Francisco’s Shrimp Tacos

You all are in for a world famous treat ladies and gentlemen… this “to die for” recipe comes to us straight from the heart of coastal Mexico from our friend Francisco, who is known far and wide for his delicious culinary delights!  This is one of our all time favorites from Francisco!  You may not be lucky enough to travel to Mexico and stay at the private house where he’s the chef, few people are… but you can recreate his amazing Shrimp Tacos to enjoy at home with your family and friends.  You will not be disappointed!!!!

Francisco’s Shrimp Tacos

  • 1/2 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 5 large Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 2 pounds cleaned, shelled raw shrimp, cut into large chunks
  • 1 Knorr chicken bouillon cube
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 2 cups (or more, to taste) grated jack cheese
  • 14, 8 inch flour tortillas

In a non-stick skillet,over medium heat saute onion and tomatoes for about 10 minutes.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Using the same pan, crumble the bouillon cube over the shrimp and cook until just turning pink (about 2-3 minutes).  Mix cooked shrimp and veggies together.  Stir in cilantro and pour into a colander (placed over a bowl or in your kitchen sink) to drain for about 15 minutes.

For each tortilla, lay on a flat surface, sprinkle the middle third of the tortilla with cheese and scatter the shrimp and veggie mixture over cheese.  Roll tightly and place seam side down on a jelly roll pan.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use (or skip this step if you’ll be using immediately).

To cook, spray a non-stick skillet with olive oil (I use a nonstick griddle for the larger cooking surface).  Brown the tacos on all sides.

To serve, cut in half, on an angle and place on plate drizzled with Balsamic Reduction (recipe follows), a dollop of Chipotle Sauce (recipe follows) and sliced avocados.

Balsamic Reduction:

  • 2 cups Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar

Stir vinegar and sugar together in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Turn the heat down and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reduces to a syrup consistency.  Dont let it get too thick.  Pour into a squeeze bottle for drizzling.

Chipotle Sauce

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • small can chipotle peppers

In a blender, blend the mayonnaise  with chipotle peppers, one at a time, until desired heat is reached (I usually use 2 peppers).  Blend until smooth.  Blend in sour cream.

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Asian Noodle Salad

You are going to LOVE this yummy and versatile recipe.  We make this as a side dish, or add a little grilled chicken or poached shrimp and turn it into a meal!  We get mad raves on this easy to make salad… we’re sure you will too.

What makes it so easy is that we use this yummy bottled dressing.  As we’ve said before, we love to make yummy food, and we love it when we can find a product that makes the job of preparing that yummy food easier.  This is one of those products… Soy Vay Toasted Sesame Dressing and Marinade.  It can be found in most grocery stores, in the salad dressing isle.  I use about half the bottle on the salad and then throw the rest in a ziplock bag with some chicken breasts to marinate for grilling.

Asian Noodle Salad

  • 1 pound angel hair pasta, broken in half and cooked to Al Dente, then immediately flushed with cold water in a colander
  • 3/4 cup Soy Vay Toasted Sesame Dressing
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup snow peas, diced to 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup baby peas (frozen is fine)
  • 1/2 cup chopped water chestnut

In a large bowl, toss all the ingredients, and enjoy!

*I will also sometimes add some chopped brocoli and/or salted peanuts

Stacey’s Meltaway Cookies

Well, the school year has started again and so that means that HOT COOKIE MONDAY has started again as well.  For those of you who are new to our little blog, “Hot Cookie Monday” is a tradition we came up with to help our families get through the dreaded first day of the work/school week.  Here at Lucy Janes Best, we LOVE cookies!  Every kind, every variety, every flavor!  From simple to fancy, we love them all!  Now we don’t know about all of you, but after a fun weekend spent doing whatever we want, Monday is quite the downer.  So this tradition gives us something good to look forward to at the end of the day.  Our families know that after school, right around 3:00, EVERY MONDAY,  there will be hot, fresh, homemade cookies coming out of the oven.  A good little pick me up, don’t you think?  In fact, our tradition has become so well known around our circle of influence, that it’s not uncommon to get a few neighborhood drop in visitors.  They all know to show up at 3:00 and cookies will be shared and enjoyed by all!  So, if you start this tradition for your family, be sure to make a double batch every time… it doesn’t take long for the word to get out!

