On Monday we had Tacos for Dinner. There are just certain things that cannot be made in amounts small enough for two people, therefore there are leftovers. Not wanting to throw out the leftovers, I decided to turn them into a new dish. The items that were left over was the cooked Ground Beef Mixture that we used for the Tacos along with Salsa and diced Tomatoes. In the freezer I had some Basil Pasta that I had made at a previous meal.
The Basil Pasta was homemade and even though it was a very small amount, it was so good (I make very thin pasta which we love) I just couldn’t throw it away. In addition, I had another type of pasta in the freezer. The second pasta was completely different from the Basil Pasta, but that didn’t matter. In addition, there was some shredded Mozzarella Cheese and Corn Kernels. I added some Enchilada Sauce (also in the freezer) to the Salsa and diced Tomatoes.
I thinly sliced some Green Onions (Scallions) and Olives. These two items were used as a garnish on top of the finished dish.
So here is what I did to create the Mexican Lasagna.
- I took my 9 x9 glass baking dish and lightly coated the bottom with a small amount of Olive Oil.
- The Basil Pasta was laid out on the bottom of the dish. (Coincidentally, there was just enough to cover the bottom.
- Next, I added part of the Enchilada Sauce/Salsa/Tomato Mixture to the cooked Ground Beef and tossed it all together. Then the Beef was placed on top of the Basil Pasta.
- Next came a layer of Corn Kernels. ( No need to cook – this gets done when you bake the Lasagna)
- On top of the Corn I placed the other Pasta that I had leftover and then added some more of the Sauce.
- On top of the Sauce went the shredded Cheese and on top of this went the Green Onions and Sliced Olives. Since I put this together in the morning it had to be refrigerated until dinner time.
- About 45 minutes before dinner I placed the dish of Lasagna in a cold oven. (Do not put cold glass in a hot oven – the sudden temperature differential will cause the glass to expand too rapidly and break)
- I then turned the oven to 350 degrees and allowed the Lasagna to cook until it was heated through and the cheese on top had melted. (You can tell when it is done because not only will the cheese melt, but the sauce will start steaming when it becomes heated)
NATIONAL SHRIMP DAY
May 10th, 2012
May 10th is National Shrimp Day – yeah! Shrimp are one of my favorite foods. I love them almost any way they are cooked. What is a shrimp? Shrimp are shellfish that live in salt and fresh water and range in size from that of an insect to about 12 inches long. The larger shrimp mostly come from warmer waters and the smaller variety from colder waters.
Shrimp are also referred to as Prawns – usually in the larger size. The name will vary from country to country. In Britain, shrimp is usually used to refer to the smaller size and prawns to the larger size. In the US, shrimp is the term most frequently used. In France, Crevette is the name frequently given to shrimp.
Shrimp can be prepared in any number of given ways. They may be boiled or broiled, grilled or steamed, curried or fried. Shrimp are used in salads, cocktails, sandwiches, tacos, sauces and chowders. No matter which way they are cooked, they are usually good.
Since Shrimp cook up very quickly, one has to be careful not to overcook them as they will become tough. The rule of thumb is usually about 3 minutes or in the case of boiling, when they turn pink. Of course, size has a lot to do with it, with the smaller shrimp cooking up more quickly than the larger ones.
As a general rule, the larger the shrimp, the better they taste. The very small shrimp, often referred to as Bay Shrimp are good in salads or tacos. The medium to large shrimp are great for cocktails. For frying or grilling the larger shrimp are best. The really large shrimp or prawns are good for grilling and or in sauces. For a quick and easy Grilled Shrimp Recipe see: recipes/dinner/grilled-shrimp/
Shrimp can be purchased green (raw) or cooked and shelled. Shrimp contain a vein that runs down their backs which should be removed before being consumed. The cooked variety almost always has had the vein removed. Some of the green ones will also have had the vein removed, but you need to check them to be sure.
Listed below are some of the ways in which you can use Shrimp for your meals:
Shrimp Cocktails – Place in a pot large enough to hold the shrimp plus water to cover – add a bay leaf and half a lemon. Cover (the lid should be offset to avoid boiling over) and place over high heat. As soon as the water comes to a boil, shut off the heat – once the Shrimp turn pink immediately pour into a colander to drain and cover with ice to stop the cooking process. Blot dry with paper towels and serve with your favorite cocktail sauce or seafood-cocktail-sauce/
Salads – cook in the same way as for cocktails – use in your favorite salad or with other shellfish.
