Shrimp Neptune Salad

You might be looking at the best salad I’ve ever made.

Shrimp Neptune Salad!

I’m sure Neptune, being the Roman god of the sea, would have heartily approved of these luscious, fresh shrimp in their tangy dressing.

We’ve all seen those seafood salads in the deli aisle…little tiny shrimp, fake “krab” with a K, and gloppy dressing. Blech.

Put those thoughts aside and get ready for fresh and light with just a hint of zing!

I know you’re probably looking at this and thinking, Shrimp Salad in November? Right before Thanksgiving?

Well, the answer is YES! Even though it isn’t quite salad weather in most parts of the country (just like it’s rarely soup weather in Florida but we learn to get around that), I’m a big fan of dinner salads when you want to lighten things up. And pre-holiday gluttony with the turkey and all the sides is a PERFECT time to lighten things up.

Besides, this salad was way too good to keep hidden from you until the great thaw.

Here’s what you need:

Shrimp Neptune Salad Ingredients

Shrimp, Celery, Shallot, Lemon, Frozen Peas (not pictured), Dijon Mustard, Dill Pickle Relish, Sriracha Sauce, Ketchup, Mayonaise, Horseradish (not pictured), Salt & Pepper

Click here for a Shrimp Neptune Salad Shopping List

If you’re making this into a salad as shown here, you will also need assorted lettuce (I have mostly romaine) and any extras you’d like such as cucumbers and avocado.

Also, I like to take the extra step to cook my own shrimp. You can get shrimp pre-cooked at the store but they’re usually quite a bit more expensive. Cooking your own shrimp at home is quick and easy.

In addition to 1 pound of good, fresh shrimp (preferably wild caught rather than farmed), you will need celery, peppercorns, and Old Bay Seasoning.

Shrimp Boil Ingredients

This is the same way I make shrimp for Peel & Eat Boiled Shrimp that you serve with cocktail sauce so you get a bonus recipe/method here!

Click HERE, there’s more!

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Three Bean Salad

Three Bean Salad

Three Bean Salad!

Salads like this make me feel nostalgic.

I’m sure almost everyone has some sort of bean salad recipe in their family. This one came from my mom, possibly from my grandma, and most likely from someone like Betty Crocker or the Green Bean folks.

While we all try to eat fresh fruits and veggies ripe and in season, there’s something very appealing about the fact that you can open a few cans and have this salad prepared in minutes.

Also, since we’re using canned beans, Three Bean Salad works all year round.

I made this to go with the World’s Best Smothered Chicken but it would be great for tailgating or potlucks since it can be served cold or at room temperature.

Here’s what you need:

Three Bean Salad Ingredients

Green Beans, Yellow Wax Beans, Red Kidney Beans, Green Pepper, Red Onion, Vegetable Oil, Cider Vinegar, Sugar, Dried Oregano, Salt & Pepper.

Click here for a Three Bean Salad Shopping List

Plan Ahead:  While this comes together very quickly, for the best flavor this salad needs to marinate in the fridge for 3-4 hours.

Drain and rinse the beans well. You want to get all of that liquid from the can rinsed away…especially on the kidney beans.


Yellow Wax Beans…why don’t I eat these more often?

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Smothered Chicken

smothered chicken

My friends, you are looking at the best chicken I’ve ever made.

Quite possibly the best chicken I’ve ever eaten.

And I’m here to tell you that we now have the recipe for “Awesome Sauce.”

I feel like I can go on and on about this chicken without seeming obnoxious since it is not my recipe. This is Craig Claiborne’s old Southern Smothered Chicken recipe.

For those who may not know, Craig Claiborne was the long-time food editor for the New York Times. If you own (and I highly recommend that you do) one of the classic New York Times Cookbooks, you already know how good, simple, and straight forward Mr. Claiborne’s recipes are.

Well, this is nothing short of a chicken miracle. Here’s how easy it is…this glorious bird is cooked in butter, salt, & pepper. You add flour & chicken broth for the gravy. That’s it.

Your kitchen will smell amazing. You will be the new hero of dinner time.

Here’s what you need:

Smothered Chicken Ingredients

Whole Chicken, Butter, Flour (GF is fine), Chicken Broth, Salt & Pepper.

Click here for a Smothered Chicken Shopping List

Mr. Claiborne recommended a cast iron skillet to properly make this chicken. Since I tend to believe him about most things, I asked for and received a 12-inch cast iron skillet for my birthday.

I’m sure you could make this in another pan so don’t let cast iron stop you from having this chicken. Choose a nice, heavy bottomed pan…not something flimsy. (If you’re the guinea pig, let us know how it works.)

You will also need something heavy to weigh down the chicken. I have a 5 pound dumbbell. You could also use 2 big cans of tomatoes or other veg.


Click HERE, there’s more!

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Pumpkin Madness

So, I’m having a little trouble getting into the autumnal spirit.

Maybe it’s because we had 2 glorious days of what could be called fall weather down here only to have to turn the AC back on today.

Or maybe it’s because there is Pumpkin Madness going on everywhere!