Over the past year we’ve made lots of yummy cookies and shared the recipes for you to enjoy.  Here’s the links so you can jump start your Hot Cookie Mondays: Brown Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, Lemon Crinkles, Toasted Coconut Thumbprints with Salted Caramel Cookies, No Bake Cookies, Lemon Coconut Cookies, Robert’s Chocolate Cookies, Double Peanut Butter Blossoms, Gingerbread Boys, Cornstarch Cookies, Homemaade Oreos, Double Chocolate Peppermint Surprise Cookies, Rolo Cookies, Pumpkin Chcolate Chip Cookies, Perfect Peanut Butter Cookies, Monster Cookies, Brownie Cookies, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies,  & Chocolate Crinkles!

That ought to get you through to the new year and beyond, but don’t worry, we’ll keep posting our favorite cookie recipes, so you’ll have plenty to choose from.  This week we made Stacey’s Meltaway Cookies.  They are easy to make, to die for, deliciousness!  When word got out that these were on the menu last Monday I had 5 drop ins… including one from Stacey herself!  Nothing better than getting a few of your own favorite cookie without having to make them yourself, right?  Thanks Stacey for this yummy recipe!

Stacey’s Meltaway Cookies

  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In an electric mixer, mix all ingredients together until well combined.  It will take a few minutes for the ingredients to come together; just turn the mixer on medium and let it work until everything is combined.  Using a small cookie scoop, scoop the dough onto a parchment lined cookie sheet, then flatten each cookie slightly.

Bake 10 minutes, cookies will not brown, do not over cook.  Let cool 5 minutes on cookie sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Frost and serve.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 Tablespoons milk

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter and cream cheese.  Add powdered sugar and mix to combine.  Add vanilla and mix.  Add milk until frosting reaches desired consistency.

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich with Creamy Coleslaw

Pulled pork is a summertime staple in our home.  I love it because it’s made in the crock pot, with out a lot of fuss and muss, and without heating up my kitchen.  The yummy combination of the tangy BBQ pulled pork and creamy coleslaw is so so good!  And it can all be made in the morning, so in the heat of the day when it’s time for dinner, you’re not slaving over a hot stove!

BBQ Pulled Pork

  • 1 pork tenderloin roast
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cups of your favorite BBQ sauce
In the bowl of a large crock pot, place the pork tenderloin roast, the water and 1 cup of the BBQ sauce.  Heat on low for 6 hours.
Remove from crock pot into a large bowl, and shred.  Return to crockpot, add the remaining 2 cups of BBQ sauce and heat for another hour.
Serve on toasted sandwich rolls, or hamburger buns, topped with creamy coleslaw.
Creamy Coleslaw
  • 1 head green cabbage, finely shredded
  • 2 large carrots, finely shredded
  • 3/4 cup best-quality mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons grated yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon
  • 1 teaspoons celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine the shredded cabbage and carrots in a large bowl. Whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, onion, sugar, vinegar, mustard, celery salt, celery seed, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl, and then add to the cabbage mixture. Mix well to combine and taste for seasoning; add more salt, pepper, or sugar if desired.

Homemade Ciabatta Croutons

I love croutons on salads and soups, and up until recently it had never occurred to me to make my own. Then one night while my kitchen was in the throngs of the remodel, a friend, who is a wonderful cook, brought me dinner  (I know, I have nice friends, don’t I?). Besides the other yumminess, she brought a caesar salad with these homemade croutons on top. Oh, to die for!!! Croutons are so easy to make and taste so much better than even the best store bought. Once you make these, you’ll never go back!  I now keep these on hand at all times.

Homemade Ciabatta Croutons

  • 1 loaf good ciabatta bread (I prefer Semi Freddies)*
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons garlic salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Slice the Ciabatta loaf into bite sized pieces, then place in a large bowl.  Drizzle with 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil and toss.  Then drizzle another Tablespoon oil and toss again.  Repeat a third time until all the bread is coated.  Sprinkle with the garlic salt and toss again to disperse evenly.

Spread the bread cubes onto a jelly roll pan in a single layer.

Bake at 350 degress for 15 minutes, or until croutons are crisp and golden brown.

Remove and let cool.  Store in an airtight container.

*Note: You could substitute any good crusty bread to make the croutons.  I’ve used french baguettes, sourdough, pugilese, rustic italian.

