Shrimp and Penne Pasta with a Tomato Basil Sauce

My basil plants are growing like crazy this year!  I think I have basil bushes, and I am not complaining, I LOVE basil!!  But, I can’t use it fast enough.

I made this  tomato basil sauce a few times already.  So yummy!

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It’s a thick pink sauce and works best on a penne, you can use whatever pasta you have on hand but when I make a thick sauce like this, I bring out the penne!

This recipe makes 2 servings.  Since I made this for just myself I plenty of leftovers.

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It’s a pretty easy and basic recipe, easy to increase for more servings.

If you don’t care for the sauce being thick, substitute tomato sauce for tomato paste.  You really cannot mess this up!

My store had frozen shrimp on sale, cooked, shelled and deveined, so that’s what I used this time.  You can use whatever you want or have on hand, just make sure you cook the shrimp first before you make the sauce.

The first time I made this, I used raw shrimp, so I started with a little olive oil in the pan and sautéed the shrimp until done.

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To the cooked shrimp, add the tomato paste, half and half, and chopped sundried tomatoes, stirring to blend together and heat through.  If the sauce is a little too thick, add a little bit of the pasta water.

Toss in the torn basil and serve.  Top with shredded parmesan and more torn basil.

 

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Here’s the recipe:

Cooked shrimp, about 8-10 large or about 1-1/2 cups small

1/4 cup chopped sundried tomatoes

1/2 cup half and half, plus more to thin out if you like

2-3 T tomato paste, or use about 1 cup tomato sauce for a thinner sauce

about 15 fresh basil leaves

Grated parmesan cheese for topping

Start your pasta, when the pasta is almost cooked, start your sauce.  If using raw shrimp, sauté in olive oil until cooked. Add all of the above ingredients to the shrimp, except the basil.  After the sauce has combined and is heated through, tear up about 10 basil leaves and add to the sauce.

Drain the pasta, place in 2 serving bowls and spoon the sauce over the pasta.  Top with remaining basil leaves and cheese.

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Mojito’s and Mint Tea

I love when my herbs are growing and blooming!  But I REALLY love it with the mint has come in!

Last year I planted mint in a large pot, and it did very well.  It came back beautifully this spring.  But I had to plant another pot this year because I love it so much!

I have made my usual mint tea twice this spring and now I make mojito’s!!

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You can check out my recipe for the mint tea recipe here Fresh Mint Tea.  Although I plan to use some green tea bags the next time I make it, green tea is so healthy for us and I’m trying to incorporate more of it in my diet.

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For the mojito, first I made a simple syrup by using 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water. Bring the water to a light boil, stirring until the sugar is melted.  Remove from heat and add about 5 large mint leaves to the syrup to “steep” while it cools.

I cut a lime in half, set half of it aside and the other half I quartered and squeezed the lime juice into my glass with about 10 mint leaves.  Muddle to break up the leaves, for just about a minute.  Then I added the lime quarters that I squeezed the  juice from and muddled them for a few seconds.  Fill glass with ice.

After the simple syrup was cool, I added 2 ozs to my glass.  Then 2-3 ozs of white rum and topped off the glass with seltzer water.
Add a lime slice to the rim of the glass and float a sprig of mint on top as well.

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Mint Mojito

 

  • 15 mint leaves, more for a more minty taste
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2-3 ozs white rum
  • 1 lime
  • seltzer water

Make a simple syrup with the sugar and water by placing in a small sauce pan and bring to a light boil, stirring to melt the sugar.  When the sugar is melted stir in 5 mint leaves and set aside to cool.

Cut a lime in half; take half the lime and quarter it, squeeze juice into glass. Add 10 mint leaves and muddle.  Add the squeezed lime quarters and muddle lightly again.  I added another half of a slice of lime to the glass and to the rim.

Fill glass with ice, add the rum and mint infused simple syrup.  Top with a splash of seltzer water.

Live well friends and have a minty summer!  Be sure to follow me on Facebook for daily babbling and rambling!

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Caring For Yourself After Surgery

I just had surgery for a rotator cuff tear, all three layers were torn. The doc also scraped bone spurs from the shoulder joint. On my dominant right arm nonetheless!

I knew I would be in a sling for 6 weeks, I knew therapy was going to be rough, I knew I’d have pain and I knew I’d have to depend on my left arm that also has a small rotator tear as well as a bicep injury.

But, was I really “prepared” for my recovery??? I thought I was…

I piled books I wanted to read, photo’s and albums to clean up and organize, cookbooks and magazines to sort through and find new inspiration…. At 4 weeks into my recovery and I had little to no motivation!

What I HAVE tried is painting canvases with my left hand! It’s almost a challenge to see just how much I can depress myself with how awful they turn out!! Sort of makes me laugh too.  And playing with paint always brings me joy!!

But what I wasn’t expecting was the amount of time I would spend spiritually in prayer and meditation. The peace I find I have now is slowly bringing me to a new place in my life post recovery. It’s also helping me get through long days.

I’ve been very blessed with family and friends that are such a great help by bringing me meals, visiting, and taking me for groceries, to doctor appointments and therapy.  My daughter is such a huge blessing!

