Painting with a twist with my Fit Fam

Yesterday I joined a few of my Fit Fam from 12th Street Gym for an evening of fellowship, food, wine and painting at Painting with a Twist. Attendees were asked to bring a dish and wine to share with the group. I made a shrimp dip I found on the Whole Foods site and tweaked it just a bit. Served with some fresh veggies and crackers, it was a hit.

  • 1/2 pound cooked, peeled shrimp
  • 4 green onions , roughly chopped
  • 8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese , at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt. I used Chobani
  • 1 whole lemon. The zest and the juice.
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/3 cup of cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon of sriracha AKA 1 big squirt!
  • 1 tablespoon of Pickled Sliced Jalapenos, 3-5 rings.

The lemon and sriracha set it off!!!

Photoa of Shrimp Dip with Veggies & Crackers
Shrimp Dip with Veggies & Crackers

I blanched the broccoli and carrots for that nice pop of color and vibrant taste.

We laughed and painted and had a blast! Thanks for the invite, Peanut.

Shrimp and Spicy Garlic Sauce

Aroma 10 cup Rice Cooker I have been coveting a larger rice cooker and a bamboo steamer for some time. Since I sold my old iPhone to Gazelle, they sent me an Amazon gift card in return. That was right on time, so I used it to purchase the Aroma 10 cup (uncooked) 20 cup (cooked) digital rice cooker and food steamer. The best of both worlds in one appliance.

You know when you have a jones for something particular, well, shrimp with garlic sauce was on my mind since the weekend. We ordered takeout Saturday night and I ordered Shrimp with Garlic sauce from the local Chinese restaurant, New Kin,  and it was DELECTABLE. Sadly, they only use white rice but, I usually keep brown rice in the fridge. I’d only ordered a pint and it wasn’t enough for a full second serving the next day.  That’s when I  began to scour my cookbooks and the Internet in search for the perfect recipe. The flavors were fresh in my mind, the chilli peppers, the slightly sweet tinge, the sesame oil, the perfectly steamed broccoli; I knew just what I was looking for. When I found the Appetite for China web site that listed the simple but potentially similar recipe, I knew I had to try it. shrimp-garlicsauce2

I took a few liberties with it as with all things I cook. Here is my take on AFC’s recipe.

  • 1 pound of shrimp. Uncooked, devein and tails off. (I used medium)
  • 3 tablespoons tamari (or soy sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons chili sauce (Mae Ploy is sweet but regular is perfect)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
  • 2-3 Stevia packets
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO
  • 3 heaping tablespoons of minced garlic
  • cracked black pepper
  • 2-3 scallions, sliced thin on the bias
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 dried chilies
  1. Prepare shrimp and set aside.
  2. Mix soy sauce, chili sauce, sesame oil, rice wine and stevia and set aside
  3. Heat wok on medium and EVOO, saute the garlic for 30 seconds or more. Add shrimp and saute for 4 minutes.
  4. Turn heat down to low, add dried chilies and sauce and mix to coat all the shrimp. Grind freshly cracked black pepper on top.
  5. Serve over brown rice and steamed broccoli. Top with 1-2 tablespoons of scallions and toasted sesame seeds.

For the broccoli, I used 2 heads, washed and cut. Followed the directions on the steamer by setting to 8 minutes, adding 3 cups of water, adding the broccoli and let it go. It was perfectly, did I SAY PERFECTLY steamed! I can eat this everyday for the rest of my life!!!

I cooked 2 cups of uncooked brown rice in my older, smaller rice cooker. I wasn’t making a large quantity so it was perfect for just this meal

When life gives you tomatoes, make creamy tomato basil soup

I had an awesome haul at the Italian Market on 9th street in Philadelphia last Saturday before my birthday party. I stocked up on meats for the BBQ (for all the carnivores in attendance), fruit for the sangria, herbs for marinades, drinks and guacamole, and tons of veggies for the kabobs, greens, veggie trays, burger toppings, etc. I had such lofty goals, but when you’re at crunch time, some things just don’t go as planned. I bought a ton of beautiful tomatoes to be used for the burgers but I never sliced them. After I assessed the ‘damage’, I had a ton left.

During the week, I tossed some in to my post-workout smoothie of the day (SOTD), ate some on a baguette with mozzarella and basil, but there were still so many left. I wasn’t in the pizza mood and making pizza dough on a work night and waiting for it to rise is a drag, so the only thing left to do was to make soup! I am in love with a great hearty bowl of soup no matter the time of year. I found a great little recipe on Cooking Classy‘s web site and just tweaked it to what I had in my fridge and pantry.

Here is what I did:

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

  • 2 1/2 lbs of large tomatoes (not sure of the kind)
  • 1/2 lb of Roma tomatoes
  • 2 garlic bulbs
  • 3 1/2 tsp of EVOO
  • 1 yellow onion ( 1 to 1.5 cups chopped)
  • (1) 16 oz can of petite diced tomato (I didn’t have crushed)
  • (1) 14 oz can of vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup of fresh basil, chopped. More for garnish
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese
  • Shredded Mozzarella cheese, for a cheesy topping
  • Baguette (out of my freezer & reheated)

Once I gathered all my goodies, I pretty much followed the recipe from Cooking Classy.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put on a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Chop the tops of each bulb of garlic, place on a square of foil and drizzle EVOO on top. Close up the foil to make a little steam packet and place on oven proof pan. I used an old pie tin. Bake for 30 minutes. Set the garlic aside to cool. When the water boils, carefully add the tomatoes. I used a slotted spoon to get them into the pot to lessen the ‘plop’ and the ensuing scalding hot water splash that usually follows. Fill a large bowl with ice and water to prepare and ice bath for the tomatoes when they’re done. When the skin on the tomatoes begin to burst (3-4 minutes) remove them from the pot and place them into the ice bath until cool enough to handle. Peel tomatoes carefully then dice. Set them aside along with the juice.

Pour remaining EVOO into large pot until hot. Add onions and saute for 4-6 minutes until soft. Add peeled and diced tomatoes with the juice to the pot. Add canned tomatoes, vegetable broth salt, pepper, sugar, red pepper flakes and basil to the pot and stir. Time to peel and mince the garlic! Once the aroma has been thoroughly enjoyed, add it to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 45-50 minutes, stirring occasionally. Use an immersion blender * and puree until you’ve reached your desired consistency. I had a few chunky tomato bits here and there and that’s just fine. Add the cream cheese and half and half, stir until melted and mixed.

Serve topped with shredded cheese, chopped basil and grind some fresh black pepper on top & serve with your warm baguette.

*If you don’t have an immersion blender, use your blender and blend in small batches using care so as not to splash or burn yourself.

**Also, to lighten it up, omit the half & half and use almond milk or skim and use fat-free cream cheese. Or, to remove the ‘creamy’ leave both out and enjoy!

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup is ready

Reheat Frozen Baguette

We have all done it, settled on a fresh baguette from the bakery section of the market, grabbed a bottle of wine and some good cheese before heading home after a long day. Sometimes you don’t get to eat it or the hubby has plans for dinner out. Well, instead of letting that crusty goodness go south, cut it up into 3 sections and put it in a freeze bag. Squeeze out the air and toss it in the freezer.

When you’re ready to use it, just take out what you need, preheat the oven to 325 degrees, spray the baguette with water and bake on a cookie sheet for 6-10 minutes until warmed through. You can also leave it out on the counter and let it thaw. Depending on how thick it is, it may take some time.


Frozen Baguette
Cut into equal portions & freeze.