Panko Fried Sesame Shrimp

Fried Shrimp, Dipping Sauces and Salad
I discovered this homemade coating for fried oysters a few years ago from a local chef, then tried it on fried shrimp, and now use it for fried chicken and fish fillets.

If you've never tried Panko crumbs, they're coarse crunchy bread crumbs from Japan, made from wheat bread; they also stay crispy longer in recipes whether used as coating for frying or  topping in casseroles.  Asian markets carry them as do most grocery stores.

Fresh or frozen shrimp work well and often on sale around the holidays. A bag of frozen shrimp on hand is convenient for many recipes. Size: (21 count or lower per pound) medium or larger, as they're already cleaned and/or peeled; defrost in slow running cold water.

I make a large batch of coating mixture, keeping it frozen in a plastic bag to take out for use whenever deciding to fry lightly or deep fry food. It's more convenient than making a new batch of coating every time needed, and there's always enough depending on how many servings I'm making or what I'm frying.
Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Panko Sesame Fry Mix

Equal amounts of:
Sesame seeds, flour, Panko crumbs
I use 1 cup of of each, then add salt and pepper to taste and for extra "kick" Old Bay type seasoning approximately 1/4 to 1/2 cup.

For shrimp, Butterfly, toss with flour in a bowl to coat lightly, dip in beaten egg combined a little water, then coat with dry Panko mixture by putting the amount of coating needed in a bag (plastic or paper) and toss in shrimp a few at a time shaking the bag until shrimp are coated - take them out and let rest before frying at 350 degrees for a minute or two until golden brown. Fry a few at a time and keep warm in the oven.

For chicken: same procedure, then pan fry until lightly browned and crispy, several minutes on each side; remove to finish by baking in 350 oven until done, approximately 25 minutes.  A digital thermometer testing for 175 degrees on thicker pieces like thighs helps determine "doneness."
For Oysters: coat and fry as for shrimp, and for fish sautee a few minutes on each side on the stove top.

Lasagna Roll-Ups

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
For years I "layered" lasagna like my Italian mom did, until about seven years ago when I saw a TV cook use the same familiar ingredients, but mixed and spread them on individual noodles, then rolled them up.  I thought it looked so attractive at serving time.

It takes a bit more time, but making a batch is more convenient for me, as leftovers freeze well in individual portions or for meals for two.
That way I can serve it more often. 

Prior to roll-ups, I'd only make layered lasagna when having company or the family over dinner.  It's an easy recipe to double or cut in half, too, depending on the number of people you're serving.

Tip: if out of ricotta, make your own:  a quart of milk brought to a boil, with a 1/2 teaspoon of salt, then removed from heat and 2 tablespoons of vinegar stirred in will make the milk curd after it sets awhile.  Let it cool and strain the curds into cheese cloth or fine strainer to yield 1 cup of ricotta.  Double the ingredients for 2 cups of fresh ricotta.
Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Lasagna Roll-Ups
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
1/2 cup minced onion
8 oz. crumbled Italian sausage
2 tsp. minced garlic
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 beaten egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
12 cooked lasagna noodles
3 cups Italian tomato sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella (about 4 ounces)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees
To make the filling, saute onion, sausage and garlic in oil.  Let cool.  In a bowl mix and blend ricotta, drained spinach, Parmesan, egg, salt, and pepper.  Add sausage mixture and mix well.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Meanwhile boil lasagna noodles in salted water until soft and firm to the bite, about 13 minutes. Cool in water then drain.  Spray or butter a 13x9 baking dish. Pour 1 cup of tomato sauce over the bottom of dish. 

Lay out 4 lasagna noodles and spread about 3 to 4 tablespoons of ricotta mixture evenly down middle of each noodle. Starting at one end, roll up each noodle and lay seam side down in dish. Repeat until all noodles are filled.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppSpoon one cup of sauce over rolls then sprinkle top with mozzarella. Cover tightly with foil. Bake until heated through and the sauce bubbles, about 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until the cheese on top melts and is slightly golden, about 15 more minutes.

