Tonight I made up a dish that has its roots in Pasta Carbonara, and Shrimp Scampi. In an effort to document it, somehow, I’ll share it here. Measurements are extremely loose – I cooked by feel, which is usually what I do. Adjust to taste!

If you have a philosophical issue with cheese and seafood, you should probably turn back now. There’s cheese with the shrimp. And it’s fantastic. I make no apologies.

Ingredients (for 2 people)

  • Salt
  • 10 large shrimp (13-15) about 2/3-3/4 lb. (this could easily be done with smaller shrimp. That’s what I had on hand.)
  • 1/2 lb pasta (it should be something that holds sauce well – I used campanelle, which was AWESOME)
  • 4 eggs (I used our chickens’ eggs, which vary in size)
  • 8 cloves garlic – 3 smashed, 5 (or so) crushed/minced
  • 1/2 cup (or so) of vermouth (or white wine, or sherry)
  • 1/2-2/3 cups of freshly fine-grated parmesan (I use the microplane, so it’s really not that much cheese, it’s full of air)
  • 1/4-1/3 cups fresh lemon juice, from 2 lemons (I used one regular, and one meyer lemon)
  • 2 T chopped parsley
  • 2 T butter (or so)
  • 3 T olive oil (or so)
  • pinch or more of red pepper flakes to taste

Directions: (I did this with a lot of multitasking, so it probably took a bit less than a half hour, including pasta cooking time.)

  1. Start a pot of well-salted water for the pasta
  2. Peel and de-vein the shrimp, save the shells (if you have already-peeled shrimp, save the tails if you have them.)
  3. Toss the shrimp with a bit of salt (a large pinch or two), red pepper flakes, and enough olive oil to coat them. Set aside.
  4. (If the water is ready, toss in the pasta and set the timer for about 2-3 minutes before the pasta would be ready. Like, just before al dente timing.)
  5. Beat the eggs with the parmesan cheese hard, until it forms a homogeneous mixture. Get it smooth! No egg-whites still visible! If I wasn’t making this for Aidon, who doesn’t much like it, I’d have seasoned it with a bit of pepper. Set aside.
  6. The water should really be ready by now, if it wasn’t before. Start that pasta if you haven’t already!
  7. In a 12-inch pan, with high enough sides to hold the pasta later, heat about 2 T of olive oil over a medium heat until it starts to shimmer. Put the smashed garlic and a pinch or two of red pepper flakes into the oil, stirring until it becomes fragrant and brown. Remove and toss out (or eat, ahem) the garlic, since it’s done its job of flavoring the oil!
  8. Increase the heat to high, and put the seasoned shrimp in the oil. don’t crowd them. I put them in one at a time, and about the time I’ve put them all in, the first ones are ready to turn over. Just let each side go opaque, but the very center of the shrimp should still be grey/uncooked. Remove the shrimps, one at a time as done, to a bowl and set aside.
  9. Is the pasta done yet? It was for me, and the timing was about right. I stopped the pasta from boiling a few minutes early, and left it in the water for a minute or two while I did the rest of the stuff.
  10. Add a little more oil to the pan (another T or so) and toss in the shrimp shells. This will flavor the oil nicely. When the shells are nice and orange, toss in all but about 1/2 tsp of the crushed garlic, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 30 seconds or so.
  11. Pour in the vermouth and deglaze the pan, scraping up the bits from the bottom of the pan. When the vermouth has soaked in some of the shrimp-shell and garlic flavors, remove the shells with tongs. Pour in a little more vermouth if the bottom of the pan isn’t still covered, at least a little.
  12. If you haven’t already, drain the almost-done pasta, and then toss it into the pan with the remaining vermouth and garlic
  13. Stir to coat the pasta
  14. Turn off the heat, and pour the egg mixture into the pasta and stir like the dickens (fast!) to get the noodles coated, and avoid making scrambled eggs. I made a little bit of scrambled eggs because I didn’t turn off the heat. It still was fantastic.
  15. Once most of the sauce is coating the noodles, instead of sitting on the pan bottom threatening to turn into scrambled eggs, return the shrimp, and any accumulated juices into the pan, stirring to coat.
  16. Add the butter, stirring to help it melt in
  17. Add the lemon, parsley, and remaining 1/2 tsp of crushed garlic.
  18. Stir to combine, cover to allow to heat through, and finish cooking any shrimp that weren’t finished by residual heat. (I turned it on low for 2 min at this point, to accomplish this.)
  19. Serve in bowls and enjoy!

