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
10 ounces cheese tortellini, cooked according to package instructions (can use frozen)
Italian seasoning, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
Brown the sausage in a skillet on the stove top until cooked and crumbled. Drain and set aside. Put tomato soup, milk and water in a pot. Add meat, cooked tortellini, cheeses, tomatoes, Italian seasonings, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then lower heat to simmer. Cook for 1 to 2 hours. Serve with crusty bread.