But even with all this, I still found myself on many days, lonely, depressed, and BORED!!!

So, I thought I would use some of my boredom trying to type with a non-dominant hand and maybe find some pointers for those of you that may be facing some downtime while you recover from some sort of health issue.

  1. Prepare your home. Whatever that may be for your recovery. For me, I was instructed to sleep in a recliner for my recovery but I don’t own a recliner so I slept on my sofa for many uncomfortable weeks. I brought a few bed pillows, a warm throw blanket, and I placed a large tray beside me. I used the tray to hold my cell, water bottle, remotes, tissues, lip balm, hand lotion, my library card (see #3) and a few books. My laptop was placed on the dining room table along with my checkbook and all of my bills/finances.
  2. Prepare food. My friends from work provided almost all of my meals the first few weeks which was such a huge help and greatly appreciated! But I also made a few things for the freezer, I purchased some frozen food items and I stocked my pantry. Unfortunately I had a lot of nausea after the surgery so it took some time for me to actually want to eat anything!!
  3. Books, magazines, etc. I knew my recovery would be long and painful and that I would physically not be able to do much so I placed about 15 books on my table. If you like to read I would suggest giving yourself a wide variety to choose from, when the boredom sets in you will appreciate the many choices. I kept my library card handy too because I like to “borrow” ebooks, an awesome way to spend time is browsing book online from my library!!
  4. Prayer, meditate, spiritual time. I have 2 daily devotionals that I have been reading. Also, my prayer book that I made. It includes favorite prayers, verses, and people that have either requested prayers or that I am praying for. And I have a bible app on my phone compliments of my pre-teen grandson!! My prayer time has increased tremendously since surgery!
  5. Any plans to be made?? I planned my gardens, flower and veggie. I ordered some plants online, and made a list of what I wanted to purchase when it’s time to plant. Sadly I will have to hire someone to actually dig up the gardens and do the planting as my shoulder most likely won’t be ready for that just yet!
  6. Prepare for bad days. I’m sorry, but you’re going to have them. I have days where I swear I am going to die from boredom, I have days that I swear I am going explode just from the discomfort of this awful sling that I am confined to wearing. Those moments are when you will need your prayer time the most. Try to breathe, try to relax, and remind yourself this is only temporary. I also needed to tell myself there are many others with a much worse and permanent situation. Even though I was told it would be a year before I would be back to my normal self, I knew things would get better. Put your situation in perspective.
  7. Don’t spend all of your time in front of the TV. The boob-tube will only add to your depression, you will find yourself lethargic and lifeless! This was difficult too since I cannot do much else, but I often turned off the TV. Find other ways to occupy your mind…prayer, meditate, read, games, catch up on phone calls, crossword puzzles.
  8. Exercise? Check with your doctor first!!! My left shoulder is also injured but I am allowed to do some bicep curls with a light weight. Get some bands to do leg exercises. Get out and walk! Just PLEASE use caution and do not do anything to further injure yourself and check with your doc before you do anything!
  9. Accept the help you are offered. This was VERY difficult for me to accept because I am always doing things to help others. A friend of mine very bluntly told me that it is now MY time to let others care for me. The day I came home from the hospital was all it took for me to realize I had no other way to live with my dominant arm in a sling unless I had help! I cannot take my shirt off (much less my bra) without help!!!!
  10. And finslly….Just RELAX! Take this time to heal, let others love and care for you. And most of all love and care for YOURSELF!!

Ok I gotta go, my son is bringing me tacos for dinner!!

White Bean and Kale Soup

I wanted to make soup and I wanted something different than what I usually make, so I went through my pantry to see what I had on hand.

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I found the beans, broth, tomatoes and potatoes (in the freezer), the only thing I decided I needed and didn’t have was the kale.

So I started with getting the beans a quick start and headed to the store for kale.

When the beans were ready I put them in my soup pot along with  frozen diced potatoes, covered them with a carton of chicken broth and brought it to a simmer. I added salt, pepper, onion powder, a few red pepper flakes and some turmeric.

I’ve been trying to add turmeric to quite a lot of my foods, its so healthy for you!

When the potatoes were tender I added diced fire roasted tomatoes, a little more broth, chopped kale and left that simmer for about 15 minutes and it was done!

I don’t usually eat a lot but I devoured a full bowl of this soup!!

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White Bean and Kale Soup

Half a bag of small white beans, about 8 oz

2 cups diced frozen potatoes

1 32 oz carton chicken broth, plus more if you want to thin the soup as it cooks

1 cup fire roasted diced tomatoes, I use canned

About 1 big handful of chopped kale

Salt & Pepper to taste

A few red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp turmeric, optional

Soak beans, drain and place in soup pot along with the potatoes, pour in the broth and bring to a light simmer.  Add spices, cover and let simmer until potatoes are tender. Stir often.

Add tomatoes and kale, let the soup simmer lightly for another 10-15 minutes.  Add more broth as you prefer to keep soup from getting too thick.

If you make this soup I hope you love it as much as I do!!

Live well!

 

Easy Ham and Bean Soup

The Blizzard of 2016! Wow!!!   I cannot get out the back door and I am literally begging for someone with a snow blower to come to my house!