The thick sauce from the eggs is SO tasty on the pasta! And the shrimp – SO yummy!

English Muffins (on a Skillet or Pan)

Original recipe from:

Makes 8-10 muffins

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp) yeast (rapid rise or instant)
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 cups very warm water (120 to 130F)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • Yellow cornmeal



  1. In a large bowl, combine 1 cup flour, sugar, undissolved yeast and salt.
  2. Gradually add water and butter to flour mixture.
  3. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally.
  4. Add 1 cup flour; beat 2 minutes at high speed.
  5. Stir in remaining flour to make a thick batter.
  6. Cover; let rest 10 minutes. It will expand some.
  7. Heat a lightly greased griddle or skillet over medium or medium high heat. (I used a regular pan.)
  8. Place lightly greased (but don’t forget to grease it – it will stick otherwise) 3-1/2-inch METAL cookie cutters on skillet. (you could also use a clean tuna can with the top and bottom removed, too.)
  9. Spoon 1/3 cup batter into cookie cutters; spread batter into shape.
  10. Sprinkle with cornmeal.
  11. Cook muffins for 5 minutes.
  12. Carefully remove cookie cutters. They will be HOT, so use a mitt or tongs.
  13. Using pancake spatula, turn over muffins and cook for 5 minutes longer, or until lightly browned.
  14. Cool on wire racks.


To serve, split muffins in half and toast.

Cinnamon Raisin:
Increase sugar to 3T
heaping 1/2 cup raisins, dumped into the last cup of flour, and then added to batter
1 tsp cinnamon with 3rd cup of flour and raisins

My notes for next time for Cinnamon Raisin:
more cinnamon, try 1 T
More sugar, try 1/4 cup
more raisins, maybe a cup

Macaroni and Cheese

Adapted from a Cook’s Illustrated recipe


  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 1 tablespoon table salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons powdered mustard
  • 1-3 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 5 cups milk (see note)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup sherry (optional, to taste)
  • 8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese , shredded (2 cups)
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese , shredded (2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon table salt


  1. Bring 4 quarts water to boil over high heat. Add macaroni and 1 tablespoon salt; cook until pasta is tender. Drain pasta, reserving one cup of pasta water, and set aside in colander. (Cook’s Illustrated has you do this in a Dutch oven, and then make the sauce in the same pot. I like to get it all done faster, so I do the noodles in one pot while making the sauce in the heavy-bottomed Dutch oven.)
  2. In a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven, heat butter over medium-high heat until foaming. Add flour, mustard, and cayenne (if using) and whisk well to combine. Continue whisking until mixture becomes fragrant and deepens in color, about 1 minute.
  3. Turn heat off (this helps with avoiding lumps as you turn the roux into a sauce.)
  4. Whisk in the sherry, if using, combining entirely with flour. You will have a very thick paste.
  5. Gradually whisk in milk.
  6. After adding the first cup or so you should have a thick paste that doesn’t want to clump up as much when more liquid is added. At that point you can start adding the milk more quickly, but continue to whisk it constantly to avoid lumps.
  7. Turn heat back on to medium-high and bring mixture to boil, whisking bottom very regularly, and near-constantly as it gets well-heated (mixture must reach full boil to fully thicken).
  8. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened to consistency of heavy cream, about 5 minutes.
  9. Off heat, whisk in cheeses and 1 teaspoon salt until cheeses are fully melted. Add pasta and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is steaming and heated through, about 6 minutes.
  10. Add some of the reserved pasta water to thin out the consistency and make it a little creamier.

A Week’s Food Plan

(Work in Progress – still editing this one)

I am not cheap, but I am frugal. And I can make a dollar stretch in the kitchen. I do this by knowing how to manipulate ingredients and cook from scratch, as well as by shopping intelligently.