Is it just me or has this pumpkin spice thing gone to a whole other level this year?

Trader Joes is ground zero for Pumpkin Madness. I’m not immune…I’ve had their pumpkin ice cream -tastes just like frozen pumpkin pie. Ridiculously good.

Anyway, I was feeling all grinchy about pumpkin recipes this year, then my friend Solvay posted THIS on Facebook.

If that doesn’t get you in a festive mood, I don’t know what will.

In the meantime, here are some links to Pumpkin Goodness from years past.


Pumpkin Bread – It’s my mom’s recipe and SO good. Super moist.

Baked Pumpkin Spice Donuts – The reason that I own donut pans.

Pumpkin Bars – When I made up this recipe, I maxed out the pumpkin filling. Plus, there’s cream cheese frosting and you can’t go wrong there!

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles – Soft, chewy cookies. Best when they are hot out of the oven and almost burn your fingers. Don’t ask me how I know that.

Pumpkin Pie – Because, why should Thanksgiving get to have all the fun?

Pumpkin Colored Kitty! – You didn’t seriously think you’d get through this post without a cat picture did you?

I’m pretty sure Pumpkin Madness will strike me sooner or later. I have a couple of ideas…black bean pumpkin soup, maybe some pumpkin spice granola…

What are you pumpkin favorites? (Other than Henry!)

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Gin Burgers

Burgers with Shallots & Gin…otherwise known in our family as Gin Burgers!

This is one of those recipes where I’m sure you will think I’ve gone totally off the deep end.

Gin in a burger?

YES! Gin in a burger. Really!

This is my dad’s recipe. He makes a mean martini – stirred, not shaken so it’s not surprise to me that he would have a recipe for burgers that incorporate gin.

They also incorporate shallots and capers – lots of flavor.

You might have to trust me on this one. But trust, you should.

Here’s what you need:

Gin Burger Ingredients

Ground Beef or Ground Turkey, Gin, Shallots, Capers, Salt & Pepper.

Click here for a Burgers with Shallots & Gin Shopping List

You will also need the good things that accompany burgers:  Good Buns, Good Sharp Cheese, Good Mustard, Lettuce, and Tomato.

Gin Burger Accessories

Or whatever you like to have with your burgers. I avoided ketchup because I want the flavors of the gin, shallots, and capers to shine through.

Plus, as you can see, I have tots that require ketchup. I require tots.

Click HERE, there’s more!

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Sausage Kale & Apple Hash

Breakfast. Dinner. Or Breakfast FOR Dinner.

Sausage, Kale & Apple Hash has all those bases covered in a big way.

Anything that includes the word hash usually gets my vote.

When you start combining good things like smoked sausage, potatoes, apples, and hearty greens it’s hard to go wrong.

This hash is bold and flavorful enough to stand up on its own. Add a fried egg if you want to take it completely over the top!

Here’s what you need:

Sausage, Kale & Apple Hash Ingredients

Potatoes, Onion, Apple, Celery, Kale, Parsley, Smoked Sausage, Olive Oil, Cider Vinegar (not pictured), Salt & Pepper.

Also, if you are so inclined, 2 eggs to fry.

Click here for a Sausage, Kale & Apple Hash Shopping List Sausage, Kale & Apple Hash

It’s hash which means lots of chopping into small pieces.

I have 1 medium onion, 2 ribs of celery, and about 1/4 cup of fresh parsley…all finely chopped or diced.


Click HERE, there’s more!

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Every Bean Crockpot Soup

We’ve reached that critical time of the year….Crazed Schedule Season!

Yes, you might call it fall or autumn where you live but since it’s still quite warm here, we’re going with CSS – Crazed Schedule Season.

Everyone I know is insanely busy. That goes double for my friends who have kids. Some of us (especially musicians) are practically living out of our cars as we drive to and fro.

Well friends, when things get this busy, it’s time to get your kitchen working FOR you!

And this is the perfect recipe to do it – Every Bean Crockpot Soup to the rescue!

Here’s what you need:  (obviously a crockpot or other slow cooker)

Every Bean Crockpot Soup Ingredients

Mixed Dried Beans, Onion, Celery, Carrots, Meaty Ham Bone, Pepper, and Bayleaf (not pictured).

Click here for an Every Bean Crockpot Soup Shopping List

When I said EVERY bean, I meant it. Look at these beauties!

These were hiding in my grocery store with the regular old dried beans and I never gave them much thought until someone gave some to me sort of as a gag gift – one of those things where you try to disguise the gift card by wrapping it up with a  bag of beans. Well, you can guess that I was equally excited about the beans because I’m weird that way.

Anyway, the glory of the mixed beans is that the little beans pretty much cook into the broth of the soup acting as a thickener while the bigger beans stay whole and tender.

Every Bean Imaginable!

Always rinse your dried beans to remove any dust and debris and give them a good once over to be sure there are no non-bean things in there.

I didn’t even bother to pre-soak these beans. Just dump them in as is.

Click HERE, there’s more!

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Quick Shrimp & Grits


I’m pretty sure I’ve had them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I might even have had them twice in one day.