Grilled – devein the Shrimp but leave the shells on – to do this, slit the back of the shrimp with a small pair of kitchen shears or a paring knife. When you slit them, cut them about ¾ of the way through or Butterfly them. Wash out the vein under cold running water. Pat the shrimp dry and place in a large shallow dish such as a pie plate. (Either glass or ceramic – not metal as it will react with the marinade) Blend together crushed garlic, lemon juice or white wine, minced basil, a pinch of saffron or paprika and some olive oil. Pour over the shrimp and allow to marinate for 20 minutes but no longer than 30! Too long a marinating time will make the shrimp become mealy. Good tasting shrimp should have a firm texture but not mealy or tough. Heat a stove top grill over high heat (or use your BBQ). Cook the shrimp, turning frequently for 3-5 minutes or until the meat is no longer translucent. I usually cook them on each side for about a minute or until the shrimp turns pink then turn them cut side down to cook the inside for another minute. Serve immediately with Cocktail Sauce or Rémoulade or BBQ Sauce.
Fried – Shell and devein the shrimp; pat dry and then coat with a light tempura batter – fry in hot oil (350 – 360 degrees) until golden brown. Drain on a wire rack set over a cookie sheet. Serve with Cocktail Sauce or Wasabi Mayonnaise.
Curries – the type of Curry depends on the country it is from. Numerous recipes can be found in cookbooks or on the internet. Two of the countries that use curries are India and Thailand. The ingredients and flavors of the curries will vary from country to country and even fro household to household.
You really don’t need an excuse to eat Shrimp, but National Shrimp Day is certainly a good reason to.
Be careful when you purchase your shrimp. If you want wild caught, but sure that the package label says so, or if you purchase them loose at your market’s seafood counter, read the tag first to be sure where you shrimp are coming from. Most all shrimp are sold in the frozen state. If the shrimp in your market look thawed, be sure to ask how long they have been thawed for. It is better to purchase frozen ones and just thaw them out yourself under cold running water. This can usually be done in minutes.
Whichever way you prepare or eat your shrimp enjoy!
ENTERTAINING FOR CINCO DE MAYO
Cinco de Mayo is the Fifth of May and is a Mexican national Holiday which celebrates the Mexican Victory over the French at Puebla in 1862. Cinco de Mayo is a time for celebration and fiestas throughout Mexico and throughout much of the United States. Cities such as Los Angeles, Phoenix, Chicago and Colorado have Cinco de Mayo Festivals. For those of us who do not live near where these festivities are planned or who like to celebrate at home, Cinco de Mayo is a great time to have your own party, whether it be for family, friends or your children. Your party can be as elaborate or as simple as you would like to make it. Sometimes though, simple can be best. When one tries to be elaborate, many complications can get in the way, so the following paragraphs will be a guide to a simple Cinco de Mayo Celebration at home either in your house or backyard.
Let’sstart with the decorations. The first thing you would want to buy would be the center piece of your party and that is a Pinanta. A pinata is made from paper maiche and comes in many different shapes and is usually filled with candy and other treats. The Mexican Flag is Red, White and Green and much of the Paper Goods that are made for Cinco de Mayo will be made in those colors but there will also be additional varieties that are very colorful. You can keep it simple and purchase solid shades so that leftovers can be used for other parties or you can go all out and buy paper goods that are made specifically for this event. Following is a list of paper goods and other items that you may wish to purchase for a Cinco de Mayo party:
- Tablecloths & Napkins
- Paper or Plastic Plates and Cups
- Cutlery to Match
(these can be made from crepe paper)
Flag (small paper ones for favors or party bags)
- A piñata ]to fill with goodies and for the children to break
- A Punch Bowl
The next item to think about would be the food you serve. A great way to serve food for a large crowd is to have a ‘build your own taco bar’ Purchase or prepare the meat fillings and set them out in warmers or chafing dishes for guests to help themselves. You would also need a variety of condiments. Listed below are suggested fillings for Tacos and Condiments to go along with them.
- Carne Asada (Beef)
- Tomato Salsa
- Carnitas (Pork)
- Shredded Cabbage or Lettuce
- Shredded Cheese
- Diced Tomatoes
Crema (Mexican version of Creme Fraiche)
Grilled Scallions (Green Onions)
Of course you are going to need tortillas for your tacos. Authentic tacos are made with soft shells which you can just steam, microwave or heat up on a hot grill or over a gas flame. If you like crispy shells (best made with corn tortillas) you can do them ahead of time or purchase them already made.
Most of the meat items and condiments can be made or prepared ahead of time. If making the meat items ahead of time, undercook them slightly so that when you reheat them they won’t get overcooked. Shredded Cabbage keeps better than shredded lettuce and is actually more authentic than lettuce. Salsa keeps well for many days, but guacamole is best made right before serving as the avocado has a tendency to darken. Non Alcoholic Beverages such as Virgin Strawberry Margaritas or horchata can be served.
Other Menu Items which you may wish to have are:
- Fruit Salad
- Rice & Beans
Watch our website (Recipe Section) for Mexican Recipes you may wish to try.