Double-Jack Stew with Boxty Cakes (courtesy of Guy Fieri)

Here's a photo of my rendition of Guy's Double-Jack Stew with Boxty Cakes.

Here’s a photo of my rendition of Guy’s Double-Jack Stew with Boxty Cakes.

This dish is a great go-to when you want a hearty warm-you-to-the-bone kinda meal. I’ve made this several times now and you can’t really mess it up. This dish is regularly requested in my house but I must give credit where credit is due. Guy Fieri has got a good one here with this Double-Jack Stew. Ladies, if you want to impress a guy who is a hearty eater, meat’n potatoes kinda guy… this is THE dish. It takes some time, just like with any stew but man, is it worth it!

For me, the Boxty Cake that goes under it is what makes this dish. They are so delicious I could eat a stack of just those!  If you’re like me and you’re asking what on earth is a Boxty Cake?  Well, it’s a lip-smacking, mouth-watering potato and cauliflower cake that is crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside and let’s just say a cloud of heaven for your stew to rest upon.  It’s the perfect accompaniment to this spicy rich stew.

Note: If you don’t care for the flavor of stout and/or Jack Daniels, you can substitute other flavors in the marinade and it works just fine, such as a lighter beer or even a rum.  You can also substitute with stock, Apple Cider or even Ginger Ale.  I have backed down some of the liquor to create a milder flavor when I was having “non-drinker” guests over and the stew was still fantastic. Lots of flexibility in the marinade.  Again, the Boxty Cakes… OhhhMG!

Links to the recipes are listed here again:

Double-Jack Stew

Boxty Cake

Enjoy!

Dreamy~

Where’s Dreamy?

For those who have wondered about my absence from blogging over the past year or so, I’ll give a brief explanation.  I stepped away from blogging early in 2013 to plan a wedding and to get married in May.  I was also working 80-90 hr weeks at that time.  The wedding was beautiful, a glorious day and our honeymoon in Charleston, SC was Utopia.  What better destination for a pair of foodies!

Later in 2013, we were struck with multiple tragedies.  The two most profound were the surprising loss of my wonderful mother-in-law in July, shortly followed by the devastating loss of my beloved son in August.

We’re slowly picking ourselves back up and at the urging of some family, dear friends and followers I’m going to gently try to get myself back into a regiment of blogging again.  I find cooking therapeutic, so this should be a good thing and my husband will certainly be happy eating all the food.

So, for what it’s worth, here she is!

If you have any specific requests for recipes, please let me know and I’ll try to prioritize those for you.

Dreamy~

Dreamy’s Shrimp & Grits (Polenta)

A southern tradition… Shrimp & Grits!  Being from the south, and my mother being from Kentucky, you would think that I would have had this dish regularly my entire life, but that isn’t the case.  I’ve never been a big “greeits” fan unless it was on a cold rainy day and served in a breakfast bowl with butter, sugar and milk… and I still love and eat that today.  It’s WAY better than oatmeal!  When going to restaurants, even in the south, folks tend to eat grits with nothing but salt and pepper and to me, no offense, but I think that’s nasty and bland!

However, I was recently turned on to the wonders of polenta.  That creamy cheesy goodness that resembles mashed potatoes on cheesy crack.  I realize grits are a hominy based product and has a slightly different taste, but I didn’t have slow-cooking grits on hand, so I substituted polenta in this recipe.  The results were fabulous and delicious.  The polenta is rich and creamy with an abundance of flavor.  The shrimp, perfectly cooked and burst in your mouth with spicy flavor and a little background heat that doesn’t overwhelm.

I read several recipes online, ranging from Paula Dean to Bobby Flay to the many bloggers out there and here is the result.  Let me say this is one “fine” southern dish and will become a regular at our dinner table.

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Polenta:
1 1/2 c. polenta
1 Tsp. EVOO
10 Tsp. butter (divided)
3 c. water or chicken stock
1 c. half and half or cream (this is what makes it really creamy)
1/2 medium onion (finely diced)
1 Tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp salt
1 tsp. white pepper
2 c. grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 c. Ricotta cheese

In large pot or dutch oven, heat EVOO and 2 Tsp. of butter on medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook on medium heat until onion becomes translucent but does not brown, 4-5 minutes. Add water, half and half, salt and bring to a boil. Slowly pour in polenta while whisking to blend thoroughly. Once polenta is all incorporated (mixture will be thickening), turn heat to low, cover and cook for 20-30 mins, whisking every 4-5 mins. Just before serving, add ricotta, grated cheddar and butter. Whisk thoroughly and turn off the heat, cover and set aside until plating. If the mixture is a little too thick you can add more chicken stock, water or milk to obtain the desired consistency. Serving is approximately 1- 1 1/2 c. in a serving bowl with shrimp (recipe below) on top.

Shrimp:
1 lb. large peiled and deveined shrimp
1 Tsp. EVOO
3 Tsp. butter
1/2 medium onion (finely diced)
2 Tbsp garlic (minced)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
zest of 1/2 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp Chipotle Sauce (or adobo from the can)
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
1/4 c. water
2 Tsp minced fresh parsley (garnish)
a few dashes of hot sauce (optional)

In a large skillet, heat EVOO and butter, add onions and garlic and cook until translucent. Add remaining ingredients except shrimp, stir to mix and remove from heat and let it cool down. Add shrimp and toss to coat. Let the shrimp marinade in this mixture for approx. 15-20 mins off the heat.

