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Recipes made with Summer ingredients in Central Texas

The Italian Curve Ball

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This week I was shopping at the market for a nice dinner for our Sunday family dinner. I decided on one of my tried and true recipes – Poblanos Rajas with Shrimp. It’s a yummy and easy Mexican dish with zucchini, peppers, shrimp and lots of great spices.

By the way, if you haven’t been to the market lately, summer crop is in full swing and there are more veggies than you’ll know what to do with. And, there are peaches and blackberries. Go to the farmers market!

On Sunday, I packed everything up and went out to my sister’s house in Mountain City. I prepped all the veggies, peeled the shrimp and then hear her say, “You know, we have lemon pepper noodles you can use.”

I said, “Huh? Lemon pepper noodles with Mexican shrimp?”

“Oh, I didn’t realize we were having Mexican. I was kind of craving Italian.”

So… the cilantro went in the fridge and I regrouped. I didn’t have any of my spices with me so I rummaged through Ginger’s cabinet and found enough to make it work.


We ended up having a great meal and a nice relaxing evening.

Lemon Pepper Zuchhini Shrimp Fettucine

1 pound peeled, deveined gulf shrimp
1 pound zucchini, chopped
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
lemon pepper
1 package lemon pepper fettucine
1 cup white wine

Toss the peeled shrimp in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, lemon pepper, 1 clove minced garlic and salt. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to cook.

Start water to boil for the pasta. Cook to package instructions.

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until tender. Add zucchini and saute until almost tender. Add shrimp, a dash or two of oregano and white wine. Cook until shrimp are cooked through. If I’d had capers, I would have tossed those in, too at the end.

Toss the pasta in with the sauce until pasta is coated.

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Noodling with Zucchini

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I love pasta, but for obvious reasons, don’t eat it as often as I’d like. The other day I was having a serious craving for some simple fettuccine with Parmesan and a little butter, but I’m trying to watch my carbs so I decided to get creative.

I grabbed the zucchini and a vegetable peeler and decided to make the fettuccine out of the zucchini. It was pretty good and satisfied the pasta urge without destroying my nutritional intake for the day. Woo hoo! A win-win.

I just put some Parmesan, butter, salt and pepper on it, but you could use whatever sauce you wanted. It would taste great with a garlicky tomato sauce.

By the way, my friend Eddie told me I need to start taking pictures of these things when I make them so next time I’ll take a photo, before I dive in to the dish – promise.

Zucchini Fettuccine

2 zucchini
small pat of butter
salt and pepper to taste

Boil some salted water to blanch the zucchini.

With a vegetable peeler or mandoline, create long, thin strips with the zucchini. You want them just thick enough that they don’t tear – like pasta. I was able to do this with the vegetable peeler, but it would be easier with a mandoline. I left the skin on the zucchini, but you could peel it if you wanted.

Toss the zucchini ribbons in the boiling water for a minute or two – just blanch it; you don’t want the zucchini to get mushy. Drain the zucchini really well. I let mine sit for a couple of minutes to get all the water out.

Toss with your sauce or, in my case butter, Parmesan, salt and pepper.


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Steak – Italian Style

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I love steak. Maybe it’s an Amarillo girl thing or maybe it’s because my dad made the best steak I’ve ever eaten, but a good steak is one of my favorite meals.

Until a few years ago, I never associated steak with Italian food – spaghetti, yes; lasagna, of course, but not steak. Then I went to Tuscany, and that all changed. The Tuscans know how to do steak. Their beef is high quality and they show respect for it by not “overdoing” the spices or the preparation.

One of my favorite meals was a perfectly grilled steak (medium-rare of course) served over a bed of arugula. Yum! When I saw arugula recently at the farmers market, I knew it was time to cook up some steak. To mix things up, I bought a buffalo steak; you could use a beef steak if you prefer.

Grilled Steak & Arugula
I adapted this recipe from an unattributed Bon Appetit recipe I found on

your favorite steak cut – I like ribeyes
olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
lemon, quartered
parmesan, if desired

Make a paste with some olive oil, minced garlic and pepper. Rub it all over the steaks and let them sit for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Heat up the grill or, if you don’t have a grill, you can use a cast-iron skillet. Cook the steak to desired doneness (highly recommend medium-rare) about 5-10 minutes per side depending on the thickness. Only flip the steak once – a key to it not getting dried out.

Let the steak sit for about 5 minutes before serving. Slice the steak.

Place a layer of arugula a plate and drizzle olive oil on top. Place the steak on top and squeeze the lemon over the top of the steak and arugula.

If you like, shave a little parmesan over the top of the steak.

I accompanied this meal with Turnips Anna from The New Basics Cookbook.

Turnips Anna
3 tbsps unsalted butter
4 turnips (about 1 pound), peeled and very thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Melt the butter in a skillet and saute the turnips until coated in butter and partially cooked, about 3 minutes.

Arrange a layer of overlapping turnip slices in an 8-inch cake pan. Sprinkle with some of the garlic, and salt and pepper. Repeat with the remaining ingredients, ending with a layer of turnips.

Bake until the turnips are crisp and golden, about 30 minutes

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Hotty Totty Fried Green Tomatoes

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My sister went to college at Ole Miss, and while in Oxford, Mississippi she picked up the taste for great Southern food. Of course, like most of us, she is watching her girlish figure so she doesn’t eat it often. When I saw green tomatoes at the farmer’s market, I knew I not only had to buy them, but that I had to find a light, or at least lighter, way to prepare them.

When in doubt, I turn to one of my favorite cookbooks, Great Good Food by Julee Russo. I love this cookbook because it is organized by season (much like this blog) and has very flavorful recipes that are low-fat and calorie conscious – but the taste comes first. Seriously, order it now.

And of course, Julee did not let me down. She offers several Green Tomato recipes including Fried Green Tomatoes.  I, of course, changed a few things, replacing the milk with eggs so that the flour sticks better and spicing it up with cayenne

Make sure your oil is hot and serve them immediately so they don’t get soggy and ENJOY!

(By the way, Hotty Totty is part of the Ole Miss fight song, in case you were wondering where I got that from…)

Fried Green Tomatoes
Adapted from Great Good Food by Julee Russo
Serves 8

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp freshly ground sea salt
1/2 tsp cayenne
2 eggs, beaten
3 tbsps vegetable oil
4 green tomatoes,sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 lemons, cut into wedges

In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt and cayenne. Pour the eggs k into another small bowl.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.

Dip each tomato slice into the eggs and then the flour. Fry the slices in HOT  oil until golden, about 5 minutes, turning once or twice. Drain on paper towels.

Serve immediately with lemon.

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