Ultimate German Chocolate Cake

Did you all have a nice Mother’s Day?  Mine was pretty good.  I got to spend all day in my kitchen, cooking up a storm, and then my kids all cleaned it up for me at the end of the day.  For me, that’s perfect.  I love to cook, but I hate to clean, so it was a real treat to know that I could just run wild and not have to worry about the mess!

One of my favorite treats is a yummy German Chocolate Cake, so what else would I make on Mother’s Day?  Now if there are any of you out there who don’t like German Chocolate cake, I have to say it’s only because you haven’t tried this one.  The grocery store and even the bakery versions are not the same.  In fact, they are so different that I would NEVER buy one.  Not worth it, in any way shape or form.  The homemade German Chocolate Cake is a whole different delicious animal!

In fact, by the time it was completed and ready to serve, I was so anxious to dive in for a piece that I forgot to take a picture of the entire cake, so you’ll have to settle for this one of just a slice.

I will preface this recipe by saying… as you can probably tell by the ingredients and instructions, the baking of this cake is not for the faint of heart.  It takes a while, and there are a lot of steps, but it is well worth it!  (And it helps if you have a few kids cleaning up your mess behind you, like I did)

GERMAN CHOCOLATE CAKE

Cake:

  • 4 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs, separated, at room temperature (it’s easier to separate the eggs when they are cold, so do that and then let them come to room temp)
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Coconut Pecan Filling:

  • 1 ½ cans (18 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

Chocolate Fudge Frosting:

  • ½ stick butter
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour 3, 9 inch cake pans.  Then line with parchment paper.

For the Cake:

In a small microwave safe bowl, place the chocolate chips and water.  Heat for 1 minute.  Stir to combine the water and chocolate.  If the chocolate isn’t melted, heat for another 30 seconds, and stir again.  Set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks.

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).  Add the egg yolks and mix to combine.  Add the chocolate mixture and mix to combine.  Add the vanilla and mix to combine.  Add the dry ingredients, alternating with the buttermilk, in 3 parts.

In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form.  Fold into batter.

Divide batter among the pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.  Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire cooling racks.

For the coconut pecan filling:

In a large saucepan, beat together the milk and egg yolks.  Stir in the butter, sugar and vanilla.  Turn heat on to medium and cook 15-18 or until thick, bubbly and golden.  Remove from heat.  Add coconut and pecans.  Cool to room temperature.  (About 2 hours.  Frosting will thicken as it cools)

For the Chocolate fudge frosting:

In a medium saucepan, over low heat, melt the butter and the chocolate, stirring to combine.  Remove from heat add powdered sugar, vanilla and milk, and beat until smooth.

When cake and frosting have cooled, spread coconut pecan filling between layers of cake.  Then using the chocolate fudge frosting, seal the sides of the cake.  Then finish with the coconut pecan filling on top.

Warm Caprese Sandwich

 

Have I mentioned how much I love lunch?  Here’s another one of my favorites.  There is something about fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil that is simply delicious.  Those Italians know what they are doing, even with the simplest of ingredients.  Yummy!

Warm Caprese Sandwich

  • 1 loaf ciabatta bread, sliced horizontally through the middle and the cut into sandwich sized sections
  • 8 tomatoes, sliced in thick slices
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • fresh basil, julienned, to taste
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • garlic salt, to taste

Set the oven broiler to high.

Divide each sandwich side section of your loaf so that you have 2 open-faced pieces, like the picture above (only don’t put all the stuff on yet).  Drizzle each piece with olive oil, and then line one half of each sandwich with slices of mozzarella cheese.

Put the slices, open-faced, under the broiler on a rack set in the middle of the oven (not to close to the element or the cheese will burn), and broil until the cheese is melty and the other side is toasted light brown.

Remove from oven and stack the tomato slices on top of the cheese.  Sprinkle with garlic salt and finish with slices of basil.  Put the two side together, and cut down the middle to serve.

This recipe makes 4 good sized sandwiches.

You can obviously decrease or increase the portion size, according to how many people you are feeding.  When I make this just for myself, I use the toaster oven instead of the big oven, and use the both the top and bottom elements. It makes a nice toasty sandwich.

You can also add a smear of prepared pesto sauce under the cheese layer, if you like.