I was trying to help a close friend recently, who is trying to squeeze a bit more out of his food budget. We talked about scratch recipes, and his shopping choices; but then I realized that since he was unused to thinking this way at all, it might be useful to give him some pointers on how to plan for the whole week.

So, I made a weekly meal plan that would (probably) suit his tastes. This plan would also offer some concrete places to stretch a dollar in several places. For example, a whole chicken cooked on Sunday becomes a planned chicken salad on Monday, and then stock for soup on Tuesday; the 25 pound bag of flour, other baking necessities, and a gifted bread machine become the base for several bread products throughout the week.

Everything in this chart is relatively simple to make, and I have tried and true recipes for all of them, which I will post soon.

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
Breakfast Crepes Bagels & Cream Cheese French Toast Yogurt & Fruit Muffins Eggs Pancakes
Lunch English Muffin Pizza Chicken Curry Salad Soup & Rolls Cottage Cheese Spring Salad Tuna Salad Sandwich Quesadilla Pasta Bake
Dinner Chicken with Potatoes and Vegetables Macaroni and Cheese Sloppy Joes on Rolls with Salad Leftovers (or Homemade Chili & Cheese Bowl) Burrito Night Spaghetti & Clams Pasta with Pesto, Mushrooms, and Peas

What I assume is on hand:
Sugar (white and brown)
Vegetable Oil
Some spices (mustard powder, curry powder, chili powder)

Shopping list for the week:

Meat Protein:

Ground beef (can be cut with ground turkey if it’s cheaper. I usually find 80/20 for about $2.50/lb and ground turkey for $2.00)
Family-size tuna fish packet in a pouch
Whole chicken at no more than $1.29/lb (I don’t think I ever pay more than $0.99, but I wait for it and freeze) (Can substitute bone-in thighs or leg quarters if it’s cheaper.)

Fresh Produce:

In-season vegetables (whatever you like, that aren’t too expensive)
Lettuce (romaine and red leaf, or whatever is inexpensive and has color)
Fresh oregano
Fresh basil
Red/Yellow/Orange Bell Pepper (whichever is cheapest)
Bananas (even better if they’re on sale because they’re overripe)
Apples (or other cheap and sweet fruit for curried chicken. Raisins are good too)


Butter (1 lb unsalted/1 lb salted)
Sour cream
Eggs (2 dozen)
Large Bag (5 lb) of pre-grated cheese
Cottage cheese
Cream cheese


Frozen peas
Can of chopped clams
Canned tomatoes (to make sauce)


2 lb pasta (elbow macaroni or penne)
1 lb spaghetti
Bagels (pack of 6)
Large flour tortillas
Items for Soup (depending on kind of soup)

Plan Ahead Items:
Every day: Save all vegetable scraps in freezer for stock day. Especially ends of onions, celery, and carrots. Put stale, but unspoiled, bread in freezer for French toast, croutons, or bread pudding
Sunday: Bake bread and rolls. Freeze rolls. Cook whole chicken – save all bones (including neck!)
Monday: Prep chicken curry salad from leftover chicken. Save all bones and scraps! Make sure enough bread for Tuesday French Toast. Make stock from chicken scraps for Tuesday’s soup. Strain and store in fridge.
Tuesday: Make soup. Bake bread for following days.
Wednesday: Make muffins for Thursday. Soak beans for Thursday burrito night.
Thursday: Bake bread for following days.
Saturday: Make English muffins for Sunday

Ping – is this thing on?

The hurdle to get the first entry up has GOT to be passed, and so, here it is. I waited to nab this domain name for a LONG time – some little cafe had it for ages. If that was you, or you’re looking for that, “thank you” and “I’m sorry,” respectively.

I mostly just wanted to have one central place to have my own recipes and notes about them. It’s an added bonus that it will also mean that I can also point people to a recipe, if needed.

I’m not sure yet how I want to organize it. It’s not really a blog, per se, but maybe that’s how it’ll end up. I guess we’ll see!


In the meantime, gratuitous cheesecake photo!