Let stand 10 minutes before serving.  Meanwhile, heat the remaining sauce in a small saucepan 
and serve alongside if people want extra sauce on their serving.  Makes 12 rolls. 
Estimated cost $8.40 or less; .70 cents a roll or less.

French Onion Soup

 photo null_zps1662666f.jpg
I make soup every week for lunches or light dinner meals, and French Onion Soup is a favorite to have on hand.

If it's the"soup of the day" at a restaurant, I always order it to see what cheese they use which can vary depending on the chef.

Parmesan seems to be very popular, and I always have that on hand, but occasionally I've purchased Gouda, Gruyere or use Swiss to make it extra special.

Some folks top the soup with a toasted baguette slice and cheese, some use ready made croutons, but I discovered placing the toasted bread or croutons on the bottom of the cup or ramekin, then ladling soup in, followed by the cheese on top works best for presentation.

A nice twist to this recipe is adding cooked bacon which adds more texture and another flavor.  If your budget is tight, it can be left out and still taste delightful.

For an appetizer soup,  light dinner or lunch, try French Onion Soup and a salad!  This soup freezes well and the recipe can easily be doubled.

French Onion Soup photo null_zpsea4f9d39.jpg
French Onion Soup
1/2 pound bacon , chopped
3 pounds onions thinly sliced into rings
1 tsp. sugar
2 Tabs. flour
8 cups of beef broth, or 8 cups of beef bullion
2 Tabs. fresh thyme ( or 1 Tab. dry thyme), save a few pinches for garnish
1/2 cup wine, red or white
black pepper to taste
1 tsp. salt or to taste
6 to 8 slices toasted white bread rounds, about a half inch thick or commercial croutons
1 to 1-1/2  Tabs. sherry, optional
8 -10  ounces Parmesan cheese, thinly shaved or grated; other cheeses, such as Swiss, Gruyere or Gouda work well, too.

 photo null_zps5437f69a.jpgSaute bacon until crispy in a large pot, about 5 to 6 minutes.  Transfer bacon to a paper towel and set aside.

Saute onions, thyme and sugar on medium high heat for 25 minutes in bacon fat, stirring occasionally. Onions will slowly cook down until caramelized, turning golden brown. Add flour and stir until blended.

 photo null_zps6a9ed235.jpgDeglaze pan with wine by pouring in wine and scraping bottom of pan of browned bits and cook about 1 minute.  Add beef stock; salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 30 minutes, allowing flavors to blend.

French Onion Soup photo null_zps407e1690.jpgMeanwhile prepare croutons, if toasting fresh bread slices. Assemble individual soup bowls, cups or ramekins:  Add 1/2 teaspoon sherry and one large crouton (or several commercially made) in bottom of bowls.

Sprinkle crouton's with 1 to 2 tablespoons of bacon pieces then ladle soup into bowl. Top with cheese shavings, or sprinkle grated cheese over soup, top with a pinch of thyme and place bowls on a baking sheet.

Put sheet in the oven and broil until cheese is melted and bubbly, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Makes nearly a gallon. Serve immediately.  Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Estimated cost with bacon: $6.00 or less; $.60 cents or less per serving.

German Sweet and Sour Green Beans

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Childhood Sunday dinners often included gram's German green beans served with roast chicken or beef.  She grew and canned her own beans so they were always fresh tasting.

When I can't find fresh beans, I buy frozen as it's closer to fresh than canned and retains the color and texture of fresh beans.

She made many sweet and sour recipes and this recipe is not only good on green beans, but can be used as a warm dressing for a spinach salad or warm German potato salad.  

It's simple, inexpensive, tasty and attractive.

German Sweet and Sour Green Beans
1 pound fresh green, or about 2 cups frozen or canned
4 - 6 slices chopped bacon
1/2 onion, chopped
1 Tab. sugar, or Splenda
1/4 cup cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Cook, heat or steam fresh beans with a little salted water until tender and drain. Saute bacon with onion until bacon is cooked and onion is lightly browned. Add sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper and cook until sugar dissolves and all is heated through. Place beans in serving dish, and pour bacon mixture over them, tossing gently. Serves 4 - 6.

Estimated Cost: $2.00 or less; .50 cents a serving or less.