So, since I was stuck in the house it was a fabulous time to make ham and bean soup. I made a huge pot too because both my sons are out plowing all weekend and I wanted them so have some as well.

This has to be one of my most favorite hearty soups as well as comfort food!

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I prefer to use a white bean, I usually buy the white navy beans but the market was out and I found a bag of just a small white bean. I sorted through the beans and picked out a few stones, eww, rinsed them and soaked them in water all night.

Since I wanted the soup to ready for the boys by early to midafternoon, I started cooking as soon as I got up, which was pretty early!!

I rinsed and drained the beans and set them aside.

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In my soup pot I heated olive oil and sautéed a chopped onion and diced carrots. Poured in 2 cartons of chicken stock, a ham hock, bay leaf, a little salt and lots of pepper. And that’s it.

I brought the soup to a very low simmer, covered the pot and left it do its magic.

I did check the soup quite often to make sure it wasn’t getting to a boil, stirred often too.

My house smelled so amazing!

Now, about an hour before I plan to serve the soup I pull out the ham hock and pull any ham off and toss that back into the soup, discard the bones and fat. This ham hock had a good bit of ham on it but I have had some that had very little so I always buy a small ham slice as a back up. I decided to use a little of the extra ham so I cooked it for a few minutes in my cast iron skillet, both sides.

The rest of the ham I will save for the boys for sandwiches. Or freeze for later.

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The ingredient list you need for the bean soup:

1 ham hock, maybe a small ham slice for extra ham

1 bag of your favorite beans, I like white beans, soak overnight

1 small to medium onion, chopped

1 large carrot, diced in small pieces (maybe about 1/3 cup, ½ cup at the most)

Bay leaf, salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil to saute the veggies

This soup is super easy and full of flavor! Live well!

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Snicker Doodle Cookies

I love Snicker Doodle cookies!! I didn’t make them for Christmas, but instead I decided to wait until after the Holidays.

I used my Mom’s recipe, but I wanted to change the cinnamon and sugar part and make some of the cookies with some chai spices.

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The chai spice cookies are the darkest , the cinnamon sugar are the lightest, and then I just combined both the chai mixture and the cinnamon sugar and those cookies are in the middle!

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Mom’s recipe calls for all shortening but I used half butter. They still turned out delicious!

The chai spices I used were:

½ teaspoon of each of cinnamon, allspice, ground cloves, ginger, nutmeg and a pinch of ground black pepper.

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As much as I adore my chai tea latte’s, I think I favored the cookies with the cinnamon sugar. Maybe I just didn’t have the chai spice mixture quite right….

So I combined the cinnamon sugar mixture with the chai spice mixture, and I really loved it!

Here is my Mom’s Snickerdoodle Cookie recipe:

Mix together 1 cup shortening and 1-1/2 cup sugar

Beat in 2 eggs

Sift and then stir in 3 cups flour, 2 tsp cream of tartar, 1 tsp baking soda and 1/2 tsp salt

Roll dough in balls the size of walnuts, then roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture.  Place 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about 8-10 minutes.  These cookies will puff up, then flatten out with crinkled tops.

I hope you enjoy, these always turn out great!  Live well!

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Butternut Squash Soup

Squash is not one of my favorite foods, so depending on how it is prepared is pretty important!!

And being the picky eater that I am….. I never had butternut squash. Ever!

So I thought I would start with soup, I began by looking at recipes to see how other folks were cooking it and what I found was pretty similar. The star of the soup is the butternut squash of course, but there is also chicken broth, cream, apples and some spices. How hard could it be!!

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I decided to roast the squash first. I coated 3 cups of butternut chunks with olive oil and then salt and pepper. Popped them on a foil lined cookie sheet and in the oven they went. They didn’t roast as well as I had hoped but they did get tender quickly.

While the squash was in the oven, I diced a small onion and cooked that in the soup pot with olive oil. When the squash was done I added that to the pot too. Sautéed them for a few minutes then added chicken broth, a little more salt and pepper and some onion powder. Brought the soup to a simmer and cooked the squash until it was completely tender.

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Then out came the immersion blender and I pureed until completely smooth and creamy. I added half and half. A few dashes of nutmeg and then did a taste test.

Not bad but it needed something else, it still tasted pretty bland to me but I’m sure lots of you would like it; I just need my squash to have a taste that grabs me!

So, I noticed that a lot of recipes used apples. I cheated and added some of my homemade applesauce! My applesauce has lots of flavor with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and allspice.

I quickly cooked a few carrots and when they were tender I added them to the soup pot along with half of a roasted red pepper (jarred). If I would have had any chipotle peppers I would have added a half of one to the soup as well, I just love that smoky, hot taste in some of my cream soups. I ran the immersion blender through the soup again.

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I added a bay leaf, a few sprigs of thyme, and a little bit of brown sugar, left it simmer for about 15-20 minutes.

While the soup was finishing up I made a few homemade croutons from some bread in the freezer.

All in all the soup wasn’t too bad, definitely not a favorite of mine but I think it’s worth sharing for sure!

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