Sunday Dinner

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Avocado-Dressed Shrimp a la Mexicana

Pork Carnitas

Piña Colada Cake

How many of you actually celebrate the independence of Mexico from French forces on May 5th? Yeah, I don't either.  But I find it a very good reason to celebrate the Mexican-American culture through food and festivities (emphasis on the food).  Since Cinco de Mayo is only days away (how is it almost May already?!?), this Sunday dinner menu was easily inspired.

Like many recent recipes that I have shared, I have lost count how many times I have had this on a Sunday dinner menu.  So, it is time that the Avocado-Dressed Shrimp a la Mexican makes a solo debut.

If you like pico de gallo, guacamole, and sweet shrimp, you are gonna love this! The original recipe used this mixture as a topping for tostadas, but I adapted it so it is a more scoopable appetizer/dish/salsa to begin our meals or have as a light snack.  I added a bit of garlic for more flavor and also added an extra diced avocado for a nice balance of textures and because I love avocados.  The recipe can be made a few hours in advance (bonus when you are a food blogger taking pictures on a Sunday before a big meal).  Just make sure you press a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the mixture to avoid oxidation of the avocados. Bring to room temperature before serving, then grab some tortilla chips and dig in. 


Sunday Dinner

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Steak Salad with Creamy Horseradish Dressing
Cheesy Garlic Bread

Fluffer-Nutter Treats

With quite a bit of steak leftover from dinner last night, I am composing it into a simple salad for dinner tonight.   Not only do I have leftover steaks, but I also have half a pan of these yummy treats.  Cue the easy Sunday dinner for me!

These treats are the love child of a traditional Rice Krispies treat and the classic New England sandwich made with peanut butter and marshmallow fluff.  There's the obvious sticky, gooey, crunchy texture of the traditional recipe, but then there is the salty and nutty flavor from the trio of peanut butter chips, peanut butter, and chopped peanuts.  

The recipe calls for an 8-inch square pan, but you can easily double the recipe and press the mixture into a 9-x13-inch rectangular pan, as I did last night.


Goo Goo Cluster Cupcakes

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If you've been following me through my posts or on Facebook the last few weeks, you'll remember that my husband I recently took a road trip to Nashville, TN.  And...I have found my new home!  It was my first time there and I immediately fell in love.  Even my Midwestern-born and raised husband said, "I could get use to this."  

After a 7 1/2 hour car ride down I-65 (ugh-I really don't like that stretch of road through Indiana), we were famished.  So, we headed straight to the The Southern for a few good eats and beverages.  The fried shrimp BLT and the oysters did not disappoint. Then, we walked across the Cumberland Pedestrian Bridge and back which was quite the accomplishment for someone who is deathly-- and I mean deathly, afraid of heights🙋🏼.  

Next up was a walk down 2nd Ave.  There was a painted brick wall to my left that said-- go get a Goo Goo. I looked to my husband and asked, "What's a Goo Goo?".  He then preceded to tell me about the political "Goo-Goos" or government guys in Chicago.  I politely listened (as I usually do) and then turned the corner to investigate The Nashville Goo Goo.  

Goo Goos are historical Nashville confections.  They consist of a marshmallow nougat candy, topped with caramel, salted peanuts and chocolate.  Jaws are cracking. When you have all those flavors and textures in one treat, what is not more to love? Well, a recipe combining said flavors with a simple warm baked good and a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Can't get to Nashville for a Goo Goo?  They are sold at your local Bed Bath and Beyond, as well as Cracker Barrel (I looked it up).  If you are ever in Nashville for a Goo Goo or a night out on the town, head to the Grand Ole Opry.  We had a great time!


Hawaiian Fried Rice

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You've read my ramblings about how my Southern heritage and my husband's Midwest background has brought a lot of love into my kitchen.  But one thing that I don't write much about is my love for the foods of the Pacific Islands (Oahu to be specific) where I spent a few years when I was little.  I can still remember our visits to the Dole Plantation. There was an employee there that would make origami cranes out of Dole packaging paper.  I thought it was the coolest thing ever.
But the best part of the Dole visit was walking through the pineapple farms.  It was like walking through a row-field of giant tropical thistles. The sweet pineapple tasting at the end of the tours was a highlight, as well.  Needless to say, that is where my love of pineapples came from.  