When the polenta is ready and you are ready to serve, turn the heat on the shrimp, add 1/4 cup water and cook until it just turns pink. DO NOT overcook. Remove from heat and toss in the parsley.

Place approximately 1 to 1 1/2 c. of polenta in a serving bowl. Place 6-8 shrimp in the center of the bowl tails up and spoon some of the pan sauce over the top.  For those who like it really hot, you can sprinkle your favorite hot sauce now.  :)  Makes 4-6 servings.

Enjoy!

Dreamy~

Soup… It’s What’s For Dinner

The youngest daughter went to the dentist today for some elective torture (fillings), and came home in quite a bit of pain and discomfort. She asked for soup, so this is what I threw together. It turned out quite tasty if I do say so myself. Now if I can remember everything I threw in there, I can give you all the recipe. DOH!

Dreamy~

Dreamy’s Meatloaf & Mushroom Gravy

If you like a meatloaf that is juicy, flavorful and will have people begging you for the recipe, try this one.  I promise you will not be disappointed.  If you are, my Patrick will gladly accept any leftovers you may have. ;)  Speaking of leftovers, this is great the next day on a sandwich with a slice of cheddar cheese, lettuce, mayo and tomato.

Meatloaf Ingredients:

2 lbs ground beef (you can use 1/4 ground pork/lamb/veal and 3/4 ground beef for a nice change up)
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp liquid smoke
2 Tbsp minced onion
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1/4 c. ketchup
1/4 smokey bbq sauce
1 c. crushed buttery crackers (original Townhouse is what I use)
2 eggs
2 tsp chipotle sauce
1/4 c. grated parmesiano regiano (optional)

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients gently. Do not overmix. Form into an oval or rectangle of even height in a dish large enough to leave room around the entire loaf for the juices to collect. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Raise temperature to 400, remove the foil and bake another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cover with foil for 10 minutes to rest. Remove from baking dish onto serving platter, slice and serve.

Serve over mashed potatoes and the mushroom gravy below.  Great side dishes are kale, collard greens, broccoli, asparagus or a nice salad.

Mushroom Gravy Ingredients:

1 c. sliced mushrooms (we like baby portabello)
1/2 c. chopped red onion
5 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. flour
4 Tbsp. red wine (whatever you have open will work)
2 c. chicken or beef broth or stock
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper

In a medium skillet on medium heat, saute the mushrooms in 1 Tbsp of the butter and the olive oil until lightly browned and tender, then add the onion. Continue cooking over medium heat until onions are translucent. De-glaze the pan with the wine. Add 2 Tbsp of butter and flour and wisk until smooth. Add stock and reduce to simmer until reduced and thickened, about 4 or 5 minutes. Add remaining 2 Tbsp of butter, wisk well then add salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy!

Dreamy~

Lobster Rolls

Wow, were these delicious! So, you might be wondering how the cooking of my first live lobster went. Did they jump out of the pot? Did they scream as they met their delicious fate? Well, I have to be honest. When I arrived at my favorite seafood shop, Mark asked me if I would like him to steam them for me…. well, I didn’t even know that was an option!! And what do you think my answer was? Heck Yeyah!!! Save me the stress and the mess… you betchya. So I gave my 3 11/2 lb live Maine lobsters a quick pat on their heads as they were carried off to the steamer. I think one of them wanted to hit me. :P

So the next time you think about trying to cook a live lobster and it brings you stress, ask your local fish monger if they will steam it for you. Who knew such a great service was available… and did I mention, at no additional cost!

Dreamy~

Cooking a live Lobster… Yikes!

This weekend I am embarking on a meal I have longed to make for years, but I’ve been reluctant to do for some odd reason. Cooking a live lobster.

Is it the fear of having the lobster jump out of the pot? Or perhaps the scream I’ve heard they make? Well, it’s time to suck it up and put my big girl pants on.

I ordered my fresh lobster that I pick up tomorrow and will be making Lobster Rolls. Wish me luck!

P.S. The screams might not be the lobsters ;)

Dreamy~

Note to self… don’t try to cook when you’re under the weather…

This past weekend, some very dear friends of mine came to stay for the weekend with their kids. We had a fabulous time, playing cards, playing in the yard, hanging out and of course sharing great food. Sunday I started feeling a bit under the weather, feverish, sinusy and overall … yucky. Despite this, I was determined to press on and make the “Baked Jalapeno Poppers” that my girlfriend Sarah just loves. Jalapenos prepped, filling made, peppers stuffed, glazed and bacon cooked crispy and crumbled on top… baked to perfection… if you like soot. I totally lost track of time (between running for tissues or the bathroom) and produced, to my embarrassment, a tray of charcoal.

Just goes to show, no matter how long you’ve been cooking, stuff happens. Ya just can’t beat yourself up about it…

On a good note, the homemade bucatini pasta w/sauce I made for dinner Sunday night turned out spectacular. If you haven’t tried it before, it’s round pasta like spaghetti (but larger) and has a hole in the center (similar to a straw) that holds sauce… really fun and hearty.

All in all, the weekend was a huge success, in spite of my little charcoal incident. :)

Dreamy~