Whenever we are in a true southern food town like Charleston, New Orleans, or Savannah, I seek out Shrimp & Grits. I also seek out She Crab Soup but I haven’t learned to make that at home yet.

A couple of years ago I posted a more elaborate Shrimp & Grits recipe but I can honestly tell you that this more scaled down, basic version has become my new favorite.

This has become one of my Go To weeknight meals when I need food on the table fast.

Here’s what you need:

Quick Shrimp & Grits Ingredients

Shrimp, Grits, Bacon, Onion, Green Onion, Cheddar Cheese, Old Bay Seasoning, Cayenne Pepper, White Wine (optional), Heavy Cream (optional), Salt & Pepper.

Click here for a Quick Shrimp & Grits Shopping List

(Ha! You can see that I took this photo back when we were installing our new floors…PROOF that this is a great recipe to make when you need dinner quickly because you are tired and/or crazed.)

If you have a proper Southern Mama who will be offended at my Quick Grits, look away. I NEVER EVER use instant grits but I think the quick variety is just fine. They cook in a few minutes and still have a good flavor and creamy consistency.

Not a grit eater? What are you waiting for?

Grits are part of the kernel of corn and similar to very coarsely ground cornmeal. They are also similar to Italian Polenta but to me, grits are white and polenta is yellow.

If you’re still not convinced, be assured that there is going to be cheese involved.

Choose a pan that has high sides as grits tend to splatter and pop (ouch!) as they cook.

Bring 5 cups of water to a rolling boil over medium high heat. Slowly and steadily pour 1 cup of grits in a thin stream into the pot, whisking or stirring as you pour.


Don’t just dump them all in at once or you will have a gloppy mess.

The pot of grits will start to thicken up almost immediately.

Season with salt & pepper.

Click HERE, there’s more!

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Taco Salad

Taco Salad
Hello, Taco Salad.

I often crave Mexican food. It can be authentic Mexican food, TexMex, or even a complete rip off that doesn’t resemble anything anyone in Mexico would ever eat.

If it has beans, cheese, and salsa, I’m pretty sure I will be happy to eat it.

Taco Salad is a great way to satisfy my beany cheesy cravings without doing too much damage since you can load these babies up with veggies galore.

Another bonus is that when your life is crazed and you might be tempted to stop for less healthy options, taco salads at home are quick, simple and easy to make.

I have a few varieties of Taco Salads that I like to make but here it is at its most basic.

Feel free to use ground beef, ground turkey, or ground chicken. If tofu/tempeh is your thing, you’re on your own.

Here’s what you need:

Taco Salad Ingredients
Ground Meat, Tortilla Chips, Black Beans, Onion, Iceberg Lettuce, Tomato, Avocado, Cheese, Salsa, Chili Powder, Ground Cumin, Olive Oil (not pictured), Salt & Pepper.

Click here for a Taco Salad Shopping List

Finely chop 1 medium onion, about 1 cup.


Click HERE, there’s more!

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Zucchini & Corn Saute

We have a 2 for 1 recipe today at Idiot’s Kitchen.

Recipe #1 – Zucchini & Corn Sauté makes a light, healthy, and flavorful side dish.

Recipe #2 – Baked Cod with Zucchini & Corn Sauté puts that side dish to work in a big way!

Baked Cod with Zucchini & Corn Saute

This recipe was a happy accident created during another dinner last week.

I’d made the zucchini & corn side dish and another fish recipe that had what turned out to be an unfortunate sautéed bell pepper topping.

I ended up scraping those bell peppers to the side and scooting the fish on over to the zucchini.

It’s a win-win dinner. Make just the veggies or add some protein and call it a meal.

Quick and easy, this entire dinner cooks in about 15 minutes.

Here’s what you need:

Baked Cod with Zucchini & Corn Ingredients

Fish, Zucchini, Corn, Lime, Garlic, Fresh Parsley (not pictured), Pecorino Romano, Olive Oil, Dried Basil, Dried Oregano, Red Pepper Flakes, Old Bay Seasoning (optional, not pictured), Salt & Pepper.

Click here for a Baked Cod with Zucchini & Corn Sauté Shopping List

Preheat the oven too 400 degrees.

I plan on 6-8 ounces of fish per person. Here I’m using some lovely wild caught cod but any nice flaky white fish like halibut, corvina, or snapper would do.

If you live in Florida, this recipe would be great with grouper. You could also grill or broil your fish.

Grease or spray a baking dish big enough to accommodate your fish. I prefer to bake mine whole rather than in individual portions so that it doesn’t dry out.

I’ve seasoned the fish with salt & pepper and added just a little sprinkle of Old Bay Seasoning. Old Bay was made for seafood. It can taste overwhelmingly of shrimp boil if you use too much, but a light dusting is a great way to easily season fish.


Bake the fish at 400 degrees for 10-14 minutes, depending of thickness, until it is cooked through and lightly flakes when poked with a fork.

This whole dish comes together in the 10 minutes it takes to cook the fish so if you are having anything else to eat, be sure it is also ready to go.

Click HERE, there’s more!

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