Another Hawaiian favorite is Spam...cue the screeching sound of culinary brakes.  Seriously, I'm not going there.  Encased meats--yes!  Canned meats--no!  How is it that something that is manufactured in Minnesota, is a staple in the Pacific grocery isle🤔? I'll save that one for later. But when hearing the word Spam, I can't help think of ham.  And I think it is safe to say that at this time of the year, the majority of us all have a little bit of leftover ham in the refrigerator.  

Ok, time to get to the "Hawaiian" recipe.  
Sweet & Savory✓
One skillet✓
Easy for entertaining✓

Many recipes for Hawaiian Fried Rice like to simply add the fresh cut pineapple to the fried rice, but like my Hawaiian Pizza, I like to take it one step further and caramelize the pineapple.  It really brings out a deep, almost smokey flavor to the pineapple, as well as reducing the moisture to the rice dish, which would make a gummy mess if you have any leftovers.  *Note--there will not be any leftovers, so make two batches😉.  

The real beauty of this one-skillet dish is the versatility.  Allergic to eggs? Leave them out. Don't have red bell pepper? Use shredded carrots and peas.  Cutting back carbs? Try cauliflower "rice" and tell me how it works out!! I love cauliflower.  Don't like onion? What's wrong with you?? I can't promise that it'll taste the same as the one pictured and devoured, but...

Make it for you, make it your own!


Shrimp Salad Cups

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Thank you to the few of you who took part in the "What should I post next?"--Shrimp Salad Cups vs. Goo Goo Cakes election on TGG Facebook page!  Five votes were casted and counted, as well as a recipe request.  It was a 3 v. 3 draw.  Both candidates were excellent choices, but due to the neighbor/family electoral college the savory candidate came out victorious.  If you were wanting the recipe for the Goo Goo Cakes, next time get out and vote because every vote counts😉.

Culinary politics aside, these are some tasty little bites.  They remind me of something that would have been served at one of my grandmother's large Southern buffet spreads or something served at one of her Garden Club luncheons.  The "cups" are actually rounds of white bread that are pressed into mini-muffin tins and toasted until golden and crisp.  I recommend using a fresh bakery-style white bread or homemade white bread.  They serve as the perfect vehicle for a simple shrimp salad that is packed with flavor.  

The real beauty of this recipe is that the toast cups can be made up to a week in advance and the shrimp salad can be made a few hours before serving.  So, these hand held appetizers/snacks are perfect for holiday parties, buffets, or any get together when you need a little work done before your guests arrive.  Serve these accompanied with a glass of sweet tea or a cocktail and I assure you that there won't be one left.


Sunday Dinner

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Habanero-Honey Glazed Chickens
Pimento Cheese Potato Gratin
Southern Style Green Beans

Goo Goo Cupcakes
Vanilla Ice Cream

Oh, how my stomach is loving this menu tonight!  Long time followers might recall that my roots run deep below the Mason-Dixon Line.  So, after a road trip to Nashville this past week and a few introductions to some new Southern culinary treats, this menu was born.  What is not new to many of my Southern Sunday dinner menus are green beans, a.k.a snap beans or pole beans.  I still love sitting in the back yard (or the kitchen counter when it's freezing outside) snapping beans with my children just like I did countless times as a child on my grandparent's back patio. There's just something therapeutic about it.

Southern style green beans accompany everything from fried chicken, roast pork, smothered pork chops, baked ham to Thanksgiving turkey and many more.  I've been known to have just a plate of beans with a side of buttered cornbread for dinner--guilty pleasure.  Heck, I even eat them cold for breakfast--weird, I know.  They are slowly simmered in a bath of chicken broth, that is infused with bacon (cuz bacon makes everything better) and onion, until they have reached their desired tenderness.  And by tender, I mean blah-green tender.  Don't get me wrong, I love a good green bean sauté or salad that is crisp and bright green.  But when it comes to Southern style beans, low and slow is the way to go.

This recipe is very, and I mean very, flexible.  In my younger years, I watched my Mom-mom and my mother prepare them and it was a little different each time.  Don't have bacon?  You can use salt pork or fat back or just omit it.  Don't have an onion? You can use a shallot or leave that out too.  Sometimes I simply simmer the beans in chicken broth and season to taste. Vegetarian?  Use vegetable broth (but I can't promise it'll taste the same).  I haven't said this in a while, but "make it for you, make it your own." As far as what to do with the bacon and onion when ready to serve the beans...sometimes I chop up the onion and mix it in with the beans and the bacon...well, there is always a two or four legged warm body around to snack on the bacon.

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